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unhappycamper

unhappycamper's Journal
unhappycamper's Journal
December 3, 2013

Bank of America pays Freddie Mac $404 million over subprime loans

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/02/bank-of-america-pays-freddie-mac-404-million-over-subprime-loans/



Bank of America pays Freddie Mac $404 million over subprime loans
By Agence France-Presse
Monday, December 2, 2013 12:14 EST

Bank of America said on Monday it will pay mortgage financier Freddie Mac $404 million to resolve claims over subprime loans the bank sold before the housing crisis.

Bank of America said the agreement would resolve all of Freddie’s remaining claims over more than 700,000 mortgage loans the bank’s Countrywide unit sold Freddie between 2000 and 2009.

Countrywide, which Bank of America took over in 2008, has been accused of generating and selling on to companies like Freddie and Fannie Mae millions of weak and poorly documented home loans as investment-quality assets.

A high percentage of the loans quickly fell into default when the economy plunged into recession in 2008, causing losses to the holders of the loans and securities they were bundled into.
December 3, 2013

Europeans can expect more heatwaves and droughts: study

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/02/europeans-can-expect-more-heatwaves-and-droughts-study/



Europeans can expect more heatwaves and droughts: study
By Agence France-Presse
Monday, December 2, 2013 12:05 EST

Europe will likely be a much warmer place by century’s end, plagued by frequent downpours over its entire landmass and heatwaves and droughts in the south, new research showed Monday.

The continent could see average temperatures rise by 1.0 to 5.0 degrees Celsius (1.8-9.0 deg Fahrenheit) by 2100, said a statement announcing the results of a three-year climate analysis by 27 research institutions.

“We see that Europe warms at a faster rate than the global average,” climate researcher Robert Vautard of France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)told AFP of the findings.

By the middle of the century, temperatures will be about 1-3 C higher in the south of Europe in summer, and 1-4 C in the northeast in winter, he said.
December 2, 2013

Military payroll system plagued by errors, obsolete gear

http://hamptonroads.com/2013/11/military-payroll-system-plagued-errors-obsolete-gear



Military payroll system plagued by errors, obsolete gear
By Scot J. Paltrow and Kelly Carr
© December 2, 2013
Reuters

EL PASO, Texas

As Christmas 2011 approached, U.S. Army medic Shawn Aiken was once again locked in desperate battle with a formidable foe. Not insurgents in Iraq, or Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

This time, he was up against the U.S. Defense Department.

Aiken, then 30, was in his second month of physical and psychological reconstruction at Fort Bliss in El Paso after two tours of combat duty. His war-related afflictions included traumatic brain injury, severe post-traumatic stress disorder, abnormal eye movements due to nerve damage, chronic pain and a hip injury.

But the problem that loomed largest that holiday season was different. Aiken had no money. The Defense Department was withholding big chunks of his pay. It had started that October, when he received $2,337.56 instead of his normal monthly take-home of about $3,300. He quickly raised the issue with staff. It only got worse. For all of December, his pay came to $117.99.
December 2, 2013

Defense Department tackles mobile authentication

http://hamptonroads.com/2013/12/defense-department-tackles-mobile-authentication

Defense Department tackles mobile authentication
By Jared Serbu, Federal News Radio
The Associated Press
© December 2, 2013

WASHINGTON

The Defense Department says it's committed to a future in which service members and civilians can use the latest and greatest mobile technology to get their work done, regardless of the device manufacturer. But it's still struggling mightily with one of the biggest challenges for mobility in the government: identity management.

While the Pentagon thinks it's gone a long way toward making sure its security approval processes for mobile devices, apps and infrastructure can keep up with the pace of commercial technology, there's one enormous nut the department still hasn't cracked — how to make sure Defense Department users can securely authenticate themselves on the network via mobile devices, the same way they do today from desktop and laptop computers. On those computers, users slide their common access cards into a smart card reader in order to do multi-factor authentication.

Using that same method on a mobile device defeats the purpose of having a mobile device.

