Matt Taibbi will be up for a Pulitizer Prize if he keeps writing these excellent exposes on corruption in Wall Street dealings.
People vs. Goldman Sachs by Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone Magazine, click here
EXCERPT: They weren’t murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye. But then they went one step further. They came to Washington, took an oath before Congress, and lied about it.
Thanks to an extraordinary investigative effort by a Senate subcommittee that unilaterally decided to take up the burden the criminal justice system has repeatedly refused to shoulder, we now know exactly what Goldman Sachs executives like Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Sparks lied about. We know exactly how they and other top Goldman executives, including David Viniar and Thomas Montag, defrauded their clients. America has been waiting for a case to bring against Wall Street. Here it is, and the evidence has been gift-wrapped and left at the doorstep of federal prosecutors, evidence that doesn’t leave much doubt: Goldman Sachs should stand trial.
Read entire article or buy in the May 26th issue of Rolling Stone, click here
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It has come to my attention that there is a company scanning blogs for copyright violations and suing them in earnest. Therefore, Path to Well-Being is reviewing all of its content and making changes where it may be warranted to err on the side of caution. PTWB takes copyright law seriously and will not and would not violate the law intentionally.
Smashing Magazine – Copyright Explained click here
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Greenwashing (a portmanteau of “green” and “whitewash”) is a term describing the deceptive use of green PR or green marketing in order to promote a misleading perception that a company’s policies or products (such as goods or services) are environmentally friendly. The term green sheen has similarly been used to describe organizations that attempt to show that they are adopting practices beneficial to the environment.
# Greenwashers Consulting is a website exemplifying some of the main tactics and strategies of greenwashing. The documentary Greenwashers (2011 Release) has been made about the company Greenwashers Consulting as well as other examples from BP, Destiny USA, GE, IBM, and many other companies.
# Bush Administration’s Clear Skies Initiative, which some environmentalists have argued actually weakens air pollution laws.
# Many food products have packaging that evokes an environmentally friendly imagery even though there has been no attempt made at lowering the environmental impact of its production.
# In 2009, European McDonald’s changed the colour of their logos from yellow and red to yellow and green.
# An article in Wired magazine alleges that slogans are used to suggest environmentally benign business activity: the Comcast ecobill has the slogan of “PaperLESSisMORE” but Comcast uses large amounts of paper for direct marketing. The Poland Spring ecoshape bottle is touted as “A little natural does a lot of good”, although 80% of beverage containers go to the landfill. The Airbus A380 airliner is described as “A better environment inside and out” even though air travel has a high negative environment cost.
# According to Fred Pearce’s Greenwash column in The Guardian, “clean coal” is the “ultimate climate change oxymoron” — “pure and utter greenwash” he says.
# The Advertising Standards Authority in the UK upheld several complaints against major car manufacturers including Suzuki, SEAT, Toyota and Lexus who made erroneous claims about their vehicles.
# Kimberly Clark’s claim of “Pure and Natural” diapers in green packaging. The product uses organic cotton on the outside but keeps the same petrochemical gel on the inside. Pampers also claims that “Dry Max” diapers reduce landfill waste by reducing the amount of paper fluff in the diaper, which really is a way for Pampers to save money.
# Ubisoft recently announced that it would no longer include paper manuals with their Playstation 3 or XBox 360 games, claiming that this cost-cutting measure was for the purposes of being environmentally friendly.
# The recent explosion of web-based Green business certifications demonstrate a more sophisticated form of greenwashing. Although asking for online “self-assessment” forms to be filed, online Green certification are “blind audits” that are easily cheated. In many cases, it comes down to paying a fee. The deception is made worse because the sham Green certifications are offered to the public as though they were earned. Credible companies like ISO, LEED, and Green Business League require actual audits to be performed prior to certification.
# A 2010 advertising campaign by Chevron was described by the Rainforest Action Network, Amazon Watch and The Yes Men as greenwash. A spoof campaign was launched to pre-empt Chevron’s greenwashing.
