How Foreclosures Are Impacting Election Prospects

First, let’s clear out one thing: neither Romney nor Obama caused the wave of millions of foreclosures. In fact, while the Republicans are guilty of obstructionism in Congress and across the country, the most you could say about Republicans is that they didn’t do enough to stop the foreclosures. The same is true for a portion of Democrats. Wall Street created a scheme where the only possible ending was an enormous wave of fraudulent foreclosures.

Second as to the positions of the two presidential candidates, neither one has any bragging rights.

Romney in true Republican style said let the housing market “bottom out “— the market will take care of itself. That’s like saying to guests on a sinking ship, we’ll wait until after it sinks and then the natural action of the currents will bring your bodies up for recovery.

Romney was dead wrong on that, doesn’t understand the importance of housing in the economy and is completely out of touch with the idea that government is “of the people, by the people and FOR the people.” He said the same thing about the car industry and was dead wrong on that, so we shouldn’t expect any help from a Romney administration when it comes to housing, and therefore we shouldn’t expect anything more than a sluggish economy during his tenure, if he has one.

Obama has made some baby steps in the right direction but did not understand and perhaps still does not understand the scope of the crimes committed on Wall Street and is still acting as though the fall of the mega bank empires will have devastating results to our economy. Quite the contrary is true. And his estimates of how many homes he saved is about 10 times thee actual number.

As long as Obama listens to Wall Street about what to do about Wall Street crimes his policies are held prisoner to the people who ought to be in prison. And the criticism of his aloofness in dealing with Congress is justified. Not that Romney would be any better after more than 800 vetoes in Massachusetts as Governor.

So this isn’t about who SHOULD be president or who SHOULD control congress, it is about who WILL be president and who WILL control Congress.

The metrics are unavoidably simple and direct. Millions of people have been ejected from their homes. That is a fact. There are more than 10 million registered voters who were ejected from their homes. Why neither candidate has courted these people as voters is beyond comprehension. But the fact is that without registering to vote in their new places of abode, they won’t be voting in this year’s election.

The overwhelming majority of homeowners who were illegally foreclosed and ejected from their homes were from so-called minority groups. They included single mothers, some of whom were married to men fighting overseas — a foreclosure that is specifically prohibited under law, but that didn’t stop the banks from carrying out their illegal and fraudulent claims of securitization, assignment and keeping the huge profits from recurring resales of the same mortgages to multiple counter-parties.

In this group of foreclosures composed of “minority” or specially described voters, the overwhelming majority of them would vote for the President and Democrats running in their districts. But many of them won’t vote because of various reasons that either prohibited or interfered with their registration to vote — like desperate trying to find a job.

I cannot put an exact metric on it because all I have is anecdotal evidence. But from ALL ends of the political spectrum, it is clear that a high percentage of evicted homeowners will not vote this November. That could easily swing the election one way or the other. With more than 10 million disenfranchised voters (or some portion thereof), the deal is stacked for Romney and the Republicans.

 

Renters and Owners: Beware of Craig’s List

The marketplace is filled with “listings” on Craig’s List for rental of properties at prices that are too good to be true. The scammers are posing as local property owners who actually are out of town. They change the locks, enter the house, and prepare it for sale or rent. The owner comes back and finds a renter who demands that the lease be enforced as to possession, because the scammers were either apparent agents or actual agents of the owners. Suddenly the owner of a parcel becomes embroiled in litigation that takes their home off the market and possibly forces them into foreclosure or bankruptcy.

Prospective renters are taking a risk if they do not confirm the title of the property, the status of the property with respect to foreclosure, and the actual identity of the “broker” and the “owner” demanding proof thereof. If you put down first and last month rent, plus security of whatever, you could be kicked out in a matter of days unless you can show that the owner received some portion of those funds. The funds will never be recovered from thieves who are spending the money as they get it.

More sophisticated scammers are sending deposit checks to the real owner to have them cash it. When that happens, the law enforcement people might have no choice but to call it a civil matter. It is not inconceivable for the renter to challenge the title of the owner in such a situation although the law states otherwise.

The acceptance of the money (consideration) is one thing. But if the complaint says that a stranger stole their identity and then sold or rented the house, they might be opening the door for a challenge to that owner if defective title was acquired in a foreclosure sale that was faked by the banks, or where title was obtained from someone who obtained defective title.There is an open question about the right to challenge title where the sole reason for the eviction alleged is that the title is in the hands of the Plaintiff. Under the rules, a simple denial of that fact is a question of fact that must be heard by the court.

