September 27th, 2009


Fed: This Was a Freakish Event! No Really. We Didnt See It Coming!! Is True!!

As Subprime Lending Crisis Unfolded, Watchdog Fed Didn't Bother Barking

The visits had a ritual quality. Three times a year, a coalition of Chicago community groups met with the Federal Reserve and other banking regulators to warn about the growing prevalence of abusive mortgage lending.

They began to present research in 1999 showing that large banking companies including Wells Fargo and Citigroup had created subprime businesses wholly focused on making loans at high interest rates, largely in the black and Hispanic neighborhoods to the south and west of downtown Chicago.

The groups pleaded for regulators to act.

The evidence eventually led Illinois to file suit against Wells Fargo in July for discrimination and other abuses.

But during the years of the housing boom, the pleas failed to move the Fed, the sole federal regulator with authority over the businesses. Under a policy quietly formalized in 1998, the Fed refused to police lenders' compliance with federal laws protecting borrowers, despite repeated urging by consumer advocates across the country and even by other government agencies.

The hands-off policy, which the Fed reversed earlier this month, created a double standard. Banks and their subprime affiliates made loans under the same laws, but only the banks faced regular federal scrutiny. Under the policy, the Fed did not even investigate consumer complaints against the affiliates.

"In the prime market, where we need supervision less, we have lots of it. In the subprime market, where we badly need supervision, a majority of loans are made with very little supervision," former Fed Governor Edward M. Gramlich, a critic of the hands-off policy, wrote in 2007. "It is like a city with a murder law, but no cops on the beat."

Between 2004 and 2007, bank affiliates made more than 1.1 million subprime loans, around 13 percent of the national total, federal data show. Thousands ended in foreclosure, helping to spark the crisis and leaving borrowers and investors to deal with the consequences.

Congress now is weighing whether the Fed should be fired. The Obama administration has proposed shifting consumer protection duties away from the Fed and other banking regulators and into a new watchdog agency. That proposal, a central plank in the administration's plan to overhaul financial regulation, is opposed by the industry and faces a battle on Capitol Hill.

The Federal Reserve is best known as an economic shepherd, responsible for adjusting interest rates to keep prices steady and unemployment low. But since its creation, the Fed has held a second job as a banking regulator, one of four federal agencies responsible for keeping banks healthy and protecting their customers. Congress also authorized the Fed to write consumer protection rules enforced by all the agencies.

During the boom, however, the Fed left those powers largely unused. It imposed few new constraints on mortgage lending and pulled back from enforcing rules that did exist.
Collapse )

Koreans separated for more than 50 years unite

South Korean Lee Jung-ho, left, cries with his North Korean elder brother Lee Kwae Seok, right, who joined the South Korean military and was taken prisoner by North Korea during the Korean War, during the reunion meeting, on the Diamond Mountain in North Korea, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009. More than 120 South Koreans, most in their 70s or older, arrived in the Diamond Mountain resort on North Korea's east coast on Saturday for the reunions, according to the Unification Ministry handling inter-Korean affairs.

SEOUL, South Korea – Lee Dong-un cried and held the hands of his 60-year-old North Korean daughter Saturday during their first meeting in more than half a century. They were one of hundreds of families reuniting as part of a program revived by Pyongyang in an effort to ease tensions with South Korea.

The meeting was bittersweet for Lee, who left behind his pregnant wife and daughter, then 2 years old, in North Korea when he fled to the South during the Korean War. The 84-year-old burst into tears after his daughter told him his pregnant wife was killed when a bomb fell on her North Korean town.

"I always thought about you. I've never dreamed that we could meet," the elder Lee said, according to South Korean media pool reports. No foreign journalists were invited to the reunions.

The reunions are the first between the divided countries in nearly two years. Pyongyang suspended the program in 2007 in retaliation for conservative South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's get-tough policy toward the North.

The resumption of the program is widely seen as the North's latest olive branch toward rival South Korea. In recent weeks Pyongyang has reached out to Seoul by freeing five detained South Koreans, agreeing to "energize" a troubled joint industrial project, and restarting suspended tours for South Koreans to the North.

"North Korea appears to be aiming to use the humanitarian project as a way to restore bilateral relations," said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Dongguk University.

