The perils of OHWB-Owning Housing While Black


In a Houston neighborhood it is still illegal for some places to be purchased by African-Americans

Rule 21 of the “Article & Bylaws” of Northwood Park states that “[n]o lot in said Subdivision nor any interest therein shall ever be sold, leased or rented to, or occupied by any person other than the Caucasian race.”

Documents on the Northwood Park Civic Association website showed that the group made an effort to change the race-based restriction in 2004. But almost a decade later, the group explained in its newsletter than it was still collecting signatures for the effort.

“The 1957 deed restrictions protect the homeowners from those that would mutate a diverse residential neighborhood into a conglomeration of shops, non-residential storage and car lots, junk yards, trucking companies, trailers, and mobile homes that would ruin a residential neighborhood’s desirability and destroy the quality of life of the residents…..”

The reference above to diversity is only mildly amusing. In another case however, black homeowners living in a prosperous white neighborhood had difficulties selling their house

Everyone tells you it’s hard to sell a home nowadays. No one tells you how hard it is to sell a home while black.

Last March we did all the things you are supposed to do when selling a half-million-dollar Orange County, Calif., home. We packed items we were no longer using. We downsized our furniture. We painted baseboards and repaired walls. We even bought new wall art to neutralize the feel. After seeing several comparable homes sell within weeks of listing, we were certain we would only be on the market for a month at most. We were wrong…………….

In the end, we sold our home. It took longer than planned and cost us both emotionally and financially. Our experiences showed us that while we could change everything about our home, we couldn’t change the color of our skin, nor the stigma attached to it. From the onset, we knew that black-owned homes were deemed less valuable. But we underestimated the impact that would have on our sale in a predominantly white neighborhood.

We have added this to our lessons learned. Now we know better than to underestimate the power of anti-blackness.

Post racial America is still very much not!

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Finally! An ally who embraces, at least in part, some of our principles and DOES NOT want our money! Imagine that!


We talked before about how many in the newly emerging Egypt have said no to US funds because they see such money as a way to negatively influence their burgeoning “new” democracy.  It’s not that these Egyptians don’t like America, what’s not to like about America the leader of the free world, it’s just that they want to define their social movements and institutions and not have that done for them by others.

“There are development partners that have for some time now been pushing the democracy and human rights agenda,” said Talaat Abdel Malek, an advisor to the Ministry of International Cooperation, which overseas foreign aid. “And I understand that and I understand the need for it, but there comes a point when there is something that is called national sovereignty that has to be respected.”

Every nook and cranny of Egyptian society, except for the marxists, has called for a democratic Egypt so their reasoning goes, there is no need to make that such a strong push by outside forces.  There are even some in Egypt who sound like today’s American GOP

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is campaigning for September’s parliamentary elections on a platform to trim the country’s budget deficit.

“It’s always better for any country to build on the basis of investment and not loans,” Khairat el-Shater, 61, deputy leader of the Brotherhood, said in an interview in Cairo.

“A lot of investors have been very nervous of the prospects of a government with a strong Brotherhood representation,” said Elijah Zarwan, a Cairo-based senior analyst at the International Crisis Group research group. “The Brotherhood is aware of this and they are trying to reassure foreign investors by saying ‘look, we are businessmen, we are business owners and professionals.’” The Brotherhood is also proposing to cut spending, sell state-run media, link subsidies to job creation and slow inflation.

All of the above sounds like talking points for any candidate running for office in America.  To further underscore the convergence of American ideals with a surfacing Egyptian “democracy” explained in its own terms comes this

The rector of what is arguably the world’s oldest university, a bastion of Sunni scholarship with international influence, has come out in favour of a modern, democratic, constitutional Egyptian state…Ahmed el-Tayyeb, the grand sheik of Al-Azhar University in Cairo  denies that Islam permits a “priesthood state” – an implied criticism of Iran. (The Al-Azhar) document is not apolitical, however; it endorses the separation of powers and equal rights for all citizens…it says that the principles of sharia should be the basic source of law. But at least this is not new; since 1981, the Constitution of Egypt, under an ostensibly secularist regime on the Kemal Ataturk model, has a clause saying the same thing. For some reason, perhaps in an attempt to compete with the Muslim Brotherhood, Anwar Sadat added a mild version of this clause in 1971; Hosni Mubarak took it further in 1981.

The Al-Azhar document is, however, based on the work of a broad range of scholars and activists, including Coptic Christians, several of whom signed it. The paper says that Christians and Jews should be free to govern their own lives with guidance from their own authorities.

With such proclamations coming from a post Mubarak Egypt, what could only be construed as assurances to the West that embrace Western concepts of governance, rights and responsibilities,  it’s easy for this observer to understand the unease Egyptians have with continued attempts of foreign institutions and governments to change the course of Egyptian “democracy” into something else.  By not accepting funds, Egyptians seem to be saying while they like what we stand for, they don’t want us telling them how to do it themselves.  In America’s present state of budget deficits, lost and or stolen money and calls for more austerity on the backs of the poor and middle class, ordinarily one would welcome such a friend who says thanks but no thanks to offers that neither help them or us.  We should do more to encourage such friendship among our international allies.

