This morning, a court in Ohio restored early voting days The U.S. District Court of Southern Ohio ruled Tuesday that the deep cuts to Ohio’s early voting days signed into law by Gov. John Kasich (R) are “unconstitutional and…accordingly unenforceable.” Judge Michael Watson sided with the Ohio Democratic Party, which had sued the state for …
Next up in the race to the Summer conventions are Oregon and Kentucky. The primary in Kentucky is for Democrats only and is a closed primary, you must be a Democrat to vote, which gives a slight advantage to Hillary Clinton. It is, however, a tough race to call because a lack of polling. Donald …
Back in 1964, the Republican Party nominated Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona to run again President Lyndon B. Johnson. The ’64 election that fall was one of the most lopsided elections in the US history, with Pres. Johnson winning with over 61% of the popular vote and 486 votes from the electoral college. Goldwater only …
Tonight is President Barack Obama’s last White house Correspondents’ Dinner where he get to rib on the press, politicians and celebrities. One of those celebrities, turned politician, Donald Trump, will not be present tonight. He has been the target of the president’s barb’s in the past and most likely will be again. One of the …
Tonight is the eleventh Republican debate and, as Matt Taibbi noted , we have a sobriety problem. Only four of the original nineteen candidates will take the stage tonight after retired brain surgeon Ben Carson announced Wednesday that he would not participate since after the Tuesday primaries he saw “no path forward.” He hasn’t formally …
Fact checking the Republicans can be a daunting job, since most of what they spew is completely free of any facts. GOP debate #5 was no different. The Daily Show‘s Desi Lydic fact checks the “high” points. As Stephen Colbert, host of The Late Show, discovered, it can be exhausting watching the nonstop procession of …
If you had the stomach to watch, or even listening, to the Republican presidential candidates debate for the 5th time, you’d have discovered that all but one of these maniacs wants to start World War III. The lone candidate to point out the war mongering idiocy of the policy of a no-fly zone in Syria …
Last night Jon Stewart returned to The Daily Show. No, not to scold his replacement, Trevor Noah for his tone deaf decision to book Chris Brown, who was convicted of felony assault of his girlfriend, but to urge congress to pass renewal of the Zadroga Act, which provides health care to 9/11 first responders. He …
The new Attorney General Loretta Lynch proves why she should not have been confirmed, as she rubber stamps the same weak polices of her predecessor Eric Holder regarding the prosecution of the “Too Big to Jail” bankers.
By Ben Protess and Ben Corkery, The New York Times
Adding another entry to Wall Street’s growing rap sheet, five big banks have agreed to pay about $5.6 billion and plead guilty to multiple crimes related to manipulating foreign currencies and interest rates, federal and state authorities announced on Wednesday.
The Justice Department forced four of the banks – Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland – to plead guilty to antitrust violations in the foreign exchange market as part of a scheme that padded the banks’ profits and enriched the traders who carried out the plot. The traders were supposed to be competitors, but much like companies that rigged the price of vitamins and automotive parts, they colluded to manipulate the largest and yet least regulated market in the financial world, where some $5 trillion changes hands every day, prosecutors said. [..]
A fifth bank, UBS, will also plead guilty on Wednesday to manipulating the London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor, a benchmark rate that underpins the cost of trillions of dollars in credit cards and other loans. Federal prosecutors had previously agreed not to prosecute the Swiss bank over the Libor scheme. But in a rare stand against corporate recidivism, the Justice Department voided that non-prosecution agreement after learning that UBS was also taking part in the effort to manipulate currency prices.
The guilty pleas, which the banks are expected to enter in federal court in Connecticut on Wednesday, represent a first in a financial industry that has been dogged by numerous scandals and investigations since the 2008 financial crisis. Until now, banks have either had their biggest banking units or small subsidiaries plead guilty. But with the four banks charged with currency violations, the guilty pleas will come from their parent companies. [..]
For the banks, though, life as a felon is likely to carry more symbolic shame than practical problems. Although they could be technically barred by American regulators from managing mutual funds or corporate pension plans or perform certain other securities activities, the banks have obtained waivers from the Securities and Exchange Commission that will allow them to conduct business as usual. In fact, the cases were not announced until after the S.E.C. had time to act.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Wall Street watchdog group Better Markets weighed in on the lack of any criminal prosecutions:
Better Markets called it a “slap on the wrist” and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said in an e-mail: “That’s not accountability for Wall Street. It’s business as usual, and it stinks.” [..]
Dennis Kelleher, president of Better Markets, a non-profit group, said that the Justice Department had not done enough, saying “it talks tough, but winks at Wall Street’s too-big-to-fail banks’ criminal conduct, structuring sweetheart deals to minimize the impact on the criminals.”
Kelleher said the fines alone wouldn’t deter future criminal acts and that the Justice Department should punish bank executives and their supervisors for bad behavior. “Banks don’t commit crimes, bankers do,” he said.
Warren said “the big banks have been caught red-handed conspiring to manipulate financial markets, and several have even admitted in court that they’re felons – but not a single trader is being held individually accountable, and regulators are stumbling over themselves to exempt the banks from the legally required consequences of their criminal behavior.”
