Archives for the Month of July 2007 on Through the Magnifying Glass

Winner of Britain's Got Talent: Paul Potts : in the USA

On the NBC Today Show at Rockefeller Center


US Treasury Secretary Paulson asks for debt limit increase

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Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has asked lawmakers to increase the government's borrowing authority or the United States may be unable to pay its bills this fall. It is currently capped at $8.965 trillion.

Paulson, in a letter to lawmakers:
"Accordingly, I am writing to request that Congress raise the statutory debt limit as soon as possible." He said the government may bump into statutory default in early October if nothing is done.

Note the fact that the statutory debt limit has been raised several times during President Bush's tenure. The last increase was in March 2006 when the debt ceiling was increased by $781 billion.

What can the Democratic-controlled Congress could do? Basically nothing. No lawmaker wants to see a federal default occur. It would rattle bond markets, force interest rates to go higher and cause an adverse impact on the economy.

But it is a shame that the populace thinks that the country can keep on borrowing money. For fiscal year 2006, the government paid $405 BILLION IN INTEREST PAYMENTS ALONE! For 2007, the government is budgeting $500 billion towards the interest on the national debt.

The Bush administration has defended the increases as essential to pay for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and to cover other costs to keep the United States secure.

But Mr. President, I thought that if the economy was doing pretty well and government revenues are up, why do we still have a deficit? What if military action is taken against Iran? How much more can we borrow? It seems we can never stop the thirst of spending more than what we take in.

Is it possible that the high borrowing is causing some countries to consider buying euros and pounds instead of the U.S. dollar?

In addition, the administration wants to end Congressional action on expanding its borrowing authority. In essence, it wants a "blank check." Congress must not allow this to happen. This is needed to focus attention on the country's fiscal mismanagement. How can we explain to future generations why we have a $20 or $30 trillion national debt? How can we explain that the country is now owned by Japan and China because they are holding most of the debt?

Seriously, we may think we are looking at the good old times for the next 5-10 years. But in 20-30 years, the fiscal climate will be drastically different. By that time, 75 per cent of the federal budget will be devoted to Social Security. Add the national interest, you got pretty much nothing for domestic programs.

Yahoo News - Paulson: US should boost debt limit

http://www.federalbudget.com/

Will we ever solve Social Security?

For those that have already graduated in recent years as well as those that are still in school, we will face the likely prospect of a "bankrupt" Social Security system (if current trends are maintained). Technically, this is not completely true. The Social Security Trust Fund will be bankrupt, but the government will still continue to pay out benefits, but the funds would only come from payroll taxes. Thus, by 2042 (estimated projection), the government will only manage to provide 73% benefits. In 2078, it will drop down to 68%.

(Click here for detailed graphic)

At this stage, you may not realize that our 2008 presidential candidates - both Republican and Democratic - have not addressed the issue of Social Security and Medicare. The first time someone asked about Social Security was during the CNN/YouTube debate when New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson deflected a question about handling the increasing costs of an aging boomer generation.

He said, "The best solution is a bipartisan effort to fix it." It is probably one of the best political answers I have ever heard. Of course, my other favorite was when presidential candidate George W. Bush Sr. responded with "Read my lips, no new taxes" slogan during his campaign.

So what is this bipartisan effort? Well, just do nothing. After President Bush's failed attempt to partially privatize this huge entitlement program, none of the candidates want to bring up the painful idea of cutting retirement benefits or raising taxes. Clearly, our politicians have abdicated their responsiblity in dealing with this problem. Perhaps they are just scared of the elderly vote.

Consider this as suggested by Newsweek:

From 2005 to 2030, the 65-and-over population will nearly double to 71 million; its share of the population will rise 20 percent from 12 percent. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid -- programs that serve older people -- already exceed 40 percent of the $2.7 trillion federal budget. By 2030, their share could hit 75 percent of the present budget (projected by CBO). Also, you may consider the fact that there are 3.3 workers per beneficiary today. By 2031, it will drop down to 2.1 per beneficiary.

Throw in the national interest, there will be very little left for the government to spend. If the federal government wants to maintain benefits to the elderly, then we would need to eliminate all defense spending, research, homeland security, the environment, etc. We would probably have to outsource our nation's security to Canada and Mexico.

So what are the solutions? President's Bush idea of partial privatization was one step to offer Social Security participants a chance to broaden their investments, so to speak. It was clearly not mandatory but Democrats played the fear card that the diversion of funds would hurt the program overall. Bush's lack of information on what funds would be used to replace the diverted funds also lead to the idea being discarded.

It would seem to me that Democrats just wants everyone to trust their government to provide all benefits. If you want to "choose" to change the way your benefits are set up, you are labeled as a conservative.

What else is there? Increase payroll taxes (FICA, Social Security) and eliminate the cap. Reduce retirement benefits. Change the cost of living adjustment calculation. Raise the retirement age.

Unfortunately, no one wants to consider these ideas. Besides all that, we must also consider the fundamental question of whether the current focus of Social Security and Medicare must be changed. Frankly, our country is not a retirement home. How can we function if three-fourths of what we take in goes to supporting the older population?

* * * * *

Various think tanks concluded the following:

Liberals need to concede the idea of letting government growing too large and benefit cuts are needed.

Conservatives need to concede that tomorrow's government would be bigger than today's.

* * * * *

The immense entitlement program could become a rift between the young to middle-aged worker population and the elderly. If it becomes a fact that we are being used to keep the old folks happy, expect a political revolt. It may bring about a strong young voter turnout that can make battle with the AARP and other lobbyist groups. It is inevitable. You got the elderly trying to enjoy their final years or decades and you got the young taking care of them plus their own children.

As for the current workers, we know that Social Security won't be "all there" when we retire. This is our best shot to having 401k's, IRA's, and other funds to minimize our burden.

The worse option would be implementing some of the ideas of Logan's Run.

Joorabchian only cares about the money, not Tevez


Further Update:
Brief update... the Premier League may consider West Ham's offer that they will be paid as little as 1 million pounds to give up Tevez's registration and allow him to go over to Manchester United. Now the question is whether Joorabchian is greedy enough to not accept that compromise and wants to stick with the original 100,000.

If he does not agree, this would mean a long court case and Tevez would be stuck on the sidelines until January.

* * * * *

joorabchian.jpgThere are many reasons why third-party companies should not own sports players thereby governing their lives and their careers. I turn to Kia Joorabchian, the Iranian owner of Media Sports Investment and Just Sports Inc., and pretty much, the owner of economic rights to Carlos Tevez, the Argentina football (soccer) player who played a major factor in rescuing West Ham United from relegation last season.

I do not know why football clubs would choose to have a player who is owned by a third-party group. As such, Tevez is pretty much a puppet of Joorabchian. If some wealthy club wants to buy Tevez, then the Iranian and his company gets to pocket the transfer money. I would even expect Joorabchian to overrule Tevez's decision whether to stay with a football club if some other club offers a higher contract agreement for him. It's always about the money of course. I wonder if Tevez knows that. I wonder if it is possible for Tevez to break links with the Iranian?

At this point, West Ham United knows Tevez wants to go to Manchester United. As for the estimated transfer fee of 30 million pounds, West Ham is willing to consider 6 million pounds, the minimum fee required by the Premier League. However, Joorabchian believes it should be 100,000 pounds as stated in the previous agreement that was ripped up by West Ham and the League.

carlos_tevez.jpgRight now, Kia is taking West Ham to court to prove that the previous agreement between the two groups is still valid and that only 100,000 pounds should be paid out.

After this fiasco has ended, there must be some rule that governs the player's registration by the club versus the economic rights that are owned by some shady corporation.

Also, would Manchester United try to buy out Tevez's ownership outright? This would eliminate the bothersome Iranian, and hopefully Tevez can find a better agent to market his ability to the football world.

The Sun - You can have Tevez for 6 million

Guardian UK - Premier League's softer line may run in Tevez's favour

Telegraph UK - West Ham propose Carlos Tevez peace deal


Real ID Program - States vs Federal

Update 8/17/07:
At this time, more than half the nation's legislatures have passed symbolic legislation denouncing the plan, and some have penned bills expressly forbidding compliance. The governors of Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Washington are refusing to comply. Six others have passed bills and/or resolutions expressing opposition, and 15 have similar bills pending.

New Hampshire called the Real ID "contrary and repugnant" to the state and federal constitutions. A Colorado House resolution dismissed Real ID by expressing support for the war on terror but "not at the expense of essential civil rights and liberties of citizens of this country."

Only four states have passed bills or resolutions expressing approval for the program, and 13 states have similar legislation pending of which some have it both applauding and opposing Real ID.

A Real ID-verified card would be mandatory for all "federal purposes," which include boarding an airplane or walking into a federal building, nuclear facility or national park. Citizens in states that do not comply with the new rules would have to use passports for federal purposes.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff alleges that there are presently 8,000 types of identification accepted to enter the United States.

8,000? We can certainly cut down the use of non-photo id's and birth certificates.

If the Real ID provision does not get repealed, all states would be required to issue new federal licenses, lasting no longer than 8 years, by May 11, 2008. So all 245 million license and state ID holders must visit their local DMV agency and apply for a Real ID by 2013. Applicants need to bring a photo ID, birth certificate, proof of SSN, proof of residence, and states have to maintain and protect massive databases housing the information.

States are against it because it is an unfunded mandate expected to cost over $11 billion over 5 years. It is also a threat to privacy and also a major target for identity hackers. Some states believe it violates the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. The Constitution does not expressly let the federal government issue driver's licenses, so that power, they maintain, should be reserved for the states.

A honest debate must be carried out on this national identifications scheme. It was not discussed or debated in a timely manner. It was attached as a "rider" to a 2005 emergency military spending and tsunami relief bill. Republicans, who were in power at the time, knew it would not survive as a standalone bill, and decided to add it to the relief bill.

CNN.com - Federal ID plan raises privacy concerns

Boston.com - A real bad ID law

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real_id_pic.jpgBoth conservative and liberal groups applauded the failure of an amendment offered to the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill that would have authorized $300 million of federal funding for states to implement the Real ID driver's license program, which has been estimated by DHS to cost $23.1 billion.

The amendment was killed when a motion to table it passed 49 to 45, after both the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senators Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Thad Cochran (R-MS), spoke against the funding proposal. This means that there will be no federal funds to implement Real ID.

