BofA’s Countrywide Found Liable for Defrauding Fannie Mae

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, who presided over the trial, told lawyers he’ll determine the amount of any civil penalty at a later date. Assistant U.S. Attorney Pierre Armand asked the judge to impose a penalty of as much as $848 million, representing the gross losses to Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac. Armand said alternatively, Rakoff could fine Countrywide about $131 million, the estimated net losses to the two entities.

Countrywide, based in Calabasas, California, was once the biggest U.S. residential home lender, originating or purchasing about $1.4 trillion in mortgages from 2005 to 2007.

The bulk of them were sold to investors as mortgage-backed securities. Bank of America acquired Countrywide in 2008.
Bank of America fell 31 cents, or 2 percent, yesterday to $14.21 in New York Stock Exchange trading. The shares fell 0.3 percent today.

Following a four-week trial, the jury of six women and four men deliberated about five hours yesterday. After the verdict, a female juror said she and her colleagues on the panel agreed with the government’s view that Countrywide’s Full Spectrum Lending unit had shunted substandard loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (FMCC) under the HSSL program.
“I knew something about what was going on in the mortgage debacle but it was certainly interesting to see how this happened first-hand,” said the woman, who declined to be identified. She is a freelance writer who lives on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Videotape Deposition
The juror cited the testimony of John Boland, a former Countrywide employee who said some loan specialists were told they wouldn’t be allowed to go home for the night unless they approved a loan. Jurors asked to re-hear Boland’s videotape deposition just minutes before announcing their verdict.

Boland testified he had complained to Countrywide superiors repeatedly about the loan approval process under HSSL and an earlier program. He said it was “mind blowing” to learn that two employees who he criticized “lost their authority” regarding loans because that hadn’t happened before.
“Boland’s testimony was shocking,” the juror said. “Those employees were told to do ‘30 in 30,’ or 30 loans in 30 days. I will say in my opinion the bank and these employees were just passing off unsatisfactory loans as prime loans and Fannie and Freddie got stuck.”
The juror also said she and her fellow panelists weren’t convinced by the lender’s argument that a computer-generated underwriting process called “CLUES” was a satisfactory method for evaluating the quality of loans.

‘A Human’
“The defense seemed to be saying that with CLUES, the loan specialists didn’t need underwriters,” the juror said. “But we decided that there was no way that any machine could do that. You needed a human.”
Countrywide earned at least $165 million using HSSL, allowing the company to maintain revenue in a “cratering” market for subprime mortgages, prosecutors told the jury in closing arguments. Government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bought single-family mortgages from lenders.
The U.S. last year joined the whistle-blower action against Bank of America filed by former Countrywide executive Edward O’Donnell.

O’Donnell, who came to court yesterday morning after jurors began their deliberations, declined to comment after the verdict. Under whistle-blower laws, O’Donnell testified he could collect as much as $1.6 million of any monetary damages awarded to the U.S.

28,800 Loans
Under the HSSL program, prosecutors said, the time in which more than 28,800 loans were processed was reduced to as little as 10 days from 60 days and safeguards were lifted to boost the number of loans the lender completed and sold to GSEs. Brendan Sullivan, a lawyer for Countrywide, said just 11,000 HSSL loans were sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and quality wasn’t compromised.

The case, brought under the Financial Institution Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 or FIRREA, has been used by Bharara’s office at least six times. The office has used the statute and another law to obtain almost $500 million in mortgage fraud recoveries.
The case is U.S. v. Countrywide Financial Corp., 12-cv-01422, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).


Bank of America liable for Countrywide mortgage fraud

By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK | Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:58pm EDT
(Reuters) – Bank of America Corp was found liable for fraud on Wednesday over defective mortgages sold by its Countrywide unit, a major win for the U.S. government in one of the few trials stemming from the financial crisis.

After a four-week trial, a federal jury in New York found the bank liable on one civil fraud charge. Countrywide originated shoddy home loans in a process called “Hustle” and sold them to government mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government said.

