(Reuters) - Bank of America Corp, under fire for everything from improper foreclosures to hiking debit card fees, is fighting back with advertising. The bank is running TV, print and online ads through the end of the year in 12 larger markets, including Charlotte, Boston, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, as well as some smaller communities, said bank spokesman T.J. Crawford. The ads describe the bank's charitable donations and small business loans, as well as its efforts to ease loan terms for underwater mortgage borrowers, known as "loan modifications." "The campaign aims to deliver the facts about Bank of America's local impact," Crawford said. "Sharing the significant work we do at the local level and critical role we play is more important than ever." Bank of America's critics were not impressed. The ads are "irrelevant," said Kathleen Day, spokeswoman for the Center for Responsible Lending, a Durham, North Carolina-based nonprofit that advocates for homeowners. "The only thing that matters is that they and other banks clean up their servicing operations so they can do more loan modifications and never do the same thing to the economy again." Bank of America and other banks launched similar campaigns when they faced criticism in 2009 for taking government bailout dollars. Large banks have paid back that money but face continuing outrage over their mishandling of foreclosure paperwork, new fees they are charging consumers, and the continuing economic fallout from the financial crisis. The "Occupy Wall Street" movement has spread from New York to other cities around the country, including the bank's hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. WORKING TO HELP The nation's largest bank by assets debuted the campaign September 26, days before it announced a new $5 per-month debit card fee and experienced problems with its web site. An ad that ran Sunday in Charlotte carried the tagline: "We're working to help keep the North Carolina economy moving forward." It noted the bank's contributions to the state, including $159 million in loans to small businesses in the first half of the year, more than 22,000 loan modifications since 2008 and $10.8 million in charitable commitments this year. The bank does not disclose the cost of its advertising campaigns, Crawford said. In the first half of this year, Bank of America spent $1.1 billion on marketing, up from $982 million in the same period last year, according to its second-quarter earnings report. Bank of America lost $7.4 billion for common shareholders in the first half of the year, as it set aside money to cover mortgage loses and legal settlements. It reports third-quarter earnings on October 18. (Reporting by Rick Rothacker in Charlotte, North Carolina; Editing by Bernard Orr)
- The Independent
The company’s revenue has tripled since the change was implemented
The top executives of more than three dozen Michigan-based companies, including General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co, on Tuesday issued a joint statement opposing Republican-backed legislation to restrict voting. The move appeared to be pre-emptive, after Georgia companies such as Coca-Cola Co and Delta Air Lines Inc endured public backlash for failing to take a stronger stance before that state enacted a raft of voting limits last month. "Government must avoid actions that reduce participation in elections - particularly among historically disenfranchised communities," the statement, which bore the names of 37 top executives, read in part.
- Yahoo News
A 27-page report, which summarizes the best assessments of analysts from across the 18 different agencies within the intelligence community, has identified China as the biggest threat to U.S. global influence.
PARIS (Reuters) -The European countries party to the Iran nuclear deal told Tehran on Wednesday its decision to enrich uranium at 60% purity, bringing the fissile material closer to bomb-grade, was contrary to efforts to revive the 2015 accord. But in an apparent signal to Iran's arch-adversary Israel, which Tehran blamed for an explosion at its key nuclear site on Sunday, European powers Germany, France and Britain added that they rejected "all escalatory measures by any actor". Israel, which the Islamic Republic does not recognise, has not formally commented on the incident at Iran's Natanz site, which appeared the latest twist in a long-running covert war.
Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it was concerned about Iran's intention to start enriching uranium to 60% purity and said such a move could not be considered part of a peaceful nuclear programme. A foreign ministry statement called on Iran to avoid escalation and engage seriously in talks with global powers about a 2015 nuclear pact. Iran's announcement about its plan to enrich to 60%, bringing the fissile material closer to the 90% level suitable for a nuclear bomb, came after Tehran accused Israel of sabotaging a key nuclear installation and ahead of the resumption of nuclear talks in Vienna.
- Architectural Digest
Forget the glitzy casinos and multimillion-dollar homes: Monaco is quickly becoming a laboratory for innovative ideas in sustainable design
- The Independent
Rioters were seen searching for the House Speaker on 6 January
- The Independent
Democrat leads calls for reform of US policing as brands including Ben & Jerry’s issue demand for ‘a real system of public safety’
- The Independent
‘Our system doesn’t serve kids like Daunte,’ Courteney Ross says
- Idaho Statesman
Scientists are debating whether booster shots for COVID-19 vaccines should be the same as the original vaccines, or target variants.
