September 29th, 2011

The Gang
  • acmeeoy

"No, he won't" for Black America by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

A new round of attacks from Barack Obama's defenders is aimed at anyone who expresses criticism of the administration's record after two-and-a-half years.

AS GEORGIA death row prisoner Troy Davis approached execution on September 21, a growing chorus of voices began to wonder aloud whether the nation's first Black president would intervene to stop a legal lynching.

Davis had already been strapped to the gurney in Georgia's death chamber--and the Supreme Court had begun its hours-long haggling over his appeal for a stay of execution--when White House Press Secretary Jay Carney issued a statement explaining that it was "inappropriate" for the president to say anything at all about the case because this was a state execution.

It was a sobering display of cowardice. We're supposed to believe that the most powerful political office in the most powerful nation in the world--one that led a war on Libya, that illegally bombs Pakistan with unmanned drones, and that is responsible for assaults in Afghanistan that slaughter wedding parties and unarmed children--was powerless to intervene to stop the murder of an innocent man in Georgia.

Then again, in those rare moments when Barack Obama addresses Black America these days, he always manages to find his tough side. Whether it's blaming Black fathers for not being men or blaming Black mothers for feeding their children fried chicken for breakfast, Obama never misses an opportunity to blame Black America for the state of Black America.

This past weekend was no different. In an embarrassing show of arrogance, Obama launched into an attack on his Black critics--three days after Davis' execution and before his body was even in the ground.

 At a speech in front of the Congressional Black Caucus, Obama chastised the crowd, telling listeners: "Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying."
That's an unbelievable statement from a man who hid in the White House while demonstrators around the world had their "marching shoes" on trying to save Troy Davis' life.
Moreover, if there's grumbling and crying among the section of the U.S. population that was most enthusiastic in supporting Obama's campaign for the presidency, it's because the combination of his policies and inaction has fueled a deepening economic and social disaster throughout Black America.

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ACL: everything is beautiful

Has The Onion gone too far with #CongressHostage story?

SATIRICAL PUBLICATION The Onion has confirmed that tweets and a story in which it is reporting an armed hostage taking place on Capitol Hill in Washington are intentional – although the story is not true.

The story and tweet has caused controversy on Twitter with confusion among some users as to whether the site and Twitter had been hacked.
However, a spokesperson for the company’s offices in New York confirmed to that neither the website nor the Twitter account had been hacked and that the story was intended.

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Pride & Prejudice

Gay Rights Rally Assault Charge Is Dropped

A Russian Orthodox activist who beat a female reporter at a gay rights rally in front of the cameras has been cleared of criminal charges.

City police have closed a criminal case against activist Roman Lisunov, who attacked Novaya Gazeta reporter Yelena Kostyuchenko at an unauthorized gay rally in downtown Moscow in May, the rights group Agora said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday.

Police said a medical examination found no evidence that Kostyuchenko had suffered "harm to her health" in the attack and closed the case.

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She didn't just have 'a scratch', she had a concussion.
Stay classy, Russia.

Montana Turns Socialistic. Governor to Set Up a Single Payer System From His Canadian Overlords.

Obama's Evil Liberal Plot to Turns Us Into Boring Canadians.

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer Will Seek Health Care Law Waiver To Establish Single Payer In His State

As ThinkProgress previously reported, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) made history earlier this year when he signed into law legislation that would make his state the first state to lay the groundwork for a single payer health care system. In order to enact this system, the state needs a waiver from the federal health care law, which it will be able to obtain in 2017. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) has introduced legislation to move the waiver date up to 2014, an idea President Obama has endorsed.

Now, another governor is looking to take advantage of flexibility in Obama’s health care law in order to establish a single payer system. Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) announced yesterday that he will be seeking a waiver to set up his own universal health care system in his state modeled after the single payer Canadian health care system that began in the province of Saskatchewan:

Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Wednesday he will ask the U.S. government to let Montana set up its own universal health care program, taking his rhetorical fight over health care to another level. [...] The popular second-term Democrat would like to create a state-run system that borrows from the program used in Saskatchewan. He said the Canadian province controls cost by negotiating drug prices and limiting non-emergency procedures such as MRIs.