The four men and six women on the jury also found former Countrywide executive Rebecca Mairone liable on the one fraud charge she faced.

The U.S. Justice Department has said it would seek up to $848.2 million, the gross loss it said Fannie and Freddie suffered on the loans. But it will be up to U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff to decide on the penalty. Arguments on how the judge will assess penalties are set for December 5.

Any penalty would add to the more than $40 billion Bank of America has spent on disputes stemming from the 2008 financial crisis.

“The jury’s decision concerned a single Countrywide program that lasted several months and ended before Bank of America’s acquisition of the company,” Bank of America spokesman Lawrence Grayson said. “We will evaluate our options for appeal.”

Marc Mukasey, a lawyer for Mairone, called his client a “woman of integrity, ethics and honesty,” adding they would fight on. “She never engaged in fraud, because there was no fraud,” he said.

Wednesday’s verdict was a major victory for the Justice Department, which has been criticized for failing to hold banks and executives accountable for their roles in the events leading up to the financial crisis.

The government continues to investigate banks for conduct related to the financial crisis. The verdict comes as the government is negotiating a $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase & Co to resolve a number of probes and claims arising from its mortgage business, including the sale of mortgage bonds.


The lawsuit stemmed from a whistleblower case originally brought by Edward O’Donnell, a former Countrywide executive who stands to earn up to $1.6 million for his role.

The case centered on a program called the “High Speed Swim Lane” – also called “HSSL” or “Hustle” – that government lawyers said Countrywide started in 2007.

The Justice Department contended that fraud and other defects were rampant in HSSL loans because Countrywide eliminated loan-quality checkpoints and paid employees based on loan volume and speed.

The Justice Department said the process was overseen by Mairone, a former chief operating officer of Countrywide’s Full Spectrum Lending division. Mairone is now a managing director at JPMorgan.

Amy Bonitatibus, a JPMorgan spokeswoman, said, “We are reviewing the decision.”

About 43 percent of the loans sold to the mortgage giants were materially defective, the government said.

Bank of America bought Countrywide in July 2008. Two months later, the government took over Fannie and Freddie.

Bank of America and Mairone denied wrongdoing. Lawyers for the bank sought to show the jury that Countrywide had tried to ensure it was issuing quality loans and that no fraud occurred.

The lawsuit was the first financial crisis-related case against a bank by the Justice Department to go to trial under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA).

The law, passed in the wake of the 1980s savings-and-loan scandals, covers fraud affecting federally insured financial institutions.

The Justice Department, and particularly lawyers in the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in the Southern District of New York, have sought to dust off the rarely used law and bring cases against banks accused of fraud.

Among its attractions, FIRREA provides a statute of limitations of 10 years and allows the government to bring civil cases for alleged criminal wrongdoing.

Virginia Gibson, a lawyer at the law firm Hogan Lovells, said the Bank of America verdict was a “big deal because it shows the scope of a tool the government has not used frequently since its inception.”

Gibson and other lawyers say any appeal by Bank of America would likely focus on a ruling made by the judge before the trial that endorsed a government position that it can bring a FIRREA case against a bank when the bank itself was the financial institution affected by the fraud.

The case was one of three lawsuits in New York where judges had endorsed that interpretation. Banks have generally argued that the interpretation is contrary to the intent of Congress, which they said is more focused on others committing fraud on banks.

Bank of America’s case was the first to go to trial, a rarity given that banks more typically choose to settle government claims instead of face a jury. But Bank of America had said that it “can’t be expected to compensate every entity that claims losses that actually were caused by the economic downturn.”

In a statement, Bharara said Bank of America “chose to defend Countrywide’s conduct with all its might and money, claiming there was no case here.”

“This office will never hesitate to go to trial to expose fraudulent corporate conduct and to hold companies accountable, particularly when it has caused such harm to the public,” Bharara said.

In late afternoon trading, Bank of America shares were down 27 cents at $14.25 on the New York Stock Exchange.