Lee Dong-un was among about 200 families from both sides scheduled to hold six days of reunions with relatives they have not seen since the war ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty, in 1953, leaving the countries divided. The last reunions were held in October 2007.

More than 120 South Koreans, most in their 70s or older, arrived at the Diamond Mountain resort on North Korea's east coast on Saturday for the reunions, according to the Unification Ministry handling inter-Korean affairs.

Millions of families remain separated following the Korean peninsula's division in 1945 and the ensuing civil war. There are no mail, telephone or e-mail exchanges between ordinary citizens from the two Koreas, and they can't travel to the other side of the peninsula without government approval.

The meetings are a highly emotional issue in the Koreas because most of those applying for the chance to see their long lost loved ones are in their 70s or older, and are eager for a reunion before they die.

Of 127,400 South Koreans who have applied since 1988, nearly 40,000 have already died, according to South Korea's Red Cross.

The reunions, which began in 2000 following a landmark inter-Korean summit, last through Oct. 1 and it remains unclear when they may be held again.

For some, the reunions brought back painful memories.

"You said that you will be back soon after visiting Seoul, why did you come now?" Chung Wan-shik, 68, asked his 95-year-old father Chung Dae-chun, who lost contact with his family as the war struck while he was on a business trip in South Korea.

Saturday's reunions also included two South Korean abductees and one South Korean prisoner of war in the North.

The two abductees — former South Korean fishermen whose ship was seized by North Korea in waters off the west coast 22 years ago — met their loved ones from the South.

"I never forget to think about my hometown and sister," Roh Song-ho, one of the fishermen, told his South Korean sister. He married in North Korea, and brought his wife and daughter to the reunion.

South Korea says the North is holding 560 of its soldiers from the war, in addition to 504 South Korean civilians — mostly fishermen whose boats were seized since the war's end.

North Korea says the civilians voluntarily defected to the North and denies holding any prisoners of war.

The North agreed to resume the reunions last month as part of its moves to reach out to South Korea and the United States after months of tension over its nuclear and missile programs. The reunions also come amid growing pressure on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons programs and return to stalled disarmament talks.

North Korea boycotted the six-nation nuclear talks in April to protest world criticism of a rocket launch it carried out, but its leader Kim Jong Il has reportedly expressed interest in "bilateral and multilateral talks," indicating the North could rejoin the nuclear negotiations involving the U.S., China, Japan, South Korea and Russia.


Swiss arrest Polanski on US request in sex case

ZURICH – Director Roman Polanski was arrested by Swiss police as he flew in for the Zurich Film Festival and faces possible extradition to the United States for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl, authorities said Sunday.

Polanski was scheduled to receive an honorary award at the festival when he was apprehended Saturday at the airport, the Swiss Justice Ministry said in a statement. It said U.S. authorities have sought the arrest of the 76-year-old director around the world since 2005.

Collapse )


I'm curious to see what ONTD_P thinks after seeing the varied opinions over at ONTD 

' jules
  • schmiss

2009 has been brutal, man.

William Safire, Nixon Speechwriter and Times Columnist, Is Dead at 79

William Safire, a speechwriter for President Richard M. Nixon and a Pulitzer Prize-winning political columnist for The New York Times who also wrote novels, books on politics and a Malaprop’s treasury of articles on language, died at a hospice in Rockville, Md. on Sunday. He was 79.

The cause was cancer, said his assistant, Rosemary Shields.

There may be many sides in a genteel debate, but in the Safire world of politics and journalism it was simpler: there was his own unambiguous wit and wisdom on one hand and, on the other, the blubber of fools he called “nattering nabobs of negativism” and “hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history.”

He was a college dropout and proud of it, a public relations go-getter who set up the famous Nixon-Khrushchev “kitchen debate” in Moscow, and a White House wordsmith in the tumultuous era of war in Vietnam, Nixon’s visit to China and the gathering storm of the Watergate scandal that drove the president from office.

Then, from 1973 to 2005, Mr. Safire wrote his twice weekly “Essay” for the Op-Ed Page of The Times, a forceful conservative voice in the liberal chorus. Unlike most Washington columnists who offer judgments with Olympian detachment, Mr. Safire was a pugnacious contrarian who did much of his own reporting, called people liars in print and laced his opinions with outrageous wordplay.

Collapse )

RIP. the conservatives are losing all their good ones, aren't they...

