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Lawmakers, Executives Slam Obama for Boosting Brazil’s Offshore Drilling March 23, 2011

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Republican lawmakers and oil industry executives are slamming President Obama for offering to help Brazil expand offshore drilling while U.S. production struggles to get back on its feet in the wake of the BP spill.

The president, on the first leg of his trip to Latin America, said in Brazil over the weekend that his administration wants to assist the Brazilian government “with technology and support” in developing its oil reserves — a black gold mine he said could hold twice as much oil as U.S. deposits.

“And when you’re ready to start selling, we want to be one of your best customers,” Obama said.

That message struck some at home as bizarre and misguided, considering the administration has stressed the need to wean the United States off foreign oil and move toward alternative fuels.

With U.S. oil exploration and drilling slowing to a crawl over the past year, they questioned why the president would throw U.S. weight behind Brazil, a country that also received a $2 billion loan for its state-owned oil company from the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

“We have abundant energy resources off Louisiana’s coast, but this administration has virtually shut down our offshore industry and instead is using Americans’ tax dollars to support drilling off the coast of Brazil,” Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said in a statement. “It’s ridiculous to ignore our own resources and continue going hat-in-hand to countries like Saudi Arabia and Brazil to beg them to produce more oil.”

Fresh off a three-country visit to the region, Obama is trying to improve relations with the powerhouses of Latin America. Gulf Oil CEO Joe Petrowski agreed it’s better to encourage production in more reliable Brazil than in the “inherently unstable” Middle East.

Still, he called Obama’s announcement “puzzling,” even “humorous.”

“More oil that is not concentrated in the Mideast is good for the world and good for America. It would be a lot better if we had the drilling here,” Petrowski told Fox News. “And it seems a double standard and it seems somewhat hypocritical to a country that desperately needs jobs … that we’re encouraging other countries to create the jobs that we need.”

Furor over drilling, or lack thereof, has returned to Capitol Hill in full force over the past couple months as the price of a gallon of gas nears the $4 mark. Democrats say the rising prices, destabilized in part by the turmoil in several Arab nations, are yet another reminder why the United States needs to pursue alternative sources of energy and improve energy efficiency.

Republicans say the United States needs to develop all resources available, but emphasizes domestic drilling and exploration.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., complained that, with his comments in Brazil, Obama is pushing to deepen U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

“He appears to believe the answer is to shift our foreign energy dependence from one part of the world to another,” he said.

But the Obama administration stressed that Brazil’s emerging energy industry makes the country a vital partner. These are boom times for Brazilian energy exploration — recently discovered deepwater deposits of oil buried below thick salt layers are estimated to contain tens of billions of barrels.

Obama adviser Mike Froman told BBC Brasil that the discoveries make the country a “key actor in global energy markets.”

The administration launched what it called a “strategic energy dialogue” with Brazil. According to the White House, the cooperation will entail an upcoming meeting between Brazilian officials and U.S. Department of Interior representatives; a trade mission at the end of May; and workshops starting in the fall on deepwater production and environmental management.

The administration has recently inched forward on approving oil projects in the Gulf of Mexico.

Last month, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement issued the first deepwater drilling permit since the BP spill last spring.

Then the administration announced Monday that it approved a deepwater exploration plan for Shell Offshore Inc., the first such plan since the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion last April.

But Shane Guidry, CEO of rig towing company Harvey Gulf International Marine, said that, at a time of economic stress, the U.S. government should concentrate its energy investment inside the United States rather than Brazil.

“If you’re going to do something for one country, why not do it for yours?” he told Fox News.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/03/23/lawmakers-execs-slam-obama-boosting-brazils-offshore-drilling/#ixzz1HRnaqEeP

 

Japan Turns to Desperate Measures to Cool Nuclear Reactors March 17, 2011

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Japan Turns to Desperate Measures to Cool Nuclear Reactors

VOA News March 17, 2011

This combo of screengrabs taken off Japanese national broadcaster NHK shows a Japanese military twin-rotor cargo helicopter dumping water onto reactor no. 3 (C) at the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant on March 17, 2011.

