Dec 13, 2008

Polar bear snowflake

A handout picture shows polar bear cub Flocke (snowflake) for the first time in her new outside enclosure, at the zoo in Nuremberg, Germany

No room at the Inn for the Obama family

It is customary for the president-elect to move into Blair House five days before inauguration.

Barack Obama, accustomed to special privileges, requested an earlier move-in time but his request was declined.

The Obamas had asked White House officials to move into Blair House about two weeks before the traditional date so their two daughters could start their new school when classes resume Jan. 5.

Obama aides say the White House told them that the request cannot be met because the current administration still has plans for the historic government home across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House.

Blair House, which dates to 1824, has served as the official presidential guest house since 1942 for heads of state and other foreign dignitaries.

Appearing deceptively small from Pennsylvania Avenue, Blair House (shown above) is actually a complex of four joined townhouses that is larger than the White House, with 119 rooms and 70,000 square feet of space.

There are 14 guest bedrooms, eight staff bedrooms, 35 bathrooms, four dining rooms, kitchen facilities, laundry and dry cleaning facilities, an exercise room, a flower shop, and a fully equipped hair salon


This little piggy wore Wellington boots

Cinderella, a piglet in the UK, won't walk through mud unless she is wearing her specially adapted Wellington boots. The little piggy lives with owners and pig farmers Debbie and Andrew Keeble.

(Ross Parry Agency )

Dying to support animal rights? Buy a PETA coffin

Now you can make your love of animals live on after you die.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has teamed up with eco-friendly coffin maker The Old Pine Box to bring you a PETA coffin!

You can choose a painted slogan on your coffin such as "Lifetime PETA Member" or "I saved 500 animals." Another plays on a long-running PETA advertisement: "Told You I Wouldn't Be Caught Dead in Fur!"

The coffins cost about $650. About $75 of the coffin price goes to PETA.


Dec 12, 2008

While Obama talks, Tony Rezko sings

A blog report in the LA Times at the link below says:

While most of the media's attention focused today on the Chicago news conference of President-elect Barack Obama announcing new Cabinet members and repeating his call for onetime ally Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to resign , a federal judge made a small, little-noticed legal move on another case.

Without explanation, District Judge Amy St. Eve canceled her own deadlines for lawyers to file briefs on the upcoming sentencing of Antoin "Tony" Rezko (pictured).

Who is Tony Rezko?

He's the Illinois political fixer, real estate man and fundraiser with close connections to Obama, Blagojevich and other Chicago political clans who is unhappy in solitary and sought to advance his sentencing to Jan. 6 on 16 federal counts of fraud, money laundering and abetting bribery.

Why would a judge extend the period before sentencing when the convicted prisoner expressed a desire to get on with prison? Without a new briefs deadline, the expedited Jan. 6 sentencing could now be pushed back further.

Because Rezko, in the hopes of reducing his sentence, is singing in his cell about Blagojevich and maybe others. He's not done with his song repertoire and the feds haven't fully checked out his information to determine how grateful to be in sentence-seeking.

Rezko was known as the money man or cashier to see about state jobs through the governor's office. He's known Obama since the early '90s, tried to hire him, did hire the law firm Obama worked for, became partners with the owner of that firm, advised Obama on buying his Hyde Park home and sold him a slice of the adjacent lot.

Two interesting questions persist.

1. How many other members of the corrupt Chicago Democrat machine will tell all they know and name names when U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald puts pressure on them?

2. How long after Barack Obama is sworn in as president will U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald lose his job and can Obama fire Fitz before he has a chance expose the Obama connection to the corrupt politics in Chicago. Patrick Fitzgerald will need to work fast.


Chicago police test a mobile phone in 1922

In 1922 police in Chicago experimented with a radio telephone which broadcast at a frequency just above the AM radio band.

Auto bailout passes House - dies in Senate

The $14 billion auto bailout easily passed the House. Speaker Pelosi has enough of a majority to push through nearly anything she wants.

The Senate is a different matter. Majority Leader Harry Reid isn’t so fortunate. The bailout failed in the Senate because the United Auto Workers refused to accede to Republican demands for swift wage cuts.

The Detroit automaker leaders are shown above. From left to right are: Richard Wagoner, Chairman and CEO of General Motors, President of the United Auto Workers International Union Ron Gettelfinger, Alan Mulally, President and CEO of Ford Motor Company, and Robert Nardelli, Chairman and CEO of Chyrsler LLC.

