Apr 23, 2010

Quote of the week…

“I am not Odysseus returning to Penelope after 20 years; it has only been four days so it is O.K.”

-- Toomas H. Ilves (pictured), President of Estonia, on having to take a detour across nine countries on his way home from visiting Turkey, because of Iceland's volcano.

Source: Time Magazine

France and Belgium may ban Islamic face coverings

It’s about security and women’s rights. Cited was social integration and living together in society with common values and human rights.

The security argument is easily met by the threat of known terrorists walking the streets hiding behind burqas.

In France a government spokesman said the French president considered that burqa-style veils that hide the face, such as niqabs, "do not pose a problem in a religious sense, but threaten the dignity of women."

Muslim leaders in France say that the face-covering veil is not a religious requirement of Islam but have cautioned against banning the garment.

In Belgium presidential spokesman Luc Chatel said the ban should be generalized for all public spaces, but should not stigmatize Muslims. The legislation has drawn support from some Muslim lawmakers and women's rights groups.

Link here and here.

IRS agent nailed for not reporting eBay sales of $41,842

Internal Revenue Service agent Andrea Fabiana was charged in U.S. Tax Court for not reporting income on nearly 2,000 transactions on the online auction site eBay.

Andrea Fabiana Orellana failed to report $41,842 in income in 2004 and 2005 from sales of designer clothing, shoes and other items, according to a Tax Court summary opinion. Orellana is liable for $12,428 in unpaid taxes and $2,486 in penalties.

Orellana, who represented herself, sold items under several names, including “BlackTheRipper,” the court document said. She could not be reached for comment.

When the IRS asked for proof of costs and expenses Orellana testified that she never kept receipts saying “That would be ridiculous, unheard of. Unless there was some really bizarre reason why I kept a receipt, there were no receipts.”

It’s no wonder the U.S. Tax Court opinion said, “The petitioner’s attitude toward the preparation of her tax returns appeared to be cavalier.”

Orellana claimed her eBay sales were not a business, and characterized it as an online garage sale, according to the court document. She said she liked to shop for designer clothes and that this was a way to clean out her closets.

Orellana’s “garage sale defense” may have been valid had she kept meticulous records.

Proceeds from garage sales are taxable only if items sell for more than cost. In reality, most garage sale items are sold for a small fraction of original cost.


An Overhyped 2010 NFL draft from Radio City Music Hall

The NFL draft began as a somber business affair conducted in a smoky hotel ballroom witnessed by a handful of curious local fans.

Fast forward nearly thirty years to 2010 and an over-the-top Radio City Music Hall draft with nearly as much glitz and glamour as a Hollywood Academy Award presentation ceremony.

The reality is -- in six months many of the players who walked the red carpet this week will fall by the wayside and there will be coaches and owners mumbling ''what was I thinking?''

Obama dumped from Indonesian pedicab

An Indonesian man riding a pedicab carrying a statue of Barack Obama US takes a tumble.

Poll shows 4 out of 5 Americans don’t trust Washington

Poll shows 4 out of 5 Americans don’t trust Washington
From a report at the link below:

America's "Great Compromiser" Henry Clay called government "the great trust," but most Americans today have little faith in Washington's ability to deal with the nation's problems.

Public confidence in government is at one of the lowest points in a half century, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center. Nearly 8 in 10 Americans say they don't trust the federal government and have little faith it can solve America's ills, the survey found.


Apr 22, 2010

Brooklyn politician Felix Ortiz wants to ban the use of salt in New York restaurants.

If State Assemblyman Felix Ortiz has his way, the only salt added to your meal will come from the chef's tears.

The Brooklyn Democrat has introduced a bill that would ban the use of salt in New York restaurants - and violators would be smacked with a $1,000 fine for every salty dish.

"No owner or operator of a restaurant in this state shall use salt in any form in the preparation of any food," the bill reads.

Is the Ortiz bill designed to protect the health of New Yorkers or is it about control?

The result of a poll is shown below:


NY salt police attack the Morton Salt girl

Monsters on parade in Rio de Janeiro

Members of the Vila Isabel samba school parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

McAfee Antivirus goes berserk locking PCs

My personal distrust of McAfee Antivirus software was reinforced with news of the latest fiasco.

