May 2, 2009

Time Magazine’s most influential people

The photo montage above shows 9 of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people - in no special ranking order:

Top row left to right:

Zac Efron - American actor and singer.
Michelle Obama - wife of U.S. President.
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono - President of Indonesia.

Middle row left to right:
Penélope Cruz - Spanish actress.
Sarah Palin - Governor of Alaska.
Barack Obama - U.S. President.

Bottom row left to right:
M.I.A. - British-born artist and singer.
Edward Kennedy - U.S. Senator.
Rush Limbaugh - Conservative radio talk-show host.


The UK is ready for a pandemic

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The British government has stockpiled enough antiviral treatment Tamiflu to treat half the country in case of a flu pandemic.

May 1, 2009

Internet running out of bandwidth

According to research, expected to be published later this year, Internet users will face regular "brownouts" that will freeze their computers as capacity runs out in cyberspace.

Experts predict that consumer demand, already growing at 60 percent a year, will start to exceed supply as early as 2010 because of more people working online and the soaring popularity of bandwidth-hungry Web sites such as YouTube and services such as the BBC's iPlayer.

It will initially lead to computers being disrupted and going offline for several minutes at a time. Beginning in 2012, however, PCs and laptops are likely to operate at a much-reduced speed, rendering the Internet an "unreliable toy."

When Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the British scientist, wrote the code that transformed a private computer network into the World Wide Web in 1991, the Internet appeared to be a limitless resource.



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Spanish bullfighter Daniel Luque glares at a bull after a successful bullfight in Seville.

Michelle Obama in recession shoes: $540 sneakers!

First Lady Michelle Obama has something new to wear with her closet full of tank tops - a pair of $540 dollar sneakers.

Michelle Obama left many admiring her 540-dollar fancy footwear as she recently stepped out to volunteer at a Washington D.C. food bank.

The US First Lady was spotted sporting renowned French design house Lanvin's trendy trainers, suede, with grosgrain ribbon laces and metallic pink toe.


H1N1 virus? Get real! It’s Swine flu

What's in a name?

U.S. pork producers are finding that the name of the virus spreading from Mexico is affecting their business, prompting U.S. officials to argue for changing the name from swine flu.

At a news briefing, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack took pains to repeatedly refer to the flu as the "H1N1 virus."

Sorry Janet and Tom - it’s swine flu. Get it? Swine flu.


Time Magazine poll: Biden a liability

Time magazine had an online poll asking if Vice President Joe Biden is an asset or a liability to the administration.

The tabulation, at the time of this writing, is shown below:

Apr 30, 2009

Obama losing viewers as ratings slide

Is it overexposure or are people just getting tired of watching Obama for other reasons?

Audience interest in Barack Obama’s news conferences seems to be falling, with Wednesday’s press event drawing the president’s smallest primetime audience since his inauguration.

The telecast to mark Obama’s 100th day in office was viewed by 28.8 million people, according to Nielsen. That's a 29% drop from the president's last press conference, on March 24, and a 42% fall since his first, on Feb. 9.

I had a good excuse for not watching: I was a bit under the weather. Besides, there was this sock and underwear drawer that needed rearranging.


FOX continues to dominate cable news

TV Newser reports:

How's this for cable news domination - Fox News beat CNN and MSNBC combined in every hour from 6amET to MidnightET in both Total Viewers and the A25-54 demo for April 2009.

FOX had the top 11 cable news programs in Total Viewers and 12 of the top 15 in the demo.


Supreme Court rules on indecent speech

The Supreme Court ruled that federal regulators have the authority to clamp down on the broadcast TV networks that air isolated cases of profanity, known as "fleeting expletives."

This gives the Federal Communications Commission the authority to fine broadcast networks for allowing bad language.


The high court refused to decide whether the commission's policy violates the First Amendment guarantee of free speech, only the agency's enforcement power

For now, what this boils down to is that the FCC is allowed to fine networks for using "fleeting expletives," even though it may eventually be prevented from doing so because of the First Amendment guarantee of free speech.

In fact, the high court ordered the free-speech aspect to be reviewed again by a federal appeals court.

We predict that in the end there will be no real change.


Apr 29, 2009

Stilted advertising

Man on stilts advertising a website that sells Obama watches.

Shoes that could make you learn to walk all over again

Supermodel Heidi Klum shrikes a strange pose during a German Vogue Magazine photo shoot in Beverly Hills.

