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Meanwhile, in Jesusland....


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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« on: May 28, 2009, 12:24:04 am »


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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2009, 12:20:05 am »


Excuse me while I locate a chunder-bucket to vomit into!




Brotherly love among ex-presidents

Associated Press | Saturday, 30 May 2009

BROTHERLY LOVE? Former President George W Bush and, inset, former President Bill Clinton.

BROTHERLY LOVE? Former President George W Bush
and, inset, former President Bill Clinton.


Former President George W Bush called former President Bill Clinton "his brother" and the two rarely disagreed in their first-ever appearance together on stage.

The Republican and Democratic ex-presidents defended each other at a Toronto forum overnight, disappointing some in the crowd of 6000 who expected a more heated debate.

Bush said that he never liked it when previous administration officials criticized his government but said Clinton was respectful and never did.

Bush declined to criticize the Obama administration, in contrast to former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has been a vocal critic of Obama. Bush, who wasn't asked about Cheney, said there are "plenty of critics in America."

Bush and Clinton did differ on Iraq. Clinton said UN inspectors should have been given more time to conduct the search for weapons of mass destruction and Bush should have concentrated on Afghanistan. Bush disagreed.

"I don't buy the premise that our attention was diverted," Bush said.

Bush joked about how much time his father, former President George H.W. Bush, and Clinton spend together. He said his mother, Barbara Bush, "said President Clinton and Father share the stage so much, he's like a son to her."

He said, "So brother, it's good to see you."

Clinton and the elder Bush have worked together to lead fundraising after disasters such as the southeast Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and last summer's Hurricane Ike.

While both men received polite applause from the audience at Toronto's convention center, a couple hundred protesters demonstrated outside. The organizers declined to say how much the men were paid for the event, called "A conversation with Presidents George W Bush and Bill Clinton." Ticket prices sold for C$200 (NZ$292) to C$2,500.

Bush joked about the speaking fees, which are normally lucrative for former presidents.

"President Clinton and I used to believe in free speech," Bush said before pausing. "So thanks very much for coming — we are glad you're here."

The two made speeches before taking questions from moderator Frank McKenna, Canada's former ambassador to the United States.

Asked why he didn't stop the killing in the Rwanda genocide when he was president in 1994, Clinton said he had no excuse or defense.

"It's one of the two or three greatest regrets of my presidency," Clinton said.

Clinton said the US could have saved 250,000 or 400,000 of the 800,000 people who died had he sent about 20,000 troops. Bush defended Clinton, saying 20,000 troops could not have been mobilized quickly.

Clinton praised Bush for his Aids initiatives and also hailed the racial and ethnic diversity of his cabinet choices.


http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/2459979/Brotherly-love-among-ex-presidents
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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2009, 12:41:41 am »


Armed plainclothes policeman shot dead in New York

Associated Press | Saturday, 30 May 2009

Jesusland Flag

A plainclothes policeman who drew his gun while chasing someone he had found rummaging through his car was shot and killed by a fellow officer who was driving by and saw the pursuit, the police commissioner said.

Commissioner Raymond Kelly said 25-year-old Omar J. Edwards died after being shot late Thursday within blocks of the Harlem police station where he worked.

The shooter was white and Edwards was black, a fact that could raise questions about police use of deadly force in a minority community. And in recent years there have been several cases of off-duty policemen in the New York City area being shot and killed by other officers.

Edwards had just finished his shift when he headed to his car and saw that the driver's-side window had been smashed and a man was going through the vehicle, Kelly said.

Edwards struggled with the man, who got away from him by slipping out of his sweater, Kelly said. Edwards chased the man up two streets with his gun drawn, he said.

A sergeant and two plainclothes officers in an unmarked police car saw the pursuit and made a U-turn to follow the men, Kelly said. One of the officers jumped out of the car and fired six times, hitting Edwards twice - once in the arm and once in the chest, he said.

Kelly said Edwards did not fire his weapon. He died at the Harlem Hospital Center about an hour after the shooting.

The Reverend Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist, said he and his National Action Network "are completely concerned of a growing pattern of black officers being killed with the assumption that they are the criminals."

He called for a federal investigation "to sort out the facts and bring about a just resolve."

It was unclear whether the officers identified themselves. The name of the officer who fired the shots has not been released, but Kelly said he had worked at the police department for four years.

"While we don't know all the details of what happened tonight, this is a tragedy. Rest assured that we will find out exactly what happened here, and we will learn from it so it doesn't happen again," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference from the hospital.

Kelly said Edwards had been on the force for two years and worked in the housing bureau. He was recently married and had two young children.

The shooting recalled other cases of off-duty policemen being shot and killed by fellow officers.

In 2008, a black, off-duty Mount Vernon police officer was killed by a Westchester County policeman while holding a gun on an assault suspect in suburban White Plains. A grand jury found the victim had failed to identify himself as an officer.

In 2006, a New York City police officer, Eric Hernandez, was shot and killed by an on-duty patrolman who was responding to an attack at a White Castle in the Bronx.


http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/2459868/Armed-plainclothes-policeman-shot-dead-in-NY



Faaaaark....only in the gUnhappy States of America!

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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2009, 06:28:58 pm »


From the Otago Daily Times — World News

Gun-loving pastor to his flock: Piece be with you

Associated Press | Friday, 05 June 2009

Ken Pagano, pastor of New Bethel Church in Louisville, Kentucky, talks about the importance of gun safety, which will be discussed at the “Open Carry Church Service” on June 27. — Photo by Associated Press.

Ken Pagano, pastor of New Bethel Church in Louisville, Kentucky,
talks about the importance of gun safety, which will be discussed
at the “Open Carry Church Service” on June 27.
 — Photo by Associated Press.


A Kentucky pastor is inviting people to bring their guns to church to celebrate America's Independence Day and the constitutional right to bear arms.

New Bethel Church is welcoming "responsible handgun owners" to wear their firearms inside the church on June 27, the Saturday that precedes the Fourth of July holiday.

An ad says there will be a handgun raffle, patriotic music and information on gun safety.

Church pastor Ken Pagano says guns must be unloaded and private security will check visitors. He says recent church shootings make it necessary to promote safe gun ownership.

Marian McClure Taylor is executive director of the Kentucky Council of Churches.

She says churches work to prevent violent harm and promote peace, but most "allow for arms to be taken up under certain conditions."


http://www.odt.co.nz/news/world/59843/gun-loving-pastor-his-flock-piece-be-with-you



Faaaaark....only in the gUn-happy States of America....

