Patt Morrison for October 14, 2010

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You have probably heard the term ‘robo-signer’ in the last month as the news broke that many banks had employees automatically approve paperwork that allowed for repossessions and foreclosures with no real review or vetting. The question is – did anyone lose their home because of paperwork that was filed improperly? Banks are saying no, though some major lending institutions have frozen foreclosures. Attorneys General from all 50 states are going forward with an investigation looking at home foreclosure practices. Meanwhile, lenders seized more homes this summer than in any three-month stretch since the market began to bust in 2006, 288,000+ foreclosures from July to September. What happens now that bank repossessions and foreclosure auctions have hit record levels and if you are currently in foreclosure does this news do you any good?
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Is foreign money in American political elections?

Last week, ThinkProgress made news (and tempers flare) when it reported that the US Chamber of Commerce is actively seeking foreign investment in a general account that it also uses to fund partisan political attack ads. Some Democratic lawmakers and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) have called for a federal investigation into the alleged use of foreign money to conduct electioneering in the United States, which, if true, is illegal. The allegations prompted Vice President Joe Biden to say, “I challenge the Chamber of Commerce to tell us how much of the money they’re investing from foreign sources.” To that the chamber replied, “Zero. Not a single cent.” The chamber has denied it spends any of its foreign investments on elections, but many believe it’s difficult to trace and could be a convoluted mess to sort out. The chamber plans to spend $75 million on the midterm election (double what they spent last year). Should the chamber be required to turn over its books and keep money in separate accounts, or is this a case of over blown political hysteria?
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Who tops your list of most admired figures? Gallup posed the question to Americans at the end of 2009. The person who topped the list? Glenn Beck - the Fox News pundit people either love to love or love to hate. Beck's name beat the Pope, Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush only to be topped by Nelson Mandela. In his new book Tears of a Clown: Glenn Beck and the Tea Bagging of America, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank traces Beck's ascent from divorced, alcohol/cocaine addicted, pro-choice DJ to one of the most respected (and simultaneously disrespected) conservative media icons in the country.
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Last year, in the midst of a brutal recession, about three dozen of the top publicly held securities and investment-services firms—which includes banks, hedge funds, securities exchanges and more—paid out $139 billion in compensation and benefits, ignoring the public outcry over exorbitant pay packages shortly after many of these same firms were recipients of federal bailout dollars. Those same Wall Street firms are sticking to their guns this year, setting another record in compensation by paying $144 billion, a 4% increase from 2009. Even as profits at these companies have dropped off from record highs in 2006, compensation has continued to increase in each of the years since. While Congress and the Obama Administration continue to push for financial reform, investment firms continue to act as if they are immune to the political pressure, basing their pay on economic and market conditions rather than new rounds of regulation and oversight. What can, or should, be done about record pay on Wall Street?
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