Daily Archives: December 8, 2014

She’s right – Elizabeth Warren: minorities were targeted for sub-prime loans

View from the left

View from the left

Of course, while our sole American Indian senator regrets the result, she failed to mention that the targeting was done on purpose, at the directive of the federal government.

The supposed “targeting” minority applicants who received low-interest loans in order to increase access to housing was not merely a bug but a feature of the administration of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).

“In the 1990′s under the administration of Franklin Raines, a Clinton Administration appointee, Fannie Mae began to demand that the lending institutions that it dealt with prove that they were not redlining,” read an analysis via San Jose University economics professor Thayer Watkins. “This meant that the lending institutions would have to fulfill a quota of minority mortgage lending.”

New York Times report in 1999 celebrated the extension of low-interest loans to minority applicants, which had exploded under President Bill Clinton.

“Home ownership has, in fact, exploded among minorities during the economic boom of the 1990′s. The number of mortgages extended to Hispanic applicants jumped by 87.2 per cent from 1993 to 1998, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. During that same period the number of African Americans who got mortgages to buy a home increased by 71.9 per cent and the number of Asian Americans by 46.3 per cent.

In contrast, the number of non-Hispanic whites who received loans for homes increased by 31.2 per cent.”

Noah Rothman, the author of the Hot Air article I’m quoting, observes, “This is only one aspect of the debate on the nature of government intrusion into the housing market with effects that so often negatively impact minorities that few on either side of the political aisle really want to have. Racially poisonous outcomes arising from public policy surrounding socially progressive lending to minority home loan applicants is as old as the New Deal.”

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Law students continue to swoon

No more pencils, no more books; no more teacher's dirty looks!

No more pencils, no more books; no more teacher’s dirty looks!

Harvard, Georgetown “students of color” insist that they’re too traumatized to sit for finals, demand the same soothing hands provided to their Columbia peers.

Minority student coalitions at Harvard and Georgetown law schools are pressing administrators to postpone or defer final exams because they claim they have experienced trauma over the recent grand jury decisions in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

[Harvard Dean] Cosgrove responded to the students, according to the group, which posted her letter to its website.

The dean offered to provide “a space for reflection and support” to distraught students, as well as access to a university specialist who can help students focus on exams. She also directed students to counselors who can provide one-on-one support.

The perceived brush-off did not sit well with the coalition which followed up with a more focused letter demanding that Cosgrove follow the lead of Columbia Law.

The Georgetown Law coalition used similar dramatic language in its request for sympathy.

“Your silence is suffocating,” begins a letter sent on Saturday by the group, A Coalition of Students of Color at Georgetown University Law Center.

“We, students of color, cannot breathe. At Georgetown University Law Center (GULC), law students of color are underserved, unacknowledged, and unable to seek relief from our institution of legal education.”

As with Columbia and Harvard, the group’s main demand is to postpone final exams.

And, naturally, they want more:

They are also demanding that school administrators publicly address the issues surrounding both grand jury decisions across the entire school and that the school provide “targeted mental health resources.”

“We may take courses in which we are never called on: some of us remain unseen,” the open letter reads. “Invisible. Many of us are consistently called the wrong name, or the name of another person of color in the same class. These are commonplace experiences for people of color in the legal Ivory Tower.”

Other requests include diversity “retraining” for law school faculty as well as an increased focus on diversity in the student body.

What a waste of scholarship money.

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And this will help the United States how?

Wait -wait, you're saying I knew all this?

Wait -wait, you’re saying I knew all this?

Senate Democrats to release CIA torture report tomorrow

The Senate intelligence committee is poised to release a landmark inquiry into torture as early as Tuesday, after the Obama administration made a last-ditch effort to suppress a report that has plunged relations between the CIA and its Senate overseer to a historic low point.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Monday the administration welcomed the release of the report, but warned US interests overseas were at risk of potentially violent reactions to its contents.

The release of the torture report will represent the third major airing of faulty CIA intelligence in 15 years, following official commissions into the 9/11 plot and Saddam Hussein’s defunct illicit weapons programs.

The Senate report is likely to attract global attention, owing to the CIA’s network of unacknowledged prisons in places like Poland, Thailand and Afghanistan.

Human-rights investigators have found 54 countries cooperated in various ways with the CIA’s renditions, detentions and interrogations, but the commitee is unlikely to reveal the agency’s foreign torture partners.

On Friday, secretary of state John Kerry called Senator Dianne Feinstein – the California Democrat who spearheaded the inquiry – to urge consideration of what spokeswoman Jen Psaki called the “foreign policy implications” of the report’s timing, suggesting it could inflame anti-American outrage worldwide.

Bloomberg first reported that the committee understood Kerry to be arguing for suppressing the report, though the State Department denies it.

Congressman Mike Rogers, the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee said on Sunday that US allies have warned that the release of the report could provoke “violence and deaths”.

“I think this is a terrible idea,” Rogers told CNN. “Foreign leaders have approached the government and said, ‘You do this, this will cause violence and deaths.’ Our own intelligence community has assessed that this will cause violence and deaths.”

