'and the STOCK Act was supposed to end that and prohibit political insiders from buying and selling stock on the basis of their privileged knowledge of upcoming legal changes'.
Please do not allow these media tear down Obama and current neo-liberals while building up what will be the farm team. Elizabeth Warren may be saying all the right things.....just like Obama, but she is Harvard, an admitted neo-liberal, and spent her early work on bankruptcy law....the very area that had businesses shedding their pensions and health benefits in Bain's takeovers. IF WARREN DOES NOT STAY IN THE SENATE WHERE SHE CAN DO GOOD....BUT INSTEAD IS USED IN THE NEXT NATIONAL RACE....SHE WILL BE OBAMA #2. DO NOT FALL FOR IT!
Regarding Maryland's neo-liberals and elections:
Listening to Frazer and his political 'analysis' this is what we do not hear:
None of the policy that passes the Maryland Assembly and Baltimore City Hall is democratic....it is corporate neo-liberal. Neo-liberals and republicans have the same policy goals so voting for a republican to avoid taxes by neo-liberals will not give you a change.
When pols work for wealth and profit there is a point reached where so much corporate revenue is lost from fraud or tax breaks that revenue has to come from another source....ergo, high taxes on the middle/lower class and regressive tax and fee policies. Casinos/lotteries are simply taxes on middle/lower class as corporations are busy betting on a crony stock market that never allows them to lose!
Republicans may come in and hasten the privatization that Maryland neo-liberals are doing through the public private partnership policy. Skip that stage and just hand the public asset to corporations right away say republicans. The goals are the same and what labor and justice will see after another decade with these corporate pols will not please either republican or democratic voters. I had a discussion this weekend with a rabid conservative republican and got two hand-shakes in agreement. CORPORATE WELFARE IS OUT OF CONTROL AND CORPORATIONS CONTROL GOVERNMENT TO THE DETRIMENT OF US CITIZENS. This is upon what two voters at the opposite poles of the political spectrum agree. CHANGE IN FAVOR OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE IS COMING. As we see with Common Core/privatization of public education....Wall Street and corporate pols are trying as hard as possible to use education reform to erase all of the crime and corruption of the last few decades away through revisionist teaching. This is why Bloomberg and Bill Gates are spending their fortunes down to buy this education reform.
We want the democratic base to remember that all of Maryland's democrats right now are neo-liberals. So when Hoyer, Cardin, and we will no doubt see Sarbanes, and Cummings lining up to vote for war as they (Sarbanes Sr) voted the Glass-Steagall wall down to create corporate rule.....they work as hard to end War on Poverty programs and New Deal with health and education market-building and gutting Social Security and Entitlements to pay for massive corporate fraud. O'Malley has committed himself to moving all public assets and wealth to corporate interests and Anthony Brown, Ulman, Gansler, and Mizeur are ready to do the same. WE DO NOT YET HAVE A DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR STATE OFFICES AS ALL SO FAR ARE NEO-LIBERALS.
Let's look at Fraser's last political commentary. When Fraser and his guest shout out that Annapolis needs a good person running for Mayor of Annapolis and then refer to a lawyer working with Maggie McIntosh.....A GREAT, BIG, FAT NEO-LIBERAL.....you know you are getting corporate news. First, McIntosh works completely for Johns Hopkins and second, we know lawyers in Maryland are captured....many being involved in the fraud and corruption that has Maryland ranked at the bottom nationally. So, for anyone to recommend a lawyer of Maggie McIntosh for political office.....
WE ARE WARNING THE CITIZENS OF ANNAPOLIS....AND I KNOW THAT THESE ARE MOSTLY LABOR AND JUSTICE PEOPLE....DO NOT ALLOW THE DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEES CHOOSE YOUR CANDIDATES,.....THEY ARE RUN BY NEO-LIBERALS. RUN AND VOTE FOR YOUR OWN CANDIDATES WHETHER YOU ARE REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT!
As you see below Maggie leads education and environment and the two areas that suffer the most in Maryland with corporate protections.....education and environment. Johns Hopkins has built 3 campuses on waters edge much to the detriment of wetlands and is the primary driver of privatizing public education in Maryland and especially in Baltimore....Maggie makes sure all this happens as does her city council counterpart....Mary Pat Clarke who is also chair of education in Baltimore. WE HAVE NO ONE IN BALTIMORE FIGHTING FOR STRONG PUBLIC EDUCATION BECAUSE ALL THE COMMITTEE HEADS ARE NEO-LIBERALS.
Now, Maggie McIntosh is no doubt heading for higher office and one may assume that may be Mikulski's position on the Senate. WE WOULD NOT WANT A NEO-LIBERAL RUNNING IN THESE ELECTIONS. Please take time to look at these candidates and know where this past legislation comes. You do not want lawyers in any political position because a state ranked at the bottom in fraud and corruption is there because of criminal and corrupt lawyers. IF YOU THINK EDUCATION POLICY IS BAD AND YOU KNOW THAT PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS ARE PRIVATIZING ALL THAT IS PUBLIC AND CREATING THE ENVIRONMENT FOR FRAUD AND CORRUPTION....THEN MAGGIE MCINTOSH IS GROUND ZERO FOR THIS.
