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

No Skorts?

Consumerist has a copy of Comcast's Call Center Dress Code.

Apparently, you cannot wear skorts.

Also, any company having a dress code policy that is more than one page long shows they spend too much time focusing on unnecessary things.

SF Resolution to Ban Blue Angels Fails

San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly and his peacenik allies have been trying to get rid of anything military in the city. Their latest attempt has been the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels. He has been trying to ban them from performing their aerial acrobatics over the city during Fleet Week.

His arguments have centered on safety, citing a fatal air accident with the Blue Angels in April in a small rural town in South Carolina where eight people on the ground were injured. He believes that having a fighter pilot exhibition over a densely populated area like San Francisco poses an unwarranted risk to life and property.

Unfortunately for him, the Board of Supervisors voted down his resolution yesterday afternoon.

Blue Angels 1, Chris Daly 0

Verizon's FiOS still lags behind

verizon_fios.jpgYou hear it on the radio, you see it on the TV set. Verizon is busy touting their FiOS Internet Service promising speeds from 5 Mbps to 30 Mbps. They are asking you to pay from either $39.99 for the fast package or $179.95 for the fastest package.

If you want tv or phone service too, it's extra.

$179.95 for 30 Mbps?!?!? Answer: It's a ripoff. Optimum Online is also offering 30 Mbps but it would only cost you about $40 to $45 per month.

Still not upset? How about consumerist.com's mention that residents in Hong Kong can get a whopping 100 Mbps fiber-optic connection for only $48.50 per month? Or how about 200 Mbps for $88.20?

Yeah, we are pretty pathetic. Oh, have you took a look at the chart by World Politics Review on average broadband speed by country? We are stuck around 5-6 Mbps. Japan has more than 60 Mbps, Korea has about 45 Mbps.

Yeah, Hong Kong is such a small territory. Korea and Japan are smaller. But they all have advanced infrastructure in place. It kinds makes the U.S. a bit backward. It seems humorous when you have folks saying we got an advanced technological country.

Are we really comparing apples and oranges here? Or is it the fact that our telecommunication and cable providers are just unwilling to expand at such a rate? They are probably intent on letting U.S. consumers advance piecemeal compared to other countries.

But really, how can Verizon stand by and offer 30 Mbps for almost $180 dollars???

Comcast... their max is 10 Mbps and they are charging about $40-50 per month. They also offer Powerboost giving a burst of download speeds up to 20 Mbps. It's funny because in their ads, they compare their own internet high-speed service against Verizon's DSL service, and not FiOS.

Comcast...RIPOFF!!!

Any one got some crazy stories to tell?

The $3 ATM Surcharge Fee

bank_of_america.jpgOn Sept 20, I went to the Bank Of America branch at the corner of Broadway and 53rd Street, and when I put in my local bank branch card, it asked me to pay a $3.00 ATM surcharge.

A few weeks ago, it was $2.00.

Thank you Bank of America.

Then I went searching on the web, it seems Bank of America was quietly rolling out the increase during the months of July and August without any noticeable announcement.

$3.00 is the highest fee ever imposed nationwide by a major bank. Unfortunately to millions of consumers, BofA has the largest ATM network in the USA.

It is only a matter of time before the other banks decide to raise their ATM fees. Currently, Citi, Chase, Wachovia, and Wells Fargo have no immediate plans to raise ATM fees.

So what is BofA's excuse for this?

Bank of America spokeswoman Betty Riess:
The higher fees help offset the "significant investment" the bank has made to upgrade and expand its cash machines. The bank decided to charge non-customers a $3 fee at 10,700 ATMs — nearly two-thirds of its network — in bank branches and supermarkets as a way to "reduce wait time for our own customers," Riess says.

At shopping malls, convenience stores and airports; the withdrawal fee at those machines remains $2.

Here's Bankrate.com Fall 2006 survey of ATM fees

Of course, your own bank charges you a separate fee for using BofA's ATM and any other bank. So your cash transaction would cost you at least $4.00 to $5.50.

USPIRG has a talking points memo dealing with the BofA increase.

Community college instructor fired for saying Adam & Eve was just a fairy tale

The Des Moines Register reports that a community college instructor was fired because he told his students that the biblical story of Adam and Eve should not be taken literally.

The fired instructor was Steve Bitterman who taught Western Civilization at Southwestern Community College.

The school said it was a personnel issue, but would not comment over the Bible claim.

According to Bitterman, he used the Old Testament in his class to interpret it from an academic standpoint. His class was being telecast to students in Osceola over the Iowa Communications Network. A few students thought the lesson was "denigrating their religion."

"I put the Hebrew religion on the same plane as any other religion. Their god wasn't given any more credibility than any other god," Bitterman said. "I told them it was an extremely meaningful story, but you had to see it in a poetic, metaphoric or symbolic sense, that if you took it literally, that you were going to miss a whole lot of meaning there."

Bitterman said he called the story of Adam and Eve a "fairy tale" in a conversation with a student after the class and was told the students had threatened to see an attorney. He declined to identify any of the students in the class.

* * * * *

So after getting a bachelor's and master's degree, how can you still believe that snakes can talk?

It must be magic.

Oh yea, and the earth was created in 6 days. whoopee doo.

Bush asks for $200 billion for the war for 2008

President Bush plans to ask lawmakers next week to approve another spending measure -- totaling nearly $200 billion -- to fund the war through next year.

U.S. war costs have continued to grow because of the additional combat forces sent to Iraq this year and because of efforts to quickly ramp up production of new technology, such as mine-resistant trucks designed to protect troops from roadside bombs. The new trucks can cost three to six times as much as an armored Humvee.

The funding request means that war costs are projected to grow even as the number of deployed combat troops begins a gradual decline starting in December. Spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is to rise from $173 billion this year to about $195 billion in fiscal 2008, which begins Oct. 1.

The new spending request is likely to push the cumulative cost of the war in Iraq alone through 2008 past the $600-billion mark -- more than the Korean War and nearly as much as the Vietnam War, based on estimates by government budget officials.

* * * * *

If Bush feels that continuing the war is important in Iraq, then how about proposing a tax to fund the war? It is so easy for the President because he thinks the federal government can continue to spend and spend without regard to our fiscal responsibility. I am sure they all love deficit spending.

Also, how dare for the Bush administration to not include the $200 billion as part of their annual federal budget? They do not count this line-item as part of their deficit forecast. How convenient!


New York State gives drivers' license to illegals

Update 9/29/07:
This has to be one of my more lively posts so far this year.

The Republicans in the NY State Assembly have issued Gov. Eliot Spitzer an ultimatum: Rescind an executive order that allows illegal aliens to get driver's licenses or face a lawsuit. Spitzer has until Oct. 31 to withdraw his proposal.

The critics contend the measure violates state law and promotes terrorism. Spitzer argued that the new order will lower insurance rates, train better drivers, and boost security by creating records on illegal aliens.

Meanwhile, New York Secretary of State Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez has announced that she fully supports the Governor's order. Funny for the newspaper to say she is latino. Isn't true that the media always emphasize the minority affiliation for any state and local office holder?

Cortes-Vazquez says it's all about fair play and public safety, who spoke to the Latino Democratic Committee of Orange County.

"By licensing individuals, one, we are also making sure that everybody on the road is insured, so that if you are engaged in an accident, you know that somebody is insured; it's a public safety issue. We will save you $120 million a year as a result of just having more people driving who are insured."

It's not just the GOP by the way. The 9/11 Families are against it. The New York Times did a report on New York's DMV offices that are supervised by county clerks and found that more than 80% of them oppose Spitzer's license plan and will RESIST processing applications that don't include proof of legal residence.

Mayor Bloomberg said, "I'm really skeptical that we should be issuing driver's licenses willy-nilly because it then leads to lots of other problems." To which Spitzer responded, "He is wrong at every level - dead wrong, factually wrong, legally wrong, morally wrong, ethically wrong."

