Month: April 2015

Banco Santander: The epitome of bankster evil

I’d thought Citibank, Wells Fargo, US Bank and others had rightly deserved reputations as near (or fully) criminal enterprises, the mutant bastard offspring of what used to be the banking industry, but apparently there’s at least one international banking corporation that doesn’t just exploit and mistreat its customers: They actively seek out people to victimize. That firm is known in Spain (where it was founded) as Banco Santander S.A., but they go by other names, including “Santander Consumer USA” here in America.

And the stuff they do will probably make your jaw drop like mine did. Fortunately, there are some massive class-action lawsuits in the works. But still…

The accusations are as outrageous as they are plentiful:  Hundreds of “robocalls” —  in one case, 800 to a single person — to collect auto loan debts;  illegal repossession of cars from active duty military deployed overseas;  late fees assessed three years after the fact and then compounded into $2,000 or $3,000 bills; harassing calls to friends, neighbors, co-workers — even children — on cell phones. And now, a flurry of lawsuits filed around the country, and lawyers fighting over potential clients.The defendant in the lawsuits is Europe’s largest bank, Banco Santander S.A., which is preparing to make a big push into U.S. retail banking (ed.: known here as Santander Consumer USA). But many Americans already have been introduced to the Spanish financial powerhouse, a first encounter that many liken to a nightmare.

My initial thought was, “Huh, well how bad could they be?” Turns out they’re far, far worse than I ever imagined possible.

One plaintiff, Leslie Haynes, purchased a used BWM in 2007 from a dealer in Birmingham, Ala., according to court documents. A year later, Santander collectors began peppering her with demanding calls. The lawsuit claims agents misled her about the balance of her loan, tried to trick her into making additional payments, then refused to stop calling her at work. Agents also repeatedly frequently called relatives, even harassing her sick stepfather and his live-caregiver in the months before he died, it alleges.

In another instance, Santander collections agents called a guy’s (minor) daughter, and in still another, they called a man’s elderly parents, one of whom was undergoing chemo at the time.
Still another fellow, Donovan Rogers, had his 2005 Dodge Durango repossessed this year. He’d been paying via money order, and didn’t miss a payment. At some point, Santander Consumer USA bought his car loan from his original lender — but neglected to send him a notice about the change. This past May, Rogers received a notice he was massively in arrears on the loan. Santander thugs and robo-callers called him over 500 times, and even threatened criminal charges. A few weeks later, they simply took his truck and auctioned it off.By the way, that’s another of their standard techniques: They send you a bill with massive penalties assessed, demanding a lump sum payment. They start up with the harassing phone calls, with the goal of extracting as much money from you as they possibly can — then they take your car anyway and sell it at auction. Why do this?

Used car loans might seem like a hard way for an international bank to make money, but they’ve actually proven to be more resilient and recession proof that other forms of lending — particularly mortgage lending. Cars, at the moment, appear to be better collateral than homes and are much easier to turn into cash after a borrower defaults. That’s part of the reason that Santander was the most profitable bank in the world outside of China last year, and has been on the acquisition trail since the financial meltdown. (emphasis added)

According to the story, another of Santander’s tactics is they buy up car loans (especially what would be considered sub-prime auto loans) from other companies, such as Citibank, HSBC, and others. Now suppose you bought a car in 2008 on a 60 month loan, and let’s say there was some minor mix-up where in December of that year, your payment was late a couple days. Quite a few lenders will overlook minor lapses and let them go, especially if they fall near a holiday. Not these parasites.

Santander routinely uses another tactic after acquiring a loan from another lender: It searches records for past slip-ups — such as a payment that was late by a few days — then assesses fees retroactively, sometimes years after the fact. By calculating the loan forward from that point, and “cascading” the fees, the firm sometimes claims clients owe thousands of dollars in late fees, and demands immediate payment or threatens repossession.

Just like the mortgage banksters, Santander routinely repossesses cars from active-duty U.S. servicemen and women — despite being prohibited by law from doing so, unless allowed by court order. They’re also supposed to reduce interest rates to 6%, again as required by law, which they apparently almost never do.Why do they do this? How do they get away with it? Because they can, governments refuse to stop them, and because it made them a tidy (estimated) $455 million profit in the U.S. in 2010 alone. Multiply that internationally, and this is a banking conglomerate whose business model is built on fraud, extortion, blackmail, and blatantly illegal collections techniques.

