Mar 5, 2010

JFK control tower work is child’s play

An air traffic controller who allowed his young son to direct planes at one of the world's busiest airports serving over 90 airlines, let his daughter have her turn the very next day.

The controller, 48-year-old Glenn Duffy, allowed his daughter to direct two pilots at New York's John F Kennedy International Airport on February 17 this year.

The girl can be heard being prompted by an adult, believed to be her father, as she hesitantly cleared a Comair flight for takeoff.

The young girl also cleared a JetBlue flight for takeoff.

Just one day earlier, Duffy had allowed his son, believed to be between seven and ten years old, to direct three pilots.


JFK Secret Love Letters sold for $115K

John F. Kennedy's secret love letters to Gunilla von Post, a Swedish woman with whom Kennedy had had an affair, were sold for $115,537 Wednesday night, according to Legendary Auctions, which carried out the sale.

Three weeks before Kennedy married Jacqueline Bouvier, he met von Post and the two began a fleeting but passionate romance. The relationship continued after Kennedy was married.

Stamp collectors and postal historians will note the 15 cents postage (five 3cent stamps).


Big scandals hit Democrats at a bad time

From a New York Times report:

The ethical woes facing Democrats are piling up, with barely a day passing in recent weeks without headlines from Washington to New York and beyond filled with word of scandal or allegations of wrongdoing.

Photo above shows Congressman Charlie Rangel on left and NY Gov. David A. Paterson on right.
The troubles of Gov. David A. Paterson of New York, followed by those of two of the state’s Congressmen, Charles B. Rangel and Eric J. Massa, have added to the ranks of episodes involving prominent Democrats like Eliot Spitzer, Rod R. Blagojevich and John Edwards.

Taken together, the cases have opened the party to the same lines of criticism that Democrats, led by Representatives Nancy Pelosi, now the House speaker, and Rahm Emanuel, now White House chief of staff, used effectively against Republicans in winning control of the House and Senate four years ago.

Will the current scandals involving Democrats help Republicans gain control of Congress in November?

Coupled with the hoards of Democrats in the House who will fall on their political swords by voting for ObamaCare against the wishes of their constituents, the answer is a resounding yes.


Catholics in France can ‘confess’ by phone

Dial-a-Confession. A telephone line for Roman Catholics in France allows them to do ‘confession’ by phone.

It’s not free - a pay telephone line is used.

"For advice on confessing, press one. To confess, press two. To listen to some confessions, press three," says a soothing male voice, welcoming the caller to "Le Fil du Seigneur", or "The Line of the Lord" service.

"In case of serious or mortal sins -- that is, sins that have cut you off from Christ our Lord, it is indispensable to confide in a priest," warns the 0.34 euros a minute service.

The site was set up this month at the beginning of the Christian fasting period of Lent by a group of Catholics working for AABAS, a small Paris company that provides telephone messaging services.


Howard Dean: health bill hangs Democrats out to dry

Former Vermont governor Howard Dean (pictured) has a warning for his fellow Democrats if ObamaCare passes as it is currently written:

“The plan, as it comes from the Senate, hangs out every Democrat who's running for office to dry -- including the president, in 2012.”

Dean has clashed publicly with the White House over the healthcare proposals favored by the administration. He warns that by passing the bills under consideration, Democrats would essentially be conceding defeat to Republicans.


Mar 4, 2010

William Tell - with a blindfold

Prince William takes part in an archery lesson, while wearing a blindfold to simulate visual impairment, at St Dunstan's center in Llandudno, North Wales.

St Dunstan's is a new center open to support blind and visually impaired ex-servicemen and women.

Relax - Obama has Healthcare and Postal Service all worked out...

Young boy directs JFK air traffic

JFK airport is one of the largest airports in the country, handling a thousand takeoffs and landings a day. But on February 17 a child was caught on tape in the control tower directing air traffic and giving instructions to pilots.

This wasn’t the only time the air traffic controller brought a young boy into the KFK tower (pictured).

An FAA official told CBS News Wednesday that the agency learned during its initial investigation that the same air traffic controller, Glenn Duffy, brought a different child, presumably also his child, into the tower the following night.

The child’s voice heard on the 17th sounds younger than the first and the child’s interactions with pilots was much more limited than in the first incident.

Two employees have been suspended over the incident. The controller who brought his son into the tower and the supervisor who tolerated the incident.

Link here and here.

