Saturday, March 19, 2011

Liberal suicide watch

The word is that the federal Liberals plan to call a non-confidence vote as early as this week and trigger an election. They will need to cooperation of the two other parties in opposition but that doesn't appear to be a problem. The Liberals have trailed on the polls since the last election 2 1/2 years ago yet they believe they can will this spring. Are they delusional or do they have a card up their sleeve that we just don't know about?

Do they believe that Michael Ignatieff can out shine Stephen Harper under the glare of an election? We all know that Harper does not ooze charisma but only a partisan Liberal would think that this is one of Ignatieff's strength. Do they believe that Canadians are tired of the Conservatives and ready for a change? Well the polls do not reflect any significant disenchantment with the governing party. Maybe the Liberal think the Conservative numbers are soft?

I think the Liberals do not want the Conservative to call an election on their terms and have the campaign framed around their handling of the economy. Instead the Liberals appear to want the election to be focused on the Conservative's arrogance and lack of integrity. As well, parties behind in polls are counting on campaign errors to close that gap. In Canadian politics that has happened before. John Turner had a substantial lead going into the 1984 election only to lose. The loss was partly because of faulty polling which overstated the Liberal popularity. As well Turner was a weak campaigner and was humiliated in a television debate.

Political parties tend to over estimate how well they will do in an election. Currently every parties is optimistic that they can make gains this spring which is why an election is inevitable.

Considering how poorly the Liberals have performed previously, a repeat will be political suicide and could vault the Conservatives into the majority that they have been after for so long. It seems wiser to keep the Conservatives governing until the end of their mandate. The longer a party stays in power, the more likely the electorate gets tired of them and looks for a change. This seems to be a lower risk approach. Perhaps cooler heads will prevail.

Knut: 2006 - 2011

In December 2006 a polar bear cub called Knut was born at the Berlin Zoo and became an instant global celebrity and made it onto the cover of a German edition of Vanity Fair. The cub had been abandoned by his mother and raised by the zoo staff. Animal rights activists suggest that feeding by hand was not species-appropriate and a gross violation of animal protection laws. They insist that the zoo must kill the bear. Knut survived the controversy and became a huge draw at the zoo.

Knut collapsed at the zoo today and died.

UPDATE: An autopsy showed that Knut from drowning in his pool. He had been suffering from encephalitis which had caused him to collapse and fall into his pool.

Fashion Week in Libya

Friday, March 18, 2011

So you think hockey players aren't tough

Vancouver Canuck Manny Malhotra took a puck in the eye this week.

Finally a Canadian sex scandal...sort of

Bruce Carson, a former adviser to the Prime Minister lobbied on behalf of a water filtration company that reportedly cut a deal to compensate his fiancée, Michelle McPherson, a 22-year-old one-time Ottawa escort, with a portion of all sales.

The revelation by the Aboriginal People’s Television Network adds a dose of sex — in the form of the 124 lb., 5-foot-6 blonde — to a political scandal that has the Royal Canadian Mounted Police probing a former confidante to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The report said that Carson was an official witness to a deal with an Ottawa firm, H2O Global Group, to provide 20 per cent of all revenues from the sale of water filtration systems to aboriginal reserves across Ontario to McPherson.

Carson is a former lawyer who was disbarred, convicted of theft and sentenced to 18 months in jail in the early 1980s for stealing money from clients of his law firm. But he rebounded from that to work in the offices of three prime ministers - Brian Mulroney, Joe Clark and Harper. Seems he's back to his old ways - if he ever actually left them.

There has barely been a scandal since the Conservatives took office. Maybe that's why the Helena Guergis affair got so much attention last year. We've been starved of dirt.

Thak you for Mr. Carson for doing your part to spice up Ottawa. Oh, and say hi to the RCMP.

What a surprise, people are overdosing on potassium iodide pills

As demand spikes for potassium iodide in the wake of Japan’s nuclear crisis, U.S. poison control centers are starting to receive reports of illness in people who’ve ingested the drug aimed at protecting against radiation sickness.

