Covering

Covering Washington politics. From our vantage point. One day a time.



Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Romney The Richest Presidential Candidate Ever?

Romney, who sings America the Beautiful during a campaign speech, also likes Sweden; at least he likes his money there. 


Romney - the $200 million dollar man - is so rich he doesn't want the American people to know just how rich he really is and hides much of his undisclosed assets in offshore bank accounts in countries like Sweden.

Why would someone have a Swiss bank account?  According to this site people most likely to have a Swiss bank account are those "who don't want other people to know about their money".  The site adds that "unless you're a criminal, it's highly unlikely anyone can ever find out about your account".

Romney has yet to release his tax records of the last few years, and quite frankly says he has no plans to do so, lending more questions by Americans about what Romney is hiding.


Research shows that Romney joins more than half of the world's wealthiest individuals who house more than $32 trillion dollars in offshore accounts.

Health Care Law Gives Women 'Healthy' Control

Health care law gives women control over their care, offers free preventive services to 47 million women Forty-seven million women are getting greater control over their health care and access to eight new prevention-related health care services without paying more out of their own pocket beginning Aug. 1, 2012, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today.

Previously some insurance companies did not cover these preventive services for women at all under their health plans, while some women had to pay deductibles or copays for the care they needed to stay healthy. The new rules in the health care law requiring coverage of these services take effect at the next renewal date – on or after Aug. 1, 2012—for most health insurance plans. For the first time ever, women will have access to even more life-saving preventive care free of charge. According to a new HHS report also released today, approximately 47 million women are in health plans that must cover these new preventive services at no charge.

Women, not insurance companies, can now make health decisions that will keep them healthy, catch potentially serious conditions at an earlier state, and protect them and their families from crushing medical bills. “President Obama is moving our country forward by giving women control over their health care,” Secretary Sebelius said. “This law puts women and their doctors, not insurance companies or the government, in charge of health care decisions.” The eight new prevention-related services are:· Well-woman visits.· Gestational diabetes screening that helps protect pregnant women from one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases.· Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling.· FDA-approved contraceptive methods, and contraceptive education and counseling.· Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling.· HPV DNA testing, for women 30 or older.·

Sexually transmitted infections counseling for sexually-active women.· HIV screening and counseling for sexually-active women. The health care law has already helped women in private plans and Medicare for the first time gain access to potentially life-saving tests and services, such as mammograms, cholesterol screenings, and flu shots without coinsurance or deductibles. Today’s announcement builds on these benefits, generally requiring insurance companies to offer, with no copay, additional vital screenings and tests to help keep women healthy throughout their lives. These services are based on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, which relied on independent physicians, nurses, scientists, and other experts as well as evidence-based research to develop its recommendations. These preventive services will be offered without cost sharing beginning today in all new health plans. Group health plans and issuers that have maintained grandfathered status are not required to cover these services. In addition, certain nonprofit religious organizations, such as churches and schools, are not required to cover these services.

The Obama administration will continue to work with all employers to give them the flexibility and resources they need to implement the health care law in a way that protects women’s health while making common-sense accommodations for values like religious liberty. For women who are pregnant or nursing, the new preventive services include gestational diabetes screening as well as breast-feeding support, counseling and supplies. Health services already provided under the health care law include folic acid supplements for women who may become pregnant, Hepatitis B screening for pregnant women, and anemia screening for pregnant women.

Women Medicare beneficiaries may already receive such preventive services as annual wellness visits, mammograms, and bone mass measurement for those at risk of osteoporosis and diabetes screening. Approximately 24.7 million women with Medicare used at least one free preventive service in 2011, including the new annual wellness visit. Because of the Affordable Care Act, secure, affordable coverage is becoming a reality for millions of American women and families. Men and children are also able to take advantage of preventive services at no extra charge under the health care law.

