A Look at the Subprime Mortgage Problem

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The recent focus on the near-collapse of the subprime mortgage market has raised some interesting issues regarding fraud. Some borrowers are unable to meet their obligations due to legitimate reasons, while other are defaulting because of fraud committed in the process of getting the mortgage.

Either way, the high number of defaults on subprime mortgages is rocking the economy, and no one knows how bad things will get. The first to see the effects of this “crisis” were the large mortgage brokers, but smaller lenders are feeling the pain as well. As the real estate market has cooled, the effect of higher default rates is affecting businesses and individuals who are relying on credit for their survival.

The effects of this problem go far beyond just the housing market. This credit crisis is affecting many industries, and the world economy is feeling the pain as well. What was initially an increasing rate of default on home mortgages has now escalated to a full-scale crisis that is affecting the availability of credit in the world markets. Continue reading

No Elderly People in My Neighborhood!!!

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What has this world come to when neighbors are protesting against a house for elderly people? God forbid that the elderly people’s family members come to visit them. They might bring with them *gasp* traffic!

This is the house that Jacquelynne Chiarelli wants to turn into a residential facility for elderly people. If you’ve ever had to find assisted living for an elderly family member, you can appreciate how difficult it is. In the Milwaukee area, there are more residents than there are beds.

So Jacquelynne, a licensed nurse, decided that she would open her own community-based facility. These types of facilities are important for people who need some assistance with daily living, but don’t need or want to be in a nursing home. Continue reading

Overstock.com Cooking the Books?

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This is Sam Antar’s final installment in his three part series on all the “unusual” things showing up in Overstock’s financial statements. Unusual because they don’t align with multiple statements made by CEO Patrick Byrne in a variety of interviews and earnings calls.

The bottom line is this: Byrne and Overstock management have made statements about their inventory that cannot possibly all be true. They are in conflict and cannot coexist, therefore at least some of the statements must be false. Continue reading

Insurance Companies Win Major Katrina Ruling

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Back in June, I reported that homeowners who lost homes in Katrina were waiting for a major ruling in their case against insurance companies.

U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. had ruled in November that the insurance polices were ambiguous with regard to the language excluding water damage. He said the policies should have distinguished between floods caused by (a) a natural disaster, which would not be covered by most regular homeowners’ policies, or (b) a broken levee, which might be considered a man-made disaster and might be covered under regular policies. His decision was in favor of the policyholders. Continue reading

Fooled by Google Adsense?

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On my other site I have Google ads. It’s a nifty way to recover some of the costs of running the site. It wasn’t until recently that I started to use the “channels” feature. Basically you can set up different sets of ads that you can track so you can see if certain pages, or ad positions, or ad types bring in more revenue than others.

I recently unveiled a redesign of my other site. Along with the new site came a different set of Google ads and a special component to help insert them in the new site. The add-on was necessary because of the software running the site.

So for several days now, the channel for the ads contained in the add-on was not logging any clicks or any activity. Huh? I can see the ads, and if my other ads are any indication, they’re getting clicks. What is going on?

Well as it turns out, I had them set up wrong. So people were viewing and clicking the ads, and because they LOOKED fine, I didn’t realize anything was wrong until I looked at the reports for the site.

So here’s my question… Who got the ad revenue for those days that the ads were running but not hooked up with my account? Sounds a little sneaky to me… Who gets the money from ads that are set up improperly? My guess is Google keeps it. I wonder how much money that is each day? Just imagine how many people might set up their ads incorrectly on a daily basis… Sounds to me like Google has found a cool new way to generate some extra revenue.

“Kid Nation” controversy

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I openly admit to being a reality television fan. My favorites are Survivor and Amazing Race, but just about any reality show will do. So when I saw commercials for this new show called “Kid Nation,” I was intrigued. 40 kids, ages 8 to 15, in a “ghost town” outside Santa Fe for 40 days, creating and living in their own little community.

It sounded interesting, but my mind immediately went to safety issues. I wondered what parent in their right mind would send their young child or teenager off to live with almost no supervision. There was supervision, wasn’t there? Or were the cameras rolling while the adults weren’t allowed to interfere? It’s not clear, and I suppose that’s part of the mystique that CBS is hoping will draw in viewers.

Questions are now being raised over whether the filming of the show violated child safety and labor laws in New Mexico, where Kid Nation was filmed. Apparently the children were required to do whatever the producers told them to do, or they would be removed from the show. That sounds like a typical reality show to me, but seems a lot more weird when it’s involving children with no parents present.

One parent has complained that the conditions were abusive. Yet the 22-page contract signed by the parents of all children disclaims all responsibility for injury and death of the children. The contract even disclaimed responsibility for any sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy if any of the children engaged in sexual activity.

There is an interesting confidentiality clause in the contract too. While confidentiality usually lasts until after all the episodes of a reality show are aired, in this case the confidentiality extends for 3 years after the show is aired. Violation of this part of the contract means a $5 million penalty. CBS also retains the rights to the children’s life stories forever. Wow.

The children were paid between $5,000 and $20,000 for their participation, but will not actually get their money until after all episodes air.

The “I Forgot I Already Voted Today” Defense Fails

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A Milwaukee county man was convicted yesterday of voting twice in a November’s election. Michael Zore voted twice within 6 hours, once in Wauwatosa (where he lives) and once in West Allis (where he used a fake address).

Zore told a jury that he forgot he already voted. I’m not kidding. The guy really said that he went and made up a fake address to vote in a city in which he doesn’t live because HE FORGOT HE ALREADY VOTED. Continue reading

Jessica McBride Calls Out Eugene Kane for Ignoring the Truth

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On Sunday, Jessica McBride had a great post on Eugene Kane, and his failure to accept the truth when it’s coming the sources. Eugene Kane is a liberal columnist for the Journal Sentinel, who is always moaning about the injustice and racism in the world. Nothing is ever the fault of the individual. It is always the fault of the cruel, cruel world, which is run completely by racists.

Kane’s column on Saturday focused on his visit to a youth prison. In typical Kane style, we don’t start off by acknowledging that the boys in this prison have committed serious crimes. Nope. It’s the fault of the racist system: Continue reading