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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2009, 07:07:28 pm »


US controller joked about cooking cat

Associated Press | 12:20PM - Thursday, 20 August 2009



An air traffic controller was joking on the telephone about barbecuing a dead cat moments before a small plane collided with a tour helicopter, killing its New Zealand pilot Jeremy Clarke and eight others.

Transcripts obtained by The Associated Press show the controller at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey was talking to someone who works at the airport's operations centre at the time of the August 8 accident even while he was guiding the single-engine Piper and other aircraft.

"We got plenty of gas in the grill?" the controller asked. "Fire up the cat."

Seconds before the accident, the controller uttered a curse word and ended the call.

A family from Pennsylvania in the small plane and five Italian tourists in the helicopter were killed in the crash.

The body of Mr Clarke, 33, arrived in Auckland yesterday morning.

A contingent of 20 family members, including his fiance Danielle Granahan, arrived in New Zealand with Mr Clarke's body, while investigations continue into how the crash happened.

Mr Clarke's funeral will be held at Schnapper Rock Cemetery, Albany, on Saturday afternoon.

He and Ms Granahan had planned to get married next year.

He had lived in the United States since 2000 and recently became a citizen, the Associated Press reported.

The couple planned to move to Arizona and Mr Clarke recently went househunting in Phoenix.

Mr Clarke had worked for New York helicopter company Liberty Tours for 18 months, and previously worked as a pilot and instructor for Los Angeles Helicopters from 2005 to 2007.

Excerpts from a draft US government transcript of conversations between the control tower of the Teterboro, New Jersey, airport and the pilot of a plane that collided with a helicopter over the Hudson River on August 08, killing nine people including five Italian tourists and the New Zealand pilot Jeremy Clarke:

11:48:46 a.m., the Teterboro controller contacts a helicopter in the area to report that a plane is taking off and "will be turning to the southeast, join the river, climbing to 1100 (feet)." The controller asks the Piper, tail number N71MC, to report its altitude.

11:50:05 a.m., Piper pilot: "Climbing out of four hundred."

Teterboro controller: "Traffic 11 o'clock and two miles , northwest bound one thousand (feet), a helicopter."

Piper pilot: "Seven one mike charlie, lookin'."

At that point, the helicopter pilot reports the Piper is in sight, and the Teterboro controller tells the Piper, "helicopter has you in sight."

Piper pilot: "Thank you, sir."

11:50:41 a.m., the Teterboro controller gets on the phone with a woman from the airport's operations center. "Do we have plenty of gas for the grill?" he asks.

Operations: "Huh?"

Controller: "I said, we got plenty of gas in the grill?"

Operations: "(unintelligible) it kinda sucks that we can't, we won't be able to do it today."

Controller: "(unintelligible) fire up the cat."

Operations: "Ooh, disgusting. Augh, that thing was disgusting."

Controller: "Chinese people do it, so why can't we?"

Operations: "Augh, stop it."

Controller: (laughter).

11:51:17 a.m. Controller, to the Piper pilot: ''One mike charlie, start a left turn to join the Hudson River."

Piper pilot: "One mike charlie."

Controller: "This freakin' guy"

Operations: "I know (laughter)."

Controller: (unintelligible)

Operations: "Oh my god, it was pretty bad. Ugh."

The conversation continues for about 2 { minutes, interspersed with radio communications with various aircraft.

11:52:19 a.m., the controller radios the Piper and instructs the pilot to contact the Newark airport tower on a certain frequency, and the pilot repeats the instruction. At about the same time, the Newark tower calls the Teterboro tower about the Piper plane.

Newark controller: "Hey, Teterboro, Newark. Would you switch that guy, maybe put him on a two-twenty heading to get away from that other traffic please?"

Teterboro controller: "Say again, Newark."

Newark controller: "Can you switch that PA-32 (the Piper)?"

Teterboro controller: "I ... did keep an eye on him, though."

Newark controller: "I'm not talking to him, so..."

Teterboro controller, trying to radio the Piper: "One mike charlie, Newark is (on frequency) twenty-seven eighty-five. He's lost in the hertz, try him again."

Newark controller: "One mike charlie, Newark."

During this time, the Teterboro controller is also on the phone with the woman in the operations office.

11:53:07 a.m., Teterboro controller says to the operations office: "Damn."

Operations: "What's the matter..."

Controller: "Yeah, let me straighten stuff out." He hangs up at 11:53:10, four seconds before the collision occurs.

Teterboro controller, on the radio to Newark: "Newark, Teterboro. Did you get him yet?"

Newark controller: "Nope."

11:55:17, Newark controller: "I think he went down in the Hudson."

11:55:42, another helicopter pilot in the area: "Be advised there was an airplane crashed into a helicopter just south of the Lincoln (tunnel) a minute ago."

Teterboro operations: "Did he say what I thought he said?"

Controller: "Yeah."

Operations: "Where at?"

Controller: "Over the river."

Operations: "Oh, my lord. Okay, thanks."


http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/2771637/US-controller-joked-about-cooking-cat
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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2009, 03:06:30 am »


From the Los Angeles Times

A wedding chapel on wheels

A 1942 fire engine converted on ‘Trick My Truck’ with
stained-glass windows and a pipe organ offers brides
and grooms a sense of adventure. It's cozy, but fast.


By KIM JANSSEN | Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Rev. Darrell Best's firetruck, shown in a photo he provided, was converted on the Country Music Television show “Trick My Truck.”

The Rev. Darrell Best's firetruck, shown in a photo he provided, was converted on the Country Music Television show “Trick My Truck.”

Reporting from Chicago — As far as the Rev. Darrell Best knows, he has the fastest church in Illinois.

His 1942 firetruck is by no means a Ferrari, but it is equipped as a fully functioning chapel.

"I've had it up to 55 mph," Best said. "It gets a lot of attention on the highway."

Mechanics from the Country Music Television show "Trick My Truck" did the conversion after Best's family wrote to the program last year. The chapel has stained-glass windows, a pipe organ, an altar and two wooden pews.

Couples recently paid $100 to get married in the tiny church at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. "It fits me, the bride, the groom, the best man and the maid of honor," said Best, of Shelbyville, Illinois. "It gets a little crowded, but it works."

Best said he wanted to give people without a church a chance for a special service. And for $2 per mile, plus a $200 fee, he'll drive the church anywhere.

The truck suits "the kind of people who don't want a traditional wedding," he said.


http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-mobile-church25-2009aug25,0,185266.story
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Kiwithrottlejockey
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Having fun in the hills!


« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2009, 11:38:05 am »


Andy Kroll — The Illusion of Recovery

posted November 30, 2009 | TomDispatch.com

Talk about a devastated landscape... Any which way you look, the housing numbers are relentlessly bad. For example, 23% of U.S. homeowners owe more on their mortgages than their properties are worth, according to Ruth Simon and James R. Hagerty of the Wall Street Journal. They possess, in the vivid lingo of the housing industry, “underwater mortgages.” Among them, 5.3 million households have mortgages that are at least 20% higher than their home’s value, 520,000 of whom have already received default notices. In the meantime, home-loan delinquencies and home repossessions are now at record highs. According to E. Scott Reckard of the Los Angeles Times, by the end of September, “one in seven U.S. home loans was past due or in foreclosure,” and the chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association expects the number of foreclosures to keep rising deep into 2010.

Worse yet, foreclosures on large rental-unit buildings are also on the rise. This means, reports Robin Shulman of the Washington Post, that not just homeowners but renters are now being swept up in the housing crisis as landlords of apartment buildings in trouble let upkeep go while maintenance problems soar. Nor are the latest figures on home prices offering much cheer. Two key price indexes released last week, write David Streitfeld and Javier Hernandez of the New York Times, “indicated that the momentum the housing market showed over the late spring and summer is faltering.”

There was, however, a rare ray of good news amid this dismal scene: Wall Street has, according to Louise Story of the Times, figured out how to make money from the mortgage mess by “buying billions of dollars’ worth of home loans, discounted from the loans’ original value” and pocketing profits while shifting “nearly all the risk for the loans to the federal government — and ultimately taxpayers.”

With this grim picture in mind and with California one of four Sunbelt states that account for 43% of all foreclosures started in recent months, we sent TomDispatch regular Andy Kroll to the Ground Zero of the mortgage crisis to see what an economic “recovery” looks like firsthand in post-meltdown America.


— Tom Engelhardt



Housing Meltdown, Ground Zero

The American Home-Owning Dream on Life Support

By Andy Kroll

I. Rescuing the Dream

At the end of a week in mid-October when the Dow Jones soared past 10,000, Goldman Sachs recorded “just another fantastic quarter” with a $3.2 billion quarterly profit, JPMorgan Chase raked in a cool $3.6 billion, and a New York Times headline declared “Bailout Helps Revive Banks, And Bonuses”, I spent a Saturday evening with about 100 people camped out in a northern California parking lot. A passerby, stealing a quick glance, might have taken the crowd for avid concertgoers staked out for tickets. There was, however, no concert here — just weary, huddled souls, slouched in vinyl folding chairs, covered by blankets, windbreakers, and knit hats against a late autumn chill.

A ragged line of them wound through the lot outside the entrance to the Cow Palace, a dingy arena decades past its prime on the southern edge of San Francisco. These people, and thousands more like them who had streamed into the arena all day long from as far away as Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Las Vegas, were unemployed, broke, bankrupt, or at their wit’s end. They were here waiting for help — for their chance to make it inside the warm arena to participate in “America’s Best Mortgage Program.”

For these homeowners, the last shot at saving their homes — and their personal version of the American Dream — lay under the glow of the floodlights in a expanse where tiers of brown and yellow seats encircled a desk-lined floor more accustomed to livestock shows and rodeos. This was, in fact, the latest stop on the “Save the Dream” tour, a massive homeowner-relief event organized by a consumer advocate group, the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA).

The turnout was staggering: close to 45,000 desperate homeowners showed up during NACA's five-day stand at the Cow Palace for the chance to renegotiate their disastrous subprime mortgages or sky-high interest rates or interest-only payments. For them, this event beat any chance at a star-studded concert — and best of all, it was free.

Inside, homeowners received housing-related financial advice and met with NACA’s counselors, a stoic crew, always with coffee or energy drinks in hand and clad in red and yellow T-shirts with STOP LOAN SHARKS and SHARKS BEWARE emblazoned on their backs. Here, homeowners could have their income, taxes, and spending habits analyzed, and possibly walk away with a monthly mortgage payment that actually fit their situations. With that payment figure in hand, homeowners could then meet with representatives from their mortgage companies in the same arena and try to hammer out new terms on more affordable mortgages.

The process would save many of them thousands of dollars, defuse an explosive mortgage, even avert foreclosure. To boost morale, NACA officials occasionally ushered chosen homeowners to a makeshift lectern where each offered a glowing testimonial over a PA system to the work taking place. They spoke fervently of new fixed-interest loans and fought back tears, while thanking their counselors, friends, NACA, and — regularly — God.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” said Venus Roberts, a homeowner from Los Angeles who came away from the event with lower mortgage payments.  I caught up with her in the arena’s parking lot as she was heading for the Amtrak station and a train home. A small, floral-printed suitcase in tow, Roberts had arrived early Friday morning, waited all day long, and finally spent the night in a nearby hotel. Back in line Saturday morning, she finally saw a counselor. The wait, she assured me, couldn’t have been more worth it. In the sort of reverential tone normally reserved for the miraculous, she avowed, “NACA is spreading the news that help is here.”

Not everyone was so inspired.  Near the tables behind which bank representatives were arrayed I spoke with Maria Hernandez of San Jose, who was fuming about her meeting with representatives from the bank Wachovia. Hernandez, haggard and emotional, struggled for words. “It was a… what’s the word? A mockery. Yes, a complete mockery.” Wachovia, she insisted, had failed customers like her, letting desperate people wait in line for days only to send them home essentially empty-handed. (No representatives of mortgage companies were made available for comment at the event.)

So impassioned was Hernandez that a small crowd of the frustrated and curious soon gathered around her. Even Bruce Marks, NACA’s pugnacious CEO, stopped to hear Hernandez.“All this information is related to us, then we get to Wachovia, and for what?” she asked indignantly. “To just come back another day? Or have your kids in the van spend another night here?”

Most of the people I met at “Save the Dream,” though, weren’t either as elated as Roberts or as disgruntled as Hernandez; they were still in limbo, waiting in line, their futures hanging in the balance. That line began in the parking lot and, once inside, filled huge sections of the arena’s seats where thousands of bleary-eyed homeowners, some there for up to 36 hours, waited to see a counselor or to meet with Spanish-speaking advisers. Those earlier in the process sat in yet another section of the cavernous arena before an initial orientation workshop, a sort of Home Economics 101 held in an adjoining annex.

Some of the homeowners I interviewed that Saturday had already been in line for 10 or 12 hours on the previous day, and had returned before sunrise once again to take up their posts. Some had slept under blankets in their seats; others clutched rolled-up sleeping bags clearly meant for an expected camp-out that night.