At least seven people have reported reactions to the drug, often called by its chemical name, KI, including two who said they were suffering from serious symptoms including vomiting, racing heart and dizziness or vertigo.

That’s according to Jessica Wehrman, a spokeswoman for the American Association of Poison Control Centers, which tracks reports from 57 poison control centers nationwide.

Radiation has not been detected in the U.S., but some worried Americans are already hoarding the pills — and apparently taking them already — as a precaution. Wehrman said poison control centers have received nearly 130 queries about protection against radiation exposure and the crisis in Japan.

Why I am not surprised? There is always a proportion of the population who over reacts to events. People buying bird flu vaccine when their was no outbreak, etc. Potassium iodide is a non-prescription drug so people are hoarding the stuff. In fact, it is sold out in parts of the U.S. The stuff may protect your thyroid from radiation but not the rest of your body.


Another woman with bags of heroin in her vagina

Scranton police have charged a 27-year-old Scranton woman with possession of heroin, including some that was allegedly hidden in a private body cavity. Karin Mackaliunas, 27, faces two counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count each of possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled substance with an intent to deliver following an incident on March 13. According to an affidavit:

Mackaliunas was involved in a car crash in the city and was taken into custody by Scranton police at the request of Dunmore police for an alleged theft at a Dunmore hotel. While in the back seat of a police car, she “was moving around and putting her hands down her pants.” Officers searched Mackaliunas and discovered three bags of heroin in her coat pocket and placed her under arrest for criminal charges in Scranton. While transporting her to headquarters, Officer Nancy Baumann allegedly saw her continue to move around in the back seat of the vehicle.

Mackaliunas admitted to police after several denials that she had more heroin in her possession. She allegedly “put her hands inside her underwear and instead of getting the drugs out, she was attempting to shove them inside” her body. She told police there was a pocket inside her underwear that she was trying to remove the drugs from. She refused requests to put her hands behind her back and struggled with officers.

Mackaliunas later told Scranton Police Sgt. Mike Mayer that she concealed more heroin inside her body. She was taken to Community Medical Center by ambulance, accompanied by Mayer. He returned to police headquarters with 54 full bags and 31 empty bags of heroin marked “Black Magic,” several Xanax pills and $51.22 in cash.

Who knew that a vagina could hold so much stuff. But then when you carry a baby to full term I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise. I can never look at another woman without thinking what is she carrying up there? Extra set of keys? Her credit cards? Five kilos of weed?

Sign of the day

Fashion Week in Libya

Thursday, March 17, 2011

One Hit Wonder

The Original Caste - One Tin Soldier (1969)

Happy Leprechaun Day

Lamborghini owner hires gang to sledgehammer car

The Chinese owner of Italian Lamborghini Gallardo was so frustrated with the service from his local dealer he decided to show his anger in the most extreme of fashion.

So he employed a group of willing people from China’s eastern Shandong province, handed them sledgehammers and safety helmets and let them unleash their fury on the black Lamborghini which in China costs about $750,000.

The owner, a Chinese entrepreneur, is understood to have had the Lamborghini taken to the dealer in November to have an engine malfunction fixed.

However, the garage failed to fix the fault and somehow managed to damage the bumper and chassis in the process. After arguing with the dealership and various senior Lamborghini representatives, the owner decided the only way to protect his rights was to have the car smashed up – on World Consumer Rights Day.

Man calls 911 from jail to complain he is being held against his will

Sandusky police say a man arrested after a dispute outside a city bar called 911 from jail to complain he was being held against his will.

Joseph Walsh told the dispatcher, "I want to know why I'm getting hog tied to the, to the holding cell in the county jail." Dispatch: "Who's getting hogtied in the county jail?"

Walsh: " I'm getting held in the county jail. They got me in handcuffs in the county jail, and I can't get my phone call, can't do nothing." Dispatch: "You're not in the county jail. Who is this?"

Walsh: "I am in the county jail. Well, it's not the county jail, it's the holding cell for the STD." Investigators say police took Walsh's cell phone away after the call was placed. He's now also being charged with misuse of 911.