- The Independent
During a memorial service at the US Capitol Rotunda for Officer William Evans, President Joe Biden picked up a toy dropped by the officer’s daughter, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told his family that while “no words are adequate” to address their loss, “we hope it’s a comfort to you that so many now know about your dad and know he’s a hero”. “And that the President of the United States is picking up one of your distractions.” Officer Evans was killed outside the Capitol on 2 April after a driver struck two officers before slamming into a security barrier outside the Capitol, then exited the car with a knife, according to police.
- Associated Press
The United Arab Emirates’ space center announced Wednesday a more ambitious timeline for sending its first rover to the moon. The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center said it is partnering with Japan’s ispace company to send a rover to the moon on an unmanned spacecraft by 2022, rather than 2024. The “Rashid” rover, named after Dubai’s ruling family, will deploy to the moon using ispace's lunar lander.
- USA TODAY Opinion
The Taliban have not met Trump's conditions for a troop withdrawal.
- The Independent
‘Congress itself is the target’: Capitol police overlooked intel and were ordered to hold back during riot, report finds
Days before attack, law enforcement officials were warned Stop the Steal campaign could attract ‘white supremacists, militia members’ and other violent groups
- The Independent
Daunte Wright shooting - latest: Kim Potter’s mugshot released as ex-police officer faces manslaughter charges
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- The Independent
456 British troops were killed in Afghanistan before UK combat operations ended in 2014
- The Independent
State senator ‘praying for everyone’ caught in strong winds that capsized a 129-foot vessel on Tuesday
- Lexington Herald-Leader
Lexington is poised to become the third city in Kentucky to ban conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth.
- The Independent
Swift Afghanistan troop withdrawal loomed after Trump lost election — but some special forces could remain
Joe Biden had long argued against large-scale troop numbers in Afghanistan
- The Daily Beast
Drew Angerer/GettyAs another American city is gripped by protests following the shooting death of an unarmed Black person by a police officer, the Biden administration is renewing focus on one of the “four historic crises” he pledged to address in his first hundred days: a long-overdue reckoning over racial justice in policing.“With Daunte Wright in Minnesota, that god-awful shooting resulting in his death, and in the midst of an ongoing trial over the killing of George Floyd… we’re in the business, all of us meeting today, to deliver some real change,” President Joe Biden said on Tuesday before a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus. “We also have an awful lot of things we have to deal with when it comes to police, when it comes to advancing equality.”But as the death of 20-year-old Wright puts renewed urgency behind Biden’s push to pass a landmark police reform bill through Congress, stakeholders in law enforcement and reform advocacy alike are increasingly at odds over the bill’s primary components. As the longtime divide between police and watchdogs widens, Biden’s call for reform that satisfies both groups appears increasingly unlikely.“You can’t reconcile abolition with reform—they’re irreconcilable,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a former NYPD officer and prosecutor in New York City and professor of law and police science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “Biden is going to have to confront reality… which is that policing has collapsed completely, and it’s probably irreparably damaged.”Democrats have long walked a thin tightrope in their relationship with law enforcement, particularly in recent years as the Black Lives Matter movement has helped push police reform to the top of the party’s political agenda. This is particularly true of Biden, who worked closely with police unions during his time as a senator—when he was at the forefront of anti-crime legislation that has since become a primary target of reform advocates—and has since made concerted efforts to bring law enforcement organizations into the fold as stakeholders in developing policy.The decision on Monday to kill the national police oversight commission that Biden had promised to create during his first months in office, for example, came at the urging of both law enforcement groups and reform advocates who argued that it was redundant. Instead, the administration announced that its primary focus would be on passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would, among other things, ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants in drug cases, require the use of de-escalation techniques before use of deadly force, and eliminate qualified immunity for law enforcement.Asked about how much effort the White House would put into getting that bill passed, Psaki pledged Biden would “use the power of his presidency to move it forward.”“The strong consensus from all of these [civil rights] groups is that the work should be focused on trying to pass the George Floyd Act, and the commission would not be the most constructive way to deliver on our top priority,” she said Tuesday. “So we are working together collectively to do exactly that. There are steps that we certainly will work in conjunction to take as they are possible. And some of them we've signed through executive orders, and we’ll continue to communicate with these groups about what is most effective.”But police union stakeholders have already marked the issue of rolling back qualified immunity a red line.