Feb 19, 2010

Press banned from WH meeting with the Dalai Lama

Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama met with Barack Obama in the White House.

From a news report at the link below:

For all of its talk about transparency, the White House shut out the press Thursday when President Barack Obama met with the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama was not afforded the courtesy of a meeting in the Oval Office.

Obama met privately with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader in the Map Room on the ground floor of the White House, far removed from reporters and photographers.

Press secretary Robert Gibbs issued only a brief statement after the event, and the White House distributed a single in-house photo (shown above) of the two leaders.

When the short meeting was over, the Dalai Lama was whisked out back through the door of the Palm room past a row of garbage bags (lower photo).

Hope his sandels didn’t slip on acai purée or Jollibee gravy.


Obama takes $1,500,000,000 jackpot to Vegas

First it was buying votes for ObamaCare - most notably the Louisiana Purchase giving $300 million to Senator Landrieu followed by the Cornhusker bribe to buy Senator Ben Nelson's healthcare vote.

Today it was a $1.5 Billion jackpot unveiled in Las Vegas by Mr. Obama.

That’s a really big jackpot in a city that is already accustomed to big jackpots!

Of course, it’s not all meant for Nevada. The $1.5 Billion is to help with the housing crisis and is to be shared by Arizona, California, Florida and Michigan.

One need not ask why Nevada is included with the other states. One also need not ask why this $1,500,000,000 give-away was announced in Las Vegas.

Both are obvious ways to help bolster the standing of Nevada Senator Harry Reid (pictured above) who faces a tough reelection fight in November.

Announcing this in Las Vegas is also a way to help nullify the embarrassing snub of Obama by Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman.


Marketing strategy change at Toyota

Palais Bulles: Pierre Cardin’s Riviera home

Whether it was meant to or not, this architecture challenges our conceptions about straight lines and any other ideas of what a building should be.

A vacation to the French Riviera calls for a visit to the summer home of designer Pierre Cardin. Aptly named Palais Bulles, or "Palace of Bubbles," Cardin's home is located in the town of Théoule-sur-Mer, near Cannes.

The home was designed in the mid-1970s by architect Antti Lovag, who built his first bubble house for Pierre Bernard in 1971. The building's curved walls and domed structures was intended to resemble the figure of a woman.

TSA did it again! Newark Airport security breached

An article at the link below reports that a TSA agent flagged the wrong passenger for rescreening while the person in question with a carry-on was never found.

Parts of Newark Liberty International Airport were closed again this week due to a security breach, the second security snafu in six weeks.

The reason for the security breach was a real doozy -- a passenger was flagged for having suspicious objects in his carry-on bag but a Transportation Security Administration spokesman said that agents stopped the wrong passenger for rescreening and the passenger with the suspicious objects got away.

On Jan. 3 a security breach caused the airport to shut down Terminal C for six hours, stranding 16,000 passengers for days and entangling flights around the world.

The photo above shows passengers at Newark Liberty International Airport waiting for things to get back to normal.

A TSA spokesman said the agency is reviewing the in incident and will take appropriate action against the officer responsible for flagging the wrong passenger.

Will Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano assure everyone that “the system worked” as she did after the Christmas bomber nearly blew up Northwest Airlines flight 253?


Report: botnet breaches 75,000 computers

Are you safe online? How up-to-date is your anti-virus software?

From a report at the link below:

A computer botnet is known to have breached almost 75,000 computers in 2,500 organizations around the world, including user accounts of popular social network Web sites, according Internet security firm NetWitness.

The "Kneber botnet," as it's known, gathers login credentials to online financial systems, social networking sites and e-mail systems from infested computers and reports the information back to hackers.

A botnet is an army of infected computers that hackers can control from a central machine.

The MSNBC report says “unfortunately, it gets easier all the time to become a cybercriminal. Online toolkits, often originating in Russia, make it easy for first-time crooks to get into the botnet business.”


