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Sen. Coats, Labor Force Drop Rain on Obama’s Year-end Jobs Numbers Parade

As Democrats celebrated the latest positive press release, published Friday, about the economy, a Republican senator played killjoy by taking a closer look at jobs numbers. “It is good news that the unemployment rate has decreased to 5.6%,” Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) said in the first of two tweets. “The bad news behind this statistic is that too many discouraged, working-age Americans are opting out of the job market,” he added. Indeed, while the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that unemployment fell by… Keep Reading

Cuba Policy Shift Could Receive Boost From Big Ag

Senators still apprehensive about the White House’s rapprochement with Cuba may soon be swayed by a team of heavyweight lobbyists who announced their intentions to smash the half-century old embargo. The newly-formed United States Agricultural Coalition for Cuba (USACC), comprised of more than two dozen giants in agribusiness including Cargill, issued a press release on Thursday promising to “actively engage to end the long-standing embargo.” “We will achieve our purpose by advancing a constructive dialogue in the United States on U.S.-Cuba relations,” the group said… Keep Reading

N.Y. Fed Official Who Hit Out At “London Whale” Inspector General Report Was Aware of In-house Stonewalling

A full inspector general report published this week showed that The Federal Reserve Board of New York pushed back against oversight claims made last year about its supposed interagency “London Whale” failures. But one of the top Fed officials who defended the institution was aware of widespread problems her own examiners were encountering from their bosses by early 2012. Sarah Dahlgren, the regulator’s head of supervision, and Thomas Baxter, its general counsel, accused the inspector general of reading history backwards. The internal probe, which was first… Keep Reading

Obama Community College Plan Could Mirror Healthcare Fight

The President announced a new proposal Thursday that is, perhaps, the most progressive initiative of his administration. And if the fight over healthcare reform is any indication, it will draw the ire of Republicans in Congress, despite inspiration for the idea coming to the White House from a deeply red state. President Obama said that on Friday he will officially unveil a program that will give all Americans conditional free access to a two-year community college. “Put simply, what I’d like to do is see… Keep Reading

Landmark Court Decision Could Hinder N.S.A. Dragnet, Says E.U. Legal Team

An April 2014 European Union Court of Justice decision could limit the National Security Agency dragnet, according to an opinion published Thursday by EU Parliament legal advisers. Last year’s ruling, which found that the EU Data Retention Directive violated human rights, could see EU and member states’ surveillance laws and international cooperation challenged, they stated. The lawyers said the precedent set by the court opens the programs up to litigation and executive revision on the grounds that they violate the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights.… Keep Reading

In Terror Insurance Passage, Senate Fails to Block Financial Deregulation

The Senate voted to renew the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) on Thursday afternoon, after shooting down an effort to scupper a deregulatory measure attached to the legislation. The bill passed the chamber by a vote of 93-4. Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) were the quartet to disapprove of the measure. Warren and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced an amendment that sought to strip a provision from the bill that prevents regulators from imposing collateral requirements on… Keep Reading

“Wall Street’s Favorite Democrat” Accuses Sen. Warren of Misleading Public

A congressman who has been called “Wall Street’s Favorite Democrat” said emotion and misperception are fueling his party’s opposition to financial deregulation, and accused Sen. Elizbaeth Warren (D-Mass.) of speaking about the issue in bad faith. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) lamented the level of scrutiny of big banks within his caucus and decried the failure of the House this week to delay, without debate, the implementation of a Dodd-Frank provision on risk. “There is a very strong movement out there, that any adjustment to Dodd-Frank of… Keep Reading

In Passing Keystone XL, Senate Committee Literally Votes Down Science

Today, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved legislation to force construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. It was marked-up in a 13 to 9 vote. All Republicans supported the measure. They were joined by a lone Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.). But before passage, the Committee had to address an amendment proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would compel Congress to agree that anthropogenic climate change isn’t a hoax. “This is the Energy Committee of the United States Congress, so we… Keep Reading

Pentagon Moves to Reduce Military Footprint In Europe, Still Maintains Massive Force Presence

Citing a climate of austerity, the Department of Defense announced it will carry out a number of base closures and realignments across the Atlantic that, it says, will save the department roughly a half billion dollars annually. More than 60,000 US troops will still remain on the continent – a contingency that Pentagon officials claim is “absolutely vital” to national security. A poll released by Rasmussen in May 2014 showed that 39 percent of likely voters want US troops to remain in Western Europe. Thirty-six… Keep Reading

At US Behest, Transatlantic Trade Negotiations Could Violate EU Transparency Rules

Details of a US-EU trade deal with “unprecedented public interest” were officially published Wednesday for the first time, but a European watchdog said that the revelations were insufficient, and that opacity at the behest of American officials could violate EU rules. European negotiating positions on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) were revealed Wednesday by EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. The documents covered EU proposals on competition, agricultural safety, certain trade barriers, small and medium-sized businesses and state-state dispute settlement tribunals. Malmström said, according to… Keep Reading

Historic Net Neutrality Vote Scheduled For February, Public Interest Group Urges Caution

Speaking at the Consumer Electronic Show, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said a final vote on new Net Neutrality rules will happen next month, and suggested it could include a major reclassification of internet service. But some skeptics are withholding their elation. “We’re going to propose rules that say that no blocking, no throttling, [no] paid prioritization, all that list of issues, and that there is a yardstick against which behavior should be measured. And that yardstick is ‘just and reasonable,’” Wheeler told convention-goers… Keep Reading

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