 

 

 

 

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Ten signs the US is becoming a Third World country


This is a very compelling read that I hope you will take time to absorb.   I wanted to excerpt points I find particularly relevant to today’s debates

Declining civil rights: Everyday freedoms are often a casualty of a society in collapse.  As the anger of the populace mounts in response to declining economic conditions and political corruption, the government counters by increasing draconian measures that restrict the political rights and civil liberties of its citizens.

America is becoming a country like China, which has one of the lowest scores according to Freedom House.  In America, private discussions and movements are monitored, free speech is corralled, the freedom to assemble for protest is by government decree, and independent thought that questions the political system is increasingly looked upon with suspicion.  A final indicator is when the government insists upon secrecy for its own actions, while new laws and systems are created to put the individual under nearly constant surveillance.

Failing infrastructure: As 46 of 50 states are on the verge of bankruptcy, cities are going dark, asphalt roads are returning to the stone age, and nationwide budget cuts are leaving students without teachers, supplies, or a full-time education.  These are common features one will see as they travel through the poorest of Third World countries.

Controlling the media: A government-influenced media that censors information is a key component of Third World countries.  In some countries it is openly owned by the State.  In America, privately-owned major media is not as balanced or as diverse as it seems; the concentration of ownership has led to censorship when national and corporate interests have sometimes overlapped.  The persecution of high-profile investigative journalists such as WikiLeaks is set amid a backdrop of the proposed Internet censorship of bloggers who wish to remain anonymous.  The end of net neutrality creates a pay-to-play system that can lead to further corporate and government control of information and opinion.  Cybersecurity initiatives are the final nail in the coffin, as the entire free flow of information can be vetted in a China-style system of “identity management.”  On the street, the police state and media control have converged in the recent rise of arrests for those who videotape the police.  This is a huge blow to First Amendment rights and the role of photojournalists who wish to document public police behavior.

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wall-street-terror

The Republican Epiphany


It’s a bit too late and dishonest, but it’s now being said that Bush is a socialist.  Progressives and people on the left have been saying the same thing but were excoriated for it, accused of being traitors and in so many words told to leave their country.  However, the signs of Bush’s socialist leaning tendencies have been apparent since 911.  That marked the beginning of big government, although that may not quite be the “big government” Republicans now have in mind.

“We can’t be a party of small government, free markets and low taxes while supporting bailouts and nationalizing industries, which lead to big government, socialism and high taxes at the expense of individual liberty and freedoms,” said Solomon Yue, an Oregon member and co-sponsor of a resolution that criticizes the U.S. government bailouts of the financial and auto industries.

What seems to have particularly drawn the Republicans’ ire is the financial bailouts and that indeed should be enough to upset EVERYONE within the borders of the US.  The Republicans however, are responsible for the mechanism behind the bailouts and how it works.  Although the country has been in a recession for over a year, the Bush Administration made the economy a priority only within the last 6 months and hurried initiatives through Congress, much like they did after 911, scaring all who opposed them with dire political consequences (this was an election year) as well as economical ones for the country.  In that kind of atmosphere all felt obliged to give the Administration what it asked for, but this is how Bush has worked throughout his two terms, turning every issue into a national crisis which could only be solved through the immediate and direct involvment of Government.  At every turn Democrats and Republicans participated in this turns towards “socialism” and very few people, except those on the fringe, complained.

Now, Republicans are claiming Bush is a socialist? Bush is NOT the target of this resolution being mulled within the RNC, rather it is Obama.  In fact the resolution itself won’t be considered until after Obama takes office, but what party officials want to do is tie Obama to Bush’s policies and plaster the “socialist” pejorative to the Democrats to use against them in ’12.  Republicans are quite happy with the big government they voted in during the last eight years and they know much of what they instituted will not be rescinded.  Government rarely if ever gives back power, and Bush has done a very good job of handing Democrats hot button issues that are irreparable in the short term so Republicans can position themselves as a “viable” opposition party….much like the Democrats did in ’06, and regain control of the executive and legislative.  Why anyone would want to be President under these circumstances is beyond me.

So the Bush is a socialist accusation is only window dressing to ensnare the Dems who will be forced to defend what transpired during Bush’s term, because once government gives, they can’t taketh back, while they, Republicans argue what they indeed voted for is no good and irrelevant.  A neat political trick.

It was greed that killed the Beast


Fifty billion dollars to be stolen by ONE man is a lot of money.  How did he get away with that?!!?!?  It really boils down to that fact that Bernard Madoff played on the greed of his investors who forked over huge sums of money in hopes of even larger returns.  The old adage if it’s too good to be true means it usually is was ignored by many who saw visions of large dollar signs flashing before their eyes.  Madoff was a consummate con man, but his deceit didn’t fool everyone.

Hedge fund investment adviser Aksia LLC warned clients not to put their money with Bernard Madoff after learning of “red flags” at his company, including that its books were audited by a three-person accounting firm. Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC used Friehling & Horowitz, an auditor operating out of a 13-by-18 foot location in an office park in New York City’s northern suburbs.

