Jun 13, 2009

Jumping for joy: Bush skydives on 85th birthday

Former President George H.W. Bush marked his 85th birthday on Friday the same way he did his 75th and 80th birthdays: He leaped from a plane and zoomed downward at more than 100 mph in freefall before parachuting safely to a spot near his oceanfront home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Bush made the tandem jump from 10,500 feet with Sgt. 1st Class Mike Elliott of the Army's Golden Knights, who guided them to a gentle landing on the lawn of St. Ann's Church.

He said he enjoyed it so much that he planned to do it again when he turns 90.

George W. and Barbara Bush wave to him after the jump.

With Barbara Bush after the jump.

When he was president, Bush was an avid jogger, speed golfer, fisherman and tennis player.

He said he has slowed down since then, but he doesn't intend to stop moving.

And all that from a man who won’t eat his broccoli.

He told reporters that he jumped Friday for two reasons: to experience the exhilaration of free falling and to show that seniors can remain active and do fun things.


Iran election: landslide win for Ahmadinejad

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (shown below) has been declared the winner in a disputed election.

The government said on Saturday that Ahmadinejad won Friday's presidential election with 62.63 percent of the vote and Mir Hossein Moussavi received 33.75 percent of the vote.

Before the ballot counting was over, Moussavi supporters urged the counting to stop because of "blatant violations" and lashed out at what he indicated was an unfair process.

At least Ahmadinejad didn’t use dead people voting and ACORN fraud to win.

Well, he didn’t use ACORN anyway. In a country like Iran you don’t need ACORN to win.

More here.

Jun 12, 2009

John Daly: color on the golf course

Pro golfer John Daly shows how to be conspicuous on the golf course.

Blaming Bush doesn’t work anymore

David Axelrod (pictured) senior advisor to Barack Obama, said:

Nobody’s trying to duck responsibility or make excuses.

At the same time Mr. Obama said:

The financial crisis this administration inherited is still creating painful challenges for businesses and families alike.

Blaming a predecessor is not new. Reagan blamed Carter for the poor economy and raging inflation he inherited.

Clinton blamed the first President Bush and the younger President Bush blamed Clinton.

However, former Bush aides argue that Mr. Obama has done it more extensively and routinely than other presidents have, although this is denied by the Obama team.

An article in the New York Times (see link below) reports that at a certain point, a new president assumes ownership of the problems and finds himself answering for his own actions.

Challenges stacking up overseas may increasingly be seen as Mr. Obama’s soon enough too, say advisers, critics and some outside experts.

By sending an extra 21,000 American troops to Afghanistan and replacing the commander there, Mr. Obama has now made that war his, as many analysts in Washington see it.

Also, the forceful (some say anti-Semitic) position toward Israel adopted by Mr. Obama over settlement expansion makes the Palestinian conflict his own problem.

“Whatever problems he inherited walking in the door, they’re his responsibility now,” Mr. Axelrod said. “Nobody’s trying to duck responsibility or make excuses for them.

David Axelrod is Mr. Obama’s senior advisor.

He gets it.

Yet Barack Obama continues to “blame Bush.”


Being President is easy!

Its official swine flu pandemic has begun

Swine flu is now formally a pandemic, a declaration by U.N. health officials that will speed vaccine production and spur government spending to combat the first global flu epidemic in 41 years.

Thursday's announcement by the World Health Organization doesn't mean the virus is any more lethal — only that its spread is considered unstoppable.

Since it was first detected in late April in Mexico and the United States, swine flu has reached 74 countries, infecting nearly 29,000 people. Most who catch the bug have only mild symptoms and don't need medical treatment.

More of the story here.

Flu masks from around the world

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Holocaust museum shooter had shocking beliefs

The man who murdered a guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum shocked acquaintances with his hateful views.

Shown here is a more recent photo of von Brunn than accompanies most stories of the museum shooting.

The anger of James Wenneker von Brunn was too big for the quiet civility of the small town on Maryland's Eastern Shore where he made his home for much of the past three decades.

The venom that seethed within him spilled over time and again, shocking the people of Easton who bore witness.

They were shocked once more at news of Wednesday's fatal shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, but not at word that the alleged gunman was the 88-year-old white supremacist who once lived in their midst.

One acquaintance said, "Was he capable of this? Yes! Our intuition that he was creepy, that he might go postal, all came back to us when we heard the news."

Mr. von Brunn was a former Navy officer who commanded a PT boat in the Pacific in the last weeks of World War II.

A 1943 graduate of Washington University in his home town of St. Louis, he bounced from one address to another on the Eastern Shore.

He worked in the mortgage and real estate businesses, peddled his paintings of Western landscapes and shared with all who would listen his hatred for blacks and Jews.