Maggie McIntosh first entered the House of Delegates in 1992 when she was appointed to fill a vacant position in the 42nd District, which contained neighborhoods from Baltimore City and Baltimore County. Maggie first served on the Appropriations Committee, where she chaired the Personnel Subcommittee and was a member of the Education and Economic Development Subcommittees. Delegate McIntosh later assumed the position of Vice Chairman of the Commerce and Government Matters Committee before being named House Majority Leader by Speaker Casper R. Taylor in 2001. She is the first woman in Maryland history to have held the post.
Brown, Rendell to talk public-private partnerships Posted: 7:21 am Thu, May 9, 2013
By Associated Press
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and former Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell, both Democrats, are scheduled to deliver remarks during a forum hosted by the Urban Land Institute Baltimore.
Thursday’s event will focus on Maryland’s new public-private partnerships legislation signed into law by Gov. Martin O’Malley last month.
The law creates a streamlined process for the private sector to take part in building public roads or buildings.
The event, sponsored by Ballard Spahr, will also feature a panel discussion among leaders from the public and private sectors with extensive experience in public-private partnerships in commercial and institutional development.
Let's be clear, Obama's Administration has been corrupt since the beginning so announcing this as he heads to his final years makes not difference. Do you think his feelings are hurt because he will leave office with no doubt billions of dollars in offshore accounts just as with the Clintons for working for Wall Street? NO, HE COULD CARE LESS. What is important is who is the farm team and you know that by who has been shouting loudly and strongly against all these policies that protected fraud and corruption while allowing spending cuts and taxes pay down corporate fraud....NO MARYLAND POLS SPOKE OUT AND MANY ARE THE ONES WHO VOTED THE GLASS STEAGALL WALL DOWN TO CREATE CORPORATE RULE. Why are you still voting for these crooks?
IF YOUR LABOR AND JUSTICE ORGANIZATION IS NOT RUNNING AND VOTING FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE CANDIDATES....IF THEY SUPPORT THESE NEO-LIBERAL INCUMBENTS....THEY ARE NOT WORKING FOR YOU AND ME...
Is The Obama Administration the Most Corrupt in U.S. History?
Posted: 04/16/2013 3:29 pm
Submit this story Tamara Keith of National Public Radio reported, on Tuesday, April 16th, that "Congress moved to undo large parts of the STOCK [Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge] Act last week." This had been the law that was passed just a year ago, and which President Obama signed into law at a White House ceremony with TV cameras on and great fanfare. The law - which had been pushed by progressive Democrats since 2006, and which finally became law on 4 April 2012 - required members of Congress and their staffs, and the Executive Branch, to avoid insider trading. Until this law was passed, buying or selling stock on the basis of insider information had been fully legal for these federal officials, but not for anyone else; and the STOCK Act was supposed to end that and prohibit political insiders from buying and selling stock on the basis of their privileged knowledge of upcoming legal changes.
That investment-advantage they enjoyed had been substantial: one study by economist Alan Ziobrowski, "Abnormal Returns from the Common Stock Investments of the U.S. Senate," showed that U.S. Senators' stock-investments outperformed the general market by about 12% per year; and another study by him, "Abnormal Returns From the Common Stock Investments of Members of the U.S. House of Representatives," showed that U.S. Representatives' stock-investments outperformed the general market by about 6% per year. In other words, the investments of these people were growing at around twice the normal rate. Members of Congress were probably making more money from their personal investments than they did from their official salaries. The bill that Obama quietly signed into law on 15 April 2013 made the STOCK Act that he had signed the year before virtually unenforceable. Members of Congress can thus resume drawing a major part of their incomes from cheating outside investors, who don't know the things that these officials are privileged to know.
NPR continued: "In the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., shepherded the bill through" at a time when "many members had already left for the weekend or were on their way out. The whole process took 30 seconds. There was no debate." Then, at the White House, "when the president signed a bill reversing big pieces of the law, the emailed announcement was one sentence long. There was no fanfare last week, either, when the Senate and then the House passed the bill in largely empty chambers using a fast-track procedure known as unanimous consent. ... 'There weren't too many members of Congress who were aware of this legislation,' says Craig Holman, the government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen."
Basically, only the leadership knew what was happening. This included the President. He knew what was in the legislation, and that's why he signed it so inconspicuously (by contrast to the way that he had signed the STOCK Act into law a year before).
Not every government official was corrupt, but the "right" ones were. Perhaps that's how they had risen to become the "right" ones: the leaders of Congress are chosen by the members of Congress, and represent those members - nobody else (except the financial backers of their local re-election campaigns).
This is how institutionalized corruption operates. But President Obama didn't have to sign this bill; he supposedly represented the public, not the people on Capitol Hill; he could simply have vetoed it, and given that vetoing-event the same TV-fanfare exposure he had given to his signing of the STOCK Act a year earlier; this would have been a very popular thing for him to do, and it would have been in keeping with all of his campaign rhetoric, upon the basis of which he had won the White House. But corruption has instead been rampant during his Presidency; and his decisions - both personnel and policy - have largely assisted that, as happened here: he chose to help corrupt members of Congress.
When the World Bank scored the U.S. on "Control of Corruption" in the 2009, 2010, and 2011 (or Obama-era) versions of their "Worldwide Governance Indicators," the U.S. performance wasn't even as good as it had been in the previous, 1996-2008, rankings. Whereas the U.S. had scored consistently at the bottom of the top 10% (and near the bottom of the developed countries) prior to Obama, the U.S. has scored at the bottom of the top 15% (and the very bottom of the developed countries) since Obama came into office in 2009.