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, "I understand the fear of 9/11 and I agree security is essential, but our nation is an immigrant nation ... and to deny law-abiding immigrant New Yorkers licenses ... is to give into that fear."

Chris Bentley, a spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Services, said yesterday that the federal government "would prefer that individuals that don't have status don't have legitimate identification documents. But at the same time, the states have the right to produce those."

New York becomes the 9th state to offer licenses to illegal immigrants: Others are Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

Folks, if you look at the fine print in Spitzer's executive order, he is allowing illegal immigrants that have a valid and verifiable foreign passport to get a driver's license.

Now how many of the 500,000 to 1 million illegal immigrants living in New York have that? Not a huge percentage, I guess.

Proponents believe that it will reduce insurance costs. Yet, insurers will likely charge illegal immigrants more because of their status and risk of accident. For public safety, I do hope that when they go to take their exam and road test, they will do their best to drive safely and be responsible on the road. However, if an illegal carrying a valid license does get into an accident, then the penalties are much more harsher. Then you have to go into the nitty-gritty stuff if the accident was a fender-bender or an accident that has a fatality.

But this victory could be short-lived. It won't help with border crossings because the Dept. of Homeland Security will require federal passports to be used at the beginning of 2008 to travel by land and air. The REAL ID enhanced license program where states can use their license in subsitute of a passport will not help either. Then New York residents, both legal and illegal, won't be allowed to use their driver's license to travel or enter any government building.

Would any one believe that Gov. Spitzer's actions are illegal? Could a governor choose to take such action without approval by the state legislature?

* * * * *

Governor Eliot Spitzer decided to lift the citizenship requirement for driver's licenses because they cannot ignore the illegals.

"We're changing our policy with respect to getting more people out of shadows and into the system so people don't hide they're here," Spitzer said.

He said the current restrictions on non-citizens have filled the roads with unlicensed drivers five times more likely to get into accidents.

Under the new policy, the Department of Motor Vehicles will accept foreign passports and birth certificates from immigrants as proof of identification. They will no longer need to provide a Social Security card.

* * * * *

Does the Governor really think that giving illegals the right to have a NYS driver's license would really help them? They are still more likely to carry a fake or invalid license. They are still more likely to cause a vehicle accident because they do not know the rules of the road. They are still more likely to flee from the scene of an accident.

Why?

Despite Spitzer's reasoning that it would cut down the number of unlicensed drivers, it would actually give law enforcement agents an easier time to check out the driver's record and determine whether the person has the proper documentation to stay in the state and country.

Actually, this new executive order is pretty much short-lived. If the Federal REAL ID Act is not repealed, it would institute a federal standard on drivers' documents nationwide which will require the use of the SSN.

How about auto insurance? Since they are considered high-risk, any insurance company that wants to do business with them would usually charge higher premiums.

So basically, we are still screwed either way.

Editorials
News Blaze - Against
NY Daily News - For
New York Post - Against

Delaware State Shooting

Two students were shot and wounded, one seriously, at Delaware State University today, and the campus was locked down as police searched for a gunman.

Students were instructed to stay in their residence halls until further notice, and nonessential university employees were told not to report to work.

University officials informed students about the shooting with phone calls, a notice posted on the campus Web site and notifications in each dormitory. Holmes said Delaware State had improved the speed of its notifications following the shootings in April at Virginia Tech.

Link

Canadian Dollar Reaches Parity with US Dollar

twenty_canadian_dollar_bills.jpgI could still remember when we drove up to Niagara Falls and the exchange rate was like $1.35-1.40 in favor of the US dollar.

Today, after 31 years, the Canadian dollar reached parity with the greenback. It hit $1.0064 in favor of the Canada dollar, but later fell down to 99.56 U.S. cents.

More canadians are coming across the border to shop in the U.S. because of their stronger currency and that product prices in the U.S. are usually lower than those in Canada.

Link

Credit Card companies revising their late fees structure

It would seem that credit card companies are bent on squeezing out the regular customer every cent they make. Even the most creditworthy customer could be shafted if a late payment is made.

According to Bill Hardekopf of lowcards.com, credit card companies are adding a third-tier for late fees. For example, Chase now charges $15 on balances up to $99.99, $29 on balances between 4100 and $249.99, and $39 on balances over $250.

Remember about the Fed reducing interest rates by 0.5 percent. That is good news for consumers, but the bad news is that the credit card companies are slow to pass the lower rate to them. They would calculate the finance charge on the rate before for the current billing month or possibly the next month, before the new lower APR kicks in.

As for the rest of the credit cards:

Discover: After October 1, the late fee will be $19 on balances up to $250, and $39 on balances over $250.

Bank of America: $15 on balances up to $100, $29 on balances over $100 up to $250, $39 on balances over $250.

AMEX: $19 on balances up to $400, $38 on balances over $400.

Capitol One: $19 on balances up to $100, $29 on balances of $100 up to $1,000, and $39 on balances of $1,000 and over.

Citibank: $15 on balances up to $100, $29 on balances of $100 up to $250, and $39 on balances of $250 and over.

A cash advance? Discover just boosted their cash advance rate from 20.99 to 22.99 percent. Chase charges 28.24 percent on its standard accounts. Household Bank MasterCard has a cash advance rate of 25.15 percent. Blue from AMEX and Sun Trust's Visa charge 23.34 percent.

Remember, there is usually a transaction fee of 3 percent or more on top of that outrageous interest rate.

Also, the worst penalty is the default rate. If you make a late payment on any bill or loan reported to the credit bureaus, you could see your interest rate skyrocket to the default rate — even if you have a perfect payment record with that card.

Fortunately, Citibank announced it was eliminating universal default. Capitol One said it did not have a universial default penalty. Chase charges 32 percent.

Of course it is important to pay on time. But still, some of late fees are outrageous and would be detrimental for consumers caught in some financial strain.

MSNBC - Why are credit card rates still out of control?

http://www.lowcards.com/
http://www.bankrate.com/
http://www.cardweb.com/

The $54 Million Dollars Pants Suit: Where are the Chungs now?

Despite their initial victory in the $54 million pants lawsuit (Pearson is appealing the decision), the Chungs' store, Custom Cleaners, has gone out of business. The emotion and financial burdens took their toll, and the family is down to one store, Happy Cleaners on Seventh Street NW, across from the Washington Convention Center in Shaw.

The Chungs are still bewildered that one vindictive customer could cause so much trouble for their business.

Unfortunately, it's not over yet. Pearson is appealing the verdict, but fortunately, the Chungs' attorney, Christopher Manning, has stated that his firm will handle the appeal without charge.

Washington Post

Iranian President Ahmadinejad plans to visit Ground Zero despite NYPD rejection

WABC is reporting that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad intends to visit Ground Zero on Monday at 10AM despite NYPD's rejection of his request to visit the site.

Iran's president and his entourage will be accompanied by a Secret Service protective detail, a detail provided to all heads of state when they visit the U.S.

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani released the following statement on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

"Under no circumstances should the NYPD or any other American authority assist President Ahmadinejad in visiting Ground Zero. This is a man who has made threats against America and Israel, is harboring bin Laden's son and other al-Qaeda leaders, is shipping arms to Iraqi insurgents and is pursuing the development of nuclear weapons. Assisting Ahmadinejad in touring Ground Zero - hallowed ground for all Americans - is outrageous."

Senator Hillary Clinton released the following statement:

"It is unacceptable for Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who refuses to renounce and end his own country's support of terrorism, to visit the site of the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil in our nation's history."

The 9/11 Families: Shove your wreath, Ahamdinejad!

University of Florida student, Andrew Meyer, got tasered at Kerry forum


Update 9/19: Times Online UK newspaper gives a great title. Andrew Meyer, the student who begged: 'Don't Tase me bro!', becomes internet star (yuck!)