If it stays in a summary eviction proceeding the trial could be in a matter of days. But if the renter files in a higher court using causes of action challenging the right of the present “owner” to challenge the executed transaction because they didn’t suffer any damage (i.e., they didn’t own the house anyway and therefore were not entitled to proceeds of sale or rental)

That being the case, the argument could be made that the “strangers” had as much right to pose as the owners and agents of the named owners with or without their knowledge. Unlikely any renter would win on such an issue but possible that it could get by a motion to dismiss and tie up the property in litigation for months plus appeals.

This is the problem (see Grethen Morgneson’s article in New York Times about MERS) caused by MERS and pretender lenders, none of whom handle any money, accept any payments, or engage in any financial transactions with the homeowner who thinks they are getting a loan from the named payee. They are ALL naked nominees without a stake in the transaction.

The situation gets thick with fog as documents are piled on documents each one reciting that the previous document was valid even though the original document at the base of the pile was invalid, unenforceable and lacked the essential attributes of a valid contract — offer, acceptance of the same terms as the offer, and consideration (funding).

Az Statute on Mortgage Fraud Not Enforced (except against homeowners)

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Editor’s Comment:

With a statute like this on the books in Arizona and elsewhere, it is difficult to see why the Chief Law Enforcement of each state, the Attorney General, has not brought claims and prosecutions against all those entities and people up and down the fraudulent securitization chain that brought us the mortgage meltdown, foreclosures of more than 5 million people, suicides, evictions and claims of profits based upon the fact that the free house went to the pretender lender.

Practically every act described in this statute was committed by the investment banks and all their affiliates and partners from the seller of the bogus mortgage bond (sold forward, which means that the loans did not yet exist) all the way down to the people at the closing table with the homeowner borrower.

I’d like to see a script from attorneys who confront the free house concept head on. The San Francisco study and other studies clearly show that many if not most foreclosures resulted in a “sale” of property without any cash offered by the buyer who submitted a credit bid when they had not established themselves as creditors nor had they established the amount due. And we now know that they failed to establish themselves as creditors because they neither loaned the money nor purchased the loan in any transaction in which they parted with money. So the consideration for the sale was not present or if you want to put it in legalese that would effect those states that allow review of the adequacy of consideration at the auction.

I’d like to see a lawyer go to court and say “Judge, you already know it would be wrong for my client to get a free house. I am here to agree with you and state further that whether you rule for the borrower or this pretender lender here, you are going to give a free house to somebody.

“Because this party initiated a foreclosure proceeding without being the creditor, without spending a dime on the loan or purchase of the loan, and without any right to represent the multitude of people and entities that should be paid on this loan. This pretender, this stranger to this transaction stands in the way of a mediated settlement or HAMP modification in which the borrower is more than happy to do a traditional workout based upon the economic realities.

“And they they maintain themselves as obstacles to mediation or modification because they have too much to hide about the origination of this loan.

“All I seek is that you recognize that we deny the loan on which this party is pursuing its claims, we deny the default and we deny the balance. That puts the matter at issue in which there are relevant and material facts that are in dispute.

“I say to you that as a Judge you are here to call balls and strikes and that your ruling can only be that with issues in dispute, the case must proceed.”

“The pretender should be required to state its claim with a complaint, attach the relevant documents and the homeowner should be able to respond to the complaint and confront the witnesses and documents being used. And that means the pretender here must be subject to the requirements of the rules of civil procedure that include discovery.

“Experience shows that there have been no trials on the evidence in all the foreclosures ever brought during this period and that the moment a judge rules on discovery in favor of the borrower, the pretender offers settlement. Why do you think that is?”

“If they had a good reason to foreclose and they had the authority to allege the required the elements of foreclosure and they had the proof to back it up they would and should be more than willing to put a stop to all these motions and petitions from borrowers. But they don’t allow any case to go to trial. They are winning on procedure because of the assumption that the legitimate debt is unpaid and that the borrower owes it to the party making the claim even if there never was transaction with the pretender in which the borrower was a party, directly or indirectly.”

“Neither the non-judicial powers of sale statutes nor the rules of civil procedure based upon constitutional requirements of due process can be used to thwart a claim that has merit or raises issues that have merit. You should not allow the statute and rules to be applied in a manner in which a stranger to the transaction who could not even plead a case in good faith would win a foreclosed house at auction without court review and a hearing on the merits.”

Residential mortgage fraud; classification; definitions in Arizona

Section 1. Title 13, chapter 23, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended by adding section 13-2320, to read:
13-2320.

