GM's Bonds paying 56 percent interest

You know that investors think you are in trouble when the interest rates are this high. Would the Democrats in congress or President Bush or President-elect Obama put their own money in this type of "junk" bond? Click on the picture to make it bigger.


England Gun Ban Debate

This is somewhat old, but it is still an interesting piece.

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Campaign for the Death Penalty in Mexico

From the LA Times:

You see some strong stuff on the streets of Mexico City. Women begging with babies in their arms, young kids, high on glue, washing car windshields and children no older than 5 trying to sell chewing gum and lollipops to people eating at sidewalk restaurant tables.

This month, there was a surprising new addition: an advertising campaign from Mexico’s Green Party, Partido Verde in Spanish, demanding the return of the death penalty to the country.

"Because we care about your life -- the death penalty for murderers and kidnappers," read the billboards. . . . .

It is highly unlikely, if not impossible, that the death penalty could be re-introduced because of legal obstacles, according to experts. But the current wave of crime and drug-related violence rocking the country has upped the public’s demand for stronger measures against criminals. A survey published by El Universal on Monday reported that 70% of respondents supported bringing back the death penalty. . . . .

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"Rahm Emanuel Reportedly Spoke with Blagojevich About Senate Seat"

Apparently Blagojevich and his chief of staff had multiple taped conversations with Rahm Emanuel about who Obama wanted to be the next Senator from Illinois. The Obama administration has refused multiple requests for comments.



University of Colorado students file lawsuit To challenge CU'S gun free zone

Here is part of a press release put out this morning by Students for Concealed Carry on Campus.

Two University of Colorado students and one CU alumnus, represented by Mountain States Legal Foundation, have filed a lawsuit challenging the University of Colorado's ban on licensed concealed carry in El Paso County District Court today asking the court to strike down CU's ban on licensed concealed carry on campus.

Martha Altman, CU-Denver, Eric Mote, CU-Colorado Springs alumnus, and John Davis, CU-Colorado Springs, plaintiffs in the suit, are members of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, also a party to the suit. Students for Concealed Carry on Campus is a national advocacy group with over 35,000 members nationally and over 200 members on CU's Colorado Springs, Denver, and Boulder campuses. SCCC supports the legalization of concealed carry by licensed individuals on college campuses.

"Gun-free zones have failed," said Michael Guzman, SCCC President. "SCCC does not want a gun in every student's or professor's hands, but it is absurd that someone can legally carry on one side of the street but not the other. A total ban on licensed concealed carry does not improve safety and we have seen that such policies can lead to tragedy."

The suit is based on the fact that the 2003 Concealed Carry Act gives licensed adults over the age of 21 the right to carry everywhere in the state and prohibits local regulations that conflict with the Act. The Act includes only four exceptions to the right to carry: locations prohibited by federal law; K-12 schools; public buildings with metal detectors; and private property. C.R.S. § 18-12-214. Significantly absent from that list of exceptions: university campuses. Moreover, the CU Regents are among those local governments prohibited from enforcing regulations that conflict with the Act.

The suit also alleges that CU's weapons ban is so broad that it violates the Colorado Constitution, which protects the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.

"The right to keep and bear arms is an essential component of individual liberty," said William Perry Pendley, President and Chief Legal Officer of Mountain States Legal Foundation. "No law-abiding adult should be denied the ability to protect herself, either on or off campus."

Concealed handgun permit holders must be over the age of 21 and undergo an extensive background check confirming that they have no history of substance abuse or criminal activity, are not subject to a protection order, and have demonstrated competency with a handgun. Statistics show that less than 1% of permits have ever been revoked in Colorado (http://www.rmgo.org/faq/CCW%20Permits%20by%20county.pdf).


Behavior of permit holders in Tennessee

From Tennessee:

More than 190,000 Tennesseans have permits, issued by the state, to carry handguns. . . .

"Their behavior records is better than our uniformed police," Niceley tells NewsChannel 5's chief investigative reporter Phil Williams. "We've had no problems. We've not had shoot-outs at the OK Corral, like some of these people predicted."

