Category Archives: Taxes

Syrian asylum seeker is jailed for life in Sweden after footage emerged of him taking part in the execution of seven men in 2012

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The criminal refugee Sakhanh, far left (circled in red)

And proggies wonder why many Americans want a refugee ban and stronger vetting processes. Go figure…

From Daily Mail: A Swedish court on Thursday sentenced a Syrian man to life imprisonment for participation in the 2012 mass execution of seven government troops in Syria.

The Stockholm District Court ruled that 46-year-old refugee Haisam Omar Sakhanh joined the armed group Suleiman Company in early May 2012, and shot a person dead with an assault rifle.

Judge Tomas Zander said the victim, who was not identified, was shot dead along with six others ‘under particularly cruel circumstances’. The seven men who were shot were part of the Syrian regime who had been captured by the independent Islamist group, which was founded in 2011.

The Islamist armed group captured the men during an attack at the beginning of May 2012, and the seven were shot to death less than two days later, according to Stockholms Tingsratt. In the years since the execution, it has been impossible to identify the victims.

Sakhanh had confessed to the shooting but said he should not be prosecuted because the death sentences had been made by a legitimate court, something the Swedish court rejected. It also rejected his defense that he had been following orders.

The group Sakanh was part of, the Suleiman Company, is a Islamic rebel group independent of Free Syrian Army that was formed in 2011 during the Syrian uprising. The group is mainly active in the Idleb countryside’s Jebel al-Zawiya region, and is led by former drug smuggler and Salafi militant Abu Suleiman al-Hamawi, according to TrackingTerrorism.org.

The court said Sakanh had been active in Italy in 2011 and 2012 where he protested against the Syrian government. 

Italian police helped investigators in Sweden to identify him via fingerprints and photos of him illegally entering the Syrian Embassy in Rome during a protest, according to the court ruling obtained by The Associated Press.

After his stint in Italy, Sakhanh returned to Syria before heading north to Sweden where he sought asylum in Sweden in 2013.  He failed to inform authorities about the executions and was given refugee status and permanent residence permit in early 2016.  He has been held in pre-trial custody since March.

In a statement, the court said Sakhanh’s crime ‘is so high that the punishment has been ruled to be life imprisonment’.  In Sweden, life imprisonment is normally ten years. The court said Sakhanh should then be expelled from the country and banned from returning.

DCG

 

 

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Humana to quit Obamacare exchanges in 2018, providing fuel for Trump’s ‘repeal’ efforts

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From Yahoo:  While Republicans continue to grapple with plans to repeal and replace Obamacare and stabilize health insurance rates, Humana (HUM) is the first major insurer to say it is dropping out of the individual market for 2018.

“Based on our initial analysis of data associated with the company’s health-care exchange membership following the 2017 open enrollment period, we continue to see further signs of an unbalanced risk pool,” said Humana CEO Bruce Broussard, on a conference call with analysts Tuesday. “Therefore, the company has decided that it cannot continue to offer this coverage for 2018.”

In the wake of the news, President Donald Trump tweeted that the insurer’s decision was another example of the failure of the Affordable Care Act, and he reiterated his plan to “repeal, replace & save healthcare for ALL Americans.”

The health insurer made the announcement with its earnings update, following the mutual termination of its $34 billion merger agreement with Aetna (AET) earlier in the day. The two insurers agreed to part ways , after a federal court judge blocked the deal on antitrust grounds.

Humana now expects to earn $10.80 to $11.00 per share for 2017, excluding anticipated losses on its exchange business.

Humana cut back its Affordable Care Act exchange participation to 11 states last July, when the Department Of Justice sued to block its deal with Aetna. The insurer said that despite efforts to mitigate losses on its exchange plans in 2017 through narrower networks and selective market participation, it is seeing early signs of high pharmacy utilization among its new members.

Right now, the insurer estimated that it will lose a modest $45 million on ACA exchange plans, but it cautioned that this is an early estimate and “a number… that we’re going to have to evaluate.”

Other health insurers have threatened to pull out of the individual market if there is no clarity from Capitol Hill or Trump’s health officials on stabilizing the markets, but Humana is the first to say that it will pull out altogether.

