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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 1701 times)
WingsofCrystal
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« Reply #2235 on: Dec 16th, 2010, 12:09pm »

Hey Swampy and Mur!

Good to see you!

The Husband dropped my mouse and BROKE IT!!!!!!

So I'm off the computer until tomorrow. cry

Crystal
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« Reply #2236 on: Dec 16th, 2010, 6:06pm »

Space Race Heats Up With Mini-Shuttle Spaceplane Design

Published December 16, 2010
Popular Science


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Orbital Sciences Corp.
Orbital's Spaceplane Design Would Dock with the ISS Through a Hatch in the Rear


It seems not everyone is content to let the legacy of the space shuttle fly away over yonder horizon.

Orbital Sciences Corp. has thrown its hat into NASA's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program with a winged space plane concept very reminiscent of the Shuttle’s design intended to ferry crews to and from the ISS.

The space plane design is a departure from prevailing capsule-based designs favored by SpaceX and other big contractors like Boeing and Lockheed. At about one-quarter the size of the space shuttles, the unnamed space plane has no engines like the shuttles, and it can only carry a crew of four.

Like the shuttles, it would ride into orbit on a rocket stack (specifically on an enhanced iteration of the Atlas V). It would dock with the ISS via a hatch in the rear, and after departing the ISS it would glide to a runway landing below.

Orbital sees a reusable space plane design as the cheaper and safer way to move crews to and from the ISS; its “blended lifting body” allows it to move from its orbital trajectory as it re-enters and place it’s point of landing where the pilot wishes. Capsules, of course, come screaming through the atmosphere more or less at their orbital trajectory and rely on parachutes to soften the “splash down” and a recovery crew to locate and pick up the crew.

Both capsules and space planes have their advantages, and neither has a spotless safety record. But it will be interesting to see which mode NASA eventually selects for the next generation of ISS missions.

For one, capsules have been fairly reliable since the 1960s, but during the development of the shuttle program the military was keen to have a craft with “cross range” – that space plane capability to move out of orbital trajectory – for possible strategic purposes. The shuttle never flew militarily, but it would be notable if such a consideration still played a role in NASA’s first post-Cold War crew vehicle.

Secondly, Orbital Sciences isn’t the kind of independent, private, “new space” enterprise as, say, SpaceX. It’s a consortium of defense and aviation heavy-hitters: Northrop would build the plane, and the rockets would be provided by United Launch Alliance (read: Boeing and Lockheed).

Of course, first Orbital has to build, launch, and prove out its space plane. SpaceX already has a comfortable head start, having already launched its Dragon crew capsule into orbit aboard its own Falcon 9 rocket and recovered the capsule intact. And SpaceX is wasting no time; the company plans to dock with the ISS on just its second full test-flight, expected sometime in the middle of next year. If it wasn’t already, it’s safe to consider the next space race well underway.

Read more science and technology news at Popular Science.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/12/16/space-race-orbital-sciences-mini-shuttle-spaceplane/#ixzz18JvWI8r3

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« Reply #2237 on: Dec 17th, 2010, 2:39pm »

Hey Swampy! grin

Thanks for that article. I'll bet whoever snags the space route for the filthy rich will be a Gazzilionaire.

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« Reply #2238 on: Dec 17th, 2010, 2:43pm »

New York Times

December 17, 2010
Pakistani Role Is Suspected in Revealing U.S. Spy’s Name
By MARK MAZZETTI and SALMAN MASOOD


WASHINGTON — The Central Intelligence Agency’s top clandestine officer in Islamabad was pulled from the country on Thursday amid an escalating war of recriminations between American and Pakistani spies, with some American officials convinced that the officer’s cover was deliberately blown by Pakistan’s military intelligence agency.

The C.I.A. officer hastily left Pakistan on the same day that an Obama administration review of the Afghanistan war concluded that the war could not be won without greater cooperation from Islamabad in rooting out militants in Pakistan’s western mountains.