New York-based Aksia urged clients last year not to invest with Madoff’s firm after learning the identity of the New City, New York-based auditor, according to Jake Walthour, head of advisory services at Aksia. Friehling & Horowitz included one partner in his late 70s who lives in Florida, a secretary, and one active accountant, Aksia said.

“Our judgment was swift given the extensive list of red flags,” Aksia wrote Dec. 11 in a letter to clients.

Aksia’s Jim Vos said he spent several months probing Madoff’s firm on behalf of clients, only to recommend against investing in it. Vos, who had an investigator stake out the New City office, said eight “feeder funds” invested about $15 billion with Madoff. Vos declined to name the clients.

“I’m shocked by how investors turned a blind eye to returns that were too good to be true, constant steady small positive monthly returns,” Vos said. “When something is too good to be true, it probably is.”

It’s interesting that red flags were galore but only now, amidst all the other bad economic news is this getting any play in the media.  in my wildest dreams the scenario playing out in my head is the corporate media is finally getting their revenge on a Bush administration which had so easily manipulated it for every conceivable illegal and immoral purpose, and like a woman scorned has decided to get back at its former lover with all the bad news a President concerned with his legacy cannot afford.  Possibly, however, something more sinister than that is at play with the release of all of the bad news at the end of a president’s tenure, but I can’t say what it is…..yet.

Another day another couple of billion dollars


I read stories like this, Wealth of richest Arabs plunged in 2008

The wealth of the richest Arabs plunged in 2008, with Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the richest of all, seeing his investments shrivel nearly 20 percent, according to a list published in Dubai on Sunday.

The Saudi prince’s wealth has shrunk by four billion dollars to 17.08 billion under the impact of this year’s global financial turmoil, Arabian Business online magazine said in a survey of the richest 50 Arab people.

The combined assets of the top 50 have plummetted by 25 billion dollars or 12 percent to 199.48 billion dollars, based on data calculated on December 2, the magazine said.

Despite his losses, Prince Alwaleed remains top of the list, though his wealth sank twice as much as that of second placed Nasser al-Kharafi, a Kuwaiti businessman whose value is estimated to have dropped by two billion dollars to 9.6 billion.

In May, Prince Alwaleed ranked 19 in the Forbes list of world billionaires with 21 billion dollars. His wealth includes a five percent stake in the troubled US banking giant Citigroup and a private Airbus superjumbo A380, dubbed as the “flying palace” and valued at 330 million dollars.

and am forced to remind one and all that all of those “Arabs” losses put together don’t equal what this one guy swindled from American investors!

Bernard Madoff, a quiet force on Wall Street for decades, was arrested and charged on Thursday with allegedly running a $50 billion “Ponzi scheme” in what may rank among the biggest fraud cases ever.

The former chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market is best known as the founder of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, the closely-held market-making firm he launched in 1960. But he also ran a hedge fund that U.S. prosecutors said racked up $50 billion of fraudulent losses.

Madoff told senior employees of his firm on Wednesday that “it’s all just one big lie” and that it was “basically, a giant Ponzi scheme,” with estimated investor losses of about $50 billion, according to the U.S. Attorney’s criminal complaint against him.

The Bush legacy: A failed economy


bushiv1Having built his Administration on lies beginning with 911 and the sordid attempt to justify the invasion of Iraq because of what happened in NYC, it’s completely characteristic of Bush to obfuscate and deny the inevitable: The U.S. economy has been in a recession since December 2007

By one benchmark, a recession occurs whenever the gross domestic product, the total output of goods and services, declines for two consecutive quarters. The GDP turned negative in the July-September quarter of this year, and many economists believe it is falling in the current quarter at an even sharper rate.

*snip*

The White House commented on the news that a second downturn has officially begun on President George W. Bush’s watch without ever actually using the word “recession,” a term the president and his aides have repeatedly avoided….

*snip*

Many economists believe the current downturn will be the most severe since the 1981-82 recession. The country is being battered by the most severe financial crisis since the 1930s as banks struggle to deal with billions of dollars in loan losses.

Loss revenue and jobs are the mark of this recession.

In a worrisome sign of further weakening in the U.S. labor market, November saw the highest number of layoffs in the private sector in more than 32 years.

*snip*

Since the start of the recession in December 2007, as recently announced by the National Bureau of Economic Research (see “Congratulations, It’s A Recession”), the number of unemployed persons increased by 2.7 million, and the unemployment rate rose by 1.7 percentage points with two-thirds of these losses sustained in the last 3 months.

What started out as a $700 billion bailout has now ballooned into over $8.5 trillion dollars of US taxpayer money which can be given away in any way the chairman of the Federal Reserve sees fit, with or without the consent of ANYONE, including Congress.

“Most of the money, about $5.5 trillion, comes from the Federal Reserve, which as an independent entity does not need congressional approval to lend money to banks or, in “unusual and exigent circumstances,” to other financial institutions.

Now Bush is even faced with rebellion within his own party as the bailout for the automobile industry he was in favor of has been defeated in the Senate with the help of members of the Republican party.