REPORT: GOP Congress Directs $30 Billion For Struggling Homeowners Be Used To Pay Down Debt Instead

From Think Progress:

By Marie Diamond
Aug 26, 2011

A new reportby the investigative website Pro Publica has revealed that Congress diverted $30 billion in bailout money allocated to help struggling homeowners prevent foreclosure in order to pay down the national debt instead.

There were more than 1 million foreclosure filings in the first half of 2011 alone, yet only a fraction of the government aid that was supposed to reach homeowners has been spent:

Instead, Congress has mandated that the leftover money be used to pay down the debt.

Of the $45.6 billion in Trouble Asset Relief Program funds meant to aid homeowners, the most recent numbers available show that only about $2 billion has actually gone out the door.

The low number reflects how little the government’s home loan modification and other programs have actually helped homeowners deal with the foreclosure crisis.

Pro Publica notes that in November, the CBO lowered their estimate of the total amount of money the government would spend on its foreclosure relief programs from $22 billion to $12 billion.

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Dramatizing Obama’s Climate Dilemma

From Dissent Magazine:

Mark Engler
August 26, 2011

President Obama now has a clear choice on climate change. Major energy corporations are seeking to build a 1700-mile oil pipeline from Canada’s tar sands to refineries in Texas. The Keystone XL Pipeline would itself carry social and environmental costs: cutting through fragile ecosystems, creating risk of spills, and negatively affecting indigenous communities. But, most significantly, it would be a boon to efforts to exploit the tar sands.

The Canadian tar sands are a particularly dirty source of fossil fuels that could produce egregious carbon emissions. As Elizabeth Kolbert reported at the New Yorker:

[B]ecause tar-sands oil is so heavy, it has to be very heavily processed, which requires tremendous amounts of energy, usually in the form of natural gas. It’s been estimated that, on what’s known as a well-to-tank basis, tar-sands oil is responsible for eighty percent more greenhouse-gas emissions than ordinary crude.

Prominent climate scientist James Hansen has argued (in a now oft-quoted statement) that “if the tar sands are thrown into the mix, it is essentially game over” for the climate.

Before the end of the year, Obama’s State Department must choose whether to approve or deny the pipeline project. To dramatize the president’s choice, environmentalists have commenced two weeks of civil disobedience. On August 20 they began daily waves of sit-ins in front of the White House. As of this writing, near the end of week one, 322 people have been arrested.

Billed as the “biggest civil disobedience action in the environmental movement for many years,” the two weeks of sit-ins and arrests in summer-recessed Washington, D.C., have thus far had difficulty in creating the tension that, at times, allows acts of civil disobedience to explode into mass public spectacles. The protests have not had a single, climactic date around which many thousands might mobilize. And since the deadline by which Obama must make his call is months away, administration officials have been able to drag their feet.

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Battle for the California Desert: Why is the Government Driving Folks off Their Land?

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Fifty-Four Protesters Arrested as Environmental Report on Tar Sands Pipeline Is Released

From Truth Out:

by: Mike Ludwig, Truthout
August 26, 2011

As environmental activists were handcuffed in front of the White House on Friday, the State Department released the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the massive Keystone XL pipeline that would pump crude oil from the Alberta tar sands in Canada across six western states to stations in Oklahoma and Texas.

Climate change and environmental groups have staged protests against the proposed pipeline across the country in recent months, including a two-week sit-in currently underway in front of the White House.

Police arrested 54 of the protesters outside of the White House on Friday, and organizers say 2,000 people from across the country are expected to participate in the nonviolent demonstration calling on President Obama to step in and cancel the project. A total of 374 protesters have been arrested in the demonstration so far.

TransCanada’s $7 billion pipeline would stretch underground for 1,700 miles and deliver 830,000 barrels of crude oil to the US per day. A public comment period on the EIS extends until December when the State Department could approve or deny the permit for the pipeline. Public meetings will be held in all six states before a final decision is made.

The EIS describes the construction methods that would be used to build the pipeline and addresses some environmental concerns, including estimates of greenhouse gas emissions and impacts the pipeline could have on wildlife habitats and endangered species, but environmental groups say the report does not go far enough.

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Why is Paul Ryan’s using the police to avoid constituents?

From The Thom Hartmann Show:

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A Cooperative Economy: The Time is Now

From Green For All:

by Carmen Llanes, Green For All
Aug 25, 2011

I am impressed by the amount of knowledge in our communities. There are countless skills among those who are currently unemployed and underemployed and those who have been laid off during this recession.

In more and more businesses, the tasks and responsibilities are being piled up on smaller staffs and overworked employees, many of whom find themselves increasingly fed up with top-down management that doesn’t appreciate them.

In fact, much of our recession can be attributed to the lack of input from workers and small businesses. Our economy has been at the mercy of too few hands over the last several decades. Now many folks are using whatever skill they have to get by in a world with fewer local jobs and many, many underemployed people.

Why should so much talent go to waste?

This is a perfect time for a cooperative economy. Considering the disproportionate struggles faced by women and people of color during a recession, the cooperative economy presents an opportunity for all people, to leverage more power by making themselves the bosses, sharing ownership, and taking a collective approach to good management. Many people have already been let down by a top-down corporate or non-profit model in a recession-ridden society. Now is the time to rebuild the system, and build a society founded on justice, dignity, and respect for people and the planet.

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Rick Perry leaves the 10th Amendment at the altar with anti-gay marriage pledge

From The Washington Post:

August 26, 2011

Have cake and eat it too?

Seems Rick Perry would prefer just to eat it.

On Friday, he signed the National Organization for Marriage’s pledge opposing gay marriage.

Remember when Rick Perry said that New York’s legalization of gay marriage was “fine with me”? You should. It was just a few weeks ago — July 22, in fact.

“Ah, but if I’d known then what I know now,” Perry says. “What I didn’t know then was that I was the Republican front-runner.”

Amazing the difference a bit of knowledge can make.

“That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me. That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business.” That was then, before Rick Perry learned different. He has been doing a lot of learning in recent days, shedding ideas from his book (published in 2010) right and left (mainly left) and outdated opinions (four weeks ago, he was a different man!) at the drop of a poll.

Perry believes in the 10th Amendment, but, well — you have to draw the line somewhere. And, as I suggested before, that line is “when other states do things we frown on in Texas.”

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