Archives for FUBAR

Race-based predatory lending fueled housing crisis

Predatory lending aimed at racially segregated minority neighborhoods led to mass foreclosures that fueled the U.S. housing crisis, according to a new study published in the American Sociological Review. Predatory lending typically refers to loans that carry unreasonable fees, interest rates and payment requirements. Poorer minority areas became a focus of these practices in the 1990s with the growth of mortgage-backed securities, which enabled lenders to pool low- and high-risk loans to sell on the secondary market, Professor Douglas Massey of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and PhD candidate Jacob Rugh, said in
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Scandal-ridden officials become outcasts in Bell, California

There was a time in this modest blue-collar community when Mayor Oscar Hernandez was all but hailed as a superhero, the big friendly guy who said hello to everybody when he wasn’t busy greeting them at his venerable corner grocery store. Those days ended abruptly last July after it was disclosed that Hernandez was presiding over a City Council with four of five members who were paying themselves and other leaders exorbitant salaries while one in six residents live in poverty. Now all that has changed as the ousted city manager, the mayor and the three other council members face
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Health care reform’s growing pains

It’s a centerpiece of President Barack Obama‘s health care remake, a lifeline available right now to vulnerable people whose medical problems have made them uninsurable. But the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan started this summer isn’t living up to expectations. Enrollment lags in many parts of the country. People who could benefit may not be able to afford the premiums. Some state officials who run their own “high-risk pools” have pointed out potential problems. “The federal risk pool has definitely provided critical access, in some cases lifesaving access, to health insurance,” said Amie Goldman, chair of a national association of state
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Bombastic Gingrich laughs all the way to the bank

Newt Gingrich may be running for the Republican presidential nomination. Or maybe he is just running all the way to the bank. The wonky former House speaker and unofficial Republican pundit in chief is tossing around provocative commentary and juicy hints about running for president, making sure he’s in the mix as his party begins sorting out its field for the 2012 election. It appears to be working, extending a remarkable staying power that has made Gingrich an A-list fixture on the Republican scene more than a decade after he resigned from office amid a political setback. It’s also made
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End of TARP leaves small banks scrambling to repay

The U.S. government’s $700 billion bailout of the financial system has become a form of long-standing aid for many of the nation’s small and regional banks, even as the program officially expires on Sunday. The banks are eager to repay the taxpayer money, but the meek economic recovery has gotten in the way. Analysts and attorneys that work with banks on capital issues said the institutions are feeling pressure to replace the government aid, facing the prospect of skyrocketing dividend payments on funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. This pressure is likely to compel small and regional
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Military funeral protests: Free speech?

One thing Al Snyder wants to make clear: His boy fought and died for freedom in Iraq, but not for the right of some “wackos” to spew hate at soldiers’ funerals under the protection of the Constitution. “It’s an insult to myself, my family and the veterans to say this is what our military men and women died for,” Snyder says, barely concealing his anger. Yet more than four years after the death of his only son, Matthew, Snyder is in the middle of a Supreme Court case that raises almost precisely that issue. The court is set to decide
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Obama administration blew public’s trust on oil spill

The Obama administration’s repeated low estimates of the huge BP oil spill undermined public confidence in the government’s entire cleanup effort, leaders of a White House-appointed commission declared at an investigatory hearing Monday. One likened the mistakes to Custer’s disastrous decisions at Little Big Horn. Federal officials botched the government’s response, a local official and government and university scientists contended as the commission focused on the questions of who was in charge and how much oil spewed out of the well into the Gulf of Mexico. Eventually, U.S. officials said the spill was about 60 times bigger than originally estimated.
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Well doh! Oil spill leaves people depressed

Before the BP oil spill, the Gulf Coast was a place of abundant shrimping, tourist-filled beaches and a happy if humble lifestyle. Now, it’s home to depression, worry and sadness for many. A Gallup survey released Tuesday of almost 2,600 coastal residents showed that depression cases are up more than 25 percent since an explosion killed 11 people and unleashed a gusher of crude into the Gulf in April that ruined many livelihoods. The conclusions were consistent with trends seen in smaller studies and witnessed by mental health workers. People just aren’t as happy as they used to be despite
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Stephen Colbert on Capitol Hill: Whose bright idea was that?

There are congressional hearings and there are comedy shows, and the twain rarely meet. So when a House panel on immigration combined them on purpose last week with testimony from Stephen Colbert (kohl-BEHR’) and his “truthy” alter ego, debate broke out on the proper roles of the many celebrities — from Angelina Jolie to Bono to Elmo — who advocate in Washington. In Colbert’s appearance, there was profit to be had from the public, taxpayer-funded forum on one of the nation’s weightiest issues, the plight of migrant workers. Immigrant advocates scored national news coverage; Colbert helped generate material for his
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Americans don’t know a hell of a lot about religion

A new survey of Americans’ knowledge of religion found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons outperformed Protestants and Roman Catholics in answering questions about major religions, while many respondents could not correctly give the most basic tenets of their own faiths. Forty-five percent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn’t know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ. More than half of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the person who inspired the Protestant Reformation. And about four
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