Banks Lose Pivotal Mortgage Case

From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/08/banks-lose-pivotal-mortga_n_806164.html

DENISE LAVOIE and MICHELLE CONLIN

01/ 7/11 10:18 PM

The highest court in Massachusetts ruled against U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo & Co. Friday in a pivotal mortgage foreclosure case that could spark more turmoil and uncertainty in a housing market already mired in depression.

The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed a lower court judge’s ruling invalidating two mortgage foreclosure sales because the banks, in their capacity as trustees for mortgage securities, did not prove that they actually owned the mortgages at the time of foreclosure.

The decision, which highlights the failure of financial firms to adhere to the rules that govern mortgage-backed securities, is likely to lead more borrowers to sue bank servicers and trustees for wrongful foreclosures. It’s unclear what the ruling means for people who were forced from their homes after defaulting on their loans or for those who purchased houses in foreclosure sales.

“There are now thousands of these homes that have been purchased through foreclosures handled in a very similar fashion where the titles are defective,” said Ward P. Graham, a Massachusetts title attorney who co-authored a friend-of-the-court brief in the case on behalf of the Real Estate Bar Association for Massachusetts, Inc.

Last fall, the banking industry’s foreclosure machine came under intense scrutiny with revelations that low-level employees called “robo signers” powered through hundreds of foreclosure affidavits a day without verifying a single sentence. At the time, analysts warned that the banks’ allegedly fraudulent document procedures could imperil their ability to prove that they owned the mortgages. The Massachusetts ruling stokes those concerns.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/08/banks-lose-pivotal-mortga_n_806164.html

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Rep. Giffords Shooting is an Attack on All of Us: NOW Calls on Right Wing to Disavow Violence and Hate Speech Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill

NOW Press Release:

January 8, 2011

NOW condemns the tragic shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) that stole six lives and seriously injured 12 today. We condemn, equally, the culture of hate and violence increasingly reflected in extreme right-wing opponents of those who support progressive solutions to our country’s challenges.

Rep. Giffords, whose office was vandalized after she voted for the federal health care reform law last year, was also named on Sarah Palin’s “Targeted” list. Giffords (who has been consistently endorsed by NOW’s PAC) herself understood the not-so-well veiled threat, stating “the thing is that the way she [Palin] has it depicted, we’re in the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they’ve got to realize that there are consequences to that action.”

The pious condemnations we are now hearing by right-wing leaders are of little comfort if not accompanied by concrete action. Conservatives cannot have it both ways, screaming sexist, racist and homophobic slurs at legislators as they vote for health care reform, putting legislators on a violence-inciting “Targets” list, and then simply saying how sorry they are when someone explodes into murder.

In November 2009, as Democratic women spoke on the House floor about how the Affordable Care Act would benefit women, Republican Congressmen shouted them down. Led by Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), who repeatedly yelled “I object. I object. I object. I object. I object,” as Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) tried to talk, they carried on this attack for half an hour.

In March 2010, Tea Party supporters screamed a racial epithet at Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) as he walked toward Congress from a health care reform meeting. Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.) was walking with Lewis and confirmed the protesters were yelling “Kill the bill, kill the bill,” when they used the racial epithet. One man spit on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) as he walked to the Capitol. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was taunted with anti-gay epithets as he left the same meeting in a House office building.

We call on Republican leaders to do more than disavow hatred, hostility and violence-laden speech as a political tool. We also call upon the Justice Department to investigate — to the fullest extent of federal anti-terrorist legislation — reports that this mass murder, which included the killing of a federal judge and the attempted assassination of a member of Congress, was part of a conspiracy.

NOW offers our sincere condolences to the families of those who were slain, and we hope that all those who were injured will soon recover. Our thoughts are with all those involved in this horrible tragedy.

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With God On Our Side

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Chicken’s Coming Home to Roost or I Hope the Republi-Nazi Hate Mongers are Happy

Responsibility For Assassination Attempt on Democratic Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords Belongs to the Conservative Right Wing Hate Mongers

US District Court Judge John M. Roll Assassinated

Just like the Terrorist Timothy McVeigh and the murderers of the abortion providers.

The ultra right wing radio/TV hosts like Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Bill O’Reilly, and a host of other Nazis have been poisoning our air waves for years and years stirring up hatred and bigotry with their daily lies and Nazi like propaganda.

