Iraq In reversal Security Council frees more humanitarian contracts than it holds

According to the Office of the Iraq Programme, the total value of contracts placed on hold by the Security Council’s sanctions committee decreased last week, both in absolute and relative terms, after months of gradual increase. Those contracts cover goods purchased by Iraq with a portion of its UN-administered oil revenues.The balance shifted when the Committee released from hold 40 contracts worth $201.4 million and placed on hold 32 new contracts valued at $107.8 million, the Office said. A single contract for the electricity sector worth $110 million was among those recently released, as were a number of contracts for irrigation systems, animal vaccines, tug boats, gas turbine equipment and a waste-water treatment plant. New contracts put on hold related to water treatment and electromechanical equipment, pipes, valves, a television transmitter, medical machines and a tire-testing machine.Overall, 1,691 contracts worth $3.5 billion were on hold, representing 17.1 per cent of the value of all contracts circulated to the committee, the Office reported.Also during the past week, Iraq exported 14.4 million barrels of oil, earning an estimated €371 million (euros) at current prices. read more

East Timor rise in refugee returns from West Timor continues

The East Timor office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) attributed the current upsurge in returns – nearly 4,000 came back in March, the highest monthly total in two years – to the territory’s upcoming presidential elections and independence celebrations.There were also unconfirmed reports from UNHCR’s counterparts in Indonesia that as many as 2,000 more refugees may return next week.In a move that can give additional impetus for refugees to return in the coming weeks, independence leader and presidential candidate Xanana Gusmão yesterday crossed the border in a UNHCR convoy and addressed mass meetings of more than 10,000 refugees and their leaders in Atambua and Kefa, West Timor.During the meetings, Mr. Gusmão handed out 4,000 hand-written postcards from the people of East Timor encouraging their compatriots in the refugee community to return.Prior to the meeting in Atambua, Mr. Gusmão and Robert Ashe, head of UNHCR-East Timor, met with the regional commander of the Indonesian armed forces (TNI), Major General William da Costa. They all placed wreaths at a former UNHCR office where three agency staff members were murdered by a mob of militiamen in September 2000.Since October 1999, the total number of repatriated East Timorese refugees is now close to 200,000, and UNHCR estimated there were fewer than 60,000 refugees remaining in the camps across the border. read more

Annan calls for end to tariffs and subsidies that stifle Africas trade

“I call again for an end to the subsidies and tariffs that are stifling the ability of poor countries to compete fairly in the international trading system and trade their way out of poverty,” he said in a statement marking Africa Industrialization Day, which is being observed under the theme “Acceleration of Africa’s Integration in the Global Economy through Effective Industrialization and Market Access.”African countries needed to move away from long-standing trading patterns of depending excessively on exports of raw materials and semi-processed goods and the traditional comparative advantages of raw materials and unskilled labour, Mr. Annan said.”Greater emphasis on higher-value-added products and specialization would reap rewards,” he said.”Industrialization makes a varied and valuable contribution to the alleviation of poverty,” he added. “It raises productivity, creates employment, reduces exposure to risk, enhances the income-generating assets of the poor and helps to diversify exports.”In the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) report for 2002-2003, the industrial output of sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa, declined to 0.7 per cent of world manufacturing value added in 1998, from 1 per cent in 1985.Without South Africa, the figure declined to 0.3 per cent of world manufacturing value added from 0.5 per cent in the same time frame, according to UNIDO.Improving the competitiveness and effectiveness of African industries depended on a context of dynamic, stable economies, solid export bases, steady investment flows and, “above all, political stability,” Mr. Annan said.Governments, by their policies, should help to nurture comparative advantages by creating an enabling environment for business and industry, he said.In his message, the President of the General Assembly, Julian R. Hunte of St. Lucia, underlined the progress made. The programme of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) recently established by African countries themselves, he said, is a “clear demonstration of their commitment to alleviate poverty, combat marginalization, build global partnerships for investment and technology promotion, diversify the export base and gain access to international markets.”“The strategy for industrialisation and market access is critical,” he added, “considering that LDCs (least developed countries) have neither surplus capacity of exportable products nor production capacity to take immediate advantage of new trade opportunities.” UNIDO is to be commended for its continued commitment to address these issues and to promote Africa’s integration into the global economy, he said. read more

Replaced by stronger body UN rights commission formally told to close shop

In a formality following the decision to set up a stronger United Nations Human Rights Council, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has decided to abolish as of 16 June the much-criticized Commission on Human Rights which the new body replaces.ECOSOC, which administers the Commission, adopted a resolution yesterday without a vote, requesting it to conclude its work at its sixty-second session, which should be short and procedural, and transmit its final report to the Council.As a subsidiary body of the General Assembly, the new rights Council has a higher status and greater accountability and will meet year round as opposed to the six-week annual session of the Commission. Its members will be elected by a majority of all 191 UN Members. The Council is one of a series of major UN reforms proposed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in March last year and approved by a World Summit at UN Headquarters in September. In presenting his proposals a year ago, Mr. Annan had wanted election to the Council to be by a two-thirds majority, and failure to achieve this has been cited by the United States as one of the main elements in its opposition to the current framework of the new body. But while conceding his inability to reach this goal, Mr. Annan has repeatedly stressed that the Council as proposed by General Assembly President Jan Eliasson after months-long consultations with Member States could be a basis for more effective human rights protection. read more

