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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Human Rights Alert

Bank of America, Home Foreclosures, and the US Economy at a Crossroads
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Information Clearing House Newsletter
News You Won't Find On CNN January 04, 2011 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Bank of America Scrambling to Mount Defense Amid Threat of Devastating WikiLeaks Reveal:

A team of Bank of America officials is scrambling to investigate its own documents and executives' hard drives in an effort to be prepared, should WikiLeaks release devastating materials about the bank. http://bit.ly/i9gKWn === U.S. Home Foreclosures May Top 100,000 In January: Yun says there is a massive shadow inventory - homes not yet on the market where the owners are more than 90 days behind on their payments. "It's just inevitable that they will go into a foreclosure," he says. http://n.pr/g76P1F === BofA bribes government: BoA Settles $2B Claim On Home Loan Fault: Bank of America has paid out $2.6 billion over allegations leveled by U.S. mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that it sold loans based on faulty information http://bit.ly/e0lZtS === The New Stealth Bailout Of Bank Of America By Joe Weisenthal Bank of America just settled for about $.01 on the dollar. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article27185.htm ===

Page 2/6 Number of Uninsured Americans Soars to 50 Million:

January 5, 2011

The number of uninsured rose to 50.0 million in 2009, an increase of 4.3 million. http://bit.ly/hu7rn6 === America Is About To Slide Into Third World Status? By RT Economist Michael Hudson joins Thom to talk about countries looking for alternatives to US dollar and rescued banks teetering towards collapse. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article27189.htm

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Bank of America Scrambling to Mount Defense Amid Threat of Devastating WikiLeaks Reveal
A team of Bank of America officials is scrambling to investigate its own documents and executives' hard drives in an effort to be prepared, should WikiLeaks release devastating materials about the bank. Raw Story first reported in late November that Bank of America may be the next big WikiLeaks target, citing a 2009 interview in which Julian Assange said he had 5GB of secret documents from the bank. Assange said in an interview this fall that WikiLeaks was prepared to "take down" a major U.S. bank in early 2011. As a result of that report, Bank of America's stock fell 3 percent in a day. Although the bank initially said it had "no evidence that supports this assertion," the New York Times reports that over the past few months Bank of America officials have been scurrying to preemptively build a defense. [A] team of 15 to 20 top Bank of America officials, led by the chief risk officer, Bruce R. Thompson, has been overseeing a broad internal investigation — scouring thousands of documents in the event that they become public, reviewing every case where a computer has gone missing and hunting for any sign that its systems might have been compromised. In addition to the internal team drawn from departments like finance, technology, legal and communications, the bank has brought in Booz Allen Hamilton, the consulting firm, to help manage the review. It has also sought advice from several top law firms about legal problems that could arise from a disclosure, including the bank’s potential liability if private information was disclosed about clients. In other words, bank executives are shaking in their boots -- and you can bet others in corporate America are doing the same, should Assange decide to come after them next. Assange has lived up to his threats in the past, so they have every right to be worried. _______________

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January 5, 2011

U.S. Home Foreclosures May Top 100,000 In January
by TAMARA KEITH

Transcript

EnlargeJoe Raedle/Getty Images

A bank-owned home in Miami, Fla., where foreclosure sales made up 39.7 percent in the most recent quarter, according to RealtyTrac. Analysts expect more foreclosures in early 2011. text size A A A

January 3, 2011

Over the holidays, many lenders put foreclosures on hold. But that temporary freeze is over now. Industry watchers are expecting thousands of foreclosed properties to hit the market in the weeks and months ahead. Home foreclosure sales slowed down at the end of 2010 for two reasons: the regular holiday foreclosure freezes, and the remnants of the so-called robo-signing scandal. In the fall, many lenders put evictions on hold while they reviewed their foreclosure procedures. Rick Sharga of RealtyTrac says that's behind us now — and the pace of foreclosure is about to pick up. "I'd be really, really surprised if we didn't see a probably record quarter in the first quarter of this year," he says. Sharga expects banks to repossess close to 100,000 homes in January alone. "We always have a seasonal uptick in the first quarter," he says, "and I think it will be accelerated because of delays that the servicers will be making up for in the first couple months." Real estate agents are bracing themselves for an increasing number of vacant homes waiting for buyers. But Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, says it doesn't come as a surprise. "These properties will come onto the market, that is a given," he says. Yun says there is a massive shadow inventory — homes not yet on the market where the owners are more than 90 days behind on their payments. "It's just inevitable that they will go into a foreclosure," he says. But Yun says he doesn't expect all of those properties to get dumped onto the market in a single month. It will be gradual. But the question is whether the already fragile housing market will be able to handle them. "Hopefully the improving economy, job creation, will provide the necessary housing demand to absorb the shadow inventory that will be reaching the market," he says. But will there be buyers out there for all of those homes? Yun says he's hopeful, but other economists aren't so sure. Most predict the unemployment rate will remain near 9 percent throughout 2011. People who are unemployed or worried about keeping their jobs aren't going to buy homes.

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January 5, 2011

And then there's the issue of loans. Mortgage lenders have so tightened their credit standards that now, even people with relatively good credit scores are having a hard time borrowing the money they need to buy a house.