These services include flu shots and other immunizations, screenings for cancers, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and depression. To learn more about the health care services you may be eligible for at no extra charge under the Affordable Care Act, go to http://www.healthcare.gov/prevention.

For information about the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report on the number of adult and adolescent women eligible for the preventive services at no charge after Aug. 1, 2012, click here

For updates on this topic follow HHS on Twitter @HHSgov, and sign up for HHS Email Updates.



First Lady Obama's Upcoming Campaigning Schedule

"If the election were held today, I think it would be close, but I think we'd win. And we now have 99 days left. If I can say that every day for the next 99 days, then we'll be able to embark on the next phase of this journey."  -  President Obama


As the election is indeed less than a few months away, First Lady Michelle is doing her part to help her husband's campaign, and she's fired up, and ready to go.

Fresh off her Olympic visit in London, she now gears up to embark upon a multi-state campaign speaking tour.

See below for official schedule, which begins tomorrow, August 1, 2012.

First Lady Obama's 2012 campaign appearances heating up.
UPCOMING GUIDANCE FOR FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Greensboro, NC – First Lady Michelle Obama will speak to grassroots supporters at a campaign event in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Raleigh, NC * 6:25 PM ET - First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver remarks at a campaign fundraising event in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Holderness, NH - First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver remarks at a campaign fundraising event in Holderness, New Hampshire.

Laconia, NH  - First Lady Michelle Obama will speak to grassroots supporters at a campaign event in Laconia, New Hampshire.

Manchester, NH - First Lady Michelle Obama will speak to grassroots supporters at a campaign event in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Friday, August 3rd, 2012
Springfield, MA - First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver remarks at a campaign fundraising event in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Pittsfield, MA - First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver remarks at a campaign fundraising event in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. 

Richmond, MA - First Lady Michelle Obama will attend a campaign fundraising dinner in Richmond, Massachusetts.

To that end, the President Obama speaking at a campaign fundraiser last evening said the following:

"I'm confident that we are running a good campaign" and will continue to do so, but Democrats are "being outspent substantially....we're going to have to continue to compete ... make sure that we can get our message out effectively..."the need for voters in these swing states know not just what they’re voting against but what they’re voting for."

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Romney Camp Offers New Merchandise

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is taking President Obama's "You didn't build your business" remark to heart. Today, the Romney camp announced their 'Built By Us' merchandise collection.
The collection is in response to the president speaking at a firehouse in Roanoke, VA where he said successful businesses owners didn't create their success by themselves.

"Somewhere along the line someone gave you some help...   Someone created this unbelievable American system that allowed you to thrive."

Mitt Romney's 'Built By Us' merchandise collection.
Republicans took one line from the president's speech - "You didn't build it" (heard at the 1:45 mark in the video) - and used it to add fuel to their  already boiling over culdron of misstated texts and misunderstandings of the president's policies.

From the Romney web site: "Mitt Romney understands success is not the result of government, it is the result of hardworking people who take risks, create dreams, and build lives for themselves and their families."

Quite naturally, every business has had help from someone, somewhere. Whether it be someone letting you use their garage to start your business, to someone at a bank giving you your first loan for that 'big idea'.

You may put in the hard work, but somewhere along the way, someone gave you your big break.

Don't Tax Me Bro'

House and Senate at odds over extending Bush era tax cuts.

To put it simply, the rich don't want their way of life compromised - ever.  And they definitely don't want an increase in taxes. What American does?

"The United States Senate voted to give one hundred percent of Americans, everyone in this country, a tax cut', said minority speaker Nancy Pelosi during her remarks to the media this week."  She called the day, "a great day".

That day is about to be clouded by Republicans who don't share that sentiment. Republicans want to continue enjoying tax cuts for themselves and the rich, many of whom live in wealthy neighborhoods like Great Falls, Virginia where the average home is valued at more than $1M.

One of scores of mansion-like homes in Great Falls, VA.  Photo/CD Brown.
Republicans plan to obstruct any legislation that would allow tax breaks for the average American until tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are extended.

