June 2009 archive

US Supremes clobber Big Banks

For all of us who are (ahem) less than satisfied with the vigor of the US Federal Government’s prosecution and enforcement of banking laws against large financial institutions, the US Supreme Court on Monday bucked 145 years of tradition to deliver an important and far reaching opinion that falls squarely on the side of greater accountability.

In Cuomo v. Clearing House Association (PDF), the court struck down a regulation by the US Treasury Department’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) that prohibited enforcement of state banking laws against national banks.

The case involved an attempt by former New York Atty. Gen. Eliot Spitzer in 2005 to investigate bank lending practices, such as whether a disproportionately large percentage of high-interest mortgages were made to minorities.

After Spitzer sent letters of inquiry to national banks, including Wells Fargo & Co., Citibank and JP Morgan Chase & Co., a bank consortium called the Clearing House Assn. filed suit to stop the investigation.

The Treasury Department’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates national banks, also filed suit, arguing that Spitzer was improperly encroaching on its rule under an 1864 law that it was the only entity with the “visitorial power” to examine such banks. The suits were combined and upheld by lower courts.

But Spitzer’s successor, Andrew Cuomo, appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing in part that the federal agency’s interpretation in effect shielded national banks from states’ enforcing their own laws to protect consumers and prohibit discrimination.

Four at Four

  1. News from around Iraq. The LA Times reports Iraqis are in festive mood on eve of U.S. troop exit. “People sing and dance and set off fireworks to celebrate their ‘day of national sovereignty’ as U.S. troops prepare to leave cities and hand over security to the Iraqi government.”

    “Fireworks exploded over the city and several thousand people crowded into central Baghdad’s Zawra Park, ignoring a mild dust storm to say goodbye to more than six years of American forces patrolling their major cities.”

    The Washington Post declares This is no longer America’s war. “Six years and three months after the March 2003 invasion, the United States has withdrawn its remaining combat troops from Iraq’s cities,” but “more than 130,000 U.S. troops remain in the country”.

    “Iraqis danced in the streets and set off fireworks overnight in impromptu celebrations of a pivotal moment in their nation’s troubled history. The government staged a military parade to mark the new national holiday of ‘National Sovereignty Day,’ and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki made a triumphant, nationally televised address.”

    But, don’t let the happiness of the Iraqis stop a little Iran-bashing by the U.S. military. The commander of the U.S. troops in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, said, “there are still people who do not want the government of Iraq to succeed.” He “accused Iran of continuing to train, fund and support groups who carry out attacks in Iraq”.

    Meanwhile, the AP reports Four U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq on the eve of the American withdrawal. “The U.S. military said the four were died on Monday as a ‘result of combat related injuries.'”

    According to iCasualties.org, 4,321 U.S. troops were killed in Iraq, plus 179 British troops and 139 coalition troops were killed since George W. Bush ordered the invasion in March 2003. IraqBodyCount.org places the documented number of civilian deaths in Iraq between 92,435 and 100,911, but the likelihood is the Iraqi death toll is significantly higher.

    So, was the war worth it? The Washington Post reports Foreign oil companies balk at Iraq oil auction terms. “During a day-long live auction for eight 20-year service contracts, the Iraqi oil ministry was able to nail down just one — for the Rumaila field in southern Iraq. The ministry accepted a joint bid submitted by British Petroleum and the China National Petroleum Corp. to boost output there.”

    And, the CS Monitor speculates Could violence bring U.S. forces back to Iraqi cities? It would take a lot, but it could happen. “Attacks on US interests in Iraq, and consequent US casualties, are likely to remain a challenge until Sunni Arabs, upset at what they see as the dominance of Maliki’s Shiite coalition over the state and the distribution of its resources, cease their low-level insurgency. But some analysts warn that the biggest threat to Iraq’s stability will be a failure to integrate some of the Sunni fighters that once fought the Americans and the Iraqi government.”

Four at Four continues another benefit for shipping manufacturing to China, the impact of climate change in the Florida Keys and Louisiana, and Obama puts global trade before global warming.


Al Franken

Senator Al Franken.

Senator Al Franken

Senator Al Franken:

It’s finally prime time for former SNL writer Al Franken.

The Minnesota Supreme Court affirms that Franken won his Senate seat.

Governor Tim Pawlenty said on MSNBC Tuesday that he would sign the certificate if the court ordered him to.