US Treasury Department to track some real estate deals in NY and

by Josh Boak And Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press Posted Jan 13, 2016 10:47 am MDT Last Updated Jan 13, 2016 at 1:18 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email WASHINGTON – The Treasury Department will begin tracking sales of high-end real estate in two of the country’s most expensive markets — Miami and Manhattan — to try to crack down on money laundering.The department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said Wednesday that it will temporarily require certain title companies to identify individuals behind companies that buy properties exceeding $3 million in these two markets with all-cash transactions.The government said it’s concerned that some of these real estate deals are made by corrupt foreign government officials or international criminals who use expensive real estate to launder dirty money. By using holding companies, some buyers may be able to disguise their identities.The disclosure requirements would apply for 180 days beginning in March, according to the announcement. Under federal law, the government can demand these geographically targeted disclosures for up to six months but can then seek an extension.High-end home prices in both Manhattan and Miami have soared over the past year. The median Manhattan home sold for $1.15 million at the close of 2015 — a 17.3 per cent leap from a year ago, according to the real estate brokerage Douglas Elliman.That price put it at highs last glimpsed before the financial crisis erupted in 2008. The median sales price for a luxury unit in Manhattan was $6 million, a 25 per cent jump from a year ago. Nearly half the purchases were all-cash.Douglas Elliman reported that the entry point for luxury single-family homes in Miami Beach exceeds $6 million. Buyers are also flocking to the chic condo towers that increasingly line the region’s most expensive avenues.Of the $100 billion spent on real estate transactions in Florida last year, nearly a quarter came from international buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors. And 74 per cent of those sales were all-cash. But most of those purchases would not qualify for the additional government disclosureThe housing industry is trying to gauge the impact of the required disclosures.“It’s painting the high-end segment as having overall treachery, and that’s unfortunate,” said Jonathan Miller, chief executive at the appraiser Miller Samuel. “It’s certainly not helpful to the high end of the market because it adds another level of complication to a transaction.”Still, Miller said the impact is likely to be minor in the long term. U.S. Treasury Department to track some real estate deals in NY and Miami read more

PSG Handball for the third year in a row in Cologne

← Previous Story AS HP WROTE 3 MONTHS AGO – Reinkind to THW Kiel Next Story → Fuchse Berlin join Men’s EHF Cup Final4 in Magdeburg PSG HandballSander SagosenUwe Gensheimer PSG Handball are the first members of “BIG 4” of the European handball which will gathered in Cologne at May 26/27 at VELUX EHF Champions League Final4. The French champions had difficulties to “warm-up” after +6 from the first match in Kielce (34:28) against Polish champions, who opened second clash in Paris with 3:6 led, but after time-out of Zvonimir Serdarusic things went on the side of the home team.Nedim Remili was the TOP scorer of the match with nine goals.Paris Saint-Germain HB – PGE VIVE Kielce 35:32 (17:15)PSG: Omeyer, Corrales – Gensheimer 3, Mollgaard 1, Stepancić 1, Keita, Sagosen 3, Kounkoud 2, Remili 9, Abalo, Kempf 1, Hansen 5, Narcisse 1, Nielsen 5, N. Karabatić 3, NahiPGE VIVE: Szmal, Ivić – Jurecki 3, Dujshebaev 5, Kus 1, Aguinagalde 3, Bielecki 5, Jachlewski 1, Strlek 3, Janc 4, Jurkiewicz, Zorman, 1 Mamić 2, Bombac 1, Djukić 3 read more

How a teens Twitter joke went superviral and sparked vicious abuse

first_imgON NEW YEAR’S Day, teenager Safiyyah Nawaz tweeted a stupid joke to her small Twitter following.It was a ‘happy birthday’ greeting to the world:At the time, she had only around 100 followers. But the tweet immediately went viral. At the time of writing, it has been retweeted almost 15,000 times.It began to inspire vicious abuse: Some with a racial element.And some even more disturbing, including hundreds of threats of violence and requests that Safiyyah ”kill herself”.Safiyyah told Buzzfeed: “I turned my phone notifications off because I was getting way too many. And they’re still coming in.”She has now changed her bio and profile picture in an attempt to let people know it was a joke.Somehow, she has also maintained her sense of humour through the abuse. And she’s gained a huge groundswell of support after being featured on Gawker, Buzzfeed and conventional news sites. (Her Twitter following has rocketed to 40 times its original size.)She also has a few celebrity supporters. The Roots’ Questlove asked for a place in her cabinet:And it looks like Snoop is on board too:Of course, not everyone who falls victim to internet haters gets a happy ending. But more power to Safiyyah, eh?11 things that will definitely happen at an Irish 21st>Stage invader falls from rafters at New Year’s Eve concert (video)>last_img read more

Man tackles shark on the beach then gets the sack

first_imgWELSHMAN PAUL MARSHALLSEA was on a month long holiday with his family in Australia when a shark swam up on the beach beside some children.Rather than panicking, he calmly pushed the shark away from the beach, and was heralded a hero when footage of the incident went viral last month. YouTube/NewsChamberGreat, right?  As it turns out, not for him.According the the Independent, Mr. Marshallsea had been on leave from his position with a children’s charity since April 2012 due to stress, and the organisation was less than impressed to see him wrestling a shark in Australia.He has now been sacked, despite claiming that the holiday was prescribed by his GP.Speaking to Wales Online, Marshallsea said, “Where do I now get a job? There’s not much call for shark-wrestlers in Merthyr Tydfil.”Gonna need a bigger boat: Shark encounters caught on tape>Shark falls from sky onto California golf course>last_img read more

Useless or brilliant Software program buys you random stuff from Amazon

first_imgEvery now and then, a developer creates a little computer program that simply will never appeal to the mass market. Amazon Random Shopper is one such example. Admittedly, creator Darius Kazemi doesn’t have any designs on turning it into a commercial product, but it does bend the mind to wonder why anyone would want to spend money without knowing what they’re buying.Kazemi wrote in his Tumblr blog about the feeling that people get when they receive an Amazon package in the mail but completely forgot that they ordered something. (Apparently that’s a thing, even though I have never experienced it.) Anyway, Kazemi thought it would be a good idea if he wrote a program that just bought random items from Amazon on a regular basis, so he could have that feeling all the time.Using a piece of code that runs through the Amazon checkout process and sought out specific item categories (DVDs, CDs, and books), he set a monthly budget of $50. The amount that it spends on each order is also random, so it could buy a $50 item, or it could buy ten $5 items over the course of the month.It is admittedly an interesting way to be exposed to new movies and books, or new music. Still, something about purposefully spending $50 per month on stuff that you don’t even have any say in sounds a little hard for the average person to swallow.Nevertheless, Kazemi has posted his code online if you also have extra money to spend. If you’re curious, his first two random purchases were Noam Chomsky’s book Cartesian Linguistics: A Chapter in the History of Rationalist Thought: Third Edition, and a CD from Hungarian electro-acoustic composer Akos Rozmann. Not too bad of a start!via Random Shopper Tumblrlast_img read more

