Saturday, May 28, 2016

More Young Adults Live With Parents Than Not—for the First Time in 130 Years

Millennials have come of age amid the bursting of the housing bubble, perpetual war and the Great Recession.

Live with your parents, again? Chances are you’re not lazy, nor a loser, nor any other stigma that might be hovering in your subconscious due to cultural stereotyping—you’re just a normal millennial responding to the economic realities of the age. For the first time in 130 years, more Americans between ages 18-34 are living with their parents than in any other living situation. That is according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center published May 24. The study is based on national census data from 2014.

The analysis notes that 2014 didn’t represent a record high number of young adults living with their parents—”this arrangement peaked around 1940, when about 35 percent of the nation’s 18- to 34-year-olds lived with mom and/or dad (compared with 32 percent in 2014). What has changed, instead, is the relative share adopting different ways of living in early adulthood, with the decline of romantic coupling pushing living at home to the top of a much less uniform list of living arrangements.”

The analysis explains that by 2014, “31.6 percent of young adults were living with a spouse or partner in their own household, below the share living in the home of their parent(s) (32.1 percent). Some 14 percent of young adults were heading up a household in which they lived alone, were a single parent or lived with one or more roommates. The remaining 22 percent lived in the home of another family member (such as a grandparent, in-law or sibling), a non-relative, or in group quarters (college dormitories fall into this category).”

Some people—probably conservative baby boomers—will learn about this trend and scoff at the laziness and petulance of those darn millennials who just can’t seem to to get it together. But their scoffs will have their roots in misplaced frustrations and a willing ignorance of the unmatched economic realities that come with being a young adult today.

Pew opens its analysis with the following précis of the situation:

Broad demographic shifts in marital status, educational attainment and employment have transformed the way young adults in the U.S. are living.

Yep. Right now is the worst time in this country’s history to be a renter, according to statistics reported last year by the real estate database Zillow.  As I wrote in an AlterNet story at the time:

Rents have never taken up this much of the American paycheck. Mortgage prices have remained relatively stable over the last several years, while rent has skyrocketed. A Bloomberg article points out that the cost of homeownership is actually at a historic low, while the rate of homeownership is also lower than it has been in years. With home ownership is at its lowest rate in five years, apartment living has become increasingly competitive and some landlords appear to be taking advantage of the situation.

Astronomical student loan debt is hovering over the heads of millions of young collegiates and graduates. A Time article reported in January on “Why the Student Loan Crisis Is Even Worse Than People Think,” noting that “more than 25 percent of students who take on college debt are graduating with way too much of it," and the situation is worsening.

The bildungsroman of the millennials is set to the bursting of the great housing market bubble and an economy steered by and large by (arguably) the most crooked bankers in history; a government that has made its priorities clear by bailing out those rich crooks with just about zero consequences for screwing over average Americans (along with entire nation's fiscal stability). It is a coming of age story that takes place during worst recession on record since the Great Depression. They have lived the majority of our lives during a constant and insane overseas war depleting and steering national funding priorities. They are facing one of the toughest job markets on record, and a wackjob GOP that wants to starve or eliminate the few social programs left in this country (programs that currently keep many of us adrift in our most difficult times—i.e. food stamps, Planned Parenthood and the list goes on).

The Pew report also notes a “dramatic” social trend away from settling down romantically before 35 as a primary reason folks are living with mom and dad. It states:

Dating back to 1880, the most common living arrangement among young adults has been living with a romantic partner, whether a spouse or a significant other. This type of arrangement peaked around 1960, when 62 percent of the nation’s 18- to 34-year-olds were living with a spouse or partner in their own household, and only one-in-five were living with their parents. ...By 2014, 31.6 percent of young adults were living with a spouse or partner in their own household, below the share living in the home of their parent(s) (32.1 percent).

I’d argue the various trends are interconnected. If, for instance, you’ve gone to college only to accrue heaping debt, can’t find a job in a related field, the job you do have pays less than a living wage ($15/hour), and you can’t afford to live on your own because rents are worse than ever and you've got nothing saved up for a downpayment on a house—then you're probably less than inspired to settle down nuclear-style and raise some kids behind a picket fence. Think about it.

You can read the full Pew report here.


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Friday, May 27, 2016

Class Of Underemployed: Nearly 50 Percent Of Recent College Graduates Are Working In Jobs Where No College Degree Is Required


(MyBudget360) We don’t send our young into the wilderness for a vision quest as a rite of passage.  There are few things in modern society that signify a transition into adulthood.  Going to college is one of them.  And in debt addicted America, it is no surprise that for many, college debt is the first debt they will take on

Getting a college education is supposed to give someone a well rounded view of the world and a potential skill set.  Some argue that college is not about vocational training.  That to some degree is true but when students are going into $50,000 or $100,000 of student debt, then what is this modern day life quest really teaching and why is the price tag so incredibly high?

As college graduation season comes into full bloom, many are left with the prospect of having no job lined up.  It is also startling to see how many recent college graduates are working in jobs that really don’t require a college degree (so clearly the vocational piece doesn’t matter here).