A. A PERSON COMMITS RESIDENTIAL MORTGAGE FRAUD IF, WITH THE INTENT TO DEFRAUD, THE PERSON DOES ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

  1. KNOWINGLY MAKES ANY DELIBERATE MISSTATEMENT, MISREPRESENTATION OR MATERIAL OMISSION DURING THE MORTGAGE LENDING PROCESS THAT IS RELIED ON BY A MORTGAGE LENDER, BORROWER OR OTHER PARTY TO THE MORTGAGE LENDING PROCESS.
  2. KNOWINGLY USES OR FACILITATES THE USE OF ANY DELIBERATE MISSTATEMENT, MISREPRESENTATION OR MATERIAL OMISSION DURING THE MORTGAGE LENDING PROCESS THAT IS RELIED ON BY A MORTGAGE LENDER, BORROWER OR OTHER PARTY TO THE MORTGAGE LENDING PROCESS.
  3. RECEIVES ANY PROCEEDS OR OTHER MONIES IN CONNECTION WITH A RESIDENTIAL MORTGAGE LOAN THAT THE PERSON KNOWS RESULTED FROM A VIOLATION OF PARAGRAPH 1 OR 2 OF THIS SUBSECTION.
  4. FILES OR CAUSES TO BE FILED WITH THE OFFICE OF THE COUNTY RECORDER OF ANY COUNTY OF THIS STATE ANY RESIDENTIAL MORTGAGE LOAN DOCUMENT THAT THE PERSON KNOWS TO CONTAIN A DELIBERATE MISSTATEMENT, MISREPRESENTATION OR MATERIAL OMISSION.

Those convicted of one count of mortgage fraud face punishment in accordance with a Class 4 felony.  Anyone convicted of engaging in a pattern of mortgage fraud could be convicted of a Class 2 felony


The Rain in Spain May Start Falling Here

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Editor’s Comment:

It is typical politics. You know the problem and the cause but you do nothing about the cause. You don’t fix it because you view your job in government as justifying the perks you get from private companies rather than reason the government even exists — to provide for the protection and welfare of the citizens of that society. It seems that the government of each country has become an entity itself with an allegiance but to itself leaving the people with no government at all.

And the average man in the streets of Boston or Barcelona cannot be fooled or confused any longer. Hollande in France was elected precisely because the people wanted a change that would align the government with the people, by the people and for the people. The point is not whether the people are right or wrong. The point is that we would rather make our own mistakes than let politicians make them for us in order to line their own pockets with gold.

Understating foreclosures and evictions, over stating recovery of the housing Market, lying about economic prospects is simply not covering it any more. The fact is that housing prices have dropped to all time lows and are continuing to drop. The fact is that we would rather kick people out of their homes on fraudulent pretenses and pay for homeless sheltering than keep people in their homes. We have a government that is more concerned with the profits of banks than the feeding and housing of its population. 

When will it end? Maybe never. But if it changes it will be the result of an outraged populace and like so many times before in history, the new aristocracy will have learned nothing from history. The cycle repeats.

Spain Underplaying Bank Losses Faces Ireland Fate

By Yalman Onaran

Spain is underestimating potential losses by its banks, ignoring the cost of souring residential mortgages, as it seeks to avoid an international rescue like the one Ireland needed to shore up its financial system.

The government has asked lenders to increase provisions for bad debt by 54 billion euros ($70 billion) to 166 billion euros. That’s enough to cover losses of about 50 percent on loans to property developers and construction firms, according to the Bank of Spain. There wouldn’t be anything left for defaults on more than 1.4 trillion euros of home loans and corporate debt. Taking those into account, banks would need to increase provisions by as much as five times what the government says, or 270 billion euros, according to estimates by the Centre for European Policy Studies, a Brussels-based research group. Plugging that hole would increase Spain’s public debt by almost 50 percent or force it to seek a bailout, following in the footsteps of Ireland, Greece and Portugal.

“How can you only talk about one type of real estate lending when more and more loans are going bad everywhere in the economy?” said Patrick Lee, a London-based analyst covering Spanish banks for Royal Bank of Canada. “Ireland managed to turn its situation around after recognizing losses much more aggressively and thus needed a bailout. I don’t see how Spain can do it without outside support.”

Double-Dip Recession

Spain, which yesterday took over Bankia SA, the nation’s third-largest lender, is mired in a double-dip recession that has driven unemployment above 24 percent and government borrowing costs to the highest level since the country adopted the euro. Investors are concerned that the Mediterranean nation, Europe’s fifth-largest economy with a banking system six times bigger than Ireland’s, may be too big to save.