Google Doodle celebrates Rosalind Franklin

first_imgRosalind Franklin is more controversial than most scientists. The woman herself was an uncommonly talented and dedicated technician and expert in the field of X-Ray crystallography, an apparently single-minded worker who raised the bar for her entire field. This technique is still in use today, and Franklin’s work still informs how we go about it, and the standards of quality we expect from it. However, there are many people who have had a similar effect on science, and they don’t get a Google Doodle on their 93rd birthday. So, why Franklin?The answer likely lies with both the Nobel committee and a popular science book called the Double Helix. Both, to hear some tell it, downplayed Franklin’s role in the discovery of the structure of DNA. When James Watson and Francis Crick were still puzzling over the problem of DNA’s basic structure, back in a time when scientists weren’t even sure that DNA was the hereditary molecule yet, they happened to work next to Rosalind Franklin’s crystallography unit. She was already well known as one of the best in her field, so when they needed some data to get started, they turned to her.It was Franklin’s X-ray crystallography that gave the famous duo their first evidence about the shape of DNA. It wasn’t the only evidence they needed, and they continued to puzzle over the question for months after Franklin’s contributions, but to this day there is a significant faction within science that believes she ought to have been a third laureate named to the Watson and Crick Nobel.Watson’s famous (and candid) book The Double Helix also has something to do with the public’s love of Franklin, since it paints her in a rather uncharitable light, calling her unpleasant and snippy. It also downplayed the importance of her contributions. There was a great outcry in her defense after the book’s original publication, and subsequent versions were much kinder. Still, Franklin is seen as one of the great casualties of sexism in science.And now, for her hypothetical 93rd birthday, Franklin has a Google Doodle all her own. It’s not quite as prestigious as a Nobel, but it will have to do for now.last_img read more

Free Mobile que le match commence

first_imgFree Mobile: que le match commence…Depuis le lancement de Free Mobile, hier matin, tout le monde attendait les réactions des opérateurs concurrents. Bouygues Telecom, Orange et SFR ne semblent pas alarmés par l’annonce des offres Free, très compétitives. Reste qu’Orange, SFR et Bouygues organisent tout de même la riposte. Pour eux, le tout est de réagir vite et bien, et de ne pas se lancer dans une guerre des prix qui pourrait leur être fatale. Alors que Bouygue et SFR sont encore en phase d’observation, Orange annoncera vendredi matin des formules équivalentes à celles de Free, via son opérateur low-cost Sosh. Stéphane Richard, dirigeant d’Orange a déclaré que “dans un deuxième temps, la gamme Origami, les forfaits grand public d’Orange, sera modifiée”. De son côté, Bouygues Telecom reste prudent. En effet, c’est lui qui risque d’être la première victime de Free car il a construit sa base d’abonnés en jouant sur les tarifs, qui restait les plus bas du marché. Didier Casas, secrétaire général de Bouygues Télécom n’a annoncé aucune riposte massive. Reste que B&You, l’opérateur low-cost de Bouygues a annoncé le lancement d’une nouvelle gamme de forfaits dès la semaine prochaine. Cette dernière aurait été créée grâce aux messages et idées des clients. Et peut-être aussi un peu à cause de Free?SFR, quant à lui, marque un point d’honneur à ne pas revoir à la baisse ses tarifs. Selon Patrick Asdaghi, le directeur marketing grand public, SFR souhaite se différencier sur l’expertise réseau et l’accompagnement. Interrogé par LePoint, il avoue que l’entreprise, “ne peut pas assurer des prix cassés et assurer l’accompagnement que demandent nos clients”. La grille tarifaire des offres low-cost Red devraient cependant être revue à la baisse. Franck Cadoret, directeur général grand public de SFR a d’ailleurs annoncé que “les forfaits Red pourraient être changés dès les prochains jours”. Le 11 janvier 2012 à 11:56 • Maxime Lambertlast_img read more

MGM China declares salary increase for nonmanagement employees

first_imgMGM China has announced salary increases of between 2.5% and 7.1% for all eligible non-management employees to celebrate the one year anniversary of the opening of Macau integrated resort MGM Cotai.The increase will take effect from 18 March 2019 with MGM stating its “appreciation for their loyalty and commitment.” Eligible employees with a monthly salary of or less than MOP$16,000 will receive a standard salary increase of MOP$600, representing an increment of between 3.8% and 7.1%, while those earning more than MOP$16,000 per month will receive a 2.5% increment.“I would like to extend my gratitude to the Golden Lion Team for their hard work and contributions during the year,” said MGM China CEO and Executive Director, Grant Bowie.“We continue to invest in nurturing our team to develop their skills, and in providing opportunities for them to build a successful career and contribute to the growth of our Macau community.” JW Marriott at Galaxy Macau named venue and Galaxy Entertainment Group named Venue Sponsor for 2019 Asian Gaming Power 50 Black Tie Gala Dinner Macau GGR tumbles 8.6% in August Load More RelatedPosts Pansy Ho becomes first Macau casino boss to speak out for Hong Kong government on protestslast_img read more

