Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Highlands

Taliban Leader in Secret Talks Was an Impostor

There is a sucker born every minute...for real:
From The New York Times:
Taliban Leader in Secret Talks Was an Impostor.
KABUL, Afghanistan — For months, the secret talks unfolding between Taliban and Afghan leaders to end the war appeared to be showing promise, if only because of the appearance of a certain insurgent leader at one end of the table: Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, one of the most senior commanders in the Taliban movement.

But now, it turns out, Mr. Mansour was apparently not Mr. Mansour at all. In an episode that could have been lifted from a spy novel, United States and Afghan officials now say the Afghan man was an impostor, and high-level discussions conducted with the assistance of NATO appear to have achieved little.

“It’s not him,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul intimately involved in the discussions. “And we gave him a lot of money.”

American officials confirmed Monday that they had given up hope that the Afghan was Mr. Mansour, or even a member of the Taliban leadership.
please read the rest of the story here

Friday, November 19, 2010

MARACAS

Follow the money Mr. Chertoff

From THE HILL:
"During a one-minute speech on the House floor, Rep. Ted Poe (Texas) also blasted former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff as a "political hack" and accused him of profiting from the proliferation of the devices.

"There is no evidence these new body scanners make us more secure. But there is evidence that former Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff made money hawking these full body scanners," Poe said."
please read the full story HERE

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

FLIRTING WITH DISASTER

By Robert Zimmerman
Published: November 15, 2010 at 10:23 PMTags: engineering, NASA, policy, shuttle, spaceflight A fourth crack has been found on Discovery’s external tank. How this will affect Discovery’s November 30 launch remains unknown. There will a briefing on Monday to discuss the status of the schedule. This quote however gives me the willies:

External tank crack repairs are not unusual. Some 29 stringer cracks were found in 18 previous tanks, according to an official familiar with their history. Four have now been found in Discovery’s tank, ET-137, and three were found in a tank scheduled for use by the shuttle Atlantis next summer, ET-138. Doublers were used in 23 repairs.

There is a saying that we always fight the last war. After the Challenger accident NASA made great effort to prevent another o-ring failure in the solid rocket boosters, and ignored the foam falling from the external tank. After the Columbia accident, NASA then made great effort to prevent another piece of foam from hitting an orbiter.

Unfortunately, it appears that NASA may now be ignoring this crack problem. Even though they have been able to repair past cracks, for this many cracks to occur this often should cause alarm bells to ring throughout the agency, forcing a look at the problem in toto. Instead, it appears management has been making catch-as-catch-can repairs.

What makes this situation even more difficult is the factory that makes the external tanks has shut down. No new tanks are available. Thus, there are not many options for flying these last few shuttle missions except by using the already existing tanks, and repairing them as needed.

Like I said, this is beginning to give me the willies.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Madoff money: Trustee spent $26M recovering $849G for victims

From The New York Post:
A trustee overseeing the bankruptcy of Bernard Madoff's investment firm spent $26.9 million in the second and third quarters to recover $849,000 for Madoffs victims, according to a federal court filing.

Irving Picard, the trustee, said in a filing with Manhattan federal court that much of the expense -- $15.8 million -- went to cover fees for his law firm, Baker & Hostetler LLP.

Picard said his ability to call on the resources of Baker & Hostetler in such areas as corporate, real estate, bankruptcy, securities, employment, tax, banking and litigation has been of material assistance.

Since beginning the task of weeding through the aftermath of Madoffs Ponzi scheme, Picard has recovered about $1.5 billion for victims through Sept. 30, the filing said.

About 14,030 claims had been reviewed as of Oct. 22, with 2,280 approved for payment, the filing said.

Besides the law firm expense during the second and third quarters, Picard spent $7.1 million on consultants and $107,560 on hosting expenses, according to the filing.

Most of the $849,000 recovered for victims of Madoffs Ponzi scheme came from investors who received preferential payouts ahead of the bankruptcy of Madoffs firm, the filing said.

A portion of the amount recovered -- $71,158 -- came from interest and dividends on various bank accounts.

Bernard Madoff was arrested and charged in December 2008 when his sons, according to their lawyers, reported him to authorities after he confessed to running a massive $50 billion dollar Ponzi scheme.

A Ponzi scheme is one in which early investors are paid with money deposited by new clients.

Madoff, 72, pleaded guilty in March 2009 and is serving a 150-year prison sentence.

Halloween Special: Hillary Screams!

Status Quo - Pictures Of Matchstick Men

A sign of a healthy democracy is loud forceful disagreement

in the political discourse.

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