Hey, Dakinikat and Boston Boomer went local the last couple of days, so I am going to take this opportunity to do the same. Only this is not going to be a whole post on the crazy ass happenings of Banjoville. It will only be a few links about a story making world headlines from my hometown of Tampa, Florida. In fact…it is specifically about the parents of my childhood arch nemesis…a girl named “Jonele”…who I once told way back in fourth grade, at Tampa Bay Elementary School, in Mrs. de la Parte’s class…that she had a face like a baboon’s ass. (When you see the picture of her mother…whom she favored especially through the eyes and nose…you will see the resemblance is striking.)
Anyway, I remember when Jonele’s parents completely remodeled their house. It was redecorated in South American style…it looked like a big expensive Mexican style veranda, with the open area and orange-red tile floors. Something the mother had seen while on vacation…I remember it so well…her mother talking about it during Jonele’s birthday party, as she was showing people the little Mayan-like statues she got from her trip.
There is a reason for all this buildup.
I don’t know why Jonele was the bitch she was…or why she seem to pick on me. But she did, and I couldn’t stand it.
I had only spent 2nd and 3rd grade dealing with her shit on a daily basis, that face she would give me…the look. Damn. How she would make me cry. Sometimes I wouldn’t go to school, I would fake being sick, until I got the balls to finally tell her off that day…in the hallway, just outside the door as we were walking into Mrs. de la Parte’s fourth grade class. It was magnificent. And other kids heard me too…from that point on I stood up for myself, and I stood up for other people too…no matter what.
I guess Baboon Face gave me the ability to voice my convictions. I had always been loud and demanding as a kid, but when it came to bullies…that was another matter. Thankfully Jonele empowered me that day…we never became friends. In fact my senior yearbook still has the word bitch written across her face…but the point is that she did have some positive impact on my life, and for that I say…thank you…you bullying baboon faced shitass bitch.
And now the news story…by the way…it also hits a bitter note because of the BoA business too.
JAMES BORCHUCK | Times
Joyce and Nelson Coniglio sit with attorney David Mitchell, left, after they won a $1 million judgment against Bank of America.
For four years, Joyce and Nelson Coniglio were haunted by these words:
The calls started in 2009 when B of A took over the mortgage the Coniglios used to buy a second home in their Tampa Heights neighborhood. They quickly fell behind.
On their second home no less…
The bank called, the family said, while they tried to get the loan modified. B of A called even after the cease-and-desist letters. There were hundreds of robocalls, sometimes five a day.
In July, the Coniglios sued in federal court to stop the harassment. Three months later, they won — by default judgment. B of A missed the deadline to oppose the lawsuit.
Now the bank owes the Coniglios more than $1 million.
“Unlike Bank of America,” he said, “we’re only going to call them once.”
You know, why do some people always seem to “luck” out?
The Coniglios are both 69 and have been married for 45 years.
Joyce Coniglio spent 44 years teaching at Tampa Bay Boulevard Elementary School. Nelson Coniglio was a trucker. In 1999 he pleaded guilty to federal charges for piloting drugs and money for a Tampa ring operating in Colombia.
The couple live in Tampa Heights, on a block surrounded by relatives. In 2006, the Conigilios bought a second home in the neighborhood for $180,000, according to records.
They didn’t have a plan for the house. Maybe another relative could use it. Maybe they would downsize. All the Coniglios knew was, they could afford it.
Then the recession hit, and so did B of A .
I don’t know, seems like they are well connected to me…
You can read the rest of the story at the link. But the thing that gets me is Nelson plead guilty for trafficking drugs and money, and here he is…winner of a million dollar lawsuit from Bank of America. There is a quote from Nelson in the article that reads:
When the bank took over the mortgage, the family said it imposed a more expensive homeowner’s insurance policy on them, doubling their payments to $2,800 a month.
“Everything changed,” Nelson Coniglio said. “Our incomes go down, our bills go up. It’s the American way.”
Uh, well…you fly in drugs and money for the mob, you get charged with a federal crime, and then you wind up winning a million dollars. (If you are white.) Then yes…it is the American Way.
Yes, I am a bitter bitch about this story and these people who got to stick it to BoA. Of all the poor people who have been through the same thing as the Coniglios, and that includes me and my family, why couldn’t the big win go to a more deserving set of BoA customers.
On with the rest of today’s links, starting with the connection to the images you will see (Not baboons):
Bangladesh is often associated with cheap clothes produced for the mass market, but the delicate and much more expensive jamdani fabric is also made here. The people who weave the material are highly sought-after employees.
On the banks of the River Lakshya – just outside Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital – the sun is heating the tiny corrugated iron factory I am standing in to oven-like temperatures.
Inside, under a string of bare light bulbs, six master weavers sit in pairs, barely breaking a sweat at their bamboo looms.
The men are shirtless. The women wear neon-coloured salwar kameez – a traditional South Asian garment. All of them rest their arms on cheap white cotton, protecting the delicate muslin they are working on.
This dirt-floor workshop might not hint at luxury, but the special jamdani fabric made here is highly coveted and incredibly expensive.
The factory owner, Anwar Hossain, walks me past the looms. Whiplash thin and just over 5ft (1.5m) tall, he doesn’t disturb the workers as he pauses to let me admire the work of one young woman who sits below us.
Her hands, spinning like furious atoms, interlace silky gold thread into a sheer muslin cloth the colour of oxblood.
“Jamdani is expensive since it requires dedicated work and special skills,” Hossain says, flicking a bejewelled hand over the peacock feather motif that the young woman works on. “My weavers don’t use patterns, they create only from memory.”
Back to the real world: Senate passes five-day budget extension, averting shutdown | Al Jazeera America
The Senate passed a five-day extension of federal funding on Saturday, staving off a government shutdown and buying lawmakers more time to resolve the fight over a $1.1 trillion spending bill led by Tea Party firebrand Ted Cruz.
It was the second time in a little over a year that Cruz, a Texas Republican freshman with presidential aspirations, has attempted to stop a key Obama administration initiative by denying government funds. In this case, Cruz was targeting Obama’s executive order that offered millions of undocumented immigrants relief from the threat of deportation.
Cruz was a central figure in a 16-day government shutdown in October 2013, when he persuaded Republicans to try to withhold funds from Obamacare, President Barack Obama’s landmark health care reform law.
In the end, Cruz got none of what he wanted and Republicans were left with little but voter anger.
What an ass, and a hypocrite. His father is a immigrant from Cuba via Canada, right?
Cruz and senators Mike Lee of Utah and Jeff Sessions of Alabama were demanding permission to offer an amendment that would deny the DHS any funds for carrying out Obama’s November immigration order. Critics of the order have called it an amnesty for lawbreakers.
Senators from both parties complained on Saturday that Cruz’s strategy was counterproductive and aimed at grabbing attention.
“This reminds me very much of the shutdown last year, where the strategy made absolutely no sense and was counterproductive,” Republican Senator Susan Collins said.
As reporters tried to interview Cruz as he entered the Senate chamber in the Capitol, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill shouted: “Quit giving him so much attention, that’s exactly what’s causing the problem!”
That is the first piece of sense I have heard from the Hill in ages.
In #BlackLivesMatter news:
The mothers of four slain black men and boys, three of whom were killed by police sat down with CNN’s Anderson Cooper for a heart-wrenching interview where they made one thing absolutely clear: their sons would be alive if they were white.
Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, Lesley McSpadden, mother of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice‘s mother Samaria Rice, and Eric Garner‘s mother Gwen Carr came together and spoke about their losses as well as the role of race.
All of these women have suffered immense pain, and it’s maddening that they have to justify their pain and the injustice they feel as mothers of unarmed black victims. When Cooper asked if they thought things would have turned out differently if their sons were white, he framed it as a “hard question to ask.” But for these four mothers, it was the easiest one to answer.
Amid national protests decrying police brutality, three effigies of black people were discovered hanging by a noose on the Berkeley campus at the University of California.
Police and students took the cardboard cutouts depicting lynching victims down Saturday afternoon from two locations on campus as demonstrations broke out to the theme of “#blacklivesmatter.”
“We’re uncertain of the intention of this. It could be related to the protests, but it could be racially motivated,” Claire Holmes told the Daily News. “We’d like to get to the bottom of it.”
The disturbing figures hanging from iconic landmarks on the Berkeley campus were reported to police just after 9 a.m., but a third effigy found through social media disappeared before police got to it.
The campus is investigating it as a hate crime.
And yet, just earlier in the week over at Berkley: CA Police Chief Joins ‘Black Lives Matter’ Protest, Scolded by Police Union | Mediaite
Richmond, California police chief made quite the statement this week by standing with protesters and holding a “Black Lives Matter” sign:
And you’ll notice, Chief Chris Magnus is very noticeably wearing his police uniform.
That in particular was the issue taken by the Richmond Police Officers Association, which released a statement criticizing Magnus by citing the state government code’s explicit ban on police officers participating in political activity while in uniform.
One union attorney said they’re “disappointed the chief felt free to flaunt those laws by wearing his uniform during the protest.”
