News February 7

Senator Sanders

No Saturday Mail Sen. Sanders opposes a U.S. Postal Service plan to stop Saturday mail delivery, the Rutland Herald, Times Argus, Fox 44, ABC 22 and WNYT-TV in Albany, N.Y. reported. Sanders said the move will send the post office into a “death spiral,” CBS News and Fox News reported. LINK, VIDEO, VIDEO, VIDEO, VIDEO, VIDEO

USPS The Senate last year passed legislation to prevent the Postal Service from moving to a five-day week for two years, but the House never acted on it. Sanders helped draft the bill. He thinks ending services won't solve the financial problem, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and other McClatchy newspapers. Sanders pointed out that cutting Saturday delivery removes one of the Postal Service's "major competitive advantages,” The Washington Post reported online." He called for other ways to reform the mail service, Talk Radio News, Common Dreams, The Progressive and PoliticsUSA reported. LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK

Tax Havens Sen. Bernie Sanders will hold a news conference today in Washington, D.C., on legislation to stop profitable corporations from sheltering income in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens, according to The Associated Press.

Veterans Health Care Congressional leaders overseeing veterans' issues on Wednesday criticized a decision by the Obama administration to move away from building a new computer system for storing the health records of troops and veterans. In a joint statement, Sens. Sanders and Richard Burr joined House veterans’ committee leaders in voicing concerns, AP reported. “I am deeply disappointed by the VA and Defense Department decision to back away from a commitment to develop and implement a truly integrated, single, electronic health record,” Sen. Sanders, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, told Politico. LINK, LINK

Veterans Jobs The architect of the popular veterans’ jobs program is proposing a three-month extension to prevent education benefits from being cut off. Rep. Jeff Miller’s Senate counterpart, Sen. Sanders, also is sponsoring legislation to extend the program, Navy Times reported. LINK

Veterans Suicides “What we’re seeing is an extraordinary tragedy which speaks to the horror of war and the need for us to do a much better job in assisting our soldiers,” Sanders said of suicide rates among veterans, The Oz Blog reported. LINK

Obama at Senate Retreat President Obama sought to shore up his allies as he met with Senate Democrats at their retreat Wednesday in Annapolis, Md.  Citing division in the ranks, The Hill reported that Sen. Sanders has vowed to oppose any deficit-reduction plan that cuts Social Security. LINK

Social Security President Obama is poised to make big cuts to modest Social Security benefits, according to an AARP column on The Huffington Post. Sen. Sanders organized a press conference to oppose cuts in Social Security and veterans’ benefits by changing how cost-of-living adjustments are calculated. LINK

Irene Recovery Vermont officials want to replace culverts washed away by Tropical Storm Irene with new larger, environmentally friendly models but they have been running into resistance from the federal agency they had hoped would pay for the work. "Why would we use federal tax dollars to build inadequate infrastructure? David Weinstein, a policy adviser to Sen. Sanders, asked a Vermont House committee, AP and Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK, LINK

Solar Power Vermont’s political representatives, including Sen. Sanders, on Monday joined members of the Energy Co-op of Vermont at Sunward Systems’ brand new Shelburne headquarters to announce the launch of the 2013 Co-op Solar program. The innovative solar hot water program leverages the energy of the sun and the power of local partnerships to help Vermonters save money and help the environment by going solar, the Shelburne News reported. LINK

Vermont Edition Sen. Sanders has been vocal in his opposition of the proposed wind power moratorium in the state. He's also been outspoken about high gasoline prices that Vermonters are paying and about the new filibuster rules in the Senate. He will discuss those issues as well as gun control and Veterans' and seniors' benefits today on Vermont Public Radio’s “Vermont Edition.” LINK

Guns Century International Arms, the largest distributor of semiautomatic weapons in the country, operates a facility in Georgia, Vt. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, Sen. Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch were asked if they were troubled by the company’s presence in the state, especially in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. They issued a joint statement saying that the company has a right to conduct business as long as it complies with the law, the Rutland Herald and Times Argus reported. LINK

The Truth Sen. Sanders is revealing the truth about the American system of politics based on his interview with Tavis Smiley this week, Politics USA reported. Taking aim at the Citizens United decision and the reach of wealthy interests in Congress. “The needs of the people come last in this Congress, and Bernie Sanders was not afraid to tell you why,” Jason Easley blogged. LINK

Cabin Fever Dance The Cabin Fever Winter Dance hosted by Bernie and Jane Sanders will be held Saturday at Burlington’s Memorial Auditorium Annex, the Burlington Free Press noted in a listing of coming musical events. LINK

World

Income Inequality in China China's plan to narrow the gap between rich and poor is feeding a sentiment China's new leaders might seek to take on powerful interests quickly rather than laboriously try to reach a broad consensus first. State planners have debated income-inequality plans for eight years, and come up with at least a half-dozen drafts. None have won final approval, largely because of opposition from state-owned firms and other powerful actors that could lose out in an income-redistribution scheme, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK

LIBOR Scandal U.S. and U.K. authorities fined the Royal Bank of Scotland $610 million for its role in manipulating a key global interest rate, the London interbank offered rate, which is the basis for trillions of dollars in contracts around the world, including mortgages, bonds and consumer loans, AP reported. LINK 

National

Obama Relents on Secret Drone Memo The White House on Wednesday directed the Justice Department to release to the two congressional intelligence committees classified documents discussing the legal justification for killing, by drone strikes and other means, American citizens abroad who are considered terrorists, The New York Times reported. LINK

Democrats Seek to Stave Off $1 Trillion in Cuts With at least one million jobs on the line, Senate Democrats on Wednesday said they were closing in on legislation to temporarily head off nearly $1 trillion in cuts that were already affecting Pentagon decision-making and could force significant reductions in staffing and services across the government, according to The New York Times. LINK

Marco Rubio to Deliver State of the Union Response Sen. Marco Rubio will give the formal Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address next week, The Washington Post reported. LINK

Oops President Obama declared at the White House on Jan. 7 that Chuck Hagel, his nominee to be secretary of defense, would be the “first person of enlisted rank” to run the Pentagon. The distinction, which Mr. Obama called “historic,” quickly made its way into news media reports around the globe, including in The New York Times. But the Times now says at least four other American defense secretaries — Melvin R. Laird, Elliot L. Richardson, Caspar W. Weinberger and William J. Perry — served part of their military careers as enlisted men. LINK

Vermont

Break-Open Tax The American Legion in Vermont said that a tax on break-open tickets proposed by the Shumlin administration would harm the veterans group, which sells the tickets as a fundraiser. Administration Secreatry Jeb Spaulding said the American Legion is protected under the proposal, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK

Pertussis Vaccines The Shumlin Administration says it won't support legislation that would remove philosophical and religious exemptions from a bill requiring pertussis vaccinations. In 2012, pertussis cases in the state jumped from under 100 to 645, VPR reported. LINK

School Scores NCEAP exam scores show elementary and middle school students rising in writing proficiency while high school students dipped slightly. High school math continued to be the weakest area of study with only 38 percent proficiency, WCAX reported. LINK

College Dumps Fossil Fuel Stocks Sterling College in Craftsbury will become the first college in Vermont to divest a $920,000 endowment of stocks in fossil fuel companies in an effort to fight global warming, the AP reported. “"We believe that our investment strategies should be tied to our mission,” said Sterling President Matthew Derr. LINK

Neil T. Drew, 71 The former news anchor for WPTZ-TV has died. Born in Vermont, Drew became anchor in 1972, after a career as a radio DJ and news director, and continued until 1982, when he left television and founded his own production company. He retired in 1994, the Burlington Free Press reported. LINK