Quick background. The Real ID Act of 2005 basically creates a national identification card. Supporters believe such a measure would enhance national security, unmask potential terrorists, and guard against illegal immigrants. National ID cards have been in use in many countries including most European countries, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. The United States as well as the United Kingdom are currently debating the merits of adopting such a card.

Opponents believe it would place another burden of identification on the populace. It is a law imposing federal technological standards and verification procedures on state driver's licenses and identification cards, many of which are beyond the current capacity of the federal government. State DMV workers would also be state immigration officials, as they must verify the citizenship status of all those who want a Real ID-approved state driver's license or identification card.

Why there was no debate before? Well you have to thank Congress for that. The Real ID Act was appended to a bill providing tsunami relief and military appropriations, so it passed with little debate and no hearings. People start to find out when the DHS issued draft regulations for the Real ID in March 2007. The legislation called for state compliance by May 2008.

When it was first envisioned, it was supposed to cost $100 million. Instead, it estimated to cost more than $11 billion over 5 years according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only $40 million was allocated for 2006. Of course, DHS gave a worse estimate of $23.1 billion over 10 years.

There has been calls to repeal the Real ID Act. Seventeen state legislatures have passed laws rejecting the program. Seven of those states passed binding legislation refusing to implement it. The 17 states are Maine, New Hampshire, Illinois, Missouri, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Nebraska, South Carolina, Georgia, and Hawaii.

Anti-Real ID legislation has been introduced in Alaska, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

Anti-Real ID legislation has made partial progress (passing one chamber) in Oregon, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, Louisiana, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Vermont.

Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas, and California have no legislation pending.

The DHS is not quite happy with the states that have passed noncompliance legislation against the Real ID program. "I think residents of states that choose not to comply are going to be displeased with their leadership's decision when we get closer to full implementation," a DHS spokesman said. "They'll no longer be able do certain things that carriers of state-issued drivers licenses take for granted today."

He noted that residents of states whose identification cards don't comply with the law will be prohibited from entry to airports and federal buildings. It could also block access to "certain critical infrastructure sites" such as a power plants or dams, he said.

Final DHS regulations are expected around Labor Day. Initial compliance is May 2008, with full compliance by 2013.

Electronic Privacy Information Center - National ID Cards and Real ID Act

* * * * *

Why do we need another level of bureaucratic nonsense? States would be forced to federally standardize their driver's licenses, restructure their computer databases, and create an extensive new document storage system. Real ID will become an "internal passport."

Instead of 50 different types of systems for terrorists, hackers, and troublemakers to hack into, there will be only one system. Oh boy, I cannot wait to hear when the Real ID database gets hacked and everyone's information is now in the hands of the enemy.

I need a President that can answer a simple question

Politicians have perfected the way to get around the questions that everyone wants answered. In my ideal world, I want to vote for a President that can answer it directly, but I guess the given field of candidates for 2008 would fail that test.

A Great Accomplishment: Iraq wins AFC Asian Cup 2007!

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With the country in dire straits, at least there's a piece of good news today. Iraq clinched their first Asian Cup victory with a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia in Jakarta.

Captain Younes Mahmoud planted in a towering header for the winner after Saudi keeper Yasser Al Mosailem flailed despairingly at a corner.

Al Mosailem had earlier kept his side alive with a fine double save from Younes Mahmoud and Nashat Akram.

Iraq had an escape in stoppage time when Saudi striker Malek Maaz bounced a header on to the roof of the net.

Congratulations to Iraq for their historic win!

The AFC Asian Cup is a football (soccer) competition run by the Asian Football Confederation. The winning team (Iraq) becomes the champion of Asia and automatically qualifies for the FIFA Confederations Cup.

Link to CNN Video

Reuters UK - Iraq defy odds to win Asian Cup

MoveOn, DailyKos Pressure advertisers on Fox News

Update 7/31/07:
According to AmericaBlog, Home Depot has stated that they will not advertise on the O'Reilly show. They also stated that their advertising is a "run of network" so their commericals are generally played throughout any show on Fox News.

Of course, AmericaBlog is pressing for full suspension of ads which I believe Home Depot won't agree to.

Update 7/29/07:
It would seem comments and calls to Lowe's about their advertising during the O'Reilly show on Fox News were enough to intimidate the warehouse chain to remove them. Yet, they did not say if they were going to remove all their ads from the Fox News channel.

Yet, is there a significant impact on ads that are shown on controversial or offensive shows? If Walgreens was doing an ad during Big Brother, would they see a drop in sales if a bad incident occurred on the show?

News Hounds actually has compiled a list of advertisers that show their ads during the O'Reilly show. What's the difference if other folks start listing advertisers being shown on the Rosie O'Donnell show, or during MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews?

I even bet these will the same folks that would protest against the Simpsons Movie because the arnold-accented President mocks foreign citizens and Homer being fat is offensive to obese people.

I bet there will no impact on BMW, Dell, Lincon-Mercury, Chevrolet, OnStar. They can just set up a comment rule and forward all those complaint crap to the rubbish bin.

On the Democrats.com web site, they drawn up a nice and sweet msg for those Fox advertisers:

Dear FOX News Advertiser,

I am writing to inform you that I will not purchase your products as long as you advertise on FOX News.

FOX News does not broadcast news, it broadcasts Republican Party and conservative propaganda.

If you want my business, you need to advertise in the media I rely on, especially the Liberal Blog Advertising Network.

Thank you.

Obviously, a liberal response.

* * * * *

FoxNews.jpgIt just never stops. Inspired by their success in pressuring all the Democratic presidential candidates not to appear at any debate sponsored by Fox, they are now focusing on advertisers that are shown on the conservative news channel.

The liberal groups, MoveOn.org, the Campaign for America's Future, DailyKos.com, and others are asking supporters to monitor who is advertising on the network. Click here to see MoveOn.org's Civic Action on Fox's alleged anti-environment position by robertgreenwald. Their plan would be to organize a phone-calling campaign after they get enough data. They will first concentrate on businesses running local ads, but it seems they got a national target, Home Depot.

The home improvement chain will not change its advertising strategy. Its reasoning is that it needs to reach their customer base through all available mediums.

One of the group's reasoning is that Fox News' statement of being a fair news network contradicts its conservative-leaning point of view. How about the liberal-leaning New York Times? LA Times? MSNBC? NPR?

* * * * *

In any case, this smells like discreet censorship. How can these groups truly prove that businesses that sponsor ads on the Fox News Channel are conservative? They are trying to tell everyone that if a business is sponsoring an advertisement on Fox News, they are considered to be racist, warmongering, against immigrants, against minorities, against civil rights, and so on and so forth.

I would think they are hoping that their phone calls would intimidate these businesses into dropping their ads from the network. I hope that these businesses would thumb their noses at them. Clearly, they have every right to protest, but these businesses have the right to advertise on any medium that gets to their customer base.

Never Too Young for Identity Theft

New York Times reports on the woes of Gabriel Jimenez, 25, and a valid U.S. citizen. For almost half of his life, he has beeh sharing his identity with an illegal immigrant.

His mother, Jeri Marks, discovered the problem when he was 11, after filing taxes for work he did as a child model. The I.R.S. informed her that someone had already filed their tax return for her son's social security number.

After a few years, she requested her son's file with the I.R.S. and found an illegal who was using the number.

At first, the illegal tried to bribe Ms. Marks by giving his tax refund in exchange for using the SSN. She refused. But it would seem the illegal kept on using it.

In short, Gabriel was pretty much screwed. Over the years, he made some success with the I.R.S. and Social Security. Yet he still had problems. When he went to Northwestern University, he was denied phone service, gas and electricity, because he had already accounts. At 20, when he went to set up a bank account, he was denied because someone opened up an I.R.A. using his info. When he attempted to obtain auto insurance, he faced a similar roadblock.

Today, he got most of his credit report cleaned up, but his rating is ruined. Now he can managed to rent an apartment with utilities, but if he wanted to purchase a home or vehicle, it would probably take months of paperwork and in the end, he may get the financing, but with a high interest rate.

Check out the Identity Theft Resource Center on various types of theft and what victims should do when their identity is stolen.

For those entering Case for their first year as well as upperclass students, you should get a copy of your credit report to ensure that your data is correct.

Credit Card Nonsense for today

In New York, Frank Van Buren, an accountant working in Manhattan uses an Exxon gas credit card for his business for 17 years. He called customer service because his card was near expiration, and he requested two new ones.

Three weeks went by. Then a rather large-sized box arrived at his doorstep in Texas. Inside were 1,000 credit cards! ONE THOUSAND! Each card was identical with his name and account number.

Van Buren called customer service and was told to destroy the cards. It took three hours to shred them.

A week later, another large-sized box arrived.

Behold! Another 1,000 credit cards! "How could you send me 2,000 cards by mistake?" Van Buren said he asked customer service.

Exxon Mobil spokeswoman Paula Chen - "We don't know what happened."

Citibank, who handles Exxon Mobil cards - "We certainly apologize to him for any inconvenience."

One huge problem was that every credit card had no activation sticker, so it seems these cards were active right from the start. Quite dangerous.

Then we go to Kyle Shoemaker, a 9-year old kid in Louisiana, who got two credit cards and an $18,000 line of credit.

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Kyle never submitted a credit card app, so it is likely that someone may be impersonating his identity but fortunately the credit cards went to their address. Who knows if they went somewhere else, Kyle would see his credit history completely ruined.

Democratic presidential field ignores its own moderates

The centrist Democratic Leadership Council's summer meeting is being snubbed by the Democratic presidential field. Not even one candidate will attend the meeting, but Bill Clinton will be there. So will 300 officeholders from more than 45 states.

The purpose of the meeting is how can Democrats appeal to moderate, independent voters.

I guess Hillary, Obama, Edwards, and the rest just care about the far left, the peaceniks, the NAACP, and the rest of the discriminated.

DLC founder Al From: "They have tunnel vision."

But he also makes a good point which the candidates must listen to.

"Presidents are elected in the middle and they are elected by being bigger than their party. Neither parties' activists alone can elect somebody president. Democrats have a long history of nominating people, including people who have lost badly. The challenge for Democrats is to nominate somebody who can win the election."