Photo: AFP PHOTO / HO / NHK

Screen grabs from Japanese national broadcaster NHK show a Japanese military cargo helicopter dumping water onto reactor number 3 at the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant on March 17, 2011.

The Japanese military is using high-pressure fire hoses to spray water on earthquake-damaged nuclear reactors in a desperate attempt to cool down dangerously-hot fuel rods, as it acknowledges that time is running out.

Earlier Thursday, the government used aerial water drops — after aborting the plan a day earlier because of radiation danger to the helicopter pilots.

Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said the government had decided it “could not delay the mission any further.” But televised pictures showed much of the water being blown away from the target and the effort was suspended after four attempts.

 

High radiation levels around the plant 240 kilometers north of Tokyo are making it impossible for workers to stay at the facility for more than a few minutes at a time, and initial radiation readings suggest the first helicopter drops had little effect.

Officials said Thursday they soon hope to restore electricity to the plant, raising hopes that more efficient pumps can be deployed to apply water to the fuel rods at the crippled plant’s six nuclear reactors.

US advises citizens to leave

The United States and other governments have advised their nationals to stay at least 80 kilometers from the plant — a radius much larger than the Japanese exclusion zone — and many governments are evacuating staff from embassies in Tokyo.

U.S. President Barack Obama telephoned Prime Minister Naoto Kan early Thursday in Tokyo to express his admiration for the courage of the Japanese people and renew his offer of assistance, including with the nuclear crisis.

The call came hours after nuclear power officials in Washington said they believe all water has dried up in the cooling tank at Fukushima’s number 4 reactor, leaving the fuel rods exposed to the air. If the rods become hot enough, they can melt or burn through their outer casing, releasing high levels of radiation into the air.

Japanese nuclear officials said Thursday they could not confirm those remarks, made by U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko. But they said water levels in the cooling tank at unit 3 are dangerously low.

The prime minister’s office Thursday called on citizens to save electricity as it warned of a “massive power outage” in the area served by the Tokyo Electric Power Company.

MSI Network

What caused damage

Normal cooling systems for the plant were destroyed by last week’s earthquake and tsunami, which knocked out electricity to the plant and damaged emergency backup generators.

Officials say they are close to having electricity restored, but chief government spokesman Yukio Edano warned that even then, much of the original pumping equipment has been damaged by seawater and will have to be replaced.

Three of the plant’s six reactors were operating when the quake struck, while three others were shut down for maintenance. All three of the reactors that were operating have since suffered explosions that destroyed their outer housing. Officials believe that at two of the units, the explosions also ruptured the inner containment chambers which protect against radiation leaks.

Focus on cooling tanks

But current concerns are focused on cooling tanks at all six reactors where used fuel rods are stored. For months, these remain hot enough to catch fire and release lethal radiation unless they can be kept under sufficient amounts of water.

Japan has evacuated more than 200,000 people from a 20-kilometer radius around the plant and advised anyone within 30 kilometers to remain indoors. Many are huddled in makeshift facilities amid frigid temperatures and scarce food supplies.

In his phone call to Kan, Obama said the United States “is determined to do everything possible to support Japan in overcoming the effects” of last week’s earthquake and tsunami.

He expressed his extraordinary admiration for the character and resolve of the Japanese people” and discussed U.S. assistance including “military assets with expertise in nuclear response and consequence management.”

