The thousands of barrels of tar sands oil which poured from a¬†ruptured crude oil pipeline¬†on Friday continue to devastate both man and beast alike in the community of Mayflower, Arkansas.
Though the exact amount of spilled oil remains unknown, as the National Wildlife Federationwrites, “just as we saw in the early days of BP‚Äôs Gulf oil disaster, the number is growing exponentially each day.”
‚ÄúExxon Mobil officials said the total amount of water and oil pumped out of a Mayflower subdivision nearly tripled Sunday, reaching 12,000 barrels, or 504,000 gallons, compared with estimates on Saturday that crews had pumped 4,500 barrels,‚ÄĚ¬†reports¬†the¬†Arkansas Democrat-Gazette¬†Monday morning.
Though the cleaning crews have reportedly removed most of the freestanding oil which covered the neighborhood streets, local news station¬†KATV¬†touring the area on Sunday,¬†said¬†that removing the crude from individual’s backyards promises to be “a much more challenging project to take on.”
“This is going to be an extensive and long cleanup,”¬†said¬†onsite EPA coordinator Nicolas Brescia. “Right now, the goal is to pick up as much free product as they can.” He added, “I can’t tell you how long it’s going to take to clean up all the impacted areas.”
“The Mayflower tar sands spill is yet another demonstration of the risks that tar sands pipelines pose to the communities and sensitive water resources they cross,”¬†writes¬†Anthony Swift of the Natural Resources Defense Council, adding that the spill is also a warning of “the potential costs of the tar sands industry‚Äôs reckless expansion plans.”
Environmentalists are pointing to the Mayflower rupture as further evidence that the authorization of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would pose “significant risk” to our communities and ecosystems.
“We’d be wise to think about this as one more sad warning,”¬†said¬†350.org founder Bill McKibben, in a statement responding to the spill. “What the people of Arkansas are enduring today is a reminder of why approving KXL, a pipeline ten times as large and running across the Oglalla Aquifer, defines a bad idea.”
The greatest priority in the Mayflower clean up still appears to be preventing the oil from traveling through the community’s storm drain system to Lake Conway, a large man made recreation reservoir stocked with bass, catfish, bream and crappie. The National Wildlife Federation reports that local authorities built several earthen dams to try to prevent the tar sands oil from reaching the lake, “but if the water is fouled,” they¬†said, “it won‚Äôt just threaten the fish, it will threaten the area‚Äôs recreation economy.”
Local animal wildlife rehabilitation clinic, the HAWK center, posted images on their¬†facebook pageof recovered birds coated with the thick, black tar.
“We anticipate a LOT more patients today,” they write.
A “nearly unrecognizable Mallard hen” rescued by the HAWK center in Arkansas.
As of Sunday evening, officials from neither the town or the energy giant behind the spill were able to provide answers to the 22 evacuated households as to when they would be able to return home or why the spill occurred. An investigation is reportedly underway.
This is the first entry in a series based on the National Fair Housing Alliance report, ‚ÄúThe Banks Are Back, Our Neighborhoods Are Not,‚ÄĚ that examines ongoing discrimination in the marketing and maintenance of bank-owned foreclosed properties.
Is there a house in your neighborhood that everybody hates to walk past? You know, the one with broken and boarded up windows, trash left to gather on the lawn, and grass so overgrown it‚Äôs becoming a habitat for rodents?
If you have a house like that in your community, you know it‚Äôs more than just an eyesore. Neglected, vacant houses depress property values throughout the community, and can threaten health and safety. They erode the sense of community and stability that creates vibrant localities, and they hamper economic resiliency. With a national foreclosure crisis still in full swing, such houses are all too common.
You might be surprised to learn, though, that if you have problem properties like that in your neighborhood, there‚Äôs a good chance your absentee neighbor is a bank. More shocking still, banks are neglecting houses they own in minority communities even more frequently‚ÄĒmuch more frequently‚ÄĒthan those they hold in white communities.
A detailed undercover investigation unveiled last week by the National Fair Housing Alliance and several regional partners shows not only that banks too frequently fail to maintain foreclosed properties that they own, but that they tend to neglect their properties in communities of color at a much higher rate, with devastating consequences.
