21

Protesters target Zuckerberg at Facebook HQ

Protesters will be marching on Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters tomorrow to protest founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s role in a public policy group that seems to be advocating for construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

Activists are angry that Zuckerberg’s FWD.us group is running a national TV ad praising and featuring pipeline supporter U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.:

http://youtu.be/3Iih8K0U27k

“The president says I’m for ‘all of the above’ when it comes to energy,” Graham says in the ad. “Well, those are words coming out of his mouth. They don’t come from his heart. No Keystone pipeline. No drilling in the Gulf. At the end of the day, the economy is not doing well.”

Actually, the ad isn’t from FWD.us directly, but rather from one of its subsidiaries, Americans for a Conservative Direction. Another FWD.us subsidiary, the Council for American Job Growth, is running an ad in support of U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, which in part praises Begich’s support for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR):

Critics say Zuckerberg is quietly bankrolling media efforts for what they say are environmentally harmful fossil-fuel projects, even as he publicly claims to be concerned about climate change.

Surely the billionaire social-media mogul knew what he was getting into when he announced the formation of his issue-advocacy group about a month ago – this is the Bay Area, after all.

The march and rally is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., starting at 1401 Willow Road in Menlo Park. It’s organized by Next Step Keystone Action – a coalition including 350 Bay Area and 350 Silicon Valley, Rainforest Action Network, Idle No More, CREDO, Friends of the Earth, and others.

18

Liberals target Senate Dems for gun vote

Liberal groups already are launching efforts to deny re-election money to the four U.S. Senate Democrats who voted against the Manchin-Toomey gun background check amendment today.

The vote was 54-46 in favor – not enough “yea” votes to reach the 60-vote threshold to which Senate leaders have agreed for amendments. The Democrats who voted against the amendment were U.S. Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; Mark Begich, D-Alaska; Max Baucus, D-Mont.; and Mark Pryor, D-Ark. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., changed his vote to “no” toward the end as a parliamentary tactic, reserving the right to bring up the bill again.

Baucus, Begich and Pryor all are up for re-election in 2014.

In an e-mail blast, Courage Campaign founder and chairman Rick Jacobs said the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee rely on individual donors from all over the nation to get senators elected – something that’s particularly true for senators in “purple” states.

“Tell the DNC and DSCC you won’t donate a single penny to any Senator who opposes universal background checks for gun purchases,” Jacobs wrote. “The NRA can play hardball – but so can you. We’re the activists, the Democratic base. We’re the people who donate in elections, knock on doors, and get out the vote in tight elections. We’re the difference on Election Day all around the country.

“Sign the petition: ‘I won’t donate a dime or lift a finger to help any Democrat who opposes universal background checks get elected,’” Jacobs urged.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee announced it’ll run full-page newspaper ads against the four Senators.

“Today, the Senate voted against the 91% of Americans who support background checks to stop gun violence,” PCCC cofounder Stephanie Taylor said in a news release. “We’ll be holding accountable Democrats who voted against their constituents by running ads in their states, featuring some of the 23,000 gun owners who have joined our campaign for common sense gun reform”

And Democracy for America spokesman Neil Sroka said “Democrats who were too cowardly to get on the right side of a 90-10 issue like universal background checks better believe that the progressives will remember their spinelessness on gun violence prevention come reelection time. The over 1 million members of Democracy for America nationwide work to elect progressive fighters, not U.S. Senators who can be cowed by the right-wing fringe and gun industry lobbyists like the NRA.”

Some of the Democratic senators who opposed the amendment have explained their votes. Heitkamp issued a statement Wednesday:

“I’ve been adamant from the very beginning of this conversation that the focus should be on mental health issues, full and accurate reporting into the NICS database and ensuring that we are prosecuting criminals in possession of or trying to possess firearms. This conversation should be about what is in people’s minds, not about what is in their hands. I commend Senators Manchin and Toomey for working so hard to bring a serious bill to the floor. However, in its current form I do not see a path for my support. I’ve thought long and hard about this, I’ve taken the tough meetings, and I’ve heard overwhelmingly from the people of North Dakota; and at the end of the day my duty is to listen to and represent the people of North Dakota.”

Pryor posted to his Facebook page Wednesday:

“After talking with Arkansans, I’ve decided to oppose the Manchin-Toomey amendment. It’s too broad, unworkable, and unreasonable for hunters and gun owners in our state. Instead, I’ll support the Grassley amendment that better enforces the laws we already have on the books and protects the rights of law-abiding Arkansans.”

And Begich made his views known before last week’s cloture vote:

“I’ve long believed we don’t need more laws restricting the Second Amendment rights of Americans, we need to better enforce those on the books. So I’ll continue to fight against any new laws which infringe on our rights. At the same time, we can keep our communities safer by keeping guns out of the wrong hands and providing our schools more resources. That is why Senator Graham and I wrote a bipartisan bill which has been supported by both the NRA and mental health groups.”

“I voted today against the so-called cloture motion because I strongly disagree with many of the provisions of the anti-gun legislation currently on the Senate floor. By my vote, I’ll continue to work for the opportunity to consider more sensible measures to make our communities safer. I’ll continue to oppose any proposal that undermines the fundamental rights of Alaskans.”

8

Senators urge dropping barriers to refinance

Both of California’s U.S. Senators are among more than a dozen from both sides of the aisle who urged the Obama Administration today to make administrative reforms to help millions of responsible homeowners refinance and take advantage of today’s record-low interest rates.

The lawmakers – writing to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling and Federal Housing Finance Agency Acting Director Edward DeMarco – said that with interest rates at 3.94 percent, it’s time to lower barriers that keep borrowers trapped in higher-interest loans and to address other hurdles that limit existing refinancing programs.

Specifically, they called for removing loan-to-value limits, which they said would provide the most at-risk borrowers an alternative to simply walking away from their mortgage; eliminating loan level price adjustments, which they say make a refinance less affordable, reduce the benefit to the borrower, and can’t be justified on loans on which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac already bear the risk; and ensuring that second lien holders don’t stand in the way of a refinance.

“Time is of the essence and we urge you to act quickly and aggressively to ensure that responsible homeowners receive the full benefit of these lower rates,” they wrote.

In addition to U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the letter was signed by Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; Mark Begich, D-Alaska; Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I; Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; Scott Brown, R-Mass.; Robert Casey Jr., D-Pa.; Richard Burr, R-N.C.; Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.; John Kerry, D-Mass.; Mark Warner, D-Va.; Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.; and Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

Read the full text of the letter, after the jump…
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