Sunday, November 30, 2014

PNN - Going Going Going ...Green

PNN - 11/30/14

Dezaray Tampa Food Not Bombs
Drew Martin Sierra Club
Cris  Costello Sierra Club
Jeanie Economos Farm Worker Association Pesticide Trainer 
Jillian Pim - Ft. Lauderdale Food Not Bombs

1. A Nation of Laws… or
UN Investigators Urge Obama to Release CIA Torture Report
By Robert Evans, Reuters
29 November 14

United Nations human rights investigators called on President Barack Obama to live up to principles preached by the United States around the world and release a long completed report on CIA interrogation methods.

In an open letter issued in Geneva, the seven investigators and academic legal experts, said publication of the report by a Senate committee would be welcomed by victims of torture and their supporters everywhere.

Among the signatories were the world body's special rapporteurs for torture and for freedom of expression.

"As a nation that has publicly affirmed its belief that respect for truth advances respect for the rule of law, and as a nation that frequently calls for transparency and accountability in other countries, the United States must rise to meet the standards it has set both for itself and others," the open letter declared.

The Senate committee spent four years investigating waterboarding and other CIA practices used against terrorism suspects during the administration of former president George W. Bush. In April, it approved its report for release.

But the document has not yet been published, largely because of CIA demands that it be edited to obscure names and patterns of behavior that were crucial "in the system of violations that needs to be understood and redressed," the open letter said.

The investigators, including one American and three Latin Americans who work at U.S. universities and cover areas like torture, arbitrary execution and freedom of expression, said other countries were closely watching the issue.

"Victims of torture and human rights defenders around the world will be emboldened if you take a strong stand in support of transparency," they told Obama.

"On the contrary, if you yield to the CIA's demands for continued secrecy on this issue, those resisting accountability will surely misuse this decision to bolster their agenda in their own countries," the seven added.

The American in the group was David Kaye, a former State Department lawyer and a university professor in California who is special rapporteur on freedom of expression for the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The group also included Juan Mendez, an Argentine former victim of torture under his country's military regime and now U.N. special rapporteur on torture and other cruel or degrading treatment.

2. With Election Over, First Order Of Business Is $450B Corporate Tax Break

The election is over. Congress is back in Washington. The first order of business after the election is to give big tax breaks to the corporations -- $450 billion worth. Fortunately, President Obama is trying to do something about this.

Tax Extenders

Every year Congress renews a package of "temporary" corporate tax breaks. The renewal process is called "tax extenders" because they extend the term of these temporary breaks. So now the Congress is working on this year's extenders package, except this time it wants to just make many of them (the ones that mostly give handouts to giant corporations and campaign donors) permanent. The Washington Post calls this process "a periodic bonanza for lobbyists."

A few of the special tax breaks in the extenders package are really good and serve an important purpose. For example, part of the package is tax credits that provide incentives to invest in renewable energy. But most others are just giveaways and handouts to the already-wealthy, like depreciation tax breaks for people who own racehorses. (Yes, really.) Even worse, some of these are loopholes that actually encourage corporations to shift U.S. profits offshore into tax havens. (Yes, really.)

The good breaks are used to grease the wheels to slip these special favors through -- as in "if you want to get those wind tax credits you're going to have to pass a tax break for Mitt Romney's racehorses."

The media is reporting that Congress is near a deal on these extenders. The deal kills several "good" tax breaks that help working people and the middle class, like an expanded child tax credit for the working poor and expanded earned-income credit. The deal phases out the wind power tax credit after 2017.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) pointed out that companies that renounce their U.S. citizenship would even get special breaks from this deal:
"'The package would provide a permanent boon to large corporations, even those that renounce their U.S. citizenship and invert,' he said. 'And adding insult to injury, the proposed deal chooses to leave behind working families and would make things harder for millions of Americans. The overall package is simply unacceptable and adds more than $400 billion to the debt. We need to grow the middle class, not punish those working hard to get by while always giving preferences and priority treatment to big corporations who can hire high-priced, well-funded lobbyists.'"
Not Paid For
These tax breaks are not "paid for" -- they just add to the deficit. Remember how Congress rejected providing benefits for the long-term unemployed because they were not "paid for"? Congress won't fix the country's infrastructure because doing so is not "paid for." Even disaster relief had to be "paid for"!
But none of these corporate tax breaks and loopholes being considered are "paid for" -- but for some reason this isn't a problem -- this time. Because racehorses. Anyway, we're only talking about $450 billion.
President Says He Will Veto
The President says he will veto this deal if it reaches his desk. Roll Call has the story, in, "Obama Would Veto Corporate Tax Cut Bill":
"President Barack Obama would veto an emerging $450 billion tax cut deal coming together in the Senate because it doesn't do enough for the middle class, according to the White House.
"'The President would veto the proposed deal because it would provide permanent tax breaks to help well-connected corporations while neglecting working families,' said Jen Friedman, deputy White House press secretary."

