OK, the jury orientation is over, and I’m sitting in the sparkling jury assembly room with excellent working WiFi. Big ups for public services! If I’m just hanging out all day, this should proceed normally.
I wanted to hit this background meeting that Treasury had with a group of bloggers and reporters this week. That was the source of the Mike Allen nonsense, but Shahien Nasiripour has written the most extensive recording of that session, and it’s the stuff on foreclosures and HAMP, not necessarily Social Security, that interests me.
According to this retelling, Treasury defended the mortgage program they set up to prevent foreclosures, which hasn’t met any of the Administration’s initial goals, by saying that homeowners benefited from temporarily low monthly payments and some foreclosures, which were inevitable, were delayed. Here are some of the meatier parts of the brief:
The official touted the ever-growing pipeline of homes likely to enter foreclosure as a success in the administration’s fight to stem the rising tide of home foreclosures. It’s taking longer for homes to enter foreclosure, and it’s taking longer to evict homeowners once they enter foreclosure. The so-called “shadow inventory” of homes — those with severely delinquent mortgages, in foreclosure or already repossessed that have not yet been put on the market — has significantly grown since the administration took office and is estimated to range from 5 to 7 million homes. Through June, borrowers in foreclosure have been delinquent for an average of 461 days before being evicted from their homes, according to Jacksonville, Fla.-based data provider Lender Processing Services.
That’s a good thing, the official said, because it gives the market time to absorb these homes gradually — without leading to a dramatic drop in home prices. While analysts disagree — prices will decline when those homes flood the market, which many, like Mark Hanson, a housing industry analyst based in California, believe to be a virtual certainty — the official pointed to the futures market where traders are betting that home prices will remain stable through the fall of 2014.
In addition to what Dave is saying — that it’s immoral of the administration to suck these homeowners dry when there’s no chance of saving their homes — there’s also another really big piece these geniuses are missing: Unemployment is driving down housing costs. People are having trouble getting mortgages, because no one really has a secure job.
I predict that in the next year, housing will drop another 30% in value. Call it a hunch.
Really fucking unbelievable. As I think I said to Mike at Netroots Nation, if HAMP is actually a program designed to boost the housing market and funnel money several billion more dollars to banks, it’s also a really fucking horrible and stupid and inefficient way to do that even without the “screwing people over” part.
For the past several years, two U.S. Army posts in Virginia, Fort Eustis and Fort Lee, have been putting on a series of what are called Commanding General’s Spiritual Fitness Concerts. As I’ve written in a number of other posts, “spiritual fitness” is just the military’s new term for promoting religion, particularly evangelical Christianity. And this concert series is no different.
On May 13, 2010, about eighty soldiers, stationed at Fort Eustis while attending a training course, were punished for opting out of attending one of these Christian concerts. The headliner at this concert was a Christian rock band called BarlowGirl, a band that describes itself as taking “an aggressive, almost warrior-like stance when it comes to spreading the gospel and serving God.”
Any doubt that this was an evangelical Christian event was cleared up by the Army post’s newspaper, the Fort Eustis Wheel, which ran an article after the concert that began:
Following the Apostle Paul’s message to the Ephesians in the Bible, Christian rock music’s edgy, all-girl band BarlowGirl brought the armor of God to the warriors and families of Fort Eustis during another installment of the Commanding General’s Spiritual Fitness Concert Series May 13 at Jacobs Theater.
Oh, have I mentioned how much I hate packing? I always take far too much stuff, because I never know what the weather will be like. (Last year, it went down to the low 40s at night.) Plus, I take too much stuff. Always. Well, at least this year’s load looks smaller than last year’s.
The one area in which I really hoped the Obama administration would make a difference was in the Israel-Palestine conflict — because these problems have a ripple effect in so many areas. This is a positive sign, one I hope will grow into some kind of peaceful solution:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to invite the Israelis and Palestinians Friday to hold peace talks in Washington in September, which would mark the first direct negotiations between the longtime enemies in almost two years, a senior administration official said.
The two sides are expected to agree to meet in the U.S. capital on Sept. 2, the official said. The PLO executive committee scheduled a special meeting Friday that is expected to formally approve the launching of the peace talks.
“The secretary of state this morning will invite the parties to begin direction negotiations,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity since the announcement had not yet been made. Clinton had an 11 a.m. appearance scheduled in the State Department briefing room.
President Obama was expected to attend the talks in September, Reuters reported.
Not surprising — after all, the whole point of a settlement is to head off future claims, and the powerful people involved in this want to keep the liability as narrow as possible.
But you saw what happened to people who got sick after working at Ground Zero. I predict that these Gulf workers, who have to accept what they can get just to stay afloat now, will be stuck with enormous medical problems later:
WASHINGTON — People and businesses seeking a lump-sum settlement from BP’s $20 billion oil spill compensation fund will most likely have to waive their right to sue not only BP, but also all the other major defendants involved with the spill, according to internal documents from the lawyers handling the fund.
The documents — which include e-mails, draft and final versions of the protocols, claims forms and legal notes about the administration of the fund — provide the first definitive picture of who will be paid by the $20 billion fund, and how and when.
They also shed new light on the components of the payment plan that are likely to stir controversy, including the fund’s emphasis on geographic proximity as a determining factor for eligibility.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but if Israel got rid of its own illegal nukes (you know, the ones we never talk about), wouldn’t that pretty much remove the incentive for Iran to have them? Or am I missing something?
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, citing evidence of continued troubles inside Iran’s nuclear program, has persuaded Israel that it would take roughly a year — and perhaps longer — for Iran to complete what one senior official called a “dash” for a nuclear weapon, according to American officials.
Administration officials said they believe the assessment has dimmed the prospect that Israel would pre-emptively strike against the country’s nuclear facilities within the next year, as Israeli officials have suggested in thinly veiled threats.
For years, Israeli and American officials have debated whether Iran is on an inexorable drive toward a nuclear bomb and, if so, how long it would take to produce one. A critical question has been the time it would take Tehran to convert existing stocks of low-enriched uranium into weapons-grade material, a process commonly known as “breakout.”
Israeli intelligence officials had argued that Iran could complete such a race for the bomb in months, while American intelligence agencies have come to believe in the past year that the timeline is longer.
“We think that they have roughly a year dash time,” said Gary Samore, President Obama’s top adviser on nuclear issues, referring to how long it would take the Iranians to convert nuclear material into a working weapon. “A year is a very long period of time.”