Under the Reading Lamp — 3/12/2012



Physicians in Congress Committing Malpractice on Millions

imageWhat would you think if your physician told you, “Keep smoking because quitting would kill tobacco and health care jobs.” Or, “Don’t take your high blood pressure medicine, you can’t afford it.” And, “Don’t lose weight, no one has proven obesity is bad for you.” That’s exactly the quality of medical advice we are getting from the 18 Republican physicians currently serving in Congress. Some of the most well known are the father and son team of Rep. Ron Paul and Sen. Rand Paul, and Sen. Tom Coburn. Some of the most well known are the father and son team of Rep. Ron Paul and Sen. Rand Paul, and Sen. Tom Coburn. Almost all of these physician/Congressmen have been key soldiers in the Republican war on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), calling it a “job killer,” pronouncing relevant health science “unproven,” claiming we “can’t afford” their regulations.


Nine States Have Legalized Malpractice Against Women

Prenatal testing during pregnancy is offered with the goal of identifying medical conditions that affect a fetus. Some of these medical conditions can be treated, other times knowing about the diagnosis in advance will affect how or even when the delivery occurs, and sometimes a condition is identified that leads a woman to choose an abortion. Although women in Pennsylvania, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Idaho, Indiana, Missouri, Minnesota, North Carolina might not get to hear all of their medical information. In these standard bearing states for misogyny a doctor is allowed to withhold information that they think could lead to an abortion and not be sued as a result. These are called “wrongful birth laws” and they allow doctors to put their own personal beliefs first, free of legal repercussions


Reid: Republicans Exaggerating Benefits of Keystone XL Pipeline

imgresRepublican claims about the benefits of the Keystone XL oil pipeline are greatly overblown, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Sunday.  “It won’t lower the price of oil. Construction won’t be complete for a long, long time,” Reid said during an interview on CNN’s State of the Union, referring to the proposed Alberta, Canada, to Texas pipeline. “And under the way it’s constructed now, all the oil would be sold elsewhere. We can’t have that. When I say elsewhere, I mean to some other country.”


Electoral chaos-History repeats? The “house” decides?

In 2012, there will be a 3-way battle for the White House. One of these days the media’s is actually going to share that fact with the rest of the country — but only when the New York Times et all are ready to take us on their journey into uncharted territory. A third party nominating platform will  have ballot access in all 50 states. They will select an Internet nominee through a nominating process. 6 qualified candidates will be ‘drafted” by the public. One lucky politician is going to get “the yellow brick road” to the White House.


The Border Wall: The Last Stand at Making the US a White Gated Community

Mark Karlin, Truthout: “The construction of the ‘barrier’ wall – accompanying large-scale militarization (the Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the FBI, the military etc.) – is on America’s southern border, and there is meaning in that. Its location is prima facie evidence that the ‘immigration issue’ is really a euphemism for keeping poor brown-skinned people out of the US – as well as creating a ‘practice’ zone for protecting American economic and political interests in Mexico and Central America.”


How Public Sector Layoffs Are Holding Back the Recovery


Heather Boushey, ThinkProgress: “The current economic recovery is going well if one looks at private sector job creation. The pace of private sector job creation is slower than in the recovery from the early 1990s recession … Since early 2009, governments at all levels have shed nearly 700,000 jobs, most of them at the state and local level. Since August of 2008 state and local governments have shed a total of 647,000 workers, of which 64 percent were women workers.”


Canadian Government Targeting Opponents of New Oil Sands Pipeline 

Lisa Song, InsideClimate News: “As US environmental groups renew their battle against the resurrected Keystone XL oil pipeline, their counterparts in Canada are facing a deeper problem – a government campaign to limit their influence over Canada’s Northern Gateway pipeline…. As environmental groups have stepped up their campaigns against the project, key figures in the Harper administration have publicly denounced them as extremists, and a federal finance committee has announced plans to audit all of Canada’s charities.”


Environmental Protection Agency Puts Greenhouse Gas Rules for Oil Refineries on Backburner

Elizabeth McGowan, InsideClimate News: “Election-year politics, $4-a-gallon gasoline and an anti-regulatory fervor on Capitol Hill have aligned to thwart EPA’s vow to issue final carbon emissions standards for oil refineries this year…. The pullback on refineries – combined with an earlier and separate delay on regulating greenhouse gases from fossil fuel power plants – means EPA has yet to control emissions from a pair of sizable industrial sources.”


Welcome to the 1% Recovery

Mike Konczal, New Deal 2.0: “As the one percent reap 93 percent of the income gains from the recovery, we’re rapidly returning to pre-New Deal levels of inequality … It’s important to remember that a series of choices were made during the New Deal to react to runaway inequality, including changes to progressive taxation, financial regulation, monetary policy, labor unionization, and the provisioning of public goods and guaranteed social insurance. A battle will be fought over the next decade on all these fronts.”


