Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pirate cook saves hostages, faces life on the run

The pirate cook smuggled food to the terrified hostages held by his gang off the Somali coast.

When the pirates started talking about harvesting their organs for cash, he sneaked them guns.

The hostages killed the pirates and escaped. But now the life of the Somali cook, known only as Ahmed, is in danger.

For Good ‘ol Dad - Meet the 'Mother of Father's Day'


Sonora Smart Dodd spent more than six decades fighting for the holiday she started

Father's Day turns 100 this year, thanks to the tireless efforts of Sonora Smart Dodd (pictured at right). She spent 62 years drumming up support for the holiday until President Nixon finally made it an official national observance in 1972.

Related story:

Father’s Day marks evolution of Dad

Friday, June 18, 2010

SBX6 – 16: NORML says it’s ‘ill-considered, premature’


A bill to tax medical marijuana like tobacco is scheduled for hearings by the State Senate Revenue & Taxation Comittee next Wednesday, June 23rd.

 The bill,  SBX6 -16 by Sen. Ronald Calderon of Montebello, would tax all sales of cannabis (except wholesale-level distribution to collectives or cooperatives) at a rate equal to the tobacco products tax rate.

Sen. Calderon's office has been evasive about discussing the bill and has not returned phone calls from medical marijuana proponents.

 Patient advocates strongly oppose taxing medical marijuana.  "We cannot support taxes on medical marijuana at present inflated black-market prices," stated California NORML in opposition to the bill.  "Many patients are poor and living on disability.   Until current laws are changed to clearly recognize the legality of cannabis sales, any tax proposals are highly premature and unwarranted. "

The provisions of SBX6 16 lack basic understanding of  cannabis, which is dissimilar to tobacco both in its health effects and how it is marketed.   Tobacco is taxed by the cigarette, while cannabis is sold by weight, making it difficult to make sense of the bill's mandate that they be taxed "at the same rate."

 Because SBX6 -16 is a tax bill, it requires a 2/3 majority for passage.   Opponents are hopeful that they can defeat the bill in committee.   Medical marijuana supporters are urged to contact the committee in opposition to SBX6-16.

   Committee Chair: Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis).   Members: Sen. Elaine Alquist (D-San Jose); Mimi Walters (R-Laguna Niguel);  Roy Ashburn (R-Bakersfield);  and Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima).

                      Cal NORML letter of opposition:

Dear Sen. Wolk:

As co-sponsors of Prop. 215, we wish to state our objections to SBX6 16, the proposed "Cannabis Tax Law" (Sen. Calderon).

Until current laws are modified to clarify the legality of sale of medical cannabis, any such proposal is premature. At present, the legal status of medical marijuana sales and distribution remains hazy and disputed.  Whereas some localities have recognized legal sales of medical marijuana through licensed dispensaries, others have not.  Some legal authorities, including the city attorney and D.A. of Los Angeles, insist that such sales are flatly illegal, and many distributors continue to experience raids and arrest by local police.  Until this uncertainty is resolved and conditions for legal sale firmly established in state law, the state lacks clear authority to demand taxes.  In addition, the voters will be considering a "Tax and Regulate" initiative this November that could substantially change state laws on marijuana.
We cannot support taxes on medical marijuana at present inflated black-market prices. Many patients are poor and living on disability.  It is hard to justify a special tax on one kind of medicine but not on others.  SBX6 16 would create a two-tier system, in which lawful marijuana for medical use would be taxed, but illicit non-medical marijuana would not. The effect of this would be to encourage illegal, non-medical production.
SBX6 16 fails to set forth a coherent taxation scheme for cannabis.  The scheme for tobacco taxation set forth in Revenue & Taxation Code Sections 31001ff does not work for marijuana.  Tobacco is taxed by the cigarette, whereas marijuana is sold by weight.  Logically, any taxation system for marijuana should also be scaled to the weight content of its major active ingredient, THC.   Because of its minimal production costs, any taxes on marijuana should be established at a fixed excise rate, not as a percentage of price or revenues, since the latter could easily plummet by an order of magnitude in a true legal market.  For in-depth analysis, see my paper on the "Economics of Cannabis Legalization," at background/mjeconomics.html.
We urge the committee to reject SBX6 16 as ill-considered and premature.
Sincerely, Dale Gieringer,  Director, California NORML

Lakers beat Celtics for their 16th Championship!

Kobe Bryant

BACK-TO-BACK CHAMPIONSHIPS - As a Laker fan since they moved to LA, this is one of the sweetest playoff games I ever saw them win! Beating the hated Boston Celtics in a Game 7 has never happened before. Up till now all four Game 7’s between the two storied franchises in their history, had gone to the Celtics. The real MVPs of the game were Ron Artest and Pau Gasol, but Kobe got the award based upon the whole series.

Winning this series against the Celtics makes up for the Finals two years ago when the Celtics beat the Lakers. This time, the Lakers weren’t bullied by the Bean Town Boys, and actually roughed them up in a decidedly ugly game.