Mr Kerry has criticised the arrest of Mr Meyer, suggesting that he could have dealt with the heckler himself.

"In 37 years of public appearances, through wars, protests and highly emotional events, I have never had a dialogue end this way. I believe I could have handled the situation without interruption,” he said.

Did anyone trademark 'Don't Tase me, bro'? I rather want to introduce a new slogan 'Tase me, make me famous' t-shirt.

Andrew Meyer is an idiot, plain and simple. A practical jokster and intent to cause undue publicity just to get his name and face in the paper. Sure, he had the right to question Kerry, but his behavior and attitude were despicable. How can we have civil discourse if Meyer was on a rant?

* * * * *

A protest march, a sit-in, meetings with University leaders...

We all seen the videos. Andrew Meyer, a UF telecommunication senior, was shot with a Taser gun at Sen. John Kerry's forum on the UF campus Monday after he tried to get out of the grips of UF police officers, who were attempting to escort him from the auditorium. When he continued to resist, one of the campus officers used his taser.

At first, it seemed that Andrew Meyer was trying to ask the Senator a question during a Q&A period following Kerry's speech.

It seems that there is more than meets the eye concerning Andrew Meyer. Most of the videos showing the arrest and tasering of Meyer do not show the whole incident which started well before it.

Here are two eyewitness reports:

UF law school student, Justin J. Klatsky

“As much as I concur that this was excessive force, let me remind you what led to this:

Andrew spoke up after the Dean of International Affairs had stated final question. The final question was being asked about Israel, and then Andrew got on the mic on the other side of the room (noting he was next on the mic), and then proceeded to tell Kerry that its not fair not to be able to ask more questions after listening to him for an hour, and the Dean exclusively asking Kerry questions for another 45 minutes, leaving students 25 minutes to ask questions. At that point, the officers try to subdue him, but Kerry sternly told the police officers to back down. Kerry then asked Meyer if he can finish the other question and then proceed to his. Meyer consented. After the last question was answered, Kerry asked Meyer, what is your question. Then you enter the video that has been circulating around, where he asks his question, not before Accent Speaker’s Bureau president, Stephen Blank (in some videos, front row left side of right aisle), signals the AV guys to cut Meyer off. Meyer then was confused what happened, and then was dragged up the auditorium. Meyer kept screaming why is he being arrested. The other videos do not show that Meyer was handcuffed, before he was tasered. I sat in the back row, with this occuring less than 5 feet from me."

UF student Tyler Antar

So I went to the John Kerry town hall forum this morning trying to get students registered to vote. I run a student government organization called Chomp the Vote. Anyway I went inside to watch the event. Senator Kerry took the podium and began delivering a speech about the Middle East, Iraq, dimplomacy, etc. Anyway, after he was done, a university ambassador asked Kerry a few premade questions. Once that was over, Senator Kerry announced he would take questions from the students. There were two microphones placed on each side of the aisle. One on my side and the other on Andrew Meyer’s side. Senator Kerry began answering the student’s questions from each aisle. Eventually it was announced that there would only be a few more questions answered. Since Meyer and I were both in the back of each line, it did not seem likely that our questions would be answered.

However, while Senator Kerry was responding to a student’s question, all of a sudden Meyer rushed to the microphone with cops in pursuit. At that point no one knew what was going on. Could he have a gun, a bomb? Immediately, Meyer began yelling into the microphone that he had been waiting in line forever and that Senator Kerry should “spend time to answer everyone’s questions!” Senator Kerry tried to calm the student down by telling him that he would “stay here as long as it takes to get the questions answered.” The police approached Meyer who began taunting them by saying “what! are you going to taser me? are you going to arrest me?!” The police grabbed Meyer, but Senator Kerry asked the
police to let him go and that he would answer his question. Senator Kerry finished answering the other student’s question and then proceeded with Meyer. (*This entire scene is not in any video I can find so far. This is why 2 cops are seen right behind Meyer at the start of some videos*).

Meyer approached the microphone and began to talk about a book he had which stated that Kerry won the 2004 election because of disenfranchisement of black voters and faulty voter machines that produced “Bush” as the winner. He then posed another question about why President Bush had not been impeached. “President Clinton was impeached because of a blowjob, why not Bush?”. The third and strangest question he posed to Senator Kerry was asking him if he was part of the skull and bones society with Bush at
Yale. Meyer’s mic cut off after that, probably because he had mentioned the word “blowjob”. The cops grabbed him, but Meyer was able to get away several times. Eventually more cops were brought in to help subdue Meyer. Meyer continued to resist arrest, scream, curse; however he was enventually subdued by about six cops up around the entrance. As he is on the ground, he is told several times to put his hands around his back. He is also warned that he will be tasered if he does not comply. Eventually he is tasered twice. The video does not show whether he complied or not.

Senator Kerry was trying to answer his question to the audience, mostly the one about faulty voter machines. I am a die hard conservative Republican but I do respect Senator Kerry for trying to soothe the situation as best he could and trying not to escalate the situation. He DID intervene by letting the student at least present his question. I never received an opportunity to ask my question, but when Senator Kerry ended the show after the Meyer incident, he did come off stage to shake hands and give autographs. At that point, I was able to ask him my question, shake his hand, and get a autograph at the same time. Now why couldn’t Andrew Meyer do that?

I don’t know if this is relevant or not, but Andrew Meyer is a former sports writer for the school newspaper The Alligator. In his columns, he has been known to make ridiculous statements in order to gain attention for himself. Was today a publicity stunt?

The video above started when they cut off his microphone.

Another angle, longer video.

This link points to NBC Channel 6 video that shows more before the officers moved in.

Now it would seem that he wanted to get arrested. He wanted the campus police to move in because he was acting in a provocative manner. The officers tried to escort him, and he reacted violently.

According to students and his previous writings, it would seem he loves getting attention for his rants and sometimes unreasonable statements. If you check his web site, he is already milking his 15 minutes worth of fame.

Also, in the police incident report, the officer who actually tasered Andrew Meyer wrote in the report that Meyer later told police, “You didn’t do anything wrong.” In the 12-page report, which gives accounts of the incident from the perspective of eight different officers who were present Monday afternoon, Officer Nicole Mallo writes that Meyer would only resist officers when cameras were present. “As (Meyer) was escorted down stairs (at the University Auditorium) with no cameras in sight, he remained quiet, but once the cameras made their way down stairs he started screaming and yelling again,” Mallo wrote.

Here is a web site with old columns written by Andrew Meyer. It would seem he is in constant need of attention.

Of course, using the taser was not necessary. I really think the 4-5 campus officers can drag him out of the auditorium.

Other accounts showed that Meyer was clearly agitated when Kerry ended the Q&A period. There was approximately 20 people in line for the microphone including Meyer. Kerry answered 8 questions. After that, the rest of the people in line for the microphone went back to their seats, except for Meyer, who forced himself on the microphone and demanded Kerry to let him give his question.

As for freedom of speech, it was clear he wanted to question Kerry all by himself. He was making his rant, and even failed to let Kerry answer his questions, but then he kept on going. It would seem he just wanted the microphone to voice his theories and stories. He did want Kerry to answer, he wanted him and the rest of the audience to listen to him.

Whoever made the call to turn off the microphone realized Meyer was just not going to stop talking.

Didn't he have someone there with a video camera to film him questioning Kerry? It would seem he had a plan to let this whole thing happened. Clarissa Jessup, who was standing near Andrew Meyer, told police that he asked her to film him asking Kerry a question just before he approached the microphone.

Oh, by the way, here's his mugshot:

meyermug.jpg

Here's a more detailed police report

He has been detained for inciting a riot and disrupting a school function at the University Auditorium.

As for his rallying cry "Don't Tase Me bro" - how about "Tase me, make me famous!"

