Illegal Foreclosure Epidemic

From Other Words:

Robo-signing foreclosure paperwork is a federal crime, but no bank or banker has even been charged.

By Jim Hightower
August 15, 2011

Two-year-olds often go running around the house too wildly and crash into something. They get an “ouchie” and fall down crying, but they learn from it.

That’s the virtue of the “ouchie” that Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and other big financiers got last year when they ran into the law after racing wildly through home foreclosure paperwork. They were caught falsifying thousands of documents and taking illegal shortcuts that were causing innocent families to lose their homes. They had to pay fines, make restitution, suspend foreclosures, and pledge to clean up their act. But at least they learned their lesson.

Oh, wait — these aren’t two-year-olds. They are wily bankers, and the only lesson they ever seem to learn is that shortcuts can be profitable — as long as you don’t get caught. But once again they’ve been caught rushing through foreclosures, using the same old scam called “robo-signing.”

To foreclose on someone’s home, an authorized bank employee must sign the foreclosure document, swearing that the facts in it are true. But that requires hiring people to review each case. To avoid that cost, they take an illegal shortcut by signing the name of someone who has not read the document and might not even exist.

In one Massachusetts county, for example, the signature of “Linda Green” has recently appeared on some 1,300 foreclosures. Curiously, her signature was written in many different styles, and she had many different titles. Also, there’s no Linda Green presently working in the mortgage banking company involved. Meanwhile, state officials say that robo-signing is, once again, “an epidemic” all across the country.

It’s a federal crime to do this, yet no bank or banker has even been charged. Until we put a CEO in jail, the banking barons will never learn their lesson.

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Shiny Happy Corporate People

From Truth Out:

by: Richard (RJ) Eskow, Campaign for America’s Future
August 13, 2011

Mitt Romney got a lot of press for telling a heckler at the Iowa State Fair that “corporations are people.” He did not go on to sing that Patti Smith song, People Have the Power.

But corporate “people” certainly do. Their power was on display this week, both in Washington and among the Republicans campaigning for the nomination.

Ordinary People

Here’s Romney’s quote in context:

“Corporations are people, my friend… of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People’s pockets. Human beings, my friend.”

There’s an interesting parsing of language going on here. Corporate money does eventually go into some people’s pockets, of course, but Romney said “everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people.” “The people” is a phrase that refers to everyone — the citizenry, the polis, the masses … Romney’s implying that corporate earnings go to all of us. The truth is that executive compensation has never been greater when it’s compared to worker pay or average family incomes. That’s one reason why we’ve been experiencing a massive transfer of wealth from the bottom 90% of Americans to the top 1%.

But that’s not the sort of thing you want to say at a State Fair, is it? In that setting it’s better to speak of corporations as “people” – or, if you prefer, as “jes’ folks.”

But if they’re people, why don’t you ever see them at state fairs? After all, people love fairs, so why don’t they ever go? And when they do go to the fair, shouldn’t they be allowed to participate in fun events along with all us other people? Halliburton should be able to swing that big mallet and make the bell ring. Exxon Mobil should be able to enter the 4H drawing and win a side of beef. And Blackwater should be able to shoot the popup prairie dog and win a stuffed animal for its date.

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Film Describes Koch brothers Role in Resegregating Wake Schools

From Robert Greenwald Brave New Films:

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Why Is Sean Hannity So Mad You’re Having Sex? 5 Ways Conservatives Attack Sexual Freedom

From Alternet:

Conservatives’ attacks on sexuality have grown more radical, in the past year alone.

By Amanda Marcotte
August 14, 2011

The hard right turn taken by the conservative movement in the past couple of years has meant a rapid increase in conservatives taking unpopular stances: opposing Social Security and Medicare, pushing for a default on government debt, and various austerity measures sure to protect the rich while plunging the rest of the country into economic darkness. But they haven’t just embraced wildly unpopular views on economic issues, but also on social issues, especially when it comes to sexual freedom.

Traditionally, conservatives have kept their attacks on sexual freedom limited to areas where they know they can gin up more controversy, such as gay rights and abortion. They had a larger anti-sex agenda, but knew it would be hard to sell to the public at large, and so merely chewed on the corners of sexual liberation. But something about the election of Obama caused a synapse to blow in the right-wing brain, and the attacks on sexual liberation have expanded beyond gay rights and abortion. Now conservatives are attacking sexual freedom on many fronts: abortion, access to contraception, and freedom to be sexual without being assaulted for it, freedom to be sexual no matter your race or class.

