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Foreclosure Mills: America's Newest Housing Nightmare

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  • Borrowers are getting screwed again as bailed-out banks send their foreclosure dirty work to con artists with a history of breaking the law.
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  • The Forgotten Foreclosure Crisis
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Andy Kroll, Mother Jones/Axis of Logic

David Stern, multi-millionaire lawyer who
 exploits people who are losing their homes.

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Late one night in February 2009, Ariane Ice sat poring over records on the website of Florida's Palm Beach County. She'd been at it for weeks, forsaking sleep to sift through thousands of legal documents. She and her husband, Tom, an attorney, ran a boutique foreclosure defense firm called Ice Legal. (Slogan: "Your home is your castle. Defend it.") Now they were up against one of Florida's biggest foreclosure law firms: Founded by multimillionaire attorney David J. Stern, it controlled one-fifth of the state's booming market in foreclosure-related services. Ice had a strong hunch that Stern's operation was up to something, and that night she found her smoking gun.

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It involved something called an "assignment of mortgage," the document that certifies who owns the property and is thus entitled to foreclose on it. Especially these days, the assignment is key evidence in a foreclosure case: With so many loans having been bought, sold, securitized, and traded, establishing who owns the mortgage is hardly a trivial matter. It frequently requires months of sleuthing in order to untangle the web of banks, brokers, and investors, among others. By law, a firm must execute (complete, sign, and notarize) an assignment before attempting to seize somebody's home.

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The Forgotten Foreclosure Crisis, Think Progress

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  • Without more intervention, the housing market will continue its 'slow motion' adjustment that will continue to inhibit economic growth and drag down consumer spending.
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  • Foreclosures Rise with Unemployment
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Someone's raking it in, and it isn't you!

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  • Unless, that is, you're a CEO big on layoffs. That doesn't play well, does it?
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  • Widening pay disparities can undermine the economic system by causing many to question its basic fairness.
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  • Corporate kings grab our tax subsidies but create no new jobs.
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Kansas City Star | KS

Photo Credit: AMagill

A new report from the Institute for Policy Studies says that "CEOs of the 50 firms that have laid off the most workers since the onset of the economic crisis took home 42 percent more pay in 2009 than their peers at Standard & Poor's 500 firms."

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If true, that is a troubling finding. In tough times, expenses must be cut and executives have a duty to shareholders to ensure the survival of the enterprise. Were they to do otherwise, the nation's long-term economic prospects would suffer dramatically.

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Yet the pay raises reported by the study were tacked onto salaries already stratospheric. S&P chief executives’ median pay is $1.025 million, or around $7.5 million with bonuses and benefits. Meanwhile, their workers are getting median packages of pay and benefits worth about $40,000.

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Corporate kings grab our tax subsidies but create no new jobs. Jim Hightower, Hightower Lowdown

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  • In the past two years 55 percent of workers have lost a job or taken a cut
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  • Obama fiddles.
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Chamber of Commerce Accused of Tax Fraud

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  • A watchdog group charges the CoC violated U.S. tax laws by funneling $18 million from its charitable, non-profit arm into lobbying.
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  • How the Chamber of Commerce Allegedly Laundered Millions in Charity Dollars to Beat Back Financial Reform and Reelect Republicans
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  • Stop The US Chamber of Commerce
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Joshua Holland,  AlterNet

Photo Credit: AMagill

According to a complaint filed with the Internal Revenue Service last week (September 5-11), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (CoC), the corporate right’s massive lobbying arm, laundered millions of dollars in charitable contributions to finance its political assault on the American working class.

The New York Times notes that the Chamber has “a war chest rivaling that of the Republican Party itself” and represents “the Obama administration’s most-well-financed rival on signature policy debates like health care and financial regulation.” According to the Washington Post, the $44.3 million the group has paid to lobbyists so far this year, along with the $50 million it plans on spending to elect business-friendly politicians this fall, will make it the top lobbyist in Washington once again. (The group is nevertheless unlikely to top the $144 million it spent buying political influence in 2009.)

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Stop The US Chamber of Commerce, The Velvet Revolution
We have had enough and it is time to Stop The Chamber. Therefore, we demand the following:

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  • Fire Tom Donohue.
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  • Drop Corporate Support for the Chamber.
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  • Launch A Criminal Investigation Against The Chamber For Fraud, False Tax Filings And Campaign Finance Violations.
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  • Ask Congress To Investigate The Chamber.
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  • Reorganize The Chamber.
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  • Speak Out Against The Chamber.
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Regret, apology not part of BP's oil spill report

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  • But it does provide an early look at the company's probable legal strategy — spreading the blame among itself, rig owner Transocean, and cement contractor Halliburton — as it deals with hundreds of lawsuits, billions of dollars in claims and possible criminal charges in the coming months and years.
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  • Regulatory Capture Of Oil Drilling Agency Exposed In Report
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Dina Cappiello, Associated Press

File - In this April 21, 2010 file image provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon. Oil giant BP PLC says in an internal report released Wednesday Sept. 8, 2010 that multiple companies and work teams contributed to the massive Gulf of Mexico spill that fouled waters and shorelines for months.

BP's long-awaited internal report on what it believes went wrong when a rig exploded and started the massive Gulf oil spill never mentions the words blame, regret, apology, mistake or pollution. The word fault shows up 20 times, but only once in the same sentence as the company's name.

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BP took some of the blame, acknowledging among other things that it misinterpreted a key pressure test of the well that blew out and eventually spewed 206 million gallons of oil into the Gulf. But in a possible preview of its legal strategy, it also pointed the finger — and plenty — at its partners on the doomed rig.

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Regulatory Capture Of Oil Drilling Agency Exposed In Report, Dan Froomkin, Huffington Post

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  • Rather than take issue with the report's findings, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement's (BOEMRE) new reform-oriented director, Michael Bromwich, has responded with an implementation plan aimed at fixing the problems.
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  • Uncovering the Lies That Are Sinking the Oil
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Regulatory Capture Of Oil Drilling Agency Exposed In Report

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  • Rather than take issue with the report's findings, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement's (BOEMRE) new reform-oriented director, Michael Bromwich, has responded with an implementation plan aimed at fixing the problems.
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  • Uncovering the Lies That Are Sinking the Oil
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Dan Froomkin, Huffington Post

In a dramatic illustration of regulatory capture, a new report from an Interior Department review board has found that poorly trained, ill-equipped and overextended federal inspectors who were supposed to be policing the nation's offshore oil and gas drilling facilities were routinely bullied by industry representatives and were often undercut by their managers when they reported safety violations.

The review board was appointed after a BP rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April, causing the worst accidental offshore oil spill in history. Its report paints a devastating picture of the Minerals Management Service, the agency now known as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE).

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Uncovering the Lies That Are Sinking the Oil, Dahr Jamail and Erika Blumenfeld, t r u t h o u t

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  • Toxic Dispersants Found on Recently Opened Mississippi Shrimping and Oyster Grounds
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  • BP and Administration: Lies, Deceit, and Coverup in the Gulf
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