Why a Medical Examiner Called Eric Garner’s Death a ‘Homicide’

TIME

New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo killed Eric Garner on July 17 when he grabbed him by the neck and, with other officers, threw him to the ground and pinned him there. But did he commit homicide? And if so, was it a crime?

Everyone from Charles Barkley to Judge Andrew Napolitano has weighed in with an opinion on the matter. The resulting confusion has the potential to take the hard, painful question of equal justice in America and make it harder and more painful.

The key to clearing up the confusion is to understand the difference between two uses of the word “homicide” and to focus not on the medical cause of Garner’s death but on Pantaleo’s behavior.

On Aug. 1, a New York City medical examiner determined that the cause of death in the Garner case was “homicide,” specifically the neck compressions from the Pantaleo’s chokehold and…

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U.S. Congress Salaries…

Rank-and-File Members:
The current salary (2011) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year.

  • Members are free to turn down pay increase and some choose to do so.
  • In a complex system of calculations, administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, congressional pay rates also affect the salaries for federal judges and other senior government executives.
  • During the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin considered proposing that elected government officials not be paid for their service. Other Founding Fathers, however, decided otherwise.
  • From 1789 to 1855, members of Congress received only a per diem (daily payment) of $6.00 while in session, except for a period from December 1815 to March 1817, when they received $1,500 a year. Members began receiving an annual salary in 1855, when they were paid $3,000 per year.

Congress: Leadership Members’ Salary (2011)
Leaders of the House and Senate are paid a higher salary than rank-and-file members.

Senate Leadership
Majority Party Leader – $193,400
Minority Party Leader – $193,400

House Leadership
Speaker of the House – $223,500
Majority Leader – $193,400
Minority Leader – $193,400

A cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) increase takes effect annually unless Congress votes to not accept it.

Benefits Paid to Members of Congress

You may have read that Members of Congress do not pay into Social Security. Well, that’s a myth.

Prior to 1984, neither Members of Congress nor any other federal civil service employee paid Social Security taxes. Of course, they were also not eligible to receive Social Security benefits. Members of Congress and other federal employees were instead covered by a separate pension plan called the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). The 1983 amendments to the Social Security Act required federal employees first hired after 1983 to participate in Social Security. These amendments also required all Members of Congress to participate in Social Security as of January 1, 1984, regardless of when they first entered Congress. Because the CSRS was not designed to coordinate with Social Security, Congress directed the development of a new retirement plan for federal workers. The result was the Federal Employees’ Retirement System Act of 1986.

Members of Congress receive retirement and health benefits under the same plans available to other federal employees. They become vested after five years of full participation.

Members elected since 1984 are covered by the Federal Employees’ Retirement System(FERS). Those elected prior to 1984 were covered by the Civil Service Retirement System(CSRS). In 1984 all members were given the option of remaining with CSRS or switching to FERS.

As it is for all other federal employees, congressional retirement is funded through taxes and the participants’ contributions. Members of Congress under FERS contribute 1.3 percent of their salary into the FERS retirement plan and pay 6.2 percent of their salary in Social Security taxes.

Members of Congress are not eligible for a pension until they reach the age of 50, but only if they’ve completed 20 years of service. Members are eligible at any age after completing 25 years of service or after they reach the age of 62. Please also note that Members of Congress have to serve at least 5 years to even receive a pension.

The amount of a congressperson’s pension depends on the years of service and the average of the highest 3 years of his or her salary. By law, the starting amount of a Member’s retirement annuity may not exceed 80% of his or her final salary.

According to the Congressional Research Service, 413 retired Members of Congress were receiving federal pensions based fully or in part on their congressional service as of Oct. 1, 2006. Of this number, 290 had retired under CSRS and were receiving an average annual pension of $60,972. A total of 123 Members had retired with service under both CSRS and FERS or with service under FERS only. Their average annual pension was $35,952 in 2006.

Full Article

OpEdNews – Article: Welcome to Boston, Mr. Rumsfeld. You Are Under Arrest.

 

 

 

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has been stripped of legal immunity for acts of torture against US citizens authorized while he was in office.   The 7th Circuit made the ruling in the case of two American contractors who were tortured by the US military in Iraq after uncovering a smuggling ring within an Iraqi security company.  The company was under contract to the Department of Defense.   The company was assisting Iraqi insurgent groups in the “mass acquisition” of American weapons. 

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Cheney, the simple-minded sadist is next!  Bush won’t leave his cul-de-sac unless he has fifty henchmen surrounding him.  I love it when the bad guys get theirs!

OpEdNews – Article: Welcome to Boston, Mr. Rumsfeld. You Are Under Arrest..

US government shutdown looms again – FT.com

The US government has been put at risk of a possible October 1 shutdown because of a partisan fight on Capitol Hill over disaster relief for victims of hurricane Irene and Democratic opposition to proposed cuts to subsidies for fuel-efficient cars.

via US government shutdown looms again – FT.com.

SpectrumTalk

ARE WE SMARTER THAN 5TH GRADERS?

