10:45 p.m.: The House passes the Fiscal Cliff bill, after a solid day of hand-wringing 11:25 p.m.: Obama wearily speaks to reporters regarding the deal made, after signing the bill. 11:32 p.m.: Obama plots his trip back to Hawaii. “My work is done here,” he was probably saying to himself as he boarded Air Force One.
President Obama is casting the fiscal cliff deal as a fulfillment of his campaign pledge to ask for more in taxes from the wealthiest 2 percent, while Mitch McConnell is boasting that 99 percent of his constituents won’t be hit with tax increases. How can that be? As with so much in the fiscal cliff—er, fiscal crisis—negotiations, it’s a matter of semantics. The top income tax rate will rise only on households earning $450,000 or more, but those earning more than $250,000 will see some loopholes phased out, so they’ll end up paying more as well.
Caption: “Nadine Wolf demonstrated against online piracy legislation a year ago in New York. The measures were defeated.”
Wow, great image. And great hair, Ms. Wolf.
At the end of 2012, tech companies were on track to have spent record amounts on lobbying for the year. In the first three quarters, they spent close to $100 million, which meant that they were likely to surpass the $127 million they spent on lobbying in 2011, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based nonpartisan group that tracks corporate spending. Even the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz hired a lobbyist in Washington: Adrian Fenty, a former mayor of the city.
Technology executives and investors also made generous contributions in the 2012 presidential race, luring both President Obama and Mitt Romney to Northern California for fund-raisers and nudging them to speak out on issues like immigration overhaul and lower tax rates.
“I donate to charity mostly for the tax breaks and I’m going to donate less now that the deal looks worse for me” is probably near the top of the list of things rich people would do better just keeping to themselves.
The pair were to be married in February, The Telegraph reported.
“They had made all the wedding preparations and had planned a wedding party in Delhi,” said Meena Rai, a friend and neighbour told the newspaper. “I really loved this girl. She was the brightest of all.” (Mahesh Kumar/AP; Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images)
“Perhaps you’ve heard stories about how close many of our most well-known animals are to extinction: 97 percent of the world’s tigers have been wiped out in the last century and the World Wildlife Fund warns the remainder could be gone in a decade or two. Ditto for elephants, sharks, and even the tiny honeybee, which is essential for pollinating our food sources.
But these are just the high-profile examples. Escaping the broader public’s attention, warns the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) is the possibility of ‘30 to 50 percent of all species possibly heading toward extinction by mid-century.’ Not just animals, but plants that are critical for human life. Rain forests, coral reefs, grasslands, tundra, and the polar seas — these critical, life-enhancing ecosystems that humans take for granted are all at risk. It is, the CBD warns, the ‘worst spate of species die-offs since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.’ Granted, some of this is natural, but human behavior — habitat destruction, pollution and yes, global warming — is accelerating the process.
Although few Americans have knowledge in basic sciences, it hasn’t stopped us from challenging or dismissing the peer-review findings of those who do. We don’t want to invest in addressing a slow-moving catastrophe like this because it’s just too hard to focus or acknowledge something that isn’t top of mind. ‘If honey bees become extinct,’ Albert Einstein noted, ‘human society will follow in four years.’ If you’re smarter than Einstein, Mr. Armchair Expert, tell me why he’s wrong.”
NBC News: Car rental company Avis says it will buy car-sharing company Zipcar for about $500 million in cash.
Car sharing has become a popular alternative to traditional rentals in cities and on college campuses, allowing people to use vehicles for quick trips.
Avis Chairman and CEO Ronald Nelson says combining with Zipcar will significantly increase the company’s growth potential. Avis also says bringing its fleet into play will help Zipcar meet high demand on weekends.
Each morning, at a small depot tucked away under the Williamsburg Bridge, the New York City workers who call themselves the “pothole gang” pore over a giant spreadsheet known as “The Daily Pothole.” On it are thousands of potholes all over the city: giant gorges caused by rain and sleet, small interconnected divots that can flatten tires, and pretty much every other roadway wound you can imagine. The sun is barely up, and yet for these men — members of a street maintenance team tasked by the Department of Transportation with roadway repair — the race has already begun.
Over the next eight hours, they will hit the streets, filling giant yellow trucks with smoldering hot asphalt, navigating endless traffic, and smoothing as many potholes as they can before the sun goes down (only to do it all again the next day). Does it get tiring? Sure. But in a city that’s always moving, roadway repair is crucial. On a good day, the team might fill 4,000 potholes. In an average week, they could resurface 100,000 square yards of road. After Hurricane Sandy, their crews removed 2,500 tons of debris. And every day, on a Tumblr called The Daily Pothole — named after that early morning spreadsheet — New Yorkers can take a peek inside the workings of a city system few have likely thought about. We spent a day with six men who help make up New York City’s pothole repair team.