A more detailed picture of the corruption-performance of the United States, internationally, is provided by the most recent rankings from the World Economic Forum, "The Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013." That report rates 144 countries, on a wide range of factors concerning global economic competitiveness; and the U.S. scores below all other industrialized countries (of which there are about thirty) on most of the corruption-related factors. (Furthermore, that rating has likewise declined while Obama has been in office.) Here is America's international performance on the WEF factors relating to corruption:
On "Diversion of Public Funds [due to corruption]," the U.S. ranks #34 (down from #28 in their 2009-2010 report). On "Irregular Payments and Bribes" (which is perhaps an even better measure of lack of corruption) we are #42 (not rated in 2009). On "Public Trust in Politicians," we are #54 (down from #43 in 2009). On "Judicial Independence," we are #38 (down from #26). On "Favoritism in Decisions of Government Officials" (otherwise known as governmental "cronyism"), we are #59 (down from #48). On "Organized Crime," we are #87 (down from #72). On "Ethical Behavior of Firms," we are #29 (down from #22). On "Reliability of Police Services," we are #30 (down from #21). On "Transparency of Governmental Policymaking," we are #56 (down from #31). On "Efficiency of Legal Framework in Challenging Regulations," we are #37 (down from #35). On "Efficiency of Legal Framework in Settling Disputes," we are #35 (down from #33). On "Burden of Government Regulation," we are #76 (down from #53). On "Wastefulness of Government Spending," we are also #76 (down from #68). On "Property Rights" protection (the basic law-and-order measure), we are #42 (down from #30).
And here is how we perform for protecting non-elite, non-inside, investors (as opposed to insiders): On "Strength of Investor Protection," we are #5 (same as in 2009). On "Protection of Minority Shareholders' Interests," we are #33 (not rated in 2009). On "Efficacy of Corporate Boards," we are #23 (down from #20). On "Reliance on Professional Management," we are #19 (down from #11). On "Strength of Auditing and Reporting Standards," we are #37 (down from #39). On "Venture Capital Availability," we are #10 (down from #7). On "Intellectual Property Protection," we are #29 (down from #19). On "Soundness of Banks," we are #80 (up from #108). On "Regulation of Securities Exchanges," we are #39 (up from #47). On "Country Credit Rating," we are #11 (not rated in 2009). On "Government Debt [as a % of GDP]," we are #136 (down from #114). On "Effectiveness of Anti-Monopoly Policy," we are #17 (down from #11). On "Extent of Market Dominance," we are #9 (down from #7).
The U.S. is down on 19 of these WEF factors, up on 2, and unchanged on 1, during the period while Obama has been in office. This overall finding, of declining U.S. performance, is entirely in line with the similar findings from the World Bank: Corruption in the United States is increasing significantly during Obama's Presidency.
That's the forest, and here are some of its trees:
The great investigative financial journalist Pam Martens, at her "Wall Street On Parade" website, headlined on April 16th, "The Foreclosure Settlement Scandal: It's All About Paying Former Regulators Billions," and she reported that the sub-contractor that the Obama Administration had allowed Bank of America to hire in order to evaluate the harms that the bank had done to defrauded mortgagees, and in order to calculate how much these victims should be compensated by the bank for their illegally foreclosed homes, etc., "is chock full of dozens of former regulators," such as Mary Schapiro, former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Eugene Ludwig, former general counsel to the Office of Comptroller of the Currency, which is another major mega-bank "regulator." Consequently, "Today, online forums are exploding with comments from outraged foreclosure victims who have just received $300 or $500 [compensation from the bank, as negotiated by the Obama Administration] after losing all the equity in their homes in bogus foreclosures." That's a tree in Obama's corruption forest.
Here's another: The "Dealbook" blog of The New York Times headlined on March 28th, "Once More Through the Revolving Door for Justice's Breuer," and reported that Lanny Breuer, who had overseen all of the decisions regarding investigating, and regarding whether or not to prosecute, the heads of the mega-banks that U.S. taxpayers have thus far bailed out for trillions of dollars of losses that had been suffered by the inside investors in their firms, is now returning to his old law firm of Covington and Burling, in order to make an estimated $4 million in his first year back. He "will now shift to defending large corporations." which he had always actually been doing, especially when Barack Obama, and Breuer's fellow Covington and Burling corporate-defense lawyer Eric Holder, hired Breuer, to protect the banksters from the public. So: another tree has fallen.
Here is how Barack Obama had put this matter, when he secretly met with the banksters inside the White House on 27 March 2009: "My administration ... is the only thing between you and the pitchforks." He has kept his promise to them. That is the reason why "online forums are exploding with comments from outraged foreclosure victims," and why outraged outside investors in the mega-banks' fraudulent mortgage-backed securities investments are likewise treated as being "pitchforks," instead of as being victims.
Furthermore, Martens documented on April 12, under the headline, "Elizabeth Warren's Foreclosure Settlement Bombshell: Banks Determined the Number of Victims of Their Own Foreclosure Frauds," that the mega-banks even determined whether, and how much, to pay to compensate each one of their victims, individually. The great bankster-crime prosecutor, and Senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, had extracted this stunning information during Senate testimony, on April 11th. Martens then phoned the relevant bank-regulating agency, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and they confirmed to her that this was, indeed, so.