Then you have  Sarah Palin, Jan Brewer, Michelle Bachmann

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/01/rep-gabrielle-giffords-at-12-shot-tucson-grocery-store/

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department said that up to 12 people were injured in the incident, and a witness told CNN they heard up to 20 gunshots.

Giffords, 40, took her seat in Congress in 2007 and has advocated for immigration reform, among other Democratic-led issues. She was among 20 members of Congress who were on former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s so-called “hit list,” depicted in a graphic online with targeting crosshairs over their individual districts.

Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/01/rep-giffords-socalled-hit-list-dems-targeted-sarah-palin/

By Stephen C. Webster
Saturday, January 8th, 2011 — 3:40 pm

Telling voters to ‘reload’ and ‘aim for’ Democrats was perfectly fine, Sen. McCain argued in March

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who was shot Saturday during a public event in Tucson, was among 20 other members of Congress who were on a so-called hit list published by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Palin, who has never publicly advocated violence against fellow US politicians, has often employed rhetorical attacks that leverage imagery and terminology familiar to gun owners and evocative of firearms. She said in March that her supporters should “reload” and “aim for” Democrats, ostensibly with their votes.

A map of the US, published on Palin’s Facebook page, featured targeting crosshairs over individual congressional districts Palin had targeted for intense campaign efforts. While her note called for “pink slips,” she added that supporters should fire a “salvo” at those lawmakers. Rep. Giffords was on the list.

Hours after Giffords was shot, that list was still available on Palin’s Facebook page. (Screenshot.)

At the time of her post, commentators on the left reacted with alarm, saying Palin’s words might be taken as an incitement to violence.

From Fire Dog Lake: http://firedoglake.com/2011/01/08/giffords-opponent-jesse-kelly-held-june-event-to-shoot-a-fully-automatic-m16-to-get-on-target-and-remove-gabrielle-giffords/

Giffords Opponent, Jesse Kelly, Held June Event to “Shoot a Fully Automatic M16″ to “Get on Target” and “Remove Gabrielle Giffords”

By: Jane Hamsher Saturday January 8, 2011 11:43 am
Per Puppethead in the comments, Giffords’ 2010 Congressional opponent Jesse Kelly held a June 12 gun event that was billed as follows on the Pima County Republican website:

Get on Target for Victory in November Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office Shot a fully automatic M15 with Jesse Kelly

Kelly’s website has apparently scrubbed the event , but here is the account from the Arizona Daily Star:

I am stunned and yet I have been expecting this.

As a lesbian and as an autodidactic historian I have seen this pattern repeated again and again by the Right Wing as though they have a play book.  Perhaps they do, if so I think it is called Mein Kampf.

As a feminist I have watched the result of forty years of extremely violent rhetoric result in the cold blooded murder of numerous abortion providers and the bombings of numerous women’s clinics in a pattern that can only be described as a “reign of terror”.

I have been appalled at how the media treats the breaking of windows, an act of vandalism by the kids in the Black Blocs as terrorism but can’t find the word when some misogynistic scumbag murders a doctor.

I have listened to the rhetoric of so called Christian Organizations that incite hatred towards LGBT/TQ people.  I know from Shirer’s “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” how the Nazis used the Jewish people and other minority groups as scapegoats.

I have heard the organizations with words like “traditional” and “family” in their title howl with outrage at being exposed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center (18 Organizations that Advocate anti-LGBT/TQ bigotry ) and while it is often treated as heresy by others on the left I am very happy I am a gun owner.

While I am not Jewish, I am Polish-American and parts of my family were also murdered by the Nazis.  I know hate speech and I understand the consequences.

What is even more appalling is that the demagogues of both the media and of ultra right wing politics don’t give a damn about their actual followers.  They care about people like the Kochs and the Mellon-Scaifes, the right wing Wall Street bankers that have been funding all the neo-Nazi propaganda and who know exactly what they are doing.

As I’ve said I see history repeating.  Reagan and the Free Marketeer Ayn Randites destroyed this nation, and will stop at nothing to prevent the people from returning us to an America where the hard work of the common people is enough for them to buy their part of the American Dream.

Instead the ultra rich are using the Tea Party as their army of brown shirts.

It is time to put a stop to this before this nation sinks into another Civil War or worse falls prey to the neo-Nazi demagogues.

It is also time for good Americans to stand up to the demagogues and tell them we have had enough of their preaching of hatred and bigotry.