It is possible that the current candidates feel the low popularity of President Bush would give Democrats an advantage for the 2008 presidential election. However, despite the strong participation by the left-sided base, the political middle is still quite significant and voters in that bloc can easily swing their votes to the other side. They have to know that they are frustrated with both major parties.

I won't be surprised when the Democratic presidential candidate is chosen, he or she will pander to the DLC in order to get the moderate vote.

But where are the candidates? Instead of being at the DLC summer meeting, they will be in Chicago attending a convention of liberal bloggers. Figures.

Yahoo News - Democratic hopefuls snub party moderates

Creationist appointed as head of Texas School Board

Texas Governor Rick Perry appointed Bryan resident Don McLeroy as chairman of the Texas State Board of Education.

McLeroy has been on the board since 1998, representing nearly 30 counties from the Brazos Valley to the Oklahoma border. Locally, he represents Brazos, Grimes, Leon, Madison and Robertson counties.

He has gained a reputation for being a "nonestablishment" member of the board, avoiding what he calls the "groupthink" of district administrators.

McLeroy said as chairman he wants to raise standards in the Texas school systems.

While most hope that he exercise leadership in this 15 member board, his religious ideology must not rise above the broad interests of Texas' 4.5 million public school students. His past history does give us a moment to be concerned.

According to the Austin American-Statesman:

In 2001, McLeroy and a majority of the board rejected the only Advanced Placement textbook for high school environmental science because its views on global warming and other events didn’t comport with the beliefs of the board majority. The book wasn’t factual and was anti-American and anti-Christian, the majority claimed. Meanwhile, dozens of colleges and universities were using the textbook, including Baylor University, the nation’s largest Baptist college.

In 2003, McLeroy voted against approving biology textbooks that included a full-scale scientific account of evolutionary theory. The books were approved.

McLeroy's elevation to chairman comes as the board begins a revision of science standards for public schools. That could prove embarrassing for Texas if McLeroy pushes for standards that push theology over science. If McLeroy wants to restore the board's credibility, he should promote standards — and textbooks — that educate, not preach.

Bush: I am not an expert

Pinching or Sexual Abuse?

Update 8/20/07:
It's over! The judge has dismissed all remaining charges for the two boys accused of swatting the behinds of fellow classmates. This six-month insanity has finally ended. The four girls listed as victims by the prosecution had asked the judge to drop the charges against Cory Mashburn and Ryan Cornelison.

The News-Register newspaper reported that a "civil compromise" reached by prosecutors and the defense called for both boys to apologize, to pay each of the four girls $250 and to complete a "boundaries education" program.

Update 8/13/07:
Presiding Judge John Collins has dismissed misdemeanor sex abuse charges for the two kids, which means both would no longer face the prospect of lifetime registration as sex offenders.

However, he let the sex harassment charges stand so the two 13-year old boys will have to go to trial.

Today, the judge will decide whether to throw out the statements made by the boys when they were first questioned by police. The defense claims the boys were improperly questioned and did not understand their rights or realize how much trouble they were in.

* * * * *

ouch_pinch.jpgI believe we are all capable of using some degree of common sense as our kids grow from kindergarten up to graduation from high school. It is complete nonsense to consider politicians suggesting that we teach sex-ed to kids that have not started elementary school. It is also ridculous for a school to consider a boy hugging a girl some form of sexual harassment. We have seen reports of schools going overboard for the most innocent things. One post I wrote about was a a school considering criminal charges against a boy for kissing a girl without permission in elementary school.

There are times where the good old-fashioned trip to the detention office seems quite sufficient. Unfortunately, it seems we believe that such children are corrupted to the core and deserve civil and criminal punishment. It is quite idiotic when you see an adult who was convicted of sexual molestation and is required to register as a sex offender, but then you see a DA doing the same thing to a 7-year old boy for kissing a girl without permission.

If there was a school fight, usually the teachers or aides would escort them to the principal's office and they would be given detention or suspension. Today, we are likely to witness police being called to the school, the kids are handcuffed and brought to the police station, and of course the usual civil and criminal lawsuits. It is just getting too complex. Honestly, there are times where it can be handled within the school and there are times where it is justified to call the police to handle incidents that are beyond their control.

This takes me to an incident at Patton Middle School in McMinnville, Oregon.

Last February, Cory Mashburn and Ryan Cornelison, both 13-years-old, were caught in the halls slapping girls on the rear end. Yes, it was inappropriate, and yes, the boys deserved to be punished. A trip to the principal's office and getting some sort of detention or limited suspension seems to be the expected punishment. However, this did not happen.

Police were called to the school and the two boys were arrested and handcuffed. They spent five days at a juvenile detention facility. Five days! By this stage, perhaps the school just wanted to give them a hard lesson, but it did not end that way. Then the boys were charged with several counts of felony sex abuse. The charges were then reduced to third-degree sexual abuse (5 counts) and harassment (5 counts). If convicted, they would spend years in juvenile detention or under supervision, and may also require sex offender registration.

Felony sex abuse? For slapping a girl's butt? I would kinda figure it would involve some sort of molestation, dirty language about their bodies, groping, or stealing their underwear and wearing them. Could a person really believe that a convicted sex offender was found guilty for slapping a girl's butt?

As for the swatting of bottoms, it actually was considered normal. While the behavior is against school policy, both boys and girls do slap each other butts as a "common form of greeting," or as one girl is said to have described it, "a handshake we do." I am sure the school knew this was happening and did not do anything substantial to curtail it. Now we have to wonder that if the school did crack down on this earlier, then this incident would not have happened or the level of punishment would be expected. Quite a reactive reaction, instead of being proactive about it.

So as it stands, Cory and Ryan face the prospect of 10 years in juvenile detention and a lifetime on the sex offender registry. The trial starts August 20. Yet would a jury consider this inappropriate horseplay or criminal nature? Why did these two get such a harsh form of punishment? It is found that other boys at the school came away from the incidents with misdemeanor judgments. Did they just drew the unlucky card in the deck?

Another question is posed to the District Attorney Bradley Berry. Are you seeking higher public office? The governorship? Perhaps maybe U.S. Senator? Maybe a chance to show the people of Oregon state that you are cracking down on misappropriate behavior?

First, it was the felony charges. Court papers allege that the boys touched the buttocks of several girls, including one girl's breasts. But at a court hearing, two of the girls recanted their testimonies and wanted to testify on behalf of the boys. Both girls stated that they felt pressured to give misleading statements. The judge released the boys but barred them from the school and to be under constant adult supervision. Was he afraid of them fleeing the state or even the country? Later, the DA dropped the felony charges, but he stayed with the 10 misdemeanor charges of harassment and sexual abuse. "We are seeking change in conduct," he said.

Berry has offered a plea where the boys will be given probation, but even that is not acceptable to Cory and Ryan's parents. While probation sounds lenient, it's not. Under these terms, the boys would not be allowed to have sexual contact with anyone or any contact with younger children. For Cory, it would mean he cannot be left alone with his younger siblings. Basically, it would give everyone a wrong impression if they did not have all the facts.

This does not mean that the girls that were touched inappropriately should be overlooked. Such action is not proper and it must be addressed, but the experience of being arrested at school, then five days later in juvenile detention is punishment enough. I would gladly believe that the two boys get the idea that slapping butts is bad. This is not the time to go about destroying their childhood.

Did the girls want to see the two boys paraded into a courtroom in shackles and jail outfits?

Did the girls want to see them found guilty by a court of law?

Did the girls want the boys registered as sex offenders so they cannot be in contact with any females as well as their younger brothers and sisters?

Did the girls want the boys' social lives destroyed?

I would bet the answer would likely be no. As usual, we must thank our educators and the system for deciding that this incident shall be considered the most dangerous form of sexual abuse ever committed in a school.

Everyone could have saved time and money by arranging school meeting between educators and parents to stop the practice of slapping behinds and touching private parts. All of this could have been handled reasonably.

I ask that the girls and families that are pursuing this case with the DA to stop this. I want you to ask the DA to drop all charges. Let the school decide the punishment. Suspension or a reprimand in the student's file is appropriate. Then work with the school to stop this silly practice.

To District Attorney Bradley Berry, drop the case. How can you equate this incident with sex offenders who kidnap girls off a sidewalk and forced them into sexual contact? Does the punishment fit the crime? This incident does not fit. Do not destroy two boys' lives because of this. I really doubt you can list this as a major accomplishment of your term as D.A.

Richard Ofshe, author of "Making Monsters: False Memories, Psychotherapy, and Sexual Hysteria" said "The problem is that, like most good things, they can go to the extreme, and the extreme has been reached in several ways. The whole question of what constitutes sexual abuse gets defined and redefined to the point where it's absurd."

Another mess is that two of the alleged victims are planning to sue the school district because they face "significant expenses" for counseling to deal with the "sexual harassment and abuse."

We might as well close down every public school in the country, create single-sex schools, implement no touching policies, so no hugging or clapping each other hands. Sports will be cancelled because football involves pushing so that may considered to be abuse. No more celebrations and no more cheering. We can get sued for pretty much anything nowadays.

* * * * *

ABC News - Boys Face Sex Trial for Slapping Girls' Posteriors

Neighbor Talk - The McMinnville Two

The Oregonian - Unruly schoolboys or sex offenders?

Lohan follows Hilton; Arrested for DUI this morning

lindsaylohan.jpgIt seems after Hilton fatigue, it's time for Lohan fatigue. Desperate to get into the headlines, Lindsay Lohan was arrested early this morning on suspicion of driving under the influence, driving on a suspended license, and possession of narcotics.

During a pre-booking search, police say they found cocaine in one of her pants pocket. She went to the Santa Monica police station and paid the $25,000 to $30,000 bail.

Lohan crashed her Mercedes back in May and is already facing a drunken driving charge in Beverly Hills. She recently finished a second stint in rehab for substance abuse treatment. She was due to be back in court on August 24 to face those charges.

I expect MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski to start burning an effigy of Lohan later today.

TMZ reported that her blood alcohol content (BAC) was between .12 and .13, well over the .08 legal limit. Lohan refused to take a Breathalyzer test at the scene, but failed the field sobriety test. She did take the Breathalyzer at the police station.

Forget about community service or another stint at the substance abuse clinic. This clearly requires jail time. Hilton got 45 days (though shortened) for the suspended license, Lohan had the same thing plus being drunk and having cocaine in her possession. It is unknown if she was still wearing her alcohol detection ankle bracelet. She may have taken it off or just ignored the alarm when she passed the threshold level.