A large number of the neglected, bank-owned properties have broken or missing doors and windows, inviting vandalism and trespassers. And many have safety hazards that endanger the public. Those and other defects are significantly more prevalent in bank-owned properties located in communities of color. Another finding is that, on average, the banks are not marketing houses located in communities of color as aggressively to individual homebuyers as they do properties in white neighborhoods. The properties in white neighborhoods are, for example, more likely to have clear and professional ‚Äúfor sale‚ÄĚ signs. When banks both poorly maintain and poorly market foreclosed houses, the properties tend to stay vacant longer and to eventually be sold to speculators, rather than to people who would make the houses their home.
The discriminatory differences are stark. In Dayton, Ohio, for example, 60% of bank-owned properties in African-American neighborhoods had broken or unsecured doors, compared to only 18% in white neighborhoods. In Atlanta, properties in African-American neighborhoods were almost five times more likely than homes in white neighborhoods to lack a ‚Äúfor sale‚ÄĚ sign. And in Dallas, 73% of the bank-owned homes in predominantly non-white neighborhoods had trash on their properties, while only 37% in white areas did.
I believe we’ll get another deflationary shock to scare Congress and us to create more money, and then it’s off to the hyperinflationary printing presses. The only way to protect yourself from this mathematically¬†inevitable¬†disaster to sell all of your paper assets now and buy tangible assets.
One of the most common misconceptions of real tangible assets is the thought that real estate is a real tangible asset. After all it is called “real estate.”
Real estate is much more a paper asset than it is a tangible asset, and it will suffer tremendously during a real dollar collapse.
The Real News and guest Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism discuss the inner workings of the mortgage servicing industry – including how loans are created, transferred, serviced and foreclosed upon. Yves points out that mortgage services actually profit, not lose money, in the event a borrower is unable to make payments.
As the foreclosure mess continues to lead headlines around the country, some Wall Street bankers are playing an offensive defense, blaming homeowners for their problems:
The building furor over whether the largest U.S. mortgage lenders used so-called robo-signers and incomplete paperwork to force delinquent borrowers from their homes has mushroomed into a probe by the attorneys general in all 50 states, with U.S. Congressional hearings not far behind.
Those on Wall Street, however, are largely unsympathetic, insisting that possible errors in the foreclosure process are beside the point, that the process begins only when a borrower starts missing mortgage payments.
“If you didn’t pay your mortgage, you shouldn’t be in your house. Period. People are getting upset about something that’s just procedural.” said Walter Todd, portfolio manager at Greenwood Capital Associates.
Some said the issue is one of personal responsibility for one’s own debts.
“Everyone’s responsible for following the law. If we all don’t have to pay our mortgage, should we just stop paying taxes, too?” said Anton Schutz, president of Mendon Capital Advisers. “Your mortgage didn’t get to a robo-signer by accident, it’s because you’re not paying.”
While banks make a strong point about home buyers holding up their end of the deal because of contractual obligations to which they agreed, it seems that both parties involved have failed to uphold the law. The banks have failed to follow guidelines set forth in how mortgages should be transferred, as well as procedural and legal due process during the eviction process.
The home buyer may have failed to pay their mortgage, but two wrongs don’t make a right. The home buyer’s failure to meet their contractual obligation does not give a bank or mortgage service company the right to fraudulently sign paperwork using “robosigners” and, in some cases, actually forging documents and notes.
The madness of the foreclosure mess is becoming more and more apparent each day.
The Earl family of California claims that they were illegally evicted and have forcefully reentered there home after having been foreclosed on.
Enter the Earl family in Simi Valley, Calif. Over the weekend, Jim and Danielle Earl reportedly took their nine children, ages 9-23, and a locksmith and broke into the six-bedroom house they used to call home. The move was recommended by their lawyer, according to a story on Aol√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs HousingWatch.com.
Police officers were on hand when the Earls changed the locks Saturday but did not intervene, the Ventura County Star reports.
The Earls paid $500,000 for the house in 2001 and then refinanced to pull out cash. They fell behind on their mortgage and at the time of their eviction they owed about $880,000 on a no-interest mortgage.
