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Gender: Do not display
Hometown: Leon County, Florida
Member since: Tue Feb 12, 2008, 09:18 PM
Number of posts: 18,913

Journal Archives

Errors Afflict More Checks Issued to Aid Homeowners

The company the big banks hired to recompense homeowners for mortgage abuses can't seem to get its act together. First it sent out checks without putting money into the account to cover them. Now it's sending out checks for incorrect amounts. Is this incompetence or willful bad acts?

Errors Afflict More Checks Issued to Aid Homeowners
May 8, 2013, 3:35 pm 8:58 p.m. | Updated

Three weeks after checks sent to homeowners as compensation for foreclosure abuses were rejected for insufficient funds, the consulting firm at the center of the mishap erred again: a fresh round of checks was written for the wrong amounts.

In recent days, according to officials briefed on the matter, Rust Consulting issued nearly 100,000 checks for less than the homeowners were owed. The mistake potentially cheated consumers out of millions of dollars they were owed under a deal reached between the government and the nation’s biggest banks.

Federal regulators ordered Rust to fix its mistake. And in a statement, Rust said late Wednesday that it had “corrected the error and plans to mail supplemental checks to affected borrowers as soon as May 17.” It attributed the mistake to a “clerical error.”

But the developments cast another harsh spotlight on Rust, which had been selected as the distributor of checks for the $3.6 billion settlement deal that regulators struck with the banks. The continued problems with Rust also raised questions about the government’s oversight of the firm and the wisdom of hiring it in the first place.

More: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/05/08/in-latest-foreclosure-glitch-some-checks-come-up-short/

Bob Graham's daughter to run against Rep. Steve Southerland

Press release from her campaign so I'm posting the entire piece.

Originally released April 2, 2013
Gwen Graham Running for Congress to Represent North Florida with an Independent Voice

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Gwen Graham announced that she has filed to run for Congress in Florida’s Second Congressional District, which runs across North Florida.

Graham is a Washington outsider, who first moved to Tallahassee when her father, Bob Graham, was elected as governor. She’s raised her own family – a daughter and two sons in Tallahassee and works for the Leon County School District.

Graham is running because she wants to give the people of North Florida an independent voice in Congress – not one beholden to special interests or party politics.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Congress is a dysfunctional mess. They’d rather fight each other with the goal of scoring points on cable news instead of focusing on creating jobs and balancing the budget – in fact, Congress hasn’t even passed a budget since Bobby Bowden was coach at FSU.

Growing up, my dad told me, citizenship requires us to do more than complain about our problems – we have to work together to fix them.

Our problems can’t be blamed on only Republicans or only Democrats – we need more people in both parties committed to working together and finding real solutions.

I’m running for Congress to represent you with an independent voice in Washington. I will work with anyone, regardless of party affiliation, to create jobs, invest in education and balance our budget – with a plan that stands up for the middle class, keeps taxes low and protects Medicare and Social Security.

I am ready to serve in Congress and be part of the solution, not more of the problem.”

Full Graham Family at WeddingGwen Graham’s experience as a mother, professional, and consensus builder has given her the skills required to solve complicated problems with commonsense answers. Now, she’s ready to represent you as an independent voice in Washington – working for your family to strengthen education, protect Medicare and create jobs.

Gwen’s path to Northwest Florida is a unique one. She was born in 1963 in Miami Lakes and began spending part of each year in Tallahassee when her father, Bob Graham, was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1966. Upon her father’s election as Governor in 1978, their family moved to the state capital year-round. Gwen graduated from Leon High School in 1980.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina, Gwen earned a law degree from American University in 1988. She then went on to work in the private sector on energy and environmental issues. This experience strengthened her belief that America must become energy independent while also protecting our invaluable natural resources, like Florida’s beaches.

With the birth of her first child, Sarah, in 1990, Gwen left the workplace to focus on her family, and began the most rewarding job she’s had, 13 years as a stay-at-home mom. Her family grew with the addition of two boys, Graham and Mark Ernest. Gwen is married to Stephen D. Hurm, a sworn-in law enforcement officer and general counsel for Florida’s Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles.

Like Gwen, all three of her children attended public schools in Northwest Florida. She understands how important our public education system is, and she served as PTA president and chair of the School Advisory Council.

With her children in school, Gwen returned to the private sector and was practicing law in Tallahassee when Leon County School Superintendent Jackie Pons asked her to join his administration as director of employee relations, later promoting her to division director for professional standards and chief of labor and employee relations.

