Obama outlines credit card user protection
ALBUQUERQUE, May 14 (UPI) -- Credit card reform to outlaw predatory and deceptive practices is critical for U.S. consumers needing a durable flow of credit, President Barack Obama said.
"It's time for strong and reliable protections for our consumers. It's time for reform that is built on transparency, accountability, and mutual responsibility -- values fundamental to the new foundation we seek to build for our economy," Obama said in opening remarks to a town hall meeting at Rio Rancho, N.M., near Albuquerque.
Americans are putting more expenses on their credit card and finding "they can't dig their way out of debt because of unfair practices," Obama said, adding that credit card consumers pay about $15 billion each year in penalty fees.
"You should not have to worry that when you sign up for a credit card that you're signing away your rights," he said. "Enough's enough."
He said he was committed to signing a credit card bill of rights into law by Memorial Day, calling on a conference committee to resolve quickly differences between House and Senate versions of the bill.
Among the provisions Obama said he wants included in the legislation would be protections that bar unfair rate increases and forbid abusive fees and penalties. Forms and statements sent to consumers must use plain language and be clear to understand.
Credit card firms also must make contract terms easily accessible online and give information needed when consumers do comparison shopping, as well as offer at least one "simple, straightforward credit card."
Finally, the system needs to be more accountable so those found engaging in deceptive practices can be held responsible. He also said college and university students also must be protected against deceptive credit card practices.
"More than anything this economic crisis reminds us we're all in this together," Obama said.
Pelosi tells what she knew when on torture
WASHINGTON, May 14 (UPI) -- U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Bush administration officials told legislators enhanced interrogation methods were legal and waterboarding wasn't in use.
Only later was it revealed that there were "contrary opinions" about the legality of enhanced interrogation methods used by the CIA on terror suspects but they weren't shared by administration officials with appropriate congressional members, Pelosi said during a news conference Thursday.
Pelosi, D-Calif., called the conference to discuss what she knew about waterboarding -- which simulates drowning -- and other interrogation techniques and when she knew it.
Pelosi, as the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee at the time, was briefed in September 2002 about interrogation techniques used on suspected terrorist prisoners. At the time, she said, she was told waterboarding was "not being employed."
"Those briefing me in 2002 gave me inaccurate and incomplete information," Pelosi said, calling recent Republican statements that she knew of the techniques "a diversionary tactic" to move the spotlight from the released memos saying the methods were illegal.
House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, disputed Pelosi's accusation, telling his own news conference he could not imagine intelligence officials lying to Congress.
After she was no longer the ranking Democrat on the intelligence panel, Pelosi said she was "informed" that waterboarding was being used.
She renewed her call for a truth commission convened to investigate the issue, but if and until such a panel is constituted, appropriate House committees could investigate.
"I think the American people want to know how we got to this place," Pelosi said.
"This is their (the Bush administration's) policy," Pelosi said. "This is what they conceived. This is what they developed. This is what they implemented."
Connecticut House votes down death penalty
HARTFORD, Conn., May 14 (UPI) -- The House of Representatives in Connecticut voted 90-56 to abolish the death penalty, officials said.
The Hartford (Conn.) Courant reported that to successfully abolish the death penalty at least 76 members of the 151-member House needed to support the proposal.
Previous attempts to do away with the death penalty had fallen short of the needed number of votes. This time it carried with support from eighty-five Democrats and five Republicans.
The House vote leaves the 10 men now on death row in Connecticut facing a possible life sentence without the possibility of release, the Courant said.
New York, New Jersey and New Mexico all abolished the death penalty during the past five years. Overall, 35 states still have a death penalty.
Ukraine court moves presidential election
KIEV, Ukraine, May 14 (UPI) -- The Ukraine Constitutional Court voted in favor of President Viktor Yushchenko's appeal and moved the presidential election date from October to January.
The country's highest court declared "unconstitutional" a parliamentary decree that set the election for Oct. 25 because Yushchenko's five-year term expires in January 2010, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency said Thursday.
On April 1, the Ukraine parliament scheduled the presidential election for Oct. 25 and on April 8, Yushchenko submitted his appeal to the court.
Yushchenko argued a constitutional amendment of 2006 says the presidential election should be held the last Sunday of the last month of the fifth year of the head of state in office, which in his case is Jan. 17, 2010.
Yushchenko was was elected president in December 2004 but formally took the office in January 2005.
Four young people found slain in Tijuana
TIJUANA, Mexico, May 14 (UPI) -- Four homicide victims, two young women and two young men, were found in a van with California license plates in Tijuana, Mexico, police said.
At least three of the victims were from Chula Vista, a California town just north of the border, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Thursday. The two women, Brianna Hernandez Aguilera, 19, and Carmen Jimenez Ramos Chavez, 20, were reported missing to police in Chula Vista by their parents around the time their bodies were found at 1 a.m. Saturday.
The bodies were covered with blankets, and the van was parked on a residential street.
The Baja California Attorney General identified the men as Oscar Jorge Garcia Cota, 23, and Luis Antonio Games, 21.
A woman who described herself as the mother of one of Garcia's friends told the newspaper at a rosary service that his family are "very nice people."
"In Tijuana, the violence is terrible," she said. "If you party over there, you don't know who those people are. That's why I don't let my son go over there."
The two women left Ramos's house at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Lt. Scott Arsenault of the Chula Vista Police said. He said their mothers became worried late Friday because Ramos and Hernandez were not responding to cell phone calls.
Lawsuit filed in garage-door death of boy
CHICAGO, May 14 (UPI) -- A Chicago couple whose son died when trapped under a garage door filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the homeowner and two companies, court officials said.
Angela Washington-Sanders and Marshall Sanders sued in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of their son, Dijion, 6, who died Saturday when trapped under the garage door, authorities said. He had been playing alone when the incident occurred.
The lawsuit names as defendants Darrell Washington, the victim's uncle who owned the home, and Mid-America Door Co. and Sears, Roebuck & Co.
The suit alleged that the garage door wasn't equipped with a motion sensor and that Washington failed to warn his relatives that it "could unexpectedly close or fall," The Chicago Tribune reported.