Rhee's Credibility Questioned as High-Stakes Testing is Exposed Again

By Lisa Schiff

Last week, high-stakes testing queen Michelle Rhee, was exposed. Thanks to the impressive investigative work of reporter John Merrow, the final dots have been connected making it clear that when Rhee was superintendent of Washington D.C.'s public schools, serious levels of cheating were occurring spurred on by the unrealistic pressure she put on principals and that she was fully aware of what was happening. This news comes on the heels of the Atlanta Public School cheating scandal in which the principals and teachers acted together to change students' test answers in order to improve standardized test scores under the pressure of threats by that district's superintendent, Beverly Hall.

Homeowners, Advocates Call for Temporary Stop to Foreclosures in California

Homeowners, Advocates Call for Temporary Stop to Foreclosures in California
By Zaineb Muhammad, New America Media

A week after Attorney General Kamala Harris announced an $18 billion settlement for California’s foreclosure victims, homeowners and housing rights advocates declared the need to temporarily halt all foreclosure related activity.

During a foreclosure roundtable discussion held on Friday at the Mission Economic Development Agency, Alan Fisher, Executive Director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, said that advocate “groups are asking for a pause in foreclosures so people don’t lose their homes [while the settlement is being implemented.]”

Well Done, Mr. President! Now About That Foreclosure Fraud Settlement

By Richard (RJ) Eskow

Congratulations, Mr. President. This week you followed your increasingly populist rhetoric with some decisive action on behalf of the middle class.

Republicans have been waging a sabotage campaign against the lawful functions of government. With these recess appointments you've shown that you'll use your Presidential authority to stop them. Unfortunately, your Treasury and Justice Departments are still running interference for the big banks.

Your officials are pushing a foreclosure settlement that thwarts justice and potentially leaves criminals in positions of wealth and power. If this settlement is finalized it would undo all your recent efforts, leaving the distinct impression that your Administration works for bankers and not the public.

It's time to call off these officials and instruct your Administration to pursue wrongdoing wherever it may be found.

Republican Fifth Column Sabotages America

The Big Hurt of the Housing Bust

By Peter Schrag

Even if you’re used to depressing numbers, the current data on the California housing bust have to come as a shock. As of now, some 2.2 million California homeowners, representing 32 percent of mortgagees, are “underwater”, owing more on their mortgages than their houses are worth. Among their occupants are more than a million children. Foreclosures continue to run at a rate of over 150,000 a year.

Little of this story is a secret; parts have been known for years. But both as an economic tale – its drag on jobs and economic activity generally – and as a human story, it gets less attention than it demands. For a whole political party, which still talks as if regulation and taxes are the nation’s biggest job killers, it’s not a story at all.

Part of the reason for the neglect is that the housing debacle is a complicated story -- economically, politically and morally:

California: Ground Zero for America’s Foreclosure Crisis

By Ngoc Nguyen
New America Media

Ethel Gist bought her dream house and planned to retire to Antioch, Calif. Instead, the 70-year-old lost the house during the height of the foreclosure crisis, and now rents a place with her daughter and two grandchildren.

After he lost his three-bedroom home in East Los Angeles, Rene Lopez says his world has “shrunk.” He and his family of seven are crammed into a two-bedroom apartment. Lopez, who lost his job as a jeweler, is struggling to find work in a restaurant.

Dianne Pinkston, a self-employed tax preparer in Los Angeles, inherited the family house, only to lose it to foreclosure soon after. Pinkston still has a debt of $150,000 to pay off, but says she finds solace in her family and friends, and the fact that after the ordeal, she’s “still standing.”

The Banks Are Still Robo-Signing

By David Dayen

Remember that whole thing about the banks using armies of Wal-Mart castoffs and entry-level employees to sign affidavits attesting to the legitimacy of complicated mortgage documents without knowing any of the contents inside? Remember how they took responsibility for that and said they were halting foreclosure operations until they figured things out? Remember how they said they got things under control and would resume foreclosure operations, all legal-like? Remember how they signed consent orders from a federal regulator saying they would overhaul their servicing operations, and how they entered into negotiations with the banks on penalties for the same?

Funny story. They’re still robo-signing.

Time for the CSU's Top Brass to Look in the Mirror

By Lillian Taiz
California Faculty Association

As soon as he took office, Gov. Brown set a new standard for a more frugal and more focused model of state government. Even as he tackled a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall he demonstrated, by eliminating cell phones and state cars, that priorities matter, in small ways as well as large.

The Governor wants to ensure that California’s public institutions live up to the mission for which they were created.

It is in that spirit that the California Faculty Association launched a CSU Waste Whistleblower web page where people can log on and anonymously submit tips about state funding that is being wasted, misspent or improperly used on the California State University's 23 campuses or in its offices in Long Beach or Sacramento.

Impact of Foreclosures Goes Far Beyond Economic Damage

By Caitlin Vega
California Labor Federation

The foreclosure freefall is nothing new in California. We all know families who have lost their homes, and others who are struggling to hold on as their loan rates adjust and balloon payments are triggered. Our state has been devastated top to bottom by the aftermath of this totally preventable crisis.

A new report concludes that the impact of foreclosures goes far beyond economic damage. The study conducted by the Alameda County Public Health Department and the housing rights group Causa Justa found that those who have had homes foreclosed on are twice as likely to report that their mental and physical health has declined.

500 Million Sensitive Records Breached Since 2005

By Rainey Reitman
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

Employees losing laptop computers, hackers downloading credit card numbers and sensitive personal data accidentally exposed online -- the Chronology of Data Breaches shows hundreds of ways that the personal information of consumers is lost, stolen or exposed.

The Chronology of Data Breaches, a project of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse since 2005, lists incidents involving breached consumer information, such as personal medical records, credit card numbers and Social Security numbers. The most recent total, published August 24, 2010, is a wake-up call to consumers who think identity theft can’t happen to them.

Insurance Companies Find Way To Invest Benefit Money Even After Policyholders Die

By JG Preston
Protect Consumer Justice

Here’s how I thought life insurance worked:

1) I buy a life insurance policy.
2) I pay my premiums under the terms of the policy.
3) I die.
4) My beneficiary receives a check for the benefit amount specified in the policy.

Silly me. I forgot the insurance company’s purpose is to make money, even if it means my beneficiary doesn’t receive the benefit right away.