Leading up to 2017 open enrollment, the exchange markets experienced tremendous turbulence last year, after most major insurers, including Humana, cut back on participation after suffering big losses on exchange plans.

Humana is a leading Medicare Advantage plan provider, and executives said that they don’t believe that they can achieve the same kind of health-care models on the Obamacare exchanges that they achieve with health plans for seniors.

The company does not hold out hope for more detail on Republican “repeal and replace” plans in the near term.

“We’re really feeling that this organization needs to stay focused on what we do well,” Broussard said, and the company can’t do that with Obamacare plans. “I think with that particular program, the way it is designed today and most likely the way it is designed in the future, will limit our ability… to get back into that marketplace.”

DCG

 

 

General strike, rally called for this weekend in Seattle

trump-triggeredFrom MyNorthwest.com: Better stock up on essentials before the weekend — just in case. A National General Strike, a Seattle area strike, and a rally have been called for. And as with any event in Seattle, whether it be a Seahawks game or a protest march, locals should plan for traffic and other interruptions.

A general strike means no working, no school, and no shopping. For many people, this should be easy. According to the Facebook event for the general strike, it will run from Feb. 17-20 (Friday through Monday). It covers the weekend and Presidents Day, which some workers have off as a holiday.

The event is organized by General Strike USA. It’s a bit wordy, but according to the event page:

WE DEMAND RECONSTITUTION. Disrupt the economy until we have a government, instead of being had by one. This is how we stop Trump and the entire corrupt political establishment before they destroy us and the planet we call home.

At this dangerous point in our history, we must confront a bitter truth: any political system that can allow Donald Trump to come to power is not a system worth keeping. Indeed, our elections, as controlled by the major political parties, offer us merely a contest of personalities rather than a choice between real alternatives. These contests mask the major parties’ underlying unity in a neoliberal economic establishment that serves the wealthy few at the expense of the impoverished many.

The general strike promotes a change of the system, not a change within the system, and encourages dismantling the establishment.

So far, the Facebook event has more than 2,000 people signed up, nationally, to participate, with 3,000 more interested in taking part. And 22,000 more have been invited to strike.

General strike in Seattle: A separate, unrelated general strike is organized in Seattle amid the national event. The Solidarity Strike is slated to take place between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., Feb. 17 at Volunteer Park in Seattle. It is organized by Solidarity for Justice in Education.

As the organization’s name implies, the strike is more focused on Washington’s education system as lawmakers are in session, attempting to fully fund it. The State of Washington has been ordered by its own Supreme Court to fully fund education. But there has been a tug-of-war between Democrats and Republicans on just how to do that.

The event notice states: Solidarity Demonstration to #Resist the WA Senate Republican proposal to fund education by undermining collective bargaining rights of Education Workers. All Labor Unions are welcome and encouraged to stand in support of this Legislative attack on Unions. No Right to Work in Washington.

The Seattle event has 1,300 people interested in taking part, and 324 confirmed to go. There are 1,600 more invited to come. Comments on the event’s page seem to have a theme — it would have a better turnout if organizers planned it on the weekend, instead of during the workday.

Free Daniel rally: Before Seattle’s strike in Volunteer Park, another event has been put together at the last minute by a range of organizers, including Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant.

The “Free Daniel Rally Against Deportations Fight Trump!” is scheduled for 9 a.m. at the Seattle Federal Courthouse in downtown Seattle. At least 1,000 people are interested in attending, and more than 200 have committed to going. Another 1,400 have been invited.

The event is partially motivated by a series of immigration roundups and detainments. Then, locally, Daniel Ramirez Medina was detained after he had an encounter with the law. He is covered under regulations passed under the Obama administration that allows immigrants who entered the country as minors to stay in renewable two-year periods. That regulation is known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

The Facebook event states: Over the last week, Trump’s administration has detained and deported 600+ immigrants. Here in Seattle, on Tuesday 2/14, Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23-year-old father who has received repeated approval to stay and work under the DACA program, was taken by ICE.  Medina has a court appearance on Friday during the rally.