American officials said that the C.I.A. station chief had received a number of death threats after he was named publicly in a legal complaint sent to Pakistani police this week by the family of victims of the spy agency’s campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

But the officials said there is strong suspicion that operatives of Pakistan’s powerful spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, had a hand in revealing the C.I.A. officer’s identity — possibly in retaliation for a civil lawsuit filed in Brooklyn last month implicating the I.S.I. chief in the Mumbai terror attacks of November 2008.

The American officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, did not immediately provide details to support their suspicions.


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Kareem Khan, a resident of North Waziristan who claimed that his son and brother were killed in a drone strike, with his lawyer on Nov. 29
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A senior Pakistani official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the Pakistani government “believes that the suit in New York does not have a sound legal basis, and is based on conjecture. We did not need to retaliate”

“As far as the Government of Pakistan and the I.S.I. are concerned,” he said, “we look forward to working with the Americans in securing the world from transnational threats, especially the shared threat of terrorism.”

The intensifying mistrust between the C.I.A. and I.S.I., two uneasy but co-dependent allies, could hardly come at a worse time. The Obama administration relies on Pakistan’s support for the armed drone program, which this year has launched a record number of strikes in North Waziristan against terror suspects.

“We will continue to help strengthen Pakistani capacity to root out terrorists,” President Obama said on Thursday. “Nevertheless, progress has not come fast enough. So we will continue to insist to Pakistani leaders that terrorist safe havens within their borders must be dealt with.”

Michael J. Morell, the C.I.A.’s deputy director, met with Pakistani officials in Islamabad on Thursday, but American officials said his visit was not the result of the station chief’s case.

The relationship between the spy services has often frayed in recent years. American officials believe that I.S.I. officers helped plan the deadly July 2008 bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul, as well as provided support to Lashkar-e-Taiba militants who carried out the Mumbai attacks later that year.

The lawsuit filed in Brooklyn last month, brought by families of American victims of the Mumbai attacks, names the I.S.I. chief, Lt Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, as being complicit in the terror attacks.

The legal complaint that named the station chief, who was working undercover and whose name is classified, was filed on Monday over attacks that killed at least two Pakistanis. The complaint sought police help in keeping the station chief in the country until a lawsuit could be filed.

The agent’s name had already been revealed in a news conference last month by Mirza Shahzad Akbar, the lawyer who filed the complaint this week, and the name had been reported in local media.

Mr. Akbar said in an interview that he did not believe security was the reason for the C.I.A. agent’s leaving. “Obviously, his name had come out in the open and maybe he feared police action or an action by the Supreme Court,” Mr. Akbar said. The breach of security comes as attacks attributed to American drones in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas continued to intensify, with three strikes on Friday killing at least 26 militants, according to civilian and intelligence officials in Khyber and a local tribesmen.

But the threats against the station chief “were of such a serious nature that it would be imprudent not to act,” according to one American intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

George Little, a C.I.A. spokesman, would not confirm that the station chief had to leave Pakistan, but did say that “station chiefs routinely encounter major risk as they work to keep America safe,” and that “their security is obviously a top priority for the C.I.A., especially when there’s an imminent threat.”

Mr. Akbar, who said the case would continue despite the station chief’s absence, is representing Kareem Khan, a resident of North Waziristan who claimed that his son and brother were killed in a drone strike. The complaint also named Leon Panetta, the agency director, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

Mr. Khan, a resident of Mir Ali in North Waziristan, which has often been a target of drone strikes, is seeking $500 million as compensation for the deaths, accusing the C.I.A. officer of running a clandestine spying operation out of the United States embassy in Islamabad. He also alleged that the C.I.A. officer was in the country on a business passport.

“My brother and son were innocent,” Mr. Khan had said in a recent interview. “There were no Taliban hiding in my house.”

For several years, drone attacks have been a regular element of American tactics to counter militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas, but the number of such strikes has increased markedly this year.