Thousands of protesters hit the streets in New York City on Saturday to protest police violence after the grand jury decisions in Ferguson and Staten Island in what came to be known as the #MillionMarchNYC demonstration. Among them were several members of the cast of Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black.
Vicky Jeudy, who plays Janae Watson, posted this dramatic photo of the group holding “I Can’t Breathe” signs and doing the “Hands up, Don’t Shoot” gesture.
In Washington DC: ‘A Movement, Not Just a Moment:’ Thousands March in D.C. Protesting Police Violence – The Root –Read some interviews with people walking in the protest.
“In refusing to prosecute, Obama and Holder demonstrate their own profound disregard for the collective rights of Black Americans as a people.”
Black Americans know all about “law and order”: the term, itself, is code for the state-wielded hammer that is relentlessly deployed against us. No people on earth are more conditioned to concentrated bludgeoning under “color of law” than African Americans, who account for one out of out eight of the world’s prison inmates. Black males are 21 times more likely than their white peers to be killed by U.S. lawmen, and make up a clear majority of young police shooting victims under the most draconian law and order regime on the planet. Of all the world’s peoples, none have been so unremittingly inculcated with the lessons of crime and punishment – especially punishment, whether merited or not.
For a people so acculturated, justice demands retribution – even for Pharaoh and his army. Thus, the simple and near-universal Black American demand that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder prosecute killer cops.
But, this they will not do.
The Obama administration has no intention of pursuing prosecution of Darren Wilson, or Trayvon Martin’s vigilante killer George Zimmerman, or the whole crew of New York City homicidal and/or depravedly indifferent first-responders in the Eric Garner case. Obama and Holder have nothing worthwhile to say to the nine grieving Black mothersnow visiting Washington demanding justice for their murdered loved ones, other than empty assurances that they feel the families’ pain.
The U.S. Justice Department, which marshals unlimited resources to pursue long and sometimes fruitless prosecutions of whistleblowers and other “national security” targets, claims it is helpless to confront police impunity in the murder of Black Americans. The law, Holder and his apologists claim, requires that federal criminal prosecutions under the civil rights statute must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers “acted willfully” for the specific purpose of violating the victim’s 4th Amendment constitutional right to life. Making that case, they say, is near-impossible, requiring that prosecutors “get inside the officer’s head” to divine his intentions at the moment the trigger was pulled. Therefore, despite Holder and Obama’s public statements of concern, no good faith attempt is made to mount prosecutions.
“Police immunity from prosecution begins with the prosecutors.”
You go and read the whole thing.
Especially when you consider: Addicting Info – White Protestors Threaten to Lynch President – No Cops, Arrests Or Tear Gas (VIDEO)
I thought this was an interesting article, it looks at words and their usage: How We Lost Our “Freedom” » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names
In the wave of protests sparked by Grand Jury acquittals of the policemen who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the word “freedom” is seldom heard.
It was different in the Civil Rights era. Then “freedom” was the watchword of the entire movement.
Meanwhile, in his campaign to retain his Senate seat in Kentucky – and ultimately to become Majority Leader of the Senate – Mitch McConnell’s handlers put out a bumper sticker that read: “Coal. Guns. Freedom. Team Mitch.”
Michael Tomasky, who wrote about this in the New York Review of Books, also pointed out that Team Mitch campaigned tooth and nail against the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. The local version,“Kynect,” the state exchange established under the Affordable Care Act, has been unusually successful in signing up uninsured Kentuckians, and is widely popular.
Early in the campaign, it looked like McConnell would have a hard time defeating his Democratic rival, Alison Grimes. Grimes was careful to keep Obama at a distance, and she had nothing good to say about Obamacare. But she wasn’t careful enough; McConnell won handily.
In view of Kynect’s popularity, how could Team Mitch have gotten so much mileage out of running against it? The explanation speaks volumes about the Republican base. According to Tomasky, in an NBC News-Marist College poll conducted last spring, only 22% of white Kentuckians said that they opposed Kynect, while 60% said they opposed Obamacare. Shades of the Tea Party demand that the government keep its hands off Medicare!
In making Obamacare repeal their main war cry, was Team Mitch cynically exploiting the ignorance and befuddlement of Republican voters? “You betcha,” as Sarah Palin would say.
On that bumper sticker, where space was a priority, “freedom” functioned, at least in part, as a code word useful for conjuring up that ignorance and befuddlement. The thought, if it can be called that, is that because the Affordable Care Act exacts fines on people who do not purchase health insurance, it makes them less free. In other words, Obamacare commodifies health care, but it doesn’t commodify it quite enough.
So understood (or misunderstood), “freedom” fits nicely with “coal” and “guns,” when they too are used as code words — for the economic and cultural anxieties of the people whose votes McConnell sought.
Bravo for Team Mitch. They came up with a brilliant slogan; brilliantly slick. American political discourse has become so degraded in recent years that “freedom” is now fits in nicely with “coal” (or “drill, baby drill” in oil states) and “guns.” Team Mitch was on top of this development, and took full advantage of it.
It wasn’t always so; “freedom” used to belong to us. It was the watchword of the Civil Rights movement and of the black power (or black liberation) movement that followed. On the left, “freedom” – or “liberty,” the words are synonymous – was prominently and rightly paired alongside equality and fraternity (solidarity, community).
So much more to read at the link.
Another long read, that looks at film, silent film: moviemorlocks.com – Slapstick While Black
Apologies: this week’s post is about racially insensitive jokes in silent comedy (Yes, Ben Martin, this one’s for you), and so I’ve got some unpleasant screen grabs, illustrating some gags most of us probably wish hadn’t been filmed, and then to make matters worse I’m going to speak clumsily and awkwardly about these things while analyzing jokes. None of which is really all that great an idea.
As recent history has tragically shown, we’ve got a lot of work do to repair race relations in America. But that’s not to say it’s on no one’s short list of priorities to pick at the scabs of ninety-year-old silent comedies.
Why am I doing this, then? Well, despite these festering wounds I love silent comedy, and I fear it’s slipping into cultural irrelevancy. The only way to keep these films and these comedians even marginally, passingly, culturally relevant is to keep bringing new audiences to them—and these racist gags are a significant barrier to that.
Check it out.
But y’all know those red “skinned” people are getting screwed too: Congress Screws Native Americans With Fine Print – Truthdig
Somehow U.S. lawmakers have used a defense spending bill to sell Native American burial ground to mining giant Rio Tinto. Yay, capitalism!
But seriously, here’s what happened: The Senate on Fridaypassed a defense spending bill. Like a Christmas tree dressed with ornaments, lawmakers attached a host of riders and provisions to the bill, including number of land swaps. One such swap sees the transfer of Arizona forest land considered sacred by multiple native tribes, the Apache in particular, to Rio Tinto. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because the mining concern is very unpopular with environmentalists, labor organizers, human rights activists and the government of Norway.
I am just glad that this is not Kim Kardashian: Time Magazine Names Ebola Fighters as 2014 ‘Person of the Year’
That is all on the news links, here’s the rest of the information on the Jamdani weaving:
From the UNESCO Culture Sector – Intangible Heritage – 2003 Convention : Traditional art of Jamdani weaving
Jamdani is a vividly patterned, sheer cotton fabric, traditionally woven on a handloom by craftspeople and apprentices around Dhaka. Jamdani textiles combine intricacy of design with muted or vibrant colours, and the finished garments are highly breathable. Jamdani is a time-consuming and labour-intensive form of weaving because of the richness of its motifs, which are created directly on the loom using the discontinuous weft technique. Weaving is thriving today due to the fabric’s popularity for making saris, the principal dress of Bengali women at home and abroad. The Jamdani sari is a symbol of identity, dignity and self-recognition and provides wearers with a sense of cultural identity and social cohesion. The weavers develop an occupational identity and take great pride in their heritage; they enjoy social recognition and are highly respected for their skills. A few master weavers are recognized as bearers of the traditional Jamdani motifs and weaving techniques, and transmit the knowledge and skills to disciples. However, Jamdani weaving is principally transmitted by parents to children in home workshops. Weavers – together with spinners, dyers, loom-dressers and practitioners of a number of other supporting crafts – form a closely knit community with a strong sense of unity, identity and continuity.
You can see a slideshow here.
Or watch a video:
From Frontline: The glory of jamdani
KALNA, a subdivision in West Bengal’s Bardhaman district, is known for its temples and hand-woven saris, particularly the jamdani weave. However, over the years, the delicate art of making jamdani with homespun yarn has practically disappeared, with mill-made yarn replacing khadi. Handloom purists can easily discern the difference between a traditional handwoven fabric and a mill-made one by the texture of the fabric. Much as anyone would want to possess the whole six yards of khadi jamdani, producing an authentic jamdani with traditional motifs is time consuming.
The Crafts Council of West Bengal, a non-profit organisation affiliated to the Crafts Council of India, has stepped in to encourage this skill. Ruby Palchoudhuri, honorary general secretary and executive director of the council, has taken up the challenge of reviving the traditional form of jamdani weaving. Designs and motifs from old saris (some even three generations old) are replicated with some variations. One of the main factors behind the decline of this traditional art of making jamdani is the time required to weave it. Though weaving is usually done by men, practically everything else, from spinning the yarn to spooling, is carried out by women.