Escaped Zebra caught in downtown Atlanta

A 12-year-old zebra, named Lima, was exercising outside a downtown arena in preparation for an evening show when something spooked him. The zebra broke away from his trainers and bumped up against a fence, then wriggled through an opening and was off and running.

People in downtown Atlanta don’t often see a zebra running down the street like a car with five or six police cars in hot pursuit and a bunch of officers on foot.

Lima led his trainers and police on a 40-minute chase through downtown to the interstate highway that cuts through the center of the city, covering well over a mile along the way. Police cruisers blocked off all southbound lanes of Interstate 75 and were able to herd the zebra over to the right shoulder and off an entrance ramp, where his trainer was on hand to capture and soothe him, Drake said.

The animal belongs to Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.


Feb 18, 2010

KC Library garage has giant book facade

The photo shows the unusual facade of the parking garage at the Kansas City, Missouri, Public Library.

The facade features popular books such as "Huckleberry Finn," " The Lord of the Rings" and "Romeo and Juliet."

The spine of each book prominently displays a title in a 9-by-25-foot rectangle on the exterior wall.

The garage is the highlight of the Kansas City's library district and sits across from the Central Library.

The complex was completed in 2004 at a cost nearly $50 million.


Elephants and their drivers take part in a mock fight as part of regular training exercises at an elephant conservation park in Ayutthaya province, Thailand.

Bush Miss Me Yet merchandise a Hit Online

We reported here about the billboard in Minnesota showing the smiling image of former President George W. Bush next to the words, "Miss me yet?"

The Minnesota billboard is shown above. “Miss me yet?” shirts are shown below.

It appears a lot of people think it's a fair question.

The online store CafePress saw a spike in demand for items featuring an image similar to the one on the billboard.

CafePress spokeswoman Jenna Martin said ten "Miss Me Yet?" items were on the company's list of its top-selling designs. There were no Obama items on the list.


Colorful Mardi Gras reveler

You’re apt to see most anything during Mardi Gras.

Amfibus to replace some ferry services

The photo above was taken on River Clyde near Glasgow, Scotland.

The lower photo shows the amfibus driving up out of the water.

The $1,100,000 Dutch made amfibus could eventually replace the existing Glasgow ferry service which is being scraped in March due to costs.

What happened to the hope and change?

(click on picture to see video)

She was on a hope and change high but nothing really changed. Only way she can get a ‘free’ tank of gas is to barter away some food stamps. She, along with hoards of others like her, won’t even bother to vote next time.

Feb 17, 2010

A proper ‘Virginia bow’

Demonstrating a proper ‘Virginia bow’ on the snowy, muddy grounds of the George Washington estate at Mount Vernon, near Alexandria, Virginia.

Kenneth Starr named Baylor University president

Ex-Clinton prosecutor Kenneth Starr (pictured) has been named president of Baylor University.

Baylor University said the one-time independent prosecutor's Christian ideals and experience heading a law school made him the ideal candidate to lead the world's largest Baptist university.

Mr. Starr has been dean of the law school at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., since 2004. He becomes the 14th president of Baylor.


Belgian train drivers strike after deadly crash

Belgian train drivers went on strike over safety concerns after the collision of two rush-hour trains outside Brussels, Belgium. The crash killed 18 and injured 100.

A photo of the crash is shown above.

One of the trains apparently failed to stop at a red light and hit the other at high speed.

The train line involved is fitted with a security system designed to halt trains automatically at a stop sign.

However one of the trains was not equipped with the system, according to Marc Descheemaecker, a senior official for the SNCB national rail service.

The driver of one of the trains was killed in the crash. Investigators are waiting to interview the surviving driver who was badly injured in the crash.


CNN poll: 52% say Obama doesn't deserve reelection in 2012

A CNN poll found that 52 percent of Americans said President Barack Obama doesn't deserve reelection in 2012.