At Esquire Politics, Charles Pierce is not impressed by Ms. Lynch:
What a fake. What a fraud. What an insult to any stick-up kid doing five-to-fifteen for robbing a bodega. The banks don’t even have to look between the cushions on the sofa for the loose change they’ll use to pay the fines. They get to use their stockholders’ money to pay the fine. [..]
This is altogether remarkable. Here we have a staggering series of crimes that did very real damage to thousands of people all over the world. Here we have a staggering series of crimes, but not a single identifiable criminal. Who rigged the markets? The bank buildings? A shadowy cabal of ledgers? Motorcycle gangs made up of quarterly reports? This is the only area of criminal justice where law-enforcement actively avoids identifying anyone as a criminal.
Let us face facts. Within these institutions, there have to be hundreds of people who were involved in some way with a scam this large. There were people who supervised those hundreds of people, and people who supervised them. Somewhere, in that mass of criminal activity, I’m willing to bet something substantial that a human being committed an actual crime.
But, no. “The banks” get fined. This is just too freaking hilarious.
After all this evidence and investigation, not one person has been arrested. Sure some were fired at insistence of some regulators, but never criminally charged. So, the crooks are still getting away with breaking the law. Fines are a joke. Most of these banks will recoup those fines in less than a day and, at the end of the year, deduct them as business losses, so the tax payer once again foots the bill. I would hardly call that a victory. It’s a joke.
“Distasteful opportunism”, is how political analyst and author Richard Wolff describes the latest investigation by the Republican led House of Representatives into the attack in the US consulate in Behgazi, Libya that led to the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others. All of the questions that this new special committee will ask have been answered in numerous other hearings over the last two years. During an interview on MSNBC’s “Last Word,” former Bush national security adviser Richard Clarke noted that the independent report (pdf) on Benghazi by former Ambassador Thomas Pickering and the former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Michael McMullen should have been the final word. It wasn’t because, as Mr. Clarke states, “people want to make partisan hay out of a national security issue in which Americans died.”
This is also costing American tax payers a bundle of money at a time when Republicans are screaming for budget cuts to undermine social safety nets. Make no mistake, this is politics at its most disgusting no matter who is doing it.
The controversial data sharing bill, Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) was passed by the House by a vote of 288 – 127, as 92 Democrats voted for the bill, while 29 Republicans voted against it. The bill passed without the privacy protections that civil liberties advocates felt were necessary, an objection that was echoed by the White House with a veto threat earlier this week. An attempt by the lead sponsors of the bill, Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), offered an amendment to mollify the objections but privacy advocates stated that it fell short of what was needed to safeguard an individual’s right to privacy.
Amendments that were proposed to protect Fourth Amendment rights were not even allowed debate by the rules committee:
Rep. Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat, proposed a one-sentence amendment (PDF) that would have required the National Security Agency, the FBI, Homeland Security, and other agencies to secure a “warrant obtained in accordance with the Fourth Amendment” before searching a database for evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
Grayson complained this morning on Twitter that House Republicans “wouldn’t even allow debate on requiring a warrant before a search.” [..]
CISPA is controversial because it overrules all existing federal and state laws by saying “notwithstanding any other provision of law,” including privacy policies and wiretap laws, companies may share cybersecurity-related information “with any other entity, including the federal government.” It would not, however, require them to do so. [..]
Because Grayson’s amendment was not permitted, CISPA will allow the federal government to compile a database of information shared by private companies and search that information for possible violations of hundreds, if not thousands, of criminal laws. [..]
“The government could use this information to investigate gun shows” and football games because of the threat of serious bodily harm if accidents occurred, Polis said. “What do these things even have to do with cybersecurity?… From football to gun show organizing, you’re really far afield.”
At the heart of CISPA is warrantless searches a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment which reads:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
This has had a strange effect of uniting the left and right in the opposition to the bill. The Tea Party aligned group Freedom Works issued this statement:
CISPA would allow for more information sharing between the private sector and the federal government regarding cyber security. Although this year’s CISPA is a net improvement over last year’s bill, it still leaves open concerns about private information being shared in the name of national security.
There are grave Fourth Amendment concerns with CISPA. The bill would override existing privacy laws to allow companies to share “cyber threat information” with the federal government without making any reasonable effort to strip out any personal information from the file.
Passage in the Senate without addition of privacy protections is doubtful but one never knows:
The discussion now shifts to the Democrat-controlled Senate, which appears unlikely to act on the legislation in the wake of a presidential veto threat earlier this week, and an executive order in January that may reduce the need for new legislation. Today’s House vote, on the other hand, could increase pressure on the Senate to enact some sort of legislation.
Sen. John Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat who was involved in last year’s cybersecurity debate, said after today’s vote that “CISPA’s privacy protections are insufficient.” Still, Rockefeller said, “I believe we can gain bipartisan agreement on bills that we can report out of our committees and allow [Majority Leader Harry Reid] to bring them to the Senate floor as early as possible.”
We urge everyone to keep the pressure on the Senate and the White House by calling and e-mailing your objections:
The White House switchboard is 202-456-1414.
The comments line is 202-456-1111.
Please be polite and on point.
Contact the White House and your Senators to protect your privacy rights.