Friday, March 19, 2010

Four million expats want to come home as savings and income plunge along with the pound

Almost 4million Brits living abroad are planning a mass return to home shores after seeing their savings and income stripped by the plunging values of the pound and their property.

The dramatic slump has slashed their income by a third and has turned Brits into the paupers of Europe.

Fears over job security and falling property prices are also giving expats second thoughts, according to research from foreign exchange specialist Moneycorp.

Some 845,000 Brits living in Spain and France have suffered an 8 per cent drop in house prices in the year to August 2009 alone. This wiped €30,000 off the average property on the Costa del Sol.

Sterling has slumped from over €1.50 to £1 in January 2007 to close to parity, taking a terrible toll on the estimated 5.5million British expats, and particularly the 1.1million pensioners living abroad. Moneycorp research shows that 70 per cent of all expats are now considering returning to the UK.

A retired couple living in Spain, for example, both drawing a full state pension of £95.25 per week, will have seen their combined monthly income - on their pension alone - drop by €396 over three years, from €1,263 to €867.

The warning signs that hundreds of thousands of Brits may be ready to return to the UK started when the credit crunch began in 2008. That year, the number of expats returning home jumped by a fifth on the previous 12 months.

The number of British homeowners downsizing or selling up and sending money back to the UK doubled last year, foreign currency specialist HiFX reports.

It has seen an 180 per cent increase in the number of euro to sterling transactions and an 11 per cent increase in the number of U.S. dollar to sterling transactions in the past six months, compared to last year. More people over 65 than any other age group are repatriating.

Mark Bodega from HiFX says: 'The pound's fall to historic lows in recent months has meant the cost of living or running a holiday home on the continent has risen to unaffordable levels for many people.'

A weak property market is also proving to be a nightmare for many of the estimated 1.5million Brits who own homes abroad. Many are being forced to sell their property at a loss, particularly in countries like Spain.

The weak pound has proved a blessing for those who receive an income in euros, for example from renting a property. Sterling's slump means they will get far more pounds for their euros.

Brennon Nicholas, managing director at estate agency Cluttons Spain says: 'We have seen an increase in the number of people coming to us who are struggling because their pensions and savings do not stretch as far as they used to. They're selling up because of the favourable exchange rate but the market is extremely tough and there is a lack of buyers.'

Pensioners abroad have arguably been hit the hardest as they rely most heavily on their savings and pensions built up in the UK. They've been hit by a declining pound and falling interest rates.

One in five expats claims a sterling pension, with more than a quarter of Brits living in Spain (28 per cent) and a third of British expats in Germany relying on this as their core source of income, according to Moneycorp.

More than half a million pensioners living in Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand suffer a further blow because their state pensions don't rise each year in line with inflation.

Only those living in the European Economic Area and countries with reciprocal agreements in place with the UK, such as the U.S. and Jamaica, are protected against inflation. Yesterday, these pensioners lost their fight in the European Court of Human Rights to prove this pension freeze violates anti-discrimination rules.

Tim Finch, head of migration at think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research says: 'The weakness of the pound will mean more people will lose jobs and find it harder to live overseas and come home. This is likely to be a growing trend over the next few years.

'Generally, the big wave of lifestyle emigration where people got their place in the sun for a better life was a reflection of the boom years when you had high house prices and decent pensions.'

Case study: Shattered dreams of a new life in Italy

Andy Ward's dream new life in Italy with his family has been shattered.

The boxes are all packed and ready to be shipped back to Norfolk and their house - in a small village in North-East Italy - is almost bare.

The Daily Mail cartoonist left behind the grey skies of London six years ago for a better life for his Italian wife Gaia and their six-week-old baby Francesca.

Andy Ward

Back to Norfolk: Andy Ward and his family's new life in Italy is over because of the weak pound

But after four happy years, which saw the birth of their second daughter, Isabella, it started to go wrong.

In September 2007, just after the collapse of Northern Rock, the pound started its long slide against the euro. From getting €1.5 to £1 when they moved across, the two currencies were virtually level pegging.

Andy says: 'The recession really bit hard. Our savings started to dwindle and my income - much of which is paid in sterling - started to fall dramatically in real terms.

'When the pound was strong, expats like us could cope with the higher taxes you get out here. But the falling pound means I have to work seven days a week.

'We never wanted to leave but you just have to be practical and think again about what's best for your family.'

What is next for the pound? Go to

Judge orders banks to trial over Milan bond deals

MILAN — A judge in Milan ordered banks JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank, Depfa, UBS and 13 people to stand trial for alleged fraud in the sale of derivative instruments, the prosecutor told AFP on Wednesday.

"JPMorgan, Depfa, Deutsche Bank and UBS have been ordered to stand trial for fraud along with 11 of their managers and two former Milan city officials," said Alfredo Robledo, a prosecutor at the Milan court.

The four banks allegedly hid the risks in the derivative financial products they sold to the city of Milan while restructuring its debt, promising that the products would save the city money.

All the banks involved deny any wrongdoing.

"We are... confident that the strength of our legal position will be demonstrated through the judicial process," JP Morgan said.

"The JP Morgan employees involved in the transactions acted with the highest degree of professionalism and entirely appropriately," it said.

For its part, UBS said: "No illicit profit was earned by the banks, since the intermediation costs applied were fully legitimate and were not hidden from the City."

Deutsche Bank said it was confident its employees involved in the transactions acted with integrity.

And a spokeswoman for Depfa said the German bank was convinced it had not violated any law or regulation.

The trial is set to open on May 6 in Milan, said Robledo, who has led the investigation since 2007.

The case revolves around a 1.7-billion-euro bond issue by the city of Milan on which the banks sold derivatives.

In 2009, the city of Milan estimated its potential losses at about 300 million euros, but it will be impossible to calculate total losses until the debt expires in 2035.

The banks made about 100 million euros (137 million dollars) from the sales, the prosecution says.

"The judge confirmed the plausibility of the accusation. It's a preliminary positive judgement," Robledo said.

Italy is investigating other operations of this kind in other public administrations of cities, provinces and regions.

According to finance ministry figures, the derivative products make up about a third of the debt carried by Italy's public entities, totalling some 35.5 billion euros.

Italy's public auditor said in February that derivative products taken out by public entities were a ticking time bomb and would weigh on public finances for the next few decades.

The use of derivative products by local governments, authorised in 2002, was banned in 2008.

Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report

Author Lewis says Wall Street reckoning is coming

Bestselling author Michael Lewis predicts Wall Street's biggest banks could be broken up by Congress in the coming year in an eventual reckoning over the financial meltdown of 2008. The "Liar's Poker" author said Tuesday a war will be waged in Washington as Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd tries to revamp U.S. financial rules. Lewis said: "There is a war that is about to happen over not just who regulates Wall Street but what the rules are," adding: "It is really a war over money." In Lewis’s latest book, "The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine," he recounts the meltdown through the prism of a few Wall Street players who spotted flaws of the U.S. subprime mortgage market and made fortunes betting against it. Lewis said he wanted to make amends for his 1989 bestseller, which he wrote as a cautionary tale but that was seen by many as promoting greed-is-good. Source

Book makes new claims about Anne Frank

AMSTERDAM – A Holocaust survivor claims in a new book that Anne Frank distracted younger children from the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp by telling them fairy tales — an account disputed by at least one Frank authority and a childhood friend of the diarist.

The story by Berthe Meijer, now 71, of being a 6-year-old inmate of Bergen Belsen crafts a touching portrait of Anne in the final weeks of her life in the German camp, struggling to keep up her own spirits even as she tried to lift the morale of the smaller children.

