Tuesday, January 11, 2011

More Mess on Securitization Foreclosures

Foreclosure_Fraud_Stop_RGB New Orleans The top court in Massachusetts has now served notice on more pervasive foreclosure fraud in Wall Street’s securitization pools.  The court turned back two foreclosures as nothing more than grave dancing by US Bancorp and Wells Fargo, since they could not prove that they actually owned the title when they pulled the plug on the homeowners in 2007.  Though the decision seems nails the whole securitization schemes as likely fraught with fraud, the banks and others are still obfuscating without any promise of reform.

So if US Bancorp and Wells Fargo are not to blame who is?  Sit down and focus now, because anyone might lose their feet in these dizzying explanations, and I for one don’t want to be responsible, and clearly the bank are not willing to be responsible for anything at all!
  • According to the Times the spokesman for US Bancorp says it’s not them, but the servicer, American Home Mortgage Servicing, the messed up.  Why?  They were “solely a trustee concerning a mortgage owned by a securitization trust.”
  • Same for Wells Fargo according to their spokeswoman, who gilds the lily by saying, “The loans…were not originated, owned, serviced, or foreclosed upon by Wells Fargo.”  They were just the trustee, so it was someone else’s fault, is their claim.
Some of this is nothing more than poppycock.  I remember well meeting with representatives of Deustche Bank in New York City and elsewhere on these issues repeatedly, when they were one of the leading trustees for many mortgage securitization pools.  They would complain about how little they made as trustees and describe their role as technical, almost like a name of the door with little real power or authority, but the gatekeeper for all of the investors in the pool and the holder of record.  The conversations in 2007 and 2008 drove us crazy because in real estate records, the trustee’s name appears routinely as the foreclosing agent and would often be on signs in the neighborhood in places like Oakland where they were prominent.  They would fuss and fume, but the bottom line was that they routinely made the offer to me that they would pull out any controversial mortgage from the pool rather than have it become an issue and when I gave them a list of properties where we had issues, they offered to identify the servicer so that we could work out a solution.

So the “trustee” might have had the short stick in this game, but contrary to the claims of their spokesfolks, they were paid to do what the court found them guilty of not doing well, and they were anything but innocent bystanders here!

The only one talking truth here seems to be one of the lawyers, Paul Collier, representing an aggrieved borrower:

“It’s been pretty clear…that the securitization industry has behaved as though it were immune from consumer protection laws, state homeowner protection laws and real estate regulations in its underwriting, securitization and foreclosure practices.  I am quite confident that this is merely the first petal off the rose with regard to predatory foreclosure practices.”
Amen, brother!

Hall Institute Statement on State of the State

Statement on Governor Christie's State of the State Address from Richard Lee, an analyst with the Hall Institute of Public Policy - New Jersey:

"Governor Christie clearly conveyed the challenges that lie ahead for New Jersey in terms of fiscal management, pension reform and quality education, but these are the same issues that have been on table for years.
"We don’t need to be told what the problems are. We need the Governor and the Legislature to work collectively and take the bold, courageous actions the state needs, regardless of how difficult or politically unpopular those actions may be.

"As the Governor noted today, the Administration and the Legislature did work cooperatively on several major initiatives in 2010. It is important for this to continue, even in a year in which the Legislature is up for election."

U.S. abortion rate stalls after years of decline

111abortThe long-term decline in the U.S. abortion rate stalled in 2008, according to the latest comprehensive survey of America’s abortion providers.

The Guttmacher Institute reported Tuesday that there were 1.21 million abortions in 2008 and a rate of 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44.
Both figures were up slightly from the previous 2005 survey, ending a steady decline since 1990, when U.S. abortions peaked at 1.6 million and the abortion rate was 27.4.

Sharon Camp, the institute’s president, said the stalled numbers should serve as an “urgent message” to policymakers that access to contraceptive services should be increased to prevent unintended pregnancy.

But many pro-life advocates believe abortion rates can best be lowered through abstinence education, citing a 2008 The American Journal of Health Behavior report that said students receiving abstinence education were about half as likely to start sexual activity as students who did not receive such education.
Pro-life advocates also believe tougher state restrictions can curb the number of abortions. With conservative gains in legislatures in the Nov. 2 elections, many states will be considering expanded restrictions. For instance, lawmakers in several states would like to emulate Nebraska in outlawing abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on studies that show that unborn babies can feel pain after that point.

The new Guttmacher report documented sharp variations by state—with abortion rates over 30 percent in Delaware, New York, and New Jersey, and at or below 6 percent in Wyoming, Mississippi, Kentucky, South Dakota, and Idaho.

