Monthly Archives: October 2013

Air traffic control modernization hits turbulence

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ten years after Congress gave the go-ahead to modernize the nation’s air traffic control system, one of the government’s most ambitious and complex technology programs is in trouble.

The Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen, was promoted as a way to accommodate an anticipated surge in air travel, reduce fuel consumption and improve safety and efficiency. By shifting from radar-based navigation and radio communications — technologies rooted in the first half of the 20th century — to satellite-based navigation and digital communications, it would handle three times as many planes with half as many air traffic controllers by 2025, the Federal Aviation Administration promised.

Planes would fly directly to their destinations using GPS technology instead of following indirect routes to stay within the range of ground stations. They would continually broadcast their exact positions, not only to air traffic controllers, but to other similarly equipped aircraft. For the first time, pilots would be able to see on cockpit displays where they were in relation to other planes. That would enable planes to safely fly closer together, and even shift some of the responsibility for maintaining a safe separation of planes from controllers to pilots.

But almost nothing has happened as FAA officials anticipated.

Increasing capacity is no longer as urgent as it once seemed. The 1 billion passengers a year the FAA predicted by 2014 has now been shoved back to 2027. Air traffic operations — takeoffs, landings and other procedures — are down 26 percent from their peak in 2000, although chronic congestion at some large airports can slow flights across the country.

Difficulties have cropped up at almost every turn, from new landing procedures that were impossible for some planes to fly to aircraft-tracking software that misidentified planes. Key initiatives are experiencing delays and are at risk of cost overruns. And the agency still lacks “an executable plan” for bringing NextGen fully online, according to a government watchdog.

“In the early stages, the message seemed to be that NextGen implementation was going to be pretty easy: You’re going to flip a switch, you’re going to get NextGen, we’re going to get capacity gains,” said Christopher Oswald, vice president for safety and regulatory affairs at Airports Council International-North America. “It wasn’t realistically presented.”

Some airline officials, frustrated that they haven’t seen promised money-saving benefits, say they want better results before they spend more to equip planes to use NextGen, a step vital to its success.

Lawmakers, too, are frustrated. NextGen has enjoyed broad bipartisan support in Congress, but with the government facing another round of automatic spending cuts, supporters fear the program will be increasingly starved for money.

“It’s hard not to be worried about NextGen funding … because it’s a future system,” said Marion Blakey, who was the head of the FAA when the program was authorized by Congress in 2003 and now leads a trade association that includes NextGen contractors. “There is a temptation to say the priority is keeping the existing systems humming and we’ll just postpone NextGen.”

In September, a government-industry advisory committee recommended that, given the likelihood of budget cuts, the FAA should concentrate on just 11 NextGen initiatives that are ready or nearly ready to come online. It said the rest of the 150 initiatives that fall under NextGen can wait.

“You can’t have an infrastructure project that is the equivalent of what the (interstate) highway program was back in the ’50s and the ’60s and take this ad hoc, hodgepodge approach to moving this thing forward,” said Air Line Pilots Association First Vice President Sean Cassidy, who helped draft the recommendations.

The threat of funding cuts comes just as NextGen is nearing a tipping point where economic and other benefits should start to multiply if only the FAA and industry would persevere, said Alaska Airlines Chairman Bill Ayers, a supporter.

Responding to industry complaints, the FAA has zeroed in on an element of NextGen that promises near-term benefits: new procedures that save time and fuel in landings while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Planes equipped with highly calibrated GPS navigation are able fly precise, continuous descents on low power all the way to the runway rather than the customary and time-consuming stair-step approaches in which pilots repeatedly decrease power to descend and then increase power to level off.

Last spring, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport became the first large airport where airlines can consistently use one of the new procedures. Known as HAWKS, the procedure shortens the approach from the southwest by about 42 miles. Multiplied over many planes every day it adds to up to significant savings, an enticing prospect for airlines, which typically operate on razor-thin profit margins.

Alaska, with a major hub in Seattle, estimates new procedures there will eventually cut the airline’s fuel consumption by 2.1 million gallons annually and reduce carbon emissions by 24,250 tons, the equivalent of taking 4,100 cars off the road every year. Fuel is the biggest expense for most airlines.

In Atlanta, more precise navigation procedures have increased the number of departure paths that planes can fly at the same time, enabling takeoffs to double from one every two minutes to one every minute. That has freed up an additional runway for arrivals, said Dale Wright, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association’s safety and technology director.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta says NextGen is on track despite the troubles.