3.The Fed Under Goldman's Thumb: Carmen Segarra's Picture Gets Senate Hearing
By Ian Katz and Jeff Kearns, Bloomberg News
29 November 14

illiam C. Dudley came under attack today by U.S. senators, who accused the Federal Reserve Bank of New York president of being too cozy with big Wall Street banks.
“I wouldn’t accept the premise that there’s been a long list of failures by the New York Fed since my tenure,” Dudley said in response to an assertion by Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat.
“Is there a cultural problem at the New York Fed? I think the evidence suggests that there is,” Warren said. “Either you need to fix it, Mr. Dudley, or we need to get someone who will.”
The hearing was prompted by allegations by a former New York Fed bank examiner, Carmen Segarra, who said her colleagues were too deferential to Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the Wall Street bank where Dudley was chief economist for a decade.
Segarra attended today’s hearing and later released a statement via a spokesman expressing disappointment that she was not given a chance to address the panel.
“She looks forward to publicly testifying if and when the Senate moves forward with additional hearings,” said her spokesman, Jamie Diaferia, in an e-mail.
Senators questioned Dudley, 61, on issues ranging from whether some banks are too big to regulate to the Fed’s role in overseeing their commodities businesses.
Some of the criticism was pointed. Warren, a frequent critic of financial regulators, asked Dudley if he was “holding a mirror to your own behavior.”
Bank Misdeeds 
Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, complained that bank employees involved in misdeeds haven’t been prosecuted and are “too big to jail.”
Dudley repeatedly disagreed with assertions that the New York Fed wasn’t doing enough to regulate banks and said lenders have become stronger and safer in the past few years.
He also took issue with Warren’s description of regulators as the “cop on the beat,” saying the Fed is concerned more with the safety and soundness of the financial system and refers potential crimes to law-enforcement agencies.
“I think of it more like a fire warden makes sure that the institution is run well so that it’s not going to catch on fire and burn down,” he said.
Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat and chairman of the subcommittee that held the hearing, urged the Fed to increase its emphasis on oversight and said only two of the central bank’s 12 regional presidents have “any background in supervision.”
Commodities Businesses 
Brown also asked Dudley if he thought banks should have commodities businesses, the subject of another congressional hearing today at which Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo testified.
“I think there are serious questions of whether they should,” Dudley said. Story: Janet Yellen Can't Say It, but the Republican Win Was Bad for Her
Dennis Kelleher, president of Washington-based Better Markets Inc., a non-profit group that backs stricter bank regulation, said it’s “amazing that there is bipartisan missile heading for the Fed and the people at the Fed appear oblivious to it.”
Republicans, who are poised to control the Senate next year in addition to the House, have proposed legislation to curb Fed discretion on monetary policy and bank supervision.
No Republican members attended the hearing. The Senate adjourned yesterday and isn’t back in session until Dec. 1.
“It’s difficult to make a case that financial regulators, and the Fed in particular, have not gotten more aggressive in their oversight of big banks,” said Stephen Myrow, a former Treasury official who is now managing partner of consulting firm Beacon Policy Advisors LLC in Washington.
Populist Perception 
“Regulators will always have to contend with the populist perception of a cozy relationship between the Fed and Wall Street, and incidents like the ones currently in Congress’s cross hairs don’t help.”
The Fed yesterday announced a broad review of its supervision of the largest banks and asked an internal watchdog to look into whether dissenting views among its bank examiners got sufficient attention within the central bank.
Dudley, responding to a question by Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island, said he was “definitely not hired and appointed by the people that I regulated.” He also said it was up to Congress to change the law and make the selection of the head of the New York Fed subject to Senate approval.
Reed introduced a bill this week to add the New York Fed chief to the list of central bank officials who must be nominated by the U.S. president and confirmed by the Senate. Regional Fed presidents are currently picked by their own directors, subject to the approval of Fed governors, who are all Senate-confirmed.
Bankers Fired 
Today’s Senate hearing follows reports that Goldman Sachs fired two bankers after one of them allegedly shared confidential documents from the New York Fed within the firm.
A junior banker, who had joined the company in July from the New York Fed, was dismissed a week after the discovery in late September, along with another employee who failed to escalate the issue, according to an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg News. Goldman Sachs confirmed the memo’s contents.
The incident is a fresh embarrassment for Dudley, who has carried on a campaign to overhaul what he calls an errant banking “culture” of misdeeds that has led to more than $100 billion of fines.