Computers in companies, hospitals and schools around the world got stuck repeatedly rebooting themselves Wednesday after an antivirus program identified a normal Windows file as a virus.
McAfee Inc. confirmed that a software update … caused its antivirus program for corporate customers to misidentify a harmless file. It has posted a replacement update for download.

McAfee could not say how many computers were affected, but judging by online postings, the number was at least in the thousands and possibly in the hundreds of thousands.

McAfee said it did not appear that consumer versions of its software caused similar problems. It is investigating how the error happened ''and will take measures'' to prevent it from recurring, the company said in a statement.

I used the McAfee consumer version until 2003. McAfee allowed the “blaster” worm to infect my PC in August, 2003.

That was the virus that placed a message on the computer screen (shown below) saying the computer would shut down in one minute. Sure enough, in 59 seconds the computer would shut down.

With 100 auctions listed for sale on eBay, I nearly panicked. I went to a computer store and asked about the problem. I was told they would fix it for $100 if I would bring the computer to the store.

That night on the 6 o’clock Denver KUSA-TV news they gave a string of numbers to key in that would stop the computer from shutting down. We were then able to download a patch from Microsoft to disable the worm.

It was an easy fix once we knew how to deal with it.

That was the only virus I ever had. I have never forgiven McAfee for allowing it to infect my computer. I have not used McAfee since.

The current McAfee problem is here.

A July 2007 McAfee problem is here.

Are the whiskers on straight?

Siberian tigers perform for visitors at a zoo in Fuzhou, China.

US Unveils New $100 Bill to Foil Counterfeiters

A new $100 bill will go into circulation in February 2011.

The new look, aimed at thwarting counterfeiters, has several new security features, including a “3-D Security Ribbon” and an image of a bell on the front of the note that, when tilted, changes in color from copper to green. The reverse side of the bill includes a new vignette of Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

The $100 bill is the largest denomination note printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, a division of the Treasury. Larger denominations such as $500, $1,000 and higher value bills are no longer issued but remain in circulation, especially among collectors.

While on a two-week audit of the Las Vegas division of Centel*, I saw 100 $10,000 bills (one million dollars) on display at the Horseshoe casino in downtown Las Vegas. They were sandwiched between large panels of very thick Lucite type material securely anchored to the floor. There was an armed guard present at all times.

*Centel was later sold to Sprint, then spun off as Emparq and is now CenturyLink.


Puerto Rico invalidating all birth certificates

A law enacted by Puerto Rico in December, mainly to combat identity theft, invalidates all previously issued Puerto Rican birth certificates on July 1.

That means more than a third of the 4.1 million people of Puerto Rican descent living in the 50 states must arrange to get new certificates.

Puerto Rico's legislature passed the law after raids last March broke up a criminal ring that had stolen thousands of birth certificates and other identifying documents from several different schools in Puerto Rico.

As much as 40 percent of the identity fraud in the U.S. involves birth certificates from Puerto Rico, McClintock said he was told by the State Department.

More here.

Arizona House to check Obama citizenship

The Arizona House on Wednesday approved a bill that would require President Barack Obama to show his birth certificate if he hopes to be on the state's ballot when he runs for re-election.

The bill would require U.S. presidential candidates who want to appear on the ballot in Arizona to submit documents proving they meet the constitutional requirements to be president.


Apr 21, 2010

Drunk driving charge gets liquor commissioner fired

A New Hampshire state liquor commissioner was removed from his job Monday after being charged with driving while intoxicated.

Richard Simard (pictured) was stopped by Gilford police around 11:30 p.m. Saturday after Laconia police alerted officers to a possibly intoxicated driver, Gilford Police Chief John Markland said.

Officers did a field sobriety test, and Simard refused to submit a breath test, Markland said. He described the incident as a routine DWI stop but said his officers knew Simard's position in state government.

Gov. John Lynch, removed Simard from the state liquor commission.


Icelandic volcano is a mouthful to say!

Can you pronounce the name of the Iceland volcano? Me neither.

There is a humorous video at the link below dealing with the pronunciation of the Icelandic volcano.

However you pronounce it, Eyjafjallajokull is proving difficult for the world's English speakers.

Actually the pronunciation depends on whom you ask. Below are three suggestions from news services:

CNN: "AY-yah-FYET-lah-YOH-koot."

Chicago Tribune: "EY-ya-fyat-lah-YOH-kuht."

NPR: "AY-yah-fyah-lah-YOH-kuul."

We like the approach by the military: “E-15.”