On 15 November 2011, Syracuse University's authoritative latest periodic count of federal prosecutions of white-collar crimes was published, headlining "Criminal Prosecutions for Financial Institution Fraud Continue to Fall," and it reported that whereas the number of these prosecutions was a rather steady 3,000 per year until George W. Bush came into office, these numbers have fallen steadily each year since then, and had gotten down to around a thousand per year under Obama, and were still falling, as of 2011. Lots of trees have been falling.
As Marcy Wheeler at Alternet documented on April 15th (providing the evidence from Robert Greenwald's new documentary, War on Whistleblowers), President Obama has been waging a ferocious war against whistleblowers in the federal government, prosecuting them under laws that were intended to be used instead against spies against the government, rather than against whistleblowers. He out-does even George W. Bush in destroying the lives of whistleblowers. His silent campaign against them is shockingly intense.
The rot certainly starts at the top. I am a proud Democrat who can tell a phony one clearly, especially when it's demonstrated by four years of remarkably consistent criminal (and profoundly conservative) decisions by him. Obama is a phony Democrat. He is, at best, Romney-light. Maybe he is, in some ways, even Bush-heavy. As regards non-prosecutions of financial fraudsters, the data show him to be Bush-heavy.
So, with President Obama being a highly skillful accessory after the fact, regarding the massive outburst of financial crimes that had occurred under George W. Bush - with a person like this, being now at the very top of the American Executive Branch, including of the "Justice" Department, to prosecute these mega-crooks or else not - how much of a rigged game is the U.S. economy, really?
The answer to that question is starkly shown in those international ratings.
And, now, Obama wants the future recipients of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, to pay part of the price for those crimes, so as to "share the burden," with the defrauded former homeowners, and the defrauded outside investors in "toxic assets." All of these non-"elite" people are just "pitchforks," to this President. He represents the "elite," no such riff-raff. He protects that elite from us, not us from them.
If congressional Democrats don't kill his Republican "entitlements" plan (which even Republicans are now afraid to endorse), then the Democratic Party will effectively have ended, right here and now.
But even more than this will be needed: repudiation of Obama, personally, by the Democratic Party. He is a historic stain upon the Party, much like George W. Bush is upon the Republicans; and the later that this stain is cleansed by our Party, the worse it will be for our Party, and not just for our nation. Republicans don't repudiate Bush, because he represents them. Does Obama represent us? Really?
The rot is on both sides now. Let's see if our side will clamp down against it - as Senator Warren obviously wishes to do. Are we with her, or are we with Obama? That question does not concern a white woman versus a black man; it concerns a nation of equality under law, versus a champion of "Too Big To Fail." In fact, Obama has been disastrous for Blacks, and not just for the rest of "the 99%."
The Democratic Party will have to show where it stands - and with whom, and for whom.
The Republican Party has already failed its test regarding Bush. Will the Democratic Party fail its test regarding Obama?
We are about to see a national public infrastructure funding bill that will send hundreds of billions of dollars for infrastructure building and we already see neo-liberals making sure that private contractors will get all of that money. Now, we know in Maryland private contractors are doing nothing but creating an environment of fraud and corruption and keeping Maryland and Baltimore labor from having strong job security and wages. We will see all of these funds go to pay to play schemes as global corporations from foreign countries are allowed to do national building so that US corporations get work in those countries....same for Maryland businesses getting work all across the country by giving work in Maryland to other states. ALL OF THIS WORKS AGAINST CITIZENS IN EACH STATE AND AGAINST JOB SECURITY AND WAGE/BENEFITS AND IT IS DONE DELIBERATELY.
Stop allowing neo-liberals to pretend the only way to have work it to give corporations everything they want!
O'Malley to sign public-private partnership bill tomorrow
April 08, 2013|By Erin Cox | The Baltimore Sun
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown said a bill that would allow private companies to help build public works projects will get the governor's signature tomorrow.
Lawmakers approved the bill laying out rules for public-private partnerships on Monday afternoon, the last day of General Assembly session.
In an interview, Brown said the legislation two years in the making could allow a private company to finance the propose Purple Line, the Red Line or create a second crossing of the Nice Bridge connecting Charles County to Virginia.
"We're going to get back to the business of investing in Maryland," Brown said.
The proposal to allow private companies to bid on public projects failed last year. Brown, who led the administration's efforts to pass the bill, said the passed version gives more incentives for businesses to participate.
Between 6 and 10 percent of the capital budget, roughly $315 million a year, could be paid for private dollars when the program is in place.
We do not have to be zenophobic in allowing investment in America. The problem we have today is that global corporations are not operating legally and when you have Rule of Law suspended....you have more of a danger from overseas corporations who no doubt operate illegally all the time.
We see this uptick in foreign investment and contracting because global markets require the US allow foreign corporations into America if US corporations are to be allowed into foreign markets. THIS IS WHAT IS ELIMINATING ALL LABOR AND JUSTICE LAWS AS THE US NEO-LIBERALS ARE WORKING TO BRING US WORKING CONDITIONS TO THIRD WORLD LEVELS.
We want Americans to be able to start grassroot companies and grow into these regional corporations. The 1% do not want that...they want all business controlled by global corporations. THIS IS WHAT THE NATIONAL PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE BILL WILL DO....MARYLAND IS ALREADY HEAVILY INVOLVED WITH THIS BAD PRACTICE.....IT IS WHAT THE BALTIMORE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION IS ALL ABOUT!
EXAMPLES OF GROWING FOREIGN CONTROL
OF CRITICAL U.S. INFRASTRUCTURE
Eighty percent (80%) of U.S. seaports are already controlled and/or operated by foreign companies:
· Six of seven companies running terminals within the Port of New York/New Jersey are foreign-owned.