Signs in support of presidential candidate Mitt Romney adorn road sides in Great Falls indicating that the wealthy in that area are in support of such tax cuts. 

One of several Mitt Romney signs planted along the roadside in Great Falls, VA.  Photo/CD Brown.
What It's All About.
While the president wasn't in Great Falls, VA, he was in nearby McLean,VA,  a neighborhood which also boasts homes just as costly as homes in neighboring Great Falls.
Speaking at a fund raiser Friday evening at the home of businessan and philanthropist Earl Stafford, President Obama said of Republicans, "So, they don't want to just continue the Bush tax cuts; they want to add another $5 trillion of tax cuts on top of that, mostly going to folks who don't need tax cuts and weren’t even asking for tax cuts." 
The administration maintains that Republicans want to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to give an extra tax cut to people making over $250,000 a year.
President Obama, in his weekly address, said, "Republicans in Congress, and their nominee for president, believe that the best way to create prosperity in America is to let it trickle down from the top. They believe that if our country spends trillions more on tax cuts for the wealthy, we’ll somehow create jobs – even if we have to pay for it by gutting things like education and training and by raising middle-class taxes." 



"They’re wrong", he continued. "And I know they’re wrong because we already tried it that way for most of the last decade. It didn’t work. We’re still paying for trillions of dollars in tax cuts that benefitted the wealthiest Americans more than anyone else; tax cuts that didn’t lead to the middle class jobs or higher wages we were promised and that helped take us from record surpluses to record deficits."

The Senate needs 218 votes from the House to keep taxes for the middle class from increasing roughly $2,200 at the beginning of 2013.

Said the president, "So what I’ve said is let’s say that everybody who makes $250,000 a year or less, that their incomes taxes will not go up a dime; that includes 97 percent of small businesses."
The president, hoping for bipartisanship in the matter is projecting that, "When Democrats and Republicans agree on something, it should be pretty easy to get it done".

Perhaps not, as this appears to be one of those times when the two parties are, yet again, in disagreement.  The House has already threatened to block the president.

“Next week, the House will vote to stop President Obama’s small business tax hike while laying the groundwork for pro-growth tax reform that will help employers keep jobs in America, and bring some jobs back to America that have gone overseas", said Republican speaker of the House, John Boehner. "If the president is serious about helping rebuild this economy, he will work with Republicans to stop these tax hikes and reform the tax code to create a better environment for private-sector job creation.”
The rich don't want to be taxed, nor do the poor or middle class. 

It is in that vain that the general consensus of Americans is, "Don't tax me, bro." 

Just read their lips.

Monday, July 23, 2012

First Lady Michelle Obama Heads Presidential Delegation of the 2012 Olympic Games

In a conference call to the media members this afternoon (where she began by remembering the victims of the Aurora, Colorado movie massacre), First Lady Michelle Obama laid out the plans for her visit as head of the Presidential Delegation to the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games.


**UPDATE**  See pictures of the First Lady in London.

"I am beyond proud to lead the Olympic delegation.  It's a dream come true", she exclaimed. 
The first lady recounted watching the Olympics when she was growing up saying she "watched and cheered" for the US athletes.
As head of the Olympic Delegation Mrs. Obama will get to meet first hand with 2012 US Olympic teams and athletes.  She will also visit the U.S. Olympic Training Facility at University of East London.

"Being an Olympian is about pushing yourself, and believing in yourself, and refusing to give up", Mrs. Obama said.

The First Lady is working to turn the inspiration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games into action by getting more kids healthy and active as part of her Let’s Move! initiative both here and abroad during the Olympics.