The explanation for the military version is “E is for the first letter and 15 refers to the next 15 letters in Eyjafjallajokull.

However you pronounce it, it's a mouthful that is really three words in Icelandic meaning island mountain glacier.


BA claims flight ban 'unnecessary' as UK airports reopen

British Airways is claiming the unprecedented shutdown was unnecessary.

After six days without flights, which have cost the economy more than £1.6 billion ($2.5 billion), left 500,000 passengers stranded and disrupted schools, the no-fly zone was lifted.

The ban on UK flights was lifted, as of 10pm on Tuesday.

The decision was made after ministers were put under pressure to explain why British flights were being stopped while most of European air space was open, despite the cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland. After a meeting between the Civil Aviation Authority, Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary, and airlines it was agreed to open most British air space, including all airports, from 10pm last night.

Other reports cited the inability for airlines to begin full scale operations immediately because it would take time to assemble aircraft and flight crews from various locations.

More here.

Ash spewing form volcano in Iceland - photo

The crater at the summit of a volcano in southern Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull glacier spews ash.

Cars covered with volcanic ash in Reykjavík, Iceland.

Taxpayers foot big State Dept liquor bill

Last year the State Department ran up tabs for alcoholic beverages totaling nearly $300,000 -- about twice as much as the previous year.

The purchases, small and large, included $2,483 to pay for "assorted spirits for gratuities to vendors" at the U.S. mission to the United Nations in New York, and $9,501 in "Christmas gratuities" of whiskey and wine at the U.S. Embassy in South Korea.

Taxpayer watchdogs say while accounting for a small fraction of the State Department's overall budget, some of the liquor expenditures reflect larger concerns about stewardship of federal tax dollars at a time when many recession-weary Americans find themselves struggling to hold onto jobs and pay mortgages.

"It's indicative of the disconnect that bureaucrats have when they spend our money," said David Williams, vice president of policy at the nonpartisan Citizens Against Government Waste.


Bill Clinton: tea party protestors akin to Oklahoma City bombers

On the anniversary of the deadly bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, Bill Clinton (pictured) made an effort to make a political point.

From a piece he wrote for the New York Times:

“Fifteen years ago, the line was crossed in Oklahoma City. In the current climate, with so many threats against the president, members of Congress and other public servants, we owe it to the victims of Oklahoma City, and those who survived and responded so bravely, not to cross it again.”

At the link below, Greg Gutfeld responds to the Clinton inuendo:

Now, there's a lot wrong with that quote, but let's start with connecting a terrorist act to current unhappiness about the administration. That's low.

And then "we owe it to the victims," not to cross this line again. We? It's as if Clinton is asking all of us not to blow stuff up. Generally, people amenable to that weren't planning on it anyway.

And later, when Clinton mentions "contentious and "partisan" types, it only makes me think of... Clinton.

When his face wasn't red with lipstick, it was red with anger.

Mr. Gutfeld goes on to describe those tax day Tea Parties Clinton referred to by saying:

Those Tea Parties from last week? I've seen scarier office picnics.

So when Captain Busyhands talks about the "vast echo chamber," he's really talking about those like him who constantly smear their intellectual adversaries as violent racists.

The innuendo in Bill Clinton’s NYT article would have us believe the protestors above were no different than the Oklahoma City bombers!


Tea Party members: perception vs. reality

(click on cartoon to enlarge)

Apr 20, 2010

American Airlines nixes plans to resume London to U.S. service

The Airline Biz blog reports that American Airlines has canceled the nine flights it intended to launch Tuesday evening from London's Heathrow Airport.

American spokeswoman Andrea Huguely said American canceled all its planned flights Tuesday out of London and Manchester.

"We've cancelled everything but Rome, Madrid and Barcelona," she said.

In total, American has canceled 62 flights for Tuesday, including both the flights going to the United Kingdom and Europe and the ones returning to the United States.

Link here and here.

George Washington owes huge library fines

New York City's oldest library says one of its ledgers shows that the nation’s first president has racked up 220 years' worth of late fees on two books he borrowed but never returned.

One of the books was The Law of Nations, which deals with international relations.

The other book was a volume of debates from Britain's House of Commons.

Both books were due on Nov. 2, 1789.

Mark Bartlett, head librarian for the New York Society Library, said the institution isn't seeking payment of the fines, but it would love to get the books back.

The ledger also lists books being taken out by other founding fathers, including Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and John Jay.