That Anne had a gift for storytelling was evident from the diary she kept during two years in hiding with her family in Amsterdam. The scattered pages were collected and published after the war in what became the most widely read book to emerge from the Holocaust.

But Meijer's memoir, being published in Dutch later this month, is the first to mention Anne's talent for spinning tales even in the despair of the camp.

The memoir deals with Meijer's acquaintance with Anne Frank in only a few pages, but she said she titled it "Life After Anne Frank" because it continues the tale of Holocaust victims where the famous diary leaves off.

"The dividing line is where the diary of Anne Frank ends. Because then you fall into a big black hole," Meijer told The Associated Press at her Amsterdam home.

Annemarie Bekker, a spokeswoman for the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam said Berthe Meijer has previously been interviewed by museum historians and she had no reason to doubt Meijer's testimony.

"It could very well be true," Bekker said. "We can't confirm it or deny it."

But Hannah Pick-Goslar, a childhood friend of Anne Frank who also met her in Bergen Belsen, said she doubted Meijer's recollection was accurate.

"In that condition, you almost died," she said in a telephone call from her home in Jerusalem. "You had no strength to tell stories."

Dutch filmmaker Willy Lindwer, who made an Emmy Award-winning documentary about Anne Frank, said he interviewed Meijer for the film and found her story unconvincing.

"Berthe ... had not more than a very vague recollection of this concentration camp," he said in an emailed message to The Associated Press. "She recalled the image of an older girl who told stories to younger children. It may have been Anne Frank, but also maybe not. Very vague."

A spokeswoman for Meijer's publisher, De Bezige Bij, said it had not vetted facts in the book itself. "It's possible that other witnesses will have differing memory of events in the book," said Suzanne Holtzer. But she said the publisher considered Meijer to be "an absolute authority."

Anne's final diary entry was on Aug. 1, 1944, three days before she and her family were arrested. She and her older sister Margot died in March 1945 in a typhus epidemic that swept through Bergen Belsen, just two weeks before the camp was liberated. Anne was 15.

The stories Anne told were "fairy tales in which nasty things happened, and that was of course very much related to the war," Meijer said.

"But as a kid you get lifted out of the everyday nastiness. That's something I remember. You're listening to someone telling something that has nothing to do with what's happening around you — so it's a bit of escape."

In addition to her diary, Frank wrote several essays and fragments of fiction while in hiding, including stories about a fairy and a gnome, though they are usually considered only of historical interest. They have been published as "Tales From the Secret Annex."

The stories she told in the camp were "about princes and elves and those kind of figures," Meijer said. Despite having unhappy twists, the tales were "quite a bit less terrible than what we saw around us. So you thought: they didn't have it so bad. As a child, you think very primitively about that kind of thing."

Around 140,000 Jews lived in the Netherlands before the 1940-45 Nazi occupation. Of those, 107,000 were deported to Germany and only 5,200 survived.

The Meijers and the Franks were acquaintances before the war: members of both families had fled Germany during the rise of Hitler's regime and found a place in the tightly-knit Jewish community in Amsterdam. The Meijers lived on the same street where Anne attended a Montessori elementary school.

The Franks went into hiding in a secret apartment above a canal-side warehouse where Otto Frank, Anne's father, had his business.

The Meijers hid in their own home, boarding up the windows and hanging a sign on the door that read "contagious disease" to discourage visitors. They were caught in early 1944 and deported from the Netherlands that March. Both of Berthe's parents died at Bergen Belsen in January 1945.

Dr. Alan Hilfer, director of psychology at Maimonides Medical Center in New York, said it's plausible that Meijer would have recognized Frank and stored the memory all these years if she knew her before the war and if she met her again at the camp.

A child of six or seven can "form memories reasonably well and hold on to them, though not in the same way as an adult," he said.

Records obtained by The Associated Press from Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust memorial authority, show that Berthe was an inmate of Bergen Belsen for 13 months until it was liberated in April 1945.

Meijer acknowledged that her recollections of the Frank sisters were fleeting.

She said there were many reasons she had waited until now to tell her story — not least that she was busy growing up, having a career and raising a family. She said a dedication ceremony at Bergen Belsen in 2006 made her realize how few Dutch survivors are still alive, and that there is little record of the impact the camp had on their later lives.

In addition, she suppressed her memories for years, and the horror of the camps have always been a difficult or taboo subject: at the orphanage where Meijer grew up, in polite company afterward, and even among her fellow survivors.

Still, "you remember a lot at age 7," she said. Meijer turned 7 in April 1945.

"You had to take off your clothes because there were lice in them that spread typhus. And you were wrapped in those blankets. And you sat somewhere in a corner half-frozen."

She said Margot had asked Anne to tell stories to cheer up the children, and that it was difficult for Anne to summon the enthusiasm.

The last time she saw Anne was in the camp infirmary, but they were both sick and "too weak and sad to even be pleasant to each other," she wrote.

In some ways, Meijer grew up to be the person Anne had hoped to be, a journalist, a columnist and an author, albeit of a popular Dutch cookbook.

In her diary Anne wrote in April 1944: "I can shake off everything if I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn. But, and that is the great question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?"

Although Meijer associated with leading Dutch writers and artists, she said she suffered lifelong symptoms of post-traumatic stress, with overwhelming memories and emotions surfacing unexpectedly.

To this day she has a paralyzing fear of crowds and public transportation.

In her book, she wonders about her choices in marrying first a gifted, but alcoholic architect and later one of the Netherlands' most famed journalists — not coincidentally, another Bergen Belsen survivor.

She says she can laugh "through the tears" about having become a culinary expert years after fantasizing endlessly about food while starving at the camp.

She describes how the simple act of cleaning sauce from a pan with her finger can trigger the ambiguously pleasant memory of being allowed to lick one of the camp's enormous cooking vats.

And she proudly shows off a concealed crawl space behind an opening in her cellar where she could hide if need be.

In history books, "the war ends when we were liberated. No. Not for a lot of people," she says.

"Not for the lives of the people who survived those camps or went into hiding or had traumatic experiences because of that war. Those things, they don't go away."


Associated Press writer Hillel Italie and investigative researcher Randy Herschaft contributed to this report.

Bibi’s Tense Time-Out

So, Barack Obama can lose his temper without a teleprompter. And we have the supremely aggravating Bibi Netanyahu to thank for that.

On St. Patrick’s Day, of all days, we wouldn’t want to think that our president did not know how to pick his donnybrooks.

The American government did unfortunately apologize to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, who got mad when a State Department spokesman correctly observed that the Libyan leader doesn’t always make sense. But in the case of a defiant Israel, the White House has not yet retreated into its usual compromising crouch.

Obama is so unpopular in Israel that he has nothing to lose by smacking our ally for its egregious treatment of the vice president. Joe Biden, the great champion of Israel, was humiliated when Israel used the occasion of his visit to defy America and announce a plan for 1,600 more homes in the disputed East Jerusalem area.

Israeli conservatives figured the American Eagle was toothless given that Obama had already backed down once on settlements. But the president has a lot to gain with Arabs disillusioned by the failure of the pre-emptive Nobel Prize winner to make good on his vaunted Cairo promise to resolve the Palestinian issue.

Besides, there is no love lost between the Israeli prime minister and Obama’s aides, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod — ever since Bibi obnoxiously labeled them “self-hating Jews” last summer.

The president and his inner circle are appalled at Israel’s self-absorption and its failure to notice that America is not only protecting Israel from Iran, fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also dealing with a miasma of horrible problems at home. And Israel insults the Obama administration over a domestic zoning issue that has nothing to do with its security?

“That’s not how you treat your best friend,” said one Obama official.

