Tuesday, November 11, 2008

News That Matters - November 11, 2008

News That Matters
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Good Tuesday Morning,

Today is Veteran's Day.

In 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, major hostilities across Europe came to a halt as an armistice was signed bringing The Great War to a close. The devastation of that time was so horrific the world assumed it could never be repeated...

Several weeks ago during the last Presidential "debate" Iraqi war veterans gathered outside Hofstra University in an attempt to present Senators McCain and Obama with several questions about veterans affairs, an issue which was not mentioned during previous meetings of the two primary presidential candidates. The result was 15 arrests and one veteran, Army Sergeant Nick Morgan, trampled by a Nassau County police horse.

If you remember the report, Sgt. Morgan was knocked unconscious. When his friends asked that he be taken to a hospital, police told them that he would have to ask on his own.

"Friends brought him out of his unconscious state and tried to explain his situation to him, broken cheek, bloody face, hoof marks on his ribs and all, and it took some time before he was able to mumble the words on his own,"

Sgt. Morgan is recuperating in Philadelphia and will need reconstructive surgery to repair damage to his face. He, and the other 14 arrestees, 9 of them fellow veterans, appeared in court yesterday to plead Not Guilty to charges of disorderly conduct.

About a month ago and in defense of police actions, Lt. Kevin Smith, a public information officer for the Nassau PD said, “One of the defendants collided with a police horse. Who do you think is gonna win?”

I suppose "support the troops" means different things to different people and in Nassau County it means something entirely different altogether.

Sheesh! If you read the right-wing blogs or listen to them on the radio you'd think the world has ended. "Are you ready to kiss your paycheck goodbye?" one headline blares. Another blames Bush - directly - for the loss of the election.

Claiming Republicans in the House and Senate have been the "anti-spenders" another writer goes on to list a dozen programs the President signed into law which expanded corporate welfare to traditional Republican allies and blames them for the nation's decision to elect Barack Obama last week. One writes, "How long can you go on speechifying [sic] about the free market or limited government when this is your track record?"

So pick a name of a known Republican.. come on, any name! Yup, someone is blaming them, too.

Indeed, the right-wing is so angry, so mystified, so broken up over the loss that rather than enter a period of introspection and party building they're in the process of devouring themselves from the inside out. At least when Democrats lost in 2000 they found a convenient target. One blogger summed it up like this:

"If you are detecting some anger on my part, it is because I was given the choice, in its purest form, between Stupid and Evil last week.  And Stupid is so stupid he doesn't even recognize Evil when they wake up in bed together and his hind end is sore."

At least they don't have Ralph Nader to kick around.

Thanks to hard work done by ProPublica, an independent news service, here's where at least $250,000,000,000 of your tax dollars just went. You'll notice that the largest banks are each getting some $25,000,000,000. Just imagine how we could have better spent that money? And, after $200,000,000,000 was simply handed to insurance giant AIG, they report larger losses than ever. Hey, it's just your money. Relax.

Bank Name ▾ Date
Background Bailout Amount
(in Millions)
Associated Bank-Corp 11/06/08 details $530
BB&T 10/27/08 details $3,100
Bank of America (incl. Merrill Lynch) 10/14/08 details $25,000
Bank of New York Mellon 10/14/08 details $3,000
Banner Corp 11/04/08 details $124
Capital One 10/27/08 details $3,550
Capital Pacific Bancorp 11/06/08 details $4
Cascade Financial Corp 11/03/08 details $39
Citigroup 10/14/08 details $25,000
City National 10/27/08 details $395
Columbia Banking System 11/04/08 details $77
Comerica 10/27/08 details $2,250
Fifth Third 10/27/08 details $3,450
First Community Bancshares 10/30/08 details $43
First Financial 10/31/08 details $80
First Horizon National 10/24/08 details $866
First Niagara 10/27/08 details $186
Goldman Sachs 10/14/08 details $10,000
Heritage Commerce Corp 11/05/08 details $40
Heritage Financial 11/04/08 details $24
Home Federal Financial 10/27/08 details $25
Huntington Bancshares 10/27/08 details $1,400
JP Morgan Chase 10/14/08 details $25,000
KeyCorp 10/27/08 details $2,500
Marshall & Ilsley 10/28/08 details $1,700
Midwest Banc 11/07/08 details $86
Morgan Stanley 10/14/08 details $10,000
Northern Trust 10/27/08 details $1,500
Old National Bancorp 10/27/08 details $150
PNC 10/24/08 details $7,700
Pacific Capital Bancorp 11/06/08 details $188
Provident Bankshares 10/27/08 details $???
Redding Bank 10/27/08 details $17
Regions Financial 10/24/08 details $3,500
Saigon National 10/27/08 details $1.2
Simmons First National 10/30/08 details $40
State Street 10/14/08 details $2,000
SunTrust 10/27/08 details $3,500
TCF Financial 11/03/08 details $361
Trustmark Corp 11/06/08 details $215
U.S. Bancorp 11/03/08 details $6,600
UCBH Holdings 10/27/08 details $298
Umpqua 10/28/08 details $214
Valley National 10/24/08 details $330
Washington Federal 10/27/08 details $200
Webster Financial 11/07/08 details $400
Wells Fargo 10/14/08 details $25,000
Zions Bancorp 10/28/08 details $1,400

