Good Morning, Alla YouzSo we're doing flowers for mother's day?Nice. I received pink tulips and purple iris in a pretty pink vase from my daughter. Nice to get something I wouldn't buy myself. :)I'll take some flowers to my mom later today.Good to celebrate, either in person or through memories.
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As Joe wrote here, Obama's "evolution" didn't just start with Biden's gaffe ? it started with the Bloggers Roundtable in October 2010 and our own Joe Sudbay. Washington Post with that part of the story: Liberal bloggers were seated around a big table in the Roosevelt Room, peppering President Obama with policy questions. Suddenly, one of them turned to Obama and ... made a very...
enlargeCredit: GetBankruptcyAttorney.comYes, thanks to politicians like Tom Carper, whose baby it was, and Joe Biden, the former senator from MBNA, who supported it, the bankruptcy "reform" act pretty much killed off any chance at all for poor people to recover from their debts. It also made credit card companies more powerful - and profitable, so as far as the politicians are concerned, win/win!
If there's anything at all that I wish the Occupy movement would focus on, it would be overturning this travesty and getting people some relief from debt prison.
It's also why it's really, really important to support Elizabeth Warren. It will make the bankers crazy:
This year, hundreds of thousands of Americans are expected to be too broke to file for bankruptcy.
The average cost to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, the most common form of consumer bankruptcy, is more than $1,500, according to recent research submitted to the National Bureau of Economic Research.
As a result, anywhere between 200,000 and one million consumers are estimated to be unable to afford that steep cost this year.
The research, conducted by a group of professors from Columbia University, the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis, examined how bankruptcy filings spiked after people received their tax rebates in previous years. They estimate that another 200,000 consumers, who would otherwise not have enough money to file, will use their tax refunds to pay for bankruptcy this year.
"For lots of people, bankruptcy has been taken off the table as an option because of the severe fees involved," said Jialan Wang, co-author of the report.
Among those fees is a charge of about $300 just for filing the paperwork with the federal court, while the rest typically goes to bankruptcy lawyers, said Wang.
And there are other expenses on top of that, including fees for mandatory pre-bankruptcy credit counseling and a pre-discharge debtor education course. These average about $85 altogether, according to a recent study sponsored by the American Bankruptcy Institute.
That means many of the Americans who have seen their debt snowball out of control due to events like job loss, foreclosure or a medical emergency during the economic downturn are now left without their last financial lifeline, she said.
"It becomes harder and harder to pay off the debt as interest payments get higher, so your debt grows larger and larger," she said.
The cost of filing for bankruptcy has risen in recent years as a result of the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, which aimed to reduce the number of bankruptcies taking place by adding more requirements to the filing process -- including additional paperwork and the credit counseling and debtor education.
Yes, this really was Christmas morning for the banks and credit card companies. This provision was especially clever:
If a lawyer at a large law firm represents a consumer in a bankruptcy case, under the Bankruptcy Reform Act the lawyer has just brought his entire law firm under that Act?s jurisdiction. This means that any advertisement made by that firm must contain the following ?disclosure?:
We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy under the Bankruptcy Code.
Can you imagine that a large law firm, which might have numerous business or creditor clients, would want to place such a ?disclosure? on its law firm brochure? Or on its website? Or on its Christmas cards? Or on any other written material which a court might later say constituted an ?advertisement?? You know the answer already: no way. Even consumer bankruptcy law firms can barely swallow this absurd language; it was enough to make big law firms choke. Word promptly went out: no lawyers at our white shoe law firm will being doing any more consumer bankruptcies, lest we have to identify ourselves as ?debt relief agents? to all of our clients.
But the single most important change homeowners experienced under bankruptcy reform was the removal of the bankruptcy judges' authority to grant mortgage cramdowns. Oh sure, they can still do it --- on your vacation house, not your primary residence! (Just in case you had any doubt how shameless this Act really is, and who it was supposed to protect.)
That's why so many mortgage holders went under. They no longer had any legal recourse, and as a result, it helped crash the economy. But see how well it worked out for the 1%?
Our guest blogger is Jessica Arons, director of the women?s health and rights program at the Center for American Progress. Cross-posted from RH Reality Check.
People always say good health is the greatest gift, so let?s make health a priority this Mother?s Day. Now that I am a mother myself, I am even more appreciative that I have health insurance that covers the care I need. All moms deserve the kind of quality, affordable care that I was lucky enough to receive while pregnant and postpartum, and Obamacare is working to make that dream a reality.