Obama faces a 44-52 deficit among all Americans and registered voters, according to a CNN/Opinion Research poll released Tuesday. Four percent had no opinion.


Report: Ahmadinejad not taking Clinton "seriously"

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed on Tuesday U.S. accusations that Iran was moving toward a military dictatorship, saying the U.S. military budget was 80 times larger than that of the Islamic Republic.

He didn’t bother to say that most things in the U.S. eclipse Iran by about that same ratio.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday that the United States believed Iran's Revolutionary Guards were driving the country towards military dictatorship and should be targeted in any new U.N. sanctions.

"We don't take her comments seriously," Ahmadinejad told a televised news conference, adding that the entire Iranian population of more than 70 million were protecting Iran's independence and its Islamic revolution.

He said the United States had some 300,000 troops stationed in the Middle East and was involved in wars in the region.

"These comments she (Clinton) is making are not wise," Ahmadinejad added.


(click on cartoon to enlarge)

Mr. Ahmadinejad seems to be joining the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan in the way they view Hillary Clinton.

Feb 16, 2010

Florida family gives up on Hazelton, North Dakota

They were lured away from crime-ridden Miami, Florida with the promise of cash and free land for a house in Hazelton, North Dakota.

It began when the Hazelton Development Corp., formed by a determined group of citizens, began running ads in 2005 offering families up to two free lots and up to $20,000 toward home purchases. Businesses were offered free lots and up to $50,000 for setting up a business in the town.

Michael and Jeanette Tristani of Miami, Florida took the bait.

Tired of crime, traffic, hurricanes and the high cost of living in Florida, the Tristanis moved four years ago to Hazelton, a dwindling town of about 240 that has attempted to attract young families to stay on the map.

The Tristani’s are shown above in front of their house in Hazelton, North Dakota.

"We don't have to look over our shoulder to see who's going to rob us, or jump out of the bushes to attack us," Tristani said. "Taxes are low, the cost of living is low and the kids enjoy school."

Rural communities across the Great Plains, fighting a decades-long population decline, are trying a variety of ways to attract outsiders. But the Tristanis show how the efforts can fail even at a time when many people are desperate.

Michael and Jeanette Tristani have their house up for sale. When it sells they, along with their 12-year-old twins, plan to move back to Florida after four years in Hazelton, a town a population of about 240 located a few miles southeast of Bismarck.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Two comments to this AP News story from local readers of the Bismarck Tribune:

1. It is very cliquey in North Dakota. North Dakotans as a whole aren't all that accepting of difference.

The main reason for that is that most of the people who live here were raised here, with the same mindset for generation after generation, so if someone else comes along that has a different perspective on things, they aren't going to fit in all too easily with us stubborn North Dakotans.

2. This family should've known better and done a little more research before uprooting their family.

North Dakota isn't exactly next door to Florida, and is considerably different in nearly every way. We have a different culture, different weather, and a different economy.

Didn't the fact that the city was giving out such a lucrative incentive to move there clue them in?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

One wonders of the Tristani family really made a concerted effort to fit into small-town life in Hazelton, North Dakota?

Free land and cash to an “outsider” family would quite naturally make their Hazelton neighbors jealous.


Mobile phone, circa 1922

Photo shows Chicago Police experimenting with a radio telephone using a frequency just above the AM radio band.

Obama to go on a "save the Senate" tour

Will Obama help or hurt Democrat candidates by trying to help them in their senate re-election campaigns?

A Washington Times article reports that Obama plans to kick off what might be called his "Save the Senate" tour this week, heading west to campaign for two embattled Democrats trailing badly against Republican challengers - including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

With high-profile Democrats already bailing out of re-election campaigns - Sen. Evan Bayh's decision on Monday to drop out of the race in Indiana brings the number of retirees to five - Mr. Obama is putting his popularity and fundraising prowess on the line as he tries to help his party hold the majority in the Senate.