The case is U.S. ex rel. O’Donnell v. Bank of America Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-01422.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond; Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz and Edwina Gibbs)



Washington Post

Snopes missed the boat on Dianne Feinstein and Richard C. Blum crony capitalism on steroids…

It’s unfortunate that Snopes didn’t dig any further into the matter. It could have, for instance, sourced an 11-page exposé of Blum and Feinstein published by the online site FoundSF entitled “Richard C. Blum and Dianne Feinstein: The Power Couple of California.” There Snopes would have found how this couple, through a continuing series of events that could only be called crony capitalism on steroids, grew their wealth, starting in 1980 when they were married, from a modest sum to well over $100 million.

In that exposé they would have uncovered another source, this time from the Los Angeles Times, which noted the couple’s illicit activities from the beginning:

A review of the senator’s first two years in office found that Feinstein supported several positions that benefited Blum, his wealthy clients and their investments. She was a vocal proponent of increased trade with China while Blum’s firm was planning a major investment there. She also voted for appropriations bills that provided more than $100 million a year in federal funds to three companies in which her husband is a substantial investor.

Visiting the Times article would have led them to another source that explained in detail her votes as head of the Military Construction Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Subcommittee (MILCON), which funneled $1.5 billion worth of military construction contracts to URS Corporation, an engineering, design, and construction company located (where else?) in San Francisco — in which Blum had a significant financial interest. Her committee also funneled millions into Tutor Perini, one of the largest general contractors in the country, also located in California, and in which Blum also had a significant financial interest. When Blum sold his interests in URS and Tutor Perini, he booked profits estimated at between $5 and $10 million.

It gets even better. While Blum was an owner in URS, it bought a substantial piece of another company, a defense contractor called EG&G, which just happened to enjoy a windfall contract, thanks to Feinstein’s MILCON committee, of $600 million.

There are other egregious examples of how Feinstein, denials notwithstanding, funneled taxpayer funds into companies either controlled or heavily invested in by her husband. But the aforementioned examples should suffice to prove two points: Snopes often fails to dig deeply enough to discover the depth of corruption and deceit and denial in its efforts to “vet” a story like that from the Ventura California Tea Party. Second, the rampant self-dealing and obvious conflicts of interest go far beyond just a little agreement to sell some post offices through a company controlled by Feinstein’s husband.

If one listens only to Snopes and fails to dig more deeply, one may be left with the conclusion that “there’s nothing to see here. Just move along now, and thank you.”

A graduate of Cornell University and a former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at, primarily on economics and politics. He can be reached at [email protected].

Dalai Lama, Senator Dianne Feinstein, San Francisco Syphoning US assets… what strange bed fellows… Will she give Dalai Lama $1.1 billion to further his cause of completely destroying America as he did with Nazi Germany?

The US has entered into a contract with a real estate firm to sell 56 buildings that currently house U.S. Post Offices. The government has decided it no longer needs these buildings, most of which are located on prime land in towns and cities across the country. The sale of these properties will fetch about $19 billion. A regular real estate commission will be paid to the company that was given the exclusive listing for handling the sales.

That company is CRI and it belongs to a man named Richard Blum. Richard Blum is the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein. (Most voters and many of the government people who approved the deal have not made the connection between the two because they have different last names). Senator Feinstein and her husband stand to make a fortune (est at between $950 million and $1.1 billion!!) from these transactions.

His company is the sole real estate on the sale. CRI will be making a minimum of 3% and as much as 6% commission on each and every sale. All of the properties that are being sold are all fully paid for. They were purchased with U.S. taxpayers dollars. The U.S.P.S. is allowed free and c lea r, tax exempt use. The only cost to keep them open is the cost to actually keep the doors open and the heat and lights on.

The United States Postal Service doesn’t even have to pay county property taxes on these subject properties. Would you put your house in foreclosure just because you couldn’t afford to pay the electric bill? Well, the folks in Washington have given the Post Office the OK to do it!

Worse yet,most of the net proceeds of the sales will go back to the U.S.P.S, an organization that is so poorly managed that they have lost $117 billion dollars in the past 10 years! No one in the mainstream media is even raising an eyebrow over the conflict of interest and on the possibility of corruption on the sale of billions of dollars worth of public assets.