 

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Republican Mega-Conference CPAC Begins Today February 10, 2011

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As the major elected officials, business leaders, and politicos descend on Washington D.C. for the annual CPAC conference, you will hear many stories about the status of the conservative movement, how Republican congressmen can’t seem to implement their agenda, and who’s running for president in 2012.  Lost in the shuffle of all political manuevering that goes on at CPAC and Washington D.C. for that matter, we’ve decided to remind our viewers of the campaign promises and policy changes that many Republicans promised from balanced budgets to spending cuts that have yet to be implemented.  For your viewing pleasure we have Presidential hopeful and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, CPAC headliner Rep. Allen West, Tea Party favorite Rep. Ron Paul, Americans for Tax Reform chief Grover Norquist, and conservative leader and former Presidential Candidate Steve Forbes. 

Sen. Rick Santorum – Former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania & 2012 Presidential Hopeful

Rep. Allen West – U.S. House of Representatives & CPAC Headliner

Rep. Ron Paul – U.S. House of Representatives & former Presidential Candidate

Grover Norquist – Americans for Tax Reform

Steve Forbes – Chairman & CEO Forbes Inc. and former Presidential Candidate

Related CPAC stories:

Conservatives at CPAC Rally for Border Enforcement

Ron Paul Supporters Heckle Bush Administration at CPAC

Trump to Ron Paul fans at CPAC: C’mon, you know he can’t get elected

Santorum Draws Distinctions at CPAC

Allen West to close CPAC

Why real-estate quagmire stays, and stays, and stays … – Dan Mangru WND (WorldNetDaily) Exclusive Commentary November 10, 2010

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Why real-estate quagmire stays, and stays, and stays …

By Dan Mangru

Posted: November 09, 2010 5:37 pm Eastern

We live in an instant society.

Want to watch your favorite movies any time of the day? We have Instant on Demand.

Didn’t think that Terrell Owens got both feet in for his touchdown on Monday Night Football? No worries, we have instant replay.

We have instant popcorn, instant pudding, and pretty much instant everything.

So with all the advances of modern technology, what is taking so long to clean up the real estate market?

Sign up here to get the latest from Dan Mangru delivered directly to your inbox, FREE!

We have all of the tools to fix the market.

Want to start selling foreclosures? We can use the power of the Internet to do massive online foreclosure auctions as opposed to gathering on the old courthouse steps.

Want to gather investors? Start an investment group on Facebook. It’s really that simple.

Yet despite all of the tools available to us, the real estate markets remain a disaster.

National home prices have changed -5.0 percent quarter-over-quarter. In fact, looking at national home prices since their mid-August peak, price declines are even more dramatic, changing -6.8 percent.

Roughly 1 out of every 4 homeowners has negative equity in a home (meaning that their home is worth less than their mortgage).

And just last month, all of the major banks halted the sale of foreclosed properties.

So what has been the government’s response to all of these problems?

To keep reading the entire article from Dan Mangru please CLICK HERE NOW.

Obama Dances with Indian Children – Video of the Week November 7, 2010

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A tale of two housing busts: Why is California recovering and Florida still struggling? November 6, 2010

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Many experts say the difference is California’s simpler foreclosure process, which doesn’t involve the courts.

November 05, 2010|By Alejandro Lazo and E. Scott Reckard, Los Angeles Times

California and Florida had a lot in common during the housing industry’s last boom-and-bust cycle.

Both were overrun by buyers hooked on high-risk mortgages, speculators who helped push prices to historic peaks and builders who didn’t know when to stop. When the bubble burst, the two states became leaders in mortgage defaults, price declines and tracts of unsold new homes.

But in the last year or so, California’s housing market, though still weak, has begun recovering, while Florida’s remains on the critical list.

There are several reasons for the difference, but many experts say a key one is the approach to foreclosure.

California keeps things less complicated and largely outside the courtroom, making it easier for banks to seize and resell homes. Like 22 other states, Florida requires that repossessions be approved by judges, which some argue provides extra protection for homeowners but can delay the process for months.

“The California process is very efficient, and that allows the state to work through the foreclosure morass much more quickly, and the result is a more stable housing market and economy,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Economy.com.

