Friday, January 22, 2010

Supreme Court - 1st ammendment rights for corporations

First Amendment Upheld

Wall Street Journal — Thursday's Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, in which the Court struck down a blanket government prohibition on corporate political speech, is a wonderful decision that restores political speech to the primacy it was intended to have under the First Amendment.

To truly appreciate the stakes in Citizens United, one must remember the government's legal position in the case. Implicit in its briefs but laid bare at oral argument, the government maintained that the Constitution allows the government to ban distribution of books over Amazon's Kindle; to prohibit a union from hiring a writer to author a book titled, "Why Working Americans Should Support the Obama Agenda"; and to prohibit Simon & Schuster from publishing, or Barnes & Noble from selling, a book containing even one line of advocacy for or against a candidate for public office. As David Barry would say, "I am not making this up."
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Supreme Court OKs unlimited corporate spending on elections

Los Angeles Times — Reporting from Washington - Overturning a century-old restriction, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that corporations could spend as much as they wanted to sway voters in federal elections.

In a landmark 5-4 decision, the court's conservative bloc said that corporations had the same right to free speech as individuals, and for that reason the government could not stop corporations from spending to help their favored candidates.
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Justice Stevens bemoans changed court

USA Today — When liberal Justice John Paul Stevens dissented Thursday as the Supreme Court permitted new corporate spending in elections, he invoked the names of influential and long-gone justices.

He began with retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, with whom he had worked on a 2003 case the majority was partially overruling. He referred to the late Justice Thurgood Marshall's warning in a 1990 case, also overturned, about how corporate money can distort political debate. Stevens then cited the late Justice Byron White about the importance of deferring to Congress, which had passed the law the majority discarded Thursday.
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Obama Bank Overhaul

A return to sanity in banking

WSJ Marketwatch — The sweeping reform President Barack Obama unveiled Thursday is short on detail, but in its broadest terms it aims to both preserve Wall Street's ability to take risk and strengthen the money system at the core of banking.

Finally, someone with the power to make it happen is talking about a response equal in scope to the system's failure.

Let's start with some of the problems of this vague plan. First, it's not Glass-Steagall, the 1933 legislative wall thrown up between commercial and investment banking. It's not a pure divide between investing and the credit system.
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Big Bank Shares Hammered After Obama Proposal

ABC — A new proposal from President Barack Obama to limit the size and trading capabilities of big banks is sending shares of major financial institutions plummeting.

At the White House Thursday, Obama vowed to fight big banks with tougher regulations that he believes would head off the cascading failures that required billions bailout funds for Wall Street.

He wants new rules that would restrict banks in the use of depositor money and also limit how big financial institutions can become.
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Obama's bank reform plans scare the markets

BBC — US and European stocks have fallen sharply after President Barack Obama proposed significant limits on how banks can operate.

The main US share index, the Dow Jones, fell more than 200 points or 2% as the president delivered his speech, with banking stocks most affected.
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Senate-Elect Brown vs. Healthcare

Democrats scramble on health care after GOP win

CNN — Nervous Democrats debated Wednesday how to save a health care reform plan suddenly pushed to the brink of defeat by an upset GOP Senate win in Massachusetts.

Senator-elect Scott Brown's victory in one of the most progressive states in the nation raised already-high anxiety levels among Democrats looking ahead to midterm elections. It also stripped Democrats of their 60-seat Senate supermajority, giving Republicans enough votes to block any measure in the chamber.
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US Health Insurers Enter Earnings Season With Changed Climate

Wall Street Journal — UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) and its peers seem to face a more temperate political climate than anticipated as the health insurer opens the industry's earnings-reporting season Thursday.

Following Republican Scott Brown's upset victory in the Massachusetts special U.S. Senate election Tuesday, investors are likely to be at least as focused on UnitedHealth's thoughts on the health-care reform outlook and other trends for this and future years as on how the company performed in the fourth quarter of 2009. UnitedHealth is the largest U.S. managed-care company by revenue and is considered an industry bellwether.
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White House Reduces Expectation of Passing Health Care Reform This Year

Fox News — The Obama White House, shell-shocked by the victory of Republican Scott Brown in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate special election, no longer predicts Congress will pass health care this year.

"I think it's always hard to tell how these things sort out in the first hours," President Obama's senior adviser David Axelrod told Fox News on Wednesday when asked if health care was now dead. "I think people are trying to figure this out. We'll know more soon. I don't believe we came all this way and are going to walk away from it. I think it would be a terrible mistake."
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Monday, January 18, 2010

Google vs. China

Google-China showdown may alter tech game

San Francisco Chronicle — Few expect Google Inc.'s stare-down with China to usher in a new era of openness across the Asian nation, but some believe - or hope - it could pressure the government to improve relations with foreign technology companies.

