July 15, 2014 archive

Bomb Trains


Oil Train Blast Zone Website Lets You See Your Proximity to Bomb Trains

Justin Mikulka, DeSmogBlog

Thu, 2014-07-10 11:31

ForestEthics has launched a new Oil Train Blast Zone website that allows people to search their address and determine if they are within the estimated blast zones for the trains carrying highly flammable crude oil, known as “bomb trains.”

Due to the explosive nature of the oil and the continued use of unsafe DOT-111 tanker cars, even in accidents only involving a few cars rupturing and burning, like the one in Lynchburg, Virginia, first responders have taken the approach of just letting the tank cars and oil burn itself out instead of trying to put the fire out.

In Albany, NY, which has become one of the top destinations for oil trains filled with Bakken crude oil, an event was held at the Ezra Prentice apartments which are located directly along tracks that regularly have the oil tank cars parked on them or moving along them.

While the event was a vigil for the 47 people who died in Lac-Megantic (link added) a year ago, there was plenty of talk about the fact that these apartments and many others in Albany were located within the blast zone.

This past week in Lac-Megantic, it was still very clear where the blast zone was from that accident a year ago.  While the train company has been purchased by the massive New York hedge fund Fortress Investment Group and the tracks have been rebuilt, downtown is still fenced off so that the work of continuing to remove the contaminated soil can continue.

The trains have returned but Lac-Megantic is a long way from being rebuilt.


Another Slap On The Wrist

Who Is the Unsung Hero of the $7 Billion Citigroup Settlement?

William K. Black, The Real News Network


This is the latest in the way of embarrassing settlements by the Department of Justice that they’re trying to bill as if they were holding Citicorp accountable. So it’s $7 billion. As you say, the $4 billion is a larger number than has previously gone to the United States, but it’s not the biggest settlement. The JPMorgan settlement is larger in overall terms. And it really doesn’t matter how much goes to the federal government versus state governments in these terms.

Let me give you two words that you’re not going to hear in the coverage of this, and those words are Richard Bowen. Richard Bowen was the whistleblower that made all of this possible, that gave this case on a platinum platter to the Department of Justice. And today the attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder, has given a press conference in which he has never mentioned Richard Bowen’s name and has never used it as an opportunity to praise him and to ask other people to come forward and blow the whistle so that we can prevent these kind of crimes.

In addition you’ll note that there are no criminal charges in this case against the individuals or against Citicorp. And as a result of all of this, all of the individuals who became wealthy through what the Department of Justice describes as an egregious fraud that was followed by a coverup–in other words, multiple felonies–have not been charged at this point, and, frankly, there’s no indication that they’re about to be charged as well. So the people that committed the frauds get to keep all of the bonuses that were created as a result of those frauds, and it’s another disgraceful moment in the chapter of the Department of Justice.

Citigroup Is Said to Be Close to Settling Inquiry Into Mortgage Securities


July 8, 2014 9:07 pm

At one point in the talks, the government demanded that Citigroup pay $10 billion. While the settlement will fall short of that demand, the bank will still pay more than once expected.

The two sides are still working out some details. Citi is expected to pay roughly $4 billion in cash, according to a person briefed on the matter. The remainder of the $7 billion would include so-called soft dollar penalties, including mortgage modifications and other forms of relief to homeowners, and possibly payments to state attorneys general involved in the case.

The total amount will almost certainly exceed the $2 billion that some Wall Street analysts initially estimated that Citigroup would be liable to pay, though more recent estimates have put the number closer to $6 billion.

Citigroup was not nearly as big a player in this business as JPMorgan Chase, which agreed to a $13 billion settlement with the Justice Department last year.

Lawyers for the big banks say privately that federal prosecutors appear to have scrapped the model used in that case and are demanding penalties that are far more punitive than what JPMorgan paid.

The Citigroup deal raises the stakes for Bank of America, which is expected to be the next large bank to settle its mortgage case with the Justice Department. Talks between the bank and federal prosecutors have largely gone dormant in recent weeks as the Justice Department focused on resolving its case with Citigroup, people briefed on the matter said.

