In a predictable trend, food manufacturers are fraudulently diluting high-quality food with inferior quality items.
As ABC News reports:
A new scientific examination by the non-profit food fraud detectives the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), discovered rising numbers of fake ingredients in products from olive oil to spices to fruit juice.
“Food products are not always what they purport to be,” Markus Lipp, senior director for Food Standards for the independent lab in Maryland, told ABC News.
In a new database to be released Wednesday, and obtained exclusively by ABC News today, USP warns consumers, the FDA and manufacturers that the amount of food fraud they found is up by 60 percent this year.
In addition, 70% of all ground beef was found to contain “pink slime”.
Butchers use “meat glue” to create “bigger” cuts of beef, chicken, lamb and fish, even though it leads to much higher levels of food poisoning:
The most visited and trusted medical site on the web is busted again! For those not in the know this site is a sham and not to be trusted. Their funding sources and ‘partners’ look like the who’s who of the criminal cabal that is trying to keep you sick and apathetic to the problems and solutions that this country has before it now.
If you want to be permanently connected to an IV that leads back to Big Pharma and the Government…by all means stay tuned into WebMD.com!!! Take a look at the excerpt below.
If You Weren’t Depressed Before, WebMD’s Test Guarantees You Will Be
Chances are you’ve seen WebMD’s ad on TV recommending you take their free online depression screening test.
But did you know the test was rigged so that no matter how you responded, the answer was always the same: You may be at risk for major depression, and it would probably do you well to discuss it with your doctor…
As it turns out, the test is sponsored by drug giant Eli Lilly, the maker of Cymbalta, and apparently there’s no room for mentally healthy individuals in this scheme.
This is a sad commentary on the current disease paradigm we live in…
Although the test states that it’s sponsored by Eli Lilly, how many people would automatically assume that this publicized test, offered on one of the most visited health sites on the web, would give them an entirely false result, perhaps designed to push even the most well-balanced individual into considering taking an antidepressant?
I’m willing to bet quite a few people have taken WebMD’s test, and based on the result started thinking that perhaps they’re a candidate for a ‘happy pill’ after all…
Senator Charles Grassley believed this was a very real possibility, and demanded the link between WebMD and Eli Lilly be investigated. As a result, minor changes to the test were implemented. However, the WebMD depression screening test still offers NO objective information whatsoever. Writing for BNET, Jim Edwards posted the following update:
“WebMD has changed its Eli Lilly-sponsored depression test so that not every answer results in a diagnosis of potential major depression. BNET noted on Feb. 22 that if you checked the “no” box to all 10 symptoms in the online quiz, the results page said, “You may be at risk for major depression,” and urged users to call a doctor “right away” if they were feeling suicidal.
Now, the result for someone indicating no symptoms of depression says:
You replied that you are feeling four or fewer of the common symptoms of depression. In general, people experiencing depression have five or more common symptoms of the condition. But every individual is unique. If you are concerned about depression, talk with your doctor.
While “lower risk” is certainly an improvement for someone indicating no symptoms of depression, WebMD is still gilding the Lilly.”
I agree. This “screening” test is just a cleverly disguised form of direct-to-consumer marketing.
Selling, or Selling Out?
Sure, WebMD needs to make money just like any other major web site, including mine. They don’t sell products, so therefore they rely on advertising.
In reality WebMD is a marvelous example of the brilliant marketing the drug companies are doing. They seek to provide you with the illusion of an independent objective third party that just so happens to confirm their solution is the best choice for your health issues.
But when you draw back the curtains you will find it is the drug companies themselves that are crafting the message and not an independent entity.
They invest hundreds of millions of dollars each year on WebMD alone, in my opinion to distort reality so they can convince you that it’s perfectly rational to choose their expensive and, in my opinion, sometimes toxic solutions for your health care challenges.
I’ve chosen the opposite path – selling a limited number of well-researched and independently tested products that I personally believe in, in order to remain independent and unbiased; free from the spoken or unspoken demands of advertisers.
However, WebMD does not appear to be particularly objective in the types of advertisers they allow on their site. Prescription drugs for every imaginable problem are listed on virtually every page. Along with plenty of processed foods and snacks.
The revenue generated from this advertising is considerable.
According to a recent WebMD press release, the revenue from advertising and sponsorship for the months of July through September, 2010, topped $113 million, up from $89 million for the same quarter last year.
Beware of Subliminal Sales Tactics!
OpEdNews.com also points out the site’s habit of offering unmarked product placement to various pharmaceutical companies, which is an insidious, sneaky, subliminal sales tactic:
“Lilly is not the only pharma company receiving unmarked product placement on WebMD,” Martha Rosenberg writes for OpEdNews.
“Last summer, a video featured a woman patient confessing she was fearful of life while a voice-over said she needed treatment for “general anxiety disorder” and the camera showed bottles of Forest Pharmaceuticals’ antidepressant Lexapro moving down the manufacturer’s assembly line.
Get it? No disclaimer on the video or “sponsored content” appeared.
Another unsponsored WebMD video last summer urged people on antidepressants to remain on their therapy “despite side effects” and a third suggested women concerned about cancer, heart attack and stroke risks of postmenopausal hormone therapy should continue their treatment at lowered doses. ‘Hang in there, valued customers’…”
The Subsidiaries of WebMD
Furthermore, their partnerships and subsidiaries suggest that WebMD is anything but an independent consumer website offering accurate and independent health advice. (WebMD owns four of the top ten most visited health sites on the web, further extending Big Pharma’s influence.)
The WebMD Health empire includes the following subsidiaries:
* eMedicine / eMedicine Health
According to Rosenberg, drug giant Eli Lilly was actually one of WebMD’s original partners and investors, along with:
* Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp (including his Fox TV networks)
* Silicon Graphics
* Netscape founder Jim Clark
* Eli Lilly
* EDS (computer services company founded by H. Ross Perot)
Just how independent and objective can you be in your health recommendations when one of your investors is a major drug company?
WebMD and most, if not all, of its subsidiaries claim to be “independent.” For example, drugs.com has the following statement at the bottom of every web page:
“Drugs.com provides free, accurate and independent advice on more than 24,000 prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines & natural products.”