The chronically underemployed college graduate

There are over 5,300 colleges and universities across this country from Harvard to beauty schools.  The market is enormous and students now carry $1.3 trillion in debt, the biggest debt sector only behind mortgage debt.

Many recent college graduates are severely underemployed and this is for the lucky group that actually finds work:

underemployed college graduates

“(NY Fed) The underemployment rate is defined as the share of graduates working in jobs that typically do not require a college degree. A job is classified as a college job if 50 percent or more of the people working in that job indicate that at least a bachelor’s degree is necessary; otherwise, the job is classified as a non-college job. Rates are calculated as a twelve-month moving average. College graduates are those aged 22 to 65 with a bachelor’s degree or higher; recent college graduates are those aged 22 to 27 with a bachelor’s degree or higher. All figures exclude those currently enrolled in school. Shaded areas indicate periods designated recessions by the National Bureau of Economic Research.”

Nearly 50 percent of recent college graduates are working in jobs where a college education isn’t typically required.  So that life quest was indeed an expensive one, more so than taking drugs and roaming around in the forest.  And the bills are coming due since student loans normally start being sent to graduates six months after graduation.

In Michigan a strip club has angered residents by posting this:

now hiring

When strip clubs realize that college degrees are ubiquitous and many will struggle to find jobs, we really have to question the price structure of college.  And I would argue that there needs to be some vocational aspect of a college education when students are paying so much to attend. This ties into many larger issues like many younger Americans being unable to afford home purchases because they carry on so much college debt.  86% of Millennials through a Housing Pulse survey said that too much debt was an obstacle to owning a home.  It is also the case that Millennials that did buy in many cases had help from family.

The underemployment rate is troubling because as the cost of a college education soars beyond the typical inflation rate, the yield in the marketplace isn’t very observable.  College tuition is up 145% since 2000:


It should be obvious to anyone that this structure will not last.


David Dayen’s 'Chain of Title' Confirms What You Always Suspected: The Game is Rigged


chain of title

"The personal sacrifices Lisa Epstein & Michael Redman make to become activists will leave all but Szymoniak permanently altered, and uncompensated for their efforts."


David Dayen’s Chain of Title Interview Confirms What You Always Suspected: The Game is Rigged

Reposted from Livinglies

Chain of Title should be required reading in every college-level business ethics class in America. At a time when “business ethics” is an oxymoron, perhaps the current generation that adores Bernie Sanders might better understand the dangers big banking monopolies hold. David Dayen’s newly released non-fiction book, Chain of Title, unearths a system with the power and collateral to stonewall millions of homeowners from obtaining one very simple answer: Who owns my mortgage?

If you haven’t been able to wrap your head around why the federal government has failed to prosecute one banker for the foreclosure crisis there is a very simple answer that Chain of Title alludes to. The federal government has a dark secret: the trusts are empty and the falsified notes cannot be traced back to their true owners so they must be “recreated” if a default occurs. This means that the investors, the pensions and the trusts own nothing. It also means that the banks now own everything- including the U.S. federal government. It hardly matters that we have separation of powers if the bankers and elite control all three branches.

Salon contributing writer David Dayen and winner of the coveted Ida and Studs Terkel Prize, illuminates how home buyers have ended up illegally evicted from their homes as the result of dishonesty, greed, and deception at the hands of mortgage lenders, servicers, investment bankers, and unscrupulous lawyers. Dayen states that Alan Greenspan “viewed regulations the way an exterminator viewed termites.” If this is true, then 2 Presidents viewed homeowners the way a sunbather views 300 million gnats at the beach.

What is truly amazing about this book is how Dayen, who has never gone through foreclosure himself, is able to recreate the desperation, optimism, and naiveté of homeowners fighting foreclosure while concurrently examining the systematic collapse of the economy. The insight into his three protagonists borders on the voyeuristic and compels the reader to proceed voraciously. The reader keeps rooting for the underdogs to prevail-but in the end, it never happens. Through Dayen’s expose you can literally smell the black mold on vacant houses, and feel the desperation of those who lack the tools and resources to fight back- but try with all their might to do so.

Dayen’s writing explores the possibilities for the housing crash while remaining detached from the outcome. For example, he writes, “There is a rot at the heart of our democracy, rooted in a nagging mystery that has yet to be unraveled. It gnaws at people, occupies their thoughts, leaves them searching for answers in the chill of the night. Americans want to know why no high-ranking Wall Street executive has gone to jail for the conduct that precipitated the financial crisis. The oddest thing about the predominance of the question is that everyone already assumes they know the answer. They believe that too many politicians, regulators, and law enforcement officials, bought off with campaign contributions or the promise of a future job, simply allowed banker miscreants to annihilate the law in pursuit of profit.”

Dayen’s story begins when two of the protagonists start corresponding via discussion posts on Neil Garfield’s Living Lies blog, and come to the conclusion that they are being deceived by unscrupulous loan servicers. The homeowners will eventually meet other activists along their journey including Lynn Szymoniak and decide to take on the Foreclosure Machine. The personal sacrifices they make to become activists will leave all but Szymoniak permanently altered, and uncompensated for their efforts.

