Nader slams new banking

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Writing in the WASHINGTON POST, consumer advocate Ralph Nader urges President Clinton to veto the new banking bill which has just been passed by Congress. Hailed in the press as a landmark bill that provides badly needed reform to outdated banking regulations, Nader sees it as ill conceived deregulation, reminiscent of the 1982 “reform” of the Savings and Loan industry which ended up costing taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.

The new bill, which has taken decades to get through Congress, dismantles legal barriers adopted during the Great Depression to separate insurance companies, banks, and brokerage firms. Ratification of the new law by the President will clear the way for the formation of massive financial services conglomerates. Nader warns that these new mega-companies will be “designed for the affluent customer in which low and moderate income families and small businesses will face less access, fewer choices, and higher fees.” He also warned that these institutions will be “too big too fail,” meaning that should they ever be in danger of bankruptcy, the taxpayers will have to bail them out to avoid a recession.…


Got a rapist in your neighborhood?

Nov. 4

In Tennessee, even rapists get their own webpages, complete with pictures — whether they want them or not. The State of Tennessee’s new searchable database is an easy-to-use who’s who of sexual predators, inspired by the federal disclosure provision known as “Megan’s Law.” According to the NASHVILLE TENNESSEEAN, anyone with Internet access can search by name, zip code, or county and receive a list of all convicted sex offenders whose crimes were committed since July 1, 1997 , complete with the current addresses and photographs of the convicted men. Some would call it a handy tool for protecting children and women; others see it as a scary tool for invading the privacy of, and harassing former criminals who have already paid their debts to society.

The website had been held up in the courts for five years until the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati determined it did not violate the offenders’ constitutional rights. While a victim advocacy group heralded the database’s debut, several of the offenders have filed lawsuits, claiming that the website hurts their chances in the job market and doubly punishes them.


Pest-pionage: Robofly spy in works

Nov. 2

Anyone paranoid about their houses being bugged by spy equipment may have a new pest-control problem to worry about within the next few years. The SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE reports that researchers at the University of California at Berkeley are developing a flying robot about the size of a housefly.

“Robofly,” which is funded by the federal government and is scheduled to take flight by 2004, is not being pitched specifically as a spy fly. Researchers say, for instance, that it will be valuable in searching through the wreckage of an earthquake to locate survivors. But they do not rule out its eventual use as an espionage device.

“The potential application of a robot based on a fly might be, in an urban environment, clandestine surveillance and reconnaissance,” said Teresa McMullen of the Office of Naval Research.…


The SUV safety con

Nov. 1

Thank you, SIERRA magazine, for cutting through the liberal whining and going straight to the chase. In its latest issue, SIERRA puts the safety ratings of SUVs up to the light and makes a good case that protecting your kids isn’t a good excuse for driving that damn suburban tank.

Yeah, yeah, all you upper-middle class liberals, we know your story: You know gas-guzzling SUVs are bad for the environment and dangerous, but there are so many on the road, you need all that mass to survive an accident. “When your two tons of four-wheeling fun slams into that little Toyota at window level, someone might die — but at least it won’t be you,” says SIERRA. Well take a look in the mirror, Jack: You’ve been screwed by the auto barons. Turns out that the 31-mile-per-gallon VW Beetle is safer than the 21-mile-per-gallon Jeep Grand Cherokee in crash tests, so you may be cruising with a false sense of security.

Instead of making those small, efficient cars safer (with reinforced frames, airbags, etc.) the automakers are building bigger and heavier SUVs, and marketing them to people like you as a “safe alternative.” They suck thousands more out of your pocket by not improving the saftey of small cars and making you buy the behemoths they churn out instead.



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