Millions More Workers Would Be Eligible for Overtime Pay Under New Federal Rule


Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and President Obama will announce a new rule Wednesday that will expand the number of workers eligible for overtime pay. (photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and President Obama will announce a new rule Wednesday that will expand the number of workers eligible for overtime pay. (photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

 

he Obama administration will unveil a new rule Wednesday that would make millions of middle-income workers eligible for overtime pay, a move that delivers a long-sought victory for labor groups.

The regulations, which were last updated more than a decade ago, would let full-time salaried employees earn overtime if they make up to $47,476 a year, more than double the current threshold of $23,660 a year. The Labor Department estimates that the rule would boost the pay of 4.2 million additional workers.

The change is scheduled to take effect Dec. 1.

The move caps a long-running effort by the Obama administration to aid low- and middle-income workers whose paychecks have not budged much in the last few decades, even as the top earners in America have seen their compensation soar. The last update to the rules came in 2004, and Wednesday’s announcement is the third update to the salary threshold for overtime regulations in 40 years.

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Big Money and the Corruption of Democracy


Robert Reich | Robert Reich’s Facebook Page | Reader Supported News | May 14, 2016

he U.S. blames places around the world like the Cayman Islands and the Isle of Man for giving corporations and billionaires secret havens to hide their loot. But the United States doesn’t require companies registered here to disclose their real owners. We thereby provide global corporations and billionaires one of the world’s easiest means of hiding their money. Yesterday the chief minister of the Isle of Man charged that nearly 10 times more shell companies were registered in one building in Delaware than in his entire territory. Researchers in the U.S. and Australia have concluded it’s “easier to obtain an untraceable shell company … in the U.S. than in any other country save Kenya.”

Last week the Obama Administration submitted legislation to Congress requiring companies registered in the U.S. to disclose their real owners, at least confidentially to the U.S. Treasury. But not even this mild proposal has any chance of passage. Almost all Republicans are opposed, as are many Democrats. There’s no justification for their opposition to this common-sense measure.

Yet another example of the corruption of our democracy by big money.

What do you think?

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Stonewalled by the NSA, Members of Congress Ask Really Basic Question Again


NSA computers. (photo: Paul J. Richards/Getty Images)
NSA computers. (photo: Paul J. Richards/Getty Images)

 

Dan Froomkin | The Intercept | Reader Supported News | April 23, 2016

bipartisan group of lawmakers is none too happy that the executive branch is asking them to reauthorize two key surveillance programs next year without answering the single most important question about them.

The programs, authorized under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, are called PRISM and Upstream. PRISM collects hundreds of millions of internet communications of “targeted individuals” from providers such as Facebook, Yahoo, and Skype. Upstream takes communications straight from the major U.S. internet backbones run by telecommunications companies such as AT&T and Verizon and harvests data that involves selectors related to foreign targets.

But both programs, though nominally targeted at foreigners overseas, inevitably sweep up massive amounts of data involving innocent Americans.

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Obama Administration Breaks Record in Rejecting FOIA Requests


President Barack Obama. (photo: Getty Images)
President Barack Obama. (photo: Getty Images)

 

Ted Bridis | Associated Press | Reader Supported News | March 19, 2016

he Obama administration set a record again for censoring government files or outright denying access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.

The government took longer to turn over files when it provided any, said more regularly that it couldn’t find documents and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy.

It also acknowledged in nearly 1 in 3 cases that its initial decisions to withhold or censor records were improper under the law — but only when it was challenged.

Its backlog of unanswered requests at year’s end grew remarkably by 55 percent to more than 200,000. It also cut by 375, or about 9 percent, the number of full-time employees across government paid to look for records. That was the fewest number of employees working on the issue in five years.

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Krugman: Boy, Were Republicans Wrong About Obama’s Job Agenda — It’s Been 7 Years of Growth


AlterNet | January 11, 2015

On Monday, NYT’s Paul Krugman took a look back at all the dire warnings made by Republicans that Obama would be a job killer once he got into the White House:

[W]hat should we say about the Obama job record? Private-sector employment — the relevant number … hit its low point in February 2010. Since then we’ve gained 14 million jobs…

But Krugman set out to write cheerleading column for Obama, he’s focused on demonstrating specifically that the GOP economic orthodoxy, and the prophesies that derive from it are clearly flawed:

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White House Says It Will Prioritize LGBT Syrian Refugees


Carlos Santoscoy | On Top Magazine | December 11, 2015

The White House on Tuesday rejected calls to set aside a specific number of slots for LGBT Syrian refugees, but added that it would prioritize such cases.

White Hose Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that the Obama administration would not set aside 500 slots for LGBT people seeking asylum in the United States from Syria. Instead, Earnest said, the administration would prioritize the cases of individuals “deemed to be the most vulnerable.”

Earnest made his comments in response to a question on the subject from Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson.