The softness of the cotton fabric and the exquisite designs lend an enchanting quality to the saris. This magic in weave is the result of tireless work which brings meagre financial returns. Unknown and unrecognised, a small group of weavers continue with this line of work, primarily because it is the only thing they have been taught to do.
This is something that is taught and passed down from generation to generation.
Hemanta Nandi and his family have been weavers for three generations. For a combined effort of 14 hours a day, he and his wife earn a measly Rs.5,000 a month. “We would be better off working in the paddy fields, where we would be earning Rs.140 for four hours of work. But we are not able to do that kind of work because this is all we have learnt to do. We somehow eke out a living because we live in the village and not in a town,” he toldFrontline.
The process of making khadi jamdani is broadly divided into two parts—the making of the yarn and the weaving at the loom. The crucial pre-loom stage is usually handled entirely by women, from the spinning of the yarn to the point when it is placed on the warping drum before it goes to the loom. According to master weaver Jyotish Debnath, in whose Kalna factory the jamdani revival project is struggling to take off, the process of producing the yarn involves very delicate work, which only a woman’s hands can accomplish.
There are three other full pages at the link. Along with lots of pictures too.
From a another person’s perspective: woven air | Bangladesh textile residency
We discovered the weaving! And not just any weaving, yesterday morning we went to visit the village Vargaon Dargabari, a region near Dhaka where they produce Jamdani fabrics, the most beautiful woven textiles found in Bangladesh.
The technique resembles a tapestry technique where individual threads are woven as supplementary wefts to form geometric and floral motifs. The ground is very fine unbleached cotton, set in open density to form a gauze textile background. Jamdani fabrics are woven on a pit loom by 2 weavers working together. It is a very laborious process and a sari length (6 yards of woven fabric) can take more than 2 months to complete. See the videos below to appreciate the speed at which the weavers are working and how slowly the fabric grows!
I love this part, what the needle is made out of…
We were greeted by Abdul Jabbar Khan, one of the head weavers of the village and we visited a number of weaving set ups. Soon we had a following of inquisitive villagers and children! I explained I am a weaver too and I was invited to sit at the loom and try my hand at this technique. MrKhan very patiently showed me how to loop the thread over the kandu, a bone tool used for the extra thread weaving(we were told it is elephant tooth?!) and soon I knew just how time consuming the weaving process is. The most beautiful jamdani cloths we saw were dyed with natural pigments (see the last pictures in the series below).
Go to that link to see all the images. They are amazing.
Finally, the technique and stylistic designs used in jamdani weaving: Sari-Tangil & Jamdani | Parul Bhatnagar – Academia.edu
The Jamdani is a type of woven figured muslin sari, and in this type of weave special skill of the craftsman can be seen, by using a bamboo splinter like a needle, he can combine weaving, embroidery and ornamentation, the motifs of flowers and buds being sewn down as the pattern is formed between the meeting places of the warp and the weft. The Jamdanis are therefore like fragile tapestry and were usually woven in soft shade of fine grey cotton, decorated either in bluish grey design or sometimes with creamy white with gold or silver threads producing fine sari’s with full embellishment on the entire material and its border and pallav (top end) patterns comprising flowers set all over in sprays butidar, or run diagonally tircha, or formed a sort of crisscross Jal or lay scattered at even distance on the surface toradar.
Jamdani or “figured muslin”, traditionally woven in Dacca, (now Dhaka inBangladesh), West Bengal and Tanda in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, refers to cotton fabric brocaded with cotton and sometimes with zari threads.
I think you all will find those reads fascinating. Have a wonderful day, and enjoy yourselves.
Well, I guess you can tell from the title of the post, we will start this morning by talking about the big ol’ state of Texas.
This is the first link from Addicting Info, I have a few links from the AI blog today…anyway, here is the latest strike down in Governor GoodHair’s War on Women, Rick Perry Vetoes Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay – Senfronia Thompson Reacts
On Friday, June 14, Texas Governor Rick Perry vetoed House Bill 950 (HB 950). HB 950 would have brought Texas into compliance with the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 signed by President Barack Obama. The bill makes it easier for women to sue employers over wage discrimination between their male counterparts.
You can find a video interview at the link with,
Texas District 141 Representative, and Chair of the Local and Consent Calendars, Senfronia Thompson, the author of HB 950. She states that she was shocked and disappointed that Texas Governor Rick Perry vetoed the bill. She said she meticulously worked with Republicans to formulate a bill that could garner support in from both parties in both chambers of the legislature.
The bill was passed in the Texas House on April 25, 2013. It passed the Texas Senate on May 22, 2013. The bill was passed by a bipartisan legislature that is dominated by Republicans.
So, Perry even vetoed a bill that was passed by a bunch of Republicans. Sigh. But don’t you worry, at least one thing is safe in Texas, thanks to Perry…because on the same day he vetoed the Fair Pay bill, he signed the “Merry Christmas” bill. Texas Gov. Perry signs ‘Merry Christmas’ bill into law
Surrounded by sleigh bell-ringing Santa Claus impersonators, Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday signed a law protecting Christmas and other holiday celebrations in Texas public schools from legal challenges – but also stressed that freedom of religion is not the same thing as freedom from religion.
It was a serious tone for an otherwise fun bill-signing and should bolster the governor’s Christian conservative credentials before he travels to Washington for the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” conference with the likes of tea party darlings and U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Kentucky’s Rand Paul and fellow Texan Ted Cruz.
Dubbed the “Merry Christmas” bill, the bipartisan measure sailed through the state House and Senate to reach Perry’s desk.
It removes legal risks of saying “Merry Christmas” in schools while also protecting traditional holiday symbols, such as a menorah or nativity scene, so long as more than one religion and a secular symbol are also reflected.
Oh, may the Gawds be praised! At least they have the token secular symbol and “other” religious holiday symbol as a requirement. Believe me, this Merry Christmas bill is still going to piss off some people, cough…. Gretchen Carlson. Anyway, the sponsor of the bill Republican Rep. Dwayne Bohac of Houston said:
…of Perry: “This is not a governor that shirks away from the tough issues. And this should not be a tough issue, which is what’s even amazing about all this. But this is just political correctness that’s run a-muck and our brains have been completely fallen out as a result.”
Funny, it seems like he sure as hell shirked that big “tough” issue of fair pay.
I am going to move on to another “tough” issue, this link is also from Addicting Info, it is a very good post, Navy Judge Rules Rapists Shouldn’t Be Discharged (VIDEO)
Is the military just completely tone-deaf on the issue of sexual assault and rape in its ranks? Are those who’ve deigned themselves mouthpieces of the military just as clueless in their defense of this heinous situation? It would certainly seem so. Not only are the numbers staggering and inexplicable, but we’ve got idiotic conservatives blaming military rape on pornography, hyper-sensitive feminists, and “hormone level created by nature,” illustrating not only their profound cluelessness about the pathology of rapists, but the reasons why so many rapes and assaults go unreported. In fact, in a recent high-profile case where a victim did speak up and go to trial, the commander overturned the jury verdict to allow a rapist the freedom to advance in the ranks while his victim was stigmatized out of the service.
It’s entrenched, systemic corruption within what has been a very macho, male-dominated culture and it doesn’t appear the powers-that-be intend to take appropriate responsibility for the disturbed, entitled, misogynist criminals under its jurisdiction who are acting out with impunity and, in too many circumstances, to few consequences.
Okay, now get ready for it…
Latest case in point: Navy Judge Commander Marcus Fulton has just ruled that comments made by the President regarding military rape “would unduly influence” any potential sentencing in the cases of two defendants in military sexual assault cases, U.S. vs. Johnson and U.S. vs. Fuentes. Stars and Stripes reports that, per the judge’s ruling, should the two men be found guilty, they cannot be punitively discharged because of “unlawful command influence,” meaning, because of what President Obama, as the Commander in Chief, said. Would you like to know what incendiary, unduly prejudicial, trial-influencing comments the president made, so inflammatory that if two servicemen are actually found guilty of violently raping they should not be punished?
“The bottom line is: I have no tolerance for this,” Obama said, according to an NBC News story submitted as evidence by defense attorneys in the sexual assault cases.
‘I expect consequences,” Obama added. “So I don’t just want more speeches or awareness programs or training, but ultimately folks look the other way. If we find out somebody’s engaging in this, they’ve got to be held accountable — prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period.”
Do I hear the deafening roar of incredulity at the notion that these comments could possibly be framed as cause to excuse two rapists from punishment? Maybe that roar is just in my head, but damn, it is loud.