Two British converts to Islam appeared to be among many killed in drone attacks in recent days, officials in North Waziristan said on Friday.

Two officials, a senior civilian Pakistani official based in Peshawar and a security official, who both spoke in return for anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters, said the Britons were believed to have assumed Islamic names — Abu Bakar, said to be his late 40s, and Mansoor in his mid-20s — after their conversion to Islam in Britain a few years ago.

The two Britons are believed to have traveled to North Waziristan a year ago to join Al Qaeda, the officials said, and died when a missile struck the vehicle in which they were traveling along with two local militants who were also killed.

The officials said the vehicle seemed to have been electronically tracked as it traveled from Afghanistan. The attacks took places in the Dattkhel area, well inside Pakistan.

The British Foreign Office said diplomats were aware of the reports and were trying to confirm them.

The report was the second in recent months suggesting the presence of some foreigners among militants fighting American forces in the border area. In July, American forces in Afghanistan detained a German citizen, Ahmed Sidiqi, 36, said to have ties to the men who helped plot the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Then in October, Pakistani officials said that several German citizens were killed in a drone strike in Pakistan.

The attack earlier this week was followed on Thursday by a drone strike in the Terah valley in the Khyber region along the Afghan border where Pakistani militants have fled to escape military operations in the Swat, Khyber, Orakzai and South Waziristan tribal regions.

In three more strikes in the same area on Friday, a government official said 26 militants were killed, the fourth attack in the area two days.

Almost all American drone attacks this year have been in the North Waziristan tribal region, a known sanctuary for Al Qaeda and Taliban militants.

The attacks in Khyber are uncommon. The area is home to Lashkar-e-Islami, a militant organization sometimes allied with the Pakistani Taliban, but which has often clashed with other groups.

As it published its year-end review of its Afghan war strategy on Thursday, the Obama administration indicated that it planned to step up attacks on Al Qaeda and Taliban insurgents in the area.

That would mean using Predator and Reaper drones in Pakistan’s tribal areas, and possibly carrying out Special Forces operations along the border, officials indicated.


Mark Mazzetti reported from Washington and Salman Masood from Islamabad, Pakistan. Ismail Khan contributed reporting from Peshawar, Pakistan, Alan Cowell from Paris, and J. David Goodman from New York.


Correction: December 17, 2010

An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to the actions of a lawyer representing a Pakistani man over deaths allegedly connected with a drone attack. The lawyer filed a complaint with police in Islamabad on Monday and had threatened to file a lawsuit last month; he has not yet filed the suit.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/18/world/asia/18pstan.html?_r=1&hp

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« Reply #2239 on: Dec 17th, 2010, 2:46pm »



Please be an angel


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« Reply #2240 on: Dec 17th, 2010, 3:23pm »

A real rocker grin :

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« Reply #2241 on: Dec 17th, 2010, 3:40pm »

One of the World's Biggest Telescopes Is Buried Beneath the South Pole

By Blake Snow
Published December 17, 2010

FoxNews.com

Like exploding stars, black holes, dark matter? How about cosmic intrigue, deep space astronomy, or origins of the universe?

Then you’re gonna love this.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin are putting the finishing touches on a giant underground telescope buried beneath the South Pole to help understand said phenomenon. Accordingly called the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, completion is expected to occur at 8 p.m. CST, once the last of more than 5,000 optical sensors is buried as much as two miles below the permanent ice cap covering Antarctica.

The sensors are buried over one square kilometer of Antarctica's frozen tundra; weight-wise, that's a gigaton of ice.

Just what exactly will this telescope observe? Tiny subatomic particles called neutrinos: They’re like a neutron, in that they hold no charge, but they’re the size of an electron. Neutrinos are important because they’re the byproduct of nuclear reactions, meaning if you retrace them to their origins, you could happen upon some interesting things.