You can hear the 911 call here.

Is the NHL moving too slowly on head shots?

The NHL announced action plan to reduce concussions has received a pretty negative response from fans. Maybe not all fans but certainly a good number expect a total ban on hits to the head. I think that it is inevitable but I can understand why the NHL is not ready to go there quite yet. Changes to the game always have unexpected consequences. In fact the increase in concussions can be directly linked to the crack down on obstruction. Despite the publicity around a small number of dumb acts of violence, most had injuries in hockey are occurring as a result of accidental collisions which increased as the game got faster.

I like what the NHL is doing and I believe there will be more changes coming. Action is certainly needed after over 10% of NHL players have suffered some type of concussion this season. Everyone can see there is a problem but I work in policy development and analysis and have seen the impact of knee jerk reaction to events. Unless you are going to totally ban hits to the head, then rule changes aren’t needed. I work in a regulatory environment and the knee jerk reaction to a compliance issues seems to always be adding more rules. But if you were to carefully examine the problem you might find that enforcement was weak or there was an information gap requiring some additional education. The NHL added penalties for staged accidents but they still occur and no one is penalized. If you were to review the rule book you will find many infractions that are not being called properly including charging and boarding. Though I would like to see the no touch icing introduced to make the game safer.

Here is my take on the 5 initiatives announced by the NHL this week.

1. Equipment Changes

The NHL says they are committed to making equipment safer. I’ve commented in the past how shoulder pads and elbow pads are like armour. Their construction goes beyond protecting the player and can easily be used as a weapon when hitting opponents. Softer pads would still protect and injure fewer people. We shall see if the league can actually bring about real change. Their battle to make goalie equipment smaller has not been an overwhelming success. Perhaps in this case there will be less resistance.

2. New Concussion Protocol

The NHL wants team physicians examining players with suspected head injuries in the dressing room instead of by a trainer on the bench with a coach standing over them. This is a big step forward in preventing players from doing further damage by playing after being concussed. No more Mikhail Grabovski waiving off the trainer and going back after taking two shots to the head. But don’t expect managers and coaches to quietly go along. Wait until a key player gets dinged in the head in the third period of a close game in March. If he seems to be alright team officials will begin questioning pulling players out of important games as a precaution. Fans who today are demanding that the NHL do something about concussions will do an about face when their team loses with a star sitting it out. I would also like to see players who have been punched in the head during a fight examined as well. Maybe the NHL’s stats might look different (ie, only 8% of concussion occur as a result of fights) if fighters were examined by doctors instead of being sent to the penalty box.

3. Make Rinks Safer

The NHL will be hiring a safety engineer to make rinks safer. There is no easier change for the NHL. It does not require a change in human behaviour. It just takes money. But this may just be a half measure if they only look at the glass and provide extra padding on stanchions. You need to consider the boards, the ice surface, lighting etc.

4. Tougher Penalties

The NHL will look at more disciplinary action for repeat offenders. This is the one initiative that is destined to create the most controversy. People will continue to criticize the league for being too soft, for being inconsistent, for discriminating in favour or against certain players, etc. I find the GMs are trying to have it both ways on irresponsible players. They know who they are; they offer them contracts and then complain about their behaviour. Most people immediately saw the hypocrisy of Mario Lemieux when he criticized the violence in the game at the same he had Matt Cooke on his payroll. When suspensions hit 10 games some players will take notice. When they hit 20 games many more will notice. At 40 games you will get everyone’s attention.

5. Study the Problem Further

The NHL announced that were forming a committee made up of Steve Yzerman, Rob Blake, Joe Nieuwendyk and Brendan Shanahan to work with the Players Association and report back the board. I think some people see this aspect as an attempt to sweep the issue under the carpet. I think that 30 GMs sitting around a room for a day is not the proper structure for problem solving. I am pleased to see that the committee is made up of young, bright executives and not the older crowd (Brian Burke, Glen Sather) who may be too entrenched in the status quo. The game has changed so much you need to involve individuals who have played in the post-lockout NHL. I would have liked to have seen someone selected for the committee who lost considerable time to a head injury. I don’t recall any of these four falling into that category. I hope they speak to current and former players who have had serious concussions. Their recommendations need to balance what is good for the game with how these injuries impact on quality of life away from the rink and post-hockey careers.