Star Banner - Tasering spurs protest march, sit-in

Colbert mentions about the tasering on The Word segment


Friviolous Lawsuits

Here are some examples of lawyers gone "greedy:"

  • Jin and Soo Chung, owners of Custom Cleaners in Washington, DC, were sued by Roy Pearson, a lawyer and sitting judge, for $67 million (later reduced to $54 million) over a pair of allegedly lost pants. These small business owners had to close one of their three stores as a result of their two-plus years of battle. They won the case; Pearson is appealing.
  • A man in West Virginia is suing McDonald's for $10 million over a drive-thru order mistake. He's allergic to cheese and mistakenly got a cheeseburger. He didn't bother to check the burger before he bit into it. His mother is also suing for reckless endangerment for having to drive him to the hospital.
  • A woman in Michigan is suing the makers of Starburst candies because they don't warn consumers about the dangers of the candies being "too chewy." Her lawyer just wants to make sure others avoid this danger.
  • A New Jersey man is suing Starbucks because his tea was too hot and the Starbucks employee didn't put the lid on right. His wife is also suing for losses due to his injury.
  • Three Kentucky lawyers were ordered to repay $64 million they kept from their 440 clients in a diet drug class action case. Two of the lawyers took some of the money and bought a stake in Curlin, the Kentucky Derby race horse and winner of the Preakness. They continue to seek delays in the case. This month the judge threw them in jail until the trial in January, saying: "In my opinion, not only these three gentlemen are on trial, the whole legal profession is on trial in this case."
  • Wealthy plaintiffs' attorney John O'Quinn of Texas was ordered to repay nearly $36 million to a group of 3,000 women he had represented in a breast implant case nearly eight years ago. Many of the women reportedly have seen little or none of the average $12,000 per woman settlement.

    As for Roy Pearson, he continues to pursue his insane lawsuit against the Chungs. In mid-August, he filed an appeal against Judge Judith Bartnoff's decision. The appeals process will take about 3-4 months. There is a chance the D.C. Court of Appeals will affirm Bartnoff's ruling, but if not, then it will be another 12 to 18 months before this case is decided.

    Jin and Soo Chung, owners of Custom Cleaners, "continue to be baffled by Mr. Pearson's actions," says their lawyer, Christopher C.S. Manning. They had dropped their motion to recover legal fees as an "olive branch" in the hopes of ending what they have called "a nightmare." Manning says they are very "disheartened" by the process and are even considering closing their business "just to be rid of the memory of this case." Manning said that with his appeal, Pearson has chosen "desperate irrationality over common sense."

    Pearson continues to say that he is fighting for all consumers, but it would seem that very few people believe that excuse. Since he wants to continue this stupid lawsuit, the commission that oversees administrative law judges in D.C. has sent him a letter expressing doubts about reappointment. His original 2-year term expired in April. You can bet he will lodge a lawsuit against the commission for not letting him stay as a D.C. judge.

    He is making a mockery of the judicial process. He is hurting the reputation of all D.C. administrative judges. I hope the appeals court will end this madness and affirm the initial ruling. Then I hope the Commission boot his ass out of another judgeship. He does not deserve it.

    Alan Greenspan criticizes Bush's Overspending

    It took Bush 7 years to finally put his foot down, and tell Congress to stop overspending.

    "The Republicans in Congress lost their way," Greenspan wrote. "They swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose."

    Greenspan, 81, ran the Fed for 18 1/2 years and was the second-longest serving chief. He served under four presidents, starting with his initial nomination by Ronald Reagan.

    The ex-Fed chief writes that he regrets the loss of fiscal discipline under Bush.

    "`Deficits don't matter,' to my chagrin, became part of Republicans' rhetoric."

    As such, Bush's administration defended their tax cuts, but how can they justify with so much government overspending?

    Waiting for his book...

    Link

    Taiwanese march for UN bid

    taiwan_march_un.jpg

    At least 100,000 people have marched in Taiwan in support of a government plan to hold a referendum on joining the UN under the name Taiwan.

    With China holding veto (as with the rest of the permanent members on the UN Security Council), Taiwan's bid will fail this year.

    The march was in the city of Kaohsiung, the powerbase for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). While some feel the government is causing unnecessary problems with China, at least the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party favours a referendum, but the argument they have is that want the country listed as Republic of China, not Taiwan.

    As such, both China and the US are against Taiwan holding a public referendum.

    The Taiwanese government plans to time the referendum with their presidential elections next March.

    I would expect a high level of alert in China, US, Taiwan, and Japan during that month.

    BBC News

    MLS: One step to becoming a football team, get an official song

    Now work on some chants, funny songs, praises on your players, and stop doing the wave.

    Pro / Anti-War groups converge in Washington DC

    The ANSWER coalition are getting together about 10AM Saturday along the north side of the White House, in Lafayette Square. Their rally will be from noon to 1:30PM. Demonstrators will march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, where the die-in ist to take place.

    The Gathering of Eagles and the DC chapter of the conservative group Free Republic plan to rally at 9:30AM on the Mall at Seventh Street NW and later line Pennsylvania Avenue NW between Seventh and 10th streets.

    It's going to be quite a party there tomorrow.

    Ron Paul speaks at USC

    ron_paul.jpgYesterday, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul addressed a crowd of students and supporters in front of the Tommy Trojan. The event was sponsored by the university's Program Board, and attracted students and adults from throughout the Los Angeles area. (attendance was 700-900 according to campus police)

    "He is a libertarian who has found his place in the Republican Party," said Jeffrey Hubbard, organizer of the event and a senior majoring political science and philosophy. "He is trying to bring the party back to a purer form of Republicanism."

    Hubbard said his support for Paul draws from a lack of faith in the current Republican administration.

    "I voted for Bush in 2004, but now feel betrayed by him. I understood Afghanistan, and was still under the rah-rah-rah when Iraq started," Hubbard said. "A lot of people are sharing this feeling."

    "The first time I saw Ron Paul was on a YouTube video," said Leslie Mood, a senior majoring in business administration. "I was an Independent, but I switched to the Republican Party to vote in this primary."

    Daily Trojan Article

    By the way, Ron Paul sells out three fundraisers while in LA. The one in Pasadena at the Ritz Carlton was $500 per person. The fundraising reception on campus was $500 per person. The third was a fundraising dinner at the home of Bill Johnson. That was $2,000 per person.

    The Freedom Index runs a congressional scorecard based on the U.S. constitution. The average House score is 40%. Ron Paul scores 100%.

    * * * * *

    Actually, I never heard of Ron Paul until I checked YouTube and found a video of Rudy Giuliani chastising Paul about the US being at fault for causing 9/11. After hearing what Ron Paul said before and Rudy's response, I realised Paul was clearly right, and Rudy used 9/11 to confuse the audience.

    Save a woman from a carjacking, get fired

    Remember the advertisements about doing a good deed on 9/11. Well, it seemed Juan Canales was in the right place at the right time to save a woman from a carjacker in the parking lot outside the Fort Lauderdale restaurant where he worked as a waiter.

    Canales tackled the culprit and kept the man pinned down until police arrived on the scene. He was then questioned by police and reporters.

    Unfortunately, when he returned back to the restaurant, the manager fired him on the spot, much to the dismay of his co-workers and restaurant goers.

    "He told me you're dismissed, you're fired," Canales said. "And I looked him and I said, 'Are you serious?' (He said) go get out of here, you're fired."

    "Did he give you a specific reason why?" the reporter asked.

    "No, he did not," Canales said.

    According to reports, the manager of the 84 Thai Food restaurant did not like the attention the rescue was bringing to his establishment. He even stated that Canales was not a good employee.

    But because of his good deed, he got job offers from area business owners including two electrical companies and a roofing firm. Even the manager of the Thai restaurant apologized and wanted to give his old job back.

    84 Thai Food Manager Sathaporn Yosagrai said "I feel sorry about all of this."

    However, Canales has no plans to return to his former workplace, "He hurt me too much."