Local news station KRTV covered Schweitzer’s bid for a new universal health care system for his state. Schweitzer said that under his ideal system patients can still buy private insurance if they want to, but that it’ll be a “lonely place over there at Blue Cross Blue Shield” due to the superior public health insurance he plans to provide.

Schweitzer’s announcement to seek a waiver and design his own system was met with curiosity by GOP state Sen. Jason Priest, who responded, “I don’t want to reject it before I see the details. I am just glad he is thinking about it.”
I need a drink

Bank of America to Charge $5 Fees for Debit Card Transactions Starting Next Year

Bank of America Corp plans to charge customers who use their debit cards to make purchases a $5 monthly fee beginning early next year, joining other banks scrambling for new sources of revenue.

U.S. banks have been looking for ways to increase revenue as regulations introduced since the financial crisis limited the use of overdraft and other fees.

The Dodd-Frank Act's Durbin amendment, due to go into effect on October 1, caps fees banks can charge merchants for processing debit card transactions at 21 cents per transaction from an average of 44 cents, potentially costing banks billions of dollars.

Banks also face broader operational challenges as low interest rates and higher capital requirements hit profitability, and the sluggish economydepresses loan demand.

Other large U.S. banks including Wells Fargo & Co, JPMorgan Chase & Co and SunTrust Banks Inc are testing or planning monthly debit card fees.

"The economics of offering a debit card have changed," Bank of America spokeswoman Anne Pace said on Thursday. Bank of America is the largest U.S. bank by assets.

Senator Richard Durbin, architect of debit card interchange fee reform, bashed the proposed monthly fee. "Bank of America is trying to find new ways to pad their profits by sticking it to its customers," he said in a statement. It's overt, unfair, and I hope their customers have the final say."


Even before introduction of the Durbin amendment's rules on debit fees, Bank of America's fee income was dropping at its deposits and card services units. The bank's deposits unit reported fee income of $1 billion in the second quarter of 2011, down 34 percent from $1.5 billion a year before.

Card services, which includes the bank's credit and debit card operations, reported fee income of $1.9 billion, down 23 percent from $2.5 billion in second quarter 2010.

"This might be a fee too far," said Ed Mierzwinski, director of the consumer program for the U.S. PIRG, a federation of state public interest research groups.

Mierzwinski said such fees could push customers to smaller banks that have not introduced checking and debit-related fees.

Pace said customers expect certain features for their accounts, like overdraft and fraud protection, and the fee would offset some of those costs.

The fee will be waived for the bank's premium or platinum privileges accounts tied to its Merrill Lynch brokerage. It will also not be charged for using the card to access the bank's ATMs, Pace said.

She declined to say how much the bank expects to earn through these fees or how many customers would be affected.

Some banks have pushed back against debit fees.

Citigroup Inc said earlier this month that it would not impose debit card usage fees as part of a broader account restructuring.

The head of banking products for Citi's U.S. consumer bank said customers had told the bank that a debit card fee would be "a huge source of irritation."


It looks like I'm going to be closing my account in the near future. I can go to my local credit union but I also want to keep a small checking account open at a big bank just for convenience's sake when I travel, anyone have any suggestions about which big bank is the least evil? 

Bahrain medical staff sentenced over protests

Thirteen doctors and nurses who treated anti-government protesters during demonstrations in Bahrain earlier this year have been jailed for 15 years for crimes against the state.

Seven other medical professionals were given sentences of between five and 10 years by a special tribunal on Thursday that was set up during the emergency rule that followed the demonstrations.

The doctors' trial has been closely watched and criticised by rights groups for Bahrain's use of the security court, which has military prosecutors and both civilian and military judges, in prosecuting civilians.

Most of the medics worked at the Salmaniya Medical Centre in Manama, which was stormed by security forces after they drove protesters on March 16 out of the nearby Pearl Square - the focal point of Bahrain's protest movement.

The Bahrain News Agency said that the medics were tried for "forcefully occupying Salmaniya Medical Centre... possessing unlicensed arms (AK-47s) and knives, incitement to overthrow the regime, seizing medical equipment, detaining policemen, and spreading false news".

They were also accused of "inciting hatred to the regime and insulting it, instigating hatred against another sect and obstructing the implementation of law, destroying public property and taking part in gatherings aimed at jeopardising the general security and committing crimes," BNA said.

