SDB Evening News Reads for 113011: Last Day of November…Get your holiday gifts…Sky Dancing Style!

Well, Good Evening Y’all!

Can you believe that tomorrow is December 1st? I sure can’t.

Yes, Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Winter Solstice or what every you and yours celebrate during the Month of December is here at last!

There are a few things I would like to see this Holiday shopping season.

The Merry Marijuana Chia Pet Tree…you know the old favorite! Only this one comes with top grade patented Chia Weed Seeds and a high voltage lamp…Light bulb not included. Just soak your Merry Marijuana Chia in water, rub your Chia Weed Seeds into the Merry Marijuana Chia, put your Chia in a special out-of-the-way place under the high voltage lamp provided…and watch it grow!

Or if that doesn’t float your boat…then perhaps this family fun night activity will be just the ticket.

Happy Fetus Gingerbread House! It comes complete with a full variety of Happy Fetus shaped candies, representing all colors and creeds. From Black to Brown to White to Yellow to Green…no ethnic or extraterrestrial fetus will be left out.*  A hearty joyful holiday family treat that is sure to please.

Oh, and don’t forget to read the small print!

*Ratio of colored fetuses reflects the percentage of abortions per race of mother. Black and Brown Happy Fetus Candies are purposely meant to be higher in number compared to White, Yellow and Green Happy Fetus Candies. A great way to teach your kids math…as well as the values associated with the pro-life lifestyle.

Alright, lets light this candle!

Just a few links for you tonight…

If any of you missed Dakinikat’s post about Apple and Siri’s anti-choice stance…then take a look at it!

Now, here is the response from a PLUB Crisis Center: Crisis Pregnancy Center Congratulates Apple’s Siri For ‘Embracing’ An Anti-Choice Position | ThinkProgress

…one crisis pregnancy center in Boise, Idaho is simply “thrilled by the recent discovery that Siri does not promote or provide abortion information or referrals”:

Brandi Swindell, Founder and President of Stanton Healthcare, states,

“We applaud Apple iPhone’s 4S Siri and are thrilled that Siri does not list or refer to abortion clinics. Numerous lives will be saved as a direct result. Siri is setting the standard for all organizations — no one should ever refer anyone to get an abortion. […]

As a woman I’m delighted that Siri is embracing a position that promotes the dignity of women and upholds human rights in the womb.

“It is my hope that Apple remains steadfast and does not cave under any pressure brought by the abortion industry to start marketing abortion clinics.” Swindell states. “This is a huge win for women and a significant step in the right direction.”

I think we must send a special Happy Fetus Gingerbread House Kit to Brandi Swindell don’t you? (Personally, if my name was Brandi Swindell…I’d change it.)

Sticking with the PLUB agenda against women and a woman’s right to choose, the Senate’s anti-choice/pro-life members blocked an important bill that would have made abortion coverage available to military members in cases rape and incest. Why All 100 Senators Should Support Access to Abortion in Cases of Rape in the Military | RH Reality Check

UPDATE: This afternoon, Wednesday, November 30th, 2011, anti-choice members of the Senate voted to block the Shaheen Amendment from coming to a vote.

This article was co-authored by Lucy Panza, Women’s Health and Rights Program policy analyst at the Center for American Progress.

The Senate is currently considering the fiscal year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which will authorize funding for the nation’s defense for the next year, and negotiations over which amendments will be included in the bill may be settled as soon as today. One of the amendments that deserves attention is Senate Amendment 1120, offered by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). The amendment would permanently remove the ban on military insurance coverage for abortions to end pregnancies that result from rape or incest.

The Shaheen Amendment currently has 12 cosponsors. It should have all 100. This amendment should be entirely non-controversial and should appeal even to those who generally oppose abortion but are sympathetic to its need in cases of rape or incest. Even the Hyde Amendment — the original ban on government coverage for abortion — allows for abortion in those circumstances. Thus, as it currently stands, civilian government-sponsored health insurance, such as Medicaid and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, covers abortion in cases of life endangerment of a pregnant woman and when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. Yet military government-sponsored health insurance, known as Tricare, only covers abortion care in cases of life endangerment. This means a servicewoman — someone who has volunteered to serve our country and defend our rights in a time of war — is not entitled to the same government-sponsored health care coverage that her civilian counterpart receives. That is the unacceptable situation that the Shaheen Amendment would correct.