· At the Port of Houston, the British firm Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. (acquired by Dubai Ports World) handles freight at several public terminals. Inchcape Shipping Services, the world's largest private shipping manager which was recently acquired by a United Arab Emirates investment company, also has had a long-time presence in Houston.
· At the Port of Boston, P&O Ports (wholly owned subsidiary of Peninsular and Oriental) and the Massachusetts Port Authority have joined forces to operate the Black Falcon Cruise Ship Terminal.
· P&O Ports is also a 50% joint venture partner in Delaware River Stevedores (DRS), which provides stevedoring and terminal services in Philadelphia, PA, Camden, NJ, and Wilmington, DE
· 80 percent of the terminals at the nation’s busiest port, the Port of Los Angeles, are run by foreigners. · At the Port of Baltimore, APM Terminals, a division of the Danish A.P. Moller-Maersk Group, operates a private container terminal within Dundalk Marine Terminal. C. Steinweg (USA) Inc., a division of Dutch company C. Steinweg Handelsveem B.V., operates the Baltimore Metal & Commodities Terminal Inc. Terminal. Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, a company born of a merger between a Swedish firm and a Norwegian firm in 1999, operates the Mid-Atlantic Terminal. Finally, Ceres Terminals Incorporated, of Japanese firm NYK, currently provides service at cruise terminals in Bayonne, NJ, Brooklyn, NY, and Baltimore, MD.
· Foreign interests or their subsidiaries operate container cargo terminals at seven of the busiest container cargo ports in the U.S.
· Neptune Orient Line, (70% owned by the Singapore government) bought U.S.-based APL Limited in 1997 and now operates terminals in Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, and Alaska.
· Yang Ming Marine Transport Company (partially owned by the Taiwanese government) runs terminals in Los Angeles and Tacoma.
· Cosco Container Lines (division of China Cosco) is owned by the Chinese government and operates a terminal at Long Beach.
· A.P. Moeller-Maersk, a Danish company, is the largest terminal operator in the United States and owner of the world's largest shipping fleet. It operates terminals at the ports of Miami-Dade and Jacksonville, among others, and owns APM Terminals NA, which is building a $500 million private container terminal in Portsmouth, Virginia, scheduled to open in 2007.
· In Norfolk, Virginia, Ceres Marine Terminals Inc. (one of the major stevedoring firms) is owned by Japanese shipping firm NYK Line. Norfolk also is the U.S. headquarters of French shipping line CMA-CGM Group and Israeli shipper Zim-American Israeli Shipping Co.
· According to Dennis Rochford, president of the Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay, of the 2,700 ships that pass through the ports of Camden (New Jersey), Philadelphia, and Wilmington along the Delaware River each year, 2,500 are foreign
· In the late 1990s, China Ocean Shipping Co. (COSCO) wanted to build a $200 million container terminal at the Port of Long Beach until there was a public outcry and Congress passed a bill scuttling the plans. After a terminal at the port was later vacated by another tenant, however, Cosco was able to take it over and operate at Long Beach.
· Recently, there was similar public outcry when China National Offshore Oil Corp.’s subsidiary (CNOOC Ltd) made a bid to buy Unocal.
· Indianapolis International Airport is now run by a wholly-owned subsidiary of BAA plc (the privatized British Airport Authority). BAA plc also holds medium-term retail management contracts with Pittsburgh International, Boston Logan International, and Baltimore/Washington International airports. This company can be sold to an Iranian, Russian, or Syrian company at any time it is deemed to be in the best interests of its stockholders.
· International Terminal 4 at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport is operated under a long term concession deal between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and a consortium that includes Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, which is a corporation run by the Dutch government.
· International Concourse E at Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport is managed by a domestic subsidiary of TBI plc, a British airport management company. TBI also provides ramp control at four of Hartsfield’s six ramps and manages the Airport-wide Flight Information Display System.
· TBI also manages both the international and domestic terminals, develops additional air service, and provides ground handling and cargo services for Central Florida’s Orlando Sanford International Airport. TBI additionally provides total airport management services at Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport.
· AvPorts, a domestic subsidiary of the Australian-owned Macquarie Infrastructure Company, provides management and operations services at Albany International Airport, Atlantic City International Airport, Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport, and Westchester County Airport.
· Stewart International Airport, located north of New York City, operates under a 99-year lease to the U.S. subsidiary of the U.K.-based National Express Group, PLC.
· WATER AND WASTE WATER TREATMENT
- Of the four largest water companies that provide operations and maintenance services to publicly-owned water and wastewater systems in the U.S., only one—OMI—is a domestic company.
- More than 2,400 water and waste water systems in the USA contract with private firms to operate and maintain them. Veolia Water, for instance, is the a subsidiary of a French firm and serves more than 600 communities and 14 million people through public-private partnerships with local governments, including the nation’s largest water partnership in Indianapolis.
In addition, 15 percent of the U.S. population is served by about 20,000 private water and wastewater utilities - most are domestic subsidiaries of foreign firms.
· The National Grid, which supplies electrical power to much of the North East, is owned by a foreign firm, which, at any time, if it were in the interest of stockholder profits, could sell out to the "highest bidder"...be it in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia or the Sudan.
