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Sat, 23 Sep 2023
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Wall Street

U.S. government to sue major banks over mortgages

bank of america

The United States plans to file lawsuits against more than a dozen big banks over mortgage-backed securities seen to have fueled the 2008 economic crisis, the New York Times said.

The lawsuits are set to be filed Friday or early next week against Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and others, the newspaper reported, citing three unnamed individuals briefed on the matter.

The lawsuits will accuse the banks of bundling toxic mortgages -- held by borrowers with inflated or falsified incomes -- as securities and marketing them to investors.

Bizarro Earth

Obama Biggest Recipient of BP Cash

© Reuters
BP has also spent millions each year on lobbying — including $15.9 million last year alone — as it has tried to influence energy policy.
While the BP oil geyser pumps millions of gallons of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico, President Barack Obama and members of Congress may have to answer for the millions in campaign contributions they've taken from the oil and gas giant over the years.

BP and its employees have given more than $3.5 million to federal candidates over the past 20 years, with the largest chunk of their money going to Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Donations come from a mix of employees and the company's political action committees - $2.89 million flowed to campaigns from BP-related PACs and about $638,000 came from individuals.

On top of that, the oil giant has spent millions each year on lobbying - including $15.9 million last year alone - as it has tried to influence energy policy.

During his time in the Senate and while running for president, Obama received a total of $77,051 from the oil giant and is the top recipient of BP PAC and individual money over the past 20 years, according to financial disclosure records.

An Obama spokesman rejected the notion that the president took big oil money.

Bizarro Earth

Exxon Mobil Clinches Arctic Oil Deal with Rosneft

© AP Photo
Exxon Mobil boss Rex Tillerson was at the signing ceremony with Russian PM Vladimir Putin
US oil major Exxon Mobil has clinched an Arctic oil exploration deal with Russian state-owned oil firm Rosneft.

The venture seemingly extinguishes any remaining chance of BP reviving its own deal, which lapsed in May.

The agreement was signed on Tuesday in the presence of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a Rosneft spokesman said.

Prime Minister Putin said that it would also allow Rosneft to develop fields in the Gulf of Mexico and Texas, according to local media reports.

"New horizons are opening up. One of the world's leading companies, Exxon Mobil, is starting to work on Russia's strategic shelf and deepwater continental shelf," he said.


UK: Soldiers "Should Run Schools in Crackdown on Indiscipline"

© Press Association

Soldiers should be retrained to work in schools, says Lord Guthrie
A new chain of schools staffed entirely by ex-servicemen should be created to improve standards of discipline in the inner-cities, according to the former Chief of the Defence Staff.

Lord Guthrie said a generation of schools modeled on the Armed Forces was needed to create a culture of respect among children from the "toughest and roughest backgrounds".

He insisted that too many schools were currently failing to address serious behavioural problems.

Plans are already being drawn up to open a state secondary school in Manchester staffed by ex-members of the Army, Navy and RAF.

The Phoenix Free School - a comprehensive run free of local council control - could be opened within two years to serve pupils aged 11 to 18.

Its backers claim it will impose zero-tolerance discipline, place a heavy emphasis on sport and outdoor activities and encourage competition with a traditional house system and streaming by academic ability.

Lord Guthrie, who has been named as the school's patron, said that if the Manchester comprehensive was a success it should "serve as a model for a chain of hundreds of schools across the country".


'Anon member' claims credit for WikiLeaks takedown

Friend turns foe

A Twitter user who claims affiliation to the infamous Anonymous hacktivist collective has claimed responsibility for launching denial of service attacks that floored WikiLeaks on Tuesday night.

The attack against the whistle-blowing site occurred at the same time as less high-profile assaults against Pastebin and 4Chan, the anarchic image board and birthplace of Anonymous.

The assaults were reportedly field trials for a new JavaScript-based DDoS tool, dubbed RefRef, designed to exploit SQL server flaws on targeted websites. RefRef is the successor to the notorious LOIC attack tool, which discloses users' IP address by default, as many arrested hacktivists now know only too well.

© The Register


IBM builds biggest-ever disk for secret customer

120 PB monster 'for simulation'. Nuke labs?

Flash may be one cutting edge of storage action, but big data is causing developments at the other side of the storage pond, with IBM developing a 120 petabyte 200,000-disk array.

The mighty drive is being developed for a secret supercomputer-using customer "for detailed simulations of real-world phenomena" according to MIT's Technology Review, and takes current large-array technology trends a step or two further.