During the campaign, Obama told The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg that “being a friend to Israel is partly to hold up a mirror and tell the truth,” to save them from themselves when they mindlessly let settlement gluttony scuttle any chance of peace.

After it was reported two weeks ago that Israel planned 600 other homes in East Jerusalem, Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, warned me that Israel’s ultra-conservative religious groups were “killing every option that comes out that has peace in its objective.”

For the fundamentalist rabbis who run Israel’s working-class, ultra-Orthodox Sephardic Shas Party, the new houses represent earmarks. But it’s one thing to put earmarks in the budget and another to foment a crisis between Israel and its benefactor over them.

“It’s not entirely clear to me that the Shas Party knows who Joe Biden is or cares,” Jeffrey Goldberg told me.

“They have very narrow theological interests that don’t conform to the theological interests of American Jews,” he continued. “The high-tech entrepreneurs of Tel Aviv relate to the Shas Party about as well as the Jews of the Upper West Side relate to the Tea Party. The Shas Party is not overly attuned to the American-Israel relationship or the peace process.”

Goldberg also points out that “what most right-wing Israelis don’t understand is that even American Jews — especially the nearly 80 percent who voted for Obama — disaggregate what is in the best interest of Israel from what is in the best interest of the settlers.”

Obama knows that Jews no longer speak with one voice. That gives him enough room to keep the heat on Netanyahu. But the president’s smackdown also obscures the fact that the administration has no real strategy for peace and no impressive team below Hillary and Biden pushing for peace.

Arab leaders groused to me that Obama has gotten so weighed down by problems at home that he has lost the thread of his promises abroad.

In his Atlantic blog, Goldberg suggests that Obama’s ulterior motive is to drive out the ultra-conservatives and force a rupture in the governing coalition that will make it necessary for Netanyahu to take Tzipi Livni’s Kadima Party into his government, thus creating a “stable, centrist coalition” that could work for peace.

Netanyahu is taking his time-out in an Israel where many citizens and columnists are embarrassed by his behavior. Yet Post-Biden, the government is acting petulant and is inviting construction on more new homes in northeast Jerusalem. Perhaps Bibi will have the good sense to realize the Biden insult was a bit more than “regrettable,” as he tepidly put it. He may remember that the two most important things to Israel should be a security doctrine that prevents a neighboring adversary from getting a nuclear weapon and cherishing the relationship with America — rather than zoning and earmarks.

The Iranian mullahs must be laughing at the Americans and Israelis arguing about who insulted whom, while they are busy screwing their nuclear bombs together.

NYS Film Tax Credit Key Economic Driver: Comptroller

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York state's film tax credit has generated about $7 billion in economic activity since 2004 and become a key economic driver, the state's comptroller said on Tuesday.

Lawmakers are considering extending the program through 2015 to help New York compete with similar tax incentives on offer in 42 other U.S. states, Washington D.C. and 11 Canadian provinces, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a statement.

"There's also an intrinsic added value that's difficult to measure but very real," he said. "Visitors from all over the world come to New York because of the iconic movies and TV shows shot here."

The credit helped New York employ 63,000 workers in 2008 and pay $5 billion in wages, he said. That makes it the second-biggest film industry in the nation after California.

New York City was the main beneficiary with two-thirds of all film and TV production in the state located within the five boroughs, he said.

The largest film and TV facilities in the state -- 90-year old Kaufman Studios and Silvercup Studios in the borough of Queens and Steiner Studios in Brooklyn -- have all recently unveiled plans to expand.

Silvercup is the location for the "Gossip Girl" TV series, while Steiner Studios is location for the recent film release "Brooklyn's Finest."

(Reporting by Ciara Linnane; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)

Copyright 2010 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Foreclosures make sharp jump in Manchester

MANCHESTER - The rate at which homes have gone into foreclosure in Manchester has sharply escalated in the first few months of 2010, according to Linda Spence, the Town Clerk.

During all of 2009, four completed foreclosures occurred, where a borrower has exhausted all remedies and the house - either a primary residence or second home - was put up for sale by the mortgage lender, according to town records. But that total was bested in the first two months of 2010, when five completed foreclosures were recorded. Two more were entered during the first two weeks of March, bringing the total this year to seven, nearly double the number for all of last year.

By way of comparison, there were only two completed foreclosures in 2008, and the last one before that was one in 2005.

"It's heartbreaking," Spence said. "It's to the point where we don't even want to open our mail. It's depressing."

Foreclosure - the legal process by which and lender or mortgagee obtains a termination of a borrower's right to hold a mortgage because of non-payment - has been one of the most visible faces of the worst recession the country has struggled through since the 1930s. The collapse of Wall Street equities and several prominent investment firms such as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers was spurred on to a large degree by falling values in home prices and so-called "sub-prime" mortgages that offered initially generous terms but soon.

demanded monthly payments beyond the means of the

borrowers. Vermont was initially spared the worst ravages of the downward spiral in home mortgages because there were fewer sub-prime mortgages underwritten by the state's banks. But recent data statewide is showing that the foreclosure trend is on an upswing here as well.

According to the banking division of BISHCA - the state's Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Healthcare Administration - there were 1,928 foreclosures filed in the state in 2009 compared to 1,639 in 2008. In 2009, 140 of those were in Bennington County; in 2008, 91. So far in 2010, there have been 146 foreclosures reported to the state, with 14 in Bennington County, but the state data for 2010 only includes the month of January so far. The state doesn't break out foreclosures by town.

What's clearly driving the upward trend in foreclosures is the economy, said Thomas Candon, the deputy commissioner for the banking and securities divisions of BISHCA. About 62 percent of foreclosures in the state are due to loss of income or the loss of a job. Unexpected medical costs, followed by divorces, are the next two leading reasons. The subprime lending mess still is not as big a factor here as it has been in other parts of the country, he said.

"I think we're going to see the same level if not somewhat more of an increase," Candon said of likely trends in foreclosures over the coming months. "The economy and unemployment will continue to be a burden."

What may also be prompting increased numbers of completed foreclosures is that after a period of time when there have been many efforts undertaken with foreclosure modification programs, those are coming to an end. Additionally, for a time mortgage services couldn't keep up with all the delinquencies. There was a certain amount of confusion at that level but that is being straightened out now, he said, and the effect could be a jump in foreclosure numbers in the near future.

Nationwide, the rate of increases in foreclosures may moderating, but the market is far from healthy by historical standards.

Last year, more than 2.8 million households were threatened with foreclosure last year, according to RealtyTrac,Inc. a foreclosure listings firm based in California. This year the number is expected to exceed 3 million. Still, the number of households behind on payments by more than 30 days did shrink slightly in the fourth quarter of 2009 compared to the preceding July through September period, it said; an encouraging sign.

The sharp upward jump in foreclosures in Manchester has not, as of yet, been replicated in neighboring towns, but the warning signs are there. So far this year in Dorset, there's been only one complaint filed so far, but that's only the starting point of a foreclosure proceeding.

During all of last year there were 10, said Town Clerk Sandra Pinsonault. There were 3 complaints in 2008, but none of those led to completed foreclosures.

In Arlington, there's been one complaint so far; last year there were a total of 16 and three of them went the full route to a completed foreclosure, said Town Clerk Robin Wilcox. In 2008 there were 7 complaints and 2 went all the way to completion and a public sale, she said.

The uptick in foreclosure activity seems linked to the state of the general economy, she said.

"We've definitely seen more complaints, there's no doubt about that," she said.

In Winhall, Town Clerk Beth Jenks said complaints have been filed, but not since 2008 has there been a foreclosed property. That year there were two, a house and a property parcel she said.