# The recent practice of major grocery and retail chains charging money for plastic bags in an effort to minimize environmental damage is an example of greenwashing.
For a list of hardcore greenwasher-propaganda visit WebEcoist – click here
I learned many years ago that if you want to know what goes on in our world – FOLLOW THE MONEY. Nothing surprises me after learning about the massive fraud that went on with the largest investment banks that preceded the 2008 global collapse. Now we are seeing more of the same. This breaking story tonight might roil the markets. I am putting together a couple quick sources to get a full picture of what is going on.
Note: The Libor Rate is the London Interbank Loan Rate. Countries that rely on the LIBOR for a reference rate include the United States, Canada, Switzerland and the U.K.
WSJ Breaking News tonite: U.S. investigators are examining whether some of the world’s biggest banks colluded to manipulate a key interest rate before and during the financial crisis, affecting trillions of dollars in loans and derivatives, say people familiar with the situation.
For the past year, law-enforcement officials have been investigating whether the U.S. and European banks understated their own borrowing costs, which are used to calculate the London interbank offered rate, or Libor. The investigators are now looking into whether the banks effectively formed a global cartel and coordinated how to report borrowing costs between 2006 and 2008.
The inquiry, led by the U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission, is analyzing whether banks were understating their borrowing costs. At the time, banks were struggling with souring assets on balance sheets and questions about liquidity. A bank that borrowed at higher rates than peers would likely have signaled that its troubles could be worse than it had publicly admitted.
Roughly $10 trillion in loans and $350 trillion in derivatives are tied to Libor, which affects costs for everything from corporate bonds to car loans. If the rate was kept artificially low, borrowers likely weren’t harmed, though lenders could complain that the rates they charged for loans were too low. Derivatives contracts could be mispriced because of any manipulation of Libor.
According to people familiar with the yearlong probe, U.S. regulators are focusing on Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and UBS, among others, and have sent subpoenas to those banks. The three banks declined to comment.
Inside the Justice Department, the case is being pursued by antitrust and antifraud prosecutors, said people familiar with the situation. Criminal antitrust investigations typically focus on collusive behavior such as price-fixing and bid-rigging. A number of the banks involved in the probe have hired high-profile corporate-defense law firms.
Read entire article, click here
LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) — U.S. law-enforcement officials have launched an investigation into possible collusion among U.S. and European banks to fix the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing unidentified people familiar with the situation. The report said the probe, conducted over the past year, is looking at whether the banks acted in concert to understate their borrowing costs, used to calculate Libor, during 2006-2008. The report said officials had sent subpoenas to Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and UBS AG, among others.
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The genie is out of the bottle, but it is more like Pandora’s box with massive loan fraud and negligence emerging into our nations crippled economy like the radiation from Fukushima. This is a long post and ties into the 60 Minutes piece aired tonite on home foreclosures and document fraud.
After working in the automotive industry in the 70s and 80s, I worked in the Real Estate title insurance industry for six years in the early 90s as a title searcher and examiner. The job of searching title is to examine public records and the chain of title so when a seller passes title to a buyer, there are no issues. You want a clean title. If there are matters of record, they are revealed in a title policy. In a real estate transaction, title companies do most of the heavy lifting to make sure the title is clean. Title companies are regulated by each state. Mortgage lenders are NOT regulated in the same stringent manner.
One of things you look for in doing your search of a property is if there are any outstanding TRUST DEEDS – loans on the property. That means a first trust deed or a second or third, etc. Often, the originator of the loan — a bank or mortgage lender called the Beneficiary — will ASSIGN THEIR INTEREST IN THE TRUST DEED (the loan), to another entity. So, you may think you have a loan with your local bank like Wells Fargo, but they have ASSIGNED THEIR INTEREST to some other entity. So, now that company holds the loan and should have a copy of the Trust Deed and assignment in their possession.