The Department of Homeland Security argues another perspective. It says that those protected under DACA can be deported if they are perceived as threats to public safety.

According to a press release from DHS:

On February 10, Daniel Ramirez-Medina, a gang member, was encountered at a residence in Des Moines, Washington, during an operation targeting a prior-deported felon. He was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and was transferred to the Northwest Detention Center to await the outcome of removal proceedings before an immigration judge.

This case illustrates the work ICE fugitive operations teams perform every day across the country to remove public safety threats from our communities when they encounter them. ICE officers, along with their law enforcement partners, have and will continue to enforce our nation’s laws to protect public safety, national security, and to preserve the integrity of our immigration system.”

DCG

 

New Jersey Democrats push measures to protect illegal immigrants, vow to defy Trump

wisniewskiFrom Fox News: Sanctuary city advocates in one state with a Trump friendly Republican governor are digging in their heels in the face of President Trump’s threat to cut off federal funding.

Democratic lawmakers in New Jersey introduced bills this week calling on the state to reimburse so-called sanctuary cities that lose federal funding. And on Wednesday, Assemblyman John Wisniewski* introduced legislation designating New Jersey a “sanctuary state,” generally preventing law enforcement officers from initiating contact with immigration officials, and from using state resources for the purpose of enforcing immigration laws. *Wisniewski’s education includes a J.D. from Seton Hall University School of Law.

In addition, several towns that have significant immigrant populations have declared themselves sanctuaries, saying they will not reach out to immigration officials about illegal immigrants they arrest or provide a service to unless they are serious criminals or a national security threat.

“We are putting President Trump and his administration on notice,” said Wisniewski in written public announcement about his legislation. “New Jersey will not be a ‘willing partner’ to the unjustified and inhumane deportations of our neighbors and friends.” New York and California also have moved toward declaring their states sanctuaries for illegal immigrants.

Trump, who made cracking down on illegal immigration a cornerstone of his campaign, has issued executive orders and directives aimed at border security and tracking down and deporting undocumented people illegal aliens.

He directed the Department of Homeland Security to identify and publish a list of sanctuary communities. Although no strict definition of the term exists, it is generally used to describe communities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

The New Jersey measures have little chance of passing, given GOP resistance and Gov. Chris Christie’s veto threat, said Ross Baker, a Rutgers University professor of political science. “It’s more of a gesture to the immigrant community,” Baker told Fox News. “It’s a message to them that they would be protected against hypothetical actions by the federal government.”

In Maplewood, Mayor Victor DeLuca consulted with police administrators before crafting a sanctuary ordinance that became final at the end of January. DeLuca said police officials said they did not want the responsibility of enforcing federal immigration laws. “The police said ‘We don’t do it now,’” DeLuca told Fox News, “and there was a feeling on our part that wanted to make clear that there are distinctions between the role of the police department and the role of immigration officials.”

New Jersey has more than 500,000 illegal immigrants, according to estimates.

Republicans in the state legislature say they will not support sanctuary towns in any way. Christie, a Republican, says he will veto any legislation that would favor sanctuary cities.

Proponents of strict immigration enforcement say sanctuary communities are violating the law. “To have lawmakers in Trenton say ‘O.K., we’ll show the president, if they withhold funding, we’ll pay,’ is violating federal law,” said Ron Bass, founder of United Patriots of America, a New Jersey-based group that pushes for strict enforcement. “It’s like the state saying to sanctuary cities ‘You rob the bank, I’ll drive the [getaway] car.’”

DCG

King County seeks to allocate $750,000 to help immigrants

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King County Executive Dow Constantine: “We have this much taxpayer money for illegals!”

Only in America: Illegally enter our country and the proggies will use taxpayer dollars to defend your “human rights.” Ain’t it grand?

From the Seattle Times: King County may allocate $750,000 to help immigrants become U.S. citizens and to educate them about their rights.

County Executive Dow Constantine plans to propose legislation to make the money available. Metropolitan King County Council Chair Joe McDermott plans to sponsor it.  They held a news conference Wednesday, but the legislation wasn’t yet available.