The number of complaints has, however been on the rise in the last three months, she said. The market in Winhall is a little different, given the number of second homes owned by part-time residents. It also has one of the highest grand lists in the state.

A foreclosure usually starts with a formal complaint being filed by the lender or mortgage holder, and that can come as quickly as a borrower being 30 days behind on a payment schedule, said attorney Michael Nawrath of Manchester.

For a "typical" standard mortgage, the borrower would then have another 30 days to get out of arrears, but if that passed and the payments not brought up to date then the bank or the mortgage holder can file a complaint, which is served on the borrower. The bank or mortgage holder could demand full payment and effectively "call" the loan, he said.

Typically, the borrower, now the defendant in the foreclosure complaint, gets 20 days to answer the original complaint. If that period passes, the plaintiff, or mortgage holder, can file what's known as a "summary judgment" to obtain payment, he said.

"Anytime up until the Court actually enters judgment in favor of the foreclosing mortgagee (the lender) the borrower can come in and pay the amount owed and they have redeemed the property from foreclosure," he said. "That would be the end of the foreclosure."

If the borrower can come up with the cash to hold off the creditors, it's back to square one, he said.

Even though it would appear that a property could move to foreclosure within three or four months, in reality the process usually takes longer. Nine months to a year is more typical, he said. A bankruptcy filing can complicate matters, for instance.. If the dwelling being foreclosed on is a person's primary residence, there are more protections built into the process, he said.

At the foreclosure sale itself, the bank, if it is the mortgage holder, usually only wants to recover what it has risked in terms of the mortgage note. If a property fetches more than that, other lienholders get in line in order of priority to get what they think is their due, Nawrath said.

Sometimes those who are on the receiving end of a foreclosure complaint can settle it by selling their property, if they can find a buyer. But in today's saturated real estate environment, that's not always easy, said attorney Kevin O'Toole of Dorset.

"People used to solve foreclosures by selling the houses but now they can't do that," he said. "I'm not an oracle; I don't think it's getting much worse but I don't think it's getting better for awhile."

Florida courts choking with foreclosure cases

WEST PALM BEACH, FL -- State courts are taking brand new action to try and alleviate the chokehold that foreclosures are causing and keeping everyone's property values down.

Palm Beach County has one of the state's worst number of filings.

Florida's courts have requested a one-time payment of $9.6 million to help cleanse the system and get the housing market back on track.

Foreclosures in Florida often take more than a year to settle, homes then deteriorate, and families are left with many questions.

Officials say they want to get properties through the courts and back onto the market.

According to the Palm Beach Post, Florida's lawmakers are considering the court's appeal for more money, which would come from the State Courts Revenue Trust Fund, and pay for additional case managers and retired senior judges.

The Florida State Courts Administration estimates 500,000 property foreclosures are pending in Florida, including 55,000 in Palm Beach County.

Foreclosure filings up 7% in Colorado's 12 largest counties

Foreclosure filings in Colorado's largest counties rose 7 percent in February compared with the same month last year, according to a report released Wednesday.

Foreclosure sales at auction increased 14 percent during the same period but remain down 14 percent from February 2008, according to the report by the Department of Local Affairs' Division of Housing.

The increase is likely because lenders phased out moratoriums that previously slowed the number of foreclosures, said Ryan McMaken, a spokesman for the Division of Housing.

"The number we have today for February is well above what we had a year ago, but I don't think it's because the real-estate market is deteriorating," McMaken said. "It's because with moratoria in place, there was a low number."

The largest increase in foreclosures was in Mesa County, where filings rose 223 percent year-over-year. The report covers the state's 12 largest counties.

"Mesa County is now starting to get caught up with the rest of the state because they've had a sharp decline in demand for housing," McMaken said.

El Paso and Larimer counties posted the largest decreases in filings from February 2009 to February 2010, declining 16 percent and 24 percent, respectively.

From February 2009 to February 2010, foreclosure sales dropped the most in Adams, Denver and Weld counties, where sales fell 17 percent, 18 percent and 20 percent, respectively. The largest increase in foreclosure sales was in Mesa County, which reported an increase of 362 percent.

Industry professionals say the number of foreclosures should flatten out because banks have become more receptive to working with homeowners.

"The banks are certainly more open to alternatives to foreclosure," said Billie Jo Downing, a broker with ReMax Action Brokers in Loveland. "But it depends on the bank and what their volume is as to how quickly they're getting through the loan modifications."

Hydro-Quebec impact spurs Maine debate

A massive energy source in Canada is casting a long shadow over legislation in Maine to determine the future course of power transmission through the state.

The source is Hydro-Quebec, a utility owned by the provincial government, which is trying to obtain the generation capacity of its counterpart provincial utility in New Brunswick, New Brunswick Power.

Hydro-Quebec's purchase has lingered over discussion during legislative hearings on L.D. 1786, a bill that would steer energy transmission corridors to designated state-owned land, giving the state oversight to ensure how the projects would benefit Maine.

With access to New Brunswick's grid, Hydro-Quebec could be poised to build a corridor across the border into Maine and flood the state and regional U.S. markets with subsidized hydroelectric power, several lawmakers have said.

Hydro-Quebec now produces 41,000 megawatts of energy, even before considering the capacity of New Brunswick power, which produces 4,000 megawatts from nuclear, hydroelectric, coal, oil and diesel sources. This production dwarfs Maine's current energy demand of 2,200 megawatts and production capacity of about 3,400 megawatts.

By 2015, 4,000 megawatts of Hydro-Quebec's capacity will come from wind power. New Brunswick Power is also expanding its wind capacity.

During hearings on the corridor bill, Rep. Ken Fletcher, R-Winslow, raised concerns that Hydro-Quebec's current energy exports -- which were only 8 percent of its production in 2008 -- produced almost one-third of its profits that year.

"Isn't it reasonable for them to expect that they could send their 4,000 megawatts of wind and combine it with their hydro, and probably control the market?" said Fletcher, a member of the Legislature's Utilities and Energy Committee.

Some state officials, however, don't see Hydro-Quebec's growing capacity as a problem -- they see it as a solution.

John Kerry, the director of the Office of Energy Independence and Security, said steady Canadian hydroelectric capacity could balance Maine's production of wind energy.

"I think we should work collaboratively with our Canadian neighbors," Kerry said in an interview. "I underscore that we should do it at arm's length and be prudent, but we should see it as an opportunity."

For its part, Hydro-Quebec said that its wind capacity, aside from about 150 megawatts for Massachusetts and Connecticut, is for Quebec consumption, and hydroelectric power like that in Hydro-Quebec's portfolio does not qualify for valuable renewable energy certificates, or RECs, traded in New England.

"The wind developers or the solar developers in New England should not fear the presence of Hydro-Quebec in the market, because we are not going after the REC market," said Christian Brosseau, president of Hydro-Quebec US.

Furthermore, Brosseau said, Hydro-Quebec would not undercut the electricity market in the northeastern U.S. with cheap hydroelectricity, because it would sell at the marginal wholesale rate.

The corridor bill being considered, however, would allow the company to tap into the Maine grid and potentially the larger, lucrative regional market if it entered into a long-term contract favorable to Maine ratepayers and industry.

"Anything that makes sense we'll look at seriously but there's no commitment that yes we will be building certainly in the next 10 years in Maine," Brosseau said. "But we will be looking at it."

Lawmakers are again scheduled to review the corridor legislation today in a work session at Burton M. Cross building in Augusta, across from the State House.