While pregnant, what did I need the most?that is, besides a foot massage? Maternity care, of course. My prenatal visits reassured me that my pregnancy was progressing as it should and my insurance allowed me to use the provider of my choosing, labor in the setting I wanted, and get the emergency care I ultimately needed. Unfortunately, only 12 percent of plans in the individual health insurance market currently offer maternity coverage. Thankfully, starting in 2014, Obamacare will require all new health plans to cover maternity care as the essential health service that it is.
Needing an emergency C-section was the first sign that I was no longer calling the shots. It?s fine if my son has his own plans, but not the insurance industry. Insurers currently can deny women coverage for specific health services or entire plans due to gender-related ?pre-existing conditions? such as Cesarean sections, breast cancer, domestic violence, and sexual assault. The idea that my surgery could disqualify me from obtaining coverage on the open insurance market is both absurd and deeply offensive. But this discriminatory practice becomes illegal under Obamacare in 2014.
After my son was born, my pediatrician?s office began to feel like a second home with the amount of time I had to spend there his first year. I am lucky enough to have a low co-pay that I can afford, but for far too many families those co-pays are not just a minor inconvenience. Obamacare ensures that families can afford to bring their children in for vaccinations and other routine visits by eliminating cost sharing, such as co-pays or deductibles, for well-baby and well-child care.
Whoever said breastfeeding comes naturally? Like so many of my peers, I was surprised to encounter all sorts of difficulties with nursing. I relied heavily on my local breastfeeding center to help me diagnose and address the problems I had, an expensive but incredibly helpful service. Had I not been able to afford those hefty out-of-pocket fees, there is no way I could have continued nursing my son, providing him with valuable antibodies and nutrients and strengthening the mother-child bond. The good news is that this August, nursing mothers in new health insurance plans will receive no-cost coverage for lactation supports that include counseling and equipment.
Nursing moms who return to work also will benefit, as I did, from the requirement that large employers provide breaks and a private space for expressing breast milk. I was very thankful for this provision, especially when I heard the horror stories of women who were forced to pump in a bathroom stall or in their cars?or those who were fired for requesting pumping breaks. With such obstacles in place, it is no wonder that only 36 percent of U.S. infants are breastfed past six months, even though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends nursing through the first year. Obamacare should help that rate finally improve.
Despite these amazing benefits and more, the health reform law is under siege. It risks being overturned by the Supreme Court or repealed by conservative politicians. This Mother?s Day, let?s give moms a gift that is truly important and will really last. Let?s do everything we can to make sure Obamacare is fully implemented and remains the law of the land.
Tek Jansen.Episode One.Revisited. [...]
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When I was a little Vulcan going off to school my mother's last words were always, "Watch out for the cars!" I could see cars and avoid them if I was watching and paying attention.I wonder what the last words Sybrina Fulton said to Travyon? What could[...]
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While looking for info, found this wonderful photo album of the Wildflower Center;https://plus.google.com/photos/112643615522601591818/albums/5324990160447978817/5324990568936518450?banner=pwa
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I do not recall the details....But the LBJ estate (guided by the daughters, I think) is auctioning a lot of memorabilia to benefit the Wildflower Center....Some of the pieces sound interesting....Impressive commitment to the Center, I thought.
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Lady Bird Johnson was a big proponent of using native plants to celebrate and preserve the natural history of a particular region.
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Let me start with a little shared wisdom from Independent Senator Bernie Sanders (VT), one of the only trustworthy members in the whole Senate: ?The debacle at J.P. Morgan Chase reaffirms my view that the largest six banks in this country, including J.P. Morgan Chase, which have assets equivalent to two-thirds of our GDP, must be broken up. This is important in order to bring more competition into the financial marketplace and to prevent another ?too-big-to-fail? bailout. At a time when 23 million Americans are either unemployed or underemployed, huge financial institutions should not be involved in ?making wagers or high-stake bets.? They should be investing in the productive economy creating jobs and improving our standard of living.?
Digby's quote of the week was from the CEO of that outfit Bernie was referring to: "Just because we?re stupid doesn?t mean everybody else was." Ha ha... isn't that as funny as... Mitt Romney laughing at all his own sociopathic behavior.
I don't know about you, but this would indicate to me that the whole meritocratic belief system about the "job creators" being the smartest people on the planet who must be revered as the great sages of the age might just not be right.