Fashion Week in Libya

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How communications has changed over the last 10 years

Reality TV Shows
2000 - 4
2010 - 320

Daily U.S. Newspapers

2000- 1,480
2010 - 1,302

Active Blogs

2000 - 12,000
2010 - 141,000,000

Daily E-Mails

2000 - 12 billion
2010 - 247 billion

Text Mess
2000 - 400,000
2010 - 4.5 billion

CD Sales

2000 - $932,000,000
2010 - $428,000,000

iTune Downloads

2000 - 0
2010 - 10 billion

Hard Drive Storage

2000 - $10/GB
2010 - $0.06/GB

Daily Google Searches

2000 - 100 million
2010 - 2 billion

Time Spent Online

2000 - 2.7 hours/week
2010 - 18 hours/week

These lyrics have to be from a 6 year old

Mind you the video has had 10 million hits on YouTube.

Sign of the day

Fashion Week in Libya

Hump Day Hottie

Olivia Wilde

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Did Steve Jobs really kills the music business?

"Kids today have missed the whole experience of putting the headphones on, turning it up to 10, holding the [album] jacket, closing their eyes and getting lost in an album; and the beauty of taking your allowance money and making a decision based on the jacket, not knowing what the record sounded like, and looking at a couple of still pictures and imagining it," Bon Jovi said (via MSN), thinking back to his record buying days. Then came the less fanciful: the blame.

"God, it was a magical, magical time. I hate to sound like an old man now, but I am, and you mark my words, in a generation from now people are going to say: 'What happened?' Steve Jobs is personally responsible for killing the music business."

I'm old enough to appreciate what Bon Jovi is talking about. The artwork of the record cover and sleeve were sometimes as appealing as the music. Who can forget the zipper on the Rolling Stone's Sticky Finger album. The stark white and untitled Beatles Double White Album. But it wasn't Steve Jobs who killed the business. Look around technology is revolutionizing everything. I can't keep up. Do you believe that technology will stop advancing beyond the iPod? One day mine will be in the basement with my turntable and 8-track player.


Sanke dies from silicon poisoning after biting breast implant

A huge snake which bit a model's surgically enhanced breast later died from silicone poisoning.

Israeli model Orit Fox was posing with the snake at a photoshoot in Tel Aviv when it suddenly turned on her.

She was holding the boa constrictor and went to lick its head when it suddenly tired of the attention and latched on to her left breast.

Footage of the incident on Spanish TV channel Telecino has notched up nearly a quarter of a million hits on YouTube.

As the snake bit Fox, a man rushed over to help her and remove the snake from her breast.

The model was taken to Hillel Yaffe Hospital in Hadera, northwest of Jerusalem, but later released after a tetanus shot and a few hours of observation.

But the snake did not fare so well. Days later, Telecinco reported that the creature had died of silicone poisoning.


Woman caught with 71 balls of heroin in her vagina

A female drugs trafficker with 71 balls of heroin hidden in her vagina is facing five years in jail after she was arrested by border guards in Poland

23-year-old Katarzyna Szymanska was discovered to be carrying nearly half a kilo of the drug after a search at the Kostrzyn border crossing.

"There was something about the way she was walking that raised our suspicions," said customs spokesman Anna Galon.

"She seemed very uncomfortable and could barely walk a step without wincing in pain," added one guard.

This is what happens when you get greedy and over stuff a vagina. You may be doing five years in the slammer.

Bride sues fiancé after he cheats at bachelor party

Lauren Serafin

An angry bride-to-be is suing her ex-fiancé for the cost of their cancelled wedding after he cheated on her at his Las Vegas bachelor party.