We’re talking major criminal enterprise here. If you read on in the story (thanks MSNBC, and the really great reporting from Bob Sullivan in the Red Tape Chronicles), you’ll see flat out and repeated violations of very clear and explicit laws regarding loan servicing and debt collection tactics:

  • Illegal collection attempts against active-duty servicemen and -women, including illegal repossessions (SCRA violations).
  • Robo-calling people’s cell phones, including those of people’s relatives and children (Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act violations galore).
  • Accepting automatic deposits from people’s bank accounts, then claiming never to have received the funds and refusing to credit the payments against the loan (this is simply flat-out fraud).
  • Failing to tell people when they (Santander Consumer USA) purchased the car loan and then, despite the car owner faithfully continuing to send in payments, showing up months later to demand a huge lump-sum, with accrued and compounded penalties.

But hey, even the attorneys can see an easier fat-duck target out there: The Santander collections agents violate the TCPA and FDCPA all the time by failing to identify themselves, spewing obscenities, calling people other than the person responsible for the car loan, and much more — including the cell phone robo-calls. Each willful violation — each call — specifies a $1500 penalty.Multiply that by hundreds of calls per loan and you’re talking major scratch. According to the story, one attorney had so many requests, he had to limit incoming cases to those who’ve received more than 100 calls.

Unfortunately predictions are Santander will continue to make inroads into the American consumer lending market.

My recommendation? If you do have an auto loan, seriously seriously seriously consider moving it to a local community bank or credit union. Even if you have no problem with your current loan servicing company, there is no guarantee they won’t sell it to a criminal enterprise such as Santander.

As the saying goes, come the revolution, I have no doubt these slimy plutocratic bastards will be among the first against the wall.


White House addresses Jade Helm 15 exercise as conspiracy theories grow even wilder

The White House slapped down rumors that an upcoming multi-state military training exercise would lead to martial law or the violation of constitutional rights.

Conspiracy theorists are warning the two-month Jade Helm 15 exercise planned for seven southwestern states is a prelude to suspension of law or possibly even a foreign invasion, and state and now federal officials have tried to alleviate their concerns.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has asked the commander of the volunteer State Guard to monitor training exercises in the state after fearful residents voiced their concerns to a U.S. Army spokesman this week in Bastrop County.

“I have no idea what he’s thinking,” said Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, of the Republican Abbott’s request. “In no way will the constitutional rights or civil liberties of any American citizen be infringed upon while this exercise is being conducted.”

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, also a Republican, assured residents in his state that Jade Helm 15 is a standard military training exercise after receiving about 25 calls from concerned citizens.

A map shared by the military designates Texas, Utah, and California as “hostile” territories during the training exercise, which will be conducted on private property with consent of the landowner and involve volunteer role players.

The exercise is intended to allow military special operations troops to practice unconventional warfare, officials have said, and the states were chosen due to their topographical resemblance to overseas combat zones.

A spokeswoman for the Utah governor said the exercise would pose minimal inconvenience to local communities, and military officials have insisted no weapons or property would be seized from anyone.

However, these official assurances have seemed to arouse only more suspicion.

“Would the (county) court be offended if I told the (lieutenant) colonel that I didn’t believe a single word that he just said?” said one participant in the Bastrop County public meeting on the exercise.

A prepper website claims that an anonymous Texas Ranger reported “trains are moving throughout Texas and some of them have been outfitted with shackles, presumably to ‘transport prisoners of some sort.’”

The website said the claims back other conspiracy theories about “dissident roundups,” and the alleged “law enforcement insider” also suggested that shuttered Walmart stores might be used as staging points for the Department of Homeland Security.

“We expecting an attack on more than one Texas city or town by ISIS and/or any of their partners,” the anonymous Ranger claims in a letter.

Those partners, apparently, include U.S. Navy SEALs and other American elite forces, according to the website.

“I will support the Feds in their preparation against ISIS,” the alleged Ranger said. “But the moment that this action turns against our locals is the moment I will perform my oath of office. I am not alone in this feeling. None of my brothers trust Homeland. We will have to see where this is going but I have a bad feeling.”