And yet drugs.com is owned by WebMD, which has close ties to Big Pharma, and recommends drugs for their advertisers and pharmaceutical partners…
WebMD is Partnered with the US FDA – What Does that Mean for Impartial Health Advice?
Even more interesting: The first-ever partnership between the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a private company is with, you guessed it, WebMD!
The two partnered up two years ago.
Well, according to WebMD’s own announcement:
“The partnership will enhance the FDA’s ability to get crucial information to the American public, FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, MD, said in a news conference.
… “WebMD has been a leader with regard to innovation in the use of the web as a form of communication and service to the public,” von Eschenbach said.
“What we will do by virtue of this partnership … is to really be able to present online … content material we at FDA feel is extremely important for consumers to be aware of as they are making critically important decisions for themselves and for their families about their health and the products that they use to ensure their health.”
This completes the circle of full-on conflicts of interest.
Never-mind the fact that there might be any number of inexpensive, safe alternatives out there for each and every ailment WebMD presents, what you will learn is what the FDA has approved for your condition. And by default, you will be kept in the dark about the strategies that can make a real and lasting difference, courtesy of WebMD’s financial ties to the drug- and processed food industries.
WebMD and its subsidiary sites are disguised as “independent consumer sites,” when in truth they’re paid by the pharmaceutical industry and exclusively and uniquely partnered with the FDA.
These sites contain mainly Big Pharma and advertising, they recommend specific drugs created by their advertisers, and offer questionnaires and medical screening tests created by pharmaceutical companies to create a false “need” for those drugs…
How can this type of government/big industry conflict of interest lead to “independent and objective” reporting and advice?
And how can this create fair competition?
Personally, I think it’s a pretty deceitful practice to snooker consumers into taking expensive pharmaceutical drugs for every possible ailment!
According to Boston.com:
“A WebMD spokeswoman… [said] the company believes “our internal process ensures our editorial independence in our programs.”
Sure. That process worked so well when devising that depression screening test, which was apparently so good they also spent big money to promote it on TV…
Good for Eli Lilly and their antidepressant Cymbalta, that is. Not for you, the health-conscious consumer. All you got was a sly marketing shtick for the time you invested in answering those questions.
However, that spokeswoman’s statement brings up yet another point to remember when you’re browsing through the content on WebMD, and that is paying close attention to WHO authored the message.
Financial Backers Include Not Just Drug Companies, but Processed Food Industry Too
In various areas you’ll find a small link that says: “From our sponsor.” If you click on that link, it will tell you that:
“Content under this heading is from or created on behalf of the named sponsor. This content is not subject to the WebMD Editorial Policy and is not reviewed by the WebMD Editorial department for accuracy, objectivity or balance.”
The heading I’m looking at right now, at the time of this writing, is for “snacking smarter without the guilt.” So… whatever the sponsor wants to say about “healthful snacking,” that’s the message you’ll get. Obviously.
In this particular case, the sponsor wants you to know that baked potato chips are indeed healthier for you than regular potato chips. Isn’t that great news!
The sponsor of this message is General Mills’ Fiber One cereal – a breakfast cereal that, aside from being loaded with grain carbohydrates, also contains added sugar, corn syrup, brown sugar, AND sucralose.
Folks, in my opinion, this is about the worst breakfast you could possibly eat, unless you’re hell-bent on developing diabetes. And don’t get me started on the potato chips…
Again, WebMD is the second most visited health site on the web and if you add in all their other sites, collectively they are easily number one in the world. They attract tens of millions of readers every day looking for accurate and dependable health advice, but what advice can be trusted?
More Conflict of Interest: Medscape’s Continuing Medical Education Courses
But the pharmaceutical industry doesn’t just target you, they also target your doctor.
Medscape, which is one of WebMD’s subsidiaries, administers highly lucrative continuing medical education courses (CME’s), which doctors must complete to retain their state licenses. And these courses are, of course, ALSO sponsored by drug companies.
Medical students may have attempted to quench Big Pharma’s influence over their medical education, but pharmaceutical companies could easily be considered the number one educators of doctors, in and out of school. Their influence is so significant, broad in scope, persistent, and oftentimes ‘hidden’ from clear view that many physicians don’t even realize where the information is coming from.
And even when they do realize the source, they still oftentimes believe they’re getting accurate and truthful information.
The WebMD matrix is a maddening, vicious circle of conflicts of interest that creates all manner of deceit and deception. But these shenanigans are still easy to identify and avoid.
Just Follow the Money.
It is an easy trap to fall in. Over 50 years ago JI Rodale founded Prevention Magazine and it was one of the top ten most read magazines in the country. Rodale was a leader in promoting natural medicine, a true pioneer and defender of health truth.
Unfortunately he made the typical mistake of leaving the business to his children. I learned from someone who was their health editor at one time, that his children actually shifted the ads from natural medicine to drugs and processed foods because they could earn substantially more profit.
Had JI Rodale left his business to a foundation, natural medicine would be much further ahead today. Instead Prevention Magazine is now just another mouthpiece for the drug and food industry and virtually everyone who understands natural medicine ignores it.
Similarly, with WebMD in my opinion, if you follow the money behind much of its advice (and definitely all of its subliminal marketing messages), it leads right back to the coffers of the processed food industry and the pharmaceutical cartel, which also, incidentally, pays WebMD’s government partner, the FDA, to hurry up and approve their poorly tested drugs – so they can advertise them on WebMD, and so on and so forth.
I’m sure by now you can follow the dots and can draw your own circular maps with arrows marking the many conflicts of interest that exist between this unholy alliance of so-called independent health advisors, pharmaceutical companies, processed food companies, and the regulatory agency, the FDA.
Remember, You Can Take Control of Your Health
Folks, it’s time take control of your health, and that includes being able to discern real health advice from shadow marketing machines and propaganda that serves no one but the very industries responsible for much of the ill health in the first place.
For my money I would rather listen to Darren on the radio and read his blogs everyday on www.enerhealthbotanicals.com
We can only hope that Mike’s assessment of the situation is true. It would be a relief to have this bomb disappear and give ‘We the People’ another chance to stop this madness.
