Monthly Archives: July 2015

House Bill 809 would further cut local control

By Nathaniel Smith, Columnist, The Times of Chester County, July 28, 2015

Bill would let state make housing, zoning choices instead of local communities

Along with about 50 other people, I attended a hearing at West Chester Borough Hall on July 20 about House Bill 809 proposed to the PA House of Representatives.

On the positive side, we have a democratic process that allows citizens to find out what our legislators are doing and to hear differing views in a public forum.

On the negative side, the bill is a total disaster, as was made clear by speakers from West Chester, Lower Merion, Millersville, and State College. (Four realtors and landlords spoke for the bill, however.)

The principle is very clear, in my view, just what Mike McGann enunciated in his July 20 opinion piece on public education:

“What I am advocating for is to allow folks in local districts like Unionville to make their own choices – through their elected school board – on what is right for their community and school district. We don’t have that now.”

Does the state know best how a local school district should educate its own students? No.

Does the state know best how a municipality should zone property use for the benefit of its own residents? No.

House Bill 809, currently before the Committee on Local Government, would radically cut into municipalities’ ability to regulate rental properties. …

read more at The Times of Chester County

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Filed under Nathaniel Smith, PA govt & politics

Louisiana’s Gun Problem

by Ian Millhiser, ThinkProgress, Jul 24, 2015, excerpt:

…Louisiana, the state where this occurred, has some of the weakest — if not the weakest — gun laws in the nation. To give just one example, Louisiana recently enacted an NRA-backed state constitutional amendment providing that “[t]he right of each citizen to keep and bear arms is fundamental and shall not be infringed,” and that “any restriction on this right” will be met with maximal skepticism by the states’ courts. The amendment also stripped out language permitting the state legislature to “prohibit the carrying of weapons concealed on a person.”

Similarly, Louisiana does not require gun dealers to obtain a state license. It does not limit the number of guns that may be purchased at one time. It forbids local governments from regulating firearms. And it has no laws restricting assault weapons or .50 caliber

read full article and follow links at ThinkProgress

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Filed under Guns, violence, crime

How Goldman Sachs Profited From the Greek Debt Crisis

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog, 19 July 15

The Greek debt crisis offers another illustration of Wall Street’s powers of persuasion and predation, although the Street is missing from most accounts.

The crisis was exacerbated years ago by a deal with Goldman Sachs, engineered by Goldman’s current CEO, Lloyd Blankfein.

Blankfein and his Goldman team helped Greece hide the true extent of its debt, and in the process almost doubled it. And just as with the American subprime crisis, and the current plight of many American cities, Wall Street’s predatory lending played an important although little-recognized role.

In 2001, Greece was looking for ways to disguise its mounting financial troubles. The Maastricht Treaty required all eurozone member states to show improvement in their public finances, but Greece was heading in the wrong direction.

Then Goldman Sachs came to the rescue, arranging a secret loan of 2.8 billion euros for Greece, disguised as an off-the-books “cross-currency swap”—a complicated transaction in which Greece’s foreign-currency debt was converted into a domestic-currency obligation using a fictitious market exchange rate….

continue reading at Robert Reich’s Blog

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Citizenfour Director Laura Poitras Sues US Over ‘Kafkaesque Harassment’

By Ben Child, Guardian UK at Reader Supported News, 14 July 15

Film-maker whose documentary about Edward Snowden won an Oscar says she has been held for hours at a time by airport officials, told she was on a no-fly list and threatened with handcuffs for taking notes

he Oscar-winning documentary film-maker Laura Poitras is suing the US government demanding to know why she has repeatedly been subjected to “Kafkaesque harassment” at airports across the world.

Poitras, 51, said she had been held at borders more than 50 times between 2006 and 2012, often for hours at a time. At various times she alleges being told by officials that she was on a “no fly” list, having her electronic equipment confiscated and not returned for 41 days, and being threatened with handcuffs for taking notes. The latter incident took place when she was working on a film about the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Poitras said she was launching the legal action, which demands the release of all documentation held on her tracking, targeting and questioning by agencies over the six year period, following the failure of a 2013 freedom of information request.

“I’m filing this lawsuit because the government uses the US border to bypass the rule of law,” said the film-maker in a statement….

continue reading at Reader Supported News

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Filed under Law, justice, Rights, Justice, Law