“It’s a significant transformation that we’re making,” he told The Associated Press. “I would hope it would be moving faster as well, but we have a very large, a very complex system, and we’re making great progress.”

But even use of the GPS-based procedures has been slowed by unforeseen problems. It takes several years to develop each procedure airport by airport. At large airports, new procedures are used only sporadically. During busy periods, controllers don’t have time to switch back and forth between the new procedures, which most airliners can use, and older procedures that regional airliners and smaller planes often must still use. Consequently, older procedures are used because all planes can fly them.

At six large airports in Chicago, New York and Washington, only 3 percent of eligible flights have used the new procedures, Calvin Scovel, the Transportation Department’s inspector general, told a congressional hearing in July. Many other NextGen initiatives “are still in the early stages of development,” he said.

Another important NextGen initiative would replace radio communications between controllers and pilots with text messaging and digital downloads. Radio frequencies are often crowded, and information sometimes must be repeated because of mistakes or words not heard. Digital communications are expected to be safer and more efficient.

But airlines are reluctant to make additional investments in new communications equipment for planes until the FAA shows NextGen can deliver greater benefits like fuel savings from more precise procedures, said Dan Elwell, a senior vice president at Airlines for America, a trade association for major carriers.

Southwest Airlines spent more than $100 million in 2007 to equip its planes to use the new procedures. The airline expected to recoup its investment by 2011, but is still not there, primarily because of the FAA’s slow pace, said Rick Dalton, Southwest’s director of air space and flow management.

NextGen was originally forecast to cost $40 billion, split between government and industry, and to be completed by 2025. But an internal FAA report estimates it will cost three times that much and take 10 years longer to complete, Scovel said. FAA officials have largely stopped talking about end dates and completion costs as the technologies that make up NextGen continue to evolve. The agency currently spends about $800 million a year on the program.

“When we’re talking about NextGen, it’s like we’re talking about the atmosphere,” Cassidy said. “It’s tough to pin down exactly what NextGen is in terms of the technologies and the cost of the technologies because, frankly, they’re changing all the time.”

Hopefully the FAA can make a “mid-course correction” to get NextGen on track, said Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., a supporter. “We shouldn’t give up on the effort because I think everybody understands there is a lot of benefit to it.”

But he’s concerned that more delays in the program “could force us to rename it LastGen.”

___

Follow Joan Lowy on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AP_Joan_Lowy

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/air-traffic-control-modernization-hits-turbulence-070821373–finance.html
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Celebrity-store partnerships run risks

NEW YORK (AP) — When big-name celebrities pair up with big businesses, customers often believe the adage: You are the company you keep.

Rap artist Jay-Z is learning that firsthand. He has complained this week that he’s been unfairly “demonized” because he hasn’t backed out of his collaboration with Barneys New York after the luxury retailer was accused of racially profiling two black customers.

Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, has said he’s waiting to hear all the facts. Meanwhile, Barneys said on Tuesday that its initial investigation showed no employees were at fault in the two incidents in which customers complained that they were detained by police after making expensive purchases. NYPD disputes the store’s account and said they were alerted by Barneys.

The controversy illustrates the problems that can arise when celebrities and companies team up.

The deals are lucrative: Companies like having big names on their roster and celebrities are always looking to expand their brand. Revenue in North America from celebrity merchandise lines, excluding products linked to athletes, was a $7.8 billion business last year, according to figures available from trade publication Licensing Letter.

But when either side is accused of wrongdoing, the negative publicity can cause damage to their partner’s reputation.

“It literally shows you how vulnerable the celebrity business is on both sides of the equation,” said Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst at The NPD Group, a market research group.

More often, it’s the celebrities — not the stores — who are accused of bad behavior.

Late last year, for instance, Macy’s was pressured by some customers to dump real estate mogul Donald Trump’s line of $65 power ties after the billionaire verbally attacked President Barack Obama on social media following his re-election. One customer collected close to 700,000 signatures on a petition website signon.org. Macy’s stood by Trump.

Another example: home maven Martha Stewart. After being convicted on federal criminal charges of lying to prosecutors about a stock sale, she served a five-month prison sentence that ended in 2005. Kmart, which sold her towels and kitchen accessories until 2009, continued to carry her line.

But experts say that the subject of race can stir up even more emotions, so there’s less tolerance for slip-ups. “Everybody wants to be fair minded and not make generalizations about a group,” said Marty Brochstein of the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association, a trade group.