No, it the roar is in my head too. I will continue to post more of this article written by Lorraine Devon Wilke because I have to…
As a woman, a human being; an American, I’m writing this with a knot of rage in my stomach, rage at the notion that a Navy judge could take these firm but generic comments of appropriate anger, comments that are not only justified but, if anything, not strong enough, and use them as justification for NOT PUNISHING RAPISTS. It is unconscionable, amoral, certainly indefensible. But the judge not only stands by his ruling, he seems to think “members of the public” would be incapable of reading Obama’s anger at the horrific, systemic rape of both male and female service members as anything other than a direct command from him… a hypnotic order that would supercede any ability on their part to make judicious decisions about each individual case at hand. Sheep, listening and following the cult leader. Dear God. But here are his own words:
“A member of the public would not hear the President’s statement to be a simple admonition to hold members accountable,” Fulton stated. “A member of the public would draw the connection between the ‘dishonorable discharge’ required by the President and a punitive discharge approved by the convening authority.
“The strain on the system created by asking a convening authority to disregard [Obama’s] statement in this environment would be too much to sustain public confidence.”
And guess what follows this logic? Defense attorneys gleefully grabbing the ruling to use as a “way out” for their rapist (alleged…. I know) clients.
“I think that as a defense attorney, I would raise this argument in virtually any [sexual assault] case I had,” said Victor Hansen, vice president of the National Institute of Military Justice and former instructor at the Army’s JAG school.
However, in recent months there has been a lot more said — and in overly specific terms — about sexual assault by military and political leaders, Hansen noted. Obama’s call for dishonorable discharges is an example of such specificity, which begins to sound to military juries like a direct order from the commander in chief.
“This is bad lawyering on [Obama’s] advisor’s part,” Hansen said. “It’s certainly not a problem to say that sexual assault is a bad thing and we need to weed it out … that’s innocuous. It’s when they get very pointed that it’s problematic.”
So there you go; Obama’s verbiage was parsed as “too pointed” – daring to suggest consequences – and those who would go to any lengths to get military rapists off, excluded from commensurate punishment and consequence, are now licking their chops at the convenience of the judge’s ruling and how it will positively affect their own cases.
So far no one in the Navy judicial branch, JAG, is willing to address the ruling or its subsequent impact, though they did confirm its authenticity. Nor has the White House yet addressed the issue. But the 26,000 military rape and sexual assault victims of the past year, both male and female, are surely feeling, once again, victimized by a system that seems hellbent on doing everything to protect criminals within its ranks and little or nothing to defend, support and find justice for those who’ve been assaulted, raped, hurt, traumatized and, in many cases, pressured out of the military.
WHEN WILL THIS CHANGE?
You know, when the Newtown Shooting happened, my dad said that was the turning point…he said that was so horrible that people would demand tighter gun laws…he said the outrage would bring about change. At the time I told him no, there would be no changes made, sure we would have people talking about it, and laws would get proposed but nothing would change.
I know that there is plenty of attention, well let’s just say temporary attention lately on the military’s “culture” toward sexual assault. And honestly, like the gun control laws…and the equal pay bills, I just feel that there are some things which will never change. At least in my lifetime. Because it seems that they didn’t changed in my grandmother’s lifetime…they are definitely not going to in my mom’s lifetime…and I highly doubt they will in mine.
Boy, I seem to sound like a Cassandra don’t I?
Okay, like I said in the beginning of this post, there is one more link from Addicting Info, this one goes hand in hand with a link I saw on Susie Madrak’s blog. Y’all know the horrible time my family had with Bank of America, and the many times we sent our modification papers in, only to get another letter saying we have to send the same documents once again.
Well, check this shit out. As Susie puts it: BoA gave cash bonuses for HAMP foreclosures
No, it wasn’t just bad luck when that Bank of America rep kept telling you they “never got the paperwork.” We’ve been hearing these disgusting stories for a long time. Glad to hear they’re making their way into court, where there’s at least a chance that Bank of America might actually pay for some of their sins:
Bank of America Corp. (BAC), the second-biggest U.S. lender, rewarded staff with cash bonuses and gift cards for meeting quotas tied to sending distressed homeowners into foreclosure, former employees said in court documents.
Mortgage workers falsified records and were told to delay U.S. loan-assistance applications by requesting paperwork that the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank had already received, according to statements from ex-employees filed last week in federal court in Boston. The lender improperly disqualified applicants to the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, according to a May 23 statement from Simone Gordon, a loss-mitigation specialist who left the company in 2012.
Bank of America Corp. is being sued by homeowners who didn’t receive permanent loan modifications after making payments under trial programs, according to court papers.
“We were regularly drilled that it was our job to maximize fees for the bank by fostering and extending delay of the HAMP modification process by any means we could,” Gordon said. Managers instructed staff to “delay modifications by telling homeowners who called in that their documents were ‘under review,’ when in fact, there had been no review,” she said.
Bank of America, which has spent more than $45 billion to settle claims tied to its 2008 takeover of Countrywide Financial Corp., is being sued by homeowners who didn’t receive permanent loan modifications after making payments under trial programs, according to court papers. Statements from seven former loan employees were included in a filing last week as part of plaintiffs’ attempt to gain class-action status. The lender has denied the allegations.
Bank of America has managed to make the news yet again, but not for the right reasons. According to several ex-employees, Bank of America systematically declined homeowners the ability to modify their loans under the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP. Bank of America rewarded staff with various perks, including cash bonuses and gift cards, for meeting quotas by sending homeowners seeking loan modifications into foreclosure. With these new explosive allegations, a new lawsuit is being brought against Bank of America. The former employees’ testimonies and revelations will strengthen the lawsuit, which is a consolidation of 29 separate suits against the bank from across the United States and is seeking class action certification. According to court documents, the lawsuit is being brought by homeowners who didn’t receive permanent loan modifications after meeting their obligations under the trail programs.
I knew those BoA basturds were doing this kind of crap. I wonder what kind of slap on the wrist they will get for this shit.
This post is getting rather long so here are the rest of the morning’s links, real quick like.
There is a lot of news out of the Middle East this weekend, so I have some articles for you to look at:
For two years, President Obama has resisted being drawn deeper into the civil war in Syria. It was a miserable problem, he told aides, and not one he thought he could solve. At most, it could be managed. And besides, he wanted to be remembered for getting out of Middle East wars, not embarking on new ones.
So when Mr. Obama agreed this week for the first time to send small arms and ammunition to Syrian rebel forces, he had to be almost dragged into the decision at a time when critics, some advisers and even Bill Clinton were pressing for more action. Coming so late into the conflict, Mr. Obama expressed no confidence it would change the outcome, but privately expressed hope it might buy time to bring about a negotiated settlement.
You can read the rest of the article and speculation about the meaning behind how the aid to Syrian rebels was announced at the link.
Update: Centrist Hassan Rouhani is Iran’s new president, having won a massive victory in a field of 6 candidates. 13:19 ET, 6/15/13
Early election returns in Iran suggest that former National Security adviser and nuclear negotiator Hassan Rouhani may have won over 50% of the vote, in which case he will have won without needing to go to a second round. Too early to tell if that is so. While it is true that the president in Iran is more like the typical US vice president and is relatively powerless, he can nevertheless set a tone and initiate policies slightly different from those of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Iran is not yet a totalitarian dictatorship, and Khamenei himself has sometimes been forced to tack with the wind. Any change will be slow and at the margins, but it could nevertheless be significant in a very polarized world.
In the US….and stuff:
Exclusive – Wal-Mart’s everyday hiring strategy: Add more temps | Reuters –No surprises there.
One more link for you, it is really just a picture, I realize this is one of the first Sunday reads I have written without a history link…so in lieu of a long historic read, I will give you this…a medieval knight…guinea pig style, talk about “your mother being a hamster…”Anyway, enjoy:
If your guinea pig routinely dashes off into armed combat (or just likes the look of scale mail), you might want to outfit him or her in this handsome suit of armor, perfect for rolly-polly rodents.
After Lucky, the original owner of the armor and model for these photos, passed away, eBay seller mightys0x decided to auction off Lucky’s armor. All of the proceeds from the auction will go to Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue in Virginia, the organization that rescued and adopted out Lucky. Lucky’s owner made the scale mail and purchased the tiny helmet. The auction ends on June 21st.
Anyone with a friend who has a guinea pig, and is fond of Monty Python?
And finally, I know that today is Father’s Day, so for all those Daddy’s out there:
Have a wonderful day, and if you are around, let us know what you are thinking and reading about today.
After spending last night watching Lost in America...it made me think about Skippy, the manager at the Der Wienerschnitzel and those frozen fries, you know, the importance of details that make you great at your job. (If you forgot the scene I am talking about, the manager of the hot dog joint tells Albert Brooks just how wonderful his wife, Julie Hagerty, is…because of her attention to details, she noticed he had served “frozen” fries…with bits of ice inside of them.)
I wonder if Bank of America’s Bryan Moynihan, had such an attention to detail, but according to this article by Matt Taibbi, it looks like attention to detail is obviously not essential to a CEO…snark. Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan Apparently Can’t Remember Anything | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone
Thank God for Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan. If you’re a court junkie, or have the misfortune (as some of us poor reporters do) of being forced professionally to spend a lot of time reading legal documents, the just-released Moynihan deposition in MBIA v. Bank of America, Countrywide, and a Buttload of Other Shameless Mortgage Fraudsters will go down as one of the great Nixonian-stonewalling efforts ever, and one of the more entertaining reads of the year.