As I waded through the main seating area around midday, Ed Kidwell, a burly, boisterous truck driver from Fontana, California, sporting a University of Southern California hat, stopped me. Noting my camera and pad, he wrapped a big arm around my shoulder as if we were lifelong friends reuniting. “I’m just waiting for some good news to take home to take the stress off my wife and kids,” he explained. Though dog-tired — he’d arrived in the wee morning hours — Kidwell assured me he’d do just about anything to get his mortgage fixed. As proof he offered to sing me a mortgage-themed song in the style of soul singer Sam Cooke. With a few thousand pairs of eyes trained on us, Kidwell promptly cleared his throat and belted out lyrics that featured some mix-and-match combination of the words “relief,” “modification,” “IndyMac,” and “baby.”

A man crooning about mortgage relief, retired couples camping in a parking lot for counseling appointments, 4,000 exhausted “fans” cheering announcements of 2% fixed interest rate loans as if they were so many slam dunks — after a day at “Save the Dream,” you’d be forgiven for thinking that, when it came to working class and middle class Americans, the housing market and the American economy in general hadn’t exactly improved since its implosion in the fall of 2008. Surveying the organized chaos in the Cow Palace, you might also be forgiven for thinking that all the talk of “recovery” was little more than that — unless you happened to work for Goldman Sachs. Indeed, the beleaguered faces of the desperate homeowners at “Save the Dream” brought to my mind a famous Dorothea Lange photo of a Depression-era bread line in San Francisco’s Mission District, an image captured 75 years earlier just miles from where I stood.

If you happened to be at the Cow Palace that Saturday, the daily news about the very financial players who had fueled the subprime debacle and the global economic collapse returning to their risky, overleveraged ways could seem little short of surreal. Here, after all, was a reasonable selection of what the media likes to call “Main Street” mired in debt, clinging to homes at the edge of foreclosure, struggling through a jobless “recovery.”

A “recovery,” that is, in which the true underemployment rate is 17.5%, average employee wages continue to drop, and the housing market is in shambles. The 937,840 foreclosure filings from July to September of 2009 set yet another industry record. So many people are returning to school that some community colleges have extended classes until 2 A.M. and are turning away hordes of new students. No one — not a single person — I interviewed at “Save the Dream” agreed with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner or Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke that their country was on the economic rebound.

Mary McCleese, an Oakland resident, who was, at least for the moment, keeping her home thanks to NACA’s help, was typical. “If you look around, you see how many people is out of work, number one, and you see how many people is in foreclosure or lost their homes or in default because they've lost their jobs,” she said. “That tells you right there what the economy is doing.”

II. Housing Meltdown, Ground Zero

About a week before the “Save the Dream” event, I rented a car and headed east from San Francisco toward Ground Zero of the subprime mortgage meltdown. Visiting one of the hardest hit cities in the country would, I reasoned, offer another measure of whether the “green shoots” of “recovery” were truly pushing up through the overleveraged earth — better surely, when it came to ordinary Americans, than the rising price of AIG’s stock or the Dow’s ascent. While many cities can contest for the title of “most devastated by the meltdown,” including metropolitan hubs like Las Vegas and Fort Lauderdale or suburban areas like Bakersfield, California, or Mesa, Arizona, it turns out I didn’t have far to drive.

After all, Stockton, California, an arid, unremarkable city in the San Joaquin Valley, was only 80 miles away. A place for which “decimated” isn’t hyperbole but a mathematical statement of fact, Stockton, with its population of around 300,000, recorded nearly one foreclosure for every 10 houses in 2008. As other towns like to call themselves “the artichoke heart of America” or “America’s Bread Basket,” Stockton could call itself the heart of America’s subprime meltdown.

It’s an hour-and-a-half drive from San Francisco to Stockton, up through the Altamont Pass with its rows of wind turbines, then down into the Central Valley’s wide expanse and, via I-5, into the open streets of Stockton, a city that has often seemed to embody the vicissitudes of the housing crisis. In February 2008, for instance, national media outlets latched onto the story of a local man who, struck by the entrepreneurial spirit, started a business called Greener Grass Co. His service: Spray-painting the dead, burnt-out yards of foreclosed houses a hue of green so realistic that the local newspaper described the painted lawns as “good enough for a golf course or a professional football stadium.”

When I pulled into Stockton last month, more than a year had passed since CNBC had pegged it the “Foreclosure Capital of the World” — and painting lawns green was still de rigueur. Local government workers had now taken up the job. Dead lawns, the thinking went, signaled empty houses and so attracted trouble. Painting lawns, the city hoped, might dissuade people from breaking into deserted homes.

Around mid-morning, I pulled into the Little John Creek neighborhood near the airport on the city’s southern outskirts, and one of the first things I saw was an abandoned house displaying their handiwork. The green was, in fact, a sickly teal hue and had been laid down in bizarre stripes on a dead lawn on Togninali Lane. It was, to say the least, a far cry from fairways, football stadiums, or even the perfectly real turf on neighboring lots where grass grew and people lived.

Here, the houses without occupants stood out like so many missing teeth in a wide smile. On just about every street, foreclosures dotted the landscape: stucco homes with sheriff’s notices taped to front doors, FOR SALE signs askew in front yards, lawns burnt into suburban hay by the summer sun that had yet to receive their eerie coats of green. I parked near foreclosed house after house and walked up front paths and driveways to peer through windows and over backyard fences.  Most of the homes were starkly empty, often gutted — “trashed out” in industry parlance — with not a trace of their former owners.

In a few, though, there were hints of lives lived and lost. A deflated basketball, a toy truck, and a skateboard sat in the backyard of a tan house with a two-car garage in Little John Creek, the back porch light still unnervingly aglow in broad daylight. At a nearby house, the front flower bed was filled with foreclosure-crisis detritus, including the business cards of realtors and mortgage specialists.

The half-dozen neighborhoods I drove or walked through in various parts of Stockton proved but repeats of Little John Creek, still littered with empty homes — “decimated” — more than a year after the financial meltdown occurred. Though Stockton’s foreclosure rate has dropped from 9.5% of the city’s houses in 2008 to 3.5% in the third quarter of 2009, that’s nothing to brag about. It remains the fourth-highest rate in U.S. metropolitan areas.

Before arriving, I had envisioned the foreclosure crisis as a somewhat localized event with the majority of such homes in a limited number of lifeless neighborhoods. In Stockton, at least, the opposite was true: foreclosed homes were salt-and-peppered around the city. They often sat singly or in twos and threes among occupied homes in still lived-in neighborhoods, in cul-de-sacs where kids played basketball, on blocks where neighbors waxed their cars on a Sunday afternoon, or down streets where friends were barbecuing in open two-car garages.

The thought of an emptied-out neighborhood may pack a more visceral punch for a story, but from an economic or social standpoint, a mix of foreclosed and occupied properties is far more damaging to those still in their homes. A report from the Center for Responsible Lending estimates that foreclosures will cost neighbors $500 billion in home value in 2009, or an average of $7,200 for 69.5 million homes. A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago also found that when foreclosures increase, so, too, does violent crime in neighborhoods.