Ethan Wilensky-Lanford - 620-7016

Larger Cash Shortfall Is Projected in Albany as Fiscal Year Nears End

ALBANY — New York will end the fiscal year on March 31 with at least $2 billion less in cash on hand than originally projected, the state’s comptroller said Wednesday, burdening lawmakers with another headache and making the prospect of achieving a budget agreement before the next fiscal year begins even more dim.

The estimate by the state comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, adds half a billion dollars to Gov. David A. Paterson’s own projection for the current shortfall, issued a little over a month ago. Mr. DiNapoli said the state could no longer count on two large infusions of cash that were expected by the end of the month: a $300 million fee from the winning bidder on the Aqueduct video-lottery franchise and $200 million from the coffers of the Battery Park City Authority.

The Aqueduct franchise was delayed last week when Mr. Paterson announced he was withdrawing support for the winning bidder, Aqueduct Entertainment Group, because the state’s Lottery Division determined that it could not license some of the company’s investors. Money from the Battery Park authority, which is controlled by the city and the state, have been held up by a dispute over the share of revenue each government is entitled to.

Moreover, a tax amnesty program that was projected to take in $250 million by the end of the year has fallen far behind, bringing in just $2.1 million through the end of January.

“This year’s budget was seriously flawed,” Mr. DiNapoli said in a statement. “It was based on overly optimistic revenue assumptions and temporary revenue sources that pushed the problem into the future.”

Mr. DiNapoli’s announcement came as Mr. Paterson and members of the Legislature conceded that there was almost no chance they would complete negotiations for a new budget by April 1, when the new fiscal year begins.

To maintain New York’s cash flow and prevent the state from ending the month in the red, Mr. Paterson is delaying by a few weeks income tax rebates for hundreds of thousands of taxpayers, a move that will save about $500 million in the short term. In the coming days, the administration will also have to identify an additional $1.5 billion in payments that will be delayed into the new year.

“I apologize that we had to do this,” Mr. Paterson said Wednesday, speaking to reporters at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan. “I hope it serves notice on the public of how serious our financial situation is.”

It is the second time in recent months that the governor has been forced, in effect, to delay paying the state’s bills. In December, when the state also faced a cash crunch, he delayed about $750 million in state school aid, prompting a lawsuit from local school officials and unions. That money was paid in January.

The latest batch of unpaid bills will essentially be rolled into next year’s budget, forcing the state to begin the fiscal year in arrears.

Equally serious is the state of budget negotiations with lawmakers, who in the coming weeks must close a total budget gap of at least $9 billion — the $2 billion in unpaid bills from this year, plus a projected $7 billion gap for the new fiscal year.

Mr. Paterson met with the leaders of the Senate and Assembly on Tuesday but emerged with little movement toward a budget deal. His own budget proposal calls for steep cuts to education and health care spending, as well as new or increased taxes on cigarettes and sugared beverages.

Many lawmakers have attacked that proposal. They have also criticized Mr. Paterson for withholding the income tax refunds and for not including in his budget any plan for property tax relief.

One idea being discussed in the Legislature is to refinance proceeds from the state’s share of the nationwide tobacco settlement to take advantage of lower interest rates, generating a one-time infusion of cash. The Senate estimates that such a move could bring in about $500 million; the Assembly puts the figure at $1.5 billion, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

It is not clear, though, whether that refinancing could take place quickly enough for the state to get any money in time to help with the current budget problems.

And so far, neither the Assembly nor the Senate has yet made any formal budget proposals of its own, reflecting the near-impossibility of closing the budget gap without large and politically painful spending cuts.

“They’re working round the clock,” Mr. Paterson said. “And they are gradually coming to the realization that we’re going to have to make some drastic decisions. And that’s a good sign that we’ll have an effective result.”

Foreclosure Starts Up Nearly 20% in California

Notice of defaults, which represent the start of the foreclosure process in California, increased by 19.7 percent in February, according to new data released this week by a locally-based company that tracks every foreclosure inthe state. The sudden jump comes after four straight months of declines, when default notices fell to their lowest level in a year. The about-face has quickly quelled any ideas that California might be starting to make its way out of a crippling housing crisis.

Discovery Bay-based ForeclosureRadar also reported that the number of properties scheduled for foreclosure sale remained near record levels last month, yet foreclosure sales, either back to the bank or sold to third parties, dropped by 11.9 percent.

“The disconnect between delinquencies, and foreclosure sales continues to widen,” said Sean O’Toole, founder and CEO of ForeclosureRadar.

O’Toole says the administration’s efforts to slow foreclosures are clearly contributing to delays in the process and prolonging the sale timeline, and he faults foreclosure prevention initiatives for not addressing what he calls “the core problem” – negative equity that now plagues about 25 percent of homeowners in the United States with a mortgage.

Last month, ForeclosureRadar tracked 31,004 notices of default filed in the Golden State, up nearly 20 percent compared to the previous month. Notices of trustee sale, which set the date and time of the foreclosure auction, increased slightly as well, rising 3.6 percent to 28,195 filings.

O’Toole says he’s been expecting to see a wave of foreclosure cancellations since the administration began its push to increase the number of permanent loan mods under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). But he says cancellations remained flat last month.

“We take this as a clear indication that the administration’s drive to make trial loan modifications permanent is failing,” O’Toole said. “Instead one of the primary reasons for foreclosure cancellations at this point appears to be the fact that the lender has run out of time, as foreclosures can only be postponed for one year before the notice of trustee sale has to be re-filed.”

ForeclosureRadar says properties exiting the foreclosure process last month nearly matched the number of new notice of trustee sale filings, leaving the number of properties scheduled for sale in February flat compared to January. Courthouse steps in the Golden State are growing highly competitive. The firm reported that discounts for properties sold at foreclosure auction dropped from 17.5 percent in January to just 15.2 percent below market value in February.

Despite fewer foreclosure sales overall in February, as well as smaller discounts due to competitive bidding, third-party investors purchased more foreclosures, at 23.2 percent, than at any other time since ForeclosureRadar began tracking trustee sales in September 2006. The company also noted that banks continue to resell their California REO properties in a timely manner, with their inventories flat from January to February.




By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

The scandals from the Bush era seem endless, endless and never dealt with. One of the biggest is the hunt for Osama, a hunt that cost hundreds of lives and, literally, billions of dollars, a hunt that unofficially ended with Osama bin Laden’s death on December 15, 2001. We knew it, Pakistan knew it and Benezir Bhutto even announced it long ago. For years, America has been chastising her allies and even her own military for their failures, especially the failure to catch Osama bin Laden. Now we are warned it will be impossible. No kidding.

Last month I was briefed by the highest sources of the Pakistani military. One of our more private discussions was on bin Laden. I know, we know and they know he is dead. Nobody has seen nor heard from bin Laden since he announced HE HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH 9/11. However, a series of sadly phony videos and audio tapes have been released, all tracked down to sources tied directly to Israeli intelligence services, have been presented by the media without any verification, a media, frankly, also tied directly as with FOX, ABC, NBC and CBS or as with CNN, through Wolf Blitzer, also to Israeli intelligence services.

Now, Attorney General Eric Holder has announced, in his own sly way that “bin Laden won’t face trial.” Holder knows something. He knows what they know in Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan, France, Britain, Germany, Canada, Iran, India and so many other countries, something America has been afraid to admit.


How do you lie for years, a fraudulent lie, not only lying about bin Laden’s death but lying about his involvement in terrorist acts. In fact, we have no idea who was responsible for 9/11, not really. We saw planes, we also tracked down some suspicious payments and have clear evidence of a highly complex conspiracy, one that goes much further than 19 hijackers whose remains have never been found.

