4 shot, including boys 13 and 14, in Washington Park neighborhood

Category: In The News
Published: Thursday, 18 December 2014
Written by Admin

She said that he is a good student who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

All kids got their ups and downs, but he is a good kid, Askew said.

The Carter Elementary School student plays running back in football and boxed with the Chicago Boxing Club in Little Village.

While he was shocked his cousin lived, Cornelius Malik El Shabazz, 20, said he wasnt surprised that he got shot in the city of Chicago.

You see people get shot every day in the news, he said. Except you get numb to it.

Shabazz said that another of his cousins and a cousin of the 14-year-old, Vaughn Holeman, who is the same age was killed this summer, at 115th Street and Princeton Avenue. He believes Davonte was not the target.

Hes a great dude, his cousin, Shabazz said. I know its not (intended) for him. He has too much to offer the world to be taken.

The shooting took place in an area that is seeing heavy gang conflict involving a gang to which at least three of the victims belong and another gang, according to police, but authorities have not said whether any of those injured were the intended targets.

A Chicago Fire Department spokesman said ambulances had treated victims at the Michigan Avenue location, but referred all calls to police News Affairs.

Check back for updates.

Tragedy in West Springfield puts crossing-guard safety in the news: Editorial

Category: In The News
Published: Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Written by Admin

The death of a school crossing guard in West Springfield Monday is a tragic reminder of what should be on the minds of all motorists.

The guard was reportedly struck by an SUV at the corner of Elm and Garden Streets.

By mid-Monday, details were still being gathered by authorities, but the tragedy did put the spotlight on one of the most important jobs in any community, and one too often taken for granted.

The responsibilities of crossing guards are enormous. The municipal expense for their service is a pittance compared to the function they provide.

Crossing guards can tell stories about drivers hollering out for them to get a real job or some other remark designed either for humor or snarkiness as they pass by. This is very much a real job - a public safety position that requires agility, concentration and dedication in all types of weather and amid all types of traffic conditions.

Most citizens understand the importance of these people. It is not a full-time position, but during the times children are walking to and from school, no one in any community has a more important responsibility.

In a 1985 comedy, Lost in America, the position was the subject for humor as a fired yuppie advertising man (played by Albert Brooks) winds up settling for the only job he could find. He was a crossing guard, doing his task in a business suit with a frown while students give him a hard time.

Its a funny movie, but in the real word, the crossing guards job is of paramount importance and deserves not only the attention of motorists, but respect from everyone.

Those who do it are often the only persons that parents will trust to supervise their children outside of school on a normal day. The interaction lasts only a few seconds, but the accident in West Springfield reminds us of what is involved.

It might seem like belaboring the obvious to plead for all drivers to be aware of the guards and the children. But the West Springfield episode serves as a tragic reminder that this message can never be emphasized too passionately or too often, in every community where kids cross the street to attend school.

Lehman in the News; Down Payment Assistance Study; Fitch's Forecast for MBS

Category: In The News
Published: Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Written by Admin

What I dont like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day. Here are a few tips on how to avoid that. And avoiding mortgage application fraud is even more important - but according to this story in the New York Times this type of fraud is increasing. And how are we in the last non-holiday week of 2014 already?

Something that is unavoidable is Mamp;A in banking and non-depository lenders. A look at Impacs 8-K, filed last week, reads, Impac Mortgage Holdings, Inc. is currently in negotiations to acquire the mortgage origination business of a leading mortgage originator, which Impac (the Company) believes will complement its current origination business model and position the Company to continue the roll out its new ALT QM loan programs to consumers directly. While negotiations are continuing to proceed, the Company has not yet entered into any definitive agreements related thereto. Although the Company intends to pursue the acquisition, the Company can make no assurances that the acquireree will continue to negotiate until favorable terms can be reached, nor is there any assurance that such an agreement can or will ever be achieved... Delightfully mysterious - stay tuned...

This is last call to participate in STRATMOR Groups highly sought after LOS Technology Insight survey. This survey now has participation from approximately 200 lenders-- from top 10 originators to small correspondent and broker shops -- with extensive participation from the mid-tier lender group. In order to see the results of this survey, you must participate so dont miss this great opportunity to stand up and be counted! It takes about 15 minutes to complete and, by taking this survey, you will receive high-level summary information as regards to overall market share by product / vendor as well as implementation success metrics. Detailed results will also be available for purchase that will provide valuable insights into doc prep providers, functionality by system (from the lender participants perspective), deployment preferences, vendor compliance readiness (again, from the respondents perspective) and upfront cost ranges by system. Dont delay and miss the opportunity to access these invaluable insights that will only be available to our Lender participants. Note that registration ends December 31st. As is STRATMORs practice, and to assure confidentiality, we will conduct this as a blind survey. All survey results will be aggregated; individual company results will not be disclosed, nor will we publish the results in a way that would enable individual respondent identities to be derived. To participate in the 2014 LOS Technology Insight, register here.