It's a sentiment echoed by state Rep. Eddie Bass, D-Prospect.

"From a law enforcement perspective and with 20 years, I've never, never had a problem with a gun permit holder," the former sheriff says. . . .

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Person who committed crimes as child tried to get concealed handgun permit, but was stopped

From Arkansas:

Police: Ark. school shooter applied for gun permit
By JON GAMBRELL – 9 hours ago
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A man who as a child helped gun down four middle school students and a teacher applied for a concealed-carry permit under a different name but was denied, police said Wednesday.
Andrew Golden, 22, applied for the permit under the name of Drew Grant, listing a home address in Evening Shade — only 55 miles from Jonesboro, where he and classmate Mitchell Johnson lured students into gunfire in 1998 during a fake fire drill, police spokesman Bill Sadler said.
Golden changed his name after his release from prison last year. In a recent ruling, Craighead County Circuit Judge David Burnett barred lawyers from releasing Golden's new name or home address.
Fingerprints provided with the concealed-carry permit matched those given by Golden at age 11 in the aftermath of the shooting, Sadler said.
"Early on in the application process, some red flags went up with the identity of the applicant who had listed his name as Drew Grant," Sadler told The Associated Press. "After some further checking, there was a determination made that he was one and the same as Andrew Golden."
Sadler said state police investigators notified the sheriff of northern Arkansas' Sharp County, where Evening Shade is located.
There were no telephone numbers listed under the names Drew Grant or Andrew Golden in Evening Shade. Danny Glover, who is representing Golden in a civil suit brought by one of the victim's families, declined to comment.
Regulators sent Golden a letter within the last week noting several reasons why his application was rejected, Sadler said. One was "dealing with a 1998 incident," while the other involved previous addresses where Grant said he lived.
"At least two previous addresses that were known to the department ... were not listed," Sadler said. While Sadler did not offer specifics, those two addresses likely were the state's Alexander Juvenile Correctional Facility — where Golden was held until his 18th birthday — and the federal prison where he served time until he turned 21.


"mere possession of a firearm in public is not unlawful"

Bruce Jenkins, the Senior District Judge for the Central Division of Utah, has this interesting discussion:

No one at the scene had observed Lund carrying, brandishing or threatening anyone with a firearm or other weapon in any fashion, and no weapon was found.

fn. By itself, mere possession of a firearm in public is not unlawful and may well represent the exercise of a fundamental constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, § 6 of the Utah Constitution (recognizing the “individual right of the people to keep and bear arms for security and defense of self, family, others, property, or the state, as well as for other lawful purposes,” subject to the power of the Legislature to define the “lawful use of arms.”). See District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783, 2799 (2008) (“There seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms.”); see also Utah Code Ann. §§ 76-10-500 to 530 (2003 & Supp. 2008) (Utah Firearms Act). In Utah, the carrying of a concealed weapon on one’s person in public is a matter of State licensing and regulation, and is routinely permitted pursuant to the applicable State statute. See Utah Code Ann. §§ 53-5-701 to 711 (Supp. 2008). The legislature has explicitly denied local governmental entities such as Salt Lake City the power to limit or restrict possession of a firearm on public property: “Unless specifically authorized by the Legislature by statute, a local authority or state entity may not enact, establish, or enforce any ordinance, regulation, rule, or policy pertaining to firearms that in any way inhibits or restricts the possession or use of firearms on either public or private property.”

As articulated by the Utah Legislature, public policy in this State may fairly be read to condone and even encourage gun ownership and the lawful possession and carrying of firearms in public places. Salt Lake City’s asserted governmental interest in its police officers’ response to a report of a “man with a gun” in a public park cannot be weighed in isolation from this oft-emphasized public policy. In that context, there may well be more individual constitutional rights at stake than the Fourth Amendment freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.



Types of important infrastructure projects that the U.S. Conference of Mayors wants from Obama

The WSJ has this list:

- Hercules, Calif., wants $2.5 million in hard-earned taxpayer money for a "Waterfront Duck Pond Park," and another $200,000 for a dog park.