“The goal is to record interactions of high-energy neutrinos that travel through the cosmos and stop in the ultra-transparent natural ice of Antarctica,” said researcher Francis Halzen in an interview with FoxNews.com from his cold base at the South Pole. “We hope to detect extremely high energy neutrinos that point back to active galaxies, gamma-ray bursts, supernova remnants in our Galaxy -- or possibly, unanticipated cosmological events.”

Not only that, but the planned 15-year experiment also hopes to identify new sources of cosmic energy, Halzen said.
“The detection of these neutrinos will resolve the century-old question of the origin of cosmic rays,” he told FoxNews.com. Space is mysterious, too. “Other missions include the search for dark matter and for supernova explosions inside our own Galaxy. It is however a discovery instrument, and surprises are what we really hope for.”

Given the harsh conditions, construction of the observatory, which began in 2005, has understandably been an arduous task. Workers have been able to work only three to four months out of the year, since the remaining months “enjoy” outside temperatures reach upwards of negative 100 degrees F.

Funded by the National Science Foundation with an endowment of $272 million, IceCube is located in the heart of the Antarctica for calculated reasons.

“The South Pole presented two important conditions,” Halzen explained. “A layer of almost 3 kilometers of optically transparent deep ice and the infrastructure of the Amundsen Scott South Pole Station, maintained by the National Science Foundation.”

Since commonly-known particles are more easily absorbed, the ice is ideal for capturing neutrinos “on film” if you will. The Antarctic ice also neutralizes telescopic pollution better than most places, so the fast-moving neutrinos can be traced by the sensors. “Looking through the Earth, we reduce the background of particles other than neutrinos,” Halzen said.

As for the neutrinos, they're so tiny and lightening fast that they can pass through solid matter without colliding with any molecules, Halzen explained. Humans included. (I think I just felt one go through me.) What’s more, the little buggers travel in perfectly straight lines and on rare occasions crash into atoms of ice, which enables Halzen and his team to work their way backwards towards scientific discovery.

“From deep within the ice, the telescope will observe the full sky, both northern and southern hemispheres simultaneously all the time,” Halzen told FoxNews.com. “We do not have to point the telescope.”

One of the scientists associated with the project described the sensors as basically light bulbs in reverse, that pick up light and send an electrical signal to the high-powered computer within them. Burying them in the ice is its own challenge; as you might expect, the team employs hot water drills to penetrate the South Pole's ice.

"Hot water drilling is an art. It is an incredible art; almost not a science, almost not engineering," Halzen said earlier this year. "It's just difficult; it's a choreography, which has to work perfectly, and the people learned this very fast."

Construction completion is scheduled for late Friday night, but the telescope won't be ready to peer into the depths of the universe for another few months, said Laurel Bacque, communications manager for UW's IceCube Research Center.

"True operational completeness will not occur until March 2011, when the new strings have frozen over and been integrated in the system," she told FoxNews.com.

Noting that a “warm” day in Antarctica is around 0°, what exactly would drive scientists to endure such extremes?

“The basic motivation is to understand our universe,” Halzen concluded. “The stuff from which we are made is only 4% of the universe's inventory. These are motivations dominantly driven by curiosity; by the dream of mankind to understand our origins, our place in the cosmos, and a far future much beyond our human horizons.”


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/12/17/icecube-antarctica-worlds-biggest-telescope-south-pole/#ixzz18PFyBYM0

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« Reply #2242 on: Dec 17th, 2010, 4:10pm »

Master of farce and slapstick, Blake Edwards, dies sad

...

Edwards, 88, died from complications of pneumonia at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., after being hospitalized for about two weeks. He had knee problems, had undergone unsuccessful procedures and was "pretty much confined to a wheelchair for the last year-and-a-half or two," said publicist Gene Schwam, who knew him for 40 years.

At the time of his death, Edwards was working on two Broadway musicals, one based on the "Pink Panther" movies. The other, "Big Rosemary," was to be an original comedy set during Prohibition, Schwam said.