I am thinking at least 2 years and under 5 years jail time. I also expect companies that have endorsement deals with her will scrap them in the next few weeks. No movie roles either. The latest one "Poor Things" looks to have been pulled from production.

The next time I am going to write about her is when she gets sent to prison.

Links

The Smoking Gun - Lindsay Lohan Mug Shot

Fox News - Lindsay Lohan Busted Again for Cocaine, DUI

Mercury News - Lindsay Lohan arrested on DUI suspicion

http://www.tmz.com/

Are you ready for $100+ per barrel of oil?

oildrum.jpg$100 per barrel of oil? It seems unheard of a few years back when oil analysts and consultants were looking at certain scenarios which could cause a "super spike" in the price of oil. Now the possibility of seeing a triple-digit price could happen in the next several months.

Now this is not an attempt to generate fear or panic. It seem obvious that this was coming and if you had a general knowledge of our current oil demand and supply and the geopolitical scene, this scenario is bound to happen.

Checking the latest crude price, September futures are at $74.90 in New York today.

Additional disruptions of Nigerian or Iraqi supplies or a military strike against Iran can trigger the rise. Other factors include OPEC's decision on increasing production toward the end of the year; if demand remains unexpectedly high; refinery breakdowns and repairs; and chances of a hurricane hitting the Gulf oil region.

OPEC won't meet until September and its members have not called for a gathering before that month.

One surprise is that near-record fuel prices have failed to restrain global oil demand growth. Even though prices have doubled, but demand is still high. While gasoline pump prices are now averaging more than $3 a gallon across the U.S., it has not dented sales. The American Petroleum Institute reported a record 9.23 million barrels a day in the first half of this year.

Robert Ebel, chairman of the energy program at the Center for Stategic and International Studies:
"It appears that high prices are acceptable to the American consumer. People want the house with a yard and white-picket fence so they are moving further and further out of the cities. They have to just get up earlier and drive further."

Will demand falter if gas prices increase up to $4 per gallon?

Yet, other analysts believe $100 crude will not happen. An energy analyst at Citigroup believes that the prices do factor in a shortage or production gap.

Another analyst suggests that prices will go higher if the chaos in Iraq continues to grow.

* * * * *

Obviously, oil prices will spike to $90-100 if the U.S. carries out military strikes in Iran or if the security situation in Iraq completely collapses. Even though there is high demand, OPEC is not in any rush. We must see if they will ramp up production in September because the effects won't start to happen until the end of the year. Another factor to take in account is the depreciation of the U.S. dollar. OPEC knows that increased production would reduce prices but with a falling dollar, the pricing is much lower.

According to data from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), OPEC dollar deposits fell by $5.3 billion, while euro and yen-denominated deposits rose by $2.8 billion and $3.8 billion respectively. Russian placements of dollars went up by $5 billion, but most of their $16 billion additional deposits were denominated in euros. Percentage-wise for OPEC and Russia, dollar holdings decreased two per cent from 67 to 65 per cent in the second quarter. It may not seem that significant, but it could be considered a decreasing trend given the dollar's 20-month low against the euro, and a 26-year low against the sterling.

We are also in hurricane season till the fall, so if we get a strong one hitting the Gulf coast direct where 20% of the refineries are located, we are in a world of hurt. Plus with the usual repairs and breakdowns.

Related Link

Bloomberg.com - $100 Oil Price May Be Months Away, Say CIBC, Goldman

FT.com - Oil producers shun dollar

The Death Camp of Communist China

Does anyone know the true story of Mao Zedong's rule in China from 1949 to 1976? It was quite a bloody reality with historians estimating approx 20 million to 75 million deaths.

Link

The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression

Happy Friday: Web Crash 2007

Happy Friday! Enjoy!

The most ridiculous excuse for the NYC steam pipe explosion

The Northwest Progressive Institute blog believes that the steam pipe explosion in NYC was the result of our foreign policy.

Excerpt below:

"Emphasis is mine. Regrettable accidents like this could be prevented if we spent our money on actual needs - like maintaining and enhancing our infrastructure instead of launching preemptive attacks against other countries and overextending the military force that is supposed to protect the people of this country, not incite more angry feelings toward America by serving as the de facto police force in another nation whose people do not want us there."

* * * * *

I did not know the 1924 steam pipe was a member of the Bush election committee. I don't believe it voted in the last 2, 3, or maybe 4 past elections.

What a wanker.

Democrats blocking John Doe Amendment in the 9/11 security bill

Update 7/25/07:
After a week of behind-the-scenes wrangling, congressional negotiators agreed to include the John Doe amendment in the pending Sept. 11 homeland security conference bill. Thanks goes to Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn), chairman of the conference committee knitting together the House and Senate bills designed to implement unfulfilled security recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission.

House Democrats did try to water down the immunity language but were overwhelmed by the Lieberman-GOP coalition on the conference committee.

It is expected to pass easily by both houses. Bush has stated that he will sign the Sept. 11 bill into law.

Update 7/21/07:
Republicans continue to demand that lawsuit protections be added in a conference committee to reconcile the House and Senate versions of what has been dubbed the "9/11 bill." 64 House Republicans distributed a letter saying "No American should fear lawsuits for doing the right thing."

CAIR's spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said the group "has no particular problem" with properly drawn immunity legislation. "Our concern has never been with reports made in good faith by ordinary people. Our concern is with malicious reports based on bigoted views or which are just meant to harass people based on their ethnicity."

Yet CAIR still supports the imam's lawsuit against the airline and the "John Doe" passengers who reported their suspicious behavior. The evidence clearly showed that the imam's actions led to their removal from the plane and that their behavior was clearly intentional.

* * * * *

IfYouSee.jpgThe Washington Times has reported that the congressional democrats failed to include a provision in homeland security legislation that would protect the public from being used for reporting suspicious behavior that may lead to a terrorist attack. This protection was needed because of an incident in November 2006 as mentioned by the National Review.

* * * * *

In November 2006, six Islamic leaders were removed from a U.S. Airways flight in Minneapolis after they were observed acting suspiciously-including not sitting in their assigned seats, asking for seatbelt extenders although not needing them, and making anti-American statements. The men were questioned by authorities and then cleared. However, in March 2007, with the help of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the imams filed suit — not only against the airline but against the heroic "John Doe" passengers who reported their suspicious behavior.

* * * * *

I reported on these imams a few times. Essentially, these imams got on the plane and acted suspicious on purpose. Then they decided to sue the airline and the passengers who "snitched" on them.

Congressman Peter King (R-NY), ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, introduced an amendment to protect passengers and commuters against friviolous lawsuits. Please note this language was adopted 304-121 in March, as an amendment to H.R. 1401, the Rail and Public Transportation Security Act of 2007.

The amendment ensures that any person who voluntarily reports suspicious activity in good faith (anything that could "threaten" transportation security) will be granted immunity from civil liability for the disclosure. It covers threats to transportation systems, passenger safety or security, or possible acts of terrorism, and also shields transportation systems and employees that take reasonable actions to mitigate perceived threats. It is retroactive to activities on or after November 20, 2006.

Peacenik democrats are working to remove this amendment from the homeland security bill based on a technicality. It is reported that Nancy Pelosi and her lieutenants are using the fact that the amendment was to a railroad security bill, not the 9/11 bill so it should not be allowed in the conference report.

While it is true this "John Doe" amendment was approved as part of the railroad bill, Republicans wanted the provision in the homeland security conference bill, that will implement final recommendations from the September 11 commission.

“Democrats are trying to find any technical excuse to keep immunity out of the language of the bill to protect citizens, who in good faith, report suspicious activity to police or law enforcement,” Mr. King said in an interview last night. “This is a slap in the face of good citizens who do their patriotic duty and come forward, and it caves in to radical Islamists. I don’t see how you can have a homeland security bill without protecting people who come forward to report suspicious activity.”

It would seem that Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson feared that the "John Doe" protection would lead to racial profiling.

* * * * *

To ensure no one was blamed, democrats scuttled the amendment in committee.

* * * * *

In the Senate, Democrats attempted to stop Republicans from including the "John Doe" amendment to the education bill because it was not germane. However, the Senate Parliamentarian ruled that the protections are within the scope of the legislation and can be included by amendment.

But the amendment was rejected (57 for and 39 against). Note that the vote involved a Senate procedural rule that required a three-fifths majority for approval. 38 Democrats and Senator Bernard Sanders (I-Vermont) voted no. 48 Republicans, 8 Democrats, and Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn) voted yes. (Roll Call Vote Details)

Not yet defeated, Republicans will work to include the "John Doe" amendment in the 9/11 conference report which has not yet been written. Mr. King noted that he will continue discussions with Sen. Joe Lieberman, who is chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

* * * * *

Author's Comments

There is a reason why many companies allow their employees to submit anonymous messages regarding unethical or illegal activities. There is a reason why we have protections in place for whistleblowers. It makes obvious sense why protections should be implemented for citizens who report on suspicious activities. We have seen events in the past where Good Samaritans decided to speak up in order to save lives or to stop a potential tragedy from happening. Yet, when they are taking a risk like that, they can be subject to civil and/or criminal litigation.

Reporting strange and suscipious behavior to authorities is common sense. We must be vigilant in order to improve safety. Relying on the police and security to watch us is not enough. Everyone must be proactive. I am fearful of a day where a fellow brave American citizen who decided not to report a suspicious person because he or she was afraid of being sued, and the result was the death of hundreds, if not thousands of people. That should sit quite nicely with those peaceniks.

We cannot succumb to political correctness. It will cause us to second guess ourselves and look the other way.

Congress switchboard: 202-224-3121
Nancy Pelosi’s office: 202-225-4965
Reid’s office: 202-224-3542

* * * * *

Video of Peter King

* * * * *

Related Links:

Hot Air
Captain's Quarters
Michelle Malkin
Daily News

iPhone on the University's WiFi network? Duke - False Alarm


Update 7/23/07:
Apple has been exonerated. Duke University said its wireless network was having problems and that the iPhones were not responsible for the outage. "A particular set of conditions made the Duke wireless network experience some minor and temporary disruptions in service," Duke spokeswoman Tracy Futhey said in a written statement posted on the university's web site. Cisco provided a fix for the network issue.

