Nov 29, 2008

A Mark Twain quote is even truer today

Mark Twain once said:

If you don’t read the newspaper your are uninformed. If you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.

Cardboard man holds off 30 cops for an hour

A life-size cardboard cutout of a man made turkeys out of more than two dozen law enforcement officers after an hour-long standoff at a bank in New Jersey.

Some 30 officers surrounded a PNC Bank branch in Montgomery Township after alarms at the branch went off at 8:40 p.m.

Officers looked through a window and reported seeing a person crouching inside.

The cops proceeded to evacuate a nearby housing complex, stop traffic on an adjourning highway and try to negotiate with the cardboard crook through a bullhorn.

An hour later a SWAT team stormed inside only to find that their “crook” was made of cardboard.


Elbow room to spare

European deputies attend a debate on the financial crisis and the Commission's legislative and working plan for 2009 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

AFP Getty photo

Nov 28, 2008

Two shot dead at California Toys R Us

It was a deadly ‘black Friday’ at a Toys “R” Us store in Palmdale, California.

The shooting took place Friday morning inside a Toys "R" Us store in Palm Desert, 200 kilometers (125 miles) east of Los Angeles, KESQ television reported.

Police made several arrests in the area, which has was cordoned off to passersby, the station said, without providing further details.


Black Friday turns tragic at a NY Wal-Mart

An unidentified 34-year-old male Wal-Mart employee was knocked down by a crowd that broke down the doors of the Wal-Mart at the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, N.Y., and surged into the store. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital at 6 a.m.

The police said that three other shoppers were injured and a 28-year-old pregnant woman was taken to the hospital for observation.

One shopper, Kimberly Cribbs, said she was standing near the back of the crowd at around 5 a.m. on Friday when people started pulling the doors from their hinges and rushing into the store. She said several people were knocked to the ground, and parents had to grab their children by the hands to keep them from being caught in the crush.“They were falling all over each other,” she said. “It was terrible.”


Possible terror plot against NYC subways

A report at the link below warns of a possible Al Qaeda-orchestrated terror plot against New York City subway and other transit systems during the holidays.

Federal authorities are warning police of a possible terror plot against the New York City subway and train systems, prompting local officials to beef up security at stations.

An internal memo obtained by The Associated Press says the FBI has received a "plausible but unsubstantiated" report that Al Qaeda terrorists in late September may have discussed attacking the subway system.

More of he story here.

GM may drop Pontiac, Saturn, Saab and Hummer

GM is studying whether to shed its Saturn, Saab and Pontiac brands in addition to Hummer in an effort to cut costs to win $12 billion in government loans.

Pontiac G6

Selling or dropping brands would save money and reduce overlap as the biggest U.S. automaker struggles to avoid running out of operating cash by year’s end, said the people, who didn’t want to be identified because no decision has been made.

GM dropped Oldsmobile in 2000 because of poor sales.

By selling Saab and Hummer and dropping Saturn and Pontiac the company would still have four brands to support: Chevrolet, GMC, Buick and Cadillac.


How to steal a Minnesota Senate seat Part 3

The Minnesota Senate race between Republican Norm Coleman (upper photo) and Democrat Al Franken (lower photo) may end up in the courts - or on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

We have reported on this Senate race here and here.

The Democrats are intent on putting Al Franken in the U.S. Senate one way or another.

Minnesota's U.S. Senate showdown is veering down a path toward the courts and possibly the Senate itself after a panel's ruling on rejected absentee ballots dealt a blow to Democrat Al Franken's chances.

The state Canvassing Board denied Franken's request to factor absentee ballots rejected by poll workers into the recount.

Franken entered the recount trailing Coleman by 215 votes out of 2.9 million ballots. As of Wednesday night, Coleman was up 292 votes, including results from Nov. 4 and recounted ones.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid is showing a direct interest in the Coleman - Franken contest in Minnesota, leading one to wonder if the Democrats will find a way to give Franken the Senate seat over Coleman who is ahead in the ballot count.