The 9 Drunkest Presidents on Drunk History

first_imgHi. I’m Carli Velocci. Today we’re going to talk about Drunk History‘s, uh, history in depicting United States Presidents.This President’s Day, considering who is currently President, many of us will probably be (responsibly) drinking (and Feb. 18 is National Drink Wine Day so we might make it a weekend thing). In celebration of Presidents, drinking, and past Presidents, we turn to Drunk History, which has been helping its audience to understand some of the most exciting moments in history through the eyes of super drunk comedians. It might not always be accurate, but it’s at least entertaining.So in celebration of whatever you feel about President’s Day, we’re counting down our favorite Drunk History Presidents, which include a few that make multiple appearances. Because some Presidents are just more relevant and fun to talk about than others, even if they weren’t necessarily good at their jobs.Will Ferrell as President Abraham LincolnThis clip comes from before Comedy Central picked up the show from Funny or Die, and it’s interesting to see how little has changed. In the retelling of the friendship between President Lincoln and Frederick Douglass (who is dead, by the way), Will Ferrell and Don Cheadle tease the bromance comedy we kind of want in a full-length feature film. Ferrell is playing Lincoln with a stoicism that he’s able to exploit for some great deadpan reactions, but the way he wears the fake Lincoln beard is memorable enough. It looks like a drunk person put it on.Bob Odenkirk as President Richard NixonBob Odenkirk is one of comedy’s best straight men and overall actors, so his depiction of President Nixon is a little eerie. It’s not an outright, comedic impersonation, but he does inhabit some of the man’s more physical quirks. It’s more nuanced than you would expect from a Nixon impression, but because it’s Bob Odenkirk, you’re okay with it. It’s just perfect casting, minus the fact it’s also a great Nixon story.Stephen Merchant as President LincolnPresident Lincoln is probably the most popular president on Drunk History, and Stephen Merchant played him the most often, rare considering parts change from episode to episode. The lanky, bug-eyed Merchant is physically one of the best people to play the President, even if he’s British and probably knows nothing about playing him. Merchant knows how to use his giant eyes and his body to elicit a reaction from his audience. Just the way he moves is hilarious, and he knows it.Andy Daly as President Teddy RooseveltThis is the story of how Teddy Roosevelt became a “bad ass” and a “rock star.” It’s a great story, told by a man lying on the floor too drunk to stand. But Teddy Roosevelt didn’t lie on the floor. He went up that hill! He marched. And if anybody turned around, he’d shoot them.Nick Kroll as President Ronald ReaganFirst Lady Nancy Reagan takes center stage in this tale about how Ronald Reagan left the entertainment industry to become a politician, but I enjoy watching Nick Kroll play the clueless puppet to his wife. He’s innocent and wide-eyed, so probably not like the actual President Reagan, but he has a chiseled jaw. We can trust him. I promise.Joe Lo Truglio as President John AdamsHistory has some differing opinions on President John Adams’ legacy. The current view, echoed in Hamilton and in Drunk History, is that Adams wasn’t fit to be a leader. Lin-Manuel Miranda, as Alexander Hamilton in his musical, calls Adams a “fat motherfucker.” Drunk History looks at him like a petulant child, especially when talking about the election of 1800 against future President Thomas Jefferson (although in Adams’ defense, Jefferson doesn’t fare better). Joe Lo Truglio is known for playing borderline creepy man-children, which is perfect when you’re talking about how the Founding Fathers were actually just middle schoolers spreading rumors about each other.Courtney Cox as President Edith WilsonTotally counts! First Lady Edith Wilson made decisions in her husband’s stead while he was recovering from a stroke, so she basically did all his duties, effectively becoming the first female President. She even pulled a Weekend at Bernie’s and propped President Wilson up in bed to ensure that Congress didn’t catch on to the “true condition.”Jack McBrayer as President Andrew JacksonIf President Lincoln has the most appearances in Drunk History, President Jackson is a close second. Or maybe he takes the honor. There are plenty of stories to tell about the guy, who was a war general, war criminal, and genocidal maniac. If you’re going to depict one of the most violent Presidents in our nation’s history, why not cast one of the most adorable, bright-eyed actors? Jack McBrayer makes a living off playing lovable and carefree simpletons, so the comedy is in just the casting. He doesn’t even need to do much, but he brings some bright-eyed innocence to the role anyway.Michael Cera as President Andrew JacksonSpeaking of bright-eyed, here’s Michael Cera doing the exact same thing with a little more relaxation. Cera has played his share of politicians on the show, appearing in the very first episode as Alexander Hamilton, but as President Jackson, he’s able to be “bad ass” without showing off typical markers of the trait. There’s probably a reason why Drunk History keeps having him back on, and it’s probably because of how good he looks in a mustache and old-timey uniform. Yeah, nothing to do with his acting ability.Stream Drunk History here for free with your Hulu account.last_img read more

The Saint of Killers Returns but Starr is Preachers Real Threat

first_img 11 Forgotten Vertigo Comics That Would Make Awesome TV ShowsThe Greatest Romances in Comic Book History Stay on target With only one more episode left in the season, Preacher appears to be trying to save its biggest developments for the finale. Maybe almost too many of them. The season was at its best early on when Jesse had a clear goal and a terrifying antagonist. It faltered when the antagonist was dealt with, and the goal became less clear. The show fell into an aimless pattern, that it’s only getting out of just in time for the finale. Last night’s episode brought back the antagonist, and only just found its direction for the finale.The Saint of Killers is back, though the show didn’t give us the Starr-Saint villain team-up that some might have hoped for. He’s as single-minded as ever. He wants The Preacher, and that’s bad news for anyone standing in his way. Well, it would be if he had his weapons. It turns out the smartest thing Tulip did this season was send those off to Rio. Without his guns and sword, he’s still a threat. He’s powerful and seemingly invulnerable, still. He just has a harder time, you know, killing people. This led to a pretty exciting prolonged fight scene where Tulip, Cassidy, and Jesse land a few good hits, but are still dealt with easily.This scene did have one important moment: Tulip was forced to face her fear. The experience that’s been tormenting her almost all season repeated itself. Only this time, Jesse was there to distract The Saint. Despite coming face to face with the undead monster that’s been haunting her nightmares, she held her own in the fight. She saved Jesse more than once, attacking The Saint in a way that was probably more for her than it was for him. Hopefully, this means she’s worked through her trauma, and we’ll get our old Tulip back soon. Seeing her sidelined like that all season hasn’t been fun.Graham McTavish as The Saint of Killers (Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/AMC/Sony Pictures Television)As exciting as the scene was, the episode sure took its sweet time getting there. For almost no discernible reason. The episode spent a good chunk of time showing us how The Grail fished his armored truck out of the swamp and replaced it with another. Al though that wasn’t completely obvious at the end of last week’s episode. That time would have been better spent on literally anything else. This is what I mean when I say it seems like they’re saving all the biggest plot developments for the finale. Instead of any scene that would move the story forward, we got one that explains in detail something that happened last episode. It’s like they’re deliberately holding back. We also got some backstory on The Saint which, again, we already knew. This time, we went into greater detail about his wife and daughter, and how they encouraged him to be good so they’d all be together in heaven. We knew that’s why he wanted to go to heaven, but at least the reminder wasn’t entirely pointless. With that backstory fresh in our minds, we were able to see the sadness behind The Saint’s scary exterior. Graham McTavish gives one captivating performance in this episode.The way the fight ends is anticlimactic, but that’s the whole point. Just as The Saint is about to scalp Jesse, he’s interrupted by the bureaucrats from Hell. Since his Hell is empty, they threaten to take his wife or daughter from Heaven instead if he doesn’t come with them. As he’s led out, we learn that this was Herr Starr’s plan all along. This is how he convinces Jesse to join him. Interestingly, when he tells Hell’s warden that the Saint has a piece of his soul, she implies that’s bad news for Jesse. Hmm. That’s a plot thread the show will probably explore in a later season.For now, of course, Herr Starr’s plan worked. Jesse probably knows he’s being manipulated, but his ego is too big for him to care. He wants to feel like he’s been given Genesis for a reason, and Starr is all too happy to provide him one. To make matters worse, Starr has been able to convince Tulip and Cassidy that Jesse doesn’t need them. (Jesse keeps missing those Grail Industries watermarks everywhere. He’s not the most observant pastor who ever lived, is he?) Of course, Jesse needs them. They’re the ones who keep him grounded. Without them, he develops a God complex that Starr can exploit. Especially after he hears the pope tell the world’s Catholics to watch for the return of Jesus “or a reasonable approximation thereof.” (Ha!) I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Starr orchestrated that speech to give Jesse one final push. In the end, Starr gets on his knees and kisses Jesse’s hand, but it’s clear who’s really in charge. Jesse may be sold as the messiah, but Starr intends to pull strings.Eugene “Arseface” Root (Ian Colletti), Tracy Loach (Gianna LePera) and Adolf Hitler (Noah Taylor) (Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/AMC/Sony Pictures Television)The rest of the episode was filled with little details that really should have been explored more earlier in the season. Denis is trying to eat his dog, and Cassidy is keeping the dog safe in his room. There’s some great tension between the two as Denis is clearly becoming the evil vampire Cassidy desperately tries not to be. I wish it was given more than one scene per episode. The subplot would be much more effective if it had its own episode to play out. The same can be said of Eugene’s journey through Hell. At the end of last episode, he and Hitler began their escape. By the end of this week’s, they’re still escaping. It did give us a darkly funny scene where Eugene faced all his inner demons in The Hole. It was a great use of character-based comedy to open the episode with. The exasperation on Hitler’s face was perfect, like he couldn’t believe how many problems this kid had. Still, you got the feeling that these scenes would have been better if they’d been their own mini-arc in the middle of the season. Spread out like this, with a couple of scenes here and there means they don’t land as well as they should. Maybe they did this so both the Hell subplot and the Cassidy subplot could have their own big moments in the finale. At this point, I’m just hoping for some kind of payoff.Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer, Joseph Gilgun as Cassidy, Ruth Negga as Tulip O’Hare (Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/AMC/Sony Pictures Television)Though the showdown with The Saint wasn’t everything we all hoped it could be, it got everything in place for next week’s season finale. That’s what this episode was for. Every development, every scene, was there to set up for next week. The Grail finally succeeded in splitting up the gang, and Jesse is working with Herr Starr. I have a feeling that won’t last long. The show took special care to show us the hidden camera fall to the floor. Chances are, Tulip is going to notice that, and put everything together early on in the finale. There’s a reason this episode spent so much time showing us she was out of her funk for good. Even at the diner as the team was splitting up, she and Jesse were laughing together at Cassidy just like they used to. Though this episode was just kind of… fine, I’m still excited for next week. Even when Preacher isn’t at its best, it’s still a lot more interesting, and fun than most other shows on TV.last_img read more

