Tag Archives: White House
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Gary Johnson files anti-trust lawsuit to appear in presidential debates

23 Sep

 

Gary Johnson presidential campaign, 2012

Gary Johnson presidential campaign, 2012 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 


Gary Johnson files anti-trust lawsuit to appear in presidential debates (via Raw Story )

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson filed an anti-trust lawsuit suit in federal court Friday alleging that the Democratic and Republican parties are conspiring to keep third-party candidates out of the presidential debates and, as a result, out of the White House. In the suit, Johnson’…

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#Obama.

9 Mar
Official photographic portrait of US President...

Image via Wikipedia

In 2008, then-Senator Obama told the Houston GLBT Political Caucus that, if elected President, he would sign an Executive Order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity by companies that do business with the federal government. [1]

And right now, that exact Executive Order is sitting on President Obama’s desk, but he hasn’t yet signed it. White House insiders tell us he’s waiting until Pride Month or after the election for “strategic timing.”

We’re sick of our jobs and relationships being played for politics, and we know you are too. We’re making an issue of this today.

Will you join us in demanding that Obama immediately sign the Executive Order to protect LGBT workers?

Establishment organizations have been telling us for months that it’s “crazy to demand change in an election year” — that we should wait our turn and ask nicely for our equality in 2013. But we’ve been waiting for Congress to pass employment protections for LGBT workers since 1974, when the “Equality Act” was introduced! Since then, Congress has failed us every session. Even when Democrats had a majority in the House and the Senate back in 2010, they couldn’t get the job done — despite the support of 73% of voters! [2]

Momentum is building for the President to sign this Executive Order — immediately protecting 22% of the American workforce, from Georgia to Ohio to Texas to Wyoming. [3] Over 105,000 people have already expressed their support through a Change.org petition by our friends at Freedom to Work — and the blogosphere is buzzing, as well.

We can’t wait. There are too many people across the country who can be fired simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. President Obama must honor his campaign promise of adding protections for these workers, and must stop playing a political game with our jobs.

We’ll deliver your signature — and the 105,000 others collected by Freedom to Work — to the White House. In the meantime, we’ll be working to push this issue in the media, and get President Obama’s attention.

Will you join us on this petition today? It only takes a moment to sign.

– Heather, Robin, and the GetEQUAL team

[1] MetroWeekly: “Then and Now” — http://www.metroweekly.com/news/?ak=7139

[2] Freedom to Work: “Polling Shows Strong Support for ENDA” — http://www.freedomtowork.org/?page_id=39

[3] Washington Post: “An order that would ensure a level field for gays in federal contracting” — http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-president-should-extend-workplace-protections-for-sexual-orientation/2012/02/03/gIQACNK7uQ_story.html

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A bad deal

10 Feb
WALL Street.

WALL Street. (Photo credit: eyewash)

A bad deal

Wall Street banks fraudulently and illegally foreclose on your house. You get $2,000. The bank gets let off the hook. We’d call that a bad deal.

And yet yesterday, at the urging of the White House, federal regulators along with 49 state attorneys general announced a settlement deal for mortgage servicer abuse that does essentially that. It lets banks off the hook for widespread foreclosure fraud.

Press releases have trumpeted a $26 billion deal which may sound like a lot, but it’s a paltry sum when you break down the numbers.

With an average mortgage of $180,000, and loan instruments executed illegally, a family that lost their home will get a check for just over 1% of the value of the mortgage.1 That is not a victory. The amount of money this deal makes available to help homeowners is an order of magnitude too small and incommensurate with the harm done by the banks.

The estimated $10-$20 billion in the deal for principal reduction would reduce only about 2% of the $700 billion in equity destroyed during the financial crisis. And the banks themselves will only pay $5 billion out of their own pocket. By far the lion’s share of the cost will be borne by investors and taxpayers, who had no part in the robo-signing scandal. 2

No doubt the deal is far better than the deal that was offered months ago. And this most certainly is a result of activism from members of CREDO and many of our allies in the progressive movement who worked with progressive attorneys general like New York’s Eric Schneiderman, California’s Kamala Harris, Delaware’s Beau Biden, Massachusetts’ Martha Coakley and Nevada’s Catherine Cortez Masto to fight a bad deal.