The UAW refused to agree to wage cuts before their current contract expires in 2011.

Republicans in the Senate stood their ground saying that wage cuts must be in 2009 to bring their pay into line with Japanese carmakers.

If Detroit automakers are denied the bailout, they may be forced into bankruptcy.

A bankruptcy judge could toss out existing union contracts and set pay and benefits comparable to Japanese autoworkers.

When Airlines filed for bankruptcy, the traveling public didn’t stop flying with them. Would car buyers purchase vehicles from a bankrupt automaker?


Obama’s chief of staff snubs reporters

Was Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, the “advisor” named in the criminal complaint against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich?

Rahm Emanuel (pictured), refused to take questions from reporters about whether he was the Obama “advisor.”

“You’re wasting your time,” Emanuel said. “I’m not going to say a word to you.”

Was Mr. Emanuel exercising his 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination? Was he was trying to avoid incriminating his boss Barack Hussein Obama. If there was nothing to hide, why not talk to reporters?


Dec 11, 2008

Snow surprise for Houston and New Orleans

Snow surprised residents in Houston, Texas Wednesday while New Orleans, Louisiana residents woke up to snow this morning.

Photo above shows a girl in New Orleans delighting in the falling snow.

Link here and here.

Bill Clinton nailed: didn’t know mic was on

Politicians are often caught off-guard when they are unaware a microphone has been left on.

The comments below were made by Bill Clinton, caught by a “hot mic” while speaking about Vanity Fair writer Todd Purdum:

"He's sleazy. He's a really dishonest reporter. And one of our guys talked to him . . . And I haven't read [the article]. But he told me there's five or six just blatant lies in there. But he's a real slimy guy."

These comments were made June 2, 2008.

Photo above shows Bill and Chelsea Clinton during Hillary’s campaign last summer.

Fads of the 1970’s

Listed below are just a few of the 1970’s fads. Some of them we liked a lot. Some we couldn’t tolerate.

8-track tape players
Buying one of those noisy 8-track players was bad enough but buying 8-track tapes was like throwing good money after bad. We did both. However, our tape collection was very small.

Banana-seat bikes
Norm had a Sting-Ray bike with a banana seat. He thought it was ‘way-cool.’

It was one of our favorite table games. Teri and Lori could beat me every time but Valeta could beat us all!

CB radios
I never used one. Norm had one of the early 32 channel CB radios made by Hi-Gain. CB lingo was a novelty at first but got old real quick. “Breaker, breaker good buddy, what’s your 20?” It seemed to me that perfectly normal people went to great lengths to sound like they were illiterate while using their CB radios.

Double knit bell bottom pants
Yup - I must admit I had a light gray herringbone double knit suit with bell bottom pants. It must have looked almost as bad as my wide lapel bold plaid sport coats. I actually did wear that stuff in the early 1970’s!

English Leather aftershave
Hated it!

Fondue pots
Never got into fondue. Did we miss anything?

Leisure suits
Norm enjoyed his but I never owned one.

Mood rings
We didn’t get into that craze. Did they ever really work?

Paisley shirts
I had one that I liked a lot. Couldn’t find another so wore the one I had until in nearly fell apart.

Pet rock
We just couldn’t get into the pet rock craze.

Play-Doh and Silly Putty
Our kids loved them both.

We used a waterbed for a while but were glad to get back to a conventional mattress. When the baffles broke down it was either get rid of the bed or stock up on dramamine.

Justices to mull Obama citizenship again

On Monday the Supreme Court decided not to hear the Obama citizenship case challenging the right of Barack Hussein Obama to become president because of questions about his citizenship.

Justice Antonin Scalia distributed another appeal on the same issue for the court to consider.

The new case, Cort Wrotnowski v. Susan Bysiewicz, Connecticut Secretary of State, is scheduled to be discussed by the justices at their Dec. 12 private conference.

They plan to decide whether to give the case a hearing - again on whether the British citizenship of Mr. Obama's father makes the president-elect ineligible to assume the office.

If the high court doesn’t get involved, the story of Obama’s citizenship will persist indefinitely.

If the issue is not resolved before inauguration day, how can the Chief Justice swear in a man who may not be qualified to be president?