In May of this year, the First Lady joined U.S. Olympians, Paralympians and London hopefuls to announce a nationwide commitment to get more than 1.7 million American children active this year in support of Let’s Move!.
Suffice it say, that goal to turn the Olympic spirit into action has been realized. 
While taking her Let’s Move! message abroad, A Let's Move! event is being planned at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence for roughly 1,000 American and British students and children, many military.  The event will include sports stations, performances and chances for the kids to meet Olympic and Paralympic legends including the members of the U.S. delegation.
While the FLOTUS may be taking her exercise fun regime of  push ups and jumping jacks abroad, back at home, a July 28th Olympic Fun Day is being planned for kids, their parents and friends where they can participate in exercise activities with like- minded individuals in their neighborhoods.
Said Mrs. Obama, "We're calling on families around the country to join us by participating in “Olympics-inspired” Meetups in your towns or neighborhoods."  To join go to www.meetup.com/lets-move.

The visit to London will further strengthen the existing ties between the US and Britain.   In 2008 President Obama attended meetings of the G-20 Summit, and in 2011 the Obamas visited with UK leaders and visited with the Queen of England.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

White House Responds to Colorado Movie Massacre

The White House is responding to the tragic event that happened at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado where a gunman, 24-year old James Holmes, shot up the theatre during the midnight showing of the latest Batman movie.   Twelve people were killed and scores of others wounded.

Tom Sullivan embraces family members on July 20 while searching frantically for his son Alex, who was celebrating his 27th birthday at the movie theater.  Photo: Barry Gutierrez/AP.

Said Vice President Biden, "Jill and I were shocked to learn of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado this morning. The reason this is so deeply felt by all Americans is that, but for the grace of God, the victims could have been any one of our children, in any one of our towns. It is every parent’s worst nightmare to receive ‘that phone call’ and to sit by their child’s bedside, praying. We know what it’s like to wait and wonder and the helplessness a parent feels at this moment. Our hearts go out to each and every person who is suffering right now as a result of this terrible event. The prayers of an entire nation are with the victims and their families. We stand with the city of Aurora and the state of Colorado in mourning."
James Holmes,  Aurora gunman in Batman movie massacre.
Equally shocked are the president and First Lady Michelle. "We are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my Administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time. We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded. As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family. All of us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of family, friends, and neighbors, and we must stand together with them in the challenging hours and days to come."

The president ordered flags to be flown at half-staff on Friday. 
President Obama has pledged his support to the people of Aurora. Speaking in Fort Myers, Florida where he was attending a campaign event, the president remarked:
"Now, even as we learn how this happened and who's responsible, we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this.  Such violence, such evil is senseless.  It's beyond reason.  But while we will never know fully what causes somebody to take the life of another, we do know what makes life worth living.  The people we lost in Aurora loved and they were loved.  They were mothers and fathers; they were husbands and wives; sisters and brothers; sons and daughters, friends and neighbors.  They had hopes for the future and they had dreams that were not yet fulfilled. "

He canceled the rest of his campaign events planned for Friday, returning promptly to the White House. The first lady canceled her scheduled appearances in both Fredericksburg and Charlottesville, Virginia.


The movie's director, Christopher Nolan, had this to say about the tragedy.
"Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of The Dark Knight Rises, I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community. I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime. The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families."
Holmes remains in police custody.  He is expected to appear in court on Monday.  No word yet on the motive for his madness, although it was reported that before his rampage he said, "I'm the joker."  (After he gets his life sentence in prison, he can further add to his description, "I'm a idiot".)

Several vigils around the community in Aurora have been planned. [Photos].

Amid the massacre, movie goers are calling the Batman movie a hit. On a FaceBook page, one viewer writes:  "Of course as an avid Batman fan, The Dark Night Rises was incredible!!!"

This has got to stop
While massacres in communities like Fort Hood Texas, Columbine, and VA Tech make national headlines, every time, shootings in communities in areas like the South Side of Chicago and the Nation's Capital go virtually unrecognized, on a national level.


Gun control continues to be a topic of debate, while hundreds of innocent victims die each day at the hands of those who easily obtain weapons of mass destruction, all in the name of Second Amendment rights.