A Field of Hawks

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post Writers Group: “Unless Ron Paul somehow wins the nomination, it looks as if a vote for the Republican presidential candidate this fall will be a vote for war with Iran. No other conclusion can be drawn from parsing the candidates’ public remarks. Paul, of course, is basically an isolationist who believes it is none of our business if Iran wants to build nuclear weapons…. But Paul has about as much chance of winning the GOP nomination as I do.”


A Sex Ed 101 Curriculum for Conservatives

Recent national kerfuffles over abortion and contraception access bring up many important questions: Should employers retain control over your wages and benefits after they sign them over to you? Is contraception, a service used by 99 percent of American women, really so controversial? How much state regulation should there be over women’s most private decisions? But amidst all those questions is one overarching one: Do conservatives need a crash course in sex ed?


Julie Gillard’s Rise Marks the Triumph of Machine Politics Over Feminism

John Pilger, Truthout: “In 1963, a senior Australian government official, A.R. Taysom, deliberated on the wisdom of deploying women as trade representatives. ‘Such an appointee would not stay young and attractive forever [because] a spinster lady can, and very often does, turn into something of a battle-axe with the passing years [whereas] a man usually mellows.’ On International Women’s Day on March 8, such primitive views were worth recalling; but what has happened to modern feminism? Why is it so bereft of its political, indeed socialist roots that any woman who ‘achieves’ within an immoral system is to be admired?”


Busted for Busting Out at Bank of America

Medea Benjamin, Op-Ed: The women in the cell were proud of us for standing up to the banks; so were some of the police. “They were arrested for protesting against foreclosures at Bank of America,” one of the policemen told a policewoman while I was being fingerprinted. “I’m with you there,” she said. “Those bankers are thieves. They take government money to bail them out but then they refuse to lend money to black women like me. I lost my house because I couldn’t get a bank loan, even though I have a good, steady job.”


Jim Hightower | Attack of the Billionaires

Jim Hightower, Op-Ed: “Hosted by the billionaire Koch brothers at the posh Renaissance Esmeralda golf resort in California’s Palm Springs desert in early February, the confabulees were mobilizing and monetizing what Charles Koch called the “mother of all wars.” That would be their self-proclaimed war to enthrone their ilk over workers, consumers, the environment, and democracy itself.”


Catholicism is Not the Tea Party at Prayer

E.J. Dionne Jr., Op-Ed: “The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops will make an important decision this week: Do they want to defend the church’s legitimate interest in religious autonomy, or do they want to wage an election-year war against President Obama? And do the most conservative bishops want to junk the Roman Catholic Church as we have known it, with its deep commitment to both life and social justice, and turn it into the Tea Party at prayer?”


Efficiency Standards to Save Americans More Than $1 Trillion by 2035

Stephen Lacey, News Analysis: Assuming that 11 new standards being considered for computer equipment, electric motors, fans, and pumps get established, the U.S. could see a 14% reduction in annual electricity use by 2035 compared with current projections. According to the ACEEE report, assuming household appliances are updated every 15 years through 2040, the average American household could save 180 megawatt-hours of electricity and over 200,000 gallons of water. Translated into understandable figures: Roughly $30,000.


Tom Engelhardt | The 0% Doctrine

Tom Engelhardt, Op-Ed: “The president had offered a new definition of “aggression” against this country and a new war doctrine to go with it. He would, he insisted, take the U.S. to war not to stop another nation from attacking us or even threatening to do so, but simply to stop it from building a nuclear weapon — and he would act even if that country were incapable of targeting the United States. That should have been news.”

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Official List of 29 2B2F Banks Released

The Official list of the 29 banks that are considered too big to fail was released this morning.  The list, as determined by a G20 cabal known as the Financial Stability Board, are the members of the Globally Systemically Important Financial Institutions club.

  1. Bank of America (US)
  2. Bank of New York Mellon (US)
  3. Citigroup (US)
  4. Goldman Sachs (US)
  5. J.P. Morgan (US)
  6. Morgan Stanley (US)
  7. State Street (US)
  8. Wells Fargo (US)
  9. BNP Paribas SA (France)
  10. Banque Populaire (France)
  11. Crédit Agricole SA (France)
  12. Société Générale SA (France)
  13. Barclays PLC (UK)
  14. HSBC Holdings PLC (UK)
  15. Lloyds Banking Group PLC (UK)
  16. Royal Bank of Scotland PLC (UK)
  17. Mitsubishi UFJ FG (Japan)
  18. Mizuho FG (Japan)
  19. Sumitomo Mitsui FG (Japan)
  20. Commerzbank AG (Germany)
  21. Deutsche Bank AG (Germany)
  22. UBS AG (Switzerland)
  23. Credit Suisse AG (Switzerland)
  24. Dexia SA (Belgium)
  25. Bank of China (China)
  26. Unicredit Group SA (Italy)
  27. ING Groep NV (Netherlands)
  28. Banco Santander SA (Spain)
  29. Nordea AB (Sweden)

Molly v. BOA

When Molly Katchpole found out that Bank of America would charge $5 a month to use a debit card, she was upset — so she started a petition on Change.org.