In both countries, loans to real estate developers proved most toxic. Ireland funded a so-called bad bank to take much of that debt off lenders’ books, forcing writedowns of 58 percent. The government also required banks to raise capital to cover what was left behind, assuming expected losses of 7 percent for residential mortgages, 15 percent on the debt of small companies and 4 percent on that of larger corporations.

Spain’s banks face bigger risks than the government has acknowledged, even with lower default rates than Ireland experienced. If losses reach 5 percent of mortgages held by Spanish lenders, 8 percent of loans to small companies, 1.5 percent of those to larger firms and half the debt to developers, the cost will be about 250 billion euros. That’s three times the 86 billion euros Irish domestic banks bailed out by their government have lost as real estate prices tumbled.

Bankia Loans

Moody’s Investors Service, a credit-ratings firm, said it expects Spanish bank losses of as much as 306 billion euros. The Centre for European Policy Studies said the figure could be as high as 380 billion euros.

At the Bankia group, the lender formed in 2010 from a merger of seven savings banks, about half the 38 billion euros of real estate development loans held at the end of last year were classified as “doubtful” or at risk of becoming so, according to the company’s annual report. Bad loans across the Valencia-based group, which has the biggest Spanish asset base, reached 8.7 percent in December, and the firm renegotiated almost 10 billion euros of assets in 2011, about 5 percent of its loan book, to prevent them from defaulting.

The government, which came to power in December, announced yesterday that it will take control of Bankia with a 45 percent stake by converting 4.5 billion euros of preferred shares into ordinary stock. The central bank said the lender needs to present a stronger cleanup plan and “consider the contribution of public funds” to help with that.

Rajoy Measures

The Bank of Spain has lost its prestige for failing to supervise banks sufficiently, said Josep Duran i Lleida, leader of Catalan party Convergencia i Unio, which often backs Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government. Governor Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordonez doesn’t need to resign at this point because his term expires in July, Duran said.

Rajoy has shied away from using public funds to shore up the banks, after his predecessor injected 15 billion euros into the financial system. He softened his position earlier this week following a report by the International Monetary Fund that said the country needs to clean up the balance sheets of “weak institutions quickly and adequately” and may need to use government funds to do so.

“The last thing I want to do is lend public money, as has been done in the past, but if it were necessary to get the credit to save the Spanish banking system, I wouldn’t renounce that,” Rajoy told radio station Onda Cero on May 7.

Santander, BBVA

Rajoy said he would announce new measures to bolster confidence in the banking system tomorrow, without giving details. He might ask banks to boost provisions by 30 billion euros, said a person with knowledge of the situation who asked not to be identified because the decision hadn’t been announced.

Spain’s two largest lenders, Banco Santander SA (SAN) and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA), earn most of their income outside the country and have assets in Latin America they can sell to raise cash if they need to bolster capital. In addition to Bankia, there are more than a dozen regional banks that are almost exclusively domestic and have few assets outside the country to sell to help plug losses.

In investor presentations, the Bank of Spain has said provisions for bad debt would cover losses of between 53 percent and 80 percent on loans for land, housing under construction and finished developments. An additional 30 billion euros would increase coverage to 56 percent of such loans, leaving nothing to absorb losses on 650 billion euros of home mortgages held by Spanish banks or 800 billion euros of company loans.

Housing Bubble

“Spain is constantly playing catch-up, so it’s always several steps behind,” said Nicholas Spiro, managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy, a consulting firm in London specializing in sovereign-credit risk. “They should have gone down the Irish route, bit the bullet and taken on the losses. Every time they announce a small new measure, the goal posts have already moved because of deterioration in the economy.”

Without aggressive writedowns, Spanish banks can’t access market funding and the government can’t convince investors its lenders can survive a contracting economy, said Benjamin Hesse, who manages five financial-stock funds at Fidelity Investments in Boston, which has $1.6 trillion under management.

Spanish banks have “a 1.7 trillion-euro loan book, one of the world’s largest, and they haven’t even started marking it,” Hesse said. “The housing bubble was twice the size of the U.S. in terms of peak prices versus 1990 prices. It’s huge. And there’s no way out for Spain.”

Irish Losses

House prices in Spain more than doubled in a decade and have dropped 30 percent since the first quarter of 2008. U.S. homes, which also doubled in value, have lost 35 percent. Ireland’s have fallen 49 percent after quadrupling.

Ireland injected 63 billion euros into its banks to recapitalize them after shifting property-development loans to the National Asset Management Agency, or NAMA, and requiring other writedowns. That forced the country to seek 68 billion euros in financial aid from the European Union and the IMF.

The losses of bailed-out domestic banks in Ireland have reached 21 percent of their total loans. Spanish banks have reserved for 6 percent of their lending books.