When I heard Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson in October 2008 state to the Congress that there was a problem in knowing the asset value of the MBS, I knew we were on the edge of a major massive problem.
Follow along here: THERE IS A PAPER TRAIL ON ALL RECORDED TRANSACTIONS. LIKE the GRANT DEED WHICH SHOWS THE OWNERSHIP — THE GRANTOR AND GRANTEE (SELLER AND BUYER) — there is a PAPER TRAIL. IF, there is an interuption in the paper trail — this is called a BREAK IN THE CHAIN OF TITLE — that’s a problem. The key is RECORDED DOCUMENTS can be searched. No recorded documents and they float out into the ether.
Likewise, LENDERS — BANKS AND MORTGAGE COMPANIES — have a paper trail of the LOANS issued via their trust deed documents. AT THE VERY LEAST THEY NEED TO HAVE THEM INTERNALLY FOR AUDIT PURPOSES. For Title search purposes, IF THE TRUST DEED IS RECORDED, THERE IS A PAPER TRAIL available from the county recorders office.
THE BASICS: The TRUST DEED document shows three parties:
* The Trustor, which is you, the borrower
* The Trustee, which is an entity that holds “bare or legal” title
* The Beneficiary, which is the lender
OK, HERE COMES THE GOOD PART…
When the Beneficiary ASSIGNS THEIR INTEREST to another entity, a document called a ASSIGNMENT is drawn up. OFTEN, BUT NOT ALWAYS, IT IS RECORDED IN THE PUBLIC RECORDS. IT DEPENDS ON THE LAW IN THAT MUNICIPALITY. There can be multiple assignments made on any given property.
In the case of many loans made prior to 2008, ASSIGNMENTS were NOT handled properly by the lenders.
Here is some legal information that should be read: Read the whole thing.
RESPA STATUTES GO HERE
California is what is called a “race notice” state, meaning that the date upon which a conveyance is recorded can have a great deal of significance. If you were to take out a mortgage, but for some reason the mortgage company neglected to record it, and you subsequently took out a second mortgage which was properly recorded, in the event of
foreclosure the second mortgage company would have priority over the first with regard to recovering funds to satisfy its loan. The second mortgage company was the first to give public notice of its interest, and thus won the “race”.
In terms of the mortgage, as the original mortgage company has recorded the mortgage in the chain of title for the property, subsequent lenders are on notice of its interest. The successor mortgage company assumes the rights of the first mortgage company, and
is similarly protected. The second mortgage company may wish to record the transfer in order to ensure that appropriate contact information is reflected in the chain of title in case another mortgagor or lien holder attempts to foreclose, but such a notice would be recorded for its own protection, not out of a legal obligation or duty.
The original mortgage company, however, may be under a duty to notify you of the transfer. Obviously, mortgage companies choose to inform their clients of transfers for the obvious reason that the mortgage payments must be sent to the correct place. However, sometimes mortgage companies fail to give proper notice to the borrower, and
that failure may provide a defense against foreclosure. See, e.g., Winger v EMC Mortgage Corporation, 103 Cal. App. 4th 1125; 127 Cal. Rptr. 2d 685 (2002), in which a mortgagor neglected to provide notice required by the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974 (RESPA), 12 U.S.C. 2601 et seq. The estate of the borrower was able to present
the failure to provide proper notice to the borrower as a defense against foreclosure. (If you review that case, you will note that the court did not discuss the failure to provide notice of the transfer as either a defense against the transfer or as a defense against the
IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE A LEGAL ISSUE REGARDING ASSIGNMENT(S) OF YOUR TRUST DEED WHICH MAY BE AFFECTING YOUR RIGHTS CONTACT AN ATTORNEY.
Tonite, while watching 60 Minutes, I am watching their segment about the second wave of housing fraud to hit everyday Americans. In my humble opinion, this requires a class action lawsuit immediately. It requires investigation and possible prosecution of the banks involved: Bank of America, HSBC, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, US Bank, and Wells Fargo. These companies are guilty of negligence with their customers.