This is not just a theoretical problem. According to the Defense Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office’s FY 2010 Report, 3,158 sexual assaults were reported in the military last year, of which 27.7 percent, or approximately 875, were rape. However, underreporting is rampant — DoD estimates that 86 percent of military sexual assaults go unreported. That means there may have been closer to 6,250 rapes in 2010. About 5 percent of first-time unprotected sex results in pregnancy, but that number can rise in the context of repeated acts of sexual assault. Based on those factors, we estimate that upwards of 300 military rapes resulted in pregnancy last year. Furthermore, recent research suggests that junior enlisted women are much more likely to be raped and, at the same time, to have the fewest financial resources. DoD reports that more than half of military sexual assault victims are 20 to 24 years old, and the overwhelming majority earn less than $23,000 per year — barely above the federal poverty level for a family of four. Thus, the servicewomen least able to afford to pay out of pocket for an abortion following a rape are the most likely to need it.

I just can’t understand these assholes…Who would block coverage for a military servicewoman’s abortion due to rape or incest. Unbelievable!

I guess that is just the way things are changing for women’s rights.

Let’s move on and talk about backward ass thinking, Kentucky church bans inter-racial couples ‘in the name of the greater unity’ | Pam’s House Blend

What century is this? This story intrigues me because it makes me wonder how many houses of worship are this racist in this day and age? At Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church in Pike County, Kentucky, an inter-racial couple, Stella Harville, who is white and who was baptized there and a member of the church as a child, brought her fiancé, Ticha Chikuni, a native of Zimbabwe, to sing at a service. And then this happened:

Dean Harville said Melvin Thompson, who had been pastor for many years, told him in August that his daughter and her fiancé couldn’t sing at the church again.

Thompson stepped down as pastor in August, citing health issues, but he refused Harville’s requests to drop the issue, Harville said.

The new pastor, Stacy Stepp, said the couple could sing at the church if they wanted, Harville said.

In early November, Thompson proposed the church go on record saying that while all people were welcome to attend public worship services there, the church did not condone interracial marriage, according to a copy of the recommendation supplied by the Harvilles.

The proposal also said “parties of such marriages will not be received as members, nor will they be used in worship services” or other church functions, with the exception of funerals.

The recommendation “is not intended to judge the salvation of anyone, but is intended to promote greater unity among the church body and the community we serve,” the copy supplied to the Herald-Leader read.

Alrighty, then. So you can show up if someone dies, but not in any other context. Where is that in the bible? By the way, Thompson told the newspaper after this blew up that “the proposal has been taken out of context.” He declined to elaborate what all of this actually meant, you see.

Racism…plan and simple!

Oh, this reminds me…better make sure we have “creamy coffee” colored Happy Fetus Candies in the Happy Fetus Gingerbread House Kit…don’t want to leave the interracial fetuses out of the loop!

And last, but not least…Cops, movers refuse to foreclose on 103-year-old woman | The Raw Story

In a heart warming story just in time for the holiday season, a 103-year-old woman in Atlanta avoided foreclosure of her home Tuesday afternoon, thanks entirely to the kindness of strangers.

According to WSBTV Atlanta, movers hired by Deutsche Bank AG and police were ready to go through with the bank’s request to remove Vita Lee and her 83-year old daughter from their home.

However, when they first got sight of Lee, they had a change of heart and declined to go through with it.

Yes Virginia…sometimes people do have a heart!

“I saw the sheriffs who came to put them out, take off and leave,” community activist Michael Langford said to WSBTV. ”I gave all glory to God.”

Yes, I will say Amen to that…

nd Lee decided to give Deutsche Bank a message if they pondered to still go through on the foreclosure.

“Please don’t come in and disturb me no more,” she reportedly said. “When I’m gone you all can come back and do whatever they want to.”

And that is all I have for you tonight!


Left Behind

The Great Recession of 2007-2008 took out some one in every sector of the economy.  Worst hit, however, was the housing sector where the financial contagion was hatched by folks betting on the forever upward trend in real estate prices.  Prices and sales of homes have plummeted. However, the government focused clearly on reviving the same group of people that were most responsible for the damage.  Both the Bush and Obama administrations have raptured Wall Street while leaving US families behind.  Granted, many homeowners jumped into loans they could not afford and bought houses at price levels that should’ve sent them clear warning symbols.  But remember, even the most sophisticated investors–like AIG and Lehman Brothers–got sucked into the mortgage and housing madness.  You can’t exactly expect every home owner to read through the fine print and look for trends in underlying home values using the Case-Shiller Index. Buying a home is an emotional process.  Investing is supposed to be the cautious practice.

So, what’s really different between this housing crisis and the two previous, similar crises that happened during the Great Depression and Savings & Loan crisis is that there is no vehicle to redress homeowners’ wiped-out balance sheets and foreclosure problems.  There has been largess all over the place for banks and other financial institutions.  During the 2008 elections, then-candidate Hillary Clinton emphasized the important role of the HOLC during the Great Depression and argued that something akin to it should be considered today.  The purpose of the HOLC was to renegotiate mortgages so that people could stay in their homes.  The HOLC was dismantled in 1951 when the last of its assets–dating from as late as 1935–were liquidated.