...

http://www.mail.com/news/us/80604-master-farce-slapstick-blake-edwards-dies.html#.2710-stage-set2-3

Another one of the past hollywood giants leaves the stage. Thank you, Sir, for all those funny movies which made us forget a bit our problems.

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« Reply #2243 on: Dec 17th, 2010, 5:55pm »

on Dec 17th, 2010, 3:23pm, philliman wrote:
A real rocker grin :




He must be fun around the house............... rolleyes
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« Reply #2244 on: Dec 17th, 2010, 5:56pm »

One of the World's Biggest Telescopes Is Buried Beneath the South Pole


Thanks Swampy!

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« Reply #2245 on: Dec 17th, 2010, 5:58pm »

Master of farce and slapstick, Blake Edwards, dies


Hi Phil cheesy

I felt so bad when I heard this. Julie Andrews will be devastated.

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« Reply #2246 on: Dec 17th, 2010, 7:52pm »

Hollywood Reporter

Zodiak Nabs Worldwide Distribution Rights to WikiLeaks Documentary
10:23 AM 12/17/2010
by Lindsay Powers


"WikiLeaks: War, Lies & Videotape,: which profiles the site's founder Julian Assange, is produced by Luc Hermann and Paul Moreira.

UK distributor Zodiak Rights has nabbed worldwide distribution rights to WikiLeaks: War, Lies & Videotape.

The documentary will go head-to-head against competing film, WikiRebels, which was produced by Swedish broadcaster SVT and been sold to NRK in Norway and Dutch public broadcaster Vara, C21 Media reports. SVT is close to finalizing WikiRebels deals with Spain, Austria, the U.S., the U.K. and Poland. It will air on most nets in early January.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/zodiak-nabs-worldwide-distribution-rights-61285

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« Reply #2247 on: Dec 17th, 2010, 9:26pm »

Veterans Today

Los Alamos Scientist: TSA Scanners Shred Human DNA
December 17, 2010
posted by Bob Nichols

This is Insane. Don’t ever get scanned by TSA.
While the application of scientific knowledge creates technology, sometimes the technology is later redefined by science. Such is the case with terahertz (THz) radiation, the energy waves that drive the technology of the TSA: back scatter airport scanners.

THz waves are found between microwaves and infrared on the electromagnetic spectrum. This type of radiation was chosen for security devices because it can penetrate matter such as clothing, wood, paper and other porous material that’s non-conducting.
This type of radiation seems less threatening because it doesn’t penetrate deeply into the body and is believed to be harmless to both people and animals.

THz waves may have applications beyond security devices. Research has been done to determine the feasibility of using the radiation to detect tumors underneath the skin and for analyzing the chemical properties of various materials and compounds. The potential marketplace for THz driven technological applications may generate many billions of dollars in revenue.

Because of the potential profits, intense research on THz waves and applications has mushroomed over the last decade.

Health risks

The past several years the possible health risks from cumulative exposure to THz waves was mostly dismissed. Experts pointed to THz photons and explained that they are not strong enough to ionize atoms or molecules; nor are they able to break the chains of chemical bonds. They assert—and it is true—that while higher energy photons like ultraviolet rays and X-rays are harmful, the lower energy ones like terahertz waves are basically harmless. [Softpedia.com]

While that is true, there are other biophysics at work. Some studies have shown that THZ can cause great genetic harm, while other similar studies have shown no such evidence of deleterious affects.

Boian Alexandrov http://cnls.lanl.gov/External/people/Boian_Alexandrov.php
at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico recently published an abstract with colleagues, “DNA Breathing Dynamics in the Presence of a Terahertz Field ” http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2010PhLA..374.1214A
that reveals very disturbing—even shocking—evidence that the THz waves generated by TSA scanners is significantly damaging the DNA of the people being directed through the machines, and the TSA workers that are in close proximity to the scanners throughout their workday.