The first 100 days of Barack Obama’s reign

There is a report at the link below that asks:

What has the Obama White House really achieved in its first 100 days?

Here is a list:

1. He passed a stimulus bill that was largely negotiated and completed before he got into office. It got no Republican votes in the House and only three in the Senate.

2. He signed a spending bill that was completely last year’s business. (It even had earmarks from Obama, his chief of staff and other members of his Cabinet from their time in Congress.)

3. He signed a children’s health care bill that was largely unchanged from legislation that was vetoed by President George W. Bush.

4. He appointed a treasury secretary who didn’t pay his taxes.

5. He tried to appoint a Health and Human Services secretary who didn’t pay his taxes.

6. He schmoozed with Jay Leno on the Tonight Show.

7. He did very well on his NCAA college basketball pool.

8. He fired the CEO of General Motors.

9. He appeared on “60 Minutes” a couple of times.

10. He went to a Bulls-Wizards basketball game.

11. He got a dog for the White House.

12. He threw $787 billion at the recession and as a result the only new jobs created were the hiring of a few bureaucrats.

13. He went to Canada and then to Europe.

14. He gave the British prime minister a bunch of DVDs that don’t work in Europe and gave the queen an iPod loaded with his speeches.

15. He asked the French and the Germans to spend more money (they declined).

16. He asked the Europeans for more help in Afghanistan (they declined).

17. He said he was sorry that America got the world into this mess.

18. He reversed a regulation that would have made it harder for labor union bosses to abscond with their members’ hard-earned pension money.

19. He schmoozed with Hugo Chavez.

20. He lifted the travel ban to Cuba.

21. He helpfully let everyone in the world know exactly what kind of interrogation techniques we use, just in case anybody wants to get ready should they ever get caught trying to terrorize the United States.

He hasn’t done much on the legislative front that wasn’t already cooked up in the last Congress.

He hasn’t come up with a cap-and-trade proposal.

We haven’t seen his health care proposal.

His budget still isn’t done.

We haven’t seen legislation that would regulate the financial services sector.

We do know that his proposal to increase taxes on charities and mortgage deductions is dead.

We know that the Senate will not do cap-and-trade under reconciliation and may not do it at all.

Health care reform might happen under reconciliation but it is not a done deal.

The Obama administration has done a magnificent job of talking a good game when it comes to change.

It has completely reworked the art of political communication and has largely kept the fawning media bamboozled.

But by historic standards, the first 100 days of the Obama administration have been a lot of sizzle and not a lot of substance.


About that Air Force One photo op over NYC

A report at the first link below is titled: Air Heads in DC terrorize city.

Air Farce One played out over lower Manhattan -- in a terrifyingly bizarre military photo op that sent office workers fleeing from their buildings fearing a new 9/11-type attack.

But it turned out that the backup Air Force One jet and the fighter that appeared to be pursuing it only 1,000 feet above Ground Zero were staging the spectacle to get publicity shots of the presidential plane with a New York backdrop.

The planes flew over the Verrazano Bridge, buzzed Lady Liberty's left ear, continued up the Hudson past Jersey City and then circled back toward Staten Island, federal officials said. The jets then completed two more loops as photographers aboard the F-16 took the world's most expensive snapshots.

Not only did the planes circle Manhattan at only 1,000 feet they buzzed the Statue of Liberty only 500 feet!

Thousands of people were evacuated from buildings on both sides of the Hudson during the half-hour episode.

The ill-advised spectacle cost $328,835.

Link here and here.

Waxman uses cap and trade breaks as bribe to gain votes

Under cap and trade the federal government gives companies a limit to the emissions they are allowed, which is their “cap.” If they go beyond, they must enter into “carbon trading” by buying “carbon offsets.”

In order to get enough votes in Congress to pass a controversial global warming package, Democratic leaders are offering some lawmakers generous emission “allowances” to protect their districts from the economic pain of pollution restrictions.

It’s a bribe offered by Congressman Waxman (pictured) that many politicians won’t be able to resist.

Democrats in congress want this bill passed by any means possible proving that cap and trade will be based mainly on political power and only incidentally on carbon emissions.

There will be special allowances for all manner of favored groups covered with the usual excuses. The groups not favored will have to be charged more to make up for those who are excused.

These calculations are supposed to be based on scientific calculations to protect our planet - or so we thought until Waxman and other Democrats decided they needed bribes to get their controversial global warming package passed.