Europe flight ban caused by faulty computer models?

From a Financial Times report at the link below:

Flawed computer models may have exacerbated the reaction to the Icelandic volcano eruption that has grounded tens of thousands of flights, stranded hundreds of thousands of passengers and cost businesses hundreds of millions of dollars.

The computer models that guided decisions to impose a no-fly zone across most of Europe in recent days are based on incomplete science and limited data, according to European officials. As a result, they may have overstated the risks to the public, needlessly grounding flights and damaging businesses.

Also, early results of the 40 test flights conducted over the weekend by KLM and Air France suggested that the risk was less than the computer models had indicated.

More here.

Dramatic ash cloud photo

Ash covers a table at an evacuated farm as smoke and ash from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano block daylight on April 19, 2010 near Porvaldseyri.

40,000 Americans now stranded in Britain

The White House said Monday that 40,000 Americans were stranded in Britain because of the huge number of flight cancellations due to the cloud of volcanic ash.

Many more US citizens also appeared to be having trouble returning home from vacation or business trips in other parts of Europe, amid an aviation crisis brought on by the eruption of a volcano in Iceland which led to airspace closures across much of the continent.

Some of the stranded Americans were running out of medicine or didn't have places to stay. Others are simply running out of money.

More here.

Larry King lawyer: 50-50 chance no divorce

Larry King’s supposed divorce from Shawn Southwick, is 7th wife, has been in the scandal magazine headlines for a week, but he may not go though with his 8th divorce after all.

According to the CNN host’s lawyer, Dennis Wasser, that actually could be the case.

King and Southwick are shown above.

“There’s a 50-50 chance this divorce is not happening,” Wasser told People on Monday. “His focus is on the best interest of his children. It’s not clear to me which way he’s going to turn on this issue.”

King is the host of the long running but ratings challenged CNN program Larry King Live.

Some claim nobody of any real importance shows up on Larry King live anymore except maybe Willie Nelson when he showed up stoned on pot and insisted on talking about pot.


Senators demand Fort Hood shooting answers

A Senate committee has subpoenaed the Obama administration for Fort Hood Information.

Two top senators on Monday served the Obama administration with subpoenas for information on the mass shooting at Fort Hood last November, claiming the administration's stonewalling left them with no other choice.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine -- respectively, the chairman and the ranking Republican on the Senate homeland security committee -- notified Attorney General Eric Holder and Defense Secretary Robert Gates of the decision in a letter Monday.

The two senators served the Obama administration with subpoenas for information on the mass shooting at Fort Hood last November. They say the administration's stonewalling left them with no other choice.

Because the only suspect in the Fort Hood massacre is Major Nidal Malik “AbduWali” Hasan (pictured above), it is no surprise that Barack Hussein Obama would encourage members of his administration to stonewall the investigation.

Hasan has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder.


Apr 19, 2010

Obama skips Polish funeral, plays golf instead

A massive volcanic plume covering most of Europe forced President Obama to cancel a Sunday trip to Poland to attend the funeral of the nation's president.

Or was the volcanic ash just an excuse? Air Force One could have flown around the ash cloud even if it meant going half way around the world the other way.

From the article at the link below:

Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, Maria, along with dozens of top Polish government officials were killed April 10 when their airplane went down in heavy fog after clipping a tree on approach to Smolensk, Russia.

Mr. Obama has not gone to the Polish Embassy in Washington since the accident, but Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. both have. There, they signed a condolence book.

Instead of signing the condolence book at the Polish Embassy, Mr. Obama took off for the golf course.

Mr. Obama has played golf far more often than former President George W. Bush. In his eight years in office, Mr. Bush played just 24 times. His last time as president was Oct. 13, 2003.

It was the 32nd time Mr. Obama has played golf since taking office Jan. 20, 2009, according to CBS Radio's Mark Knoller.


Airlines say ash cloud restrictions are embarrassing

From a report at the link below:

Comprehensive restrictions on flights across Europe resulting from volcanic ash floating over from Iceland are an “embarrassment”, an airline chief has claimed, as calls intensify for the no fly ban to be lifted.

A number of European carriers have run test flights which they say have identified no problems operating in areas closed by the authorities. British Airways said one of its planes encountered "perfect" conditions between Heathrow and Cardiff airport.

Does this mean airlines will begin flying out of Europe soon? Thousands of stranded travelers hope so!