    * * * * *

    Is there some sort of fear about helping others in need? Somehow I was thinking the manager thought that by stopping the carjacking, his restaurant will get all the attention, and someone out there may want to carry out a crime against his place. It's kinda stupid.

    Even if the waiter was not a very good worker, it's seriously a bad time to fire him right after he saved a woman's life. Talk about really bad publicity.

    Link 1
    Link 2

    Vietnam Veterans Memorial Vandalised?

    Update 9/18/07:
    U.S. Park Police has concluded that the oily substance found splashed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was the result of vandalism. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.

    Since Monday, there are still dark blotches along a stone curb at the base of the wall for much of its length. At least 14 of its 140 inscribed panels appeared to be stained. Park Service and preservation crews expect it would take a week or more to remove the stains.

    Update: Pictures posed by free republic

    (rephrase)
    So who is getting desperate, or perhaps some really stupid people doing a really dumb thing? Were the anti-war groups responsible? Anarchist groups being anti-American as usual? Peaceniks who hate the military? Or maybe it was all just your everyday vandal?

    Are the anti-war, nah, anti-American, nah, cowardly person? anti-military? teen vandalism? ... groups getting desperate?

    Or an "accident?"

    The National Park Service is investigating an oily substance that was found along the paving stones and the bottom of some of the panels. The material was reported to US Park Police on Friday evening.

    Cleaning crews over the weekend worked to remove the substance and are currently trying to analyze what it is. Initial conclusions believe it was an oil/petroleum-based substance. Seems that some of the soldiers' names have been corroded by the mixture.

    The black granite wall, dedicated in 1982, bears the names of more than 58,000 men and women who were killed or went missing during the Vietnam War.

    Link

    As of 9/14, they still do not know who did it. Of course, the blogosphere are speculating who could be the villians.

    No mention of the defacing on some of the anti-war sites. Ominiously, ANSWER has a section where there is Veterans for Peace E-Bulletin from Adam Kokesh, saying "Protesting is not enough. Come for the rally, stay for a week of direct action." Now, no direct link from this to the memorial, but separately, it sounds that he wants more than a non-violent demonstration.

    High School Bans American Flag

    Yesterday, on 9/11, the mailroom staff in our company distributed American flags to everyone. Was this offensive to other nationalities? We all knew what happened on that horrible day and we are just showing the spirit and pride of being great citizens of this country.

    So are the actions by this high school unreasonable or justified? The story tells of Hobbton High School in North Carolina implementing a new school rule where students are not allowed to wear items with flags from any country, including the United States. This rule was brought about when there were complaints about students wearing shirts bearing flags of other countries.

    Now, the reason why it became news was 9/11. Apparently, some students wanted to wear the American flag to show their spirit on that day, but educators did not let them. They were afraid of being forced to pick and choose which flags should be permissible.

    * * * * *

    People ought to stop complaining about students wearing this flag or that. If a student feels uncomfortable with other students wearing the American flag, then I think we need to find out why. It would seem ridculous for the high school to adopt this policy especially during the Fourth of July or Memorial Day. How can you stop people from expressing their patriotism?

    Possibly one of the worst credit cards to have

    Check it out

    The best part is you get an initial $300 credit line, but there are certain initiation fees that must be paid: $99 for account processing, $89 for program participation, $10 monthly maintenance fee, and $49 for the annual fee. That leaves $53 as available credit.

    Ron Paul got Bill Maher's Support

    John Fout, Street.com's Political Correspondent defends Ron Paul from Mikc Huckabee's cheap shots (9/7/07)

    US soccer commentary baffles Brits

    American commentators are baffling Brits tuning in to watch coverage of David Beckham's exploits with LA Galaxy.

    Pundits across the pond are using a series of comical phrases and puzzling statements to call the action in Major League Soccer matches.

    The Sun has compiled a list of the confusing terms that have aired on American TV so far, along with our own interpretation of what the commentators really mean, to give you the lowdown.

    * * * * *

    BULLDOGGING: When a player shows determination to win the ball back.

    CHICKEN WING BATTLE: A tussle between players, during which they use their arms and elbows to fight for the ball.

    FINAL SIGNAL: The final whistle.

    IN THE WHEELHOUSE: Within easy reach of the goalkeeper.

    KNOCK LIKE A BEAR KISS: A tackle that is more clumsy than dangerous, but appears to be worse than it actually is.

    MATCH UPS: Man marking.

    MIDFIELD STRIPE: The halfway line.

    ON FRAME: A shot on target.

    ON THE DOORSTEP: In front of the goal.

    REAL ESTATE: Used to describe the space or lack of space in the penalty area.

    ON THE DIAGONAL SURFACE: A cross-field pass — expect to hear this a lot when Becks is playing.

    SLOW ROLLER: A weak shot at goal.

    SOME WHEELS: A quick turn of pace.

    SOUTHPAW: A left-footed player.

    STUTTER STEP: A Cristiano Ronaldo style step-over.

    TAKEAWAY: An interception or tackle after which the player comes away with the ball.

    UPLOAD: To kick the ball with full power.

    Link

    Ron Paul and Bill O'Reilly go at it each other

    9/11/01: Sixth Anniversary

    9-11_firemans_flag_full.jpg

    new_york_times_9-11.jpg

    child_illustrate_flag.jpg

    9-11_Statue_of_Liberty_and_WTC_fire.jpg

    Again, we remember the victims that perished in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Almost 3,000 people died on that day.

    It is still something you can never forget.

    I saw the ending of the second plane explosion from the Hoboken pier. I watched both towers fall from the waterfront in Jersey City.

    Always remember 9/11.

    Moment of Silence:

    8:46:30 - first plane hits North Tower
    9:02:59 - second plane hits South Tower
    9:37:46 - third plane hits Pentagon
    9:59:00 - South Tower collapses
    10:03:11 - fourth plane crashes near Shanksville, PA
    10:28:00 - North Tower collapses

    9/11 truthers believe the B-52 incident is a conspiracy

    Conspiracy theorists believe that the B-52 incident was a bungled attempt by Vice President Cheney to nuke Iran.

    Basically, a B-52 bomber was mistakenly loaded with five nuclear advanced cruise missiles (ACMs) and was flown from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., on Aug 30, resulting in an Air Force investigation. The B-52 was loaded with the ACMs, as part of a Defense Department effort to decommission 400 of these missiles.

    The Advanced Cruise Missile carries a W80-1 warhead with an estimated yield of 5 to 150 kilotons.

    While it is true that the weapons were under Air Force supervision and control at all times, the problem was that the warheads should have never left Minot AFB. Thus, it was unaccounted for approx 3 1/2 hours.

    * * * * *

    The crazy folks think that the plane was part of a covert mission to Iran since Barksdale AFB is the staging area for deployment to the Middle East. Also, the Pentagon recently drew up plans for a multi-prong assault against Iran. They believe that some disgrunted members of the military chose to alert the public fearing that the warheads would be used as a pre-emptive nuclear strike against Iran.

    The 9/11 truthers applaud the discovery... "the world has been spared a devastating nuclear war by courageous American airmen who revealed the true contents of an otherwise routine B-52 landing at Barksdale AFB headed for a covert nuclear mission to the Middle East."

    It could all be just an innocent mistake.

    In fact, even if nuclear weapons were to be used against Iran, it would require nuclear bunker bombs in order to destroy their hardened nuclear facilities and underground. The ACM missiles are probably not designed for that. Hard to confirm, but at least think about it.

    MoveOn launches betrayal ad for General Petraeus

    MoveOn_GeneralPetraeus.jpgMoveOn.org is definitely anti-military regardless of their so-called patriotism. As such, it chooses to stab General David Petraeus in the back with this negative ad. As the General gives his Iraq Report to Congress, MoveOn.org ran this ad as a full-page advertisement in the New York Times under the headline: "General Petraeus or General Betray Us? Cooking the books for the White House."