So many lies, Barb Olson’s phone call to her husband about “box cutters” never happened, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and General Myer lied under oath as did many who testified before the commission and now we find much of the evidence was falsified or many issues, like Building 7, the one that was “pulled down” with no engineer or preparation, were never allowed to be investigated. In fact, the Commission was a fraud. Here is how they put it:


Funny thing, whenever a “news cycle” with one of these stories came around, so did a new bin Laden tape or terror alert. If not that, it was a new operation announced in Iraq or something else. As time went on, the Commission moved on with life, realizing that we were sunk so deeply into a quagmire of lies that they felt nothing could be done. For every question, a new lie, a new terror alert, a new invasion, a new enemy, a new “evil doer” came into view, torture, rendition, Soviet style “show trials” or military tribunals pushed a real search for the truth out and away.


When President Bush did a stand-up routine joking about looking for missing WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction) he thought his “cover story” for Afghanistan would stay intact. Anything can seem funny, not matter how inappropriate when you are a class clown who has never had to meet an obligation of any kind, personal, professional, military or otherwise. A joke or two and, if challenged, the tantrum of the typical narcissist put on as a show. For 8 long years Bush thru hundreds of tantrums, dozens of them public. A review of the very few news conferences from the Bush era show continual deception and a total lack of understanding, not only of geopolitics or military operations but of the moral questions involved in going to war under false pretenses.

People can be killed, Amerians, Iraqis, soldiers, children and in numbers uncountable. Death and suffering became so common place that Americans said nothing when the sacrifice and suffering of their own troops became subjects of humor and derision by a President, Cabinet and Congressional leadership conveniently short of real military experience though nearly all were “of age” during the Vietnam War.


Holder’s carefully crafted warning that bin Laden would never be taken alive is to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear, the announcement so many should fear, fear if they know what it is really saying. He is not saying that he has done a psychological profile on bin Laden, he isn’t even saying bin Laden was probably killed recently. America is being softened up by President Obama’s “backdoor man.”

Holder is telling us, those of us who were briefed long ago, that bin Laden has been dead for many years but brought out from the grave at election time, “bilking Congress for money” time and “scaring the folks during their morning coffee time,” all done for profit, for show and at a cost in money and lives uncounted.

Everything said about Osama bin Laden has been deception. Think of every time bin Laden’s name has been used by a public official who had been briefed in December 2001 that Osama bin Laden was dead.

Every word they uttered on bin Laden, perhaps every word uttered on anything else has been a lie. Line them up, they number in the hundreds, so many names, so many liars. None of them died in a gully in Afghanistan while on a George W. Bush “Where’s Waldo” hunt.

Photos Reveal 'Lost' Soviet Moon Rover

(March 18) -- A defunct robotic rover stranded on the surface of the moon managed to stir up a minor controversy here on Earth this week.

The seeds of discord were sown Monday when NASA released thousands of new images of the lunar surface to the public.

On Tuesday, Canadian planetary scientist Phil Stooke posted an annotated version of one image to a message board, announcing what he thought to be an interesting new find: the final resting place of the Lunokhod 2, a long-dormant Soviet-era lunar rover famed among space scientists for its earlier record-setting travels. Stooke's post was quickly picked up and trumpeted by various media outlets around the world.
This image, taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, shows the final resting place of Lunokhod 2.
NASA/GSFC/ASU/Sergei Gerasimenko/Sasha Basilevsky
In this image taken by Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's high-resolution camera, the large white arrow shows the final resting place of Lunokhod 2, while the black arrow shows the crater that caused its death.

But he and other astronomers soon received a corrective e-mail from planetary geologists Sasha Basilevsky and Sergei Gerasimenko, who pointed out that the rover was actually several hundred meters to the northeast of where Stooke said it was.

Then today, government-owned Russian news agency Ria Novosti reported that the creators of the Soviet moon exploration program "have always known where the rover had found its last asylum," according to Russia InfoCentre.

"It's not surprising that they would say that," Stooke laughed when interviewed by AOL News. "The thing is, the Soviet scientists who worked on this previously knew basically where it was, but not exactly. They knew within a few kilometers."

Stooke said that it is generally difficult for a rover's human operators to say precisely where it is at any given time because its sensors capture detail of the surrounding landscape that are far too fine to be corroborated with pre-existing planetary terrain maps. The new NASA photos clearly show Lunokhod's tracks, however, allowing scientists to create a new map pinpointing the exact path it took across the moon, which Stooke plans to do shortly.

A large part of his and other scientists' interest stems from the fact that the rover holds the record for the "furthest distance traveled by a robot across an alien landscape" -- a 23-mile trek from start to finish, according to Discovery News.
Lunokhod rover.
Courtesy Lavochkin Association/GSFC
This image shows Lunokhod 1, the first of two lunar rovers that the Soviet Union landed on the moon as part of its Lunokhod program. Lunokhod 2 was similar to this craft with some instrument changes.

Lunokhod 2 is a remote-controlled, solar-powered, Cold War-era lunar rover launched in January 1973, near the tail-end of the "Space Race." Its mission: to take photographs of the lunar surface and perform soil and light experiments. The word "Lunokhod" is Russian for "moon walker."

It operated continuously for four months until the operators back on Earth drove it into a crater and "accidentally covered its heat radiator with soil as it struggled to get out again," according to Stooke. It is believed that during the lunar day, the collected dust trapped heat from the sunlight and fried the rover.

Still, the rover remained valuable to scientists all the way up until 2005, its working reflector used to conduct lunar laser ranging experiments.

Yet since 1998, it has been the legal property of one particularly compelling man: Richard Garriot, aka "Lord British," a video game developer who earned a fortune in the early '90s after creating the massively popular fantasy role-playing computer game "Ultima Online," a spiritual predecessor to "World of Warcraft."

In addition to computers, video games and magic, Garriott has long had an interest in spaceflight. His father was astronaut Owen K. Garriott, who spent 60 days aboard Skylab. Richard won Lunokhod 2 and its landing craft at a Sotheby's auction in New York for the bargain-bin price of $68,500.

In 2001, he boasted of the accomplishment to Computer Games Magazine, exclaiming: "I am now the world's only private owner of an object on a foreign celestial body. Though there are international treaties that say no government shall lay claim to geography off planet earth, I am not a government. Summarily, I claim the moon in the name of Lord British!"
Filed under: Nation, World, Science


After weeks of provocative war mongering moves, such as opening a synagogue at Al Aqsa Mosque, refusing to let Muslim enter Al Aqsa Mosque, ethnically cleansing Muslims from their homes in East Jerusalem, announcing more land grabbing settlements of close to 2 thousand new psychotic settlers, and generally poking sticks and attempting to instigate fights with Muslims, Israel is today rejoicing, their work has now paid off.

Today a small rocket was fired into Israel (by a handful of dissidents) and a Thai agricultural worker died as a result, this is very sad for the innocent man, however it is not a reason to once again bomb thousands of innocent Gazan civlians. But, for Israel this is a “Win Win” situation and now Israel can order air strikes on thousands of innocent Gazans, such a deal! Never mind that the Government of Gaza, Hamas, has not fired any rockets and in fact has been dealing with these radical Al-Qaeda sympathizers, who are not only a threat to Israel, but also to Hamas and the population of Gaza. So Israel’s reaction will of course be to wipe our more innocent people for the actions of a handful of dissidents that the Government in Gaza isnot part of. If that had been done here in Ireland during the Peace Process, there never would have BEEN a “process.” After the IRA and British ceasefire was in place, a group of dissidents carried out THIS bombing in 1998 where not 1, but 29 people were killed. Still both sides stayed the course for peace, rode out the rough times, and today look where we are. But then we all know Isarel is not in the business of making peace, only war:
link A rocket attack into Israel claimed by an Islamist militant group underlines a growing challenge to the Hamas movement that rules Gaza and has been trying to crack down on Al-Qaeda-inspired factions.

