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World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC.So, the big banks are back in Congress with their multiple hands out looking for donations from US taxpayers. But we're not talking about the Goldmans and the Sachs again – the current banks begging are the "development" banks – the World Bank and its regional clones in Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America. Like the Chases, Morgans and Citi's, though, they're looking for a pantload of money, quietly promised them by our selectively generous Secretary of the Treasury
The development banks need money because, as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition in September, they are defending our national security interests and making sure that China doesn't get ahead in the world of international "aid." Also, it seems, they're fighting poverty. Earlier this year, when Mr. Geithner was disposed to answer Congressional questions on this topic (minutes 29 – 32), one concerned representative of the people asked (I'm paraphrasing here): "But aren't these banks corrupt?"
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Another Reason Lanney Breuer Should Resign: The Tom Drake Case
Summary: Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has called for the resignation of Department of Justice Criminal Division head Lanney Breuer for his previous denial of knowing details of the “Fast & Furious” operation. GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack argues that Breuer should also step down for his actions taken related to the DOJ case against NSA whistleblower Tom Drake.
This Huffington Post piece argues that the Obama administration should 'clean house' in the Criminal Division, and reinvestigate the financial crimes that happened during the downturn – Breuer has failed to make any significant headway in that area. This includes the allegations made by GAP client Eileen Foster that Countrywide/Bank of America was involved in major fraudulent activities.
Salon: Hillary Clinton and Internet Freedom
Summary: Salon’s Glenn Greenwald criticizes President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in this column for touting Internet freedom in name only, stating that “more often than not, [Clinton and the federal government] are among the enemies of those freedoms.” Specifically, Greenwald cites that the US has launched a major investigation against WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, as well as supported new legislation aimed at giving the federal government “draconian powers” in Internet enforcement and surveillance.
Senior Republican Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) called for the resignation of Justice Department Criminal Division head, Lanney Breuer, after Breuer denied knowing details of the controversial "Fast and Furious" operation. The Washington Post reports:
The “Fast and Furious” program was meant to track guns as they made their way south of the border to senior members of Mexican drug cartels after being bought by straw buyers. However, ATF agents rarely pursued the weapons after they were bought.
Grassley said Breuer hurt his own credibility by initially denying details of the program.
Breuer might be wise to consider Grassley's request in light of the debacle his Criminal Division made out of the failed Espionage Act prosecution against National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Thomas Drake.
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When the Drake indictment was handed down, Breuer wildly overstated the case against Drake in a Justice Department press release:
Our national security demands that the sort of conduct alleged here – violating the government’s trust by illegally retaining and disclosing classified information – be prosecuted and prosecuted vigorously. . .
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On Tuesday, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) chaired a bipartisan hearing of a subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee. The purpose of the hearing, "Whistleblower Protections for Government Contractors" was to build support for the Non-Federal Employee Whistleblower Protection Act (S. 241), legislation that seeks to expand and make permanent whistleblower protections for government contractor employees. These protections were initially passed in the 2009 stimulus law.
Senator Rob Portman (R-Oh), the former Office of Management and Budget chief, participated supportively. From GovExec:
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, noted that with "half a trillion dollars a year, or 15 percent of the budget," being spent on contractors, it is time to rethink the 19 current laws. "Whistleblowers are the eyes and ears of all of us, and are a vital communications link between daily program managers and those in Congress responsible for oversight," he said.
The House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee already has approved a two year pilot experiment in jury trial rights for contractor employees as part of HR 3289, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA), but the McCaskill stimulus provisions are not included in S. 743 – the Senate version of the WPEA.
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Courtesy of Flickr user db Photography | Demi-BrookeHuffington Post: New HSUS Investigation Reveals Deception by Online Puppy Seller
Summary: According to a new investigation by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), internet puppy seller Purebred Breeders sells animals from puppy mills (inhumane commercial breeding facilities) and uses deceptive sales tactics.
A whistleblower who contacted HSUS said that Purebred Breeders sells more than 20,000 puppies a year. This internet company has had complaints of sick and dying puppies arriving by air, some covered in feces and urine. The whistleblower also revealed that employees are instructed to talk “as if they know the puppies and the breeders personally.”
Whole Foods Runs Foul of Whistleblower Law?
Summary: Whole Foods violated federal whistleblower protections, according to an OSHA investigation, when it allegedly fired an employee for reporting concerns regarding a sewage spill into the chain's Miami Beach store. GAP's Food Integrity Campaign has the details.
Kalamazoo Gazette (MI): Judge to Hear Whistleblower Lawsuit of Kalamazoo River Oil Spill Worker
Summary: Next week a Michigan judge will hear the case of a former oil spill cleanup worker who says he was fired after revealing to the media, and state and federal agencies, that workers were told to cover up the oil instead of cleaning it up.
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60 Minutes Features Case of GAP Client
Courtesy of wikimedia user Jonathan McIntosh(Washington, DC) – Last Sunday night, the television news-magazine 60 Minutes featured a July 2011 interview of Eileen Foster, a former high-ranking official at Countrywide Financial Corp., the home loans behemoth, and then Bank of America (BofA) after its purchase of Countrywide in July 2008. Foster, now a GAP client, reported the corrupt activities of company officials, both pre- and post-purchase. In September 2008, BofA terminated Foster. Three months ago, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that BofA was wrong to terminate her, ordering her reinstatement and damages. However, BofA has appealed that order, and Foster's fight continues.
GAP Senior Counsel Richard Condit described the importance of the case: "Eileen Foster's case and those that will follow provide penetrating insight into how the home mortgage crisis arose and was readily accepted by corporate cultures that cared more about short-term gain than long-term disaster. Bank of America-Countrywide rejected the results of a two-year OSHA investigation. There is little indication the culture that created this crisis will ever change."
Click here to watch the 60 Minutes segment.
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60 Minutes: Prosecuting Wall Street
Photo Courtesy of Brian KattLast Sunday night, the television news-magazine 60 Minutes featured a July 2011 interview of Eileen Foster, a former high-ranking official at Countrywide Financial Corp., the home loans behemoth, and then Bank of America (BofA) after its purchase of Countrywide in July 2008.
Foster, now a GAP client, reported the corrupt activities of company officials, both pre- and post-purchase. In September 2008, BofA terminated Foster. Two months ago, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that BofA was wrong to terminate her, ordering her reinstatement and damages. However, BofA has appealed that order, and Foster’s fight continues.
Northwest News Network: Hanford Whistleblower Seeks Stronger Protection Laws In Senate Testimony
Yesterday, a subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing entitled "Whistleblower Protections for Government Contractors." The purpose of the hearing (which is available for viewing here) was to build support for the Non-Federal Employee Whistleblower Protection Act, introduced by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo) and Jim Webb (D-Va), which seeks to expand the scope of protected disclosures of wrongdoing made by America's growing federal contractor population. Senator McCaskill chaired the hearing.