Verified on Snopes:

How does a U.S. Senator from San Francisco manage to get away with organizing and lobbying such a sweet deal?

Dianne Feinstein history goes like this:
Feinstein and Blum were married at the foot of Mt. Everest and went to Dharamsala to have their marriage blessed by his un-holieness the Dalai Lama.

While on this trip to Dharamsala she was thinking about getting out of politics, however when she came back from vacation, the Mayor of SF (Harvey Milk) was assassinated and suddenly she became the Mayor.

Dianne Feinstein is the first mayor to welcome the Dalai Lama to the United States and gave him the key to the City. What city? San Francisco the City of the Golden Gate.

Dianne Feinstein has worked very closely on the promotion of the Dalai Lama’s agenda and the Congressional Gold Medal the Dalai Lama was awarded was minted in none other than, you guessed it, San Francisco.

Blum, Feinstein’s husband is on the UC Board of Regents. Did he vote to raise tuitions?

When Feinstein ran for Senator last time, her ads had a Buddhist statue behind her. The statue was Avalokitsevara, the Patron Diety of Tibet=the Dalai Lama.

Richard Blum is also the Director or was of the Himalayan Arts Council.

Senator Dianne Feinstein’s former husband was the head of an abortion clinic. She likes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

note: Harvey Milk, was played by Sean Penn in a recent movie, as Hollywood continues to push the boundaries for the culture of permissiveness that has taken over, starting with the head, San Francisco law makers… i.e., Dianne Feinstein

note: all the laws that affect California, flow from San Francisco. Recently the voters voted for normal marriage as between 1 man and 1 woman to produce a family to keep core values strong. This was over turned by a gay judge from?? you guessed it, San Francisco.


The Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan was severely damaged by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 2011. Since then scientists have been battling with the damaged pant to keep the rectors cool and avoid a more serious incident.

Next month will see work beginning to remove the fuel rods from the damaged rector. This work will be the most technical and dangerous since the 2011 disaster. This year’s World Nuclear Report says the operations have the potential to cause: “by far the most serious radiological disaster to date” if it goes wrong. And warns of possible apocalyptic scenarios, including the evacuation of Tokyo.

The operations involve the removal of the spent fuel from one of the reactors. This reactor is in the most unstable condition, and scientists do not fully know the extent of damage within the reactor core. Since the disaster the reactor has had to be constantly cooled to stop a full meltdown of the plant. Every day gallons of irradiated water from this process escape the plant into the surrounding environment and into the Pacific Ocean. Once these fuel rods are removed, they will then begin work on removing the fuel rods from the other three reactors, which were also damaged. The whole process of decommissioning the site is likely to take 40 years.

Althoug the removal of fuel rods from a nuclear power station is a standard procedure the damaged Fukushima plant has so many dangers and unknowns it makes it a highly dangerous and technical procedure. Nuclear expert Professor Neil Hyatt says, “This is probably a world first in terms of the engineering challenge.”

Read More: Channel 4 News

GO FIGURE: Washington DC / Meeting to discuss rat problem in 14th Street corridor

WASHINGTON – Over the years, the D.C. area has seen peace summits and nuclear arms summits, but the summit planned in the District Thursday night might make you wrinkle your nose.

The meeting will discuss rats, and what many people along the 14th Street corridor see as a big-time increase in the number of them.

“Some of them are sizes as big as squirrels and some of them almost as big as cats,” Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner John Fanning told ABC 7 in September.

Construction on developments in the area may be behind the increase, Fanning told ABC 7.

“Because of the demolition and the noise of the construction equipment, they’re looking for new homes,” he says.

So, area residents and city officials, including those from the Departments of Health and Public Works, will gather at the Washington Plaza Hotel at 7 p.m. to talk about ways to tackle the problem.

“Our neighborhood is more vibrant than ever with population growth and many new businesses attracting visitors and tourists. Logan Circle is a tremendous success story, but with progress comes new problems. One that we’re increasingly hearing about is the rodent population,” the organizers posted on the event’s website.


