Banks still allowed to steal houses

David Dayen continues to document the atrocities:

The absolute least Americans can hope for from a major government settlement with a large industry over well-documented crimes is that the industry wouldn’t, after signing the settlement, just continue to commit the same crimes day after day. After all, following the tobacco industry settlement, cigarette makers did manage to stop advertising to teenagers that their product had no medical side effects.

But new evidence reveals the nation’s largest banks have apparently continued to fabricate documents, rip off customers and illegally kick people out of their homes, even after inking a series of settlements over the same abuses. And the worst part of it all is that the main settlement over foreclosure fraud was so weakly written that it actually allows such criminal conduct to occur, at least up to a certain threshold. Potentially hundreds of thousands of homes could be effectively stolen by the big banks without any sanctions.

Pass the ammo…..

A poll released by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind shows some interesting numbers

Eighteen percent of Democrats said an armed revolt ‘might be necessary,’ as compared to 27 percent of independents and 44 percent of Republicans. Support levels were similar among males and females but higher among less educated voters.

Rumors regarding a Department of Homeland Security purchase of hollow point ammunition have been circulating in the right wing media and on the internet for some time. The amount of bullets in these rumors purchased has varied from 450 million rounds to 1.6 billion rounds of hollow point ammunition. Some assert the government is using the ammunition buy to “dry up supplies.” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) introduced a bill to limit ammunition purchases by the DHS.

In a hearing regarding the ammunition purchases Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) questioned DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano on the alleged department ammunition “stockpile.”

You know, when Forbes Magazine or Drudge or some reputable news sources start to repeat the numbers…the numbers cease to become Internet rumors and they start having some credibility.

As a matter of fact, there were two different Op/Ed articles in Forbes regarding this stockpile and the now debunked rumor regarding the DHS purchase of 2,700 mine resistant vehicles. One of the primary sources for tank purchase of the Op/Ed was a “paramilitary blogger.” And as it turns out DHS has only 16 of these vehicles.

These long circulating ammunition stories prompted the NRA in cooperation with Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) to issue a statement last August about how and why these kinds of purchases are not unusual. The statement reminds readers that the DHS oversees many law enforcement agencies and that hollow point bullets are used by law enforcement to prevent injury of innocent bystanders. The NRA conclusion on the ammunition purchase and the rumors:

As most gun owners will agree, skepticism of government is healthy. But today, there are more than enough actual threats to the Second Amendment to keep gun owners busy.

Manufacturers will tell say they are having a difficult time keeping supplies of ammunition. But, the shortage isn’t because of the government; it is panic buying civilians that believe the government is coming after their guns.

First, ammunition manufacturers have been running at or near capacity for at least 10 years.

The gun-owning American public has seen and been through panic buying before, but never on a level compared to what we are seeing now.

Since Obama took office, there have been 65 million NICS checks done. Even if only two-thirds of those resulted in guns bought, that equates to 40 million new guns in the hands of consumers. All those new guns need to be fed, in addition to all the others still in the hands of consumers.

That’s a lot of bullets and there are plenty of rumors and politically charged feelings ginning up panic.

There are people out there that are equipped and think they are prepared to participate in armed conflict.

I hope those poll numbers are wrong.

Pretending to say no to austerity

French declare end to “austerity dogma.” Reuters: “The European Commission on Friday gave France two more years to meet its budget deficit target because of the country’s poor economic outlook within the recession-hit euro zone. ‘This is decisive, it’s a turn in the history of the European project since the start of the euro,’ Moscovici told French radio Europe 1 in an interview. ‘We have witnessed the ending of a certain form of financial austerity and the end of the austerity dogma.'”

Europe is only pretending to give up austerity, warns FT’s Wolfgang Münchau: “A good example of the new PR-based anti-austerity strategy came in speeches last week by Enrico Letta, Italy’s new prime minister. He railed against austerity, but at the same time emphasised his commitments to Italy’s fiscal targets, as if the two were somehow unrelated … If the eurozone were serious about a U-turn on austerity, the only effective way to accomplish this would be for the creditor countries to expand their fiscal positions during the recession. The opposite is happening.”

Britain’s austerity plan makes even less sense than before, finds Paul Krugman: “…even if you believe that markets would be unnerved by some relaxation of short-term fiscal austerity … how is this spike in long-term rates supposed to happen? … Osborne’s case for keeping on the path of harsh austerity isn’t just empirically implausible, it appears to be a complete conceptual muddle; they just haven’t thought this thing through.”

The political roots of American obesity

Interesting piece from Doug Kihn in Truthout. Absolutely, stress has a lot to do with it. When I got a divorce, bam! Dropped the weight. Hooked up with bad boyfriend? Put it right back on. Now in state of chronic money worry? Losing weight, but at an absolute crawl. I can tell you that the more money I made, the less I weighed. Hmm.

As social fear and insecurity rise, mental health declines.

Apparently, so does physical health. According to a new study from Rice University and the University Colorado at Boulder in Social Science Quarterly, despite modest gains in lifespan over the past century, the United States still trails many of the world’s countries when it comes to life expectancy, and its poorest citizens live approximately five years less than more affluent people. The United States, which spends far more money on medical care than other advanced industrialized countries, has the sickest residents in every category of unwellness.

The result of all of this hysteria and whip-cracking on the backs of the American workforce is that we feel harried and harassed, with little reward to show for it. Mental health has been worsening for a long time in the United States, and this mental decline has been the culprit behind so many – probably the majority – of physical health problems as well. One of them, as we shall see later, is obesity.

Chinese medicine can help to make sense of most mental and physical problems in the United States and organize them into three main categories: those of chronic tension, excessive interior heat and excess weight. Together, they form a super-syndrome some would call the American Syndrome, since it seems to be a universal phenomenon.

Chronic tension is caused by worrying, and all its avatars – anxiety, fear, guilt, remorse, dread. Excessive interior heat results from the friction caused by it hurrying and worrying, while excess weight – which can manifest as obesity – is the result of habitual overeating.

These three inappropriate and harmful activities – worrying, hurrying, and overeating – are daily choices that Americans make, and these choices are driving them crazy. Mental health in the country is going to hell in a hand basket.

Go read the rest.

Wage theft, sushi style

I think any employer who can get away with it is practicing some form of wage theft at this point, whether it’s stealing tips or misclassifying workers as independent contractor to avoid paying their taxes:

On May 1, International Worker’s Day, a half circle of Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) members and supporters surrounded the entrance to Fat Salmon, a high-end sushi restaurant in Philadelphia. They watched as Diana A. (she asked her last name not be used) walked into the restaurant to deliver a prepared statement denouncing, among other things, what some workers have described as an intricate system for stealing their tips.

Diana and two other workers have been “on strike” since last April 15, when they confronted the restaurant’s owner, Jack Yoo, with a similar statement listing their grievances. The May Day document included the names of four other employees who are still working but signed on in support. (Fat Salmon workers are not unionized, but the National Labor Relations Act protects any worker, union or not, who “engage in…concerted activities for the purpose of… mutual aid or protection.”)
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