Do you really need to have an AK-47 in your home?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bring 'Em Home: Jobs That Is

President Obama has long been campaigning to create jobs in America.  He's fought to bring back manufacturing jobs and put construction workers back on the jobs.  While the 2012 election campaign videos shows that his opponent, Mitt Romney, sent thousands of jobs overseas via Bain Capital, and while several radio shows try to paint President Obama as a jobs killer, today Congress announced passage of Bring Jobs Home Act.

Photo/ CD Brown.

STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
S. 3364 – Bring Jobs Home Act
(Sen. Stabenow, D-MI, and 13 cosponsors)

The Administration strongly supports Senate passage of S. 3364, a bill that would encourage companies to invest in the United States and bring jobs back while preventing companies from receiving tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas.

The Nation's tax code does too little to encourage job creation and investment in the United States while allowing firms to benefit from incentives to locate production and jobs overseas.  This bill can help attract and keep jobs in the United States by providing a 20 percent general business tax credit for eligible expenditures associated with bringing jobs back, which is paid for by preventing firms from receiving tax breaks for deducting expenses associated with outsourcing.

Senate passage of this bill is consistent with the Administration's commitment to support economic growth, job creation, and business investment in the United States, and serves to discourage outsourcing in all sectors of the economy, but particularly in our manufacturing sector.  Following a decade in which the United States lost over 5 million manufacturing jobs, the Nation has begun to make progress.  Over the past 28 months, the U.S. manufacturing sector has added roughly 500,000 new jobs, the fastest pace of manufacturing job growth since 1995.  Instead of rewarding firms for shifting production and jobs overseas, the tax code should strengthen the domestic manufacturing sector, support job growth and innovation, and encourage companies from all sectors of the economy to invest in the United States. 

The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to encourage companies to invest in America and bring jobs home.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

DOJ Settlement: $175 Million in Relief To Resolve Fair Lending Claims For Minority Borrowers

African-American and Hispanic Borrowers Who Qualified for Loans and Were Charged Higher Fees or Rates or Were Improperly Placed into Subprime Loans Are Eligible for Compensation

The Department of Justice today filed the second largest fair lending settlement in the department’s history to resolve allegations that Wells Fargo Bank, the largest residential home mortgage originator in the United States, engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers in its mortgage lending from 2004 through 2009.

The settlement provides $125 million in compensation for wholesale borrowers who were steered into subprime mortgages or who paid higher fees and rates than white borrowersbecause of their race or national origin.  Wells Fargo will also provide $50 million in direct down payment assistance to borrowers in communities around the country where the department identified large numbers of discrimination victims and which were hard hit by the housing crisis. 

Additionally, Wells Fargo has agreed to conduct an internal review of its retail mortgage lending and will compensate African-American and Hispanic retail borrowers who were placed into subprime loans when similarly qualified white retail borrowers received prime loans.  Compensation paid to any retail borrowers identified in the review process will be in addition to the $125 million to compensate wholesale borrowers who were victims of discrimination.

“The department’s action makes clear that we will hold financial institutions accountable, including some of the nation’s largest, for lending discrimination,” said Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole. “An applicant’s creditworthiness, and not the color of his or her skin, should determine what loans a borrower qualifies for. With today’s settlement, the federal government will ensure that African-American and Hispanic borrowers who were discriminated against will be entitled to compensation and borrowers in communities hit hard by this housing crisis will have an opportunity to access homeownership.”

The settlement, which is subject to court approval, was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in conjunction with the department’s complaint, which alleges that between 2004 and 2008, Wells Fargo discriminated by steering approximately 4,000 African-American and Hispanic wholesale borrowers, as well as additional retail borrowers, into subprime mortgages when non-Hispanic white borrowers with similar credit profiles received prime loans.  All the borrowers who were allegedly discriminated against were qualified for Wells Fargo mortgage loans according to Well Fargo’s own underwriting criteria.

