May 16, 2009

Detroit in decline

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William Livingstone House - constructed in 1893 in the once-elegant Brush Park neighborhood, this home, designed by architect Albert Kahn, was moved from its original location several years ago by preservationists who hoped to preserve it. It was demolished last year.

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United Artists Theater - This spectacular Spanish Gothic theater, built in 1928, was closed in the 1970s.

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Lee Plaza Hotel - once one of the most luxurious residential hotels in Detroit, Lee Plaza closed in the 1990s.

Photos from Time Magazine - taken by French photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre

GM cars after government meddling

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May 15, 2009

Waterboarding is drowning Nancy Pelosi

A Time Magazine article at the link below says:

Not many people get away with calling the Central Intelligence Agency a bald-faced liar, at least not when they're speaking to a room packed with dozens of national media outlets. And yet that is exactly what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (upper photo) did.

When Ms. Pelosi was asked by a reporter at a Capitol Hill press conference if she was accusing the CIA of lying to her in 2002, she said definitively, "misleading the Congress of the United States. I am."

And with that, she upped the ante in the high-stakes spat over who knew what (and when) about the Bush Administration's enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs), such as waterboarding.

CIA charts of who were briefed and when started surfacing. Topping the list? Pelosi, then the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee that the CIA says was briefed in September of 2002 "on EITs including use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah.

If Pelosi expected CIA director Leon Panetta (lower photo) to back her story she was in for a disappointment. He said the document showing her briefing on the subject was factual.

As the article began, not may people get away with calling the Central Intelligence Agency a bald-faced liar!

Link here for more of this “she said - he said” story.

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Stimulus checks sent to dead people

Antoniette Santopadre (pictured) of Valley Stream, New York was expecting a $250 stimulus check. But when her son finally opened it, they saw that the check was made out to her father, Romolo Romonini, who died in Italy 34 years ago. He'd been a U.S. citizen when he left for Italy in 1933, but only returned to the United States for a seven-month visit in 1969.

Romonini was never on the Social Security system, which didn’t begin until after he left for Italy in 1933.

The Santopadres are not alone. The Social Security Administration, which sent out 52 million checks, says that some of those checks mistakenly went to dead people because the agency had no record of their death. That amounts to between 8,000 and 10,000 checks for millions of dollars.

Click here for the story and a short video of the Antoniette Santopadre interview.

Baseball pitcher’s home is an Assisted Living Center

Josh Faiola is a pitcher with the Lake Erie Crushers baseball team.

When he walks out on the field on opening day, he'll already have a large group of fans in the stands -- his new roommates at the Belvedere of Westlake assisted living center.

Like other players in the independent Frontier League, Faiola doesn’t make the ‘big bucks’ of his major league counterparts.

He occupies a large suite in the center, with his own kitchenette, washer and dryer, furniture and a TV.

The 25-year-old pitcher rubs shoulders with folks three times his age.

One resident said, “it's been quite exciting because he's young and new and interesting and we're old.”

His teammates tease him by asking if he is required to go to bed early.


Will Obama-care cover faith healing?

A Time Magazine report at the link below wonders if universal health care (Obama’s move to force us into socialized medicine) should cover faith healing.

As Washington prepares for a summer-long debate over how to reform health care, lobbyists for every conceivable interest group have camped out in congressional anterooms to press their case.

There are advocates for doctors, insurance companies, patients, nurses, pharmaceutical companies, big business and small business. And for faith healers too.

The vintage photo above shows faith healer Oral Roberts praying over a patient.
Of course, they wouldn't call themselves "faith healers."

They argue that the term dismisses what they do as simple wishful thinking.

But practitioners of Christian Science as well as other alternative therapies — including acupuncture, biofeedback, herbal medicine, holistic medicine and Reiki, a Japanese healing and relaxation technique — are intent on influencing the coming health-care-reform process.

Where would the line be drawn? Would some forms of quackery be included? How about voodoo?

More of the story here.

A wall of doors in Korea

Colorful waste doors decorate the wall of a building, which is being remodeled in downtown Seoul.

May 14, 2009

Backing Nancy Pelosi into a corner

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi can’t believe that no one believes her when she claims she was not briefed on interrogation techniques in 2002 when documentation seems to show otherwise.

A report in the Weekly Standard titled, Pelosi's Quagmire says that Republicans in the House are keeping up the pressure on Pelosi (upper photo) by pushing for answers about what she knew and when she knew it.

Pelosi has found relatively few allies among her fellow Democrats.

Pressed by reporters, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., allowed that “what was said and when it was said, who said it” should be part of a congressional inquiry.

Republicans are accusing Pelosi of hypocrisy and intellectually honest Democrats are accusing her of complicity.