FBI asks about Dakota activist’s controversial speech

How come if a Native-American, African-American or generally left wing person has the audacity to suggest that we  might have to act radically and amend the way things are done in this country “by any means necessary” the FBI is on them like stink on shit.

But all sorts of neo-Nazi Republicans get away with saying the same thing with out even having a friendly Feebee drop by their home to ask for any clarification regarding their rhetoric.

Can you say double standard?

From MPR News: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2011/01/07/indian-activist-fbi/

original heads up from Infoshop News

by Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio
January 7, 2011

St. Paul, Minn. — A Minnesota American Indian scholar’s remarks that the Dakota people might have to reclaim lost tribal lands “by any means necessary” has drawn the scrutiny of federal authorities.

The Dakota historian who goes by the name Waziyatawin said she received a call this week from the FBI to discuss remarks she made in November at Winona State University.

Waziyatawin, a professor of indigenous history at the University of Victoria in British Columbia who used to go by the name Angela Cavender Wilson, told students that it’s time for American Indians to abandon symbolic demonstrations. Truth-telling efforts haven’t achieved anything, she said, according to a recording of the speech obtained by the Winona Post.

“We’re going to need to take a different kind of action,” said Waziyatawin, who grew up on the Upper Sioux Reservation in southwestern Minnesota. “All of you are going to have to figure out your role. For Dakota people, I know we’re going to need to recover our land base, by any means necessary.”

Continue reading at:  http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2011/01/07/indian-activist-fbi/

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How new ‘golden rule’ fleeces workers

From Workers World: http://www.workers.org/2011/us/golden_rule_0113/

By Cheryl LaBash

Published Jan 8, 2011 8:52 AM

Capitalism has a golden rule: The class with the gold makes the rules. When public workers, their unions, pensions and benefits are blamed and pummeled for creating massive budget deficits, this is something to keep in mind.

For example, Detroit’s 2010 overall deficit went up by $692 million — an increase of nearly 80 percent over the 2009 reported shortfall. Why? A new accounting rule has been instituted.

The Government Accounting Standards Board — GASB — is not part of the government. It is “an operating component of the Financial Accounting Foundation,” a private, not-for-profit corporation partially funded by the “municipal bond community.” (See http://www.gasb.org and http://www.accountingfoundation.org)

GASB 53 estimates the future cost of speculative financial instruments heavily pushed by banks as a “creative solution to government costs.”

In 2009 two new accounting rules, GASB 45 and 49, caused Detroit to report $157.4 million in additional estimated future costs.

What is the result? Michigan Treasury spokesperson Terry Stanton stated the city would need to craft a new deficit reduction plan or update the current one to continue receiving state revenue sharing. (bondbuyer.com, Dec. 28) Deficit reduction equals cuts of workers and sales or privatization of city infrastructure — what accountants term “assets” — like power generation, water systems or roads.

Detroit is only one city of many where workers and communities are being squeezed with job losses, reduced incomes, foreclosures and evictions. Cities across the U.S. are facing huge budget shortfalls and public workers are under attack.

The officers and board of the GASB have current or former ties to Microsoft; UBS Global Asset Management; Vanguard Group; Fannie Mae; the private bank, Brown Brothers Harriman and Co.; KPMG; LLC auditors; JP Morgan Fleming Management; and more. BBH employed such well-known individuals as former U.S. senator, Prescott S. Bush; former U.S. secretary of commerce and New York governor, W. Averell Harriman; and former U.S. secretary of defense, Robert A. Lovett.

GASB and FAF board members are not elected. There are no workers or labor representatives on the board. There are no representatives that guarantee that the rights of African-American, Latino/a or other oppressed communities are respected.

GASB rules are rarely enforced by any state law or regulation, but rather by auditors. A bad audit lowers bond ratings for municipalities. A bad bond rating makes credit more expensive.

The new accounting rules make the cuts seem reasonable and cast in stone, but they are not. And accounting rules don’t erase the right of every person to a decent and good-paying job or income, health care, education and a home.


Articles copyright 1995-2011 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Email: ww@workers.org

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The Problem Is That America’s Richest 1% Are Raking It in — Not Public Employee Pensions

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/news/149435/the_problem_is_that_america%27s_richest_1%25_are_raking_it_in_–_not_public_employee_pensions/

We can’t let the conservatives pit private-sector workers against public servants — it’s a distraction from the ongoing huge wealth transfer to the richest Americans.

