Posts Tagged: Department of Justice

Illinois and racial profiling

The ACLU is calling for the federal Department of Justice to investigate whether or not Illinois cops use racial bias in traffic stop searches, reports Patrick Yeagle of the Illinois Times. A new study produced by the Illinois Department of Transportation found a slight disparity between the number of minorities stopped and the number of minorities who live in Illinois. It looks like real claims of bias lie in specific communities like Springfield, where 41 percent of all drivers stopped in 2010 were minorities and just 15 percent of the Springfield population is minority.

Robo-signing investigation presses on

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris have subpoenaed two companies, Lender Processing Services and Nationwide Title Clearing, that helped mortgage servicers manage home loans, reports Ruth Simon and Nick Timaros of the Wall Street Journal. The subpoenas signal expanding the state attorneys general investigation into mortgage servicers who “robo-signed” documents that put homeowners into foreclosure.

The scandal erupted last fall, triggering a joint investigation by 49 states attorneys. The U.S. Justice Department and Housing and Urban Development have largely stayed on the sidelines, but the Journal reports that federal agencies could also make claims against robo-signing banks.

Corporate lobbyists use sweeteners to win over regulators

There’s more than political donations or legions of arm-twisting lobbyists in the Washington lobbying toolbox.  Sometimes, there’s a status symbol cupcake, as Edward Wyatt reported in the New York Times.  With AT&T facing what would appear to be a formidable task of convincing the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department to approve its proposed $39 billion merger with T-Mobile, one wonders if the company will be strategically delivering chocolate Easter eggs to the regulators this time around.  Wyatt likened the delivery of the sought-after cupcakes to offices within the FCC during holiday season to a military operation.  The breakdown of who got how many cupcakes was labeled “proprietary.” (more…)

Gitmo in Illinois minus the Gitmo part

The Chicago Tribune’s Christi Parsons reports that the Justice Dept. will buy a correctional facility in Thomson, Illinois even if Congress continues to block funding to move Guantanamo Bay detainees to Illinois. Turning the Thomson facility into a federal prison while sidestepping possible hysteria over housing terrorist suspects would appear to be a win-win for Illinois. (more…)

Mortgage scammers off to the Big House

It may be too little and much too late, but federal law enforcement officials swept up 500 alleged fraudsters in a crackdown on the mortgage and real estate industry according to an AP story by Ken Ritter.

‘The states that had the highest fallout in foreclosure and price depreciation certainly didn’t have markets built on sound business practices,’ Sharga said. ‘The running gag was, you’d put a home on the market at breakfast and have three offers for twice the asking price by lunch. We’re seeing the consequences of that now.’

‘As soon as prices stopped going up, the whole house of cards came down,’ he said. (more…)

Again with the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

Prosecutors from the Justice Department filed five new counts in an on-going crackdown on alleged corruption among California tomato processors. (more…)

Murder at Camp No

Harper’s Magazine, one of the best publications in America today, continues to expose hypocrisy in American government and the violence that is integral to our country today.  Read Scott Horton’s shocking investigation into the deaths of three detainees at the U.S. prison at Guantánamo Naval Base.  These three men each “committed suicide” in one night, in the same way:  by first (somehow) stuffing rags down their own throats and then (improbably) hanging themselves. (more…)

Regulation that Creates Jobs?

The argument that Phil Longman and Barry Lynn make in the latest Washington Monthly is that America’s post-WWII boom, and the explosion of innovative companies which appeared in 1970s and 1980s America, depended on government anti-monopoly initiatives taken during Roosevelt’s New Deal.  It’s a provocative idea, and a hard one to prove in a magazine article, but Longman and Lynn point out that FDR’s Justice Department

set out to engineer rivalries within large industries whenever possible . . . and in sectors of the economy where efficiencies of concentration were far harder to prove — retail, restaurants, services, farming — the government protected open markets.

Competition among the fast-growing corporations of America’s post-war boom led to “an astounding burst of innovation,” one that the authors say is lacking in today’s economy — one dominated by fewer and fewer large corporations that not only throttle competition, but even cut back their own innovations in order not to upset a marketplace they comfortably control. (more…)

Year in Review: What Will Become of Dawn Johnsen?

Dawn Johnsen

Dawn Johnsen

The U.S. Senate concluded its 2009 session last week passing historic health care reform legislation. At the same time, however, the Senate effectively rejected six of Barack Obama’s nominations for administration leadership posts. By not approving these nominees in this year’s legislative session, Obama must either re-nominate the candidates next year — or choose to nominate a different candidate for their respective positions.

One such nominee is Dawn Johnsen, a constitutional law professor at Indiana University, whom Obama picked last January to head the Justice Dept’s Office of Legal Counsel. (more…)

The World’s Most Frustrating Deliberative Body

I liked the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein’s op-ed yesterday on the U.S. Senate’s abuse of the filibuster: gradually, and then suddenly, 60, not 51, Senators, are now required to pass any significant piece of legislation. The Senate effectively has made the federal government dysfunctional: “The government can function if the minority party has either the incentive to make the majority fail or the power to make the majority fail. It cannot function if it has both.”

I would add that while the filibuster has the biggest, and most harmful, impact of any Senate procedural rule, the rule that causes the most immediate damage is the “hold.” (more…)