The U.S. government is accusing the debt rating agency Standard & Poor’s of fraud for giving high ratings to risky mortgage bonds that helped bring about the financial crisis, the Associated Press reports. The government said in a civil complaint filed late Monday that S&P misled investors by stating that its ratings were objective and “uninfluenced by any conflicts of interest.” It said S&P’s desire to make money and gain market share caused S&P to ignore the risks posed by the investments between September 2004 and October 2007. The charges mark the first enforcement action the government has taken against a major rating agency involving the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. According to the government filing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, the alleged fraud made it possible to sell the investments to banks. The government charged S&P under a law aimed at making sure banks invest safely. S&P, a unit of New York-based McGraw-Hill Cos., has denied wrongdoing and said that any lawsuit would be without merit.
California Highway Patrol investigators have not yet determined the cause of a tour bus crash that killed seven people in California Sunday night. But the company that operated the tour bus, Scapadas Magicas, was repeatedly cited in recent years for vehicle maintenance violations, including multiple brake problems, according to federal Department of Transportation records.Over the past two years, safety inspectors took Scapadas Magicas buses out of service at a much higher rate than the national average, with 36 percent of inspections resulting in that action, compared with about 21 percent nationally, and the Department of Transportation added the company to a safety watch list because of the recurring maintenance problems. The tour bus was returning to Tijuana, Mexico, after a day trip to a ski resort in the Southern California mountains when the driver lost control of the vehicle.
Nearly nine out of 10 people “stopped and frisked” under a controversial New York Police Department policy in 2011 were African-American or Hispanic. The data comes from a report released by the NYPD Monday, which showed that of the 685,724 stops made by police that year, 53% of those questioned were black, 34% were Latino, 9% were white and 3% were Asian. Brooklyn’s 75th precinct, which includes East New York and Cypress Hills, had the most “stop and frisk” incidents with 31,100. Of those, 97% of the people involved were either black or Hispanic. The top reason for stop-and-frisks in 2011 was for suspicion of weapons possession, accounting for more than 25% of all stops.The much-criticized method, in which police stop, question and possibly search those they consider suspicious, is used to deter crime, the police department has said. But it has also brought on a slew of lawsuits by residents complaining of unlawful stops.
Mississippi lawmakers may let two teachers or other employees per public school carry concealed weapons.The House Education Committee passed the measure on a split voice vote Monday. The bill goes next to the House for more debate. House Bill 988, written by Rep. Bubba Carpenter, R-Burnsville, would allow local school boards to vote on allowing two employees per school to carry guns. The bill is one response to the Newtown, Conn., school shooting in December that left 27 dead, including 20 children and the gunman who committed suicide. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and others are pushing for grants that would subsidize the cost of police officers and sheriff’s deputies in schools. Under Carpenter’s plan, any employee carrying a concealed weapon would have to pass a firearms safety course. That mirrors a 2011 state law allowing people, if they get training, to carry concealed guns into many places where they’re otherwise banned, including college campuses and churches.
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the first individual filing related to a recent lower court decision that invalidated President Obama’s three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. The filing had sought to have the board’s rulings invalidated as well. The emergency filing Monday was on behalf of HealthBridge Management, which manages nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities. In the company’s 142-page filing, lawyers argued the board made rulings without a quorum — enough members present to conduct official business — because three of them were invalid. So the rulings should not apply, the company argued. The emergency filing was rejected by Associate Justice Ruth Ginsburg, who received it because it fell into the circuit she oversees. The move comes after a District of Columbia federal appeals court ruled Jan. 25 that Obama’s appointments last January were unconstitutional because he made them when the Senate was not in full recess. The ruling immediately sparked speculation that some, if not many, of the companies that received unfavorable rulings from the board would file appeals