ARE WE SMARTER THAN 5TH GRADERS?
By Helen L. Burleson, Doctor of Public Administration

Some suppositions were posed to me by a friend from St. Lucia in the eastern area of the Caribbean Sea.

Here are the suppositions:

“A nation that rejects Health Care for all,
Rejects plans for sustained development for the future,
Rejects educational advancement for its youth and retraining for its workers,
Rejects sustainable and renewable energy,
Rejects the most balanced President in History,
Fights against its own people;
And, a list too long to continue, can never be as smart as 5th graders.”

Looking at this nonintrospective look from an outsider made me pause to think about the answers to his theory.

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You can read more of Dr. Burleson’s work at: SpectrumTalk.

A Little Less Corporate Political Corruption – The Texas Observer

The president is thinking about issuing an executive order that would mitigate some of the damage done by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United edict. The ruling unleashes unlimited amounts of secret corporate cash to pervert America’s elections. Obama’s idea is to require that those corporations seeking federal contracts disclose all of their campaign donations for the previous two years, including money they launder through such front groups as the national Chamber of Commerce.

This approach says to those giants sucking up billions of our tax dollars for endless war and privatization of public services: You’re still free to shove trainloads of your shareholders’ money into congressional and presidential races, but, hey, just tell the public how much you’re giving to whom.

Neat. It would be a clean, direct and effective reform. The corporate powers and their apologists are squealing like stuck pigs. Steven Law, a Bush-Cheney operative who is now a Wall Street Journal editorialist and head of a secret corporate money fund, recently decried the idea of public disclosure of contractor campaign contributions: “When I was in the executive branch,” he sniffed, “mixing politics with procurement was
called corruption.”

Yes, Steve, and y’all were corruption experts! Perhaps you’ve forgotten that we remember Halliburton, the Cheney-run corporation that helped put Bush in office and then was handed tens of billions in contracts, becoming the poster child of corrupt, no-bid procurement.

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Come on, Obama, don’t back down. Sign that disclosure order! If they’re going to steal our elections, at least make them admit it.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Entitlement programs: A Glossary of Political Economy Terms – Dr. Paul M. Johnson

 

 

The kind of government program that provides individuals with personal financial benefits (or sometimes special government-provided goods or services) to which an indefinite (but usually rather large) number of potential beneficiaries have a legal right(enforceable in court, if necessary) whenever they meet eligibility conditions that are specified by the standing law that authorizes the program. The beneficiaries of entitlement programs are normally individual citizens or residents, but sometimes organizations such as business corporations, local governments, or even political parties may have similar special “entitlements” under certain programs. The most important examples of entitlement programs at the federal level in the United States would include Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, most Veterans’ Administration programs, federal employee and military retirement plans, unemployment compensation, food stamps, and agricultural price support programs.

The existence of entitlement programs is mainly significant from a political economy standpoint because of the very difficult problems they create for Congress’s efforts to control the exact size of the budget deficit or surplus through the annual appropriations process. It is often very hard to predict in advance just how many individuals will meet the various entitlement criteria during any given year, so it is therefore difficult to predict what the total costs to the government will be at the time the appropriation bills for the coming fiscal year are being drafted. This makes it even harder for government to smooth out the business cycle or pursue other macroeconomic objectives through an active fiscal policy — because these objectives require careful pre-planning of the size of the budget deficit or surplus to be run. In the first place, the amount of money that will be required in the coming year to fund an entitlement program is often extremely difficult to predict in advance because the number of people with an entitlement may depend upon the overall condition of the economy at the time. For example, the total amount of unemployment benefits to be paid out will depend upon the changing level of unemployment in the economy as the year wears on. Some very large entitlement programs (including Social Security pensions and government employee retirement programs) have been “indexed” to inflation, so that the size of the benefit is periodically adjusted according to a fixed formula based on unpredictable changes in the Consumers’ Price Index. Perhaps more significantly, the amount of spending on entitlement programs is impossible for the Senate and House Appropriations committees to even attempt to adjust or to control because those committees do not have the jurisdiction to rewrite the laws that specify who gets how much and under what conditions. The various specialized standing committees who do have the jurisdiction to rewrite authorizing legislation each tend to be dominated by members whose political interests lie in expanding their particular entitlement program, not in cutting it back, and the political influence of the organized special interest groups that support the programs tends to be overwhelming on the specialized committees when such proposals arise.

Since the middle 1980s, entitlement programs have accounted for more than half of all federal spending. Taken together with such other almost uncontrollable (in the short run, that is) expenses as interest payments on the national debt and the payment obligations arising from long-term contracts already entered into by the government in past years, entitlement programs leave Congress with no more than about 25% of the annual budget to be scrutinized for possible cutbacks through the regular appropriations process. This very substantially reduces the practicality of trying to counteract the ups and downs of the overall economy through a “discretionary” fiscal policy because so very little of the budget is available for meaningful alteration by the Appropriations and Budget committees on short notice.

Entitlement program: A Glossary of Political Economy Terms – Dr. Paul M. Johnson.