More of the story here.

Jun 11, 2009

Want to get up to 600 miles per gallon?

The Twike is a zero emissions vehicle made in Germany.

It is a hybrid, but maybe not what you’d think. It’s a “human-electric” hybrid.

This puddle jumper is not for the faint of heart, not if you want to get 600 miles per gallon anyway.

Near as we can tell, this vehicle is guaranteed to take the fun out of your driving.

Pedaling extends the range of the vehicle but does not substantially add to the vehicle's top speed.

The vehicle cannot be driven solely by using pedal power. Regenerative antilock braking captures energy from deceleration to recharge computer-controlled batteries.

I wasn’t going to make light of this pedal/electric wonder until I saw the price tag. How many eco-geeks will they find that just happen to have more than $30,000 in their jeans?

We are not sure how Twike is pronounced. Possibly it is meant to sound like “baby talk” for trike.

More here.

Showing off for the ranch hands

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Canadian rider Jeff Fehr jumps in front of a cowboy settlement at the historic Bar U Ranch in Calgary, Canada.

China earthquake

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Tens of thousands visited the quake devastated town of Beichuan, in southwestern China's Sichuan province.

State leaders laid flowers and survivors burned paper money for departed spirits as a mournful China marked the first anniversary of a devastating earthquake that left nearly 90,000 people dead or missing and 5 million homeless.

Anything goes in Miami Beach - except Mr. Clucky

Mr. Clucky is a rooster that delights tourists and locals alike by riding on his master's handlebars in Miami Beach, Florida.

However, the talented but noisy rooster is being evicted by Miami Beach.

In the live-and-let-live annals of Miami Beach, the city has embraced a disparate cast of characters: the cross-dressing former cabbie who jives to '60s hits for change; the woman who walks her iguanas in a pram built for two; and the middle-aged man who makes custom paintings with his toes, to name a few.

But you have to draw the line somewhere, and so the city has decreed that Mr. Clucky -- the bike-riding rooster known for weaving his way through the laid-back crowds at Lincoln Road Mall -- must go.


Fiat Chrysler deal shifting to high gear

After being propped up by $15.5 billion in U.S. Treasury loans between January and May, Chrysler entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April.

The deal with the Italian automaker will give Fiat 20 per cent of the new company in return for a transfer of technology, with the stake expanding to 35 per cent if targets are met.

The United Auto Workers union is to hold 55 per cent of the group, the US government 8 per cent and the Canadian government 2 per cent.

The tiny Fiat 500 (shown above with Jim Press, president and vice-chairman of Chrysler) is one of the first cars Chrysler hopes to build in North America through its new alliance with Fiat.

An article at the second link below wonders if Americans can learn to love Fiat.

In Italy, the joke is that Fiat stands for “fix it again Tony.”

How excited will Americans be about buying a tiny Fiat, with a Chrysler name-plate, built in a factory whose principle owner is the United Auto Workers union when It was the UAW’s unrealistic demands, along with GM, Ford and Chrysler’s cave-in to those demands, that got the U.S. automakers in trouble in the first place.

I have been loyal to American automakers - until now. We just replaced a Chrysler built van that served us well for the several years. After more than 200,000 miles it was replaced recently by a Toyota van. We are just not inclined to buy a UAWmobile.

More of the Chrysler/Fiat story here and here.

Jun 10, 2009

Museum shooter von Brunn's ex-wife says his racism 'ate him alive'

Holocaust Museum shooter’s ex-wife speaks about James von Brunn.

The ex-wife of the racist who stormed the U.S. Holocaust Museum described him as an abusive alcoholic whose hatred against Jews and blacks “ate him alive like a cancer. It's all he would talk about.”

The woman, who asked that her name not be used, said when she learned von Brunn allegedly acted on his anti-Semitic impulses, she thought about something he used to say when they were married.

"He used to make the statement that he was going out with his boots on," she said.
"I took it to mean that he wasn't just about to lay down and die of old age. That he was going to go out and try to take some people with him."

She married von Brunn in the mid-1960s and they divorced 10 years later. She said he sipped red wine all day and frequently lashed out with verbal assaults.

von Brunn's age is in dispute. Some media are reporting that he is in his 60s, while The Associated Press says he is 89 years old.


Guard dies in shooting at Holocaust Museum

James Von Brunn, an elderly white surpremist opened fire at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., injuring himself and one guard.

According to reports the guard has died the gunman is in critical condition.

”There were no threats" against the museum, said D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier. "The second he stepped into the building he began firing." Lanier said he was shooting a rifle.

