October 3, 2011
A slew of state attorneys general banded together 11 months ago to try to extract a multibillion-dollar settlement from banks for the way they mishandled foreclosures. The prospects of a deal have been clouded, however, by dissension in the AGs' ranks. On Friday, California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris became the latest to drop out, announcing that she would pursue her own investigation. Top prosecutors in half a dozen other states, including New York, Nevada and Massachusetts, have already pulled out of the multi-state talks, saying they were concerned that the group wasn't demanding enough from banks in exchange for settling the states' claims.
September 1, 2011
The Justice Department filed suit Wednesday to block AT&T's proposed $39-billion takeover of wireless rival T-Mobile USA, with its top antitrust lawyer declaring, "Any way you look at this transaction, it is anticompetitive. " Only the most ideologically hidebound supporters of the deal ever claimed it would boost competition, however. The question has always been whether the benefits it could deliver would outweigh the loss of an innovative, low-priced service provider. That's a far murkier issue.
September 1, 2011
It was a natural reaction after 9/11: Protect the nation at any cost. But a survey of homeland security projects by Times staff writer Kim Murphy reveals that the "any cost" rationale has resulted in unnecessary and eccentric responses to the possibility of a terrorist act. Congress should block such projects in the future. For example, Murphy told of a grant for anti-terrorism equipment to a county in Nebraska, which received thousands of dollars for cattle nose leads, halters and electric prods — in case terrorists waged biological warfare against cows.
August 12, 2011
The new law that allows President Obama to raise the debt ceiling created a bipartisan "super committee" to seek a major deficit-reduction deal by Thanksgiving, and this week congressional leaders named the 12 lawmakers who will be on it. Tellingly, not one of them signed on to any of the bipartisan budget proposals that have surfaced in the last year. Four were on the White House fiscal commission that offered a bold plan in December to close the federal budget gap, but all of them voted against it. And none is part of the so-called Gang of Six senators who outlined another way to tackle the deficit last month.
August 6, 2011 |
China called on the United States to "cure its addiction to debts" and "learn to live within its means" in a searing commentary published Saturday by the official New China News Agency in response to Standard & Poor's historic downgrading of the U.S. government's credit rating a day earlier. China, the largest foreign holder of U.S. federal debt, blamed "shortsighted political wrangling in Washington" for creating the financial morass that threatens to undermine the global economy.
August 4, 2011
If nothing else, the extended debate over raising the federal debt ceiling, which brought the country to the brink of economic catastrophe, demonstrated that this Congress was unusually willing to risk doing extreme harm to the nation in order to score political points. Ultimately, lawmakers stepped back from the edge on that issue — but when it came to funding the Federal Aviation Administration, they jumped off a cliff. Because Congress failed to approve a temporary spending measure for the FAA before leaving town for the rest of August, 4,000 FAA employees have been furloughed, airport construction projects have been halted, 70,000 construction workers have been idled, and the federal government stands to lose roughly $1 billion in uncollected airline ticket taxes.
July 21, 2011
The din of partisan bickering in Washington subsided briefly this week when six Republican and Democratic senators unveiled a long-awaited proposal to rein in the runaway federal deficit. The so-called Gang of Six made the same point that a slew of nonpartisan and bipartisan budget commissions have made over the last year: Washington's fiscal problems are so big that solving them will be painful for all concerned. The question is whether enough members of Congress can accept that premise and embrace a deal that forces both parties out of their ideological corners.
July 19, 2011
We didn't just survive "Carmageddon" last weekend, we basked in it. Neighbors had dinner together. Angelenos strolled to their local coffee shops and biked around town. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky gushed that Los Angeles residents "have turned Carmageddon into Carmaheaven. " People waxed wistfully that we should do this every weekend. Well, no, we can't do it every weekend. Just as Carmageddon was a construction success because time was built into the schedule for things to go wrong (nothing did)
July 13, 2011 |
Drinking six to eight glasses of water each day is healthful, most health experts agree. But apparently not everyone is on the same page. A general practitioner from Scotland says that health advice is “thoroughly debunked nonsense” and is propagated by bottled water companies out to make a profit. In a commentary published online in the British Medical Journal , Margaret McCartney quotes experts that say drinking too much water can cause hyponatremia (low sodium levels in the blood)
July 6, 2011
A prosecutor assigned to investigate the CIA's use of torture has decided not to recommend further investigation of as many as 100 CIA interrogations of detainees over the last decade. That judgment ensures that there will not be a full accounting of how, when and by whom "enhanced interrogation techniques" were employed to extract information. That is a loss to the nation. The prosecutor, John Durham, did advise the Justice Department to continue an investigation in two cases in which detainees died in custody.