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MOSCOW (AP) — Up to 2,000 tons of oil have spilled from a major field in northern Russia after workers struggled to contain the leak for two days, officials said. The accident happened at the Trebs oil field in the Nenets Autonomous District on Friday following work on an exploratory well. The oil had been gushing for nearly two days before the workers finally capped the well Sunday morning, Emergency Ministry officials said.
Across the United States more than 2,700 companies are collecting state income taxes from hundreds of thousands of workers – and are keeping the money with the states’ approval, says an eye-opening report published on Thursday. The report from Good Jobs First, a nonprofit taxpayer watchdog organization funded by Ford, Surdna and other major foundations, identifies 16 states that let companies divert some or all of the state income taxes deducted from workers’ paychecks. None of the states requires notifying the workers, whose withholdings are treated as taxes they paid. General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Procter & Gamble, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors and AMC Theatres enjoy deals to keep state taxes deducted from their workers’ paychecks, the report shows. Foreign companies also enjoy such arrangements, including Electrolux, Nissan, Toyota and a host of Canadian, Japanese and European banks, Good Jobs First says. Why do state governments do this?
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London police probing News Corp. (NWSA) ’s phone-hacking in 2006 didn’t show prosecutors evidence that more than two people were involved, preventing a full examination of the scandal, the lead lawyer in the case said. David Perry , who represented Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service, limited the case to former reporter Clive Goodman and ex-private detective Glenn Mulcaire for lack of evidence that other journalists had intercepted celebrities’ voice mail, he told the media ethics inquiry in London today. “We were informed that there was no such evidence,” Perry said to the judge-led inquiry via video-link from Northern Ireland . “I can’t recall which officer gave that reply.” Others have testified to the inquiry that police had information at the time of more phone-hacking victims and potential wrongdoers.
Event sponsor: MoveOn.org Unity Church, .5 mi. from intersection of South Blvd. and E. Arrowood Rd., Charlotte, NC 28217 Saturday, April 14th, 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM (We'll send you the full address when you sign up.) Let's keep the momentum going! Please sign up for this gathering right away!
Cairo and Washington breathed a sigh of relief last month when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton approved military aid to Egypt. But their hopes for the future proved to be wishful thinking, as Egypt asked Interpol this week to issue red notices for the arrest of six Americans whom the Egyptians accuse of illegally stirring unrest. The Americans are all employees of three ostensibly private groups that Washington funds “to promote democracy” in Egypt and other countries.
Monsanto, the massive biotechnology company being blamed for contributing to the dwindling bee population, has bought up one of the leading bee collapse research organizations. Recently banned from Poland with one of the primary reasons being that the company’s genetically modified corn may be devastating the dying bee population, it is evident that Monsanto is under serious fire for their role in the downfall of the vital insects. It is therefore quite apparent why Monsanto bought one of the largest bee research firms on the planet. It can be found in public company reports hosted on mainstream media that Monsanto scooped up the Beeologics firm back in September 2011. During this time the correlation between Monsanto’s GM crops and the bee decline was not explored in the mainstream, and in fact it was hardly touched upon until Polish officials addressed the serious concern amid the monumental ban.
Chalk one up for the reformers. On Wednesday, President Obama signed into the law the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act , which bans members of Congress and their staffs from using non-public information to get a leg up in the stock market. The law also creates a system for tracking in real-time the stock deals of those walking the halls of Congress. The STOCK Act's passage marks a victory (of sorts) for the good-government group Public Citizen, a long-time advocate of banning congressional insider trading. Here's a useful White House fact-sheet with a full rundown of the law's provisions.
Planet Money 's Alex Blumberg and NPR Congressional correspondent Andrea Seabrook take a tour through the world of money and politics, discovering just how much time members of congress spend raising money and which committee assignments yield the biggest campaign donations. They also try to figure out what all this money is actually buying. For an interactive map of Washington DC fundraiser locations, charts of the best and worst types of fundraisers, and other online extras, visit Planet Money's website . (27 minutes).
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images It was with some fanfare  that the Obama administration announced  last fall that it was ramping up a program  to help students with federal loans reduce their monthly payments. Under the program, payments are adjusted based on how much students earn — what’s known as income-based repayment. Yet, even while the administration has emphasized easing the burden for student borrowers, some contractors with the Department of Education appear to be exacerbating it. Bloomberg reported this week that some federally contracted debt collection agencies have been playing hardball with borrowers  who are behind, insisting on payments the borrowers can’t afford — even when federal student-loan rules allow more leniency.
The ‘Suicidal State’ and the War on Youth Posted on Apr 11, 2012 By Henry A.
The derivatives industry is squeezing Washington like a python. Desperate to control the tone and thrust of derivatives regulation, industry lobbyists have been swarming over the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission , each of which is writing derivatives rules as mandated by the Dodd-Frank reform law. In case their lobbying falls short, the industry -- largely dealer banks and commodities firms -- has been pushing legislation that would pre-empt the rulemaking process and tie the agencies’ hands. So far, no fewer than 10 such derivatives bills have been introduced in the House; two have passed and several more have cleared committee.
There are many words that could be used to describe Barack Obama, but one adjective decidedly doesn’t fit: Aggressive. So it was more than passing strange when a prominent member of Wall Street — Stephen Schwarzman , chairman of the private equity giant Blackstone Group — compared actions by President Obama to one of the most notoriously aggressive acts by one of history’s most aggressive villains. Speaking to the board of a nonprofit group, Schwarzman fiercely denounced initiatives by the Obama administration: “It’s war. It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.” In the arena of political commentary, few things are considered more clearly below-the-belt than comparing an opponent to Hitler.
Telling people that the men and women in Congress sometimes vote with special interests in mind is like telling people that pro wrestling is staged. We all know it happens but it’s just an inevitable part of the process. While there are sources to see who gives money to your representatives, there’s not an immediate and easy way to see which side they take with voting. A relatively new Web site aims to give you that power.
The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled  to vote April 27 on whether to require TV stations to post online public information about political ad buys. Some form of the rule seems likely  to pass, but the industry and others are lobbying the FCC to alter the nature of the final rule. (With the help of readers around the country, ProPublica is collecting stations’ public paper files containing data on political ads and posting  them online because the information is generally unavailable  elsewhere. See “ Free the Files  .”)