We Need to Rein in ‘Too Big to Fail’ Banks


Elizabeth Warren | Reader Supported News | July 21, 2014

ore than five years after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the beginning of the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression, lawmakers should ask themselves whether they have done enough to reduce the risk of another financial crisis. In our view, the answer is no.

The chances of another financial crisis will remain unacceptably high as long as there are financial institutions that are “too big to fail” — entities that are deemed so important to the overall health and functioning of the markets that their collapse would bring down the entire financial system.

But over five years after the crash, the big banks are more concentrated and more interconnected and their appetite for excessively risky behavior is unchanged. The biggest banks are substantially bigger than they were in 2008. In fact, the five biggest banks now control more than half the nation’s total banking assets.

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FCC Gets Slammed With More Than 1 Million Comments About Net Neutrality


Kristina Bravo | TakePart.com | Reader Supported News | July 21, 2014

ompanies should not be able to pay Internet service providers so that their sites reach users faster. That’s the general consensus of the 1,067,779 comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission before the initial comment period of the open Internet proceeding came to a close on Friday.

Issue-related comments on the government agency’s site rarely surpass 100, but a proposal that could threaten Internet equality has united many Americans and prompted them to speak out. Even former Daily Show correspondent John Oliver took up the issue. Oliver’s 13-minute rant about net neutrality on his HBO show Last Week Tonight With John Oliver inspired so many people to comment on the FCC website that the government entity announced on Twitter that it was having “technical difficulties.”

“I urge you to maintain net neutrality and not give into the forces of big money, special interests, and self-interested partisanship,” commenter Gregory Robe, a retired captain of the United States Air Force Reserve, wrote to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “I depend on free access to information that could be blocked if you change the rules.”

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Obama signs executive order barring federal discrimination against LGBT people


Jeff Mason | Reuters | Raw Story | July 21, 2014

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama signed an executive order on Monday barring federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The order did not include new exemptions for religious organizations, a move that was welcomed by gay rights activists.

For a long time the White House has resisted issuing such an executive order, preferring instead to push for legislation in Congress that would ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in workplaces nationwide.

But that legislation stalled in Congress, and advocates pressed Obama to take action to bar such discrimination among federal contractors, who make up about a fifth of the U.S. work force.

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Gay couple challenges legal halt to same-sex marriage in the Florida Keys


Reuters | Raw Story | July 21, 2014

Same sex marriage via Shutterstock

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MIAMI (Reuters) – A gay couple hoping to marry in the Florida Keys filed an emergency petition on Monday to reinstate a judge’s ruling which struck down the state’s gay marriage ban.

Last week Circuit Judge Luis Garcia, whose jurisdiction includes the Florida Keys, ordered the Monroe County Clerk of Court to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples starting on Tuesday.

But the ruling was automatically put on hold after Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Republican, announced she planned to appeal it, stating that the final decision on the issue must come from the U.S. Supreme Court.

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When the War Comes Home


Scott Galindez | Reader Supported News | July 21, 2014

ur military prides itself on training the best killing machine in the world. Training prepares young men and women for the physical and psychological needs of a soldier. Then those who actually go into combat, especially in elite units, are further programmed to kill or be killed.

What happens when they come home? For many, the adjustment is difficult. PTSD and other disorders scar them for life. I have a friend that I play an online game with. He co-founded a chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War. He recently started a blog to express his emotions, to help him cope.

It wasn’t enough. On Saturday night my friend was in a fight in a local bar, defending himself against three others, when a police officer grabbed him from behind. He did not know it was the police and figured that more people were jumping into the fight against him. My friend is a Navy SEAL who spent an extensive amount of time in combat. His training kicked in, and the results were not pretty. Although he didn’t receive many injuries from the original fight, it was the ensuing beating he received by the police that did the damage. Ultimately, he lost vision in one eye, amongst multiple injuries, and at this time a police officer lies in a coma.

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Wickr: The Snapchat to combat the NSA


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Study: More Than Half of the People Executed in the US Have a Severe Mental Illness


Ian Millhise | ThinkProgress | Reader Supported News | July 21, 2014

majority of the 100 executed inmates examined in a new study by three legal researchers had “a severe mental illness such as schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder or psychosis.” Yet, because of an oddity in the Supreme Court’s death penalty cases, it is typically constitutional under existing precedents to execute people with these illnesses.

In a pair of cases decided in 2002 and 2005, the Court held that it is unconstitutional to execute intellectually disabled inmates and individuals who committed a capital offense when they were under the age of 18. As the Court explained in the first of these two cases, these cases are rooted in the fact that certain offenders “have diminished capacities to understand and process information, to communicate, to abstract from mistakes and learn from experience, to engage in logical reasoning, to control impulses, and to understand the reactions of others” — and thus it would be cruel and unusual punishment to subject them to the most permanent of punishments.

This rationale — that people with diminished mental capacity cannot be executed — applies with equal force to people with severe mental disorders. Indeed, the study by researchers Robert J. Smith, Sophie Cull and Zoë Robinson finds that “the overwhelming majority of executed offenders had intellectual and psychological deficits that rivaled—and sometimes outpaced—those associated with intellectual disability and juvenile status.” And yet the Court has not yet extended the same protections to people with severe mental illnesses that it has to juvenile offenders and people with intellectual disabilities.

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Government Agents ‘Directly Involved’ in Most High-Profile US Terror Plots


Spencer Ackerman | Guardian UK | Reader Supported News | July 21, 2014

• Human Rights Watch documents ‘sting’ operations
• Report raises questions about post-9/11 civil rights

 

early all of the highest-profile domestic terrorism plots in the United States since 9/11 featured the “direct involvement” of government agents or informants, a new report says.

Some of the controversial “sting” operations “were proposed or led by informants”, bordering on entrapment by law enforcement. Yet the courtroom obstacles to proving entrapment are significant, one of the reasons the stings persist.

The lengthy report, released on Monday by Human Rights Watch, raises questions about the US criminal justice system’s ability to respect civil rights and due process in post-9/11 terrorism cases. It portrays a system that features not just the sting operations but secret evidence, anonymous juries, extensive pretrial detentions and convictions significantly removed from actual plots.

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When Dick Cheney Told the Truth About Iraq


Uwe Reinhardt | The Globalist | Reader Supported News | July 21, 2014

 

Before becoming vice president, Cheney acknowledged the country could disintegrate following a U.S. invasion

 

tephan Richter’s recent “Iraq’s Predictable Fate” notes that then German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had warned the George W. Bush administration in 2002 that the invasion of Iraq was ill-advised.

The majority of Americans — and both political parties — once cheered on that invasion. Americans belatedly have come to realize that they would have been much better off if Schröder’s advice had been heeded.

To be sure, only a tiny minority of Americans have been directly touched by the cost of the war in terms of American lives lost and limbs destroyed. But all Americans will long feel the fiscal burden of amortizing the money cost of the war, including the long-term medical and social support of the warriors sent out to fight that war.

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‘Drop Kenyatta case’ defence again tells ICC


New Vision | July 13, 2014

THE HAGUE – Lawyers representing Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta have renewed calls for the International Criminal Court to drop charges of crimes against humanity against him.

“We have reached a stage where there is no evidence” to support the charges, Kenyatta’s lawyer Steven Kay told judges in The Hague.

“It is my submission at this stage to this court to dispose of this matter,” Kay told the ICC, where Kenyatta faces five counts for his role in deadly 2007-08 post-election violence that rocked the east African country.

The court convened on Wednesday for a so-called status conference to check on the progress of Kenyatta’s much-delayed trial, now scheduled to start on October 7.

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