In this long-awaited interrogation – Bank of America has been fighting to keep Moynihan from being deposed in this case for some time – Moynihan does a full Star Trek special, boldly going where no deponent has ever gone before, breaking out the “I don’t recall” line more often and perhaps more ridiculously than was previously thought possible. Moynihan seems to remember his own name, and perhaps his current job title, but beyond that, he’ll have to get back to you.
Egyptian police battled thousands of protesters outside President Mohamed Mursi’s palace in Cairo on Tuesday, prompting the Islamist leader to leave the building, presidency sources said.
Officers fired teargas at up to 10,000 demonstrators angered by Mursi’s drive to hold a referendum on a new constitution on December 15. Some broke through police lines around his palace and protested next to the perimeter wall.
The crowds had gathered nearby in what organizers had dubbed “last warning” protests against Mursi, who infuriated opponents with a November 22 decree that expanded his powers. “The people want the downfall of the regime,” the demonstrators chanted.
“The president left the palace,” a presidential source, who declined to be named, told Reuters. A security source at the presidency also said the president had departed.
Building Lego towers is a competitive business – this one in Prague, at 32.5m, may be the tallest to date
It’s not just children who like to build towers with Lego – the internet is alive with discussion on how many Lego bricks, stacked one on top of the other, it would take to destroy the bottom brick. So what’s the answer?
There has been a burning debate on the social news website Reddit.
It’s a trivial question you might think, but one the Open University’s engineering department has – at the request of the BBC’s More or Less programme – fired up its labs to try to answer.
“It’s an exciting thing to do because it’s an entirely new question and new questions are always interesting,” says Dr Ian Johnston, an applied mathematician and lecturer in engineering.
The average maximum force the bricks can stand is 4,240N. That’s equivalent to a mass of 432kg (950lbs). If you divide that by the mass of a single brick, which is 1.152g, then you get the grand total of bricks a single piece of Lego could support: 375,000.
So, 375,000 bricks towering 3.5km (2.17 miles) high is what it would take to break a Lego brick.
NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft has encountered a “magnetic highway” at the edge of the solar system, a surprising discovery 35 years after its launch, the experts behind the pioneering craft said Monday.
Earlier this year a surge in a key indicator fueled hopes that the craft was nearing the so-called heliopause, which marks the boundary between our solar system and outer space.
But instead of slipping away from the bubble of charged particles the Sun blows around itself, Voyager encountered something completely unexpected.
This is amazing…think about how far Voyager has gone.
The craft’s daily radio reports sent back evidence that the Sun’s magnetic field lines was connected to interstellar magnetic fields. Lower-energy charged particles were zooming out and higher-energy particles from outside were streaming in.
They called it a magnetic highway because charged particles outside this region bounced around in all directions, as if trapped on local roads inside the bubble, or heliosphere.
“Although Voyager 1 still is inside the Sun’s environment, we now can taste what it’s like on the outside because the particles are zipping in and out on this magnetic highway,” said Edward Stone, a Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.
We got ourselves all excited for NASA’s Mars press conference today, even though we already knew it wasn’t about life on the red planet, but what we should have been paying attention to was happening nearly 11.5 billion miles away in the heliosphere. The Voyager 1 spacecraft has encountered a new region of our solar system. What’s even more exciting is that NASA scientists believe this region is the final barrier between Voyager and interstellar space. That’s so much more impressive than chlorine on Mars.
The Voyager 1 spacecraft is now so far out into space that light from the Sun takes over 34 hours to reach it. NASA debated whether this new region should still be considered part of our solar system, but project scientist Edward Stone makes the call by saying, “Although Voyager 1 still is inside the sun’s environment, we now can taste what it’s like on the outside because the particles are zipping in and out on this magnetic highway.”
The scientists believe that Voyager will pass out of the solar system within the next two months or so. I’ve got one more space link for you this morning, it is about our Galaxy the Milky Way, New estimate suggests Milky Way mass of 1.6 trillion suns
Panorama of Milky Way from the inside: a mosaic of multiple shots on large-format film, comprising all 360 degrees of the galaxy from our vantage point. More about this image here. Image Credit: Digital Sky LLC via Wikimedia Commons
Our home galaxy the Milky Way is thought to be approximately 100,000 light-years wide and about 1,000 light-years thick. You often hear the estimate that the mass of our galaxy is equal to several billion suns, but some estimates have ranged up to twice that high, or even higher. Now some astronomers are suggesting a mass for the Milky Way of 1.6 trillion suns. The estimate isn’t just for stars but also includes the mass of our Milky Way’s invisible dark halo. It’s based on the first-ever measurement of the proper motion, or sideways motion along our line of sight, of a small galaxy satellite galaxy to our Milky Way. Ken Croswell reported on the role of this small galaxy – called Leo I – yesterday (December 3, 2012) in Scientific American.
There is a lot of information in that article, be sure to go and read the whole thing.
The rest of today’s post will be in link dump fashion…
An Amazing New Use for Ecstasy- Helping women deal with PTSD after rape.
Big Pharma Company Mocked Patients Who Got “Jawbone Death” from Drug: “Ma Toot Hurts So Bad” – Merck couldn’t care less about the patients…as long as they could make more money.
Noam Chomsky: What the American Media Won’t Tell You About Israel –Decades of hell in Gaza.
New research shows corrosion may accelerate failures at Fukushima Daiichi- Great…and guess what? There is nothing that can be done about it.
Be sure you read these couple of links on the NFL murder suicide this past weekend:
Regarding privacy in America…Laptop seizures by US government highlight 9/11-era climate of fear | Glenn Greenwald
And lastly, a bit of history…. Disability history month: Was Tamerlane disabled?
Tamerlane – derived from his nickname Timur the Lame – rose from obscurity to become a 14th Century conqueror of nations, who piled high the skulls of his enemies. It was quite a feat at a time when physical prowess was prized, writes Justin Marozzi.
Think of the greatest conquerors of all time and chances are you’ll quickly list Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great. It is rather less likely, unless you come from Central Asia or the Muslim world more widely, that you’d spare a thought for Tamerlane.
Yet in many ways this Tartar warlord, born near Samarkand in 1336 in what is now Uzbekistan, outshone both the Macedonian king and the Mongol warlord.
Lots of links, I know…but it is a busy time of the year, and if you can’t take it all in one shot…come back during the day when you have the time. And be sure to share the things you are reading about today…
I have a couple of things to bring you tonight, one of them is on an old topic…that I never paid attention to before. But, my very dear friend was asking me about it, and of course I wanted to get the right information. The rest of my highlights are on the BOA mortgage settlements…but first this.
As you all know, the death of Savita Halappanavar hit me hard. I took it very personal because my situation was similar, only my fetus was not in the process of a miscarriage, it was an ectopic that was just at the opening of my fallopian tube at the uterus. So there is actually no way I could have gotten my medically necessary abortion if I was in Ireland.
I sent the Irish Embassy Foreign Affairs a message about my disgust at the death of a woman which could have been prevented. They sent me an email back…
Dear JJ Lopez Minkoff
Your e-mail below refers.
The Irish Government has extended its sympathies to the family of Ms. Savita Halappanavar on their loss.
Two investigations are currently underway in order to establish the facts in relation to this case and to identify the factors that contributed to this tragic death. In addition, a Coroner’s Inquest will take place into the matter.
The Minister for Health and Children has indicated that the outcome of the investigation reports must be awaited before commenting further. The investigation teams will work closely with Ms. Halappanavar’s family at all times and keep them fully informed of the terms of reference of the investigations.
Press & Information Officer
Embassy of Ireland
From: email@example.com [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 14 November 2012 15:23
To: #WASHINGTON EM External Mail
Subject: FeedbackYour name:: JJ Lopez Minkoff
Your email address:: email@example.com
Query/Comment:: It is appalling that in this modern era a woman will die because of the religious beliefs of others…Savita Halappanavar should be alive today. Instead she suffered pain and torture at the hands of your country’s archaic anti-abortion laws and an obvious lack of humanity by hospital doctors and staff. Shame on them.
Recent press about the death of Savita Halappanavar, admitted to a hospital in Ireland with medical complications in a 17-week pregnancy, is a grim reminder about the impact of abortion restrictions on women’s lives.
In Ireland, abortion is legal only to save a woman’s life. In the last two years in the United States, nine states have passed laws banning abortion after 20 weeks (in Arizona abortion is banned after 18 weeks) except to save a woman’s life. But as the death of Ms. Halappanavar so poignantly illustrates, “risk to a woman’s life” in emergency situations is extremely difficult to assess.
In the video, an alleged Obama supporter screams about her “Obama phone” at a rally in Ohio. She tells a reporter, “Keep Obama in president, you know! He gave us a phone, he’s gonna do more.”
The video made news this week as taxpayers grow increasingly uncomfortable with the so-called “47%” – those folks who supposedly rely on the government for entitlements. Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney described those folks as:
[D]ependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it
She went on to shriek, “Everybody in Cleveland, low minorities, got Obama phones…”
It was a great sound byte. But it’s deeply flawed. The “Obama phone” program she’s touting doesn’t give out free phones to minorities. And it wasn’t started by President Obama. And this rumor isn’t new.
