Bank of America: ‘a criminal enterprise’


From DAVID DAYEN
Firedoglake

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto’s amended complaint in a lawsuit against Bank of America has so many interesting nuances, I think I need a new Internet to catalog them all. But let me start by saying that this complaint is a stick of dynamite to the foreclosure fraud settlement, exposing it as a useless whitewash that won’t deter banks from their criminal practices. Masto joins other skeptical AGs here in not acceding to such a dereliction of duty, and instead she lays out a thorough case of systematic fraud, in this case by Bank of America, at every step of the mortgage process.

First, the background. In October 2008, a group of twelve state Attorneys General, including Nevada, entered into a settlement with Bank of America over predatory lending at the mortgage lender Countrywide, which BofA had purchased in July. In the settlement, BofA promised to modify up to 400,000 mortgages nationwide, at a cost of up to $8.4 billion. This was to include principal reductions as well as refinancing, and all foreclosure operations

Preparing Poor America for Harder Times Ahead



THE COMMUNITY ACTION PARTNERSHIP

The Community Action Partnership, which is the umbrella organization of Community Action Agencies–which in turn administer the lion’s share of anti-poverty programs in the US–has just come out with a report, Facing the New Reality: Preparing Poor America for Harder Times Ahead. Input for the report came from (among others) Nate Hagens, Dmitry Orlov, Sharon Astyk, Dave Room, John Michael Greer, Megan Bachman, and Richard Heinberg.

[...] While most agree that the global economy nearly collapsed in the fall of 2008, few acknowledge that nothing has fundamentally changed to prevent this from happening again. Recent bailouts of fragile European economies like Greece, Iceland and Portugal (like the bailouts of American financial institutions) increased the debt that first caused the defaults and likely set the stage for more economic chaos not far down the road.

Why the Fukushima disaster is worse than Chernobyl


From THE INDEPENDENT

Yoshio Ichida is recalling the worst day of his 53 years: 11 March, when the sea swallowed up his home and killed his friends. The Fukushima fisherman was in the bath when the huge quake hit and barely made it to the open sea in his boat in the 40 minutes before the 15-metre tsunami that followed. When he got back to port, his neighbourhood and nearly everything else was gone. “Nobody can remember anything like this,” he says.

Now living in a refugee centre in the ruined coastal city of Soma, Mr Ichida has mourned the 100 local fishermen killed in the disaster and is trying to rebuild his life with his colleagues. Every morning, they arrive at the ruined fisheries co-operative building in Soma port and prepare for work. Then they stare out at the irradiated sea, and wait. “Some day we know we’ll be allowed to fish again. We all want to believe that.”

This nation has recovered from worse natural – and manmade – catastrophes. But it is the triple meltdown

Mendo Island Transition: The significant benefits of food localization


From MICHAEL BROWNLEE
Colorado Transition

The local food shift is gaining significant traction in Boulder County, growing well beyond the euphoric early adopter stage into early majority territory. It is unfolding so rapidly and so unpredictably that it could well be called a revolution.

If it hasn’t already, the issue of local food is about to land on the desks of public officials and political candidates, perhaps even in unexpected ways. One candidate, aware of this shift, contacted Transition Colorado and requested “talking points” on this important issue. What follows here is a very preliminary and incomplete briefing intended to help all officials and candidates quickly bone up on some of the major issues and prepare to deal with the challenges that are coming their way.

Since our current food-related laws and policies were created — and most public officials were elected or appointed — long before the local food shift began to take hold, familiarity with these issues could be crucial not only to candidates’ political future, but also the well-being of the communities they serve.

Roots of the local food shift

Saving A National Treasure: Our Libraries


Tulare County Free Library, Allensworth, California

From JAY WALLJASPER
On The Commons

[Vote Yes on Mendocino County Libraries — Measure A ~DS]

Since 1994 Robert Dawson, a photography instructor at San Jose State and Stanford, has visited more than 17,000 libraries coast-to-coast—some grand, most humble—to document the central role they play in the life of their communities. This summer he is crossing the country again with his son Walker to celebrate these national treasures. Follow his adventures and see new photos at Library Road Trip. You can also make a contribution to his project.

