Jan 28 1986. Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster. A day that changed my life.

I was the PM for the GBU (Ground Base Unit) for the Gamma Ray Observatory or GRO. being built at Fairchild Space Systems in Frederick MD. Shortly before lunch that day, around 11:30, the Challenger launched. We had it on the intercom at work, Houston Control Center, like we always did. We really didn’t pay much attention, as launches had become ‘old hat’. Suddenly, it became quiet in the offices and we all realized something had gone horribly wrong. The intercom was shut down and we ran to the tv’s and radios to find out what had happened. We were horrified. Grown men begain crying, hell I was crying.

No one who worked in aerospace was ever the same again. Our lives changed forever. The space program changed forever. The Challenger Disaster changed the course of space flight forever and in many ways, it changed it for the good. Safety was never taken for granted again. Manufacturing Sub-contractors were  held to tighter controls and check and balances were put into place and not just signed off anymore.

Because lives were lost due to something so damn fucking simple failing…too many precious live were lost in a second, in the blink of an eye. And thousands if not millions of lives like mine were changed in that second as well.

The Space program was put on hold for what seemed like forever but was really three years. By thanksgiving of that year, the layoffs started taking place. I was layed off right before Christmas and moved back to California with my young son. It was a blessing as his health was alway bad on the east coast, he was an asthmatic and the damp weather was horrible for his condition.

I never again worked in aerospace, a job I loved so much. I never again held I job I loved as much as I loved that one. I never again held a job that was as interesting, as fun, as eye opening and ground breaking as that one.

So today, I think about where I would be if that space craft had made it’s journey. I had been slated for a big promotion. The space program had been set to move all launches to Vandenberg AFB on the coast of Central California and I was going to be part of that. I had lived there and graduated high school there. I had been so excited about the promotion and move.

I wonder how different my life would be…then I smile and sigh…and move on to something else to do with my time to take my mind off the ‘what if’…

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This is gonna hurt..Bank of America that is.

A group of Investors for BofA are highly pissed and to that end, they sued Bank of America. From Jurist:

Twelve plaintiffs on Monday combined to file a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] in the New York State Supreme Court [official website] against Countrywide Financial Corporation[NYT backgrounder] alleging widespread fraud that resulted in substantial financial losses. The plaintiffs invested hundreds of millions of dollars with the Bank of America (BOA) [corporate website] subsidiary between 2005 and 2007, believing the purchases of mortgage-backed securities to be “conservative, low-risk investments.” The suit claims that Countrywide “recklessly” misrepresented the stability of the investments and failed to adhere to its stated underwriting and credit analysis procedures, leading the credit ratings of many of the securities to fall significantly. The complaint also names several former Countrywide executives as defendants, and seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

BOA has recently been the target of several lawsuits alleging fraud. Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard filed a lawsuit in mid-December against BOA for misleading customers [JURIST report] in mortgage modification and foreclosure practices. Earlier in the month, the US Securities and Exchange Commission(SEC) [official website] reached a $137 million settlement agreement [JURIST report] with BOA over fraud charges [order, PDF] in a lawsuit that claimed BOA used anti-competitive bidding processes with 20 state municipalities. In June, BOA subsidiary Countrywide Home Loans, Inc reached [JURIST report] a $108 million settlement agreement [text, PDF] with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [official website] in response to a lawsuit that charged it with collecting excessive fees from homeowners facing foreclosure.

It sucks to be an exec at Bank of America today. Couldn’t happen to a better Corporation of carpetbagging fuckwits if you ask me. They received 86 Billion in TARP money as well. 

O’Donnell tells us what KO did for eight years every night.

I never thought of it this way and I bet most of us didn’t. Thank you Lawrence for putting into powerful words how hard Keith Olbermann worked every day at his craft. KO earned every single, fucking penny he made off the warlords at GE/MSNBC.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

For-Profit Schools don’t like the new rules.So they sue the DOE

The Dept of Education is trying to jerk the chain of colleges that historically graduate more poorly educated students who then carry higher than average debt when they graduate from these for-profit colleges. From Jurist:

The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) [official website] on Friday filed suit [complaint, PDF] against the US Department of Education(DOE) [official website] in federal court seeking to overturn three regulations promulgated by the department. The challenged rules are a part of the DOE’s final regulations [text, PDF] adopted in October. One rule challenged by the suit would stop deceptive advertising by schools. Another bars recruiters from being paid based on how many students they enroll. A third specifies minimum steps a state must take to authorize post-secondary programs that participate in federal student aid programs. In the complaint, filed at the US District Court of the District of Columbia [official website], APSCU claims the DOE’s final regulation’s violate both the Higher Education Opportunity Act [text, PDF] and the Constitution. Additionally, the complaint accuses the DOE of not granting private sector schools adequate representation during the negotiation rule-making process. APSCU claims that the DOE rushed the regulatory process for proposals that they knew would not be well-received in order to implement a desired outcome irrespective of the concerns of the stakeholders and the public. The DOE has not yet responded to the complaint.