But the final deal, while better, still can’t be characterized as a good deal or even as a good first step towards real accountability for Wall Street banks.

The reported $26 billion settlement will not come close to inflicting any real pain on the banks all of which have already reserved the full amounts required from them under the deal. As Robert Reich said, the “$26 billion settlement with banks over mortgage fraud is far short of what they should pay and distressed home owners deserve.”3

One in five Americans with mortgages owe the banks more than their homes are worth, and these home owners are underwater by an average of $50,000 each. This is a collective negative equity of nearly $700 billion.4

Consider the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street paid for by U.S. taxpayers5 and the more than $1.2 trillion in loans6 provided by the Federal Reserve to Wall Street banks. Or another way to put the deal in perspective is to compare it to the tobacco industry settlement in 1998 – the largest previous multi-state agreement. That deal was worth $350 billion in today’s dollars — more than ten times the size of the mortgage deal.7

And that’s not even all that’s wrong with this deal. The federal government’s track record for enforcing settlement terms with Wall Street banks is abysmal. Furthermore, even if the banks follow the terms of the deal, it’s quite possible than when all is said and done, not only will the banks have suffered no pain, they may actually come out having profited from their illegal schemes to rip off homeowners. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the largest mortgage banks saved $20 billion by taking illegal shortcuts — an amount far greater than the $5 billion out of pocket they will be required to pay in this deal.

All of which adds up to a scenario in which this settlement does literally nothing to deter the banks from engaging in the same fraudulent behavior in the future.

Senator Dick Durbin famously said the Wall Street banks own the politicians in Washington, DC. Today, this could not be more clearly true as we closely examine the deal that the Obama administration cut with Wall Street and pressured state attorneys general to sign.

There has yet to be a full investigation of the robo-signing scandal despite what Reuters called “copious evidence” of “widespread forgery, perjury, obstruction of justice, and illegal foreclosures….” 8

By establishing settlement terms before there has been any meaningful investigation, the deal whitewashes the widespread lawlessness of the banks and virtually ensures that no bankers will be held criminally responsible for their part in the robo-signing scandal and foreclosure fraud.

Though the exact terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, we understand that it will not cut off other important avenues to hold the banks accountable. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is co-chairing a federal task force that if fully resourced and left to operate unhindered by the White House could achieve hundreds of billions in reduced principal for underwater homeowners and criminal indictments for bankers who broke the law and helped drive our economy off a cliff. And other state attorneys general can continue investigating Wall Street’s role in causing the housing crisis to ensure that the banks that caused the crisis are held accountable for their wrongdoing.

This is the biggest case of fraud in our history. Homeowners deserve justice for crimes committed against them by Wall Street banks that in many cases literally stole their homes from underneath them. Unfortunately, yesterday’s settlement doesn’t even provide anything close to a down payment on justice.

As the election season heats up, we must be insistent about real accountability for Wall Street crooks. Pressure from activists like us will be even more important in the days to come if we are to achieve any real measure of accountability for Wall Street bankers who profited from their crimes and left the 99% to pay to the price for their reckless disregard.

Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

 

1. “Less than meets the eye in mortgage settlement,” Jon Talton, Seattle Times, 02-09-12
2. “The Servicing Settlement: Banks 1, Public 0,” Adam Levitin, Credit Slips, 02-09-12
3. Twitter, 02-09-12
4. “Mortgage Plan Gives Homeowners Bulk of the Benefits,” Nelson D. Schwatz and Shaila Dewan, New York Times, 02-09-12
5. “Wall Street Aristocracy Got $1.2 Trillion in Secret Loans,” Bradley Keoun and Phil Kuntz, Bloomberg, 08-22-11
6. “The Wall Street Bailout Plan Explained ,” David Stout, New York Times, 09-20-08
7. “FAQ: The foreclosure settlement ,” Sarah Halzack and Sarah Kliff, WashingtonPost.com, 02-09-12
8. “U.S. AG Eric Holder, DoJ Head Lanny Breuer Linked To Banks Accused Of Foreclosure Fraud ,” Reuters, 01-19-12.

