Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw) Weekend Contributor

The Obama Administration has been pressuring members of Congress to pass the bill that will give President Obama the “fast track”  authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP) agreement without any debate in Congress.  Fast track authority would not allow for any amendments and the bill would remain secret until just before it is voted on.

“President Obama is currently pressing members of Congress to pass Fast-Track authority for a trade and investment agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). If Fast Track passes, it means that Congress must approve or deny the TPP with minimal debate and no amendments. Astonishingly, our lawmakers have not seen the agreement they are being asked to expedite.” Nation of Change (more…)

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1408390089660_Image_galleryImage_Officer_DARREN_WILSON_picdepartment-of-justice-logo1As expected, the Justice Department announced Wednesday that it will not prosecute former Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. The case followed the same pattern that we saw him the Zimmerman investigation: a premature entry into the case, Attorney General Eric Holder making public comments assuring a federal response, a long investigation, and a leak from the Justice Department preparing people for the rejection of any charges. In both cases, some of us questioned the timing of the entry of the federal investigators and the weak basis for a civil rights investigation. (For a prior column, click here) In the end, the Justice Department found much of the same inconsistencies detailed by the grand jury and the police in the Ferguson case.

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by Charlton (Chuck) Stanley, weekend writer

FAA logoLast August, I wrote a blog post entitled The FAA and NTSB vs. Common Sense. The reader can save time by going back and reading that post at the link, because it sets out the main premises of this article.

The FAA has been under growing pressure from all segments of the aviation community to relax the standards for a Third Class medical certificate. This pressure has come from recreational pilots, manufacturers of aircraft and aircraft components, small airport operators, and small businesses. Part of the reason for this pressure is that general aviation is slowly dying.

When the FAA was created, their primary mission was to promote aviation. That includes making it safe and affordable for the flying public. However, the FAA, being bureaucrats who hate to give up power and control once it is in their grasp, asked for comments on a proposed rule change.

That was back in 2009. The initial proposal was denied in 2010. The proposed rule was resurrected, but the FAA has been slow-walking the changes–for more than five years. There has been virtually no progress toward doing away with the Third Class Medical certificate.
Last year, while being questioned, FAA officials made some vague concessions, but would not be specific.

Instead of promoting aviation, I have come to the conclusion that some segments of the FAA resemble a certain character in the Dilbert comic strip; Mordac, the Preventer of Information Services, also known as Mordac the Refuser.

Exasperated, several members of the bipartisan House and Senate Aviation Caucus introduced H.R. 3708: The General Aviation Pilot Protection Act of 2013 (GAPPA). S2103, an identical measure, was introduced in the Senate.

This year, we have a new Congress, and the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act 2 was introduced in the House (H.R. 1062) and the Senate (S.571) last Thursday, Feb. 25, 2015. GAPPA-2 will protect general aviation pilots from liability on charitable flights, extend legal protections to FAA representatives, and require FAA contractors to provide information under Freedom of Information Act requests.

A group of aviation industry leaders sent identical letters to the Senators and Representatives who introduced the GAPPA-2 bills in Congress this week.

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Congressional SealSeal_of_the_President_of_the_United_States.svgThe Obama Administration previously filed its Motion to Dismiss in the challenge by the United States House of Representatives v. Burwell. As many of you know, I am lead counsel in the action. The Obama Administration is seeking to block the court from hearing the merits of our Complaint and below is our filing today in defense of the right of the House of Representatives to be heard in the federal court. The case is before Judge Rosemary M. Collyer of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

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220px-Biden_2013245px-Abraham_Lincoln_head_on_shoulders_photo_portraitVice President Joe Biden has regularly caused uproars with his off-the-cuff remarks and serial gaffs. However, his most interesting remarks are not gaffs but clear statements of his views on some subjects. This is particularly evident on issues of taxes. Biden has called previously for the redistribution of wealth and called higher taxes an act of patriotism. For many, he epitomizes the image of a tax-based liberal and this week he seems intent of ratcheting up that image. At a Black History Month event at his official residence, Biden called for a new “emancipation:” freeing money from the rich.

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President_Barack_ObamaU.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen delivered a major blow to President Barack Obama’s unilateral executive action on immigration with a preliminary injunction in Brownsville, Texas. The case involves a challenge by 26 states and, to succeed, the states had to meet a high standard that they were likely to prevail on the merits in the case. Hanen found that, absent an order, the states will “suffer irreparable harm in this case.” The ruling sets up an appeal that could move the case more rapidly through the system in yet another challenge to the President’s unilateral actions. [For the purposes of full disclosure, I have previously testified against the President’s unilateral actions and I am currently serving as lead counsel to the House of Representatives in its challenge to such actions taken with regard to the Affordable Care Act.]

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty, (rafflaw) Weekend Contributor

British banking giant, HSBC reached an agreement in 2012 with the Department of Justice that kept it from being hauled in to court on criminal charges due to its systemic assistance in laundering money for drug cartels and allegedly terrorists.  HSBC, with its Hong Kong headquarters shown above, is now in trouble again for alleged problems prior to the settlement agreement in 2012.

“The US Department of Justice is considering bringing criminal charges against HSBC and its executives as part of its investigation into whether the bank’s Swiss subsidiary helped US clients evade taxes.

Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren called on prosecutors to “come down hard” on HSBC if the bank is found to have colluded with tax evaders on Tuesday.

Her intervention came as US government officials with knowledge of the DoJ’s investigation provided the Guardian with new details about the inquiry.

Renewed focus has been placed on the long-running investigation into HSBC Switzerland by the department, after a huge leak of secret bank data – passed to the DOJ’s tax division almost five years ago – was obtained by the Guardian and other media.

It shows that HSBC Switzerland helped some clients conceal millions of undeclared assets, and has immediately raised questions on Capitol Hill about the response from prosecutors and tax authorities.  US government officials said the investigation is not merely looking at HSBC’s US clients, and could also result in criminal indictments against the bank itself. “That has not been ruled out,” one official said, when asked if HSBC or its executives could be criminally indicted. “It is certainly something that is under consideration.” ‘ Reader Supported News  (more…)

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