Tag: Atlanta

Hugs for all concerned.

A most fabulous story of rescuing dogs.

Seen recently over on Mother Nature Network and shamelessly republished in full!

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36 golden retrievers rescued from streets of Turkey

Rescuers in Atlanta shower the lucky pups with love, medical attention and playtime.
By: Mary Jo DiLonardo
Tue, May 12, 2015 at 04:00 PM

Golden retrievers are packed into an animal shelter in Turkey before being rescued and flown to Atlanta. (Photo: Adopt a Golden Atlanta/Facebook)
Golden retrievers are packed into an animal shelter in Turkey before being rescued and flown to Atlanta. (Photo: Adopt a Golden Atlanta/Facebook)

Three dozen abandoned golden retrievers made the long trek from the streets of Istanbul, Turkey, to an Atlanta suburb this week thanks to the efforts of an animal rescue group.

The dogs were discovered by an American living in Turkey, who said she saw them living on the streets and taking over shelters. The breed was once considered a status symbol, but as the dogs became more prolific, their popularity waned and the pets were quick to be discarded. On the harsh streets of Istanbul, the gentle dogs didn’t fare well against vicious feral dogs.

Adopt a Golden Atlanta arranged for 36 of the dogs to be flown to the U.S. where they’re now housed at the Pet Lodge Pet Resort in Alpharetta, an Atlanta suburb. They’ve been given medical attention, baths and lots of playtime. Although they don’t yet understand English commands, volunteers say they seem happy with all the attention — wagging tails all around.

[See footnote]

The goldens made a 12-hour flight and seven-hour layover to get to their new home. They range in age from 6 months to 10 years.

The pups should be available for adoption in a few weeks, and they already have names, says Adopt a Golden founder Lauren Genkinger, who spearheaded the rescue effort.

“They’re the freedom dogs and all of them have been given names, Freedom, Patriot, Liberty, Glory…” Genkinger told WXIA TV in the video above. “It wasn’t easy coming up with 36 patriotic names. The only thing missing from this story … is someone to call America in from the yard … to dinner.”

 

A golden retriever is examined in Atlanta after arriving from Turkey. (Photo: Adopt a Golden Atlanta)
A golden retriever is examined in Atlanta after arriving from Turkey. (Photo: Adopt a Golden Atlanta)

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Footnote:

There is a two-minute video in the MNN version that I was unable to transport over to here.  It may be watched here.

Heads I win: Tails you lose!

How the foreclosure crisis was a boon for the super wealthy.

For some time now, must be quite a few years, I have subscribed to Yves Smith’s Naked Capitalism blog.  I do so for a number of reasons.

Thus it was that a few days ago I read with a mixture of anger and disgust an article about the consequences of the foreclosure crisis on the wealthy.  Within a few hours of me requesting by email permission to republish that article on Learning from Dogs came the reply from Yves granting such permission.

Try not to get too angry!

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SUNDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2013

How the Foreclosure Crisis Made the Rich Even Richer

This is Naked Capitalism fundraising week. 53 donors [now well over 400, Ed.] have already invested in our efforts to shed light on the dark and seamy corners of finance. Join us and participate via our Tip Jar or another credit card portal, WePay in the right column, or read about why we’re doing this fundraiser and other ways to donate, such as by check, as well as our current goal, on our kickoff post.

It’s a welcome departure to see Adam Davidson’s weekly column in the New York Times, which usually puts a happy face on how the 1% are winning the class war in America, have a guest writer look at the other side of the story.

Catherine Rampell has a short but compelling piece on how the foreclosure crisis was wealth transfer from lower and middle income families to the rich. Her points are simple: the typical person who lost their home wasn’t a greedhead who bought too much house or refied to buy flat panel TVs and go on cruises (if you hang out with mortgage types, you’ll get a big dose of profligate consumer urban legend). The people who were like that (and there were some) for the most part were in subprime loans that reset in 2007 and 2008 and were in the early wave of foreclosures. The people who’ve lost their homes in later foreclosures were overwhelmingly people who had the bad fortune to buy late in the housing bubble (so when the bust hit, they had negative equity and couldn’t use lower rates to refi into cheaper payments) and took economic hits as a direct result of the crisis (hours cuts and job losses; other people who were hurt were in the more typical “shit happens” categories, like suffering medical problems, with their situation made much worse by their inability to sell or refinance their home).

