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Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 10:12 AM
Number of posts: 60,364

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Education Department To Renew Sallie Mae Contract, Despite Allegations Of Wrongdoing


Education Department To Renew Sallie Mae Contract, Despite Allegations Of Wrongdoing
Shahien Nasiripour
Posted: 11/29/2013 9:34 am EST | Updated: 11/29/2013 10:32 am EST

Student loan giant Sallie Mae is currently under fire from lawmakers, federal regulators, consumer groups and student advocates for allegedly violating numerous consumer protection laws. The company is facing accusations that it cheats soldiers on active duty, engages in discriminatory lending, pushes borrowers into delinquency by improperly processing their monthly payments, and doesn't provide enough aid to borrowers in distress.

But to the Department of Education, Sallie Mae remains a trusted partner. In a previously unreported Oct. 25 letter, the contents of which were described to The Huffington Post and confirmed by the Education Department and by Sallie Mae, the agency said that it is moving to renew the student loan servicer's federal contract, which is currently set to expire in June.

The new contract, which would run through June 2019, is potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Last year, Sallie Mae recorded $84 million in revenue from its Education Department contracts. But the company wants more.


Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest company in terms of student loans owned and serviced, is facing criticism from at least three federal agencies and powerful lawmakers in Washington for a variety of alleged misdeeds. The company says the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has already told it to expect to be publicly sanctioned for alleged wrongdoing. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Justice are also probing Sallie Mae over allegations it violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which is intended to ease financial pressures on active-duty members of the military, and broke other laws.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Nov 30, 2013, 05:49 AM (0 replies)

Black Friday protests across the U.S. demand improved conditions from Walmart


Black Friday protests across the U.S. demand improved conditions from Walmart
By Ed Pilkington, The Guardian
Friday, November 29, 2013 14:50 EST

Thousands of Walmart workers and their supporters in the trade union movement have begun a nationwide series of Black Friday rallies against America’s largest private employer, protesting against wages and conditions they say are so low that many employees are forced to rely on government assistance.

Protests are being staged in cities across the US including Los Angeles, Chicago, the Bay Area, Miami, Minneapolis and Washington. The campaigners, who include many current Walmart workers as well as former employees and members of the alliance Our Walmart, are demanding wages of at least $25,000, more full-time openings and an end to retaliation against workers who speak out about their conditions.

With rallies planned outside 1,500 stores, the wave of protests will mark a dramatic increase in the opposition to Walmart’s pay structure from Black Friday 2012, when similar events were staged in about 1,000 stores.

“I think we got our message across, and people listened,” said Isaiah Beaman, 21, a Walmart worker in Landover, Maryland, who travelled to Alexandria in Virginia to join about 200 protesters there. “All we want is for Walmart to give us a living wage and show us some respect – that’s not too much to ask from a multi-billion dollar company.”
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Nov 30, 2013, 05:31 AM (1 replies)

Blog: Navy's newest destroyers evolve to fill traditional battleship roles


$5+ billion dollars 'worth' of destroyer

Blog: Navy's newest destroyers evolve to fill traditional battleship roles
November 12, 2013
By John Keller

THE MIL & AERO BLOG, 12 Nov. 2013. U.S. Navy leaders have launched the first in a new class of surface warships designed for shore bombardment -- a job that traditionally belongs to battleships and heavy cruisers.

This new warship, which emphasizes naval surface fire support, is neither a battleship nor a cruiser, but is large enough to be either one. It's the USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), and the Navy insists on calling it a destroyer, even though its core mission is far from what one would expect from a destroyer.

The Zumwalt is 600 feet long, nearly 81 feet wide, and displaces 14,800 tons, which makes this vessel larger than the Navy's fleet of Ticonderoga-class cruisers (CG 47), WAY larger than the Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyers (DDG 51), and is only slightly smaller than the 1950s-vintage Navy nuclear-powered Long Beach-class cruiser.


The Zumwalt should be ready for deployment at sea in two or three more years. It's scheduled to have two sister ships in the class, the USS Michael Monsoor and the USS Lyndon B. Johnson. It's doubtful that any more of these kinds of ships will be built.

unhappycamper comment: FWIW, this bad boy costs more than a ($4.5 billion dollar) Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.

Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Nov 29, 2013, 11:45 AM (1 replies)

Other side of F-35 debate


Other side of F-35 debate
November 26,2013

At a South Burlington City Council meeting in April 2010, Adj. Gen. Dubie stated something to the effect that if the F-35 does come to Vermont, we will lose jobs, as the maintenance will be done elsewhere.

In a hard-hitting interview in Business Week magazine that fall, Defense Secretary Gates did in fact question the need for the F-35 and the out-of-control costs. He was quoted as saying, “Why do we need 30 times the number of jets as China?”

One need look no further than the military-industrial complex and Lockheed Martin. The commentary writer is right in that we are sacrificing our society on the altar of militarism. In 2011 the city of Valparaiso, Fla., which sits just off the edge of Eglin Air Force Base, sued the U.S. Air Force over basing the F-35 there — and won.

The number of F-35s was cut in half, and sorties were reduced and moved north to Duke airfield, away from the city. The Air Force also paid the city’s legal fees. It was determined that the environmental impact statement grossly underestimated the negative health effects on the city. What has been noticeably absent from the pro-F-35 folks is any mention of law. And that is the National Environmental Policy Act that sets the guidelines for basing jets. The Air Force has drastically deviated from final selection criteria in this case, and it should raise alarm bells. The law states, NEPA shall be used to protect the health and welfare of communities and citizens, who may be adversely affected by an action (i.e., a bed-down of F-35 jets). It is not top secret.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Nov 29, 2013, 11:29 AM (1 replies)

The Funniest Thing I've Ever Read About The F-35


"By 2019, the Pentagon projects the cost of each new F-35 fighter plane will be around $85 million, putting it on a par with the cost of current fighter planes, said Jim McAleese, a Virginia-based defense consultant."

Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Nov 29, 2013, 11:23 AM (5 replies)

Without Reagan's Treason, Iran Would Not Be a Problem


Without Reagan's Treason, Iran Would Not Be a Problem
by Thom Hartmann | November 27, 2013 - 10:27am

As news of a US-Iranian nuclear deal spread like wildfire this weekend, the mainstream media began to ask its usual set of questions. Is the deal for real? Can we trust the Iranians? Are the mullahs just using a temporary break in sanctions to buy enough time to build a bomb?

Ever since the Second Bush administration labeled Iran part of the "Axis of Evil," the media has portrayed the Iranian government as a scheming theocracy, so the discussion of the "two-faced Persians" isn't all that surprising.

But aside from being wildly racist, this portrayal is also wildly inaccurate. That's because the biggest threat to an American-Iranian accord comes from President Obama's enemies at home - Congressional Republicans - not from the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Already Republican leaders in the Senate are calling for more sanctions against Iran. Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that doing so is the only way to ensure a long-term deal between the U.S. and Iran.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Nov 29, 2013, 10:46 AM (2 replies)

Corporations Owe Hundreds Of Billions Of Taxes. So The GOP Goes After Federal Employees.


Corporations Owe Hundreds Of Billions Of Taxes. So The GOP Goes After Federal Employees.
by Dave Johnson | November 27, 2013 - 10:41am

Congress is again fighting over the budget with Republicans now demanding cuts in federal employee benefits. Is this really about the budget? Or is it about destroying government? Meanwhile hundreds of billions of taxes owed by corporations remain uncollected.

The recent Republican shutdown of the government ended with the can being kicked down the road, and the budget still in sequester and unresolved. The temporary funding runs out mid-January, and negotiators are trying to come up with a compromise. But Republicans insist that only cuts will be allowed, and that the sequester spending levels are the new normal.

Federal employees have endured a pay freeze for three years. They were furloughed during the government shutdown, they face ongoing furloughs because of the sequester cuts, and now they are being threatened with cuts in pay and pensions. WaPo reported in October that GOP lawmakers are eying federal-retiree benefits in upcoming budget talks.


