Posted by: quiscus | October 17, 2010

October 17, 2010

1.  The answer is ‘yes’:

Are ALL Mortgage Backed Securities a Scam?”

2.  “Foreclosuregate: Time to Break Up the Too-Big-to-Fail Banks?

In 1934, Congress enacted the Frazier–Lemke Farm Bankruptcy Act to enable the nation’s debt-ridden farmers to scale down their mortgages. The act delayed foreclosure of a bankrupt farmer’s property for five years, during which time the farmer made rental payments. The farmer could then buy back the property at its currently appraised value over six years at 1 percent interest, or remain in possession as a paying tenant. Interestingly, according to Marian McKenna in Franklin Roosevelt and the Great Constitutional War (2002), “The federal government was empowered to buy up farm mortgages and issue non-interest-bearing treasury notes in exchange.” Non-interest-bearing treasury notes are what President Lincoln issued during the Civil War, when they were called “Greenbacks.”


The 1934 Act was subsequently challenged by secured creditors as violating the Fifth Amendment’s due process guarantee of just compensation, a fundamental right of mortgage holders. (Note that this would probably not be a valid challenge today, since there don’t seem to be legitimate mortgage holders in these securitization cases. There are just investors with unsecured claims for relief in equity for money damages.) The Supreme Court voided the 1934 Act, and Congress responded with the “Farm Mortgage Moratorium Act” in 1935. The terms were modified, limiting the moratorium to a three-year period, and the revision gave secured creditors the opportunity to force a public sale, with the proviso that the farmer could redeem the property by paying the sale amount. The act was renewed four times until 1949, when it expired. During the 15 years the act was in place, farm prices stabilized and the economy took off, retooling it for its role as a global industrial power during the remainder of the century.


We’ve come full circle again. We didn’t get it right in 2008, but with the newly empowered Financial Stability Oversight Council, we already have the ready-made vehicle to avoid another taxpayer bailout, and to put too-big-to-fail behind us as well.”

3.  “Labor Rights in Occupied Lands: US Busting Labor Unions in Iraq

It is only in comic books and Hollywood movies that America’s superheroes exist to defend the underdog. In practice, the armies of America have fanned out around the globe to show they are the willing servants of the corporate overdog. As Noam Chomsky writes in his book “Imperial Ambitions”(Metropolitan), “You can almost predict (U.S.) policy by that simple principle: Does it help rich people or does it help the general population? And from that you can virtually deduce what’s going to happen.” There is no more disgraceful example than Iraq.

As bad off as Iraqi workers may be, Third Country Nationals(TCN) shipped into Iraq to work cheap often fare worse. Author Pratap Chatterjee in his book “Halliburton’s Army”(Nation) writes that workers “who dared to stage labor strikes and sickouts to protest their treatment at military camps faced immediate dismissal.” Workers complain they are treated “like human cattle” by some of their bosses. Rory Mayberry, a former Halliburton/KBR contractor employed at the Balad, Iraq, Camp Anaconda dining facilities in 2004, said the U.S. firm was supposed to feed 600 Turkish and Filipino workers meals. Instead, the workers “were given leftover food in boxes and garbage bags after the troops ate.” As long as such practices by the U.S. government and U.S. corporations continue, look for the gap between rich and poor to widen globally, just as it has been widening in America. Look for continued injustice, continued unrest, continued repression, and continued war. You’d think by now the union-busters would catch on that there is a better way. But they are proving that they have eyes only for the dollars.

4.  “How propaganda is disseminated: WikiLeaks Edition

This is how the U.S. government and American media jointly disseminate propaganda: in the immediate wake of some newsworthy War on Terror event, U.S. Government officials (usually anonymous) make wild and reckless — though unverifiable — claims. The U.S. media mindlessly trumpets them around the world without question or challenge. Those claims become consecrated as widely accepted fact. And then weeks, months or years later, those claims get quietly exposed as being utter falsehoods, by which point it does not matter, because the goal is already well-achieved: the falsehoods are ingrained as accepted truth.

And on August 11, even the DOD was forced to admit to The Washington Post the complete absence of any evidence to support its wild accusations: “‘We have yet to see any harm come to anyone in Afghanistan that we can directly tie to exposure in the WikiLeaks documents,’ [Pentagon spokesman Geoff] Morrell said.” Nonetheless, the initial spate of hysterically accusatory rhetoric, combined with the uncritical media dissemination, poisoned public opinion about WikiLeaks, and the fact that those accusations have been subsequently revealed as baseless will receive little attention and undo none of that deceit-based damage.


The benefits to the Government from spewing baseless accusations against WikiLeaks are obvious: they inure the public to the thuggish steps being taken to cripple and otherwise intimidate the whistleblowing site from exposing more government secrets about the truth of our wars.”


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