Of course it isn’t true…
… reported months ago, there is a law in place to help low-income customers have access to basic telephone service. It’s divided into two programs: Link-Up America and Lifeline.
Link-Up assists consumers with the installation costs of phone service. The program pays up to $30 of the cost of installation and up to $200 in the form of a one year, interest-free loan for additional installation costs.
Lifeline provides discounts on basic monthly service at a primary residence for qualified telephone customers. These discounts can be up to $10.00 per month, or more for certain Native Americans. Generally, to qualify, your income must be at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines (these vary by location and size of family but for comparison, rings in at $22,350 for a family of four in the lower 48).
In some instances, coverage may include discounts for cell phone service instead of land lines at primary residences because realistically, cell phone service is less expensive in some areas than traditional service. Eligibility and type of program may vary from state to state – and this is why there is a flurry of confusion about the program being a product of the Obama administration. In Florida, for example, cell phone service was added to the existing program – in 2008, the year that Obama was elected to office. The conclusion from many folks was that it was a new federal program. It was not. It was an expansion of the existing program and implemented on a state by state basis.
This program started back in 1996…
The federal program wasn’t started by President Obama. It dates back to 1996, as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The Act did a number of things, including increasing internet access to doctors and patients in rural hospitals (for consults with specialists); subsidizing internet and phone coverage for schools and libraries and providing free or subsidized coverage for families who can’t afford it so that they have links to emergency and government services. The Act was not taxpayer funded… exactly. Taxpayers do pay for coverage but not via federal income taxes. Instead, the Act “mandated the creation of the universal service fund (USF) into which all telecommunications providers are required to contribute a percentage of their interstate and international end-user telecommunications revenues.” So that little fee on your phone bill labeled USF? That’s what you’re paying for.
There is more detail here: Obama Phone: Urban Legend or Real?
Notice that earlier we said Link-Up helps fund “installation.” What installation does a cell phone have? None. So why is installation part of Link-Up, which is under the Lifeline program umbrella? Because, the whole thing began back in 1996 when the Federal Communications Commission authorized the programs for landline phones. At that time it provided discounts on landline phones only, for obvious reasons.
To this day the government provides discounts on landline phones for financially disadvantaged people in the United States and U.S. territories. The Link-Up portion helps with the installation and the Lifeline Assistance part helps with the monthly bills, to the tune of roughly ten dollars a month.
So, the subsidization of phones began under President Clinton, and has continued under Presidents Bush and Obama.
Over that time, the usage of cell phones rose and the costs came down. Assuming one believes in the Lifeline program in the first place, and remembering that the FCC has mandated the program, it only makes sense to expand the phone assistance program to include cell phones. So, in 2008 the first application of this program for mobile phones began when a company called Tracfone started their Safelink Wireless service in Tennessee.
Aha, some say, that’s the same year Obama was elected! Well, that’s true. But the service in Tennessee was launched three months prior to Obama being elected. And that means the discussion and approval of the extension of the program occurred under President Bush’s watch.
The Bush Phone, anyone?
As the Forbes article points out, there is legislation proposed to stop the Lifeline phone program, brought forward by Republican congress members, none of which are from Ohio.
On now to the mortgage stuff. Two items of interest, first Mortgage refinancing bill on hold in Senate
The Senate is postponing work on a mortgage refinancing bill that Democrats argue would help millions of homeowners and accelerate the economic recovery until after they return from the Thanksgiving holiday.
The measure, which was expected to be one of the first votes to take place when the upper chamber returns from its recess, is getting pushed off while a sportsmen’s bill sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) is completed this week.
There is still the possibility that the mortgage bill, which has been touted by the Obama administration as an easy avenue to help struggling homeowners, could come up next month when Congress tilts its agenda toward averting a drop off the fiscal cliff.
I hope that this bill, if it does pass has some way to hold the banks accountable for the amount of modifications/refinances they do CLOSE, not just mod applications they take.
Speaking of which, the basturds at Bank of America have sent out alerts about the class action lawsuit they settled over the summer. Yes, we got one…and I can only hope my parents will get some sort of relief for the hell BOA put them through.
This one offers a bit of vindication. I cannot tell you how much grief I got from “official sources” over the clear reality that banks would be able to pay off their penalties in the foreclosure fraud settlement with investor money. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan flat-out said it, and then had to backtrack and obfuscate. But it was clearly set up by the terms of the settlement. Banks would get credit under the settlement for modifying loans in private label mortgage backed securities, which means the investors take the hit.
This became more clear in Bank of America’s side deal, where they would reduce their penalty through modifying loans they don’t own:
The expanded program could allow Bank of America to avoid paying $350 million in penalties tied to the foreclosure settlement and half of a separate $1 billion penalty related to a settlement of false claims filed on loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, if the bank meets certain targets. Many of the write-downs will be made on loans originated by Countrywide Financial Corp., which Bank of America acquired in 2008, and then packaged into securities. BofA will also reduce balances on loans it owns […]
Some fund managers feel it is unfair for banks, which serviced mortgages on behalf of investors, to use those same loans to meet their obligations under the settlement. “The fact that a servicer has done a poor job has already impacted borrowers and our investors,” said BlackRock Managing Director Randy Robertson, who declined to speak specifically about the Bank of America agreement. “To ask investors to pay for banks’ fines in any form seems inappropriate and incorrect—we have very serious issues with that.”
BofA made a settlement deal with its own investors for $8.5 billion (one that’s still tied up in court), that they claim makes those loans eligible for write-downs without even having to get investor consent on a case-by-case basis. It’s probable that these write-offs could be beneficial to the investor, or NPV-positive, to use the technical term. But they’re still paying for BofA’s misconduct.
Have I said how much I hate these BOA ratfukkerz!
BofA started this process back in May by mailing letters to people with loans that they “owned or serviced.” In other words, they would reduce balances on loans they didn’t own, and get credit under the settlement. Sure enough, as American Banker reports today, writing about BofA’s compliance with the settlement:
In a surprising revelation, the Charlotte, N.C., lender also said that more than half of the nearly $5 billion in principal reductions will be paid for by investors, not the bank itself. That matters little to delinquent borrowers who saw their monthly payments reduced, but it is sure to anger investors who have argued that they should not have to be punished for banks’ mistakes.
Whether B of A’s report is indicative of progress other banks are making in complying with the landmark settlement won’t be known until Joseph A. Smith, the settlement’s monitor, issues his own progress report on Monday.
It’s actually not surprising. BofA has been planning this for months. All of the indications in their side deal showed they would get off the hook for billions in principal reductions by laying the cost off on investors.
Dayen feels “vindicated” in his prediction of just this scenario, you can read more at the link. Personally I feel so disgusted with these bankster crooks, that goes for Obama too, for letting them get away with this shit.
Two more items, quick questions…am I the only one who is disturbed by the use of Twitter to announce Israel’s attack on Gaza?
The IDF’s Twitter account is not without its dissenters:
But apparently, the better translation is “pillar of cloud” or “pillar of smoke”. And there’s this of course, put out by the IDF:
And they posted a video of that assassination, which we embedded here. I think Israel has a right to self-defense against the rockets being randomly fired toward their civilian population. But I do not recognize the Western concepts of just war and self-defense in these macho posturings about war. There is a relish about the use of disproportionate technology and force that I suppose tells us something about what living under siege can do to the psyches of human beings. The dehumanization of the enemy is also helped in part by distant electronic and video monitoring and broadcasting of deaths on the ground, as if this were a video game. It makes me think again about the question of the moral use of drone warfare.
And it’s hard to disagree with this tweeter:
I believe that Youtube has taken the IDF video down…I really do not want to get into a discussion about the timing and events that lead up to this attack, however, the use of twitter and the PR #hashtag branding of this war makes me sick.
One last link for you, and I can’t wait to see this on Fox and Friends, come on Gretchen get pissed off! Chick-fil-A Declares War on Christmas
For many Religious Right groups, Christmas is not so much a time to celebrate Immanuel than it is to raise money by fomenting outrage when shops use slogans like “happy holidays.” The American Family Association has a “Naughty or Nice” list to stir up consumers to boycott companies which are “against Christmas” and yesterday Liberty Counsel announced its “Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign,” targeting public spaces which “censor” Christmas and selling their “Help Save Christmas Acton Pack.”
As Jeremy Hooper noted yesterday, it appears that the Religious Right’s most beloved fast food chain, Chick-fil-A, has indeed declared war on Christmas. In their horrific assault on Christmas, the company released a statement celebrating the “holiday season” that doesn’t once include the word “Christmas” and also pushed out a press release about “holiday gift giving,” again failing to mention “Christmas.” Even their online ads are clear affronts to Christmas!
We will wait to see whether LC or the AFA decide to be consistent with their boycott calls and paint Chick-fil-A as the season’s latest Grinch, but we won’t hold our breath, especially since Newt Gingrich, a proud foot soldier in the “War on Christmas,” escaped judgment when his company Gingrich Productions declared war on Christmas, and both LC chairman Mat Staver and AFA founder Don Wildmon endorsed him.
