Daily Archive: November 19, 2011

Defense mechanisms of our insect overlords (Gluttonus explodens)

Insect overlords shoot caustic fluids out their flame retardant asses as a self-defense mechanism.  It’s a natural evolution.  It’s nothing personal.

This is precisely* why we need to re-elect Barack Obama in 2012!

*Please insert your own fucked-up chain of reasoning from A to B and then Y to Z.

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

Regular Features-

These Weekly Features-

This is an Open Thread

The Stars Hollow Gazette

On this Day In History November 19

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

November 19 is the 323rd day of the year (324th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 42 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivers Gettysburg Address.

On November 19, 1863, at the dedication of a military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln delivers one of the most memorable speeches in American history. In just 272 words, Lincoln brilliantly and movingly reminded a war-weary public why the Union had to fight, and win, the Civil War.

The Battle of Gettysburg, fought some four months earlier, was the single bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Over the course of three days, more than 45,000 men were killed, injured, captured or went missing.  The battle also proved to be the turning point of the war: General Robert E. Lee’s defeat and retreat from Gettysburg marked the last Confederate invasion of Northern territory and the beginning of the Southern army’s ultimate decline.

Charged by Pennsylvania’s governor, Andrew Curtin, to care for the Gettysburg dead, an attorney named David Wills bought 17 acres of pasture to turn into a cemetery for the more than 7,500 who fell in battle. Wills invited Edward Everett, one of the most famous orators of the day, to deliver a speech at the cemetery’s dedication. Almost as an afterthought, Wills also sent a letter to Lincoln-just two weeks before the ceremony-requesting “a few appropriate remarks” to consecrate the grounds.

Text of Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us-that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion-that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain-that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Nevada AG Indicts Title Company Officers

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cotez Masto has filed a 606 count criminal indictment against two title company employees for for supervising the filing of tens of thousands of fraudulent documents in a robo-signing scheme. This is the statement from Masto’s office (pdf):

   The Office of the Nevada Attorney General announced today that the Clark County grand jury has returned a 606 count indictment against two title officers, Gary Trafford and Gerri Sheppard, who directed and supervised a robo-signing scheme which resulted in the filing of tens of thousands of fraudulent documents with the Clark County Recorder’s Office between 2005 and 2008.

   According to the indictment, defendant Gary Trafford, a California resident, is charged with 102 counts of offering false instruments for recording (category C felony); false certification on certain instruments (category D felony); and notarization of the signature of a person not in the presence of a notary public (a gross misdemeanor). The indictment charges d efendant Gerri Sheppard, also a California resident, with 100 counts of offering false instruments for recording (category C felony); false certification on certain instruments (category D felony); and notarization of the signature of a person not in the presence of a notary public (a gross misdemeanor).

   “The grand jury found probable cause that there was a robo-signing scheme which resulted in the filing of tens of thousands of fraudulent documents with the Clark County Recorder’s Office between 2005 and 2008,”said Chief Deputy Attorney General John Kelleher.

   The indictment alleges that both defendants directed the fraudulent notarization and filing of documents which were used to initiate foreclosure on local homeowners.

   The State alleges that these documents, referred to as Notices of Default, or “NODs”, were prepared locally. The State alleges that the defendants directed employees under their supervision, to forge their names on foreclosure documents, then notarize the signatures they just forged, thereby fraudulently attesting that the defendants actually signed the documents, which was untrue and in violation of State law. The defendants then allegedly directed the employees under their supervision to file the fraudulent documents with the Clark County Recorder’s office, to be used to start foreclosures on homes throughout the County.

   The indictment alleges that these crimes were done in secret in order to avoid detection. The fraudulent NODs were allegedly forged locally to allow them to be filed at the Clark County Recorder’s office on the same day they were prepared.

