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On October 20 a New York judge ruled that foreclosures require a signature from bank's attorneys affirming that they have checked all paperwork. Since then weekly foreclosures have tumbled from 800 to 100, according to the New York Law Journal.

The 88-percent decline is more than foreclosure lawyers expected. It's also much greater than the normal Christmas slowdown.

Other rulings have clogged the filings, including a Dec. 1 ruling in Suffolk county that threw out 127 foreclosures for failing to file affirmations, according to Daily Finance.

A similar phenomenon is happening nationwide, with foreclosures at a two-year low after new regulations and uncertainty following with foreclosure-gate.

[Image via the New York Law Journal]

Don't miss: Chris Whalen's Devastating Presentation On The Coming Crisis For Banks >

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The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) on Friday requested emergency permission to require that gun dealers report to them bulk sales of the high-powered semiautomatic rifles favored by drug cartels -- all part of the Administration's effort to combat the flow of guns to Mexico.

It is a plan that had languished for months at the Justice Department because of concerns over what the National Rifle Association (NRA) might think. The Washington Post reports now that it was held up by the White House in the spring -- around the same time that President Barack Obama promised Mexican President Felipe Calderon he'd work to prevent gunrunning south of the border.

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Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS), a potential Republican presidential candidate, has an interesting perspective on the tumults of the civil rights era that swept through his Deep South state.

As Barbour recalls it in a new profile in The Weekly Standard, things weren't so bad in his hometown of Yazoo City, which took until 1970 to integrate its schools (though the final event itself is said to have gone on peacefully). For example, Barbour says that there was no problem of Ku Klux Klan activity in the town -- thanks to the Citizens Council movement, an organization that was founded on the basis of resistance to integration and the promotion of white supremacy.

"You heard of the Citizens Councils? Up north they think it was like the KKK," said Barbour. "Where I come from it was an organization of town leaders. In Yazoo City they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. If you had a job, you'd lose it. If you had a store, they'd see nobody shopped there. We didn't have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City."

The White Citizens Council movement was founded in Mississippi in 1954, shortly after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that outlawed segregated public schools, and was dedicated to political activities opposing civil rights -- notably boycotts of pro-civil rights individuals in Barbour's hometown, as opposed to Barbour's recollection of actions against the Klan. It was distinguished from the Klan by the public self-identification of its members, and its image of suits and ties as opposed to white robes and nooses.

In 1998, American Conservative Union head David Keene barred the Citizens Council's modern incarnation, the Council of Conservative Citizens, from the annual CPAC conference: "we kicked [them] out of CPAC because they are racists."

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This week, Congress is expected to continue funding the government at current levels through early March -- at which point a newly Republican House of Representatives will get to take an axe to the federal budget. Naturally, they're promising dramatic cuts in non-defense spending.

"I don't know what's going to happen here today, or tomorrow, or Sunday in terms of how we keep the government funded," said soon-to-be House Speaker John Boehner at his weekly press conference last week. "But what I can tell you is all you have to do is go to the Pledge to America and we outline pretty... clearly that we believe that spending at '08 levels is more than sufficient to run the government."

Cuts at that level would have an impact on more than departmental budgets.

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Before the Senate passed a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell on Saturday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) made an angry -- and somewhat rambling -- speech on the floor against the repeal. He warned of "distractions" for servicemembers, adding: "I don't want to permit that opportunity to happen and I'll tell you why. You go up to Bethesda [Naval Hospital], Marines are up there with no legs, none. You've got Marines at Walter Reed with no limbs."

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Just 17% of Americans say they are satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S., according to a Gallup poll released today. It is the lowest level recorded by Gallup in a year marked by tepid economic recovery and midterm elections that resulted in Democrats losing 63 House seats.

Eighty-one percent of those surveyed said they were dissatisfied with the way things were doing, also a yearly high. Two percent had no opinion.

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Congressman-elect David M. Rivera (R-FL) is being investigated by the Miami-Dade state attorney's office for over $500,000 in secret payments from the owners of the Flagler Dog Track to a company tied to him, the Miami Herald reported.

Most of the money -- three payments totaling $510,000 to Millennium Marketing, a company co-managed by Rivera's 70-year-old mother -- was sent by Flagler Dog Track (now called the Magic City Casino) in early 2008, weeks after Rivera helped fund a political campaign to win voter approval for slot machines in Miami-Dade County.

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by Karen Weise, ProPublica

The Obama administration has been pushing for banks and investors to cut mortgage balances for homeowners who owe more than their home is worth. But the regulator for the biggest investors of them all -- the government-controlled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- won't let the two do it.

The administration and some banks themselves have increasingly seen reducing the size of a borrower's loan -- what's known as principal reduction -- as an important tool for helping the quarter of all homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages. The Treasury Department told ProPublica that the imbalance between what borrowers owe and what their homes are worth is one of the "main causes" of homeowners defaulting on their loans.

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