Lost and Found News: Barofsky, TSA, Time, and Atlantis

With all the life altering news throughout the world, here is some news to ponder that you might have missed.

Lost:  Neil M. Barofsky, Special Inspector General of TARP  from government pay roll. Soon.

As the chief investigator of the government’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program during the last two years, Neil Barofsky established a white-collar law enforcement agency with 142 ongoing criminal and civil investigations dealing with TARP fraud, accounting fraud, securities fraud, insider trading, bank fraud, mortgage fraud, mortgage servicer misconduct, fraudulent advance-fee schemes, public corruption, false statements, obstruction of justice, theft of trade secrets, money laundering, and tax-related investigations.

He has been a ferocious watchdog for the american people and a vocal critic of Treasury particularly in regards to HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) Video is from his March 2, 2011 testimony before the House Committee On Financial Services.

According to RealtyTrac data, a record 2.9 million homes received foreclosure filings in 2010, up from 2.8 million in 2009, and 2.3 million in 2008.  RealtyTrac predicts that filings will be 20% higher in 2011, obliterating the 3 million threshold.  The recently reported numbers for January 2011 support this prediction, with more than 260,000 foreclosure filings in that month alone. The firm’s data further reveal that bank repossessions continue to increase, from just less than 820,000 in 2008 to more than 918,000 in 2009 to 1.05 million in 2010.  Some estimate that as many as 13 million homes will be subject to foreclosure filings during the operative stage of HAMP.

In contrast, the number of permanent mortgage modifications under HAMP remains feeble— there were just under 522,000 ongoing permanent modifications as of December 31, 2010, with approximately 238,000 of those funded by and attributable to TARP.

But, last month SIGTARP Barofsky gave notice of his resignation.  March 30th will be his last day as a government employee.  On April 1, he starts a teaching and research post at N.Y.U.’s law school.

Mr. Barofsky called the career move a “wonderful opportunity both to teach and to more deeply examine the important issues that exist at the intersection of law, business and government regulation.”

“This is a very exciting development for the Law School,” the school’s dean, Richard Revesz, said in a statement. “Neil will bring unique perspective to a range of subjects, particularly financial crime and government regulation of the financial system. All of us here will benefit by having him here as a teacher and a colleague.”

Thank you for your service to the American people, Mr Barofsky.  And while I wish you were continuing in your role as Special Inspector General, I take hope from the fact that you will be teaching and inspiring a whole generation of real government and industry watchdogs.

<h3>Found: <a href="http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/2011-03-11-tsa-scans_N.htm">Need to retest full-body scanners for safety, according to TSA.</a></h3>
Following the release of a 2,000 page maintenance report, the TSA has announced it will retest, by the end of the month, every full-body X-ray scanner that emits ionizing radiation -- the so called backscatter devices, out of "an abundance of caution to reassure the public."  TSA has also said it will take steps to require its maintenance contractors to "retrain personnel involved in conducting and overseeing the radiation survey process."
<blockquote>At best, Chaffetz said, the radiation reports generated by TSA contractors reveal haphazard oversight and record-keeping in the critical inspection system the agency relies upon to ensure millions of travelers aren't subjected to excessive doses of radiation.</blockquote>
The backscatter scanners are supposed to deliver only a tiny amount of radiation, but Peter Rez, a physics professor at Arizona State University, points to the potential for the scanners to break and the importance of proper maintenance and monitoring.
<blockquote>...the potential for a passenger to get an excessive dose of radiation or even a radiation burn if the X-ray scanning beam were to malfunction and stop on one part of a person's body for an extended period of time."What happens in times of failure, when they can give very, very high radiation doses. I'm totally unconvinced they have thought that through," Rez said of the TSA. "I just see a large, bumbling bureaucracy. Of course it's not very reassuring."</blockquote>
Do you find it less than reassuring that the TSA is claiming these are simple record keeping errors, when:
<blockquote>The TSA is responsible for the safety of its own X-ray devices. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said it does not routinely inspect airport X-ray machines because they are not considered medical devices. The TSA's airport scanners are exempt from state radiation inspections because they belong to a federal agency.</blockquote>
I do.

Lost:  Time — To an Earthquake

I’ve always thought that our days are much shorter then when I was a kid.  Now I have proof.  Maybe

“…research scientist Richard Gross of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., applied a complex model to perform a preliminary theoretical calculation of how the Japan earthquake—the fifth largest since 1900—affected Earth’s rotation. His calculations indicate that by changing the distribution of Earth’s mass, the Japanese earthquake should have caused Earth to rotate a bit faster, shortening the length of the day by about 1.8 microseconds (a microsecond is one millionth of a second).

Of course, the scientist claim that it happens all the time.

“Earth’s rotation changes all the time as a result of not only earthquakes, but also the much larger effects of changes in atmospheric winds and oceanic currents,” he said. “Over the course of a year, the length of the day increases and decreases by about a millisecond, or about 550 times larger than the change caused by the Japanese earthquake. The position of Earth’s figure axis also changes all the time, by about 1 meter (3.3 feet) over the course of a year, or about six times more than the change that should have been caused by the Japan quake.”

All interesting and slightly scary, but what I want to know is:

Are we still really living 24 hour days?

And when we gain time is it in the future or the past?


Found:  The lost City of Atlantis.

The Greek philosopher Plato wrote about it 2,600 years ago.

"an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Hercules [now known as the Straits of Gibraltar]..."

"in a single day and night... disappeared into the depths of the sea."

An international team believes it has found the site of Atlantis buried in the mudflats of Dona Ana Park in Spain.  The result of a tsunami thousands of years ago.  This is a claim that seems all the more plausible with these Japan before and after Tsunami photos.

Future Atlantis? Japan's Sendai Coast Before and After the Tsunami, Google, Digitalglobe via popsci.com
Japan’s Sendai Coast Before and After the Tsunami, Google, Digitalglobe via popsci.com

The team will unveil their findings in a National Geographic special “Finding Atlantis”.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s