National Briefs / JPMorgan has investor deal

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JPMorgan Chase & Co. has reached a $4.5 billion settlement with investors who said the bank deceived them about bad mortgage investments.

The settlement, announced Friday, covers 21 major institutional investors, including JPMorgan competitor Goldman Sachs, BlackRock Financial Management, and Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. The mortgage-backed securities were sold by JPMorgan and Bear Stearns between 2005 and 2008.

The deal is the latest in a series of legal settlements over JPMorgan's sales of mortgage-backed securities in the years preceding the financial crisis.

As the housing market collapsed between 2006 and 2008, millions of homeowners defaulted on high-risk mortgages. That led to billions of dollars in losses for investors who bought securities created from bundles of mortgages.

New York-based JPMorgan has said that most of its mortgage-backed securities came from investment bank Bear Stearns and savings and loan Washington Mutual, troubled companies that JPMorgan acquired in 2008.

Tech giants battle NSA

WASHINGTON -- Google, Facebook and Yahoo are fighting back against the National Security Agency by using harder-to-crack code to shield their networks and online customer data from unauthorized U.S. spying.

The companies, burned by disclosures they've cooperated with U.S. surveillance programs, are protecting user email and social-media posts with strengthened encryption that the U.S. government says won't be easily broken until 2030.

While the NSA may find ways around the barriers, the companies say they have to assure users their online connections are secure and data can't be grabbed when transmitted over fiber-optic networks or digitally stored.

Post office loses $5 billion

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Postal Service said Friday it lost $5 billion over the past year, and postal officials again urged Congress to pass legislation to help the beleaguered agency solve its financial woes.

In a positive sign, the loss was a fraction of the record $15.9 billion the Postal Service reported losing last year. But it was still the agency's seventh straight annual loss and came despite its first growth in revenue since 2008.

Bodies may be missing family

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- Four skeletons found in shallow graves in the Southern California desert are believed those of a San Diego County family that vanished three years ago, police said Friday, resolving one mystery and raising a host of new questions about what happened to the seemingly happy couple and their two young sons.

The McStay family -- Joseph, 40, and his 43-year-old wife Summer, and their sons Gianni, 4, and Joseph Jr., 3 -- were apparent homicide victims, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said.

Police now will try to piece together what led the McStays to disappear and end up 100 miles from their home, not far off heavily traveled Interstate 15 connecting San Diego and Las Vegas. The family's skeletal remains were found Monday by an off-road motorcyclist.

Debris-detection system

BOSTON -- A new automated system to detect debris on airport runways has been installed on a runway at Boston's Logan Airport, the first in the U.S. with the technology that officials said would help prevent costly damage to aircraft and potentially save lives.

Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration, airport owner Massachusetts Port Authority and developer Xsight Systems, an Israeli firm with U.S. headquarters in Boston, unveiled the $1.7 million FODetect system Friday. FO stands for foreign object.

The system was installed on one of the airport's busiest runways, officials said.

NRDC chief to step down

WASHINGTON -- Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, announced Friday that she will be stepping down by the end of 2014.

Starting as an intern in 1973 three years after the group's inception, Ms. Beinecke, 64, was only the second president in the NRDC's history, after she took over for founding president, John Adams, in 2006.

In her 40 years at the organization, Ms. Beinecke saw it grow into a powerhouse on energy and environmental issues by pursuing aggressive litigation and producing detailed policy reports.



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