Microsoft to use your flesh as input device

Microsoft researchers are working on something called "Skinput," which is the use of human skin as an input device.

In this case, a display is projected on the arm.

When the user taps, a computer analyzes the sound in the body (which varies according to bone density and other factors) to determine which button to push.

The company plans to unveil all this in April.

When one vote ended a political career

A Time Magazine report illustrates what will surely happen to many Congressmen in the November elections.

From the report:

As the House prepares for its final push on health care, there are Democratic members, particularly those from conservative districts, who are facing a hard truth: This is the kind of vote that can end a career.

It was the night of August 5, 1993, and Bill Clinton was one vote short of what he needed to get his economic plan through the House--a vote he got, when freshman Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky (pictured) switched hers.

The other side of the Chamber seemed to explode. Republicans pulled out their hankies and started waving them at her, chanting: "Bye-bye, Margie."

Rep. Margolies-Mezvinsky had sealed her fate with that one vote to please Bill Clinton.

She found out the Republicans were right when they waved good bye to her after her vote. She learned the hard way that voting against the wishes of her constituents can have consequences.

Her Main Line Philadelphia district was the most Republican-leaning of any represented by a Democrat in Congress. She was not re-elected.

She was not the only one to be charmed by Bill Clinton. By the next election one-third of the women who had come to the House in the Class of 1992 were gone--largely as the result of that one vote.

How many Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky’s will there be this year? Probably dozens.

Link here and here.

Obama and the white coat redux

Obama brought in healthcare professionals from all 50 states for a photo-op (shown above) in the Rose Garden to help shore up support for ObamaCare last October.

It didn’t work.

Fast forward to March, 2010:

Barack Obama speaks about healthcare reform in the East Room of the White House in Washington March 3, 2010 as another group of "white coats" stand behind him.

Will his new “white-coat brigade” help him this time?

Mar 3, 2010

Did Obama sell a judgeship for a healthcare vote?

Obama named the brother of an undecided House Democrat to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Barack Obama hosted ten House Democrats at the White House. All of them voted against the health care bill in November. He is obviously trying to persuade them to switch their votes to yes.

One of the ten is Jim Matheson of Utah. The White House just sent out a press release announcing that today President Obama nominated Matheson's brother Scott M. Matheson, Jr. to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Whether or not Scott Matheson has the credentials to be a judge, the question is: was his nomination used to buy off his brother's vote?


Coffin with cell phone on sale at Verona fair

Shoppers at the international luxury fair in Verona, Italy found a cell-phone-equipped golden coffin.

The coffin was priced at a mere 280,000 euros (381,000 dollars).

No mention of how many minutes of talk-time was included.


Chili 50 peso coins in circulation with country misspelled

Oops ... A Chilean 50 peso coin in Santiago, shows the name of the country misspelled as "chiie," rather than "Chile." More than a million of the coins were issued in 2008 and no one noticed until late last year.

The mint director was fired over the incident. Chances are the new mint director will use a spell check for any future coins.

Many of the misspelled coins are still in circulation although collectors are buying them up because they feel they are rare and will increase in value.

Ordinarily a 50 peso coin from Chile is worth about 10 cents


WSJ: healthcare 51-vote option is abuse of power

From the Wall Street Journal regarding the use of ‘reconciliation’ (nuclear option) to ram ObamaCare through:

Abuse of power. An undemocratic disservice to our people and to the Senate's institutional role.

A string of electoral defeats and the great unpopularity of ObamaCare can't stop Democrats from their self-appointed rendezvous with liberal destiny—ramming a bill through Congress on a narrow partisan vote.

What we are about to witness is an extraordinary abuse of traditional Senate rules to pass a bill merely because they think it's good for the rest of us, and because they fear their chance to build a European welfare state may never come again.

Limited to 20 hours of debate, reconciliation bills need a mere 50 votes in the Senate, with the Vice President as tie-breaker, thus circumventing the filibuster.

Both Democrats and Republicans have used reconciliation on budget bills so Democrats are now claiming that using it to pass ObamaCare is no big dealHowever, it was never intended for use on significant multi-billion dollar legislation such as ObamaCare.

Democrats are only resorting to it now because their plan is in so much political trouble—within their own party, and even more among the general public—and because they've failed to make their case through persuasion.

More here.

Saudi student received 400 traffic violations since 2008

A Saudi Arabian student has racked up 400 traffic violations since 2008 in Dubai for a grand total of 356,000 dirhams ($97,000) in fines.