By the way, this is not part of the budget negotiations, but three Republican Senators have introduced a bill to just do away with pensions entirely.

unhappycamper comment: The three senators mentioned above are: Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) --> http://www.fedsmith.com/2013/11/13/senators-propose-to-end-pensions-for-new-federal-employees/
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Nov 29, 2013, 10:40 AM (1 replies)

Food Stamps Cut Just In Time For Thanksgiving


Food Stamps Cut Just In Time For Thanksgiving
by Dave Johnson | November 28, 2013 - 10:05am

This is that time of year when newspapers bother to write about how there are hungry people in America. But this year is special. As the recession drags on for the non-1%, cuts in Food Stamps have completely swamped the capacity of food banks and other non-government assistance. Meanwhile pending cuts in unemployment compensation and even more cuts in Food Stamps and other assistance programs mean things will get much worse for millions of invisible Americans.

Have you heard about the Nov. 1 “Hunger Cliff?” On November 1 the Food Stamp program was cut. Millions of Americans are out of work, unemployment benefits have run out (and been cut), winter is arriving in force, but Congress allowed a temporary, recession-boosted increase in the Food Stamp program to run out! $5 billion in urgently-needed assistance just went away.

Terrance Heath told the story in 47 Million Americans Are Going Over the “Hunger Cliff”, writing “Millions of Americans will plunge over the “Hunger Cliff” tomorrow, when $5 billion in cut to food stamps go into effect tomorrow. While Congress negotiates even more cuts, millions of Americans will face negotiating where their next meal will come from.”

The “Hunger Cliff” has hit people hard. The cuts mean people just can’t get enough to eat. Hungry people are swamping the food banks.

unhappycamper comment: In other related news:

(2,907 vehicles to be built over 13 years at roughly $1.8 million apiece) http://www.armytimes.com/article/20131126/NEWS/311260025/Army-releases-RFP-new-armored-vehicle

The $40 billion dollar USS Gerald R Ford in the news: http://hamptonroads.com/2013/11/was-anybody-fired-2-billion-overrun-uss-fordcould-be-many-list

Our $5+ billion dollar USS Zumwalt in the news: http://www.dodbuzz.com/2013/11/25/hagel-asked-ddg-1000-future/

The problem as I see it:

Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Nov 29, 2013, 10:22 AM (2 replies)

Happy Thanksgiving from the NSA


Happy Thanksgiving from the NSA
by Michael Winship | November 28, 2013 - 10:20am

Here’s this week’s news from the NSA. Yes, when it comes to international espionage and snooping, in less than a century we’ve gone from a US Secretary of State declaring, “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail” to a former French foreign minister recently telling a radio interviewer, “Everyone is listening to everyone else.”

In other words, we have so much to be thankful for. Weekly, even daily, revelations of National Security Agency prying have become the norm and whistleblower/leaker Edward Snowden has become so well-known he recently was leading TIME Magazine’s readers’ poll for Person of the Year by some 65 points, running far ahead of President Obama, Vladimir Putin, Syria’s Bashar al Assad and Miley Cyrus. (Although as of this writing, Miley suddenly has pulled into the lead. God bless America.)


Meanwhile, Eric Schmidt, the chairman and former CEO of Google, told CNN earlier this month that he and his fellow executives there were shocked and outraged by news that the NSA had tapped into Google’s fiber optic cables, along with those of several other tech companies and siphoned off huge amounts of data.

This week, Nicole Perlroth and John Markoff of The New York Times confirmed the tapping – the fiber optic cables are the weak link in the Internet privacy chain – and wrote that “recent NSA disclosures make clear that even when Internet giants like Google and Yahoo do not hand over data, the NSA and its intelligence partners can simply gather their data downstream… ”
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Nov 29, 2013, 10:12 AM (0 replies)

Buses In US Capitol Thank Edward Snowden For Exposing The Truth


Buses In US Capitol Thank Edward Snowden For Exposing The Truth
By Staff, www.PopularResistance.org
November 27th, 2013

The Partnership for Civil Justice has organized a tremendous advertising campaign on buses in the nation’s capitol as you can see from these videos and photos. The ad campaign highlights Edward Snowden for standing up and telling the truth despite the risk t his own freedom. The campaign, which puts forward a message of opposition to the US surveillance state, is off to an excellent start and now they are seeking to expand it.

The Partnership writes: “The U.S. government is threatening to send whistleblower Edward Snowden to prison for life. But millions stand behind him. We thank him for standing up and telling the truth, at great personal cost. Join the movement to defend our constitutional rights and right to privacy.”

Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Nov 29, 2013, 09:45 AM (4 replies)
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