Here’s five ways conservative attacks on sexuality have grown more radical in the past year alone:

1. Turning contraception into a political issue. Conservative pundits and activists have really turned up the intensity of their attacks on contraception. That’s contraception, not abortion. Since contraception doesn’t have any real implications for fetal life, the pretense that conservatives oppose abortion out of some great love of life has been gradually abandoned in favor of blatant attacks on contraception access, complete with warnings about the supposed evils of non-procreative sexuality.

It started with the Republicans attempting to shut down the federal government over subsidized contraception for poor women. The surface excuse for bringing budget negotiations to a halt over contraception subsidies was that Planned Parenthood offers abortions with a separate funding stream, but that rationalization was thin even by conservative standards, and fell apart when Planned Parenthood supporters pointed out that contraception prevents abortion.

Plus, some legislators didn’t even bother to keep up appearances. Rep. Steve King lambasted Planned Parenthood’s federal funding by declaring that the century-old organization is “invested in promiscuity,” a claim that assumes promiscuity isn’t capable of selling itself.

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Ed Miliband: I can’t excuse looting but the rich must share the blame

From The Guardian UK:

The Labour leader has walked a tightrope to ensure he does not appear soft on the rioters, but he insists the issues are complex

, Political Editor, Saturday 13 August 2011

Ed Miliband cannot move more than a few paces along Tottenham‘s high street without residents grabbing his arm and pouring out their hearts. Anguish is written on faces, and voices tremble as they pull the Labour leader aside for a word.

Emotions remain raw a week on from the riots that scarred their community. “It is a disaster,” says Irene Allen, a mother of six and grandmother of 16. “Tottenham was just coming up. We were doing so well. It grieves my heart to see what happened to this place.”

If there had been one problem that transformed anger with the police over the unexplained shooting of a local man – Mark Duggan – into violence, and then to anarchic looting, she thinks it was that “young people in this community don’t have anything to do”.

Just up the road, near the burnt-out shell of a listed building that used to be Tottenham’s post office, came a contrary view. “It is rubbish to say there is not enough for young people here,” said Kavell May. “There are loads of places for them to go. But whatever they build for these kids, they just trash them.”

Her message to the Labour leader was that it was pure criminality – not the fault of the community but that of absent parents, and a drug and alcohol culture in which they bought up their young.

During an hour on the high street where it all began, Miliband met anger, sadness, despair and hope – all competing with one another. If the Labour leader was looking for quick answers or a consistency of view, he quickly became aware he would not find them.

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BART Cell Phone Interruption: FCC Past Shows Act Was Not Legal

From SF Gate:

August 13, 2011

Yesterday’s action where the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area Rapid System took the step of interrupting or blocking cell phone service has increased from the first blog post on this, the one in this space, charging that BART’s act was not legal, to a much Twitter-tweeted matter where BART’s action was consistently said not to be legal.

While BART charges that the action was legal, but has not given concrete evidence to support the claim as of this writing (and this blogger has called BART), a look at recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) actions shows that BART’s response to the feared protest was not illegal, and given FCC patterns, open to investigation.

According to sources, BART’s complaint about what this blogger installed rests on the idea that it did not use a cell phone jamming device, but simply turned off the cell phone antenna system serving certain San Francisco BART stations.

That was not my point.

My point is that, according to a number of online sources, BART’s attempt to interrupt cell phone service is not legal, not that the method that was used was illegal. The FCC is not concerned with method, so much as intent and result of an action like the one BART took.

For example, Ibtimes reports that on February 26, 2011 in Silver Springs, Maryland:

The FCC is investigating the possibility that a Verizon service blackout prevented subscribers from connecting 911 calls and reaching the local fire department. The inability to complete the calls may have resulted in the destruction of Maryland woman’s house…Many residents of Maryland’s Montgomery and Price George’s counties experienced similar disruptions of service, and the FCC is attempting to figure out the cause.Verizon did not respond to inquiries by the police in the area. But what this proves is the Federal Communications Commission does not give a pass to an organization responsible for a cell phone outage because it’s a carrier, or because the organization didn’t use a cell phone jamming system to interrupt service.