Modder makes a working NES from an FPGA

first_imgWe’ve seen some console mods over the years — portable GameCubes, PlayStation 3 laptops, and an NES cartridge that acts as an NES itself — but we rarely see a console created from something else entirely. Modder Ludde did just that by creating a working Nintendo Entertainment System out of an FPGA development board.An FPGA — short for field-programmable gate array — is an integrated circuit, designed to be programmed after its production. The board consists mainly of thousands of logic blocks, which can perform combinational functions, and flip-flops, which can be used as memory. For the FPGA base, Ludde used a Diligent Nexys 3, which comes with built-in RAM, power supply circuitry, and a USB programming interface.In order to turn the FPGA into a unit that runs NES games, Ludde had to make use of various components, the first of which is a Spartan-6 — a programmable chip that lies at the heart of the FPGA. For RAM, a single 16MB Micron Cellular chip was used. Both the CPU and PPU — the picture processing unit that allows VGA output  — access the singular chip of RAM, so Ludde had to force the CPU and PPU to share the chip. The PPU accesses the RAM 50% of the time, while the CPU accesses the chip 33% of the time.Interestingly, an 8-bit VGA was used, which Ludde notes does not represent all of the colors the NES could display, but gets the job done until a better option is found.As for controllers, Ludde hooked a USB SNES controller up to a PC, which used a program that read the controller’s input and sent it off to the FPGA.NES cartridges made use of mapper chips, which essentially allowed the NES to pull information from a cartridge and use it, such as displaying more tiles on-screen than usual. Since the FPGA NES uses iNES ROMs instead of the physical cartridges, Ludde had to implement various mappers into the unit in order to play the games. So far, Ludde has only implemented a few mappers, such as ones used in Zelda and Metroid, and various Mega Man games.To check out more information about the build, head on over to Ludde’s documentation page. While it may not be the portable PlayStation 3 you always wanted, building an NES from something that isn’t an NES is pretty darn neat.last_img read more