Of course, now a security firm called Independent Security Evaluators (ISE) has announced it has made a successful hack of the iPhone by using its internet connection. Apple is looking into it.

* * * * *

iphone_pic.jpgTechnology officials at Duke University have reported that Apple's iPhones may be jamming parts of their wireless network. Such a problem is currently being worked on by both Duke, Apple, and Cisco Systems.

Bill Cannon, Duke technology spokesman, said an analysis of traffic found that iPhones flooded parts of the campus wireless network with access requests, freezing parts of the system for 10 minutes at a time.

Cannon alleges that one iPhone could have the ability to cause such a problem, and a recent check found 100 to 150 of them registered on the Duke network. Network admins stated that the problem occurred nine times in the past week.

It would seem that the iPhone would use AT&T's EDGE network or an available Wi-Fi access point (AP). If such an AP is not available, it would switch to EDGE, but it would continue to check for a Wi-Fi signal.

Ashok Agrawala, computer sci prof at University of Maryland said the phone could be struggling to regain a connection with a wireless access point, possibly when a wireless hotspot hands off to another. It is possible that the network parameters may not be set correctly for Apple's latest product.

No reports of other networks being affected have been announced. At University of Maryland, technology officials have reported no problems. The same goes with nearby North Carolina State University.

Link

* * * * * * * *

case_wifi.jpgJust curious if anyone tried to get an iPhone registered on Case's network. Any problems?








What is the Center for Instrumented Critical Infrastructure?

Update 7/21/07:
The Department of Energy is denying Murtha's claim that it supports his $1 million earmark request to fund this Center. DoE spokeswoman Anne Kolton said that the earmark is not a program that meets the department's "mission-critical" threshold, noting it was "inconsistent" with the department's 2008 budget.

* * * * *

A million bucks paid by you is small change compared to debating the entire federal budget of $2.8 trillion, but what it goes to is pretty shady.

Just what is the Center for Instrumented Critical Infrastructure? A long-winded corporate term for some project designed to make citizens think that this thing is about safety or security? A search through Yahoo or Google does not turn up anything substantial.

On the House floor Tuesday, Republican Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona questioned Democratic Rep. Peter J. Visclosky of Indiana who is Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee about this Center. Visclosky admitted that he didn't have a clue.

After a lengthy back-and-forth, Flake, complaining that his staff couldn't find a website for the center, asked Visclosky, "Does the center currently exist?"

"At this time, I do not know," the Indiana Democrat replied. "But if it does not exist, the monies could not go to it."

Perhaps he should ask Pennsylvania Democrat John P. Murtha. He's the sponsor for this earmark. He also did not show up to defend this so-called Center. Supposedly, the Center is part of a corporation called Concurrent Technologies (link to their web site), which is based in Johnstown, PA.

Yet Flake's attempt to get rid of that earmark failed 98 to 326. Even though Visclosky admitted he did not know what the Center is about, the Democrats still chose to support the earmark.

Here is where it gets interesting. Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC) is actually a Section 501(c)(3) entity. Their 2005 Form 990 reports no direct support from the public (charitable contributions), yet it has received over $116 million in government grants in that year.

It would seem that back in 1988, Murtha asked the University of Pittsburgh to form a non-profit entity that would focus on excellence in metalworking. This entity would receive funding from the Navy. Over the years, this non-profit became CTC. It would seem that this "corporation" is totally funded by earmarks. The New York Times believe that CTC has been paid almost $1 billion in grants and contracts. From 2002, it would seem that most of the members of the CTC board and directors have contributed to Murtha's campaign.

Daniel DeVos, president of CTC is part of the PMA Group, one of Murtha's largest overall campaign-funders.

Note also that Murtha slipped in a few earmarks for Concurrent back in May for the Intelligence Authorization bill. It contained $5.5 million for CTC for a mobile missile monitoring system and intelligence training. Of course it got cut in half during the House-Senate conference of the bill.

Also interesting is a June 2007 press release by Murtha about Concurrent Technologies being listed by Washington Technology magazine in their top 100 government contractors as well as being nominated for the 2007 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award for its continuing support of employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve.

Check out the C-SPAN video file

Related Links

Redstate - This is a problem

Crypt's Blog - What's in your wallet?

Eastern Michigan University President Fired for cover-up

Update 7/21/07:
The University has also fired Jim Vice, the Vice President for Student Affairs and Cindy Hall, the Director of Campus Police. It has also placed a letter of discipline in the file of Kenneth McKanders, the university's legal counsel.

The Department of Education issued their preliminary report earlier this month. They found seven "serious areas of noncompliance."

1) Failure to provide "timely warning" in response to homicide investigation of on-campus student death
2) Lack of administrative capability
3) Lack of a timely warning policy
4) Failure to properly disclose crime statistics
5) Lack of adequate policy statements
6) Failure to report all required statistics occurring on public property and in non-campus buildings or property
7) Failure to properly maintain the crime log

Orange Taylor III, the student who allegedly murdered Laura Dickinson was charged with murder and is scheduled to go on trial this fall. He has pleaded not guilty. He is currently in jail without bond.

Please note that this person had a previous record. Eastern Michigian University officers had contact with Taylor at least twice in less than a year concerning three incidents. The calls included the break-in at King Hall, a damaged table in the Pray-Harrold classroom building and a report of a student selling marijuana in the Eastern Estates.

With regards to the incident at King Hall, the police report stated that Taylor was looking for "girls and activity on campus" and noticed lights on at the building. He first tried a locked door and then discovered an ajar window. A staff member discovered him as he pulled himself through a window.

Unconfirmed sources indicated that Taylor was failing in his classes. Questions are now being asked on why this student was not dismissed from the school. A fellow classmate told Ann Arbor News that Taylor was kicked out of his dorm after the marijuana incident.

The evidence so far clearly shows that Orange Taylor III is guilty. Security cameras placed Taylor at the scene of the crime showing him entering Dickinson's dorm through the front entrance, and leaving by the stairs. Court records said his DNA matched seminal fluid found on Dickinson's inner thigh. With this and his previous record, he's guilty. Plain and simple.

* * * * *

CNN reported that John Fallon, president of Eastern Michigan University, has been fired on Sunday due to his involvement in a cover-up surrounding the rape and slaying of a student. The Board of Regents voted unanimously on Sunday to terminate his employment contract. Fallon served two years on his five-year contract.

His dismissal follows an independent law firm investigation and U.S. Department of Education report, both of which found that the 23,500-student public university violated the federal Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities to disclose campus security information.

The body of Laura Dickinson, 22, was discovered December 15 in her dorm room. At the time, university officials told Dickinson's parents and the media that she died of asphyxiation but that there was no sign of foul play, despite evidence to the contrary.

It wasn't until another Eastern student was arrested in late February and charged with murder that her family and fellow students learned she had been raped and killed.

The accused student, Orange Taylor III, of Southfield, has pleaded not guilty to murder and criminal sexual conduct charges in Dickinson's death. He is scheduled for trial October 15.

Many in the university's administration were accused of covering up the truth and endangering students to protect the school's image, which has been marred in recent years by tensions with faculty, students and the community.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

This outrageous incident should serve as a wake-up call to other universities and colleges. Students, faculty, and staff should be proactive in making sure accurate and truthful data is provided regarding campus security.

CNN - University president fired after alleged rape cover-up

Chronicle of Higher Education - President Fired at Eastern Michigan U. Over Campus-Crime Scandal

WLOS ABC 13 - University president fired after alleged cover-up of campus killing

MLive.com - Instability at the top beleaguers university

Fox News - Outrage Over Eastern Michigan University's Silence on Student's Rape and Murder

New York Times - University Fires Officials for Concealing Killing

Ralph Nader May Run in 2008

nader_ralph.jpgUSA TODAY reports that consumer Ralph Nader told the Green Party's national convention that he is considering a 2008 presidential run and accused Democrats of trying to shut smaller parties out of the political process.

"No other country comes close to providing voters with such a small number of choices and making third party candidates hurdle an almost insuperable number of obstacles just to get on the ballot," Nader, the Green Party's 2000 presidential nominee, said Saturday.

In 2000, Nader got 2.7% of the votes in the general election. Democrats say he siphoned votes from the party's nominee, Al Gore, in Florida, New Hampshire and elsewhere, giving the election to Republican George W. Bush. In 2004, Nader was much less of a factor.

He ran as an independent in 2004 but was removed from the ballot in Pennsylvania and other large states after Democrats challenged his nominating petitions.

Nader said before jumping into the 2008 presidential race he would have to put together an organization of thousands of volunteers and pro bono lawyers to defend him against the "Democratic quadrennial assault."

"We're going to be ready for them. We will confront them on every level," Nader told a news conference. "They better have clean hands."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Honestly, Democrats should stop blaming Ralph Nader for Gore's loss in 2000. I would have thought Republicans would be using interesting ways to stop third-parties from getting on the ballot, but Democrats? The party that wants to give access to all voters. Perish the thought. In fact, they should also blame the voters that voted for the Reform, Libertarian, Natural Law, and Constitution candidates on the 2000 Florida state ballot. All those votes could have given Gore the win.

Yet, the Democrats are sore losers. In 2004, Democratic activists took steps to keep Nader off the ballot especially in Pennsylvania and in other large states keeping his percentage to less than 1 percent. It was 2.7 percent in 2000.

I am sure Democrats would step up efforts again to deny Nader, but there's a chance of Bloomberg running too. How much are the Democrats and Republicans willing to spend to keep the third-parties under lock and key?

Dennis Kucinich Whines again...

Dennis_Kucinich.jpgThe candidate running on the "Hey, let's impeach Dick Cheney" platform has been taking to the airwaves criticizing a conversation overheard between Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards, in which the two spoke of limiting the number of candidates invited to participate in presidential forums.

While both Clinton and Edwards insist their comments were taken out of context, Kucinich was still not happy. "Candidates, no matter how important or influential they preceive themselves to be, do not have and should not have the power to determine who is allowed to speak to the American public and who is not," Kucinich said in a statement released by his campaign.

He promises to stop any effort to limit participation. "Imperial candidates are as repugnant to the American people and to our democracy as an imperial president," he said.

So even if he continues to poll in the single digits, he will undoubtedly try to get his face into the forums. In the previous presidential contest, he continued to campaign to the day before the Democratic Convention and despite the fact that Senator John Kerry had the necessary votes to claim the presidential nomination. I wonder if he will do the same this time. Obviously, everyone knows he is a long shot for the nomination, so his primary goal is to just get his lovable, peacenik, impeach Cheney platform heard.