Celebrity chef Paula Deen’s empire, which spanned from pots to TV shows, began to unravel in June, within days of the public disclosure of a legal deposition in she admitted under oath to having used the N-word to describe black employees. In addition to losing TV shows and book deals, Deen lost valuable partnerships when Target and other retailers said they’d no longer sell her products.

Until now, Michael Stone, CEO of brand licensing agency Beanstalk, says it’s been the norm for personalities to have moral clauses in contracts that let merchants back out. But Stone, who has reviewed 100 celebrity contracts, says he hasn’t seen it the other way.

For Jay-Z’s part, it’s not clear what he’ll do as he faces pressure from an online petition and Twitter messages from fans. NYPD disputes the store’s account of the incidents and said they were alerted by Barneys.

Barneys is expected to start selling items next month by top designers, inspired by Jay-Z, with some of the proceeds going to his charity. Jay-Z is also working with the store to create its artistic holiday window display.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/celebrity-store-partnerships-run-risks-185403695–finance.html
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UFC 167: Rory MacDonald Understands Need to be “More Exciting”

Prior to UFC on FOX 8 there was widespread discussion regarding what might come next for Rory MacDonald, if he beat fellow welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger on July 27th. The reason being that if MacDonald scored a huge win, he could fight for the championship sometime soon, which is currently held by his teammate and buddy Georges St. Pierre. Since the two have said they don’t want to fight, some tough decisions would have to be made.

Well, although MacDonald emerged with a unanimous decision win, there wasn’t any talk of a title shot coming, due to the fact the sluggish fight was blasted by fans and UFC boss man Dana White. Instead, MacDonald was booked to fight the relentless finisher Robbie Lawler at UFC 167,  the same night that GSP will fight Johny Hendricks.

While speaking to MMA Junkie.com recently, MacDonald made it clear he’s received the message:

“If I continue to have exciting fights and dominant fights and winning, I think I’m very close [to a title shot],” said MacDonald, who has won five straight bouts. “It really depends on how the fights go.”

“There was a lot of criticism about [my most recent fight],” MacDonald said. “I’ve taken some advice to be a little more exciting, a little more aggressive and also balancing it with being a technical fighter, so there was a lot to learn from that fight.”

It’s an extremely important fight for both men, and if MacDonald takes out Lawler in impressive fashion and GSP keeps the belt, could “Ares” be headed to 185?

Stay tuned to MMA Frenzy.com for all your UFC news and coverage.

Source: http://mmafrenzy.com/95545/ufc-167/
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Study challenges soil testing for potassium and the fertilizer value of potassium chloride

Study challenges soil testing for potassium and the fertilizer value of potassium chloride

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28-Oct-2013

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Contact: Debra Levey Larson
dlarson@illinois.edu
217-244-2880
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences


URBANA, Ill. In the chemical age of agriculture that began in the 1960s, potassium chloride (KCl), the common salt often referred to as potash, is widely used as a major fertilizer in the Corn Belt without regard to the huge soil reserves that were once recognized for their fundamental importance to soil fertility. Three University of Illinois soil scientists have serious concerns with the current approach to potassium management that has been in place for the past five decades because their research has revealed that soil K testing is of no value for predicting soil K availability and that KCl fertilization seldom pays.

U of I researchers Saeed Khan, Richard Mulvaney, and Timothy Ellsworth are the authors of “The potassium paradox: Implications for soil fertility, crop production and human health,” which was posted on October 10th by Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems.

A major finding came from a field study that involved four years of biweekly sampling for K testing with or without air-drying. Test values fluctuated drastically, did not differentiate soil K buildup from depletion, and increased even in the complete absence of K fertilization.

Explaining this increase, Khan pointed out that for a 200-bushel corn crop, “about 46 pounds of potassium is removed in the grain, whereas the residues return 180 pounds of potassium to the soilthree times more than the next corn crop needs and all readily available.”

Khan emphasized the overwhelming abundance of soil K, noting that soil test levels have increased over time where corn has been grown continuously since the Morrow Plots were established in 1876 at the University of Illinois. As he explained, “In 1955 the K test was 216 pounds per acre for the check plot where no potassium has ever been added. In 2005, it was 360.” Mulvaney noted that a similar trend has been seen throughout the world in numerous studies with soils under grain production.

