Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Friday, April 12, 2013

Ben Bernanke: Poor Communities Left Behind In U.S. Recovery

WASHINGTON, April 12 - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Friday that despite improvements in the U.S. economy overall, the country's lower-income communities continue to face hard times.

"While employment and housing show signs of improving for the nation as a whole, conditions in lower-income neighborhoods remain difficult by many measures," Bernanke said in prepared remarks that made no direct reference to monetary policy.

CFAA: Internet Activists Win First-Round Victory In Fight Over Anti-Hacking Law

WASHINGTON -- Internet activists won a major victory this week when House Republicans put the brakes on an effort to vote on reforms to federal anti-hacking laws. The reforms had become a legislative flashpoint in the wake of the death of Aaron Swartz, an Internet activist who was facing a bevy of charges under the controversial Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) before committing suicide in January.

A House subcommittee with jurisdiction over the law, chaired by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), had planned to vote on a reform of the bill next week as part of a House Republican legislative flurry they dubbed "Cyber Week," according to both Republican and Democratic aides on the panel. However, the bill was pulled back because of pressure from the Internet community. "It was going to be part of Cyber Week," confirmed a GOP committee aide. "There were some concerns that we felt were worth going back and addressing." He added that there is "no timeline" set to bring the bill back.

Exxon Pressures TV Stations To Pull Critical Ad Following Arkansas Oil Spill

Oil giant ExxonMobil is pressuring Arkansas television stations to pull satirical advertisements critical of its business practices following the March 29 rupture of the company's Pegasus pipeline in Mayflower, Ark., which spilled an estimated 84,000 gallons of heavy crude oil into residential streets.

Ads set to run on Little Rock ABC, NBC, and Fox affiliates this week were nixed shortly before airing when Exxon threatened legal action. (The full cease and desist letter is available here.)

Rick Santorum: Gay Marriage Discourages Straight Marriage

Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" this week that he thinks same-sex marriage discourages marriage between a man and a woman.

"Would we be discouraging heterosexual marriage by allowing gay marriage?" Bill O'Reilly asked Santorum.

"Yeah, I believe we would," Santorum replied.

Santorum then suggested that legalizing gay marriage results in Americans having less children.

New Details Emerge About Roger Gorley's Arrest For Refusing To Leave Sick, Gay Partner

The story of a gay man who was arrested for refusing to the leave his sick partner at a Missouri hospital made headlines across the nation earlier this week. Now, new details about the ordeal are painting a very disturbing picture of the alleged events.

Roger Gorley was handcuffed and forcibly removed from Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo., on Tuesday after he refused to leave his partner, Allen, who was receiving treatment for severe depression. Roger told Fox station WDAF that the hospital is guilty of discrimination. However, Research Medical Center denies the accusation, saying Roger was "disruptive and belligerent" and had to be escorted from the premises, according to a statement obtained by The Huffington Post.

Sequestration Hits Blind Workers, With Group For The Visually Impaired Forced To Cut Staff

WASHINGTON -- In one of the more dramatic examples of budget cuts affecting the most vulnerable in society, non-profit groups that employ the visually impaired have begun to lay off workers as a result of sequestration.

The Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired announced on Thursday that it would be letting 28 of its 65-member staff go with sales orders from the federal government drying up. The group works predominantly with the General Services Administration to produce tape products.

JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo Report Record Profits As Lending Remains Constrained

BOSTON -- JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, two of the biggest US banks by assets, kicked off Wall Street’s earnings season on Friday by reporting record profits thanks to cost-cutting and lower provisions for potentially bad loans.

But revenue fell at the two banking giants. And a popular measure to gauge lending activity also showed that JPMorgan isn't making enough loans to spur significant economic growth, sowing doubts about its ability to continue posting record earnings.

Obama Wants Mitt Romney’s Favorite Tax Break to Die

President Barack Obama’s new budget proposal, released Wednesday, would raise $16 billion in revenue over 10 years by getting rid of one of the ways millionaires and billionaires pay lower taxes than their secretaries. It's called the carried interest tax break, and it allows the wealthy to pay a lower rate on some of their income. But ending the carried interest exception will be tough, and not just because a budget compromise with Republicans is unlikely: Previous proposed legislation to kill the tax break was riddled with loopholes.