Rangel paid his son nearly $80K for poorly designed websites

Between 2004 and 2007, Rep. Charles Rangel (pictured) steered nearly $80,000 in campaign cash to an Internet company run by his son.

The two political websites Rangel paid his son lavishly for were so poorly designed an expert estimated one should have cost no more than $100 to create!

If you are a black Democratic politician from Harlem you can do no wrong - your constituents will re-elect you anyway.


Dec 10, 2008

New asthma inhalers: costly and confusing

Asthma inhalers must go "green" Dec. 31, forcing patients to switch to a more costly and confusing inhaler.

Many pharmacies have been selling the new inhalers for several months. All pharmacies must sell the new inhalers by the end of this year.

The medicine inside these rescue inhalers -- the albuterol that quickly opens airways during an asthma attack -- isn't changing. But the chemicals used to puff that drug into your lungs are.

No more chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, that damage Earth's protective ozone layer. By year's end, all albuterol inhalers must be powered by the more eco-friendly chemical HFA, or hydrofluoroalkane.

The downside: The new inhalers cost more, $30 to $60 compared to as little as $5 or $10 for the disappearing CFC inhalers.

And patients face a learning curve. HFA inhalers must be used differently than the old-fashioned kind. The medicine feels and tastes different, sometimes alarming new users despite doctors' assurances that it works just as well.

From personal experience I learned that if not used properly the new inhalers may only last for three or four puffs.

This can easily happen when a user forgets and goes back to using the new inhalers like they have used inhalers in the past -- for many years in some cases.

There is little consolation when the pharmacist tells you to read the fine print next time and charges you another $40 for a replacement inhaler. The prescribing doctor gave no verbal instructions nor did the pharmacist.


DUI Suspect: gassed in more ways than one

A 40-year-old Reno woman was arrested after she was seen driving on U.S. Highway 395 with a fuel hose and nozzle sticking out of her gas tank.

Patrol spokesman Chuck Allen said the crew tried to signal the woman after they spotted the unusual appendage to her green Subaru wagon about 4:30 a.m. but couldn't get her attention.

He said the crew eventually initiated a traffic stop and radioed the state troopers. Upon their arrival, the woman failed a sobriety test and was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence.

Allen said they are still trying to find the service station that is missing the nozzle and about 6 feet of fuel hose.


The swearing in of Barack Hussein Obama

A report at the link below says:

President-elect Obama says he plans to use all three of his names when he takes the oath of office in January, giving voice to a name that was used heard during the campaign except by critics.

He will be sworn in as Barack Hussein Obama.

There will be dancing in the streets in the Middle East.


Governor Blagojevich keeping up the Illinois tradition

Arrest and detention is nothing new to Illinois politicians. Rod Blagojevich (upper photo), sometimes referred to as “Blago” or even “hot-rod,” appears bent on keeping up the tradition in Illinois.

Former Governor George Ryan (lower photo), a Republican, is currently serving a 6 1/2-year term in federal prison for racketeering and fraud.

Former Governor Otto Kerner, a Democrat was convicted in 1973 on 17 counts of bribery, conspiracy, perjury and other charges and was sentenced to three years in the penitentiary.

Former Governor Dan Walker, a Democrat, was convicted of bank fraud in 1987 ten years after he left office in 1977. Walker was sentenced to seven years in federal prison.

No longer cute - Knute gets the boot

Photo on left shows Knute as a cute cub. A 2-year-old not so cute Knute is on the right.

The polar bear named Knute no longer looks like the cute ball of white fur who captured hearts around the world.

The star of the Berlin Zoo is a fully grown bear with yellowish fur who, at 440 pounds, has grown too big for his enclosure.

Among other possibilities, Knute may end up at Orsa bear park which is about 200 miles northwest of Stockholm, Sweden.


Does Obama have room for Clinton baggage?

Dec 9, 2008

Feds: new low for Illinois politics

In a state with a long history of political corruption, federal prosecutors called the arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (pictured) a "new low."

Federal agents were "thoroughly disgusted and revolted by what we heard" in Blagojevich's alleged actions.

Even seasoned FBI agents, were appalled by Blagojevich's alleged conduct.

Blagojevich was accused of trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. He also was accused of allegedly shaking down the Tribune Co. over the sale of Wrigley Field.