Obama waves finance rules reporting for Labor Unions

Labor Unions helped put Barack Obama in the White House.

Now Mr. Obama is returning the favor.

The Obama administration, which has boasted about its efforts to make government more transparent, is rolling back rules requiring labor unions and their leaders to report information about their finances and compensation.

The Labor Department noted in a recent disclosure that "it would not be a good use of resources" to bring enforcement actions against union officials who do not comply with conflict of interest reporting rules passed in 2007. Instead, union officials will now be allowed to file older, less detailed conflict reports.

The decision not to protect simple union disclosure protections creates increased vulnerability for American workers and should serve notice to legislators that now is not the time to grant union bosses more unchecked power over workers and our economy

The AFL-CIO would "benefit greatly" from the delay or rollback of expanded reporting rules. "It immediately allows the AFL-CIO to avoid financial disclosure that is beneficial and necessary to rank-and-file workers who are forced to pay union dues and fees to keep a job.”


Apr 28, 2009

A damaging first 100 days

CNBC’s monetary guru Larry Kudlow (pictured) weighs in on Barack Obama’s damaging first 100 days.

Kudlow2Mr. Obama is moving the country away from democratic free-market capitalism and toward a big-government, command-and-control vision of our nation’s economy. What we are witnessing is a triumph of government bureaucrats over entrepreneurs, investors, and small businesses.

The Pelosi-Reid budget Congress just passed, with Obama’s blessing, doubles the debt in five years, and triples it in ten.

To give some perspective, that debt level is higher than the combined debt levels generated under every president from George Washington to George W. Bush.

More here.

What’s a necessity? TV? Dishwasher? iPod?

Do you think a television set is a necessity? A New York Times article by Floyd Norris says that 52 percent think a television is a necessity according to a Pew Research Center poll. That is the lowest figure since that question was first asked in 1973.

The older you are, the more likely you are to view it as a necessity. Among those over 65, 68 percent think a set is a necessity, compared to 38 percent of those age 18 to 29. But both those figures are down from three years ago.

Even those who say home air conditioning is a necessity went down from 70 percent to only 54 percent since 2006.

The the young are more likely to view a cellphone as a necessity, and less likely to see a need for a landline.

Also, only 4 percent of Americans think an iPod is a necessity. I would have guessed a much higher percent with all the iPods in use. We have several grandchildren in that 4 percent.

Whether this is a brief, recession-induced pause, or a real change, is not easy to say.

The Norris NYT blog entry is here and the Pew Research poll report is here.

Arriving from Mexico City with appropriate attire

A man walks through the Miami airport after arriving on a flight from Mexico City with appropriate attire - a medical mask.

Time Magazine photo

Media remains in love with Obama

News networks devote half their nightly newscasts to Barack Obama.

The Center for Media and Public Affairs found that:

Barack Obama received more television coverage in his first 50 days in office than George W. Bush and Bill Clinton did through similar points in their presidencies combined.

The final report is out and is even more absurd:

During his first 50 days in office, the three broadcast network evening news shows devoted 1021 stories lasting 27 hours 44 minutes to Barack Obama’s presidency.

The daily average of seven stories and over 11 minutes of airtime represents about half of the entire newscasts.

By contrast, at this point in their presidencies George W. Bush had received 7 hours 42 minutes and Bill Clinton garnered 15 hours 2 minutes of coverage, for a combined total airtime five hours less than Mr. Obama’s.

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CBS led the coverage with 365 stories and 10 hours 46 minutes of airtime, followed by NBC with 327 stories and 9 hours 38 minutes, and ABC with 329 stories and 7 hours 20 minutes.

Thus, CBS has given more coverage to the Obama administration than all three networks combined gave to the first 50 days of George W. Bush’s presidency.


Apr 27, 2009

No administration health team during serious flu crisis

Is the Obama administration unprepared for dealing with a health crisis?

The Obama administration declared a “public health emergency” Sunday to confront the swine flu - but is heading into its first medical crisis without a secretary of Health and Human Services or appointees in any of the department’s 19 key posts.

President Barack Obama has not yet chosen a Surgeon General or the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His choice to run the Food and Drug Administration awaits confirmation.

Are the unfilled posts intentional? Critics of the administration say that by not filling these posts with permanent appointees, they can be filled by “temporary” appointees (some may serve indefinitely) thereby avoiding the confirmation process.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says that these “unfilled” positions have been temporarily filled by “career civil service personnel.” These people are allowed to serve without going through the confirmation process.

