- House Approves Financial Regulation Overhaul
- GOP Continues Senate Filibuster of Unemployment Benefits
- Senate Panel Votes to Remove Spill Liability Cap
- BP Fined $5.2M for False Reporting on Colorado Leases
- House Panel Votes to Undo Cuba Trade, Travel Restrictions
- Puerto Rican Police Quash Protest at State Capitol
- Israeli Peace Group Calls for New Flotilla Probe
- Study: Media Stopped Calling Waterboarding "Torture" Following Its Disclosure as Routine U.S. Practice
- ACLU Sues U.S. over No-Fly List
House Approves Financial Regulation Overhaul
The House has approved a sweeping overhaul of financial regulation following over three weeks of conference committee negotiations. The 237 to 192 vote came as the Senate postponed its vote on the measure until at least mid-July, setting the stage for a final showdown over the bill after the July 4th recess. The measure would create a consumer protection agency within the Federal Reserve, impose new limits on the derivatives market and restrict trading by banks for their own benefit. But it also lacks several initial provisions that were removed under intense Wall Street lobbying. At a speech in Wisconsin shortly before the vote, President Obama criticized Republicans for opposing financial reform. Obama singled out recent comments by House Republican leader John Boehner.
President Obama: "The leader of the Republicans in the house said that financial reform was like, and I’m quoting here, using a nuclear weapon to target an ant. That’s what he said. He compared the financial crisis to an ant. The same financial crisis that led to the loss of nearly eight million jobs. The same crisis that cost people their homes and their lives savings. He can’t be that out of touch with the struggles of American families."
GOP Continues Senate Filibuster of Unemployment Benefits
In other news from Washington, Republicans have again have filibustered a vote on extending unemployment benefits to millions of jobless workers. More than 1.2 million people have stopped receiving checks since their benefits expired last month.
Senate Panel Votes to Remove Spill Liability Cap
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has voted to remove a liability cap for offshore spills in wake of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The move to drop the current $75 million dollar cap would apply retroactively if ultimately enacted.
BP Fined $5.2M for False Reporting on Colorado Leases
The U.S. government meanwhile has fined BP’s U.S. subsidiary $5.2 million dollars for what it calls "false, inaccurate or misleading" reports about energy production on Native American land. The Interior Department says BP misrepresented information about prices and royalty rates it paid to lease wells from Colorado tribes.Democracy Now
House Panel Votes to Undo Cuba Trade, Travel Restrictions
The House Agriculture Committee has voted to undo a decades-long ban on U.S. travel to Cuba and to scale back restrictions on the sale of U.S. goods there. The measure must now clear two other House panels before going before the full House, followed by the Senate.
Puerto Rican Police Quash Protest at State Capitol
Clashes erupted at the Puerto Rico Capitol in San Juan on Wednesday after police forcibly prevented protesters from attending a legislative session on the State budget. Officers used batons, physical force and pepper spray to block a large group that included many students seeking a voice in the Puerto Rican budget. Student organizers say over two dozen protesters were treated for injuries. The clashes come a week after University of Puerto Rico students voted to end their two-month strike against budget cuts, fee hikes, and school privatization.
Israeli Peace Group Calls for New Flotilla Probe
An Israeli peace group is calling for the dismantling of the Israeli government commission examining Israel’s deadly raid on the Free Gaza Movement’s Freedom Flotilla that killed nine people. Israeli peace activist Uri Avneri of the group Gush Shalom says the inquiry is too limited in scope.
Uri Avneri: "It still does not address our two main points, namely the terms of reference are restricted to the question whether the action against the flotilla was legal under international law or not. This is an important question but not the most important one. ….The most important one is how did the government decide on this action and this action was actually implemented. This remains outside the terms of reference of the commission and therefore we shall go on with our petition to the supreme court to disband this commission and to appoint a state commission of inquiry."The first shipment of aid seized from the flotilla began arriving in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday under an agreement with the UN to distribute the goods.
Study: Media Stopped Calling Waterboarding "Torture" Following Its Disclosure as Routine U.S. Practice
A new study says the U.S. corporate media drastically altered its use of the word torture after its practice by the U.S. became widely exposed under the Bush administration. Researchers at Harvard University found newspapers almost uniformly described waterboarding as torture dating back to the 1930s. But when it was revealed as a common tactic approved under President Bush, the same newspapers stopped using the word torture almost entirely. Whereas the New York Times had previously characterized waterboarding as torture in 81.5% of articles, from 2002 to 2008 it characterized waterboarding as torture in just 1.4 percent of articles.
ACLU Sues U.S. over No-Fly List
And the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the U.S. government to challenge a no-fly list that has in some cases stranded Americans abroad. The suit was filed Wednesday on behalf of ten U.S. citizens or permanent residents prevented from boarding U.S.-bound flights. Ben Wizner of the ACLU’s National Security Project said: "There is simply no legal basis for placing a U.S. citizen into involuntary exile. And to use a secret government list without any process to accomplish that goal is… unconstitutional."