State and local politicians have discovered that they can make short term political gains by selling their state and local highway infrastructure to temporarily reduce taxes. The buyers? Long-term-thinking foreign companies that often break even on these 75 and 99 year long "deals" in a few years. For example:
· In 2004, the City of Chicago turned over control of the 7.8 mile Chicago Skyway to the Australian-owned Macquarie Infrastructure Group and Spanish-owned Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte S.A. for 99 years!
· The same firms have now taken control of the critically important Indiana Toll Road.
· Cintra also is a major player in the consortium designing, building, operating and controlling the first Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC-35).
· Macquarie also now controls:
the Dulles Greenway toll road in Virginia,
the Foley Beach Expressway in Alabama
the SR-125 toll road under construction in San Diego...among others
Macquarie was also control three toll roads in the Portland, Oregon area.
· The Australian firm Transurban is partnering with U.S.-based Fluor on projects to add high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes to the Capital Beltway (I-495) and along the I-95/I-395 corridor in Virginia.
THIS IS A GOOD ARTICLE ON THE MASSIVE MORTGAGE FRAUD. rEMEMBER, THIS FRAUD ALONE WAS IN THE TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS. WITH THE REST OF THE FINANCIAL FRAUD...TENS OF TRILLIONS.
Do not allow what could pay all government debt at all levels get way without justice!
The Quiet Plot to Excuse Mortgage Fraud
January 3rd, 2012
in Op Ed
by William K. Black, New Economic Perspectives
President Obama Negotiates our Formal Surrender to Crony Capitalism – and the Nation Yawns
On December 13, 2011, the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled “Banks in Push for Pact.” It was an obscure article buried in the real estate section. The article contained this clause: “Under the proposal, banks would be released from legal claims tied to servicing delinquent mortgages as well as certain mortgage-origination practices….” Opponents of this proposed amnesty for mortgage-origination fraud have charged repeatedly that the federal government and Tom Miller, the Attorney General of Iowa, who is leading the settlement negotiations, support the amnesty. Previously, Miller’s key lieutenant, but not the Obama administration, angrily denounced the charge. Click on cartoon for larger image.
The Four Levels of Control Fraud Involving Mortgages
Home lenders, particularly those making liar’s loans, typically committed endemic “accounting control fraud” on multiple levels. Control fraud occurs when the persons controlling a seemingly legitimate entity use it as a “weapon” to defraud. Accounting is the “weapon of choice” for financial control frauds. Mortgage frauds can be grouped into four levels, each of them exceptionally widespread: loan origination fraud by the lenders and their agents, the fraudulent sale of fraudulent mortgages, the fraudulent pooling and sale of collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) in which the underlying was largely fraudulent mortgages, and foreclosure fraud.
Loan Origination Fraud
The classic economics article describing such frauds is George Akerlof and Paul Romer’s “Looting: the Economic Underworld of Bankruptcy for Profit” (1993). The recipe” for accounting control fraud by a lender (or purchaser) has four ingredients.
1.Extreme growth by making (or purchasing)
2.Loans of extremely poor quality at a premium yield
3.While employing extreme leverage, and
4.Providing grossly inadequate allowances for loan and lease losses (ALLL)
Origination fraud involved a series of mutually supportive frauds: inflating the borrower’s income, inflating the appraised value of the home, providing grossly inadequate allowances for loan and lease losses (ALLL), and failing to recognize losses on fraudulent loans held in portfolio. It was also common for federally insured lenders to file false reports with and make false statements to the regulators. Lenders that made liar’s loans were “accounting control frauds.” Their CEOs cause them to create perverse incentives to suborn the supposedly independent experts to provide opinions that inflate values and understate risk in order to aid and abet the underlying accounting fraud. These perverse incentives create a “Gresham’s” dynamic in which bad ethics drives good ethics out of the marketplace. The result is “echo” fraud epidemics. Each of these frauds constitutes a federal felony. Most of the frauds I have described are also felonies under state law. Collectively, there were millions of origination frauds with a total dollar amount of fraudulent originations well in excess of $1 trillion.
The Fraudulent Sale of Fraudulent Loans
The second level of fraud is the fraudulent sale by the lenders of the fraudulent loans. This form of fraud required endemic false “reps and warranties.” Roughly 90 percent of liar’s loans were sold, so this second level of fraud also constitutes millions of federal and state felonies and roughly $1 trillion in fraudulent sales.
The Frauds involved in Pooling Fraudulent Loans to Create and Sell Fraudulent CDOs
The third level of fraud is the sale of collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) “backed” by fraudulent liar’s loans through false disclosures. This level of fraud constitutes tens of thousands of federal felonies and roughly $1 trillion in fraudulent sales.
The fourth level of fraud is foreclosure fraud. The best known of these frauds involved the commission of hundreds of thousands of felonies through the filing of false affidavits to secure foreclosures (inaptly called “robo signing”).
Massive Foreclosure Fraud Generated the Global Settlement Discussions
It was this last level of fraud that prompted the settlement discussions. What one must keep constantly in mind when dealing with lenders that are control frauds is that they and their senior officers will be represented by the best criminal defense lawyers. America still does many things superbly, and we do lawyers really well. The fraudulent officers who control banks engaged in control fraud will spend bank funds like water for their defense lawyers. The old joke is that when one is dealt lemons one should make lemonade. In law school, however, we consider that the “C minus” answer. When dealt lemons; the best lawyers seek to make Dom Perignon.
