Department of Justice Suing Texas over Voting Rights

Well, well, well…look here, y’all!. The Justice Department is fired up and ready to go. Breaking news is that the Justice Department has officially announced that it will file suit against the state of Texas, the Texas Secretary of State, and the Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety over the State’s strict voter photo identification law (SB 14).… [Read more]

Higher Education Bus Tour

Today is a big day in the world of higher education; during a bus tour through New York and Pennsylvania, President Obama will be revealing a broad plan for rating colleges based, among other factors, on the affordability of the institution. After seeing the cost of a college education far outpace inflation — and costs more than triple over the past three decades, the President’s goal is to link the affordability rating to federal financial aid awards.… [Read more]

Judge sentences Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison for giving US secrets to WikiLeaks

Three years after Army Pfc.Bradley Manning’s arrest for leaks of U.S. government and military secrets, the WikiLeaks trial ended with Manning, found guilty of illegally leaking documents which carried 20 other legal specifications and a potential sentence of up to 154 years in prison when all charges are aggregated. Manning was found not guilty on the charge of aiding the enemy, which would have carried a life sentence.… [Read more]

Judge says New York’s “Stop and Frisk” Law is Unconstitutional

“Far too many people in New York City have been deprived of this basic freedom far too often.”… “The NYPD’s practice of making stops that lack individualized reasonable suspicion has been so pervasive and persistent as to become not only a part of the NYPD’s standard operating procedure, but a fact of daily life in some New York City neighborhoods.”  So said Judge Shira A.… [Read more]

Criminal Charges and Civil Inquiries for JP Morgan? No surprise…

Banks behaving badly (now referred to as BBB) should be the title of an on-going saga with the nation’s largest financial institutions. It’s also the reason why harsh penalties and strict regulations are needed to keep Wall Street from running amok.

In the latest episode of ‘BBB’, J.P. Morgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank based on its asset size, is back in the news again. … [Read more]

‘Stop and Frisk’ update

Finally. Thanks to the perseverance of the New York Civil Liberties Union, the City of New York will clear the records of  thousands of innocent people who were stopped under the city’s controversial “stop and frisk” program.

To give some background, under Mayor Bloomberg the NY Police Department (NYPD) has conducted more stop-and-frisk encounters than the combined populations of Baltimore, Boston, Denver, Seattle, Detroit, San Francisco, Washington D.C.… [Read more]

This day in history: LBJ signed the Voting Rights Act (Video)

On this day in 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law. The law was a landmark piece of national legislation that prohibited discrimination in voting.

The Voting Rights Act established extensive oversight over the administration of elections, and it provided that states and local governments with a history of discriminatory voting practices could not implement any change affecting voting without first going through pre clearance, i.e., the process of obtaining the approval of the Department of Justice before changes were made.… [Read more]

Good news for students…for now? Not so fast…

Awaiting President Obama’s signature is a bill that will reduce the costs of borrowing for millions of students.

Don’t get completely happy about it; the bipartisan legislation links student loan interest rates to the financial markets. This means that at current market rates, students obtain lower rates now but, once the economy improves, rates will tick upwards and in synch with market conditions.… [Read more]

Another stop on the state of the economy road trip

“How about a ‘grand bargain’ for middle-class jobs?” Indeed, that is the question. While Congress spends its time on the time-wasting activity of yet another ‘down with Obamacare‘ vote (does this latest vote make 40 attempts to snatch healthcare coverage from the country’s previously uninsured citizens?), President Obama spoke at a another stop on his ‘state of the economy’ road trip.… [Read more]

Manning not guilty of ‘aiding the enemy’, guilty of illegal leaking of documents

Three years after Army Pfc.Bradley Manning’s arrest for leaks of U.S. government and military secrets, the WikiLeaks trial that began in early June has come to an end: a military judge found Manning not guilty of “aiding the enemy.” Manning, however was found guilty of illegally leaking documents which carries 20 other legal specifications And a potential sentence of up to 154 years in prison when all charges are aggregated.… [Read more]

