Thursday, September 9, 2010

Federal judge rules DADT unconstitutional

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips has ruled the military's ban on openly gay service violates the first amendment rights of gays and lesbians and is therefore unconstitutional.

Phillips also issued an injunction stopping the military from enforcing the policy. Phillips may lack authority to impose a nation-wide injunction, however, and attorneys for the federal government are arguing the policy is better addressed by an act of Congress.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Economy: Obama proposes $50 bn in infrastructure spending, $100 bn R&D tax credit extension for businesses

Obama wants $50 billion for infrastructure investment, reports Peter Slevin: "White House officials said the $50 billion in new government spending would be the first installment of a six-year transportation strategy that would include investments in high-speed rail and air traffic control. To pay for it, the administration would raise taxes on oil and gas companies...If approved by Congress, the infrastructure money would be used to build or repair 150,000 miles of road, 4,000 miles of railroad track and 150 miles of runways, the officials said. The proposal includes creating an 'infrastructure bank' to prioritize projects and attract private funds."

Obama will also propose a $100 billion business tax credit this week -- but no payroll-tax holiday. Anne Kornblut and Lori Montgomery report : "The business proposal - what one aide called a key part of a limited economic package - would increase and permanently extend research and development tax credits for businesses, rewarding companies that develop new technologies domestically and preserve American jobs. It would be paid for by closing other corporate tax loopholes, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the policy has not yet been unveiled."

"The White House has decided to forgo a broad-based payroll-tax holiday at this point, officials have said. That proposal, which had been part of earlier discussions with key congressional officials, would have been an expensive measure, potentially costing hundreds of billions of dollars. It also could have deprived Social Security of needed cash even as Democrats are accusing the GOP of plotting the program's demise on the campaign trail."

And tax write-off for capital investments, reports Jackie Calmes: "It would cost an estimated $200 billion in revenues, though the ultimate net loss would be $30 billion over 10 years, administration officials say, since businesses would eventually deduct the depreciated value of the equipment in any case....A draft paper on the proposal permitting businesses to write off the full costs of capital spending in 2010 and 2011 said it 'would be the largest temporary investment incentive in American history.'"

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sub-Saharan Africa: South African mine workers go on strike

Eight-thousand workers at the Northam Platinum company are on strike in pursuit of a 15 percent pay raise after turning down management's 8 percent offer.

The miners are members of South Africa's National Union of Mine Workers. Their decision to strike follows a series of other high-visibility walk-outs in South Africa this year.

More from the BBC:

"Public sector employees, including nurses, police officers, teachers and immigration staff, have been on strike, demanding an 8.5% rise in pay - they have been offered 7.5%.

Unions representing these 1.3m state workers are expected to announce later whether they will accept government wage offer.

Last month, the Automobile Manufacturers Employers Organisation (Ameo) and the metal workers union, Numsa, accepted a 10% pay rise after an eight-day strike.

Earlier in the summer, workers at the electricity company Eskom took action which lead to a 9% pay offer and a housing allowance."