Although the two Lender Processing Services employees, Gary Trafford and Gerri Sheppard, are deemed to be little fish there is speculation the Ms. Masto is using this as a hook to an go after the whales. Yves Smith at naked capitalism:

   That strongly suggests that Masto is, as we suggested earlier, using these indictments as a wedge to go after much broader abuses in the servicing industry. LPS’s biggest business is its Default Services Group, which both managed the operations of foreclosure mills (people with knowledge of LPS charge that the firm even kicks out certain standard form documents for foreclosure mill attorneys to file) and also often acted as the arms and legs of servicers in other arenas (for instance, managing, or more accurately, mismanaging property seized in foreclosure).

   LPS has always taken the position that anything it did was at the direction of and with the full knowledge of the servicers. If Masto is shrewd, her objective will be to audit LPSs’ software, since that will demonstrate pattern and practice, and it will be impossible for servicers to deny that processes embodied in ongoing, routinized activities were unknown to them.

David Dayen at FDL agrees that this may well be the first step in getting the higher ups who made, and are still, making a fortune on foreclosures:

LPS hasn’t been indicted, but you can see where this is going. We know enough now to know that this casual forgery and document fraud was official policy for the company. Indictments of Trafford and Sheppard will almost certainly not end there. Everyone who worked for LPS in Nevada will be culpable. [..]

The fact that they are LPS employees also suggests this is just a first step. This could be a way to get at the software that LPS uses to create documents, which would prove pattern and practice. LPS was central to the entire robo-signing scheme across foreclosure mill law firms and mortgage servicers. And they consistently maintain that they worked at the direction of the servicers and with their full knowledge. So that ropes in the servicers as well.

This is a very important indictment, and it shows how methodical Masto has been about going after widespread industry abuse. It’s only just beginning, but bravo for her.

As has been reported, despite the meager attempts at an agreement to settle this and exonerate the banks of any wrong doing by several other Attorney Generals, the robo-signing continues:

   Reuters reviewed records of individual county clerk offices in five states — Florida, Massachusetts, New York, and North and South Carolina — with searchable online databases. Reuters also examined hundreds of documents from court case files, some obtained online and others provided by attorneys.

   The searches found more than 1,000 mortgage assignments that for multiple reasons appear questionable: promissory notes missing required endorsements or bearing faulty ones; and “complaints” (the legal documents that launch foreclosure suits) that appear to contain multiple incorrect facts.

   These are practices that the 14 banks and other loan servicers said had occurred only on a small scale and were halted more than six months ago. [..]

   Reuters reviewed records of individual county clerk offices in five states — Florida, Massachusetts, New York, and North and South Carolina — with searchable online databases. Reuters also examined hundreds of documents from court case files, some obtained online and others provided by attorneys.

   The searches found more than 1,000 mortgage assignments that for multiple reasons appear questionable: promissory notes missing required endorsements or bearing faulty ones; and “complaints” (the legal documents that launch foreclosure suits) that appear to contain multiple incorrect facts.

   These are practices that the 14 banks and other loan servicers said had occurred only on a small scale and were halted more than six months ago.

Meanwhile, as Yves Smith pointed out this Summer, the bankers continue to lie to congress that they have stopped the practice:

We’ve heard numerous bank executives swear piously before Congressional hearings that those “paperwork problems” that led major servicers to halt or slow foreclosures on a widespread basis last year were “mistakes”. That was already a really big lies, since “mistake” means the practice was not deliberate and was presumably isolated, when in fact robosigning was a widespread, institutionalized practice.

14 major servicers then swore in consent orders earlier this year that they’d stop doing all that bad stuff. But with compliance weak (the banks get to hire the overseers!), they appear to have decided they don’t need to change their ways all that much. Indeed, the record of consent orders is underwhelming; for instance, both Nevada and Arizona are suing Countrywide for violations of past agreements.

Meanwhile the Obama Justice Department continues to try to sweep this massive fraud under the rug.

Yes, bravo, Ms. Masto.

Nevada Robosigning Indicment 11-16-11

Cartnoon

The Menace of Maninsuit, Episode 4, Season 2

What’s Cooking: Turkey Technology

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Republished from November 20, 2010 for obvious timely reasons.