Several foreign governments, including the UK and Poland, are fearful of identification by the Senate and have added to the pressure on the committee.

 

Jose Rodriguez, a former senior CIA official who has ardently defended torture, has already published an op-ed accusing Feinstein and her committee allies of breaking faith with a CIA it once wanted to do its utmost to stop terrorism. Several former CIA directors and Bush officials intend to argue that the Senate investigation is itself misleading.

Rodriguez, writing in the Washington Post, said that the committee’s conclusion that torture “brought no intelligence value is an egregious falsehood” and termed the report “a dishonest attempt to rewrite history”.

After the committee voted in April to declassify sections of the report, Feinstein called the CIA’s actions a “stain on our history”.

Feinstein hoped the committee would finish its declassification negotiations with the administration within 30 days. Yet the White House placed the CIA in charge of censoring a report into its own conduct and discussions have stretched into their 10th month. In August, Feinstein and other leading Senate Democrats rejected proposed administration redactions, saying they would leave the committee’s findings incomprehensible. The agency has rejected even the use of pseudonyms for its operatives on the grounds they could reveal classified identities.

Beyond questions of accountability, a lingering effect of the report is likely to be damage between the CIA and the secret Senate committee that oversees the powerful intelligence agency.

As Rodriguez hints at in his WaPo piece linked to above (and again, here), the CIA acted at the explicit direction of the very Democrats, like Feinstein, who are now preparing to unleash the fury of the world on the United States.

On May 26, 2002, Feinstein was quoted in the New York Times saying that the attacks of 9/11 were a real awakening and that it would no longer be “business as usual.” The attacks, she said, let us know “that the threat is profound” and “that we have to do some things that historically we have not wanted to do to protect ourselves.”

After extraordinary CIA efforts, aided by information obtained through the enhanced-interrogation program, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed architect of the 9/11 attacks, was captured in Pakistan. Shortly afterward, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), then the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, appeared on CNN’s “Late Edition” on March 2, 2003. Rockefeller, who had been extensively briefed about the CIA’s efforts, told Wolf Blitzer that “happily, we don’t know where [KSM] is,” adding: “He’s in safekeeping, under American protection. He’ll be grilled by us. I’m sure we’ll be proper with him, but I’m sure we’ll be very, very tough with him.”

When Blitzer asked about how KSM would be interrogated, Rockefeller assured him that “there are presidential memorandums that prescribe and allow certain measures to be taken, but we have to be careful.” Then he added: “On the other hand, he does have the information. Getting that information will save American lives. We have no business not getting that information.”

And that’s not all. Blitzer asked if the United States should turn over KSM to a friendly country with no restrictions against torture. Rockefeller, laughing, said he wouldn’t rule it out: “I wouldn’t take anything off the table where he is concerned, because this is the man who has killed hundreds and hundreds of Americans over the last 10 years.”

If Feinstein, Rockefeller and other politicians were saying such things in print and on national TV, imagine what they were saying to us in private. We did what we were asked to do, we did what we were assured was legal, and we know our actions were effective. Our reward, a decade later, is to hear some of these same politicians expressing outrage for what was done and, even worse, mischaracterizing the actions taken and understating the successes achieved.

From what I’ve read, those politicians were saying extraordinary things to the CIA in private, urging tactics even the spy agency wouldn’t do (actually, it’s reminiscent of the scene in the Godfather, when the Don has to break the news to the distraught father that there are some acts of revenge the Mafia won’t engage in). After their terror subsided, Feinstein et also resumed their progressive hats and expressed shock at the very things: waterboarding, for instance, they’d personally authorized in 2002.

None of this is surprising, but, like the revelation of torture at Abu Ghraib or even the spying by the NSA on other countries, neither is it unknown. What will happen here, and I assume it’s what the Democrats want, is the the news will spur riots and deaths around the globe by the usual suspects, the mob in the street. The blood from the resulting deaths will be on Feinstein’s hands.

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The science is settled, unless we don’t like the science

That'll learn ya

That’ll learn ya

EU abolishes post of Chief Scientific Advisor after that advisor confirms that genetically modified foods pose no danger.

Ms. Glover, who holds a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Cambridge and previously served as Scotland’s Chief Scientific Adviser, was hired by the Commission in 2011 to “provide independent expert advice on any aspect of science, technology and innovation.” Her term, which is due to end in December, could have been renewed or a different scientist could have been appointed. But last month new Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced that he would allow her mandate to expire, effectively abolishing the Chief Scientific Adviser role.

Ms. Glover had dared to draw on her expertise to conclude that there isn’t “a single piece of scientific evidence” to validate anti-GMO hysteria, as she told a scientific conference in Aberdeen, U.K., last year. “I am 99.99% certain from the scientific evidence that there are no health issues with food produced from GM crops.” Opposition to GMOs, she said, is “a form of madness.”