Heres your legal puzzle for the day. What companys t-shirts are now collectibles and has an estimated 209,000 loans that must be reviewed one by one? The answer is Lehman Brothers. Reuters reports that Judge Shelley Chapman declined a motion for Lehman to increase the amount of reserves it must hold to make payments on 255 residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) from US$5bn to US$12.1bn. Chapman also said all 209,000 mortgages underpinning the bonds must be reviewed one-by-one. Theres some job security for some out-of-work mortgage folks!

Seventy percent of US adults are unaware of down-payment assistance programs available for middle-income homebuyers in their community, according to findings from the second annual America at Home survey commissioned by NeighborWorks America, a national nonprofit community development corporation based in Washington, DC.

Many Millennials face unexpected hurdles when looking to purchase a home for the first time such as not being able to qualify for a loan due to student debt, low starting salary and the inability to come up with a large down payment. Zillow analyzed how affordable it is for the average millennial or first-time buyer, given their economic hardships, to purchase a home in certain metro areas. To analyze the data, Zillow assumed that the average first-time buyers makes the median income of $54,000, attains a 30-year fixed rate mortgage with only 5% down and looks for a home priced according to the 33.3 percentile of all home values. Most first time home buyers put less than 20%, so primary mortgage insurance and upfront fees have to be considered and in Q3 of 2014, MI added an average of 1.3 percentage points to the effective mortgage rate. First-time home buyers should expect to pay about 17.4% of their income on a mortgage, compared to 15.3% for more traditional buyers. Despite the hurdles that most millennials face, current affordability for first-time buyers still looks more favorable than the pre-bubble standards from 1985 to 1999, when they could have allocated 22.5% of their income to a mortgage. You can utilize the interactive map to determine how first-time home affordability compares in your area.

A little farther up the age scale, A survey by the Demand Institute finds 63% of Baby Boomers say they plan to stay in their current home when they retire. Of those who said they plan to move, 42% said they would buy a smaller home, 32% said they would buy a larger home and 26% said they plan to buy a the same size home.

Besides downgrading countries like France to AA, Fitch Ratings also publishes reports on residential mortgage-backed securities. And it came out with a forecast for 2015. While the vast majority of structured finance sectors maintain stable of positive outlooks for 2015, the residential mortgage-backed securities sector faces a challenging environment next year. Despite strong credit attributes, RMBS issuance is expect to remain anemic as the industry continues to face challenges including ongoing GSE dominance; more attractive financing alternatives such as whole loan sales; new mortgage regulation; and a weak AAAsf investor base, Fitch said in its 2015 Outlook: US Structured Finance. Fitch expects many of these same challenges will persist in 2015 and keep US RMBS a small niche market with projected issuance in the $15 billion-$25 billion range.

Analysts knew what Fitch said about regulations. Namely that this year global regulators finalized many outstanding regulatory issues, most notably, risk retention, Regulation AB II, and Basel III, along with regulatory capital and liquidity guidance for financial institutions. Fitch said it expects issuers will spend significant efforts implementing processes to comply with the new regulations throughout 2015. It also noted that with the Federal Reserves sunset of quantitative easing, market attention will turn to timing of Fed tightening and a higher rate environment in general. The effect of higher rates will be felt across all sectors, albeit to varying degrees, Fitch said. It said rising interest rates and unwinding QE will not destabilize the global recovery or financial markets, although an increase in financial market volatility is expected.

In general, the news last week reinforced views that the fourth quarter of 2014 is doing pretty well - which ordinarily would push rates higher. The most impressive data point this week came from the November retail sales report that showed sales climbing 0.7 percent for the month while October sales were revised higher. Inflation data for November reflected the continued slide in oil prices with declines in both the producer price index and the import price index.

But there are two sides of every coin, and every economic statistic. Paul Jacob with Wunderlich Securities points out that, The rally of 2014 has stampeded through virtually every counter-argument: strengthening economy, solid stock market, the end of QE balance sheet expansion, rumblings from the Fed about the Funds rate. Sitting from 2.09% on the 10-year in Dec. 2014, its a useful place to step back and review the bullish and bearish arguments for the bond market. And so we have the dual meanings of oil weakness amp; dollar strength, inflation, the Federal Reserves actions, the labor market, consumer spending, the volatility in the stock market, and so on.

The markets will continue to be driven by the price of oil although this weeks FOMC meeting will give us more information. The 8th and final meeting of 2014 for the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is scheduled for December 16-17. It was at the Feds December 2008 meeting (held on 12/16/08) that the FOMC voted unanimously to cut short-term interest rates to near zero from its then current level of 1%. Since then, the FOMC has met 47 times and voted on each occasion to leave rates unchanged

Certainly lower gasoline prices are stoking consumer confidence (the University of Michigans preliminary Consumer Sentiment Index for December surged to 93.8, well above consensus expectations) and more confident consumers are buying more stuff. The Libyan National Oil Company says that the oil ports of As Sidra and Ras Lanuf had stopped operating because of fighting - and it is tough to forecast our economy when our markets are driven by news like this.