Lawyer Lauren Serafin is seeking to recover the cost of a planned honeymoon to the island of Bora Bora and costs for her wedding dress, bridesmaids dresses and invitations.

She was forced to call off their wedding less than four weeks before 170 guests were due to see the high-powered couple walk down the aisle.

According to the lawsuit, Serafin is seeking $62,814 from her ex-fiancé Robert Leighton - who is also a successful Chicago lawyer - after he 'hooked up' with a girl he met while in Las Vegas on his bachelor party.

Leighton and the girl, named as Danielle, met at nightclub and later had sex at his hotel, the lawsuit said.

Serafin claimed in her lawsuit that Leighton believed in the 'Sin City' advertising slogan of 'what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas' and tried to hide the one night stand from her.

'The defendant, seemingly believing that "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas", denied that anything happened between himself and Danielle in Las Vegas,' the lawsuit charges.

No one seems to want an election but we're getting one anyway

A Canadian federal election is a dead certainty this spring. In fact the campaign had begun long ago. The Conservatives have weathered the bad economy without losing popularity. At the same time they have been targeting minorities and new Canadians and bolstering up their law and order image. In addition, the Conservatives would like to take advantage of Michael Ignatieff’s failed attempt to reach out to voters over the past 6 months (remember he didn’t come back for you).

The Liberals do not want to campaign against the Conservatives’ stewardship of the economy so they plan to campaign on integrity by pointing to recent scandals and Harper’s penchant for secrecy even though the Liberals while in power was similar. Their focus will be on the recent contempt rulings in the House. The Liberals desperately want to pull the plug on the government before the Budget is delivered by introducing a non-confidence vote as early as next week. Since Jean Chretien stepped down as Liberal leader Liberals have quickly tired of their leaders and Ignatieff seems to be near his “best before date.”

Even the Bloc is okay with a spring election. Gilles Duceppe may want to get an election out of the way so that he can take over the Parti Quebecois. The results in Quebec should not differ too much from the 2008 election which is all the Bloc care about.

Even the NDP appear to be eager to get to the polls. Jack Layton appears to be the most popular party leader and he expects to make advances at the expense of the Liberals. As long as no party ends up with a majority, the NDP may be looking for more leverage in Parliament either in Opposition or even in a Coalition.

The NDP may be harder to read. Jack Layton appears to be the most popular party leader and you would think he could make advances at the expense of the Liberals. However, they did miserably in recent by-elections and Layton is still recuperating from prostate surgery. The NDP were planning on supporting the Budget but the optics of not supporting the Liberal’s panned non-confidence vote does not look good. The NDP could gain a few seats or lose a few. As long as no party ends up with a majority, the NDP might hope for more leverage in Parliament either in Opposition or even in a Coalition.

Of course if you ask any of the major parties they will tell you that the voters don’t want an election and neither do their party. No one wants to be fingered with triggering a $300 million election. So everyone plays a big bluffing game as their stock up their campaign buses and print off their signs. They only people buying their bull are their most partisan supporters – you know the ones with the empty Koolaid glasses.

So how will this all end? Exactly the same as the 2006 and 2008 elections – with another Conservative minority government. At least that is what EKOS’ current seat projection concludes (current seat numbers in brackets):

Conservative – 140 (143)

Liberals – 86 (77)

NDP – 29 (36)

Bloc - 52 (47)

Independent – 1 (2)

Greens - 0 (0)

** 3 seats are currently vacant

Japanese earthquake.tsunami will be the biggest insurance claim in history

The Japanese earthquake and tsunami may turn out to be the largest insurance loss in history. Right now Hurricane Katrina which hit New Orleans in 2005 is considered the largest insurance loss at $62.3 billion U.S. The previous high was the 9/11 attacks in 2001 which produced $40 billion in insured losses. The Japanese earthquake is estimated to produce $35 billion in insured losses. However, once you add in the impact of the tsunami and aftershocks it may increase to $60 billion or more. I’m not sure these figures include a possible nuclear disaster involving the Fukushima nuclear plant.

