Note: replaced video Aug. 3, 2014
by Ralph Nader
The Nader Page
While the reckless giant banks are shattering like an over-heated glacier day by day, the nation’s credit unions are a relative island of calm largely apart from the vortex of casino capitalism.
Eighty five million Americans belong to credit unions which are not-for-profit cooperatives owned by their members who are depositors and borrowers. Your neighborhood or workplace credit union did not invest in these notorious speculative derivatives nor did they offer people “teaser rates” to sign on for a home mortgage they could not afford.
Ninety one percent of the 8,000 credit unions are reporting greater overall growth in mortgage lending than any other kinds of consumer loans they are extending. They are federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) for up to $250,000 per account, such as the FDIC does for depositors in commercial banks.
They are well-capitalized because of regulation and because they do not have an incentive to go for high-risk, highly leveraged speculation to increase stock values and the value of the bosses’ stock options as do the commercial banks.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich
Washington, Feb 20, 2009
Chairman of Domestic Policy Subcommittee Opens Inquiry
Chairman of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today sent a letter to Ms. Mary Schapiro, Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requesting documents that could reveal which government agency told the SEC to “stand down” rather than take enforcement action against the Stanford Group in October 2006 as has been reported by the New York Times.
Recent media reports have indicated that the SEC was aware of improprieties at Stanford Financial Group as early as October 2006, but withheld action at the request of another government agency. In a report published in the February 17th edition of the New York Times, an SEC official said that an inquiry had been opened on Stanford in October of 2006. According to the Times report, an associate regional director of enforcement said the SEC “stood down” on its investigation as a result of the intervention of another federal agency.
By Paul Craig Roberts
February 20, 2009 “Information Clearing House”
The US Constitution has few friends on the right or the left.
During the first eight years of the 21st century, the Republicans mercilessly assaulted civil liberties. The brownshirt Bush regime ignored the protections provided by habeas corpus. They spied on American citizens without warrants. They violated the First Amendment. They elevated decisions of the president above US statutory law and international law. They claimed the power to withhold information from the people’s representatives in Congress, and they asserted, and behaved as if, they were unaccountable to the people, Congress, and the federal courts. The executive branch claimed the power to ignore congressional subpoenas. Republicans regarded Bush as a Stuart king unaccountable to law.
This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war/violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience.
Human rights investigators continue to look into allegations that Israeli soldiers may have committed crimes of war during their Gaza military campaign.
As the first Focus on Gaza A Crime of War? looks at the story of an alleged war crime that occurred during the war in the small village of Khuzaa, half a kilometre from the Israeli border.
Ayman Mohyeldin speaks with village residents who tell the story of a Gazan woman who was killed with a single shot to the head while waving a white flag as she led children to safety.
The Sears appliances I bought last summer came with great teaser financing from Citibank available only if I took out a new credit card. The interest rate on the card was a bargain at only 19% because of my sterling credit history. The accompanying disclosure statement informed me that the rate could go as high as 32% if I screwed up and went over my credit limit, paid late, missed a payment, acted badly with any of my other creditors, jaywalked, yelled at my kids or did anything else they frowned on.
Their disclosure statement was not required to tell me that if I paid no more than their monthly minimum my balance would double every few years.
Last week, along with a notice that their interest charges were going up, they sent a note defending the increase by shamelessly blaming the current tough economic climate – the one that they have relentlessly and unapologetically done so much to create.
By Ron Kampeas
February 20, 2009
(JTA) — Israeli President Shimon Peres invited Benjamin Netanyahu to form the next government.
After hearing from Peres Friday, Netanyahu, who leads the Likud Party, immediately invited Tzipi Livni, the leader of the Kadima Party, and Ehud Barak, the leader of the Labor Party, to form a national unity government.
Such a government would help Netanyahu hew to a centrist foreign policy and sustain peace negotiations with the Palestinians and the Syrians.
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As the US moves to shut down Guantanamo Bay, another detention facility at Afghanistan’s Bagram airbase is being expanded amid fears that Washington is likely to press ahead with off-shore detention of “enemy combatants”.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release February 19, 2009
– – – – – – –
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF URBAN AFFAIRS
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to take a coordinated and comprehensive approach to developing and implementing an effective strategy concerning urban America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. About 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas, and the economic health and social vitality of our urban communities are critically important to the prosperity and quality of life for Americans. Vibrant cities spawn innovation, economic growth, and cultural enrichment through the businesses, universities, and civic, cultural, religious, and nonprofit institutions they attract. Forward-looking policies that encourage wise investment and development in our urban areas will create employment and housing opportunities and make our country more competitive, prosperous, and strong. In the past, insufficient attention has been paid to the problems faced by urban areas and to coordinating the many Federal programs that affect our cities. A more comprehensive approach is needed, both to develop an effective strategy for urban America and to coordinate the actions of the many executive departments and agencies whose actions impact urban life.
Sec. 2. Establishment. There is established within the Executive Office of the President the White House Office of Urban Affairs (the “Office”).
Sec. 3. Functions. The principal functions of the Office are, to the extent permitted by law:
By Tom Eley
20 February 2009
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama revealed portions of a plan that aims to stem the collapse of the US housing market. The Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan (HASP) is designed to provide a modicum of relief to homeowners while protecting the interests of the major financial institutions, mortgage lenders and mortgage securities investors who bear primary responsibility for the collapse of the housing market.
The plan will not lower the crippling debt homeowners owe the banks. It offers nothing to the hundreds of thousands of US households already foreclosed upon, and will not affect the vast majority of the approximately 12 million households already “underwater”—those who owe more on their loan than their house’s market value.
President Obama Unveils Plan for Troubled Housing Market
February 18, 2009
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Pt 2 Continue reading
The parliament in Kyrgyzstan has voted to close an air base key to US efforts in Afghanistan, as Washington urges Nato to send more troops to the war-torn country.
The closure of the Manas US airbase will make it increasingly difficult for soldiers and supplies to reach Afghanistan.
The base was expected to be used heavily as a build-up of US reinforcements into Afghanistan develops.
Al Jazeera’s Robin Forestier-Walker reports from Manas.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Kyrgyz parliament votes to close U.S. airbase
BISHKEK, February 19 (RIA Novosti)
Kyrgyzstan’s parliament voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to approve a presidential proposal to close a U.S. airbase used to support NATO operations in nearby Afghanistan since 2001.
The move to close the base was supported by 78 lawmakers, with one against. The pro-presidential Ak Zhol party has 70 seats in the single-chamber, 90-member legislature.
President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced plans to close the only U.S.base in Central Asia after talks in Moscow in early February, when he secured more than $2 billion in aid and loans.
Both Russia and Kyrgyzstan have denied any link between the aid deal and the closure of the base, located a short distance from the capital, Bishkek.