Police: 6 killed, officer hurt in overnight collision between cruiser, car near Ohio’s capital

Weeks after Tibetan Sand Mandola performed,
Its lights flashing and siren blaring, a police cruiser that was responding to a robbery report collided with a car at an intersection just northeast of Ohio’s capital early Friday, killing all six people in the car and injuring an officer, officials said.

Investigators said an officer from the Columbus suburb of Upper Arlington was responding to a reported armed robbery at a fast-food restaurant when the crash occurred around 1:30 a.m. at a large intersection that includes traffic lights.

The people killed in the other vehicle included a small child. Authorities believe but haven’t confirmed that the driver and a woman riding with him were the parents of the other four people, all girls, said Chief Robert Oppenheimer of Perry Township police, who are investigating the crash.

“That car was just totaled, and they probably died instantly,” Oppenheimer said. Autopsies were planned.


Chris Christie: New Jersey Will Comply With Gay Marriage Order

Tibetan rituals, sand mandolas, and his un-holiness focus on New York and New Jersey… no wonder Nancy Pelosi brings him into Washington DC… it works !

— New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he disagrees with it, but he will comply with a state Supreme Court ruling that makes same-sex marriage legal in the state starting Monday.

Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak says in a statement that the governor “firmly believes that this determination should be made by all the people of the state of New Jersey.”

But he says the state Health Department will help towns carry out Friday’s state Supreme Court ruling.

The court denied the Christie administration’s request to delay a lower-court order that the state recognize same-sex marriage beginning Monday.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Same-sex marriages will begin within days in New Jersey after the state’s highest court ruled unanimously Friday to uphold a lower-court order that gay weddings must start Monday and to deny a delay that was sought by Gov. Chris Christie’s administration.

“The state has advanced a number of arguments, but none of them overcome this reality: Same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today,” the court said in an opinion by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. “The harm to them is real, not abstract or speculative.”

A judge on the lower court had ruled last month that New Jersey must recognize same-sex marriage and set Monday as the date to allow gay weddings. Christie, a Republican who is considered a possible 2016 presidential candidate, appealed the decision and asked for the start date to be put on hold while the state appeals.

The state’s top court agreed last week to take up the appeal of the lower-court ruling by Judge Mary Jacobson. Oral arguments are expected Jan. 6 or 7.


FLASHBACK: Paul Harvey, 1965: ‘If I Were the Devil’ (Warning for a Nation)

This speech was broadcast by legendary ABC Radio commentator Paul Harvey on April 3, 1965:

If I were the Devil . . . I mean, if I were the Prince of Darkness, I would of course, want to engulf the whole earth in darkness. I would have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree, so I should set about however necessary to take over the United States. I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: “Do as you please.” “Do as you please.” To the young, I would whisper, “The Bible is a myth.” I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would confide that what is bad is good, and what is good is “square”. In the ears of the young marrieds, I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you. I would caution them not to be extreme in religion, in patriotism, in moral conduct. And the old, I would teach to pray. I would teach them to say after me: “Our Father, which art in Washington” . . .

If I were the devil, I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull an uninteresting. I’d threaten T.V. with dirtier movies and vice versa. And then, if I were the devil, I’d get organized. I’d infiltrate unions and urge more loafing and less work, because idle hands usually work for me. I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. And I’d tranquilize the rest with pills. If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine yound intellects but neglect to discipline emotions . . . let those run wild. I would designate an athiest to front for me before the highest courts in the land and I would get preachers to say “she’s right.” With flattery and promises of power, I could get the courts to rule what I construe as against God and in favor of pornography, and thus, I would evict God from the courthouse, and then from the school house, and then from the houses of Congress and then, in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and I would deify science because that way men would become smart enough to create super weapons but not wise enough to control them.