4. My Letter to Ft. Lauderdale’s Mayor

Mayor Seiler, sir I protest

Fort Lauderdale is not just beaches, and it isn't just yachts its also made up of children and immigrants and the poor. 
While public safety is important its a JOB CREATOR. Pretending that hygene and health is the reason to prevent and criminalize the poor is not just inefficient it is immoral.

Whether you studied the Bible or the Koran or the Talmud or the Ramayana as a child, the law givers and the moralists never proclaimed that the poor should be locked up and those good people who take time to notice and feed them do no criminal act. When they are harassed and arrested for feeding the poor we turn our faces from a moral life and to a colder and less humane way of life.

Please find the spirit of charity in your heart. Find the compassion that your mother and father taught you. The stony hearted will always council the cold dark way. The sun and the city are for all rich and poor alike. We serve our rich and our poor every day. 
Let us not favor one at the expense of the other.

I ask you be enlightened by the HOLIDAY SEASON, give thanks that your family is not destitute. Give thanks that you father did no sustain, a horrible health condition that drove his family to the street, living without shelter.

Take food out to the street yourself. See a needy person receive that plate from your hand, and decide how you might best serve all of the people of Fort Lauderdale.

Richard W. Spisak
former Broward County Resident


Saturday November 29, 11 a.m. Mass Rally in defense of the rights of the homeless; in protest against homeless criminalization laws across the United States; and demanding permanent housing and services for those in need.
Over the past seven months the Fort Lauderdale City Commission, led by Mayor Jack Seiler, has waged an unprecedented assault on the very existence of homeless persons within its borders.  This mayor’s repeated claims about the existence of alternatives to the newly criminalized outdoor food sharing sites have been exposed as false by local media.  
The icing on this bitter cake, which is layered with prohibitions against camping, publicly storing personal belongings and panhandling, has been Ordinance C-14-42, which effectively criminalizes public food sharing.  More than a dozen summonses—including at least three given to 91-year-old “Chef Arnold” Abbott—have been issued since this law’s implementation on October 31.  The backlash against this legal denial of human decency has attained global proportions, with condemnations ushering from thousands on social media and from mass media outlets on every continent (Antarctica excluded). 
Homeless advocacy organizations both locally and nationally—e.g., the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty—have condemned the criminalization of homelessness for decades as a non-solution and a bar to attaining the goal of ending homelessness.  The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness concurs that providing permanent supportive housing and services to the chronically homeless, as opposed to criminalizing their life-sustaining activity, is both humane and cost-effective.  Even Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel has decried laws which criminalize homelessness as wrongheaded.
Speakers/Endorsers (more TBA): Arnold Abbott, The Rev. Canon Mark Sims,
Rev. Craig Watts, Rabbi Barry Silver, Rev. Gail Tapscott, Rev. Dwayne Black, National Coalition for the Homeless, Broward Coalition to End Homelessness,
The Homeless Voice, Project Downtown Fort Lauderdale, REMAR USA, Broward Homeless Campaign, Community Outreach Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ft. Lauderdale
United States Federal Courthouse
299 East Broward Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale


PNN - Going Green
Nov. 30th 7pm - 9pm (Eastern)
Join News Director Rick Spisak and his Green Green very Green Guests:
Marty Baum River Keeper to discuss current issues regarding St. Lucie River and the Lake Okeechobee effluent.
Drew Martin Palm Beach Water Board and Sierra Club Leader
Cris  Costello Sierra Club water activist
Jeannie Economos - Pesticide Safety and Environmental Health Project Coordinator at Farmworker Association of Florida
Tune in for a wide-ranging discussion of Florida's Environmental State here at the end of 2014
Solidarity & Peace
Rick Spisak, News Director Progressive News Network
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