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US: Goldman faces suits over $15.8B in mortgages

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© Ingram Pinn
Goldman Sachs Group Inc faces lawsuits over $15.8 billion worth of mortgage securities, the bank said in a regulatory filing on Wednesday, a more than 30-fold increase from the amount disclosed three months earlier.

The aggregate figure, which is up from $485 million previously, does not represent how much money Goldman management estimates it may lose on the litigation. Goldman lifted that estimate of "reasonably possible" losses to $2.6 billion from $2 billion.

The bigger dollar figures come as investors in mortgage-backed bond deals have raced to take legal action or enter settlement negotiations before statutes of limitations expire, and as investors continue to worry about banks' exposure to big lawsuits.

Goldman also added three European financial firms to a list of parties that have threatened to sue it, a more fulsome disclosure than some of its peers.

Goldman said HSH Nordbank, Norges Bank Investment Management and IKB Deutsche Industriebank AG have threatened to assert claims related to mortgage offerings, in addition to insurance giant American International Group Inc and Manulife Financial Corp's John Hancock unit, whose legal threats it disclosed last quarter.

Attention

US: Mental health worker who reported child porn fired

'We're not allowed to go to police' unless actual child abuse is observed, supervisor says

Missoula, Montana - An employee of a Missoula mental health center who reported a client's computer search for child pornography was fired after reporting him to police.

The client, John Gribble, is charged with sexually abusing a child after a DVD with photos of nude children was found at his house.

The Missoulian reported Wednesday that an employee of Three Rivers Mental Health Solutions contacted police about Gribble on Oct. 17.

The employee first told her supervisors, who told her not to report Gribble. Three Rivers administrator Shea Hennelly says reports that break medical confidentiality must include the names and address of the child involved and the extent of the child's injuries.

"In order to provide mental health services, we can't engage in dual roles. We're not allowed to go to police" unless actual child abuse is observed, Hennelly told The Missoulian. "She didn't witness someone abusing a child. What this woman reported to this office was she saw the tab of Web browsers that said teenage girls. That's a lot different."

Pistol

US, Wisconsin: Tasers now legal under concealed carry law

Taser
© Unknown
For months, the focus of discussion about the new concealed carry law has been on guns. But, the law is not just limited to deadly weapons.

The new law defines a legally concealed weapon to be a handgun, a non-switchblade knife, a billy club, or an electric weapon -- like a taser.

Up until November 1, it was illegal to even own a taser in the state of Wisconsin. But now, stores are starting to consider selling them to appeal to a customer who's not necessarily comfortable with a gun but wants to protect themselves.

Attorney General JB Van Hollen says it's a good idea for people to protect themselves, as long as they're properly trained.

Comment: You'd have to be living under a rock at this point to consider tasers anything other than a "deadly weapon":

Taser-related deaths in US accelerating


Attention

US: National Test Has Emergency Managers, Broadcasters on Alert

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© unknown
If your co-workers rush in from lunch to tell you that World War III is starting, tell them this:

It's only a test.

Except ... it's not "only" a test.

For the first time in history, every radio and TV station, every cable and satellite operator, will interrupt all broadcasts, at 1 p.m. today, for a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, or EAS. (Fans of "The Talk," Maury Povich, "One Life to Live," you have been warned ...)

Two years in the planning, the minutelong drill is designed to expose weaknesses in a 60-year-old readiness system that has never been used - not even on 9/11.

The test is a joint venture of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission's Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau, headed by retired Navy Adm. James A. Barnett Jr.

Star of David

Helen Thomas Skewers Zionism - Again

Helen Thomas
© unknown
Helen Thomas
Veteran Washington insider and reporter 91-year-old Helen Thomas created shockwaves a year ago when she declared Israel should "get the hell out of Palestine." A disapproving statement came from President Obama and Thomas suddenly faced a vendetta from Jewish attack groups such as the Anti-Defamation League. They persuaded her alma mater, Wayne State University, to rescind her Lifetime Achievement Award.

"They took away basically my lifetime achievement award and they wanted to take away the worst of all - the first amendment right to speak freely - to speak and to write," she said on Republic Radio in August.

Polls show Thomas is admired by most Americans, many of whom share her conviction that America has no business supporting the strife-engendering Jewish state. In an August 5 interview with Deanna Spingola on the Republic Broadcasting Network, Thomas spoke out again. Here are her remarks, arranged according to topic. To listen to the complete two-hour broadcast commercial-free, go here at truthtellers.org.