Does this mean Pelosi’s house of cards will tumble?

The media is beginning to turn on Pelosi. Steny Hoyer also appears to be doing the same. As much power as Pelosi wields in the House, Hoyer wouldn’t dare challenge her unless he was backed by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel (pictured above thumbing his nose just before the inauguration in January).


Glitch in Google Search and G-Mail

In a Thursday post on its Web site, Google reported that:

A "small subset of users" hasn't been able to get into their e-mail accounts.

Without elaborating, Google says the e-mail trouble might be affecting other services as well.

The technical problems at Google are preventing an unknown number of people from using its Internet search engine, e-mail and other services.

Multiple messages posted on Twitter, a popular information-sharing forum, indicate that people all over the world are having trouble with the Google search engine and e-mail. But other Twitter users say their Google services have been running smoothly.

Google says the company is working to fix the problems.


Biden and White House ‘loose with the facts’

An Associated Press report at the link below compares statements by Joe Biden (pictured) and the White House with the actual facts.

Capturing the full effect of the stimulus at this early stage is difficult, but the administration has set high bars for success.

In championing those successes, however, the White House plays a little loose with the facts.


First-time homebuyers are "driving increased activity in the home sales market," while mortgage and title companies are hiring more workers because of the first-time homebuyer tax credit included in the stimulus bill.


The report cites anecdotes from a New Orleans business journal to back up the claim. It's true, buyers are taking advantage of the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credits. The IRS said more than 567,000 tax returns claimed the credit in just the first weeks of the program. But that hasn't provided an immediate turnaround in the market.

Since February, sales of existing homes have fallen 3 percent and new home sales are down .6 percent.

And the number of jobs in the real estate industry has declined by about 20,500, according to the Department of Labor.

There are signs that the housing market is improving. But the numbers suggest that if the market bottomed out, it did so in January, before the stimulus was passed.


Employment agencies are placing more workers in jobs, and demand is up since February.


The report cites an interview with an employment service manager quoted in the same New Orleans business article. The anecdote may be true, but it's impossible to extrapolate that any further, even just to New Orleans. The city has lost more than 200 jobs since February. Overall, Louisiana lost 16,085 jobs over the same span, according to the Department of Labor.


The stimulus has created or saved 150,000 jobs.


Since February, the nation has lost more than 1.3 million jobs, according to the Department of Labor. To make the case that the country created jobs over that same stretch, the White House has put forward a benchmark of jobs created "or saved." The argument is that the job numbers would have been even worse had it not been for the stimulus, and the difference between those numbers is a net positive.

To visualize that disconnect, consider this: The administration has promised to create or save 600,000 more jobs in the next 100 days. Even if the nation loses another 5 million jobs during that span (a highly unlikely prospect) the White House could still claim success.

“The White House could claim success” is the key phrase in the above statement and the media will dutifully give the White House credit.

The report goes on:

Spending money will put people to work. But spending has a cost. At some point, Washington will have to pay for this program, either by raising taxes or interest rates, and those policies typically hurt job growth.

The Obama administration's job data do not take into consideration this back-end cost, an omission some economists, particularly conservative economists, say is a flaw in the analysis.


Sarah Palin stands up for Miss California, Carrie Prejean

Miss California, Carrie Prejean (upper photo), Miss USA runner-up, has taken a lot of heat (abuse, actually) from left-wing liberals because of her stand against gay marriage.

Miss Prejean’s statement was:

We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised.

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (lower photo) as come to the defense of Carrie Prejean with this statement:

The liberal onslaught of malicious attacks against Carrie Prejean for expressing her opinion is despicable.

Carrie and I spoke soon after the attacks started; I can relate as a liberal target myself. What I find so remarkable is that these politically-motivated attacks fail to show that what Carrie and I believe is also what President Obama and Secretary Clinton believe — marriage is between a man and a woman.

I applaud Donald Trump for standing with Carrie during this time. And I respect Carrie for standing strong and staying true to herself, and for not letting those who disagree with her deny her protection under the nation's First Amendment Rights.

Our Constitution protects us all — not just those who agree with the far left.

Link here and here.

Saudis enjoy a rare snowfall in Al Baha, a city south-west of Riyadh.

First-class airport with lots of funding but few travelers

There is a state-of-the-art airport in Johnstown, Pennsylvania (population 23,000) that has few travelers but gets a lot of federal funding.

Inside the terminal on a recent weekday, four passengers lined up to board a flight, outnumbered by seven security staff members and supervisors, all suited up in gloves and uniforms to screen six pieces of luggage.

For three hours that day, no commercial or private planes took off or landed. Three commercial flights leave the airport on weekdays, all bound for Dulles International Airport.

The photo above shows the security check-in area at the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport in Johnstown, Pa., where the security staff members sometimes outnumber the passengers.

