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Thursday, Oct 23rd

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Banks’ Lobbyists Help in Drafting Financial Bills to Soften Regulations

Lobbyists draft finance billsBank lobbyists are not leaving it to lawmakers to draft legislation that softens financial regulations. Instead, the lobbyists are helping to write it themselves.

One bill that sailed through the House Financial Services Committee this month — over the objections of the Treasury Department — was essentially Citigroup’s, according to e-mails reviewed by The New York Times. The bill would exempt broad swathes of trades from new regulation.

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'Dramatic decline' warning for plants and animals

decline in plants and animalsMore than half of common plant species and a third of animals could see a serious decline in their habitat range because of climate change.

New research suggests that biodiversity around the globe will be significantly impacted if temperatures rise more than 2C. But the scientists say that the losses can be reduced if rapid action is taken to curb greenhouse gases.

The paper is published in the journal, Nature Climate Change.

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Too-Big-to-Fail Bill Seen as Fix for Dodd-Frank Act’s Flaws

Too big to fail“Too-big-to-fail” legislation unveiled in Washington today is needed to rein in the biggest U.S. banks because the Dodd-Frank Act has failed to guard taxpayers against future bailouts, the bill’s sponsors said.

The four largest banks -- JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co -- “are nearly $2 trillion larger than they were” before getting U.S. aid to help them weather the 2008 credit crisis, Senator Sherrod Brown said in a news conference today.

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Congress Saves Busted $380 Million Missile Program the Pentagon Won't Buy

MEADSConservatives are throwing a hissy fit about a few hundred thousand dollars spent on a scientific study about duck sex, but over at the Pentagon, Congress is spending $380 million on a missile program that has no funding authorization, doesn't work, and the Department of Defense doesn't plan on buying.

So why are we still paying for it? Because Germany and Italy are making the US feel awkward, and when you back out of a defense contract, you have to sell your first-born child. Also, jobs.

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Climate Change Denying Congressman to Head Subcommittee on Climate Change

Chris StewartAs the new chairman of a key House subcommittee on the environment, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) will be one of the GOP's leading actors when it comes to the Environmental Protection Agency and the growing threats from climate change.

So with his first hearing as chairman on tap for Wednesday, what does the freshman Republican—and end times novelist—think about anthropogenic global warming? He's not sure.

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Senate Republicans block Hagel nomination for Defense secretary

Chuck HagelSenate Republicans in a 58-40 vote Thursday blocked former Sen. Chuck Hagel’s (R-Neb.) nomination as Defense secretary from proceeding to a final up-or-down vote.

Four Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Mike Johanns (Neb.)—  joined 55 Democrats and Independents in supporting the nomination. Sixty votes were needed to cut off debate, leaving Democrats one vote short.  The final 58-40 tally reflected a no vote from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who switched his vote from yes to preserve his ability to bring up the nomination again.

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Obama orders Justice Department to send lawmakers classified rationale for drones

DOJPresident Barack Obama has directed the Justice Department to give Congress' intelligence committees access to classified legal advice providing the government's rationale for drone strikes against American citizens working with al-Qaida abroad, a senior administration official said Wednesday.

A drumbeat of demands to see the document has swelled on Capitol Hill in recent days as the Senate Intelligence Committee prepares to hold a confirmation hearing for John Brennan, who helped manage the drone program, to be CIA director.

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