I never went to cooking school or took home economics in high school, I was too busy blowing up the attic with my chemistry set. I did like to eat and eat stuff that tasted good and looked pretty, plus my mother couldn’t cook to save her life let alone mine and Pop’s, that was her mother’s venue. So I watched learned and innovated. I also read cook books and found that cooking and baking where like chemistry and physics. I know, this is Translator’s territory, but I do have a degree in biochemistry.

Cooking a turkey is not as easy as the directions on the Butterball wrapping looks. My daughter, who is the other cook in the house (makes the greatest breads, soups and stews) is in charge of the Turkey for the big day. Since we have a house full of family and friends, there are four, yeah that many, 13 to 15 pound gobblers that get cooked in the one of the two ovens of the Viking in the kitchen and outside on the covered grill that doubles as an oven on these occasions. Her guru is Alton Brown, he of Good Eats on the Food Network. This is the method she has used with rave reviews. Alton’s Roast Turkey recipe follows below the fold. You don’t have to brine, the daughter doesn’t and you can vary the herbs, the results are the same, perfection. My daughter rubs very soft butter under the skin and places whole sage leaves under the skin in a decorative pattern, wraps the other herbs in cheese cloth and tucks it in the cavity. If you prefer, or are kosher, canola oil works, too.

Bon Appetite and Happy Thanksgiving

Late Night Karaoke

Random Japan

Photobucket

KIDS THESE DAYS

A newspaper survey revealed that 26 percent of female high school students say using a cellphone is their favorite after-school activity, while just 11 percent of boys say so.

On the other hand, 21 percent of guys said they devote themselves to video games, but just 6 percent of girls do.

After a subway car in Nagoya was found covered in graffiti, an official with the local transportation bureau said it had been “decades” since such a thing had happened in the city.

A teenager who had been hospitalized since eating tainted beef at a yakinuku restaurant in April became the fifth person to die from an E. coli outbreak in Toyama.

Cops in Miyagi believe that a total of 89 gangsters have received quake-related welfare loans from the government despite a requirement that applicants submit a formal declaration stating they are not yakuza members.

Popular Culture 20111118: A Brief History of The Who. Part I

In this series about The Who we have reviewed all of their albums through Who are You, and I chose to stop there because the band were just not the same after the death of Keith Moon.  We shall now go back and look at the formation of the band, their rise to fame, and their slow decline after the release of Who’s Next.

Tonight we shall concentrate on their meeting and early success, ending with the departure of the really shady Shel Talmey in 1966.  Most people are not really aware of how far back some of the band members actually went, and how the band came to be in its lineup of Roger Daltrey, John Enwistle, Keith Moon, and Peter Townshend.  There were two others who, although they did not play or sing or write, were absolutely essential to the evolution of the band into what it became.

Massachusetts (✓). Who’s next? What’s your problem, New York?

The Massachusetts House approved An Act Relative to Transgender Equality late Tuesday night on a vote of 95-58 after Democrats limited debate to one hour, thereby stifling republican proposed amendments intended to water down the already watered-down bill, which does not include protections from discrimination in public accommodations.  No lunch counters for us.

The intent, of course, was to keep us out of bathrooms and locker rooms.

The Senate approved the bill on Wednesday on a voice vote.  Wednesday was the last day of the legislative session.

Governor Duval Patrick signed the bill today, according to one source.  Massachusetts becomes the 16th state, along with the District of Columbia, to protect transpeople from discrimination and leaves New Hampshire as the only New England state without protections for transpeople.

What’s up in New York, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania?  We’re waiting.  And in some cases, we’re dying.

The Massachusetts Legislature today recognized that transgender residents should be treated equally and protected under the law.  The Transgender Equal Rights Bill has languished for years, but today the Legislature sent a clear message of fairness and equality.

Joe Solomonese, Human Rights Campaign

The bill provides protections from discrimination in employment, housing, education and employment and also adds gender identity and expression to the Massachusetts hate crimes bill.