And now, the News,

  1. A Quiet Windfall For U.S. Banks
  2. European Support for Bicycles Promotes Sharing of the Wheels
  3. Green areas lower health inequities between rich, poor
  4. Cross Burned On Lawn Of N.J. Obama Supporter
  5. In Mayor’s Plan, the Plastic Bag Will Carry a Fee
  6. Can Barack Obama Undo Bush's Tangled Legal Legacy?
  7. Bush Officials Plan to Dial Back Environmental Protections
  8. 7 of the "Dirty Dozen" Ousted in Election

A Quiet Windfall For U.S. Banks

With Attention on Bailout Debate, Treasury Made Change to Tax Policy

By Amit R. Paley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 10, 2008; A01

The financial world was fixated on Capitol Hill as Congress battled over the Bush administration's request for a $700 billion bailout of the banking industry. In the midst of this late-September drama, the Treasury Department issued a five-sentence notice that attracted almost no public attention.

But corporate tax lawyers quickly realized the enormous implications of the document: Administration officials had just given American banks a windfall of as much as $140 billion.

The sweeping change to two decades of tax policy escaped the notice of lawmakers for several days, as they remained consumed with the controversial bailout bill. When they found out, some legislators were furious. Some congressional staff members have privately concluded that the notice was illegal. But they have worried that saying so publicly could unravel several recent bank mergers made possible by the change and send the economy into an even deeper tailspin.

Read More

European Support for Bicycles Promotes Sharing of the Wheels


BARCELONA, Spain — In increasingly green-conscious Europe, there are said to be only two kinds of mayors: those who have a bicycle-sharing program and those who want one.

Over the last several years, the programs have sprung up and taken off in dozens of cities, on a scale no one had thought possible and in places where bicycling had never been popular.

The sharing plans include not just Paris’s Vélib’, with its 20,000 bicycles, but also wildly popular programs with thousands of bicycles in major cities like Barcelona and Lyon, France. There are also programs in Pamplona, Spain; Rennes, France; and Düsseldorf, Germany. Even Rome, whose narrow, cobbled streets and chaotic traffic would seem unsuited to pedaling, recently started a small trial program, Roma’n’Bike, which it plans to expand soon.

For mayors looking to ease congestion and prove their environmental bona fides, bike-sharing has provided a simple solution: for the price of a bus, they invest in a fleet of bicycles, avoiding years of construction and approvals required for a subway. For riders, joining means cut-rate transportation and a chance to contribute to the planet’s well-being.

The new systems are successful in part because they blanket cities with huge numbers of available bikes, but the real linchpin is technology. Aided by electronic cards and computerized bike stands, riders can pick up and drop off bicycles in seconds at hundreds of locations, their payments deducted from bank accounts.

Read More

Green areas lower health inequities between rich, poor

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

Health inequalities between rich and poor people are much lower in areas that have lots of green space, such as parks, forests and playing fields, a large British study finds.
Dr. Richard Mitchell, of the University of Glasgow, and his colleagues noted that previous studies have shown that the presence of green space has an independent beneficial effect on health and health-related behaviors. They wanted to examine whether access to green space might also affect income-related health disparities.