Gear Up for the Holidaysand Beyond

first_imgNovember 20, 2009 5 min read Problem Solvers with Jason Feifer You can’t claim to have lived in New England until you’ve gotten through a winter. The same could be said for e-commerce sites. Whatever track record you’ve had the rest of the year, the real proof that your online business is viable comes some time after the holiday crunch. Did you handle the high volumes without sacrificing customer care? Did you not only deliver the goods for current customers but also attract new ones? Did you, your staff and website emerge intact? Is your accountant smiling?If the answer to these questions is generally “yes,” then you should be smiling, too. But here’s my advice: Think of the holidays as a stress test for your organization. You won’t always be dealing with these kinds of volumes, but the best practices you embrace now will pay dividends the rest of the year.In that spirit, here are some tips for the holiday season–and beyond:Use incentives to keep a steady flowOne of the most important safeguards against getting overwhelmed is to level out the volume spikes that can catch your organization off guard. The steadier the flow of traffic to your site, the better. Conversely, if 90 percent of your customers place their orders on Dec. 22, you’re going to look unprepared no matter how much preparation you’ve made.Begin by working out a set of incentives that will get your customers buying early. Possibilities include free gift wrapping, free shipping, two-for-one offers, coupon codes for later purchases, and, especially popular in today’s economy, merchandise discounts and promotions. Then make sure your customers are aware of the offers by highlighting them on your home page. You can also e-mail your most valued customers, as long as you don’t wear out your welcome. Finally, monitor the results to see what your customers are responding to. That knowledge will help you rev up sales during slow periods throughout the year.Clearly communicate the true costThe trend in e-commerce sites is to eliminate as many hidden costs as possible. Transparency is especially important during the holiday season, when customers have even less patience for unhappy surprises. Customers report that hidden shipping costs are the most frequent irritant–especially when those costs are unexpectedly high and only appear at the final stages of checkout. That ploy can lead to shopping cart abandonment–the merchandise is at the “register,” but the customer has departed.Instead, let customers know as soon as possible in the process what shipping will cost. Most of us know what it costs to mail a package, so keep those costs in line with customer expectations–or go one better and offer free shipping as an option. Some customers will always want more expedited shipping, but all will appreciate the opportunity to get standard shipping for free. And again, that’s true not only during the holidays, but throughout the year.Take customer support seriously–but let’s chatThe time has long passed since the days when an e-commerce site could hide from its customers by not responding to queries. Phone calls are usually best, but not every online company has the resources to handle them, especially during the holiday crunch.What to do? Resist the urge to bring in people who can answer the phone, but lack the expertise to truly represent your store. A badly handled call is worse than an unanswered one. Instead, consider online chat. The medium isn’t as personal as the phone, but skilled representatives can conduct five or 10 chats at once–and customers will quickly recognize whether the people at the other end know what they’re doing. Of course, e-mail can also be effective as long as you’re diligent about responding quickly–an e-mail black hole is worse than no e-mail at all. And what if you’re truly underwater from customer queries? Apologize, get a number and a good time to call–and call back.Use “heat map” technology to track what clicksHere’s another place the holiday stress test can serve you well in the coming year: tracking what people actually do on your site. Companies like CrazyEgg, and Clickdensity offer services that can show you how people are navigating your website, with the ability to experiment with new designs that are more effective. While the holiday season is no time for a major redesign, you can make quick fixes, and then use this invaluable data to make bigger changes later on.Improve checkoutOne reason people have flocked online for their holiday shopping is that when they’re ready to check out, they’re always first in line. So make sure you’ve exceeded customer expectations during those final, crucial mouse clicks. The key is to reduce the number of hoops customers must jump through, while giving them different options to pay. For example, the checkout process should securely retain customer data so that people don’t have to re-enter their information with each purchase. You should also offer a variety of payment options so that shoppers can use their preferred payment method, including a buy now, pay later plan, which is especially important in these cash-strapped times.When your customers check out, they should also feel safe. Over the past few years, many people became online shoppers only after they overcame their fear of making online transactions. Once they had a good experience, they returned online for more. In that sense, every successful online transaction is a win for our industry as a whole. So do your part: Make sure your customers are feeling safe by giving them a truly secure method of paying. Listen Now Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Hear from business owners and CEOs who went through a crippling business problem and came out the other side bigger and stronger.last_img read more

Win a prize in the pet selfie competition

first_imgClick to receive news links via WhatsApp. Or  for the latest news, visit our webpage or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Join us there! There are prizes up for grabs if you enter our #PETSELFIE competition.To enter is simple:Email us the best picture you have with your pet to must be done before April 27, 2018.The voting stage will commence with photos being uploaded to our Facebook page and the selfie with the most ‘likes’ wins!(In order for your vote to count, you must first ‘like’ our Facebook page before ‘liking’ any of the contestants’ selfies)All you animal lovers now have the chance to show off your pets by simply snapping a selfie with them! WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite last_img read more

Mundano Sagrado on display at the National Gallery

first_imgNo related posts. From the print editionKindred spirits and longtime friends Jenny Kozlov and Michael Sims took a visionary trip to India together. Then they returned to Costa Rica, where the two artists have been residents for decades, inspired by a heightened awareness of how art and mystic wisdom can be found in everyday life.Their current combined exhibition, “Mundano Sagrado,” at the National Gallery in San José, celebrates the sacredness of themundane, via two different but complementary mediums. Kozlov’s starting point is viewing “daily life as a spectacle for the soul.” Her large, luminous photo collages on canvas begin with photos of people in India performing simple, daily rituals – bathing in the river, carrying jugs of water. She then combines elements of the photos with details of temple carvings and flowering vines, creating intricate visual patterns. Sims takes a more material approach, scavenging thrown-away objects and transforming them into “post-modern reliquaries.”Hoping to promote tolerance among religions via art created from recycled artifacts, Sims lightens the message with touches of irreverence. Among the intriguing talismans she has skillfully fashioned out of “objects found and intervened with,” is an instantly recognizable Costa Rican icon: a discarded store sign, featuring the Bimbo doughboy, transformed into a visual Buddha mantra. The exhibition occupies two rooms of the National Gallery. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Syrian refugees in 4 countries talk of pain fear

