Firms in Georgia kept $38 million in state income taxes they withheld from their workers, according to a new report by Good Jobs First, a taxpayer watchdog group. And the firms kept that tax money with the state’s blessing. The report says Georgia is one of 16 states that allow firms — including foreign companies such as Electrolux, Toyota and Nissan — to keep taxes they deduct from workers’ paychecks. So does this make those companies an arm of the government? Or is the government an arm of those companies?

California officials spent $205,075 to move a manzanita shrub that was in the path of a highway project that was partially funded by federal stimulus money. Manzanitas are hardly endangered. Local media report you can buy them for $15 at California nurseries. But environmentalists say the plant was long thought to be extinct “in the wild” and pushed to have this plant relocated somewhere other than a nursery so that it wouldn’t lose its “wild” status.

With all of the hoopla this weekend surrounding the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, I was disappointed that I didn’t see anything about Sen. William Alden Smith, who chaired the American investigation into the accident. An attorney and career politician (Michigan House of Representatives, the U.S. House and U.S. Senate), Smith was dubbed “Watertight Smith” by a mocking British press after asking why the passengers didn’t simply lock themselves in their watertight compartments. Someone had to patiently explain to Smith that 1) the watertight compartments were meant to help keep the ship afloat, not to protect passengers; and 2) they would have done the passengers no good after the ship sank.

The Obama administration has ruled that intelligence officials can keep information on Americans with no known ties to terrorism for up to five years. Previously, the National Counterterrorism Center had to immediately destroy any information it received on Americans without terrorist ties.

 

Burnsville, Minn., police arrested Mitch Faber for failing to put siding on his house. Faber had begun putting siding on his house, but he says money problems interrupted the work. City officials warned him he wasn’t in compliance, so he put stucco over the plywood exterior. Apparently, that still didn’t satisfy code enforcement. Faber spent two days in jail before a judge released him on electronic monitoring.

Boston police say they will no longer tolerate slam dancing. Police cited the House of Blues after a mosh pit formed during a performance by Flogging Molly, saying security should have broken it up.

A French court has ordered Google to pay Bottin Cartographes $660,000 and fined it $20,000 for unfair competition. The court said that by offering Google Maps for free the company was hurting Bottin Cartographes’ commercial map service.

Michigan prosecutors have charged Amanda Clayton with two counts of welfare fraud. Clayton continued to receive food stamps after winning $1 million from the state lottery. While investigating her for not reporting her lottery winnings, officials also found she had allegedly been working during part of the time she was receiving food stamps.

Charles Oliver is a staff writer for The Daily Citizen. Got a suggestion for It Couldn’t Happen Here? Email it to him at charlesoliver@daltoncitizen.com.

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