ALL the banks who traded MBS like baseball cards are involved in this massive fraud. The paperwork is the accounting trail and ALL these banks and mortgage lenders know they are to retain copies of their business transactions. The misplacement of these documents is negligence.
Banks made loans to homeowners, then bundled batches of those loans and sold them as Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) to investment banks — the too-big-to-fail banks, i.e. Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan-Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Goldman-Sachs, and Bear Stearns who all participated in MBS risky behavior. These investment banks would in turn sell the ASSET VALUE to investors here and abroad. They would sell them for instance to STATE GOVERNMENTS LIKE OHIO or to CALIFORNIA. They were offered up to be as safe as U.S. Treasury bonds, which are the safest and which most State public pensions have traditionally been tied to.
The problem came after the 2008 collapse when banks used a loan servicer like, LPS Lender Processing Services, to farm out document services to other fly-by-nights to facilitate fake documents to enable the banks to foreclose. Why? Because the assignments have been lost, mislaid, destroyed, not made at all, or who knows! MEANING MORE NEGLIGENCE.
60 Minutes zeroed in on a company called DOCX. They said DOCX is a sweat shop for forged mortgage documents. People were made Vice Presidents like magic without having any experience in the mortgage lending or banking industry! No job experience required. These VPs were signing 4000-5000 mortgage documents a day! Fake notarization also was in play. These VPs took on the identity of another person and used their name to sign the documents. Thus, MAJOR FRAUD WAS BEING COMMITTED.
View the entire 60 Minutes piece, click here
BTW: Hank Paulson served as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs.
These guys protect their own. Thus, the title of the award winning documentary, Inside Job. Buy it and view it and then demand that ALL OF THESE BANKS be defunded and new banks be created. We must clean up our banking industry.
Mortgage-Backed Securities Litigation
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Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.
– Sir Walter Scott
I have supported Defenders of Wildlife for a few years on a very low donation level. I like what they do to protect endangered species, especially gray wolves. While researching a followup to the previous post on ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, I went over to SourceWatch to find out more about this powerful conservative group. Within the footnotes was this reference, an exclusive report from 2002 by Defenders of Wildlife on ALEC, a report I am making available here for download. My conclusion after reading the report is this: ALEC is deceptive, devious, and dangerous.
Download here: ALEC_TrojanHorse
ALEC would have the public believe that it’s an association of elected members of the 50 state legislatures with varying political and public policy philosophies. However, ALEC is nothing less than a tax-exempt facade for the country’s largest corporations and kindred entities. Companies likes Enron, Amoco, Chevron, Shell, Texaco, Coors Brewing, Koch Industries, Nationwide Insurance, Pfizer, National Energy Group, Philip Morris, and R. J. Reynolds pay for essentially all of ALEC’s expenses.
…ALEC’s approach of brazenly promoting a corporate agenda as the product of a supposedly objective, nonprofit organization is especially effective in state legislatures, and especially attractive to the corporations that set its advocacy agenda.
…Polluters, developers, and their big business allies will use their extensive resources to finance a corporate takeover of state government if we continue to turn a blind eye to the
deceptive and insidious work of the American Legislative Exchange Council. It is
time to hold this group, and its members, accountable for the greater public interest.
…These corporate underwriters father legislation that is drafted with help from ALEC’s staff, approved as “model” bills by the organization’s board, and then introduced by ALEC’s legislator “members” in state capitals from coast to coast.
What is Model Legislation?
Model legislation are templates offered to state lawmakers to promote a specific agenda.
