Thursday, April 01, 2010

Meet The New Boss


Obama Authorizes New Gas Drilling Off US Coasts
President Obama has unveiled a new plan to open up large swaths of the Atlantic, Gulf and Alaskan coasts to offshore oil and gas drilling for the first time in decades. On Wednesday, Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said drilling permits would be issued along the East Coast from Delaware to the central coast of Florida. New areas of the southeast Gulf Coast will also be open to drilling, as will the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska. Speaking at Andrews Air Force Base, Obama said the plan would help lead the US toward energy independence.

Judge: NSA Wiretapping Program Illegal
A federal judge has ruled the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program was illegal and in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Chief Judge Vaughn Walker of the federal district court in San Francisco ruled the government illegally intercepted the phone calls of an Oregon-based Islamic charity called Al Haramain in 2004. Both the Bush and Obama administrations had tried to dismiss the suit claiming a trial could result in the release of state secrets. But Judge Walker rejected the state secrets argument. Attorney Jon Eisenberg said the ruling marks an “implicit repudiation of the Bush-Cheney theory of executive power.”

Obama Appoints Pesticide Executive to Top Trade Post

And food justice advocates are criticizing President Obama’s recent appointment of a top pesticide industry executive to a key trade position. The executive, Islam Siddiqui, was named the US Trade Representative’s Chief Agricultural Negotiator in a spate of recent appointments. Siddiqui is a former vice president and lobbyist at CropLife America, a group of the major industrial players in the pesticide industry, including Syngenta, Monsanto and Dow Chemical. A coalition of over eighty environmental, family farm and consumer advocacy organizations had campaigned against his nomination.

Study: Homeowner Program Favoring White Borrowers
A new survey from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition has raised new questions about the Obama administration’s $75 billion Home Affordable Modification Program. The program is designed to provide financial incentives for mortgage lenders and servicers to reduce monthly payments for struggling homeowners. The survey found white homeowners are almost 50 percent more likely to receive a loan modification under the mortgage program than African Americans or Latinos. Meanwhile, loan servicers foreclose on delinquent African American borrowers more quickly than white or Latino borrowers.

News briefs courtesy of Democracy Now!

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