Consider the setting – you represent a systemically dangerous institution (SDI) that was the beneficiary of a federal bailout. Your client has made hundreds of thousands of fraudulent liar’s loans and fraudulently sold the great bulk of them. If your client is held responsible for these frauds it will have to reveal that it is massively insolvent and face receivership. Your client is also one of the largest mortgage loan servicers in the world. A small law firm representing a borrower has taken the deposition of one of your client’s key employees who signed the affidavits necessary to support roughly ten thousand foreclosures a month – and admitted that the key statements she has made in each of those affidavits is false. The somnolent federal government had finally been forced to admit that the banks have engaged in endemic foreclosure fraud. The states are also involved. This would be a nightmare scenario for any normal client. For an SDI, however, it was an opportunity.
L’audace, encore l’audace, toujours l’audace!
(Audacity, more audacity, always audacity: the white collar defense lawyer’s creed)
One of the secrets to being an extraordinarily effective elite criminal is also true of their lawyers – audacity. Elite white-collar criminals can frequently get away with grotesque criminal conduct if they use their exceptional advantages provided by wealth, privilege, and seeming legitimacy. Even within the ranks of elite white-collar criminals, however, the CEOs who control SDIs – particularly during a financial crisis that they caused – are unique in their power to commit crimes with impunity. They hold the national, even global, economy hostage. Treasury Secretary Geithner has made this strategy simple by displaying the “Stockholm Syndrome.” He has fallen in love with the criminals that are holding our economy hostage. Geithner claims that the fraudulent SDIs are so fragile that they would collapse if they were even investigated seriously for fraud. He conveniently ignores the fact that the primary reason for the SDIs’ fragility is that their CEOs looted the banks.
They can also use “their” bank to buy the modern equivalent of indulgences for even the most destructive frauds. There are two non-exclusive means of buying indulgences. The most obvious means is political contributions. The finance industry is the leading funder of both political parties. The less obvious means of buying immunity arises from the dysfunctional nature of DOJ policies for (not) prosecuting major firms for serious felonies and the ability of the CEO to use corporate funds to purchase personal immunity from criminal prosecutions.
Five Protections for the Powerful
Five facts about the criminal defense of large firms must be kept prominently in mind when considering the defense of banksters. First, the CEO will gladly trade off billions of dollars in payments by the bank and its liability insurers in order to secure immunity from criminal charges against the CEO and the senior officers who could implicate the CEO.
Second, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has essentially ceased to prosecute large firms for serious felonies. DOJ was so traumatized by the consequences of prosecuting Arthur Andersen that it has decided to allow large firms to enter into “deferred prosecution” agreements (in which prosecution is, in reality, perpetually deferred). Arthur Andersen had entered into two deferred prosecution agreements, and DOJ offered it a third, when AA refused the agreement and went to trial.
Third, while I have referred to the firm as the “client” and the firm and its insurers typically pay for the attorney fees and fines, it is the CEO that can hire and fire outside counsel. Outside counsel, therefore, are chosen by fraudulent CEOs because they are willing to aid and abet the CEO in looting the real client (the firm). This is a classic example of the fraudulent bank CEO deliberately creating a Gresham’s dynamic in which the least ethical members of the “independent” profession drive the most ethical out of lucrative representations. In criminology jargon, control frauds are criminogenic. Fraudulent CEOs use their ability to make compensation for officers, employees, and independent professionals perverse in order to create environments that cause widespread frauds that aid and abet the lender’s fraud scheme. To put it in plainer, biblical English: fraud begets fraud.
Fourth, the settlement payments are typically deductible from taxes. This means that the defendant’s actual burden of paying the fine is much smaller than the announced amount of the fine.
Fifth, defense counsel typically promise to pay some portion of the fines to the victims of the fraud. This is a brilliant tactic. It makes the government attorneys feel good about the settlement and it allows them to bash opponents of the settlement as blocking relief for the victims. The tactic, of course, is cynical and dishonest. The weak settlement is what prevents a far greater recovery for the victims of the fraud. The government does not have to wait for a settlement to aid the victims of foreclosure fraud.
Settlement discussions by counsel for control frauds with the government and shareholders are all about exceptionally able and zealous legal representation of the CEO at the expense of the client, its shareholders, and the public. Only vigorous regulators and prosecutors can protect the firm, shareholders, and public from looting by these CEOs and the allies they generate.
The Proposed Deal: The $1 Trillion Lagniappe
The obvious deal that criminal defense counsel for banks always seek is to trade a showy amount of fines for de facto or even formal immunity for the CEO and other senior officers who led the frauds and became wealthy through the frauds. Here, the defense counsel were far more audacious – they are demanding immunity not only from prosecution, but even from investigation, and they are demanding immunity for crimes they committed that have never been investigated by the state and local prosecutors. The foreclosure fraud cases, while enormous, are by far the least of the banksters’ worries. The potential loss exposure from the foreclosure fraud is measured in the tens of billions of dollars. The potential loss exposure from fraudulent home loan originations is in the trillions of dollars – and a trillion is a thousand billion. The banks’ CEOs are demanding, for a puny $25 billion, a release from liability for foreclosure fraud. That is obscene on multiple levels. Even President Obama concedes that the banks treat such fines as a mere “cost of doing business” (by which he means the “small tax on the wealth obtained by elites through doing fraudulent business”). The senior officers involved in the fraud should be imprisoned. Giving them immunity, allowing them to keep their bonuses “earned” through fraud, and keeping them in leadership roles are all despicable acts that should be anathema to every prosecutor.
