Is The TPP A Republican Bill?

Roll Call

The House narrowly passed Trade Promotion Authority Thursday – the “fast track” bill for the TPP. Some see it as the first step of many to resurrect President Barack Obama’s trade agenda after his own party torpedoed a combined bill last week.

Although the TPP is supported by the President – who is a Democrat – in Congress, it is a different story. There, it gets Republican support.  It is not a typical coalition.

Let’s break down the numbers, shall we?

The House of Representatives voted 218-208 for the TPA.

According to Roll Call, 190 Republicans voted for the bill, and 50 Republicans voted against it.

28 Democrats voted for the bill, whereas 158 voted against it.

There were no Independents, and there were 8 Congresspersons who did not vote.

Clearly, most Republicans voted for the bill, and most Democrats voted against it.

This was the second vote on the TPA for the House. “Each of the 28 Democrats who voted last week for TPA held together for the do-over, a result Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., who voted “yes,” said members anticipated would be the result,” writes Roll Call.

Last week, 54 Republicans voted “no,” versus 50 Thursday. Reps. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., Don Young, R-Ark., and David Jolly, R-Fla., are listed on the final tally as “not voting,” while Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., flipped his position into the “yes” column.

The bill now heads to the other side of the Capitol building, where the Senate will have to pass it a second time before the two chambers engage in a process of working on several other amended bills and legislative language, including Trade Adjustment Assistance and an amended trade-preferences bill that extends the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

The House and Senate will also ultimately have to reconcile two versions of a customs bill.

In May, the Senate passed previous version of the TPA “fast-track” authority bill. What did that vote look like?

That bill passed in the senate by 62-37.

48 Republicans voted for the bill, and 5 voted against it.

14 Democrats voted for the bill, but 30 Democrats voted against it.

2 independents voted against the bill.

Again, the preponderance of Democrats voted against the bill, and most Republicans voted for it.

Duke University Muslim Call To Prayer: Who Gives A Damn?

This is an OK, Fine “op-ed.”

Duke University officials on Thursday reversed a decision to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer from the bell tower atop the Duke chapel.

(Trivia info:  the bell tower of Duke Chapel is modeled after the Bell Harry Tower of Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, in Kent, England.)

The plan was to recite and broadcast a call to prayer from the chapel for about three minutes, once a week, each Friday.

Why did they reverse the decision?

Speaking to a group of reporters and TV camera, Duke’s vice president of public affairs and government relations offered little insight into the cancellation besides saying there were “security concerns.” Neither he nor the dean of the chapel used the word “threat,” and it appeared no law enforcement agencies aside from Duke campus police were called to investigate.

However, other sources claim there were threats of violence made against the school.

Meanwhile, CBS reported on January 21st that the Duke University chapter of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity has been suspended as police investigate rape allegations stemming from a frat party earlier this month.

The alleged sexual assault took place in an off-campus house and now officials are working to determine what happened.

In an affidavit obtained by “CBS This Morning,” a woman told police she was served “hot chocolate” at the party.  After drinking it, the next thing she remembered was waking up the next day in a “t-shirt she didn’t recognize,” wearing “no underwear and no bra,” and her leggings were “torn and on the ground.”

So, the real question about whether or not Duke University broadcasts a three-minute prayer every Friday is this:

Who gives a damn?


Couple Wins $1M Suit Against Major Bank Over Loan Collection Call Harassment

According to Yahoo, Bank of America is being forced to hand over more than $1 million to a Florida couple after the bank flooded them with hundreds of loan collection calls for years.

In a complaint filed in July, attorneys for Nelson and Joyce Coniglio said that the couple had been on the receiving end of “patterns of outrageous, abusive and harassing conduct” by a subsidiary of Bank of America that included 700 calls in four years, after the bank said the couple fell behind on mortgage loan payments in 2009.

The Coniglios also received “threatening collection letters asserting false and misleading information,” the complaint said.

The couple sent multiple letters from legal representation asking the bank to stop, but the calls — sometimes up to five a day — continued.

In the end, a Florida judge awarded the couple $1,051,000 — approximately $1,500 for every call — in addition to court costs and attorney fees.

“This judgment against Bank of America is an epic win for consumers across the country,” Billy Howard, an attorney for the Coniglios told ABC News. “It’s time to fight back against these ‘robo-bullies’.”

The Coniglios’ case was not the first time Bank of America has faced accusations of intense harassment by phone.

In September 2013, the bank paid a record $32 million to settle a class action lawsuit with a reported 7.7 million customers who claimed they were harassed by such “robocalls.” In that case, Bank of America said it denied the allegations but settled to avoid further legal costs.

“We would be out at dinner and they would ring my mother’s cellphone,” son Jason Coniglio told the Tampa Bay Times, “then they would call my dad’s cellphone and then when we got back to the house, there would be another message on the answering machine.”

At their wits end, the couple sued under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act and the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act.

“‘Once a debt collector is told to stop calling, whether it be in writing or verbally, it doesn’t make a difference,” said David Mitchell, one of the family’s attorneys.

Bank of America, which lost the case because it missed the deadline to oppose the lawsuit, maintains that the calls were to help the Coniglios avoid foreclosure

“Every call after that is considered a willful violation of the (law.)”

Bank of America ended up missing a deadline to oppose the lawsuit, and the Coniglios won by default in October.

Last week the judge dismissed the bank’s attempt to set aside the default judgment and awarded the couple $1,051,000 – approximately $1,500 for every call – in addition to court costs and attorney fees.