“Florida, in contrast, because of the process being so mucked up there, they still have a long way to go in working through their problem loans, and so their housing economy remains under significant pressure,” he said.

Home prices in the two states tell the tale.

California home sales and prices have tapered off since the boost from federal tax credits for buyers vanished in July, but home values are up considerably from the worst days of the bust. The median price for town homes, condominiums and single-family houses in September was $265,000, up 20% from the bottom in April 2009, according to MDA DataQuick.

In Florida, prices in much of the state have struggled to find a bottom. The median price of a single-family home in Florida was $133,400 in September, a 48% decline from its June 2006 peak, according to data from the Florida Assn. of Realtors. Condominium prices have seen an even bigger plunge, with the statewide median hitting $83,400 in September, a 61% drop from its June 2006 peak.

Another closely watched indicator, the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index, shows prices in Los Angeles up 10% from their bottom, San Diego up 14% and San Francisco up 21%. In Miami, home prices have remained relatively flat, up 2% from their bottom, and Tampa-area prices have yet to stop falling.

The different types of foreclosure systems have come into focus in recent weeks after major lenders acknowledged that in some states where a court order was required to seize a home they had employed so-called robo-signers, who attested to the accuracy of foreclosure documents without reading them.

Those improprieties prompted some major banks to halt foreclosure proceedings temporarily, sparked investigations by state and federal agencies and led to calls for a national foreclosure moratorium, which the Obama administration has resisted.

The paperwork fiasco brought to light a cold fact: Calling in a judge slows the repossession machine.

The average borrower in default lost the home after failing to make mortgage payments for 25 months in Florida and the other states where court approval is required for repossessions, according to a study by Amherst Securities Group. The average is 19 months in California and other so-called nonjudicial states.

The process could be even faster in states like California, but banks have been slowed by moratoriums, loan-modification programs and their own efforts to manage the number of properties reaching the market.

Such interim restrictions, as well as the slower court process, may be more fair to borrowers who were hustled into risky loans they didn’t understand and more merciful to those who temporarily fell behind in their house payments because of short-term financial problems.

But harsh as it sounds, experts said, failing to foreclose on borrowers who can’t afford to stay in their homes only delays a recovery for housing and the general economy.

“Trying to get the volume of foreclosures that you need to take place is difficult,” said Sean M. Snaith, director of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness. “As long as these homes are in foreclosure purgatory, we haven’t completed that process, and it is hard to talk about stabilization.”

Though California’s system may be more efficient, it isn’t particularly compassionate or free from error, said Maeve Elise Brown, executive director of the Housing and Economic Rights Advocates in Oakland. Her group has helped several homeowners who say their lenders wrongfully foreclosed.

She said there are clear problems with the way lenders are conducting repossessions in the state, but “we don’t have the benefit of a judicial process.”

California’s foreclosure wave began in 2007, triggered by falling home values and resets on adjustable-rate mortgages, and peaked in the summer months of 2008. Since then the pace of foreclosures has dropped considerably, and bank seizures dropped 44% in the third quarter compared with the peak two years ago, according to data from RealtyTrac Inc. in Irvine.

Florida remains jammed with a huge backlog of troubled loans. The state set a record for bank repossessions just last month, with more than 13,200 homes seized by lenders, according to RealtyTrac.

Faster foreclosures are only one factor boosting California’s housing market. The industry has been buoyed by the state’s more diverse and dynamic economy, and the coastal cities didn’t get the kind of unrestrained development that Florida’s beachfront cities saw.

“The enormous amount of speculation that occurred in Florida certainly contributed mightily to the decline, whereas in California you never had quite the tremendous supply of condominiums, and certainly there weren’t as many along the water,” said Lewis M. Goodkin, president of Goodkin Consulting Corp., a real estate research and advisory firm in Miami.

“Prices jumped dramatically, and now people are buying for 50 cents on the dollar, and I still don’t think it’s a bargain,” he said.