first_imgAt first all the protesters wanted was a new mayor and better amenities. Mohammad was hopeful.“I didn’t want to leave my country, I wanted it to get better,” says the soft spoken young man with a ponytail and a right eye that droops slightly from his wound. He uses only his first name because he fears for the safety of his parents, both government employees in Daraa.On April 25, the military clamped off the main road into Daraa. Then, he says, security forces started firing into the crowd of about 50 people with large machine guns.A bullet sliced Mohammad’s lip. He waved his hands for help, and a car came to his aid. A cellphone video he was shooting at the time, seen by The Associated Press, records the sound of a hail of bullets popping off the metal.“It was very painful,” Mohammad recalls. “I thought: Today is my last day….And the driver thought I was dead.”When he got home, his family fled to hide with relatives in the countryside. He stayed in bed for a week, unable to eat. Then he made the most difficult decision of his life: He had to leave Syria immediately.He had never left Syria before. He chose Egypt because he would not need a visa, and knew a friend there. “When I return, I will kill any Shiite I see with my dagger. I will chop him to pieces,” shouts Basel Baradan, a bitter 18-year-old farmer who fled the southern town of Daraa with his family in July. He is weeping.Jordan now hosts an estimated 200,000 Syrians, including those not registered with the U.N. — the largest number of refugees taken in by any neighboring country. After months of delay, Jordan finally opened its first official refugee camp in July at Zaatari, near the border with Syria.Already, about 30,000 refugees live at the camp, and they keep coming. This poor desert nation says it can no longer afford to welcome Syrian refugees into its towns and houses.So they live apart at Zaatari, and they grow angrier. Late Monday, dozens of furious refugees hurled stones and injured about 26 Jordanian policemen, demanding better camp conditions or their return home.Baradan’s father Ghassan, 50, also a farmer, says that with the ubiquitous dust, snakes, scorpions and swings in temperature, living at Zaatari is a “worse struggle than Assad’s missiles falling on our heads back home.” He too is angry, and blames Shiites under Assad for killing Sunnis. More than 2.2 million people fled Iraq during the war and sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and almost half of them ended up in neighboring Syria. Now Syria is plagued with the same sectarian conflict, and many of the same people are on the run a second time. At least 22,000 Iraqi refugees are thought to have left Syria to return to Iraq, despite the dangers they thought they had left behind.Abdul-Wahid had worked as a deliveryman back in Baghdad, bringing cylinders of cooking gas to both Shiite and Sunni neighborhoods. Militants kidnapped him outside his Sunni-dominated neighborhood of Azimiyah in 2009 and tortured him for four days. His arms still show the burn scars.The family packed up and fled to Syria, where they built a new life in a mostly Shiite suburb. The children settled down in school, and the United Nations gave them food and an income. Abdul-Wahid, 49, found a job in construction and started taking medication for the severe depression he had suffered after the kidnapping.Then the uprising against Assad began, and violence returned to Abdul-Wahid’s life. Mortars bombarded their neighborhood, and snipers shot at people in the streets. The last straw was the gunmen storming their home in late July, and asking his daughter if she was Sunni or Shiite. Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mohammad cannot legally work or study either. But he is teaching Arabic and translating for journalists. He also is considering starting a Web-based service to collect videos, photos and other documentation of the rebellion from citizens back home.He talks with his family in Syria most days by phone or Skype. They never discuss politics. Since he left, security forces have gone to his house twice looking for him.“I am worried all the time about my family and friends,” he says. “When I check on them, I just want to know they are still there.”Above all, Mohammad longs to go home, study and have a good career. None of that is possible while he is stranded in Egypt with an expired passport.“I just want to stop this bloodbath,” he says. “I don’t know how.”Mroue reported from Tripoli, Lebanon; Yacoub and Jakes from Baghdad, Iraq; Marjorie Olster from Cairo, Egypt; and Jamal Halaby from Zaatari, Jordan.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Here, AP reporters tell the stories of refugees and their families from four countries.__________________________TRIPOLI, Lebanon _ Hasna Um Abdou lost her children, her husband and both legs to a mortar.Now the veiled 38-year-old woman lies in a hospital bed in this northern Lebanese city, with the Quran, the Muslim holy book, on her table. She talks slowly, with pauses, and is visibly trying to hold back the tears. Abdul-Aziz, 3, and Talin, 13 months, were her only children.“Every time I remember, I feel the pain,” she says.Um Abdou is one of thousands of Syrians who have been wounded in the uprising against Assad and its aftermath. Hundreds of the wounded have been taken for treatment in neighboring countries, mostly to Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. More than 74,000 Syrians have taken refuge in Lebanon, itself a small country of just 4 million people that is struggling with instability.Um Abdou and her family fled their village in Homs province in March amid intense shelling, to a second village and then a third. Two days later, it seemed quiet, and they decided to return home. The family rode back on March 31 on a motorcycle, with Um Abdou’s daughter asleep in her arms and her son sitting in front of his father. “I never thought we would become refugees like them,” says the woman, who calls herself Um Basel after her eldest son, in keeping with conservative Muslim tradition. Her husband interrupts. “Even the Israelis do not treat the Palestinians the way Assad is treating Sunnis in Syria.”In a corner, Basel too is crying as he gazes at video on his cellphone of his 9-month-old nephew, Rabee, left behind in Daraa with his family.“What is keeping me going is this video,” he says, tearfully. “I can’t wait to see Rabee again. I miss him dearly.”_____________________CAIRO, Egypt _ Syrian refugee Mohammad B.’s passport expired a few weeks ago, making official what he has long known: He no longer has a country.The 26-year-old had nowhere to renew his passport. The Syrian embassy in Cairo was closed after protests. The embassies in Libya and Tunisia had switched loyalty to the opposition and could no longer issue passports. And the embassy in Algeria simply told him to go back to Syria.That was not an option.In Syria, Mohammad had been studying to become an English teacher. He fled in May 2011 after he was shot in Daraa, the birthplace of the uprising. The bullet pierced his upper lip, broke his teeth, ripped through his cheekbone and exited near his temple. The deep, jagged wound identified him as an anti-government protester, which in Syria marked him for death. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project “She did not reply, because she does not know the meaning of such a question,” Abdul-Wahid says.The bus fare from Damascus to Baghdad cost about $110 for each person. Abdul-Wahid had to ask his brother for money, he says, his eyes filling up with tears of sadness and shame. His family is living in a room in his brother’s house.“I have lost everything now,” he says. “I am jobless and penniless…I am even afraid of going outside my brother’s house. Now, I have to start from zero.”He plans to go back to Syria when _ or if _ the violence ebbs. Wasan, his wife, says the shortages of electricity and water in Iraq are unbearable, as is the lack of good medical care, security and jobs.But Abdul-Wahid is doubtful the violence will end any time soon, or Assad will be ousted from power.“I think that the armed struggle in Syria will continue for a long time,” he says. “He is clinging to power…I think that he will survive.”__________________ZAATARI, Jordan _ At this Syrian refugee camp opened in the desert just two months ago, anger sizzles in the scorching sun.It is anger at being crowded with about 32,000 other people onto a parched, treeless strip of land, where the day is too hot and the night is too cold. But it is also a murderous anger among the Sunni Muslims here against the Shiites back home, whom they blame for the war. Many Sunnis oppose Assad’s ruling regime, which is Alawite, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.center_img Comments   Share   Then her world fell apart.Um Abdou keeps hearing the sound not of the mortar, but of the terror.“I cannot forget the noise of the hearts beating quickly as people gathered around us,” she says.Her daughter died immediately from a shrapnel wound in the head. Her son bled profusely and died minutes later, even as she looked at him. She did not want her husband to know the children were dead, so she said nothing and started to pray.But her husband was severely injured too — the shrapnel had blown out his intestines. And Um Abdou looked down to find her own legs hanging slightly from her body.“The moment I saw myself, I knew that my legs were going to be amputated,” she says.She and her husband were rushed to makeshift hospitals in the Syrian border towns of Qusair and Jousi. With the help of Syrian rebels, she was carried on a stretcher all the way across the border to Lebanon, amid 12 hours of shelling and shooting. Her husband died en route.Um Abdou’s children are now buried in a plot of land in Syria owned by the state. Her husband was buried in the cemetery in Jousi because it was too dangerous to take him back to his hometown.“Even the dead have no right to be buried,” she says. Baradan lived most of his life exchanging visits and sharing meals with Shiite neighbors. But he grew increasingly resentful in recent years because he thought the Shiites were getting more food and money, and were supported by Iran, a Shiite Muslim nation.“Sunni Muslims have no respect in Syria and we fled here to find ourselves confined to this dirty prison,” he sighs, puffing on his cigarette under a once-white tent, yellowed from the desert sun and heat.The thirst for revenge that is palpable at the Zaatari camp does not bode well for Syria’s future.Baradan’s tent is marked with the Arabic scribbling “Get out, Assad.” Outside, a group of young Syrians lines up to fill buckets with drinking water. One of them, Mohammad Sweidan, 17, wears a green T-shirt with an Arabic emblem that reads: “Proud Sunni.”“Shiites and Alawites are not Muslims,” he says. “They should be killed because they are infidels, who are killing the Sunnis, the true believers and followers of Islam.”Under Baradan’s tent, his 46-year-old wife says she worries about ending up stateless, like Palestinian refugees displaced in wars with Israel. She cries as she cooks lunch on a small gas stove. Egypt does not share a border with Syria, and only about 1,700 Syrian refugees have registered there, according to the United Nations’ refugee agency. However, the agency estimates the real number is closer to 95,000.Mohammad’s family gave him about $1,000 in cash, all they could spare. He put on dark sunglasses, wrapped a headdress over his face and prayed all the way to the airport. The bus passed a gauntlet of 25 checkpoints.At the airport, he was detained for questioning but slipped interrogators a $300 bribe. He headed for his plane, sure he would be back.Instead he is still in Cairo, with no money. He lives in a rundown apartment where eight people share three rooms.With the help of a German-based aid group, Mohammad has had four operations for his face. His doctor says he will need more.In February, one of Mohammad’s five brothers made his way to Egypt, via Jordan. Bashar, 21, suffers from psychological problems after being shut in the house for a year watching the violence on TV. His presence both helps and hurts Mohammad.“I feel like I have a family, but on the other hand, it made my life more difficult,” Mohammad said. “He doesn’t work.” Top Stories Associated Press (AP) – A woman loses her children, her husband and both legs. A penniless family is forced to flee from Syria back to Iraq. Camps are overflowing with people and with bitterness, and refugees are living in limbo without passports.As war rages in Syria, the stream of refugees into other countries shows no sign of stopping. More than 100,000 people fled Syria in August alone _ about 40 percent of all who had left since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began last March. And the United Nations refugee agency said Thursday that the number of people escaping Syria could reach 700,000 by the end of the year. Parents, stop beating yourself up 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Um Abdou has undergone four operations in Lebanon, including the two amputations. Her parents and sisters are looking after her, and she displays the green, red, white and black flag of the Syrian revolution in her room.She knows the pain will be unbearable the day she goes back to Syria and visits the place where her family is buried. In the meantime, she has written a poem in the hospital.“I lost my children and husband, but my soul is still strong,” it reads. “I will keep saying until my last breath, long live freedom.”___________________BAGHDAD _ The gang of masked gunmen broke into the small apartment near Damascus where Waleed Mohammed Abdul-Wahid and his family had lived for nearly three years. “Are you Sunni or Shiite?” they shouted, as his three children began to cry.“We are Sunnis!” answered his wife, Wasan Malouki Khalaf.“Do you know any Shiites who are cooperating with the Syrian government?” the gunmen demanded.“We do not know any such people,” she said. “We are from Baghdad.”The gunmen left. The brief but terrifying invasion sealed the decision Abdul-Wahid had been mulling for weeks: to leave behind an increasingly violent life in Syria and return to Iraq. How men can have a healthy 2019last_img read more