Info

US: Air Force Mishandled Remains of War Dead, Inquiry Finds

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© unknown
The military has long borne a sacred obligation: to treat its fallen members and their families with utmost levels of dignity and honor.
Federal investigators said Tuesday they had uncovered "gross mismanagement" at the Dover Air Force Base mortuary that cares for America's war dead after whistleblowers reported horror stories of lost body parts, shoddy inventory controls and lax supervision.

The Air Force admitted that the Dover mortuary misplaced a dead soldier's ankle and another set of remains that had been stored in a plastic bag. Employees also sawed off the damaged arm bone of a Marine so he could fit in his uniform and casket - but did not tell his family.

Military officials said the incidents resulted from the strain of handling thousands of dead bodies, some with gruesome injuries that made it difficult to prepare remains for burial.

But the sloppy handling of troops' remains at Dover painfully undercut the military's commitment to treat war dead with the utmost honor. "There is nothing more sacred, there is nothing that is a more profound obligation, than treating our fallen with reverence, dignity and respect," said Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, the Air Force chief of staff, who took responsibility for the problems.

Stop

US, California: West Hollywood approves first fur ban in United States

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© Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
A man walks past a fur store in Beverly Hills, California September 23, 2011.
Putting animal rights over fashion and its own vibrant shopping scene, West Hollywood's leaders gave final approval on Tuesday to a first-in-the-nation ban on the sale of fur clothing within city limits.

The five-member City Council of the tiny, tony municipality wedged between Beverly Hills and Hollywood voted 3-to-1 with one abstention to approve the ordinance, which takes effect in 2013, said City Councilman John Heilman, who voted "no."

The ban was tentatively adopted by the council on September 20 and had been expected to win easy enactment two weeks later. But it ran into stiff opposition from the local Chamber of Commerce and the fur industry, whose main trade group, the Fur Information Council of America, is based in West Hollywood.

Ultimately, the city's famously left-leaning political establishment embraced the ban, won over by supporters' arguments that furs are produced from animals that are inhumanely killed for their pelts.

Final action came shortly before 1 a.m., capping a contentious, hours-long debate.

Phoenix

US, Alabama: Twin sisters face murder charges in burning deaths of 3 toddlers

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© unknown
Twin sisters face three counts each of reckless murder in connection with the burning deaths of three of their children in Atmore, Alabama.

Akeevia Lajoseia Abner and Tekeevia Lajoseialan Abner, 18, were taken into custody on Monday by the state fire marshal. A bond hearing has not yet been set.

Escambia County District Attorney Steve Billy said the women left 3-year-old Aniyia Abner, 3-year-old Takia Abner and 22-month-old Michael Coleman alone on Wednesday night last week.

The fire marshal's preliminary investigation indicated an oven left open -- possibly as a heat source -- could be the source of the blaze that killed the unattended children.

Network

US: Small-biz community divided on protest movement

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© Karen Bleier/AFP - Getty Images
Occupy DC supporters read an adult comic book at the protest in Washington this week. Many small business owners support the movement, according to one survey.
The Occupy Wall Street movement now active in some 400 cities nationwide is a cry of protest against the concentration of power among big companies in general and big banks in particular.

So how is it playing on Main Street, where small business often holds sway?

The surprising answer is that many small businesses support the movement, although the community is sharply divided, with some opponents citing the anti-capitalist rhetoric of the protesters.

The survey from e-mail marketing company VerticalResponse, which says most of its customers are small businesses, found that 49 percent support the loosely defined OWS movement and 47 percent oppose it.

While the 212 survey respondents were nearly evenly divided, respondents who disagree with the message of OWS were more negative in their perception of the movement, according to VerticalResponse.

Comment: Whether real or not, the divide appears more between those who are seeing things as they are and those who prefer their blinders. Some history on how the fed works, and other topics, can be found here.


Arrow Down

US wealth gap between young and old is widest ever

The wealth gap between younger and older Americans has stretched to the widest on record, worsened by a prolonged economic downturn that has wiped out job opportunities for young adults and saddled them with housing and college debt.

The typical U.S. household headed by a person age 65 or older has a net worth 47 times greater than a household headed by someone under 35, according to an analysis of census data released Monday.

While people typically accumulate assets as they age, this wealth gap is now more than double what it was in 2005 and nearly five times the 10-to-1 disparity a quarter-century ago, after adjusting for inflation.

The analysis reflects the impact of the economic downturn, which has hit young adults particularly hard. More are pursuing college or advanced degrees, taking on debt as they wait for the job market to recover. Others are struggling to pay mortgage costs on homes now worth less than when they were bought in the housing boom.