Recognizing that Florida’s foreclosure backlog remains a major impediment to the state’s recovery, the Florida Legislature this year approved $9.6 million to hire judges, magistrates, case managers and clerks to handle the foreclosure caseload in the state’s 20 circuit courts.

The state also sought to clear its big pile of bad loans faster by employing a special system of rapid court hearings that sometimes last less than a minute — a process that earned the nickname “rocket docket.”

“It would move much faster if the banks and the attorneys would get their act together,” said Orlando lawyer Matt Englett, who represents borrowers. “Most people, they don’t go hire lawyers and contest them. Most people don’t do anything.”

alejandro.lazo@latimes.com

scott.reckard@latimes.com

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Top Headlines: November 5, 2010 November 5, 2010

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US Added Jobs Last Month for First Time Since May

GOP Leaders: Sarah Palin Must be Stopped

AIG loses $2.4 billion on asset sales

Health-care law likely to stay – for now

Obama: “Leadership Isn’t Just Legislation”

Toyota…Predicts Second-Half Plunge

 

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Why Obama Is No Roosevelt – WSJ Opinion Piece November 4, 2010

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Why Obama Is No Roosevelt

Roosevelt: ‘Your government has unmistakable confidence in your ability to hear the worst without flinching and losing heart.’ Obama: We don’t ‘always think clearly when we’re scared.’

By DOROTHY RABINOWITZ

Whatever the outcome of today’s election, this much is clear: It will be a long time before Americans ever again decide that the leadership of the nation should go to a legislator of negligible experience—with a voting record, as state and U.S. senator, consisting largely of “present,” and an election platform based on glowing promises of transcendence. A platform vowing, unforgettably, to restore us—a country lost to arrogance and crimes against humanity—to a place of respect in the world.

Deputy editor Daniel Henninger, editorial board member Matthew Kaminski, and WSJ.com columnist John Fund analyze tomorrow’s referendum on Obama-Pelosi governance.

We would win back our allies who, so far as we knew, hadn’t been lost anywhere. Though once Mr. Obama was elected and began dissing them with returned Churchill busts and airy claims of ignorance about the existence of any special relationship between the United States and Great Britain, the British, at least, have been feeling less like pals of old.

In the nearly 24 months since Mr. Obama’s election, popular enthusiasm for him has gone the way of his famous speeches—lyrical, inspired and unburdened by the weight of concrete thought.

About the ingratitude of Democratic voters the president brooded in a September Rolling Stone interview. “If people now want to take their ball and go home,” he declared, “that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place.” His vice president, Joe Biden, had a few days earlier contributed his own distinctive effort to seduce Democrats back to the fold by telling them to “stop whining.”

The results of this charm campaign remain to be seen. What’s clear now is that we’ve heard quite enough about the “angry electorate”—a peculiarly reductive view of citizens who’ve managed to read all the signs and detect an administration they were not prepared to live with.

Martin Kozlowski

rabinowitz

rabinowitz

Nothing wakened their instincts more than the administration’s insistence on its health-care bill—its whiff of totalitarian will, its secretiveness, its display of cold assurance that the new president’s social agenda trumped everything.

But it was about far more than health-care reform, or joblessness, or the great ideological divide between the president and the rest of the country. It was about an accumulation of facts quietly taken in that told Americans that the man they had sent to the White House had neither the character or the capacity to lead the country.

Their president was the toast of Europe, masterful before the adoring crowds—but one who had remarkably soon proved unable to inspire, in citizens at home, any belief that he was a leader they could trust. Or one who trusted them or their instincts. His Democratic voters were unhappy? They, and their limited capacities, were to blame.

These are conspicuous breaks in the armor of civility and charm that candidate Obama once showed—and those breaks are multiplying.

At a Democratic fund-raiser a few weeks ago, the president noted, in explanation for the Democrats’ lack of enthusiasm, that facts and science and argument aren’t winning the day because “we’re hard-wired not to always think clearly when we’re scared.” The suggestion was clear: The Democrats’ growing resistance to his policies was a product of the public’s lack of intellectual capacity and their fears.

