Shadow debate on Democracy Now!

One of the reasons we have so little to choose from in presidential elections is because both parties and the media cooperate in keeping out third party candidates. We haven’t seen much informed, skeptical commentary since the old days when “Strange Bedfellows” Al Franken and Arianna Huffington covered the presidential debates on Comedy Central, so hats off to Amy Goodman and Democracy Now!

As President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney square off in their first debate tonight, Democracy Now! will broadcast live from Denver with a special expanded presidential debate from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m. ET. We will air the Obama/Romney debate, pausing after questions to include equal time responses from two presidential contenders who were shut out of the official debate: Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party.

Stream our special 3-hour show on the Democracy Now! livestream or tune in on television on Link TV (DISHNetwork Channel 9410 or DirecTV Channel 375) or on Free Speech TV (DISH Network Channel 9415 or DirecTV Channel 348).

Click here to see all of our coverage of Election 2012.Join the discussion on our Facebook page, on Google+ or on Twitter #ExpandTheVote.

WA Supreme Court: MERS can be sued for fraud

This is gonna be interesting:

(Reuters) – The highest court in the state of Washington recently ruled that a company that has foreclosed on millions of mortgages nationwide can be sued for fraud, a decision that could cause a new round of trouble for the nation’s banks.


The ruling is one of the first to allow consumers to seek damages from Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, a company set up by the nation’s major banks, if they can prove they were harmed.


Legal experts said last month’s decision from the Washington Supreme Court could become a precedent for courts in other states. The case also endorsed the view of other state courts that MERS does not have the legal authority to foreclose on a home.


“This is a body blow,” said consumer law attorney Ira Rheingold. “Ultimately the MERS business model cannot work and should not work and needs to be changed.”


Banks set up MERS in the 1990s to help speed the process of packaging loans into mortgage-backed bonds by easing the process of transferring mortgages from one party to another. But ever since the housing crash, MERS has been besieged by litigation from state attorneys general, local government officials and homeowners who have challenged the company’s authority to pursue foreclosure actions.


A spokeswoman for MERS said the company is confident its role in the financial system will withstand legal challenges.


The Washington Supreme Court held that MERS’ business practices had the “capacity to deceive” a substantial portion of the public because MERS claimed it was the beneficiary of the mortgage when it was not.


This finding means that in actions where a bank used MERS to foreclose, the consumer can sue it for fraud. If the foreclosure can be challenged, MERS’ involvement would make repossession more complicated.


On top of that, virtually any foreclosed homeowner in the state in the past 15 years who feels they have been harmed in some way could file a consumer fraud suit.

Imagine that

Banks making shit up!

US credit card companies have been churning out lawsuits and improperly collecting debt from consumers 90 percent of the time, at least according to a New York judge who deals with these cases.


Lawsuits produced by credit car companies to recoup unpaid bills often rely on inaccurate documents, incomplete records and generic testimonies from witnesses who repeatedly testify, the New York Times reported. The companies often sue clients for more money than is owed.


“I would say that roughly 90 percent of the credit card lawsuits are flawed and can’t prove the person owes the debt,” said Brooklyn civil court judge Noach Dear. The judge told the Times he sees as many as 100 such cases a day.


By “robo-signing” documents, banks “robotically” mass-produce similar papers for different clients, without properly reviewing them. In the process some of the papers get falsified.


Lenders often try to collect money from clients who have already paid their bills. Other times, they increase the lenders’ debt by unfairly adding fees and erroneous interest costs.


Some clients claim they don’t owe anything, but most disagreements come from credit card companies conflicting with clients about how much is rightfully owed. But in 95 percent of lawsuits, the credit card companies win – even though the lawsuits sometimes include falsified credit card statements produced years after the borrowers fell behind on payments.


A former JPMorgan Chase employee admitted that nearly 23,000 delinquent accounts had incorrect balances.


Taryn Gregory said she was sued by Discover for more than $7,000 in credit card debt, even though she had only accumulated $4,000. Upon examining the lawsuit, the Times found that the documents said they were produced in 2004, even though the advertisements on the bottom of the page were from 2010.
American Express borrower Felicia Tancreto was sued for $16,000. She admitted having fallen behind on payments, but contested owing that much. After attending court, the judge dismissed the lawsuit for lack of evidence.


But in most cases, the borrowers do not attend court, causing the lenders to win 95 percent of the time.

Not so brilliant, after all

Chris Whalen on Jamie Dimon:

What is really interesting is that the legal complaint filed by Schneiderman talks about sloppy procedures for loan selection, but still does not get to the real fun, namely multiple pledges of loans for different RMBS. And you can be sure that Schneiderman does not really want to go that far because it might force him to ask the same question about the other, far larger issuers of RMBS.

Remember, the whole point of the Robo-signing settlement is not consumer protection, but rather fraud. The key question: Who’s got the note? If you don’t have to deliver the note into an RMBS trust, then the door is wide open for securities fraud.

What is really troubling is that while Schneiderman is making a big fuss about suing JPM over the Bear Stearns RMBS, he refuses to go after Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citi, Ally and other large banks for precisely the same type of fraud and deliberate criminal acts as were committed by Bear Stearns. The degree of negligence and stupidity displayed at Bear Stearns may have been more egregious than that at say Countrywide, but only in degree.

Once again it is shown that the politicians like Schneiderman, who have aspirations for higher office, have no problem making an example of a small firm, but will never move directly against the top four banks for their own grotesque errors and omissions.

Schneiderman has been dragging his feet with respect to Countrywide and Bank of New York for years, yet suddenly he has time to sue JPM over Bear Stearns? What’s wrong with this picture?
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Here comes winter

I guess I should start stocking up if we’re going to have a bad winter:

Expect temperatures 6 degrees colder than last winter’s, and a six-fold increase — or more — in snowfall.


In short, if Accu-Weather’s winter outlook turns out to be right, the coming season will be whole lot more like a typical winter than in 2011-12.


In the forecast released this morning, an update and elaboration of an earlier outlook, the commercial weather service in State College, Pa., is calling for near-normal temperatures this winter, with above-normal snowfall.


In addition, Accu-Weather believes Philadelphia will have an above-average number of days — perhaps seven — with snowfall of an inch or more, said long-range forecaster Paul Pastelok. Last season, it had exactly one.


The revised snow-outlook map sees the above-average snow zone extending from Philadelphia on south and west.


To the north, long-range forecaster Paul Pastelok says snowfall might not be terribly generous along the New England coast because Atlantic Ocean sea-surface temperatures up that way are well above averages.

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