If I were Satan, I’d make the symbol of Easter an egg, and the symbol of Christmas, a bottle. If I were the devil, I would take from those who have and I would give to those who wanted, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. And then, my police state would force everybody back to work. Then, I could separate families, putting children in uniform, women in coal mines, and objectors in slave camps. In other words, if I were Satan, I’d just keep on doing what he’s doing.

Paul Harvey, Good Day.

House stenographer Diane Reidy VIDEO Dragged Off Floor Revealing US Government is Freemasons not One Nation Under Jesus Christ

As Congressional lawmakers ended the 16-day government shutdown Wednesday night by approving a bill to resume funding for the Federal government through Jan. 17, longtime House stenographer Dianne Reidy caused a ruckus inside the House chamber by interrupting the vote and shouting, “the House is divided” and “this is not one Nation under God!”

Reidy’s outburst, captured by C-Span, lasted only moments before House security officials carried her away as she continued shouting, “You are all sons of the devil!”
The stenographer was quoted saying: “He will not be mocked! This is not one Nation under God. It never was. The greatest deception here is this is not one Nation under God! It never was. Had it been, it would not have been! The Constitution would not have been written by Freemasons! You cannot serve two masters! You cannot serve two masters! Praise be to God, Lord Jesus Christ.”
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who banged her gavel and repeatedly shouted “Order!” throughout the outburst, told Fox News that Reidy “came up to the podium area beneath where I was standing and asked me if the microphones were on. I said that I didn’t know. I assumed that perhaps I was chatting too much to the helpful parliamentarians around me. Then she suddenly faced the front and said words like ‘Thus spoke the Lord.’ And, ‘This is not the Lord’s work.’
“I hammered to get control and hush her up. She said something about the devil. It was sudden, confusing and heartbreaking. She is normally a gentle soul.”
Reidy is a well-known and well-liked person on Capitol Hill, according to reports. Her outburst has been described as uncharacteristic of the 20-year veteran stenographer.
“She’s a well-known person, she’s a perfectly nice person, a good colleague, somebody who’s respectable and dependable, and this is very surprising to everybody who works with her… I don’t know, she just snapped,” a GOP aide told CNN.
Commenting under pseudonym “LiesAreSickening” on an International Business Times report about Reidy’s outburst, one person claiming to be “a close relative” of the stenographer, defended her actions thusly:

I am a close relative to Dianne Reidy and I assure you all, she does not have, nor has ever had, a mental disorder of any sort. She is the most loving person I have ever known and has been there for me since birth. I am not the religious type like she is, but the statements she made seemed more logical to me than any of those made by the government officials. I was so surprised when I found out, being that this was very out of character for her and she must have been feeling the frustrations of herself and the others around her to an overwhelming point. I applaud her for her courage in voicing the thoughts of thousands, I am sure. The fact that some of the people present are attempting to make her out to be mentally incompetent is ridiculous and only makes her statements seem all the more valid. Of course they would attempt to discredit her statements by making her seem unstable… that is a perfect example of the way our government handles and ensures their control over the masses of America. Dianne Reidy is a caring person, completely sane as well as highly intelligent and educated, and she does not deserve to experience slander of any type. I may not be able to call myself a devout christian, but I do know when someone is simply “off” in their logic with applying religious concepts to societal concepts– Dianne Reidy is not one of these individuals.

Read More

Upper West Side Violence: Man Shot In Chest At Amsterdam And West 88th

A man was apparently chased into an Upper West Side street where he was shot earlier this morning. According to NBC New York, the police are now looking into it after “a man walked into a Manhattan hospital with a gunshot wound to his chest.”

A deli worker told WABC 7 he heard three shots and surveillance footage shows the confrontation, with the victim being followed into Amsterdam Avenue near 88th Street.

via Upper West Side Violence: Man Shot In Chest At Amsterdam And West 88th: Gothamist.


AFP – France’s mainstream political parties were Monday scratching their heads over what to do about a surge by the Front National (FN) after a breakthrough by-election win for the far-right party.

The ruling Socialist party and the centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), the party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, face humiliating reverses in municipal and European elections next year if the FN can sustain its current standing in the eyes of an electorate thoroughly fed-up with RECORD UNEMPLOYMENT, RISING TAXES AND A PERCEIVED INCREASE IN CRIME AND INSECURITY.



