As per usual, when push comes to shove, the right-wing Israeli government, along with the Israel Defense Forces spinmeisters, have gone back to the simple formula: when they do something illegal and barbaric, blame the victim, for the United States will obligingly agree and stand by that narrative. Like always, while the rest of the world protests in condemnation and speaks out against Israel's actions and crimes, the U.S. government stands by complicitly, continuing to shower Israel with over $3 billion per year in military aid into perpetuity.
A new investigative report published by the Humane Society of the United States examines the self-dealing activities of front group king Rick Berman, executive director of the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF).
Berman has developed a lucrative lobbying scheme that protects his corporate clients' anonymity while they attack the credibility of public interest groups and fight popular movements away from their products.
Even though the bank reform bill working its way through Congress is far from perfect, there are some strong provisions well worth fighting for as the bill moves to a House-Senate conference committee.
Two recent articles illustrate the pros and cons of this behemoth bill. New York Times reporter Gretchen Morgenson, does a great job reminding us that the original Glass-Steagall legislation was only 34 pages long and it was key to keeping our financial system stable for 60 years. She points out that the two bills that the Senate and the House have now passed are a whopping 3,000 pages combined:
Yet despite all that verbiage, there are flaws in both bills that would let Wall Street continue devising financial black boxes that have the potential to go nuclear. And even if the best of both bills becomes law, investors, taxpayers and the economy will remain vulnerable to banking crises.
Federal regulators have warned offshore drilling rig operators numerous times over the past decade that they needed to install backup systems for their undersea blowout preventers, the devices that are used to stop the flow of oil from a well during an emergency.
Payday lenders, who charge high fees and interest rates approaching a 500% for short-term loans, are pressuring their customers to call their Senators and oppose financial reform legislation that would regulate them for the first time.
BP's former chief executive, John Browne, used to brag about his company's relative lack of political involvement and said he purposely shied away from spending too much on lobbying and political donations, but all that has changed. Since Tony Hayward took over as CEO of BP in 2007, the company has greatly increased its spending on American politics.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is publicizing a set of state-level polls that they claim show that "voters overwhelmingly oppose the creation of a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency," a component of financial reform legislation set to be debated next week in the House of Representatives. The survey polled 500 voters each in Nebraska and Arkansas, and was performed by the polling firm Ayres McHenry & Associates. Previous polls done by Ayres McHenry for the Chamber have been deemed unreliable by the New York Times, and not up to their standards for publication.
Now that Congress has taken final action on its health care reform legislation, the reform debate has now shifted to, of all places, Denver.
The legislation that is now the law of the land was just the first step. Despite its size -- more than 2,000 pages -- the bill in many cases only lays out Congressional intent. In that sense, it is a framework for reform. The law requires that numerous new regulations be written to govern the way health insurers do business, a responsibility that Congress passed on not only to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services but also to one very influential non-governmental organization: the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The bill mentions the NAIC -- an acronym most Americans probably only see once a year when they renew their cars' license plates -- at least 10 times, and it gives the organization some very important assignments.