Recognizing the inherent K-supplying power of Corn Belt soils and the critical role of crop residues in recycling K, the researchers wondered why producers have been led to believe that intensive use of KCl is a prerequisite for maximizing grain yield and quality. To better understand the economic value of this fertilizer, they undertook an extensive survey of more than 2,100 yield response trials, 774 of which were under grain production in North America. The results confirmed their suspicions because KCl was 93 percent ineffective for increasing grain yield. Instead of yield gain, the researchers found more instances of significant yield reduction.

The irony, according to Mulvaney, is that before 1960 there was very little usage of KCl fertilizer. He explained, “A hundred years ago, U of I researcher Cyril Hopkins saw little need for Illinois farmers to fertilize their fields with potassium,” Mulvaney said. “Hopkins promoted the Illinois System of Permanent Fertility, which relied on legume rotations, rock phosphate, and limestone. There was no potash in that system. He realized that Midwest soils are well supplied with K. And it’s still true of the more productive soils around the globe. Potassium is one of the most abundant elements in the earth’s crust and is more readily available than nitrogen, phosphorus, or sulfur. Farmers have been taught to think that fertilizers are the source of soil fertilitythat the soil is basically an inert rooting medium that supports the plant.”

Khan and his colleagues pointed out that KCl fertilization has long been promoted as a prerequisite for high nutritional value for food and feed. To their surprise, they found that the qualitative effects were predominantly detrimental, based on a survey of more than 1,400 field trials reported in the scientific literature. As Khan explained, “Potassium depresses calcium and magnesium, which are beneficial minerals for any living system. This can lead to grass tetany or milk fever in livestock, but the problems don’t stop there.


Low-calcium diets can also trigger human diseases such as osteoporosis, rickets, and colon cancer. Another major health concern arises from the chloride in KCl, which mobilizes cadmium in the soil and promotes accumulation of this heavy metal in potato and cereal grain. This contaminates many common foods we eatbread, potatoes, potato chips, French friesand some we drink, such as beer. I’m reminded of a recent clinical study that links cadmium intake to an increased risk of breast cancer.”

While working in the northwestern part of Pakistan three decades ago, Khan was surprised to discover another use for KCl fertilizer. “I saw an elderly man making a mud wall from clay,” Khan said. “He was using the same bag of KCl that I was giving to farmers, but he was mixing it with the clay. I asked why he was using this fertilizer, and he explained that by adding potassium chloride, the clay becomes really tough like cement. He was using it to strengthen the mud wall.”

“The man’s understanding was far ahead of mine,” continued Khan, “and helped me to finally realize that KCl changes the soil’s physical properties. Civil engineers know this, too, and use KCl as a stabilizer to construct mud roads and foundations.” Mulvaney mentioned that he had demonstrated the cementing effect of KCl in his soil fertility class, and that calcium from liming has the opposite effect of softening the soil. He cautioned against the buildup philosophy that has been widely advocated for decades, noting that agronomic productivity can be adversely affected by collapsing clay, which reduces the soil’s capacity to store nutrients and water and also restricts rooting.

Khan and Mulvaney see no value in soil testing for exchangeable K and instead recommend that producers periodically carry out their own strip trials to evaluate whether K fertilization is needed. Based on published research cited in their paper, they prefer the use of potassium sulfate, not KCl.

###

The full paper is available as an open access article at http://tinyurl.com/k32msg9.




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Study challenges soil testing for potassium and the fertilizer value of potassium chloride

[ Back to EurekAlert! ]

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:

28-Oct-2013

[

| E-mail

]


Share Share

Contact: Debra Levey Larson
dlarson@illinois.edu
217-244-2880
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences


URBANA, Ill. In the chemical age of agriculture that began in the 1960s, potassium chloride (KCl), the common salt often referred to as potash, is widely used as a major fertilizer in the Corn Belt without regard to the huge soil reserves that were once recognized for their fundamental importance to soil fertility. Three University of Illinois soil scientists have serious concerns with the current approach to potassium management that has been in place for the past five decades because their research has revealed that soil K testing is of no value for predicting soil K availability and that KCl fertilization seldom pays.

U of I researchers Saeed Khan, Richard Mulvaney, and Timothy Ellsworth are the authors of “The potassium paradox: Implications for soil fertility, crop production and human health,” which was posted on October 10th by Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems.

A major finding came from a field study that involved four years of biweekly sampling for K testing with or without air-drying. Test values fluctuated drastically, did not differentiate soil K buildup from depletion, and increased even in the complete absence of K fertilization.

Explaining this increase, Khan pointed out that for a 200-bushel corn crop, “about 46 pounds of potassium is removed in the grain, whereas the residues return 180 pounds of potassium to the soilthree times more than the next corn crop needs and all readily available.”