The money would be used for three purposes, according to Constantine and McDermott: to provide free guidance to immigrants seeking to become citizens, to develop and distribute “know your rights” materials and to boost outreach and education work carried out by community organizations that serve immigrants.

Constantine and McDermott say the legislation would create a “legal defense fund,” because it would pay for naturalization assistance. But that may be a stretch. Some other local governments, such as Los Angeles, are spending money to actually provide people facing deportation with immigration-court lawyers.

That doesn’t appear to be what Constantine has in mind, though McDermott said some of King County’s money would likely go to the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, which provides immigration-court representation, among other services.

Constantine linked the plan to President Donald Trump’s recent actions on immigration. “People in our community are afraid — afraid for their human rights, their families, and their safety,” he said in a statement. “Our message to the White House, the country, and the rest of the world is clear: We proudly uphold the fundamental American promise that we are — and will be — a nation of hope, freedom, and opportunity for all.

In an interview, McDermott said he views the legislation not only as a response to Trump’s actions but also as an investment in the people of the county. “Almost one-fourth of our residents are foreign-born,” he said.

Seattle is spending $250,000 to help immigrants and refugees navigate life under the Trump administration, with a focus on children in the city’s public schools. Mayor Ed Murray announced the allocation in November, details of his plan were still being hammered out last month. The City Council adopted a resolution last month that says the city will work to create a legal-defense fund.

DCG

 

Homosexual Seattle mayor to give State of City address at mosque, slams Trump administration

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Trump Derangement Syndrome on steroids: Where you have a homosexual mayor and advocate for the LGBT community giving a speech in a Muslim place of worship, in which their Islamic law considers homosexual acts a punishable crime.

From KIRO7: Mayor Ed Murray plans to give his State of the City address next week at a mosque in North Seattle. The address on Tuesday, his spokesman said, is meant to stand with the Seattle Muslim community “as we fight sanctioned discrimination by the Trump Administration.”

Murray made the announcement Monday with City Council President Bruce Harrell. This will be the first time Murray has held one a major speech to Council outside City Hall, though previous mayors have done so, his staff said.

Idris Mosque was opened in 1981 and is open to Muslims and non-Muslims.

“Both the City and Idris Mosque are committed to the American ideal of separation of church and state,” Murray’s spokesman, Benton Strong, said in an e-mail statement. “With this address Mayor Murray and Council are standing with Seattle’s Muslim community in their house of worship as we fight state sanctioned discrimination by the Trump Administration.”

“Throughout its history Seattle has stood with communities facing persecution from the government, including during the civil rights era at Black churches. “

The address will be given during a special Seattle City Council meeting which will be open to the public. It will be led by Harrell at 9:30 a.m. Doors open an hour earlier.

DCG

Seattle to offer employees 12 weeks of paid parental leave

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Progressive Seattle Mayor Ed Murray

Guess who is vying for re-election?

Update: This was unanimously approved by the council, of course.

From Seattle Times: The Seattle City Council is set to vote Monday on whether to offer city employees up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave, rather than the four weeks they are offered now.

Mayor Ed Murray is asking for the change. It was less than two years ago that the council approved the existing benefit for new parents, making Seattle the first city in the Pacific Northwest and one of the first cities in the country to offer paid parental leave.

Employees would become eligible for 12 weeks after working for the city for six months. The benefit would apply not only to births but also to placements of children into homes through adoption, foster care and legal guardianship.

When Councilmember Kshama Sawant proposed 12 weeks of paid parental leave last year, her proposal was voted down.

Monday’s legislation would also give city employees a new benefit — up to four weeks of paid leave to care for family members with serious health conditions. The four weeks would be available every 12 months and employees would need to first use some sick leave and vacation leave.

Extending the parental-leave benefit to 12 weeks would cost the city an additional $2.6 million per year, according to the legislation’s fiscal note. Offering the new family-care benefit would cost an additional $436,000 per year, for a total of about $3 million.

Rather than refer Murray’s legislation to a committee for review and discussion, the council has chosen to take action on it immediately. Seattle has more than 11,000 employees.

DCG