- Euless, Texas, wants $15 million for the Midway Park Family Life Center, which, you'll be glad to note, includes both a senior center and aquatic facility.

- Natchez, Miss., "needs" a new $9.5 million sports complex "which would allow our city to host major regional and national sports tournaments."

- Henderson, Nev., is asking for $20 million to help "develop a 60 acre multi-use sports field complex."

- Brigham City, Utah, wants $15 million for a sports park.

- Arlington, Texas, needs $4 million to expand its tennis center.

- Miami, Fla., needs $15 million for a "Moore Park Community Center, Tennis Center and Day Care" facility. The city is also desperate for $3.6 million to build a covered basketball court and a new tennis court at Robert King High Park. Then there's the $94 million Orange Bowl parking garage you are being asked to pay for.

- La Porte, Texas, wants $7.6 million for a "Life Style Center." And Oakland, Calif., needs $1 million for Fruitvale Latino Cultural and Performing Arts Center.

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What Big Three Auto Workers Earn

This article from the NY Times says that if you add the hourly salary plus benefits together, UAW workers earn $55 per hour, an annually salary of $113,000 ($82,192 without benefits). Not too shabby. Is it any wonder that the car companies are having a hard time? Of course, this discussion by the NY Times puts aside the costs of the non-working people that the company must support.


This is a real puzzle

Why would anyone put their money in a bond that paid negative interest? Why not just put the money under your mattress? Is a government bond safer than just holding cash? This seems very puzzling.

Treasuries rose, pushing rates on the three-month bill negative for the first time, as investors gravitate toward the safety of U.S. government debt amid the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. . . .


What passes as a news statement in the New York Times

The New York Times has this remarkable statement in a "news" story.

Mr. Obama’s unusual decision to inject himself into a statewide issue during the height of his presidential campaign was a reminder that despite his historic ascendancy to the White House, he has never quite escaped the murky and insular world of Illinois politics. It is a world he has long navigated, to the consternation of his critics, by engaging in a kind of realpolitik, Chicago-style, which allowed him to draw strength from his relationships with important players without becoming compromised by their many weaknesses. . . .

Take Tony Rezko for example, a shady character for whom Obama sponsored legislation. Others have pointed out that Obama frequently stood in the way of reforming politics and reducing corruption in Illinois. Could the NY Times be correct? I am not going to argue that here, but the statement in the news article is not backed up by anything more than an assertion. At the very least, the NY Times statement is debatable.

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Paying even higher energy prices to avoid high oil prices?

STAHL: So what do you say to people out there, like Al Gore and now Mr. Obama, that say we have to devote ourselves, devote ourselves, to reducing our dependence on oil?

ABDALLAH JUM'AH, CEO OF LARGEST SAUDI OIL COMPANY: My answer to this is we have to be realistic. We don't have the alternatives today. If there are alternatives, be my guest and come and bring them in. They are not there.

STAHL: You're saying whatever the world does in terms of wind, nuclear, coal, we're still going to need oil, and a lot of it?

JUM'AH: You're still going to need oil, and...a lot of it.

STAHL: Politicians use this all the time that. We're addicted, addicted to foreign oil. And addiction has a dark connotation, because if you're addicted, there's a suggestion that there's a drug dealer who's trying to keep you hooked. And it's in the air that you want to keep us hooked.

ALI AL-NAIMI, SAUDI OIL MINISTER: There is nothing addictive about oil. If you look back 100 years, what would the world be without it?

STAHL: Even President Bush, who's an oilman, even he has said we're addicted to this, and we have to get off this oil.

AL-NAIMI: But listen to what the professionals say and what do they advise: it's not going to happen today. It's not going to happen ten years from now. It's probably not going to happen 20 years from now. It's not going to happen 30 years from now. Okay? Because you are still going to be using fossil fuels. . . .

Sure we can reduce are demand for oil, possibly we can reduce it a lot, but we only have to decide how much poorer that we want to be. If you want to pay even more for energy from these alternative energy sources, fine. But just realize that we would be using those other products if they were indeed cheaper. Why is it so bad that we are using oil just because we are using it? If you are worried about high prices, the higher the price the less likely people will be to use oil. But why pay even higher prices to avoid these high prices?