What keeps this pristine, little used facility going is $200 million in federal funds in the past decade. And all thanks John Murtha (pictured) who is a powerful and corrupt Washington Congressman.

Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) is credited with securing at least $150 million for the airport.

It was among the first in the country to win funding from this year's stimulus package: $800,000 to repave a backup runway.

Murtha, dubbed the King of Pork by critics, consistently directs more federal money to his district than any other congressman -- $192 million in the 2008 budget.

The lawmaker, who uses the airport frequently during his campaigns, has steadily steered millions of taxpayer dollars to it to build a new terminal with a restaurant; a long, concrete runway sturdy enough to handle large jets; and a high-tech radar system usually reserved for international airports.

A video of this little-used state-of-the-art airport can be found here. More of this story is here.

May 13, 2009

In out of the rain

Cyclists take cover from the rain in public phone booths in Rio Branco, Brazil

GOP to begin calling a spade a spade

The RNC (Republican National Committee) will begin branding Democrats as the “Democrat Socialist Party.”

Many Republicans will be saying, It’s about time! What took ‘em so long?

As we have said before - this is not your father’s Democratic Party. The word Democrat no longer seems to be appropriate. They really should change the name of the party to the National Socialist Party.

The “he’ll pay my mortgage and buy my gas” crowd won’t care what the party is called. In fact they won’t even know what the word Socialist means.

RNC Chairman Michael Steele (pictured) wrote a memo last month opposing the resolution.

Steele said that while he believes Democrats “are indeed marching America toward European-style socialism,” he also said in a (rare) flash of insight that officially referring to them as the Democrat Socialist Party “will accomplish little than to give the media and our opponents the opportunity to mischaracterize Republicans.

When the writer of the article, linked to below, asked if such a resolution would force RNC Chairman Michael Steele to use that label when talking about Democrats in all his speeches and press releases, the RNC member replied: “Who cares?” That pretty much sums up the attitude some members of the RNC have toward their chairman these days.

The Republicans really need to get a leader they can rally behind before the 2010 elections.

Steele is probably right, however, no matter how the Democrats mischaracterize Republicans, the media will pick up on it quickly and firmly. As far as Republicans trying to label Democrats as Socialists, the media will either ignore the attempt or glorify the brand.

It won’t be that difficult for the media to convince most Americans under the age of 40 that Socialism is the neatest thing since sliced bread.


Will Windows 7 be here for the Holidays?

Microsoft has announced that the next version of Windows will ship before the end of 2009.

But will it really be ready for the Holidays? We remember the many delays before Vista was finally on the market.

ZDNet says that as a rule, talk of a new operating system usually has a chilling effect on computer sales as buyers wait for the new operating system to appear.

People do this because they want the latest operating system on their new computer and don’t want the hassle of upgrading. Adopting the wait and see approach also eliminates any hardware hassles that might happen.

Recently ZDNet asked the following question on their website:

Does the release of Windows 7 by the end of the year alter PC buying plans?

The reply was:

Yes - 56%

Not planning to buy a new PC - 25%

No - 16%

Don’t know - 3%

The recession will cause a slump in computer sales for the remainder of 2009. If the ZDNet respondents reflect a true cross-section of potential computer buyers, there could be an even bigger slump in computer sales between now and December when Windows 7 is slated to appear.


How a president ages while in office

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Washington logic

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May 12, 2009

What will PBS do to the Cat in the Hat?

There is a delightful squib on a Time Magazine blog at the link below titled, Will PBS Neuter the Cat in the Hat?

There will be an educational animated series starring Dr. Seuss' most famous character on PBS Kids. This Cat in the Hat series will begin in the fall of 2010.

In The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, the giant feline takes six-year-olds Nick and Sally "on a magical journey to all corners of the globe to make natural science discoveries," in a vehicle called the Thinga-ma-jigger.

The writer wonders about the idea of cleaning up and reforming an irreverent character such as the Cat in the Hat for the sake of educational TV.

The Cat didn't visit the children's homes to teach them about undersea life—except by balancing their pet goldfish on top of a tower.

He didn't set out to instruct them and improve our national scientific literacy.

The cat was an irresponsible hedonistic ne'er-do-well who wreaked disaster, encouraged children to disobey their mothers and ate cake in the bathtub, then tried to clean up the pink stains using Dad's ten-dollar shoes.

He stormed in like a whirlwind to shake them out of their complacency, get them into a little ultimately harmless trouble, and clean up the mess when he was done.

He wasn't a science teacher; he was a partying, raging id.

Will we get that on PBS Kids?

Or will he be muzzled?

Will he be wuzzled?

Will he be foofery-fiff-faff-fer-nuzzled?


