09/22/2011 archive

Another Attorney General Joins Foreclosure Fraud Investigation

There have been a couple of new developments in the foreclosure fraud investigation that was initiated by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The coalition of state AG’s who want a real criminal investigation and oppose the 50 state settlement proposal of Iowa AG Tom Miller has grown by one with Kentucky’s AG Jack Conway adding name. From David Dayen at FireDogLake:

The latest AG to stand with Schneiderman and against the attempts to whitewash the fraud of the big banks is Kentucky AG Jack Conway. He is up for re-election this year, and is known nationally by virtue of his unsuccessful challenge to Rand Paul for Senate in 2010. Conway, in conjunction with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, sent an email to supporters aligning himself with Schneiderman.

   The same Wall Street banks whose irresponsible actions led to our nation’s economic collapse are now pressuring all 50 states to give them legal immunity. The banks want to block any criminal or civil accountability for actions that have yet to be investigated.

   Attorneys General from Delaware, Minnesota, Nevada and New York have been fighting back. Today, I want to make a clear statement in support of Wall Street accountability and against immunity for banks – and I ask you to join me on this statement:

   “Today’s economic crisis was caused by Wall Street acting improperly. Every American has paid the price – with families losing their homes, investors losing their money, and many Americans losing their jobs. There should be absolutely no criminal or civil immunity given to banks for activity that has not yet been investigated.”

Several things are important here. Kentucky didn’t really have a big housing bubble – Conway is supporting this on principle, rather than in service to a wide swath of dispossessed and struggling borrowers who are victims of fraud. Second, he writes this in the context of an election which has tightened up minimally. So he obviously finds this to be a winning issue on the campaign trail. Third, it would be tempting to just ignore a proposed settlement that isn’t going to happen. Conway sees political advantage in stamping on this process, which is already flailing.

In another development in Nevada, an attorney has filed criminal charges against Wells Fargo accusing the bank of forging loan documents:

In court papers filed this month in Clark County District Court, attorney Dave Crosby alleged bank employees committed forgery and fraud in making a $350,000 loan to a father of four who was unemployed at the time.

“They forged signatures, they backdated documents,” Crosby said. “We’ve got them cold.”

Crosby said the bank has presented two deeds of trust for the same property. One bears the signature of Olivia A. Todd, who on Jan. 27, 2010, was identified as an assistant secretary with MERS, Inc., a mortgage servicer from the Phoenix area and a co-defendant in the lawsuit.

But on Feb. 16, 2010, Todd’s signature appears on a second deed of trust, where she is identified as the firm’s president. Both assignments were notarized as authentic, Crosby said in court papers.

Crosby made his allegations in a request to have a judge review three failed mediations between him and his clients, Ryan and Mical Henderson of Las Vegas, and lawyers with Wells Fargo, formerly Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

Buried deep in the story was this interesting note:

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto is expected to file criminal charges against bank and title company employees, as well as notary publics, over allegations of robo signing.

The paltry deal of $20 billion by AG Miller that would let the banks off the hook for most civil and criminal liability seems hardly adequate when you really examine the scope of the fraud nation wide.  

“I never paid for sex.”

Evidently untrue.

Berlusconi boasts of sleeping with eight women in one night

Silvio Berlusconi was at the centre of further sordid revelations about his sex life on Saturday after the Italian leader was caught boasting of having sex with eight women in one night.

By Nick Squires, The Telegraph

8:58PM BST 17 Sep 2011

The taped conversations also suggested for the first time that Mr Berlusconi gave money to the women he allegedly slept with, contradicting his repeated insistence that he has never paid for sex.

In revelations which are set to test Italian tolerance to the limit, the conversations also offered the strongest evidence yet that the scandal-prone billionaire used taxpayers’ money and state-owned aircraft to fly alleged prostitutes around Italy.

Last week Mr Berlusconi pushed through parliament a 54 billion euro austerity package which will hit pensions, public services and retirement ages, sparking violent clashes between riot police and demonstrators outside parliament in Rome.