In fact, it could be that they are just average, human fuck-ups who shouldn't be trusted with so much power over the world economy with no oversight or regulation. You know, for their own good as much as ours. A little communal, hive mind activity in which people with different stakes in the system all have input might just be good for everyone. Even them.
If you?re wondering why you should care if some idiot trader (who apparently has been making $100 million a year at Chase, a company that has been the recipient of at least $390 billion in emergency Fed loans) loses $2 billion for Jamie Dimon, here?s why: because J.P. Morgan Chase is a federally-insured depository institution that has been and will continue to be the recipient of massive amounts of public assistance. If the bank fails, someone will reach into your pocket to pay for the cleanup. So when they gamble like drunken sailors, it?s everyone?s problem.
Activity like this is exactly what the Volcker rule, which effectively banned risky proprietary trading by federally insured institutions, was designed to prevent. It will be argued that this trade was a technically a hedge, and therefore exempt from the Volcker rule. Not only does that explanation sound fishy to me (as Salmon notes, for Iksil?s trade to be a hedge, this would mean Chase had an equally giant and insane short bet on against corporate debt, which seems unlikely), but it's sort of immaterial anyway: whether or not this bet technically violated the Volcker rule, it definitely violated the spirit of the law. Hedge or no hedge, we don?t want big, federally-insured, too-big-to-fail banks making giant nuclear-powered derivatives bets.
...[T]he incident underscored the basic problem. If J.P. Morgan Chase wants to act like a crazed cowboy hedge fund and make wild exacta bets on the derivatives market, they should be welcome to do so. But they shouldn?t get to do it with cheap cash from the Fed?s discount window, and they shouldn?t get to do it with money from the federally-insured bank accounts of teachers, firemen and other such real people. It?s a simple concept: you either get to be a bank, or you get to be a casino. But you can?t be both. If we don?t have rules to enforce that concept, we ought to get some.
Word on the Street is that J.P. Morgan?s exposure is so large that it can?t dump these bad bets without affecting the market and losing even more money. And given its mammoth size and interlinked connections with every other financial institution, anything that shakes J.P. Morgan is likely to rock the rest of the Street.
Ever since the start of the banking crisis in 2008, Dimon has been arguing that more government regulation of Wall Street is unnecessary. Last year he vehemently and loudly opposed the so-called Volcker rule, itself a watered-down version of the old Glass-Steagall Act that used to separate commercial from investment banking before it was repealed in 1999, saying it would unnecessarily impinge on derivative trading (the lucrative practice of making bets on bets) and hedging (using some bets to offset the risks of other bets).
Dimon argued that the financial system could be trusted; that the near-meltdown of 2008 was a perfect storm that would never happen again.
Since then, J.P. Morgan?s lobbyists and lawyers have done everything in their power to eviscerate the Volcker rule-- creating exceptions, exemptions, and loopholes that effectively allow any big bank to go on doing most of the derivative trading it was doing before the near-meltdown.
And now-- only a few years after the banking crisis that forced American taxpayers to bail out the Street, caused home values to plunge by more than 30 percent and pushed millions of homeowners underwater, threatened or diminished the savings of millions more, and sent the entire American economy hurtling into the worst downturn since the Great Depression-- J.P. Morgan Chase recapitulates the whole debacle with the same kind of errors, sloppiness, bad judgment, excessively risky trades poorly-executed and poorly-monitored, that caused the crisis in the first place.
In light of all this, Jamie Dimon?s promise that J.P. Morgan will ?fix it and move on? is not reassuring.
The losses here had been mounting for at least six weeks, according to Morgan. Where was the new transparency that?s supposed to allow regulators to catch these things before they get out of hand?
Several weeks ago there were rumors about a London-based Morgan trader making huge high-stakes bets, causing excessive volatility in derivatives markets. When asked about it then, Dimon called it ?a complete tempest in a teapot.? Using the same argument he has used to fend off regulation of derivatives, he told investors that ?every bank has a major portfolio? and ?in those portfolios you make investments that you think are wise to offset your exposures.?
Let?s hope Morgan?s losses don?t turn into another crisis of confidence and they don?t spread to the rest of the financial sector.
But let?s also stop hoping Wall Street will mend itself. What just happened at J.P. Morgan-- along with its leader?s cavalier dismissal followed by lame reassurance-- reveals how fragile and opaque the banking system continues to be, why Glass-Steagall must be resurrected, and why the Dallas Fed?s recent recommendation that Wall Street?s giant banks be broken up should be heeded.