The Senate has in rare cases inserted itself into elections, including a 1996 Louisiana race and a 1974 New Hampshire contest. The body has the power to determine its members' qualifications.

The U.S. Senate has the power to go against a ballot count in a very close election and decide the final outcome on the Senate floor.


Nov 27, 2008

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Buzz Lightyear floats above the crowd during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Seuss grinch stops Who-ville in Louisville

Dr. Seuss lawyers put a stop to the proposed Who-ville in Louisville.

The city of Louisville is scrapping plans to use the iconic Dr. Seuss village and characters as part of its annual Christmas display after receiving a cease and desist letter from Dr. Seuss Enterprises.

The city had planned to use "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" as part of its theme for the annual Light Up Louisville holiday celebration. The display called for an area called "LouWhoVille," complete with costumed characters from the Dr. Seuss classic such as Cindy Lou Who and the Grinch.

When the city received a cease and desist order from a Seuss lawyer, the Louisville mayor said, “It appears these lawyers' hearts are two sizes too small.”


Be wary of Going-Out-of-Business sales

Shoppers are always looking for bargains - especially this time of the year.

A report at the link below says:

Do your homework before putting cash down for clearance offers.

Many large, nationwide businesses have filed for bankruptcy protection in the past year, with several large chain stores, including Linens 'n Things and Mervyn's, closing their doors and are advertising merchandise at seemingly huge discount prices during what they call Going-Out-of-Business sales.

Consumers who shop “Going Out of Business” sales are being urged to do their homework before they buy – and that includes comparing prices.

Merchants realize that customers will be expecting bargains when they enter the store and so they often increase prices before doing the sale mark-down’s so shoppers will think they are getting bargains.

Sometimes they will bring in new merchandise purchased elsewhere at rock-bottom bulk prices to include in their sale.

A shopper will be less at risk if the sale is conducted under the supervision of a bankruptcy court - but how is a buyer to know?


Acrobatic slam dunk

Quite a dunk : A member of the Milwaukee Bucks "Rim Rockers" goes airborne for an acrobatic slam dunk to entertain fans during a break in the action against the Golden State Warriors at an NBA pre-season exhibition game in Beijing at the Beijing Basketball Arena.

AFP photo

Nov 26, 2008

Taking Obama birth challenge to high court

There have been several lawsuits claiming that Barack Obama (pictured) is not a natural born citizen of the United States. They were quickly dispensed with by local courts. However, two challengers have pursued their cases to the Supreme Court.

When the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court meet on Dec. 5th, in their regular private conference to decide which cases to hear, two lawsuits that have captivated a segment of the blogosphere will be up for discussion.

One suit is by Pennsylvania lawyer Philip Berg and the other by New Jersey lawyer Leo Donofrio. Both challenge the validity of Obama’s claim that he is a natural born United States citizen.

The justices are unlikely to take up these cases for a host of reasons, not the least of which is the invitation to overturn the results of an election in which more than 66 million Americans voted for Obama.

The article also says:

An equally high hurdle is the issue of whether Berg or Donofrio have the legal right to sue claiming a violation of the Constitution.

Actually, a higher hurdle is whether Barack Obama has the legal right to violate the Constitution if he is not a natural born citizen.

We wonder why MSNBC is reporting this. After all, MSNBC was quite vocal in their support for Obama all during the campaign by some of their top personalities such as Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews.

Conventional wisdom would say MSNBC would ignore these lawsuits just as they have any other negative reports involving their chosen candidate.

Perhaps this is an attempt by MSNBC give the Supreme Court an excuse to turn down both cases.


A hot oil turkey fryer could spoil your Thanksgiving

There is a video demonstration at the link below showing just how hazardous a hot oil turkey fryer can be.

Most fryers do not have thermostats and can easily overheat causing the cooking oil to combust.

Most fryers can tip over easily creating another hazard.