Rehtaeh Parsons Suicide: Bullying Victims In Canada Are Mounting. Is Anyone Listening?

Slut. Fag. Loser.

This is the way their world ends.

With a casual cruelty scrawled on a Facebook wall for all to see.

It’s one of the little deaths suffered by children every day, across the country.

Joe Oliver, Conservative Cabinet Minister, Says People Aren't As Concerned About Climate Change

A key member of Harper’s cabinet believes that fears about climate change may be exaggerated.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver told the editorial board of Montreal’s La Presse newspaper on Thursday that “people aren’t as worried as they were before about global warming of two degrees.”

BC Election 2013: Poll Suggests Adrian Dix's NDP Poised To Defeat Christy Clark's Liberals

Can anything stop Adrian Dix from becoming the next premier of British Columbia?

The election campaign kicks off in a few days but all indications are that it remains the New Democrats’ to lose.

Harper ministers head in opposite directions on climate change debate

OTTAWA - Just as one federal cabinet minister is urging a more sophisticated tone to the climate-change debate, a second cabinet minister has found himself trying to prove he is not a climate-change denier.

Environment Minister Peter Kent this week said the federal government would never opt for a carbon pricing scheme itself, but would be open minded about pricing arrangements set up by the provinces.

Aaron Yoon: Another story of guilty by association?

Last week it was reported in the media that Aaron Yoon, who is currently detained in Mauritania on terror-related charges, might be connected to two other Ontarians who were involved in the terrorist hostage-taking in Algeria. This hostage-taking which ended up costing the lives of most of the hostage-takers, including the Canadian young people involved, took place only a few days after France invaded Mali to "liberate" its inhabitants from Islamists.

Speculations and anonymous government sources quickly filled newspapers and the blogosphere. These sources were mainly interested in defending one position: the government's. To the claim that Aaron Yoon didn't receive consular assistance, a source vehemently denied this as "false, completely false." The same source continued by saying that Aaron Yoon received "nine consular visits."

North Korea’s capital goes into celebration mode, even as tensions rise

PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA—As the world watches to see what North Korea’s next move will be in a high-stakes game of brinksmanship with the United States, residents of its capital aren’t hunkering down in bunkers and preparing for the worst. Instead, they are out on the streets en masse getting ready for the birthday of national founder Kim Il Sung — the biggest holiday of the year.

The festivities leading up to Kim’s birthday come amid fears that North Korea may be planning to test launch a new missile in retaliation for what it claims are provocative war games by U.S. and South Korean troops just across the Korean border. Even at such a seemingly innocuous setting as a flower show in Kim’s honour, North Korea’s warning that it is prepared to strike back if pushed too far is on prominent display.

Leap of faith required for many delegates to follow Thomas Mulcair’s path

MONTREAL—A year ago Thomas Mulcair asked for a mandate to change the opposition mindset of the federal NDP. This weekend he will find out whether the New Democrats are willing to walk his talk of turning the party into a government-ready contender.

Following Mulcair down his preferred path will involve a leap of faith on the part of many delegates. After a year on the job, the NDP leader trails his party in popularity.

A Boy at the D.M.Z.

This year will mark the sixtieth anniversary of the July 27, 1953, armistice that ended the Korean War—an agreement that North Korea recently renounced (they’ve done so more than once). The three-year war left more than a million soldiers dead, including thirty-three thousand Americans and an estimated two million or more civilians, and the Korean peninsula is still bitterly divided between North and South. At this moment of renewed high-pitch tensions, it seems worth noting that all these decades later, the Korean War—which was the first authorized military intervention by the new United Nations Security Council—was an unsolved conflict even before the latest developments: the armistice was never followed by a formal peace. As I write, U.S. and South Korean forces are in a state of high alert over fears that the North, which has nuclear bombs, is planning to launch a missile test.

