Apr 10, 2010

Bodies of West Virginia minors recovered

Members of the West Virginia coal mining community gather on the steps of the Mash Fork Worship Center in Eunice West Virginia

AP photo from Time Magazine

Recovery story here.

Ernie Haase & Signature Sound Quartet with the Gaither Vocal Band sing “Sweet, Sweet Spirit”


One-month-old lioness cubs are held by a keeper as they take their first outing on at the Ramat Gan Safari Park near Tel Aviv, Israel.

Apr 9, 2010

Funerals begin for WV mine blast victims

From a report at the link below:

As grieving relatives began burying some of the 25 coal miners killed in a massive underground explosion, crews prepared to go back into the mine Friday despite increasingly slim odds of finding survivors.

Rescuers pulled seven bodies from the mine just after Monday's blast, the worst U.S. mining disaster in two decades, but were forced out by poisonous gas before they could remove the rest or check for four missing miners who might have been able to hole up in refuge chambers.


Kid shows how to parallel park

…hat tip to Mel Wade

Stupak retiring after his ObamaCare sellout

Rep. Bart Stupak has announced his retirement.

An article at the link below reports that friends of Congressman Bart Stupak say he is not leaving Congress because of the health care fight, but because of the exertion that would be required to hold on to his district.

From the article:

“After selling his soul to Nancy Pelosi, it appears that Bart Stupak finally found the courage to tell her no," said National Republican Congressional Committee communications director Ken Spain.

"The political fallout over the Democrats’ government takeover of healthcare has put the political careers of many Democrats in jeopardy thanks in-part to Stupak’s decision to abandon his alleged pro-life principles."

If he tried to run for re-election, he would be branded as the man who sold his vote instead of standing up to his pro-life beliefs.


Nail biting competition

Competitor shows her nails during the Tokyo Nail Expo 2009 at Tokyo Big Sight on November 30, 2009 in Tokyo.

ObamaCare confusion - Where’s the free care?

From a report at the link below:

Two weeks after President Barack Obama signed the big health care overhaul into law, Americans are struggling to understand how — and when — the sweeping measure will affect them.

Questions reflecting confusion have flooded insurance companies, doctors' offices, human resources departments and business groups.

"They're saying,'Where do we get the free Obama care, and how do I sign up for that?'" said Carrie McLean, a licensed agent for eHealthInsurance.com.

Mass confusion is no surprise -- even Democrats who crammed the bill through congress can’t possibly tell us what is in the 2,300 page bill.

How will voters feel when they find there is no free healthcare for the vast majority?

Not only will they find it is not free but a lot the things in the bill intended to help low-income people will not take place until 2014.


Political opportunist Arlen Spector falling behind in polls

Arlen Specter (pictured) was a member of the Democratic Party until 1965, when he switched to the Republican Party in order to be re-elected to the Senate.

On April 28, 2009, Specter announced that, after 44 years as an elected Republican, he was returning to the Democrat Party. This time, as before, he switched parties as the only way he could be re-elected to the Senate.

Arlen Spector, the opportunistic political party jumper, has fallen behind Republican Pat Toomey 46 percent to 41 percent according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.

Polling a month ago showed Specter ahead 49 percent to 42 percent. Toomey also leads Specter's key primary challenger, Rep. Joe Sestak, 42 percent to 34 percent.

Toomey is considered the front-runner for this year's GOP nomination. He narrowly lost to Specter in the 2004 Republican primary.

Will this be the year Arlen Spector is finally retired by voters?


Apr 8, 2010

Almost half US households pay no federal income tax

From an Associated Press report:

Tax Day is a dreaded deadline for millions of Americans, but for nearly half of U.S. households, it's simply somebody else's problem.

About 47% will pay no federal income taxes for 2009. Either their incomes were too low, or they qualified for enough credits, deductions and exemptions to eliminate their liability. That's according to projections by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington research organization.

Most who do not pay federal income taxes do pay other taxes, including federal payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, and excise taxes on gasoline, aviation, alcohol and cigarettes.

Some of these also pay state or local sales, income and property taxes.