PHOTO - Kobe Bryant runs up the court as the Lakers win their second consecutive NBA title in an 83-79 victory over the Boston Celtics on Thursday. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times / June 17, 2010)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Republican-on-Republican rage - Republican forced to apologize for BP apology

The Democrats are are sure to make hay in November with remarks like what Texas Rep. Joe Barton said when he called the deal with Obama and BP ($20 Billion for restitution) a “shakedown.”

He isn't alone in the GOP. There’s more than one Republican who wants to stay cozy with Big Oil and keep the rewards rolling. Barton (photo right) managed to piss off influential Republican leaders concerned about the November elections and was forced to backtrack from his own stupid statement.

What disgusts me is how these cheesy politicians try to put a spin on BP being a good business partner! What a laugh! The corrupt, and incestuous relationship between BP (and other big oil companies) with our lawmakers is like a cancer that keeps spreading. But how to stop it? Look at their gall. They’re already playing “poor me” because a private industry has to pay for it’s destruction of the Mexican Gulf Coast.

Before we know it they’ll be back drilling in deep waters. All we can do is watch our fragile coastlines deteriorate while the fat cats line their pockets with black gold from the blue sea. Or we could start voting the dumb shits out of office! Now there’s a thought…but where can an honest politician be found to replace them?

As It Stands, we all know there’s no such creature. 


Odd News for Thursday: Southwest seizes dozens of human heads

                 HEADS UP!

In case you weren’t aware there’s a thriving black market for body parts in this country. In this case it looks like the heads were shipped legally.

Nevertheless, authorities are being careful and checking out all the paper work involved in the shipment of skulls.

Ark. officials now investigating… whether body parts were legally obtained

The end of the childhood best friend?

I just don’t agree with the idea that having a best friend isn’t a positive thing. I think educators are going over the top in getting involved in children’s everyday function –

Concern over cliques means some schools discourage kids from having best friends.

Photo: Margaret Guest, center, in striped shirt, often has groups of friends at her home in Dunwoody, Ga.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Democrats challenge Pentagon on Afghan war


Someone has to bring America’s longest war to an end. The madness has to stop. I dare to hope that it will be soon.

A schism deepens between military leaders and Congress as lawmakers — crucial Democrats among them — challenge Pentagon assertions that progress is picking up in Afghanistan. Full story

Best Idea for 2010: Gates, Buffett to megarich: Give it up

Image: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates

What a great idea! Think what a boost it would be to the numerous charities that do a lot of good in this country, but are struggling because of the recession.

Enough funding can literally mean life and death for thousand of Americans who desperately need help.

They want their billionaire peers to pledge 50 percent to charity!

PHOTO: Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, shown in 2004, in Redmond, Wash., are spearheading a drive to get the superrich to donate an extraordinary amount of money to charity.

It’s tough everywhere: new tape reveals al-Qaida's finance worries

Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, Al-Qaeda leader allegedly killed on Afghan-Pakistan border

The worldwide economy is so bad that terrorist are soliciting donations:

Shortly before his death, group's No. 3 leader urged supporters to donate

Egyptian-born al-Qaida commander Mustafa Abu al-Yazid ran the group's operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was killed in a recent drone attack in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area.

View related photos

North Korea warns that military forces will respond if UN condemns it for ship sinking

“North Korea's U.N. Ambassador Sin Son Ho told a news conference Tuesday there is "a touch-and-go situation that war may break out at any time" because of South Korean accusations that the North torpedoed the ship and killed 46 sailors.”

BLOG EDITOR’S NOTE: The reason my first post was 2:00 p.m. PST is because my server SUDDENLINK was screwed up all morning and they just fixed it. Just in case you were wondering…

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Really? BP executive says underwater response 'pretty effective'

I don’t know what alternative universe this McKay clown lives in. It’s certainly not the real world that the rest of us exist in. When I hear remarks like this, I know BP is not only piling on the propaganda, their executives are clueless or just outright liars that can’t see how ineffective they’ve been. 


“12:28 p.m.: A BP executive said at a hearing Tuesday that his company's underwater spill response has been "pretty effective."

"I understand everyone's frustration with how long this is taking, but the spill response has actually been pretty effective in terms of dealing with it underwater," BP America President Lamar McKay said. "It's unfortunate we can't get it stopped at the source right now; we're doing everything we can to do that."

At the same time, other oil executives acknowledged that none of them are prepared to handle such a situation if it happens to them.”

Photo source

Bizarre auction items are Victorian-era taxidermy creations

Sid a fanged, flying monkey creature with webbed feet – really does have an almost irresistible charm. That may help to explain why he sold for $2,475.He was one of the favorites at the Duke Auction House, along with the flying cat – all a bit of fun, really,” said Rupert Perry-Warnes, the salesroom manager.