Corrections Corporation Of America Admits To Falsifying Staffing Records

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A private company that operates Idaho's largest prison acknowledged Thursday that its employees falsified nearly 4,800 hours of staffing records over seven months last year in violation of its contract with the state.

The admission by Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America is the latest in a string of staffing problems alleged or being investigated at the Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise.

Paycheck Fairness Act Vote Blocked By House GOP

House GOP leadership is not likely to bring the Paycheck Fairness Act up for a vote any time soon, but House Democrats used a procedural move to force them to go on record opposing the bill on Thursday.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the sponsor of the equal pay legislation, filed a discharge petition on the bill Thursday morning that would immediately force a vote on it if she could collect 218 signatures. Democrats also put forth a motion on Thursday known as the "Previous Question," which would have enabled them to put the Paycheck Fairness Act up for a vote, but Republicans killed the effort by a vote of 226 to 192.

John Kerry Visits South Korea Amid Missile Test Fears

SEOUL, South Korea — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a stark warning to North Korea on Friday not to test-fire a mid-range missile, while tamping down anxiety caused by a new U.S. intelligence report suggesting significant progress in the communist regime's nuclear weapons program.

Kicking off four days of talks in an East Asia beset by increasing North Korean threats, Kerry told reporters in Seoul that Pyongyang and its enigmatic young leader would only increase their isolation if they launched the missile that American officials believe has a range of some 2,500 miles – or enough to reach the U.S. territory of Guam.

Paul Ryan On Abortion: 'We Want A Country Where It Isn't Even Considered'

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2012 and an abortion opponent, said Thursday that anti-abortion activists should try to build a broad coalition and find common ground with supporters of abortion rights as a way to advance their agenda.

Ryan, R-Wis., said in a speech to the Susan B. Anthony List that those who oppose abortion "need to work with people who consider themselves pro-choice – because our task isn't to purge our ranks. It's to grow them."

"We don't want a country where abortion is simply outlawed. We want a country where it isn't even considered," he said.

Passing 'Grand Bargain' Voters Don't Care About Is Critical To Confidence In Government, Apparently

Time Swampland contributor Joe Klein -- who is confident that Congress will agree to a "grand bargain" -- says that people like me who contend that voters don't place a high priority on a grand deficit deal are correct but we need to pass a grand deficit deal anyway because reasons, shut up:

    There are those on the left who will object that the deficit issue is overblown and not even a priority among voters. They are right. But we have reached the point where some sort of deal is necessary to restore the public’s, the business community’s and the world’s faith that the U.S. government can, occasionally, take significant action. I predict—tepidly, with no great confidence—that the Congress will finally decide it is time to act.

Oligarchs and Graphomaniacs

In the Soviet Union, literary prizes were awarded in the Kremlin, the proceedings broadcast on the national television channel. Writers could be honored with the Lenin Prize, the State Prize of the USSR or the Award of the Komsomol. The editor of a major literary journal could be a member of the Supreme Soviet, with a rank equivalent to that of a field marshal. Literature, like the other arts, was either official or unofficial. Official literature was written by unionized writers, approved by the government and published by state presses. Unofficial literature could not be published and could not receive awards; it could, however, carry a lengthy prison sentence. Writers were important people.

Top 5 Myths About Chained-CPI, Debunked

President Obama released his proposed 2014 budget Wednesday morning, and it included a hugely controversial provision: a switch to a Chained-CPI formula for calculating inflation.

Many different government programs—most notably Social Security—calculate benefits based on the rate of inflation, so that benefits don’t lag behind an increased cost of living. The IRS uses similar formulas to ensure that people aren’t pushed into a higher bracket simply because of inflation.

Texas Congressman Cites Noah's Ark As Evidence Against Climate Change

Texas Republican Joe Barton stands out even among his fellow conservative Republicans who have made it an article of faith to deny the existence of a human component to climate change.

On Wednesday, Barton cemented that reputation by citing the Old Testament to refute scientific evidence of man-made global warming, drawing on the story of Noah's ark.

"I would point out that if you are a believer in the Bible, one would have to say the great flood was an example of climate change," Barton told a congressional hearing on Wednesday in a video first shown on the BuzzFeed website. "That certainly wasn't because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy."

