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Oct. 27, 2012 at 9:55 AM
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Obama: Watchdog can help with credit scores

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday the new independent consumer watchdog will look out for working families and make everyone play by the same rules.

The consumer watchdog was established as part of Wall Street reform to make sure Americans have the information they need to make financial decisions such as paying for college or buying a home, Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.

The agency will go after "anyone who tries to take advantage of you, or rip you off," the president said.

"Starting this month, that includes the folks who come up with your credit score. ... The companies that put your credit score together can make mistakes. They may think you had a loan or a credit card that was never yours. They may think you were late making payments when you were on time. And when they mess up, you're the one who suffers," Obama said.

"Until this week, if you had a complaint, you took it to the company. Sometimes they listened. Sometimes they didn't. But that was pretty much it. They were your only real hope.

"Not anymore. If you have a complaint about your credit score that hasn't been properly addressed, you can go to consumerfinance.gov/complaint and let the consumer watchdog know."

Obama said the government will give consumers a tracking number "so you can check back and see exactly what's being done on your behalf" and can help with more than just credit scores.

"If you're opening a bank account, trying to get a student loan, or applying for a credit card and something doesn't seem right, you can let them know and they'll check it out.

"If you're looking to buy a home, and you want to know if you're getting a fair deal on your mortgage, you can give them a call and they'll get you an answer.

"Their only mission is to fight for you. And when needed, they'll take action," he said.

"That's what Wall Street reform is all about -- looking out for working families and making sure that everyone is playing by the same rules."

Obama warned that Republicans in Congress "backed by an army of financial industry lobbyists" are trying to dismantle the new rules, adding, "I refuse to let that happen."

"I believe that the free market is one of the greatest forces for progress in human history, and that the true engine of job creation in this country is the private sector, not the government.

"But I also believe that the free market has never been about taking whatever you want, however you can get it. Alongside our innovative spirit, America only prospers when we meet certain obligations to one another, and when we all play by the same set of rules," Obama said.

Troops deaths in Afghanistan not friendly

KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- An initial investigation into the death of two British soldiers in Afghanistan found the killings were not caused by "friendly fire," British officials said.

Corporal Channing Day, 25, and Corporal David O'Connor, 27, were fatally injured while on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province Wednesday, Khaama Press reported. An Afghan man, believed to have been an off-duty member of the Afghan Uniformed Police, also died during the incident.

A British defense ministry official said, "A joint incident assessment team, comprising specialists from International Security Assistance Force, along with representatives from the government of Afghanistan, have conducted an initial review at the scene and have concluded that this was not a blue-on-blue ["friendly fire"] incident, and that the deaths of Corporal O'Connor and Corporal Day were caused by a third party or parties whose identities have yet to be established but who are not UK personnel.

"Further investigation into the involvement or otherwise of the dead Afghan male is ongoing", the official said adding that analysis of the event was "likely to take some time."

64 reported dead in Myanmar violence

YANGON, Myanmar, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- A night-time curfew is in place in several locations in western Myanmar after clashes in six towns between Buddhists and ethnic Muslim groups, observers say.

Fighting Friday is the latest in a week of violence that has killed 64 people, the BBC reported Saturday.

The conflict appears to have led to the destruction of the coastal village of Kyaukpyu populated by Muslim Rohingyas, in Rakhine state, Human Rights Watch said.

The U.S.-based humanitarian group said more than 800 buildings and houseboats in the town were burned to the ground.

The group's analysis was based on comparing satellite images of the town taken on Oct. 9 and again on Thursday.

The number of casualties from the destruction is unknown, but many of the inhabitants are thought to have fled by sea.

What triggered the latest clashes is unknown.

Burmese officials consider Rohingya to be illegal immigrants. They are denied citizenship although many of them have lived in the country formally known as Burma for generations.

More than 2,000 homes have been destroyed in seven days of sporadic fighting, said Win Myaing, a local government official, The New York Times reported.

At least 70,000 people remain in camps set up after violence in June resulted in the deaths of about 50 people.

President Thein Sein has set up a commission to examine the causes of that violence and has signed cease-fire agreements with several insurgent groups.

Agencies: Refugee donations falling short

AMMAN, Jordan, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- The coming of winter and the lack of donations is fueling fears that camps for Syrian refugees will not be adequately protected from the cold, aid groups say.

The number of Syrians seeking refuge in neighboring countries has far surpassed United Nations' projections and is expected to double to 710,000 by the end of the year, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The United Nations says a special fund it administers to care for the refugees has raised only a third of its $488 million budget.

Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq have accepted 360,000 people fleeing the conflict in Syria, said Ron Redmond, a spokesman for the United Nations refugee agency in Amman, Jordan.

Those figures reflect only Syrians registered with the agency. Tens of thousands more are believed not to have registered out of fear of Syrian retaliation against friends and family still in the war-torn country.

Prefabricated housing units are en route to the Zaatri refugee camp in Jordan, where winter temperatures dip to near freezing. Winterization of the camp "should have started by now," said Daryl Grisgraber, a senior advocate for Refugees International in Washington who recently visited the camp.

The problem is compounded in Lebanon where there are no regular camps and refugees are living in abandoned buildings, said Robert Laprade, an official with Save the Children.

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