Related NPR Stories
Foreclosures Still Dragging Down Housing, Economy Dec. 27, 2010 One Last Ride On The 2010 Economic Roller Coaster Dec. 18, 2010 Woman's Foreclosure Nightmare: 'Like A Black Hole' Dec. 13, 2010

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BoA Settles $2B Claim On Home Loan Fault
01-04-2011 | Source: emii.com Bank of America has paid out $2.6 billion over allegations leveled by U.S. mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that it sold loans based on faulty information, according to Bloomberg. In addition to Fannie and Freddie, McLean also purchased the mortgages in question, and the firms are pushing to have loans bought back by lenders that used incorrect data on income or home values that were not correct. The bank announced that it would include an additional $3 billion provision in fourth quarter results. In October, Bank of America faced a $12.9 billion total of putback demands on mortgages largely associated with governmententities, and announced at the time that $4.4 billion was reserved for handling costs related to the issue. The announcement made on Monday outlines an agreement that will see Bank of Americapay $1.28 billion in cash to Freddie Mac over claims on 787,000 loans through 2008 made through Countrywide Financial, while $1.34 will be paid to Fannie Mae. Click here to read the story from Bloomberg News.

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Tim Geithner, Fannie, And Freddie Are Getting Slammed For The New Stealth Bailout Of Bank Of America
By Joe Weisenthal January 04, 2011 "Business Insider" -- The news that Bank of America had settled its putback exposure with the GSEs sent the stock surging 7% yesterday. That kind of move has lots of folks screaming bailout. As Barry Ritholtz and Colin Barr at Fortune point out, Bank of America just settled for about $.01 on the dollar. Says Chris Whalen of Institutional Risk Analytics: "This looks to me like a gift from Tim Geithner... there's politics all over this." This is almost certainly true, but also not shocking at all, given the potential ramifications of any serious hit to the banks' balance sheets. Of course, this isn't the end of the story, and Bank of America still has its massive exposure to non-agency MBS holders, including PIMCO, the New York Fed, and the Monolines, like MBIA. Click here for a guide to Bank of America's possible exposure

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January 5, 2011

Number of Uninsured Americans Soars to 50 Million
Last week the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured issued a new report giving a grim assessment of the toll the recession and high unemployment has taken on the nation's workforce: the number of uninsured rose to 50.0 million in 2009, an increase of 4.3 million. There are now nearly as many uninsured non-elderly people as those receiving Medicaid or other public insurance (such as CHIP, the children's insurance program, Medicare and military/veterans coverage).

From the issue brief [pdf]: The gaps in our health care system affect people of all ages, races and ethnicities, and income levels; however, those with the lowest income face the greatest risk of being uninsured. Despite strong ties to the workforce—more than three-quarters of the uninsured come from working families—four in ten of the uninsured are individuals and families who are poor (incomes less than the federal poverty level or $22,050 for a family of four in 2009). Not having health insurance makes a difference in people’s access to needed medical care and their financial security. The barriers the uninsured face in getting the care that they need means they are less likely to receive preventive care, are more likely to be hospitalized for conditions that could have been prevented, and are more likely to die in the hospital than those with insurance. The financial impact can also be severe. Uninsured families already struggle financially to meet basic needs, and medical bills, even for minor problems, can quickly lead to medical debt. HuffPo provides the personal story of one of the far too many individuals trapped in this cycle. Ironically, before being laid off Francis Campos-Dunn's job had been in a California hospital, helping patients work through insurance problems. Now unemployed, Campos-Dunn has been trying to fight that battle for herself. Back when she was still working, Campos-Dunn, 42, earned $4,000 a month, enough to make her copayments for regular medical care. These days, she depends on $300 a month contributions from her 16year-old son--money he earns at a part-time job--just to pay to the rent. When a recent seizure left her with two broken teeth, she skipped the required treatment and opted to have the teeth pulled instead, because she lacked the funds--a choice that would have previously seemed unthinkable.... "I never thought I'd be in this position," she said. "I used to help families get on insurance. I used to hear all these problems. I used to think anything was possible to try to figure out a way around it so they could get health insurance. Now I have no health insurance."

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January 5, 2011

With her medical condition continuing to require care, her battle to keep up has worn her down past the point where she can even muster the effort to continue fighting. "It got up to a point where I didn't even try to deal with them anymore," she said. "If I ended up in the hospital I'd just pay the bill." She now owes Kaiser over $55,000, she says. She owes the San Mateo County Hospital--her old employer- over $22,000. Campos-Dunn makes $32 too much to qualify for Medi-Cal. She has medical conditions that require treatment, so she cannot do what about a quarter of the uninsured do, according to the report: forgo care at all because of the cost. That includes not getting the basic preventive care that could help avoid bankrupting medical conditions down the road, and all too often, early and preventible death. So she's done what too many with serious medical conditions and no insurance have to do--go deeply in debt. While high levels of unemployment have increased the number of uninsured, still more than three-quarters of the uninsured are in working families, 61% in a family with a full-time worker, and 16% in a family with a part-time worker. Many part-time workers don't have the option of enrolling in employer-based insurance, and for too many workers, that insurance is still too expensive. " The average annual total cost of employer-sponsored family coverage is $13,770 in 2010, and the share of the premium paid by workers increased to 30% this year." There's good news on the horizon, but unfortunately it's still three years away. The Affordable Care Act will help ameliorate many of these problems in 2014, by expanding Medicaid coverage to 138% of poverty, and by requiring insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions. But it won't cover all of the uninsured. By 2019, when it will have been fully implemented, it will extend coverage to 32 million--significant and important, but still leaving too many uninsured. And what's the first thing the House GOP intends to do? Hold a vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act, because 50 million uninsured Americans isn't a crisis as far as they're concerned. The fact that ACORN ever existed, even though it is now defunct, now that's a crisis. By Joan McCarter | Sourced from Daily Kos Posted at January 3, 2011, 10:28 am

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America Is About To Slide Into Third World Status?
Video by RT Economist Michael Hudson joins Thom to talk about countries looking for alternatives to US dollar and rescued banks teetering towards collapse. Posted January 04, 2011

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