RBC Foreign Workers Controversy A Sign Of An Increasingly Anxious Middle Class

The public’s visceral response to RBC’s foreign worker scandal is about more than the sullied reputation of Canada’s largest bank. It could well be a cautionary tale for Corporate Canada on the volatile mood of Canadians grown weary of post-recession cost-cutting and job losses at companies that are still turning healthy profits.

The Royal Bank of Canada was thrust into the spotlight for its decision to outsource 45 information technology jobs to iGate Corp., whose workers in India were reportedly brought to Canada under the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program to receive training from the very RBC employees they were replacing. It is illegal for a company to bring temporary foreign workers into the country if it puts Canadians out of work.

Researcher blames Harper government for ‘disintegration’ of climate debate

The Harper government needs to take the partisan poison out of the country’s climate debate and enact new policies or fail in its international commitments to reduce emissions, says Diana Carney, top researcher at a progressive think tank in Ottawa.

In a paper released Thursday, Ms. Carney said climate change has become the “third rail” of Canadian politics, with the government using it so aggressively as a “wedge issue” that reasonable debate has been lost. And she placed the blame squarely at the feet of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The CBC rates our hospitals — and the provinces panic

When the country’s public broadcaster starts ranking hospitals, you know something’s changed in Canadian political culture. This week, the CBC launched Rate My Hospital, an interactive tool which allows patients to rate 239 health institutions. The online tool is part of a special report on hospital care by the Fifth Estate, which will be broadcast this Friday, April 12.

The CBC may come late to this party, but its contribution is more than welcome. For decades, the Fraser Institute has released provincial annual rankings of medical wait times; this year the think tank also published a provincial cost-benefit comparison of health care.

The long list of Canadian firms who have sought temporary foreign workers

The 33,000 companies and agencies who have applied to the federal temporary foreign worker program in Canada stretch to almost every corner of the economy, ranging from the biggest players in the finance and resource sectors to airlines, hotels, government agencies, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., according to documents obtained by The Globe and Mail.

RBC, Harper in full damage control

Royal Bank's top executive moved to salvage the bank's reputation Thursday, issuing a public apology over a week-long outsourcing controversy that has also rebounded on the federal Conservative government.

Speaking to reporters in Calgary, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his government will bring in a series of reforms "in very short order" to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to ensure there are no more abuses.

Tears of a banker: RBC and the outsourcing scandal

Banker’s remorse is a thing to behold. You know those mobster flicks where guys have to dig their own graves before Johnny the Bull whacks them?

That’s what ran through my mind as I read the initial stories about those Royal Bank of Canada employees who reported being ordered to train their offshore replacements before losing their jobs.

Not a new story. A friend who lives in British Columbia was obliged to take apart the machinery at the pulp mill where he had worked for most of his life and crate it up for delivery to China.

Wikileaks-exhumed cables reveal how the U.S. resumed military aid to Duvalier

A chorus of outrage is building against former Haitian president Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier as he sits in the dock of a Haitian court, charged with crimes against humanity during his 15-year rule. However, the U.S. government remains strangely and completely silent. A 40-year-old trove of diplomatic cables, newly unearthed by WikiLeaks and reported exclusively here by Haiti Liberté, helps explain why.

Alberta Health Services chair to politicians: Do as I say, not as I do!

The newish chairman of the board of Alberta Health Services, this province's massive public health agency, was in the media yesterday advising elected representatives to keep their paws off day-to-day operations of the health care system.

A culture of political interference is creating big problems, Stephen Lockwood complained to a local newspaper, and Something Must Be Done. Probably a lot of Albertans nodded their heads in agreement with this without thinking too carefully about what Lockwood was actually saying.

"If you guys want to set the policy, OK, but you can't be interfering in the daily operations," Lockwood told Alberta's politicians, as channelled by the Edmonton Journal. (The italics, however, were added by me.)

Labour Shortage in Canada? Evidence Is Skimpy

Is there a skilled labour shortage in Canada? Many employers say there is, but even some business surveys and the government's own research suggests the evidence is at best slim and sporadic.

