House Overwhelmingly Passes Ban on Congressional Insider Trading

Feb 9, 2012, 6:25 pm EST

A week after the Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill that would ban insider trading by members of Congress, the House followed suit.  Legislation similar to the STOCK Act in the Senate passed in the House today by a margin of 417-2.  Two Republican Congressmen, John Campbell and Rob Woodall, who represent a large portion of Orange County, Cal. and counties northeast of Atlanta, respectively, were the only ones to vote against the bill.

The legislation is similar, but not exactly the same. One large difference is the House removed a provision in the Senate version of the bill that would regulate firms that collected political intelligence for investors. The Senate bill would require such firms to register and report on their activities, much like lobbyists do now.

Instead, the House included a provision that calls for a study of whether or not such registration should be required for these firms. The next step is for the two parts of the legislative branch to either form a committee or negotiate informally to reconcile the differences between the bills. Read 

Austerity Deal Reached in Greece

Feb 9, 2012, 1:21 pm EST
Austerity Deal Reached in Greece

Just hours before the latest talks in Brussels between finance ministers from 17 eurozone nations, Greek political leaders finally have agreed to new austerity cuts necessary to receive a fresh bailout package.

The deal was necessary for the beleaguered nation to avoid bankruptcy, since Greece needs the bailout cash by March 20 to redeem a boatload of bonds coming due. If the nation wasn’t able to make the payment, it would’ve been in technical default and could be forced to leave the eurozone.

Although this is good news for Greece and helps protect the economic stability of global markets, they aren’t out of the woods just yet — this is the fifth year of recession for the country, its manufacturing output fell by 15.5% in December on a year-over-year basis and unemployment continues to climb, rising to 20.9% in November. In addition, the nation needs to figure out how to reign in its unsustainable spending habits. Read 

Takeaways From Santorum’s Stunning Sweep

Feb 8, 2012, 7:28 pm EST
Takeaways From Santorum’s Stunning Sweep

Yesterday, Rick Santorum pulled off a spectacular upset. Practically left for dead after his Iowa win didn’t translate into further victories in primaries in New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Florida, Santorum won all three primary events hosted on Tuesday.

The wins in Colorado and Minnesota’s caucuses and Missouri’s nonbinding primary catapult Santorum back into the conversation for the GOP nomination, and signal a possible shake-up for the primary season ahead. Here are six takeaways from Santorum’s big night. 1. Santorum’s bragging rights

With these victories, Santorum has now won four states, a larger number than any of his competitors for the nomination. And while these states aren’t the biggest or most influential in the nomination process, losing them significantly hurts Santorum’s competition for the Republican nomination. Read 

Obama Changes Mind on Super PACs

Feb 7, 2012, 7:21 pm EST
Obama Changes Mind on Super PACs

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. That seems to be the philosophy behind President Barack Obama’s decision to give his blessing to a pro-Obama Super PAC, even as he has previously decried the fundraising groups.

When the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision was made by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010, giving rise to political action committees that could raise unlimited funds on behalf of candidates as long as they did not directly coordinate with them, Obama was a huge critic. At the time, the president said the decision was a “threat to our democracy.”

Now, though, with Gingrich’s Super PAC pulling in $12 million and Romney’s Super PAC nabbing $30 million in donations, Obama has apparently decided he can’t compete in the general election without Super PAC money of his own. Obama campaign members and White House officials will appear at events sponsored by the Obama-aligned Super PAC, Priorities USA. These officials will not request money for the Super PAC, nor will Obama or First Lady Michelle Obama appear at any Super PAC event. Read 

Federal Appeals Court Rules Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

Feb 7, 2012, 6:44 pm EST

In another victory for advocates of gay rights, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California upheld a lower court’ s ruling that Proposition 8, a ban on gay marriage passed in 2008 by California residents, was unconstitutional.

The case was previously heard by a federal district court judge, who found that California had no “rational basis” to ban gay marriage. In the appeals court’s decision, Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote the following:

“Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.” Read 

Rising Possibility of Military Strike on Iran

Feb 7, 2012, 12:07 pm EST
Rising Possibility of Military Strike on Iran

The U.S. press has been reporting that the Obama administration is publicly disagreeing over the timing of a potential attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

On Friday, Bloomberg reported that according to Aaron David Miller, a former Mideast peace negotiator in the Clinton administration, the U.S. and Israel have a “significant analytic difference” over the estimates of how close Iran is to shielding its nuclear program from an airstrike.

“There’s a growing concern (more than a concern) that the Israelis — in order to protect themselves — might launch a strike without approval, warning or even foreknowledge,” Miller said. Read 

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