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‘A mission that is not succeeding’

The Afghanistan report the Pentagon doesn’t want you to read.

Olive oil fraud

Geeze, you can’t count on anything anymore!

Isn’t that nice

Hey, progressives, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good! Amirite?

The $25 billion settlement with banks over foreclosure abuses may result in a wave of home seizures, inflicting short-term pain on delinquent U.S. borrowers while making a long-term housing recovery more likely.

Lenders slowed the pace of foreclosures as they negotiated with attorneys general in all 50 states for more than a year over allegations of faulty and fraudulent paperwork used to repossess homes. With yesterday’s agreement, banks are likely to resume property seizures.

“The best thing about the settlement, frankly, is that it will be done,” said Stan Humphries, chief economist for Seattle-based Zillow Inc. (Z), a provider of home-sales data. “The shadow of the settlement hung over the market for a year now.”

The backlog of foreclosures has trapped homeowners in properties they can no longer afford, depressed neighborhood prices by increasing the number of abandoned homes and led banks to tighten mortgage credit standards because of uncertainty about the cost of their potential obligations. Foreclosure starts fell 46 percent in December from October 2010, when the investigation into the so-called robo-signing of mortgage documentation began, according to Irvine, California-based RealtyTrac Inc.

The agreement will direct $17 billion to writing down debt to buffer about 1 million homeowners from foreclosure through mortgage forgiveness, forbearance or loan modification programs, according to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. About 750,000 borrowers may get direct payments of as much as $2,000 to compensate them for servicing errors.

Principal reductions and other loan modifications will be accessible to a small universe of borrowers because the deal doesn’t include loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae (FNMA), Freddie Mac or Ginnie Mae, which pools and sells Federal Housing Administration loans. The five banks included in the settlement control or own 7.3 percent of all outstanding single-family mortgages, according to Inside Mortgage Finance.

“The primary beneficiaries of any principal reductions, loan modifications or refinancings are really a universe that excludes 92 percent of mortgage borrowers,” said Guy Cecala, publisher of the newsletter.

Happy 75th birthday

Roberta Flack:


My shrink says I might be “too cognitive” for my own good.

“You’re in your head so much, and when people share things with you, your response is to think about the situation and then suggest a solution,” he said.

“Your point?”

“Only that sometimes people might expect a more emotional, more visceral reaction from you and that your response is usually intellectual.”

“Or maybe they’re too visceral. Ever think of that? Huh? Huh?

We talked about the fact that life was pretty threatening to me from an early age, and that keeping my wits about me seemed like the most sensible approach. “I can’t help it,” I said, shrugging. “I’m one of those people who’s actually better in an emergency, you know?”

So we talk about that for a while. I try to be witty, but I’m too worn out from all this surgery-related stuff. I mention that one of my kids is always saying I’m projecting, and he laughs.

Everybody’s projecting. All the time, everything we think we know,” he says. “That’s why it’s easier to give other people a break and think maybe you simply misunderstood.”

Stolen car

Beth Orton:


Is your cat making you crazy?

Creature Feature Friday

From J.C. Duffy, a good laugh.

On the other side

I’m beginning to feel more normal. Yeah, still sleeping a lot and with some residual pain and pulling from the incisions, but the worst of it seems to be gone. It hurts to sit up too long, but it gets a little better every day.

More important, as frustrating as it was to be sidelined this long, I discovered I really needed this mental break. I didn’t realize just how stressed out I’ve been and for how long; once I admitted to myself that no, I wasn’t going to bounce back quickly, it was exceedingly pleasant to just chill. I watched a lot of TV and read many, many books. (No, I didn’t watch any cable news. Dear God, no.)

Anyway, I’ll probably be back to normal next week. Thanks for your patience.

You’re asking me

Ray Davies:

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