An exhibit of his photos, “Public Library: An American Commons” is now on display at the San Francisco Public Library. Viewing a slideshow of Dawson’s exhibit on the website of the Design Observer (here) is a moving experience.

From the computer facilities packed with users at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago to a relaxed public meeting at the Newport Public Library in Vermont

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Understanding the Right’s Attack on Social Security


From DAVE JOHNSON
Campaign for America’s Future

“When [Social Security] was developed, 50 percent of seniors lived in poverty. Today, poverty among seniors is too high, but that number is ten percent. Social Security has done exactly what it was designed to do!”

You hear over and over that Social Security is “in trouble” or that we “can’t afford it.” This is as far from true as can be, and the idea behind this is to convince people to just give up on defending the program and let the haters have their way. The people who hate Social Security the most are the ones who say they want to make these changes to “save” it. Well Bernie Sanders loves the program and has introduced a bill that actually will save it.

The Haters

Conservatives have hated Social Security from the start, because it is a program that demonstrates once and for all the value of progressive governance. Social Security is as clear an example of We, the People… Complete article here
~~

Three Charts To Email To Your Right-Wing Brother-In-Law


From DAVE JOHNSON
The Smirking Chimp

Problem: Your right-wing brother-in-law is plugged into the FOX-Limbaugh lie machine, and keeps sending you emails about “Obama spending” and “Obama deficits” and how the “Stimulus” just made things worse.

Solution: Here are three “reality-based” charts to send to him. These charts show what actually happened.

Spending

Government spending increased dramatically under Bush. It has not increased much under Obama. Note that this chart does not reflect any spending cuts resulting from deficit-cutting deals.

Katrina in Vermont


From JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER

The same creeping nausea that followed the CNN ‘all clear’ sign in New Orleans six years ago happened again yesterday. Anderson Cooper seemed a little peeved that the lights didn’t go out in Manhattan, but then the remnants of Hurricane Irene stomped up the Hudson Valley and stalled a while and commenced to rip apart the Catskills, the eastern Adirondacks, the Mohawk and upper Hudson valleys, and then almost all of Vermont, not to mention New Hampshire and western Massachusetts, and I can’t even tell you much about whatever’s going on in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland this morning. Connecticut, Long Island, and Rhode Island are in there somewhere, and surely there’s more than a few things out of place in North Carolina.

This is nowhere near Katrina’s death toll of over 1800 souls, but the damage to scores of towns, businesses, houses, and basic civic armature is going to be very impressive as the news filters in later this week and the disaster is still very much ongoing Monday, even with the sun shining bright. Towns all over Vermont and New Hampshire are still drowning. The Hudson River

Shit Jobs of the Future


~~

Unequal Protection — Chapter Nine: The Court Takes the Presidency



(Transcripts Below)

From THOM HARTMANN
Truthout

“The election is over. We won.”

Reporter’s voice: “How do you know that?”

“It’s all over but the counting. And we’ll take care of the counting.”

-Republican Congressman Peter King on July 4, 2003, speaking of the 2004 presidential election, interviewed by filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi for the HBO documentary Diary of a Political Tourist[1]

On December 12, 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court granted yet another gift to corporate power—and hammered yet another nail into the coffin of democracy in America. They did it in a strikingly dramatic fashion: by stealing the presidency.

In the process five members of the unelected third branch of government made sure that its majority

Todd Walton: Flow


From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting what you are doing. This is the ultimate.” Zhuangzi

Something happened to me a few days ago the likes of which hadn’t happened to me in eons. I was shooting hoops at the elementary school, playing alone, as is my custom now that I am deep into middle age and easily injured, when I became aware that I was caught up in an extraordinary flow of action involving my body, the ball, the air, the backboard, and the hoop. I think this was what sports commentators mean when they say a player is “in the zone,” playing with seeming effortlessness, yet playing superbly and flawlessly for an extended period of time. A frequently used adjunct comment to saying a player is “in the zone” is “he’s unconscious.”