When lowering a frozen turkey into the fryer the difference in temperature can cause a boil over and the spilled hot oil will catch fire from the burner.

Putting too much oil in the fryer will cause a spill over when the turkey is lowered into the fryer.

Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors, away from buildings and never on wooden decks or patios.

Have a safe Thanksgiving without a turkey fryer fire.


Texting on a Segway while California burns

The glow of fires illuminates the sky in Yorba Linda, California. Fires in the region destroyed hundreds of homes and forced the evacuation of thousands of people.

This modern-day Nero didn’t have a musical instrument so he fiddled on his mobile phone while California burned.

Time Magazine photo

This hair pretzel is not your everyday beard

Willi Chevalier from Germany at the World Beard and Moustache Championships in Brighton, England last year.

Pomp and arrogance surround the president-elect

Pomp and arrogance surround the president-elect long before he takes office in January.

The office of the president-elect, while critical in building the future government, has no official power -- which Obama himself acknowledged during his victory speech in Chicago on Election Night. So why does he use the lectern sign saying Office of the President-Elect if he has no power until January 20?

During the presidential campaign he used the faux-presidential seal shown above. The faux-seal even said “Yes we can” in Latin.

Where will arrogance take him once he occupies the highest office of the land?


Nov 25, 2008

Saving money on delivery charges

A woman rides a tricycle bearing a newly purchased couch along a main road in central Beijing.

Reuters photo

Daredevil crosses Royal Gorge with jet pack

Eric Scott used a hydrogen-peroxide powered jet pack to cross the Royal Gorge near CaƱon City, Colorado on Monday.

He used a technology long ago abandoned by the military.

The Royal Gorge is 1,500 feet across and 1,100 feet deep.

The flight was completed in just 21 seconds. The jet pack has a flight limit of 30-seconds so there was little margin for error.


Noise violators must listen to hour of Barry Manilow

A judge in Fort Lupton, Colorado believes that punishment should fit the crime.

Fort Lupton Municipal Judge Paul Sacco says his novel punishment of forcing noise violators to listen to music they don't like for one hour has cut down on the number of repeat offenders in this northeastern Colorado prairie town.

Barry Manilow's "I Write the Songs" may begin with the line, "I've been alive forever,"' but for noise ordinance violators, listening to Manilow may feel like forever.

About four times a year, those guilty of noise ordinance violations are required to sit in a room and listen to music from the likes of Manilow, Barney the Dinosaur, and The Platters' crooning "Only You."

Needless to say, hard rockers really hate listening to Manilow (pictured) and the Platters.

Video of a recent class showed teenagers with long faces shifting in their seats or looking up at the ceiling.

"You can't fall asleep," said teenager Rueben Fuentes right before letting out a bit of a sigh.


Bush grants 14 pardons and 2 commutations

President George W. Bush (pictured) has granted pardons to 14 individuals and commuted the prison sentences of two others.

The new round of White House pardons announced Monday are Bush's first since March and come less than two months before he will end his presidency. The crimes committed by those on the list also include offenses involving hazardous waste, food stamps, and the theft of government property.

Bush has been stingy during his time in office about granting clemency, but more grants are expected.

Including these actions, he has granted a total of 171 pardons and eight commutations. That's less than half as many as Presidents Clinton or Reagan issued during their time in office. Both were two-term presidents, like Bush.


Gen. Robert E. Lee comments on the media in 1863

It appears we have appointed our worst generals to command forces, and our most gifted and brilliant to edit newspapers.

In fact, I discovered by reading newspapers that these editor/geniuses plainly saw all my strategic defects from the start, yet failed to inform me until it was too late.

Accordingly, I am readily willing to yield my command to these obviously superior intellects, and I will, in turn, do my best for the Cause by writing editorials - after the fact.

- Robert E. Lee, 1863

Nov 24, 2008

Worm removed from woman's brain

A news report at the link below tells of a 37-year-old woman (pictured) who was thought to have a brain tumor. During surgery the doctor found something entirely different: a parasitic worm.

