Senate GOP block campaign spending disclosure bill

Posted July 16, 2012, at 8:22 p.m.
Last modified July 16, 2012, at 9:33 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans blocked Democratic-backed legislation requiring organizations pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into campaign ads to disclose their top donors and the amounts they spend.

GOP opposition prevented Democrats from getting the 60 votes needed to bring what is known as the Disclose Act to the Senate floor. The vote was 51-44.

Democrats revived the act during a presidential election campaign in which political action committees and nonprofit organizations, funded by deep-pocketed and largely anonymous contributors, are dominating the airwaves with largely negative political ads.

Another version of the Disclose Act passed the then-Democratic-controlled House in 2010 but was similarly blocked by Republicans in the Senate. Republicans cite First Amendment rights and say the bill favors unions in opposing the legislation.

Lightning kills 2, injures 1 on Houston soccer field

LOS ANGELES — Two men died and a third was injured Sunday when lightning struck a tree at a soccer field in Houston, already hard-hit by fierce storms over the past week, officials said.

Several hundred players and spectators had gathered at La Escondida Soccer Club, where a men’s league plays, when a storm broke just after noon, Deputy Sheriff Thomas Gilliland told the Los Angeles Times. Several spectators sought safety under a tree, part of a line of foliage marking a perimeter to the field.

Seeking shelter under a tree is one of the worst things those caught in a storm with thunder and lightning can do, officials caution. Because trees are taller than their surroundings, they serve as accessible targets for incoming discharges of electricity. The National Weather Service advises instead to seek a safe shelter.

The lightning hit the tree and sent electric shivers through the boughs, some of which began burning.

One man was confirmed dead at the scene and a second was pronounced dead at a hospital, Gilliland said. The injured man was taken to a hospital where he was listed in stable condition Monday.

The United States averaged 54 reported lightning fatalities a year in each of the past 30 years. Only about 10 percent of people hit by lightning die, the National Weather Service said.

Consumer agency adds credit reporting companies to oversight

WASHINGTON — Large credit reporting companies, which are playing an increasingly important role in the financial lives of Americans, will get new federal oversight from the nation’s consumer watchdog.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said it would begin this fall to supervise the 30 largest credit reporting companies, which account for 94 percent of the market’s annual receipts.

Among the companies are the big three: Experian Information Solutions Inc., Equifax Inc. and TransUnion. Combined, they issue more than 3 billion consumer credit reports each year and have files on more than 200 million Americans.

The consumer bureau, created by the 2010 overhaul of financial rules, oversees banks for compliance with consumer protection rules.

Congress also directed it to supervise residential mortgage companies, payday lenders and private student lenders. And lawmakers gave the bureau the power to expand its oversight to large companies in other consumer finance sectors, such as credit reporting.

U.S. ship attacks fishing boat in Persian Gulf, killing one

WASHINGTON — A U.S. Navy fuel-resupply ship that had just passed through the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf opened fire at a 50-foot fishing boat moving toward it, killing one person and wounding three others, U.S. officials said.

A security team aboard the Rappahannock, which refuels warships, fired a .50-caliber machine gun Monday after the smaller boat “disregarded warnings and rapidly approached” about 10 miles off Jebel Ali port in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, according to the Navy’s 5th Fleet, which is based in nearby Bahrain.

U.S. officials said the incident was under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Dubai police. But as details emerged, it appeared the fishing boat had been heading into port and had strayed too close to a Navy ship on high alert, rather than attempting an attack.

Needles found in sandwiches on Delta flights

ATLANTA — Needles were found Sunday in sandwiches for passengers in business class on two Delta Air Lines flights from Amsterdam to Atlanta, one to Minneapolis and one to Seattle, prompting investigations by the FBI and authorities in the Netherlands.

One passenger on a flight to Minneapolis was injured, according to Delta, by an object in a sandwich “described as a sewing needle.” Local authorities, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents and paramedics met the flight in Minneapolis, where the passenger refused medical treatment.

Atlanta-based Delta and airline caterer Gate Gourmet say they are cooperating with the investigations.

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