‘We call it Mount Ghetto:’ Colorado HVAC company won’t service ‘colored’ neighborhood

heating and cooling company that claims to serve the entire Denver region refuses service homes in a racially diverse neighborhood it refers to as “Mount Ghetto,” a local Fox affiliate reports.

A concerned employee at Mile High Heating and Cooling in Westminster, Colorado alerted the “Problem Solvers” at FOX31 Denver to the company’s racist service policies. To investigate the claim, the reporting team sent a producer to apply for an “appointment setter” position Mile High happened to be advertising at the time.

A manager at the company, who FOX31 Denver refers to only as “Andrea,” hired the news producer to book appointments at “one of Denver’s premier residential and commercial HVAC companies” almost immediately. Within an hour, Andrea was training the reporter on how to cold call around the region to identify new customers.

Andrea gave the producer a paper schedule of which zip codes to concentrate calls on in the coming days. The producer asked why one certain zip code — the one for Denver’s Montebello neighborhood — had the words “do not call” written under it on the list.

“We call it Mount Ghetto,” Andrea explained. She further elaborated that Montebello is a “colored neighborhood.”

Meanwhile, the reporter she’d just hired was filming the entire conversation.

The Problem Solvers had enough evidence to conclude Mile High Heating and Cooling didn’t seek out customers in Montebello. But would the company provide service to a home in that neighborhood if someone called and asked it to?

The answer, apparently, is probably not.

In cahoots with FOX31 Denver, grandmother and Montebello homeowner Pam Jiner called Mile High and asked the company for help with a broken furnace. An employee asked Jiner for her zip code and informed her they would call her back with details in a few minutes. But no one from the Westminster heating and cooling company ever called Jiner back.

A Problem Solver then called Mile High Heating and Cooling asking for the same service, using the same name, but citing a different zip code. A dispatcher booked her appointment immediately.

Jiner found the zip code servicing disparity “beyond offensive.”

Jiner’s neighbor Duane Topping shares her opinion, and describes the neighborhood’s diversity as a strength rather than a weakness. “Those stereotypes are born of ignorance,” Topping says. “I’ve grown up with all of these people in this neighborhood, so this is a family. We don’t care how much money you make, we don’t’ care what color you are, we don’t care what religion you are.”

“Saddened and stunned by what [they] found,” FOX31 Denver reporters went in full news regalia to Mile High’s offices to ask some follow up questions. When Andrea saw the reporters, she ran away and camped out in her office, thinking the investigators would eventually go away.

When she came out an hour later, however, the news team was still there.

“When you refer to colored people, what color are you referring to?” a journalist inquired of Andrea. “Are you a racist?”

Andrea didn’t answer.

The reporters later approached Kasey Dykman, who co-owns the company with his father, Kevin Dykman, as the younger Dykman was leaving work. He was wearing a shirt featuring a picture of Darth Vader and the words “Free Throat Hugs” at the time.

“Is this company racist?” the reporters asked. Dykman wouldn’t respond.

Journalists then followed him as he went to a nearby Starbucks, where he met with his father. “Do you have something against people of color?” the Problem Solvers asked Mile High’s owners. Reporters got silence in response.

“Do you have anything to say for yourself?” the journalists asked. Again, silence.

FOX31 Denver urges residents with first-hand experience with Mile High racism to file complaints with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. “If you live in Montbello and were denied service by Mile High Heating and Cooling in Westminster, you can file a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

At 2:00 PM on Thursday, city leaders in Denver will hold a press conference at Graham Memorial Church of God In Christ. A protest will follow. The public is invited to attend.

Rise of far left policies signals Democrats’ embrace of Bernie Sanders progressivism

Nothing highlights Washington’s sceptical view of the political left like the arrival of Bernie Sanders into the presidential race.

The independent senator from Vermont is typically dismissed as a “ self-described socialist ” by those who doubt America’s appetite for policies seen as mainstream in much of the world but long-regarded as almost unmentionable in the land of the free.

But while even his biggest fans don’t necessarily expect to see the 73-year-old maverick waltzing into the oval office anytime soon, his decision to challenge Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic nomination coincides with rising optimism that their focus on income inequality and campaign finance reform is catching the national mood.