In recent years, credits for low- and middle-income families have grown so much that a family of four making as much as $50,000 will owe no federal income tax for 2009, as long as there are two children younger than 17.

As we file our federal income tax forms and include checks made out to the Internal Revenue Service, it’s going to be difficult to forget that 47% of filers will pay no federal income tax at all!


Rehearsing for Cops?

This is Santisuk, a five-year-old pig-tailed macaque monkey, wears a police shirt as he rides atop a police patrol vehicle in the Saiburi district of Yala province in southern Thailand.

Local policemen adopted the monkey when they found it injured.

Santisuk means peace in Thai.

…photo from Time Magazine

Pilots on Prozac? FAA lifts med ban

After extensive study of the medication issue the FAA ended ban on depressed pilots in cockpits.

Pilots taking Prozac will be permitted to fly as U.S. regulators drop a decades-old ban on four antidepressants including the Eli Lilly and Co. drug.

Risks from side effects, such as drowsiness, associated with the medications used to treat depression don’t pose a safety threat, the Federal Aviation Administration said today.

Is it really because the FAA has a better understanding of the drugs or is it because the decades-old drug ban is causing a shortage of pilots?


White House advisor: raise taxes to tame deficit

The report at the link below said:

White House advisor and former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker (pictured) said on Tuesday that the United States should consider raising taxes to help bring deficits under control and may need to consider a European-style value-added tax.

What is a Value added tax (VAT)? It’s like a national sales tax only a lot more complicated because it involves goods and services including labor.

A value-added tax is a fee that is assessed against businesses by a government at various stages in the production of goods or services -- usually any time a product is resold or value is added to it.

For tax purposes, value is added whenever the value of a product increases as a result of the application of a company's factors of production, such as labor and equipment.

A new car buyer pays the value added tax at the time of purchase. The photo above shows all of the individual items involved in the value added tax.

The tax must be paid by every company that handles a product during its transition from raw materials to finished goods.

For example, tax is charged when a manufacturer sells to a wholesaler and again when a wholesaler sells to a retailer.

On the surface a value added tax may sound innocent enough but when implemented, it will change the price of goods and services significantly. At the very least, manufacturers will charge for all of the additional accounting work involved keeping track of taxes for each step of the process.

The worst part of a value added tax is that it is a regressive tax, meaning the poor pay more, as a percentage of their income, than the rich.

The fear that Obama will impose a value added tax is very real. He must find some way to pay for everything from the disastrous ‘cash for clunkers’ to the multitude of bailouts. However, it’s the pork laden ObamaCare law and the costly bribes it took to get it passed that will bring down his financial house of cards without something drastic such as a value added tax.


Apr 7, 2010

Frightened baby

Melbourne Zoo's new Asian elephant - named Baby for the time being.

Baby is only the second elephant born in Australia.

Leftover photo from winter Olympics

Portrait of a Canadian fan at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Spirit Airlines to charge carry-on bag fee up to $45

Spirit Airlines has become the first U.S. carrier to charge passengers for carrying on a bag, upping the stakes for travelers who are increasingly charged for everything from pillows to snacks.

What other airlines are doing:

JetBlue lets passengers bring a carry-on bag as well as a personal item aboard with no extra fee. Customers are also able to check their first bag for free, but a second checked bag costs $30.

Other major airlines, including Delta, Continental, Frontier and United, all let passengers carry on one bag and one personal item for free, but charge fliers about $20 for the first checked bag and $30 for the second bag.

Spirit, the first domestic airline to charge for checking a bag, will now charge fliers $20 to $30 for carry-ons that go in the overhead bins and $45 if the bag is paid for at the gate. The new fees apply to trips bought beginning Tuesday for travel on and after Aug. 1. The fee doesn't apply to carry-ons that fit under the seat.

More here.

On patrol - almost undercover - using a “ghost car”

The Westchester NY Police Department is using a ghost car to help officers enforce laws on driver distractions such as cell phone use.

Car No. 1453 looks as if it rolled off the assembly line a few minutes too soon, before arriving at the machine that puts the siren on the roof and the colors on the door decals.

