Former Councilman Richard Alarcon, wife guilty of voter fraud, perjury

From the L.A. Times:

Former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon and his wife were convicted Wednesday of some but not all voter-fraud and perjury charges brought in a case that accused them of lying about where they lived so he would be qualified to run for his council seat. A seven-woman, five-man jury delivered the split verdicts to Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli. The couple was accused of claiming to live in a Panorama City house that was under repair, when they actually lived in a larger, nicer home in Sun Valley, outside his 7th District. State and city election law requires candidates to live in the district they seek to represent.’

Alarcon, 60, was convicted of three voter-fraud charges and one perjury charge, but acquitted on 12 other counts. His wife, Flora Montes de Oca, was convicted of two voting charges and one perjury count. Prosecutors said Alarcon lied when he swore that he lived in a home in Panorama City in L.A.’s 7th Council District so he could run in 2007 and 2009 to represent the district, which he did until last year. They said he actually lived in a bigger home outside the district in Sun Valley. The L.A. City Charter requires that candidates live in the districts they seek to represent.

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Ex-Councilman Richard Alarcon, wife convicted of voter fraud

from the L.A. Times

In Seattle, Barack Obama talks of unease about world

From Politico:

People don’t tend to vote on foreign policy. But reflecting on the crises in Ukraine, Gaza, Syria and Iraq that followed him as he headed to the West Coast for a fundraising swing, President Barack Obama acknowledged that they’re adding to an anxiety that’s feeding cynicism that could hurt his party in the midterms.

“Part of people’s concern is just the sense that around the world, the old order isn’t holding and we’re not quite where we need to be in terms of a new order that’s based on a different set of principles, that’s based on a sense of common humanity, that’s based on economies that work for all people,” Obama said Tuesday, speaking at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at an Italianate mansion across Lake Washington from the downtown skyline. As he often does, Obama said he’s spending his time out on the road trying to fight that kind of cynicism from seeping in. Some of that cynicism, Obama joked, was because of the news, which he said he doesn’t tend to watch himself.

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U.S. officials believe attack against Malaysian plane was mistake

From the L.A. Times:

American intelligence agencies believe Ukrainian separatists shot down a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet by mistake, possibly by misreading fuzzy radar images on a sophisticated surface-to-air missile launcher provided by Russia, senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday.The launcher that U.S. officials believe fired the SA-11 heat-seeking missile used a rudimentary radar system that gives an incomplete picture of what is flying above, officials said. Such antiaircraft systems are designed to be linked to other radar that would allow the crew on the ground to distinguish between military and civilian aircraft.

Because separatists did not have secondary radar images available, they probably mistook the airliner for a Ukrainian military plane, the officials said. The missile that took down the jetliner was probably fired by an “ill-trained crew,” said one U.S. official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue. “It does appear to be a mistake.”

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Wild day for Obamacare: Appeals court rulings conflict

From Politico:

Two U.S. appeals courts issued contradictory rulings on Obamacare subsidies Tuesday. One upheld them in a victory for the White House. The other dealt a blow to the president’s health law by striking them down for millions of Americans covered through HealthCare.gov. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit unanimously struck down a challenge to Obamacare subsidies, ruling unanimously that the people can get insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act through exchanges being run by either states or the federal government.

Just hours earlier, the D.C. circuit court had ruled in a 2-1 decision that subsidies or tax credits can only be available in the state exchanges— cutting out millions in the federal exchange and undermining the coverage goals of the Affordable Care Act. The Obama administration said it would ask the full appeals court for an en banc review. The divergent rulings set up split that could make the Supreme Court more likely to take up the challenge. No subsidies were cut off immediately as the legal fight will continue.

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Some Food Companies Are Quietly Dumping GMO Ingredients

From NPR:

A tour of the Ben and Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury, Vt., includes a stop at the “Flavor Graveyard,” where ice cream combinations that didn’t make the cut are put to rest under the shade of big trees. One recently deceased flavor has yet to be memorialized there: Coffee Heath Bar Crunch, one of the company’s best sellers. Ben and Jerry’s CEO Jostein Solheim says the company had to remove the key ingredient, Heath Bars made by Hershey, and rework the flavor. Its replacement is called “Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch.” (Some fans have blasted the company in online forums, claiming it doesn’t taste as good.)

The reason for the change? Hershey makes Heath Bars with genetically engineered ingredients, and Ben and Jerry’s has made a pledge to remove all GMO ingredients from its ice cream. The company has taken a vocal stand in recent years in support of states looking at legislation that would require manufacturers to disclose food that is made with genetic engineering. And Vermont recently passed a law that will require labeling starting in 2015. Ben and Jerry’s founder Jerry Greenfield recently launched a campaign to help fill the coffers of Vermont’s crowd-sourced defense fund set up to combat lawsuits over its labeling law.