"To date, the solutions have been Bluetooth or corded card readers that are very difficult to use, they have separate power sources, they're not really in favor with generals and senior executives," said Devon O'Brien, the lead mobile engineer for public key infrastructure at the Defense Information Systems Agency. "The user experience is awful and because we're such a niche market, the cost per device is awful. That's sort of what prompted the look for alternate credentials."
December 2, 2013

Currituck sheriff's office gets an 18-ton armored truck

http://hamptonroads.com/2013/12/currituck-sheriffs-office-gets-18ton-armored-truck



Currituck sheriff's office gets an 18-ton armored truck
By Jeff Hampton
The Virginian-Pilot
© December 2, 2013
CURRITUCK, N.C.

The Currituck County Sheriff’s Office now owns an 18-ton military armored truck able to take on high-powered rifle fire or roll through Outer Banks floodwaters.

The $412,000, mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle known as an MRAP comes free as surplus from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

Currituck is one of five North Carolina and two Virginia law enforcement agencies to receive one of the armored trucks this year. The federal government has given out 165 nationally since August, said Michelle McCaskill, a spokeswoman for the Defense Logistics Agency.

“Some people might ask, ‘Why do we need something like this?’ ” said Capt. Sandy Casey of the Sheriff’s Office. “We don’t know what could be next. They say domestic terrorism is what local law enforcement will be dealing with.”
December 2, 2013

Inserting phony numbers part of job for DOD workers

http://hamptonroads.com/2013/12/inserting-phony-numbers-part-job-dod-workers

Inserting phony numbers part of job for DOD workers
© December 2, 2013
By Scot J. Paltrow
Reuters
LETTERKENNY ARMY DEPOT, Pa.

Linda Woodford spent the last 15 years of her career regularly inserting phony numbers in Department of Defense accounts.

Every month until she retired in 2011, she said, the day came when the Navy would start dumping numbers on the Cleveland, Ohio, office of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the Pentagon’s main accounting agency.

Using the data they received, Woodford and fellow DFAS accountants set about preparing monthly reports to square the Navy’s books with the U.S. Treasury’s – a balancing-the-checkbook maneuver required of all the military services and other Pentagon agencies.

And every month, they encountered the same problem. Numbers were missing. Numbers were clearly wrong. Numbers came with no explanation of how the money had been spent or which congressional appropriation it came from.
December 2, 2013

Ukraine Demos: Protestors Erect Tent City in Kiev

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/opposition-protestors-in-ukraine-erect-tent-city-in-kiev-overnight-a-936728.html



Around 5,000 opposition protestors gathered in the center of Kiev overnight. The pro-European demonstrators erected tents and barricades on Independence Square. The opposition, centered around boxer Vitali Klitschko, now wants to blockade important administrative buildings.

Ukraine Demos: Protestors Erect Tent City in Kiev
December 02, 2013 – 12:13 PM

Pressure on Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is mounting. Following Sunday's mass rally in Kiev at which violent clashes broke out, thousands of anti-government protestors spent the night in tents on Independence Square in the middle of the capital. With light rain falling and the temperature not rising above 4 degrees Celsius, many lit small fires to keep warm.

Opposition leader and world heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko appealed to the demonstrators not to give up control of the city center during the night. "We have to mobilize the country and must not lose the initiative," he said. Klitschko is at the head of the UDAR Party (Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms; the abbreviation also translates to "strike" or "punch&quot . He is considered one of the strongest challengers facing Yanukovych in the presidential election scheduled for March 2015. A spokesman for the Klitschko opposition bloc announced a blockade of state administrative buildings from early on Monday.

The head of the far-right Svoboda Party ("Party for Freedom&quot , Oleh Tyahnybok, said: "A revolution is starting in Ukraine. We are launching a national strike."

His remarks were broadcast live by Ukrainian and Russian television stations. Klitschko and Tyahnybok, together with the Fatherland Party of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, have formed a tripartite opposition alliance called the Action Group of National Resistance. Their aim is to bring down Yanukovych and set Ukraine back on a Europe-friendly course. The alliance wants to use the general strike to force new elections.
December 2, 2013

Tehran Treaty: Winners and Losers in Geneva Nuclear Deal

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/how-the-nuclear-deal-with-tehran-could-change-the-world-a-936620.html



The Geneva nuclear treaty with Tehran offers the West new opportunities and could change the world. But secret documents suggest it is the hardliners in Iran who stand to profit the most from the new opening. The clear losers are Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Tehran Treaty: Winners and Losers in Geneva Nuclear Deal
By SPIEGEL Staff
December 02, 2013 – 12:16 PM

Rarely has an international agreement triggered such widely divergent reactions as the Iran deal reached in Geneva, with proponents touting it as a solution to the world's problems while opponents paint doomsday scenarios. Still, it is only a temporary, six-month deal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called it a "breakthrough." United States President Barack Obama said that for the first time in years "we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program. And key parts of the program will be rolled back."

