Saturday, January 10, 2009
Friday, January 09, 2009
I’m sure this sounds insensitive, but I’m going to say it anyway. It’s very sad that John Travolta and Kelly Preston lost their 16 year-old son, as it’s sad when anyone loses their child. But I do think it’s important to note that there is a some evidence that their son was autistic, and autism is something that scientology refuses to acknowledge or treat. Where he autism or not isn't relevant. What is relevant is that there is a whole movement now led by Kelly Preston and others that is against many forms of medical treatment for children, against the treatment of autism as a disease, and against vaccinations.
High school students in Maryland are photoshopping pictures of other kids’ license plates, taping them to similar looking cars, and speeding through areas with automatic ticketing cameras. God, can you imagine if today’s kids used their technological knowhow and drive for something that wasn’t a complete waste of time?
Larry Flynt is hoping to bring off one of the more bizarre PR coups of the credit crunch by asking the US government for a $5 billion rescue package to firm up America's limp pornographic industry.
Flynt, founder of Hustler magazine, and Joe Francis, the man behind the Girls Gone Wild video series, are seeking Congress's help in propping up the porn market, which, they say, has become the latest victim of the global economic downturn. Flynt and Francis, who say that adult DVD sales have dived 22% over the last year. I guess people are pulling out their old DVD and watching them again.
At first I thought this was a joke. But obviously every American business is looking for a handout. Hey I have nothing against porn. But harm would happen if some of the porn industry participants went broke.
You are shopping when you receive a text message on your cell phone. It is from the parking meter to tell you that you have been given a fine. A science-fiction nightmare? No, this technology is already in use in France, where smart meters are flourishing.
About 60 French councils have installed a system developed by Technolia, an engineering company, that detects the presence of vehicles and alerts police if drivers stay over their allotted time.
Under a mechanism adopted by towns such as Issy-les-Moulineaux on the outskirts of Paris, cars are allowed 20 minutes of free parking. If they stay longer, the smart meter sends a message to a police control room, which alerts officers through their mobile telephones a quarter of an hour later.
We better hope Mayor David Miller doesn't find out about this.
Prospective results of a Knesset election
Thursday, January 08, 2009
You know criticizing Israel doesn't make you an anti-Semite. But many critics cross the line and use racial slurs. Even worse, virulent racists use anti-Israel protests as cover to commit various hate crimes against Jews. Some examples:
- A pamphlet being distributed in Copenhagen's City Hall Square states onn one side: "Never Peace With Israel!" and "Kill Israel's People!" On the other side: "Kill Jewish people evry where in ther world!" The leaflet's spelling left something to be desired, but its message of genocidal anti-Semitism couldn't have been clearer.
- Likewise the message in Amsterdam on Saturday, where the crowd at an anti-Israel rally repeatedly chanted,"Jews to the gas." And the message in Belgium, where pro-Hamas demonstrators torched Israeli flags, burned a public menorah, and painted swastikas on Jewish-owned shops.
- A Jewish girl was beaten in a northern Paris suburb by schoolmates who claimed revenge for Israel's offensive in Gaza. A group of youths kicked and pushed to the ground the 14-year-old as she left school in Villiers-le-Bel on Monday with a friend. They broke the teen's glasses and shouted, "You'll pay for what the Israelis are doing in Gaza."
- A car containing Molotov cocktails rammed into the door of a French synagogue and burst into flames.
- Attacks on Melbourne's Jews have escalated since the latest outbreak of violence in the Middle East. Jewish organizations, schools and synagogues have been the target of abusive phone calls and letters and Jewish people have been abused on the street since hostilities escalated in Gaza over the past few weeks.
- A Molotov cocktail was thrown at the liberal synagogue in Brussels on Monday. No injuries were reported, but the building sustained damage.
Similarly the claims that Israel practices Apartheid are totally off base. Apartheid was a legal system that enforced discrimination, segregation and oppression based on skin color. Israel is the opposite. Its legal system enforces equal civil and political rights for all citizens regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. Arabs in Israel have full civil and political rights. About 10% of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) are Arab representatives. The relationship between Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza reflects an ongoing state of war that has existed since Israel was created in 1948. The Palestinians are not Israeli citizens, do not want to be Israeli citizens and many would like to see the State of Israel destroyed.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
No question the iPhone is a hit in Canada. Rogers announced that they added 199,000 wireless subscribers in the last quarter of 2008. About 130,000 of those new subscribers were for iPhones, so it would seem despite declining economic conditions and high data rates. The iPhone has taken off like the new iPod. The only difference is that RIM's Blackberry line has an established and loyal following. However, the numbers show a significant drop off from the 3rd quarter when Rogers sold 255,000 iPhones. So not even the iPhone can stop sluggish growth in the telecommunication sector.