Related: Hillary Clinton: America must confront ‘hard truths about race and justice’

“There is a reason why it’s called economic populism: it’s because it’s popular,” says Charles Chamberlain of Democracy of America, whose 1 million activists support both Sanders and the more reluctant Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, whom they are also encouraging to run.

“It’s a real stretch to say [Sanders] is out of the mainstream; he is very much ahead of the curve when it comes to a lot of politicians in Washington,” argues Chamberlain. “It is Washington DC that is out of touch with where the average American is really at.”

For this reason, many progressive activists rankle at the description of their members and favoured candidates as leftwing.

“I don’t call ourselves ‘left’ and part of the reason is the centre of the country agrees with us,” claims Adam Green, co-founder of Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

He argues that the surprise decision of Clinton to champion many of the same themes as Warren and Sanders shows such views are now mainstream among Democrats, and the only question is how forcefully Clinton will follow through with policy.

Related: Elizabeth Warren on Hillary Clinton’s embrace of her populist message: ‘Eh’

“The shift in direction of the Democratic party is now coming to a close with the victory of the Warren wing,” claims Green. “It is now about a scale – do we go big or settle for smaller changes?”

It is certainly true that Clinton’s apparent conversion from avowed centrist to critic of the economic elites has caught many by surprise.

“Back in December people on her campaign staff were saying she was going to run against gridlock, for bipartisan solutions – and that’s certainly not what’s happened. Since she has launched, it’s all about the middle-class and making the economy work for everyone and a system that’s rigged,” says Chamberlain. “We believe that the issue of income equality is going to be the dominant fight of the 2016 election … and we are seeing that.”

It also coincided with a shift among leading Senate Democrats, such as Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, who many had long regarded as irredeemably part of the Washington establishment.

A few weeks ago only seven senators were openly fighting for enhancing the Social Security safety net, and many favoured instead the conservative entitlement reforms sought by Republicans and briefly endorsed last year by the White House too. Now 42 out of the 44 Senate Democrats are preparing to vote to expand Social Security .

Similarly, Senator Chuck Schumer, of New York, is supporting legislation seeking to eliminate student debt at public universities – a key aim of progressive activists that may yet be adopted by Clinton .

But more radical activists on the left caution that there is a limit to how far mainstream Democrats will join Sanders in espousing truly transformational policies, such as a constitutional amendment to strip corporations of political power sought by groups such as Move to Amend .

“The politicians who are taking their money and therefore their marching orders from the Super Pacs and the billionaire class and Wall Street are not going to champion the kind of change that Move to Amend is demanding,” says its spokesperson, the former Green party presidential candidate David Cobb.

“We are moving the needle in that we are forcing some of the most dominant political players to say the things that they have not been saying, but I have no illusions that they are going to champion the systemic transformational change that a real democracy movement would require.”

Optimism on the left is also tempered by memories of even greater exuberance before Barack Obama was elected.

“That’s what you saw in 2008,” acknowledges Chamberlain. “People wanted bold change, and in some ways we got it and in other ways people were disappointed.”

For groups hoping to mobilise the much-vaunted but often elusive “grassroots”, lasting change requires more than just one person or a party hierarchy to change its rhetoric.

“This mistake that is often made is the idea of the great person theory … or to look at party apparatus, instead the question is: is there a mass movement in this country that is cohering?” says Cobb.

“Take the growing resistance to the schools-to-prison pipeline, take the justifiable anger at rising inequality … and you begin to see the recipe for that movement,” he adds. “What we are beginning to see between [the anti-police violence movement] Black Lives Matter, between the [immigration] Dream defenders, Move to Amend … you see all these early stages of a movement that is beginning to speak the same basic language.”

The bigger hope for activists like Cobb is that such a movement may also transcend left-right boundaries and appeal to disillusioned Republicans too. But for now, many would settle for a world where Bernie Sanders was not the only Washington politician prepared to self-identify as leftwing.

What If Teddy Bridgewater Was a Cleveland Brown?

You can do a lot with $100,000.

The Browns could have, too. Instead, they decided to ignore math. And you should never ignore math.

Last offseason, the Browns conducted a $100,000 analytical study to find out which quarterback was the best one in the 2014 NFL Draft. The result? Teddy Bridgewater was it. He was the man.

