Saturday, May 16, 2009

Minorities Hit Hardest by Foreclosures in New York -

Minorities Hit Hardest by Foreclosures in New York - "Defaults occur three times as often in mostly minority census tracts as in mostly white ones. Eighty-five percent of the worst-hit neighborhoods — where the default rate is at least double the regional average — have a majority of black and Latino homeowners.

And the hardest blows rain down on the backbone of minority neighborhoods: the black middle class."

The Bill Clinton/Henry Cisneros strategy was to force banks to lend money to exactly the folks who are now being "hit hardest by foreclosure." Fifteen years into this experiment it seems there have been mixed results.

Foot gets even with podiatrist

Car Slams into Building in Fox Point | Newsradio 620 - Milwaukee, Wisconsin News, Talk, Sports, Weather | Local Headlines: "Witnesses tell TODAY'S TMJ4 HD reporter Heather Shannon that an elderly woman smashed her car into North Shore Podiatry Friday afternoon after getting her foot stuck between the brake and the gas."
How ironic. I can't wait for the movie: "The Beast With Five Toes."

Friday, May 15, 2009

"It's not safe right now..."

Troy's celebrated solar house left in dark | | The Detroit News: "It was supposed to be a shining example of the green movement -- a completely independent solar-powered house with no gas or electrical hookups.

Seven months ago, officials gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the $900,000 house owned by the city of Troy that was to be used as an educational tool and meeting spot.

But it never opened to the public. And it remains closed.

Frozen pipes during the winter caused $16,000 in damage to floors, and city officials aren't sure when the house at the Troy Community Center will open."

It would be wonderful to heat our homes with solar energy, but it seems that they don't have the kinks worked out quite yet.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

This is impossible to summarize. Just read it.

Cuffed karate master kicked into jail |
Somebody get to work on the script for this, because I want to see the movie.


Treasury asks for control of derivatives market: "In a two-page letter sent Wednesday to congressional leaders, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said he wants to create a central electronic-based system that would track the buying and selling of derivatives. He also wants to ensure that financial firms selling the instruments have enough capital on hand in case they default and subject them to stringent standards of conduct and new reporting requirements."
Is there any aspect of the economy that the federal government does NOT want to control?

Ave Maria: A Town Without A Vote

Ave Maria: A Town Without A Vote
Blockbuster three-part story on Ave Maria, by Liam Dillon.

APNewsBreak: Habitat for Humanity gets $100M gift - Santa Cruz Sentinel

APNewsBreak: Habitat for Humanity gets $100M gift - Santa Cruz Sentinel: "ATLANTA—The housing market may be sputtering, but Habitat for Humanity International is getting a $100 million jolt.

The nonprofit group tells The Associated Press the gift from J. Ronald Terwilliger will help it build 60,000 homes worldwide. It's the largest individual contribution in Habitat's history.

Terwilliger, an Atlanta-based developer, says he hopes it will offer the world's neediest more access to decent, affordable homes."

These days, "affordable" is practically synonymous with "common interest housing."

Selling off public assets in California

Schwarzenegger to propose selling San Quentin - Santa Cruz Sentinel: "The proposal to sell off state assets is part of the governor's revised budget plan being released today. Besides the Coliseum and San Quentin, the properties he's eyeing for sale are the Cow Palace in Daly City, the Orange County Fairgrounds, Cal Expo in Sacramento, Del Mar Fairground, and the Ventura County Fair."
Total take: between $600 million and $1 two to five years. So, what about this year?

White House bossing CA leg around

George F. Will - The Obama Administration's Economic Lawlessness: "In February, California's Democratic-controlled Legislature, faced with a $42 billion budget deficit, trimmed $74 million (1.4 percent) from one of the state's fastest-growing programs, which provides care for low-income and incapacitated elderly people and which cost the state $5.42 billion last year. The Los Angeles Times reports that 'loose oversight and bureaucratic inertia have allowed fraud to fester.'

But the Service Employees International Union collects nearly $5 million a month from 223,000 caregivers who are members. And the Obama administration has told California that unless the $74 million in cuts are rescinded, it will deny the state $6.8 billion in stimulus money."


Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Retail sales drop unexpectedly in April: "Retail sales fell for a second straight month in April, a disappointing performance that raised doubts about whether consumers were regaining their desire to shop."
Oh, we have the desire to shop. We just don't have any money. And you smart economists should have expected that.

Too much money spent on health care for elderly? Blog : Greg Hengler : Health Policy Professor Discusses The 'Cost-Benefit' Of Elderly Receiving Federal Healthcare: "What are the costs and benefits to giving federal money to an elderly person who needs an expensive procedure and has a shorter life span than someone who needs the same procedure in their 20s?"
Conservatives are pointing out that when (not if) the Democrats create national health care, it will involve rationing, with the federal government deciding who gets what and when. And what better to cut back on than expensive procedures performed on the elderly? Such expenditures are not cost-effective when you think about how little time they have left anyway, some say. And this link goes to a C-SPAN tape of a Senate Finance Committee meeting where that very issue is discussed.

We are entering some interesting times, aren't we?