These figures only cover insured losses. Uninsured losses can sometimes exceed insured ones. For example, the 1995 Kobe earthquake produced $5 billion in insured losses and an estimated $95 billion in uninsured losses.

Fashion Week in Libya

Monday, March 14, 2011

Gilbert Gottfried in hot water again

End Of An Era of the Day

Following Gilbert Gottfried’s series of ill-conceived tweets poking fun at the devastation in Japan, Aflac informed the comedian, who has voiced the Aflac Duck for over a decade, that his services would no longer be required.

“Gilbert’s recent comments about the crisis in Japan were lacking in humor and certainly do not represent the thoughts and feelings of anyone at Aflac,” the company said in an official statement. “Aflac will immediately set plans in motion to conduct a nationwide casting call to find a new voice of the iconic Aflac Duck.”

Russian bomb squad defuses sex toy

A post office in Russia was evacuated on Monday after an alert Russian postal worker called authorities over a package making a "strange ticking sound." After securing the building, the bomb squad discovered the source of the noise: A vibrator. (The device had apparently been turned on accidentally)

Nerves are on edge in Russia after an attack in January on the Domodedovo airport near Moscow left 37 dead. Two suicide bombers killed 40 in March 2010 in the Moscow metro.


One Hit Wonder

Janis Ian - At Seventeen (1975)

Has anti-Semitism become cool?

Excuse me but what is going on here? Has anti-Semitism become part of the pop culture? There seems to be a stream of public figures and celebrities ranting about Jews. Boycotting Israel seems to be the latest leftist movement. Is it just a reflection of the Internet era where any banal comment can go viral?

Consider the former Dior designer, John Galliano, who was sitting in a bar in a Jewish section of Paris and announcing his love for Hitler and smiling as he told the people at an adjoining table, who he apparently assumed to be Jewish, that "People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be fucking gassed."

Charlie Sheen in one of his drugged out rants insulted Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre in anti-Semitic fashion: "I violently hate Chaim Levine (Chuck Lorre)."

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange told the British satirical and current affairs magazine Private Eye that there is a conspiracy of Jewish reporters out to get him, and that they're a bunch of little girls. He did this in response to charges that he associates with anti-Semites.

This is not an entirely new phenomenon. Mel Gibson delivered a similar rant when he was stopped by Los Angeles police in 2006. "Fuckingg Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." Gibson then asked the deputy, "Are you a Jew?"

Prominent public figures have blurred another line as well—the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, between attacking the Jewish state and attacking the Jewish people. Anti-Israel boycotts are popping up everywhere as if it were analogous to being an environmentalist.

Former President Jimmy Carter too has contributed to this new legitimization of Jew-bashing, by talking about the Jewish domination of America and his use of the term "Apartheid" in his book about Israel.

Why the Jews?

The truth is that anti-Semitic racism has never quite disappeared. It just went underground and has now resurfaced as a result of new technology.

Fortunately there are intelligent and principled young celebrities like Natalie Portman who are trying to offset this development by speaking out against bigotry.

My parents barely survived Nazi brutality and the Holocaust. Most of my family perished. I never met my grandparents. No one knows where their remains are. Coming out of the horrors of World War II it was anti-Semitism went into a period of dormancy. It was politically incorrect to attack Jews. My parent's generation has pretty much died off and anti-Semitism has again become fashionable.

Manhattan mom sues preschool for damaging 4-year-old daughter's Ivy League chances

A Manhattan mom is suing a $19,000-a-year preschool, claiming it jeopardized her daughter's chances of getting into an elite private school because she had to slum with younger kids.

Nicole Imprescia yanked 4-year-old Lucia from the York Avenue Preschool last fall, angry the tyke was stuck learning about shapes and colors with tots half her age - when she should have been prepping for a standardized test.

Impressed by the school's pledge to ready its young students for the ERB - a test used for admission at top private elementary schools - Imprescia enrolled her daughter at York in 2009.

A month into this school year, she transferred the child out of the upper East Side center because she had been lumped in with 2-year-olds.