Citigroup Settles Mortgage Inquiry for $7 Billion


July 14, 2014 8:29 p.m.

The unusual arrangement, which was outlined in the deal on Monday, underscores how difficult it remains for Citigroup to shed its rocky past and how federal prosecutors are getting creative in holding the nation’s big banks accountable for losses that crippled the global financial system in 2008.

Like other settlements the federal government has signed with Wall Street, Citigroup’s deal also requires the bank to modify mortgages of struggling homeowners. But Citigroup’s mortgage business has shrunk appreciably since the financial crisis, and the bank doesn’t service enough troubled mortgages to satisfy the monetary settlement terms for homeowner relief. So the bank agreed to finance affordable rental housing in unspecified “high cost of living areas.”

Wall Street watchdog groups and housing advocates said the terms of the $7 billion settlement highlight how the federal government has fallen short in its effort to hold banks accountable, noting that neither Citigroup nor any of its executives have been criminally charged for the bank’s mortgage problems.

In announcing the deal on Monday, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the hard-fought settlement did not absolve the bank or its employees from facing criminal charges. “The bank’s misconduct was egregious,” he said. “As a result of their assurances that toxic financial products were sound, Citigroup was able to expand its market share and increase profits.”

The Justice Department said Citigroup routinely ignored warnings that a significant portion of the mortgages it was packaging and selling to investors in 2006 and 2007 had underwriting defects. In one internal email cited by prosecutors, a Citigroup trader wrote “went thru Diligence Reports and think that we should start praying … I would not be surprised if half of these loans went down.” But the bank securitized the loans anyway.

The Justice Department said it was this type of evidence that enabled prosecutors to extract a $4 billion cash penalty from Citigroup – the largest payment of its kind. That money will go into the United States Treasury’s general fund and is not earmarked for any particular use.

The deal also includes $2.5 billion in so-called soft dollars designated for the financing of rental housing, mortgage modifications, down payment assistance and donations to legal aid groups, among other measures intended to provide relief to consumers.

In a boon for Citigroup, the deal with the Justice Department forgoes any potential cases against the bank related to collateralized debt obligations, or C.D.O.s, which were often tied to mortgages. While Citi was a relatively small player in the mortgage securities market, it was a leader on Wall Street in C.D.O.s.

But for many borrowers who have already gone through foreclosures, the settlement comes too late, consumer advocates say.

“Seven billion sounds like a lot. But compared to the number of families that lost their homes, it is not very much at all,” said Isaac Simon Hodes, a community organizer with Lynn United for Change, a group that advocates on behalf of Boston-area residents facing foreclosure.

Citigroup Pays Just $7 Billion For Causing Financial Crisis

By: DSWright, Firedog Lake

Monday July 14, 2014 7:22 am

Attorney General Eric Holder, once a Wall Street lawyer who represented clients involved in mortgage fraud that led to the 2008 crisis, said “The bank’s misconduct was egregious,” while promoting the inconsequential settlement.

The Justice Department declined an earlier offer from Citigroup noting it had emails and other evidence that, according to AG Holder, showed “[W]idespread defects among the increasingly risky loans they were securitizing, the bank and its employees concealed these defects.” Kind of sounds like criminal fraud doesn’t it?

Citigroup itself was formed under dishonest circumstances through the merger of Citibank and Travelers Group when Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan approved the merger despite it being illegal at the time. Congress, who had taken millions of dollars from owners and investors in Citigroup, then approved the merger. One of those lobbying for the merger to be retroactively legalized was Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin who would go on to serve as chairman of Citigroup and make over $100 million.

Citigroup has been bailed out at least four times by the federal government and continues to be implicated in illegality regarding money laundering for terrorists and drug cartels as well as other crimes in the foreign exchange market. The former CEO of Citigroup and architect of the merger in the 90s, Sandy Weill, has said the merger no longer makes sense and Citigroup should be broken up.

