News in Brief: House Plans to Increase Military Spending Despite Calls for Cuts, and More …

House Plans to Increase Military Spending Despite Calls for Cuts

The Hill reports that the House Appropriations Committee created a Pentagon spending measure that would significantly increase military spending despite both political parties demanding cuts. The panel's defense subcommittee on Wednesday is expected to approve the bill, which includes $530 billion in funds for military bases, while another subcommittee has already approved a $14 billion military construction plan. In order to offset costs from the budget, the House subcommittee would cut the Pentagon's research and development funds by $2.3 billion and a number of “common-sense reductions.”

During the Great Recession, 12 Big Corporations Made $173 Billion in Profits and Got Tax Refunds

According to Think Progress, a new report by the Citizens for Tax Justice revealed that 12 major US companies earned a total of $173 billion in profits between 2008 and 2010. The report also shows that, at the same time, these corporations paid an income tax rate of -1.5 percent – meaning they received money from the Treasury in the form of tax benefits. The companies include several names from the technology and electricity industry, big oil and banking, such as GE, Wells Fargo, Yahoo and Exxon Mobile. Think Progress economy editor Pat Garofalo said that “failing to raise additional corporate tax revenue will simply shift more of the deficit reduction burden onto a middle-class already battered by the Great Recession.”

Military Tribunal Starts for Alleged 9/11 Plotters

Military prosecutors at Guantanamo Bay have filed new terrorism and murder charges against five men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks, Democracy Now! writes. The White House had previously sought to prosecute Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the four other accused men in a federal court in New York City, but folded in April under political pressure, allowing the trial to go forward in a military commission instead.

Syrian Government Gives Amnesty to Hundreds of Political Prisoners

The Syrian government has freed more than 500 political prisoners by issuing an amnesty, according to The Associated Press. Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the prisoners included a number of activists who were jailed for taking part in anti-government demonstrations. The amnesty covered “all members of political movements,” including the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood; membership in the party was previously punishable by death. Altogether, the reprieve could affect approximately 10,000 people who Syrian activists say have been detained or imprisoned since protests against President Basher Assad's regime began in March.