Mortgage Fraud Risk Continues Downslide

first_imgMortgage Fraud Risk Continues Downslide Ability to Repay Interthinx Mortgage Fraud 2015-02-04 Tory Barringer Share Mortgage fraud risk declined overall in the third quarter of 2014, though some categories still remain tricky as rising costs present a challenge to homebuyers.Based on an analysis of loan applications passing through its own fraud detection technology, Interthinx said Tuesday that its national Mortgage Fraud Risk Index measured 98 in Q3 2014, down 2 percent from the quarter prior and 9 percent from the year-ago period.The findings align with CoreLogic’s latest fraud report, which revealed application fraud risk was down across all categories—except home equity lending, which has seen risk indicators rise as demand grows.While the overall trend indicates an ongoing drop in fraud, a handful of states are still particularly bad in terms of high-risk markets, including Florida, California, and Arizona, all of which have “disproportionately higher levels of distressed property sales and investor activity,” Interthinx said.Also included on that list are New Jersey, Connecticut, and Illinois, which have higher than average levels of both occupancy fraud risk (usually committed by investors) and property valuation fraud risk as straw buyers dominate some of the local markets.At the national level, Interthinx’s Property Valuation Fraud Risk Index was 122 as of Q3, down 5 percent quarter-to-quarter but up 20 percent year-to-year.The national Occupancy Risk Index was 133, up 4 percent over the quarter but down 10 percent from the year prior.Also declining in Q3 was Interthinx’s measure of employment/income fraud risk, which dropped both quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year to 59. California was far and away the riskiest state for that category, contributing nine of the top 10 riskiest metro markets, including the No. 1 spot: Fresno, which posted an index value of 133.The one outlier was Boulder, Colorado, which took the No. 2 spot with an index of 123—an 81 percent spike from the second quarter.While increased scrutiny brought on by last year’s ability-to-repay rule helped drive down employment/income fraud in the latest index reading, decreases in housing affordability are keeping levels up in those high-risk markets, Interthinx said.”Housing price pressure and home affordability can closely correlate with fraud risk,” said Jeff Moyer, president of Interthinx. “When first time or lower income homebuyers face challenges during the qualification of credit, it can open the door to potential risk factors.”He added, “Conversely, in the most affordable markets—where median income exceeds monthly housing expense, deposits are stronger, and consumer debts are lower, there is less likelihood to misrepresent income and our indices show comparatively lower fraud risk.”center_img in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News February 4, 2015 539 Views last_img read more