As many as forty state attorneys general are preparing to announce a joint investigation into the recent revelations major lenders may have committed fraud while forcing thousands of people out of their homes. Three banks have suspended foreclosures after admitting to authorizing thousands of foreclosure affidavits without proper vetting. The Wall Street Journal reports the attorneys general’s joint probe will be announced on Wednesday.
A new study says Wall Street pay is set to break a record high for the second consecutive year. According to the Wall Street Journal, the top thirty-five financial firms are on pace to hand out $144 billion in compensation and benefits this year — a four percent increase from 2009. Total profits are estimated at $63.1 billion, a 20 percent decline from 2006.
President Obama hosted a bipartisan group of mayors and governors at the White House Monday to promote his $50 billion infrastructure initiative. Obama urged lawmakers to approve his proposal to modernize the nation’s roads and railways.
President Obama: “Over the next six years, we will rebuild 150,000 miles of our roads — enough to circle the world six times. We will lay and maintain 4,000 miles of our railways — enough to stretch from coast to coast. And we will restore 150 miles of runways and advance a next generation air-traffic control system that reduces delays for the American people.”
In Afghanistan, the Taliban has claimed responsibility for an attack on a US helicopter that left one person dead and eight others wounded. The helicopter had reportedly landed at a base near the Pakistani border when it came under fire.
The Pentagon says a British hostage who died during a rescue operation in Afghanistan Friday may have been accidentally killed by US troops. Linda Norgrove, an aid worker, was abducted along with three Afghan colleagues last month. British Prime Minister David Cameron said Norgrove may have been killed by a grenade thrown at her captors.
British Prime Minister David Cameron: “In the review of the rescue operation, new information had come to light about the circumstances surrounding Linda’s death. General Petraeus has since told me that review has revealed evidence to indicate that Linda may not have died at the hands of her captors as originally believed. That evidence and subsequent interviews with the personnel involved suggest that Linda could have died as a result of a grenade detonated by the task force during the assault.”
The Palestinian Authority has rejected an Israeli demand to be recognized as a Jewish state in return for the extension of a partial settlement freeze. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would order a halt to construction if Palestinians acknowledge Israel as “the homeland of the Jewish people.” Palestinians have long rejected such a demand as an affront on the rights of Palestinian refugees expelled from Israel as well as those who still live there. Palestinian Authority spokesperson Nabil Abu Rdainah said Palestinians have already agreed to recognize Israel within its pre-1967 borders.
Nabil Abu Rdainah: “What he is saying has nothing to do with negotiations. We are not in any way going to get involved with such a discussion. Our position is clear: we recognize the state of Israel; there should be complete cessation of settlement activities. And that’s not just the Palestinian position, it’s the Arab position.”
The newly released Global Hunger Index shows twenty-five out of 122 countries surveyed have “alarming” levels of hunger. The number of hungry people surpassed 925 million this year, down from one billion last year. The Index was released as the UN kicked off a food security summit in Rome. On Monday, protesters with the group Oxfam called for action on chronic hunger.
Protester: “This is the weather that many people in southern countries are facing because of climate change and its effects. And climate change is contributing to increase the number of hungry people and also to increase, to worsen, the challenge of hunger. We are here, for the first day of the CFS meeting in Rome, to tell global leaders, northern and southern, to stop the blame game and to start working together to overcome hunger and to overcome poverty.”
The Hungarian government has arrested the CEO of the chemical company it says is responsible for the worst chemical accident in Hungary’s history. At least seven people have been killed and 150 have been wounded since toxic sludge from an alumina plant flooded several towns last week. Over 21 million cubic feet of sludge leaked from the plant’s reservoir, engulfing homes and roads. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said the company, MAL Zrt, had ignored safety hazards.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán: “In light of what happened, we have good reason to believe that there were people who were aware of the dangerously weakened state of the walls of the reservoirs, but driven by their private interests, they believed they were not worth repairing and hoped that the trouble could be avoided.”
The awarding of the Nobel Prize in Economics to an MIT professor is spurring calls for his confirmation to the Federal Reserve Board. Peter Diamond and two others were honored for their studies on unemployment and job markets. Republican Senator Richard Shelby has blocked Diamond’s nomination to the Federal Reserve for months, claiming he doesn’t think Diamond is qualified. On Monday, Diamond welcomed the news of his Nobel win.
Peter Diamond: “It kind of takes your breath away. It’s just you suddenly realize not only is it the moment, but also there are all sorts of changes in your life, opportunities opening up, all sorts of things that are going to be different. And so, you kind of hold your breath for a little while.”
The Republican candidate for governor in New York is refusing to apologize for widely criticized anti-gay remarks. On Sunday, Carl Paladino delivered a speech claiming he thinks children shouldn’t be “brainwashed” into accepting homosexuality. Paladino’s campaign now says he was delivering remarks written by his hosts, a group of Hasidic Jewish leaders, in Brooklyn. But appearing on NBC’s Today Show, Paladino said he doesn’t regret his comments and added that he thinks gay pride parades are “disgusting.”
Carl Paladino: “Mr. Cuomo took his daughters to a Gay Pride parade. Is that normal? Would you do it? Would you take your children to a Gay Pride parade?”
Matt Lauer: “I think that you can probably expose your children to a lot of different things and —”
Lauer: “—- help them decide and make their own decisions -—”
Paladino: “No, I don’t think it’s proper for them to go there and watch a couple of grown men grind against each other. I don’t think that’s proper. I think it’s disgusting.”
Paladino was later confronted by supporters of gay rights as he took part in a Colombus Day parade.
And a suburban Philadelphia school district has reached a $610,000 settlement in two cases stemming from its monitoring of students by remotely activating the cameras on their computer laptops. School officials at the Lower Merion School District have admitted to capturing over 56,000 photographs and screenshots in an effort to recover missing or stolen computers. One of the students to reach a settlement, Blake Robbins, was photographed over 400 times during a fifteen-day period last year, sometimes as he slept or as he was half-dressed at home. The district used images from Robbins’s laptop to accuse him of consuming drugs, only to realize that what it thought were drugs was actually candy.