“The biggest sticking point is qualified immunity,” said Andrea Edmiston, director of governmental affairs at the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), a lobbying group that represents more than 1,000 police units and associations—which in turn represent roughly a quarter million working and retired police officers. “We’ve heard from a lot of our members who are really worried that qualified immunity will go away.”Qualified immunity, in short, shields government officials, including police officers, from being sued in civil court for violating a suspect’s constitutional rights in the course of the performance of their duties as long as those duties were carried out in “subjective good faith”—that is, if an officer believes their actions are reasonable in the moment. Critics of the protection say that it encourages police abuse without accountability, while law enforcement advocates say that it protects officers from frivolous lawsuits and potential financial ruin.Police Union Bosses to Biden: You’re Pissing Us OffEven as public polling suggests a growing national consensus on the need for police reform in the context of racial justice, the two sides are increasingly at odds over the bill that the Biden administration has now made the gold standard for police reform. According to law enforcement groups that have been at the table, putting the George Floyd Act at the center of the administration’s focus for police reform could be the final straw for the police unions that Biden has courted for decades.“If they break a law or knowingly violate someone’s constitutional rights, yes, that has to be addressed,” Edmiston said. “But if this officer is acting in good faith, and you take away qualified immunity, then that opens that officer up to being sued—and officers don’t make a lot of money, right? Suddenly, they’ll lose their life savings, they’ll lose everything.”Edmiston noted that NAPO, as well as other law enforcement advocacy organizations, has been welcomed to the table by members of Congress seeking the input of police groups in the legislation. But while some aspects of the bill have gotten qualified support from law enforcement stakeholders—including mandated data collection for use-of-force statistics, and a national decertification database that would prevent officers fired for misconduct from being hired by police forces in other states—the sticking point of qualified immunity is seen as both a nonstarter in law enforcement circles.“You’re going to get police officers to do absolutely nothing other than being an observer,” said said Tom Scotto, president emeritus of the Detectives’ Endowment Association, one of the three major police unions in New York City, who also served as president of the NAPO. Scotto, who called measures eliminating qualified immunity “absurd,” worked closely with Biden during the drafting of the 1994 crime bill from which the future president would later distance himself. “Every piece of action you take is now subject to some civilian getting an ambulance chasing attorney.”Meanwhile, the removal of qualified immunity, which has already been passed in some states, is a baseline requirement among reform advocates.“It is clear that the only way to end the scourge of police violence is to immediately divest from policing institutions that, from their inception, have been used to oppress Black people,” said Paige Fernandez, a policing policy advocate in the American Civil Liberties Union’s justice division. “You don’t reform police—you remove their responsibilities and reallocate taxpayer money into harm-reducing solutions. It is now far past time for tangible action to avoid killings like that of Daunte Wright.”The impossibility of reconciling those two positions has put Biden, a politician who has defined his career on his ability to bring together warring factions in support of common goals, on a collision course with two longtime constituencies.“If the president fails to deliver meaningful criminal justice reform, it’s essentially waving the white flag on one of the major crises he pledged to address,” said one former longtime staffer who worked in Biden’s office during the passage of the 1994 crime bill. “But if he turns his back on police—or even if they perceive him as turning his back on them—he loses a constituency he has courted for decades, and sets himself up for Crime Bill 2.0 if Republicans retake Congress.”O’Donnell, pointing to statistics showing a decline in qualified candidates for jobs in law enforcement and shortened career spans for those who do qualify, said that the only way to reconcile the two positions may be to accept that street cops may not exist forever.“It’s like coal mining—it’s just a job that we’re not going to lament the passing of,” O’Donnell said. “Assuming that you’re going to have humans doing this job… then how do you protect the country? If Biden wants to lead on that, that’s the question. How do you do that?”Black lawmakers on Tuesday told reporters that the president intends to do so by pushing for the George Floyd Act.“We know we’re going to have other meetings to develop our next steps, but we are moving forward,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), after an Oval Office meeting between Biden and Congressional Black Caucus leadership. “And we were able to discuss those very openly with the president today.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.