Amid the brouhaha triggered by a contractor of the Royal Bank to bring in temporary foreign workers to replace the bank's Canadian ones, opposition parties are itching for Parliament's return Monday to hammer the Harper government over the decision last spring to relax rules making it easier to import workers.

One Last Walk with Judy Graves

It's one of the first sunny days of spring, and the herons have returned to their rookery in Vancouver's Stanley Park. Judy Graves walks slowly, pausing to admire the wiry herons' nests, the new daffodils, and the fluffy cherry blossoms. The 63-year-old's nails are whimsically painted a lilac pastel that matches her goofy spontaneity and youthful inquisitiveness. "Here," she says, leading us towards the Vancouver Park Board's headquarters. We follow her to a side of the building thick with rhododendron bushes. "When I'm a homeless old woman, this is where I'll live."

It takes a moment to understand what she means. She points to a rectangular covered area with a clean white concrete floor. Short walls provide some shelter from the elements. "The people who live here are usually very organized," she says. "One man, he would cook his food out on the beach. And he just loved the flowers."

Ex-RBC foreign workers say contractor controlled their lives

Two IT contractors from India who worked at RBC in Toronto said their lives were tightly controlled by their multinational employer, while they took over the jobs of Canadian bank workers.

"They have a rotation policy, and they make sure you don’t get settled here," said one of the ex-iGATE employees. “You are always threatened that at any time you will be sent back [to India]."

Will Canada get sued under CETA as much as NAFTA chapter 11?

Owing to NAFTA’s chapter 11, Canada is already the sixth most common respondent in investor-state dispute settlement cases, but it could move up the list if the Harper government does as expected and includes an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism in the Canada-EU Trade Agreement.

That seems to be a reasonable inference to make from a new report by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), anyway.

Peter Kent, the Wizard of Dodge

In a staggering display of nonchalance, Environment Minister Peter Kent appeared before the Environment Committee last week to shrug off his government’s failure to make any real progress on reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our actions, combined with provincial, territorial and business efforts, are projected to bring Canada halfway to achieving our Copenhagen target of a 17 per cent reduction from 2005 levels by 2020, and moving forward we’re working towards achieving additional reductions from other sectors of the economy, focusing now on the oil and gas sector,” he said.

Mr. Big Sting Targets Edmonton Teen: Experts Criticize Police For Using Controversial Tactic Against Minors

EDMONTON - Experts are criticizing police for using so-called Mr. Big undercover stings to target teenagers, including in a case currently before a youth court judge in Edmonton.

The controversial undercover operations, which typically involve officers posing as crime bosses to recruit suspects and elicit confessions, are mostly used in adult cases. But they have also been used against a handful of young offender suspects across the country.

John Baird: I Didn't Cross Line By Meeting Israelis In East Jerusalem

OTTAWA - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says he did not cross a line by holding a meeting with Israel's justice minister in her East Jerusalem office.

Baird met Tuesday with Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni across the Green Line in disputed territory, which the Palestinians and the United Nations consider occupied land.

Baird says where he has coffee with someone is "irrelevant" to the larger discussion of Middle East peace and does not signal a shift in Canadian foreign policy.

Environment Canada asks industry to come clean on hydraulic fracking

OTTAWA – Environment Canada wants oil and gas companies to come clean about the unidentified fluids they inject deep underground to extract natural gas.

In newly released correspondence obtained by Postmedia News, the department’s top official told the main Canadian oil and gas lobby group that the government needed more information about the industrial process, commonly known as fracking: fracturing shale rock formations underground with fluids to extract the gas.

New book raises troubling issues surrounding patriation of the Constitution

MONTREAL—Winners almost always get first shot at writing history but in Canada, it seems they also get to suppress it indefinitely.

Consider the case of Quebec history professor Frédéric Bastien. Eight years ago, he set out to chronicle the politico-diplomatic ballet between Canada and Great Britain that attended the 1982 patriation of the Constitution.

Ottawa exploiting immigrants to undermine Canadian workforce

Jason Kenney is a clever politician juggling contradictory goals.