There were some efforts by the Obama administration that accompanied the Bush 43 TARP program to try to get private financial institutions to renegotiate loans in lieu of foreclosure, but those programs have failed miserably.  At least the SEC is beginning to look into possible criminality leading to the financial crisis like the role of rater Standard & Poor’s in overrating toxic mortgage-backed securities. Still, the victims of these practices have had little to no relief.  The NYT reminds us today that many homeowners need help. We should be further reminded that the overall economy will not improve until the housing market stabilizes.

Tens of millions of Americans are being crushed by the overhang of mortgage debt. And Congress and the White House have yet to figure out that the economy will not recover until housing recovers — and that won’t happen without a robust effort to curb foreclosures by modifying troubled mortgage loans.

Instead of pushing the banks to do what is needed, the Obama administration has basically urged them to do their best to help, mainly by reducing interest rates for troubled borrowers. The banks haven’t done nearly enough. In many instances, they can make more from fees and charges on defaulted loans than on modifications.

The administration needs better ideas. It can start by working with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-run mortgage companies, to aggressively reduce the principal balances on underwater loans and to make refinancing easier for underwater borrowers. If the president championed aggressive action, and Fannie and Freddie, which back most new mortgages, also made it clear to banks that they expect principal reductions, the banks would feel considerable pressure to go along.

The housing numbers are chilling. Sales of existing homes fell in July by 3.5 percent, while prices were down 4.4 percent in July from a year earlier. In all, prices have declined 33 percent since the peak of the market five years ago, for a total loss of home equity of $6.6 trillion.

There’s no letup in sight. Currently, 14.6 million homeowners owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, and nearly half of them are underwater by more than 30 percent. At present, 3.5 million homes are in some stage of foreclosure. Nearly six million borrowers have already lost their homes in the bust.

There are 10 states where basically no one is buying a house. That’s a pretty good indicator of a still sick market. What’s most appalling is that on top of these statistics comes the story about how much money the creators of both the housing bubble and the housing crash were bailed out by both the FED and the Federal Government.  The FED’s main purpose is to stabilize the financial system and thet basically did what they had to do under the charter they were given, but the numbers are beyond astounding.   None of these institutions were punished for their bad decisions or fined.  The SEC and the FED seem toothless in the face of such perfidy.

Citigroup Inc. (C) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC) were the reigning champions of finance in 2006 as home prices peaked, leading the 10 biggest U.S. banks and brokerage firms to their best year ever with $104 billion of profits.

By 2008, the housing market’s collapse forced those companies to take more than six times as much, $669 billion, in emergency loans from the U.S. Federal Reserve. The loans dwarfed the $160 billion in public bailouts the top 10 got from the U.S. Treasury, yet until now the full amounts have remained secret.

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s unprecedented effort to keep the economy from plunging into depression included lending banks and other companies as much as $1.2 trillion of public money, about the same amount U.S. homeowners currently owe on 6.5 million delinquent and foreclosed mortgages. The largest borrower, Morgan Stanley (MS), got as much as $107.3 billion, while Citigroup took $99.5 billion and Bank of America $91.4 billion, according to a Bloomberg News compilation of data obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, months of litigation and an act of Congress.

“These are all whopping numbers,” said Robert Litan, a former Justice Department official who in the 1990s served on a commission probing the causes of the savings and loan crisis. “You’re talking about the aristocracy of American finance going down the tubes without the federal money.”

The FED is mandated with stabilizing the financial system.  It’s sole connection to borrowers is to ensure truth in lending laws are applied which still leaves borrowers stuck reading the fine print.  The  Federal Government, however, has a completely different mandate.  There’s a lot of fuzziness surrounding the idea of  promoting the general welfare.  I’m pretty sure that letting business put a market on steroids then helping them recover while letting home owners swing in the wind isn’t promoting any one’s general welfare.   However, the government has chosen to stabilize mortgage investors while still leaving the actual market for houses in a declining state.  Then, they wonder why the economy is so bad.  Folks with declining incomes and wealth do not go on spending sprees.  They retreat.

There is so much unfinished business left over from the 2007-2008 financial crisis it’s hard to know where to start the complaints.   It’s one of the major reasons for budget shortfalls all over the country.  But, you wouldn’t know that if you listen to political rhetoric.  Again, undoing the damage that caused the problems from the start would be a lot more judicious than creating additional ones. We don’t need deficit commissions.  We need to deal with the root causes of the current deficit.  That would be too many wars, too many tax cuts, and way too many people who don’t have jobs and homes because Wall Street broke the economy.


Sunday Reads

Ah, it’s Sunday Morning, and Minx here with your morning reads. Just a heads up, I am very sick again…so if the post seems to wander a bit, it is the “cold medication’s”  fault.