How dare those cows leave out the name of Christ in their seasonal greeting! I am sure they could get a bucket of paint and splash up some words of Noel for the Holiday Season. I wonder if they would call it Knowell? or Kristmose?
I have a mix of news links for you this morning, but nothing too terribly depressing. As I told you Tuesday, I’ve got a bit of Christmas overload, plus I’ve had a flu bug for a few days. So lets’ start out on a positive note.
Today at 12:30AM ET was the Winter Solstice, and therefore today is the shortest day of the year. That means in a few weeks, it will get dark in the Boston area around 4:30PM instead of 4:00. Right now, twilight begins about 3:30PM. I am so looking forward to longer days. From the WaPo:
If you pay attention to these things, you’ll notice a lag of a few weeks between the time the sun begins to set later in the day and the time it rises earlier. But the 22nd is, nonetheless, in the northern hemisphere, our shortest day, and the one in which the sun hoists itself the most miserly distance above the horizon. To top it off, the daily rate at which the sun sinks lower in the sky has been slowing, until it stops. Hence the word solstice, which means that the sun “stands still.”
It’s only for a theoretical instant, of course, but it can often seem, during these days of dark and cold, as if life itself has ground to a halt. Gardening can take place in the jewel boxes of our cold frames and greenhouses, but with growth so slow that there is little for you to do. The hibernation practiced by some creatures starts to seem like a great idea, and the southern migration of others a possible plan.
Not surprisingly, the human celebrations held in this season are full of light, whether it’s from Hanukkah candles, bonfires or sparkly tinsel draped over trees. You can almost understand why people light up their lawns with electrified reindeer. The longer the nights and the greater the inactivity they foster, the more we need our spirits lifted.
“People are celebrating the solstice more than ever in recent memory,” said Selena Fox, who isn’t just any Wiccan priestess. She’s a psychotherapist and the founder of Wisconsin’s Circle Sanctuary, a nonprofit Wiccan church and, according to its website, a 200-acre nature preserve….
Solstice is “widely celebrated today by Wiccans, druids, heathens and other pagans; by indigenous peoples practicing traditional ways in Africa, Asia, Polynesia, Australia, Europe and the Americas; by environmentalists and astronomers; by secular humanists and Freethinkers; by eco-Christians and those of other religions and philosophies,” Fox told The Times in an interview Wednesday….
Humankind has been “observing solstices for thousands of years,” Fox said, but the celestial events have become even more of the moment. Why? Because this is an “age of climate change and a need to have sustainability on the planet,” she said, so it makes sense that a holiday that has “connecting with the cycles of nature” at its core would become popular.
And of course that is why the mythic birth of Jesus was set on December 25, to symbolize rebirth and light coming back to the world. In pagan terms, the birth of the new sun. Here’s a video of the Solstice celebration at Stonehenge in 2009.
One year from now, the 2012 Winter Solstice will mark the end of the Mayan calendar, and we’ll probably have to deal with all kinds of apocalyptic prediction about what is going to happen next. NASA has a page debunking the idea that the end of the world is coming on December 22, 2012. Of course the maniacs in Washington DC might do something that would cause the end of the world as we know it. Let’s hope not.
Yesterday, Dakinikat had a post on John Boehner’s payroll tax fiasco. First Boehner said the House would agree to a 2-month extension of the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits, as passed by the Senate. Then suddenly Boehner announced that Republicans wouldn’t vote for the compromise bill–now they wanted a year’s extension or nothing. WTF?!
At the Daily Beast, Patricia Murphy claims to provide the inside story on what happened.
What happened between Boehner’s agreement to follow the Senate’s lead and his tacit admission that his own caucus had overruled him? Aides and House members describe a now-infamous caucus conference call Saturday morning, when rank-and-file members blasted the Boehner-blessed deal, which they felt gave in on too many of their demands and delivered too little in return.
A closed door meeting Monday night revealed more doubts from conservatives over whether Boehner had pushed for the best deal they could have gotten and fueled Democratic frustration that Boehner, who they believe negotiated in good faith, simply cannot speak for his caucus anymore. The debacle capped a tumultuous year for the speaker, reigniting questions about how much longer he can lead the unwieldy GOP coalition, many of whose members clearly have no interest in following him where he wants to go.
Publicly, Boehner and House Republicans presented a united front this week, blaming President Obama for shortening a tax cut they say they have wanted to pass all along. But Democrats blamed a group of Republicans they’ve dubbed “the kamikazes,” the GOP freshmen who arrived in January on a wave of Tea Party anger and have shown time and again that they are willing to blow up their careers and everything around them in service to their cause.
The kamikazes’ casualty list this year is long. They blew up the debt-ceiling vote this summer, sparking a downgrade in the nation’s credit rating. They blew up the appropriations process so thoroughly that routine spending votes morphed into philosophical standoffs that nearly locked down the federal government three times and required seven temporary funding patches just to keep the lights on. And this week, they managed to blow up not just a tax cut that nearly everyone in Washington agrees is a good idea, but also their party’s hard-earned reputation for cutting taxes and, quite possibly, their chances at a long-term majority in the House and future control of the Senate.
Talk about self-immolation! In the meantime, questions are being asked about Boehner’s leadership.
At ABC’s The Note, Jonathan Karl is predicting the Republicans will fold. We’ll see. President Obama is really good at finding ways to give in to the Congressional terrorists. Maybe someone can distract him long enough to let this play out without his intervention.
Also at the the Daily Beast, there’s a creepy, yet semi-humorous story about local cops being militarized by the Department of Homeland Security, this time in my birthplace, the quiet little city of Fargo, North Dakota.
Nestled amid plains so flat the locals joke you can watch your dog run away for miles, Fargo treasures its placid lifestyle, seldom pierced by the mayhem and violence common in other urban communities. North Dakota’s largest city has averaged fewer than two homicides a year since 2005, and there’s not been a single international terrorism prosecution in the last decade.
But that hasn’t stopped authorities in Fargo and its surrounding county from going on an $8 million buying spree to arm police officers with the sort of gear once reserved only for soldiers fighting foreign wars.
Every city squad car is equipped today with a military-style assault rifle, and officers can don Kevlar helmets able to withstand incoming fire from battlefield-grade ammunition. And for that epic confrontation—if it ever occurs—officers can now summon a new $256,643 armored truck, complete with a rotating turret. For now, though, the menacing truck is used mostly for training and appearances at the annual city picnic, where it’s been parked near the children’s bounce house.
“Most people are so fascinated by it, because nothing happens here,” says Carol Archbold, a Fargo resident and criminal justice professor at North Dakota State University. “There’s no terrorism here.”
Read it and weep. If Fargo has that much military hardware, imagine what they’ve got in NYC, Chicago, and LA! Police State Amerika is here.
At the NYT, Charlie Savage reports on the Justice Department settlement with Bank of America over discrimination in mortgage lending by Countrywide.
The Justice Department on Wednesday announced the largest residential fair-lending settlement in history, saying that Bank of America had agreed to pay $335 million to settle allegations that its Countrywide Financial unit discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers during the housing boom.
A department investigation concluded that Countrywide loan officers and brokers charged higher fees and rates to more than 200,000 minority borrowers across the country than to white borrowers who posed the same credit risk. Countrywide also steered more than 10,000 minority borrowers into costly subprime mortgages when white borrowers with similar credit profiles received regular loans, it found.
Now how about putting some banksters in jail for bringing down the economy? Not holding my breath, but at least BOA has to cough up some bucks.
Newt Gingrich has been accused of illegally profiting from his presidential campaign.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich became the target on Monday of a Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint filed by the non-profit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which accused the Georgia Republican of illegally profiting off his campaign.
The complaint is based on a revelation by The Washington Post‘s Dan Eggen, who discovered that Gingrich had personally sold a mailing list to his campaign and profited to the tune of $47,005, then failed to report the transaction on a key FEC document. That’s count one, according to CREW.
That mailing list did not belong to Gingrich personally, CREW said. It instead belonged to Gingrich Productions, Inc., a private business that sells Gingrich’s books. Since he paid himself instead of Gingrich Productions, CREW alleged that a second count of using campaign money for personal expenses is called for as well. The treasurer who signed off on the deal is also accused of violating campaign finance laws.
CREW explained in their complaint (PDF) that Gingrich Productions often stages events at the same time as Newt 2012, Inc., his non-profit group and principal campaign committee, which could constitute improper corporate contributions to a political campaign in that the campaign directly benefits from Gingrich Productions’ events.
It goes on to note that the mailing list Gingrich moved from his book company to his campaign was actually a list of people who were waiting at Gingrich events to have their books signed, showing even further how Gingrich Productions and Newt 2012 work in tandem to help each other.
Whoopsie! Everybody’s out to get Newt these days. I’d love to see him end up in jail along with some banksters, but again–not holding my breath.
As you’ve all heard, Ron Paul stalked off the set of an interview at CNN yesterday after he was asked about some racist passages in newsletters he published years ago. But USA today has caught Paul in a serious contradiction about those writings.