The United States also alleges that, between 2004 and 2009, Wells Fargo discriminated by charging approximately 30,000 African-American and Hispanic wholesale borrowers higher fees and rates than non-Hispanic white borrowers because of their race or national origin rather than the borrowers’ credit worthiness or other objective criteria related to borrower risk.

“By reaching a settlement in this case, African-American and Hispanic wholesale borrowers who received subprime loans when they should have received prime loans or who paid more for their loans will get swift and meaningful relief,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.  “As one of the largest mortgage lenders in the country, Wells Fargo’s commitment to conduct an internal review of its retail lending and compensate African American and Hispanic retail borrowers who may have been improperly placed in subprime loans is significant. We will continue to work aggressively to ensure that all qualified borrowers have access to credit on an equal basis.”

The United States’ complaint alleges that African-American and Hispanic wholesale borrowers paid more than non-Hispanic white wholesale borrowers, not based on borrower risk, but because of their race or national origin.  Wells Fargo’s business practice allowed its loan officers and mortgage brokers to vary a loan’s interest rate and other fees from the price it set based on the borrower’s objective credit-related factors.  This subjective and unguided pricing discretion resulted in African-American and Hispanic borrowers paying more.  The complaint alleges that Wells Fargo was aware the fees and interest rates it was charging discriminated against African-American and Hispanic borrowers, but the actions it took were insufficient and ineffective in stopping it. 

The United States’ complaint also alleges that, as a result of Wells Fargo’s policies and practices, qualified African-American and Hispanic wholesale borrowers were placed in subprime loans rather than prime loans even when similarly-qualified non-Hispanic white borrowers were placed in prime loans.  The discriminatory placement of wholesale borrowers in subprime loans, also known as “steering,” occurred because it was the bank’s business practice to allow mortgage brokers and employees to place a loan applicant in a subprime loan even when the applicant qualified for a prime loan.  In addition, Wells Fargo gave mortgage brokers discretion to request exceptions to the underwriting guidelines, and Wells Fargo’s employees had discretion to grant these exceptions.      

This is the second time that the Justice Department has alleged and obtained relief for borrowers who were steered into loans based on race or national origin, a practice that systematically placed borrowers of color into subprime mortgage loan products while placing non-Hispanic white borrowers with similar creditworthiness in prime loans.  By steering borrowers into subprime loans from 2004 to 2008, the complaint alleges, Wells Fargo harmed those qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers.  Subprime loans generally carried higher-cost terms, such as prepayment penalties and adjustable interest rates that started with low initial teaser rates, and then increased significantly after two or three years, often making the payments unaffordable and leaving the borrowers at a much higher risk of default or foreclosure.

The department began its investigation into Wells Fargo’s lending practices in 2009 and received a referral in 2010 from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) which conducted its own parallel investigation of Wells Fargo’s lending practices in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas.  The OCC found that there was reason to believe that Wells Fargo engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination in these metro areas on the basis of race or color, in violation of the FHA and ECOA.

This case was prosecuted by the Fair Lending Unit in the Civil Rights Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.  Since the attorney general established the unit in early 2010, it has filed a complaint in or resolved 19 matters.  By way of contrast, from 1993 to 2008, the department filed or resolved 37 lending matters, an average of a little more than two cases per year.

Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF). President Obama established the interagency FFETF to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.   The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources.   The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.   For more information on the task force, visitwww.stopfraud.gov.
A copy of the complaint and proposed settlement order, as well as additional information about fair lending enforcement by the Justice Department, can be obtained from the Justice Department website atwww.justice.gov/fairhousing. 
The proposed settlement provides for an independent administrator to contact and distribute payments of compensation at no cost to borrowers whom the Justice Department identifies as victims of Wells Fargo’s discrimination.  The department will make a public announcement and post contact information on its website once an administrator is chosen.  Borrowers who are eligible for compensation from the settlement will then be contacted by the administrator. 

Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of lending discrimination by Wells Fargo and have questions about the settlement may email the department atwellsfargo.settlement@usdoj.gov.

DOJ documents revealed
Complaint and civil cover sheet

Joint motion for entry of consent decree

Proposed consent decree

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Rail Industry Joins Forces with Secretary LaHood and First Lady’s Initiative to Hire Veterans

Via the White House Press Office.

500 rail industry companies to hire over 5,000 veterans in 2012.

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Association of American Railroads (AAR) President and CEO Ed Hamberger and Joining Forces Executive Director Brad Cooper announced that the railroad industry will hire more than 5,000 veterans in 2012. Five hundred companies and organizations including freight, inter-city passenger and commuter railroads, as well as rail supply companies represented by AAR are making today’s significant commitment.
“As a result of their service, veterans have the right skills and training for successful careers in transportation,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “Helping our veterans find work strengthening America’s transportation system is a commitment we are proud to fulfill.”
The rail industry joins the First Lady and Dr. Biden’s Joining Forces initiative launched last year to bring Americans together to recognize, honor and take action to support veterans and military families as they serve our country and throughout their lives. More than 1,600 companies have hired more than 90,000 veterans and military spouses in the last year through Joining Forces. These same companies have committed to hire 170,000 veterans and military spouses in the coming years.
“The commitment from AAR and companies in the railway industry to veteran hiring is exactly the type of effort we hoped to see when the First Lady and Dr. Biden launched Joining Forces last year – companies stepping up to hire our nation’s veterans. The railway industry clearly recognizes that hiring veterans is good for their companies’ bottom line and we are appreciative of their efforts to serve veterans as well as they have served this country,” Joining Forces Executive Director Brad Cooper said.

Railroad companies have hired military men and women for almost two centuries and today 25 percent of the industry’s workforce has military service. This is because of the natural link between military service skills and railroad careers. Servicemen and women gain experience working with heavy machinery, managing safety operations, conducting their work in challenging conditions, promoting teamwork and being adaptable. Knowing that these skills are easily translatable, the rail industry is looking to veterans to fill jobs that have become available due to waves of retirements occurring every year. Today, roughly 23 percent of the railroad workforce is eligible to retire by 2015.

“Railroads offer people the chance to have true life-long careers in well-paying jobs,” said Hamberger. “We are proud to offer our heroes transitioning from military service the opportunity for another career in service to our country.”
Key Commitments and Opportunities in the Rail Industry Include:
·        Freight Railroads: the nation’s freight railroads, including the country’s major Class I and shortline railroads, will hire at least 4,700 veterans in 2012.  This year’s aggressive hiring target is in line with the industry’s sizable hiring trend kicked off in 2011 in the face of a significant wave of retirements.
·        Passenger Railroads:the nation’s inter-city passenger and commuter railroads will hire approximately 500 veterans in 2012, based on the significant need to fill positions being made vacant through retirements as well as through typical attrition. Passenger railroads also estimate 12 to 14 percent of new hires will be veterans.
·        Rail Supply Companies: dozens of the nation’s rail supply companies represented by AAR have committed to hire at least 200 veterans in 2012.  These companies are responsible for supplying materials and equipment, including rail components, cars and locomotives and cutting edge technology.
To connect veterans with employment opportunities available today, AAR is also collaborating with the Department of Transportation to list available rail industry jobs on the newly established “Veteran Transportation Career Center” website at: http://www.dot.gov/veteranstransportationcareers/.

To learn more about the companies participating in the Joining Forces commitment, please visitwww.aar.org, or to learn about the rail industry’s history of hiring veterans, please visit www.aar.org/jobs. For more information on Joining Forces, please visit www.JoiningForces.gov.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mary Kennedy: Autopsy Report

The autopsy report shows that Mary Richardson Kennedy, 52, had several drugs in her system during her successful suicide attempt in May of this year.