Congratulations, Senator Franken!

This Is Why Insurance Companies Fear The Public Option

Folks have been asking, with good reason, just why it is the big insurance companies are so weak in the knees about a public option health care plan. After all, these are generally the same folks who say they the Government can not run any thing well, that always complain Government costs more than the private sector (all evidence from the Iraq war to the contrary aside) so what should they fear? Well, Health Care For America Now (HCAN) has compiled a new report which sheds some serious light on this.

Originally posted at Squarestate.net

Inside Story – Iraqi Oil For Sale

From Al Jazeera June 29, 2009 – 25 minutes

Kathleen Sebelius offers us next to nothing, but at least it’s something, right?

Crossposted at Daily Kos

ACTION: Contact HHS and The White House to let them know that if there is a No Robust Public Option, there is NO REFORM! Contact Information provided below.

Al Hunt: “You’ve said, all right, you are willing to compromise on your notion of a public plan, you are willing to compromise on the employer mandate, you are willing to compromise on taxing benefits. What’s non-negotiable?”

Sec HHS Kathleen Sebelius:     ” Uh, the, the bill at the end of the day has to have a comprehensive approach that lowers cost. That’s just non-negotiable. The status quo is unacceptable. . . ”

From thinkprogress.org

AH:     “Most congressional watchers say any chance of any really bi-partisan bill is dead. No Republicans in the House seem to be signed up, in the Senate your talking about a hand full of Republicans, maybe four or five. Isn’t really any notion of a bi-partisan health care bill pretty much off the table?”

KS:     “Well, I certainly hope not, and I hope, that, um, the Senate Republicans who have been working hard on this issue are genuinely interested in participating in the solution.”

AH:     “How many Senate Republican votes do you think you can get?”

KS:     “You know, I don’t know. Um, I, I would love to see them all.”

AH:     “But how many realistically? Can you get to double digits? You know how to count.”

KS:     “I, I know how to count. I think it depends on, you know, what, what we have, but I think there are 5-10 who may well be there for the final vote. I am encouraged by the number of people who say we need to do something. The status quo doesn’t work, and I think people know that. In the early nineties, again, not doing anything won at the end of the day. People thought that was an acceptable place to land. I don’t think anybody thinks not doing anything is acceptable for our current situation.”

    While Democrats in Congress and the President’s cabinet carry water for the Republicans, real Americans are dying. They are dying from disease that can be prevented. They are dying from lack of emergency care. They are dying because it is more profitable to let them die than it is to cover their insurance. It is that simple.

   And as the Democrats do all the heavy lifting for the Republicans in putting up road blocks to a Robust Public Option, the Republicans return the favor by attacking the Democratic President, the Democratic Congress and the entire Democratic agenda.

    Is that how bi-partisanship is supposed to work?

What is behind the media’s venomous attack on striking Toronto city workers?

Original article, by Keith Jones, via World Socialist Web Site:

Toronto’s 24,000 city workers, now in their second week of strike action, have been the target of a concerted, venomous attack by Toronto’s corporate media.

When workers stand together, the oligarchy shudders.

Day after day, the Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Sun, and Star have churned out columns and editorials castigating the modestly paid inside and outside workers for “enjoy[ing] perks that others can only dream of”-perks like the “notorious” paid sick days that they “selfishly” refuse to give up.

Paid sick days are perks that others can only dream of? C’mon. If the writers at the papers don’t get paid sick leave, then they should be on strike, too!

Docudharma Times Tuesday June 30

 “This case sharpens our focus on Judge Sotomayor’s troubling speeches

and writings, which indicate the opposite belief:

that personal experiences

and political views should influence

a judge’s decision.”

Brought To You

By A Known Moron

Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee

Tuesday’s Headlines:

Flow of stimulus funds still only a trickle

Israel expected to propose partial freeze on West Bank settlements

Iraq: mission accomplished?

Japan: Unemployment hits 6-year high

Winds of Islamism make Pakistani artists shiver

13 killed as gas train explodes in town inferno

Rival parties unite in France against resurgent National Front

Electoral loss for Kirchners in Argentina marks end of era

Despite Majority, Obama to Be Tested

Diverse Ideology Cuts Democrats’ Edge

By Shailagh Murray and Dan Balz

Washington Post Staff Writers

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

After a series of early and relatively easy victories on Capitol Hill, the White House appears certain to face a more difficult road when Congress returns to work next week.