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Obama, Like Bush, Just Makes It All Worse


President Obama with George W. Bush. (photo: AP)
President Obama with George W. Bush. (photo: AP)

 

William Boardman | Reader Supported News | December 9, 2015

resident Obama’s oval office talk on terrorism promises more of the same failed strategy based on no serious reconsideration of changed reality. From the top, by focusing on 14 Americans killed in error, the President plays into the terrorists’ hands. President Obama, like the rest of the US establishment, appears to have learned nothing since President Bush played the fear card after 9/11, then used it to terrorize the Muslim world with ever more disastrous results (carried on by President Obama).

It’s not as though the madness of the fear-based reaction wasn’t obvious from the get-go. Susan Sontag wrote soberly in The New Yorker in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 about how to respond rationally to the attack. For her trouble, she was pilloried by her peers, at The New Yorker and elsewhere: it was as if the herd had decided that she had no right not to be afraid, which was the same as saying she had no right not to react as the terrorists wanted, which is irrational to the point of self-destructive insanity. But it was what the herd wanted, and did, and still does. Now we’ve had 14 years of spiraling destruction at home and abroad, and the President as our terrorist-in-chief says let’s have more.

The President’s emotional appeal, based on the 14 dead in San Bernardino, is as maudlin and manipulative as it is irrelevant to terrorism. That may sound cold, but it’s true. And it’s not nearly as cold as using victims as cover for continuing a murderous failed policy that is most effective in perpetuating the cycle of violence.

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Former Drone Operators Are ‘Horrified’ by the Cruelty of the Assassination Program


Drone pilots. (photo: Getty)
Drone pilots. (photo: Getty)

 

Murtaza Hussain | The Intercept | Reader Supported News | November 27, 2015

.S. drone operators are inflicting heavy civilian casualties and have developed an institutional culture callous to the death of children and other innocents, four former operators said at a press briefing today in New York.

The killings, part of the Obama administration’s targeted assassination program, are aiding terrorist recruitment and thus undermining the program’s goal of eliminating such fighters, the veterans added. Drone operators refer to children as “fun-size terrorists” and liken killing them to “cutting the grass before it grows too long,” said one of the operators, Michael Haas, a former senior airman in the Air Force. Haas also described widespread drug and alcohol abuse, further stating that some operators had flown missions while impaired.

In addition to Haas, the operators are former Air Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Bryant along with former senior airmen Cian Westmoreland and Stephen Lewis. The men have conducted kill missions in many of the major theaters of the post-9/11 war on terror, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“We have seen the abuse firsthand,” said Bryant, “and we are horrified.”

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How refugees are screened now, how the GOP would change that


Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., left, and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La., stride from the House chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, as House Republicans work on legislation aimed at increasing screenings for Syrian and Iraqi refugees before they enter the U.S., including a new requirement for FBI background checks.© AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., left, and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La., stride from the House chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, as House Republicans work…

 

Associated Press | MSN News | November 18, 2015

WASHINGTON — The House will vote Thursday on a bill aimed at boosting screening of Syrian and Iraqi refugees before they enter the United States. President Barack Obama, who wants to allow 10,000 more Syrians into the U.S. this year, has threatened to veto it.

Some details on the current screening process:

—Obama administration officials say current screening of Syrians is more rigorous than for any other set of travelers.

—The checks are conducted by multiple federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies and include an interview overseas, biometrics, fingerprinting and biographical investigations to determine if individuals meet the standards for refugee status or if they pose security risks. Syrians are subject to additional, classified controls.

—The Homeland Security Department makes the final decision on whether a refugee is accepted.

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We Need Clarity about ISIS, and the Democratic Candidates Didn’t Provide It


{AP Photo/Jacques Brinon} Rescue workers gather at victims in the 10th district of Paris, Friday, November 13, 2015.

 

Paul Starr | American Prospect | November 15, 2015

Many Democrats—including the candidates for president at Saturday night’s debate in Iowa—are not registering the full import of the attacks in Paris. When French President Francois Hollande declared the massacre “an act of war” and ISIS claimed responsibility and announced that the attacks were the “first of a storm,” the conflict with ISIS entered a new stage.

In responding to the advance of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the Obama administration has tried to rely on local proxies—Syrian moderates, Kurds, the Iraqi army—to do the fighting on the ground, while the United States has supplied air power, intelligence, equipment, and other resources. Obama’s reluctance to commit ground troops is understandable. But with clear evidence his strategy was insufficient, the president announced on October 30 that several dozen special operations forces would go into Syria.

Although the Kurds have recently had some success in breaking ISIS’s supply lines in western Iraq, the basic assumptions behind Obama’s original strategy have now been shattered in two ways. First, the local ground forces are too weak to defeat ISIS on anything like a reasonable timetable. And second, as the downing of the Russian airliner and the attacks in Beirut and Paris show, we can no longer assume that ISIS is focused entirely on seizing and defending territory. It is a much more direct threat to us. No one should think that because ISIS murdered Russians and Parisians first, it won’t murder Americans next on a large scale.

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