The report also documented a significant increase in early medication abortion, entailing use of the abortion pill. The number of such procedures performed in abortion centers rose from 161,000 to 199,000 between 2005 and 2008, accounting for about 17 percent of abortions.

According to the new study, the number of abortion providers changed little—from 1,787 to 1,793 – between 2005 and 2008.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

RIP Dick Winters

Posted by Van Helsing at January 11, 2011 7:37 AM

Major Dick Winters, the WWII hero who inspired the TV series Band of Brothers, died Saturday of Parkinson disease complications at age 92.
On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Winters commanded a group of troops who parachuted behind enemy lines onto Utah Beach, where thousands of Allied troops landed for the invasion of Normandy.
Winter and his Easy Company went on to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, the last-ditch Nazi offensive in western France. He also took part in the liberation of the Dachau death camp and numerous other battles.
Winters earned the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroics. Some feel he deserves the Congressional Medal of Honor. He certainly deserves to be remembered.
Thank you Major Winters for your contribution in the never-ending battle to defend liberty from its enemies.

Regina King & Jackee Harry Drunk As Ever On Live Television Show!

Regina King and her former “227″ castmate Jackee Harry got drunk on Bravo’s “What What Happens Live” aftershow that aired after Sunday night’s “The Real Housewives Of Atlanta.” They seemed to have been drinking before the camera rolled, too.

Though we want to be angry at the ladies for their lack of professionalism, we can’t help but laugh. The two seem to enjoying their reunion so much, we can’t hate.
Host Andy Cohen tried to do damage control, tweeting: “Um – my guests JUST realized this show is live!” and “I love live tv. Any damn thing can happen!”

He blogged later,

“I honestly didn’t realize that my guests were loaded when I met them 20 minutes before the show, and I also think they’re the type of people who lose their muffins (in a good way!) when they’re together — and they hadn’t been together in a while. So Regina King and Jackee brought a ton of fun and energy to the Clubhouse last night!!!”

Jay-Z Invests In Brooklyn Chicken Wing Joint

Written by Kid Fury

TMZ is reporting that Jay-Z “secretly” invested in a Brooklyn chicken wing restaurant along with his mother and sister, while his first-cousin Jamar White is part-owner. The wing joint is called Buffalo Boss and has already opened to success. I feel like I had a premonition of this once, except BeyoncĂ© was co-owner and there was Creole sauce for an extra 99 cents and Dereon fashion shows on the tables. Dah well!

Drudge: Was Mayor Bloomberg in Bermuda when blizzard slammed NYC?

Blizzard Puzzle Solved? Bloomberg Plane Seen in Bermuda - NYTimes.com
Just where Mr. Bloomberg was over the Christmas weekend, as a snowstorm bore down on New York City, remains a mystery, prompting intense speculation in the New York press, even now.

Mr. Bloomberg and his aides refuse to talk about it. But the residents of Bermuda have taken no such vow of silence.

They say that Mr. Bloomberg’s plane arrived on the island, where he owns a large waterfront vacation home, sometime after midnight on Christmas morning. They spoke on condition of anonymity, for fear of inflaming the mayor and the local authorities, who prize discretion for visiting dignitaries.

Ivory Coast: Election observer Preda calls for verdict to be recognised

Supporters of Alassane Ouattara, who the world says won Ivory Coast's disputed Presidential vote, protest with a banner reading 'Gbabgo accept the vote and Go' on the sidelines of a meeting between Ouattara and envoys representing the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)on January 3, 2011. ©BELGA
The stalemate following the Ivory Coast election continues unabated with incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refusing to accept that his opponent Alassane Ouattara won the November Presidential poll. The UN, EU and the European Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have accepted Ouattara as the victor and called on Gbagbo to step aside. We spoke to the head of the European Parliament's election observation mission to Ivory Coast, Cristian Dan Preda (EPP), about the situation. 

He warned that the situation could escalate and noted that at least 200 people have died in election-related violence since 28 November. The election result recognised by the United Nations gives Mr Ouattara  54.1% of the votes and Mr Gbagbo 45.9%.

President Laurent Gbagbo is in the Presidential Palace guarded by Ivorian troops whilst Alassane Ouattara is in a hotel guarded by UN and ECOWAS soldiers. A delegation of senior officials from neighbouring countries have met Mr Gbagbo and tried and failed to get him to step aside. The Nigerian President Good luck Jonathon is believed to be leading the West African mediation efforts.