Rampell’s contribution is to look at the phenomenon of investors, both big and small, and how they’ve bought properties at foreclosure and then flipped them. Separately, Josh Rosner recently released the astonishing statistic: that sales of owner-occupied properties showed only a 1% gain in the last 12 months. The gains that have been driving the indexes were all in investor owned properties. Some flipped to other investors. In hot markets, local investors have been doing “mini-bulks,” acquiring small portfolios to sell to private equity investors, some without renovating them, others with modest fix-ups. Others sold them to homebuyers.

Rampell uses the example of a couple who believed that renting was throwing away their money, and had the bad luck to buy a moderately-priced fixer-upper in early 2007. Each wage earner saw their income drop and unable to get a loan modification, they lost their home. Their $309,000 Seattle home went to an investor for $155,000 in the summer of 2011. That investor just sold it to a homeowner for $290,000, not far below what the hapless couple paid for it. But the new buyer paid all cash.

Rampell tells us:

Of the 87,062 foreclosures in the last five years that were bought by corporate investors and have been flipped, about a quarter were sold for at least $100,000 more than what the investor originally paid, according to [an online real estate listings site] Redfin (Although it’s impossible to know how much investors spent on upgrades or renovations.)….

The boom-bust-flip phenomenon is just one of the most obvious ways that research suggests the financial crisis has benefited the upper class while brutalizing the middle class. Rents have risen at twice the pace of the overall cost-of-living index, partly because middle-class families can’t get the credit they need to buy. That means “landlords can raise rents with impunity,” says Glenn Kelman, chief executive of Redfin. And according to a report by David Autor, the M.I.T. economist, job losses during and after the recession were concentrated in midskilled and midwage jobs, like white-collar sales, office and administrative jobs; and blue-collar production, craft, repair and operative jobs. Employment for higher-skilled workers, on the other hand, has grown substantially.

There is a second way foreclosures have served as a wealth transfer to the capitalist classes. Foreclosures don’t necessarily result in evictions. Banks often leave properties in a “zombie” state, starting foreclosures but not completing them, leaving the owner who thought he was foreclosed on still on the hook for property taxes. Another variant which is much less damaging is to leave the homeowner in place. I recently met an investor who is acquiring homes in Atlanta. The day after he buys a house, he goes to introduce himself to the former homeowner to see if he can work out a deal to keep them in place as tenant. In the overwhelming majority of cases, he can. “They were paying $1100 on their mortgage and the bank wouldn’t give them a mod. I’ll let them rent for $700, which is way above what they’d have gotten if they wrote the principal down to the price at which I bought the house. And I tell the tenants I’d be happy to sell the home to them.” We didn’t discuss details, but it sounded as if he’d be willing to structure rent to own deals (where part of the rent would go to a down payment on the house).

He was clear that his business depended on what he saw as value destroying behavior by banks. He described how he’d recently bought a home and when he went for his usual visit to the house, a well-dressed black man met him and invited him in, saying he’d be out in 30 days and assumed it wasn’t a problem. The new owner saw the house was in impeccable shape. He chatted with the owner a bit and found out he was a bodybuilder with a high-end training business. He asked the homeowner: “You look like you take good care of yourself and the house. You’d been paying on time. What happened?”

The trainer told him that he’d bought the house at the peak of the cycle for $160,000. The house was clearly now worth way less. He tried to get the bank to modify it to a principal balance of $100,000. The bank wouldn’t consider it. “So I bought a house which is comparable to this one for $50,000 and gave this one up.”