    General Petraeus has served this country for over 35 years with honor, distinction, and integrity. He is regarded as a respected, resolute, and responsible leader. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate (81-0).

    This clearly shows MoveOn.org's lack of respect for the military regardless of their repeated "patriotic" statements. If the general was indeed "cooking the books," then it is not only the general, but the entire military chain of command in Baghdad, and all the staff, military and civilian are complicit. In the eyes of the anti-war group, all of them are betraying us, therefore they are traitors. Therefore, MoveOn.org is essentially telling us that the U.S. military is the enemy and is in league with the evil Bush administration.

    Besides, the latest NY Times/CBS News poll shows that 68% of Americans trust U.S. military commanders to bring the war in Iraq to an end. It was 21% for Congress, and 5% for the administration.

    Presented with three possible plans, the poll found that Americans favored a measured approach, with 56 percent supporting reducing troops in Iraq, but leaving some in place to train Iraqi forces, fight terrorists and protect American diplomats.

    Twenty-two percent favored a complete withdrawal in the next year, and 20 percent favored keeping the same number of troops “until there is a stable democracy in Iraq.”

    Is MoveOn.org just desperate?

    Link 1

    Link 2

    * * * * *

    Woohoo! Cindy Sheehan gets arrested again.

    Forbes predicts Clinton, Giuliani, and Bloomberg matchup

    US publisher Steve Forbes predicted that Democrat Hillary Clinton will be one of three candidates vying to be the next US president.

    Her rivals would be New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and his predecessor Rudolph Giuliani.

    * * * * *

    It would seem that could be a remake of the 1992 election with George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton, and Ross Perot.

    It is pretty likely that Bloomberg could siphon off discouraged Republicans from Giuliani as well as independents, and moderate Democrats. With the Republican base disillusioned, it would mean that Clinton would win the election.

    However, Bloomberg still denies he is planning to enter the race. That could leave Ralph Nader, who would likely represent the Green Party, and maybe Ron Paul for the Libertarian Party, though he has said he won't run if he does not win the Republican nomination.

    I would still like Nader and Paul run, just to tighten the election between Clinton and Giuliani. Still, who knows if it would be Obama versus Giuliani or Edwards, or perhaps Richardson.

    I still laugh at the College Democrat who was on CNN, and when asked who was the best democratic candidate, she replied "Just any Democrat." At least find the "best" candidate that can do the job. Would she prefer Kucinich over Edwards, or over Clinton? Make a choice! Can that girl make a decision for herself?

    For Chris Lawton, here's the embed for Ron Paul:

    PETA's theory on global warming, it's the meat!

    Has someone over there at PETA headquarters been smoking up? It would seem that the animal rights group and others believe that meat is causing global warming.

    al_gore_chicken.jpgYes, that's right. By using United Nations research showing the meat industry is worse for the environment than driving and flying, they are organising a campaign against Mr. Environmentalist, former American Vice-President Al Gore.

    When he delivers a lecture on global warming in Denver next month, protestors will display billboards showing a cartoom image of Mr. Gore eating a drumstick and the message: "Too chicken to go vegetarian? Meat is the No 1 cause of global warming."

    PETA spokesperson Matt Prescott:
    "For Al Gore, the fact that his diet is a leading contributor to global warming is a highly inconvenient truth - pun intended."

    These groups are unhappy because Al did not highlight the impact of meat-eating in his movie, An Inconvenient Truth.

    The recent UN Food and Agriculture Organisation research report showed that animal agriculture generates 18 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions - more than the 13.5 per cent produced by all forms of transport combined.

    * * * * * * * * * *

    First, they want less driving, so we try to buy better fuel-efficient vehicles and use mass transit. Second, they want less flying. I doubt you can really do anything unless there are new aircraft that are more efficient, faster, and produce less pollution. Plus how can you compare with flying to London from New York in about 6-7 hours versus several days by cruise ship? Now, they want us to go veggie.

    If this keeps up, we'll get animal protestors going nuts outside of major steakhouse chains and eateries. Of course, it would be fun to watch cooks and owners use their kitchen cultery to chase them away.

    What else can we do? Resort to cannibalism? Any PETA members available? Kidding!! I kid, I kid!


    Taiwan - Why do we continue to ignore it?

    taiwan_flag.gifEvery year, Taiwan and its diplomatic allies, now numbering 24 countries, have tried to secure a bid for a seat in the United Nations. Every year, China vetoes it, and the world body moves on.

    Taiwan's African allies issued a declaration of support (Swaziland, Burkina Faso, Sao Tome and Principe, Malawi, and Gambia):
    "As a sovereign country, Taiwan should not be deprived of its right to participate in the United Nations, the World Health Organisation, and other international organisations."

    Setting aside politics and all, does Taiwan count itself as a sovereign country? There are eight different criteria used to determine whether this is so.

    1) Has space or territory that has internationally recognised boundaries
    Somewhat. Due to China pressure, the US and most other nations recognise one China and thus included the boundaries of Taiwan as being part of the boundaries of China.

    2) Has people who live there on an ongoing basis
    Taiwan is home to almost 23 million people.

    3) Has economic activity and an organised economy. A country regulates foreign and domestic trade and issues money.
    Taiwan is one of the four economic tigers of Southeast Asia. Its GDP is in the top 30 of the world. It has its own currency, the new Taiwan dollar.

    4) Has the power of social engineering, such as education.
    Education is compulsory and Taiwan has more than 150 institutions of higher learning.

    5) Has a transportation system for moving goods and people.
    Taiwan has an extensive internal and external transportation network that consists of roads, highways, pipelines, airports, and sea ports.

    6) Has a government that provides public services and police power.
    Taiwan has multiple branches of military -- Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Armed Forces Reserve, Combined Service Forces, and Armed Forces Police. It has almost 400,000 active duty members and the country spends 15-16% of its budget on defense.

    7) Has sovereignty. No other State should have power over the country's territory.
    Mostly. Taiwan has maintained its own control over the island from Taipei since 1949.

    8) Has external recognition. A country has been "voted into the club" by other countries.
    Somewhat. Due to China pressure, it is not a member of the UN. Only 24 countries recognise Taiwan as an independent country. Taiwan does not have an official embassy in the US. However, many countries have set up unofficial organisations to carry out commercial and other relations with it. Taiwan is represented in 122 countries unofficially. For the US, it is through the American Institute in Taiwan, and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in DC.

    Taiwan issues globally recognised passports that allow its citizens to travel internationally. It is also a member of the International Olympic Committee and they do send their own team to the Olympic Games.

    For the eight criteria, Taiwan meets five of them fully. The other three are in dispute due to China's stance on the issue. But regardless, it should be considered a de facto independent country of the world.

    Yet, the United States does not want Taiwan to be independent. Recently, Presidents George W. Bush and Hu Jintao warned Taipei that its proposed vote on whether to apply for United Nations membership under the name "Taiwan" was provocative and could propel the region into a "possibly dangerous period." Both of them were attending the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum summit in Sydney, Australia.

    Bush, whose country has for decades supplied Taiwan with weaponry to defend itself from any possible attack from China, told Hu he too is worried about the move.

    Worried? Bush was pressing for Kosovo independence as well as regime change in Iraq and Iran. But he's willing to back down over Taiwan just to keep China placated.

    "Republic of" Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian responded back:
    "Due to China's ruthless boycott and suppression, Taiwan cannot become a member of the UN. The People's Republic of China does not represent the 23 million Taiwanese people who deserve proper representation at the UN, who deserve to apply for membership with equal status."

    * * * * *

    It is strange that we ignore Taiwan's democratic freedoms. They hold multi-party elections versus China's one-party system. They have freedom of religion, the press, the right to assemble, and so on. More people in Taiwan considered themselves to be "Taiwanese" not Chinese.

    We should not ignore the fact there are more than 700 missile batteries stationed along the China coastline opposite of Taiwan.