Some of these positions may remain vacant, such as the position of Surgeon General, because Obama may not be able to find anyone who is willing to take the blame for the coming Socialized Medicine.

The sad fact is the administration has a headless DCD, no Surgeon General and nobody running Health and Human Resources during a major health crisis while Mr. Obama is out on the golf course.


Remembering the swine flu debacle of 1976

A swine flu threat swept the United States in 1976 and the government wanted everyone to get vaccinated but the epidemic never really broke out.

It was a threat that never materialized.

What did materialize were cases of a rare side effect thought to be linked to the shot. The unexpected development cut short the vaccination effort -- an unprecedented national campaign -- after 10 weeks.

The episode triggered an enduring public backlash against flu vaccination, embarrassed the federal government and cost the director of the U.S. Center for Disease Control, now known as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, his job.

Administrating a swine flu shot in 1976 - Los Angeles Times photo
The pandemic fears of the time and the resulting vaccine controversy may be fueling some of the public's -- and media's -- anxiety about the current outbreak, said health officials who recalled the previous event.

More here.

Prince of hypocrites: green initiative not so green

A 'Green initiative' by Prince Charles will cost £80,000 ($116,928) and leave a 53-ton carbon footprint as he flies in a private jet with the Duchess of Cornwall and a staff of 10 on a five-day tour of Europe to promote environmental issues.

Instead of using scheduled flights, the Royal party has hired a private plane, thought to be an Airbus A319.

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall are shown above.
According to experts from the Carbon Managers company, which carries out environmental audits, the aircraft's four European flights over 2,200 miles will leave a carbon footprint of 52.95 tons - nearly five times the average person's 11-ton footprint for an entire year.

The flights on the specially converted jet, which boasts a master suite with its own lavatory and shower, will cost an estimated £80,000 ($116,928) - five times more than business-class fares on scheduled airlines.

Transport Spokesman Norman Baker said: “Prince Charles seems not to realize that he enormously weakens his case for tackling climate change by his own profligate and careless habits. It is deeply unattractive to have somebody lecturing you on climate change when they are one of the greatest emitters of carbon themselves.”

Maybe it’s only commoners that need to develop environmentally friendly habits.


SF Mayor Gavin Newsom to run for governor of California

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (pictured) has made it official - he's planning to run for governor of California.

The 41-year-old mayor used the social networking sites Twitter and Facebook to announce that he was seeking the Democratic nomination to succeed Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Newsom could be facing Attorney General Jerry Brown and Lt. Governor John Garamendi in next year's Democratic primary.

Other Democrats who could be running include Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaragosa and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.

We wonder if the 71-year-old Jerry Brown, the 64-year-old John Garamendi, the 56-year-old Antonio Villaragosa and the 75-year-old Dianne Feinstein will also be using Twitter and Facebook to announce their candidacy.


Apr 26, 2009

Pontiac hits end of the road as a GM brand

GM had big hopes for the Pontiac G8 performance sedan (shown below). It was a hit with critics but never did really catch on with customers.

Pontiac was credited with originating the muscle car and now it will no longer be part of GM's future.

After eight decades the Pontiac brand is about to die or be sold by GM.

The automaker will announce the end of the iconic American brand early next week.

Pontiac is the latest casualty of the radical downsizing of General Motors. The company will outline further cuts early next week, but it is GM's departure of a brand that's been around 83 years that will get the most attention.

At one point, Pontiac was as much a part of the fabric of America as Chevy and Cadillac. It gave us the GTO, Grand Prix, and Firebird. All were Classic American muscle and sports cars.

Those were the days.


Obama primetime speeches cost networks millions

Barack Obama has only been in office 100 days and he is already asking the broadcast networks for airtime for another news conference to air next Wednesday evening during primetime.

It's likely he'll get that request granted but you can almost see the network presidents gritting their teeth and assenting.

This would be the fourth such presser for Obama (he's averaging one a month now). The past three have cost the ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX about $30 million bucks.

The irony here is that, with the exception of FOX, the networks have worked hard to elect the man and now he is costing them millions in lost advertising revenue.
One commenter, at the end of the article linked to below, said:

The networks deserve to lose millions to the poser in chief. They have covered up and lied about him and now they get to lose money because of him.


Under protest

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner takes his seat before the Congressional Oversight Panel as demonstrators behind him hold signs in opposition to the bailout of financial institutions.