Investors at Conejo Capital bought the house for $697,000 at a lender√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs trustee sale and put $40,000 of work into a remodel, replacing carpeting and appliances, as well as upgrading the kitchen. They flipped it to new buyers for $800,000. Those buyers were supposed to move in this week; those plans are on hold.
The Earls claim that they were working with GRP Financial Services to catch up on payments, but discovered a $25,000 difference between what they believed they owed and what the bank said they owed. They then stopped making payments.
There is an obvious problem with regard to the America’s mortgage industry when a family that purchases a home for an original price $500,000 ends up owing $880,000 before being evicted. Then, taking advice from their personal attorney, the family finds it justifiable to repatriate their home after it had already been bought and sold twice, and all the while local police look on without taking any action.
The foreclosure fraud crisis seems to escalate with each passing now.√ā¬† It is being reported that all 50 U.S. states have launched a joint investigation into√ā¬†alleged fraud in the mortgage industry.√ā¬† This is a huge story that is not going to go away any time soon.√ā¬† The truth is that it would be hard to understate the amount of fraud that has gone on√ā¬†in the U.S. mortgage industry, and√ā¬†we are watching events unfold that√ā¬†could potentially rip the U.S. economy to shreds.√ā¬† Many are now referring to this crisis as “Foreclosure-Gate“, and already it is shaping up to be the worst thing that has ever happened to the U.S. mortgage industry.√ā¬† At this point, it seems inevitable that some financial institutions will go under as a result of this mess.√ā¬† In fact, by the end of this thing we might see a whole bunch of lending institutions crash and burn.√ā¬† This crisis is very hard to describe because it is just so darn complicated, but it is worth it to try to dig into this thing and understand√ā¬†what is going on√ā¬†because it has the potential to absolutely decimate the entire U.S. mortgage industry.
The truth is that there was fraud going on in every segment of the mortgage industry over the past decade.√ā¬† Predatory lending institutions were aggressively signing consumers up for mortgages that they knew they could never repay.√ā¬† Many consumers were also√ā¬†committing fraud because√ā¬†a lot√ā¬†of them also knew that they could never possibly repay the mortgages.√ā¬† These bad mortgages were fraudulently bundled up and securitized,√ā¬†and√ā¬†these securitized financial instruments were fraudulently marketed as√ā¬†solid investments.√ā¬† Those who certified that these√ā¬†junk√ā¬†securities were “AAA rated” also committed fraud.√ā¬† Then these√ā¬†securities were traded at lightning speed all over the globe√ā¬†and a ton of mortgage paperwork became “lost” or “missing”.
Then, when it came time to foreclose on these bad mortgages, a whole bunch more fraud started being committed.√ā¬† The reality is that the “robo-signing”√ā¬†scandal is just the time of the iceberg.√ā¬† The following are six things that you should know about how deep this foreclosure fraud crisis really goes….
#1 According to the Associated Press, financial institutions were hiring just about whoever they could find, including hair stylists and Wal-Mart employees, as “foreclosure experts” to help them rush through the massive backlog of foreclosures that were rapidly piling up.
In depositions released Tuesday, many of those workers testified that they barely knew what a mortgage was. Some couldn’t define the word “affidavit.” Others didn’t know what a complaint was, or even what was meant by personal property. Most troubling, several said they knew they were lying when they signed the foreclosure affidavits and that they agreed with the defense lawyers’ accusations about document fraud.
#2 There√ā¬†is soon going to be a colossal legal scramble to figure out who actually owns millions of U.S. mortgages.
How do you foreclose on a home when you can’t figure out who owns it because the original mortgage is part of a derivatives package that has been sliced and diced so many ways that its legal ownership is often unrecognizable? You cannot get much help from those who signed off on the process because they turn out to be robot signers acting on automatic pilot. Fully 65 million homes in question are tied to a computerized program, the national Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS), that is often identified in foreclosure proceedings as the owner of record.
Meanwhile,√ā¬†more√ā¬†organizations√ā¬†are stepping forward to√ā¬†help homeowners fight foreclosures.√ā¬† National People’s Action, PICO National Network, Industrial Areas Foundation, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and the Northwest Federation of Community Organizations have all partnered with the SEIU to launch the “Where’s The Note” campaign which is going to encourage homeowners to demand to see the note before submitting to a foreclosure.√ā¬† Campaigns such as this are going to make foreclosures much more costly for banks.