The attack, which killed a Thai man working on a farm just inside Israel, embarrassed Hamas as UN officials in Gaza hosted the European Union's foreign affairs chief, a rare visit by such a senior Western official to the blockaded territory.

Analysts say the groups, which identify with Al-Qaeda but have no organizational links to it, do not pose an immediate threat to Hamas's rule over Gaza but are likely to remain a thorn in its side for some time to come.

The groups are accused of orchestrating a series of bomb attacks targeting Christian churches, Internet cafes and most recently Hamas security men and offices.
"They don't have a big following but they continually challenge the Hamas government and embarrass it by doing such attacks," said Are Hovdenak, author of a report on the subject for the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (

Underlining the point, Thursday's rocket launch defied Hamas's efforts to rein in such attacks from Gaza, whose 1.5 million resident are suffering ever worsening living conditions due to a blockade enforced by Israel and Egypt

Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said Thursday's rocket attack had "crossed a red line.” "The Israeli response will be appropriate. It will be strong," he said. Previous attacks have drawn Israeli air strikes.

However, the attack by a group called Ansar Al-Sunna during a visit by the EU's Catherine Ashton, who did not meet Hamas officials, is likely to encourage the group to further tighten its grip on radical dissidents
And how many times has Isarel bombed Gaza since the "war" supposedly ended? Numerous times!

Disbelief - 1999 Russia Bombings

A fatal bomb blast in a Moscow apartment building ignites a fury of questions about terrorism, shadow politics, and post-Soviet intrigue in Disbelief; a film as much about the high art of political deception as it is about violence and human tragedy. The bombing on September 9, 1999, of a nine-story working-class apartment complex in Moscow was quickly blamed on Chechen terrorists. But was it their crime? Or did the Russian secret service deflect its own responsibility for the bombing on the Chechens to heighten national fear and hysteria and justify Russia's subsequent military attack on the breakaway republic? "Deploying all the suspense and drama of a sophisticated murder mystery, Nekrasov has created one of the most compelling and captivating films of the year” - 2004 Sundance Film Festival Catalogue. This documentary is also available in Russian on Google video as "НЕДОВЕРИЕ" UPDATE: Mikhail Trepashkin, the lawyer who was jailed for 4 years due to his involvement in this film, is to b...all »

Watch the movie .......

Show some courage! Jesse Ventura challenges Bill O'Reilly to an interview

Click this link ........

3/16/10 Marc Faber: Suggests Gold Accumulation

Click this link ......

Madoff Computer Programmers Indicted: Jerome O’Hara, George Perez Rigged Computer, Feds Say

NEW YORK — Two former employees accused of helping fraudulent Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff (MAY’-dawf) program an old computer to generate false records have been indicted. Wednesday’s indictment accuses computer programmers Jerome O’Hara and George Perez of conspiracy, falsifying records of a broker dealer and falsifying records of an investment adviser. The men originally were charged in a criminal complaint before the case was presented to a federal grand jury, which returned the indictment. O’Hara is from Malverne, N.Y. Perez is from East Brunswick, N.J. Each remains free on $1 million bail. Defense lawyers say the men will plead not guilty. The 71-year-old Madoff is serving a 150-year sentence after admitting his multi-decade Ponzi scheme cost thousands of investors billions of dollars.

Originally posted here:
Madoff Computer Programmers Indicted: Jerome O’Hara, George Perez Rigged Computer, Feds Say

Documentary Shows Child Abuse Ring Leads to Top Levels of Church, Government

Conspiracy of Silence

Child Sex Abuse Ring Revealed In
Free Discovery Channel Documentary

Conspiracy of Silence is a powerful, disturbing documentary revealing a U.S. child sex abuse and pedophilia ring that leads to the highest levels of government. Featuring intrepid investigator John DeCamp, a highly decorated Vietnam war veteran and 16-year Nebraska state senator, Conspiracy of Silence reveals how rogue elements at all levels of government have been involved in systematic child sex abuse and pedophilia to feed the base desires of key politicians.

Based on DeCamp's riveting book, The Franklin Cover-up, Conspiracy of Silence begins with the shut-down of Nebraska's Franklin Community Federal Credit Union after a raid by federal agencies in November 1988 revealed that $40 million was missing. When the Nebraska legislature launched a probe into the affair, what initially looked like a financial swindle soon exploded into a startling tale of drugs, money laundering, and a nationwide child sex abuse ring. Nineteen months later, the legislative committee's chief investigator died suddenly and violently. A dozen others linked to the Franklin case investigation died strange and mysterious deaths.

So why have you never heard of the Franklin cover-up? Originally scheduled to air in May of 1994 on the Discovery Channel, Conspiracy of Silence was yanked at the last minute due to formidable pressure applied by top politicians. Some very powerful people did not want you to watch this documentary. Thanks to the wonderful power of the Internet, you can now view this eye-opening documentary at the link below. Other links below provide ideas on what you can do, detailed information about the case, reliable media coverage, and verifiable information on mind control programs which play a key role in the sex abuse scandals uncovered.

You may find yourself becoming angry or upset while watching Conspiracy of Silence. Many people do. However, consider that each of us has at times in our life acted out of selfish motives when it comes to sexuality and ended up hurting others in one way or another. Let us take this information not only as a call to stop this kind of abuse at the nationwide and global level, but also as a call to examine our own sexual relationships and make a commitment to deep honesty and integrity in our own lives around this most sensitive issue. Thanks for caring, and may we all work together to build a brighter future for our world.

Conspiracy of Silence (55 minutes) is available for free viewing at the link below:

Note: The Washington Times published a highly revealing, front-page headline and story on the Franklin case. For a transcript of this astonishing Times article and link to a scanned original, click here.

For an excellent website filled with information about the Franklin case:

To read dozens of media articles on the Franklin case which led to Conspiracy of Silence:

For other highly reliable information on the secret mind control programs behind the sex abuse:

The box below provides several ideas on what you can do to further educate yourself and to spread the word and make a difference. By being willing to look into these disturbing shadows, we can bring these secrets to light and transform our world into a better place for all of us. And for a powerful online lesson which gives an excellent overview not only of the secrets of mind control and its relation to child sex abuse, but also how it can be used for the betterment of all humankind, click here.

What you can do:
  • Educate yourself further by visiting our information-packed Mind Control Information Center.
  • Inform your media and political representatives of this powerful documentary and the information on top secret mind control programs. To contact those close to you, click here. Urge them to bring this information to light and encourage public dialog on this vital topic.
  • Learn more about the intriguing history and development of controversial mind control programs in this excellent two-page summary. Footnotes and links to reliable sources are provided for verification purposes.
  • Read powerful, reliable major media articles on mind control at this link.
  • Explore inspiring ideas on how we can build a brighter future in this short essay.
  • Spread this news to your friends and colleagues, and bookmark this article on key news websites using the "Share This" icon on this page, so that we can fill the role at which the major media is sadly failing. Together, we can make a difference.

Final Note: believes it is important to balance disturbing cover-up information with inspirational writings which call us to be all that we can be and to work together for positive change. Please visit our Inspiration Center at for an abundance of uplifting material.

EFF Posts Documents Detailing U.S. Law Enforcement Collection of Data From Social Media Sites

EFF has posted documents shedding light on how law enforcement agencies use social networking sites to gather information in investigations. The records, obtained from the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Justice Criminal Division, are the first in a series of documents that will be released through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case that EFF filed with the help of the UC Berkeley Samuelson Clinic.