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Very anti-gun Governor Rod Blagojevich required to turn in his firearm owner's identification card

The Associated Press has the story here:

He was released on a signature bond that specifies that he'll forfeit $4,500 bond if he doesn't appear in court. Blagojevich also was ordered to relinquish his passport and his firearm owner's identification car[d]. . . . .


Eat animals to "protect environment"

From Australia:

Australians were urged Tuesday to eat camels to stop them wreaking environmental havoc, just months after being told to save the world from climate change by consuming kangaroos.

A three-year study has found that Australia's population of more than a million feral camels -- the largest wild herd on earth -- is out of control and damaging fragile desert ecosystems and water sources.

The Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre, which produced the report, plans to serve camel meat at a barbecue for senior public servants in Canberra on Wednesday to press its point. . . . .


Government running the car companies?

Pelosi believes this:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she supports the concept of a federal overseer of any rescue plan, saying she lacked confidence the heads of the car companies could solve the problem if "left to their own devices." . . . .

And she proposes Paul Volcher? What expertise does Volcher have?

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Government will determine exactly how the auto companies will be run?

We have been having the politicians telling GM that they should fire their president, and now we have this little tidbit:

Under Democrat's proposal, if the Big Three didn't come up with suitable restructuring plans by the end of March, the czar would have to submit his own blueprint to Congress for a government-mandated overhaul. . . . .

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An example of why government shouldn't subsidize or regulate the media

Fox News has the story here:

The Chicago Tribune was first to report the arrests. The Tribune was named in the affidavit because tapes allegedly recorded Blagojevich directing Harris to inform the newspaper's owners and advisers that "state financial assistance would be withheld unless members of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board were fired, primarily because Blagojevich viewed them as driving discussion of his possible impeachment." . . .

Possibly this is a good reason to keep government out of things generally.

UPDATE: There is a lot more detail provided here:

According to the affidavit, intercepted phone calls revealed that the Tribune Company, which owns the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Cubs, has explored the possibility of obtaining assistance from the Illinois Finance Authority relating to the Tribune Company’s efforts to sell the Cubs and the financing or sale of Wrigley Field.

In a Nov. 6 phone call, Harris explained to Blagojevich that the deal the Tribune Company was trying to get through the IFA was basically a tax mitigation scheme in which the IFA would own title to Wrigley Field and the Tribune would not have to pay capital gains tax, which Harris estimated would save the company approximately $100 million.

Intercepted calls allegedly show that Blagojevich directed Harris to inform the Tribune and an associate, identified as Tribune Financial Advisor, that state financial assistance would be withheld unless members of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board were fired, primarily because Blagojevich viewed them as driving discussion of his possible impeachment.

In a Nov. 4 phone call, Blagojevich allegedly told Harris that he should say to Tribune Financial Advisor, the Cubs chairman and the Tribune owner, “our recommendation is fire all those [expletive] people, get ‘em the [expletive] out of there and get us some editorial support.”

On Nov. 6, the day of a Tribune editorial critical of Blagojevich , Harris told Blagojevich that he told Tribune Financial Advisor the previous day that things “look like they could move ahead fine but, you know, there is a risk that all of this is going to get derailed by your own editorial page.”

Harris also told Blagojevich that he was meeting with Tribune Financial Advisor on Nov. 10.

In a Nov. 11 intercepted call, Harris allegedly told Blagojevich that Tribune Financial Advisor talked to Tribune Owner and Tribune Owner “got the message and is very sensitive to the issue.”

Harris told Blagojevich that according to Tribune Financial Advisor, there would be “certain corporate reorganizations and budget cuts coming and, reading between the lines, he’s going after that section.”

Blagojevich allegedly responded: “Oh. That’s fantastic.” . . .