#3 Legal battles over foreclosure documents could soon spawn thousands upon thousands of lawsuits across the United States.
Adam Levitin, a Georgetown University Law professor who specializes in mortgage finance and√ā¬†financial regulatory issues was recently quoted in an article on CNBC as saying the following about the situation we are currently in….
The mortgage is still owed, but there’s going to be a problem figuring out who actually holds the mortgage, and they would be the ones bringing the foreclosure. You have a trust that has been getting payments from borrowers for years that it has no right to receive. So you might see borrowers suing the trusts saying give me my money back, you’re stealing my money. You’re going to then have trusts that don’t have any assets that have been issuing securities that say they’re backed by a whole bunch of assets, and you’re going to have investors suing the trustees for failing to inspect the collateral files, which the trustees say they’re going to do, and you’re going to have trustees suing the securitization sponsors for violating their representations and warrantees about what they were transferring.
#4 The problems with foreclosure paperwork may be more widespread than anyone would have dared to imagine.
Attorney Richard Kessler recently conducted√ā¬†a study in which he found “serious errors” in approximately√ā¬†75 percent√ā¬†of the court filings related to home repossessions that he examined.√ā¬† Now he says that√ā¬†the foreclosure crisis√ā¬†could haunt the U.S. mortgage industry for the next ten years….
“Defective documentation has created millions of blighted titles that will plague the nation for the next decade.”
#5 If some banks discover that they are missing the paperwork for large numbers of mortgages (as is currently being alleged), those banks could be forced to significantly revalue those assets (as in “close to zero”) on their balance sheets.
The most damaging thing that could happen to banks would be the discovery that they simply cannot prove they hold a mortgage on a house. In that case, the loan would probably have to be written down to near zero. Even for current loans, the regulatory reserve requirements would double as the loan would no longer be a functional mortgage but an ordinary consumer loan. Depending on the size of the √Ę‚ā¨Ňďno docs√Ę‚ā¨¬Ě portion of the loan portfolio, this might be a minor blip or require a bank to raise new capital to fill the hole in the balance sheet.
#6 Renowned investor Jim Sinclair is actually warning that the collapse of securitized mortgage debt could be the “final shot” that will wipe out many financial institutions across the United States.
I am asking for your attention again because of the depth of the fraud and now the size of the securitized mortgage debt OTC derivative pile of garbage that is in the trillions. This entire mountain of weapons of mass financial and social destruction is now in question. I have been telling you this for more than 2 years since the manufacturers and distributors of this crap were called by the NY Fed due to the loss of control over the paperwork.
I had dinner with my former partner, then lead director of and CEO of Bear Stearns. I could not contain myself so I asked him why he did so much business in OTC derivatives which were certain to bankrupt them. The answer I got was it was more than 50% of their profit. The right answer should have been it was more than 80% of their earnings.
Securitized mortgage debt is going to be the final shot that kills all kinds of financial entities in the Western world. The biggest holder of this putrid junk is pension funds.
Meanwhile, the stock market continues to go up, up, up as if everything is right in the world and as if a juicy new bull market is now upon us.
Well, let’s all join hands and sing happy songs around the campfire.
Perhaps if we all close our eyes and wish real hard all of this foreclosure fraud will just go away.
They came by the thousands, transforming normally festive Cal Expo into a venue emblematic of California’s nightmarish housing meltdown.
An estimated 10,000 people were in line Friday morning when the Cal Expo Pavilion’s doors opened on a five-day event aimed at helping distressed homeowners avoid foreclosure.
The line for the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America’s “Save the Dream” event stretched from the Pavilion, through Cal Expo’s east parking lot, onto Exposition Boulevard and nearly to Ethan Way √Ę‚ā¨‚Äú a distance of half a mile.
Sacramento-area homeowners stood shoulder to shoulder with those from all parts of California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona and far beyond, hoping to have their mortgage payments lowered in order to keep their homes.
Their stories ran the gamut: underwater mortgages, unemployment, financial crises, long-missed loan payments and frustration trying to talk with lenders.
NACA officials this week wrapped up a six-day event at the Los Angeles Convention Center, where an estimated 40,000 came through the doors.