Cleveland’s first-round selection? Johnny Manziel.


The odds that Cleveland made the right quarterback choice last year are slim to none. While Minnesota is looking to fill non-quarterback voids on their roster, Cleveland is looking forward to a season with a just-out-of-rehab Manziel and a what will be 36-year-old Josh McCown under center.

The Browns could have had Bridgewater. The Browns should have had Bridgewater. And that not only cost them in 2014, but it more than likely will moving forward, too.
Another Win?

If you’re new to numberFire, you might not be completely aware about our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric. In essence, NEP tells us how many points — real points — a player adds or loses for his team based on expectation. It helps remove the flaws of traditional statistics — a 10-yard gain on 3rd-and-15 is much less impactful than a 10-yard gain on 3rd-and-9, after all.

To read more about NEP, check out our glossary.

Predictably, things weren’t great for Cleveland last year in the Net Expected Points department. As a team, they finished 26th in Adjusted Passing NEP — the number of points added through the air, adjusted for strength of schedule. Brian Hoyer started the season off efficiently, but ended the year with just 20.60 Net Expected Points. That may seem alright, but his per drop back efficiency of 0.04 NEP was about half as effective as the league average rate.

And then there was Manziel, who, on 38 drop backs, accumulated -14.51 Passing NEP. The sample size isn’t strong, but neither was Manziel’s game.

Meanwhile, Teddy Bridgewater, who ended the year with a better-than-Hoyer 0.05 Passing NEP per drop back, totaled about 23 Passing Net Expected Points. According to our numbers, had Bridgewater played under center for the Browns, we would have expected Cleveland — a team that was far worse than their end-of-season win-loss total showed — to win an additional game.

Not bad for a rookie.
Bridgewater Optimism

Bridgewater ended the 2014 season ranked 21st in Passing NEP among the 37 NFL quarterbacks who dropped back to pass at least 200 times. A below-average ranking, that score steadily increased as the year went on — Bridgewater became a better passer with a little time.

He was also just a rookie, and first-year quarterbacks are logically not going to be top-notch passers right away. Comparing him to guys like Aaron Rodgers just isn’t all that fair.

That’s where things get interesting. Last January, I did a study looking at whether or not a quarterback’s rookie season could predict his future. The results showed a pretty clear — albeit not super mathematic — correlation between first-year success in Passing NEP and general success later in a player’s career.

In the article, I broke up the 40 200-plus attempt rookie passers since 2000 into four tiers. Tier 4 was for the losers, while Tier 1 was for the rookie champions.

Teddy Bridgewater is very firmly a Tier 1 rookie passer.

Since the turn of the century, only seven rookie quarterbacks totaled a Passing NEP as strong as Bridgewater’s from last season: Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III, Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton, Marc Bulger and Andrew Luck.

And over the last 15 NFL seasons, we’ve seen 43 rookie quarterbacks drop back to pass at least 200 times. Meaning Teddy Bridgewater is at least in the 80th percentile when it comes to recent first-year quarterbacks.

Here’s the kicker: since 2000, Cleveland has had 18 different quarterback seasons where one of their signal-callers hit the 200 drop back mark. Only Derek Anderson’s 2007 season ranks better than Teddy Bridgewater’s rookie one in terms of Passing NEP.

So not only is Teddy Bridgewater’s arrow pointing way up given his rookie year performance, but that rookie year performance would have been the second best one Cleveland fans saw from one of their quarterbacks over the last 15 years.

Maybe next time the Browns will listen to what math is telling them. Maybe.

It’s Time For The NFL Draft….Yay!!!

It is draft time and no, I speak not of beer or even fantasy sports draft but of the official 2015 NFL Draft that will occur in Chicago this year.  I am very confident that quarterbacks will go 1-2 and the order will be Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota; thought I have long stated in many articles and news clippings that the black nigger Winston will be a bust and is far more likely to be kicked out of the league in less than 5 years since he resembles another black quarterback with a soft body and questions both on and off the field: the nigger Jamarcus Russell.  The obvious and safe choice should be Marcu Mariota for he is far superior that Winston in the field of decision making, intelligence, accuracy, and elite athleticism.  Sadly, the Tampa Bay Bucs seem poised to go down the route to self ruination and let that be. There are other reasons that I keep up with the NFL Draft besides to bash some of these players; i wish to also be in the know as it relates to what player each team selects so that when I conduct my fantasy draft later this summer, I can better plan my own draft boards.