These views are in line with the EU’s own expert body, the European Food Safety Authority. Over the years, the authority has determined that numerous GMO products—soybean, maize and cotton among them—are as safe for human and animal consumption as their conventional counterparts. Ditto Britain’s Royal Society of Medicine, the U.S. National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, and the World Health Organization.

But for the greens some scientific consensuses are more sacred than others, and Ms. Glover’s comments sent their lobbyists scrambling. “The current [Chief Scientific Adviser] presented one-sided, partial opinions in the debate on the use of genetically modified organisms,” wrote an activist coalition led by Greenpeace to Mr. Juncker in July. “We hope that you as the incoming Commission President will decide not to nominate a chief scientific adviser.”

Homeopathic medicines, IQ tests, nuclear energy, etc., all survive scientific “certainty” when the desired outcome isn’t delivered. Question global warming, however, and  the same folks demand your imprisonment or even execution.

Salem?

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Wait a minute, why doesn’t he just print more money, as Keynesians like Krugman suggest?

So we're both fucked, eh?

So we’re both fucked, eh?

Putin’s running out of money, forced to slash wages and pensions.

The only other time Putin had to cope with a plunge in oil prices — during the 2008-2009 financial crisis — he kept the money taps flowing, thanks to the reserves built up over nine years of budget surpluses.

That permitted higher social spending, pensions and state salaries, says Olga Sterina, an analyst at UralSib Capital in Moscow. “Now, there’s no possibility to increase spending,” she said by phone. “All they can and should do is cut it.”

The stash is evaporating fast, down by about $90 billion this year as the central bank moved to slow the ruble’s descent.

Putin may exhaust more than half of the country’s rainy-day funds within two years on the budget, indebted companies and banks as well as to keep the ruble from total collapse, according to Valery Mironov, deputy head of the Moscow-based Higher School of Economics’ Center for Development Institute.

“The reserves will be used up but even that won’t be enough,” said Dmitry Oreshkin, an independent political analyst in Moscow. “They’ll have to limit social benefits, and state salaries won’t rise in line with inflation.”

 

Under Putin’s rule, between 1999 and 2007, Russia went through “one of the biggest booms in the world” as average living standards rose from Indian to Polish levels, according to Roland Nash, chief investment strategist of Verno Capital in Moscow.

Putin used to promise Russians that their country would overtake Germany as the world’s fifth-largest economy by 2020. In May 2012, he signed a decree pledging to increase real wages by half by 2018. That goal is already a distant memory as real wage growth slowed to almost zero by October.

I’m sure we can get to India’s living standard by 2020, if we work at it.

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Another “Guess That Price” contest

18 Perryridge Rd

18 Perryridge Rd

18 Perryridge Road, next to the hospital, has been the subject of much discussion and comment here since it was first put up for sale in 2010 at $4.650 million. Today, marked down to $3.495, it reports a contract. Selling price?

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Sale, price cut

21 Cedarwood Drive

21 Cedarwood Drive

65 Conyers Farm in happier, sunnier days

65 Conyers Farm in happier, sunnier days

21 Cedarwood Drive, which was reported under contract back in August, has closed at $2.4 million. Looks to be a decent, 1961 home, perfectly livable, but it now appears  to be for rent, suggesting that the new owner is planning to build new. $2.4’s about what a 2.5 acre lot should go for here, so free house, in other words.

65 Conyers Farm Drive, on the other hand, can report no such success, and has reduced its price today to $3.995 million, down from its 2009 price of $6.9 million, and still below its 2007 purchase price of $5.125. Fifteen acres in the back country just ain’t what it used to be.

 

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Just as I’d never hire a women’s studies major, for anything, I’d never use a Colombia Law grad to defend me – too fragile

I can't breathe!

I can’t breathe!

Columbia Law delays final exams, provides “trauma rooms” for its students upset by Ferguson decision.

The grand juries’ determinations to return non-indictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases have shaken the faith of some in the integrity of the grand jury system and in the law more generally. For some law students, particularly, though not only, students of color, this chain of events is all the more profound as it threatens to undermine a sense that the law is a fundamental pillar of society designed to protect fairness, due process and equality.

For these reasons, after consultation with students in the law school and with colleagues on the law faculty and in the administration, I am taking the following steps to assure our responsiveness and involvement in this particular moment:

In recognition of the traumatic effects these events have had on some of the members of our community, Dean Greenberg-Kobrin and Yadira Ramos-Herbert, Director, Academic Counseling, have arranged to have Dr. Shirley Matthews, a trauma specialist, hold sessions next Monday and Wednesday for anyone interested in participating to discuss the trauma that recent events may have caused .

– I support the idea of an open community dialogue to discuss the concerns of students in the wake of recent events, and to share diverse and collective notions of injustice that these cases raise. I will encourage all members of our community to attend.

– The law school has a policy and set of procedures for students who experience trauma during exam period. In accordance with these procedures and policy, students who feel that their performance on examinations will be sufficiently impaired due to the effects of these recent events may petition Dean Alice Rigas to have an examination rescheduled.

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