    Taiwan is a vigorous democracy. We send troops to Afghanistan and Iraq to implant democracy in those countries. Clearly, we should not shun emerging democracies such as Taiwan because China claims them.

    China's suggestion of a "one country, two systems" will not work with Taiwan. Macau and Hong Kong were not independent states but were terrtories administered by Portgual and United Kingdom respectively. Deng Xiaoping had suggested that Taiwan be allowed to keep its own military, but the current leadership and the PLA could be quite opposed to that idea. Polls in Taiwan show approx 80% percent against China's idea.

    Eventually, the Taiwan question must be answered. Will China use military force against the democratic island if it declares independence? It has been suggested that failure to do will result in a military coup in China by aggressive leaders who do not want to lose face. In fact, some may believe that China is willing to give up the 2008 Olympics and pretty much everything else to put Taiwan under Chinese control.

    Is the US obligated to come to Taiwan's defense? No, not really. There is no mutual defense treaty in place. The Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 calls upon the US to supply Taiwan with military arms and equipment to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability. The US may choose to intervene militarily if it believes that military action against Taiwan violates the political, security, and economic interests of the United States.

    But if war does break out, will the US step in? Will it back its words with action? President Bill Clinton did it in 1996, when he sent two aircraft carriers into the Taiwan Strait in reaction to China's firing missiles near the island.

    Some Chinese may feel that the US is casualty averse and would back down from a fight over a distant island -- especially a fight against another nuclear-armed state. They also believe that the Taiwan Relations Act can give the US an excuse not to get involved if it were argued that Taiwan's declaration of independence is considered to be an act of provocation against China. Third, China's economic influence with much of the Asia-Pacific region and Europe could result in the US being isolated in any future conflict.

    US forces in Japan are the closest military assets to Taiwan, but would Japan allow any military action? China could threaten to bomb Japanese sea ports and bases, thereby escalating the military conflict in the region. Same with South Korea. US could be limited to staging in Australia and its own territory in Guam. The military stakes can be quite high, and trying to carry out a limited war could prove very difficult.

    It is with hope that war will not happen over Taiwan. Since the Chinese and Taiwanese are patient, this thing could last into the next several years or decades. Perhaps by that time, China would develop into a democratic country? Or maybe there would be real UN reform and the idea of permanent members be able to veto new applicants ought to be eliminated. Who knows...

    Thrown off plane for sexy outfit

    southwestairlines.jpgIt seems you can get thrown off an airplane for anything. Kyla Ebbert found that out when a Southwest Airlines employee told her she was too bare for the air. The picture showed is what she wore on the TODAY show. It consisted of a snug-fitting white top with a scoop neck that stopped just short of showing cleavage.

    Over the shirt was a green sweater that buttoned underneath her bosom. It was finished with high-heeled sandals and a white denim mini-skirt with a fashionably frayed hem.

    So basically a Southwest employee identified only as "Keith," who approached Ebbert after she had taken her seat on the plane and was listening to the flight attendants go through their pre-departure routine.

    He asked her to step off of the plane and when they were in the jetway, he told her that her clothing was inappropriate and asked her to change her clothes.

    Apparently, he said "I'm sorry, but you're going to have to take a later flight. You're dressed inappropriately. This is a family airline. You're dressed too provocative to fly on this flight."

    A compromise was finally reached when Ebbert promised to pull up her top, which wasn't showing cleavage to begin with, and pull down her tiny skirt.

    The San Diego Union-Tribune called Southwest Airlines and asked if the airline had a dress code. Could, for example, a woman board wearing a bikini top?

    The newspaper on Tuesday quoted the Southwest agent it spoke with as saying, “We don't have a problem with it if she's covered up in all the right spots. We don't have a dress code.”

    Statement from Southwest Airlines:
    "Southwest Airlines was responding to a concern about Ms. Ebbert's revealing attire on the flight that day. As a compromise, we asked her to adjust her clothing to be less revealing, she complied, and she traveled as scheduled. When a concern is brought to our Employees' attention, we address that situation directly with the Customer(s) involved in a discreet and professional manner. Fortunately, as an airline that carries approximately 96 million Customers a year, these situations are extremely rare."

    Ok, that's fine, but it seemed a double standard when Ebbert wore the same outfit on a return flight, and one of the female flight attendants complimented her attire.

    Kyla_Ebbert.jpg

    I find it kind of ridiculous about Southwest's policy saying it could remove any passenger “whose clothing is lewd, obscene or patently offensive” to ensure the comfort of children and “adults with heightened sensitivities.” That could depend on the flight attendant in charge or the pilot or whatever airline staff is there.

    We obviously know what attire could be quite offensive, but how can you handle political, religious, humor, or whatever clothing? How can you define sexy vs provocative? Do we really need the fashion police?

    Link 1

    Link 2

    Update 9/18/07:
    It turns out Southwest sent out an apology to Kyla Ebbert, but not quite sincerely. Southwest Airlines' CEO, Gary C. Kelly, issued an apology to Dr. Phil for him to read to Kyla, her attorney, and her mother. Mr. Kelly, in his attempt to be humorous, poked fun at Kyla and not Southwest Airlines. After this so-called apology, the airline announced its miniskirt fares. The two airline tickets given to her were not accepted.

    She did get a free ticket on Virgin America.

    Mr. Kelly also claims that they did apologize to Kyla back in August, but there's nothing to prove that. Also, the day before Kelly's indirect apology on the Dr. Phil show, the president of Southwest Airlines, Coleen Barrett, was speaking at Texas Christian University where she defended the airline's actions and said they won't likely apologize to Kyla. She concluded by saying that Southwest Airlines continues its culture of putting its employees first and trusting them to make appropriate decisions as with the scenario involving Kyla.

    "Apparently Ms. Barrett does not believe the customer comes first," says Martin Reed, Kyla's attorney.

    Link

    Ron Paul at New Hampshire Debate 9/5/07

    Hannity and Colmes still do not appreciate him.

    But Ron Paul won the debate: 33% according to the Debate Poll. Rudy was 15%.

    Another good video compilation

    Vanishing American Vacation

    The United States remains the only industrialized country in the world that has no legally mandated annual leave.

    Herbert Spencer, the champion of laissez-faire capitalism coined the phrase "survival of the fittest" to Charles Darwin. The surprising thing is that he disapproved of American capitalism saying that Americans were pathologically obsessed with work. He advocated a revised ideal of life that includes relaxation. "Life is not for learning, nor is life for working, but learning and working are for life," he said.

    He said that almost 125 years ago.

    Today, we are still obsessed with our work ethic. Yes, we love working hard non-stop, answering almost 24/7 on our mobile, smartphone, or blackberry. Yet, why aren't we asking for more vacation time? Better yet, why don't we try to use up all of our alloted time?

    The reasons include:
    1) fear of leaving work that will pile up in their absence
    2) fear that other employees will show more devotion to the job and get promoted above them
    3) distaste for relating to a mate and children outside of their tightly structured lives
    4) convinced that economic success depends on subservience to employers who control their work lives

    A survey (no source) showed that a third of all Americans do not take their alloted vacation and 37 percent never take more than a week at a time. 88 percent carry an electronic device while on vacation to keep up with work. 40 percent logon to check with work email.

    What's worse is that a third of all women and a quarter of all men receive no paid vacation.

    In terms of how many vacation days are given out, France leads with 30 days a year. Britain, Germany, Australia, Spain, and Sweden have 20 or more days off. Canada and Japan have 10 days off, about the same as some American corporations. The Chinese get three weeks off a year. Many employees in other countries take six or more weeks off a year.

    But workaholics say America is great because of our work ethic. It would seem that we have the highest productivity in the world because we work more overtime -- 40 percent work 50 hours a week, some would do 60 to 70 hours.

    If you take away overtime, America lags behind France, Ireland, Norway, and Holland. Germany and Britain are a bit behind, but all of them have more vacation time than the United States.