Working for the school board to find solutions for disputes between employees and management, Gwen became known as a real problem solver. She developed a strong relationship with both sides, earning a reputation as a cool-headed negotiator, able to build consensus out of conflict.

Gwen will bring the same approach to Washington – working with Republicans and Democrats to make a real difference for Northwest Florida families. Using her strong experience as a parent, professional, and consensus builder, Gwen will get to work on day one, fighting for the middle class, to invest in our schools, protect Medicare and create jobs.

Gwen’s roots in our community run deep. She understands the issues facing your family and the unique lifestyle in the Panhandle, and she is running to represent you with an independent voice in Congress.

Julia Gill, Campaign Manager



While Graham may be more centrist than I'd like, she's a huge step to the left from the views of Steve Southerland (FL - Tea Party). It sounds as though she may run as an independent which could be an advantage to her campaign in Panhandle Florida and in a period when both main parties have a lot of people pissed off at them.

I am not endorsing her and am still checking her out. I just heard mention yesterday that she was running and thought people here would be interested.

Boston on lockdown during marathon manhunt for white-hat suspect

Source: Pete Williams, Richard Esposito, Michael Isikoff

Boston and its surburbs, universities and transit system were on total lockdown Friday as police hunted for marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev -- on the loose after his accomplice brother was killed in a stunning chain of events that left one cop dead and another injured, officials said.

Authorities were confronting a double-edged nightmare: a ruthless killer at large in a densely populated area and a four-mile stretch of road possibly littered with explosive devices tossed from the suspects' getaway vehicle during a wild chase and firefights.

Two unidentified people were taken into custody at the Cambridge, Mass., home where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his older brother Tamerlan grew up, but they were not being described as additional suspects. Three dozen FBI agents were ringing the house.

Across the area, as police cars screamed down streets and helicopters hovered ahead, authorities urged the public to stay inside, their doors locked to anyone but a law-enforcement officer.

Read more: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/19/17823265-boston-on-lockdown-during-marathon-manhunt-for-white-hat-suspect?lite

MSNBC just a few minutes ago said the family is from Kyrgyzstan. Parents not in country, brothers may have lived with aunt and uncle. Uncle has given interviews and is devastated.

E-mails link Bush foundation, corporations and education officials

This may have been posted already, but it's worth re-posting.
E-mails link Bush foundation, corporations and education officials

Posted by Valerie Strauss on January 30, 2013 at 4:47 pm

A nonprofit group released thousands of e-mails today and said they show how a foundation begun by Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and national education reform leader, is working with public officials in states to write education laws that could benefit some of its corporate funders.

A call to the foundation has not been returned.

The e-mails are between the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) and a group Bush set up called Chiefs for Change, whose members are current and former state education commissioners who support Bush’s agenda of school reform, which includes school choice, online education, retention of third-graders who can’t read and school accountability systems based on standardized tests. That includes evaluating teachers based on student test scores and grading schools A-F based on test scores. John White of Louisiana is a current member, as is Tony Bennett, the new commissioner of Florida who got the job after Indiana voters rejected his Bush-style reforms last November and tossed him out of office.

Donald Cohen, chair of the nonprofit In the Public Interest, a resource center on privatization and responsible for contracting in the public sector, said the e-mails show how education companies that have been known to contribute to the foundation are using the organization “to move an education agenda that may or not be in our interests but are in theirs.”

More: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/30/e-mails-link-bush-foundation-corporations-and-education-officials/

Link to emails: http://www.inthepublicinterest.org/node/2747

Disease threatens garden impatiens

I'm glad I picked another plant for my flower beds!
Disease threatens garden impatiens
Surprising scientists and horticulturalists, once-mild downy mildew disease has struck the popular blooms in 33 states

By Susan Milius

A puzzling plant disease may dethrone one of the most popular and reliable flowerbed plants in North America, the garden impatiens.

A relatively benign condition known as impatiens downy mildew has recently turned ugly, for reasons under debate. For decades, U.S. gardeners rarely noticed downy mildew on their impatiens. But in the last two years, the disease has ravaged flower beds in some of the more humid parts of the country. After rain or fog followed by balmy nights, the disease can turn a lush flower border into a straggle of bare stalks that eventually collapse and die.

In recent years, aggressive impatiens downy mildew has flared up during disease-friendly weather in parts of Europe, South Africa and Australia. But the United States hadn’t seen more than a few scattered reports until widespread outbreaks began in 2011. By the end of 2012, pathologists had confirmed the disease in 33 states and Washington, D.C.