There is a lot going on in Tunisia, on Saturday the government switched hands again.

The tumbling political succession started Friday when Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi announced on state television that the president was gone and that he was taking over. Then, on Saturday morning, Mr. Ghannouchi, an ally of the former president, abruptly announced that he was surrendering the reins of government to the speaker of Parliament, complying with succession rules spelled out in the Tunisian Constitution. Now the speaker, Fouad Mebazaa, is expected to hold elections to form a new government within 60 days.

I think that Juan Cole has some of the best analysis on what is being called “The Wikileaks Revolution.” He has a few post up on his Informed Comment website. If you have some time today, please give these articles a read.

BP is in the news again, and not for something as important as this post on Crooks and Liars:  Sick Gulf Resident Begs Cleanup Officials For Help: ‘We Are Very, Very Ill”

On Friday, BP held a press conference to announce its partnership with a Russian oil company. BP plans to use the partnership so that it can gain access and drill in for oil in the arctic. You can read about it in this article from BBC: BP has signed a joint venture with Russian energy firm Rosneft to exploit potentially huge deposits of oil and gas in Russia’s Arctic shelf. It seems that Rosneft and BP will do a swap of sorts…Rosneft gets 5 % of BP shares and BP gets 9.5% of Rosneft. What I find interesting in all this is there seems to be some intriguing connections regarding the Russian company Rosneft. In The Telegraph, it has been reported that Putin has promised big tax breaks for BP. The share exchange would make Russian state-backed oil firm the second largest shareholder of BP stock. However, this is not the intriguing part. According to Bloomberg:

BP Plc will boost its holdings in the former assets of Yukos Oil Co. through its share swap with Russia’s state-run oil producer, two weeks after ex-Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s sentence was extended by six years.

[…]

Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man, has called the charges against him retribution for political opposition to then-President Vladimir Putin. Putin, now prime minister, has denied involvement, saying that it was a matter for the courts and that “a thief should sit in prison.” The U.S. and European governments said last month’s conviction heightened concerns about Russia’s commitment to the rule of law.

[…]

Yukos’s former managers and shareholders have continued to battle for damages, filing a $98 billion suit in the European Court of Human Rights and a $100 billion case in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. The case in the human rights court completed hearings in March 2010 and may issue a judgment this year.

“BP shareholders should be concerned that once again the company has invested in a deal with Rosneft on assets over which there is significant question as to security of Rosneft’s ownership,” Claire Davidson, an outside spokeswoman for Yukos Capital, run by former Yukos managers, said in an e-mail.

Rosneft and BP’s lawyers studied possible risks, Rosneft spokesman Rustam Kazharov said by telephone. “Our lawyers monitor everything,” Kazharov said. “If even one threat existed to BP investors, they would never agree on that.” [Bloomberg]

The Guardian just published this on their website: American hostility grows over BP’s deal with Russian state oil company | Business | The Observer

The move, which involves BP issuing 988m new shares to Rosneft worth £4.9bn, has gone down badly in the US, coming just days after a presidential commission published a damning report on the blunders leading up to the Deepwater spill. In Washington, the US state department is facing calls to investigate whether the Russian government’s links with BP posed national security issues.

“There are various different levels where this deserves some analysis and some scrutiny,” said Michael Burgess, a Republican congressman who sits on the House energy and commerce committee. “BP is one of the biggest suppliers to our military. Are there national security implications to this deal?”

Burgess pointed out that BP runs sensitive trans-Alaskan oil pipelines and that the group’s BP America subsidiary is regulated as a US company. Comparing the deal to the blocked purchase by Dubai Ports World of P&O’s US ports in 2006, he called for an inquiry by the US government’s committee on foreign investment, which is chaired by treasury secretary Timothy Geithner and has a mandate to scrutinise potentially threatening financial incursions into the US.

His remarks followed comments by a Democratic congressman, Ed Markey, who suggested BP now stood for “Bolshoi Petroleum” and claimed that the Rosneft tie-up could complicate the collection of compensation for the fishing industry hit by the Deepwater spill.

Wow, I don’t think BP would do anything to bring risk to their investors. Now, if this deal has any chance of delaying the claims/compensation for those affected on the Gulf Coast, or create any problems with the lawsuit against BP for the oil spill, I could definitely see BP going forward with the partnership.  It is the “little people” who BP likes to destroy. All these inside connections and concerns that Bloomberg and Guardian are pointing out above could provide a great story line for the next James Bond flick. 007 is working to protect the British Government and BP’s interest in the big money pit of oil that is beneath the arctic. I can see some scenes involving Bond and those furry tigers that Putin flaunted a few months ago, in his latest attempt to channel Sigfrid and Roy…or at least become buddies with Leo.

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