By Robert Reich

January 6, 2011

In 1968, 1,300 sanitation workers in Memphis went on strike. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to support them. That was where he lost his life. Eventually Memphis heard the grievances of its sanitation workers. And in subsequent years millions of public employees across the nation have benefited from the job protections they’ve earned.

But now the right is going after public employees.

Public servants are convenient scapegoats. Republicans would rather deflect attention from corporate executive pay that continues to rise as corporate profits soar, even as corporations refuse to hire more workers. They don’t want stories about Wall Street bonuses, now higher than before taxpayers bailed out the Street. And they’d like to avoid a spotlight on the billions raked in by hedge-fund and private-equity managers whose income is treated as capital gains and subject to only a 15 percent tax, due to a loophole in the tax laws designed specifically for them.

It’s far more convenient to go after people who are doing the public’s work – sanitation workers, police officers, fire fighters, teachers, social workers, federal employees – to call them “faceless bureaucrats” and portray them as hooligans who are making off with your money and crippling federal and state budgets. The story fits better with the Republican’s Big Lie that our problems are due to a government that’s too big.

Above all, Republicans don’t want to have to justify continued tax cuts for the rich. As quietly as possible, they want to make them permanent.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/news/149435/the_problem_is_that_america%27s_richest_1%25_are_raking_it_in_–_not_public_employee_pensions/

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The Green Plate: What Every Meat Eater Should Know About Humane Certifications

From EcoSalon: http://ecosalon.com/humane-certifications/

by Vanessa Barrington

January 5, 2011

A few years ago, on a tour of a small village in Vietnam, we were taken to a small farm compound, where the residents manufactured rice paper wrappers for spring rolls and raised a few farm animals for food. There were chickens clucking around and a few friendly, waddling ducks. There was also an enormous pig housed in a small, concrete enclosure.

As our group approached, the pig rose up on her hind legs, placed her front legs on the ledge of her pen, and looked us all straight in the eyes with a completely charming mixture of intelligence and humor. Without a doubt, that pig was posing. The pen was small, but clean. The pig appeared to have plenty of freedom of movement. The pig was whole, no cropped tail, no sores, nothing amiss. I can’t pretend to know if that pig was a happy pig. But from my limited human perspective, she looked contented.

Every time I think about how we raise animals for food, I think about that expressive pig. That pig represents both my deep ambivalence about eating animals and also what I think of as the ideal way to raise animals for food.

For those of us who do eat meat, who don’t raise our own animals, one at a time, or who cannot afford to pay top dollar to buy direct from a very small farm, that ideal is pretty near unattainable.

For conscious omnivores, who eat meat sparingly and thoughtfully, who avoid meat raised under conditions that we call “factory farming”, what is a reasonable level of animal welfare in farming? And how accurate are our perceptions of what constitutes “good farming”?  Farming is a struggle for farmers. There is a delicate balance between the scale and methods that will allow the farmer to stay in business and earn a living, and letting the animals experience life as naturally as possible.

Continue reading at:  http://ecosalon.com/humane-certifications/

When I’ve had the option and there hasn’t been an outrageous difference in price I’ve generally thought buying “organically raised” food is the better option.

Over the years I have had my consciousness raised regarding the factory production of meat under appalling conditions that are not only abusive to animals but which are ecological disasters with their vast unprocessed dumping of sewage into sewage ponds that in turn gets into the ground water.

High profit meat crammed full of antibiotic, corn and growth hormones just isn’t all that healthy, but it sure makes big bucks for the corporate meat producing factories.  Which by the way are also “welfare queens” with government subsidies that are monetary transfers of the wealth upward to the rich.  Don’t tell me about the yeoman farmer.  They are being broken by Monsanto and are more likely to make their money from Farmer’s Markets selling organic than from the government.

Animals that have been well treated actually taste better than the factory produced meat.  There is less cruelty involved, less abuse.

Of course many have chosen to address the matter of animal abuse by becoming vegetarian, flexitarian or vegan.

Derrick Jensen on Pacifism

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ENDA Isn’t Going to Happen For At Least Three Years

Can we Just Skip Forming the Obligatory Circular Firing Squad?

Over the last few weeks since the repeal of DADT I’ve watched a growing bit of nastiness among people who proclaim themselves part of the “Transgender Community”.