He also attempted to gain political donations and cash in exchange for state business.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald called it conduct that would make Abraham Lincoln roll over in his grave.

Look for the Illinois political machine to distance themselves and Barack Obama from as much fallout as they possibly can.


Illinois Governor arrested by FBI

The first link below is a “breaking news” link to the website of the Chicago Tribune and will probably be updated throughout the day as the story of the arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (pictured) unfolds.

The Tribune will not be holding back this story in any way because there is no love lost between the Governor and the Tribune after Gov. Blago demanded the firing some Tribune writers.

Gov. Blago was taken into custody by FBI agents for what U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald called a "staggering" level of corruption involving pay-to-play politics in Illinois' top office.

The pay-to-play politics included money for filling Barack Obama’s Senate seat.

Link here, here and here for more on this story.

This is the corrupt organization that created Barack Hussein Obama.

Obama may make the Clinton scandals (including Whitewater, Vince Foster, etc.) look like Baptist Seminary classes.

Apple iPhone at Wal-Mart before Christmas?

Is the iPhone at Wal-Mart just a rumor? Information Week says:

News agencies have quoted Wal-Mart employees who say the discount retailer may be selling the popular smartphones by Christmas, and possibly for $99 apiece.

Several news agencies, including the San Jose Mercury News, Bloomberg, and the Associated Press, have quoted unnamed Wal-Mart employees who say the popular smartphones are expected before the end of the year, possibly the week before Christmas.

However, there was no confirmation that Wal-Mart would offer a $99, 4-GB iPhone, which was recently reported on rumor sites on the Web.

A Wal-Mart spokesperson said, "We've made no official announcement on offering the iPhone at Wal-Mart."

If the story is true, Wal-Mart would become the fourth major United States retailer to sell the iPhone, which is now available through Apple, Best Buy, and AT&T stores.

AT&T is the exclusive wireless provider in the United States.

The iPhone comes in an 8-GB and 16-GB model for $199 and $299, respectively. At those prices, however, the buyer must also subscribe to a two-year AT&T service plan that starts at $70 a month.

Wal-Mart has the potential of providing a major boost to iPhone sales. The company operates about 4,000 discount, supercenter, and Sam's Club stores with wireless sales departments in the United States.


Did Obama buy the presidency?

Critics who claim Barack Obama bought his way into the White House are quick to quote the fund raising facts of the election campaign.

The Illinois senator harvested more campaign cash than anyone before him, using both the Internet and traditional high-roller dinners to bring in more than $650 million from some 3 million donors for his presidential campaign. The 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, John Kerry, raised less than half that amount, as did George W. Bush and Al Gore combined in 2000.

One observer said Obama went into the “knife fight” with a machete and McCain went in with a pen knife.

Even before the final ad blitz, Obama had spent $190.2 million on media, compared with $76.7 million by McCain. The money allowed him to both fend off McCain's attacks and go on the offensive. In addition, he was able to expand his campaign to states traditionally inhospitable to Democratic presidential candidates, such as Virginia, North Carolina and Indiana.

Through Oct. 15, Obama also spent $46 million on staff salaries, more than double McCain's $20.1 million, helping to open field offices and build a get-out-the-vote operation.

One interesting note: McCain made his contributor list available for public scrutiny while Obama did not - especially the huge amounts he received from foreign countries.


Dec 8, 2008

Cab driver with MBA posts résumé in taxi back seat

A New York City taxi driver is a recent MBA graduate looking for work.

James Williamson earned his master's degree in business administration at Philadelphia's La Salle University.

Then he spent four months on interviews while looking for work troubleshooting electronics, doing technical sales or writing advertising copy.

He got his taxi license a month ago.

Now, while driving around New York City, he hopes to find an employer by posting his résumé in back seat of his taxi.

So far he has received a couple of business cards and supportive comments but no job offers.


Santa swimwear charity run in Budapest

Hungarians in swimwear and wearing Santa Claus hats run together during a winter charity run in Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008.

About 100 runners met for a two kilometer run at temperatures of around 5 degrees Celsius (about 41 degrees Fahrenheit) to raise funds for Hungarian orphans

Funny money is not funny business in Milwaukee neighborhood

Two Milwaukee neighborhoods are considering printing their own currency for exclusive use in local stores.

They may be talking funny money, but it's not funny business.

Residents from the Milwaukee neighborhoods of Riverwest and East Side are scheduled to meet to discuss printing their own money.