The taped conversations revealed in extraordinary detail how parties involving dozens of young starlets and escort girls were organised for the 74-year-old Italian premier by a middleman, Gianpaolo Tarantini, 36, a convicted cocaine dealer. Mr Tarantini is being investigated for allegedly recruiting young women, and has also been accused of blackmailing the prime minister in exchange for his silence over the alleged prostitution ring.

The latest revelations will increase concerns in Italy over whether Mr Berlusconi can concentrate on rescuing Italy from its acute economic problems at a time when the country risks being sucked into the euro zone crisis.

Mr Berlusconi already faces four trials on charges ranging from bribery, tax fraud and false accounting to paying for sex with Karima El Mahroug, a teenage exotic dancer who prosecutors claim was working as an underage prostitute.

Mr Tarantini is currently in custody for allegedly extorting hundreds of thousands of euros from Mr Berlusconi. The premier says he gave money to Mr Tarantini and his wife, who was also arrested, because he is a generous man who was trying to help a “family in need.”

Brag as he might, Silvio is unlikely to beat the record of Wilt ‘The Stilt’ Chamberlain.



Italy’s tottering prime minister slipping into darkness

How much longer can Silvio Berlusconi go on?

The Economist


Already rocked by thousands of pages of evidence detailing his alleged whoremongering, Italy’s prime minister took a more serious hit on September 20th when Standard & Poor’s, a ratings agency, downgraded Italy and expressed grave doubts about the government’s ability to respond effectively to the crisis in the euro zone. Such views are widely shared in Italy. Most Italians seem to have realised that their prime minister is a liability. His approval rating has slumped below 25%. He lost the unions a long time ago; now employers have lost faith in his right-wing government’s handling of the economy.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Robert Reich: The Republicans’ Latest Ploy to Keep the Economy Lousy through Election Day

Whatever shred of doubt you may have harbored about the determination of congressional Republicans to keep the economy in the dumps through Election Day should now be gone.

Today, in advance of a key meeting of the Federal Reserve Board’s Open Market Committee to decide what to do about the continuing awful economy and high unemployment, top Republicans wrote a letter to Fed Chief Ben Bernanke.

They stated in no uncertain terms the Fed should take no further action to lower long-term interest rates and juice the economy. “We have serious concerns that further intervention by the Federal Reserve could exacerbate current problems or further harm the U.S. economy.”

John Nichols: The Execution of Troy Davis Provides Another “Haunting Reminder of Once Prevalent Southern Lynchings”

“I am innocent,” said Troy Davis, moments before the the state of Georgia put him to death.

The state-sanctioned slaying, which former President Jammy Carter characterized as “a grave miscarriage of justice,” was completed at 11:08 p.m. EST.

Before the execution, the man whose case inspired an international outcry against not just the death penalty but a dysfunctional “justice” system told the witnesses at the Georgia Diagnostic Prison facility: “The incident that night was not my fault. I did not have a gun.”

Addressing the family of, Mark MacPhail, the off-duty Savannah police officer he was accused of killing, Davis said he was sorry for their loss. Then, he said: “I did not personally kill your son, father and brother. I am innocent.”

To those who battled to save his life, Davis urged continued investigation, inquiry and struggle for justice.

Kai Wright and Jamilah King: The Long, Murderous Arm of the Law Has Killed Troy Davis

Let us not mince words: The state of Georgia just murdered Troy Davis. The state coroner will list homicide as his cause of death. But he wasn’t the first and, sadly, he won’t be the last person slaughtered in the name of U.S. law and order. There are today dozens more people scheduled to be killed by states, according to Amnesty International. Their likely deaths represent the ultimate act of perversity in a system that destroys untold thousands of primarily black and brown lives every day.

The execution came following a harrowing and wrenching night for Davis’s family and supporters all over the world. Hundreds had gathered for a vigil outside of the Jackson, Ga., prison where Davis was put to death. Literally minutes before Davis’s scheduled 7 p.m. execution, the U.S. Supreme Court delayed the killing in order to review a final appeal. A little over three hours later, news broke that the court had refused to block the execution. He was slain at 11:08 p.m. eastern.