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More Evidence that Freddie and Fannie knew about the Riskiness of the Loans

The Washington Post has this:

In a memo to former Freddie chief executive Richard F. Syron and other top executives, former Freddie chief enterprise risk officer David Andrukonis wrote that the company was buying mortgages that appear "to target borrowers who would have trouble qualifying for a mortgage if their financial position were adequately disclosed."

Andrukonis warned that these mortgages could be particularly harmful for Hispanic borrowers, and they could lead to loans being made to people who would be unlikely to pay them off. "The potential for the perception and the reality of predatory lending with this product is great," Andrukonis wrote.

The documents, which the committee has not yet released but were obtained by The Washington Post, show that Fannie and Freddie, two linchpins of the nation's mortgage market, continued to push into new, risky markets despite internal debate over whether the efforts were prudent. . . .

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Some crime against football players

Here is an article from USA Today on why many football players feel the need to own guns. Suppose that the number of robberies described below is 24 over three years. That is a rate for football players of over 500 per 100,000 people. Compare that to the rate for the country as a whole of 148 per 100,000 in 2007.

Despite these precautions, trouble sometimes finds these players.

• Three days before the Burress shooting, his teammate, Steve Smith, was robbed at gunpoint after being dropped off at his town house in a chauffeur-driven car. Some say that may have compelled Burress to bring his gun to the club.

• Former Packers running back Noah Herron fended off a robber in his house by beating him with a bedpost.

• Last year, Texans cornerback Dunta Robinson was robbed at gunpoint in his house, tied up, and had his kids shoved into a closet. He now owns a gun and says it makes him feel safer.

• There have been dozens of other examples of athletes getting robbed in recent years, both in and out of football, including Will Allen, Eddie Curry, Antoine Walker and Stephon Marbury. . . .

Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was in a limousine, trying to get away from a scene that had turned ugly, when he was shot and killed in Denver on Jan. 1, 2007.

Last summer, Raiders receiver Javon Walker, who was sitting next to Williams in the limo when he was killed, was beaten up and said he had $100,000 in jewelry and $3,000 cash stolen in Las Vegas. Police said Walker willingly got into the passenger seat of a Range Rover driven by his alleged assailants, an easy target because he was drunk.

Jaguars offensive lineman Richard Collier had to have his left leg amputated below the knee this year after being shot 14 times while sitting in a car outside an apartment complex waiting for two women he had met at a night club. Police believe the man accused of shooting him was retaliating for an earlier altercation at a night club. . . .

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Palin Supports Interior Department Decision to Let People carry guns in National Parks

Alaska obviously is more affected by this decision than any other state.

Governor Lauds Interior Secretary’s Firearm Decision

December 5, 2008, Anchorage, Alaska – Governor Sarah Palin today lauded the decision by the U.S. Department of the Interior that will allow an individual to carry a concealed weapon in national parks and wildlife refuges. The new rule only applies if the individual is authorized to carry a concealed weapon under state law in the state in which the national park or refuge is located.

“The possession and use of firearms is especially critical to Alaskans,” Governor Palin said. “We will continue to protect gun rights. The ability to carry a firearm can define a life or death situation, especially for protection against surprise encounters with wildlife, mainly bears. I appreciate the Interior Department recognizing this is a step in the right direction.”

Within Alaska, most of the national parks and refuge areas are open to various forms of hunting, so possession and use of firearms is already widely allowed under both state and federal law. Currently, firearms are prohibited in Denali National Park, Glacier Bay National Park, Katmai National Park, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and Sitka National Historical Park. The new rule will take effect in January.


New Op-ed at Fox News: The Unjustified Unemployment Panic

My new piece at Fox News starts this way:

Does a 50 percent increase in unemployment insurance benefits increased the unemployment? You would think everyone would say “yes.” Yet, after the unemployment insurance benefits were increased the beginning of July, I was unable to find a single news stories, including Fox News, that attribute any of the increased unemployment or the loss of jobs to the increased benefits. If you believe the news media all of the bad employment news is just additional evidence of the weakening economy.

But why is it so hard for the media to understand or even mention that if you increase how much people get paid for being unemployed, you get more unemployment?