In this case, the homeowner had enough cash to arbitrage himself. The investor told me he’d bought the foreclosed home for $40,000. Had the bank cut a deal for $100,000 (and who knows, the homeowner might have accepted a higher number), it would have come out way ahead. But that also assumes that the bank owned the mortgage. It’s pretty much a given that the bank was a servicer, and as we’ve seen again and again, servicers don’t have the incentives or the infrastructure to do mods. So investor in the mortgages lose, homeowners lose. The winners are the banks as inefficient looters (the money they skim off the servicing is chump change relative to the damage done by negligent and predatory servicing) and the investors who profit by picking up the pieces. This is isn’t a well-functioning economic system, it’s rentier capitalism. And it’s looking more and more like a doomsday machine for what remains of the middle class.

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Can’t add anything polite to this!  Except, to say it’s a very long way from integrity!

The three amigos

Big thanks to Suzann for forwarding this to me.

Despite the fact that this has been widely circulated on the Web, I hadn’t come across it and it makes a lovely week-end item.

They make an unlikely trio but Baloo the bear, Leo the lion and Shere Khan the tiger have forged an unusually strong bond.

Considering that they would be mortal enemies if they ever were to meet in the wild, it is stunning to see their unique and genuine friendship in these intimate pictures.

Rescued eight years ago during a police drugs raid in Atlanta , Georgia , the three friends were only cubs at the time at barely two months old.  They had been kept as status symbol pets by the drug barons.

Living with the zoo's founders for the past eight years, Shere Khan, Baloo and Leo have now moved to a purpose built habitat Photo: BARCROFT

Delivered to the Noah’s Ark Animal Rescue Centre in Locust Grove, Georgia, the decision was made to keep the youngsters together, because of their budding rapport. ‘We could have separated them, but since they came as a kind of family, the zoo decided to keep them together,’ said Diane Smith, assistant director of Noah’s Ark. ‘To our knowledge, this is the only place where you’ll find this combination of animals together.’

Living with the zoo’s founders for the past eight years, Shere Khan, Baloo and Leo have now moved to a purpose-built habitat where the US public can now witness first hand their touching relationships.

We didn’t have the money to move them at first,’ said Diane.  ‘Now their habitat is sorted and they have been moved away from the children’s zoo areas where the public couldn’t really get a good look.’

It is possible to see Baloo, who is a 1000lb bear, Shere Khan, a 350lb tiger and Leo the Lion, who is also 350lbs, messing around like brothers.  ‘They are totally oblivious to the fact that in any other circumstance they would not be friends.’

Handled by Charles and Jama Hedgecoth, the zoo’s owners and founders, the three friendly giants appear to have no comprehension of their animal differences.

Baloo and Shere Khan are very close,’ says Diane, ‘That is because they rise early, and as Leo is a lion, he likes to spend most of the day sleeping.  It is wonderful and magical to see a giant American Black Bear put his arm around a Bengal and then to see the tiger nuzzle up to the bear like a domestic cat.  When Leo wakes up the three of them mess around for most of the day before they settle down to some food.’

Surprisingly for three apex predators with the power to kill with a single bite or swipe of their paw, they are very relaxed around each other.

They eat, sleep and play together,’ said Jama.  ‘As they treat each other as siblings they will lie on top of each other for heat and simply for affection.  At the moment they are getting used to their new habitat.  Shere Khan is being quite reticent about the move, but Baloo, the bear, is very good at leading him on and making him feel comfortable and safe.’

Explaining that the three ‘brothers’ have always seemed to share a unique bond, Charles said: ‘Noah’s Ark is their home and they could not possibly be separated from each other.  You just have to remember who you’re dealing with when you are with them, though.  It’s when you forget that these fellows are wild animals that you get yourself in trouble.’

The trio’s new habitat had to be constructed carefully, in order to accommodate its occupants.

Jama said: ‘The clubhouse had to be very sturdy for the guys, because they all sleep in it together.’

She added: ‘We had to include a creek, because the tiger and the bear both like to be in water.’