One of the most interesting files is a 2009 training course that describes how IRS employees may use various Internet tools — including social networking sites and Google Street View — to investigate taxpayers.

The IRS should be commended for its detailed training that clearly prohibits employees from using deception or fake social networking accounts to obtain information. Its policies generally limit employees to using publicly available information. The good example set by the IRS is in stark contrast to the U.S. Marshalls and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Neither organization found any documents on social networking sites in response to EFF’s request suggesting they do not have any written policies or restrictions upon the use of these websites.

The documents released by the IRS also include excerpts from the Internal Revenue Manual explaining that employees aren’t allowed to use government computers to access social networking sites for personal communication, and cautioning them to be careful to avoid any appearance that they’re speaking on behalf of the IRS when making personal use of social media.

The Justice Department released a presentation entitled “Obtaining and Using Evidence from Social Networking Sites.” The slides, which were prepared by two lawyers from the agency’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, detail several social media companies’ data retention practices and responses to law enforcement requests. The presentation notes that Facebook was “often cooperative with emergency requests” while complaining about Twitter’s short data retention policies and refusal to preserve data without legal process. The presentation also touches on use of social media for undercover operations.

Over the next few months, EFF will be getting more documents from several law enforcement and intelligence agencies concerning their use of social networking sites for investigative purposes. We’ll post those files here as they arrive.

The American Dream Has Moved Abroad

The American dream is what has motivated generations of Americans - natives and immigrants alike - to work hard and play by the rules.

And as Michael Moore wrote in 2003, the American dream is what has kept Americans from rebelling against corporate corruption:

After fleecing the American public and destroying the American dream for most working people, how is it that, instead of being drawn and quartered and hung at dawn at the city gates, the rich got a big wet kiss from Congress ... and no one says a word? How can that be?

I think it's because we're still addicted to the Horatio Alger fantasy drug. Despite all the damage and all the evidence to the contrary, the average American still wants to hang on to this belief that maybe, just maybe, he or she (mostly he) just might make it big after all.

So don't attack the rich man, because one day that rich man may be me!

But as I have previously noted, things have gotten much worse recently:

  • Income inequality is worse than it has been since at least 1917
  • "The top 1 percent incomes captured half of the overall economic growth over the period 1993-2007"
  • "In the economic expansion of 2002-2007, the top 1 percent captured two thirds of income growth."
[T]he average wage of Americans, adjusting for inflation, is lower than it was in the 1970s. The minimum wage, adjusting for inflation, is lower than it was in the 1950s.


On the other hand, billionaires have never had it better ...


As economics professor and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich writes...:

Are we finally in a recovery? ... Big global companies, Wall Street, and high-income Americans who hold their savings in financial instruments are clearly doing better. As to the rest of us -- small businesses along Main Streets, and middle and lower-income Americans -- forget it.

Warren Buffet said a couple of years ago:

There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning.

Now, the OECD has found that upward mobility is lower in the U.S. than most other developed countries. Dan Froomkin provides a must-read summary of the report:

A new report from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) finds that social mobility between generations is dramatically lower in the U.S. than in many other developed countries.


The report finds the U.S. ranking well below Denmark, Australia, Norway, Finland, Canada, Sweden, Germany and Spain in terms of how freely citizens move up or down the social ladder. Only in Italy and Great Britain is the intensity of the relationship between individual and parental earnings even greater.

For instance, according to the OECD, 47 percent of the economic advantage that high-earning fathers in the United States have over low-earning fathers is transmitted to their sons, compare to, say, 17 percent in Australia and 19 percent in Canada.


All in all, the OECD report is an ugly reality check for a country that has historically seen itself as uniquely rewarding of talent; as a place free of the sorts of rigid social structures that led so many generations of immigrants to leave Old Europe.

In other words, the American dream has moved abroad.

Hide the decline and rewrite history?

Human emissions of carbon dioxide began a sharp rise from 1945. But, temperatures, it seems, may have plummeted over half the globe during the next few decades. Just how large or how insignificant was that decline?

Frank Lansner has found an historical graph of northern hemisphere temperatures from the mid 70’s, and it shows a serious decline in temperatures from 1940 to 1975. It’s a decline so large that it wipes out the gains made in the first half of the century, and brings temperatures right back to what they were circa 1910. The graph was not peer reviewed, but presumably it was based on the best information available at the time. In any case, if all the global records are not available to check, it’s impossible to know how accurate or not this graph is. The decline apparently recorded was a whopping 0.5°C.

But, three decades later, by the time Brohan and the CRU graphed temperatures in 2006 from the same old time period, the data had been adjusted (surprise), so that what was a fall of 0.5°C had become just a drop of 0.15°C. Seventy percent of the cooling was gone.

Maybe they had good reasons for making these adjustments. But, as usual, the adjustments were in favor of the Big Scare Campaign, and the reasons and the original data are not easy to find.

Graph 1880 - 1976 NH temperatures

Matthews 1976, National Geographic, Temperatures 1880-1976

1880-1976 with CRU 2006 adjustments

The blue line is the adjusted CRU average from 2006

If temperature sets across the northern hemisphere were really showing that 1940 was as hot as 2000, that makes it hard to argue that the global warming that occurred from 1975 to 2000 was almost solely due to carbon, since it wasn’t unusual (at least not for half the globe), and didn’t correlate at all with our carbon emissions, the vast majority of which occurred after 1945.

The US records show that the 1930’s were as hot as the 1990’s. And the divergence problem in tree rings is well known. Many tree rings showed a decline after 1960 that didn’t “concur” with the surface records. Perhaps these tree rings agree with the surface records as recorded at the time, rather than as adjusted post hoc? Perhaps the decline in the tree rings that Phil Jones worked to hide was not so much a divergence from reality, but instead was slightly more real than the surface-UHI-cherry-picked-and-poorly-sited records?

Climate Audit Graph: Esper tree rings

Esper - Tree ring widths declined from 1940-1975. Records after 1960 are sometimes ignored because they don't fit the "temperature record". (All timeseries were normalized over the 1881–1940 period. RCS, regional curve standardization; TRW, tree-ring width.) Thanks to ClimateAudit. (Link below)

Steven McIntyre discusses the Esper data here.

Frank Lansner also discusses the data from Scandinavia, which originally showed that temperatures were roughly level from mid-century to the end of the century, but that the large decline from 1940 to 1975 was…adjusted out of existence. (My post on that here).

Scandinavian Temperatures

Scandinavian Temperatures: 25 data series combined from The Nordklim database (left), compared to the IPCC's temperature graph for the area.

Frank points out that while the older graph is not peer reviewed, the modern data sets are also not peer reviewed, so even if the papers they are published in are peer reviewed, it’s meaningless to claim this is significant when the underlying data can be adjusted years after its collection without documentation or review.

The CRU has an FAQ on their datasets, and it includes this comment on the accuracy of the hemispheric records:

In the hemispheric files averages are now given to a precision of three decimal places to enable seasonal values to be calculated to ±0.01°C. The extra precision implies no greater accuracy than two decimal places.

Do I read that correctly? After an adjustment that may be in the order of 0.34°C, the accuracy is ±0.01°C?

At the time when there was a Global Ice Age Scare, this graph appeared in Newsweek.

Newsweek: Global Temperatures 1880-1970

Newsweek: Global Temperatures 1880-1970 (NCAR)

Either 70% of the decline has been hidden in the years since then, or the climate scientists at the time were exaggerating the decline in order to support the Ice Age Scare (surely not!).

Full references available on Frank Lansner’s & Nicolai Skjoldby’s Blog. Stanley is derived from an NAS document. Mathews from National Geographic.

Thanks to Frank for his good work.