Kennedy committed suicide at the family's Mount Kisco estate in Westchester County, New York after learning that her three children would be taken away from her. (We're wondering: Why would anyone committ suicide if they knew their kids would be taken away?)

Kennedy also struggled in the past with alcohol addiction and several DUI charges, all of which were reduced or dropped altogether due to her Kennedy prowess.

The drugs found in her system were trazodone, desmethylvenlafaxine and venlafaxine.  The drug trio are said to be commonly, regularly prescribed medications approved by the FDA for treating depression.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July 4th Naturaliza​tion Ceremony

What better day than July 4th, Independence Day, to become a bonafide U.S. citizen?
To twenty-four U.S. active duty service men and women, today is one to be proud of.
President Obama looks at active duty military as they take the oath of citizenship.  Photo/CD Brown.
"With this ceremony today, and ceremonies like it across our country, we affirm another truth", said President Obama.  "Our American journey, our success, would simply not be possible without the generations of immigrants who have come to our shores from every corner of the globe.  We say it so often, we sometimes forget what it means: we are a nation of immigrants." 
Oluwatosin K Akinduro, a native of Nigeria has been living in the US for twenty-two years since the age of six. He currently serves in the Army National Guard.  Today upgrades his status from permanent resident to U.S. Citizen.



"Today is a big day for me", Akinduro said.  "It's another monumental moment in my life showing that with Christ all things are possible."   "My family is very proud of me", he said.
Lance Corporal Byron Acevedo of Guatemala City, Guatemala, said he "feels really proud" being a citizen of what he called "the greatest country in the world" and being a part of the "greatest military in the world, the Marines."
Lance Corporal Byron Acevedo became a US citizen during today's naturalization ceremony. Photo/CD Brown.
"I've been in the Army for two and half years, and served in the National Guard for one year.  I just made the decision to become a citizen rather than update my green card."
Many feel that today's ceremony, recognizing immigrants who have become US citizens "the right way", far outways the president's legislation that had the nation up in arms that now allows hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants to stay in the country.
Many of today's service members came to the United States as children.

Other active duty service members who became naturalized today were Miguel Andrade, born and raised in the Cape Verde Islands; Alla Victorovna Ausheva of Russia; Francisco Jose Ballesteros de la Rosa of Mexico; Oscar Javier Beltran Medina of Bolivia; Silvano Carcamo of Honduras; Luisa Maria Childers of El Salvador; Mamadou Aliou Diallo of Conakry, Guinea; Terence Njikang Ekabe, of Cameroon; Sergey Eliseev of Russia; Andriy Olegovich Gener of Odessa, Ukraine; Daniel Arcenal Geneta from the Philippines; Alexey Isachenko also from Russia; Yvonne Marie Middleton-White, of Belize (her first year in the US military).
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas &
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano with President Obama.
Full list here.

Added the president, "It has taken these men and women, these Americans, years, even decades, to realize their dream.  And this, too, reminds us of a lesson of the Fourth.  On that July day, our Founders declared their independence.  But they only declared it; it would take another seven years to win the war.  Fifteen years to forge a Constitution and a Bill of Rights.  Nearly 90 years, and a great Civil War, to abolish slavery.  Nearly 150 years for women to win the right to vote.  Nearly 190 years to enshrine voting rights.  And even now, we’re still perfecting our union, still extending the promise of America."
The ceremony was facilitated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas who presented the countries of the candidates for naturalization. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano delivered the oath of allegiance.
Senior Administration Officials participated at naturalization ceremonies around the country during the past week, including Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis in New York; Small Business Administrator Karen Mills and Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley in Massachusetts; Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz in Virginia, and Cabinet Secretary Chris Lu in Maryland.
The President hosted similar naturalization ceremonies at the White House on May 1, 2009 and April 23, 2010.
Watch Naturalization video here.