Thoughts On Caroline Kennedy’s Nomination As Ambassador To Japan

The government shutdown this week has been a disappointing result of an ongoing stalemate over Obamacare, a fight the Tea Party is bound to lose. The shutdown may be the one thing Congress actually achieves this term that any of us will notice. Just prior to shuttering our public institutions, however, the Senate was able to work through one thing successfully.… [Read more]

The time is right to continue the strikes

Fast Food Forward, the group that organised protests in New York City, stated “No one can survive on $7.25 (per hour).” They’re correct — especially when one takes the cost of living in a large metropolitan area into consideration.

Across the country a couple of weeks ago, protesters gathered outside a host of fast-food restaurants to take part in a one day strike that called for higher wages for fast food workers.… [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]

‘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]

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]

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]

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]

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]

The road to citizenship begins…

It has been a long time coming; partisan politics have had their say but, at the end, the Senate is pushing forward on sweeping immigration reform. With a 68-32 vote as the final procedural test — in which 14 members of the Republican party joined 52 Democrats and 2 Independents in a vote of ‘yes’ — more than the 60 votes needed to clear the hurdle to proceed to the next step was achieved.… [Read more]

Prop. 8: Same Sex Marriage Legal (again) in California

The federal ban on recognising same-sex marriages is dead.

Earlier today the US Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional. In another critical human and civil rights decision the high court  issued its ruling on Prop 8, California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. In a vote of 5-4,  the court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal once again in the state of California.… [Read more]

Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) End: Unconstitutional!

The US Supreme Court has voted on a crucial human rights case:  in determining the constitutionality and legality of gay marriage and the federal government’s National Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) the Court decided that DOMA is unconstitutional. The Court struck down in a 5-4 decision the federal provision that denies benefits to legally married gay couples.… [Read more]

Hand-to-Mouth, Paycheck to Paycheck

Yesterday it was reported that 76% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. According to Bankrate.com’s survey reported by CNN, “Fewer than one in four Americans have enough money in their savings account to cover at least six months of expenses, enough to help cushion the blow of a job loss, medical emergency or some other unexpected event, according to the survey of 1,000 adults.… [Read more]

Obama at the Brandenburg Gate…

Fifty years after President John F. Kennedy’s iconic speech in Germany, President Obama is speaking to Germans, in a unified Germany, at Brandenburg Gate.

He noted that he’s proud to return to Berlin as president and that “Angela [Merkel] and I don’t look like previous German and American leaders…”

Times have changed; Reagan and JFK, due to the previous divided status of the city, would not have been able to speak at this same location.… [Read more]

The “Nuns on the Bus” Immigration Tour Closes Today

Last year, Sister Simone Campbell made quite a splash on national television when she took her mission on the road. She went from around the nation, neighbourhood to neighbourhood, raising awareness about those among us who live in poverty, and she took her fight to congress when she brought attention to how their budget adversely impacts the most vulnerable in our society.… [Read more]