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Saturday, Apr 19th

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Bank Of America To Pay $9 Billion To Settle Mortgage Securities Suit

bank of americaHere’s a story that’s starting to sound weirdly familiar: Bank of America Corp. just agreed to pay $9.5 billion to settle U.S. claims linked to mortgages sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from 2005 to 2007. The deal, which roughly $6.3 billion in cash to end legal claims and an agreement to buy back $3.2 billion worth of mortgage-backed bonds, might seem like a landmark … if it was not so similar to multi-billion dollar agreements Bank of America signed in 2011 and 2013.

The 2013 deal, signed that January, also involved paying $3.6 billion in cash and buying back mortgages with billions of dollars in outstanding principal. At the time, Bank of America CEO Brian T. Moynihan called the 2013 agreements “a significant step in resolving our remaining legacy mortgage issues.” One analyst told Bloomberg that the deal would let Bank of America put its Fannie and Freddie issues behind it.

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New York State schools the most segregated in the US: Report

NY schools most segregatedSixty years after Brown v. Board of Education, public schools in one of the most racially diverse states in the country — New York — are the most highly segregated, with minority and poor students increasingly isolated by race and class, according to a new report released Wednesday by a civil rights policy group at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The proportion of Latino and Asian students in the state of New York nearly doubled from 1989 to 2010, but their exposure to white students in public schools decreased during that time, the report said. And as minority student populations increased, the proportion of low-income students in those minority-majority public schools also rose, making the schools “severely segregated” in terms of both race and class, according to the report.

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Northwestern football players OK’d to unionize

Northwestern playeres czan unionizeA decision to allow Northwestern University football players to unionize Wednesday is a first-of-its-kind ruling that could rattle conventional thinking about student athletes, lead to changes in the way they are treated and even discourage colleges and universities from running athletic programs.

The National Labor Relations Board ruling comes at a time when questions are growing about the tight hold the National Collegiate Athletic Association — which made $913 million in 2013 — has on its student athletes.

The ruling says players are technically “employees” of the university, and they have a right to vote on whether they want to be represented by the College Athletes Players Association.

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California state senator arrested in FBI sweep

Leland Yee arrestedA prominent California lawmaker was arrested on Wednesday in an FBI sweep that netted 26 people, a high-profile case that could affect statewide elections and brings to three the number of Democratic state senators who face criminal charges this year.

Senator Leland Yee, a former San Francisco supervisor and one-time mayoral candidate, was criminally charged in federal court in San Francisco with two felony counts of conspiring to import and traffic in firearms, and six corruption counts.

Yee was released on $500,000 bond and declined to comment on the case.

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Snowden supporters want his passport returned and right to asylum

SnowdenAdvocates for Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower pressed for the return of his U.S. passport and his freedom to seek political asylum.

Snowden, whose revelations about a National Security Agency program to collect Americans’ phone data rocked the intelligence community, is currently in Russia.

Supporters, including Coleen Rowley, a former FBI special agent who became a whistleblower herself about the agency’s pre-9/11 knowledge, and former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, attempted to deliver thousands of public petitions to the Departments of State and Justice Wednesday.

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US wins WTO fight over China’s export limits on rare earth elements critical to high-tech items

wto sides with USThe World Trade Organization on Wednesday sided with the United States against China in a trade dispute that could affect the price of nearly every modern electronic product manufactured today.

In its ruling, the WTO found that China had violated world trade regulations by imposing export restrictions on so-called rare earth elements, the lightweight, super-conductive minerals that are critical to a wide range of high-tech products, including hybrid car batteries, wind turbines, energy saving lighting, high-quality steel, electronics, flat-screen televisions and monitors, automobiles, electronics and medical equipment.

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Feds investigate rapes in Alaska National Guard

Alaska national GrardAlaska Gov. Sean Parnell has called in a federal investigation of sexual assault and fraud in the Alaska National Guard, including an inquiry into how the guard’s commanders handled reports of rape and other offenses.

Parnell said the federal National Guard Bureau agreed Wednesday to investigate the Alaska National Guard at his request.

The governor oversees the Alaska National Guard and appointed its commander, Maj. Gen. Tom Katkus. Parnell’s letter requesting the federal investigation said he wants it to include a look at how Katkus and his aides have handled sexual misconduct allegations within the ranks.

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Charlotte, NC Mayor Patrick Cannon arrested, accused of taking bribes

Patrick CannonCharlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon was arrested Wednesday on public corruption charges after a four-year investigation, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Charlotte announced.

Cannon was charged with theft and bribery after an FBI sting operation, said Anne Tompkins, U.S. attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. He was released on an undisclosed bond, pending indictment.

Authorities said Cannon took bribes from undercover FBI agents five times - the most recent on Feb. 21 when he took $20,000 in cash in the mayor's office - and a trip to Las Vegas.

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Alex Baer: This Just In -- We're Blue, Tattooed, Etc.

little match girlWell, it's just about official:  We can all go get blued, tatooed, and have some machined screw threads carved into ourselves, if you catch the drift.

Oh, sure.  There's lots of chest-beating about the sacredness of human life, especially from the Family Values segment of the population -- a group of highly religious policy-pushers noted for doing whatever can be done to utterly rip, rend, and wrench apart families, legally.  You'd do better with Charles Manson as your social worker, Jeffrey Dahmer as your nutritionist, Jack the Ripper as your morale officer.

More correctly, all the hollering and screaming and protesting and Bible-thumping is about the sacredness of The Fetus.  Once the thing is born, to heck with it, say almost all GOP policies for the past 35 or so years.  If it's no longer in vivo, or even in vitro, then it's no longer in our supposed thoughts, in our sham prayers, or in our political hay-making and mud-slinging -- that particular life, once sprung from the womb, is simply no longer in play.

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