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February 10, 2011

The rise and fall of a foreclosure king

The rise and fall of a foreclosure king - Business - Real estate - msnbc.com
. . . The worse things got for homeowners, the better they got for Stern. That is, until last fall, when the nation's foreclosure machine blew apart and Stern's gilded world came undone. Within a few months, Stern went from being the subject of a gushing magazine profile to being the subject of a Florida investigation, class-action lawsuits and blogger Schadenfreude that, at last long, the "foreclosure king" was dead. "What Stern represents is an industry that was completely unrestrained, unchecked, unpunished and unsupervised," says Florida defense attorney Matt Weidner. "This was business gone wild." The rise and fall of Stern, now 50, provides an inside look at how the foreclosure industry worked in the last decade — and how it fell apart. It also shows how banks, together with their law firms, built a quick-and-dirty foreclosure machine that was designed to take as many houses as fast as possible. . . .

February 07, 2011

Federal taxes lowest since 1950

By 1 measure, federal taxes lowest since 1950 - Yahoo! News
WASHINGTON – Taxes too high? Actually, as a share of the nation's economy, Uncle Sam's take this year will be the lowest since 1950, when the Korean War was just getting under way. And for the third straight year, American families and businesses will pay less in federal taxes than they did under former President George W. Bush, thanks to a weak economy and a growing number of tax breaks for the wealthy and poor alike. Income tax payments this year will be nearly 13 percent lower than they were in 2008, the last full year of the Bush presidency. Corporate taxes will be lower by a third, according to projections by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The poor economy is largely to blame, with corporate profits down and unemployment up. But so is a tax code that grows each year with new deductions, credits and exemptions. The result is that families making as much as $50,000 can avoid paying federal income taxes, if they have at least two dependent children. Low-income families can actually make a profit from the income tax, and the wealthy can significantly cut their payments.

Hey Monday-Morning Business Quarterbacks: Borders Bankruptcy Looms

DISCLOSURE: I worked in the corporate offices of Borders Group,...

AOL Acquiring HuffPo For $315 million, Mostly Cash

Via: Edward at Vacuum: AOL buys Huffington Post; also, piffle AOL Acquiring HuffPo For $315 million, Mostly Cash | paidContent
AOL (NYSE: AOL) says it has acquired Huffington Post for $315 million, approximately $300 million of which will be paid in cash funded from cash on hand. As part of the deal, Arianna Huffington, HuffPo’s co-founder and Editor-in-Chief, will be named president and EIC of The Huffington Post Media Group. The new unit will house Huffington Post and AOL content, including Engadget, TechCrunch, Moviefone, MapQuest, Black Voices, PopEater, AOL Music, AOL Latino, AutoBlog, Patch, StyleList, and other sites. The news was announced just as Arriana and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong are flying back from the Super Bowl, an AOL rep told paidContent.. The purchase is meant to help provide the scale AOL needs to grow its content and advertising business. In particular, AOL claims that The Huffington Post Media Group will reach 117 million Americans and 270 million globally. Although it won’t necessarily answer critics who describe much of AOL’s content as “piffle” it will provide better organization and scale to the various sites that AOL has acquired the last few months, including Techcrunch.

February 06, 2011

Training new veterans how to be organic farmers

Love the idea. Helping Veterans Trade Their Swords for Plows - NYTimes.com
“Think of it in military terms,” he told the young recruits, some just back from Iraq or Afghanistan. “It’s a matter of survival, an uphill battle. You have to think everything is against you and hope to stay alive.” The battle in question was not the typical ground assault, but organic farming — how to identify beneficial insects, for instance, or to prevent stray frogs from clogging an irrigation system. It was Day 2 of a novel boot camp for veterans and active-duty military personnel, including Marines from nearby Camp Pendleton, who might be interested in new careers as farmers. “In the military, grunts are the guys who get dirty, do the work and are generally underappreciated,” said Colin Archipley, a decorated Marine Corps infantry sergeant turned organic farmer, who developed the program with his wife, Karen, after his three tours in Iraq. “I think farmers are the same.”