The homeowners include Lisa Epstein, a cancer nurse; Michael Redman, an auto dealership employee; and Lynn Szymoniak, a lawyer who investigates insurance fraud. Dayen chronicles their almost futile and life altering battles to save their homes from illegal foreclosure while acting on behalf of millions of homeowners without voices to complain. The author begins with Epstein’s case, followed by Redman’s; one-third of the way into the narrative, the two of them meet Szymoniak, who then pool their meager resources to raise public consciousness about banks who forge, fabricate and robosign to create the appearance of standing.

Dayen profiles hundreds of other individuals, many of them crooks, cowards, or corrupt men and women, many of whom had the authority to halt the fraudulent activities but were unwilling to do anything that would undermine their position or social standing. Although the efforts of the whistle-blowers educated millions of homeowners wrongfully facing foreclosure—ultimately hundreds of thousands of houses remain empty and only now are people starting to put their lives back together with a paradigm shift- that their government doesn’t care. Dayen relates how prosecutors, judges, and the Department of Justice have caved to powerful mortgage industry donors while illegal foreclosures continue.

Whereas politicians and the banks have been indifferent that a mortgage is properly endorsed and assigned, Dayen believes that the technicalities matter and are there to protect the homeowner and investors. Without a clear chain of assignment from one entity to the next, there is no way to determine how the loan is transferred except to rely on banks who are not noted for their honesty or accurate business records.

Exposing the lies of the banks becomes a moral crusade for the three main characters and their decision to pursue justice will create an emotional smorgasbord, which Dayen meticulously reports. Chain of Title settles on the fact that the banks’ behavior not just indefensible, but criminal and duly executed with precision. This book won’t tell readers anything they don’t already know- but it will help the victims of foreclosure to recognize that the United States is now full of hard working Americans who were sucked into the vortex of banking greed- and who will never again believe in the rule of law or their leaders. This is a yet undiagnosed disease in the general public and the long-term repercussions are not yet known.

Dayen describes a bank pursuing foreclosure without legal signatures as “flailing away like a boxer in the dark”- and this is a feeling that also captures the feelings of many homeowners who continue to fight illegal foreclosure. Not sure where their well-funded opponent will come from next or what tactic will be used, the homeowner will flail away like a boxer in the dark hoping that some tactic will create sympathy or even due process from the court or cause the bank to retreat back to their hellish cave.

After reading this epic novel, it can’t be avoided that a free-market economy will function best when people have the ability to prove they own what they own and owe who they owe.

If we don’t return to the rule of law soon, the average American’s confidence will be undermined and alternatives will be sought. It is amazing that the greed of banks, to save a recording fee, or pass around notes like bubblegum cards could undermine an entire industry- but that is exactly what has happened.
Ominously, the first housing crash has yet to be resolved and it appears that the second wave, or what we call 2008 Part II is on the horizon. David Dayen’s book will be read well into the next century- and hopefully Americans will one day say, “How could people standby and let that happen?” We won’t, but sometimes the wheels of justice take time.

How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud
By David Dayen


Want more?


The Majority Report: How 3 Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Foreclosure Fraud w/ David Dayen


“It is happening again”: David Dayen on the epidemic of foreclosure fraud and the rigged economy that sets it in motion


How Eric Holder’s Law Firm Helped Make The Mortgage System Worse – David Dayen Part 2


Foreclosure Fraud: This is Obama’s Biggest Failure


How 3 Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Foreclosure Fraud – David Dayen On Chain Of Title


David Dayen: The Great Foreclosure Fraud


Radio Replay: The Everyday Heroes Who Took on Wall Street


Denbeaux & Denbeaux Podcast – Special Guest David Dayen Author of “Chain of Title : How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud.”


Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud



Thursday, May 26, 2016

Does Title IX Prohibit Sexual Harassment in College, But Require It in Locker Rooms?


ShowerThe federal government is trying to have it both ways. Either Title IX—a federal statutes prohibiting sex discrimination in schools—requires educational institutional to prevent sexual harassment on a subjective basis, or it doesn't. 

Here's the problem: the Obama administration has issued guidance to schools asserting that they should accommodate the needs of transgender students, and that said accommodations are required by Title IX. Schools must allow kids to use the facilities that correspond with their gender identity—their stated gender preference—rather than their biological sex. 

This is an obviously strained interpretation of Title IX. For reference, here's what the statute says: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." 

Gender and sex are obviously not the same thing, so the fact the federal government is construing sex to mean gender strikes me as a straightforwardly incorrect interpretation of the statute. 

That's not all. The government's guidance on trans kids and bathrooms—which I would support, in some form, if the administration was not torturing the law to produce it—simply contradicts its guidance on sexual harassment. 

The Education Department has informed colleges that Title IX requires them to protect their students from sex-based discrimination, violence, and sexual harassment. It has also opined that harassment need not be objectionable to a reasonable person to qualify, and it need not be severe and pervasive. Harassment, the guidance suggests, is based on the subjective feelings of the victim. 

For example: sexually-suggestive jokes are routinely reported to college administrators as examples of sexual harassment. 