Amy Goodman; 99 Percenters Occupy Wall Street

If 2,000 tea party activists descended on Wall Street, you would probably have an equal number of reporters there covering them. Yet 2,000 people did occupy Wall Street on Saturday. They weren’t carrying the banner of the tea party, the Gadsden flag with its coiled snake and the threat “Don’t Tread on Me.” Yet their message was clear: “We are the 99 percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent.” They were there, mostly young, protesting the virtually unregulated speculation of Wall Street that caused the global financial meltdown.

One of New York’s better-known billionaires, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, commented on the protests: “You have a lot of kids graduating college, can’t find jobs. That’s what happened in Cairo. That’s what happened in Madrid. You don’t want those kinds of riots here.” Riots? Is that really what the Arab Spring and the European protests are about?

Jesse Jackson: We Ignore Poverty, But It Is On the Rise

Poor people are invisible in our nation’s capital. Republicans defend the affluent, calling them “job creators,” Democrats champion the middle class and those boldest stand with “working families.” The poor go without mention.

Yet the most recent census reveals that a stunning one in six Americans lives in poverty, more than 46 million, the highest number since the government began keeping track. Poverty is rising across all races and all regions.

Gail Collins: What Would Willow the Cat Do?

Right now you’re probably asking yourself: What has Congress been up to since it raised the debt ceiling?

A lot! The House, for instance, recently passed an important resolution repudiating the raising of the debt ceiling.

These are the moments when it becomes clear why nobody wants to talk about politics anymore. In fact, as a public service, I would like to change the subject and point out that Willow, a cat who disappeared from its home in Colorado five years ago, has been found in New York City. How do you think she got here? By car? By foot? Let’s all talk about that for the next hour or two.

Richard Reeves: America the Passive

BERKELEY, Calif.-Democrats should be building statues of former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, or at least giving away copies of her new book, “A Governor’s Story.”

It’s not that her eight years in Lansing were a roaring success. After all, the state was falling apart in the center of a national disaster, manufacturing jobs disappearing or moving overseas. But now that she is a “former,” teaching at her alma mater, the University of California, she has the freedom to talk about what she learned and say a number of things that need to be heard by Americans who can’t seem to get in their heads the idea that the world has changed. And that America has to change too.

As she told Monica Davey of The New York Times last week, after years of cutting taxes and spending, alienating many of her Democratic supporters, especially union members:

“Everything that is hitting the country hit Michigan first.

Media Blackout

On This Day In History September 22

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 22 is the 265th day of the year (266th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 100 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issues a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which sets a date for the freedom of more than 3 million black slaves in the United States and recasts the Civil War as a fight against slavery.

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, shortly after Lincoln’s inauguration as America’s 16th president, he maintained that the war was about restoring the Union and not about slavery. He avoided issuing an anti-slavery proclamation immediately, despite the urgings of abolitionists and radical Republicans, as well as his personal belief that slavery was morally repugnant. Instead, Lincoln chose to move cautiously until he could gain wide support from the public for such a measure.

In July 1862, Lincoln informed his cabinet that he would issue an emancipation proclamation but that it would exempt the so-called border states, which had slaveholders but remained loyal to the Union. His cabinet persuaded him not to make the announcement until after a Union victory. Lincoln’s opportunity came following the Union win at the Battle of Antietam in September 1862. On September 22, the president announced that slaves in areas still in rebellion within 100 days would be free.

The Emancipation Proclamation consists of two executive orders issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War. The first one, issued September 22, 1862, declared the freedom of all slaves in any state of the Confederate States of America  that did not return to Union control by January 1, 1863. The second order, issued January 1, 1863, named ten specific states where it would apply. Lincoln issued the Executive Order by his authority as “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy” under Article II, section 2 of the United States Constitution.

The proclamation did not name the slave-holding border states of Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, or Delaware, which had never declared a secession, and so it did not free any slaves there. The state of Tennessee had already mostly returned to Union control, so it also was not named and was exempted. Virginia was named, but exemptions were specified for the 48 counties that were in the process of forming West Virginia, as well as seven other named counties and two cities. Also specifically exempted were New Orleans and thirteen named parishes of Louisiana, all of which were also already mostly under Federal control at the time of the Proclamation.