Now, it may seem silly to even pay attention to this event, but truth be known, we need some good news and some good vibes these days with all of the evils surrounding us all.  It is good to take a break from the usual postings on the Jewish control of society and to post some good news as I haven’t forgotten that there are great events going on in the lives of many human beings.  For example, my youngest sister graduates from college in about 3 weeks and I intend to be there, cheering her on, and congratulating her despite my hatred for my father’s family and how uncomfortable I tend to be when I am near a large amount of humans.  The vision of seeing people graduate and succeed in their goals provides hope and inspiration for me as well.  I am a current graduate student working on my master’s degree and when I finish by the summer of 2016, I will invite some closer allies and comrades to share in the celebration events.

And this is why I watch the NFL Draft, in order to see the goals and dreams of young men being accomplished and to see the smiles and the joy on their faces as they walk across the stage and to know that you are there, in a symbolic sense, to witness the breakthroughs in their lives. Despite the things that we say about these young men, from their on field strengths and weaknesses, we must remember that the average age of these athletes when they enter the league is a mere 22 years of age.  As a 29 year old, I can empathize with their peaks and valleys of life and how much we tend to discourage them with our negative posts, articles, and criticism of their on field and off field behavior and abilities.  So much has been scrutinized about all of these draft prospects, but I have not lost vision that these dealing and aggravations that they are going through will either shape their lives in a positive manner or it will lead to self destruction of their minds and spirits.

The draft is very much part of the college graduation process, though not in an academic sense, but in the sense of achieving life goals that have been set long before these athletes became adults.  Still, i would love to see the elimination of sports in public education and universities for I feel that it ultimately doesn’t really help in matters of true education achievement, but I will do a post on that later next week.  For now, I will simply watch the draft (i had to record it for I have to work tonight) and share my tweets on my surprise picks and which players my Baltimore Ravens draft.

Marcus Mariota Is Projected To Be Better Than Jameis Winston

We’ve heard the debate for so long that its edges have nearly gone dull: Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota? Who should go first?

If there were a formula for how to choose a No. 1 quarterback in the NFL draft, Tom Brady would have gone No. 1 overall and JaMarcus Russell would have been lucky to be selected 199th. This stuff is hard, especially when you consider the stakes. Missing on a first-round quarterback can set a franchise back for years. Because of the “boom or bust” nature of the position, selecting a quarterback, particularly in the first round, is riskier than selecting a player in any other position.

What, then, to do about Winston versus Mariota this Thursday? Build a model, of course. This year, ESPN’s Production Analytics crew created a QB model to help teams reduce the risk of drafting the wrong quarterback. Like all models, this one had a few outliers, but it would have predicted that Andrew Luck would be the top QB in the last three draft classes, that Russell Wilson would be far better than his third-round grade, and that first-rounders Brandon Weeden and EJ Manuel would be below-average quarterbacks — and of course that’s without using those years of data to fit the model.1 The model’s opinion on this year’s top two: Mariota — not Winston — is the top prospect.

The goal of the model is to predict a player’s Total Quarterback Rating over his first four years in the league, which is generally the length of his rookie contract. The main inputs into the projections were a player’s college stats (adjusted for defenses faced),2 combine/physical measurements, scout grades and play-type frequencies in college. After determining which factors mattered most,3 the model projected a player’s NFL success in four categories — on passing plays, on running plays, how many sacks he’s likely to take, and how many penalties he’s likely to incur — over his first four seasons. These play-type projections and how often each play is expected to occur4 were combined to produce the QBR projections.

Not surprisingly, scout grades5 were the most significant predictor of quarterback success. Scouts have the luxury of knowing things that aren’t completely captured in college stats, and they generally do a good job measuring a quarterback’s passing capabilities. Where the scouts fall short, however, is their evaluation of efficient rushing quarterbacks.