One thing that is obvious from the Gaza attack is that Israel has learned some lessons from the 2006 Lebanese War and has adjusted it’s strategy. Much of the changes were the result of an inquiry (Winograd Commission) following he 2006 conflict. But that will not guarantee an outcome that will make Israelis happy. Some of the changes this time around include:
- Not relying solely on an air attack and including a well planned ground operation.
- More experienced chief of staff and Defence Minister.
- Military commanders are in the field rather than behind the lines watch the battle from monitors.
- Tight control of information by keeping reporters out of the battle field, confiscating cellphones from soldiers, and gagging military commanders.
- Israel does not have overly ambitious or unattainable goals.
However, the goals in this conflict are not clear or at least have not been well articulated publicly. Israel has repeatedly stated that their only goal is to stop rocket launches into southern Israel and prevent Hamas from re-arming. It’s too early to determine whether anything is gained from the attack beyond the short-term. For the time being, rocket attacks are continuing from the Gaza.
In addition, Israel will not be able to avoid large civilian losses such as in Qana, Lebanon in 2006. One such incident has already occurred based on the reported as many as 40 people, including children, killed as they sought shelter in a UN school in northern Gaza. In the end, there are too many intangibles working here. The Israelis will eventually have to come up with a diplomatic deal to end the hostilities but will keep up the pressure to get a deal that provides more security for towns in southern Israel. A peace agreement is still not even a remote possibility as long as Palestinian moderates are weak and Hamas refuses to abandon terrorism for diplomacy.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
With the stock market in a tailspin and home values dropping, demand for breast implants is sagging too, city docs say.According to the Daily News, high-end clinics that specialize in elective cosmetic surgery for wealthy patients are especially vulnerable.
One New York surgeon indicated that his practice saw an 18% plunge in October, when the financial panic reached a fever pitch, though business has improved somewhat since.Now this worldwide economic crisis has finally hit home with me. I mean, it's easy to act all smug and say things aren't so bad when the recession hasn't affected you. But when decent, hard working women who want bigger jugs can no longer afford them, then we all suffer.
Monday, January 05, 2009
It's probably not over yet, but Al Franken has been declared the winner in the Minnesota Senate Race.
Two months after Minnesota voters went to the polls, Democrat Al Franken has been declared the winner of the U.S. Senate race, but his opponent, Republican incumbent Norm Coleman, is ready to challenge the results in court.
Franken, the comedian and former radio host, won the razor-close election recount by just 225 votes out of nearly 3 million cast on Nov. 4. Speaking in Saint Paul, Franken declared victory but acknowledged the potential for an ongoing legal battle.
Israel has no realistic goals other than inflicting some short-term damage on Hamas. They know Hamas cannot be dislodged by military force without re-occupying the Gaza. They even understand that the military assault will not likely end rocket attacks for long. How about an international force to disarm and supervise a truce? It didn’t work in Lebanon so why would Israel expect it to work in the Gaza.
In fact I’m not so sure how much damage has been inflicted on Hamas since the first few days of the offensive. Early on Israel caught Hamas by surprise and was able to kill a number of fighters and strategic military targets. Since then Hamas leaders have gone underground so Israel has been destroying symbols of the Hamas regime such as government buildings and offices. In the last few days the Israelis have killed more civilians than Hamas fighters. They have attempted to minimize civilian casualties by dropping leaflets and broadcasting automated telephone messages to areas about to be attacked.
The Israeli government will soon be looking for an endgame because Hamas is not about to waive a white flag. So they will soon be much more open to diplomacy. The script will call for both sides to declare a victory and then they will begin to prepare for the next clash some time in the distant future.
So why did Israel decide to attack now? I think the election in 5 weeks time is the main reason. The renewed rocket attacks from Gaza posed no significant threat to Israel’s survival. Afterall, they have been occurring for 8 years now. But the 2 main government coalition partners Kadima lead by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Labour lead by Defence Minister Ehad Barak are behind in the polls to the right-wing Likud party. A failure to act in response to renewed rocket attacks would have doomed both Livni and Barak. Hamas leaders also have to show toughness as many in the Arab world would like to see them replaced by the Fatah party that controls the West Bank.
That’s right, people are dying and suffering in the name of politics.
Sunday, January 04, 2009
Dwayne David Rowe, of 1885 Fair, is charged with third-degree child abuse, a two-year high-court misdemeanor.
The incident occurred at 2013 Elwood, according to Muskegon Heights police. Detective Calvin Mahan said the toddler climbed onto her father's lap while he was sitting in the living room.
"Her head hit his head, which upset him, and he head-butted her in the forehead," Mahan said.
A Portland man faces charges of burglary and drunken driving after his arrest atop a Zamboni machine at the Cumberland County Civic Center early Tuesday morning.
Adam Patterson, 23, had inadvertently summoned the Portland Fire Department to the civic center by driving a forklift, with the forks raised, into part of the sprinkler system, setting off an alarm, police said. Firefighters responded at 2 a.m. to find Patterson trying to drive the large ice resurfacer, which was against an interior wall and not on any ice, police said.