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Friday, May 22nd

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Sen. Ensign resigns GOP leadership post

Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, who admitted on Tuesday carrying on an extramarital affair with a woman who was on his campaign staff, has stepped down from his leadership post, the Associated Press reports.

Ensign was chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, the fourth-ranking spot in the leadership.

TVNL Comment: Another member of the Christian family values party

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Insider Trading in Congress? Very Suspicious Trading By Senate's No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that Illinois Senator Dick Durbin's financial disclosure statement shows that:

    ... he sold mutual-fund shares worth $42,696 on Sept. 19, the day after thenTreasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke urged congressional leaders in a closed meeting to craft legislation to help financially troubled banks. The same day, he bought $43,562 worth of Berkshire Hathaway's Class B stock, the disclosure shows...

Guess what happened 4 days later? On September 23, Berkshire Hathaway announced that it was investing $5 billion in Goldman Sachs.

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Senators held stock in bailed-out banks

Senators who oversee the $700 billion Wall Street rescue package held stocks in many of the banks bailed out towards the end of last year, according to financial disclosure reports released Friday.

According to the reports detailing senators’ finances in 2008, nearly half of the members of the Senate Banking Committee had holdings in financial institutions that have taken funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The panel has jurisdiction over the bailout fund and other relief efforts directed by federal regulators to save the nation’s financial system.

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Cheney Led Briefings of Lawmakers To Defend Interrogation Techniques

Former vice president Richard B. Cheney personally oversaw at least four briefings with senior members of Congress about the controversial interrogation program, part of a secretive and forceful defense he mounted throughout 2005 in an effort to maintain support for the harsh techniques used on detainees.

Cheney's role in helping handle intelligence issues in the Bush administration -- particularly his advocacy for the use of aggressive methods and warrantless wiretapping against alleged terrorists -- has been well documented.

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MPs' expenses scandal spreads to the US: Capitol Hill snouts also in the trough?

Politicians spending taxpayers' money to lease a 2008 luxury Lexus hybrid sedan, a digital camera and two 46-inch Sony TVs, a top-of-the-line laptop for use in hostile environments.

Representative Howard Berman - $84,000 worth of personalised calendars, printed by the US Capitol Historical Society, to be sent to his constituents

Representative Alcee Hastings - $24,730 to lease a 2008 luxury Lexus hybrid sedan

Representative Michael Turner - $1,435 for a digital camera

Eni Faleomavaega, House delegate - $2,946 for two 46-inch Sony TVs

Representative William Jefferson - $2,793 for a Panasonic Toughbook laptop

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Senate Rejects Limit on Credit-Card Interest Rates

Despite complaints that banks and credit card companies are gouging customers by charging outrageous interest rates, the Senate on Wednesday easily turned back an effort to cap interest rates at 15 percent.

The effort by Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, drew only 33 votes and needed 60, with a bipartisan group of 60 senators opposing it as the Senate pushed its credit card overhaul toward the finish line. Some Democrats and consumer groups have said that an interest cap is needed to put real teeth into an otherwise solid bill.

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Democrats were routinely briefed on Bush ‘torture’ techniques, document shows

The CIA has released a devastating document detailing the dates and explicit details of secret Congressional briefings in which members of Congress were told of the Bush administration’s torture techniques and when they had been used.

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