The photo above shows traffic in Dubai.

The student had eluded police for the past two years but they finally caught up with him and have made him cough up 256,000 dirhams ($69,754) for "normal" traffic violations, the Khaleej Times reported.

Additionally, he also must pay 100,000 dirhams ($27,247) to recover his car which was impounded by police, the paper said.


Report: the flu season that fizzled

It was the flu pandemic that wasn’t.

The H1N1 swine flu came and mostly went and seasonal flu has barely come at all in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal said in a survey of the flu front.

The media kept the flu scare in headlines until the facts were indisputable that it was NOT a flu pandemic as predicted.

Were members of the media more concerned about our health or about the ‘health’ of the healthcare bill in congress?

The longer swine flu stayed in the headlines, the easier it should have been to pass the bloated 2,000+ page healthcare bill.

From the Wall Street Journal article at the link below:

It’s a puzzle why there isn’t more swine flu around, given how many people haven’t been infected or vaccinated, according to the experts.

The lack of punch from seasonal flu is also a mystery.

There is a high possibility the swine flu scare was mostly hype created by the media. Otherwise why were so many doctors trying to downplay the flu severity all last fall?

It was the flu pandemic that wasn’t. It was the flu season that fizzled.


Mar 2, 2010

Someone should tell Biden the 20th Century ended in 1999

One last boot shine before inspection

A member of the Ukrainian honor guard wipes his boot during a memorial ceremony for those who died in the Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979-1989) in Kiev, Ukraine.

Global warming “proof” keeps unraveling

Reports at the links below say the head of the 'Climategate' research unit admits sending 'pretty awful emails' to hide data.

Scientists at the heart of the Climategate row were yesterday accused by a leading academic body of undermining science's credibility.

The Institute of Physics said 'worrying implications' had been raised after it was revealed the University of East Anglia had manipulated data on global warming.

While being grilled by the Science and Technology committee in the House of Commons professor Phil Jones denied trying to suppress data.

The photo shows Professor Phil Jones being grilled by the Science and Technology committee in the British House of Commons.

The e-mails uncovered last November, however told a different story.

They revealed scientists plotting how to avoid responding to Freedom of Information requests from climate change skeptics.

Some even appeared to show the researchers discussing how to manipulate raw data from tree rings about historical temperatures.

In one, Professor Jones talks about using a 'trick' to massage figures and 'hide the decline'.

Professor Jones, who was forced to stand down as head of the CRU last year, said it was not 'standard practice' to release data and computer models so other scientists could check and challenge research.

More here and here.

Who said Brutus Thornapple* was dumb?

*Brutus Thornapple is the 'born loser' in the Born Loser comic strip shown above.

Desperate to pass healthcare Democrats face hurdles

A CNN report at the link below is titled, “Democrats face health care hurdles amid talk of reconciliation.”

Reconciliation, also called the “nuclear option” where only 51 votes are needed instead of 60 votes.

Democrats are quick to point out it has been used in the past by Republicans. However, when it was used the past it was only used for minor items such as to approve judgeships but never for significant multi-billion dollar legislation such as ObamaCare.

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday that reconciliation "cannot be used to pass comprehensive health care reform."

Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, added that it "won't work because it was never designed for that kind of significant legislation."

They may try to use it anyway even though it would be political suicide for scores of Democrat politicians.

If the 51-vote option is used, buying votes such as the “Louisiana Purchase” to buy Senator Mary Landreau’s vote and the “Cornhusker bribe” for Nelsons vote will not be necessary.

If the 51-vote option is not used, it may take a lot more bribes this time around.


Mar 1, 2010

Y2K-like bug in PlayStation 3 Network

Sony has warned that a glitch has knocked PlayStation 3 users off the game console's online network and said that data loss could occur if gamers continued using the machines.

Sony said in a blog post Monday that the problem was likely caused by a bug in the clock functionality incorporated in the system, reminiscent of the Y2K bug a decade ago.

The problem is affecting older PlayStation 3 models, but not the newest slim version that went on sale in September.


Speaking of the Y2K bug...

Remember the Y2K “millenium bug” scare ten years ago?

Airplanes were supposed to fall out of the sky. Nuclear power plants were to melt down like the disaster in Chernobyl. People would freeze with no electricity.

Bottled water, flour, canned food, generators and even camping stoves flew off store shelves. Some people even stockpiled cans of gasoline in their garages.