    What's worst, is that we got four generations of Americans working right now. Then number of workers 55 and over has increased. We still have folks older than 75 still working. Talk about stress.

    It's understandable that such a strong work ethic should bring us economic prosperity. We want to make more money so we can do the things that we want. Whether it's greed or supporting yourself and the family, there's no excuse of not having mandated vacation time.

    We are supposed to prevent mental and physical burnout. We are not robots, but actual human beings.

    I wish I can take more time off, but the fear of falling behind on what's going on in the office is at the top of my list. I got my trusty blackberry but I am worried that by not being there, it may show me in a negative light. I am fortunate to have 25 days for vacation, of course when I first started I had 15. But we also got 2 personal days and 6 sick days. Still, it feels like it is not enough. I seen quite a lot of folks in the office getting burnt out but don't want to take time off because they would fall behind, and then they have more work to get caught up and after.

    But when I do go on vacation and visit some foreign country, then find out that other tourists coming from Europe or other countries have longer vacation days, you can get really jealous.

    Link

    China loves to rip off on everything

    Peter Navarro - The Coming China Wars: Where They Will Be Fought and How They Can Be Won

    Interesting read.

    Whiners complain about iPhone price cut

    Some early adopters of the iPhone are complaining about the price cut, from $599 to $399 for the 8-gigabyte model. While there are those who believe that paying for a premium price came with the territory, other said they felt burned. Some say the price reduction came too soon.

    Stop it! Everytime a new gadget comes out, the price is high and eventually it will come down. As such, I think the window between introduction and the first price-cut is getting narrower. Already, Apple is releasing another next-generation iPod (called iTouch) which comes with Wi-Fi.

    So yes, you can boast you got the first iPod or iPhone, or Chocolate in the neighborhood, but such things will soon be in the past.

    College Idiot Example

    Bottom line, both former students deserved to be called idiots.

    Two former Northeastern University freshmen are facing drug and other charges after prosecutors said one of them leaned out his dorm window on Sunday and loudly told a woman in the dorm opposite his that he and his roomate were selling pot.

    Michael Emery allegedly said "If you're looking for weed, my roommate Ferrante has some for sale." (Mistake 1)

    Is it possible that he was high or something? Why not pick up the phone and call her and tell her you got some pot to sell?

    Well, two plain clothes Boston officers overheard the conversation and made their way up to a second floor dorm room where they arrested Michael and Matthew Ferrante. Funny enough, they left their door open. (Mistake 2)

    The officers recovered a total of eight small bags of marijuana packaged for individual resale, a larger bag containing three to four ounces of marijuana, and hundreds of clear plastic baggies. The officers also found a vaporizer, a grinder, a bong, and a glass pipe, each with marijuana residue in or on it, as well as a Triton T2 digital scale… [A] Grey Goose bottle – along with bottles of Malibu rum, Smirnoff Twist raspberry vodka, and Southern Comfort – was also seized. They also found $1,045 in cash.

    Outside the window of their room, the students had rigged a pulley system that had been designed to raise and lower items from the room directly overhead. It was not immediately known how the students were using the pulley system, prosecutors said.

    The charges include possession of a class D substance with intent to distribute in a school zone, possession of alcohol by a minor, and conspiracy to violate the state's drug laws.

    Strangely enough, both have pleaded not guilty. (Mistake 3) They are due back in court on Oct. 24.

    As for being Northeastern University students, university spokeswoman Laura Shea said, "They are no longer students here."

    * * * * *

    Another two for the society drain. I don't know why they decided to plead not guilty. They advertised their drug sale, they left their door open so the officers saw the drug stuff on their table. The two idiots gave them permission to search the room whereby they found other drugs and equip, alcohol, and cash.

    Of course we are not sure if both have a prior arrest record. Even if this was a first-time arrest, it deserves serious punishment. They had a drug-sale business going on with the works. If it was a few ounces in a few bags, we could be lenient, but they had much more and the equipment. I really doubt they can get back into Northeastern. I would assume they would argue that it was weed, and not cocaine, heroin, or crack, and the punishment does not fit the crime, but substance abuse is pretty much straightforward, and most schools have a stringent, if not zero-tolerance policy on it.

    Looks like community school for the both of them, or maybe not. I bet Ferrante and Michael would not call each other as friends after this.

    Famed tenor Luciano Pavarotti dies

    pavarotti.jpg

    It is with sad news that famed opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti has died at his hometown in Modena early Thursday morning (5AM BST). He was 71. He had been in a tough battle with pancreatic cancer.

    Pavarotti is survived by his wife, Nicoletta Mantovani, and a daughter, Alice, along with three grown daughters by his first wife, Adua Veroni, whom he divorced in 2000, and a granddaughter.

    Pavarotti gave his last performance in an opera at the New York Metropolitan Opera on March 13, 2004 for which he received a 12-minute standing ovation for his role as the painter Mario Cavaradossi in Giacomo Puccini's Tosca.

    In February 2006, at the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics in Turin, he brought the house down with his trademark Nessun Dorma aria.

    In a statement posted on his website during his farewell tour, Pavarotti said "I hope to be remembered as an opera singer. In other words, as a representative of an art form which has found its maximum expression in my country. And I also hope that my love of opera will always remain at the center of my life".

    R.I.P.

    Judge drops hazing charges against Rider University officials

    Update to my previous blog posting on the Hazing Death at Rider University in New Jersey

    Superior Court Judge Maria Sypek approved a request by Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph Bocchini to dismiss charges against Dean of Students Anthony Campbell and Director of Greek Life Ada Badgley.

    The prosecutors reviewed the case and decided the evidence was insufficient to prove the charges against the two officials beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Gary DeVercelly Sr, the father, decried the decision:
    "We're upset about it, that the charges are being dismissed, because we feel that Rider has responsibility -- definitely has responsibility -- in this issue."

    No civil lawsuit has been filed yet.

    The charges against Adriano DiDonato, a student and residence director and house master of the PhiTau fraternity house; Dominic Olsen, pledge master of Spring 2007; and Michael J. Torney, the chapter president remain the same.

    As such, if convicted, the three students face up to 18 months in prison and a fine up to $10,000. All three have pleaded not guilty.

    * * * * *

    The hazing death at Rider had somewhat of a mixed effect on other area universities. At Rowan University, it has banned alcohol in all dorms, and only allows it in campus apartments and townhouses occupied solely by students over 21. Intoxication is prohibited. It also will require all Greek organizations to sign a document on hazing.

    At Rider itself, alcohol is now banned in all residence halls and Greek housing, as well as all school-sponsored events. It has also decided to place directors in all Greek houses. All greek groups will be assessed on their actions annually, and the University will enact action plans when expectations are not met.

    Rutgers University in New Brunswick and Camden, and the University of Delaware plan no major changes, stating that their current hazing and alcohol policies are stringent enough.

    Clinton promises not to cut Social Security

    Instead of telling the truth to the AARP, the New York senator promised retirees that if elected president she will not cut Social Security benefits, raise the retirement age or privatize the taxpayer-funded system.

    Clinton uses the obvious: "This is the most successful domestic program in the history of the United States."

    Well, it was back in the 1960's, 1970's, and 1980's.

    What's her solution? Practice fiscal responsiblity. What about Medicare and Medicaid? They are projected to be much more expensive than Social Security.

    Is she going to have the government re-calculcate the cost-of-living index (COL)? She did not mention it.

    Is she going to increase payroll taxes? Did not mention it.

    Is she going to eliminate the wage cap on social security taxes? Nope, did not mention that one either.

    How about addressing the worker to retiree ratio? Nope.

    What about social security for the next generation? Nada.

    How about the issue of borrowing money from the Social Security Trust Fund to finance the US budget? Yea, nothing.

    * * * * *

    In terms of politics, I am sure the elderly won't mind taxing the young up the wazoo to keep their lifestyle the same.

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