From the abstracts own synopsis:
“We consider the influence of a terahertz field on the breathing dynamics of double-stranded DNA. We model the spontaneous formation of spatially localized openings of a damped and driven DNA chain, and find that linear instabilities lead to dynamic dimerization, while true local strand separations require a threshold amplitude mechanism. Based on our results we argue that a specific terahertz radiation exposure may significantly affect the natural dynamics of DNA, and thereby influence intricate molecular processes involved in gene expression and DNA replication.”

In layman’s terms what Alexandrov and his team discovered is that the resonant effects of the THz waves bombarding humans unzips the double-stranded DNA molecule. This ripping apart of the twisted chain of DNA creates bubbles between the genes that can interfere with the processes of life itself: normal DNA replication and critical gene expression.

Other studies have not discovered this deadly effect on the DNA because the research only investigated ordinary resonant effects.

Nonlinear resonance, however, is capable of such damage and this sheds light on the genotoxic effects inherent in the utilization of THz waves upon living tissue. The team emphasizes in their abstract that the effects are probabilistic rather than deterministic.

Unfortunately, DNA damage is not limited only to THz wave exposure. Other research has been done that reveals lower frequency microwaves used by cell phones and Wi-Fi cause some harm to DNA over time as well. ["Single- and double-strand DNA breaks in rat brain cells after acute exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation."] //Terrance Aym

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/12/17/los-alamos-scientist-tsa-scanners-shred-human-dna/

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« Reply #2248 on: Dec 18th, 2010, 07:09am »

New York Times

December 17, 2010
Two States Sue Bank of America Over Mortgages
By ANDREW MARTIN and MICHAEL POWELL

The attorneys general of Arizona and Nevada on Friday filed a lawsuit against Bank of America, accusing it of engaging in “widespread fraud” by misleading customers with “false promises” about their eligibility for modifications on their home mortgages.

In withering complaints filed in state courts in both states, the attorneys general accused Bank of America of assuring customers that they would not be foreclosed upon while they were seeking loan modifications, only to proceed with foreclosures anyway; of falsely telling customers that they must be in default to obtain a modification; of promising that the modifications would be made permanent if they completed a trial period, only to renege on the deal; and of conjuring up bogus reasons for denying modifications.

“Bank of America’s callous disregard for providing timely, correct information to people in their time of need is truly egregious,” Catherine Cortez Masto, the attorney general of Nevada said in a statement.

Many Nevada homeowners continued “to make mortgage payments they could not afford, running through their savings, their retirement funds or their children’s education funds.”

The lawsuit comes as top prosecutors nationwide are investigating whether the paperwork that banks used to support foreclosure cases often was egregiously sloppy, sometimes relying on robo-signers — employees who signed hundreds of documents a day — to sign sworn court documents.

Tom Miller, Iowa’s attorney general who is heading the multistate investigation into foreclosure fraud allegations, said the two states’ lawsuits would not dilute his inquiry. “It is clear that attorneys general in Arizona and Nevada believe that it is in their two states’ best interests to pursue coordinated civil cases against Bank of America,” he said in a statement.

A Bank of America spokesman, Dan Frahm, said bank officials were disappointed that the lawsuits were filed “at this time,” given the bank’s cooperation with the multistate investigation.

Mr. Frahm disputed the allegations in the lawsuit, saying the bank was committed to making sure no property was foreclosed until the customer had a chance to modify the loan or, if ineligible for a modification, to pursue another solution.

He said the attorneys general didn’t acknowledge the many improvements the bank had made, like providing a single point of contact for customers who have started the modification process and increasing staff to support “homeownership retention initiatives.”

Arizona and Nevada are among the states hardest hit by the housing downturn, and the state attorneys general said their lawsuits were prompted by hundreds of complaints by consumers who sought modifications of their mortgages.

The complaints in the lawsuit in many ways echoed problems encountered by homeowners nationwide who have tried with little luck to obtain mortgage modifications from banks, often through a federal program set up for that purpose. Thousands of homeowners complain that banks repeatedly lose their documents, fail to return calls or foreclose when a homeowner believes he or she is still negotiating a modification.

