Archives for FUBAR

Feds open probe of Goldman Sachs

Stepping up the pressure on Goldman Sachs two days after its executives were grilled and publicly rebuked by lawmakers, the Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation of the Wall Street powerhouse over mortgage securities deals it arranged. The criminal inquiry follows civil fraud charges filed by the government against Goldman two weeks ago and as Congress pushes toward enacting sweeping legislation aimed at preventing another near-meltdown of the financial system. The investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan stems from a criminal referral by the Securities and Exchange Commission, a knowledgeable person said Thursday. The person spoke on
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Senior health plans found lacking

Millions of seniors signed up for popular Medicare Advantage insurance plans don’t get the best quality, an independent study found. How the private plans score on a quality rating system set up by the government is about to have a direct impact on insurers’ finances — not to mention seniors’ benefits and premiums. President Barack Obama‘s health care law ties what the plans get paid by the government to the quality they provide, for the first time. There seems to be plenty of room for improvement. The study being released Thursday by Avalere Health, a major consulting firm, looked at
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Americans lose confidence in health care

Americans are steadily losing confidence in their ability to get healthcare and pay for it, despite the passage of healthcare reform legislation, according to a survey published on Wednesday. The Thomson Reuters Consumer Healthcare Sentiment Index found that confidence lost three percentage points from a baseline of 100 in December to 97 in March. “Strikingly, Americans expect the situation to worsen significantly in the next three months,” said Gary Pickens, chief research officer at Thomson Reuters. “The thing I thought was interesting was … the level of sentiment about future expectations worsened more. The future outlook seems to be causing
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Hawaii to birthers: Enough already

Hawaii’s legislature, fed up with constant demands from the so-called “birthers” movement for multiple copies of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, moved Tuesday to allow the state to ignore future requests. The birthers, driven by right-wing extremism and racism, claim Obama is not a natural-born American citizen — a requirement to run for President. Health Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino has twice confirmed that Hawaii birth records prove Obama was born in Hawaii to a Kenyan father and American mother. Obama’s birth record has also been verified by independent news sources and other agencies but this has not stopped the birthers
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Lawsuits expected over Arizona immigration law

The debate over Arizona’s new illegal immigrant law will likely move from protest lines and talk shows to the courtroom, where a judge could be asked to decide whether the state can enforce laws that until now had been the federal government’s exclusive domain. Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the bill on Friday, said Arizona must act because Washington has failed to stop the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs from Mexico. Opposition to the law grew Monday as opponents used refried beans to smear swastikas on the state Capitol, civil rights leaders and others demanded a boycott of
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How an insurance company targets cancellations

Shortly after they were diagnosed with breast cancer, each of the women learned that her health insurance had been canceled. There was Yenny Hsu, who lived and worked in Los Angeles. And there was Patricia Reilling, a successful art gallery owner and interior designer from Louisville, Kentucky. Neither of these women knew about the other. But besides their similar narratives, they had something else in common: Their health insurance carriers were subsidiaries of WellPoint, which has 33.7 million policyholders — more than any other health insurance company in the United States. The women paid their premiums on time. Before they
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Bad economy equals drop in motorcycle deaths

After a decade of steady increases, motorcyclist deaths nose-dived last year, possibly due to bikers watching their budgets in a sour economy. The study, set for release Thursday, indicates a 16 percent drop in U.S. motorcycle fatalities through the first nine months of 2009 compared to the same period in the previous year. It projects at least a 10 percent decline in fatalities over the entire year, or about 530 fewer deaths. The 5,290 motorcyclist deaths in 2008 was the highest ever. The study — authored by safety consultant James Hedlund, a former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration official —
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Clinton: Demonizing leaders is dangerous

Former President Bill Clinton, following up on comments that warn against the threat posed by extremist groups,  warned Sunday that angry anti-government rhetoric has led to a worrisome increase in threats against the president and other elected officials. Anger easily translates into violence, Clinton said, and people should be careful that the language they use to criticize officials don’t demonize them and make them targets for violence. Clinton, speaking on ABC News’ “This Week,” said he not only worries about threats against President Barack Obama and the Congress but by “careless language,” citing examples like leaked memo from a New
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Former Blackwater execs charged in arms deal

The former president of Blackwater Worldwide was charged Friday with using straw purchases to stockpile automatic weapons at the security firm and filing false documents to cover up gifts given to the king of Jordan. Gary Jackson, 52, who left the company last year in a management shake-up, was charged along with four of his former colleagues, according to the federal indictment. The prosecution opens a new front of the government’s oversight of the sullied security company. Several of the company’s contractors have previously been charged with federal crimes for their actions in war zones, but the company’s executives have
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Clinton: Anger can breed domestic terrorism

Former President Bill Clinton warned of a slippery slope from angry anti-government rhetoric to violence like the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, saying “the words we use really do matter.” The two-term Democratic president insisted he wasn’t trying to restrict free speech, but in remarks Friday he said incendiary language can be taken the wrong way by some Americans. He drew parallels to words demonizing the government before Oklahoma City. On April 19, 1995, an anti-government conspiracy led by Army veteran Timothy McVeigh exploded a truck bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people. “What we learned from
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