The disease is unlikely to eradicate the plants, but in some areas of the country, the risk can change a gardener’s mind about what to plant. Impatiens downy mildew “thrives in our coastal climate,” says plant pathologist Nancy Gregory of the University of Delaware cooperative extension program in Newark. In advice that would have been shocking a decade ago, she suggests gardeners skip impatiens unless willing to cope with the risk of an unsightly die-off.

More: http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/349064/description/Disease_threatens_garden_impatiens

Early malnutrition bodes ill for adult personality

Here is the best argument (if innate generosity and ethics don't convince you to make sure your fellow humans are fed) for making sure infants and children have good nutrition throughout their growing years - they will be better balanced, more rational adults.
Early malnutrition bodes ill for adult personality
Food deprivation in infancy may promote negative traits at age 40

By Bruce Bower

Web edition: March 21, 2013

Malnutrition in the first year life, even when followed by a good diet and restored physical health, predisposes people to a troubled personality at age 40, new research suggests.

Compared with peers who were well-fed throughout their lives, formerly malnourished men and women reported markedly more anxiety, vulnerability to stress, hostility, mistrust of others, anger and depression, Galler’s team reports March 12 in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Survivors of early malnutrition also cited relatively little intellectual curiosity, social warmth, cooperativeness and willingness to try new experiences and to work hard at achieving goals.

Previous studies of people exposed prenatally to famine have reported increased rates of certain personality disorders and schizophrenia. Another investigation found that malnutrition at age 3 predisposed youngsters on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius to delinquent and aggressive behavior at ages 8, 11 and 17.

As is true in the new study, distrust of others, anxiety and depression often accompany high levels of anger, says psychologist Adrian Raine of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, who directed the Mauritius research. “Poor nutrition early in life seems to predispose individuals to a suspicious personality, which may then fuel a hostile attitude toward others,” Raine proposes.
More: http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/349102/description/Early_malnutrition_bodes_ill_for_adult_personality

HipChick - did you get your electrical problem fixed?

It's been an hour since you posted! http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1018&pid=344220

Are you OK?

What's a good company to order flowers or other things from?

I just got word that my Dad's 90th birthday celebration will be held at the rehab hospital. It's also my Mom's 92nd birthday.

Usually they don't like any fuss being made over their special events but Dad had a stent put in the other day and I think he is feeling very good to make it to 90. I just got the email that my sisters and some of the nieces and nephews will be there Thursday to celebrate. It's too late for me to even send a card. I'm three hundred miles away and I can't make the trip down to be there.

So I want to send something - flowers, one of those fruit arrangements or something. At this point, I am just upset that the email - which was sent last night - didn't get to me sooner even though I checked my email last night and this morning. I can't even think of what to send!

Is there anyplace people here can recommend? Any suggestions?

Why isn't this in the budget discussions?


My sister just had a new Smilodon species named after her!

UF researcher describes new 5-million-year-old saber-toothed cat from Florida
March 14th, 2013
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida researcher has described a new genus and species of extinct saber-toothed cat from Polk County, Fla., based on additional fossil acquisitions of the animal over the last 25 years.

The 5-million-year-old fossils belong to the same lineage as the famous Smilodon fatalis from the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, a large, carnivorous apex predator with elongated upper canine teeth. Previous research suggested the group of saber-toothed cats known as Smilodontini originated in the Old World and then migrated to North America, but the age of the new species indicates the group likely originated in North America. The study appeared online in the journal PLOS One Wednesday.

“Smilodon first shows up on the fossil record around 2.5 million years ago, but there haven’t been a lot of good intermediate forms for understanding where it came from,” said study co-author Richard Hulbert Jr., vertebrate paleontology collections manager at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. “The new species shows that the most famous saber-toothed cat, Smilodon, had a New World origin and it and its ancestors lived in the southeastern U.S. for at least 5 million years before their extinction about 11,000 years ago. Compared to what we knew about these earlier saber-toothed cats 20 or 30 years ago, we now have a much better understanding of this group.”

Hulbert helped uncover fossils of the new genus and species, Rhizosmilodon fiteae, from a phosphate mine during excavations in 1990. The species was named after Barbara Fite of Lutz, Fla., who in 2011 donated one of the critical specimens used for the new description and allowed UF scientists to make casts of two other partial jaws in her collection.


Saber-toothed cat species, holotype specimen, is pictured in the foreground and the paratype specimen is pictured in the background.
Florida Museum photo by Jeff Gage

She found the paratype specimen jaw in the photo.
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