This bill is very dangerous and we cannot allow it to become law!!!!!
S 510 Food Safety bill now dead in the water due to blue slip mistake
(NaturalNews) It is now being revealed that US Senators slipped up in a big way when passing the Food Safety Modernization Act on Tuesday: They added what are effectively “new taxes” into the bill, and according to the U.S. Constitution, only the House of Representatives can initiate legislation requiring new taxes.
Thus, the House is now obliged to give this food safety legislation the so-called “blue slip,” meaning that it rejects the law and sends it back to the Senate for yet another vote. This would take time and effort, of course, and the Democrats have very little of either remaining in their lame duck session.
As explained on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_slip):
“This blue-slipping procedure, done by an order of the House, is routinely completed to enforce its interpretation that the House is the sole body to introduce revenue or appropriations legislation. The failure of the House to consider the legislation means it cannot become a law. This tactic has historically proven to be of great use to the House and, as a practical matter, the Senate does not introduce tax or revenue measures to avoid a blue slip.”
In other words, the House wants to remain the sole originator of all new taxes and will therefore need to “blue slip” S.510 in order to slap the hands of Senators who are trying to enact their own new taxes under the bill.
S.510 may be dead in the water
The upshot of this is that this fight is not yet over. Unless the House makes an unprecedented exception to this blue slip rule, this legislation will apparently need to go back to the Senate floor for another vote.
This story was first reported by RollCall.com (http://www.rollcall.com/news/-20101…) which says, “The debacle could prove to be a major embarrassment for Senate Democrats, who sought Tuesday to make the relatively unknown bill a major political issue by sending out numerous news releases trumpeting its passage.” (http://www.rollcall.com/news/-20101…)
According to Roll Call, “The blue slip could lead to one of two likely outcomes. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) could simply drop the issue and let the next session of Congress start from scratch…”
“Or he could try to force the issue in the Senate after the House passes a new version of the bill. But in order to do that and still tackle the other issues, he would need a unanimous consent agreement to limit debate.”
But unanimous consent is impossible thanks to the heroic efforts of Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla) who has stood firm on his belief that this bill is too large, too expensive and puts too much of a burden on American farmers.
If this assessment is correct, it looks like S.510 is now dead in the water and cannot be resurrected until the next session of Congress in which there will be far fewer Democrats (there was not a single Democrat in the US Senate who opposed the bill). (http://www.naturalnews.com/030577_S…)
Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/030588_Food_Safety_bill_blue_slip.html#ixzz16tcIkveF
If in fact is dies we need to be vigilant when Congress comes back. If the House makes an exception please take note of yet another incursion into our Rights and a direct violation, again, of our Constitution.
It is now the 3rd of November and for those who identify with the Right/Republicans or with the Left/Democrats are either feeling good or bad or both…The bad news is that both should be ashamed to call this travesty and election!
What we have all experienced, a grueling one at that, is an Auction. Where the ‘candidate’/product is auctioned to the highest bidder. The candidate that spends the most, in most cases wins. He who ‘raises’ the most money in campaign contribuions, also compromises the most in order to receive those funds.
Thus I am convinced that this process should be renamed the November Auctions where corporations can purchase the man/woman of their choice. If it looks like the highest bidder might lose the auction, well then the manipulation of the electronic machines begins!
Am I way too cynical here? Me thinks not unfortunately.
All of those painful political ads were just to make the ‘serfs’ feel that there was some process going on…mostly lies and empty promises to the little people to make them think that they somehow had a choice in the matter. Folks, we have had zero choice for sometime now.
Am I glad that there were a few exceptions, most notably in my mind, Rand Paul, YES!
Over 3 billion collected from health insurers, hospitals and drug companies in the fiscal year ending Sept 1. WOW THAT is a huge number and means that drug frauds are being perpetuated daily. Only sometimes are the culprits actually made to pay and then only in cash. No one ever goes to jail although many should considering the way in which these frauds are done and the collusion between FDA, AMA, Insurers etc…
Drugmakers top list of DOJ fraud settlements
By MATTHEW PERRONE
The Associated Press
Monday, October 25, 2010; 1:07 PM
WASHINGTON — In the 1990s, the pharmaceutical industry repeatedly was named the most profitable industry in the world. More than a decade later, the industry tops a more dubious list: the No. 1 source of fraud-related settlements with the Department of Justice, an advocacy group says.
Pharmaceutical companies made up eight of the government’s top 10 settlements related to fraud in the last year, according to the advocacy group Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund. An insurer and a hospital chain filled out the list.
Topping the list was specialty drugmaker Allergan Inc. which paid out $600 million to settle allegations that it marketed the anti-wrinkle injection Botox for unapproved uses. Trailing just behind was AstraZeneca, which paid $520 million over allegations it inappropriately marketed its psychiatric drug Seroquel. Other companies in the top 10 include Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Forest Laboratories and Teva Pharmaceuticals.
Drug companies are permitted to market drugs only for uses that have been approved by the FDA. In recent years the Department of Justice has increasingly pursued cases of so-called off-label marketing by pharmaceutical companies, reaching record-setting settlements with Pfizer Inc. and Eli Lilly & Co. As more baby boomers become eligible for Medicare, the government is spending more on prescription drugs, attracting scrutiny from government investigators.
Overall, the group estimates that in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 1, government prosecutors collected $3.1 billion under the False Claims Act, which allows the government to collect damages reported by private citizens. In many cases, the alleged fraud is reported by company whistleblowers, who are eligible to receive between 15 percent and 30 percent of the total sum collected by the government. The group advocates for whistleblowers and their attorneys who report fraud to the federal government.
Approximately 80 percent of the $3.1 billion collected last year came from health care companies, including insurers and hospitals, according to Taxpayers Against Fraud.
Despite the slew of payouts by drugmakers in recent years, some lawyers and public health advocates say steeper penalties are needed to curb industry behavior. They point out that for drugs like Seroquel – which generate billions of dollars annually – a multimillion dollar penalty represents just a fraction of total sales.
Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Maybe, just maybe it is time to do something different! Try holistic remedies. Visit a naturopath or get some acupuncture. All these could help a ton.
Get some Enerfood or other herbal remedies from the folks at EnerHealth Botanicals.
FDIC saying that the current round of foreclosure litigation will hurt the housing market is absolutely correct. Her intimation that they all should resume immediately is where we disagree. Yes there are some if not many of these foreclosures that are probably justified, however in this case, and especially considering the lack of justice prevailing for the consumer, I think that the rule of law should prevail and the foreclosures cease until an thorough investigation into all this fraud has taken place.
It is not our, the consumers, fault that fraud has and is being committed. This is entirely the result of lenders and their servicing organizations cutting corners to save costs and time to increase their profits. Nothing to do with the consumer.
I don’t believe that these guys, FDIC, included have your or my best interests at heart here. FDIC doesn’t want to bail out any banks they don’t have to and there could be many more fold under these foreclosure frauds..and rightly so.
Stay tuned as these rascals manoever to stay on track with these foreclosures and stay out of court and jail.
FDIC’s Bair sounds alarm on foreclosure litigation
Thu, Oct 21 2010
By Dave Clarke
ARLINGTON, Virginia (Reuters) – Litigation arising from foreclosure paperwork problems could be “very damaging” to the housing market, a top U.S. banking regulator said on Monday.
Federal Deposit Insurance Corp Chairman Sheila Bair said she did not believe legislation would be needed to address concerns over whether the paperwork was properly done so long as investigations show the issue was mostly “procedural.”
State and federal officials are investigating allegations that for years banks have not reviewed foreclosure documents properly or have submitted false statements to evict delinquent borrowers.
“I fear that the litigation generated by this issue could ultimately be very damaging to our housing markets if it ends up unduly prolonging those foreclosures that are necessary and justified,” Bair told a housing conference in Arlington, Virginia.
“The regrettable truth is that many of the properties currently in the foreclosure process are either vacant or occupied by borrowers who simply cannot make even a significantly reduced payment and have been in arrears for an extended time.”
Bair argued it is important to move foreclosures quickly because until they have been cleared out of the system, the housing market will continue to struggle.
She said the volume of foreclosures requires a “global solution” that involves all interested parties.
Those parties often include servicers, borrowers, lenders, second-lien holders and investors in securities backed by troubled mortgages. Foreclosures and modifications can be held up when the interested parties do not reach agreement on how to handle a delinquent mortgage.
Bair said one part of a global solution could be extending legal protection, providing a “safe harbor,” to foreclosure proceedings if the property is vacant or if the servicer offered a meaningful payment reduction, such as 25 percent, and the borrowers could still not perform on the loan.
MISSED WARNING SIGNS
The state attorneys general are investigating the use of “robo-signers” — people who sign hundreds of affidavits a day — by banks and companies that collect monthly mortgage payments. It is alleged they did not properly review the documents they were signing.
Bank of America, JPMorgan and Ally Financial’s GMAC Mortgage are among the servicers whose practices have come under fire.
Bair said regulators and market participants missed clues about poor mortgage servicing. She said they should have questioned how mortgage servicers were able to keep up profits without sacrificing quality, even as servicing fees were declining significantly.
“In retrospect, there were warning signs that servicing standards were eroding,” Bair said.
She also said the robo-signing controversy underscores how expensive and time-consuming the foreclosure process is, meaning modifications should be actively pursued before foreclosure proceedings.
This is still in my opinion the most explosive issue facing the economy at this moment and could very well be the straw that breaks the camels back.
In addition to all my predictions, some may wonder why i have made them the way I have! Read this article and you will begin to touch the tip of the iceberg to all the wrong doings the banks and their servicing mafia have already done…not speculation as to what can happen, what has already happened!
Foreclosure Error May Lead to Break-In by Bank: Ann Woolner
By Ann Woolner – Oct 14, 2010 7:00 PM MT
For all the scandalous news about systemically sloppy foreclosure documentation, bankers are trying to reassure the public that no undeserved evictions resulted.
“At the end of the day, the underlying substance was accurate,” JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon told reporters on a conference call this week. “There’s almost no chance that we’ve made a mistake.”
That misses a key point, which I’ll get to shortly.
But first, consider the words, “almost no chance.” I wrote about one homeowner faced with foreclosure even though he didn’t have a mortgage, having paid cash for his house. He can’t be the only one.
Foreclosure documents show bank employees didn’t get their own names, titles or employer names right or figure out who owned the note. Does it make sense that the only thing these folks got correct in thousands of foreclosures was each borrower’s payment record?
Secondly, there’s no way to know how substantial the errors were until the banks sift through their work, with the feds and state attorneys general looking over their shoulders.
There are many cases where homeowners were seeking loan modifications so that they could make good on their mortgages when they found themselves in foreclosure proceedings.
“They want to pay their loan,” said Tom Ice, a bankruptcy and foreclosure lawyer in Royal Palm Beach, Florida, who represents hundreds of homeowners fighting property seizures.
Some delinquent borrowers can resume making payments after a temporary job loss but can’t make up the arrearage, and the banks won’t let them keep their mortgages unless they can.
ABC News reported on a homeowner whose bank had agreed to modify her loan, but her home was auctioned out from under her.
Here’s the thing. If it were demonstrably true that the foreclosure debacle forced no homeowner onto the streets who hadn’t actually defaulted, what the banks did here still deserves punishment.
There is a reason states require a process for foreclosures and why notaries must swear that they actually witness the signatures they notarize. It’s because this offers a tad more protection against bogus foreclosures. It is supposed to force a little more care, attention to detail and respect for property rights before forcing a homeowner to give up shelter.
You’ve read about cases where a judge tosses out evidence, say, a murder weapon or cocaine, because police busted into someone’s home without a proper warrant. Anyone who has watched a single episode of “Law & Order” knows the importance of doing things right.
Otherwise, the case is dismissed and the suspect walks free, all because of a so-called technicality.
Critics complain that crime goes unpunished because of nit- picking judges. But that technicality is a constitutional prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. It aims to make it less likely that your door will be bashed in one night for no good reason.