Here's where the contradiction lies: If sexual jokes could be said to be a form of sexual harassment under Title IX, isn't it obviously the case that forcing someone to share a locker room with a person of the opposite biological sex is also a form of sexual harassment? Remember, under the government's guidance, harassment is in the eyes of harassed, even if it seems silly to an objective third-party. 

Harvard University Law Professor Jeannie Suk highlighted this inconsistency in a recent New Yorker piece: 

But there is also a growing sense that some females will not feel safe sharing bathrooms, shower rooms, or locker rooms with males. And if a female student claimed that a bathroom or locker room that her school had her share with male students caused her to feel sexually vulnerable and created a hostile environment, the complaint would be difficult to dismiss, particularly since the federal government has interpreted Title IX broadly and said that schools must try to prevent a hostile environment. This is not wholly hypothetical. Brandeis University found a male student responsible for sexual misconduct for looking at his boyfriend’s genitals while both were using a communal school shower. The disciplined student then sued the school for denying him basic fairness in its disciplinary process, and a federal court recently refused to dismiss the suit. 

Continuing to have segregated bathrooms could also put schools in a bind on Title IX compliance. According to the federal government, a transgender girl who is told to use the boys’ locker room, or even a separate and private stall, instead of the girls’ facility, has a claim that the school is violating Title IX. A non-transgender girl who’s told she must share a locker room with boys may also have a claim that the school is violating Title IX. But would she not have a similar claim about having to share with students who identify as girls but are biologically male? Well, not if her discomfort and “emotional strain” should be disregarded. But this week, in a letter, dozens of members of Congress asked the Attorney General and the Secretary of Education to explain why they should be disregarded. The federal government is putting schools in a position where they may be sued whichever route they choose. (Catherine Lhamon, the assistant secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, declined to comment on this issue.) 

I covered the Brandeis case that Suk is referring to here. Like Suk, I'm concerned that the government is putting schools in the impossible position of having to accommodate the mutually exclusive needs of students. 

But this is what happens when the executive branch ignores the legislative process and instead broadens the scope of an existing law without any input from the public or Congress. 

As my colleague Scott Shackford reports, several states are now suing the feds for forcing them to follow a strained interpretation of Title IX. I have no doubt that much of this opposition to following the law stems from societal animosity to trans people, who fully deserve equal rights, equal treatment, and dignity. I'm generally in favor of letting trans kids use the locker room that makes them more comfortable, as long as schools retain the ability to prevent genuine disruptions and misuse of the policy. But the uncomfortable truth is that the states are right: the federal government's Title IX guidance is reckless, inconsistent, and legally flawed. 


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hard Times And False Narratives



The mainstream media mouthpieces for the establishment peddle false narratives, disingenuous storylines, and outright propaganda to keep the ignorant masses confused, oblivious to reality, misinformed, and passively submissive to the opinions of highly paid “experts” and captured fiscal authorities. The existing social order likes things just as they are. They reap ill-gotten riches, wield unchecked…


Inspector General Report Makes Clear That Hillary Clinton’s State Department Email System Broke Government Rules


Throughout her presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton has consistently maintained that her decision to exclusively use a privately run email server during her tenure as Secretary of State, and then to hand over a selection of emails long after leaving office, was fully allowed and consistent with both the law and State Department policy.

Even today, her campaign website states flatly that it was accpetable, and that "the laws, regulations, and State Department policy in place during her tenure permitted her to use a non-government email for work." At times, Clinton has even gone further, declaring that she went "above and beyond" her official duties and requirements in turning over her emails.

This has always been a dubious assertion. As Politico reported in March of last year, shortly after news of Clinton’s email setup first broke, the State Department has clear rules that prohibit staffers from relying exclusively on their personal accounts for government business, in order to ensure both the security of high level government communications and public transparency and accountability.

A report from a non-partisan government watchdog today confirms that Clinton’s behavior was not allowed under agency rules, and, perhaps more damningly, that Clinton does not appear to have made any effort to ensure that she was in compliance with government email policies. 

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Statement Department reports that although Clinton had an "obligation" to discuss her decision to use a personal email account with Diplomatic Security officials, but the OIG could find no evidence that she requested any guidance or approval. And if she had asked for approval, the report says, permission would have been denied on the grounds that her usage violated agency guidelines and would have posed "security risks." The report also notes that "Secretary Clinton never demonstrated to them that her private server or mobile device met minimum information security requirements" laid out in agency guidelines.

In addition, the report faults Clinton for failing to turn over records until long after leaving office. "Sending emails from a personal account to other employees at their Department accounts is not an appropriate method of preserving any such emails that would constitute a Federal record," the report says.

And her after-the-fact compliance—she left office in early 2013 and did not turn over any of her emails until late 2014—was a clear violation of department rules. "At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act."

It’s not as if no one was aware of Clinton’s email setup and the problems it might cause. The report highlights a number of discussions within the State Department about her email situation, including one in which Clinton declines to be integrated into the department’s in-house email system in order to avoid "any risk of the personal being accessible."

What the report makes clear, then, is that contrary to what her campaign says, her email practices were both risky and not allowed by State Department guidelines. Indeed, Clinton appears to have made no significant attempt to hold the sort of conversations that might have led to compliance with those guidelines, and she resisted efforts to move any part of her communications into the official system.