The idea is that the local cash could be used at neighborhood stores and businesses, thus encouraging local spending.

The result, supporters hope, would be a bustling local economy, even as the rest of the nation deals with a recession.

Their local currency can’t be used at Wal-Mart, Ace Hardware or Home Depot but will be accepted at their local hardware and grocery stores.

More of the story here.

Obama broken promises make liberal leaders nervous and angry

When has a president-elect shed his campaign promises so quickly?

When has a president-elect alienated his base this quickly?

When has the euphoria of a popular president-elect turned to anger just one month after the election?

The answer is never, never and never.

Liberals are growing increasingly nervous – and some just flat-out angry – that President-elect Barack Obama seems to be stiffing them on Cabinet jobs and policy choices.

Obama [pictured] has reversed pledges to immediately repeal tax cuts for the wealthy and take on Big Oil. He’s hedged his call for a quick drawdown in Iraq. And he’s stocking his White House with anything but stalwarts of the left.

Problem is - they are stuck with him now. They listened to the liberal media rather than warnings from conservatives.

Obama insists he hasn’t abandoned the goals that made him feel to some like a liberal savior. But the left’s bill of particulars against Obama is long, and growing.

Buyers remorse may continue through the entire presidency of their chosen one.


Newspaper industry in tailspin: more than 30 are for sale

The Denver Post reports on the problems facing the newspaper industry.

From Los Angeles to New York, leading newspapers have slashed newsrooms with buyout offers, and when those failed to reach budget-cutting goals, with layoffs.

More than 30 daily newspapers are for sale across the United States and buyers are scarce.

On Thursday, Colorado's oldest newspaper joined the growing list of dailies on the market.

E.W. Scripps Co., owner of the 149-year-old Rocky Mountain News, offered to sell it after reporting an $11 million loss through the first nine months of this year.

"It's a terrible time to put the Rocky Mountain News up for sale, clearly," said John Morton, a veteran newspaper-industry analyst in Maryland. "Whatever price they might attract probably will be quite low. I think it's going to be very difficult to find a buyer."


Obama says he quit smoking - sort of

Barack Obama was smoking on the sly all during his campaign for the White House.

Now he said he will not be lighting up in the smoke-free White House but he failed to give a straight answer when asked by Tom Brokaw on Sunday whether he had managed to quit smoking.

In a country where cigarettes are responsible for one in five deaths and smoking costs tens of billions of dollars in health care, the president-elect has been under pressure to set an example by giving up his reported two-decade-old habit.

The White House no-smoking rule was imposed by former First Lady Hillary Clinton, now Mr. Obama's nominee for secretary of state.


Dec 7, 2008

Remembering Pearl Harbor 67 years later

A day that will live in infamy - F.D.R.

One survivor of the devastating Pearl Harbor attack 67 years ago said, “Remember the people who gave their lives. They say we're heroes - we're not heroes. We're survivors. The heroes are still out there.”

The photo above was widely publicized in the United States during World War II. It shows the sinking of the battleship USS West Virginia.

Sailors in the motor launch are looking for survivors in the water near the USS West Virginia.

This photo shows the battleship USS Arizona sinking.

Aid to Detroit automakers

Dominick Dunne: OJ got what he deserves

It appears that Dominick Dunne joins a multitude of others who feel that O.J. Simpson’s recent prison term was payback for getting away with murder in 1995.

Dunne (pictured) is a writer for Vanity Fair and host of the TV series, Power Privilege and Justice.

Mr. Dunne wrote this opinion in Vanity Fair:

For me, the harshness of the sentence for a relatively unimportant crime doesn’t matter. If it is an atonement for the murders he got away with 13 years ago, I think he deserves his punishment.


Indicted congressman Jefferson loses re-election bid

A little-known Republican attorney Anh "Joseph" Cao was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives blocking the 10th term for the indicted Democrat William Jefferson (pictured).

Cao will be the first Vietnamese-American in Congress.

Republicans made an aggressive push to take the seat from the 61-year-old incumbent, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, laundering money and misusing his congressional office.

The election was one of two in Louisiana postponed because of Hurricane Gustav.

During an FBI sting two years ago, $90,000 in marked currency was found in a freezer in congressman Jefferson’s home as reported here.

William Jefferson’s re-election loss is reported here.