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‘Relax’ Robocaller’s Lawyer Argues ‘Dirty Tricks’ Are Free Speech

“A Maryland political operative behind misleading election day robocalls has a long and colorful history of political tricks so dirty that even in Baltimore political consultants “don’t want to even breathe the same air as him.” But a lawyer representing Julius Henson (who has admitted he was responsible for robocalls telling mostly Democratic voters not to bother going to the polls on Election Day) is arguing that his client’s right to free speech protects such tactics.”

Sanity, Fear, And Sanchez: The Year’s Top Moments In Stewart/Colbert (VIDEOS)

“Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have had an unusually controversial year. In the past they’ve simply been award-winning Comedy Central funny men. But in 2010 they were everything from cable news targets to sanity restorers to policy advocates to subjects of congressional ire — all the while staying award-winning Comedy Central funny men.

Here are TPM’s five favorite moments from their year…”

Mortgage Bankers Association Stands Against Succesful Foreclosure Prevention Efforts

“In April of 2009, the Mortgage Bankers Association — with the help of Congressional Republicans and the rest of the banking industry — successfully lobbied against the adoption of mortgage cram-down legislation, which would have allowed judges to modify mortgages for troubled borrowers in bankruptcy court. That legislation’s defeat, and the MBA’s subsequent celebrations, led Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) to say that when it comes to the Senate, the banks, “frankly, own the place.” And with 2010 coming to a close, the MBA is once again standing in opposition to programs aimed at keeping families in their homes — this time by taking aim at what are known as mortgage mediation programs, which push banks to negotiate with borrowers before finalizing a foreclosure:

John Mechem, a spokesman for the Mortgage Bankers Association, which represents the largest mortgage lenders, said the group is opposed to both mandatory and voluntary mediation programs. He argued that the programs are expensive and are often used by borrowers as a tactic to stall foreclosure.”

Potential GOP 2012 Presidential Candidates Use PACs To Skirt Federal Campaign Fundraising Laws

“USA Today reported yesterday that 6 Republicans considering a run for president in 2012 — Gov. Haley Barbour (MS), Newt Gingrich, former Arkansas governor MIke Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Gov. Tim Pawlenty (MN) — have raised millions of dollars in political action committee accounts “that allow them to get around federal campaign laws that limit presidential fundraising”.”

A U.S.-Cuban Airlift Of Precious Cargo: Children

“In the early 1960s, thousands of Cuban parents put their children on airplanes bound for America. And as they fled Fidel Castro’s regime, the kids were often met in the United States by George Guarch. Fifty years later, his daughter speaks with a man her father helped.”

Drywall Woes Continue—Seeking Redress in Court Could Provide Little Relief

“This past year, we teamed up with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune to produce a series of almost 20 stories about defective drywall that can release enough sulfur gasses to trigger respiratory problems and cause electric appliances like refrigerators and air conditioners to fail. Many of the families whose homes were built with the defective drywall say they’ve been financially devastated by the problem, since repairing a home with tainted drywall can cost $100,000 or more.

Most of the drywall was produced by manufacturers based in China, but almost 100 homeowners are alleging that some American-made drywall is causing similar problems.

So far, more than 3,700 people have complained to the Consumer Product Safety Commission about defective drywall.”

A Year at War: Families Bear Brunt of Deployment Strains

“Since 2001, more than a million families of service members have borne the brunt of the psychological and emotional strain of their deployment.”

The Caste Buster

“Ravindra Misal rejected tradition to become a self-made man. With his “personality contests” and idiomatic-English lessons, he’s trying to help others do the same.”

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