The new regulations are a part of a larger federal crackdown on for-profit schools that are accused of graduating poorly educated students with high student-loan debt. A report [text, PDF] released by the USGovernment Accountability Office (GAO) [official website] accused for-profit colleges of promoting fraudulent practices so their students could acquire federal aid, exaggerating potential salary after graduation and failing to provide clear information about costs and duration of programs. Additionally, a 2009 GAO report found that for-profit college students were more likely to default on federal student loans than were students from other colleges.

We can only hope the Bush-stacked Court doesn’t buy into these bastards bullshit.This is not to say all for-profit schools are bad. The ones that use deceptive advertising practices are disgusting carpetbaggers that prey on young wanna be students eager to better their lives. 
Another angle is the student loan companies that let students use their school loans to buy pizza’s and beer. Colleges should crack down on this bullshit as well. Colleges that prey on people that cannot get into regular, traditional colleges, even junior colleges are another brand of fuckery. One such member group of colleges, in my view, is APSCU, the group suing the DOE. A list of their member colleges can be found here. Their member colleges are by and large vocational colleges, technical colleges and beauty schools. CNBC did an extensive investigative piece about these types of for-profit colleges and a lot of what they dug up is astounding. From their report:
Over the last decade, enrollment in these colleges surged by 300 percent 1.5 million—ten times the rate of all post-secondary programs. Their coffers also grew quickly. During the past 10 years, the industry’s revenue has ballooned from $9 billion to $29.2 billion, according to BMO Capital Markets.

Much of this spectacular growth, however, has been funded by taxpayers.

For-profit schools are private businesses, but finance their operations primarily with public dollars coming by way of federal student aid.

While these schools enroll roughly 10 percent of all higher education students, they receive 24 percent of public funds. In 2009, that amounted to more than $24 billion.

Moreover, the schools benefit from other forms of government aid— including money from Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs and various state programs. In the last four years, combined VA and DoD education benefits received by for-profit education companies increased 683 percent to $521 million.

At many for-profits schools, like University of Phoenix, part of the Apollo Group,federal loans and grants now account for almost 90 percent of revenue.

The business model built around taxpayer subsidies has allowed not only for impressive growth of for-profit education companies, but also for impressive compensation for their executives, critics argue.

*snip*

A recent report from Education Trust, an influential Washington think tank, equated for-profit colleges to subprime lenders and accused the industry of “peddling access to the American dream but delivering little more than crippling debt.”

Earlier this year, hedge fund manager Steve Eisman made waves with a similar comparison. Eisman tied the industry’s success to a Bush administration that loosened regulations and increased the private sector’s access to public money.

“The government, the students, and the taxpayer bear all the risk, and the for-profit industry reaps all the rewards,” said Eisman in a speech at the Ira Sohn Investment Research Conference last May. “This is similar to the subprime mortgage sector in that the subprime originators bore far less risk than the investors in their mortgage paper.”
Notice anything familiar? The phrase: The government, the students, and the taxpayer bear all the risk, and the for-profit industry reaps all the rewards strikes straight to the heart of our recession woes with the subprime mortgage debacle. Isn’t that friggin interesting…and telling. 
And the ‘industry’ disagrees with all these assessments. No shit? Take the rate of loan defaults just as an example. The for-profit grads default at a rate far exceeding students at traditional colleges. From page 2 of the CNBC investigative report:
For example, take student loan defaults. True, the rates are rising across the board, but graduates of for-profit schools default at three times the rate of those at private nonprofit institutions. Last year, students at for-profit colleges represented 26 percent of the borrowers and 43 percent of all defaulters, according to the Education Department.

Over the past two years, defaults have swollen to $50 billion from $36.6 billion. As of the end of September, the government collected $10.2 billion of that money.

Industry representatives argue that rising default numbers reflect the poor economy. They also note that for-profit schools enroll large numbers of low-income students, who are likely to default no matter what institution they graduate from.