He's definitely way too liberal. Of course, he still advocates the creation of a "Department of Peace and Non-Violence." Kucinich even tried to introduce a bill for it back in September 2005 and again this year back in February. It currently has 65 co-peaceniks.

Yes, he is for full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq as well as membership in the WTO and NAFTA. He wants universal health care and education (he must have been watching Sicko non-stop. Plus a plan to have the Kennedy school of government in every college). He wants to keep full Social Security benefits at age 65 (what's his plan to stop it from going bankrupt?). Pro-choice even though he was pro-life before.

After the massacre at Virginia Tech, Kucinich proposed legislation that would ban the purchase, sale, transfer, or possession of handguns by civilians. In response, the NRA has changed its name to the National (Knives, Baseball Bats, Spoons, Pikes, Swords, Lancers) Association.

He wants to bring back the Fairness Doctrine so he can force radio stations to give liberal and conservative points of view with equal time. I am sure his next step is to create the Blogging Doctrine where liberal blogs shall be classified as the freedom, peace-loving, big brother government that helps you while conservative blogs shall be classifed as racist, warmongering, anti-social, evil Darth Vader empire, and dictators.

This is the same person who voted against a June 20 resolution denouncing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a long string of threats against Israel. The resolution called for the United Nations Security Council to censure Ahmadinejad for his remarks and to consider measures to prevent Iran from obtaining the nuclear weapons that might give his bluster some deadly teeth. It also reaffirmed America's long partnership with Israel.

Kucinich and one other representative (dear god, Ron Paul) voted no on this. Democrat Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Cleveland voted yes and was a co-sponsor.

Why did he voted no? He felt the resolution would be used as ammo to justify military action against Iran. Total rubbish. He is afraid of getting Iran angry. Even the Plain Dealer is worried that his anti-Iraq, anti-war stance is blinding him from reality.

Why do we put up with him? He can boast about being the youngest mayor of Cleveland in 1977 (age 31), but he is rated to have been one of the worst big-city mayors all time. Despite refusing to sell Muny Light to CEI, how can you let a city go into default?

So far his latest presidential financial report showed $757,000 in contributions for the 2nd quarter and $213,000 cash on hand. Kucinich has raised $1.1 million since January. Way too far behind. Can he just go away? At all the forums and speeches, he is just busy talking about impeaching Cheney, getting out of Iraq, and having universal health care. Enough already.

I would rather listen to Ron Paul then Kucinich. At least he has more sense despite his constitutionalist position.

Oh, and if Case does change their policy towards sponsoring or hosting political events on campus, please do not bring Kucinich. Tubbs-Jones is absolutely fine, but no Kucinich. If he talks about his Department of Peace crap, I want to hoist a banner saying "Create a Department of 'Up Yours' and more." Hell, let's bring Ron Paul. He wants to abolish the IRS. That's good enough for me. No more taxes. =)

* * * * * * * * * * *

I just love it when a politician answers a voter's question with something entirely different. A woman asked about how candidates would promote equal opportunity and integration among America's schools. Then the candidates must answer with a minute allocated. What can you say? Easy, just your soundbites and usual slogan phrases and the audience would forget the original question! With Kucinich, always end your answer with "time to impeach Dick Cheney." I wonder if the woman was satisfied with the answers.

Also reminds me a Family Guy episode where Lois and Mayor West were in a mayoral debate and she responded with "9/11" to every voter's question, and she got a standing ovation every time.

Death of Zina Linnik: The Violent Immigrant & Failure of the System

zina_linnik.jpgIt is with very sad news that 12-year-old Tacoma girl Zina Linnik was found dead today, ending a week-long search after her July 4 abduction that drew national attention. The body was found somewhere in Pierce County.

Zina, one of eight children in her family, was abducted from an alley behind the family's home the night of July 4, police said.

About 9:45 p.m. that night, her father, Mikhail Linnik, heard a scream, according to a police report. When he went to the alley, he saw an Asian man get into a gray van parked nearby and drive off, the report says.

The investigation led officers to 42-year-old Terapon Dang Adhahn, who drove a gray van with recently-changed license plates registered to another car. State Department of Corrections records say Adhahn is an Asian-Pacific Islander.

The surprise here is that Adhahn was just arrested Monday (July 9) on an unrelated immigration matter and was charged with failing to register as a sex offender. It seems that way back in 1990, he was charged with violently raping a 16-year-old relative. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of first-degree incest in exchange for completing 60 months of sexual-deviancy counseling.

During an evaluation in August 1990, Adhahn told a therapist he'd been sexually molested countless times by an older brother when he was between the ages of 7 and 9 years old, according to court records. He also said his biological father was an abusive alcoholic.

The therapist called Adhahn's personality profile "extremely problematic." But by the time Adhahn completed sex offender treatment in 1997, his counselor wrote that he had made adequate progress and was actively involved in weekly group therapy.

But was the therapist correct in his analysis. Could it be that Adhahn was just pretending to be well again?

But it would seem that he was a permanent resident [corrected] at the time. In fact, according to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Adhahn should have been deported to his home country after he served his 60 months sentence. Federal law mandates that all aliens convicted of felonies be deported to their home country.

It is clear that he will be charged with the death of Zina Linnik. He provided information to police which led them to the girl's body. Also in his Tacoma home, police found girls underwear and other items, which they said are being tested.

For most immigrants living around Tacoma, it's a betrayal of their code where you work hard, you get ahead, and you contribute.

Michelle Malkin - Kidnapping and murder of Zina Linnik

Sound Politics

The second surprise part is that he's a registered voter, but he shouldn't be, right?

Seattle Times - Police seek to tie other cases to girl's death

Modesto Bee - Wash. case brings review of missing kids

Instead of wine bars, a water bar?!?!

I understand we have cases of Poland Spring, Dasani, Evian, Fiji water and paying up to a few dollars for them, but $55 on just one water bottle.

But it's not Evian or Fiji, it's "Bling H2O." That's freakin ridiculous. Now we got a water bar set up in Chappaqua, NY (yes, the home of your infamous Clinton couple) called Via Genova.

The owners are cashing in the bottled water mania by stocking bottles from far and away vendors. Owner Felicissimo has boasted to have close to 80 different types of waters.

There are luxury water bottles from all over the world containing magnesium, calcium, and even potassium. One particular brand "10 thousand B.C." is a top seller at $30 per bottle. This brand comes from British Columbia, Canada. Supposedly the water source is a three-day journey by yacht.

If you want to a true water connoisseur (if someone comes up to me and said that was his/her profession, I will show the person facts about millions of people with no access to drinking water), you have to keep your water out of sunlight (duh!), serve it at 55 degrees (how about ice cubes made out of Bling H2O so I can throw it at you), and nice is a big no-no (well up yours!).

Felicissimo claims that within 5 years, everyone will be drinking bottled water. But a bottle costing $30 to $55 dollars??? I don't think so.

Honestly, let's boycott this water bar. It's a ridiculous idea. It's not even a fancy drink or fine wine. It's water!!!

Link

Porkbusters: Earmark Reform Index

The Earmark Reform Index is a joint project of The Examiner Newspapers and Porkbusters.org. The Index will show whether your senator is a friend or foe of earmark reform.

The Index contains data on Senators serving in the Senate from 2005 to 2007 and voting on 12 key opportunities to say "yes" or "no" to genuine earmark reforms when the Senate clerk called their names. Unfortunately, about two-thirds of the senators are adamantly opposed to reforming their appropriations perks.

Earmarks are spending measures anonymously inserted by lawmakers in appropriations bills, with no accountability to prevent the funds from going to a senator or congressman's campaign donors, favored special interests, family members, or present or former staff members.

So if we check our Ohio senators:

George V. Voinovich (Republican) = Score 41.66

Former R. Michael DeWine (Republican) = Score 16.66

Sherrod Brown (Democrat) = Score 0.00

The $54 Million Dollars Pants Saga Continues!!!

Update 08/03/07:
Washington Post reports that Roy Pearson will receive a letter that starts the process of putting him out of a job. City sources told of a marathon meeting of the commission that reviews the performance of administrative law judges (ALJs) ended last night with unanimous agreement to meet next Monday to finalize a letter that will state the panel's doubts about granting Pearson the 10-year reappointment that he has been seeking throughout the last months of his battle against Custom Cleaners and its owners, the Chung family.

The chief ALJ, Tyrone Butler wanted to recommend Pearson's reappointment, but it would seem that Pearson decided to send a series of emails to all ALJ staff disparaging the chief judge, calling him "evil" and mean-spirited. This led to Butler switching his recommendation.

Meanwhile, Mr. Friviolous Lawsuit is preparing an appeal of Judge Judith Bartnoff's rejection of his case against the Chungs.

Fortunately, enough people and fundraising have helped contributed more than $92,000 to cover legal feeds the family incurred in their defense against the Pearson suit. But because of Pearson's appeal, it would mean further legal fees for the immigrant family.

Pearson is making a mockery of our judicial system as well as causing harm and injury to a decent family trying to survive in this country.

Roy_Pearson.jpgRoy Pearson refuses to let this die peacefully. The D.C. administrative judge who fought and lost a $54 million lawsuit against the Korean immigrants who own his neighborhood's dry cleaners chose the Fourth of July holiday to file a motion (via his attorney) arguing that D.C. Superior Court Judge Bartnoff failed to address Pearson's legal claims and asking the judge to reverse her verdict in the case.

At the conclusion of the original case which was found in favor of the Chungs, they have been saddled with more than $100,000 in legal expenses.

The Chungs' defense attorney, Christopher Manning, has beseeched Pearson to consider moving on. Unfortunately, Pearson stated that he will continue to fight in the best interests of all Washington residents. (Or is that long-speak for "in particular my own interests.)

He is still doing this despite a CLEAR finding by Judge Bartnoff that his lawsuit against Custom Cleaners HAD NO MERIT!

He is still doing this despite the fact that the Chungs have been wiped out financially.

This two-year jihad against the Chungs must end.

The Chungs found his wayward pants and tried to return them to Pearson. He continues to say that those pants are not his.

Despite a settlement offer of $12,000 by the Chungs, Pearson wanted to still go to court.