Decades ago another president directly addressed Americans in a time of far greater peril. “Your government has unmistakable confidence in your ability to hear the worst without flinching and losing heart,” Franklin Roosevelt told his national audience. The occasion was a fireside chat delivered Feb. 23, 1942. No radio address then or since has ever imparted a presidential message so remarkable in its detail, complexity and faith in its audience.

It was delivered just a few months after Pearl Harbor, a time when the Allied cause looked bleakest. It would be known to history as “The Map Speech.” The president had asked Americans to have a map at hand, “to follow with me the references I shall make to the world- encircling battle lines of this war.” He took them through those lines, the status of battles around the globe, the enemy’s objectives, centers of raw material and far more. By the time they had finished poring over their maps with him they had had a considerable education.

It is impossible to imagine what might have been the effect if the current president, who is regularly compared to FDR—always a source of amazement—had tried anything like a detailed address explaining, say, the new health-care bill. Though this would have required knowledge of what was actually in the bill (a likely problem) and a readiness to share that news (an even greater one).

Election Night at Opinion Journal

Visit WSJ.com on Tuesday night for live commentary from The Wall Street Journal editorial board.

Despite the ongoing work of legions grinding out endless new and improved proofs that FDR was a despoiler of democracy and our economic system, it is worth remembering the reason virtually all serious historians rank him among the top three of our greatest presidents.

Franklin Roosevelt led the nation through 12 years begun in incomparable national misery virtually to the end of the war. When he died, an anguished country mourned as it had not done since the death of Lincoln. Americans trusted him. The story is told of a man found weeping when Roosevelt’s funeral train went past, who was asked if he had known the president. “I didn’t know him,” he replied. “But he knew me.”

The times are now vastly different—no one expects a candidate with the powers of an FDR these days. But the requirements of leadership don’t change. Despite charm and intellect, Americans have never been able to see in Mr. Obama a president who spoke to them and for them. He has been their lecturer-in-chief, a planner of programs for his vision of a new and progressive society.

Plenty of suggestions, none of them feasible, are in the air now about how he can reposition himself for 2012, and move to the center. Mr. Obama is who he is: a man of deep-dyed ideological inclinations, with a persona to match. And that isn’t going away.

The Democrats may not take a complete battering in the current contest, but there is no doubt of the problems ahead. This election has everything to do with the man in the White House about whom Americans have lost their illusions. Illusions matter. Their loss is irrecoverable.

Ms. Rabinowitz is a member of the Journal’s editorial board.

Exclusive: Breaking News – New Deal Extends Bush Tax Cuts for 2 More Years October 6, 2010

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*** This is a breaking news alert from The Mangru Report ***

Our sources in Washington D.C. have just informed us that Republican Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner has reached an agreement to extend the Bush tax cuts across the board for an additional two years. The vote on the measure will be taken before the election.

Keeping the Bush tax cuts in place for all Americans keeps the personal income tax brackets from rising roughly 5% for all income classes, but more importantly keeps capital gains taxes and dividend taxes at 15% instead of raising them to 20% and 39.6% repsectively.

For the latest updates on this situation check back on The Mangru Report website www.themangrureport.com or sign up ABSOLUTELY FREE for our insider’s club on the right hand side of our website by entering your email address, so that you can have breaking news updates delivered right to your inbox.

The Mangru Moment on No Money Down Homes…AGAIN – Episode 14 – The Mangru Report October 6, 2010

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Just when you thought that finally the government had learned it’s lesson, you hear about stuff like this and remember why you have so little faith in Washington D.C. 

Watch Dan Mangru from Episode 14 of The Mangru Report discuss the federal government giving away no money down loans again in the midst of the biggest subprime financial crisis in history and how our friends at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are making it all happen.