The 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects only against government searches. When someone else barges in, it’s called breaking and entering.
That’s what Nancy Jacobini thought was happening when she heard someone breaking into her home, so she locked herself in the bathroom and called police, according to ABC.
Not to worry. The intruder wasn’t there to steal her TV, hunt for jewels or to rape her. The man who broke into her house in Orlando, Florida, was doing it for JPMorgan Chase and was there to change the locks.
He thought the home had been foreclosed on and vacated. It was neither. Jacobini had been paying down her mortgage for 18 years, according to her lawyer, Matthew Weidner.
And while it’s true she was about four months behind in payments, foreclosure proceedings hadn’t begun much less finished, and she was still living there, Weidner says.
These break-ins happen with “alarming frequency,” he says.
You would think that banks, which by the way are reaping billions of dollars of profits and awarding record bonuses, might have taken the time to be more careful about that sort of thing, especially these days.
Banks naturally want to protect vacant houses they own and hire firms to help them do that. But they have no right to break into homes they don’t own. Chase has acknowleged its error, ABC reported. The bank is examining foreclosure files in 41 states.
The list keeps growing of ways that lenders and their employees show cavalier disregard for process and the law. Whether it’s technical or substantive error, banks have got to fix it, and fix it soon.
(Ann Woolner is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.)
To contact the writer of this column: Ann Woolner in Atlanta at firstname.lastname@example.org
What to do, call the police and get a lawyer. Oh yeah and if you can’t pay your lawyer then you can go to jail (debtors jail)!
It was just a matter of time before the big banks took a hit from the mortgage fiasco. Bank of America’s credit rating suffered yet another downgrade on Friday! I am thinking this deal might prove catastrophic to the entire financial system. I have been surprised at the resiliency of the system but there is a limit to the ‘positive’ effects of a bailout.
My humble opinion is that we have run the gamut of positive effects and will now begin to see the really negative aspects. Congress has no idea how to manage a financial system and when they get as big and complicated (read corrupt) as the one we have now, then you will witness some amazing consequences of very short sighted actions.
Bank of America Downgraded By Bond Market on Foreclosures: Credit Markets
Bondholders are penalizing Bank of America Corp. the most of any of the largest U.S. financial firms as the investigation into the foreclosure crisis expands.
Credit-default swaps on the country’s largest bank by assets rose above those of its peers by a record margin, according to data provider CMA. The contracts, which imply Bank of America has lost its investment-grade rating, exceed Citigroup Inc.’s by the most ever and surpassed Morgan Stanley’s this week for the first time in a year.
Attorneys general from all 50 states joined to open an investigation into whether lenders and mortgage companies falsified documents as they sought to repossess homes. Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America said Oct. 8 it would curtail foreclosure sales nationwide, as speculation rose the lender would have to buy back home mortgages with faulty documentation.
“As we look at the financial landscape and try to put pen to paper and figure out who might be most exposed to problems associated with foreclosure moratoria, with robo-signers, with mortgage put-backs, Bank of America’s at the top of the list,” said David Havens, a financial institution debt analyst at Nomura Holdings Inc. in New York.
Bank of America is being singled out for expanding its real-estate operations and acquiring Countrywide Financial Corp., then the biggest U.S. mortgage lender, in 2008 during the worst housing slump since the Great Depression, Havens said. The bank also increased its mortgage assets through the $29 billion purchase of Merrill Lynch & Co. in January 2009 under pressure from the Federal Reserve, which was trying to prevent failure of the U.S. banking system.
“There’s nothing different about our company today than yesterday,” Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan said after a speech in Boston yesterday. The bank’s review of foreclosures will take “a few weeks to get through,” he said.
Jerry Dubrowski, a spokesman for Bank of America, declined to comment further.
Elsewhere in credit markets, the extra yield investors demand to own company bonds instead of similar-maturity government debt rose 1 basis point to 168 basis points, or 1.68 percentage points, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Global Broad Market Corporate Index. The spread has narrowed 13 basis points since Aug. 31. Yields averaged 3.396 percent yesterday, the index shows.
Structured notes issuance in the U.S. reached a record, with banks selling $38.4 billion of the securities this year as investors turn away from stocks and toward fixed-income products. Sales of the products, which are bonds bundled with derivatives, compare with $33.9 billion last year and $37.6 billion in the previous record year of 2008, according to database StructuredRetailProducts.com.
Credit-default swaps on the Markit CDX North America Investment Grade Index, which investors use to hedge against losses on corporate debt or to speculate on creditworthiness, were little changed, rising 0.08 basis point to a mid-price of 98.54 basis points as of 12:58 p.m. in New York, according to index administrator Markit Group Ltd. In London, the Markit iTraxx Europe Index of 125 companies with investment-grade ratings increased 1.93 to 102.5.
The indexes typically rise as investor confidence deteriorates and fall as it improves. Credit-default swaps pay the buyer face value if a borrower fails to meet its obligations, less the value of the defaulted debt. A basis point equals $1,000 annually on a contract protecting $10 million of debt.
The cost to protect Bank of America’s debt for five years climbed for a fourth day, touching yesterday’s record of 205 basis points, according to Phoenix Partners Group. The difference between the swap price and the average of the five largest banks grew yesterday to 41.1 basis points, the most on record.
Citigroup’s swaps rose 3.2 basis points to 177 today and contracts on New York-based Morgan Stanley fell 2.2 basis points to 173, Phoenix data show. In February, Citigroup’s contracts were 94.4 basis points higher than those of Bank of America’s, according to CMA.
“For all of these residential real estate issues that are dominating the headlines today and have significant political implications in the 19 days going into the election, Bank of America sits there more exposed than Citigroup right now,” Nomura’s Havens said.
Prices on Bank of America’s credit-default swaps imply the debt is ranked Ba1 as of Oct. 13, five levels below its actual A2 grade, according to Moody’s Corp.’s capital markets research group. That’s the first time the firm’s swaps have signaled a junk ranking since May 6, the data show.