For those who have clung to their homes in hard-hit areas, the value of those investments has plummeted, while the ability to sell and so move elsewhere — to take a new job or live in a cheaper market — is now greatly hindered. In other words, a crisis like this one in a city like Stockton is not easily escaped.

III. A Bubble Grafted onto Rubble

The billboards and roadside ads lining Stockton’s streets like campaign signs repeatedly proclaim: “Mortgage Modification Works!” and “Call for Loan Modifications!” I counted five of them on one block alone, and together they created the impression that help had arrived. Yet I knew they were scams, with anonymous local phone numbers and little other identification, meant to relieve desperate homeowners in a city not lacking in desperation of whatever money they had left. The subprime meltdown, as it turns out, has been a boon for crooks preying on the vulnerable. (Not long ago, the FBI announced a nine-month mortgage fraud investigation in Florida involving 500 defendants and $400 million in loans.)

Outnumbering the scams three to one along Stockton’s main thoroughfares were glossier professional ads. At almost every intersection they urged locals to take advantage of the federal government’s recently extended $8,000 homebuyer tax credit. Never mind that this tax credit has been criticized by economists and experts alike who say it could create a new housing bubble amid the devastation. Even while the rubble of the subprime meltdown is still smoking, developers here in California’s Central Valley are already dreaming again about speculation on new homes.

At one point, I followed a succession of these tax-credit come-ons out to a subdivision called Cobblestone Bay. There, at the city’s edge, new homes with white picket fences are popping up at the edge of the undeveloped valley beyond. It was hard, having spent much of the day in foreclosure-riddled neighborhoods, to walk around this new development without a sense of déjà vu. I couldn’t shake the feeling that Cobblestone Bay was already being prepared for future foreclosure. All it lacked — for the time being — was the fake green lawns.

In fact, all the ad trails touting the $8,000 tax credit I followed led to subdivisions like this one, cookie-cutter communities lacking distinguishing characteristics that might remind you of California (rather than, say, Arizona or Florida). These were, of course, the very kinds of neighborhoods that were thrown up wherever land was cheap in the California boom construction years of 2005 and 2006, and the kinds of neighborhoods now in subprime ruin.

As my visit was ending and the sun disappearing behind the valley’s edge, I made one last stop on the outskirts of town at the ornate entrance to a subdivision called Golden Eagle. It included, as its centerpiece, an impressive five-tiered water fountain, while large wrought iron gates depicting eagles-in-flight separated Golden Eagle from the surrounding neighborhood. Except there was no Golden Eagle — just a single unfinished house on the weedy, 15-acre property.  Construction equipment sat motionless on the dusty earth. A placard outside the gated entrance trumpeted grand expectations, but the new neighborhood looked stillborn.

I took down a phone number from the entrance placard and, later that week, called Golden Eagle’s developer, a man named Tom Ruemmler. He told me that he had been on the project for more than three years, and envisioned it as a luxury, energy-efficient community for the green future. Ruemmler was no rube when it came to mortgages and the housing market: in the mid-1990s, he won a multi-million dollar mortgage-fraud whistleblower suit involving a Sacramento bank whose Stockton loan office he once managed.

Who, I asked him, would buy a custom, high-end, zero-energy, hypoallergenic home in a city leveled by foreclosures where housing prices have plummeted and nearly one in six people are unemployed? “I’m dealing with a different clientele,” he responded, bridling at the question. “I’m dealing with probably one-fiftieth of one percent of the buying public.” Did he honestly think he could sell 30 of these lots to such a small percentage of people in a place like Stockton? "Now is the time to build a custom home," he insisted. “Somebody out there is going to have money that has somebody in the family that has allergies.” And out in the San Joaquin Valley, with a foreclosure on almost every block, he intended to find them.


• Andy Kroll works for Mother Jones magazine and is a frequent contributor to TomDispatch. He lives in San Francisco.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175170/tomgram%3A_andy_kroll%2C_the_illusion_of_recovery
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« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2010, 10:03:57 pm »


Haiti ‘cursed’ — US evangelist

Associated Press | Friday, 15 January 2009

The White House has slammed evangelist broadcaster Pat Robertson's remark that Haiti has been cursed.

A devastating magnitude-7 earthquake hit the small island nation Tuesday.

"It never ceases to amaze me that in times of amazing human suffering somebody says something that can be so utterly stupid," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

The day after the earthquake, Robertson said Haiti has been "cursed" because of what he called a "pact with the devil" in its history.

His spokesman said the comments were based on Voodoo rituals carried out before a slave rebellion against French colonists in 1791.

Spokesman Chris Roslan says Robertson never said the earthquake was God's wrath.

Earlier, senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett said on ABC television that Roberston's statement left her speechless.

She called it "a pretty stunning comment to make" and said it doesn't express the spirit of the American people or the president.


http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/3233176/Haiti-cursed-US-evangelist

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« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2010, 02:47:19 pm »

Curses are human madness people curse things every day  Grin
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« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2010, 06:52:40 pm »


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« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2010, 06:31:17 pm »


This week in Tennessee....


http://www.nashvillescene.com/pitw/archives/2010/05/03/schermerhorns-25-million-pipe-organ-severely-damaged-by-flooding
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« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2010, 07:52:04 pm »



Meanwhile today is the day of prayer,




It is occurring this year in spite of a recent court ruling declaring its unconstitutionality
   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/06/national-day-of-prayer-20_n_566525.html
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« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2010, 07:22:51 pm »


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« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2010, 04:46:27 pm »


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« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2010, 11:43:29 pm »


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« Reply #15 on: June 01, 2010, 11:44:00 pm »


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« Reply #16 on: June 01, 2010, 11:44:31 pm »


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« Reply #17 on: June 25, 2010, 01:10:18 am »


Click on the cartoon to read the news story!
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« Reply #18 on: July 14, 2010, 09:16:01 pm »


CHUCKLE....you gotta laugh at those Tea Party retards and their silly wench, Sarah Palin, eh?   



Anger over billboard linking Obama, Hitler

Associated Press | 7:39AM - Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A billboard ordered and paid for by the North Iowa Tea Party shows President Barack Obama, Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin. — Photo: Associated Press.
A billboard ordered and paid for by the North Iowa Tea Party shows President Barack Obama,
Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin. — Photo: Associated Press.


IOWA — A billboard created by a conservative Iowa political group comparing President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin is being condemned by other activists.

The North Iowa Tea Party began displaying the sign in Mason City last week.