Global Warming Alert: Snow in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Gazette - ICE IS NICE IN BAHA: "In one of the rare occasions, Saudis enjoy the snowfall in Al-Baha city south-west of Riyadh, Tuesday."
Snowing in Saudi in May? Must mean that Al Gore is giving a talk in Riyadh.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The future of social security and medicare

Trustees Report Summary: "The financial condition of the Social Security and Medicare programs remains challenging. Projected long run program costs are not sustainable under current program parameters. Social Security's annual surpluses of tax income over expenditures are expected to fall sharply this year and to stay about constant in 2010 because of the economic recession, and to rise only briefly before declining and turning to cash flow deficits beginning in 2016 that grow as the baby boom generation retires. The deficits will be made up by redeeming trust fund assets until reserves are exhausted in 2037, at which point tax income would be sufficient to pay about three fourths of scheduled benefits through 2083. Medicare's financial status is much worse. As was true in 2008, Medicare's Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund is expected to pay out more in hospital benefits and other expenditures this year than it receives in taxes and other dedicated revenues. The difference will be made up by redeeming trust fund assets. Growing annual deficits are projected to exhaust HI reserves in 2017, after which the percentage of scheduled benefits payable from tax income would decline from 81 percent in 2017 to about 50 percent in 2035 and 30 percent in 2080. In addition, the Medicare Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI) Trust Fund that pays for physician services and the prescription drug benefit will continue to require general revenue financing and charges on beneficiaries that grow substantially faster than the economy and beneficiary incomes over time. "
This is from that radical right wing organization, the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees.

I can't wait to see how we pay for extending government health care to the entire nation.

Home Prices in U.S. Drop Most on Record in Quarter (Update3) -

Home Prices in U.S. Drop Most on Record in Quarter (Update3) - "The median price fell 14 percent to $169,000, the National Association of Realtors said today. Prices dropped in 134 of 152 metropolitan areas, with the deepest declines in Cape Coral and Ft. Myers, Florida, followed by San Francisco and San Jose."
I'm biding my time until Hearst Castle drops into my price range..

How to end piracy: privatize the oceans

Could Profit Motive Put an End to Piracy? by John Stossel and Andrew Kirell « The Public Choice Capitalist
The libertarian solution to piracy: privatize the Gulf of Aden and create a profit motive for somebody to patrol it.

Native Names — Interactive — National Geographic Magazine

Native Names — Interactive — National Geographic Magazine
Chicago is "at the skunk place."


JP MORGAN CHASE FORECLOSES ON VICTORIA GOTTI'S HOUSE - New York Post: "The bank has been given the go-ahead to foreclose on Victoria Gotti's palatial estate on Long Island -- the same used in the TV reality show 'Growing Up Gotti' -- saying she owes a whopping $650,000 in mortgage payments, according to court paper made public today."
Do you want dat we gotta get tough wit youse?

Monday, May 11, 2009

UIC graduation: Gov. Pat Quinn urges graduates to commit to social causes, people --

UIC graduation: Gov. Pat Quinn urges graduates to commit to social causes, people -- "Quinn spoke to the 1,275 graduates of UIC's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in a packed arena. In deference to the swine flu, students received their diploma with 'a verbal congratulations or alternatively a hand bump or two' rather than a traditional handshake, Dean Dwight McBride said."
Yes, that's what the Dean said. But the Governor shook hands with every single graduate.

The Symbionese Liberation Army comes to the Land of Lincoln

Last SLA inmate released, heads to Illinois - Chicago Breaking News: "SACRAMENTO -- The last captured member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, the radical 1970s-era group notorious for bank robberies, killings and the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst, was released from a California prison Sunday morning.

James William Kilgore was paroled from High Desert State Prison in northeastern California after serving a six-year sentence for the murder of suburban Sacramento housewife Myrna Opsahl during an April 1975 bank robbery.

State Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Oscar Hidalgo said Kilgore was met by his wife after parole agents picked him up at the Susanville prison and processed him there.

That allowed the couple to travel directly to their home in Illinois, rather than have Kilgore wait to check in Monday with a parole agent in Sacramento before leaving the state. He now has two weeks to report to Illinois parole officials.

Kilgore's wife moved to Illinois after he was arrested in 2002 in Cape Town, South Africa, after nearly three decades on the run."

Six years for murder? Not a bad deal. And now he is in Illinois. How nice.
They robbed a bank and killed a customer named Myrna Upsahl. That's her husband holding her photo. Five SLA members were convicted and the longest sentence was 8 years.

The Odds: Obama 1st Nominee For Associate Justice?

Obama 1st Nominee For Associate Justice? Betting from Paddy Power
Sonia Sotomayor is the favorite at 13/8. Hillary Clinton is 100/1.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ah, those were the days...

Exclusive: Confessions of a Mortgage Scammer - ABC News: "Dawson admitted he ran a Ponzi scheme: He convinced his clients to take equity out of their homes and invest it in his hedge fund. But that 'hedge fund' didn't actually exist, he said, and he pocketed the money. When he had to, he paid off old investors with new investors' money.

During the housing boom, Dawson took advantage of desperate homeowners, eager-to-lend banks and lax regulations to steal millions."

But these days, what is a con artist to do? Nobody is buying anything, the banks don't want to lend, and suddenly Fannie Mae is getting picky.

Look at what this guy did. It was a calculated ripoff and he, along with untold others, got away with it for a long time.

Just speaking hypothetically, I wonder what would happen if, instead of a five year sentence, we handled this Chinese style: the government would take about a dozen of these crooks and have them summarily executed. That would be a provocative little example for others, wouldn't it? I realize we don't do things that way. It's just a thought experiment.