Hey, only a short period left to do your Christmas shopping! Or maybe I should say, close your loans. Regardless, were faced with another week of titillating economic news here in the US starting with todays Empire Manufacturing number, the Industrial Production amp; Capacity Utilization duo, and the NAHB Housing Market Index. Tomorrow is another duo - Housing Starts and Building Permits. Wednesday well see the Consumer Price Index and the Federal Open Market Committees rate decision (dont look for any excitement). Thursday is Initial Jobless Claims, a Philly Fed number of little consequence, and the Leading Economic Indicators figures. The 10-yr closed Friday at 2.09% and this morning were up to 2.13% with agency MBS prices only worse a few 32nds.


For jobs, Radian Guaranty, Inc. is seeking an Inside Account Executive to work in its Philadelphia headquarters. Qualifications include a minimum one year of Mortgage Insurance or Mortgage Product experience, previous corporate telemarketing/call-center experience preferred and a minimum of one-year experience in customer service or sales capacity. Headquartered in Philadelphia, Radian connects lenders, homebuyers, investors and loan servicers using a suite of private mortgage insurance and related risk management products and services. We help promote and preserve the tradition of homeownership while protecting lenders from default-related losses on residential first mortgages. Our commitment to homeownership is built on a foundation of evaluating credit risk; we help clients and investors expertly and prudently manage risk in any market condition. Qualified individuals are encouraged to apply!

And PRMG, one of the top 25 mortgage companies in the United States, is seeking a Correspondent Underwriting/Operations Manager at its headquarter location in Southern California to lead the overall loan process.This position is responsible for ensuring that all service level agreements as set by the company are maintained, while efficiency, quality and productivity goals are met for (processing, closing and underwriting).The individual in this position will also work to facilitate a positive, dependable, team-oriented environment among Operations and Sales staff. Requirements include a bachelors degree or equivalent work experience, a minimum 5 years of operations management and a proven track record in mentoring and leadership. PRMG has over 750 employees nationally and is licensed in 47 states with nearly 50 branches located throughout 10 states. Contact HR@prmg. net for a complete job description or confidential inquiries.

Face in the News: Analyzing the CIA torture report

Category: In The News
Published: Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Written by Admin

WASHINGTON (CBS News) - The debate over harsh CIA interrogation techniques continued over the weekend, with lawmakers split down the middle over the bombshell Senate report released last week.

The report, released by the Senate Intelligence Committee led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), sent ripples throughout Washington and the intelligence community. The 525-page summary condemned the CIA for using interrogation techniques that amounted to torture on suspected Al-Qaeda detainees, and then misleading the White House and Congress about the effectiveness of the top-secret program.

The response to the report has been sharply partisan. Democrats, long critical of Bush administration practices, hailed its release and praised Feinstein for her diligence. But Republicans brushed it off as a political hatchet-job meant to smear hardworking CIA professionals whose work kept the nation safe.

Only one Republican broke party lines and endorsed the report this week: Sen. John McCain. The Arizona senator, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, said Sunday on Face The Nation that defenders of the CIAs secret prisons and interrogations were rewriting... history.

There were violations of the Geneva Conventions for the treatment of prisoners, McCain said. There were violations of the Convention Against Torture, which Ronald Reagan was a primary signatory of. In retrospect, some of these practices fly in the face of everything that America values and stands for.

McCains comments about the report were picked up by the Associated Press, The New York Times, AFP, the Washington Post, the Washington Examiner, The Hill, the New York Daily News, the Christian Science Monitor and Newsmax. He also spoke about the new GOP majority in Congress, and those comments were covered by the Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with the Democrats, agreed with McCain that it was right to release the report. While highly critical of how the CIA was misleading to Congress in the past, King stopped short of calling for the resignation of current CIA Director John Brennan.

His comments were covered by Politico and The Hill.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, was very critical of the report. He said that interrogators gleaned a treasure trove of information from the three detainees who were subjected to waterboarding, an interrogation tactic that simulates drowning.

Youve got to remember, there were 789 detainees sent to Gitmo, Chambliss said, referring to the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay. Three of them, three out of 789, were waterboarded. Abu Zubaydah was one of em. There were 766 actionable intelligence reports written from Abu Zubaydah.

These comments from Chambliss, who is retiring from Congress, were covered by The Hill.

Chambliss was supported by Rep. Mike Rogers, the retiring Michigan Republican who has led the House Intelligence Committee since 2011. He said that the report was only done by Democrats and the Democrats staff and that their methodology is being questioned.

Rogers comments were picked up by The Hill, the Washington Examiner and The Guardian