Khan emphasized the overwhelming abundance of soil K, noting that soil test levels have increased over time where corn has been grown continuously since the Morrow Plots were established in 1876 at the University of Illinois. As he explained, “In 1955 the K test was 216 pounds per acre for the check plot where no potassium has ever been added. In 2005, it was 360.” Mulvaney noted that a similar trend has been seen throughout the world in numerous studies with soils under grain production.

Recognizing the inherent K-supplying power of Corn Belt soils and the critical role of crop residues in recycling K, the researchers wondered why producers have been led to believe that intensive use of KCl is a prerequisite for maximizing grain yield and quality. To better understand the economic value of this fertilizer, they undertook an extensive survey of more than 2,100 yield response trials, 774 of which were under grain production in North America. The results confirmed their suspicions because KCl was 93 percent ineffective for increasing grain yield. Instead of yield gain, the researchers found more instances of significant yield reduction.

The irony, according to Mulvaney, is that before 1960 there was very little usage of KCl fertilizer. He explained, “A hundred years ago, U of I researcher Cyril Hopkins saw little need for Illinois farmers to fertilize their fields with potassium,” Mulvaney said. “Hopkins promoted the Illinois System of Permanent Fertility, which relied on legume rotations, rock phosphate, and limestone. There was no potash in that system. He realized that Midwest soils are well supplied with K. And it’s still true of the more productive soils around the globe. Potassium is one of the most abundant elements in the earth’s crust and is more readily available than nitrogen, phosphorus, or sulfur. Farmers have been taught to think that fertilizers are the source of soil fertilitythat the soil is basically an inert rooting medium that supports the plant.”

Khan and his colleagues pointed out that KCl fertilization has long been promoted as a prerequisite for high nutritional value for food and feed. To their surprise, they found that the qualitative effects were predominantly detrimental, based on a survey of more than 1,400 field trials reported in the scientific literature. As Khan explained, “Potassium depresses calcium and magnesium, which are beneficial minerals for any living system. This can lead to grass tetany or milk fever in livestock, but the problems don’t stop there.


Low-calcium diets can also trigger human diseases such as osteoporosis, rickets, and colon cancer. Another major health concern arises from the chloride in KCl, which mobilizes cadmium in the soil and promotes accumulation of this heavy metal in potato and cereal grain. This contaminates many common foods we eatbread, potatoes, potato chips, French friesand some we drink, such as beer. I’m reminded of a recent clinical study that links cadmium intake to an increased risk of breast cancer.”

While working in the northwestern part of Pakistan three decades ago, Khan was surprised to discover another use for KCl fertilizer. “I saw an elderly man making a mud wall from clay,” Khan said. “He was using the same bag of KCl that I was giving to farmers, but he was mixing it with the clay. I asked why he was using this fertilizer, and he explained that by adding potassium chloride, the clay becomes really tough like cement. He was using it to strengthen the mud wall.”

“The man’s understanding was far ahead of mine,” continued Khan, “and helped me to finally realize that KCl changes the soil’s physical properties. Civil engineers know this, too, and use KCl as a stabilizer to construct mud roads and foundations.” Mulvaney mentioned that he had demonstrated the cementing effect of KCl in his soil fertility class, and that calcium from liming has the opposite effect of softening the soil. He cautioned against the buildup philosophy that has been widely advocated for decades, noting that agronomic productivity can be adversely affected by collapsing clay, which reduces the soil’s capacity to store nutrients and water and also restricts rooting.

Khan and Mulvaney see no value in soil testing for exchangeable K and instead recommend that producers periodically carry out their own strip trials to evaluate whether K fertilization is needed. Based on published research cited in their paper, they prefer the use of potassium sulfate, not KCl.

###

The full paper is available as an open access article at http://tinyurl.com/k32msg9.




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AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.

Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-10/uoic-scs102813.php
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‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Start Date Pushed to Dec. 2 (Exclusive)

Getty Images; Evan Agostini/Getty Images

Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan

Due to the last-minute scramble to replace the lead role, Fifty Shades of Grey‘s production start date has been pushed about a month.

The production, which was scheduled to begin shooting in early November, will now begin filming on Dec. 2, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. The delay raises the question of whether or not the film can be ready in less than eight months to meet its current release date of Aug. 1, 2014. If not, the film would likely be jettisoned out of the summer frame.