Sanctions and Gbagbo assets frozen

In December the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on Mr Gbagbo to stand aside. It also threw its weight behind collective measures being taken by EU governments to implement sanctions against the Gbagbo regime and freeze the assets and revoke the visa of Mr Gbagbo and his advisers. A few days later the UN's Security Council passed a resolution congratulating the people of the Ivory Coast on holding the election and demanding that Mr Gbagbo recognise the result.

Cristian Dan Preda said, the ex-President "must accept the verdict of the ballot box". He stressed the need for "negotiations and sanctions" to resolve the situation and noted, "it is not often that the international community speak with one voice" as they are doing over Ivory Coast.

Ivory Coast used to be hailed as one of West Africa's great success stories for its democracy and growing economy. Its people will be hoping for a successful resolution of this crisis as soon as possible.

Vice President Biden Arrives In Afghanistan For Transition Talks

Vice President Biden And Afghan President Karzai

Vice President Joe Biden Visits Afghanistan -- L.A. Times

Vice President Joe Biden's unannounced trip to Afghanistan is aimed at assessing progress toward Afghan-led security, the White House says. He is to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, U.S. Gen. David Petraeus and American Ambassador Karl Eikenberry.

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Joe Biden has arrived in Afghanistan on an unannounced visit "to assess progress toward the transition to Afghan-led security beginning this year, and to demonstrate the United States' commitment to a long-term partnership with Afghanistan," the White House announced Monday.

The trip is Biden's first to Afghanistan since becoming vice president, though he traveled there as vice president-elect in 2009.

Read more ...

Janet Jackson - North American tour dates announced!

Janet Jackson has announced the North American stops as part of her largest world tour, which will begin on Feb. 7, 2011 in Singapore and include 35 cities worldwide.

The 44-year-old singer will perform songs from her "Number Ones" CD at the concerts. Fans were able to vote on the cities on the Jackson's website. Tickets for her world tour went on sale on Jan. 7, 2011.

"I've seen the world, been to many places," the singer said in a statement. "The one thing missing was you. We'll be together in Singapore on February 7th and I can't wait to sing, dance, and be up close and personal with all of you. It's not about effects, it's not an extravaganza, it's not about being as big as in the past. This one is all about you and me."

The singer's American tour dates include The Chicago Theatre in Chicago on March 7 and 8, Radio City Music Hall in New York on March 18, and the Gibson Amphitheatre in Los Angeles on April 14.

Jackson, who recently appeared in Tyler Perry's movie, "For Colored Girls," also plans to release on February 8 a book called "True You," which is about her struggles and advice regarding dieting and fitness.

Check out the full list of United States and Canada tour dates below:

Chicago, IL March 7 & 8
The Chicago Theatre

Toronto, ON, Canada March 12
Sony Centre for the Performing Arts

Uncasville, CT, March 16
Mohegan Sun Arena

New York, NY March 18
Radio City Music Hall

Washington DC March 22
DAR Constitution Hall

Atlantic City, NJ March 25 & 26
Borgata Spa & Resort Event Center

Atlanta, GA March 29
Fox Theatre

Saint Louis, MO March 31
Fox Theatre

Grand Prairie, TX April 2
Verizon Theatre

Denver, CO April 6
Wells Fargo Theatre at the Colorado Convention Center

Phoenix, AZ April 8
Comerica Theatre

Santa Barbara, CA April 9
Santa Barbara Bowl

Los Angeles, CA April 14
Gibson Amphitheatre

San Francisco, CA April 19
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium

Las Vegas, NV April 22 & 23
Caesars Palace - The Colosseum

Russell Simmons and Roger Ailes Talk Media Following the Tragedy in AZ..

January 10, 2011
Roger Ailes, the President of Fox News, spoke exclusively with Russell Simmons, the founder of GlobalGrind.com. Following the horrific shootings in Tucson, Arizona on Saturday, January 8, 2011, Mr. Simmons and Mr. Ailes spoke about the rising tension within the media…

CBS Poll: 57% of Americans Don''t Blame Political Tone for Tucson Shooting

Topics: Political News and commentaries

Philip Klein points to a new CBS news poll (again, it's a CBS poll ... I'd be interested in what Rasmussen would find) showing that nearly six in ten Americans don't think the political tone had anyting to do with the Tucson shooting:
Overall, 57 percent of respondents said the harsh political tone had nothing to do with the shooting, compared to 32 percent who felt it did. Republicans were more likely to feel the two were unrelated - 69 percent said rhetoric was not to blame; 19 percent said it played a part. Democrats were more split on the issue - 49 percent saw no connection; 42 percent said there was.
As Klein goes on to note, when even a plurality of Democrats don't think harsh rhetoric had anything to do with the shooting, it's clear that liberals' desperate attempts to pin this attack on conservatives have been failing. This is largely a result of the fact that a) there has been no evidence to support such a link and b) conservatives did a good job pushing back against the left-wing effort to exploit this tragedy.