But what came next went beyond scandal as usual. The banks then demanded a lagniappe – a little something extra, for free, in a New Orleans restaurant – they wanted immunity for loan origination fraud. The slight difference is that this lagniappe is worth trillions of dollars to the frauds. It sickens me to inform the reader that the Obama administration is eager to provide the frauds with this lagniappe. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), led by Secretary Shaun Donovan, is actively pushing this scandalous deal, with strong support in the background from Treasury Secretary Geithner. The silence of Attorney General Holder, and President Obama, on this travesty is exceptional.
Worse, the banks are seeking immunity even from investigation of the over trillion dollars in mortgage origination fraud – and the Obama and Bush administrations’ supposed “investigations” of mortgage origination fraud by the large lenders that made the mass of liar’s loans are all unworthy of the word “investigations.” It would take roughly 100 investigators, working for years, to do a serious investigation of any of the largest liar’s loan lenders. There has never been, remotely, such an investigation by the federal government of the any large liar’s loan lender. The Obama administration is reported to support the fraudulent financial CEOs’ dearest dream – de facto immunity even from investigation of over a trillion dollars in fraudulent liar’s loans origination.
The Republican Party and its candidates for the Party’s presidential nomination are not criticizing Obama’s proposed formal surrender to crony capitalism. They only wish they were in complete power and could cash in even more heavily on the tidal bore of campaign contributions flowing out of the finance industry.
Miller, and everyone involved, knows there was endemic origination fraud
Miller no longer denies that he has joined the administration in favoring the banks’ most cherished dream – amnesty for originating a trillion dollars in fraudulent home loans. Indeed, the settlement is designed to prevent even investigations of the mortgage origination fraud.
I confess that I am so naïve that I would have believed it impossible that any federal or state governmental entity would enter into such an abject surrender to crony capitalism. Once I learned that they were seriously contemplating such a travesty I could not believe that Miller would support it. I believed his lieutenant’s (Mr. Madigan’s) denunciation of criticism of the proposed amnesty. (I have reviewed Madigan’s comments in preparing this piece and I see that they were artfully crafted to be disingenuous.)
The testimony of Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General of Iowa, at a 2007 Federal Reserve Board hearing shows that he knows that the lenders engaged in massive origination fraud.
Over the last several years, the subprime market has created a race to the bottom in which unethical actors have been handsomely rewarded for their misdeeds and ethical actors have lost market share…. The market incentives rewarded irresponsible lending and made it more difficult for responsible lenders to compete. Strong regulations will create an even playing field in which ethical actors are no longer punished.
Despite the well documented performance struggles of 2006 vintage loans, originators continued to use products with the same characteristics in 2007.
[M]any originators … invent … non-existent occupations or income sources, or simply inflat[e] income totals to support loan applications. A review of 100 stated income loans by one lender found that a shocking 90% of the applications overstated income by 5% or more and almost 60% overstated income by more than 50%. Importantly, our investigations have found that most stated income fraud occurs at the suggestion and direction of the loan originator, not the consumer.
Miller, T. 2007. “Comments to the Federal Reserve Board ofGovernors on Adopting Regulations to Prohibit Unfair and Deceptive Acts andPractices under the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA)." (August 14).
Miller was correct. We know that it was overwhelmingly lenders and their agents that put the lies in “liar’s” loans. We know that 90 percent of liar’s loans were fraudulent. We know that the industry massively increased the number of liar’s loans after warnings that the loans were endemically fraudulent. The growth rate of liar’s loans was so rapid (over 500% from 2003-2006) that these fraudulent loans caused the housing bubble to hyper-inflate. We know that no government entity ever caused any entity to make or purchase (and that includes Fannie and Freddie) liar’s loans. Indeed, the government repeatedly warned of the dangers of liar’s loans. We know that by 2006 roughly one-third of all home loans made that year were liar’s loans – which means there were millions of fraudulent loans made annually and, collectively, trillions of dollars in fraudulently originated home loans.
What must be done
Our economy and our democracy cannot succeed under crony capitalism. Please join me in writing to Congress, the administration, your state attorney general, the media, and any court that must approve this proposed settlement. It is a disgrace. President Obama is, of course, correct that some actions can be illegal but exceptionally unethical and damaging. He is about to take precisely such an action in derogation of his oath of office to defend and protect the constitution of the United States of America. The fraudulent CEOs of the banks that became wealthy by causing the financial crisis and the Great Recession are treating us as fools who will give trillion dollar plus gifts to the least deserving, most arrogant, and least ethical elites. Have we fallen so low as a people that we will allow this to happen?
Please join me in supporting the Attorney Generals of New York, Delaware, and California who have opposed this settlement.
As for President Obama, I hope that he will make this New Year’s resolution: “I resolve to honor my oath of office and faithfully execute the laws of the United States and defend its constitution, which is premised on justice and the rule of law. No person, no matter how elite, is above that law. I have today asked Messrs. Bernanke, Geithner, and Donovan for their resignations because of their support for bailing out the elite banks and granting de facto amnesty to fraudulent financial CEOs. I, and my new Attorney General and new Secretary of the Treasury, have mutually resolved to make the vigorous prosecution of the elite financial frauds that drove the ongoing crisis our mission. ”
About the Author
William K. Black is the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He spent years working on regulatory policy and fraud prevention as Executive Director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention, Litigation Director of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board and Deputy Director of the National Commission on Financial Institution Reform, Recovery and Enforcement, among other positions