Dispatches > News

No liftoff

"No liftoff" Continued...

Issue: "Return to war?," May 5, 2012

Evading Congress

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to transfer half a billion dollars to the Internal Revenue Service this year so it can implement the healthcare law, according to The Hill newspaper. The revelation has angered congressional Republicans who tried to block funding to the IRS for the law's implementation in recent appropriations. This $500 million did not go through the normal appropriations process as IRS money, but such a transfer appears to be legal.

The 2010 healthcare law set aside a $1 billion fund for implementation, and The Hill reported that the HHS move would drain the fund by September. Under the healthcare law, the IRS has many regulatory responsibilities, such as enforcing the individual mandate and providing tax credits in certain cases. Top Republicans are now demanding more information on how the administration would pay for the law's implementation, and what is the reach of the IRS under the law.

E-book bind

The Department of Justice sued Apple and five of the largest publishing companies April 11 for allegedly inflating the price of e-books in an attempt to end Amazon's reign in the market.

The lawsuit claims that both Apple and the publishers were upset that Amazon lowered the price for all e-books to $9.99 because it wiped out the competition and hurt the publishing business. So they allegedly made a secret agreement to use a different revenue model that forced all e-book providers, including Amazon, to raise the price of e-books by $2 to $3.

As a result, Amazon dropped from a 90 percent share of the e-book market to a 60 percent share, and the DOJ said the price increase caused "consumers to pay tens of millions of dollars more for e-books than they otherwise would have paid."

Three publishers have already agreed to settlements.

Who's driving?

A suicide bomber detonated explosives on April 8 in a busy street in Kaduna, the capital of northern Nigeria's Kaduna state, killing 38 people in a massive blast apparently meant for nearby churches. The blast damaged All Nations Christian Assembly Church and the ECWA Good News Church as churchgoers attended an Easter service, but witnesses said the bomb-laden car had been turned away from the churches by a security guard and street barriers.

Northern Nigeria's Christians have been the target of multiple Sunday attacks this year, and the terrorist group Boko Haram has announced its intent to bomb churches and Western targets. But U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson in a speech April 9 said, "Religion is not driving extremist violence" and dismissed calls that the State Department designate Boko Haram a terrorist group.

Crimes against order

Twelve Iranian Christians awaited a judge's verdict after spending Easter Sunday on trial for "crimes against the order" of Iran. Though the specific allegations were unclear, authorities arrested the group in connection with their church meetings and practice of Christianity, according to Jason DeMars of Present Truth Ministries, an organization with evangelical contacts in Iran. When the group's attorney, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, couldn't reach the courtroom because of a delayed flight, the trial went forward without him, leaving the Christians to defend themselves. Dadkhah also represents Youcef Nadarkhani, the pastor sentenced to death for apostasy. As of April 2, the American Center for Law and Justice reported that Nadarkhani was still alive, and that authorities had allowed the pastor's son to visit him on the boy's birthday. A few days later, Nadarkhani turned 35-and marked two-and-a-half years in prison.

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