Perhaps it would be appropriate to also add that, as mixed up and loony as the Arizona shooter indeed is, whatever ideology he actually has (insanity has no set ideology) - it's far more Left than Right. However, even given his leftist bent, there's no way to attribute his evil act to any particular leftist rhetoric or personality.

ALG Condemns Political Exploitation of Arizona Slayings as“Sick” and “Twisted”

January 10th, 2011, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson today condemned the efforts by pundits and politicians to link the murderous rampage by Jared Loughner to politics:

“Our thoughts and prayers as a nation should be with the victims of the Tucson slayings by Jared Loughner, and their grieving families. Instead, soulless partisan hacks are attempting to cast these attacks in some political context, seeking to blame everyone from Sarah Palin, the tea parties, to the Republican Party at large for somehow inciting Loughner’s killings, the motive of which may never be clear.

“Meanwhile, the motive for linking Loughner to the political right is more than transparent, it is a sick political agenda that seeks to take advantage of this tragedy. Once again, the shameless strategy is to blame a horrendous act of carnage on conservatives, Republicans, or tea parties for the purpose of delegitimizing their philosophy of governing. Enough is enough.

“The American people should not even dignify this twisted strategy as legitimate discourse. It is nothing more than fear-mongering. To try to politicize this tragedy is to scapegoat millions of Americans who only have legitimate objections to their government. The American people will not be bullied from protesting their government, even as they condemn and mourn the needless slaughter by a lone lunatic.”

Get permalink here.

Note to Conservatives: Guard Your History

By David Bozeman
February 6th marks the 100th birthday of President Ronald Reagan, and while his legacy as the pre-eminent conservative of the 20th century remains not only unshaken but sturdier than ever, his ideological heirs had better guard the truth of the 1980’s from those who typically rewrite history to suit their own ends.

Conservatives, who typically feel more at home in the realms of military and business, readily concede art and academia to the left. Little wonder that Calvin Coolidge is widely regarded as a docile country bumpkin who slept his presidency away, and Warren Harding, the scandalous bootleg-gin swilling philanderer has transformed the real 29th president who, according to some accounts, literally worked himself to death.

Revisionists today would like history to recall that Ronald Reagan was not the conservative the modern right makes him out to be. A May 2010 Newsweek piece entitled “Even Ronald Reagan Was Not a Reagan Conservative” cites numerous tax increases, a skyrocketing budget deficit and the size of the federal government (versus the Clinton years), among other actions during his presidency, to prove that modern-day conservatives would have booted the Gipper much like they did George W. Bush into his second term.
Get full story here.

New Jersey Winter Storm Warning

We're watching our next coastal storm that will affect New Jersey late today, and especially tonight and early tomorrow. Snow will not arrive in far southern counties (Camden, Gloucester, Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem) until 6, maybe 7 o'clock. Shortly after, it will spread rapidly across the state during the first part of the night. Temperatures today - just in the low 30s, and mostly in the 20s tonight.

There is some hint that there could be a changeover to sleet and rain along the south coast from LBI or just near there, on south to Atlantic City and Cape May. That's why I am only going for 3 to 6 inches down that way.

However, even when the snow tapers off to flurries and ends tomorrow, expect at least 6 inches near the Delaware River, 6 to perhaps 10 inches elsehwere. Highs Wednesday 27 to 32 with blowing and drifting snow.

Partly sunny and still windy Thursday, and only in the 20s.

We should be okay for Friday. We may have another period of snow or just flurries as we head toward later Saturday and Saturday night.

Mending military ties with China

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is in China today. He is trying to mend badly strained military relations. China dramatically curtailed defense ties last year after the Americans announced plans to sell arms to Taiwan. For its part, the US is concerned about China’s growing military might, especially its capacity to develop new weapons. Host Lisa Mullins speaks with The World’s Mary Kay Magistad in Beijing.

Video: Dramatic pictures of Queensland flooding

Assange to face extradition hearing next month

LONDON — Sweden's attempt to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for questioning on sexual assault allegations will be examined by a London court on February 7-8, a judge said Tuesday.
District Judge Nicholas Evans set the date for the full extradition hearing during a 10-minute hearing at Woolwich Crown Court in southeast London.

Watched by dozens of journalists from around the world, the 39-year-old Australian spoke only to confirm his name and address.