The sign includes photos of Obama, Nazi leader Hitler and communist leader Lenin with the statement: "Radical leaders prey on the fearful & naive."

North Iowa Tea Party co-founder Bob Johnson says the sign highlights what the group argues is Obama's support for socialism. He says the pictures might be overwhelming the intended message.

Shelby Blakely, a spokeswoman for the national Tea Party Patriots, says the sign isn't appropriate. She says her group opposes any comparisons of Obama to Hitler or Lenin.

The White House declined to comment.


http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10658670
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« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2010, 12:39:19 pm »


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« Reply #20 on: August 29, 2010, 12:41:56 pm »


Paris Hilton arrested for possession

Cover Media | 11:48PM - Saturday, 28 August 2010

ARRESTED: Paris Hilton has been arrested for cocaine possession. — Photo: Getty Images.
ARRESTED: Paris Hilton has been arrested for cocaine possession.
 — Photo: Getty Images.


PARIS HILTON has been arrested for cocaine possession.

The 28-year-old hotel heiress was taken into police custody late Saturday night (NZ time) after officers stopped the car she was in on a Las Vegas street.

She was held overnight and booked into the Clark County Detention Centre on a charge of drug possession.

Public Information officer Marcus Martin said Paris was in a car that was being driven by a friend that was pulled over when police noticed what they suspected to be marijuana smoke coming from it.

Martin said officers searched the occupants of the car once it had been stopped, and found a controlled substance on Paris. Tests showed it was cocaine. It is not known how much of the drug was found.

Las Vegas police Lieutenant Wayne Holman said that Hilton was still in police custody late Saturday night (NZ time). He said she was expected to be released on bail later today.

Paris has been arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) several times, and spent 23 days in prison in June 2007 after she violated the terms of her probation for those charges.

She was arrested in July after she was accused of smoking marijuana at a soccer World Cup game in South Africa, but the case against her was later dropped. She was also arrested and detained at an airport in Corsica two weeks later for possession of marijuana. That case was also subsequently dropped.


http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/celebrities/4072418/Paris-Hilton-arrested-for-possession
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« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2010, 12:55:45 pm »

Meanwhile............ In New Zealand.



http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/4071032/Drug-ringmaster-worked-from-jail

Drug 'ringmaster' worked from jail

Last updated 05:00 28/08/2010
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The "ringmaster" of a Christchurch methamphetamine syndicate he ran from his prison cell had at least five years added to his life sentence for murder yesterday.

The Christchurch District Court heard yesterday how Dean Waka Nathan, 43, used an unauthorised cellphone to marshal eight associates in an operation worth nearly $2 million.

Nathan, who is already serving a life sentence for his part in the gang shooting of Black Power member Max Shannon in 2000, pleaded guilty to charges of supplying and conspiring to supply the drug in September.

Yesterday, Judge Philip Moran sentenced Nathan to 20 years with a minimum non-parole period that means he will not be eligible for parole until at least 2019.

Prior to yesterday's sentence he could have gone before the Parole Board in 2014.

The court heard between October 10, 2008, and January 31 last year Nathan used people to act as bankers and others to provide safehouses for the storage of drugs.

These activities were monitored by police using taps on phones.

A key member of the operation was Angie Lee Hurring, who made an abortive trip to Auckland to buy 10 ounces of methamphetamine for Nathan in January for $130,000.

The sale fell through when she and the seller became worried they were being followed by police.

A police summary of facts said that in February Nathan instructed his stepdaughter, Storm Harley Curran, to buy more methamphetamine from another dealer in Auckland.

When Curran flew into Christchurch Airport police caught her with 39 grams of methamphetamine worth up to $40,000.

Although Nathan had only pleaded guilty to being involved in these two incidents, the judge said evidence indicated they were not the only occasions.

Prior to January Hurring made eight trips to Auckland to buy drugs, he said.

"This was a large-scale operation with a minimum of eight transactions of eight ounces each. We are looking at $1.8m worth on the street.

"There were numerous trips to Auckland, all of which you were involved in and your culpability isn't limited to one transaction that formed the basis of your guilty plea.

"The evidence suggests an ongoing operation and you have called no evidence to the contrary," Judge Moran said.

"I accept the Crown's analysis that you were the common denominator between all of the conspirators. You did most of the calling rather than having people call you. You were the ringmaster in this offending."

Prosecutor Claire Boshier said no cumulative sentence could be imposed as Nathan was serving a life term.


However, a further non-parole period should "lengthen his existing sentence", she said.



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« Reply #22 on: June 27, 2011, 02:45:08 am »


I wonder if the truck driver had an “oops, I fucked-up” moment in his head just before he crashed into the side of the train? 



From the San Francisco Chronicle....

6 killed in Amtrak train crash, 28 unaccounted for

By JOHN COTÉ - San Francisco Chronicle | Sunday, June 26, 2011

COLLISION SITE

SIX PEOPLE were killed and 28 remain unaccounted for in the fiery collision of a semi-trailer and an Emeryville-bound Amtrak train in the Nevada desert, officials said late Saturday.

It wasn't until Saturday afternoon that the wreckage was safe enough to allow search teams to enter the burned-out hulks of two passenger cars in the 10-car train that exploded in a fireball on Friday.

A team of 18 investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board is examining the wreckage, but they don't yet have a full explanation of why the crash occurred.


Firefighters look at the wreckage of an Amtrak passenger car Friday near US 95 north of Fallon, Nevada. The westbound train was struck by a semi-truck and burst into flames. The driver and a passenger of the truck were killed. Injured train passengers were taken to local hospitals but officials must let the wreck cool off before they continue their search. — Photo: Liz Margerum/Reno Gazette-Journal/Associated Press.
Firefighters look at the wreckage of an Amtrak passenger car Friday near US 95 north of
Fallon, Nevada. The westbound train was struck by a semi-truck and burst into flames.
The driver and a passenger of the truck were killed. Injured train passengers were taken
to local hospitals but officials must let the wreck cool off before they continue their search.
 — Photo: Liz Margerum/Reno Gazette-Journal/Associated Press.


Two other truck drivers watched in horror and disbelief as the lead semi-tractor trailer in their convoy failed to stop for flashing warning signals and plowed into the train, the federal investigators said.

"The two other trucks noticed the signs and took action," NTSB member Earl Weener said at a briefing. "The lead truck did not stop."

The initial findings only deepen the mystery of why the big rig slammed into the California Zephyr at a remote highway crossing about 70 miles east of Reno, shortly before 11:30 a.m. on Friday.

The fellow drivers in the three-truck convoy described ample warnings signs and functioning crossing gates and warning lights, Weener said. The first warning sign was almost 900 feet before what Weener described as a state-of-the-art rail crossing gate. There were additional markers at 650 feet.