Overall, the report comes across as sharply critical of Clinton. It makes clear that she refused to play by the rules while acting as Secretary of State—ignoring them as a point of personal privilege, and creating both security vulnerabilities and transparency and accountability problems in the process.

And then, while running for president, she falsely insisted that she’d done all that was required of her. So she didn’t just break the rules; she refused to admit that she had done so, and pretended that she’d gone the extra mile to ensure compliance. 

That’s a troubling story to hear about any former public servant—and it's even more worrying when that person is seeking even more power and authority. 


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

“The Largest Un-prosecuted Charity Fraud Ever”

Email Print

That’s what Charles Ortel calls the Clinton Foundation, which he describes as an international shakedown operation that would make the Mafia blush.

Charles Ortel is the man who, for years, pounded on the door of the SEC (figuratively speaking) to warn them that this Bernie Madoff guy was a crook running a Ponzi scheme.  The SEC ignored him then, and will probably ignore him now as well.

12:50 pm on May 24, 2016


The Real Reason Wheat is Toxic (it’s not the gluten)

More Young Americans Live With Their Parents Than At Any Time Since The Great Depression


As we've reported, while millennials continue to earn less and drown in debt, they have resorted to living at home in order to cut costs and save money.



The trend of millennials returning home to live with their parents has even gotten to the point where one out of six home buyers have or plan to have a grown child at home, and home builders are building to accommodate that fact.

As a matter of fact, the trend of kids living at home with their parents has gotten so strong that home builders are now designing homes with just that in mind. "One out of six buyers have or plan to have a grown child at home" said Richard Bridges, Chicago division sales manager at David Weekly Homes. For a mere $35,000-plus, Richard says the plan can include a bedroom/bathroom suite in a finished basement to accommodate the kids who inevitably will be returning home to live.


Chicago area builder PulteGroup says in their new models, kids can enjoy a bedroom/bathroom suite with a kitchenette and separate living space. "Our NexGen option is the greatest in housing since indoor plumbing." said Jeff Roos, western regional president at Lennar Corp.

Stunningly, according to new Pew Research Center analysis, 32.1% of all millennials are living with their parents now, which is more than any other time since the great depression!



Interestingly, as Pew also points out, it's not just the United States facing this issue. While in the US 32.1% of millennials are living at home, that number spikes to a mind-boggling 48.1%across the European Union's 28 member nations.



Hey millennials, welcome to the recovery.



Court Throws Out Jury Verdict to Punish Bank of America for Role in 2008 Crisis



Claire Bernish | ANTIMEDIA

United States — In a reversal of the smidgen of accountability forced on Bank of America for its role in the 2008 financial crisis, a U.S. appeals court threw out a jury’s verdict — and with it, the $1.27 billion fine BoA would have paid for mortgage fraud.

Though the Department of Justice had alleged Countrywide Financial Corp., which was purchased by Bank of America in 2008, had sold Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac thousands of bad loans through its “Hustle” mortgage program, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York found insufficient evidence to back charges of fraud.

“The trial evidence fails to demonstrate the contemporaneous fraudulent intent necessary to prove a scheme to defraud through contractual promises,” wrote Circuit Judge Richard Wesley on the court’s unanimous decision, as Reuters reported.

Originally, the DOJ claimed Countrywide’s “High Speed Swim Lane” (HSSL, also called Hustle) program “rewarded staff for generating more mortgages and emphasizing speed over quality, and resulted in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac being lied to about the quality of loans they bought,” Reuters explained.

Though the court confirmed the jury’s findings that the shoddy loans might represent an “intentional breach of contract,” it didn’t agree the breach could be considered actual fraud.

Wall Street cleared a major obstacle in the court’s reversal, as repercussions from the judgment will make proving fraud against corporations like the Big Banks far more strenuous for the DOJ — particularly since precious few cases surrounding the crisis have even made it to trial.

In using an old law, the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) — enacted in the 1980s after the savings and loan crisis — the government attempted to “civilly prosecute fraud affecting federally insured financial institutions,” as Fannie and Freddie were, the Wall Street Journal explained.

It’s possible the ruling will trigger a domino effect as the Big Banks may now feel emboldened to fight charges rather than pay settlements.

Rebecca Mairone, a midlevel Countrywide executive, had been ordered to pay $1 million in civil penalties in the same original ruling from 2014 by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff — but that ruling was also tossed out on Monday. Mairone’s attorney, Joshua Rosenkranz, said the ruling shows “this case was a massive government overreach from inception,” and prosecutors “tried to take an allegation of garden variety breach of contract and turn it into a fraud [case] with crushing and career-ending penalties.”

Countrywide’s rather atrocious loan scheme allowed employees to tell superiors why mortgages rejected by corporate auditors would still be loan-worthy — without having to provide evidence of customers’ ability to repay.

Countrywide has served as a de facto poster child of the 2008 financial crisis because its Hustle program almost exclusively favored speed and profiteering over due diligence and caution.