He floods the country with 250,000 immigrants a year, even though most cannot find jobs commensurate with the education and skills they were selected for. Tens of thousands of Canadian-educated graduates cannot find jobs either. His is an exploitative model that suits only the corporate sector — driving wages and worker demands down, profits up.

Federal infrastructure spending faces delays, new report says

OTTAWA — The Parliamentary Budget Office says the federal government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars less each year on infrastructure than it had planned, with only half of the $8.8 billion from the “Building Canada Fund” projected to be spent over a seven-year period.

The NDP argues the government is playing a “shell game” with taxpayer dollars and actually cutting new infrastructure spending nearly $2 billion next year by hiding existing program cash in the new Building Canada plan.

Casino fixers stack the deck

The long-anticipated city manager’s report on a Toronto casino dropped  with a thud Monday morning, April 8.

Anyone who bothered to read the city’s planning analysis appended to Joe Pennachetti’s 22-page document could come to only one conclusion: a casino complex downtown will muck up the good vibe we have going in the core.

Rob Ford straps in for jet fight

Mayor Rob Ford is on board with Porter Airlines’ push to expand Billy Bishop Airport, telling reporters on Thursday he sees no downside to the proposal that critics say could ruin the waterfront.
A day earlier, the upstart airline announced plans to purchase up to 30 Bombardier jet planes, which are currently banned from flying out of the island airport. The aircraft would allow the company to serve new destinations that are too far for its current turboprop fleet, but to do so the jet ban would have to be lifted and the airport’s runways extended further into the lake. 

Obama’s Master Budget Strategy Has One Huge Flaw

One thing that came through in a briefing yesterday with senior Obama administration officials is that, whatever their view of the likelihood of striking a Grand Bargain with Republicans on the budget, Obama really sees this as the political keystone to his second term.

As a piece of political analysis, I think Obama is correct about this. Substantively, the budget deficit is not unimportant but certainly far less important than nearly everybody says. But the perception is pretty well set by now. And the public perception has remained firm for the entire Obama presidency that runaway budget deficits and excessive spending are crises. It’s not just conservatives who think this – 96 percent of Obama’s own voters consider the deficit a problem. What’s more, the mere fact of controlling the deficit probably won’t dent this perception. The deficit is falling very rapidly, but 90 percent of voters believe otherwise.

Paul LePage Bullied Maine Officials To Deny Workers Unemployment Benefits: Report

WASHINGTON -- Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) recently bullied state workers to resolve unemployment claim disputes in favor of businesses, according to an investigation by the Maine Sun Journal published on Thursday.

According to the paper's report, LePage called a mandatory meeting on March 21 with more than a dozen state Department of Labor employees. He allegedly scolded the hearing officers and their supervisors, complaining that they too often decided against businesses that challenge laid-off workers' unemployment claims.

Passing 'Grand Bargain' Voters Don't Care About Is Critical To Confidence In Government, Apparently

Time Swampland contributor Joe Klein -- who is confident that Congress will agree to a "grand bargain" -- says that people like me who contend that voters don't place a high priority on a grand deficit deal are correct but we need to pass a grand deficit deal anyway because reasons, shut up:

    There are those on the left who will object that the deficit issue is overblown and not even a priority among voters. They are right. But we have reached the point where some sort of deal is necessary to restore the public’s, the business community’s and the world’s faith that the U.S. government can, occasionally, take significant action. I predict—tepidly, with no great confidence—that the Congress will finally decide it is time to act.

Foreclosure Review Program's Regulators Take Pounding From Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown

Two prominent Democratic senators levied a withering attack on federal bank regulators on Thursday, accusing them at a Senate hearing of putting the interests of banks ahead of consumers in refusing to disclose what they know about the failed foreclosure review program that ended abruptly earlier this year.

Most aggressive was Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat and longtime consumer advocate who is quickly developing a reputation as perhaps the Senate's most effective cross-examiner. Following a series of probing questions that would not have been out of place in a court room, Warren excoriated the regulators for not immediately turning over case records of borrowers who may be considering private legal action against their bank.