“The upfront loss recognition Ireland forced on the banks helped build confidence,” said Edward Parker, London-based head of European sovereign-credit analysis at Fitch Ratings. “In contrast, Spain has had a constant trickle of bad news about its banks, which doesn’t instill confidence.”

Mortgage Defaults

Spain’s home-loan defaults were 2.7 percent in December, according to the Spanish mortgage association. Home prices are propped up and default rates underreported because banks don’t want to recognize losses, according to Borja Mateo, author of “The Truth About the Spanish Real Estate Market.” Developers are still building new houses around the country, even with 2 million vacant homes.

Ireland’s mortgage-default rate was about 7 percent in 2010, before the government pushed for writedowns, with an additional 5 percent being restructured, according to the Central Bank of Ireland. A year later, overdue and restructured home loans reached 18 percent. At the typical 40 percent recovery rate, Irish banks stand to lose 11 percent of their mortgage portfolios, more than the 7 percent assumed by the central bank in its stress tests. That has led to concern the government may need to inject more capital into the lenders.

‘The New Ireland’

Spain, like Ireland, can’t simply let its financial firms fail. Ireland tried to stick banks’ creditors with losses and was overruled by the EU, which said defaulting on senior debt would raise the specter of contagion and spook investors away from all European banks. Ireland did force subordinated bondholders to take about 15 billion euros of losses.

The EU was protecting German and French banks, among the biggest creditors to Irish lenders, said Marshall Auerback, global portfolio strategist for Madison Street Partners LLC, a Denver-based hedge fund.

“Spain will be the new Ireland,” Auerback said. “Germany is forcing once again the socialization of its banks’ losses in a periphery country and creating sovereign risk, just like it did with Ireland.”

Spanish government officials and bank executives have downplayed potential losses on home loans by pointing to the difference between U.S. and Spanish housing markets. In the U.S., a lender’s only option when a borrower defaults is to seize the house and settle for whatever it can get from a sale. The borrower owes nothing more in this system, called non- recourse lending.

‘More Pressure’

In Spain, a bank can go after other assets of the borrower, who remains on the hook for the debt no matter what the price of the house when sold. Still, the same extended liability didn’t stop the Irish from defaulting on home loans as the economy contracted, incomes fell and unemployment rose to 14 percent.

“As the economy deteriorates, the quality of assets is going to get worse,” said Daragh Quinn, an analyst at Nomura International in Madrid. “Corporate loans are probably going to be a bigger worry than mortgages, but losses will keep rising. Some of the larger banks, in particular BBVA and Santander, will be able to generate enough profits to absorb this deterioration, but other purely domestic ones could come under more pressure.”

Spain’s government has said it wants to find private-sector solutions. Among those being considered are plans to let lenders set up bad banks and to sell toxic assets to outside investors.

Correlation Risk

Those proposals won’t work because third-party investors would require bigger discounts on real estate assets than banks will be willing to offer, RBC’s Lee said.

Spanish banks face another risk, beyond souring loans: They have been buying government bonds in recent months. Holdings of Spanish sovereign debt by lenders based in the country jumped 32 percent to 231 billion euros in the four months ended in February, data from Spain’s treasury show.

That increases the correlation of risk between banks and the government. If Spain rescues its lenders, the public debt increases, threatening the sovereign’s solvency. When Greece restructured its debt, swapping bonds at a 50 percent discount, Greek banks lost billions of euros and had to be recapitalized by the state, which had to borrow more from the EU to do so.

In a scenario where Spain is forced to restructure its debt, even a 20 percent discount could spell almost 50 billion euros of additional losses for the country’s banks.

“Spain will have to turn to the EU for funds to solve its banking problem,” said Madison Street’s Auerback. “But there’s little money left after the other bailouts, so what will Spain get? That’s what worries everybody.”