Indeed, according to the lawsuits, Bank of America’s efforts were the most anemic of the big banks and were not confined to the Western states but rather “reflect a pervasive nationwide pattern and practice of conduct.” The lawsuit noted that Bank of America ranked last in “virtually every homeowner experience metric” monitored in a monthly report on the federal home loan modification program.

Ms. Masto of Nevada said her office’s findings were confirmed by interviews with consumers, former employees, third parties and documents. Former employees said that Bank of America’s modification staff was “chaotic, understaffed and not oriented to customers,” according to a news release. One former employee said, “The main purpose of the training is to teach us how to get customers off the phone in less than 10 minutes.”

Another employee said, “When checking on a borrower’s status, I often found that the modification request had not been dealt with or was so old that the request had become inactive. Yet, I was instructed to inform borrowers that they were ‘active and in status.’ One time I complained to a supervisor that I felt I always was lying to borrowers.”

The Arizona complaint cites the case of an Apache Junction couple who faced foreclosure. When the wife called the bank, a representative told her ‘not to worry,’ there was a stop order on the foreclosure and the couple’s loan modification package would arrive the next day. The next day the homeowner learned that her house had already been sold, the suit says.

Terry Goddard, attorney general of Arizona, said the lawsuit was filed in part because the bank had violated the terms of a 2009 consent decree that Countrywide Home Loans — which Bank of America purchased in 2008 — had engaged in “widespread consumer fraud” in originating and marketing mortgages. As part of the judgment, Countrywide had agreed to create a loan modification program for some Arizona homeowners.

Mr. Goddard, a Democrat who lost a bid for governor, will leave office in January.


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/18/business/18mortgage.html?hp

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« Reply #2249 on: Dec 18th, 2010, 07:27am »

New York Times

December 17, 2010
Failed North Korean Assassin Assimilates in the South
By MARK McDONALD

SEOUL, South Korea

HIS fatal mistake, the North Korean commando soon came to realize, was not killing the South Korean villagers when he had the chance. The orders were clear, if he and his fellow assassins came upon any civilians: kill them immediately, bury them and get on with the mission to slip into Seoul and kill the president.

But this was late January, the high-mountain ground was frozen, and Kim Shin-jo, a 27-year-old special forces lieutenant, did not want to go to the effort of digging graves. Instead he warned the villagers, encountered one night during the journey from the North, not to go to the authorities, after which he and his men continued on toward the Blue House, the presidential residence.

But the villagers ignored the warning and went straight to the police, who then alerted the military. “That was when it all began to unravel,” Mr. Kim said.

Dressed as South Korean soldiers, the 31 Communist commandos dodged their pursuers for three days, talked their way through various checkpoints and got to within a few hundred yards of the Blue House, where they were finally confronted. It was late morning, Jan. 21, 1968.

A ferocious gun battle broke out, and dozens of South Korean troops and civilians were killed. A school bus reportedly was caught in the cross-fire, and three American soldiers also were killed.

As the North Korean raiding party scattered and retreated northward, hunted for more than a week, all but two of the attackers committed suicide or were killed. One survivor was a commando who got back safely to the North and later became a general. The other was Mr. Kim.

AFTER a year of interrogation, he was surprised to receive a pardon, apparently because he was found not to have fired his gun. He had assumed he would be executed. After that he was reborn, first as a South Korean citizen and then as a Presbyterian minister. He met his wife a year after his release — she is the one who turned him to Christianity — and they now have two grown children. Mr. Kim said his church outside Seoul had 70,000 members, making it the largest Presbyterian congregation in the world. He is one of 80 pastors there.

The South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, recently appointed Mr. Kim, 69, to be a human rights adviser to the governing Grand National Party.

Oddly, one of the leaders of the party, and its presumptive candidate for president in 2012, is Park Geun-hye, the daughter of the late president Park Chung-hee — the very man that Mr. Kim was sent to kill in 1968. (Mr. Park was assassinated by his own spy chief, in 1979.)