Imprescia's court papers suggest the school may have damaged Lucia's chances of getting into a top college, citing an article that identifies preschools as the first step to "the Ivy League."

At the York Ave. campus, where many kids were being picked up by nannies pushing luxury strollers, parents were wary of speaking with a reporter, afraid it might endanger their kids' slot there.

Holy shit! $19,000 for pre-school! Do the kids get outfitted with iPads and get snacks from Dean and Deluuca? Surely Kaplan has a test preparation course for ERB? Better yet pay someone to take the test for your daughter.


Fashion Week in Libya

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Time to scoop the poop

Explosion at Fukushima Daini nuclear plant

The videos above from the Russian network RT show a plume of smoke emerging from the damaged reactor at Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan on Saturday: an explosion blew the roof off of a building and destroyed the outer walls of a reactor. Officials have expanded the evacuation radius around the plant to a 12 mile radius, and are distributing iodine to populations nearby, to help offset possible radiation poisoning.

Pilot puts cockpit on lockdown after Orthodox Jewish passengers put on tefillin

Pilots on an Alaska Airlines flight locked down the cockpit and alerted authorities after three passengers conducted an elaborate Orthodox Jewish prayer ritual during their Los Angeles-bound flight.

Airline spokeswoman Bobbie Egan says the crew of Flight 241 from Mexico City became alarmed Sunday after the men began the tefillin ritual, which involves tying leather straps and small wooden boxes to the body.

FBI and customs agents, along with police and fire crews, met the plane at the gate at Los Angeles International Airport.

Airport police say two or three men were escorted off the plane, questioned by the FBI, and released. No arrests were made.

The captain of the inter-island vessel informed police that a passenger on board had been observed carrying "a suspicious article," which contained "small boxes with wires attached to them."

A short police investigation revealed that the man was carrying the traditional ritual object, which caused suspicion among passengers. The man was released with no further charges.

Oy vey! Time for little sensitivity training.


Happy 72nd birthday Neil Sedaka

Sedaka singing Calendar Girl in 1962

Sedaka singing Breakin Up Is Hard To Do in 1966

Sedaka in 1993

Finally Sedaka in 2007

Landlord discovers property has vanished

The owner of a double-storey wooden house who went to the house in Kampung Bakau, Malaysia, to collect rent from his tenants was shocked to find that his home had mysteriously “disappeared”. Twenty-four concrete pillar holders, pieces of scattered wood and a damaged television set were all that remained of his house.

The wooden walls and pillars of the house were all missing. It is believed the main components of the house had been dismantled or disposed of. Zuria Ali, 30, said he was shocked to see the entire house structure removed. He even lost his furniture, cutlery, cupboards, a dining table and a refrigerator. The house, which he inherited from his parents, is about 60 years old.

“I estimated my losses to be about RM30,000,” Zuria, who now lives in Perak, said. “I had heard that my house had vanished and was curious to find out the truth.” His neighbour, identified only as Ah Kiung, said he saw three men and a trailer arriving at the house last month.

“They dismantled the house in early February,” he said. “I thought the three were carrying out the dismantling work on instructions from the landlord. I did not suspect anything until he (Zuria) asked me about it.” Kangar OCPD Supt Abdul Rahman Mohd Noordin confirmed receiving a report about the “missing” house.

This is precisely why you need to get a security deposit from your tenants. You never know if your tenants are going to get a trailer and haul your property away over some weekend. I'm not talking just about first and last months rent.

Man arrested for watering neighbour's lawn

A Polk County man got into a fight with two officers because he tried to water his neighbour's lawn, investigators said.

Authorities said Joseph Florence was upset with how his neighbour's yard looked, so he decided to water it. His neighbour called police.

Police said when they arrived and tried to arrest Florence for trespassing, there was a struggle and he punched and choked the officers. The officers were not seriously hurt, but Florence ended up with two black eyes.

Florence was arrested and charged with battery to a law enforcement officer, assault on a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer with violence, depriving an officer of communication, and resisting an officer without violence.

Fashion Week in Libya