"All these acts were done with a terrorist aim."

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Sheikh Mubarak bin Abdulaziz al Khalifa, a top member of Bahrain's information affairs authority, said that the medics were not "practising their profession in the manner that all doctors and nurses should have been abiding to".

Denying the charges

But the doctors have repeatedly denied the charges, which they say were created by the authorities to punish medical staff for treating people who took part in anti-government protests.

"There was no sense of rebellion," Robert Fisk, senior Middle East correspondent for The Independent, who was in Bahrain during the March unrest, told Al Jazeera.

"It was a professional sense of, 'how do we treat so many people who have been shot and wounded in a short period of time?'"

The daughter of one of the charged medics told Al Jazeera that none of the doctors or nurses attended Thursday's hearing.

"These cruel sentences present a serious breach of law and is considered to be an attack on the medical profession," she said in a statement.

"We urge all international medical organizations, societies, bodies to take an action, issue a statement or do anything to condemn the recent sentences of Bahraini medical professionals."

Matar Matar, a former opposition MP in Bahrain, told Al Jazeera condemned the sentences, saying they signal that the goverment is ignoring a major "political problem" and "that a big portion of Bahrainis are insisting to have political reforms".

"Day after day, if we are late to solve and fix our problems, they'll become more complicated," he said.

"They [officials] should face the problem and start real political reform."

In the same court, but a separate case, one protester was sentenced to death and another to life imprisonment on Thursday for killing a police officer during the protests.

Thursday's sentences came a day after the tribunal upheld sentences for 21 activists convicted for their roles in the protests, including eight prominent political figures who were given life terms on charges of trying to overthrow the kingdom's Sunni rulers.


The punishment of medical staff for treating protestors is now SOP it seems: the same has been happening to doctors in Syria, and was an issue in Libya as well. (The Libya article discusses how doctors had to be especially clandestine as Gaddafi's "not really dead" adopted daughter Hana was a doctor at one of these hospitals.)
No Enbridge
  • romp

Homeowners to Banks: Clean Up the Mess You Left in Our Neighborhood

Five years ago, millions of bad loans that banks had peddled—in order to feed the profitable securities market—began to fail and foreclosures began climbing. Washington ignored it then and continues to ignore it in all but name today. Millions of people lost their homes and millions more will follow. But amid all the chatter about deficits and coming presidential elections, it’s easy to forget this crisis continues apace. One in eight mortgages are past due; one in five black and Latino borrowers are believed to be at the brink of foreclosure.

The consequences stretch past the families that get kicked out. The systemic fraud that drove up prices and flipped homeowners through large refinances has also left the market with a glut of ridiculously overvalued, foreclosed properties upon which banks are now squatting. The glut has spawned many new crises, including driving down the value of everyone else’s home and all the echo-effect problems that creates, too. It’s a series of dominoes that the banks’ failed mortgages sent tumbling and that continue to fall.

And here’s one fallen domino that’s gotten far too little attention: banks are largely neglecting the homes upon which they are squatting, leaving them to turn into trash-strewn sources of blight. Many of the largely black communities where this crisis began had spent decades rebuilding after the divestment of the 1980s, turning once struggling neighborhoods into stable, working-class communities of homeowners. The banks and the mortgage brokers they encouraged swept through and reversed that work (median black wealth has plummeted to a lower point than it was in 1983), and now they have literally left their mess behind. They act as absentee owners of abandoned, decaying properties that draw crime and create blight.

So yesterday, homeowners and organizers in East Oakland, one of the communities hit hardest in the subprime lending boom, gathered up the banks’ trash and delivered it back to them. The action was part of a series of events around the country, organized by the New Bottom Line campaign, that aim to put the foreclosure crisis and banks’ responsibility for it back on Washington’s agenda. Photojournalist Sita Bhaumik went along to record the action yesterday. Participants charged that, within hours of their press release about the action, the banks sent crews to clean up some long neglected properties. They collected the remaining garbage and brought it to local branches of Citibank, Chase and Wells Fargo.


I hadn't considered the damage done to neighbourhoods that had gentrified (despite having lived in one). Shit.
more photos of the event at the source