Former Countrywide executive, Ed O’Connell, became a prime witness for the government for his testimony that he had been ignored by superiors after alerting them to the quantity of problematic loans being issued. As theWall Street Journal reported, O’Connell did not receive money from this case since the time it was appealed, but previously received $58 million from Bank of America in the matter.

Both the Dept. of Justice and the U.S. attorney’s office reportedly declined to comment, though the option remains open for the government to pursue the matter all the way to the Supreme Court.

An unidentified Bank of America spokesman said the company was “pleased with the appellate court’s decision.”

Though the original $1.27 billion penalty could have been considered paltry compared to the estimated over $3 trillion lost to the financial meltdown, it had at least been symbolic. With this ruling, the Big Banks unsurprisingly receive yet another layer of defense against responsibility for wrecking the global economy.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Putin is Taking a Bold Step against Biotech Giant Monsanto

Russia’s Vladimir Putin is taking a bold step against biotech giant Monsanto and genetically modified seeds at large. In a new address to the Russian Parliament Thursday, Putin proudly outlined his plan to make Russia the world’s ‘leading exporter’ of…


Cops Arrest, Attack Mom Who Let 11-Year-Old Son Drive Golf Cart


MallA North Carolina mom who let her 11-year-old son drive a golf cart on a vacation island for about 30 seconds was arrested, wrestled to the ground, handcuffed, and frog-marched onto a ferry to the police station, where she was jailed in leg irons and charged with child abuse.

The mom, Julie Mall, was on vacation with her husband, son, 9-year-old daughter, 22-year-old niece, and their golden retriever, staying at a $1000/night cottage on Bald Head Island. On the evening in question, last July 26, they were riding on a paved path at dusk when the cart was pulled over by an officer.

According to Mark Washburn in The Charlotte Observer, "Mall says there is no question she was wrong." No one is allowed to drive a golf cart without a drivers' license. But what happened next is in dispute.

The  police department report says that after Officer James Hunter pulled over the cart, he identified himself to the Malls and "immediately observed them both to be intoxicated"—a fact the Malls dispute. The police did not conduct any intoxication tests.

The report added that Julie Mall was "agitated and loud" and "interfering with street and pedestrian traffic." The officer said that when he ordered Mall to move off the path, she refused. And then:

“In attempting to secure the custody of the female, same dropped to the ground and began screaming and flailing around, refusing to surrender her hands or obey officer commands,” Hunter wrote.

“Same was physically assaultive and required me to initiate ground control to secure her custody.”

Julie Mall recalls the incident differently. After Officer Hunt pulled them over:

 “Immediately he started berating us,” she says. “He was saying ‘How old is this kid?’ ‘Are you guys drunk?’ ‘I could write you up for child abuse.’ ”

Mall says she had no more than a single glass of wine with dinner hours earlier, and no one was intoxicated.

As the officer’s tirade continued, she says, her son burst into tears. She asked her niece to take the children back to the cottage.

Until now, it should be noted, Mall's only encounter with the police was a 2007 traffic ticket:

Mall says after the sobbing children left, she told the officer she was angry that he had upset them unnecessarily. “I said, ‘You ought to be ashamed of yourself,’ and I stuck my finger in his face.”

She says the officer didn’t have a citation book with him, so he radioed for someone to bring him one. A second police vehicle arrived, and later a third.

Four or five officers were conferring there when she asked her husband to drive their golf cart back to the cottage to get mosquito repellent, leaving her alone in the dark with the police.

Four or five officers? What if elsewhere on the island some desperado was picking flowers from a public park? The story continues:

Mall says she was standing on the median of the path tapping away on her cell phone when the officer came over and told her she was blocking traffic and she needed to return to her golf cart – which no longer was there.

Mall says she was standing off the roadway at the time and the police vehicles had the road blocked.

“He said, ‘You need to go back to your golf cart or I’m going to cuff you,’ ” she says. “He lunged across at me, twisting my arm behind my back. I’m hysterical. I’ve never been that scared of anything in my life.”

Scott Mall returned and managed to videotape what came next: His hysterical wife sobbing and screaming on the ground, with the officer's knee in her back. She was then driven to the local station house (where a gaggle of officers were watching Naked and Afraid). From there:

Hunter and another officer took her to the ferry, where about 30 passengers were waiting for the next boat.

When it arrived, she says she was led aboard barefoot – she lost her flip-flops in the struggle – for the trip to Southport. Waiting passengers were told they would have to wait for the next boat because a prisoner was being transported.

Like she's Son of Sam.

On the mainland she was driven to the police office in Bolivia, NC. There she was charged with resisting a public officer, intoxicated and disruptive behavior, and misdemeanor child abuse.

When her handcuffs were removed so she could be fingerprinted, her ankles were shackled instead, and she was put into a jail cell. Bond was set at $1,000. Her husband arrived, paid the bond and she was released.

She returned for her trial on Aug. 20, but Officer Hunter did not appear. The trial was rescheduled for Oct. 2, and again Hunter did not appear. "Without a witness, the state dismissed the case," according to the Observer.

If I were that officer, I'd be AWOL, too.