Mr. Kim and Mrs. Park met for the first time only two months ago, at the funeral of a high-ranking North Korean defector. Mr. Kim had never sent her an apology for trying to kill her father, nor did he think to apologize at the funeral, he said, “because she was so immediately glad to see me.”

“She took my hand and was so warm to me,” he said. “I think she sees me as part of the team. She likes me.”

In the wake of the North Korean artillery attack last month on Yeonpyeong Island in South Korea, which killed two marines and two civilians, Mr. Kim has openly called for a new military readiness in South Korea, along with a harder line and a deeper suspicion toward his former homeland.

“A whole village was bombed to the point of no return, and aside from a few who want to retaliate, the rest of the country is not ready, discipline-wise,” he said. “South Korea is above North Korea in everything except discipline. If there’s a war, and it comes down to psychology, they would still win.”

He favors a total cutoff of aid to the North, including humanitarian food deliveries by the United Nations, as well as long stints of obligatory military service for young South Koreans. A decade of conciliation toward the North, he said, has made the South too complacent.

“People here are numb to the seriousness, especially people under 50,” Mr. Kim said, getting visibly agitated, and not just from a large mug of late-afternoon coffee with two sugars. “We need to be like the Israelis, where the whole population is on the same page.”

There has been deep public outrage here because civilians were killed on Yeonpyeong, and it was widely suggested that these were the first civilian casualties in the decades of North-South clashes. Many people, either forgetting their own history or being unaware of it, insisted that the North had “upped the ante” by attacking civilians for the first time.

Park Tae-gyun, a history professor at Seoul National University, said the Yeonpyeong attack bore some resemblance to the Blue House raid in that each was part of a cluster of provocative North Korean actions. Even if the Blue House mission, in retrospect, seems so brazen as to be suicidal, Mr. Kim said he fully expected his team to succeed. He was told that the founding president of North Korea, Kim Il-sung, wanted Park Chung-hee assassinated, and that was enough for him. Orders were orders.

“I was told, ‘Gun him down. Use the gun.’ That’s as specific as it got,” Mr. Kim said.

EVEN now, details of the long-ago mission remain fresh in his memory.

Mr. Kim recalls certain smells as he and his comrades slipped through minefields along the border and into the mountains above Seoul. He remembers being surprised at seeing so many cars in the capital, how big the houses were in comparison to back home and how the lights of the city twinkled so brightly in the night.

“We had been taught that South Korea was living in the dark ages,” he said. “But when we looked through our binoculars and saw all the cars, we began to sense a discrepancy.”

He can still demonstrate the tongue-severing technique for a blood-letting suicide that all special forces troopers were taught in the North. He also remembers his fearful retreat from Seoul after the mission fell apart — burying his TT-33 pistol, which he said he never fired, along with his knife and the 14 hand grenades that each commando had been issued.

And he certainly remembers surrendering, with his hands above his head, after being surrounded: “I was single, a young man. I wanted to save myself.”

Part of the mountain path that some of the North Korean raiders used in their retreat from Seoul has been turned into a trail for hikers, tourists and nature lovers. Even though Mr. Kim never actually used that path, it has been officially christened the “Kim Shin-jo Route.”

“When I think about that I get in a bad mood,” he said. “Even if they named it after me with good intentions, it doesn’t carry a good meaning. It was not a good incident.”

Mr. Kim acknowledged feeling “psychologically damaged” by his past. “Because I was the only survivor I got all the blame,” he said. “I suffered all the sins, if you will, of all 31 men.”

For several years after the raid he was called “the mountain pirate,” a nickname that still rankles. And he worries that his notoriety has put undue strain and pressure on his family. He even tried changing his name, to Kim Jae-hyun.

“Sometimes I think about emigrating to the United States,” he said. “But then I calm down and remember that this is the society that gave me freedom.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/18/world/asia/18seoul.html?ref=world

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