Rosemary Alvarez, who underwent the procedure last summer after experiencing difficulty swallowing and numbness in her left arm, had a tapeworm called Taenia solium inside her head.

It turns out Alvarez likely contracted the tapeworm at some point by eating food tainted with the feces of a person infected with the parasite. “It wasn't that she had poor hygiene, she was just a victim,” said neurosurgeon Peter Nakaji, who ended up extracting the worm.

To help avoid becoming infected with tapeworms one should wash hands often and avoid eating contaminated food - especially undercooked pork.


Noted Cowboy boot maker hit by $3M theft

Justin Boots, a Texas boot maker dating back to 1879, and has had its headquarters in Fort Worth since 1925.

A truck-driving thief made off with more than $3 million worth of merchandise from the venerable maker of cowboy boots and other footwear, authorities said.

The thefts occurred Labor Day weekend and Nov. 9 at a Justin Boots distribution center, said Fort Worth police Lt. Paul Henderson.

A surveillance video shows a white single-cab tractor entering the property without a trailer and each time leaving with one. The driver gained entry by cutting the locked chain securing the gate.

Over Labor Day, three containers mounted on three chassis were taken, holding 10,740 pairs of boots and 7,400 sets of boot uppers worth nearly $2.4 million, Henderson said.

On Nov. 9, two more shipping containers-chassis sets were taken, holding nearly 10,000 pairs of boots worth nearly $800,000, he said. Four of the five shipping container-chassis sets were found abandoned and empty; the fifth is still missing.

Justin Boots has been a part of billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway since 2000.


Panda bear bites man who just wanted a hug

A college student visiting a zoo in southern China was bitten by a panda bear. He broke into the bear's enclosure hoping to get a hug from the cute looking panda.

The student was bitten in the arms and legs by the panda named Yang Yang.

”Yang Yang was so cute and I just wanted to cuddle him. I didn't expect he would attack,” the 20-year-old student, surnamed Liu, said in a local hospital, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Liu underwent surgery Friday evening and was out of danger, but will remain in the hospital for several days.


Nation of Islam leader Farrakhan: Obama is America's blessing

Speaking at the State of the Black World conference in New Orleans, Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, called President-elect Barack Obama ‘America's blessing.’

Farrakhan also said he believes Obama's election came about by intervention from God.

The Nation of Islam leader also said, “Barack is our blessing. Barack is America's blessing. Barack could be the world's blessing.”

Farrakhan went on to say that Obama's rise should show that God has not forsaken us, and this should also tell us that God is giving America a chance to redeem herself.

Farrakhan also spoke warmly of Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who was among those honored.

It must warm the heart of the Nation of Islam leader to know that he will soon have as his president a black man named Barack Hussein Obama!


Nov 23, 2008

Exhausted bulldog

Bit of shut eye : A dog takes a nap during a CACIB international dog show in the southern Israeli town of Arad.

AFP photo

The Obamamobile will be anything but green

The green president-elect will be riding in a gas guzzler armored limo built on a truck chassis.

On the campaign trail, Barack Obama promised to get a million plug-in hybrid cars on the road by 2015.

The new Obamamobile , however, will be far from green.

General Motors is said to be building a GMC 2500 truck-based armored Cadillac DTS as shown above.

The armored DTS will presumably replace the Cadillac that President Bush has used since 2005.


Iowa zoo recaptures escaped flamingo

A flamingo that flew the coop is back in the, well, coop.

An Iowa zoo has recaptured a flamingo that flew over a Des Moines neighborhood, a golf course and the entire zoo during a 7-hour freedom flight.

Blank Park Zoo workers clipped the adult Chilean flamingo's wings a second time after it was recaptured.

The zoo's flamingos usually don't fly because their wings have been clipped. But zoo spokesman Terry Rich says the birds can molt and regrow those feathers, enabling them to fly.