The photo above shows the “ghost car” alongside a regular police car.

This plain look is the whole point of No. 1453, which is known throughout the Westchester County police department as the ghost car.


Court rules FCC has no power to regulate Net neutrality

A court ruling has stripped the Federal Communications Commission of authority to regulate the Internet.

From a report at the link below:

It is a major defeat for President Barack Obama, who has called since early in his presidential campaign for rules that prohibit Internet service providers such as Comcast and Verizon from interfering with Web traffic.

There are three sides to this story:

1. Tech companies such as Google, Skype and amazon argue for an “open Internet” with no restrictions on what services and devices consumers can have access to.

2. Cable and phone companies including AT&T, Verizon and Comcast argue that they need flexibility to manage traffic on their networks and maintain speeds for consumers.

3. Obama and the Democrats want the FCC to control the Internet.

One of the main reasons Obama wants Internet control is because the major political bloggers on the Internet are overwhelmingly conservative just as most major political radio talk shows are conservative.

For that reason, several Democrat lawmakers vow to do whatever it takes to give the FCC authority over Web providers. The key word is control. In this case it’s all about controlling the political ‘opposition.’

“In the long run, we may need a new legal and regulatory framework for broadband,” said Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet. “I know the Congress did not intend for cable and telephone broadband Internet service providers to fall outside the authority of the FCC.”

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, later said the court’s decision “must not be the final word.”


Apr 6, 2010

Sheriff Joe to make inmates pedal bike to power TV’s

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is implementing a new inmate program at Tent City Jail called “Pedal Vision.”

The program calls for inmate-powered cycles to generate electricity for televisions as shown in the photos on the right.

One hour of pedaling equals one hour of television viewing for the inmates.

Arpaio said the inmates will only be able to watch television in the television room if they choose to pedal.

We wonder if the inmates will be watching COPS?

This photo shows pedal power cycling volunteers on the BBC's Bang Goes the Theory, a British television science magazine series.

The Sheriff Joe pedal-powered TV story is here.

Moon over Cathedral in St.Petersburg Russia

This striking photo shows the moon rising in the sky above the domes of the Smolny Cathedral in St.Petersburg, Russia, in the early dawn.

The photo was taken with a digital camera through the eyepiece of a telescope.

General Petraeus for President? Why not?

From a report at the link below:

With many voters yearning for an outsider, and military officers looked up to, General David Petraeus (pictured) could be a powerful presidential candidate and a potentially accomplished President.

Many voters yearn for an outsider, someone with authenticity, integrity and proven accomplishment. Someone who has not spent their life plotting how to ascend the greasy pole, adjusting every utterance for maximum political advantage.

Barack Obama's favorability ratings have continued to slump until he is well below 50 per cent and he is no longer trusted or believed by many who voted for him.

The Tea Party movement reflects the widespread disgust with Washington and the political class.

Incumbents across the board are vulnerable in November's mid-term elections.

In this toxic climate, perhaps the only public institution that has increased in prestige in recent years is the American military. Its officers are looked upon, as General George Patton once noted, as "the modern representatives of the demi-gods and heroes of antiquity".

Where better place to look for Obama's successor than the military?

No one stands out like General David Petraeus, head of United States Central Command, leader of 230,000 troops and commander of United States forces in two wars. Having masterminded the Iraq surge, the stunning military gambit that seized victory from the jaws of defeat, he is now directing an equally daunting undertaking in Afghanistan.

More here.

Apr 5, 2010

Speeding cycle appears to be too fast for camera

A picture taken with a speed filter effect shows Spain's Euskatel-Euskadi cycling team, France's Romain Sicard competes on March 7, 2010 around Montfort-l'Amaury, western Paris, during the 8-km time-trial prologue of the 68th edition of the Paris-Nice cycling race.

This policeman needs more Segway practice


Identity theft not a top FBI priority

Ten million Americans a year are victims of identity theft. It's a growing problem in the United States, but fighting it doesn't appear to be a priority, a new report says.