Americans woke up to a New Year’s Day in 2000 that was not much different than any other. It had been much ado about nothing.

The sun even came up that morning! The doomsday alarmists had been wrong.

People who had stockpiled avoided eye contact with neighbors who had not.

Re-stocking fees provided a lucrative profit center for many stores as patrons returned unused generators and camping stoves.

The Y2K scare quickly faded like a distant memory.

During the next three months several free-lance computer programmers came to our office for tax preparation. Their income was much higher than previous years as businesses paid a premium to help prepare their computers for the dreaded Y2K bug.

When the census takers come knocking...

Doctors to Obama: quit smoking and drink in moderation

According to Obama’s medical examination on Sunday, Obama is still trying to kick his smoking habit and his lifestyle prompted the doctors to also recommended "moderation of alcohol intake".

A report in the UK press says:

Obama is sensitive about his cigarette habit and tetchy with reporters who raise it. But after his 90-minute medical at the Navy hospital outside Washington yesterday morning, his doctors confirmed he had not yet managed to conquer the habit and suggested he "continue smoking cessation efforts".

It was described as self-use "nicotine replacement therapy".

News reporters in the U.S. are afraid to write about Obama’s smoking and drinking habits.


New TigerText iPhone app controls your messages

TigerText is an iPhone app released February 25 that promises to save you from being found out by your spouse (or significant other) or the media such as National Enquirer or TMZ.

It could be useful for cheating spouses or anyone else who wants their messages to disappear. You can even set a time limit on how long the message will linger before disappearing from both the sender's and receiver's phones.

Not only that, TigerText messages cannot be forwarded anywhere, stored anywhere or sold to anyone including tabloid magazines.

TigerText arrived too late to help Tiger Woods.

Founder Jeffrey Evans claims the name “Tiger” was selected for the app before the Tiger Woods texting scandal but the company decided to stick with the name anyway.

People text like they talk and some of the things they say, taken out of context, can come back to haunt them.


Man nabbed for robbing same bank in 24 hours

A robber held up the same bank in Hamburg, Germany twice within 24 hours just a week after being released from jail -- for the same crime.

The 50-year-old man went into a savings bank, brandished a pistol and said, "I was here yesterday, and I want money again today!"

The repeat offender made off with 450 euros ($600) but with the help of video surveillance cameras, police were able to detain him three hours later. They said he had been in jail for robbing banks in Hamburg in 2002 and 2004.


Feb 28, 2010

About the Gaddafi - Switzerland feud

Libya's leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi (pictured) has called for a jihad, or holy war, against Switzerland as an ongoing diplomatic row between the two nations comes to the boiling point.

The BBC reports that Gaddafi criticized a recent Swiss vote against the building of minarets and said Muslims must boycott the country.

The Libya vs. Switzerland feud began in 2008, when a son and daughter-in-law of Muammar Gaddafi were arrested in Geneva and accused of assaulting two servants.

The couple denied wrongdoing and the charges were quickly dropped, but the row continued.

Offended by Swiss newspaper portrayals of his son, Gaddafi withdrew billions in Libyan funds from Swiss banks in July of last year, prompting the Swiss president to fly to Tripoli to apologize for the arrest.

Colonel Gaddafi was still angry and six months ago two Swiss businessmen were arrested in Tripoli for overstaying their visas. One was allowed to leave Libya last week, but the second was thrown in prison for a four-month term.

But Libya has not been the only one stoking the feud.

On Feb. 14, Switzerland banned 188 Libyans including Col. Gaddafi himself, from entering its country. Libya immediately retaliated, freezing all visas of citizens belonging to the 25 European countries (including Switzerland) that belong to the continent's shared visa system, called Schengen.

More here and here.

Russian hockey team embarrassed in Vancouver

Reaction to the ice hockey Olympic results:

Russia's hockey empire crumbled in front of the world.

Russia's 7-3 loss to Canada in its Olympic hockey quarterfinal game is one of the most definitive, declarative and emphatic emasculations the sport has seen in decades.

The headline of the Sport Express daily read:

“If you were asleep, you were lucky.”

In Russia, the state news agency RIA Novosti put it more succinctly:

“Nightmare in Vancouver.”

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

The glory days are over

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Head coach Vyacheslav Bykov predicted the reaction the team would receive back home. "Let's put guillotines and scaffolds up on Red Square. We have 35 people in the squad — let's finish them all off," he told reporters.

More here and here.