The Breakfast Club 7-15-2014

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Everyone’s welcome here, no special handshake required. Just check your meta at the door.

Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpg

This Day in History

On This Day In History July 15

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge

July 15 is the 196th day of the year (197th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 169 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day 1789, Lafayette selected colonel-general of the National Guard of Paris

Only one day after the fall of the Bastille marked the beginning of a new revolutionary regime in France, the French aristocrat and hero of the American War for Independence, Marie-Joseph Paul Roch Yves Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, becomes the colonel-general of the National Guard of Paris by acclamation. Lafayette served as a human link between America and France in what is sometimes known as The Age of Revolutions.

National Guard, Versailles, and Day of Daggers

On 15 July, Lafayette was acclaimed commander-in-chief of the National Guard of France, an armed force established to maintain order under the control of the Assembly. Lafayette proposed the name and the symbol of the group: a blue, white and red cockade. On 5 October 1789, a Parisian crowd, composed mostly of rough women working in the markets selling fish, marched to Versailles in response to the scarcity of bread. Members of the National Guard followed the march, and when Lafayette said that this march is non-sense, the National Guard’s men openly defied his power and according to some sources, they said “We are going with you, or over you”, then Lafayette reluctantly led the National Guard army to Versaille. At Versailles, the king accepted the Assembly’s votes but refused requests to return to Paris. That evening, Lafayette replaced most of the royal bodyguards with National Guardsmen. At dawn, the crowd broke into the palace. Before it succeeded in entering the queen’s bedroom, Marie Antoinette fled to the king’s apartments. Lafayette took the royal family onto the palace balcony and attempted to restore order. The crowd insisted that the king and his family move to Paris where they were installed in the Tuileries Palace. At the balcony, King Louis simply appeared, and everyone started chanting “Vive le Roi!”. Then when Maria Antoinette appeared with her children, she was told to send the children back, afterwards, when she came out alone, people shouted to shoot her, but when she stood her ground facing almost certain death, no one opened fire. After several seconds and the lowering of rifles, people started to chant “Vive la Reine!” (“Long live the Queen”, now the crowd is including the Queen)As leader of the National Guard, Lafayette attempted to maintain order. On 12 May 1790, he instituted, along with Jean Sylvain Bailly (mayor of Paris), a political club called the “Society of 1789” . The club’s intention was to provide balance to the influence of the Jacobins. On 14 July 1790, Lafayette took the civic oath on the Champs de Mars, vowing to “be ever faithful to the nation, to the law, and to the king; to support with our utmost power the constitution decreed by the National Assembly, and accepted by the king.”

He continued to work for order in the coming months. On 20 February 1791, the Day of Daggers, Lafayette traveled to Vincennes in response to an attempt to liberate a local prison. Meanwhile, armed nobles converged around the Tuileries, afraid the unprotected king would be attacked. Lafayette returned to Paris to disarm the nobles.[89] On 18 April, the National Guard disobeyed Lafayette and stopped the King from leaving for Saint-Cloud over Easter.

Late Night Karaoke

TDS/TCR (Back to Work)

Before we were so rudely interrupted…

Contact High

Possum Droppings

I have Daughters

I love them and I believe they love me. There is a pattern that emerged years ago, of which I told each of them was obvious because I had already played that game. My youngest has produced two and has another on the way, her old man has a good job and they are doing well. My oldest, she’s the shit. She rules the roost, she is my mother reincarnated, and Mama is still alive. I am actually working for her now. Don’t get me wrong, the apple doesn’t fall far. They are both a trip in their own way, might have been the concoctions at the time. The youngest makes the hubby slave so she has to do nothing. I think they take after their respective Mothers.


Back to the point.

They like my sisters fell in with the close minded right wing fucks that have been raised around here and really do not appreciate when I call them idiots. Of course I would not do such a thing, except in real life. It turns out husbands don’t appreciate when the thoughts they were raised with are questioned

So I am working for my kid remodeling a house for her to move in to.

I found something we agree on, it starts at 3:50