The model found that players who were effective rushers were generally undervalued by scouts. That does not mean that every player who runs for 1,000 yards in college will be a good NFL quarterback; rather, the quarterbacks who are efficient runners have an ability to extend drives that serves them well in the NFL. For example, Luck ran for 150 yards in his final college season but was one of the more effective college rushers, converting a first down on 39 percent of his rushes (excluding sacks). Once in the NFL, Luck has been one of the best scramblers in the league and was the most efficient rushing quarterback in 2013.

The added rushing component is also a major reason that Wilson was projected to be one of the top quarterbacks in his class (47.3 projected QBR) but only the eighth-best quarterback by Scouts Inc.

Winston had a better Scouts Inc. grade, but Mariota’s better rushing stats and combine tests helped him beat out Winston in the model’s approach.

Marcus Mariota 64.1
Jameis Winston 60.8
Brett Hundley 39.8
Bryce Petty 24.5
Garrett Grayson 17.0
Rakeem Cato 15.8
Cody Fajardo 12.0
Anthony Boone 10.2
Grant Hedrick 10.1
Blake Sims 9.7
Sean Mannion 9.1
Taylor Heinicke 8.8
Shane Carden 8.3
Brandon Bridge 5.3
Connor Halliday 2.7

The model did not explicitly take into account the sexual assault allegation made against Winston or his off-field transgressions — although those were likely baked into the scout grades, which were a part of the model.

Out of the 67 players evaluated in the 2012 to 2015 draft classes, Mariota was the most efficient rusher on a per-play basis. Excluding sacks, he averaged 9.8 yards per rush attempt in his college career and gained a first down on 41 percent of those plays. Winston, on the other hand, ranked 29th in per-play rushing efficiency and gained a first down on 24 percent of his carries.

Mariota and Winston are each projected to be above-average quarterbacks in their first four years in the league, but they are far from the elite level that the model projected for Luck (79.2 projected QBR) when he came out of college. Their four-year projections are closer to the expectations for Robert Griffin III entering the 2012 draft.

After Mariota and Winston, Brett Hundley is expected to be the third-best quarterback in the class, but there is a clear gap between the top two QBs and the rest of the prospects. Like Mariota, Hundley is athletic and ranks in the top 10 in per-play rushing. Other models look favorably upon Hundley, making many believe he could be the sleeper of the 2015 draft class.

The rest of the 2015 QB class is expected to perform at the level of replacement level QBs.6

No one model can perfectly predict NFL quarterback success, but looking at what numbers have mattered in the past tells us that we will be lucky to have three players come out of this draft class who will have long-term NFL success.

Americas Region Becomes World’s First to Eliminate Rubella

Some good news in a world filled with evil and despair….


The Americas region has become the first to successfully eliminate rubella, a contagious viral infection with similar symptoms to measles, health officials announced on Wednesday.

Medical experts are calling the milestone against the endemic transmission of the infection a “historic achievement.” Rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) are now the third and fourth vaccine-preventable diseases to be eliminated in the Americas, following small pox in 1971 and polio in 1994, and experts say it also speaks to the success of a 15-year initiative to provide widespread vaccination against mumps and rubella (MMR) in the area.

“It shows how important it is to make vaccines available even to the remotest corners of our hemisphere,” Carissa F. Etienne, Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) director, said during a news conference.

Before mass vaccination was available, medical experts say an estimated 16,000 to 20,000 children were born with CRS in Latin…

View original post 177 more words

‘Bizarre’ bat-winged dinosaur discovered in China

CNN)Chinese scientists say they have discovered a new dinosaur species, with bat-like wings, that sheds light on how dinosaurs may have evolved into birds.

Based on a fossil specimen discovered in China’s Hebei province a decade ago, scientists estimate the bird-like dinosaur existed for a very short time 160 million years ago during the Jurassic Period, according to a new paper published in scientific journal Nature on Wednesday.

The flying creature weighed about 230 grams and was 63 centimeters in length.

Xu Xing, a paleontologist with China’s Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, and lead author of the report, told CNN the dinosaur’s fossilized remains highlighted the complexity of evolution.

Named Yi qi, or “strange wing” in Chinese, Xu said it was one of the earliest dinosaurs to show some capacity for flight — even though it wasn’t very successful.

Only known specimen of the new dinosaur Yi qi.

Unlike other bird-like dinosaurs, its wings were made from membranes — like a bat — rather than composed of feathers.