Skid marks show the lead driver, who died in the crash and authorities have refused to identify, applied the brakes beginning at about 320 feet from the crossing but was unable to stop in time, officials said.

But more than a day after the rig, owned by John Davies Trucking of Battle Mountain, Nevada, slammed into the train, little information was available about who was killed and who was missing in the collision.

The investigators from NTSB combed through the charred wreckage, trying to determine why a semi-tractor trailer hauling empty gravel containers hurtled through the wooden safety gates and flashing lights at the remote highway crossing.

Crews also had the grim task of searching the charred hulk of part of the train for bodies.

The fireball that raged through the train cars made it too risky for crews to search the wreckage until Saturday afternoon, authorities said.

"The fire weakened the structure of the cars and they could collapse," Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Dan Lopez said. "The safety of workers is a big thing, and we don't want to put someone else in an unsafe situation."

Amtrak officials, who earlier said there were 204 passengers and 14 crew members aboard the California Zephyr, were scouring the passenger manifest to determine how many riders were on the train and how many had bought tickets but did not use them.

There's difficulty in knowing exactly how many passengers were onboard the train, Weener said.

"It's not like an airplane where there's a record of who gets on," he said. "On a train, people can get on and off as they will."

The truck driver is expected to be the focus of the investigation.

"That's what everybody wants to know. Why did the truck collide with the train?" Lopez said. "Unfortunately ... he was pronounced dead."

Investigators are expected to review the man's driving and medical history. Autopsy results would probably indicate whether the driver had consumed any drugs before the collision.


Emergency crews work around two cars at the site of a collision between an Amtrak westbound train and a truck on U.S. 95 about 4 miles south of Interstate 80 on Friday, 70 miles east of Reno, Nevada. — Photo: Marilyn Newton/Associated Press.
Emergency crews work around two cars at the site of a collision between an Amtrak westbound train and
a truck on U.S. 95 about 4 miles south of Interstate 80 on Friday, 70 miles east of Reno, Nevada.
 — Photo: Marilyn Newton/Associated Press.


Firefighters put water on the wreckage of an Amtrak passenger car Friday June 24, 2011 near US 95 north of Fallon, Nevada. The west-bound train was struck by a semi-truck and burst into flames. The driver and a passenger of the truck were killed. Injured train passengers were taken to local hospitals but officials must let the wreck cool off before they continue their search. — Photo: Liz Margerum/Reno Gazette-Journal/Associated Press.
Firefighters put water on the wreckage of an Amtrak passenger car Friday June 24, 2011 near US 95 north of
Fallon, Nevada. The west-bound train was struck by a semi-truck and burst into flames. The driver and a
passenger of the truck were killed. Injured train passengers were taken to local hospitals but officials must
let the wreck cool off before they continue their search. — Photo: Liz Margerum/Reno Gazette-Journal/AP.


The wreckage of a truck is seen at right at the site of a collision between an Amtrak westbound train and a truck on U.S. 95 about 4 miles south of Interstate 80 on Friday, 70 miles east of Reno, Nevada. — Photo: Marilyn Newton/Associated Press.
The wreckage of a truck is seen at right at the site of a collision between an Amtrak westbound train and
a truck on U.S. 95 about 4 miles south of Interstate 80 on Friday, 70 miles east of Reno, Nevada.
— Photo: Marilyn Newton/Associated Press.


Emergency workers investigate at the site of a collision between an Amtrak westbound train and a truck on U.S. 95 about 4 miles south of Interstate 80 on Friday, 70 miles east of Reno, Nevada. — Photo: Marilyn Newton/Associated Press.
Emergency workers investigate at the site of a collision between an Amtrak westbound train and a truck
on U.S. 95 about 4 miles south of Interstate 80 on Friday, 70 miles east of Reno, Nevada.
 — Photo: Marilyn Newton/Associated Press.


A group of Amish from Ohio were among the passengers aboard the Amtrak train that was struck by a truck at the intersection of U.S. 95 about 65 miles east of Reno Friday morning June 24, 2011. The group load onto buses at Best Elementary School in Fallon. — Photo: Tim Dunn/Reno Gazette-Journal/Associated Press.
A group of Amish from Ohio were among the passengers aboard the Amtrak train that was struck by a truck
at the intersection of U.S. 95 about 65 miles east of Reno Friday morning June 24, 2011. The group load onto
buses at Best Elementary School in Fallon. — Photo: Tim Dunn/Reno Gazette-Journal/Associated Press.


More than 80 people were taken to hospitals in Reno and the surrounding area, some in helicopters, authorities said. Six of the nine who had been taken to Renown Regional Medical Center, the local trauma hospital, were released by Saturday afternoon. Of the three who remained, one was listed in critical condition.

The riders' injuries included blunt trauma, fractures, abrasions, lacerations and internal organ damage, but not burns, Renown officials said.

Another 76 people were treated at Banner Churchill Community Hospital in Fallon, about 63 miles east of Reno, hospital spokeswoman Amiee Fulk said. All but one had been released by Saturday.

Dozens of other passengers were being taken by chartered buses to their destinations, Amtrak officials said. The first buses arrived in Emeryville around midnight Friday. Trains had to be rerouted around the crash site and the highway remained closed around the scene of the wreck.

The train had originated in Chicago. It was due to arrive in Emeryville at 4:10 p.m. Friday.

"Right now it's a shock to everybody's system," Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole said, "but I think at the end of the day, we run a reliable and safe railroad."


Chronicle news services contributed to this report. E-mail John Coté at jcote@sfchronicle.com.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/06/25/MN9T1K2PVL.DTL




From the Los Angeles Times....

Over two dozen unaccounted for in Nevada truck-train wreck

Emergency workers find two more bodies, bringing the death toll
to at least six. Witnesses say the semi driver tried to stop.


By JACK DOLAN, RALPH VARTABEDIAN and STEPHEN CEASAR - Los Angeles Times | Sunday, June 26, 2011

Charred Amtrak passenger cars sit smoldering after the train was struck by a semitruck on Highway 95 north of Fallon, Nevada. — Photo: Liz Margerum/Reno Gazette-Journal/Associated Press/June 26, 2011.
Charred Amtrak passenger cars sit smoldering after the train was struck by a semitruck on Highway 95
north of Fallon, Nevada. — Photo: Liz Margerum/Reno Gazette-Journal/Associated Press/June 24, 2011.


SIX PEOPLE are confirmed dead and about 28 remained unaccounted for following the fiery collision of the California Zephyr passenger train and a truck in the Nevada desert.