The 89-year-old von Brunn (shown here in a much earlier photo) was released from the federal penitentiary in Ray Brook, N.Y. on Sept. 15, 1989, after serving 5-1/2 years.

He was convicted in 1983 of attempted kidnapping, burglary and assault with a deadly weapon in a 1981 incident at the Federal Reserve.

Von Brunn, a Holocaust denier, maintains a racist, anti-Semitic website and wrote a book titled Kill the Best Gentile.


Who says man can’t fly?

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This interesting photo shows a man jumping into a public swimming pool in Duesseldorf, Germany as an airplane in the background prepares to land.

UK report First Lady of flamboyance

The London Daily Mail printed a photo of Michelle Obama saying: Her taste for restrained elegance has earned her the title of First Lady of Fashion.

At least she didn’t wear a tank top.


Washington truth commission

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Getting an upside-down drink

A squirrel strains for a drop of water from a faucet.

The new Pelosimobile from Congressional Motors

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For those special odd-numbered week ends when we will be allowed to drive ...

Jun 9, 2009

Retiring army goat

William Windsor, mascot of England's 1st Battalion, appears at his retirement parade after seven years of UK Army service. The Battalion, known as The Royal Welsh, has had a goat in its ranks for more than 200 years.

Socialists lick wounds as conservatives win across Europe

Note: a correction was made to his posting

Many reporters called the elections a defeat for the “center left.”

One quick observation:

The losers were not center left. They were no more center left than Barack Obama. They were all politically far left!

An AP article at the link below reports:

Conservatives raced toward victory in some of Europe's largest economies Sunday as initial results and exit polls showed voters punishing left-leaning parties in European parliament elections in France, Germany and elsewhere.

Franz Muentefering (pictured) chairman of Germany’s Social Democrats reacts to results of the elections in Germany and across Europe.

The Social Democrats along with Britain’s Labor Party and Frances Socialists are said to have suffered setbacks of “historic proportions.”

Some right-leaning parties said the results vindicated their reluctance to spend more on company bailouts and fiscal stimulus amid the global economic crisis.


Reporters given 12 years hard labor in North Korea

Laura Ling and Euna Lee (pictured), reporters for Al Gore’s Current TV, were arrested in March.

They were sentenced after a closed-door trial for what the state-run North Korean news agency KCNA called the "grave crime they committed against the Korean nation and their illegal border crossing."

The United States has no diplomatic relations with North Korea, and Sweden represents U.S. interests there. The Swedish ambassador told the U.S. State Department that no observers were allowed in the courtroom for the trial, and the ambassador was allowed to see them only three times.

Several senior administration officials said the idea of sending either Gore or New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to Pyongyang on a mission to get the journalists released has been floated to the North Koreans.

No answer has come so far, but the expectation has been that once the trial ended, the North would accept a visit by either Gore or Richardson to secure the journalists' release, the officials said.

North Korea will probably release the reporters but not before the US pays a huge ransom.


Peering into North Korea

A girl looks through a binocular telescope at a village in the North Korea city of Kaepoong from the Panmunjom demilitarized zone.

Biden: new rail tunnel being built for cars

About that new tunnel that NJ Transit has been wanting for years. It’s the one that the Federal Transit Administration made a huge commitment to on Monday.

“Look, this is designed, this totally new tunnel, is designed to provide for automobile traffic,” Biden said. “It’s something, as you know, up your way, that’s been in the works and people have been clamoring for a long time.”

For cars? Really?

For the record, the tunnel is for trains, and its completion would allow for more NJ Transit trains during peak hours and “one-seat” rides into Midtown Manhattan on lines serving Bergen and Passaic counties.

Biden's office did not immediately respond to a request to clarify his comments.

How many gaffe’s does that make since becoming our “comic relief” vice president?

Wonder if he can spell potato?


Jun 8, 2009

Burger King warming Whopper

Have it your way.

A major Burger King franchise owner puts up controversial signs at its Burger King restaurants.

The franchisee is a Memphis-based company called the Mirabile Investment Corporation (MIC) that owns more than 40 Burger Kings across Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi, has described Burger King as acting "kinda like cockroaches" over the controversy.

Burger King has asked MIC to remove the signs. However, MIC's marketing president, John McNelis has said that by the time Burger King lawyers work out how to make that stick we'd be in the year 2020.

Does Al Gore eat at any of the MIC Burger King restaurants? No? I didn’t think so.


Job seekers getting the wrinkles out

A clinic in Virginia gave free Botox wrinkle injections to unemployed women looking for work.

Ladies with “wrinkles and a résumé" stood in line Friday at the Reveal clinic near the Pentagon to accept the unusual offer of free Botox injections.

The ladies hope improving their appearance will help, at least psychologically, in future job interviews.

