Cain Accused Of Harassment, Doesn’t Deny

When businessman Herman Cain was the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, he was reportedly accused of sexually inappropriate behavior by at least two female coworkers.

According to POLITICO, the women described “unwanted sexual advances” made by Cain while he was running the association. The women reportedly left the organization after receiving “sealed settlements” to avoid formal legal actions.

The Presidential candidate is largely disregarding the story as an attempt at a smear campaign by members of the mainstream establishment who fear his frontrunner status.

A statement on Cain’s website responds to the attacks: “Since Washington establishment critics haven’t had much luck in attacking Mr. Cain’s ideas to fix a bad economy and create jobs, they are trying to attack him in any way they can.”

The statement also calls the allegations “thinly sourced” attempts to “cast aspersions” on Cain’s character.

Cain said in a later interview that he was “falsely accused” of sexual harassment during his time at the National Restaurant Association and that he had “never sexually harassed anyone,” according to The Washington Post.

POLITICO is standing behind the story despite the criticism from Cain’s campaign and notes that while the candidate is attacking, he is not denying the allegations.

Federal Jobs Site Doesn’t Work

It may be just the evidence opponents of vast Federal bureaucracy need. A website set up to help jobseekers find Federal positions is wrought with technical errors and simply doesn’t work correctly, jobseekers say.

The website, which is run by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), is full of bugs because officials say there is a massive amount of traffic on the site, according to The Washington Post.

“If a private contractor was delivering this, the government would have terminated them for cause immediately,” Adam Davidson, general manager for human capital management at Oracle, a company that provides payroll and other systems to Federal agencies, said.

The site was originally run by Monster, a private job search site, but was taken over by the Federal government in 2009 to be reworked by the OPM at a cost of about $20 million, according to budget figures.

Some opponents of the government setting up an in-house job site believe that the move locks out private job search companies from being able to post Federal jobs as the government requires agencies to use the system.

Obama Offers New Student Loan Rules

President Barack Obama has given credence to one of the issues most espoused by young Occupy Wall Street protesters: Student loan debts are crippling recent college graduates who are unable to find jobs.

In the United States, student loans are the second largest source of household debt. Obama has offered a plan that he says will ease that burden and free up money for first-time homebuyers and other consumer spending.

The President’s plan will speed up a measure passed by Congress that reduces the maximum required payment on student loans from 15 percent of discretionary income annually to 10 percent. It will go into effect in 2012, instead of 2014. The White House also says the remaining debts will be forgiven after 20 years, instead of 25, according to MSNBC.

In addition to the student loan plan, the Administration is partnering with the Small Business Administration to offer specific programs that will promote young entrepreneurship. The Student Start Up Plan offers recent graduates options to defer student loans and provides informational material for young, business-minded individuals.

Many Republicans are opposed to Obama’s plan, saying deferment will result in financial strain on lenders and poorer service to borrowers.

Gays In Military Seek More Reform

It has been just five weeks since the military effectively ended its ban on gay and lesbian service members. Now a group of homosexual service members and veterans are filing suit to challenge the Constitutionality of the Federal ban on gay marriage.

On Thursday, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) filed suit at a Boston district court challenging the Constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), as well as laws precluding the military from providing same-sex married couples with the same benefits and family support as their straight, married peers.

“This case is about one thing, plain and simple. It’s about justice for gay and lesbian service members and their families in our armed forces rendering the same military service, making the same sacrifices, and taking the same risks to keep our nation secure at home and abroad,” said Army Veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis. “These couples are in long term, committed, and legally recognized marriages and the military should not be forced to turn its back on them because the federal government refuses to recognize their families.”

Gun Ownership At Two-Decade High

A recent Gallup poll shows that gun ownership in the United States is at its highest level in more than two decades.

According to the poll, 47 percent of Americans say that they have a gun in their home. An earlier poll noted that support for the 2nd Amendment is also at a high.

Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they have a gun in their household: 55 percent to 40 percent. The gap is narrower than that seen in recent years; the number of Democrats in favor of gun ownership grew last year. The number of women who report household gun ownership is also at a new high: 43 percent.

By region, gun ownership is higher in the South, at 54 percent, and Midwest, at 51 percent. In a finding that Gallup calls typical of trends, in the East only about 36 percent of individuals polled report owning a gun, and in the West about 43 percent own guns.

According to the poll, middle-aged adults — 35 to 54 years old — and adults with no college education are more likely than the rest of the population to be gun owners.

Withholding Tax Expected To Be Axed

House lawmakers are expected to approve legislation today to repeal an Internal Revenue Service plan to withhold 3 percent of payments to contractors at every level of government.

The withholding tax was designed to go after contractors who were delinquent on their taxes, but lobbyists say it is burdensome to taxpayers and an example of government overreach, according to The Hill.

Once the measure moves through the House, it is expected to gain steam in the Senate. Last week, 57 senators voted for an appeal, just three votes short of what was needed for passage.

Implementation of the tax has been delayed more than once since it was created in 2006. The 2009 stimulus packaged pushed it to 2012; and last May, the IRS delayed it until 2013.

Lost revenue from withholding tax repeal will be offset by legislation sponsored by Representative Diane Black (R-Tenn.) that sets strict limits on Medicaid eligibility, a move that was recommended by the President to the supercommittee, according to The Hill.