That adjunct comment turns out not to be true, because the cool thing about being in the zone, and this has been corroborated by many athletes speaking about their in-the-zone experiences, is that they were not unconscious, but rather fully aware of being in the zone yet not consciously controlling what they were doing. That is to say, they were not conscious of making decisions about what to do next while they were caught up in the flow of action because they were, in essence, inseparable from the flow of everything going on.

9/11: Explosive Evidence


[From JIM HOULE, Redwood Valley: I am a member of Architects & Engineers for 911 Truth, a national organization of 1500 professional A&Es and some 12,400 other technical experts and supporters. We are trying to organize locally in Mendocino County for the tenth anniversary of this disaster and hope to meet with local officials, put article in the newspapers, set up a table at the Court House and show a film. Our entire focus is upon questioning the evidence concerning how the three buildings at the World Trade Center came down. We have tons of expert testimony about explosives, and incendiaries and how they contributed to the destruction of these buildings and the loss of 2900 lives that sunny day in downtown Manhattan.

Are you a member?  Would you like to get involved in this event?  Check out the web site: www.AE911Truth.org.  Give me a call if you want to help.  We are not involved in spinning conspiracy theories, we are not involved in chasing the Saudis, the Afghanis, or the Al Qaeda.  We have restricted ourselves to this very technical issue - how the hell did these three buildings come down in free fall in about 7 seconds each and well after most of the jet fuel had burned off and the fires were going out? We demand another investigation. We want to know the 911 Truth. ~Jim Houle jfh@willitsonline.com 485 8229]

9/11: Explosive Evidence – Experts Speak Out is the new documentary film by Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth. Watch the four-minute trailer above. Then share it with all your friends

Micro-Participation Connects Citizens to Their Governments


From CHRIS HALLER
Shareable

Micro-participation is a term that’s been discussed within open government circles as a way to make citizen engagement more convenient, effective, and scalable. The idea is to fit civic activity and involvement into the everyday lives of the public, resulting in more small ways to collaborate and communicate. As this study demonstrates, it makes sense to consider micro-participation within the context of urban planning and development as well. This method may require a little more work for planners and policy-makers to implement at first, but it takes less work for citizens to get involved, which results in more feedback and participation for your projects.

Tim Bonnemann gave a great working definition of this concept in a comment on the PEP-NET blog:

…[provide] better low-level or “drive-by” participation opportunities whereby citizens can make (many) small yet valuable contributions without having to be involved over the full length of a participation project.

Imagine the practical applications of this approach within the urban planning space. The “drive-by” bit can be applied quite literally, by using signage that encourages citizens to give feedback on a project using their smartphones — right here, right now (but not while driving, of course). Technology can be a powerful tool for micro-participation efforts, but the main focus must be on ensuring convenience of the citizens.

Worker Co-ops for Local Job Creation


From MIRA LUNA
Shareable

While mainstream America is hoping for federal economic reform, some social justice organizations have a radically different idea, and are organizing low-income communities to build a new economy from the grassroots up. Tired of asking for change from the top down, they are taking their economy into their own hands. Social justice organizations, having a strong membership base rooted in community, are ideal spaces to cultivate alternative economic projects, as relationships of trust and solidarity have been nurtured over time through education and a history of taking action for justice. Here are some exciting examples of grassroots alternative economy projects for social justice.

Social Justice and Alternative Economics

Alliance to Develop Power (ADP) is social justice organization based in Massachusetts with a membership of 10,000 low-income African Americans and Latinos. According to Sally Kohn of the Nation, ADP has stated that “at the end of every issue campaign, our goal is to create an institution that our members control.” This a lofty goal for an organization that fights for basic necessities, like housing, on a regular basis. ADP is creating a 1,200 unit tenant-owned housing cooperative, a worker coops to provide landscaping, construction, building maintenance and weatherization for the homes, as well as four volunteer-run food coops for local health food access.