Banks *still* behaving badly

Yesterday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) — the independent agency responsible for  assisting consumers in “obtaining reliable, efficient and sustainable energy services at a reasonable cost through appropriate regulatory and market means” — released a notice on the allegations against a J.P. Morgan Chase affiliate. JPMC has been accused by  federal energy regulators, after a investigation that began approximately one year ago, of using “eight manipulative bidding strategies” to garner what the regulators deem to be “excessive payments” from electricity markets.… [Read more]

“Washington has taken its eye off the ball…”

Speaking at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, President Obama delivered a speech yesterday on the state of the US economy. Providing context he discussed how far the nation has come, fiscally speaking, since the beginning of his first term. For those short on memory, lest we forget, the nation has fought its way back from a financial meltdown and a housing bubble; Wall Street had run amok, the financial services sector was in danger, homeowners saw their housing values decline and, with it, the net worth of many Americans experienced a sharp devaluation.… [Read more]

Municipal Debt and Congressional Hypocrisy

Since the City of Detroit made history by declaring the largest municipal bankruptcy in the nation’s history, there has been much talk about credit ratings, debt burdens and the legalities of bankruptcy, which allows those who declare it to take time to restructure their financial obligations and, often, to repay less than what was previously owed.… [Read more]

Weiner (or, at least, some part of him) is back in the news

New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner is back in the news. When Weiner left his political office under a cloud of shame due to a ‘sexting’ scandal, he was clear that there were other shady pictures that could make their way to the public’s attention. That day has come.

“This behavior is behind me,” said Weiner in a statement that he released today.… [Read more]

Largest Municipal Bankruptcy in History: Detroit Filing for Bankruptcy Protection

Detroit’s emergency manager has filed for bankruptcy protection for the city. This makes the Detroit’s filing the largest for a municipality in US history.

In June, the manager released a plan to restructure the city’s debt and its financial obligations that would leave many creditors with much less than they are currently  owed. At that time the manager, Kevyn Orr, warned that if negotiations could not get beyond an impasse he would move quickly to seek bankruptcy protection.… [Read more]

Perry continues his ‘War on Women’

Over a hundred Republican lawmakers attended Rick Perry’s signing ceremony for sweeping new abortion restrictions today that could close nearly all of the clinics in Texas.

The new law bans abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and it also dictates when abortion-inducing drugs can be taken. Additionally, the law also requires that abortion clinic doctors must have hospital admitting privileges, and abortions are now restricted solely to surgical centres — a requirement me by only five of Texas’ 42 abortion clinics.… [Read more]

‘Nuclear Option’ Held at Bay; It’s Politics, Folks

Yesterday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) posted this ‘nuclear option surrender’ message over Twitter.

What had Cruz so disgusted with his party — specifically party leadership — was that under Mitch McConnell’s (R-Kentucky) leadership, Senate Republicans negotiated with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) to give up the filibuster for executive nominations. Under terms of the deal struck, the Democrats will not use the so-called “nuclear option,” which would have allowed for a majority of 51 votes rather than a ‘super majority’ of 60 and the Republicans will finally allow President Obama to fill a number of positions the GOP has obstructed.… [Read more]

Fix it, don’t scrap it!

When Illinois Democrat Senator Dick Durbin said that it’s time to change President Obama’s healthcare reform law, Obamacare, it riled up a few feathers on the right. Durbin, who is the number two Democrat in the Senate, was asked if he’s concerned about the recent announcement that Obamacare’s employer mandate would be delayed for one year.… [Read more]

It’s not easy being Harry Reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nevada) is facing a dilemma. Congress returned to session today after the Fourth of July holiday weekend and Mr. Reid is looking at a full roster of outstanding issues. An immigration reform bill, which was passed by the Senate, must now pass the House of Representatives. The nation’s college students who use federally-backed loans to finance their education were dealt a blow when, on July 1st, student loan interest rates were allowed to double to 6.8 percent.… [Read more]

Monday deadline: Student loan rates set to double

The President has said it. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) first stand-alone piece of legislation says it. Students around the nation have said it. The ‘tax man‘ and numerous economists have said it. But Congress doesn’t seem to get it, so let’s repeat it.

Without congressional and presidential action prior to Monday, interest rates on student loan will double.… [Read more]