Of course, he changes his reasoning that the lawsuit was not about the pants, but the sign that promised "satisfaction guaranteed."

Plus, to end this story, the panel that will determine whether Pearson is to be re-appointed for a full, 10-year term as an administrative judge has not issued their opinion. At Mayor Adrian Fenty's request, the panel put off consideration of Pearson's case until the mayor had a chance to fill a vacancy on the commission on the tenure of ALJ's. Now that Fenty has filled up the commission, the decision on re-appointment will be made pretty soon.

Let's fervently hope that the commission decide NOT TO EXTEND Pearson's term as administrative judge.

the_chungs.jpgPlease note that the Institute for Legal Reform and the American Tort Reform Association are co-hosting a fundraiser on Tuesday, July 24 in Washington, D.C. Click here for more information.

Also, click here for the Custom Cleaners Defense Fund.

This is one example why we need reform. This is one example to show that there are people out there willing to destroy the American dream for others. This is one example where people try to twist the law to fit their personal vendetta.

I even believe that Pearson just wants to bankrupt the Chungs regardless.

Washington Post: The $54 Million Pants Suit That Wouldn't Die

Michelle Malkin: Support the dry cleaners!

Update 7/14/07

In more detail, Roy Pearson accused the judge Judith Bartnoff for committing a "fundamental legal error." He stated that she failed to address his legal claims. "The court effectively substituted a guarantee of satisfaction with 'reasonable' limits and preconditions for the unconditional and unambiguous guarantee of satisfaction the defendant-merchant chose to advertise for seven years," Pearson wrote.

If Bartnoff rejects his appeal, he will take the matter to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

So "Satisfaction Guaranteed" would mean unconditional, unlimited promise on his interpretation. Judge Bartnoff disagreed by saying that such a statement must be considered in the context of a 'reasonable' customer.

I would agree such a thing would mean that if you are not happy with the transaction, you can demand to have your money back. Yet Pearson decides to employ his own calculation in determining the penalty which resulted in the $54 million dollars based on some sort of literal analysis of the D.C. consumer law in the books.

At this point, it wouldn't matter since the Chungs are effectively bankrupt by this case, so Pearson wouldn't really see a cent. But he continues to justify this on principle not on the monetary amount, unless he believes that such a high financial amount would deter other dry cleaners from trying to rip off the same customers like him.

Now, it is possible that there could be a District Judge that may side with Pearson if the reasoning is based on some sort of literal analysis of the current law. Then the Chungs would appeal forcing it to the Court of Appeals hoping that the verdict can be dismissed because it was unreasonable and that the law was used 'out-of-context.'

The whole thing is pretty ridiculous. I just hope that the Court of Appeals can see past Pearson's friviolous lawsuit and back up Judge Bartnoff's call.

Check out the iPhone fine print, one thing that is not hyped by Apple

iphone_pic.jpgTelecom Analyst Bruce Kushnick inspect the iPhone's Terms of Service and find some surprising relevations.

Doug Ross @ Journal explains some of them with more detail.

The first ten:

1) iPhone Requires a 2-Year Contract with AT&T.

2) Expensive: Requires $2,280, Over $1,730 in Wireless Costs.

3) Double Billing. You and the Caller Both Get Charged for the Same Call.

4) All Use of the Networks Are Always Rounded Up to the Nearest Kilobyte or Minute.

5) Customers Are Billed for “Network Errors” and “Network Overhead".

6) Billed Even Though the Call Doesn't Go Through.

7) Bogus Fees Added to the Bill: Regulatory Cost Recovery Charge

8) $175.00 Termination Fee.

9) International Messages Are Charged Additional Fees as Are Files Over 300Kbps.

10) Over Your Quota: Get Gouged: 40¢ Per Minute and 69¢ Roaming Offnet.

Click on the links to see the rest.

John S. Koppel: Bush Justice is a national disgrace

From an Op-Ed in the Denver Post

John S. Koppel has been a civil appellate attorney with the Department of Justice since 1981.

As a longtime attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, I can honestly say that I have never been as ashamed of the department and government that I serve as I am at this time.

The public record now plainly demonstrates that both the DOJ and the government as a whole have been thoroughly politicized in a manner that is inappropriate, unethical and indeed unlawful. The unconscionable commutation of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's sentence, the misuse of warrantless investigative powers under the Patriot Act and the deplorable treatment of U.S. attorneys all point to an unmistakable pattern of abuse.

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(The rest is available in the link)

Peaceniks trying to fly impeach banner at All-Star Game

It would seem the Facebook group "The Nationwide Movement to Impeach Cheney and Bush" are trying to sponsor a banner to be flown over the All-Star Game at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Looks like Advertising Aerial will do the flight on short notice. Organizers were able to raise the $695 needed to hire the plane from 47 donations.

The banner would fly over AT&T park while people arrived for the All-Star Game but because of the high-level event, it would have to land an hour before the first pitch.

So any chance we can do some target practice? How many holes can we punch through that banner while it's flying over the stadium? =) At least we won't be distracted by that during the game itself. But who knows...a Code Pink protestor would go and streak across the field. I bet over half of the crowd would cheer when the streaker gets clobbered by one of the baseball players.

Link

Bush's First Surgeon General was marginalized

Richard Carmona served as Surgeon General from 2002-2006. He spoke in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

He spoke about political appointees in the Bush administration muzzled him on key issues such as "stem cell research, contraceptives, and his misgivings about the administration's embrace of 'abstinence-only' sex education."

Excerpt:

[A]lthough most Americans believe that their Surgeon General has the ability to impact the course of public health as “the nation’s doctor,” the reality is that the nation’s doctor has been marginalized and relegated to a position with no independent budget, and with supervisors who are political appointees with partisan agendas. Anything that doesn’t fit into the political appointees’ ideological, theological, or political agenda is ignored, marginalized, or simply buried.

NAACP Buries N-Word, but does it help?

bury_nword.jpgOn Monday, the NAACP held a symbolic event to bury the use of the N-word during its annual convention. Delegates from across the country marched from downtown Detroit's Cobo Center to Hart Plaza. Two horses pulled a pine box adorned with a bouquet of fake black roses and a black ribbon printed with a derivation of the word.

The coffin is to be placed at the Detroit Memorial Park Cemetery and will have a headstone.

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick:
"Today we're not just burying the N-word, we're taking it out of our spirit. We gather burying all the things that go with the N-word. We have to bury the 'pimps' and the 'hos' that go with it. Die N-word, and we don't want to see you 'round here no more."

But will rap stars and black comedians stop using it?

Billboard's Hot Rap Tracks

I guess T.I. and Lil Boosie did not get the NAACP memo.

We should follow up on this in a few months and see if it takes hold. Plus it requires parents, adults, politicians, celebrities, singers, well, pretty much everyone to get rid of the N-word.

Can you spend $12 billion a month?

The government's credit card on the Afghan/Iraq War is adding up to $12 billion a month. The Congressional Research Service, which provides research and analysis to lawmakers, has calculated that Congress has allocated $610 billion in war-related money since 9/11/01. $450 billion of it has gone to Iraq.

For the 2007 budget year, Pentagon is asking for $166 billion, a 40 percent increase over 2006.

The $12 billion per month includes $10 billion for Iraq and almost $2 billion for Afghanistan. About two years ago, the monthly cost was about $8 billion.

The $4 billion increase? To repair and replace worn out equipment.

Yet, the military somehow calculated that only $5.6 billion would be spent through September. Someone must be using the wrong calculator or the abacus has a wrong number of beads.

* * * * * * * * * * *

The President promises to cut our federal deficit in half, and a balanced budget in another few years, but the national debt continues to grow, and as of 7/6/07, the national debt is at $8.875 trillion dollars.

But know this, the President does not count the emergency spending bills for Afghanistan and Iraq as part of his annual budget, so his so-called plan for cutting the deficit in half and balancing the budget is all smoke and mirrors.

How do conservatives feel about that? In times of war, we raise taxes or issue war bonds to finance the military operations. Why not do this today? We cannot keep spending without fail no matter what. How can you keep a war going and pretend nothing bad is happening? Yes, we got a strong economy, but there's a war going on too.

Plus we may even have a war with Iran. You might as well draft everyone and declare war on the whole planet.

So how many people can you fit into a SUV?

I thought fitting in 15-16 people in a Dodge Ramcharger to get to Detroit from Cleveland was crazy enough. Of course it was somewhat humorous when we stopped at a gas station along the way back, and a police cruiser stopped by and asked about our crowded vehicle. "I am transporting some Mexicans," the driver said. The officer chuckled and drove off.

But squeezing 21 people in a SUV?

Not really that funny. The vehicle was transporting suspected illegal immigrants. It tried to flee police through two counties around San Antonio, Texas. Speeds reached 100 mph. It ended when it blew a tire and flipped.

Of the 21 occupants, 14 were hurt, but three people died.

The driver was arrested at the scene and will be charged with capital murder, which carries a possible death penalty under Texas law. The rest of the occupants did not have any valid documentation and were believed to have come from Mexico.

Mayor Bloomberg: A Third-Party Factor

Jeffrey Bell, longtime Republican activist:
"We have a pretty active two-party system now that will produce two candidates with real differences."

Bill Carrick, Democratic Political Strategist:
"There is no big need for an alternative. Independent presidential candidates are just spoilers."

Our two main political parties know full well the effect of a third-party candidate. Ross Perot in 1992. Ralph Nader in 2000. Yet, they continue to remind the general public that third-party candidates do not have the resources or expertise for elected office, and that their "established" party (whether it is Democrat or Republican) can do a better job.

How can that statement stay truthful today? From the International Herald Tribune article about Bloomberg, it noted a CNN survey from June where one-third of responding voters would consider backing an independent candidate. It was better than 21 percent from seven years ago. Almost half of all Americans supported such a question back in 1992.

We have seen a Republican Congress in control for 12 years. I know that a good majority of Americans wanted a change after the Democrats were in charge for four decades, and they had their problems which resulted in their ouster. Now we are back to a Democratic Congress and it seems that things have not really changed. The political rancor continues on and we are stuck with a "do-nothing" Congress. Yes, I am sure some accomplishments have been made, but overall, it's not that good. Strange enough, some do appreciate a do-nothing government.

Unfortunately, a Bloomberg presidential run in 2008 may not bode well.