Dog on wheels

A dog injured in the Sichuan earthquake walks with its improvised "wheelchair" at the Home of Love Little Animal Protection Center in Chengdu, China.

Being a fashion model isn’t all fun and games

A model reacts backstage before her appearance on the runway at Fashion Week in New York.

Walking on water

The media has convinced many Americans that Obama can walk on water but the White House dog doesn’t quite have the hang of it yet.

The pork flu could be a pandemic

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May 11, 2009

Another dumb celebrity quote…

Christina Aguilera (pictured) asked, “So, where's the Cannes Film Festival being held this year?”
A 7-year-old boy died Saturday morning after a texas couple opened fire on him and other alleged trespassers.

Donald Coffey Jr., his father and friends were on their way back from joy riding near a levee and swimming in the Trinity River around 9 p.m. Thursday when homeowners Gale and Sheila Muhs (pictured) fired at them with a 12-gauge shotgun, police say.

The Muhses, both 45, are charged with aggravated assault and are being held in the Liberty County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail each. The couple is expected to appear in state district court in the coming week.

The boy, struck in the face, was among eight people, including four children, who had been on the river outing. Four people, including another child, were shot.

The men had stopped to go to the bathroom and got out of the Jeep near the Muhses’ home in the Westlake subdivision south of Dayton.

They heard a loud woman’s voice in the darkness ordering the group to get off the property.

Cindy Nelton said the ordeal happened over two or three minutes in “pitch darkness.”

“And then I heard a shot and our windows were blown out,” Nelton said.

Nelton, who never saw a shooter, said she immediately stomped on the gas and screamed, “We’ve got kids in this vehicle! Y’all need to stop shooting!”

A second shot, and possibly others, came in reply.

More of the story here.

Obama as Spock on Star Trek

With the release of the new movie Star Trek last week, editorial cartoonist Michael Ramirez wonders what Mr. Obama would say as a member of the Star Trek movie cast.

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Was Einstein wrong about the bees?

It is said that Albert Einstein once warned that if bees died out, humans would follow four years later.

We doubt if Einstein actually issued that warning. However, whether the quote is true or not, scientists have described the idea that humans rely on honeybees to survive as a "myth".

Honeybees pollinate many of the vegetables and fruit eaten by humans and that feed livestock.

Now researchers writing in Current Biology say is not true that a decline in the pollinators may threaten the human food supply – creating a "pollination crisis".

The scientists from Argentina and Canada argue that most agricultural crop production does not depend on pollinators.

However, they do warn honeybees are crucial for some of our favorite foods like plums, raspberries, cherries, mangoes, Brazil nuts and cashew nuts.

It is interesting to note that three or four years ago there was a flurry of scare reports in the media about the demise of the honeybee, and how mankind would suffer. As soon as it was discovered that that global warming was not the cause of colony collapse disorder, warnings about disappearing bees slowed to a trickle.

Alarmists are now saying the cause of colony collapse disorder is the use of insecticides.

Some are even claiming that the bee population is actually increasing - see the second link below.

Link here and here.

Bee keeper

Wang Dalin, a Chinese beekeeper, is covered with his bees at his farm in Zigui, in central China’s Hubei province

May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's

Obama to rescind stimulus money over union wage cuts

The Obama administration is threatening to rescind billions in stimulus money if Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers do not restore wage cuts to unionized home healthcare workers in California.

Organized labor helped elect Barack Obama. Now he is once again paying unions back for their help.

Obama is already in the process of handing GM and Chrysler over to the United Auto Workers Union.

This time he is jumping in to aid unionized home healthcare workers in California by threatening to rescind billions to the state.

Does anyone ever question why Mr. Obama apologizes and reaches out to appease our enemies while threatening anyone here at home that won’t fall in line with his agenda?


Rosie from The Jetsons?

No, this is not Rosie from "The Jetsons." She is a model getting ready for the Narcisco Rodriguez show during the New York Fashion Week.

Intelligence memo catches Pelosi in a lie

One wonders if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (pictured) even cares if she is honest and truthful - or not. She knew she knew - so what else is new?

Intelligence officials released documents this evening saying that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was briefed in September 2002 about the use of harsh interrogation tactics against al-Qaeda prisoners, seemingly contradicting her repeated statements over the past 18 months that she was never told that these techniques were actually being used.

In a 10-page memo outlining an almost seven-year history of classified briefings, intelligence officials said that Pelosi and then-Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.) were the first two members of Congress ever briefed on the interrogation tactics.

The memo, was issued by the Director of National Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency to Capitol Hill and notes the Pelosi-Goss briefing covered enhanced interrogation techniques.

The issue of what Pelosi knew and when she knew it has become a matter of heated debate on Capitol Hill.

Link here and here.