Bank of America’s $2.5 billion of 4.5 percent notes due in April 2015 fell 0.381 cent to 103.89 cents on the dollar as of 11:36 a.m. in New York, Trace data show. The bonds were issued at 99.9 cents in March to yield 215 basis points more than Treasuries. The bank has $360 billion of bonds outstanding, Bloomberg data show.
The rising price of swaps reflects potential costs that banks may face on so-called mortgage put-backs from investors. Put-backs occur when a mortgage lender is forced to repurchase a loan that’s been sold for securitization. Banks may also have to pay for legal challenges.
The Association of Financial Guaranty Insurers, a trade group for bond insurers, said in a letter last month toMoynihan that his bank should repurchase as much as $20 billion in home loans that were based on wrong or missing information.
Moody’s put Bank of America’s loan-servicing grade on review for a possible downgrade on Oct. 4, citing irregularities in the foreclosure process and deterioration of loss mitigation and collections.
The bank’s swaps have doubled this year, adding 106.4 basis points. That’s still down from 400.7 basis points in March 2009, CMA data show.
“You’ve had balance sheet repair but the work isn’t done,” said Joel Levington, managing director of corporate credit at Brookfield Investment Management Inc. in New York. “People need to get their hard hats back on.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Childs in New York at email@example.com
Gold and silver will continue to rise and will at some point be used to buy essential things, like food. So why not short circuit the play and buy storable food. Enerfood is one such item.
As much as the government and the banking system try to plug the foreclosure hole in the ‘economic dam’ the less effective their efforts are becoming. The recent RICO suits against the mortgage servicing companies that work for the international banksters will become the hole that no one can plug.
As this new round of fraud/foreclosures/lawsuits etc begin to spread there will be more and more stress put on the economy, one which is at near depression levels as it is. Add to this the daily assault on the value of the dollar, by both foreign and domestic sources including the FED you have what may turn out to be the perfect storm.
The destruction of which no one has ever seen before!
Florida’s 30-Second Foreclosure Dash Hits Wall of Fraud Claims
Home to more foreclosures than 47 U.S. states, Florida sought to clear out its backlog with a system of special court hearings that dispensed with cases quickly, sometimes in less than a minute.
Homeowners like Nicole West now threaten to slow that system, Florida’s so-called rocket docket, to a crawl. West, who has been fighting to save her Jensen Beach house from foreclosure, has leveled a new allegation in her three-year battle: the entire process is based on fraud.
West said her case is rife with the kind of flawed mortgage documents that have caused lenders including Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to stop the process of foreclosures and evictions across the country. The banks said they are investigating homeowner charges like West’s that signatures were forged and documents were backdated.
“It’s not right,” said West, 40, who lives about an hour’s drive north of West Palm Beach. “It’s like lying to the judge. It’s like lying about what’s really going on.”
The bank moratoriums are already thwarting the initiative by Florida officials to clear jammed court dockets. Now, efforts by homeowners such as West to bring claims of fraud to the attention of judges are further prolonging evictions, and in turn slowing purchases of foreclosed properties.
Florida has the third-highest foreclosure rate in the U.S. behind Nevada and Arizona. One in every 34 housing units — double the U.S. average — was in the foreclosure process or bank-owned as of Sept. 1, data vendor RealtyTrac Inc. said.
Florida’s legislature appropriated $9.6 million this year to pay semi-retired judges and case managers to clear the backlog of foreclosures. Some judges have been churning through cases at a rapid clip, such as those last week in Tampa who considered dozens of foreclosures per day, sometimes in as little as 30 seconds.
The goal is to clear 62 percent of the backlog by next July, according to Craig Waters, a spokesman for the Florida Supreme Court. J. Thomas McGrady, chief judge of Florida’s Sixth Judicial Circuit, said he once thought that was achievable. Now that Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America, New York- based JPMorgan and Detroit-based Ally Financial Inc. have put the brakes on foreclosures or evictions to look for irregularities, he said he’s “very doubtful” his courts can resolve that many cases. The circuit, which covers the area around Clearwater and St. Petersburg, has a backlog of 33,000 foreclosure cases, he said.
“All of a sudden all of these issues pop up with the lenders,” McGrady said in an interview at his Clearwater office. “It’s going to slow down the whole process because there will be more backlog. We’re still getting 1,000 cases a month.”
At the Clearwater court, lenders as of yesterday had canceled more than half of the 84 hearings to approve foreclosures that were scheduled for today, according to Ron Stuart, a court spokesman. Half of the 110 hearings originally set to take place tomorrow were canceled as well.
Among the alleged defects the banks are examining are lender affidavits signed by people, often described as “robo signers,” who repeatedly failed to verify the accuracy of the information in the documents.
In December, an employee at Ally’s GMAC Mortgage unit said his team of 13 people signed about 10,000 documents a month without verifying their accuracy, according to a deposition taken in a foreclosure case filed in West Palm Beach.
Ally has been accused of committing fraud by submitting hundreds of false affidavits in foreclosure cases, according to a lawsuit filed last week by Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray. Ally said in a statement that it “believes there was nothing fraudulent or deceitful about its foreclosure practices.”
“Every homeowner that’s in foreclosure now should be questioning,” said Matthew Weidner, an attorney in St. Petersburg who defends homeowners in foreclosure cases. “Every homeowner that’s already been foreclosed and lost their home should be questioning. Anybody who’s behind in their mortgage should be questioning. This entire system is now a great big question mark.”
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, meanwhile, is investigating four law firms in the state that specialize in foreclosure cases on behalf of lenders, according to Ryan Wiggins, his spokeswoman. Yesterday, McCollum said he requested meetings with firms including Bank of America, JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. unit Litton Loan Servicing to “discuss ways to promptly and effectively redeem the integrity of the foreclosure process.”
‘Unfair and Deceptive’
McCollum accused law firms of “unfair and deceptive actions” and said thousands of foreclosures that had been approved by judges may have been the result of improper actions by law firms. He said the firms appear to be “fabricating and/or presenting false and misleading documents.”
Florida state Judge Janette Dunnigan in Bradenton fined a Fort Lauderdale law firm, Smith, Hiatt & Diaz PA, $49,000 and ruled it was in contempt of court after finding it was repeatedly unprepared or failed to show up for foreclosure hearings in her court.