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Standing shoulder to shoulder, changing history.

7 Nov
Friends–
There are days along any journey that stick with you, and today was one of them.
Under blue Indian Summer skies, more than 12,000 people from every corner of the country descended on Washington DC; then, with great precision, they fanned out to surround the White House and take a stand against the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
Here are just a couple of pictures from the day, and you can see lots more by clicking here.
What speaker after speaker today made clear (and they came from every part of our movement: indigenous leaders, labor organizers, environmentalists, young people, preachers) was that today was in no way a grand finale — there’s lots more work to do.
I have no idea how this battle is going to come out — only that, together, we stand a chance to shut down this dirty pipeline and shift the flow not just of oil, but of history. This day was an important part of that history, and we’ll carry its power with us as we take this fight forward.
Thanks in advance for all the work we’ll do together,  shoulder-to-shoulder, on the road ahead.
Onwards,
Bill McKibben for the 350.org team
P.S. This movement milestone deserves to be shared, so forward along this email — and share it on Facebook by clicking here or share it on Twitter by clicking here.


Photo Credits: Josh Lopez and Christine Irvine


350.org is building a global movement to solve the climate crisis. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for email alerts. You can help power our work by getting involved locally and donating here.
What is 350? Go to our website to learn about the science behind the movement.

Keystone XL Pipeline Tarsands Action #Canada #p2

26 Oct
Dear friends,
I think you’re going to like this video: 


Last week, actor Mark Ruffalo took “the people’s microphone” at Occupy Wall Street — not to promote a new movie, but to issue a powerful call to action. In under three minutes, Mark connects the dots between the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, fracking, Occupy Wall Street, and the big action planned in DC for November 6th. Mark’s speech captures exactly the kind of energy we’ll need to win this fight.
Click here to watch Mark’s video, and click here to share it on Facebook.
People across the country have been feeling frustrated: frustrated with the corporate control of our democracy, frustrated with the rising levels of pollution in our atmosphere, and frustrated by the lack of a movement powerful enough to turn the tide. We are seeing that frustration reflected in the #occupy events that are growing throughout the country — but frustration alone is not enough.
As Mark says in the video, the task ahead of us is to “turn our grief into winnable action. November 6th is a winnable action!”
The November 6th action in DC is shaping up to be a historical mobilization for this movement. As Mark describes it, “We’re going to make a Human Chain around the White House — to remind Obama to unlink his arms with the corporations, the gas and oil industry, and entwine his arms with the people that he is in charge of taking care of.”
Sounds like a plan to me.
Let’s do this,
Jamie Henn, 350.org 


QUESTIONS and MORE INFO
Where can I get more information about the November 6th action in DC?
You can sign up here and get more logistical info right here.  Also, tonight at 8 PM Eastern Time, Bill McKibben will be hosting a live video chat to talk about what we need to do before November 6th to make this action even bigger. To join in, just go to www.tarsandsaction.org/video-chat at 8 PM Eastern and press play.
What is “fracking”?
Hydraulic fracturing, AKA “fracking”, is is a method of gas extraction that involves injecting highly-toxic chemicals deep underground to fracture rock formations. There are significant concerns about the effects of fracking on drinking water quality, air quality, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Who is this Mark Ruffalo guy?
You probably recognize him from popular movies — recently he’s been in “The Kids are All Right”, “You Can Count on Me”, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, and more. Recently, Mark has emerged as a powerful spokesperson and campaigner for the anti-fracking movement.
What is the people’s microphone — and why is everyone repeating what Mark says in the video?
At Occupy Wall Street in New York, amplified sound (speakers, megaphones, etc. ) are prohibited, so people have gotten creative in order to make their voices heard. When someone uses the “people’s mic”, a speaker will say a line, and then everyone in earshot will repeat it and amplify it so the larger group can hear. It can be a bit slow going, but it’s proven to be a powerful tool for the direct democracy that’s at work at #occupy events around the country.


350.org is building a global movement to solve the climate crisis. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for email alerts. You can help power our work by getting involved locally and donating here.
What is 350? Go to our website to learn about the science behind the movement.

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