Occupy Targets Banks, Courts and Corporations

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EDITOR’S NOTE: I wonder if the media, politicians and pundits realize how these multiple Occupy events are affecting the political narrative this year. The fact that Occupy protests have found their way into some stump speeches and the responses from people surveyed shows clearly that the anger, frustration and demand for changes in our system of government — to conform with the requirements of the constitutional guarantees for individual and states rights — is driving force in the way voters are thinking and acting.
The first clear victory in the Republican party in its nominating process proves it. Gingrich tapped that anger and the desire for someone who is willing to fight with the establishment achieved the first resounding victory, running away with South Caroline despite a diverse field that had been pulling apart the conservative agenda.
The lesson is simple — if you are seen as establishment then you are seen and associated with the big banks, the bailouts and the disease permeating our society and economy in particular. If you are seen as fighting the control of Banks and big corporations over our freedoms and opportunity then voters are responding with favorable reviews and exercising their votes in ways that were unimaginable just a year ago. Except for Gingrich, no Republican candidate even gave lip service to those without jobs, losing homes and losing hope. They all finished very weak seconds, thirds etc. compared to the pugilistic Gingrich.
If the Obama team doesn’t get this message they simply are not listening, because the message is loud and clear, despite pundits assessments to the contrary. The country wants a fighter not a divider and not a compromiser (although compromise, in the end, lies a the heart of getting any laws passed by congress).
The full realization has already hit most of the public. The Banks stole America and the wealth and power that goes with it. The voters want the Banks shoved out of the process and brought down to size so that can be regulated in ways that worked for decades in this country. They want our country’s infrastructure revitalized, with all the jobs that go with it. And they want the tax system to be fair, with those who are well off paying their fair share and not being protected behind the false curtain of “job creators.”
I dare say that nary a politician is going to be elected or reelected even as an incumbent without paying careful attention to this message. That includes Obama who despite his formidable and well financed campaign is going to feel the pinch from voters unless his administration takes the lead and shows some willingness to duke it out with the establishment.
The people are behind those moves — no matter who makes them. And right now, the only candidate who is showing the guts to do it is Gingrich. Obama can easily regain the control of the narrative with more than words — bankers must be prosecuted if they violated the law and not protected under the false narrative that prosecution will result in the fall of the economy, the financial system and the society. It isn’t true. It was never true. And people know it.

“Occupy” targets banks, corporate campaign spending

(Reuters) – Hundreds of Occupy activists clashed with police and stormed a vacant hotel in San Francisco on Friday, capping a day of protests in the city’s financial district and separate anti-Wall Street rallies at federal courthouses across the country.

The rallies were seen as a bid by the Occupy Wall Street movement to reenergize protests against economic inequality and excesses of the U.S. financial system weeks after demonstrators were driven from tent camps in a wave of evictions nationwide.

The raucous takeover of the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco’s upscale Pacific Heights neighborhood followed a march from downtown by about 1,000 demonstrators chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!” and “Cops go home!”

The protesters were met by a phalanx of police in riot gear who had set up barricades at the front entrance to the U-shaped hotel complex, which stands several stories tall and takes up an entire city block.

The crowd surged toward the barriers to try to remove them and briefly scuffled with police, who jabbed protesters with batons and doused them with pepper spray, forcing demonstrators to retreat. Police said demonstrators hurled rocks, bottles and bricks at them, with two officers suffering minor injuries.

Later, a small group of activists who had earlier gained access to the hotel complex flung open the front doors, and scores of their cheering cohorts streamed inside without resistance from police.

“Now we occupy our new home,” organizer Craig Rouskie declared, adding that demonstrators planned to spend the night but expected that police would eventually move in to oust them.

Earlier in the day, Occupy San Francisco protesters staged various acts of civil disobedience at 22 bank branches and other offices in the city’s financial district, including a group who chained themselves to entrances of the Wells Fargo headquarters.

Police said 18 protesters were arrested throughout the day.

“Many banks have taken steps to mitigate the impact,” San Francisco Police Commander Richard Corriea said. Wells Fargo told many employees to work from home, he added.

Donna Vieira, 42, a real estate appraiser, said she was protesting because the bank had “unfairly” foreclosed on her home in Reno, Nevada, last year.

“Nobody is going after the big banks. And loss and pain and suffering doesn’t matter to the regulators,” Vieira said.

OCCUPY THE COURTS

Protesters also turned out under the banner “Occupy the Courts” at some 150 courthouses nationwide to protest a Supreme Court decision in 2010 that protesters complain has led to unbridled corporate spending in political campaigns.

The Supreme Court ruled that the government cannot restrict political speech and spending by corporations, unions and other outside groups, allowing political action committees (PACs) to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money in campaigns — creating what are known as Super PACs.

The ruling in the case known as Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission has led to more than $25 million in spending so far this campaign season by outside groups seeking to influence the 2012 presidential election.

In Washington, a couple of hundred protesters gathered outside the Supreme Court, chanting “Rights are for people, not for corporations!” Police arrested 12 people.

“I don’t see how a real democracy of the people can take place when so much money is in our electoral system,” said Lucy Craig, 36, a protester from New Jersey.

About 200 protesters demonstrated peacefully in Denver outside the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, carrying signs that read “Citizens United Not Fair.”

The nonprofit organization Move to Amend organized “Occupy the Courts” to launch its campaign to amend the U.S. Constitution, seeking to abolish corporate constitutional rights and establish that money is not speech.