Four prominent clergymen invited over 100 churches to unify in an attempt dethrone Reverend Al Sharpton.

Carl Washington, Pastor New Mt Zion Baptist Church, Kris Erskine, Pastor Bethany Baptist Church and Patrick Young, Pastor 1st Baptist Church Elmhurst, Queens and Johnnie Green, Pastor Mt Neboh Church.

The prince of the pulpit may have a revolution on his hands.
Four upstart clergymen have invited more than 100 churches to knock Rev. Al Sharpton off his Harlem political throne.
Speak Out Say It Loud, headquartered at Mount Neboh Baptist Church on Adam Clayton Powell Blvd., is a new coalition of black ministers determined to create a unified African-American power base with citywide clout.
Mount Neboh pastor Johnnie Green, 51, said Sharpton has neglected black New York while pursuing national fame and acclaim.

Read more:


The National Security Agency is harvesting hundreds of MILLIONS of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts around the world, many of them belonging to Americans, according to senior intelligence officials and top-secret documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The collection program, which has not been disclosed before, intercepts e-mail address books and “buddy lists” from instant messaging services as they move across global data links. Online services often transmit those contacts when a user logs on, composes a message, OR SYNCHRONIZES A COMPUTER OR MOBILE DEVICE WITH INFORMATION STORED ON REMOTE SERVERS.

During a single day last year, the NSA’s Special Source Operations branch collected 444,743 e-mail address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from unspecified other providers, according to an internal NSA PowerPoint presentation. Those figures, described as a typical daily intake in the document, correspond to a rate of more than 250 million a year.

Each day, the presentation said, the NSA collects contacts from an estimated 500,000 buddy lists on live-chat services as well as from the inbox displays of Web-based e-mail accounts.

The collection depends on secret arrangements with foreign telecommunications companies or allied intelligence services in control of facilities that direct traffic along the Internet’s main data routes.

CONTACT LISTS STORED ONLINE provide the NSA with far richer sources of data than call records alone. Address books commonly include not only names and e-mail addresses, but also telephone numbers, street addresses, and business and family information. Inbox listings of E-MAIL ACCOUNTS STORED IN THE “CLOUD” SOMETIMES contain content, such as the first few lines of a message.

Taken together, the data would enable the NSA, if permitted, to draw detailed maps of a person’s life, as told by personal, professional, POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS CONNECTIONS. The picture can also be misleading, creating false “associations” with ex-spouses or people with whom an account holder has had no contact in many years.

The NSA has not been authorized by Congress or the special intelligence court that oversees foreign surveillance to collect contact lists in bulk, and senior intelligence officials said it would be illegal to do so from facilities in the United States. The agency avoids the restrictions in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by intercepting contact lists from access points “all over the world,” one official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the classified program. “None of those are on U.S. territory.”

When information passes through “the overseas collection apparatus,” the official added, “the assumption is you’re not a U.S. person.”

In practice, data from Americans is collected in large volumes — in part because they live and work overseas, but also because data crosses international boundaries even when its American owners stay at home. Large technology companies, including Google and Facebook, maintain data centers around the world to balance loads on their servers and work around outages.

Because the agency captures contact lists “on the fly” as they cross major Internet switches, rather than “at rest” on computer servers, the NSA has no need to notify the U.S. companies that host the information or to ask for help from them.

It is unclear why the NSA collects more than twice as many address books from Yahoo than the other big services combined. One possibility is that Yahoo, unlike other service providers, has left connections to its users unencrypted by default.

Suzanne Philion, a Yahoo spokeswoman, said Monday in response to an inquiry from The Washington Post that, beginning in January, Yahoo would begin encrypting all its e-mail connections.

Google was the first to secure all its e-mail connections, turning on “SSL encryption” globally in 2010. People with inside knowledge said the move was intended in part to thwart large-scale collection of its users’ information by the NSA and other intelligence agencies.