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Railroad Police Exist, and There Are Issues

Alleged harassment, racial profiling, and assault are among them

(Newser) - Heard of railroad police? Don't worry, neither had we. But they exist, they operate with little government oversight, and they've been accused of various offences ranging from harassment to racial profiling to physical assault, the New York Times reports. "There needs to be better oversight of these... More »

Fukushima Watchdog Doing Crummy Job: Experts

Regulators routinely approve TEPCO plans: investigators

(Newser) - Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority was launched in September to keep a closer watch on the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi plant and TEPCO's work there—but what was supposed to be a more independent, tougher regulator is simply running "the same old routine," says an investigator. The NRA... More »

FAA Safety Program Riddled With Holes

Airplane maintenance not rigorously checked by FAA

(Newser) - An FAA program designed to ensure safe practices at US airlines has lapses that could cost travelers their lives, the AP reports. A report by the Department of Transportation's inspector general found that the oversight program was riddled with holes—the most glaring lapse being in the program's review of... More »

Post-Overhaul, Oil Rig Inspection Still Lacking

Investigation: Oversight remains outdated, underfunded

(Newser) - Following the BP oil spill, the government agency tasked with supervising offshore drilling is trying to turn itself around—but the Wall Street Journal finds those efforts lacking. Though it has renamed itself—the Minerals Management Service is now the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement—and gotten... More »

Winners, Losers in Bank Reform Bill

Big banks and securities firms face tougher standards

(Newser) - The financial reform bill now on its way to the Senate is the biggest such effort since the Great Depression. The Wall Street Journal runs down who wins and loses, beginning with the Winners:
  • Mortgage lenders: The bill doesn't allow bankruptcy judges to adjust the terms of first mortgages.
  • Credit
... More »

Geithner Defends TARP Extension

Says it would 'irresponsible' not to extend bailout

(Newser) - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told a skeptical watchdog panel today that a "limited, qualified extension" of the unpopular bank bailout program until October was necessary. "It would be irresponsible to do otherwise," Geithner said. Oversight chairman Elizabeth Warren seemed unconvinced, saying that though the program was "... More »

G20 Near Deal to Open Economies to Scrutiny

'Peer review' system will let nations assess each other's policies

(Newser) - The G20 is on the brink of a deal this morning that will require members to "peer review" one another's economic policies—a substantial shift that will expose the US and China to wider scrutiny from less wealthy countries. The new top table for international negotiation wants less American... More »

Federal Judge Ends Oversight of LAPD

(Newser) - A judge has ended eight years of federal oversight imposed on the LAPD after a massive corruption scandal, the Los Angeles Times reports. The judge said the police force had reformed substantially under a “consent decree” that saw tough independent audits and more thorough investigations into abuse allegations. "... More »

Pentagon Drops Ball on Contractor Oversight: Report

Says tens of billions in contracts lack decent US supervision

(Newser) - Though US defense contracting has reached “unprecedented proportions” in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Defense Department isn’t adequately monitoring the contracts, according to an independent watchdog. A report to be presented to Congress tomorrow says the government lacks central records showing the identities, activities, and pay of some 240,... More »

Too-Speedy Bailout Spending May Squander Billions

Auditors understaffed for behemoth task, leaving field open to shifty contractors

(Newser) - If new federal bailout funds are spent too quickly, billions could be wasted because the government administrative staff may be too overburdened to provide adequate oversight, warn budget experts. Billions of dollars in government money were squandered by private contractors who overcharged the Bush administration, according to a government report.... More »

Madoff Scandal Turns Up Heat on Financial Advisers

Loophole lets Madoff types profit from bad advice, they say

(Newser) - Wall Street advisers and brokers are tussling over the details of a looming regulatory overhaul as Washington takes steps to prevent another Bernard Madoff scandal, Bloomberg reports. Advisers want brokers who counsel clients to be subject to the same oversight they’re under; currently, their brokerage counterparts can profit by... More »

Battle Over Regulation Looms in '09

Some worry Obama won't do enough to rein in derivatives market

(Newser) - After the economic meltdown of 2008, the coming year will see a battle over one of the most politically contentious issues in finance: the regulation of derivatives markets. Some who opposed government oversight before now acknowledge the need for tighter controls. But they face an uphill battle, reports Newsweek, against... More »

Big 3 Would Agree to Oversight if Bailed Out

CEOs admit bad management

(Newser) - Detroit’s Big Three automakers would accept federal oversight in return for financial support, the Wall Street Journal reports. The chiefs of GM, Ford, and Chrysler all said that they would accept a bailout styled after that of Chrysler in the late ‘70s, which put the firm under the... More »

Paulson Seeks Expanded Fed Powers

Treasury secretary says Fed role needs to be revised, upgraded to respond to risk

(Newser) - Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson today will urge Congress to broaden the Federal Reserve’s oversight role on Wall Street, giving it the authority to demand data from financial institutions to help prevent incidents like the Bear Stearns collapse. Any major change in regulatory authority would have to be approved by... More »

Teamsters, Obama Deny Quid Pro Quo

Support for ending oversight preceded union's backing

(Newser) - Before winning the Teamsters’ endorsement, Barack Obama said he’d support ending government oversight of the union, an unusual stance for a presidential candidate, reports the Wall Street Journal. An independent board has policed the historically organized-crime-influenced Teamsters since 1992; Bill Clinton, John Kerry, and Al Gore left the matter... More »

Key Inspector Says FAA Crackdown Long Overdue

Agency's renewed inspection efforts long overdue, sweeping changes needed

(Newser) - The Federal Aviation Administration is too lax, and its recent toughening-up long overdue, the Transportation Department’s inspector general Calvin Scovel told senators today. The agency should not rely, as it has until recently, on airlines to voluntarily disclose safety oversights, and shouldn’t provide loopholes for the appropriate penalties... More »

Budget Batters FDA Oversight of Foreign Drugs

Commissioner to testify before Congress today

(Newser) - The federal Food and Drug Administration's spotty record inspecting foreign drug manufacturers will be even worse next year as its budget drops just as developing countries are flooding the market with new medications, reports the Washington Post. Foreign drug plants are inspected only once every eight to 12 years because... More »

Credit Crisis Spurs Calls for New Oversight

EU, Asia want cooperation in US market regulation

(Newser) - Financial regulators and politicians across Europe and Asia are banding together to demand an international role in the oversight of American markets. The subprime meltdown has demonstrated that fluctuations in American markets can wreak havoc the world over, the Times reports, and now international players are wondering why they must... More »

Rumsfeld Denies Role in Tillman Cover-Up

On Hill, ex-Pentagon chief rejects personal responsibility

(Newser) - Donald Rumsfeld took no responsibility today for the bungled handling of the reporting and investigation of Pat Tillman’s death, saying he always stressed honesty at the Pentagon. Before a House committee, the ex-defense secretary denied allegations he was involved in the military plot to claim the ex-NFL star was... More »

General Faces Demotion in Tillman Probe

Six other officers will draw career-ending punishments

(Newser) - A retired three-star general who allegedly misled investigators about the death of former NFL player Pat Tillman in Afghanistan could be stripped of his stars and part of his pension, Pentagon officials told CNN. Retired Lt. Gen. Phillip Kensinger told inspectors he didn't know the Green Beret was killed by... More »

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