The extradition hearing will take place in the same court, which can accommodate more journalists than the smaller court in central London where Assange has appeared previously.

After the hearing, Assange told journalists: "We are happy about today's outcome." He added: "Our work with WikiLeaks continues unabated."

The judge agreed to change Assange's bail conditions for the full hearing, allowing him to stay at the Frontline Club, a media club where WikiLeaks operates in Britain, on the nights of February 6 and February 7.
"The only variation in your bail is that on the nights of the 6th and 7th of February you will be allowed to reside at the Frontline Club in London," the judge said.

Assange has been living on the country estate of Vaughan Smith, one of the founders of the Frontline Club, in Norfolk, eastern England, since being released on bail on December 16, nine days after he was arrested by British police on a Swedish warrant.

Among the spectators at the brief court appearance were two of his high-profile supporters, socialite Jemima Khan and human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger.

Wearing a navy blue suit and a dark tie, the silver-haired Assange appeared relaxed as he appeared in the dock behind a glass screen. Before the hearing he laughed and joked with two female prison officials.

In Advance of Tuesday Night’s Snow, Jersey City Officials Ask for No Parking on Emergency Routes & Say They’ll Open Up Municipal Lots

By Jon Whiten • Jan 10th, 2011 • Category: Blog, News
With the National Weather Service issuing a Winter Storm Warning for Jersey City and surrounding areas Tuesday night into Wednesday night, Jersey City officials are busy preparing for what forecasters say could be up to 14 inches of snow.

The storm warning, which begins at 7 pm Tuesday and lasts until 6 pm Wednesday, says there will be seven to 14 inches of snow, accompanied by wind gusts up to 35 miles per hour, creating visibilities of less than a quarter-mile at times. The heaviest snow is expected to be after midnight Tuesday, with the potential to create “hazardous travel” on Wednesday.

City officials say the Jersey City Incinerator Authority (JCIA) will have all 67 of its plows ready for tomorrow’s storm, just weeks after 18 of them became unusable during the December 26 blizzard. The JCIA also has 2,600 tons of salt ready to hit the city’s roads.

As with last week’s minor storm, the city is once again asking residents to limit driving and to not park on emergency snow routes so they can be more easily plowed.

City spokesperson Jennifer Morrill tells us that two municipal lots will be opened to displaced vehicles beginning tomorrow night: at Cambridge Avenue between Griffith and Bowers Streets in the Heights, and at Montgomery Street and Jordan Avenue (across from the Armory). She says to make sure to park in metered spots, not any spot that says “Reserved,” since local businesses pay to rent some spots in the lots.
Here are the emergency routes:
  • JFK Boulevard from Journal Square to Montgomery Street
  • Bergen Avenue from Journal Square to Montgomery Street
  • Sip Avenue from JFK Boulevard to Summit Avenue
  • Communipaw Avenue from Route 440 to Bergen Avenue
  • Newark Avenue from Route 1/9 to Marin Boulevard
  • Montgomery Street from West Side Avenue to the Hudson River
  • Manhattan Avenue from Route 1/9 to Central Avenue
  • MLK Drive from Communipaw Avenue to McAdoo Avenue
  • Broadway from Tonnelle Avenue to Route 440
  • Danforth Avenue from Princeton Avenue to West Side Avenue
  • Bergen Avenue from Academy Street to Communipaw Avenue
  • Palisade Avenue from Route 139 to the Union City border
  • West Side Avenue from Broadway to Danforth Avenue
  • Columbus Drive from Center Street to the Hudson River
  • Ocean Avenue from Bramhall Avenue to Merritt Street
  • Grove Street from Newark Avenue to Grand Street
  • Central Avenue between Route 139 and the Union City border
  • Summit Avenue between Manhattan Avenue North and Secaucus Road
  • Baldwin Avenue between Beacon Avenue and Montgomery Street
  • Jersey Avenue between Grand and 8th Streets

Tom Delay Sentenced To 3 Years In Prison

From The Houston Chronicle:
Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay today was sentenced to three years in prison for his conviction on a charge of conspiracy to commit political money laundering. He also was sentenced to five years in prison on a money laundering conviction, but the judge probated that to 10 years of community supervision.
DeLay was taken into custody by Travis County deputies, but will be released on $10,000 bail pending appeal.
DeLay pleaded for himself before visiting District Judge Pat Priest.
“I don’t feel remorseful for something I don’t think I did,” DeLay told the judge.
As a Texas Republican it’s pretty stunning to see “The Hammer” going to prison. I just never imagined such a thing. But if he’s guilty then he should suffer the consequences like every other citizen.