Elsewhere in the article, the reporter noted that "Bald Head Village has about 25 officers in its Public Safety Department. With a year-round population of 168, the municipality has the enviable ratio of one officer for every seven residents."

Just how enviable it is to have one cop for every seven residents is up for debate. 


In The Shadow Of JM Keynes——–A Concise History Of The Scourge Of Keynesianism



In 2012, Barack Obama warned that the United States would fall into a depression if Ron Paul’s plan to cut $1 trillion from the federal budget were enacted. Wait, I beg your pardon. It wasn’t Obama who warned that budget cuts would lead to a depression. It was Mitt Romney. Romney went on to become…


Mad About Rigged Elections? Mainstream Media Says "You" Are The Problem


Authored by Claire Bernish, Op-Ed via,

Mainstream headlines constantly decry Bernie Sanders supporters for disrupting events in outrage, as if their protests and demonstrations somehow illustrate the devolution of the elections. But that focus by the corporate media utterly negates the consistent and continual reports of fraud and disenfranchisement fueling their ire.

And it’s getting ridiculous.

Newsweek, though far from alone, offered a prime example of the obfuscation of the election fraud and questionable campaign tactics by Hillary Clinton in its skewering of Sanders’ supporters.

Get Control, Senator Sanders, or Get Out,” Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald titled his op-ed — which thoroughly blasts the Vermont senator — as if he were somehow responsible for both the electoral chaos and the actions of an irate voting public.

“So, Senator Sanders,” Eichenwald writes [with emphasis added], “either get control of what is becoming your increasingly unhinged cult, or get out of the race. Whatever respect sane liberals had for you is rapidly dwindling, and the damage being inflicted on your reputation may be unfixable. If you can’t even manage the vicious thugs who act in your name, you can’t be trusted to run a convenience store, much less the country.”


Because what Eichenwald obviates most readily in his attack is the inability to understand why those protests might be occurring in the first place. Judging by the timing of his article, it’s likely Eichenwald wrote it after chaos broke out at the Nevada Democratic Convention on Saturday — chaos that transpired after the party took it upon itself to ignore thousands who rightly believed Sanders delegates had been excluded unfairly from the caucus proceedings.

Despite the call for a recount, party officials refused to follow necessary procedure and abruptly adjourned the convention, leaving thousands of voters in the lurch — and hotel security and local law enforcement to deal with the aftermath. When things seem suspicious, apparently Eichenwald feels voters should not only have no recourse, they should be happy about it.

“Sanders has increasingly signaled that he is in this race for Sanders,” he continues, “and day after day shows himself to be a whining crybaby with little interest in a broader movement.”

It would be nice if Eichenwald’s hit piece were as much a joke as it comes across, but clearly he’s missed the point — and the vast movement supporting not only Sanders, but electoral justice. Worse, he didn’t stop there:

“Signs are emerging that the Sanders campaign is transmogrifying into the type of movement through which tyrants are born.


“The ugly was on display” at the aforementioned Nevada convention, Eichenwald adds, “where Hillary Clinton won more delegates than Sanders.”

No kidding. That would be precisely the issue that “cult” expressed fury about — Clinton managed to put yet another state under her belt under highly questionable circumstances. In fact, suspect happenings at nearly every primary and caucus so far oddly favor the former secretary of state — and Nevada stood as further testament to why voters are practically up in arms over what appears to be electoral favoritism.

But Eichenwald wasn’t alone in overlooking those concerns — or in blatantly mischaracterizing both that bias and its consequential thwarting of the wishes of a hefty segment of the voting public.

In the New York Times, Alan Rappeport also took the chance to strike at Sanders’ followers by citing Roberta Lange, Nevada State Democratic Party Chairwoman, who adjourned the convention early — earning the wrath of Nevada’s voters.

“‘It’s been vile,’ said Ms. Lange, who riled Sanders supporters by refusing their requests for rule changes at the event in Las Vegas,” Rappeport notes, adding, “The vicious response comes as millions of new voters, many of whom felt excluded by establishment politicians, have flocked to the insurgent campaigns of Mr. Sanders and Mr. Trump.”

Though he at least presented that aspect of the elections fairly, his description of what Lange actually did in Nevada misses the mark — that rules change had originally occurred prior to the convention, and Lange’s hasty and subjective decision on a contentious voice vote to permanently install the change arguably created the eruption of anger. But a number of Times staff have contributed sizeable amounts to Hillary’s campaign — and a Clinton family organization also donated $100,000 to the Times’ charitable organization the same year it endorsed her. Funny how bias thus peppers its reporting.

But the media roasting of Sanders and his supporters also appeared in the Sacramento Bee — where the editorial board also called the senator to task for the Nevada incident in lieu of calling out the controversial elections. According to the Bee,

“The episode had the reek of Trump rallies, where threats, insults, and sucker punches to defend the presumptive Republican nominee have been common. Yet looking back at the hundreds of Sanders supporters who descended on a Clinton rally in East Los Angeles earlier this month to intimidate her supporters, making one little girl cry, it now seems inevitable that the same kind of violent eruption would afflict those ‘feeling the Bern.’”


