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There is only one thing more Kafkaesque than the ongoing Wall Street frauds and that is watching a live United States Senate investigation of a diabolical settlement the banks themselves concocted to repay the victims of their own fraud. Such was the case yesterday when Senators Sherrod Brown, Jack Reed, and Elizabeth Warren grilled regulators from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Federal Reserve along with outside consultants over allowing banks to hand pick the consultants to do their foreclosure reviews, negotiate confidentiality agreements with them and pay them directly.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in checks from the Foreclosure Review settlement will start going out today, eventually topping $3.6 billion in the cash portion of the settlement, and yet it was revealed during yesterday’s Senate hearing that it was the actual banks that engaged in the illegal foreclosure actions that tallied up and classified their wrongdoing under various degrees of harm; deciding themselves how many people would receive $300 and how many $125,000.
Tag Archives | Corruption
How Monsanto wrote its fondest wishes into law. Mother Jones reveals:
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A recent Senate bill came with a nice bonus for the GMO industry: a rider, wholly unrelated to the underlying bill, that compels the USDA to ignore federal court decisions that block the agency’s approvals of new GM crops. Such a provision is [very] important to Monsanto and its few peers in the GMO seed industry.
Which senator pushed the rider into the bill? No one stepped forward to claim credit. But since then, Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) has revealed to Politico that he’s the responsible party. Blunt even told reporteer David Rogers that he “worked with” Monsanto to craft the rider. The admission shines a light on Blunt’s ties to Monsanto, whose office is located in the senator’s home state.
Blunt’s connections to lobbyists extend to his family. His wife, Abigail Blunt, serves as head of US government affairs for the processed food giant Kraft.
City officials are outraged at the reselling, yet don’t question the existence of cards which allow you to skirt justice. The New York Post reports:
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Buying a “get out of jail free” card is just a mouse click away. Police union cards that cops hand out to friends and family free of charge are selling on eBay for as much as $100 a pop, even though the resale of the coveted plastic is strictly prohibited by the unions.
The cards are often used to get out of minor jams like speeding tickets or parking violations — flashing one with your driver’s license is a way of suggesting you’re a member of law enforcement or at least related to someone who is. “It’s a way for a police officer to vouch for another person,” said City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. “That type of recommendation shouldn’t be available to the highest bidder.”
Police union heads and elected officials are calling for a probe and an end to the practice.
While Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Films and its many allies called out Walmart for its unscrupulous business practices years ago in the documentary Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, the mainstream media has generally held up the mega-retailer as an example of American business at its best. That makes this lengthy investigation by the New York Times into Walmart’s endemic corruption all the more welcome. For disinfonauts who are interested in ancient civilizations, note that the latest site to suffer at the hands of the crooks of Bentonville is Teotihuacan, Mexico:
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Wal-Mart longed to build in Elda Pineda’s alfalfa field. It was an ideal location, just off this town’s bustling main entrance and barely a mile from its ancient pyramids, which draw tourists from around the world. With its usual precision, Wal-Mart calculated it would attract 250 customers an hour if only it could put a store in Mrs.
Corrections Corporation of America is accused of using targeted prison gang violence as a cost-saving measure, ThinkProgress reports:
A lawsuit brought by eight inmates of the Idaho Correctional Center alleges that the company is cutting back on personnel costs by partnering with violent prison gangs to help control the facility. Court documents and an investigative report issued by the state’s Department of Corrections show how guards routinely looked the other way when gang members violated basic facility rules, negotiated with gang leaders on the cell placement of new inmates, and may have even helped one group of inmates plan a violent attack on members of a rival gang.
The inmates contend that officials at the prison — the state’s largest, with more than 2,000 beds — use gang violence and the threat of gang violence as an “inexpensive device to gain control over the inmate population,” according to the lawsuit, and foster and develop criminal gangs.”
In the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof describes what he terms the “cancer lobby” — how major industry spends millions of dollars to influence Congress in support of carcinogenic chemicals:
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Who knew that carcinogens had their own lobby in Washington? Just consider formaldehyde, which is found in everything from nail polish to kitchen countertops, fabric softeners to carpets. Largely because of its use in building materials, we breathe formaldehyde fumes when we’re inside our homes. According to government scientists, it causes cancer.
The chemical industry is working frantically to suppress that scientific consensus — because it fears “public confusion.” Big Chem apparently worries that you might be confused if you learned that formaldehyde caused cancer of the nose and throat, and perhaps leukemia.
The industry’s strategy is to lobby Congress to cut off money for the Report on Carcinogens, a 500-page consensus document published every two years by the National Institutes of Health, containing the best information about what agents cause cancer.
“I’m in a three way primary for the U.S. Senate. I’ve gone to people and asked for their support, their help, or their endorsement and some people say yes. They write me a decent check. I remember that… You remember who’s helping you. That’s one way that people get to know Congressmen and Senators.”Read more at Raw Story.