Can we democratize the grid? Equal energy for all


From BETH BUCZYNSKI
Shareable

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) recently published an e-book (PDF) advocating complete democratization of the electric grid by abandoning a system that is dominated by large, centralized utilities for a 21st century grid made of independently-owned and widely-dispersed renewable energy generators

A democratized system for creating and distributing electric power ensures that the economic benefits of electricity generation are as widely dispersed as the ownership.

Why Now?

As long as communities still rely on centralized, fossil-fuel powered energy plants to generate power, democratization of the electrical grid will remain a dream. But the past 10 years have seen an exponential growth in the adoption of renewable energy alternatives, namely home solar and wind power, which presents an unprecedented opportunity for transformation.

As the technology and installation of these systems continues to drop in price, more private property owners are able to take advantage of their pollution and money-saving benefits. This increased accessibility makes it possible to turn any rooftop or open field into a mini-power plant. It is this level playing field that makes the dream of a locally-owned and managed electrical grid into a reality.

Short-term capitalism


From SETH GODIN

There are a few reasons why one might not care what happens in the long run:

  • You don’t intend to be around
  • You’re going to make so much money in the short run it doesn’t matter
  • You figure you won’t get caught

Short-term marketing involves using deception to make a quick sale, or using aggressive promises to get a quick hit. Having a price war counts as well. Linkbait is on that list as well.

Short-term architecture means putting up a cheap building, a local eyesore, something that saves money now instead for building something for the long haul. The guys who put up the Pantheon in Rome weren’t doing short-term anything. Hard to say that about a big box store.

Short-term manufacturing ignores the side effects of pollution, bad design and worker impact because it’s faster money in the short run to merely make the product (and the sale) in the most direct way possible.

Short-term investment banking invests in transactions that are unsustainable and eventually blow up (after commissions are paid).

Short-term sales involve spamming as many people as you can, as fast as you can.

Short-term hiring requires you to hire cheap, train as little as possible and live with turnover.

How a Community-Based Co-op Economy Might Work


From DAVE POLLARD
How To Save The World

[My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other's kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That's how I see business: great things in business are never done by one person, they're done by a team of people.  Steve Jobs -- Interview with 60 Minutes, 2003 ~DS]

Most people have been brought up to believe that the competitive, grow-or-die, absentee-shareholder-owned, “free”-trade “market” economy is the only one that works, the only alternative to a socialist, government-run economy. This myth is perpetrated in business and other schools, by the media, by accountants and lawyers and bankers and, of course, in the business world. This amoral-capitalist economic model has “succeeded” in the same hostile way our species has “succeeded” — by brutally suppressing, starving for resources, using power to steal from, and, when all else fails, killing off anything deemed a “competitor” or threat to its monopoly on power and resources.

It relies on massive subsidies and near-zero interest rates thanks to well-rewarded political cronies, on political graft and corruption worldwide, on oligopoly

Long live socialism! The great right-wing swindle has hoodwinked too many


From JACK LESSENBERRY
The Smirking Chimp

Here’s the truth: I love socialism, and so do you, even though you may well neither know it, nor admit it. Matter of fact, so do most of the poseurs trying for the Republican presidential nomination.

They, however, want socialism only for the rich, and never call it that. Instead, they pretend what they call “socialism” is the problem. Well, if you want to see someone who lived a life free of socialism, go to Italy.

There, you can visit the body of the so-called “Ice Man,” who was found after being frozen for 5,000 years. He was in his 40s; his teeth were decayed, his body was pretty much worn out, and, oh, yes, he had been murdered. But at least he didn’t have to pay taxes.

Nor did he have police protection, schools, health care, roads or any agency in charge of seeing he wasn’t sold tainted reindeer meat.

Well, he may have led a life Ron Paul would love, but the rest of us would probably prefer the sort of government intrusion that prevents someone from pissing in our drinking water.

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