It started when Mara Keisling (National Center for Transgender Equality) stepped down from her lobbying position. The nastiness of the name calling appalled me.

I’ve also watched the sniping at Autumn Sandeen and Monica Helms. DADT wasn’t my issue and it didn’t actually do much for TS/TG people in active service but it is an incremental step and by being part of the struggle showed the often skeptical gay and lesbian communities our willingness to put our bodies on the line even on issues that do not directly involve  TS/TG people.

I’m not all that thrilled by gay and lesbian people wanting to join the military.  I’m more of the Cindy Sheehan school on that one. i.e. “Great, now you can join the military.  Please, don’t!”

In the mean time WTF is with the calling Autumn names bit?  Is it jealousy that she has a platform at Pam’s House Blend and you do not?  Start your own blog, then.  It isn’t all that easy to constantly come up with something to say that isn’t a regular engagement in ad hominem attacks.

I’ll admit HRC is way too upper crust to be my favorite organization and I am dubious about the whole idea of putting so much energy into lobbying in DC, an activity that always leaves minority communities at a disadvantage as they can never match the right wing corporate big bucks or the religious right’s tax free big bucks.  But… HRC isn’t our enemy.  If you need a list of people who are our enemies and are ruthless and relentless in their efforts to harm us cruise on over to Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Watch List of 18 Organizations that Advocate anti-LGBT/TQ bigotry.

As I pointed out yesterday name calling of each other, lack of respect for post-SRS folks needs to stop.  I should add that just as gays and lesbians need to police their transphobia there are a lot of people who identify as transgender who should try policing their own homophobia.

As a post-transsexual woman who came out before many in the  communities supposedly collected under the label of Transgender Community were born I have been aware of the homophobia that emanates from the heterosexual CD community.  I am well aware of how much of the ideology of the social construct “Transgender” grew out of the misogynistic and transsexual hating “World According to Virginia Prince”.  Hell, IFGE even gives out an award named for Prince.

I am equally aware of the homophobia on the part of many of my heterosexual post-transsexual sisters, particularly on the part of those who expect lesbian post-transsexual women to completely support their right to heterosexual marriage even giving it priority over our working with other lesbian women towards full marriage equality which would automatically protect their heterosexual marriage as well.

Speaking of marriage…  There are a lot of post-transsexual women who are lesbian and men who are gay.  Often we are pretty much assimilated into our lives as the era of our transition and sex change operations fade into ancient history.

For us the big issues like  trans-inclusion in ENDA and even trans-specific hate crimes laws aren’t necessarily all that personal.  Often times the complaints about how flexible the inclusion (gender queer) part is going to be, leaves us fuming the same way it leaves cis-sex/ gender gay and lesbian folks fuming.  I’m speaking about consistency of presentation. We all know the standard phrase, so I won’t set off a flame war by repeating it.

One thing about having been around as long as I have is that I can recall  marriage equality as being  something gay and lesbian people have pushed for since 1970-71.

I’m also aware that there wasn’t “transgender community” involvement back in those days.  The whole “Transgender Community” with “Transgender as Umbrella” meme is about 20 years old.

During that time there have been a lot of demands placed on on the Gay and Lesbian communities without much quid pro quo on the part of the various trans-communities.  I say that as some one with a foot in both the lesbian and transsexual communities.

Currently marriage equality is being played out on the state level as marriage is a state issue.  The only federal issue is DOMA and I think that is going to be fought in the courts.

Trashing the people who put themselves out there and actually work for change ranks up there with self-cutting as a form of self destructive behavior.

I saw this within both feminist and lesbian movements in the 1970s.  No one likes getting publicly trashed.  When the trashing of people who put their bodies on the line becomes the norm, people stop stepping forth and putting their bodies on the line either as leaders or as foot soldiers.

The transsexual community naturally burns through leaders quickly as being transsexual is often a relatively brief portion of one’s life.  Unless one becomes involved with the community on a professional basis.

Also being the professional transsexual spokesperson wears thin really quickly.

I have a suggestion. One that helped pass the amendment to the California Hate Crimes Law.

Instead of tearing each other to ribbons and destroying any relationship that has been built up with the gay and lesbian communities try working to elect a candidate to the House who will sponsor ENDA or at least vote for it.

At least think twice before starting flame wars and forming circular firing squads. These wars have a tendency to go on for years and after January 2013 you may just want to be able to work with some of the folks you are trashing today for their failures over the last few years.