I submit to you that the reason for-profit schools target low-income students is simple: they are easy prey and they, more times than not, do not have the grades or studies required to enter a traditional college, even a junior college. 
When you consider the following: how the so-called counselors use deceptive advertising and encourage these kids to lie on applications, its outrageous and criminal.  
When you look at: A Government report by Tom Harkin that also “raises serious questions about whether some for-profit education companies view providing education to our service members and veterans as incidental to ensuring a robust profit for their company and their shareholders,” it makes you want to slap the taste right out of everyone’s mouth that is getting rich off this disgusting crap in the for-profit education industry.
Any industry that takes advantage of our soldiers and military who have spent time on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan and survived, only to be screwed by these bastards. It’s unconscionable and should be criminal.
Accountability and Quality of their ‘product’ are two things that should be at the top of the list for these carpetbagging fucks who are getting rich at the taxpayer trough…without a doubt.  

A message to the left – We are Media Orphans

Robert Parry, who can put his finger on the pulse of the right so very succinctly and eloquently, does it in this Consortium writeup about the left and our shrinking options in the media with the departure of Keith Olbermann. That he calls us media orphans…well, it just friggin nails it. From his article:

The troubling message to progressives is that they remain essentially orphans when it comes to having their political interests addressed by any corporate news outlet. While the Right has built its own vast media infrastructure – reaching from newspapers, magazines and books to radio, TV and the Internet – the Left generally has treated media as a low priority.

Though some on the Left saw hope in the MSNBC evening line-up, the larger reality was that even inside the world of NBC News, the other content ranged from the pro-Establishment centrism of anchor Brian Williams to the center-right views of MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough to CNBC’s mix of free-market extremism and corporate boosterism.

While gratified to be given a few hours each night on MSNBC, the Left surely had nothing to compare with Murdoch’s News Corporation and its longstanding commitment to a right-wing perspective on Fox News and News Corp.’s many other print and electronic outlets.

As I wrote in an article last November, “Olbermann and the other liberal hosts are essentially on borrowed time, much the way Phil Donahue was before getting axed in the run-up to George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, when MSNBC wanted to position itself as a ‘patriotic’ war booster.

The man ain’t lying is he? Does it not all make sense now? We have a mere 14 hours a week whilst the right has tens of hours a week? If you count the scum in talk radio then it bounces the numbers even higher.

Yet, the president who was elected by the voters in 2008, not a panel of leftwing nutters, is father from the right than the left in a vast majority of issues. If you listen to the screaming nutters on the right on Faux, or Limbaugh, Palin,Savage etc he is no where near their beliefs. He wants to bring our nation to it’s knees they tell us daily. He wants to kill your granny! He wants to bankrupt Amerika!

But his ratings are higher than Reagan’s were at this stage in his presidency, more people trust him to fix things than trust the Republicans.

So why is it that you can not find more talking heads disseminating information with that “famous liberal bias” the right constantly screams about on tv? Why is it that MSNBC has not shown a scintilla of loyalty to the hosts on the left similar to what Faux shows to it’s stable of rightwing hosts? Again from Parry’s article:

“Unlike News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch, who stands solidly behind the right-wing propaganda on Fox News, the corporate owners of MSNBC have no similar commitment to the work of Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz.

*snip*

The ongoing significance of America’s media imbalance is that it gives the Right enormous capabilities to control the national debate, not only during election campaigns but year-round. Republicans can deploy what intelligence operatives call “agit-propaganda,” stirring controversies that rile up the public and redound to the GOP’s advantage.

These techniques have proved so effective that not even gifted political speakers, whether the savvy Bill Clinton or the eloquent Barack Obama, have had any consistent success in countering the angry cacophony that the Right can orchestrate.

One week, the Right’s theme is “Obamacare’s death panels”; another week, it’s “the “Ground Zero Mosque.” The Democrats are left scrambling to respond – and their responses, in turn, become fodder for critical commentary, as too wimpy or too defensive or too something.

The mainstream media and progressives often join in this criticism, wondering why Obama let himself get blind-sided or why he wasn’t tougher or why he can’t control the message. For the Right and the Republicans, it’s a win-win-win, as the right-wing base is energized, more public doubts are raised about the President, and the Left is further demoralized.

All questions and no answers. It’s disheartening ain’t it? Don’t it piss you the hell off?

Well,  its a mute point now as the era of Comcast starts now….and we will see how that shit unfolds…but one thing is for certain, it will be about ratings..bet the farm on that kids..bet the farm.

So keep watching the few shows we still got on the telly. It’s all we got, along with Maher of course. And hopefully KO will return, eventually, on another channel stronger and more eloquently than ever, ripping the right with everything he has.