Not content to task lawmakers with passing an ambitious agenda of record new spending, sweeping health-care reform and other major initiatives, President Obama yesterday nudged the Senate to move ahead with its version of a landmark energy bill the House passed on Friday. In recent weeks, he has also revived the idea of pursuing broad changes in immigration law.

Obama and his aides have proved adept at navigating the politics and eccentricities of the legislative branch.

In a Coup in Honduras, Ghosts of Past U.S. Policies


Published: June 29, 2009

WASHINGTON – President Obama on Monday strongly condemned the ouster of Honduras’s president as an illegal coup that set a “terrible precedent” for the region, as the country’s new government defied international calls to return the toppled president to power and clashed with thousands of protesters.

“We do not want to go back to a dark past,” Mr. Obama said, in which military coups override elections. “We always want to stand with democracy,” he added.

The crisis in Honduras, where members of the country’s military abruptly awakened President Manuel Zelaya on Sunday and forced him out of the country in his bedclothes, is pitting Mr. Obama against the ghosts of past American foreign policy in Latin America.


GM to pull out of joint venture with Toyota at California plant

General Motors says it and Toyota can’t agree on what vehicle to build at the NUMMI plant in Fremont. The move jeopardizes the future of the last vehicle assembly plant in California.

By Ken Bensinger and Julie Strack

June 30, 2009

Reporting from Los Angeles and Fremont, Calif. — America’s auto crisis has stretched beyond the Midwest all the way to California.

The state’s last automobile plant is facing potential closure after General Motors Corp. said Monday that it would drop out of the joint venture with Toyota Motor Corp. that operates the factory and builds three vehicles there.

The troubled automaker will produce its final Pontiac Vibe at New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., or NUMMI, by the end of August. Whether Toyota plans to keep building its Corolla sedans and Tacoma small pickups at the Fremont, Calif., plant is still being decided.

The Japanese automaker has long resisted layoffs and closures. But given the high costs of manufacturing in California, the dearth of surrounding parts suppliers and the fact that the Northern California factory is Toyota’s only unionized facility in the U.S., many experts worry that the company may follow GM’s lead and exit the Golden State.

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

One who experiences the unity of life

sees one’s own Self in all beings,

and all beings in one’s own Self,

and looks on everything with an impartial eye.

–Bhagavad Gita, Chapter VI, verse 29

Phenomena XXXII:  adapting


Cellular Diversity


we form and transform

the words and thoughts

building an understanding

a commonality

cells aligning

and recombining

Not by becoming


but through sampling

our differences

does this creature

avoid being stillborn

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–June 20, 2008

Late Night Karaoke

I am Milk

Honduras: Support The Pro-Democracy Resistance

Protesters on Monday faced off against the soldiers of an illegitimate Government to demand the restoration of their stolen democracy.  It’s not Iran.  It’s Honduras.  And because it’s Honduras, which is in this very hemisphere, squashing a democratically elected government like a Palmetto Bug seems in the Trad MediaTM to be less of an outrage.  After all, Honduras doesn’t have oil.  It doesn’t have nukes.  It’s not part of the dreaded axis of evil.  It never held US citizens hostage.  Sure, the US has destabilized it in the past century, exploited its natural resources, turned it into a Banana Republic.  But so what, the US did that to virtually every country in this hemisphere.  Even now the Honduran military has strong ties to the US.  So it’s different from Iran, right?  Real different. Or is it?

The New York Times reports:

One day after the country’s president, Manuel Zelaya, was abruptly awakened, ousted and deported by the army here, hundreds of protesters massed at the presidential offices in an increasingly tense face-off with hundreds of camouflage-clad soldiers carrying riot shields and automatic weapons.

The protesters, many wearing masks and carrying wooden or metal sticks, yelled taunts at the soldiers across the fences ringing the compound and braced for the army to try to dispel them. “We’re defending our president,” said one protester, Umberto Guebara, who appeared to be in his 30s. “I’m not afraid. I’d give my life for my country.”

Leaders across the hemisphere joined in condemning the coup. Mr. Zelaya, who touched down Sunday in Costa Rica, still in his pajamas, insisted, “I am the president of Honduras.”

Overnight Caption Contest

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