~snip~

An enthusiastic crowd all but crushed chief negotiator Mohammad Zarif upon his return to Tehran, after a deal had been reached with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany. The foreign minister deserved a gold medal for his diplomatic skills, the Iranian newspaper Arman Daily wrote enthusiastically, noting that the world had come a step closer to global peace "without Iran having to abandon its principles."

The deal evoked a completely different reaction in Saudi Arabia and Israel. Abdullah al-Askar, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the influential Shura Council, spoke darkly of what he called Iran's "evil agenda." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fumed that the deal was a "historic mistake," saying: "the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world."
December 2, 2013

Amazon to Deliver by Drone? Don't Believe the Hype

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/12/02-0



Jeff Bezos's 'plan' for drone deliveries is little more than a publicity stunt – timed for the biggest online shopping day of the year

Amazon to Deliver by Drone? Don't Believe the Hype
by James Ball
Published on Monday, December 2, 2013 by The Guardian

The future is here! Flying robots will, any second now, be delivering your Christmas books, DVDs and gadgets to your door within 30 minutes of you ordering them, thanks to a new initiative announced by Amazon on CBS News' 60 Minutes on Sunday.

It's a brave new world, a whole new paradigm. Or so you'd think if you read most of the breathless coverage about the announcement, which will only get worse: expect a torrent of turgid think-pieces in the next 48 hours about who's going to get "disrupted" as a result of this latest shake-up – and what it means for the US's already beleaguered postal service.

Here's the problem: it's all hot air and baloney. As Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO, acknowledged in the 60 Minutes segment, his plan to begin delivery by drone won't be enacted until around 2018 – and that's a hugely optimistic timeline.

The practical issues are manifold: the technology to make the drones operational in any sense is not yet in place. It's all well and good for the unmanned vehicles to fly to a particular GPS site, but how does it then find the package's intended recipient? How is the transfer of the package enacted? What stops someone else stealing the package along the way? And what happens when next door's kid decides to shoot the drone with his BB rifle?
December 2, 2013

Five Ways We're Being Violated by Big Business

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/12/02

Five Ways We're Being Violated by Big Business
by Paul Buchheit
Published on Monday, December 2, 2013 by Common Dreams

~snip~

1. Drug Companies: The Body Snatchers

A report by Battelle Memorial Institute determined that the $4 billion government-funded Human Genome Project (HGP) will generate economic activity of about $140 for every dollar spent. Although that estimate is controversial, drug industry executives say it's just a matter of time before the profits roll in.

~snip~

2. Oil Companies: Ripping Up the Country, Ripping Off the Taxpayers

In the past year the U.S. has become a net exporter of oil, putting us in a position, according to the International Energy Agency, to be almost energy self-sufficient by 2035. Just five years ago we were spending $341 billion on crude oil imports. In 2012 we exported $117 billion worth of processed oil products.

~snip~

3. Telecommunications: We're Paying Them to Spy on Us

The CIA and NSA have been using our tax money to pay AT&T and Google and other companies to access its data - our data - for surveillance purposes. With almost no transparency or oversight, the CIA has been paying AT&T to monitor our overseas phone calls. Hundreds of dollars per customer per month goes to Verizon for similar snooping. The NSA compensated Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook for penalties accrued in the secretive Prism surveillance program.

~snip~

4. Banks: Almost 40% of Our 401(k)s Lost in Fees

Based on the 6% historical stock market return, an individual investing $1,000 a year for 30 years in a non-fee fund and then holding the accumulated sum for another 20 years would end up with $269,000. Imposing the industry average 1.3% fee would reduce the final total to $165,000, a 39% reduction.

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