Since then, 225,000 Change.org members have signed her petition. And now Bank of America is under enormous pressure to cancel its new debit card fee. A Bank of America executive even called Molly and told her that while cancelling the fee would be “premature,” the bank was “closely monitoring customer feedback.”  Really????

More public pressure could be enough to push the bank to cancel its new $5 debit card fee. You can click here to sign Molly’s Petition if you’d like.

In less than three weeks, Bank of America went from announcing a new $5 monthly debit card fee, to reeling under huge pressure from the media, Congress, and Change.org members. Here’s a quick review of what happened:

  • September 29: Bank of America announces a new $5 monthly debit card fee.
  • September 30: Molly creates her petition on Change.org; more than 150,000 people sign in the next 5 days.
  • October 5: The petition becomes a major national story. ABC News interviews Molly, then tracks down Bank of America’s CEO Brian Moynihan and forces him to respond to it.
  • October 6: Molly delivers 153,000 petitions to Bank of America and closes her account. She appears on ABC World News again to discuss the petition. Local media in Charlotte (where Bank of America is based) openly speculate that the growing controversy could lead to the firing of Moynihan.
  • October 9: Molly is featured in a major article in the New York Times as an example of the public’s frustration with big banks.
  • October 10: Bank of America executive Andrew Pepler calls Molly Katchpole to discuss her petition.
  • October 13: Molly meets with Congressman Brad Miller to discuss a bill in Congress to make it easier to switch banks. The two later appear on CNN together.
  • October 18: Molly’s petition reaches 225,000, as Bank of America reports a $6 billion profit. The outrage continues to grow.
  • BOA began detaining OWS protesters who attempted to close their BOA accounts, calling in the Police and having them arrested.

Other banks are paying attention to the public reaction to Bank of America’s new debit card fee. Citibank even said its “customers made it abundantly clear” that they wouldn’t like a debit card fee.

What’s next in this campaign to cancel Bank of America’s $5 debit card fees? It’s up to you.  Remember November 5th Bank Transfer Day.

ABC News Going After BOA

Bank of America, the largest bank in the U.S., will begin charging customers $5 each month to use their debit card to make purchases. This is an outrageous fee that will pad their profits by yet another estimated $2B.  What’s worse is that Bank of America’s decision to charge customers for debit card use will likely spread to other banks. Wells Fargo and Chase bank have already announced plans to test a $3 monthly fee to their customers.

Not everyone will pay the fee (at least not at first). If you have $20,000 in combined balances at BofA or have a mortgage with the bank,  they’ll waive the $5 monthly fee. That means this change will hit low income customers the worst – including people like me, a recent college graduate working two part-time jobs

When the new debit card fee was announced, Sen. Dick Durbin said, “Bank of America customers, vote with your feet, get the heck out of that bank.”

A right-wing blogger wrote, “I actually agree with Durbin to a point.” One person shared, “After 30 years of banking with Bank of America, today I walked into a local branch and asked to speak to the branch manager and closed every account.”  One TV host cut up her Bank of America card on the air.  ABC News heard that 135,000 Change.org members signed Molly Katchpole’s petition against Bank of America’s new $5 monthly fee to use a debit card. So the network tracked down CEO Brian Moynihan and forced him to respond to the petition. (Thanks, ABC News!)

The CEO was flustered and couldn’t give a coherent explanation — an embarrassing moment on national TV for the big bank (and the second night in a row that Molly’s petition was a featured story on the newscast).

Bank of America is feeling the pressure from Change.org members. As more people speak out, Bank of America will be forced to cancel its new fee — and other banks will be too scared to create their own new fees.

Add your name to Molly’s petition demanding Bank of America cancel its new $5 debit card fee.  (There were 143, 781 signers as I prepared this post.)

While you’re signing, check out the amazing video from ABC News. It’s inspiring to see one person’s petition can make a bank CEO squirm on TV!  Watch it here

If you’re a BOA customer and you no longer meet their minimums, you might want to Move Your Money!  The Move-Your-Money-Project has a widget to help you find a bank or credit union that better meets your needs.  Don’t pay BOA to be able use your own money!

Bank of America is know for intentionally putting up obstacles to customers being able to leave their bank.  Congressman Brad Miller — from Bank of America’s home state of North Carolina — is going on offense against Bank of America with legislation that would make it much easier for customers to switch banks.  In many states, walking into a bank branch isn’t even enough! Miller’s bill would change that — allowing people to close accounts by phone or Internet, and have things like direct deposit transfer automatically.

Across America, a simmering rage is coming to a boil against Wall Street greed.  The Occupy Wall Street movement has channeled this anger. Today, we’re focusing it into a deep corporate accountability campaign against one of Wall Street’s worst actors. Rep. Miller’s bill is yet another step in efforts to right the wrongs of the financial sector.