The Mountain View Web giant called out the country in a surprisingly forthright manner last week, publicly venting frustrations common among many U.S. businesses operating there. The company said it would stop censoring search results in China even if that means it's forced to leave, after disclosing a sophisticated cyberattack on the e-mail accounts of advocates of human rights in the nation.
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Google cyber-attack from China 'an inside job'

London Times — Google employees may have assisted hackers who launched a cyber-attack from China, prompting the company’s threat to leave the country, it has emerged.

The world’s most popular search engine is believed to be investigating whether one or more of its own workers bases in the Chinese offices helped those attempting to break into the e-mail accounts of human rights activists last month.
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Google says 'business as usual' in China

Sydney Morning Herald — Google says it is 'business as usual' in China, after reports that the US internet giant was stopping some local staff from working following its threat to pull out of the country.

Google says it is "business as usual" in China, after reports that the US internet giant was stopping some local staff from working following its threat to pull out of the country.
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Friday, January 8, 2010

Sea Shepherd vs. Japan's Whaling Industry

Whalers now claim Ady Gil was armed

The Australian — JAPANESE whalers have accused the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society of carrying weapons on the Ady Gil, rejecting claims by the protesters that their state-of-the-art speed-boat had sunk.

The Institute of Cetacean Research released photographs last night of four large arrows they claim were found floating near the Ady Gil, which collided on Wednesday with the Japanese vessel the Shonan Maru No 2.
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Sea Shepherd sues Japanese whaling ship crew

Kyodo News — The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society on Friday filed a complaint of piracy with a Dutch court against the crew of the Japanese whaling vessel Shonan Maru No. 2, lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld for the anti-whaling group told Dutch press agency ANP.
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Australia presses Japan on whaling safety

Reuters India — The futuristic anti-whaling protest boat struck by a Japanese harpoon vessel near Antarctica finally sank on Friday, prompting Australia to voice official concern about safety in the remote Southern Ocean.

Senior diplomats in Tokyo made "high-level representations" about safety in Antarctica's frigid waters. They also raised concerns about "spy flights" organized by Japanese whalers from Australian airports to track and foil protesters, Australia's Environment Minister Peter Garrett said.
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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni faces arrest for war crimes if she visits UK.

UK Muslim body: Israeli officials should face arrest

Iran Press TV — A leading Muslim organization in Britain has voiced outrage at the UK government's promise to reverse the British legal system's jurisdiction over suspected Israeli war criminals.

The apologetic move by the British government came after a Westminster magistrates' court convicted former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni of links to Israel's atrocities in the Gaza Strip at the turn of the year. The tribunal, accordingly, issued Livni an arrest warrant.
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Apology For Livni’s Arrest: A Blow to Justice?

Islam Online — The recent warrant arrest of the former Israeli foreign minister and the head of the opposition Kadima party, Tzipi Livni caused a huge uproar within the Israeli community. Although the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologized and promised to change the British law, the Israeli citizens threatened to boycott British products in a response to such a huge offense.

Should Livni be tried as a war crime for her role in Gaza massacre which happened around this time last year? Why is Britain so adamant on changing established laws to protect Israeli officials? What is the future unfolding for the Palestinians after this hard blow of bending and breaking laws of justice?
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Brown says Livni 'most welcome' in UK

YNetNews — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown telephoned Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni on Wednesday and told her he strongly opposes the arrest warrant issued against her by a British court earlier this week.

According to a statement issued by the Kadima leader, Brown said that Livni was "most welcome" in Britain at any time and that he planned to work to change the current legal situation.
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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Should Public Healthcare Be Negotiated In Private?

The Democrats' Secret Plan to Pass Health Care Reform

Associated Content — Ordinarily when a bill such as health care reform passes the House and the Senate in different forms, a House-Senate Conference Committee is formed to reconcile the differences, with a single bill being drafted to be passed by the House and Senate.

But health care reform is not ordinary legislation nor are these ordinary times. The House and Senate Democratic leadership have concocted a scheme to create a new bill in secret, without either Republicans or dissident Democrats, and The Democrats' Secret Plan to Pass Health Care Reform then ram the new bill through the House and the Senate.
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Health care: Shutting out the GOP?

The Week — House and Senate Democrats are "almost certain" to sidestep a formal conference committee and negotiate informally to reconcile the health-care reform bills they have passed, two top congressional staffers told The New Republic. By "ping-ponging" the legislation back and forth, Democrats reportedly hope to avoid a series of procedural steps requiring votes and full debates that Republicans could use to delay negotiations. Would foregoing a conference committee shut out Republicans, or just save time before an inevitable showdown over the final vote?
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C-SPAN: Health Care Talks Should Be Televised

ABC News — The C-SPAN television network is calling on congressional leaders to open health care talks to cameras — something President Barack Obama promised as a candidate.

Instead the most critical negotiations on Obama's health plan have taken place behind closed doors, as Republicans repeatedly point out. In a Dec. 30 letter to House and Senate leaders released Tuesday, C-SPAN chief executive Brian Lamb asked for negotiations on a compromise bill to be opened up for public viewing, as Democrats work to reconcile differences between legislation passed by the two chambers.
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