It didn’t become the birds we see today — it tried but failed.

Newly discovered frog looks like Kermit

‘Failed experiment’

“It’s a failed experiment, it’s an evolutionary dead end,” Xu said.

“Over the last 30 years, there were so many discoveries made that demonstrate birds are really descendants of dinosaurs,” he said.

“It’s a great example showing how dinosaurs evolved into birds.”

Artist reconstruction of dinosaur Yi qi.

Even though the dinosaur had wings, Xu said it’s unclear whether it could flap them and most likely moved through the air mostly by gliding.

He told CNN the fossil is now held in a museum in Shandong Province, and the next step would be trying to find more fossils of the same species to be able to better understand, for example, its flight capability.

Thanks to a robust economy, China has become a major center for dinosaur discovery and research.

“We have more funding for paleontological expeditions,” he said. “So now there are more expeditions in this country than 30 years ago, which means you can find more fossils.

Widespread construction work also helps to expose more rocks and fossils, he added.

People with tattoos report the Apple Watch is having trouble determining they are alive

People with tattoos report the Apple Watch is having trouble determining they are alive
Apple’s new watch is supposed to be its most personal device to date. It can measure your heart rate and lets you share it with others. But it seems it may not be quite as personal if you have tattoos on your forearms or darker skin.
In a post that first appeared on Reddit on April 28, a few early-adopter Apple Watch owners complained that they seemed to be having issues receiving notifications on their watches. These watch wearers had tattoos covering the area where a watch would sit on their wrists.

The Apple Watch will lock and require a passcode to use when it doesn’t detect skin contact and tattoos may be fooling the watches into thinking there’s no skin contact when there is. Some in the Reddit thread suggested the issue is a result of the sensor technology that Apple is using to check for skin contact and measure heart rates.
Steven LeBoeuf, a mechanical engineer scientist and the co-founder of Valencell, a company that supplies biometric sensors to wearable companies such as Jabra and Scosche, tells Quartz that Reddit’s theory is correct. Apple, like many wearable manufacturers, uses sensors that beam green light toward the skin. It penetrates through the first few layers of skin and measures the rate of bloodflow in the capillaries sitting below the surface. Green light, however, is absorbed by the ink used in most tattoos.
“Green light is a problem for anything dark, especially for tattoos,” LeBoeuf says.
While those with tattooed wrists may experience some issues, there’s also the possibility that the watch will not work as intended for a much larger group of potential watch buyers: those with darker skin. LeBoeuf says that green light is more likely to be absorbed by the skin of people with higher melanin content. Even if the sensors work when a person is sitting down, the darker their skin is, the less likely the sensors are to capture data when the person is moving. “The signal to noise ratio will be much lower for people having higher melanin content,” LeBoeuf says.
The solution to the problem may lie in changing the color of light used in the next Apple Watch, but most colors have issues. Ultraviolet light won’t penetrate through skin, and redder sources of light will penetrate too far, down to the bone. “The longer the wavelength, the deeper it will penetrate into the body,” he said. LeBoeuf said there are ways to get around the issue, including using a mixture of green and yellow lights, but no system will work perfectly.
Apple did not immediately respond to comment on whether the company is aware of this issue, or whether this came up in testing. Apple’s watch marketing displays individuals with a variety of skin tones, but LeBoeuf suggests Apple’s previously secret testing facility for the watch seems to have been less than diverse. “There probably wasn’t tests on a broad enough sample of people with tattoos,” LeBoeuf said. (Quartz tested the Apple Watch’s heart rate monitor on an employee with tattoos on their arm, and out of three attempts, the watch only picked up their heart rate once.)
Rival wearable device company Basis—whose wearable uses a similar technology to measure heart rate—has a support query suggesting that tattoos could affect a device’s ability to pick up a heart rate. (Apple’s site explains what can affect its watch’s ability to detect a heart rate, but it doesn’t mention tattoos or skin color.)
Corrected April 30, 2014 (11:32am EST): The initial headline on this story has been changed to reflect that only people with tattoos have documented problems with the Apple Watch. The article only suggests the possibility that people with darker skin color might have similar problems.
Updated April 30, 2014 (11:05am EST): The comment by Steven LeBoeuf about signal to noise ratio has been expanded for clarity.

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