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February 03, 2014

Let's replace predatory lenders with the post office

Elizabeth Warren has some fantastic ideas, doesn't she? Elizabeth Warren Proposes Replacing Payday Lenders With The USPS
The Postal Service (USPS) could spare the most economically vulnerable Americans from dealing with predatory financial companies under a proposal endorsed over the weekend by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). “USPS could partner with banks to make a critical difference for millions of Americans who don’t have basic banking services because there are almost no banks or bank branches in their neighborhoods,” Warren wrote in a Huffington Post op-ed on Saturday. The op-ed picked up on a report from the USPS’s Inspector General that proposed using the agency’s extensive physical infrastructure to extend basics like debit cards and small-dollar loans to the same communities that the banking industry has generally ignored. The report found that 68 million Americans don’t have bank accounts and spent $89 billion in 2012 on interest and fees for the kinds of basic financial services that USPS could begin offering. The average un-banked household spent more than $2,400, or about 10 percent of its income, just to access its own money through things like check cashing and payday lending stores. USPS would generate savings for those families and revenue for itself by stepping in to replace those non-bank financial services companies. Those companies are among the most predatory actors in the money business. Payday loans with annual interest rates well north of 100 percent suck billions of dollars out of poor communities every year, with the average customer paying $520 to borrow $375. After decades of operating in a regulatory blind spot and ducking state-level reforms, the payday lending business now faces a crackdown from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The threat of new rules for short-term cash loans in general has caused traditional banks to stop offering deposit-advance loans with similar features.

January 30, 2014

Leaked report details hundreds of American drone-assisted assassinations in Pakistan alone

In 2008 we officially decided to stop cataloging all the innocent civilians murdered by our drone pilots. 330 US drone strikes in Pakistan recorded in Leaked official document | Informed Comment
The Bureau is today publishing a leaked official document that records details of over 300 drone strikes, including their locations and an assessment of how many people died in each incident. The document is the fullest official record of drone strikes in Pakistan to have yet been published. It provides rare insight into what the government understands about the campaign. It also provides details about exactly when and where strikes took place, often including the names of homeowners. These details can be valuable to researchers attempting to verify eyewitness reports – and are often not reported elsewhere. But interestingly, the document stops recording civilian casualties after 2008, even omitting details of well-documented civilian deaths and those that have been acknowledged by the government. Last July the Bureau published part of the document for the first time. This documented strikes, which hit the northwest tribal areas of Pakistan between 2006 and late 2009, and revealed that the Pakistani government was aware of hundreds of civilian casualties, even in strikes where it had officially denied civilians had died.

Bed Bugs, Statistics, Press-Release Reporting, and You

(Reposted from my Snip, Burn, Solder Blog) I continue to...

January 29, 2014

Senator Rand Paul loves freedom, hates mothers

Apparently Libertarian small government Conservatives think it's a good idea to attack women who have "too many" children. Senator Floats Idea To Penalize Low-Income Women Who Have Children | ThinkProgress
At a luncheon for the Chamber of Commerce in Lexington, KY, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) floated the idea of capping government benefits for women who have children out of wedlock, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. While he said that preventing unplanned pregnancies should be in the hands of communities and families, he added, “Maybe we have to say ‘enough’s enough, you shouldn’t be having kids after a certain amount.”‘ He went on to say, “I don’t know how you do all that because then it’s tough to tell a woman with four kids that she’s got a fifth kid we’re not going to give her any more money. But we have to figure out how to get that message through because that is part of the answer.” The idea of withholding benefits from women who have more than a certain number of children is actually current policy in many states. While most programs through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, or welfare) give families more money if they have more children, 16 states cap the assistance and don’t give any extra money for new children if someone in the household is already receiving aid.

January 25, 2014

Hate-Filled Humanoid Shape would rather ban all marriages than recognize that gay people are actually people

Oklahaomans sure vote for some assholes, don't they? Joe. My. God.: OKLAHOMA: GOP State Rep Introduces Bill To Ban ALL Marriages
State lawmakers are considering throwing out marriage in Oklahoma. The idea stems from a bill filed by Rep. Mike Turner (R-Edmond). Turner says it's an attempt to keep same-sex marriage illegal in Oklahoma while satisfying the U.S. Constitution. Critics are calling it a political stunt while supporters say it's what Oklahomans want. "[My constituents are] willing to have that discussion about whether marriage needs to be regulated by the state at all," Turner said. Other conservative lawmakers feel the same way, according to Turner.