The five cut-and-run Democrat Senators referred to above are:

Evan Bayh - Indiana
Byron Dorgan - North Dakota
Christopher Dodd - Connecticut
Roland Burris - Illinois
Ted Kaufman - Delaware

Vulnerable Democrat seats in the Senate include:

Joe Biden’s old seat - Delaware
Blanche Lincoln - Arkansas
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid - Nevada
Michael Bennet - Colorado (appointed to Salazar’s seat)
Arlen Specter* - Pennsylvania

*Arlen Specter was right to think that he had little chance of winning reelection to his Senate seat as a Republican so he switched back and became a Democrat (he changed parties twice before). Now is election as a Democrat his in question.

Obama’s efforts on behalf of Democrat candidates in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts did not seem to help as Republicans won in those races.


British fashion designer McQueen commits suicide

In case you missed it (like I did), Alexander McQueen (pictured) was found dead last Friday after taking his own life.

Death for the 40-year-old fashion icon came just days after the death of his mother.

Pictured below are two McQueen designs: a butterfly headdress and 10-inch stiletto shoes.


Patrick Kennedy: a troubled RI history

A scathing report in the Daily Caller begins:

Patrick Kennedy’s relationship to his constituents is like that of a compulsive check-bouncer to his bank – except in Kennedy’s case, the bank keeps cashing the checks.

That’s the verdict of Boston radio show host and longtime Kennedy watcher Jay Severin, as he considered Kennedy’s announcement Friday that he will not seek reelection this year. “Patrick Kennedy has been writing overdraft for a long time,” says Severin.

Patrick Kennedy (pictured), son of the late Ted Kennedy, has made headlines not for his legislative achievements, but instead for a series of embarrassing public incidents, shouting matches with colleagues and trips to rehab for drug and alcohol addictions.

Most recently, Kennedy — whose mediocre charisma gained him the name “the Wizard of Uhs” — engaged in a high-profile verbal brawl with Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin, not a small thing for a man representing the most Catholic state in the nation.

For those who haven’t followed the career of the last member of the Kennedy family to hold public office, here’s a partial listing of greatest hits:

1. Assiting William Kennedy Smith in his Florida rape trial, 1991.

2. Legendary shouting match on House floor over guns, 1996.

3. Shoving an airport employee, 2000.

4. Boat related troubles on Martha’s Vineyard, 2000.

5. Capitol Hill drug-induced crash and subsequent rehab, 2006.

6. Returned to drug rehabilitation in 2009.


Feb 15, 2010

Wisconsin billboard says Impeach Obama

A billboard in Wisconsin is calling for the impeachment of Obama.

An unnamed company in Wisconsin has rented a billboard calling for President Obama's impeachment.

The billboard along Highway 41 in Oshkosh reads, "Impeach Obama." The tagline says: "America's small businesses are failing; help us spread the message."

An attorney for the company, Tom Wroblewski, told The Associated Press the sentiment is that Washington politics are bad for small businesses.

The sign went up Thursday and will remain up for at least six months, at a cost of $1,000 per month.


Parliamentary pancake race in London

Members of the Houses of Parliament go against members of the press during the Parliamentary Pancake Race in London.

The annual pancake race raises funds and awareness for the brain injury charity Rehab UK and takes place in the grounds of Victoria Tower Gardens in Westminster.

Shown above are Lord Addington (left) and Channel 4's Gary Gibbon competing in the Parliamentary Pancake Race in front of Houses of Parliament last week in London.

The photo below shows participants practicing their pancake flipping skills.

Climategate takes a U-turn

A report at the link below says a scientist at the center of the climategate row admits there has been no global warming since 1995!

Highlights from the report:

1. Data for vital 'hockey stick graph' has gone missing*

2. There has been no global warming since 1995.

3. Warming periods have happened before - but NOT due to man-made changes

*The so-called 'hockey stick graph' was a hoax anyway according to a report at the second link below.