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Hackers target San Francisco’s rapid transit system

From CNN:

By the CNN Wire Staff
August 14, 2011

(CNN) — Members of a well-known hacking group — according to a statement and Twitter messages — took credit Sunday for an online attack targeting San Francisco’s embattled transit system.

Anonymous — in a news release attributed to the group, and backed up by related Twitter pages — said it would take down the website of the Bay Area Rapid Transit System, known as BART, between noon and 6 p.m. PT Sunday. This is in response to the system’s decision to cut off cellphone signals at “select” subway stations in response to a planned protest last week.

“By (cutting cell service), you have not only threatened your citizens’ safety, you have also performed an act of censorship,” a seemingly computer-generated voice — speaking over dramatic music and images — said in a video posted online Sunday afternoon. “By doing this, you have angered Anonymous.”

On Sunday afternoon, a link off BART’s website to apparently had been hacked. It showed a page featuring, among other items, the Anonymous logo — a smirking mask above two crossed swords, all on a black background.

In addition, Twitter traffic related to Anonymous boasted that hackers had been able to get into BART’s internal network. Several related items and documents were posted, including one claiming to be “the User Info Database of” This had e-mails and, in some cases, phone numbers of hundreds of people.

“We apologize to any citizen that has his information published, but you should go to BART and ask them why your information wasn’t secure with them,” the posted item said. “Also do not worry, probably the only information that will be abused from this database is that of BART employees.”

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Lesbian Health Advocate Among Five Killed When Indiana State Fair Stage Collapsed


by Karen Ocamb
August 14, 2011

Strong winds hit the Indiana State Fair Saturday night unexpectedly causing the collapse of the concert stage metal scaffolding into the “pit” of fans waiting to hear the group Sugarland. At least five people were killed and 40 others were injured. Among the five killed was Christina Santiago, the lesbian manager of programming for the Lesbian Community Care Project at the Howard Brown Health Center.

Here is the press release the center issued Sunday afternoon:

Howard Brown Health Center Mourns the Loss of Colleague, Friend and Women’s Health Champion, Christina Santiago

CHICAGO (August 14, 2011) – On Saturday, Howard Brown Health Center (HBHC) lost a treasured colleague and a community champion for women’s health, Christina Santiago, manager of programming for the Lesbian Community Care Project (LCCP) at HBHC. Santiago died tragically with four others when a concert stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis.

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Christian 7 Mountains Dominionism Unleashed: The 300, Perry and the Presidency

From The God Discussion:

July 13, 2011

“Christian dominionsm” is a term loosely used to describe the growing wave of New Apostolic Reformation, Christian reconstructionist and other religious movements calling themselves the remnant church.  They subscribe to “the Seven Mountains Mandate” that calls for domination of all areas of culture so that all nations on the planet become Christian theocracies.  In essence, the earth shall become a Christian kingdom for Christ to return to rule.

The seven areas of culture, called mountains and “spheres,” include government (and finance), education (and science), business, family, religion, arts and entertainment, and media.  This list of “mountains” and “spheres” are beginning to show up everywhere, such as in the Dobsons’ National of Day of Prayer Task Force mission statement.

The end times are near in their way of thinking.  For those self-appointed “prophets” and “apostles” amongst them, they believe that they have a responsibility to demonstrate “signs and wonders” in order lead people to salvation because they are lights in the midst of shaking and have the portals of heaven above them.  The less charismatic simply want to dominate the culture and lean more toward Biblical legalism.

Regardless of the nuances of their respective theologies, the endgame is the same:  Everyone must conform to their form of Christianity.  Mormons, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Catholics, atheists, agnostics, the “spiritual but not religious” and everyone else not “the right kind of Christian” are expelled from the kingdom.

It all seems like a conspiracy theory or a crackpot brand of religion.  Yet, it is becoming increasingly popular in Christianity and its leaders are heavily involved in politics.

The Lausanne Movement:  10-Year Plan for Global Conversion Announced.

At the core of all of this is something called the Lausanne Movement.

It was started by Billy Graham in 1974 with the Congress on World Evangelization held in Lausanne, Switzerland.   A year later, two of the Lausanne conference leaders — the late Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade and Loren Cunningham, founder of Youth With a Mission — announced the Seven Mountains Mandate.