The missing passengers are not necessarily all dead. In a news conference late Saturday night, National Transportation Safety Board Member Earl Weener said more than two dozen people from the train's 210-person manifest had not been found. It's not known how many of those 210 actually boarded the Chicago-to-California train and how many may have gotten off at stops before the crash, Weener said.

"That makes this a spongy number," he said.

At least six people were killed, including a member of the train crew and the truck driver, according to Amtrak officials and the Churchill County Sheriff's Department. The names of the dead were withheld pending notification of their relatives.


A big rig plowed into a California-bound Amtrak train at a crossing in a rural area about 70 miles east of Reno. — Photo: Marilyn Newton/Associated Press/June 24, 2011.Passengers and crew exit the Amtrak train. — Ron Almgren/Associated Press/June 24, 2011.
LEFT: A big rig plowed into a California-bound Amtrak train at a crossing in a rural area about 70 miles east of Reno.
 — Photo: Marilyn Newton/Associated Press/June 24, 2011.
RIGHT: Passengers and crew exit the Amtrak train. — Ron Almgren/Associated Press/June 24, 2011.


Throughout the day Saturday, a team of federal investigators sifted through the badly charred wreckage of the westbound Amtrak train. They said the severe destruction was making it difficult to determine how many may have perished when the big rig truck rammed the train at a highway crossing Friday.

"If you look at the amount of damage to the train, you can understand why we don't know yet how many people died," an NTSB official said.

About 20 passengers were taken to hospitals Friday, said Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Dan Lopez.

The accident occurred at 11:20 a.m. Friday in an empty desert about 70 miles east of Reno, where Highway 95 crosses a set of Union Pacific Railroad tracks, and about three miles south of Interstate 80.


Smoke rises from train cars hit by the semi-truck. — Photo: Liz Margerum/Reno Gazette-Journal/Associated Press/June 24, 2011.
Smoke rises from train cars hit by the semi-truck. — Photo: Liz Margerum/RGJ/AP/June 24, 2011.

Passenger Abel Ortiz said he was sleeping on the side of the car that was struck. “I saw the flames come over the windows of the side, like a quick flash of flames. Then smoked filled up everything. There was some screaming.” — Photo: Marilyn Newton/Associated Press/June 24, 2011.
Passenger Abel Ortiz said he was sleeping on the side of the car that was struck. “I saw the flames
come over the windows of the side, like a quick flash of flames. Then smoked filled up everything.
There was some screaming.” — Photo: Marilyn Newton/Associated Press/June 24, 2011.


Emergency crews investigate the site of the collision. Wreckage of the semi-truck is strewn near the tracks. — Photo: Marilyn Newton/Associated Press/June 24, 2011.
Emergency crews investigate the site of the collision. Wreckage of the semi-truck is strewn
near the tracks. — Photo: Marilyn Newton/Associated Press/June 24, 2011.


The truck that plowed into the train was the leader of a three-truck convoy, all from John Davies Trucking in Battle Mountain, Nevada, Weener said. Visibility was excellent at the time of the accident, Weener said, and the drivers of the trailing trucks told investigators they saw the train coming and wondered why the lead driver, a man in his 40s, wasn't stopping.

There was a warning signal 897 feet before the crossing, Weener said. The truck driver apparently slammed on his breaks, starting a skid mark on Highway 95 northbound that stretched 320 feet up to the tracks.

The truck was headed north on the road, which crosses the tracks at about a 45-degree angle. The road has a posted 70-mph speed limit. The truck could have required as much as 465 feet to stop if it was going the speed limit, according to widely used estimates.

The truck struck the train, which was bound for Emeryville, California, from the side, and the train engineer saw the impact in his rearview mirror.

The cab of the truck became stuck in the passenger car and was carried about half a mile down the tracks, where the train finally came to a rest. The bed of the truck was left relatively unscathed back at the crossing, according to Lopez. The train did not derail.

It's not clear when the fire erupted that engulfed at least two of the passenger cars of the train, Weener said.

A phone call to John Davies Trucking was not returned late Saturday night.

The engineer, who survived, tried to stop the train, which was traveling at 78 mph, but could not do so in time, Weener said. The section of track through the desert is rated for 80 mph, Weener said.

Amtrak has had 36 accidents at grade crossings from January through March of this year, resulting in 11 deaths, according to the Federal Railroad Administration's safety office. In the five-year period ending in 2010, the passenger train service was involved in crashes that took the lives of 309 people, an average of 62 per year. Amtrak's media relations officials did not return calls Saturday for comment.

Emergency crews did not begin removing bodies from the badly burned wreckage of the train until about 1 p.m. Saturday. Among their concerns was the possibility that the train could topple over on rescuers.

Brisk, dusty desert winds whipped crews as they slowly extracted the dead.


Jack Dolan reported from Lovelock, Nevada; Ralph Vartabedian and Stephen Ceasar from Los Angeles.

jack.dolan@latimes.com

ralph.vartabedian@latimes.com

stephen.ceasar@latimes.com

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-nevada-train-crash-20110626,0,4724347.story
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« Reply #23 on: June 27, 2011, 02:42:44 pm »

You would think the guy would slow down a little for the crossing

350 foot skid mark  wonder how fast he was moving,maybe it slid because it was empty..wonder what caused the fire.
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Kiwithrottlejockey
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Having fun in the hills!


« Reply #24 on: June 27, 2011, 03:16:31 pm »

...wonder what caused the fire.


Most likely fuel.

The truck would have had plenty of it.

And those big AmTrak double-decker viewliner passenger cars each have their own power generator onboard on the lower level.

So presumably all of that diesel fuel ignited and the result was a fire.


There was a similar incident in NZ many years ago when a ready-mix concrete truck drove into the side of a passenger train at Rolleston just outside Christchurch. In the NZ example, the truck hit the side of the locomotive, straight into the side where the rear locomotive bogie is located. That is one of the most solid parts of a locomotive, so the result was the truck bounced off, but was spun around and the rear of the truck ripped the side out of the second passenger car as it passed over the crossing, killing two passengers, although fortunately there was no fire. One of the passengers on the train who died was the daughter of cricketer Lance Cairns. It was because of that crash that her brother (Chris Cairns) set up a trust and began a nationwide level crossing safety campaign. And following the Rolleston collision, the rail company closed the level crossing completely in spite of strenuous objections from local residents. They were able to do that because level crossings aren't public roads but are instead part of the rail corridor with motorists being allowed to cross the rail corridor by the grace of the rail operating company. Legally, KiwiRail could close and fence off any public level crossing in NZ if they wished, although political fallout would be huge if they started wholesale closure of level crossings around the country.
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If you aren't living life on the edge, you're taking up too much space! 

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