While the protest in L.A. certainly rattled Clinton supporters, violence didn’t pepper the event. One Sanders supporter — sporting a Free Hugs tee-shirt, no less — even assisted Clinton-supporting families with teary-eyed children in tow navigate through the crowd. While reports that someone ripped apart a young girl’s pro-Hillary sign might be valid, it would stand as the exception to what amounted to a boisterous demonstration over justifiable grievances. And, again, this obfuscation forgets entirely the need for demonstrations, which Hillary Clinton — in repeated lies, controversial policy proposals, and a campaign replete with fraud complaints — has clearly helped create.

Perhaps corporate, mainstream media — instead of targeting the symptom — should attempt to report its root cause.

Perhaps enormous swaths of voters being dropped from the rolls in New York; Clinton’s inexplicably astronomical luck in coin tosses in Iowa; inexcusably untrained elections volunteers and their equally inexcusable tendency allowing Clinton supporters to participate in caucuses without first being registered; or any number of other examples from the mountain of ever-growing evidence the elections are, indeed, rigged, are infinitely more deserving of headlines than hit pieces against those protesting such affronts to the American electoral process.

Or perhaps we should all just do as Eichenwald suggests — swallow our pride and our desire for a less corrupt and fairer system — and turn tail.

Or not. Because this system is rigged — and the corporate media helps pull the strings. But as long as independent media reports what the mainstream refuses, and as long as fraud inundates the 2016 election, there will be protests — regardless of whether or not Newsweek and the Times and the rest of their ilk ever grasp accuracy in reporting.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

How the Pentagon punished NSA whistleblowers | Mark Hertsgaard

What Parents Need to Know About Homeschooling - The Stand - Michael Esch

The last couple weeks the local public school has had 5 bomb threats. Four of them were at the high school and one was at the middle school. Two students were found to be the culprits and were sentenced to 45 days in juvenile detention. These type of violent threats mixed with the school shootings, the poor education standards, and increased standardized testing is causing many parents to consider homeschooling. In my local community, my wife and I are known as the homeschool family and known for having resources. My wife and I both have degrees in education. We were also homeschooled for several years and are homeschooling our two children. Homeschooling is a great step towards enriching your child's education. Even if you are planning on homeschooling for a few years, the lessons that the child will learn over those years will stick with them for the rest of their lives. They will learn to teach themselves. Homeschooling tends to…


Noam Chomsky Reveals The Hypocrisies of Capitalism in the Financial Capital of the World

Chomsky spoke at the New York Public Library last month about why the financial financial sector is basically tax-funded.

Noam Chomsky and Yanis Varoufakis spoke at the New York Public Library about the hypocrisies of the finance and tech industries - and what neoliberalism really means.



Full transcript below:

NOAM CHOMSKY: One of the paradoxes of neoliberalism is that it’s not new and it’s not liberal. (applause)

YANIS VAROUFAKIS: Exactly. Exactly.

NOAM CHOMSKY: If you look at what you describe is a form of hypocrisy but the same is true of saying that we should not support tax-funded institutions. The financial sector is basically tax-funded.


NOAM CHOMSKY: You recall the IMF study of the leading American banks, which determined that virtually all their profits come from their implicit government insurance policy, cheap credit, access to higher credit ratings, incentives to take risky transactions which are profitable but then if it’s problematic, you guys pay for it, or just take the basis of the contemporary economy, which actually I’ve been privileged to see developing in government-subsidized laboratories for decades. MIT, where I’ve been since the 1950s, is one of the institutions where the government, the funnel in the early days was the Pentagon, was pouring in money to create the basis for the high-tech economy of the future and the profitmaking of the institutions that are regarded as private enterprises. It was decades of work under public funding with a very anticapitalist ideology. So according to capitalist principles, if someone invests in a risky enterprise over a long period and thirty years later it makes some profit, they’re supposed to get part of the profit, but it doesn’t work like that here. It was the taxpayer who invested for decades. The profit goes to Apple and Microsoft, not to the taxpayer.

YANIS VAROUFAKIS: Indeed, indeed. If you take an iPhone apart, every single technology in it was developed by some government grant, every single one.

NOAM CHOMSKY: And for long periods.

YANIS VAROUFAKIS: And some of them by government grants from other countries, like WiFi from the Australian Commonwealth.

NOAM CHOMSKY: And it’s—you see an interesting picture of it from a place like MIT, or other major research institutions. So if you walked around the building where I work fifty years ago, you would have seen electronic firms, Raytheon, ITech, others, IBM, there to essentially rob the technology that’s being developed at public expense and seeing if they can turn it into something applicable for profits. You walk around the institution today, you see different buildings, you see Novartis, Pfizer, other pharmaceutical, big pharmaceutical corporations. Why? Because the cutting edge of the economy has shifted from electronics based to biology based, so therefore the predators in the so-called private sector are there to see what they can pick up from the taxpayer-funded research in the fundamental biological sciences, and that’s called free enterprise and a free-market system. So speak of hypocrisy, it’s pretty hard to go beyond that.

YANIS VAROUFAKIS: Quite right. This hypocrisy is fundamental to the whole enterprise culture of capitalism from 250 years ago.

NOAM CHOMSKY: From the beginning.



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