David Cay Johnston, Al Jazeera: State and local governments have awarded at least $110 billion in taxpayer subsidies to business, with 3 of every 4 dollars going to fewer than 1,000 big corporations, the most thorough analysis to date of corporate welfare revealed today. The size and range of the subsidies the tool has uncovered helps explain the burdens taxpayers must bear because so many major corporations rely on welfare for much or all of their profits rather than earning them.Such burdens are especially hard on the poor. The bottom fifth of households in all but one state pay a larger share of their income in state and local taxes than the top 1 percent of earners. This means that corporate welfare effectively redistributes from the poor to those rich enough to own corporate stock. read more
The new health insurance marketplaces appear to be making little headway in signing up Americans who lack insurance, the Affordable Care Act's central goal, according to a pair of new surveys. read more
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been nominated for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize -- but the conflict in Ukraine is also likely to be on the Nobel committee's agenda. A record 278 candidates, including 47 organizations, received nominations for the 2014 prize, said the Norwegian Nobel Institute's director, Geir Lundestad.
Crimea's parliament voted to join Russia on Thursday and its Moscow-backed government set a referendum within 10 days on the decision in a dramatic escalation of the crisis over the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula. The sudden acceleration of moves to bring Crimea, which has an ethnic Russian majority and has effectively been seized by Russian forces, formally under Moscow's rule came as European Union leaders gathered for an emergency summit to seek ways to pressure Russia to back down and accept mediation. The new Ukrainian government has declared the referendum illegal and opened a criminal investigation against Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Askyonov, who was appointed by the region's parliament last week. The Ukrainian government does not recognize his authority or that of the parliament. read more
In Moscow, especially in the not-so-good old days, the question almost always asked is kto vinovat: "Who is to blame?" The American capital now finds itself engaged in that very Russian exercise ever since President Vladimir V. Putin's troops entered Ukraine. Many on the right maintain that Moscow's land grab is President Obama's fault for pursuing a foreign policy of weakness. Some on the left contend that it is former President George W. Bush's fault for invading Iraq and providing a precedent. And across the political spectrum there are accusations that it is the intelligence community's fault for failing to anticipate that Russia would send troops to the Crimean Peninsula. read more