PHOTOS: Stars Misaligned: Charlie Hunnam Quits ‘Fifty Shades’ and 15 Other Casting Near-Misses 

Sam Taylor-Johnson is directing from a screenplay by Kelly Marcel. Dakota Johnson is starring as Anastasia Steele, while Jamie Dornan was recently announced as the new Christian Grey.

Dornan was cast in the role after the original choice, Charlie Hunnam, abruptly dropped out a few weeks ago, claiming that his Sons of Anarchy schedule was stopping him from focusing on preparing for the role in the adaptation of EL James‘ racy novel. This forced the producers to scramble to find a new star in hopes of keeping on track for the August 2014 release.

STORY: ‘Fifty Shades’: EL James Welcomes Jamie Dornan to Cast

Dornan tested Friday opposite female lead Johnson for director Taylor-Johnson, author James and producers Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti.

On Friday, it was announced that True Blood actor Luke Grimes will play Elliot Grey, the brother to Christian Grey.

E-mail: Rebecca.Ford@thr.com
Twitter: @Beccamford

E-mail: Tatiana.Siegel@THR.com
Twitter: @TatianaSiegel27

 

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thr/news/~3/3vpzvCMjVVg/fifty-shades-grey-start-date-651011
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JPMorgan Chase Agrees To Pay $5.1 Billion To Feds

[unable to retrieve full-text content]JPMorgan Chase agreed pay $5.1 billion to settle litigation over mortgage assets sold during the housing bubble. The deal, announced late Friday afternoon, is to resolve claims the company misled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before the housing market crashed. It is part of a tentative $13 billion deal the company is trying to reach with federal and state agencies over its mortgage liabilities.Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/NprProgramsATC/~3/ei4GhmYvnFs/jp-morgan-chase-agrees-to-pay-5-1-billion-to-feds
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NY jury: Bank of America liable in mortgage fraud

NEW YORK (AP) — Bank of America Corp., accused of lying about the quality of mortgages it passed along to financial firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, was found liable for fraud on Wednesday in a civil case the government said captured the frenzied pursuit of profits at all costs just before the economy collapsed in 2008.

A Manhattan jury returned its verdict following a monthlong trial focusing on prime mortgages that Bank of America’s Countrywide Financial unit completed in late 2007 and 2008. U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff said he would determine on Thursday when a penalty phase will begin.

The verdict was returned against Bank of America, Countrywide and a former executive, Rebecca Mairone.

Bank of America, which had denied there was fraud, said Wednesday it was evaluating its options for appeal.

“The jury’s decision concerned a single Countrywide program that lasted several months and ended before Bank of America’s acquisition of the company,” spokesman Lawrence Grayson said by email.

Mairone’s lawyer Marc Mukasey called her “a model of honesty, integrity and ethics.”

“She never engaged in any fraud because there was no fraud,” he said.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the companies and Mairone were “liable for making disastrously bad loans and systematically removing quality checks in favor of (Bank of America and Countrywide’s) balance.”

“In a rush to feed at the trough of easy mortgage money on the eve of the financial crisis, Bank of America purchased Countrywide, thinking it had gobbled up a cash cow,” he said in a statement. “That profit, however, was built on fraud, as the jury unanimously found.”

The trial related to mortgages the government said were sold at break-neck speed without regard to quality as the economy headed into a tailspin.

The government had accused the financial institutions of urging workers to churn out loans, accept fudged applications and hide ballooning defaults.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaimie Nawaday, in her closing argument, said the case was about “greed and lies.”

“It is about people at Countrywide saying to each other that their loan quality is in the ditch, while telling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that their loans are investment quality,” she said.

Fannie and Freddie, which packaged loans into securities and sold them to investors, were effectively nationalized in 2008 when they nearly collapsed from mortgage losses.

Government lawyers said Countrywide tried to churn out more mortgage loans through a program called the Hustle, shorthand for high-speed swim lane, which operated under the motto, “Loans Move Forward, Never Backward.”

The government said the program eliminated checks meant to ensure mortgages were made to borrowers unlikely to default.

“The Hustle is all about speed, lightning speed and volume and never about quality,” Nawaday told jurors.

Bank of America lawyer Brendan V. Sullivan Jr. said in closings there was no fraud.

“We have been dragged down the rabbit hole into Alice in Wonderland,” he said.

He defended the company’s practices, saying there was a “vigorous quality control program” that included 20 workers in India who studied mortgage files through the night for flaws.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/ny-jury-bank-america-liable-mortgage-fraud-214728038–finance.html
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