Ex-US Speaker indicted over $3.5 million in payments

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) leaves the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct on Capitol Hill in Washington in this October 24, 2006 file photo. Hastert was indicted on May 28, 2015 on federal charges including making false statements to the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago said.   REUTERS/Jim Young/Files

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) REUTERS/Jim Young/Files

Source: Yahoo News

CHICAGO (AP) — Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million in hush money to keep a person from the town where he was a longtime high school teacher silent about “prior misconduct” by the Illinois Republican who once was second in line to the U.S. presidency, according to a federal grand jury indictment handed down Thursday.

The indictment, which doesn’t describe the alleged misconduct by Hastert, charges the 73-year-old with one count of evading bank regulations by withdrawing $952,000 in increments of less than $10,000 to skirt reporting requirements. He also is charged with one count of lying to the FBI about the reason for the unusual withdrawals. (more…)

Senate Fails to Extend PATRIOT Act – NSA Begins Shutdown of Bulk Spying Program

NSA Headquarters. Photo credit: Trevor Paglen.

NSA Headquarters. Photo credit: Trevor Paglen.

Source: Truth In Media

Last week, the Obama administration said that it would begin winding down the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ private phone data if Congress were to fail to reauthorize Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act by Friday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried desperately to extend the expiring surveillance authority before senators left town, but was shut down by a coalition of Senate privacy advocates led by Senators Rand Paul and Ron Wyden.

Now, National Journal is reporting that the Obama administration has begun to shut down the program. Said an administration official on Saturday, “We’ve said for the past several days that the wind-down process would need to begin yesterday if there was no legislative agreement. That process has begun.” The NSA’s bulk phone spying program had been ruled illegal by a federal appeals court earlier this month, and its authority granted by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order expired on May 22.


Senate Passes Obama’s TPP Fast-Track Trade Proposal

Obama b
Source: Zero Hedge

Two days ago there was some rejoicing and much surprise when the “Warren-faction” of Senate liberals turned against Obama, and failed to vote for a fast-track approval of the TPP. That surprise lasted for about 48 hours when moments ago, in a 65-33 vote, the Senate finally advanced a measure allowing Obama to expedite approval of trade agreements, a bill with bipartisan support in that chamber which however according to Bloomberg may run into strong opposition from House Democrats.

The vote followed separate votes sought by Democrats to pass proposals curbing currency manipulation and boosting imports from sub-Saharan Africa. The Senate plans to consider amendments to the fast-track trade proposal next week. (more…)

Senate votes against fast-tracking TPP

Source: RT News

Lawmakers in the United States Senate have thrown a wrench in a plan that would have given President Barack Obama “fast track” authority to advance a 12-nation trade deal between the US and Pacific Ring partners.

In a 52-45 vote on Tuesday afternoon, the Senate opposed moving forward for now on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. A procedural vote required at least 60 “ayes” in order to let the Senate host discussions on whether or not to give the president so-called “fast track” authority on the matter. Failure to reach that threshold puts the future of the trade agreement in jeopardy. (more…)

Congress Passes Bill Giving Police Unlimited Access to Citizens’ Private Communications

Jay Syrmopoulos
The Free Thought Project

Washington, D.C. – In a sneak attack on the civil liberties of all Americans, the Intelligence Authorization Act for 2015 was rushed to the House floor with a dangerous Senate amendment added to section 309 with virtually no debate.

The legislation was scheduled for only a “voice vote,” which means that it is simply declared “passed” with voice votes and no record.

This is considered the simplest and quickest voting method, not what one would expect from such an important piece of legislation. For most pieces of major legislation, a roll call vote would be the standard operating procedure. (more…)

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