Unicorns and flying kittens auctioned off
NBC’s Dawna Friesen takes a look at some of the weird and wonderful Victorian-era taxidermy creations recently sold in England.

Golden Retriever gets makeover to attract visitors

A golden retriever dog dyed to tiger-look play ...

A Golden Retriever, dyed to look like a tiger, plays at the Dahe Pet Civilization Park in Zhengzhou, Henan province June 8, 2010. The park bought theGolden Retriever and four Chow Chows, dyed to resemble pandas, from a pet market in Sichuan as an attempt to attract visitors, local media said.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Gulf Coast Weather - ‘sunny with a chance of tar balls’

Image: Travel Oil Spill Vacations

Some aren't taking chances on a forecast like "sunny with a chance of tar balls," so they're going elsewhere. Full story

In tour of Gulf coast, president strikes optimistic tone

In a newly optimistic tone, President Barack Obama promised Monday that "things are going to return to normal" along the stricken Gulf Coast and the region's fouled waters will be in even better shape than before the catastrophic BP oil spill.

Looking for stock to buy? Whole Foods betting on street eats

How about this? I had no idea that there was such a thing as a “street-food” movement going on.

I guess it depends on where you live. Humboldt has a mini-fleet of Mexican roach coaches with great food. I wonder if that qualifies them as part of the “movement?”

The innovative grocer sees food-cart vendors as its 'next big thing

By Justin Rohrlich, Minyanville

“Whole Foods Market (WFMI) and its in-house “forager,” Harvindar Singh, are in the beginning stages of developing a new product line called Street Eats.

Street Eats will be rolled out gradually, starting with a handful of Whole Foods locations in Northern California. El Porteño, an empanada maker found at various San Francisco farmers markets, is already doing business with the company, and according to San Francisco Weekly, Singh “recently met with Crème Brûlée Cart's Curtis Kimball and his brother, Magic Curry Kart's Brian Kimball. Singh has also sat down with Jon Kosorek of East Bay cart Jon's Street Eats about developing a salad dressing.
"The street-food movement is very hot right now, and they've got some great products," Singh told the paper.”

Guest Opinion: Gas tax: a toxic debate

By Danny Westneat

Seattle Times staff columnist

This month's Car and Driver magazine, of all places, asks a question that I think I can answer.

"Please," it says, "can't we even discuss a gasoline tax without somebody calling somebody an America-hating socialist?"

And the answer is ... No. We can't.

"You are just another unconscionable liberal who would take us back to the Stone Ages," a reader wrote to me last week after I brought up the treasonous notion of raising taxes on gas.

"I highly detest people like you thinking you know better than I do how I should live!" wrote another.

"It is a good thing people with your mind-set were not counted on to build this country," said another.

There's more, but you get the gist. It's as if I'd ordered my comrades, formerly known as Americans, to herewith go to and fro across our land of plenty only in horse-drawn wagons.

What I'd actually said was we should gradually raise the federal tax on gas by a penny per month, for 10 years. It's a way to use less oil over time, to jump-start alternative energy and to raise money to start paying down the ballooning federal debt.


Tea Party Candidates rejected by Californians in the polls

Chuck DeVore

Successful elsewhere, 'tea party' fails to find traction in California

Conservative activists weren't able to make the dent in last Tuesday's primaries against self-financing candidates like Whitman and Fiorina.

Photo: Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R-Irvine) talks to reporters after accompanying family members who voted in the California primary at the Brywood Elementary School in Irvine. DeVore, a "tea party" favorite, lost to Carly Fiorina. (Damian Dovarganes, Associated Press / June 8, 2010)

Gold, Iron, Copper, Lithium, and Cobalt discovery: vast deposits found in Afghanistan

Image: Afghanistan


Nearly $1 trillion in untapped resources could fundamentally alter economy

Just what we don’t need, another reason to stay in Afghanistan. I say this because I strongly suspect the U.S. is going to want a piece of this mineral payload!


Photo: A bleak Ghazni Province seems to offer little, but a Pentagon study says it may have among the world’s largest deposits of lithium.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

AS IT STANDS : Presidential memorandums, or how to stay under the media radar

Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard

Posted: 06/13/2010 01:30:28 AM PDT

Muslim terrorists' favorite American target is New York. No offense to its residents, but you couldn't pay me to live there. I'm a firm believer in the law of averages and when I heard about yet another terrorist attack, my suspicions were confirmed.

Since 9/11, the city has been a recruitment poster for every Muslim extremist in the world. Faisal Shahzad, 30, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan, recently left a car bomb in Times Square that didn't go off.

My concern all along has been “sleeper cells” of terrorists in our country. I've often wondered how terrorists get into the U.S. I'm sure some are born here or come into the country legally, and like Shahzad, become U.S. citizens.

I discovered that some terrorists are actually invited into our country because of international politics. Sound crazy? Before I explain, let's define a Presidential Memorandum:


Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...