Thursday, March 12, 2009

What U.S. and Coalition Dollars and Armed Forces are Accomplishing in Afghanistan

Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, the student journalist sentenced to death for blasphemy in Afghanistan, has been told he will spend the next 20 years in jail after the country’s highest court ruled against him – without even hearing his defence.


The 23-year-old, brought to worldwide attention after an Independent campaign, was praying that Afghanistan’s top judges would quash his conviction for lack of evidence, or because he was tried in secret and convicted without a defence lawyer. Instead, almost 18 months after he was arrested for allegedly circulating an article about women’s rights, any hope of justice and due process evaporated amid gross irregularities, allegations of corruption and coercion at the Supreme Court. Justices issued their decision in secret, without letting Mr Kambaksh’s lawyer submit so much as a word in his defence.

Read the rest of this story, headlined Student facing 20 years in hell - Afghan court secretly sentences student whose cause was taken up by The Independent. His crime? To download article on women’s rights, and ask yourself why in the world the United States, or any other Western country, are spending taxpayer dollars in Afghanistan.  They are mired in medieval ways.

Posted by John Venlet on 03/12 at 08:31 PM
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Something You Wouldn’t Find Police Chief Endorsing, Today, or in a Newspaper

Stopped over at the blog The Smallest Minority, just a bit ago, and scrolled into a post titled Right Attitude, Bad Example.  Click on that link and take a peek at the photo, evidently from a 1935 issue of the LA Examiner, and the headline from the photo which reads “Lesson from Police Chief: PREPAREDNESS BEGINS AT HOME”.

In this day and age, a police chief would in all likelihood tell you to roll over and play dead if your home was invaded, and then dial 911, if you’re still alive, and the newspapers would tell you the police chief was correct in telling you that, decry the fact that bad guys are out there, post an editorial calling for more drastic gun control, and then charge your still living family members for printing your obituary.

Posted by John Venlet on 03/12 at 07:08 PM
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America - Lost and Gone Forever?

Wendy McElroy points to an essay penned by Mario A. Pei titled The America We Lost.

Pei penned the piece in 1952, and it is even more pertinent today.  Well worth a read, and it won’t take long to read it.

Posted by John Venlet on 03/12 at 01:23 PM
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Not Displaying Proper Submissiveness Can Get You Killed

Bill St. Clair points to a piece at LewRockwell.com, written by William Norman Grigg, titled The Martial Law Mind Set.  Grigg’s piece deveals into what may happen if/when you request a law enforcement official say please, or if/when you question their knowledge of the law.

Posted by John Venlet on 03/12 at 12:50 PM
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Mortgage Fraud Straw Men for Public Consumption

The New York Times has an article up under the headline Financial Fraud Is Focus of Attack by Prosecutors.  The article begins this way.

Spurred by rising public anger, federal and state investigators are preparing for a surge of prosecutions of financial fraud.

Across the country, attorneys general have already begun indicting dozens of loan processors, mortgage brokers and bank officers. Last week alone, there were guilty pleas in Minnesota, Delaware, North Carolina and Connecticut and sentences in Florida and Vermont — all stemming from home loan scams.

The headline to this article, and the above opening two paragraphs, could lead the uninformed to believe that this alleged upcoming “surge” in financial fraud prosecutions could result in a thorough spanking for the players in the mortgage financial industry, and possibly refloat the floundering ships of the financial industry as a whole.  That would simply be wishful thinking.  Way back in April 2008, in a post I titled Fraud or Simply Unethical and Foolish Subprime Lending, wherein I noted that the FBI was on the mortgage fraud trail in response to “public demand,” I stated the following regarding what the FBI might uncover.

While the FBI may find a few prosecutable mortgage lending fraud cases, what will mostly be brought to light by their investigations will be the foolishness of the underwriting guidelines utilized by the subprime lending industry, and the unethical, but not illegal, methods which were utilized to suck subprime borrowers in.

But let’s get back to those opening two paragraphs of the NYT article, specifically the second paragraph.  Let’s look at who is being indicted, first.

The indictments are being brought against “loan processors, mortgage brokers, and bank officers.”  Loan processors, and I am not dissing them here, are at the bottom of the pile in mortgage industry.  They are the lowest paid workers in the mortgage industry, well, except for the receptionist, they do the majority of the grunt work in a mortgage transaction, and do so under the direction of the mortgage loan officer, mortgage broker, or branch manager.  Prosecuting loan processors is like being penny wise and pound foolish.

