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CNN: Pentagon May Solicit Donations For Trump's Military Parade

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The Pentagon is considering soliciting donations to fund the President’s requested military parade, which could cost between $3 million and $50 million, according to preliminary estimates from a defense official who spoke with CNN. 

Because there is currently no money set aside for a parade in the military budget, the Pentagon would likely use those private donations to offset the cost of the non-military components of the event, according to CNN. Budget director Mick Mulvaney said Wednesday that he estimates the parade could cost between $10 million to $30 million.

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jefron
3 days ago
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This is going to get more fascist with each passing day
Chicago
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Kislyak: Mueller Indictment Of 13 Russian Nationals 'Simply Fantasies'

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s former ambassador to the United States is dismissing detailed allegations of attempted Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election as “fantasies” rooted in domestic politics.

Former Ambassador Sergei Kislyak said at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday: “I’m not sure that I can trust American law enforcement to be the most precise and truthful source of information about what Russians do.”

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jefron
4 days ago
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It was much more than thirteen
Chicago
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What's It All For

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One thing about the ubiquitous surveillance state is that it never seems to actually prevent any terrorism. Oh, yes, sure they like to hint that They Keep Us Safe regularly, but if they were really busting up plots they'd be screaming it in every news outlet there is, like they do every time the FBI entraps some poor mentally challenged loner with a scary sounding name.
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jefron
5 days ago
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Chicago
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Harry Kane dunks on Piers Morgan and it’s awesome

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Retire, Piers.

The banter is flying after Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-0 North London Derby win over Arsenal at Wembley Stadium. But while we expect banter from fans, sports personalities, and maybe even some players, the one person we usually don’t expect it from is Harry Kane.

But maybe we should! Kane dunked on Arsenal mega-fan, troll, and all around crappy person Piers Morgan on Twitter today after the match. While normally we don’t talk about Piers Morgan on this website — it’s such low-hanging fruit, it almost makes me feel dirty — it’s awfully fun to watch him get owned by one of the most awesomely basic guys in the Premier League.

Piers being Piers, here’s his lame attempt at trolling. (Note that he used a graphic from the S-n because of course he did)

And here was Harry’s quote-tweet response after the match:

It’s been a good run, Piers, but it’s time to hang up the boots now. Your time is done. You come at the king, you best not miss.

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jefron
11 days ago
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Chicago
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Why I'm not impressed by January's 2.9% YoY wage growth

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 - by New Deal democrat

I wanted to follow up on why I dissented Friday from the near-consensus take that workers finally got a nice raise, with many citing hikes in the minimum wage. As you may recall, the YoY% change in the average hourly earnings of all employees rose 2.9% as of January.  

That was the story in, for example, Marketwatch:
Average hourly wages jumped 9 cents, or 0.3%, to $26.74, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means wages have increased 2.9% over the last year — the biggest gain since the end of the Great Recession in June 2009.The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and hasn’t increased since 2009. But many states and municipalities enacted laws to raise the wage this year.
Even progressive sources like The American Prospect touted the number, under the headline, "The Proof is in: Minimum Wage Hikes Work":
{A]verage hourly earnings for private-sector workers increased by 0.34 percent this month, and 2.9 percent over the past year.Wage levels have struggled to gain traction in recent years, even as the labor market has tightened. But for labor economists and workers alike, these most recent increases could be a sign that wages might finally be on the upswing, thanks to progressive state policies. In the new year, 18 states across the country—from Florida to Maine, and from Washington state to Michigan—hiked their minimum wages, bringing $5 billion in additional pay to 4.5 million workers, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
The reason I dissented is that the YoY% increase for nonsupervisory workers was only 2.4% -- right in the range it has been for over a year.  As Jared Bernstein, who called the number "A Nice Wage Pop,"  pointed out:
There were some weak spots in the report. Wage growth for the lower-paid 80% of the workforce that have production or non-managerial jobs was up only 2.4%, implying that faster wage growth last month mostly benefited higher-paid workers.

Both types of workers are literally from the same survey -- i.e., the one measure is a subset of participants in the whole survey.  So if minimum wage hikes were responsible for the big YoY increase, we should see it in their hourly wages.

In January's case, we don't.

Since nonsupervisory workers account for about 80% of all workers (h/t Bill McBride), we can back them out of the total figure, and calculate the YoY% increase in wages for managers.

Here's what the monthly percentage increase in hourly wages looks like for January:



While regular workers saw nominal wages go up a little under 0.2% per hour, their bosses saw wages go up 0.8% per hour!

Here's what the YoY% rate looks like:



It looks like bosses got, on average, a 2% bonus over and above their regular January wage, bonuses which were not shared with workers. And these are nominal numbers, so if consumer prices wewnt up 0.2% in January (we don't know yet), workers got nothing, while their bosses got a nice pop.

That's why I dissent.
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jefron
17 days ago
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Chicago
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It’s Easier For Politicians to be Corrupt These Days

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The standard created by the Supreme Court in McDonnell v. U.S. has made it close to impossible to find politicians of guilty of illegal corruption:

Five days after the Department of Justice announced that it would retry Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the judge in the case all but ripped out its core. Prosecutors, he said in an 53-page opinion, had failed to prove that the senator, a Democrat, had accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions in exchange for lobbying on behalf of his co-defendant.

The government’s allegations of campaign contributions for favors performed were “empty of relevant evidential fact,” Judge William Walls wrote. “There is no there there.”

The department was forced to conclude that the same was now true of its entire case. In a whiplash decision, it announced that it would not, in fact, retry Mr. Menendez, eliminating for Democrats the embarrassing prospect of having a sitting senator running for re-election while on trial for corruption.

The judge’s decision further exposed what the bribery case against Mr. Menendez and Dr. Salomon Melgen, a wealthy eye doctor from Florida and a longtime friend of the senator, lacked from the start: no key witness, no obvious quid pro quo. He left in place 11 of the 18 charges, including bribery based on trips on a private plane and other lavish gifts, as well as allegations that Mr. Menendez made false statements about those gifts — a charge even defense lawyers conceded was the hardest to beat.

But Judge Walls blew a hole in the government’s timeline and bounty of evidence, and made it hard to argue a motive for making false statements. The defense, meanwhile, still had its steady refrain: this was friendship, not corruption.

[…]

The indictment was handed down in April 2015. But less than a year later, before a trial date had even been set, the Department of Justice was dealt the first blow to their case: the Supreme Court overturned a corruption conviction against former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, extremely narrowing the definition of official acts that would qualify for a bribery conviction.

Still, prosecutors were not overwhelmingly concerned about how the ruling affected the Menendez trial, thinking that their burden was more on proving that Mr. Menendez had accepted bribes than it was on proving that he had taken actions.

Judge Walls, though, repeatedly questioned whether the McDonnell decision would allow the introduction of certain evidence in the first trial. And the question of whether the senator’s actions were official acts added another level of complexity for the jury.

Unless you’re dumb enough to explicitly accept a payment to perform a specific action and leave a paper trail or do it in front of witnesses, you’re probably in the clear.

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jefron
17 days ago
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Corruption is now legal
Chicago
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