The law firm operates “in utter disregard for the consequences to other litigants,” the judge said in a Sept. 2 order. “Their disobedience of court orders is constant and flagrant.”
Roy Diaz, a partner at the law firm, didn’t return a call seeking comment.
Also under investigation by McCollum is Lender Processing Services Inc. The Jacksonville-based company has produced documents known as mortgage assignments with signatures of the same person that vary “wildly” from document to document, according to the attorney general. The documents are necessary for banks and mortgage servicers to show they have the legal right, or “standing,” to pursue foreclosure lawsuits. McCollum is investigating whether the documents have been forged.
Michelle Kersch, a spokeswoman for Lender Processing, said the company hadn’t been contacted by the attorney general and would cooperate with any inquiries.
McGrady, the chief judge in Florida’s sixth circuit, said his courts have seen “‘some very sloppy practice” by lawyers for mortgage lenders.
“I’m disappointed that perhaps they’ve taken advantage of a system that was set up to allow them to obtain their foreclosures in a reasonably fair and expeditious process, and they may have abused that,” he said.
Nine Million Mortgages
As many as 9 million U.S. mortgages that have been or are being foreclosed may face challenges over the validity of legal documents, according to a report yesterday by Morgan Stanley.
About 2.5 million homes have been repossessed since 2005 and another 6.5 million mortgages are in foreclosure or may be soon, the New York-based firm wrote in a note.
At the George E. Edgecomb courthouse in Tampa, about a half-hour drive from McGrady’s court, two senior judges hold hearings four days a week on approving foreclosures. Last week, one judge, Sandra Taylor, had 51 cases on her docket in one day.
Taylor considered the requests for foreclosure judgments in a fifth-floor conference room. Sitting at a desk at the end of a conference table, she used a speakerphone to talk to attorneys for the banks and mortgage servicers who called in instead of traveling to Tampa. At her side sat a court assistant, next to a cart stacked with manila envelopes.
Don’t Show Up
Most homeowners whose property was at issue didn’t show up to fight. It took Taylor about 30 seconds to approve some of the foreclosures and set a sale date after lender attorneys summarized the case and the amount owed.
“I wish there was more we can do,” Taylor told one homeowner after approving a foreclosure. She said there was “no legal reason” why she shouldn’t approve it.
Another homeowner who lost her home last week, Ingrid Young, 44, defaulted in 2008. She told the judge she couldn’t afford the $1,900 monthly payment for her Tampa house because she only earns $1,800 a month.
“I am in default, and I do realize that,” Young said.
Her employer had cut her hours, and unless she finds another job, she can’t afford the mortgage, she told Taylor.
The judge approved the foreclosure after persuading attorneys for Citigroup Inc. unit Citimortgage to set the sale date in January.
‘Very Sad Business’
“It’s a very sad business,” the judge said afterwards.
Such fast-track hearings are still happening elsewhere in Florida, according to lawyers and court personnel. Weidner, the homeowner lawyer, criticized judges for continuing to hold “rocket docket” sessions amid the current controversy.
“Inside these courtrooms, judges — the bad ones — are just granting summary judgments like nothing’s happening, like it’s business as usual,” he said. “They’re abdicating their responsibilities to be real judges.”
Several Florida judges said their job is not to advocate for homeowners or investigate the accuracy of documents. Courts depend on homeowners or their attorneys to raise objections, they said.
“We’re processing thousands of cases where no one is really contesting them, and in those instances, something like that just would not be brought to our attention,” said W. Douglas Baird, a judge in Clearwater. “It’s not a situation where the courts have the ability to go through every document that’s filed and challenge and question those documents.”
Save Her Home
West, the Jensen Beach homeowner fighting to save her home, has a Nov. 4 hearing in Stuart, Florida, where lender Deutsche Bank AG may seek approval of a foreclosure, she said. Deutsche Bank is the trustee representing holders of mortgage-backed securities, according to court filings.
She and her husband, Tim, said they plan to seek a postponement of the hearing to give them time to question two individuals who signed relevant affidavits.
Four employees of Lender Processing Services signed assignments transferring West’s mortgage, according to an affidavit submitted on her behalf by Lynn Szymoniak, a West Palm Beach attorney. They signed the documents as officers of American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc. and Option One Mortgage Corp. even though they were actually employed by Lender Processing Services, according to Szymoniak’s affidavit.
Signed and Notarized
These assignments were signed and notarized more than a year after Deutsche Bank filed the foreclosure suit. For that reason, the Wests question whether the bank has the legal right to file a lawsuit seeking foreclosure. Scott Helfman, a spokesman for Deutsche Bank, declined to comment.
They signed “thousands of documents each week as needed in foreclosure cases, without any personal knowledge of the documents, often without any authority from the entities they claimed to be their employers and, in most cases, without ever reading such documents,” Szymoniak claimed in court papers.
Kersch, Jacksonville-based Lender Processing’s spokeswoman, said in a statement that its subsidiary, Docx, executed the documents and that “it had proper authority and review processes in place.”
West and her husband said they received a foreclosure notice in March 2007 after Option One Mortgage Corp. allegedly refused their payments. Deutsche Bank claims the Wests owe a total of $541,925.02 in principal, fees and interest, according to court papers. The home is worth about $200,000, she said.
In 2005, the couple tried to refinance by getting a fixed- rate mortgage to replace an adjustable-rate one. According to West, Option One said it was willing to provide a fixed-rate loan. When the couple went to sign the paperwork, West alleged that Option One, which is now part of American Home Mortgage, changed the terms of the loan to an interest-only mortgage for five years. West claimed she was subsequently threatened with a lawsuit by an unidentified title insurance company employee if she didn’t accept that deal.
West said she was “scared to death” and agreed to take the new loan. Their monthly payment went from $1,900 to $3,100, she said. They kept up with it for about two years until Tim West lost his job in January 2007, she said. Option One promised a loan modification the next month and wouldn’t accept their mortgage payments, West said. In March of that year, West said she received a foreclosure notice from Deutsche Bank.
Philippa Brown, a spokeswoman for American Home, declined to comment.