Rep. Ron Paul has tried since 2001 to disavow racist and incendiary language published in Texas newsletters that bore his name, denying he wrote them and even walking out of an interview on CNN Wednesday. But he vouched for the accuracy of the writings and admitted writing at least some of the passages when first asked about them in an interview in 1996.
Some issues of the newsletters included racist, anti-Israel or anti-gay comments, including a 1992 newsletter in which he said 95% of black men in Washington “are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”
Paul told TheDallas Morning News in 1996 that the contents of his newsletters were accurate but needed to be taken in context. Wednesday, he told CNN he didn’t write the newsletters and didn’t know what was in them.
Hmmmm…. I guess Mitt Romney isn’t the only flip-flopper in the Republican presidential race.
Speaking of Romney, that guy has really gone off the deep end in his efforts to court Iowa Tea Party voters. Steve Benen suggests that Romney has “lost his mind.”
Mitt Romney unveiled a brand-new stump speech in New Hampshire last night, reading a carefully-crafted, poll-tested text from two teleprompters. Confident that his Republican primarily rivals simply won’t (or can’t) catch him, the former one-term governor ignored the other GOP candidates in his speech, and focused exclusively on attacking President Obama.
Wow! Two telepromters? Now why does that sound familiar? Anyway, the point is that Romney has been reduced to following the Tea Party meme that Obama is a commie socialist. From the speech:
“Just a couple of weeks ago in Kansas, President Obama lectured us about Teddy Roosevelt’s philosophy of government. But he failed to mention the important difference between Teddy Roosevelt and Barack Obama. Roosevelt believed that government should level the playing field to create equal opportunities. President Obama believes that government should create equal outcomes.
“In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort, and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people who truly enjoy any real rewards are those who do the redistributing — the government.
“The truth is that everyone may get the same rewards, but virtually everyone will be worse off.”
ROFLOL! Benen writes:
It stands to reason that Romney, who’s completed the transition from “progressive” views to far-right hysterics, would present a worldview different from the center-left president’s. But this speech was written in a twisted fantasy land, and it ascribes views to Obama that are simply made up. It’s just madness.
And get this: Romney wants Obama’s uncle deported!
ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a Boston talk radio host on Wednesday that he supports the deportation of President Obama’s Kenyan-born uncle who was arrested this fall on drunken driving charges in Massachusetts.
When asked by Boston radio personality Howie Carr whether the president’s relative, Onyango Obama, should be deported, Romney said, “the answer is ‘yes.’”
“Well, if the laws of the United States say he should be deported, and I presume they do, then of course we should follow those laws,” Romney said. “And the answer is ‘yes.’”
And last week, Romney told Sean Hannity that Obama is deliberately and knowingly hurting America for political reasons.
Hannity: The president has been using class warfare as we know. He says Republicans want dirty air, dirty water. Says Republicans want old people, kids with autism and Down’s syndrome to fend for themselves. Pretty outrageous charges.
Romney: Shameful. It’s really shameful.
Hannity: Explain, and how do you counter that if you get this nomination?
Romney: You know, I think the president has gone from being a failed presidency, a guy over his head, to someone who is now so desperate to get re-election that he’s doing things that are very much counter to the interest of the country and he knows it. In the past I think he was just misguided. Now I think he really knows that his decision in Afghanistan to pull the troops out a couple of months earlier than commanders suggested. That was not a wise, not a wise thing for the country. The Keystone pipeline, he knows we need that oil, he knows the consequences.
If Romney is this nuts now, imagine what he’ll be like in the thick of the primaries. Folks, Romney is not the “reasonable” candidate. There is no reasonable candidate on the Republican side. It’s going to be a completely insane candidate vs. a fascist pretending to be a Democrat. Followed by the end of the Mayan calendar. If we’re lucky, the world will end before the next president is inaugurated. Just kidding, I think.
I’ll end with this embarrassing for him, amusing for us, bit of gossip about Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner.
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), known for his cantankerous ways and for not speaking to media unless it’s his idea, was overheard at the Delta Crown lounge at Reagan National Airport today talking on his cellphone about an incident he said occurred three weeks ago while at an Episcopal church auction. Please note, a church auction.
Our source, a Democratic operative who heard the whole thing, said he was “very loud”. Sensenbrenner was overheard saying that after buying all their “crap” (his word) a woman approached him and praised first lady Michelle Obama. He told the woman that Michelle should practice what she preaches — “she lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself.”
The operative said it sounded like he was on the phone with a staffer who was telling him that someone in the media would likely write about his comments (concerning something) to which he said it was heresy and just liberal media bias to print gossip. But “he stands by his remarks.”
Sensenbrenner is on the pudgy side. Someone should tell him that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
That’s all I’ve got for you today. What are you reading and blogging about?
It sure looks that way. From the Wall Street Journal:
Bank of America Corp. is dropping its plan to charge customers $5 a month for making purchases with their debit cards, a person familiar with the situation said.
The move is a dramatic retreat following decisions by several rivals in recent days to drop customer tests of the new fees. SunTrust Banks Inc. and Regions Financial Corp. also said Monday that they will stop charging customers for debit-card transactions.
Bank of America decided against the fees due to negative customer feedback on the plan and the moves by rivals, which left the Charlotte, N.C., lender as the only big bank planning to levy the fee on some customers next year.
According to Bloomberg, BofA CEO David Darnell claims the bank just “listened” to customers.
“We have listened to our customers very closely over the last few weeks and recognize their concern with our proposed debit usage fee,” David Darnell, co-chief operating officer, said in a statement from the Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender today. “As a result, we are not currently charging the fee and will not be moving forward with any additional plans to do so.”
Darnell wants us to believe that he had no clue that customers would be angry at being charged for accessing their own money. But actually, he apparently paid more attention to what his competitors were doing.
Bank of America reversed course after competitors including Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), the No. 2 debit-card issuer, decided not to charge similar fees. Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks Inc. (STI) and Regions Financial Corp., based in Birmingham, Alabama, said yesterday they will eliminate their check-card fees after customers rebelled.
At least it’s a small win for the 99%. And I’m sure the banks were paying close attention to the Occupy Movement too, even if they’ll never admit it.
Today’s evening reads is going to be on the short side, so please help me out by posting links in the comment section.
Bank of America got a Buffet Bailout of sorts today. Buffett invests $5 billion in Bank of America, giving bank a vote of confidence; stock soars – The Washington Post
Warren Buffett is coming to the rescue of another fallen giant.
Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway announced Thursday that it would invest $5 billion in Bank of America Corp., giving a much-needed vote of confidence in the struggling bank.
Buffett said in a statement Thursday he called Bank of America’s CEO Moynihan to ask about investing because he considered the bank a strong, well-led company.
Berkshire will receive a dividend of 6 percent on his investment in Bank of America. Berkshire will get 50,000 preferred shares and warrants to purchase 700 million shares of common stock at $7.14 per share. Buffett can exercise the warrants at any time in the next 10 years. If he does, it would make him the banks largest shareholder with a stake of 7 percent.
An hour after the deal was announced, Buffett had already made a profit on paper of $500 million on the stock warrants thanks to a surge in Bank of America’s stock price. After closing at $6.99 Wednesday, the stock jumped 87 cents or 12 percent to $7.86 Thursday. Bank of America’s stock traded as high as $15 in January, before its mortgage woes worsened.
Buffett’s investment in Bank of America sent the stocks of other banks higher too. Citigroup Inc. rose 2.7 percent and Morgan Stanley rose 3.4 percent.
Warren Buffett may have earned $1.4 billion in one day on his $5 billion investment in Bank of America Corp. (BAC)
“I’m sure Warren cut a pretty good deal,” said Linus Wilson, assistant professor of finance at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. “For Bank of America, you get the endorsement of Warren Buffett, and it’s going to make it a lot easier if Bank of America wants to raise more capital from other investors.”
Didn’t Obama have a phone call with Buffet a few days ago? Buffet says he got the “idea” for the BOA deal while in the “bathtub.” I wonder if Buffet has a phone in that bathroom of his…Warren Buffett: I Dreamt Up Bank Of America Deal In The Bathtub
Warren Buffett is the third wealthiest man in the world. He also seems to like making market-shifting financial decisions while relaxing in the bath. On Thursday, Buffett, the billionaire investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, announced his company would buy $5 billion worth of shares in Bank Of America. Critics wondered if Buffett had been pressured to help the troubled bank. Not so, Buffett says. “He says he just dreamt this idea up on Wednesday morning while he was in the bathtub,” CNBC’s Becky Quick said on Thursday after speaking with Buffett over the phone.
The deal is being compared to previous Buffett deals like the $5 billion Goldman Sachs investment during the financial crisis not only because of the risk attached, but also because of the prominence of an anecdotal bathtub story. After the Goldman Sachs deal, Buffett compared the struggling economy to the tub with “cold water in the front and hot water in the back,” The New York Times points out.
I am avoiding the political yada yada yada today, but feel free to share anything you find interesting down below in the comments.