The Ugly American

Five decades ago, during the heart of the Cold War, a term entered modern political vocabulary:  "The Ugly American."  Based upon a 1958 novel of the same name, the phrase began to be used to describe the whole range of thoughtless mistakes that Americans had made -- which had led to the loss of American friendship among the peoples of the world.

Today, the Obama Administration has brought the Ugly American back to life.  Our nation and our people have always had jealous rivals.  The French, whose revolution failed miserably, are loath to respect an American Revolution that proved a spectacular success.  Marxist ideology led Russia and China to be hateful to America, whatever ordinary citizens of those countries might have felt.  Arabs and Moslems, seeking someone to blame for their poverty and impotence, find America (and Israel) very tempting targets.

Collapse )


(no subject)

Boston College Professor's Appearance in Anti-Gay Marriage Ad Sparks Outrage

The appearance of Scott Fitzgibbons, a professor in the Boston College Law School, in an ad campaign in support of the Maine Marriage Initiative, which seeks to overturn Governor John Baldacci's signature of the same-sex marriage bill, has sparked controversy in the BC Law School.

Fitzgibbons did not obtain clearance from the BC Law School before appearing in the advertisement, in which he stated his opposition to gay marriage and identified himself as a BC professor.

In the advertisement, Fitzgibbons said that he is concerned by the detrimental legal consequences that would arise from allowing the legalization of gay marriage.

"Unless question one [which overturns the movement to legalize gay marriage] passes, there could be real consequences for Mainers," he said in the advertisement. "Legal experts predict a flood of lawsuits against individuals, small business, and religious groups. Church organizations could lose their tax exemption [and] homosexual marriage would be taught in public schools, whether their parents like it or not."

Collapse )



South Carolina Booes Rep. Bob Inglis (is Sanity and Common Sense Considered a Disease to The GOP?)

In another corner of South Carolina, GOP lawmaker booed

Rep. Bob Inglis is paying the price for independent thinking.

Inglis, a Travelers Rest Republican, may have been the only GOP lawmaker in the country who was booed lustily by his own constituents at town hall meetings last month.

Inglis was shouted down when he asked listeners why they're afraid of President Barack Obama -- and then suggested that they stop watching conservative TV commentator Glenn Beck.

"He's trading on fear," Inglis advised one group, setting off loud catcalls.

Despite a broadly conservative voting record, Inglis has angered many Republican activists with his contrarian stands on a handful of high-profile issues.

Inglis was one of 17 GOP House members who in February 2007 voted against President George W. Bush's troop surge in Iraq -- a stance, he now says, that subsequent progress there has proven wrong.

Inglis opposed warrantless criminal searches and cast a decisive committee vote against a measure protecting the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

More recently, Inglis has been one of the few Republican lawmakers to view global warming as a crisis, introducing a bill that would tax carbon emissions.

Now, Inglis has further incited Upstate activists with his vote to punish fellow South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson for yelling "you lie!" at Obama during an address to Congress.

Inglis joined just six other Republican House members in supporting the Sept. 15 "resolution of disapproval" against Wilson, which nearly all Democrats backed. Inglis said he'd supported the measure because Wilson had violated House personal conduct rules and then rebuffed requests to apologize to his colleagues.

"That was deplorable," S.C. Sen. David Thomas told McClatchy. "It looked like piling on. It is symptomatic of Bob being out of touch."

In one of the nation's most conservative congressional districts, home to Bob Jones University, Inglis already faces four Republican primary opponents in his re-election bid next year.
Collapse )

uglies are so ugly ladies need to be drunk before they can be bumped

One in 20 women has NEVER had sex sober as they lack body confidence

Millions of women drink alcohol before having sex because they lack confidence in their bodies, a study has found.

Almost half of those questioned said they preferred sex while under the influence of alcohol because it helped them to lose their inhibitions and be more adventurous.

Researchers, who surveyed 3,000 women aged between 18 and 50, found the average woman has slept with eight men, but was drunk with at least five of them.

On two of these occasions they couldn't even remember the man's name the next day.Collapse )


guiez note the source is the daily mail

More school: Obama would curtail summer vacation

WASHINGTON – Students beware: The summer vacation you just enjoyed could be sharply curtailed if President Barack Obama gets his way.

Obama says American kids spend too little time in school, putting them at a disadvantage with other students around the globe.

"Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas," the president said earlier this year. "Not with Malia and Sasha, not in my family, and probably not in yours. But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom."

Collapse )


Obama, honey, I love you and think this could be a good idea. But can we get done with one of your other reforms before you open this can of worms?

ACORN Controversy Starts "Corporate Death Penalty On Corrupt Contractors" Age.

Rep. Grayson Calls For 'Corporate Death Penalty On Contractors' Who Rip Off Government

When the House of Representatives went after federal funding for the community-organizing group ACORN last week, the bill as written also affected "any organization" that had been involved in a wide range of fraudulent activity and other bad behavior.

On Friday, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.)
inserted into the "legislative history" language spelling out that including all fraudulent organizations was, in fact, the intent of the Congress.

Meanwhile, he has been asking citizens to suggest specific companies which would be targeted by the anti-fraud language and provide evidence for the claim. The list has grown several pages long. The names of those organizations will be submitted into the congressional record next week.

"The purpose of this bill is to cleanse federal contracting and grant-making, completely and permanently. The purpose is to put an end to the invidious practice of rewarding those who steal taxpayer money by giving them more taxpayer money," writes Grayson. "The bill imposes, and is intended to impose, a corporate death penalty on contractors who fall within the scope of its prohibitions."

Grayson's history notes that the highest-ranking Republican on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), agrees with him. As the ranking member's report describes, however, the term 'filed a fraudulent form' extends to all organizations that have filed such a form, whether or not such a filing has resulted in a conviction or judgment. The ranking member issued a statement yesterday, which said: 'For far too long, recipients of federal dollars have been given free reign [sic] and some have acted in a reckless and cavalier way and whether it be ACORN or anyone else -- abuse and fraud will not be tolerated.' He added, 'frankly, I don't know how anyone can successfully argue [that] those who actually perpetrate fraud and misuse taxpayer dollars should not be' subject to these prohibitions."

Read the full entry into the legislative record:
Collapse )
lucy and ethel are wary of your shit

Poland okays forcible castration for pedophiles

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland on Friday approved a law making chemical castration mandatory for pedophiles in some cases, sparking criticism from human rights groups.

Under the law, sponsored by Poland's center-right government, pedophiles convicted of raping children under the age of 15 years or a close relative would have to undergo chemical therapy on their release from prison.

Collapse )

Large spider upstages Catholic creepy-crawly on Czech television

Pope Ratzinger warned godless Czechs this weekend that societies exclude God at their peril.

History has demonstrated the absurdities to which man descends when he excludes God from the horizon of his choices and actions.

But it wasn’t his televised message that mesmerised millions, but a large spider that went directly for the pontiff neck. There´s a good video of the spider´s progress on the link.

The spider appeared on the pope’s white robes as he addressed politicians and diplomats in Prague on Saturday afternoon.

The Pope didn’t seem to notice at first — but journalists following the speech on a large screen flinched as the spider inched toward Benedict’s neck.

It disappeared from view for a moment, but then could be seen crawling up the right side of the 82-year-old pontiff’s face.

When it reached his ear, Ratzi gave it a swat. But it didn’t go away — it reappeared on the pope’s left shoulder and scampered down his robe.

As the pope left the medieval Prague Castle’s ornate Spanish Hall, the spider could be seen hanging from a strand of web.

According to this report, the 82-year-old pontiff was making the three-day visit as Czechs prepare to mark 20 years since their 1989 Velvet Revolution shook off an atheistic communist regime that ruthlessly persecuted the Roman Catholic Church.

The Pope warned that technical progress was not enough to “guarantee the moral welfare of society.”

Man needs to be liberated from material oppressions, but more profoundly, he must be saved from the evils that afflict the spirit.

Ratzinger is using the trip to recall communist-era religious repression and urge Czechs to reconsider a faith many have abandoned.

The Czech Republic is one of the most secular countries in Europe. In 1991, 4.5 million of the country’s 10 million people said they belonged to a church, but a 2001 census showed that number had plunged to 3.3 million. Recent surveys suggest the number of believers remains low; about one in two respondents to a poll conducted by the agency STEM said they don’t believe in God.

The Freethinker
Really wanted to add a picture here, but yeah... arachnophobia's common enough that I'd probably get bollocked for doing so. :(