Mitchell and his team looked at the almost 41 million people in England below retirement age and obtained individual death records for 366,348 people to determine the association between exposure to green space, income, all-cause mortality, and cause-specific death (circulatory disease, lung cancer and suicide) from 2001 to 2005.

In areas with the most green space, the health gap between the richest and poorest people was about half as large as that in the least green areas — an incident rate ratio (IRR) of 1.93 in the least green and 1.43 in the most green. IRR is a measure of how much higher the rate of death is among the poorest, when compared with that among the richest.

Read More

Cross Burned On Lawn Of N.J. Obama Supporter

Incident Follows Alleged Bat Attack On Staten Island Teen

NEWARK (CBS) ― Acts of racism have popped up in parts of the tri-state area since Barack Obama was elected president on Tuesday night.

In the latest, a family who had supported Obama's campaign emerged from their home in the northwestern New Jersey town of Hardwick Thursday morning to find the charred remnants of a 6-foot wooden cross on their front lawn.

Pieces of a homemade bed-sheet banner reading "President Obama -- Victory '08," which had been stolen from the yard the night before, also were found, leading investigators to believe the banner had been wrapped around the cross before it was set afire.

Read More

In Mayor’s Plan, the Plastic Bag Will Carry a Fee


In its struggle to make New York more green, the Bloomberg administration has tried discouraging people from using plastic bags. It has taken out ads beseeching residents to use cloth bags and set up recycling bins for plastic bags at supermarkets.

But now the carrots have been put away, and the stick is out: Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has called for charging shoppers 6 cents for every plastic bag needed at the register.

If the proposal passes, New York City would follow the lead of many European countries and become one of the first places in the United States to assess a so-called plastic bag tax.

Seattle voters will weigh in on a similar measure next year, and other places, like Los Angeles and Dallas, have studied the idea.

City officials estimate that the fee could generate $16 million a year, a figure that Mr. Bloomberg would no doubt appreciate, given the lingering and concussive effects of the global economic crisis on the city’s economy.

Read More

Can Barack Obama Undo Bush's Tangled Legal Legacy?

Friday 07 November 2008
by: Marisa Taylor and Michael Doyle, McClatchy Newspapers

Washington - When Barack Obama becomes president in January, he'll confront the controversial legal legacy of the Bush administration.

>From expansive executive privilege to hard-line tactics in the war on terrorism, Obama must decide what he'll undo and what he'll embrace.

The stakes couldn't be higher.

On one hand, civil libertarians and other critics of the Bush administration may feel betrayed if Obama doesn't move aggressively to reverse legal policies that they believe have violated the Constitution and international law.

On the other hand, Obama risks alienating some conservative Americans and some - but by no means all - military and intelligence officials if he seeks to hold officials accountable for those expansive policies.

These are some of the legal issues confronting him:

Read More

Bush Officials Plan to Dial Back Environmental Protections

Thursday 06 November 2008
by: Renee Schoof, McClatchy Newspapers

Washington - In the next few weeks, the Bush administration is expected to relax environmental-protection rules on power plants near national parks, uranium mining near the Grand Canyon and more mountaintop-removal coal mining in Appalachia.

The administration is widely expected to try to get some of the rules into final form by the week before Thanksgiving because, in some cases, there's a 60-day delay before new regulations take effect. And once the rules are in place, undoing them generally would be a more time-consuming job for the next Congress and administration.

The regulations already have had periods of public comment, and no further comments are being taken. The administration has proposed the rules and final approval is considered likely.

It's common for administrations to issue a spate of regulations just before leaving office. The Bush administration's changes are in keeping with President Bush's overall support of deregulation.

Here's a look at some changes that are likely to go into effect before the inauguration.

Read More

7 of the "Dirty Dozen" Ousted in Election

Voters Rejected Congressional Republicans With the Worst Environmental Voting Records

When Democrats took greater control over Congress on Election Day, they also managed to oust some of the legislators who had the worst records on environmental issues, according to the League of Conservation Voters.

The group publishes a list of the "Dirty Dozen" each year, highlighting those lawmakers that have voted against environmental protections the most. This election day, at least seven of the 12 were voted out of office.

Here's a look at who's out and who is still in.

Read More
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