Move to Amend had expected up to 25,000 people to rally across the United States on Friday, spokesman David Cobb said. Occupy protest crowds tend to number in the hundreds rather than thousands of people, despite the movement’s headline-grabbing actions and social media savvy.

More than 100 protesters rallied outside the federal courthouse in Boston, while 75 people protested in front of the federal courthouse in Atlanta. In Phoenix, about 50 protesters marched outside the Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. Court House.

“Four hundred Americans control all the wealth,” said Mickey Mize, a spokesman for Occupy Phoenix. “They are the ones who control the job market, they are trying to control everything from education to our birthrights.”

Protests at federal courthouses in New York City and Charlottesville, Virginia, each drew about 100 people.

Protesters say they are upset that billions of dollars in bailouts given to banks during the recession allowed a return to huge profits while average Americans have had no relief from high unemployment and a struggling economy.

(Additional reporting by Lily Kuo in Washington, Lauren Keiper in Boston, David Beasley in Atlanta, Robert Boczkiewicz in Denver and Tim Gaynor in Phoenix; Writing by Michelle Nicholsand Steve Gorman; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Cynthia Johnston)

 

OCCUPY MOVEMENT GETS MORE INVOLVED IN SPECIFICS

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EDITOR’S COMMENT: The Occupy movement is taking on a life of its own, expressing citizen outrage over the behavior of the banks and the complicity of the government in aiding and abetting the stealing of homes. As the movement matures, it is getting increasingly focussed on the weak spots of the Banks and it is having a political effect as well as a judicial effect. Judges are having conferences that differ substantially from the ones they had only 6 months ago.

Judges still want to move their calendar along. And the issue of “finality” still looms large for them — someone has to say “game over.” But they are expressing doubt and dismay as more and more cases show up where it is obvious that the Banks are playing fast and loose with the rules of evidence and more importantly, violating criminal statutes to get a house in which they have no economic interest.

I say we should give the Occupy movement as much support as possible and that we should encourage Occupy leaders to take whatever political action they can to turn the course of the country from becoming a third world nation. The failure of the judicial system and the failure of law enforcement to lead the way on this, as they did when we had the savings loan scandal in the 1980’s is a sure sign that our system is broken and we know who broke it — the Banks.

If we succeed, then we will have reversed control over the government to the people, and reverted to the rule of law required by our Constitution. For those who depend upon the Bill of Rights for their existence, like the NRA (which depends upon the second amendment) they should be aware that acceptance of the status quo means that government can and will take any action it wants ignoring the Constitutional protections that were guaranteed. First, they take your house, then your guns.

Occupy Protests Spread Anti-Foreclosure Message During National ‘Occupy Our Homes’ Action

WASHINGTON — In the late evening on Tuesday, Brigitte Walker welcomed Occupy Atlanta onto her property in an effort to save her Riverdale, Ga., home from foreclosure.

Walker, 44, joined the Army in 1985 and had been among the first U.S. personnel to enter Iraq in February 2003. “I wasn’t happy about it,” she told The Huffington Post early Tuesday afternoon, speaking of her deployment. “But it’s my call of duty so had to do what I was supposed to do. It was a very difficult duty. It was a very emotional duty.”

Walker saw fellow soldiers die, get injured. She saw a civilian with them get killed. “It was very nerve-wracking,” she said. “It makes you wonder if you’re going to survive.”

She was in Iraq until May 2004, when the shock from mortar rounds crushed her spine. Doctors had to put in titanium plates to reinforce her spine, which had nerve damage. Today her range of motion is limited, and she still experiences a lot of pain. She still struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder. Loud noises and big crowds are painful. The Fourth of July is difficult for her

She settled in Riverdale, a town outside of Atlanta, after purchasing a house in 2004 for $139,000. She has a brother who lives in the area and enjoyed it when she would visit him. “It seemed peaceful and quiet,” she said. “That’s what I needed.” Her active duty salary covered the mortgage.

But in 2007, the Army medically retired Walker against her wishes. “I thought I was going to rehab and come back,” she said. “But they told me I couldn’t stay in.” Walker now has to rely on a disability check.

After retiring from the Army, Walker used up her savings, and then got rid of a car to help pay her monthly mortgage payment. “I didn’t have problems until they put me out of the military,” she said. “It was just overwhelming.”

By April of last year, she was starting to fall behind on her mortgage. JPMorgan Chase — which owns Walker’s mortgage, according to an Occupy Atlanta press release — has since begun foreclosure proceedings. She said the bank is set to take her house on January 3.