The Emancipation Proclamation was criticized at the time for freeing only the slaves over which the Union had no power. Although most slaves were not freed immediately, the Proclamation did free thousands of slaves the day it went into effect in parts of nine of the ten states to which it applied (Texas being the exception). In every Confederate state (except Tennessee and Texas), the Proclamation went into immediate effect in Union-occupied areas and at least 20,000 slaves[2][3] were freed at once on January 1, 1863.

Additionally, the Proclamation provided the legal framework for the emancipation of nearly all four million slaves as the Union armies advanced, and committed the Union to ending slavery, which was a controversial decision even in the North. Hearing of the Proclamation, more slaves quickly escaped to Union lines as the Army units moved South. As the Union armies advanced through the Confederacy, thousands of slaves were freed each day until nearly all (approximately 4 million, according to the 1860 census) were freed by July 1865.

Near the end of the war, abolitionists were concerned that while the Proclamation had freed most slaves as a war measure, it had not made slavery illegal. Several former slave states had already passed legislation prohibiting slavery; however, in a few states, slavery continued to be legal, and to exist, until December 18, 1865, when the Thirteenth Amendment was enacted.

“Nobody In This Country Got Rich On His Own”

Elizabeth Warren on Debt Crisis, Fair Taxation

From Greg Sargent @ The Washington Post

   Republicans are planning to paint Warren as a liberal Harvard elitist – they’re already referring to her as “Professor Warren” – because they believe that she will have trouble winning over the kind of blue collar whites from places like South Boston that helped power Scott Brown’s upset victory.

   But as this video shows, Warren is very good at making the case for progressive economics in simple, down-to-earth terms. Despite her professorial background, she sounds like she’s telling a story. She came across as unapologetic and authorative, without a hint of the sort of defensiveness you hear so often from other Democrats when they talk about issues involving taxation and economic fairness. This is exactly what national Dems like about Warren.

Transcript via rumproast:

   I hear all this, you know, “Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.”-No!

   There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.

   You built a factory out there-good for you! But I want to be clear.

   You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.

   You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.

   You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.

   You didn’t have to worry that maurauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.

   Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea-God bless. Keep a big hunk of it.

   But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

Silence For Troy Davis



As I write this, the Georgia authorities are killing Troy Davis. He was let down by the “justice” system. And the Supreme Court. And by those of us who are horrified when the state kills innocent people. There is nothing more to do or say. He is being killed. Please join me in 24 hours of silence in honor of his memory.

My Little Town 20110921: Ma’s Garden Part II of II, Preservation

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile of so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a redneck sort of place, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

Last time I told you what Ma grew, and this time how she (and the rest of us) preserve it.  There is a bit more to it, because of the peaches, and that shall involve a whole new era about My Little Town, when I started 8th grade.  Many of those folks are still living, and I shall say only nice things about them, because they are all nice folks.

Only recently have I had the excellent luck to get back in touch with more than two of them, and as soon as many of them realized that I am not quite dead yet, they are being very nice to me, as they were to me at my school.  But, this is about Ma’s preservation techniques.

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Suu Kyi urges world to keep eye on Myanmar

By Sebastian Smith, AFP

3 hrs ago

Myanmar’s pro-democracy hero Aung San Suu Kyi urged the world Wednesday not to take its eye off her country as it enters what she said were the first small steps to freedom.

In a rare appearance via videolink from Myanmar — also known as Burma — to an international conference in New York, Suu Kyi said the political thaw needs close scrutiny by the outside world.

“What we really need is awareness of what is going on in our country,” she told the audience of political and business leaders at the Clinton Global Initiative.

Live Stream from Georgia Prison: Up Dated

@democracynow Democracy Now!

UPDATE: We extend our live coverage of #TroyDavis case to 10pm EDT as decision from US Supreme Court pending. WATCH owl.li/6BhWb

From Alternet

RT @jeremyscahill: Ben Jealous & Amnesty both said stay. Now @democracynow is saying Davis has not bn executed, but stay not confirmed

From Jeremy Scahill:

Producers of @democracynow tell me they will continue their live-streaming coverage of #TroyDavis until at least 9pm

Watch live streaming video from democracynow at livestream.com