A report by the Justice Department Inspector General released Tuesday cites the wide-ranging costs and dangers of ID theft.

Inspector General Glenn Fine found the effort to combat the problem, however, has lagged since the President's Task Force on ID Theft was established in 2007.

The report says "the specific crime of identity theft is not a top FBI priority." However, the report adds that the FBI often addresses the issue through the Cyber Division's criminal intrusion program, which is a priority of the agency.


The lighthearted side of aging

A Reporter was interviewing a 102-year-old woman. “What do you think is the best thing about being 102?” the reporter asked.

The lady smiled and replied, “No peer pressure.”

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

The nice thing about being senile is you can hide your own Easter eggs.

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

I've sure gotten old!

I've had two bypass surgeries, a hip replacement and new knees. I've fought prostate cancer and diabetes.

I'm half blind, can't hear anything quieter than a jet engine and take 40 different medications that make me dizzy, winded, and subject to blackouts.

I have bouts of dementia and my circulation is so poor I can hardly feel my hands and feet anymore.

I can't remember if I'm 85 or 92 and I’ve lost all my friends but, thank goodness, I still have my drivers license!

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

My memory's not as sharp as it used to be.

Also, my memory's not as sharp as it used to be.

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

Remember: You don't stop laughing because you grow old,

You grow old because you stop laughing.

Billboards against Obama spreading in Atlanta

With midterm elections coming up and anger over the Health Care Bill boiling over, one group is taking their message to the streets. Literally.

Commuters driving on Atlanta highways this morning were greeted by billboards proclaiming "Stop Obama's Socialism" and "America's Coming for You Congress!" alongside a cartoon image of the president's face.

The group behind the signs call themselves Billboards Against Obama, and the message posted on their Web site is unmistakable:

"Do you love freedom? Do you love independence? If the current administration completes the process they are racing to achieve, all of this will be gone! To stop the madness, we must speak out now.

BILLBOARDS AGAINST OBAMA is a practical and effective way to join the battle, be seen, be heard, before it's too late."

Three standard messages can be purchased from the group, with prices ranging from $2,500-$3,500 per month. Examples of the vitriolic slogans on offer include "Now It's Personal! America's Coming for You Congress! Vote Liberals Out in 2010!" and "If You're Not Outraged, You're Not Paying Attention."

Has a president of the United States ever stirred up this much grass roots anxiety, anger and resentment? And in less than 14 months!

Link here and here

Said she was overtaxed and got 17-minute lecture from Obama

Obama gave a 2,500 word lecture to a woman who asked him if it was a "wise decision to add more taxes to us with the health care" package.
"We are over-taxed as it is," the lady said bluntly.
Even by Obama's loquacious standards, an answer he gave on health care Friday was a doozy.

The report says Obama started out feisty then launched into a 17-minute lecture in response.

His discursive answer -- more than 2,500 words long -- wandered from topic to topic, including commentary on the deficit, pay-as-you-go rules passed by Congress, Congressional Budget Office reports on Medicare waste, COBRA coverage, the Recovery Act and Federal Medical Assistance Percentages

He talked about the notion of eliminating foreign aid (not worth it, he said). He invoked Warren Buffett, earmarks and the payroll tax that funds Medicare.

A few minutes later he got to the next point, which seemed awfully similar to the first.
He finally finished with, "I hope I answered your question."


Apr 4, 2010

Warm temps bring out D.C. cherry blossoms for Easter

After an exceptionally cold and snowy winter, the cherry blossoms are out in Washington in time for Easter.

Seventy percent of the cherry blossoms around the Washington, D.C. tidal basin are blooming.

Is this the real face of Jesus?

Last week The History Channel revealed for the first time a new 3-D image that is believed to be the face of Jesus.

The History Channel used the shroud of Turin as the basis for the photo shown above.

Some skeptics claim the shroud of Turin is a piece of medieval church art or a counterfeit relic.


Happy Easter

In your Easter bonnet…

…with all the frills upon it.

From a pulpit near you on Easter Sunday

“Many of you won’t be back here until next Easter so I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas.”