“Nobody is willing to help me,” Walker said. “Where are the programs to help vets like me? I know I’m one of many.”

Enter Occupy Atlanta.

“I’m very hopeful that it will help me save my home and allow Chase to give me a chance to keep my home,” Walker said, speaking of the Occupiers. She added that she’s willing to celebrate Christmas with the activists.

“I guess,” she said with a laugh. “As long as it takes.”

Hours before Occupy Atlanta joined Walker at her home, the activists organized protests aimed at disrupting home auctions at three area courthouses. At a Fulton County Courthouse, civil rights leader Dr. Joseph Lowery joined 200 demonstrators at the county’s monthly foreclosure auction.

Across the country, activists associated with the Occupy movement and Occupy Our Homes reached out to families threatened by foreclosure and highlighted the crisis with marches, rallies and press conferences.

“Occupy Wall Street started because of a deep need in our country to address the financial and economic crisis that’s been created by the consolidation of wealth and political power in our country,” said Jonathan Smucker, 33, an organizer with Occupy Wall Street in New York. “The foreclosure crisis, at least as much as anything else, illustrates the deep moral crisis that we are facing. It illustrates what you have when you have your whole political system serving the needs of the one percent.”

Mothers spoke out on front lawns. In New York City, Occupy Wall Street marched through the streets of East New York. At the same time, Occupy groups were protesting home auctions in Nevada and New Orleans. In Seattle protesters tried to save a family from eviction. In all, activists took over vacant homes or homes facing foreclosures from being evicted in 20 cities.

During the actions, the activists tried to keep the mood light. In Chicago they planned a house-warming party for a family moving into an abandoned home. To announce their presence in New York, protestes held a block party and, in a play on police tape, wrapped a home in yellow tape bearing the word “Occupy.”

As the protest were taking place, the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress, released a new report that found an increasing number of American homes are going unused, a spike attributed to high foreclosure and unemployment rates.

“According to Census Bureau data, nonseasonal vacant properties have increased 51 percent nationally from nearly 7 million in 2000 to 10 million in April 2010, with 10 states seeing increases of 70 percent or more,” the report read. “High foreclosure rates have contributed to the additional vacancies. Population declines in certain cities and high unemployment also may have contributed to increased vacancies.”

Vacant homes can cause a number of problems for the communities their located in, the report noted: “Vacant and unattended residential properties can attract crime, cause blight, and pose a threat to public safety.”

The need for action was obvious to Smucker.

“People need a place to live,” he said. “People need to have homes. Kids need to be able to count on not having to move, having some stability in their lives. That’s something we can all agree on in this country.”

Some of the most powerful stories came from the homeowners Occupiers targeted during the day’s events. One mother from Petaluma, Calif, held a press conference outside her home and discussed her struggle with foreclosure. An Oregon mother talked about her lose of a second job, cancer and bankruptcy at an event at her house.

In Old Fourth Ward neighborhood of downtown Atlanta, Occupiers came to the Pittman family home. Carmen Pittman, 21, said the home has been the backdrop to every family function and holiday dinner as far back as she can remember. The ranch-style home had been in the Pittman name since 1953.

“My every Christmas, my every Thanksgiving, my every birthday, my every dinner was in this house,” Pittman told HuffPost early this afternoon. “This was the base home. We could not stay away form this home. This home is my every memory.”

Now she worries that the last memory she will have is the home’s foreclosure. Her grandmother had become too sick to deal with the ballooning mortgage, and never addressed the court papers that arrived in the mail. Shortly before she passed away, the family finally realized the home was being foreclosed on when they got a notice on the front door. They have had to scramble ever since.

But on Tuesday, Pittman was feeling good about her prospects after the Occupy group had come to the house. “Maybe somebody heard my cries,” she said. “I’m full of sadness and joy. It’s like two mixed feelings at the same time.”

Walker, the Iraq War vet, let the Occupy Atlanta activists set up tents on her property this evening. While her eviction date is still set for Jan. 3, she said she remained cautiously optimistic that her situation could change.

“Everything’s fine,” she said. “Everything’s good. They have the tents set up outside. It’s awesome. I was a little nervous. But it’s awesome. I’m really hopeful and happy. I’m feeling really hopeful. I don’t feel like all is lost anymore.”

Additional reporting by Arthur Delaney.

Just some of the odd foreclosure stories of the last year:

CT Family Never Missed A Payment
Shock Baitch and his wife Lisa of Connecticut were threatened with foreclosure by Bank of America after never missing a payment. BofA mistakenly told credit agencies they were seeking a loan modification. “Now I am literally and financially paying for it,” Baitch told CTWatchdog.com.
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