It is true that independent voters make up almost 30 percent of the electorate, but that CNN survey showed that one-third of them would not support Bloomberg next year. Plus since the mayor was a bit pro-Iraq, that's not a favorable position to have right now. In addition, you got Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

After 43 presidents who are white and male, the public may have a chance to elect the first African-American or first woman president in 231 years.

Yes, the cards are all stacked against him in winning the presidential election, but he can play a deciding "spoiler" if he throws his hat in the ring. It will force the Democratic and Republican candidates to recalibrate. It will bring up focus on education, environment, and gun control.

You have to give credit to Bloomberg. He is definitely qualified to run. He has held public office and he has more money than Perot. Certainly, it will cause a lot of headaches for the two major candidates in states such as California and New York.

Bring it on.

Sick of Automated Phone Systems?

When you call customer support, you get the usual voice recording or automated system detailing the list of choices you can pick, then another set of choices, and so on and so forth. After a while, you know which buttons to push.

Yet, it can get a bit antsy when you get the recording "our options have changed" for the 500th time, and you have to wonder when they will erase that part, and just get on with it.

What if you wanted to get a human voice as quick as possible?

getHuman has 500 entries detailing what buttons that need to be pushed in order to get a real human voice.

Here's an excerpt:

Consolidated Edison 800-752-6633 Press 0 at each prompt, ignoring messages.
Consumers' Energy Company 800-477-5050 Press 0 at each prompt, ignoring messages.
Continental Airlines 800-784-4444 Press 00 at each prompt, ignoring messages.
Costco.com 800-955-2292 Press 55.
Costco 800-220-6000 Press 55.
Countrywide Loans 800-669-5864 Press 0 at each prompt, ignoring messages.
CVS.com 888-607-4287 Press 0.
Days Inn 800-329-7466 Direct to human.
Dell Financial Services 800-283-2210 Press 0; at prompt press 0; at prompt press #; at prompt press #.
Dell Sales 800-624-9897 Press 0 at each prompt, ignoring messages.
Dell Tech Support 800-624-9896 Press 3; say "agent" at each additional prompt, ignoring messages.
Delta Airlines 800-221-1212 Press 0 at each prompt, ignoring messages.
Delta Dental 888-335-8227 After language option, press 2 for existing or 3 for new account.
Detroit Edison (DTE) 800-477-4747 Press 0 at each prompt, ignoring messages.
DHL Express 800-225-5345 Press 0 at each prompt, ignoring messages.
Dillard's 800-345-5273 Direct to human.

Table Card Readers at Restaurants

table_card_reader.jpgWhile on a work visit to Boston, I dined at the popular Legal Sea Foods restaurant on State Street. After finishing my delicious seafood choices, the waitress brought out a table credit card reader. She explained that they were testing this out to see if it makes it easier instead of taking your card to the register, swipe it, then come back with the receipt that needs to be signed.

Instead, you just need to swipe your credit/debit card through the reader, choose the tip amount 12%/15%/20%, then it prints out the receipt, and you sign it.

Pretty convenient. While I was living abroad in London for two years, the UK and most of Europe used table card readers and they are quite popular. They have not really yet caught on the United States.

Now, the only slight complaint is that the waiter/waitress is waiting while you swipe the card and enter the information, I get a bit antsy when deciding the tip. You can do a percentage or a select amount, and it might feel awkward if you are giving a small tip for bad or not so good service. There were some occasions where the person would face away, other times he or she would look straight ahead, and you just hope they won't look at what you are putting in.

Besides that, it is pretty quick. Overall, I do not have a problem with it. Perhaps it could be a courtesy issue when diners "ask for the check" when they are completely done. After finishing up lunch or dinner, the cleaners would take away the dishes, then you get asked about dessert or coffee, then usually you converse with your guests for a while letting your food settle down until you call for the bill. In some restaurants, the waiter would bring the reader after dessert/coffee or after you ask for the bill.

But definitely a productivity boost. We use our debit/credit cards at consoles at fast-food joints, gas stations, and grocery stores, why not at restaurants?

It is definitely time to catch up.

Link

Adam Carpenter's Incredible Car Chase in Ohio

Carpenter deserves to stay in prison for a very long time. It is very unfortunate for such a young person (only 20 years old) to become a criminal. He was in jail before, and he violated his probation which would guarantee his return to prison to finish up his five years.

He could not even handle living in Talbert House, a halfway house. He was written up too many times, so knowing he will be returned to prison, he escaped.

Adam broke into a home in Warren County. He tied up two women when they came up and stole their SUV. An off-duty officer spotted the vehicle on I-71 near King's Island and the chase began.

During the chase, dozens of car had to pull off, but several vehicles were hit or forced off the road causing damage and injury to the occupants. Fortunately, no one was killed.

Of course, Adam said he "was trying [his] best not to hit nobody."

The chase ended at the base of the Kenwood Towne Center. The SUV's tires were pretty much destroyed.

Link

Kucinich, Feinstein, Kerry: Get off the Fairness Doctrine

At least we have one sensible newspaper who is against the Fairness Doctrine. The Courier Post is based in Cherry Hill, NJ. Their Op-Ed board states succinctly that "there's enough broadcasting space via the airwaves and Internet to ensure all viewpoints can be heard."

Of course talk radio is dominated by conservative voices, but come on, the market supports it, not liberal radio.

Any such move to implement the Fairness Doctrine, you are trying to abrogate the citizens' First Amendment rights.

Congress has much better things to do with their time, so break off this pointless effort.

Link

Another act of obliviousness by humans

Is there no respect for life or have the compassion or will to stop and render aid?

It would seem not the case in Kansas.

LaShanda Calloway was stabbed at a convenience store and lay dying on the floor. It took about two minutes for someone to call 911.

Store surveillance video showed five shoppers entering the store and ignored the woman laying on the floor. Four of them stepped over the room and continued shopping. One had the audacity to take out her cell phone and take a picture of the dying woman and proceeded to continue shopping.

Police spokesman Gordon Bassham: "It was tragic to watch. The fact that people were more interested in taking a picture with a cell phone and shopping for snacks rather than helping this innocent young woman is, frankly, revolting."

The stabbing victim later died at a hospital.

The police so far have refused to release the video, saying it is part of their investigation. I can't wait for it. I think myself and many others want to showcase the video to find out the five people that may have attributed to the victim's death.

According to Kansas state law, there's no applicable legislation that covers this. There is a state statute for failure to render aid for victims of a car accident. Having the compassion and respect to render aid should be an unwritten rule that all of us must have.

Of course it reminds me of the final episode of Jerry Seinfeld when the group ignored the ongoing carjacking and were arrested for violating the Good Samaritan law.

Crazy.

Link

Happy Fourth of July!

Great WowLights animation for the U.S. flag.

Tribute to the American Soldier

Apple iPhone v Nokia N95

iphone.jpg

Link

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Honestly, the Apple iPhone is not really the latest must-have gadget. I can find lots of mobile phones that are selling in Asia and Europe that can outdo Apple's product. Yes, iPhone just stands out, but c'mon, it's like an over-sized Blackberry.

Conan O'Brien - iPhone

Michael Moore Going to Iran.... NOT!

It would seem that writer, producer, and director, Michael Moore, will be going to Iran for the screening of his new production SICKO in the first international documentary film festival held there. It is scheduled for the 15th to the 19th of October in Tehran.

Any chance we can leave him there permanently?

Link

Update 7/3/07

"Sicko" producer Meghan O'Hara gave a statement that Michael Moore's visit to Iran was false. "There is absolutely no truth to the "right wing" promoted rumor that Michael is going to Iran -- none, zero, zip."

Hmm, but would it even be possible to consider that Michael Moore could do such a thing? I mean, I could expect him to show up in Cuba or Venezuela for some film festival just to piss off Bush.

Possible Scam: iphoneunlocking.com

iphoneunlocking.jpg

So if you are one of the few customers that bought an iPhone, you might have heard of iphoneunlocking.com, which "claims" that they can unlock the phone so it can be used on other mobile networks instead of being limited to AT&T (Cingular).

But it's a scam. Right now, they are gathering e-mail addresses so you would get the "notice" when they find a way to unlock the iPhone. There are also reports of the site asking for your iPhone's IMEI number. Do not give this out.

With the IMEI information, they can clone them to other iPhones and use them to free-call for short periods of time. Such an attempt will get your IMEI blacklisted and bricked.

Yes, your mobile phone can be unlocked so it can be used on various providers but there is no official word on the iPhone as of yet.

Do not trust this site. Disable your javascript and try to submit your e-mail address. You will see why it's a fake.

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Here is the Registrant Info of this domain from godaddy.

Registrant:
UniquePhones, Inc.
11th Floor
115 East 57th Street
New York City, New York 10022
United States

Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com) Domain Name: IPHONEUNLOCKING.COM
Created on: 18-Feb-06
Expires on: 18-Feb-08
Last Updated on: 27-Jun-07

Administrative Contact:
Schrader, Jeff
mail@uniquephones.com
UniquePhones, Inc.
11th Floor
115 East 57th Street
New York City, New York 10022
United States
2125316253 Fax --

Technical Contact:
Schrader, Jeff
mail@uniquephones.com
UniquePhones, Inc.
11th Floor
115 East 57th Street
New York City, New York 10022
United States
2125316253 Fax --

Domain servers in listed order:
NS1.MEDIATEMPLE.NET
NS2.MEDIATEMPLE.NET

Those 9/11 Truthsayers: A sighting!

Went to the Sunday matchup between the Yankees and the A's, and saw a bunch of 9/11 Truth folks outside Gate 4 of the stadium. There were two people holding up a banner saying "9/11 was an inside job - www.911truth.org." One or two people were near them holding those circular coasters with the name and web site on them.

Not many takers.

Idiot tries to steal iPhone, but takes reporter's mic

Clearly, an idiot. First, you got people so close by, you got no clean path to run away. Plus you need glasses or better contacts to steal an iPhone.

I wonder how he would be feeling 2 years from now

iPhone_Customer.jpg

So a fellow customer gets one of the first iPhones. I wonder how he would feel after spending $500 on a 4-gig or perhaps $600 for an 8-gig version, then being stuck on the AT&T 2-year plan where the minimum cost is $60 per month.

Then he realises it does not contain all the goodies and AT&T's EDGE network is pretty much slower than 3G, and he won't experience any improvements for at least 2 years.