IBM Almaden storage systems research director Bruce Hillsberg says that 200,000 SAS disk drives are involved, rather than SATA ones, because performance is a concern. A back-of-an-envelope calculation suggests 600GB drives are being used and Seagate 2.5-inch Savvios come to mind.

Bad Guys

Dick Cheney, the Ultimate American Terrorist

Dick Cheney
© Doug Mills / The New York Times
Vice President Dick Cheney in a June 20, 2007 file photo.
Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.

- Dick Cheney

It is axiomatic by now: when someone leaves government service, especially from a high-profile position, they write a book. They all do it, sometimes more than once. Richard Nixon is the main example of one who produced a multi-volume apologia; by the time he went into the ground, he'd penned enough books to fill a wide shelf. Henry Kissinger was similarly prolific, which leads one to wonder about the relationship between criminal activities and the printed page. Nixon was chased from office after a series of crimes that, at the time, had no precedent, and Kissinger is still so infamous that he cannot travel abroad for fear of arrest. Both wrote enough books to take up half the political science section of any local bookstore, perhaps in the vain attempt to explain away the lasting damage their actions did to the republic.

Bad Guys

NATO prepares bloodbath in Sirte

Nearly six months after securing a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing a no-fly zone in Libya and the use of "all necessary measures... to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack," the US and its NATO allies, former colonial powers, are mounting a barbaric siege of a major population center that threatens to produce civilian casualties on a mass scale.

In their breathless promotion of the "final battle" to realize the real US-NATO aim in Libya - regime-change - few in the Western media have bothered to consider the fact that the major imperialist powers are carrying out precisely the kind of act they claimed their war was designed to prevent.

Gaddafi's troops were marching on Benghazi, the world was told, and only a "humanitarian" intervention by NATO could save the city's innocent population. Now the "rebels" are encircling Sirte, led by British and Qatari special forces troops, intelligence operatives and mercenary military contractors, while the city's population is being pounded by NATO bombs and cut off from food, fuel and all basic supplies.

The sheer contempt shown by the US and the Western European powers for legality and world public opinion is breathtaking. The pretense that NATO is acting under the terms of the UN resolution that provided a fig leaf for its intervention is more than absurd; it has become obscene.


US: Left Paints the Campaign as A Religious War

© Brandon Thibodeaux/Getty Images
Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks to an estimated 30,000 attendees at the non-denominational prayer and fasting event, 'The Response,' on August 6, 2011 in Houston, Texas.
The fundamental facts of the presidential race at this moment are that unemployment is high, the economy is by far the most important issue to American voters, and President Obama's handling of economic questions is overwhelmingly unpopular. Republican presidential hopefuls Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann and others are hammering the president daily on matters of job creation and economic growth.

Now some of Obama's activist allies and supporters in the press are engaged in a sharply focused effort to change the subject. Even as economic anxieties continue to rise, some of the nation's premier political journalists are consumed with the alleged influences of obscure religious philosophers on Republican candidates; on questions of creationism, evolution, and the age of the Earth; and on the fantasy that a Republican president might transform the United States into an Iranian-style theocracy.

For example, the Daily Beast/Newsweek recently published an article titled "A Christian Plot for Domination?" claiming that Perry and Bachmann are "deeply associated with a theocratic strain of Christian fundamentalism" known as Dominionism. A widely discussed article in the Texas Observer claimed that Dominionists -- a "little-known movement of radical Christians" -- are readying an "army of God" to "commandeer civilian government," with Perry the "vessel" for their ambitions. Finally, the New Yorker published a long article claiming that Bachmann believes "Christians, and Christians alone, are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns."

Eye 1

5 Unexpected Places You Can Be Tracked With Facial Recognition Technology

Facial recognition technology has become more advanced, and it's increasingly popping up in two realms: law enforcement and commerce.

Earlier this summer Facebook rolled out facial recognition software that identifies users even when they appear in untagged photos. Like every other time the social networking site has introduced a creepy, invasive new feature, they made it the default setting without telling anyone.

Once people realized that Facebook was basically harvesting biometric data, the usual uproar over the site's relentless corrosion of privacy ensued. Germany even threatened to sue Facebook for violating German and EU data protection laws and a few other countries are investigating. But facial recognition technology is hardly confined to Facebook -- and unlike the social networking site, there's no "opt-out" of leaving your house.