In today’s On the News segment: The Justice Department announced that JPMorgan has agreed to a $13 billion dollar settlement over the fraudulent sale of mortgage backed securities; Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller is trying to protect the internet; there is a lot of radiation activity today; and more.
Jim Javinsky for Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced that JPMorgan has agreed to a $13 billion dollar settlement over the fraudulent sale of mortgage backed securities. But, that settlement is a fraud in and of itself. Four billion dollars of that figure was actually part of a settlement announced a month earlier, and the rest can hardly be considered a penalty against the big bank. Almost half of the remaining $9 billion will go to so-called "mortgage relief," which will be distributed over four years by an independent monitor. That brings the actual settlement amount down to $5.4 billion dollars, even before the bank writes off the total amount against their taxes. If they're able to write off even half of the settlement, that knocks off at least another $2.6 billion, which means JPMorgan will actually pay only $2.74 billion dollars after defrauding investors out of more than ten times that amount. This settlement isn't a punishment, it's simply a cost of doing business for the too-big-to-fail financial giant. The only good news that came out of the deal is that the Justice Department did not exempt the bank from criminal charges, and an ongoing investigation could lead to more severe penalties. The fact is, however, even in the face of criminal charges, it's unlikely that we'll see any banksters going to jail. The DOJ will simply take on more fines, and JPMorgan will get to continue operating. It's time to really hold the banksters accountable. The degenerate gamblering on Wall Street won't stop until someone starts putting CEOs behind bars.
In screwed news... The U.S. House of Representatives won't vote on immigration or gay rights this legislative term, but they're making time to squeeze in a vote to protect oil companies. And, they want to put severe restrictions on our First Amendment rights in the process. This week, the House is likely to vote on the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act, which would make it easier for oil companies to drill on public lands. The bill would also allow the controversial development of oil shale, a process banned by President Herbert Hoover, and impose a $5,000 fee on anyone who wants to protest oil drilling. A group of Democratic Representatives wrote a scathing dissent of the legislation, saying, "This bill is not simply anachronistic; it is dangerous. It would harm the environment, short-circuit critical reviews, and establish barriers to people wishing to challenge decisions on oil and gas developments in their backyards." Thankfully, President Obama said he would veto the legislation, but Republicans won't give up that easily in their fight to put the oil lobby ahead of the American people.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller is trying to protect the internet. Last week, the West Virginia Senator introduced the Consumer Choice in Online Video Act, which is focused on ensuring internet freedom. The bill would prevent internet providers from favoring their own content, or discriminating against the content of other websites, and it would bar providers from using secretive tactics to block fair competition. In addition, the legislation would give the FCC the power to regulate internet providers, and guarantee users have open and competitive access to video content. Although Senator Rockefeller's bill does not explicitly address net neutrality, it sends a strong message that ensuring free and open internet should be a congressional priority. Internet providers are fighting hard to limit our access to information on the web, and thus restricting our right to communicate and even protest. In this day and age, our First Amendment rights should guarantee internet freedom, and Senator Rockefeller's legislation would be a great step in that direction.
According to RadCast.org, there is a lot of radiation activity today, and waves of higher levels are crossing the U.S. Levels in Taylors, South Carolina are averaging 41 counts per minute, but spikes there are up around 61. In Gainsville, Georgia, readings are hovering at 52 counts per minute, with spikes all the way up to 73. Some of the highest levels around our nation are being reported in Durango, Colorado, which is sitting at 74 counts per minute, and spiking as high as 99. RadCast reminds us that their alert level is 100 counts per minute, and they would like to thank all the new listeners who are helping to spread this important information. RadCast.org is also monitoring the fuel rod removal at Fukushima, and as of day five of the operation, levels in Japan seem to be holding steady.
And finally... Yesterday, Freshman Representative Trey Radel of Florida had to appear in court to face a cocaine possession charge. The Tea Party Congressman was arrested on October 29th, and he was sentenced to one year of probation. Now, in all fairness, Representative Radel has been an outspoken critic of the war on drugs, and he has cosponsored legislation to put an end to mandatory minimum sentences. But, in September, the Congressman also voted to subject food stamp recipients to drug testing as a condition of their receiving government assistance. Apparently, Representative Radel thinks that people should be allowed to use drugs, as long as their not sitting around collecting a government check. Perhaps the Tea Party Congressman is rethinking his position on that bill, considering that Uncle Sam also issues his paychecks.
And that's the way it is today – Thursday, November 21, 2013. I'm Jim javinsky, in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.