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When the US defaulted: 40 years since the collapse of the Bretton Woods Agreement

From World Socialist Web Site:

By Nick Beams
15 August 2011
Much of the commentary on the significance of the Standard and Poor’s downgrade of the US credit rating has dismissed the significance of this event on the grounds that the US would never default on its debt. But 40 years ago today the US did default when President Nixon went on Sunday night television to tell the world that America would no longer honour its commitment to redeem US dollars for gold.

This unilateral decision shattered the Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944 that had formed the basis for the revival of international trade and investment after World War II, providing a key foundation for the post-war capitalist boom.

The Bretton Woods Agreement was outcome of several years of negotiations and discussions between the leading economic and financial figures in the United States and Britain. There was a broad understanding on both sides that unless the basis for a new international financial system were established, the post-war economy would rapidly return to the conditions of the 1930s, posing the threat of social revolution.

But there were sharp differences between the two sides. John Maynard Keynes, the leading British negotiator, who had made his name with his searing critique of the Versailles Treaty of 1919 that ended World War I, was anxious to maintain the economic position of Britain, while forced to recognise the overwhelming economic supremacy of the United States. Keynes proposed that an international currency, bancor, be established, administered by an International Clearing Union which would regulate trade.

This was rejected by the US administration and its chief negotiator Harry Dexter White. Having established its hegemony over its capitalist rivals, the US not prepared to submit itself to the international regulation that Keynes’s plan envisaged. However, while the US secured the establishment of the dollar as the preeminent global currency, it was forced to make a concession by guaranteeing that all dollars outside the US could be redeemed for gold at the rate of $35 per ounce. On the basis of the dollar-gold relationship, all major international currencies were tied to the dollar and thereby to each other at a fixed rate. Together with the push to establish free trade, fixed currency relations were aimed at preventing the destructive competitive currency devaluations that had erupted in the 1930s.

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Bachmann: ‘I would reinstate’ DADT

New Exposé Reveals Rick Perry’s Close Ties to Radical Evangelicals and Self-Proclaimed Prophets

From Alternet:

A group of radical Christians and self-proclaimed prophets from a little-known movement called the New Apostolic Reformation have been quietly pushing for Perry.

By Amy Goodman
August 12, 2011

AMY GOODMAN: Republican Governor Rick Perry of Texas is expected to announce Saturday he’ll be entering the presidential race. Perry will make the announcement at a conference in South Carolina organized by Erick Erickson’s Perry is then scheduled to travel to New Hampshire, site of the first 2012 presidential primary, and then on to Iowa.

In 2000, Perry succeeded then-Governor George W. Bush, who resigned to become president. Perry went on to win three gubernatorial terms, in 2002, 2006 and 2010. Early Perry backers, at least presidential backers, have heralded him as being behind the so-called Texas economic miracle. This TV ad has already begun airing in Iowa.

JOBS FOR IOWA AD: What if we had a candidate for president with a real record of creating jobs, a conservative with proven leadership in tough times, the leader of a state that created more jobs in the past two years than the other 49 states combined, with no state income tax and no deficit, a decade of balanced budgets? What if we had a better option for president? We do. Rick Perry. Jobs for Iowa is responsible for the content of this advertising.

AMY GOODMAN: But many have questioned Governor Perry’s economic claims in Texas. The Pulitzer Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman pointed out recent economic data suggest the Texas budget gap is worse than New York’s, about as bad as California’s, not quite up to New Jersey levels.

Questions have also arisen over Governor Perry’s close ties to the radical wing of the Christian evangelical movement. On Saturday, Perry helped organize and spoke at a controversial seven-hour Christian prayer rally in Houston called “The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis.”

GOV. RICK PERRY: Father, our heart breaks for America. We see discord at home. We see fear in the marketplace. We see anger in the halls of government. And as a nation, we have forgotten who made us, who protects us, who blesses us. And for that, we cry out for Your forgiveness.

AMY GOODMAN: Governor Perry, leading the prayer session. It drew 30,000 participants, received national press. Little attention was paid to the Christian evangelicals Perry worked with to organize the event.

The Texas Observer has just published an explosive new article titled “Rick Perry’s Army of God.” It exposes how a group of radical Christians and self-proclaimed prophets from a little-known movement known as New Apostolic Reformation have been quietly pushing for Perry to run for president. The author of the article, Forrest Wilder, is a staff reporter at theTexas Observer. He’s joining us from Austin.

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