Republican National Committee Chairman Refuses to Sign Joint Civility Statement with Democratic Counterpart – The Republican National Committee has rejected a proposal from its Democratic counterpart to sign a joint “civility” statement. Various members of the Democratic National Committee — including Chairman Tim Kaine, Executive Director Jen O’Malley Dillon and Communications Director Brad Woodhouse — contacted their respective RNC counterparts this week in hopes of getting RNC Chairman Michael Steele to co-sign a document with Kaine that, in part, called for “elected officials of both parties to set an example of the civility we want to see in our citizenry.”
Republican National Committee Spent Big Money on Hotels and Bondage-Themed Club – FEC filings suggest that Republican National Committee Chairman Steele travels in style. A February RNC trip to California, for example, included a $9,099 stop at the Beverly Hills Hotel, $6,596 dropped at the nearby Four Seasons, and $1,620.71 spent [update: the amount is actually $1,946.25] at Voyeur West Hollywood, a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex.
‘Patriot’ Anti-Government Groups Grew by 244% in 2009 – An “astonishing” 363 anti-government or “Patriot” groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups to 512, according to a report released by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
That’s a 244 percent increase in one year. Many of the “Patriot” groups are militias. Before 2009, there were 42. Now, there are 127. Hate groups overall stayed at a record high of nearly 1,000 despite the disintegration of one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the country.
Individuals associated with the Patriot movement during its 1990s heyday produced an enormous amount of violence, most dramatically the Oklahoma City bombing that left 168 people dead.
Christian Warrior Militia Planned to Kill Policeman, Then Others at His Funeral According to Indictment – Nine people federal prosecutors say belong to a “Christian warrior” militia were accused Monday of plotting to kill a Michigan law enforcement officer and then attack other police at the funeral.
A federal grand jury in Detroit, Michigan, indicted six Michigan residents, two Ohioans and an Indianan on charges of seditious conspiracy, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, teaching the use of explosive materials and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade and Andrew Arena, FBI special agent in charge, announced.
The five-count indictment unsealed Monday charges that since August 2008, the defendants, acting as a Lenawee County, Michigan, militia group called the Hutaree, conspired to oppose by force the authority of the U.S. government.
The group says on its Web site that Hutaree means “Christian warrior” and proclaims on its home page, “Preparing for the end time battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive.”
Mountain Top Removal Mine Would Fill Over Seven Miles of Streams with Debris – The EPA said Friday the Arch Coal Inc. Spruce No. 1 surface mine in southern West Virginia would pollute surrounding water, fill over seven miles of stream, would cause “unacceptable” harm to wildlife and “directly impact” some 2,278 acres of forest. “Landscape and site-specific assessments reveal that past and current mountaintop mining has caused substantial, irreplaceable loss of resources and an irreversible effect on these resources within the Coal River basin,” the EPA said in a statement.
In its summary of its proposal on the Spruce No. 1 mine, the agency said that “applying the lessons of the past, we now know that failure to control mining practices has resulted in persistent environmental degradation in the form of acid mine drainage and other impacts that cost billions to remedy.”
Insurance Compaies Looking for Loopholes to Deny Coverage – Just days after President Obama signed the new health care law, insurance companies are already arguing that, at least for now, they do not have to provide one of the benefits that the president calls a centerpiece of the law: coverage for certain children with pre-existing conditions.
Insurers agree that if they provide insurance for a child, they must cover pre-existing conditions. But, they say, the law does not require them to write insurance for the child and it does not guarantee the “availability of coverage” for all until 2014.
“The concept that insurance companies would even seek to deny children coverage exemplifies why we fought for this reform,” said Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California and chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia and chairman of the Senate commerce committee, said: “The ink has not yet dried on the health care reform bill, and already some deplorable health insurance companies are trying to duck away from covering children with pre-existing conditions. This is outrageous.”
Big Banks Indentified in Bid-Rigging Conspiracy – JPMorgan Chase & Co., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and UBS AG were among more than a dozen Wall Street firms involved in a conspiracy to pay below-market interest rates to U.S. state and local governments on investments, according to documents filed in a U.S. Justice Department criminal antitrust case.
A government list of previously unidentified “co-conspirators” contains more than two dozen bankers at firms also including Bank of America Corp., Bear Stearns Cos., Societe Generale, two of General Electric Co.’s financial businesses and Salomon Smith Barney, the former unit of Citigroup Inc., according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on March 24.
None of the firms or individuals named on the list has been charged with wrongdoing. The court records mark the first time these companies have been identified as co-conspirators. They provide the broadest look yet at alleged collusion in the $2.8 trillion municipal securities market that the government says delivered profits to Wall Street at taxpayers’ expense.