The story has to do with a data set that has been used to support the alarming hockey stick graph that appears to show temperatures rising abnormally in the last decade or so.

It turns out that the hockey stick is only possible because the sample size was reduced from 65 samples to 10 samples. When a different set of 34 samples is used from the same general area, the hockey stick disappears!

In order to show what climate alarmists wanted, they cherry-picked the data.

Link here and here.

Dropping like flies: Evan Bayh to retire

Another Democrat abandons the president as second-term Senator Evan Bayh (pictured) from Indiana plans to retire.

He will make the decision formal at a press conference later today according to a report at the link below.

Prepared remarks for Bayh’s speech scheduled for later today: “After all these years, my passion for service to my fellow citizens is undiminished, but my desire to do so by serving in Congress has waned.”

Bayh would have faced former Republican Senator Dan Coats in November.

His retirement is a blow for Senate Democrats. Bayh's universal name recognition and popularity -- not to mention his massive campaign warchest -- made him a favorite in the fall despite the Republican tilt of the state and the increased focus of national GOP strategists on the contest.

Without Bayh, Democrats may look to their congressional delegation where Reps. Baron Hill, Brad Ellsworth and Joe Donnelly are likely to take a look at running.

Bayh’s retirement puts the Democrats in an awkward position as they will have very little time to find another candidate because the filing deadline is Friday!

More here.

MacBook gets a BookBook

If you plan to spend $2,000 + for a MacBookPro, why not spend another eighty bucks for a unique case?

BookBook is a one-of-a-kind, hardback leather case designed exclusively for MacBook and MacBook Pro.

Available in Classic Black or Vibrant Red, BookBook brings three levels of security to your prized Mac.

First, the hardback cover and spine provide solid protection from the rigors of the road.

Second, the vintage book design disguises MacBook for superior security.

Third, the stylish case protects you from being like everyone else because BookBook is totally original, just like you.

The maker claims that no two will be alike. Your BookBook will be a truly unique one-of-a-kind case for your prized Mac.

I won’t be getting one - my Toshiba is just as happy in a $15 case from Wal-Mart. I wouldn’t want to spoil my sub-$500 laptop.


In secret Obama signs law raising debt limit to $14 Trillion

A report at the link below says:

Behind closed doors and with no cameras present, President Obama signed into law Friday afternoon the bill raising the public debt limit from $12.394 trillion to $14.294 trillion.

The current national debt is $12.3 trillion.

Your share of that is roughly $40,000 per citizen and $113,000 per taxpayer!

The bill also establishes a statutory Pay-As-You-Go procedure requiring that new non-emergency legislation affecting tax revenue or mandatory spending not increase the Federal deficit – in other words, that any new spending or tax cuts be paid for with new taxes or spending cuts.

Don’t look for spending cuts. It will be new taxes instead.


Feb 14, 2010

The Longaberger 7-story basket building

Construction was completed in December 1997 on the Longaberger Co.'s seven-story home office in Newark, Ohio.

The building was designed after the company's main product: a medium-size handmade woven basket.

The building has a 30,000 square-foot atrium filled with natural light from a skylight (shown in lower photo) that rests beneath the two 150-ton basket handles.

Rahm it through using executive power

A New York Times report says: With much of the Obama legislative agenda stalled in Congress he and his handlers are preparing an array of actions using his executive power to advance energy, environmental, fiscal and other domestic policy priorities.

In the aftermath of a special election in Massachusetts that cost Democrats unilateral control of the Senate, the White House is getting ready to act on its own in the face of partisan gridlock heading into the midterm campaign.

“We are reviewing a list of presidential executive orders and directives to get the job done across a front of issues,” said Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff.

The photo above shows Rahm Emanuel in January, 2009 at the time of Obama’s inauguration.

Rahm Emmanuel photo is here. More of the Obama “Rahm it through” story is here.

This is not a good day for Patrolmen

(click on cartoon to enlarge)