West said she hopes to persuade state Judge Elizabeth Metzger at her hearing next month to block the foreclosure because it’s based on fraud. She said she’s willing to negotiate a modified mortgage that she can afford as a compromise. Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank and Option have never tried to negotiate, she said.
“I think a judge who’s truly interested in justice will not tolerate anybody trying to pull the wool over their eyes,” West said. “She’s my last hope that something can be done to save my home.”
This case is Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. West, 07- 00311, Florida Circuit Court of the 13th Judicial District in and for Martin County (Stuart).
To contact the reporter on this story: David McLaughlin in Tampa, Florida, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you really ready for this? I urge everyone to take a very extensive inventory of the preparations they have made for an economic meltdown. How is your list looking?
If anyone still has any illusions that the drug companies or the FDA have your best interests at heart, read this article and be fooled no more. For 11 years Smith Kline hid results for Avandia drug that showed not only was in less effective than the competition it was also MORE DANGEROUS! It took 11 years to find this fraud out! WOW that is some regulatory agency at work there…FDA…one FREAKIN DANGEROUS AGENCY!
Let’s see are there any big corporations out there that are interested in the well being of THE PEOPLE? I am hard pressed to name just one. Appears that they are all in pursuit of the next profitable quarter…what has happened to us?
Diabetes Drug Maker Hid Test Data on Risks, Files Indicate
By GARDINER HARRIS
Published: July 12, 2010
Avandia’s success was crucial to SmithKline, whose labs were otherwise all but barren of new products. But the study’s results, completed that same year, were disastrous. Not only was Avandia no better than Actos, but the study also provided clear signs that it was riskier to the heart.
But instead of publishing the results, the company spent the next 11 years trying to cover them up, according to documents recently obtained by The New York Times. The company did not post the results on its Web site or submit them to federal drug regulators, as is required in most cases by law.
“This was done for the U.S. business, way under the radar,” Dr. Martin I. Freed, a SmithKline executive, wrote in an e-mail message dated March 29, 2001, about the study results that was obtained by The Times. “Per Sr. Mgmt request, these data should not see the light of day to anyone outside of GSK,” the corporate successor to SmithKline.
The heart risks from Avandia first became public in May 2007, with a study from a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic who used data the company was forced by a lawsuit to post on its own Web site. In the ensuing months, GlaxoSmithKline officials conceded that they had known of the drug’s potential heart attack risks since at least 2005.
But the latest documents demonstrate that the company had data hinting at Avandia’s extensive heart problems almost as soon as the drug was introduced in 1999, and sought intensively to keep those risks from becoming public. In one document, the company sought to quantify the lost sales that would result if Avandia’s cardiovascular safety risk “intensifies.” The cost: $600 million from 2002 to 2004 alone, the document stated.
Mary Anne Rhyne, a GlaxoSmithKline spokeswoman, said that the company had not provided the results of its study because they “did not contribute any significant new information.”
The company said that Avandia was safe and that Dr. Freed no longer worked for GlaxoSmithKline.
A panel of experts will meet Tuesday and Wednesday to decide whether Avandia should still be sold and whether it is ethical to test Avandia directly against Actos.
Whether to withdraw Avandia is a question that has split the F.D.A., with some officials arguing that the drug is useful despite its risks and others insisting that it must be withdrawn.
According to the documents, Dr. John Jenkins, director of the agency’s office of new drugs, who has argued internally that Avandia should remain on the market, briefed the company extensively on the agency’s internal debate.
“It is clear the office of new drugs is trying to find minimal language that will satisfy the office of drug safety,” a top company official wrote in an e-mail message after he spoke with Dr. Jenkins, according to a sealed deposition obtained by The Times.
In the deposition, Dr. Rosemary Johann-Liang, a former supervisor in the drug safety office who left the F.D.A. after she was disciplined for recommending that Avandia’s heart warnings be strengthened, said of Dr. Jenkins’ conversations with GlaxoSmithKline, “This should not happen, and the fact that these kind of things happen, I mean, I think people have to make a determination about the leadership at the F.D.A.”
An F.D.A. spokeswoman said the agency would not comment on the contents of the deposition.
Members of Congress, where the Avandia case has led to legislative changes, said they were outraged at GlaxoSmithKline’s behavior.
“When drug companies withhold data regarding safety concerns about their medicines, they put patients at risk,” said Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, who is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Mr. Baucus and Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the committee’s ranking Republican, spent years investigating GlaxoSmithKline’s development of Avandia.
Besides the trial comparing Avandia with Actos, the company also conducted trials comparing Avandia with glyburide, a cheaper and older diabetes medicine.
When Rhona A. Berry, a company official, asked about publishing two of the trials, Dr. Freed responded in an e-mail message dated July 20, 2001, that referred to Avandia by the abbreviation of its generic name, rosiglitazone: “Rhona — Not a chance. These put Avandia in quite a negative light when folks look at the response of the RSG monotherapy arm,” the message said. “It is a difficult story to tell and we would hope that these do not see the light of day.”
Hiding the results of negative clinical trials was once widespread in the drug industry.
But after GlaxoSmithKline was found in 2004 to have hidden data that showed that its antidepressant, Paxil, led children and teenagers to have more suicidal thoughts and behaviors, the company settled a lawsuit by agreeing to publicly post data from all of its trials. In 2007, Congress mandated such disclosures. But the postings are often little more than cryptic references, so the issue is far from resolved.
With Avandia, GlaxoSmithKline has done more than hide trial data. An F.D.A. reviewer who closely examined a landmark Avandia clinical trial called “Record,” found at least a dozen instances in which patients taking Avandia suffered serious heart problems that were not counted in the trial’s tally of adverse events, mistakes that further obscured Avandia’s heart risks.
The company’s conduct of the Record trial has received sharp criticism from medical leaders for other reasons as well. To compare Avandia and Actos in 1999, researchers at SmithKline measured Actos’s effects in patients in the same way that they had conducted earlier trials of Avandia so that the results for the two drugs could be compared.
When the results of the study suggested that Avandia was more dangerous than Actos, the company decided against further comparisons.
We as People must get control of this situation…question is how!