This hasn’t always been the case. On Fox News Sunday on December 16, 2001, Tony Snow understood the point:

Senator Daschle wants to extend unemployment benefits even though the economic research indicates that when you extend those benefits, you extend unemployment. In fact, that was one of the insights behind welfare reform. If you set a date certain for getting rid of benefits, people find jobs.

Kevin Hassett, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, isn’t very surprised by the media ignoring the impact of unemployment insurance that, “The liberal parts of the media tend . . . to ignore the negative impact of welfare.”

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More on Professional Football players and guns

The article by Kent Babb is here:

Quinn Gray likes power in his pocket when the news is grim, and safety to this 29-year-old is one bullet away.
Gray, the Chiefs’ backup quarterback, identifies himself as a “gun guy.” He has collected guns for a long time, and three years ago he took a test in Florida that allows him, while he’s in his home state, to carry his loaded Glock .45 in his glove compartment, his .357 Magnum in his duffel bag, his .380-caliber pistol in his pocket.

“Just in case,” he says, “I feel threatened in any way.”

Gray is an NFL player, and he says that makes him a target for criminals. He says he needs those guns to protect himself. He also keeps a semi-automatic assault rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun with a pistol grip locked in a safe at his home. . . .

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Defending concealed carry in England

London Times piece on the benefit of owning guns. The whole piece is well worth reading.

The firearms massacres that have periodically caused shock and horror around the world have been dwarfed by the Mumbai shootings, in which a handful of gunmen left some 500 people killed or wounded.

For anybody who still believed in it, the Mumbai shootings exposed the myth of “gun control”. India had some of the strictest firearms laws in the world, going back to the Indian Arms Act of 1878, by which Britain had sought to prevent a recurrence of the Indian Mutiny.

The guns used in last week’s Bombay massacre were all “prohibited weapons” under Indian law, just as they are in Britain. In this country we have seen the irrelevance of such bans (handgun crime, for instance, doubled here within five years of the prohibition of legal pistol ownership), but the largely drug-related nature of most extreme violence here has left most of us with a sheltered awareness of the threat. We have not yet faced a determined and broad-based attack.

The Mumbai massacre also exposed the myth that arming the police force guarantees security. Sebastian D’Souza, a picture editor on the Mumbai Mirror who took some of the dramatic pictures of the assault on the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station, was angered to find India’s armed police taking cover and apparently failing to engage the gunmen. . . .

Today we are probably more shocked at the idea of so many ordinary Londoners carrying guns in the street than we are at the idea of an armed robbery. But the world of Conan Doyle’s Dr Watson, pocketing his revolver before he walked the London streets, was real. The arming of the populace guaranteed rather than disturbed the peace. . . .

“Among the many misdeeds of British rule in India,” Mahatma Gandhi said, “history will look upon the act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.” The Mumbai massacre is a bitter postscript to Gandhi’s comment. D’Souza now laments his own helplessness in the face of the killers: “I only wish I had had a gun rather than a camera.”

Thanks very much to Ed Figarsky for this link.

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Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings sued by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition

There doesn't seem to be anyway to keep some people happy. If these two firms had given low ratings to these securities in the past, they could have been sued (in theory) for making it difficult for certain people to get loans. Now they are being sued for giving "too high" of a rating. Here is the story from the LA Times:

In what is apparently the first legal action of its kind, an association of community-based organizations has filed a federal civil rights complaint against two of the three largest Wall Street rating firms, charging that their inflated ratings on subprime mortgage bonds disproportionately caused financial harm to African American and Latino home buyers across the country.

The complaint, filed by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, alleges that Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings enriched themselves by assigning high ratings to bonds backed by mortgages "that were designed to fail" because of "unfair payment terms and insufficient borrower income levels."

The firms "knew or should have known" that subprime loans disproportionately were marketed to minority consumers -- a process known as "reverse redlining" -- and that those borrowers would ultimately default and go into foreclosure at high rates, according to the coalition's complaint.

Fitch Managing Director David Weinfurter said the NCRC's filing "is fully without merit, and Fitch intends to defend itself vigorously." Moody's had no immediate comment. . . .