The cost of a single treatment can vary from $300 to $500, according to Reveal. Results typically last four to six months.

One of the job seekers said, “You're more likely to be perceived in a better light if you look good.”

This is especially important in a climate of age discrimination.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says it received 24,582 complaints of age discrimination in the 12-month period ending in September. That's a 29 percent increase from the previous year.


Guinness Record longest running TV ad

A delightful commercial showing a little old lady throwing a tire through a tire store window is the longest running TV commercial according to Guinness World Records.

Joining the ranks of Charmin's Mr. Whipple, Wendy's affable founder Dave Thomas and the Lonely Maytag Repairman, is the little old lady from the Discount Tire ad.

Not only is the Discount Tire ad a winner - it’s funny and it’s also short - only 10 seconds long!

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Shootout at Acapulco Mexico Kills 16

Acapulco, the 1950’s and 1960’s premier resort town for America's rich and famous, was the scene of a dramatic shootout.

Roughly 3,000 shots flew, and 50 grenades exploded during the raucous gun battle late Saturday that killed 16 gunmen and two soldiers.

Nine other people were wounded, including three bystanders.

More than a dozen Mexican tourists were evacuated from a neighboring hotel strip frozen in the 1950s, when Elizabeth Taylor held one of her many weddings in Acapulco and John Wayne and "Tarzan" star Johnny Weissmuller threw lavish parties at Los Flamingos Hotel less than 100 yards (meters) from where gunfire broke out.

Several gunmen tried to flee but crashed their car into a military Hummer that was blocking the gate. At one point, more armed men with grenades arrived to reinforce the men in the house, but they died in the shooting, said an army colonel, who led the operation and spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

More of the story here.

North Dakota: first June snowfall in 60 years

Snow fell over the week end in Dickinson, North Dakota. It was the first time in nearly 60 years the city had seen snow in June.

It probably ruined Al Gore’s day.


Jun 7, 2009

Car ticketed repeatedly with dead owner inside

The body of 59-year-old George Morales was discovered last Wednesday after a city marshal attempted to tow his illegally parked vehicle in the city's Queens district.

New York Police allegedly repeatedly ticketed the minivan for weeks before noticing that its occupant was dead.


How to “head” a soccer ball

Bayern Munich's Italian striker Luca Toni prepares to head the ball during their German first division Bundesliga soccer match against Bayer Leverkusen in Munich last month.

Reuters photo

GM takeover: Obama’s decision for Obama’s reasons

There is an op-ed article at the link below titled, I, Barack Obama reporting on the GM takeover speech by the “first person in chief.”

Last Monday Obama used the first-person singular pronoun "I" 34 times when he announced he was nationalizing General Motors.

He used “Congress” once and “law” not at all.

As Obama described it, the government takeover of General Motors was Obama’s decision made for Obama’s reasons.

To prevent GM from becoming a ward of the state, Obama made it the property of the state.

Obama did not say he would ask Congress to enact legislation to provide the funds needed to purchase 60 percent of GM or with the legal authority to restructure the company and oversee its business plan.

He said: “I decided then ... the United States government would stand behind them.”

Remember: In December, Congress specifically declined to enact legislation authorizing the president to bail out the auto industry--let alone to purchase an auto company. What law now gives Obama authority to buy General Motors?

The White House says, when pressed, it is the Troubled Asset Relief Program. But that legislation was written specifically to allow the Treasury Department to purchase assets from “financial institutions.” It says nothing about buying auto companies.

The article points out that the Constitution does not say the government can take ownership of an auto company, let alone at the individual initiative of a president who cannot point to a duly enacted law that clearly expresses the deliberated will of the people that he should have that power.

Mr. Obama appears to be taking over decisions that should be deliberated and acted upon by elected lawmakers.


Meet the new Mr. Goodwrench

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Stimulus aid favors social programs not shovel ready projects

An Associated Press article on Friday was titled, In states, stimulus aid favors social programs.

Remember the "shovel-ready" projects lined up for all that stimulus money? It turns out social spending, more than construction, is hitting pay dirt in the huge federal effort to turn the economy around.

The public face of the stimulus package has been the worker in a hard hat, getting back on the job to rebuild the nation's infrastructure.

It’t not working out that way.

The reality of how the vast majority of the stimulus money will be spent is quite different, and that raises questions about how much help the Recovery Act achieved by President Barack Obama will be to the economy in the long run.

Most of the roughly $300 billion coming directly to the states is being funneled through existing government programs for health care, education, unemployment benefits, food stamps and other social services.

If most of the stimulus money would have gone to “shovel-ready” projects as promised, we would not be reading about a 26 year high unemployment rate of 9.4%.