1 in 3 Americans have not returned Census forms

The census bureau has reported that nearly one in three Americans failed to return their census questionnaires by Friday’s official deadline.

More forms were expected to be received over the weekend.

Census workers will not begin going door to door until May 1 to count people who did not return their questionnaires by mail.

As of early Friday, the mail participation rate was 68 percent. The mail participation rate, which the bureau is using this year for the first time, is the percentage of forms mailed back by households that received them.

more here.

(click on cartoon to enlarge)

Hospital gowns to leave you less exposed

It’s about time someone is thinking about taking the “I see you” out of ICU.

New designer hospital wear (on the right) should save patients from the embarrassment of undignified backless gowns (on the left).

Hospital gowns maybe functional, but they aren't exactly glamorous. They are meant to give easy access to important body parts but walking down hospital corridors with your backside hanging out doesn't exactly boost confidence.

We suspect this will not be a fast evolving transition so don’t look for changes at a hospital near you anytime soon.


Sins of the Fathers

A newly uncovered letter reveals Pope Benedict XVI resisted pleas to defrock molester priest while he was Cardinal Ratzinger (upper photo).

The letter reveals that Ratzinger, before he became Pope Benedict XVI, resisted pleas to defrock a molester priest.

For four years after that recommendation was made, nothing was done while the Oakland diocese-based priest continued to do volunteer work with children in his capacity with the church.

Finally, Ratzinger wrote to Oakland Bishop John Cummins. In November 1985, the future Pope wrote that, although the reasons to remove Fr. Stephen Kiesle (lower photo) were of "grave significance," he added that the matter needed to be dealt with very carefully and that more time was needed before a decision was made.

Stephen Kiesle ultimately was stripped of his priestly powers on Feb. 13, 1987

Kiesle's criminal record did not end with his priesthood.

Although the statute of limitations on his crimes protected Kiesle from criminal prosecution for his acts in the 1970s, he pleaded no contest in 2004 to molesting a young girl in his Truckee, California home in 1995. He was sentenced to six years in state prison for the felony.

The pedophile priest problem has hounded the Catholic church for decades. Will Pope Benedict XVI finally do more than pay-off those who bring lawsuits and apologize to victims who do not sue?

At the last link below is the story of a Massachusetts priest who says the Pope is not being truthful about sex abuse cases. He even calls for the Pope to resign over child sex abuse accusations

Link here, here, here and here.

It's all in the spelling.

Apr 18, 2010

Navy denied access to Fox News on Friday

The Navy confirmed that members of the U.S. Navy were denied access to FoxNews.com for hours on Friday before service was finally restored shortly before noon ET.

Cmdr. Danny Hernandez, a Navy spokesman, claimed it was a technical issue rather than a policy issue.

Fox News received e-mails from Navy personnel around the world on Friday complaining that they could not gain access to the Web site. They said they were able to view numerous other news Web sites.

When they tried to access FoxNews.com, the following message appeared: "Access to this site has been denied in accordance with Navy policy to safeguard the security
posture and/or to maintain the operational integrity of the NMCI."

NMCI stands for Navy Marine Corps Internet.


Looking ahead to ObamaCare

Ash cloud continues to strand travelers

A report at the link below titled, “Stranded travelers call Heathrow home” caught our attention because our son-in-law Ernest is stuck in London while on his way home to Denver from a business trip to India.

Fortunately he has a hotel room and is not stuck at the Heathrow terminal. The hotel is charging $385 per night. We wonder how much the room rates will revert back to after the air clears and travelers can move on.

From the report:

Heathrow, the world's busiest international airport, was practically deserted except for the live-ins on Sunday, Day 4 of an unprecedented disruption of air travel caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland.

While the jilted passengers can't get what they really want at the airport — a flight out — their basic necessities are being met. There's even free food at midnight, when the nearby and largely empty restaurants have to discard their day's inventory.

Other reports say that some airports in France and Germany were being opened for limited periods to exploit gaps in the ash cloud. For now, however, airports in at least 15 countries were closed -- flights canceled to avoid ash that can cause jet engines to fail.

Volcanic ash contains particles, whose melting point is below that of an engine's internal temperature.

During flight, these particles will immediately melt if they go through an engine. Going through the turbine, the melted materials rapidly cool down, stick on the turbine vanes, and disturb the flow of high-pressure combustion gases.