Now, prosecuting mortgage brokers and bank officers offers the possibility of actually prosecuting a mortgage fraud case with some meat on its bones, so let’s look at some of the cases I think the NYT is referring to when the mention guilty pleas in mortgage fraud cases in Minnesota, Delaware, North Carolina, Connecticut, Florida and Vermont.  Let’s start in Minnesota.

There are two (2) mortgage fraud sentencing stories I could locate in Minnesota.  First, under the headline Partner gets 7 years in mortgage fraud case, and second, under the headline 2 who pleaded guilty in $35 million housing fraud get sentencing delay.  In the first story, we are informed that the two (2) individuals have been convicted for $6 million dollars in fraud, though fifteen (15) addtional charges are outstanding with a dollar value of the fraud in these 15 charges amounting to $100 million.  In the second story, the dollar value of the fraud was, as the headline states, $35 million.

Next up, Delaware.  I could not locate any stories regarding mortgage fraud sentencing in the State of Delaware, but, I did locate a story regarding a mortgage fraud sentencing in Delaware, Ohio, so I’ll substitute that story instead.  The Delaware, OH mortgage fraud sentencing story is headlined ‘Queen Of Mortgage Fraud’ Faces Deportation.  This story does not provide an actual dollar value of the fraud, but simply states “millions,” so I will arbitrarily say the “Queen’s” fraud amounted to $7 million.

Next, North Carolina.  Four mortgage fraud sentencing stories out of North Carolina, so the state must be a hotbed of fraudulent mortgage activity.  The first story is headlined Fayetteville woman pleads guilty mortgage fraud scheme.  This story provides no details on the dollar value of the alleged fraud, so I’ll say the woman was a piker and the fraud amounted to $1 million.  The second story out of North Carolina is headlined Man sentenced in mortgage fraud scheme.  This story states that the man’s fraud was valued at $2.6 million.  The third story of out North Carolina is headlined Mortgage broker sentenced for bank fraud.  This story states that the mortgage broker, a woman, committed fraud to the tune of $184,000.00, so she makes Ohio’s “Queen of mortgage fraud” actually look like a queen and not a piker.  The last story out of North Carolina is headlined NC real estate appraiser pleads guilty in fraud.  The value of this appraisers fraud was estimated at “in excess of $2.5 million,” so I’ll say $2.75 million.

Now, Connecticut.  The story out of Connecticut is headlined Connecticut man pleads guilty to mortgage fraud.  The value of this mortgage fraud case was set at $3.6 million.

Next, is Florida.  The mortgage fraud story out of Florida is headlined Ontario man, one of eight, charged with mortgage loan fraud.  The value of the fraud in this case was established as $1.188 million, and in actuality, the defendants in this case were directly defrauding consumers, by pocketing loan fees, rather than defrauding the mortgage players with access to Wall Street.

And last but not least, Vermont.  The mortgage fraud story out of Vermont is headlined Former Mortgage Broker Behind Bars.  This mortgage broker, like the Florida mortgage fraud story, was not defrauding Wall Street, but borrowers themselves by skimming fees.  The story states the value of the fraud was $1 million dollars.

Now, let’s total up all mortgage fraud conviction values herein stated and see what we get.  $60,322,000.00.  Now, let’s compare this number to the, what, $750 billion, or so, the government has thrown at the financial industry in the past six (6) months.  Now, if you divide $60,322,000.00 by $750,000,000,000.00 you end with 0.00008042933, so the mortgage fraud case convictions are infinitesimally tiny compared to the losses incurred in the financial industry due to simply unethical and foolish subprime lending.  The mortgage fraud cases being pursued, the “surge” of proseuctions to come, are straw men and window dressing to sooth the public demand, and nothing more.

Posted by John Venlet on 03/12 at 08:50 AM
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The Victim Mentality of Charles Freeman Jr.

Charles Freeman Jr., who had been fingered by Barack Obama to act as the chairman of the National Intelligence Council, voluntarily withdrew himself for consideration of said post yesterday.  But wait, though Freeman withdrew himself, voluntarily, for the post, he blames the Jews.

In a letter to supporters yesterday, Freeman said he withdrew because of a concerted effort by pro-Israel lobbyists to spread “libelous distortions” about his experience. “The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth,” Freeman wrote.

Freeman’s blaming the of the Jewish people, for his voluntary withdrawl of his name for the post of chairman of the National Intelligence Council, is akin to trotting out the tired, old victim mentality exhibited in the white man be keeping the black man down argument, and I thought that America finally erased that tired, old argument with the election of Obama.

Freeman Withdraws as Head of National Intelligence Council

Posted by John Venlet on 03/12 at 07:57 AM
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