Lawmakers who were in favor of the tax fear that repeal means more avenues for government contractors to cheat tax obligations. Reportedly, they are calling for other measures to enforce tax codes in the absence of the withholding tax.

Militarized Police Forces Attack Occupy Camps

Tear gas, non-lethal bullets, flash-bang grenades and arrests “under the suspicion of unlawful assembly” are now all definite realities in the streets of American cities that have been overtaken by Occupy protesters.

While their demands are ill-defined, the protesters’ fate, it seems, is sealed by the hands of officials in cities like Oakland, Calif., and Atlanta who have instructed police to conduct raids on encampments to quell the dissent.

In Oakland, a pre-dawn raid Tuesday that turned violent effectively eliminated all but a handful of protesters from areas around the city hall. Police fired upon the protesters with non-lethal bullets, and they employed the use of tear gas and flash-bang grenades to disperse protesters. Protesters reportedly attempted to fight back by lobbing glass bottles and stones at police.

Police forces in Atlanta were able to more peaceably remove protesters from Woodruff Park. In both instances, media reports indicate that police arrived in full riot gear. In Oakland there were reports of armored vehicles conducting patrols.

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According to The Associated Press, most of the arrests being made are for disorderly conduct or “suspicion of unlawful assembly,” which has raised ire from some people who do not even agree with the Occupiers’ anger. One man in Atlanta, who did not give his name, arrived at the protest with a rifle in tow. He said that while he was not in agreement with the protesters’ message, he wanted to “protect their right to protest.”

Big Brother Considers Tracking Drivers’ Every Move

As lawmakers face the facts of soaring deficits and a mountain of Federal debt, they may opt to rethink the way that Americans pay for the roads and highways they use every day.

According to POLITICO, the Highway Trust Fund, money set aside for resurfacing and highway infrastructure, will be nearly $100 billion in the red by 2021, and the mass transit account will be about $30 billion short. The article says that because gas and diesel taxes have not been increased in two decades, the fund has lost about one-third of its purchasing power since 1992.

Reportedly, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Trucking Association and AAA have all lobbied lawmakers for an increase in fuel taxes to re-energize revenues, but Congress stands nearly unanimously against the measure. Most lawmakers say that raising fuel taxes in today’s economic climate would greatly harm businesses that rely on ground shipping services to transport goods throughout the country.

Instead of raising the price of fuel, many lawmakers support what some Americans may consider an egregious invasion of privacy to raise funding for roadway repairs. The measure would require American drivers to equip their vehicles with a GPS tracking device to measure vehicle miles traveled (VMT). The device would not only measure the number of miles traveled but also where a driver went during each trip, which route he took and the hours during which he was driving.

Some proponents of the measure say the generation raised on Facebook and Twitter — proudly posting their every move for an Internet audience — probably will not mind being tracked in their vehicles by the government.

Cain Leads CBS Poll, Americans Watching Closely

A recent national CBS News poll shows businessman Herman Cain leading the pack of 2012 GOP Presidential hopefuls as Americans begin to pay closer attention to the primary race.

The poll, released Tuesday, shows Cain gathering support from 25 percent of Republican primary voters followed by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at 21 percent. The most recent numbers, tabulated Oct. 19-24, show Cain edging past Romney, with whom he was tied at 17 percent support earlier in the month.

According to the poll’s results, much of Cain’s support comes from Tea Party members, with 32 percent of the group behind his message. Romney has held at a steady 18 percent Tea Party favorability while Texas Governor Rick Perry has 7 percent support from the conservative group.

Trailing Romney in the national poll is former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich with 10 percent overall support and 15 percent support among Tea Party members, and Representative Ron Paul of Texas at 8 percent overall support and 9 percent favor among Tea Partiers.

The poll also says that Americans are becoming increasingly interested in the Presidential race, with 70 percent of registered voters paying at least some attention to campaigns.

Researchers: Soda Induces Teen Violence

A behavioral study of Boston-area high school students provides a link between high levels of consumption of carbonated non-diet soft drinks and violent behavior. Researchers call their findings the “Twinkie Defense,” relating diminished mental capacity to junk food.

The study published in Injury Prevention was the result of researcher interviews with 1,878 teens from 22 high schools. The teens were asked how many cans of carbonated non-diet soft drinks they regularly consume and the data divided into two groups: those who had consumed fewer than four cans over the preceding week (low consumption), and those who had consumed five or more (high consumption).

Another line of questioning in the survey analyzed possible indicators of violent behavior: Had the students been in violent altercations with peers, siblings or partners? Had they carried a gun or knife during the past year?

The information indicates that students who drank higher numbers of soft drinks were about 20 percent more likely to have carried weapons, 12 percent more likely to have been violent toward a partner, 23 percent more likely to exhibit violence toward peers and 17.6 percent more likely to be violent toward siblings.

Overall, heavy soft drink consumers were 9 to 15 percentage points more likely to be violent, concordant with figures linking alcohol and tobacco use to violence in teens.

“There may be a direct cause-and-effect-relationship, perhaps due to the sugar or caffeine content of soft drinks, or there may be other factors, unaccounted for in our analyses, that cause both high soft drink consumption and aggression,” the study’s authors conclude.