SourceWatch reports: By 2010, ALEC was offering legislative templates to state lawmakers to oppose regional efforts toward climate change mitigation. Raegan Weber, ALEC’s senior director of public affairs, said the group has produced 800 to 1,000 pieces of “model legislation.” The ALEC’s template for “State Withdrawal from Regional Climate Initiatives,” has cropped up in nearly identical form in resolutions or bills in at least six states:
WHEREAS, there has been no credible economic analysis of the costs associated with carbon reduction mandates and the consequential effect of the increasing costs of doing business in the State of ______;
WHEREAS, forcing business, industry, and food producers to reduce carbon emissions through government mandates and cap-and-trade policies under consideration for the regional climate initiative will increase the cost of doing business, push companies to do business with other states or nations, and increase consumer costs for electricity, fuel, and food;
WHEREAS, the Congressional Budget Office warns that the cost of cap-and-trade policies will be borne by consumers and will place a disproportionately high burden on poorer families;
WHEREAS, simply reducing carbon emissions in the State of ______ will not have a significant impact on international carbon reduction, especially while countries like China, Russia, Mexico, and India emit an ever-increasing amount of carbon into the atmosphere;
WHEREAS, a tremendous amount of economic growth would be sacrificed for a reduction in carbon emissions that would have no appreciable impact on global concentrations of CO2;
WHEREAS, no state or nation has enhanced economic opportunities for its citizens or increased Gross Domestic Product through cap and trade or other carbon reduction policies; and
WHEREAS, Europe’s cap and trade system has been undermined by political favoritism, accounting tricks and has failed to achieve the carbon reduction targets,
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the legislature of the State of ______ urges the Governor to withdraw [state] from the regional climate initiative.
SourceWatch: ALEC American Legislative Exchange Council
Defenders of Wildlife and Natural Resources Defense Council, “Corporate America’s Trojan Horse in the States: The Untold Story Behind the American Legislative Exchange Council”, March 2002.
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America’s Turncoat Corporations – An Ongoing Series
I just finished watching a piece on CBS 60 Minutes about American corporations who have relocated in Ireland and Switzerland in order to pay less corporate taxes. This is a story that infuriates me. Large corporations who started their businesses here in this country have turned their back on their country, some giving up their citizen ship and moving to another country to avoid paying taxes – to avoid paying into our society, their country. I see all of them as traitors. Their loyalty is to the money they make and the shareholders, not to America, not to their fellow Americans. You want to know why there is no recovery going on in this country, look no further than the 600 corporations located in Ireland.
Here is the introduction on the 60 Minutes story — click here for more
Our government is in knots over ways to lower the federal budget deficit. Well, what if we told you we found a pot of money – over $60 billion a year – that could be used to help out?
That bundle is tax money not coming in to the IRS from American corporations. One major way they avoid paying the tax man is by parking their profits overseas. They’ll tell you they’re forced to do that because the corporate 35 percent tax rate is high in relation to other countries, and indeed it seems the tax code actually encourages companies to move their businesses out of the country.
Here is the story in Ireland:
Companies from the United States hare playing a key role in Ireland economic recovery.
Speaking at the American Chamber’s 50th Anniversary in Ireland, Henry McGarvey, Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce North West Region and Managing Director of Pramerica Systems Ireland said “Today we have over 600 US companies employing 100,000 people in Ireland. A study published last week by Keith Walsh, an economist with the Revenue Commissioners points to the importance of this investment for Ireland’s economic recovery.
“His study found that in the past 10 years, US multinational companies contributed roughly one third of the corporation tax take. US companies also pay a significant proportion of revenues collected from VAT and Excise Duties while income tax revenue is generated from the 100,000 people employed by US companies here. These revenues generated for the Irish state by US Multinational companies is vitally important as the country seeks to rectify its current fiscal difficulties.”
During the first two months of 2011 800 new jobs have been announced in Mayo, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Cork and Westmeath. McGarvey said “These jobs are very welcome news and build on the very successful year for foreign direct investment into Ireland in 2010 when IDA Ireland secured 126 new investments and 11,000 new jobs were created by IDA Ireland companies.”
Source: Irish Central