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Obama’s West Coast Fundraising Spree

From Politico:

Democratic candidates and operatives begged President Barack Obama to spend as much time as he could this year raising cash. So he’s doing just that, criticism be damned. Tuesday, Obama flies to the West Coast for fundraisers in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles while tensions remain high in Ukraine and Gaza. Last week, the president went ahead with donor visits in New York after the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17. The week before, he raised cash in Austin but refused to visit the Mexican border as the child migrant crisis continued.

Republicans are holding his fundraising spree up as the latest evidence of a disaffected, incompetent president in an attack they’ll be hoping weighs down Democrats in November. “The last thing Americans want with all that is going on in the world is a president whose priority seems to be political fundraising,” said Republican National Committee press secretary Kirsten Kukowski. The White House insists the argument is ridiculous.

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Climate scientists don’t want you to eat beef

From the L.A. Times:

If you want to slow climate change, white meat may be the right meat, according to two studies that tally the environmental effect of the beef industry. Raising cattle in the U.S. requires 28 times as much land and 11 times as much irrigation water, and pumps at least five times as much planet-warming gases into Earth’s atmosphere than producing the equivalent calories of dairy products, poultry, pork or eggs, according to a study published online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

And from 1961 to 2010, worldwide emissions of planet-warming gases from livestock increased 51%, with the bulk of the increases coming from developing nations that are rapidly adopting the U.S. model of meat consumption, according to another study published Monday in the journal Climatic Change. “For people, the obvious answer is: whenever possible, replace beef with something else,” said Gidon Eshel, a geophysicist at Bard College and lead author of the study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “If you really need it to be from animal sources, that’s still OK. You can still have bacon and eggs and whatever you want. As long as it’s not beef, you have always made a significant step forward, because beef is so much more intensive than the rest.”

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IRS official: Lois Lerner email trail may not be cold

From Politico:

A top IRS official is now uncertain about whether backup tapes of the lost Lois Lerner emails may exist, according to testimony released by Republicans — a potentially significant plot twist in the controversy that has shaken the IRS in recent weeks. IRS Deputy Associate Chief Counsel Thomas Kane, who oversees the tax-collecting agency’s document production to Congress, told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in private testimony that he’s now unsure whether all the backup tapes with correspondence from the ex-IRS official were recycled.

“I don’t know if there is a backup tape with information on it or there isn’t,” he told investigators Thursday, according to a partial transcript released by Republicans on the committee Monday. The IRS official suggested new information has come to light since the IRS revealed in a June 13 letter to Congress that two years of Lerner emails were lost in a 2011 computer crash. Lerner was the head of the tax-exempt division that singled out conservative groups for additional scrutiny and since has become a lightning rod for Republicans probing the matter.

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Texas Gov. Perry orders 1,000 National Guard troops to border

From the L.A. Times:

Gov. Rick Perry announced plans on Monday to deploy up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas border after saying he had grown tired of federal officials’ “lip service” and “empty promises.” Perry said that the National Guard will provide support over the next month to the state-funded border surge he declared last month, “Operation Strong Safety.” The state surge is costing $1.3 million a week; the combined operation will cost $5 million per week.

It’s not clear how it will be funded, Perry said. Texas Atty. General Greg Abbott, a fellow Republican campaigning for governor, had asked the Obama administration for $30 million in temporary border aid and said the federal government should pay for the new plan. “Texans are willing to put boots on the ground. But we expect Washington to foot the bill,” Abbott said.

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Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore, flickr

Asian Stocks Climb While Dollar Weakens

From Bloomberg:

Asian stocks rose, joining a global rebound as better U.S. earnings offset the downing of a passenger jet in Ukraine and Israel’s invasion of Gaza. Indonesia’s rupiah and the New Zealand dollar led gains against the greenback, while corn fell to the lowest since 2010. The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index advanced 0.3 percent as of 1:30 p.m. in Hong Kong, with five stocks rising for every three that fell. Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) slipped 0.1 percent. Chinese shares fell as borrowing costs rose and initial public offerings tied up funds. Indonesia’s currency added 0.4 percent versus the dollar and the kiwi strengthened 0.3 percent. Corn slumped 1.3 percent on U.S. production. Natural gas slid 2 percent.

Asian equities are following a July 18 jump in the U.S., where better earnings from Google Inc., the world’s third-largest company, refocused investors on economic growth amid crises in the Middle East and Ukraine. Halliburton Co. is among companies reporting today, while Internet bellwethers Facebook Inc. and Netflix Inc. release earnings later in the week. European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels tomorrow will consider tougher sanctions on Russian individuals and companies.

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