Archive for foreclosures

The success of the #Occupy movement: "Invisible suffering was made visible" #OWS


ows 99 percent

Rebecca Solnit wrote an inspiring op-ed in today's L.A. Times, one I've been waiting for someone to write. If you need a morale boost, please read it in full. Solnit is an author who spent time at Occupy San Francisco, Occupy Oakland and Occupy Wall Street in 2011. A longer version of the op-ed can be found at

In her piece, she traces movements, activist groups, a unique person here and there, and identifies their transformative moments. She identifies milestones and special people who have made a meaningful difference and changed the world because they galvanized others with their mission.

Real change may at first be incremental, halting, and sometimes frustratingly imperceptible to those who aren't really paying attention, but eventually, it takes hold in ways unimagined.

In other words, the efforts can result in achievements that have lasting impact. And that impact can be on the whole wide world, a country, a legislative body, or on the very participants of a movement. And then those participants pay it forward.

[T]he moment that counts is the one where civil society is its own rule, improvising the terms of an ideal society for a day, a month, a season [...]

Almost as soon as Occupy Wall Street appeared in the fall of 2011, the national conversation changed and the brutality and obscenity of Wall Street were suddenly being openly discussed. The suffering of ordinary people crushed by the burden of medical, housing or college debt came out of the shadows.

California passed a homeowner's bill of rights to curtail the viciousness of the banks, and in late 2012, Strike Debt emerged as an Occupy offshoot to address indebtedness in creative and subversive ways. Student debt suddenly became (and remains) a topic of national discussion, and proposals for student loan reform began to gain traction.

Invisible suffering was made visible. And, though Occupy was never primarily about electoral politics, it was nonetheless a significant part of the conversation that got Elizabeth Warren elected senator and prompted a few other politicians to do good things in the cesspit of the capital.

Change often happens when the brutality of the status quo is made visible and therefore intolerable. [...]

Occupy Wall Street allowed those silenced by shame, invisibility or lack of interest from the media to speak up. ... [T]he media and politicians had to change their language to adjust to a series of previously ignored realities.

Part of what gave Occupy its particular beauty was the way the movement defined "we" as the 99%. That phrase (along with that contagious meme "the 1%") entered our language, offering a far more inclusive way of imagining the world.

Occupy is still working behind the scenes. I know this because I communicate regularly with those who are deeply involved, and I see reports of their impressive accomplishments. The tents are now gone, the drums stopped beating... but Occupy's heart didn't.



VIDEO: Chris Hayes takes on "nationwide foreclosure crime scene," Elizabeth Warren takes on the regulators


foreclosure crime scene

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This is must-see TV. Please watch all of it, it's a segment of "All In with Chris Hayes" from a day or two ago. Here's the back story, via MSNBC:

What the numbers show are banks foreclosing on military service members who were entitled to relief, and banks foreclosing on homeowners who had been approved for a loan modification. The numbers even show banks foreclosing on homeowners who were not behind in their payments and not in default. [...]

According to the findings posted just Tuesday by a federal bank regulator as part of a settlement agreement with a number of major banks, between 2009 and 2010, foreclosure proceedings that were wrongful or in some way contained bank error commenced against nearly four million homeowners.

About 30% of those homeowners had to battle potentially wrongful efforts to seize their homes, and more than 244,000 eventually lost their homes... But given the scale of the deception and error, the amount of money is, in most instances, cartoonishly small.

The entire segment is astonishing.

Which brings us to this morning at a Senate Banking Committee hearing where Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) asked regulators why they won’t reveal how often big banks broke the law by illegally foreclosing on homeowners. Surprise! The answer was, they didn’t exactly know pre-settlement and, per Think Progress, "were now unwilling to publicize the error rate."

Gee, who could have predicted that would happen?

Elizabeth Warren was her usual sharp-as-a-tack, unrelenting, driven self, and the regulators got the brunt of it. Where would we be without her to look out for us?

On Tuesday, regulators released new information suggesting that banks may have made errors in as many as 30 percent of all loans that qualified for a review,” the Huffington Post reported.

Watch Warren rip into the Big Bank Bodyguards, and watch them get all slithery and squirmy and resistant and small:

This is what "competent" looks like, Congress. Pay attention:

WARREN: So you have made a decision to protect the banks but not a decision tell the families who have been illegally foreclosed against?

RICHARD ASHTON (FEDERAL RESERVE): We haven’t made a decision about what information we would provide to individuals. [...]

WARREN: So I just want to make sure I get this straight. Families get pennies on the dollar in the settlement for having been the victims of illegal activities or mistakes in the banks’ activities. You now know individual cases where the banks violated the law, and you’re not going to tell the homeowners, or at least it’s not clear whether or not you're going to do that?...

I thought this was about transparency... People want to know that their regulators are watching out for the American public, not the banks.

No, as I said, watching out for the American public seems to be falling on Elizabeth Warren's shoulders. We need 100 more like her.

elizabeth warren banking committee hearing


Occupy's "public illumination of what was and is wrong in America changed the political dialogue in this country."


Today's L.A. Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Occupy's ironic legacy: limits on protests," Dec. 6

Your dismissive article on the Occupy movement was mean-spirited and wrong.

Occupy's very visible, if inchoate, public illumination of what was and is wrong in America changed the political dialogue in this country. It received media attention, it raised consciousness, and it showed that organizing could make a difference (take a look at labor's recent victory at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles). It also left a legacy of very worthwhile programs, most notably Occupy's Rolling Jubilee program, which asks people to give small donations to a fund so other people can get out of debt and save their homes from foreclosure.

Rolling Jubilee is a beautiful thing. It may be that the first phase of Occupy's mission is over, but in communities all across America, not only does it do good work but its spirit lives.

Allen Levy



It has never been easy to find a balance between cities' responsibilities to protect residents from public disturbance and to respect free speech. However, new rules such as raising fees for permits to hold protests and higher fines for violations are extreme.

Silencing dissent narrows the perspectives on social issues by limiting what less-powerful groups can bring to the negotiating table in their fight for equality and justice.

Berta Graciano-Buchman

Beverly Hills


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