Saturday, July 9, 2011

Real people in comic books make an interesting conversation…

I grew up in what is often referred to as “The Silver Age” of comics, when Marvel Comics made their big marketing move against the well-established DC Comics collection of Super Hero’s such as Superman and Bat Man.

I was fascinated with the whole concept of  Super Hero's. I didn’t care much for comics like Archie, or the Donald Duck series that was so popular in the late fifties and early sixties. Spiderman vied with Thor and the Incredible Hulk for being my favorite character.

Comics books are often reflective of our society. It’s been that way for a long time and I don’t expect it’ll change soon. 

As the November elections loom, the philosophical gulf between President Obama and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin seems to yawn ever wider. But there is at least one place they can find common ground: the Chok’lit Shoppe, venerable hangout for Archie and the gang.

Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis starred in long-running comic book series back in the 1950s and ’60s. Once-popular actors like Alan Ladd and Buster Crabbe had their own titles, as did western stars like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and John Wayne.

But those comics were fantasy narratives about their on-screen personas, not the actors themselves. The same could be said about the rock band KISS, who battled Marvel Comics super-villain Doctor Doom in a 1977 comic.

Popular musicians are appearing in more realistic accounts of their real lives; Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, and Madonna are a few examples. But you don’t have to be a rock star to get your own comic:

You can be a politician (Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton), a TV star (Martha Stewart, Betty White or Stephen Colbert), a business mogul (Mark Zuckerberg, a planned Donald Trump bio), or just notorious (Lindsay Lohan appears on the cover of a series called “Infamous,” and a future issue on Charlie Sheen is in the works).

As It Stands, my only problem with comic books today is they’re so expensive. I still see those issues for a dime in my mind. Wish I’d have saved some back then!

Saturday stuff: over-reaction to flipping the ‘bird,’ gold coin controversy, and ‘Save Phonehedge West’


Good Morning Humboldt County!

It’s time to sip on the hot beverage of your choice while we leisurely look at today’s stories. I think this trio of tales ought to get you going: 

Guards over-react to middle finger

South African President Jacob Zuma's elite guards overstepped their authority when they arrested and roughed up a student who they thought made an obscene hand.

 Family fights government over rare ‘Double Eagle’ gold coins

A jeweler's heirs are fighting the United States government for the right to keep a batch of rare and valuable "Double Eagle" $20 coins that date back to the Franklin Roosevelt administration. It's just the latest coin controversy to make headlines.

Philadelphian Joan Langbord and her sons say they found the 10 coins in 2003 in a bank deposit box kept by Langbord's father, Israel Switt, a jeweler who died in 1990. But when they tried to have the haul authenticated by the U.S. Treasury, the feds, um, flipped.

They said the coins were stolen from the U.S. Mint back in 1933, and are the government's property. The Treasury Department seized the coins, and locked them away at Fort Knox. The court battle is set to kick off this week.

Calif. oddity's creator ordered jailed by judge   (AP)

Calif. oddity's creator ordered jailed by judge

LANCASTER, Calif. – The eccentric creator of a Mojave Desert compound of whimsical buildings known as Phonehenge West was jailed Friday for failing to obey an order to cut electricity and keep guests out of the illegal structures.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Daviann Mitchell put off Kim Fahey's sentencing for code violations, but ordered him held in lieu of $75,000 bail for disobeying a previous order.

Mitchell said Fahey's "blatant refusal" to demolish the structures and disconnect electricity put his family, the community and first-responders at risk because the buildings pose a significant fire hazard. The judge had allowed Fahey to remain free pending sentencing on the condition that he follow the order.

"I did not want to put Mr. Fahey in custody. I wanted to work with Mr. Fahey. I gave him an opportunity," Mitchell said. "I don't think he has taken the public risk to heart. He has chosen to do nothing."

The case has turned into something of a fight-the-system cause celebre with more than 29,000 fans of a "Save Phonehenge West" Facebook page.

Friday, July 8, 2011

What a surprise: Mexican cartel boss says he buys all of his guns from the USA

Image: Jesus Enrique Aguilar

I’ve written about this subject a couple of times in the last three years. One of the many claims by the NRA and other gun activists is that the Mexican cartels don’t get a significant amount of their guns from the U.S.

I’ve always taken the position that the U.S. has been a main provider of guns for the cartels. My columns were both vilified by numerous NRA websites, and websites operated by outright wackaloon gun lovers who threatened me for suggesting we need stronger gun laws. I’ve just got one thing to say to all of those smart asses…sit on this story and spin!

During an interview recorded by Mexico’s Ministry of Public Safety, Jesus Enrique Rejon, alias 'El Mamito,' told officials that the feared drug gang purchases all of its guns in the US.

In the interview (the video of which is available here), Mr. Rejon claims the group used to sneak the arms through border checkpoints, but stricter security measures have forced them to smuggle them across the Rio Grande. He also alleged that the Zetas’ rival Gulf Cartels have an easier time bringing weapons across the border. “It got harder, but we can still get them,” Rejon said. “Those in the Gulf Cartel get them a lot easier; we don’t know why. It’s impossible to buy them and smuggle them in a vehicle trunk, but they do it. There must be a deal somewhere. I don’t know.”

It has long been known that gun stores in the American Southwest are a significant source of weaponry to Mexican cartels, a topic that InSight Crime has covered extensively in its GunRunners report.

Story Here - By Geoffrey Ramsey -

Geoffrey Ramsey is a writer for Insight – Organized Crime in the Americas, which provides research, analysis, and investigation of the criminal world throughout the region. Find all of his research here.

U.S. official says pre-infected computer tech entering country

This news is very discouraging…we, those with computers, could be pawns for other governments or private interests!

Confirming years of warnings from government and private security experts, a top Homeland Security official has acknowledged that computer hardware and software is already being imported to the United States preloaded with spyware and security-sabotaging components.

The remarks by Greg Schaffer, the Department of Homeland Security's acting deputy undersecretary for national protection and programs, came Thursday during a tense exchange at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The panel is considering an Obama administration proposal to tighten monitoring and controls on computer equipment imported for critical government and communications infrastructure.

Schaffer didn't say whether the equipment he was talking about included end-user consumer tech like retail laptops, DVDs and media players. If so, his comments, first reported Friday morning by Fast Company, would be the first time the United States has publicly confirmed that foreign consumer technology is arriving in the country already loaded with nasty bugs like key-logging software, botnet components and even software designed to defeat security programs installed on the same machine.

Schaffer made the statement under questioning from Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who noted that "the issue of software infrastructure (and) hardware built overseas with items embedded in them already by the time they get to the United States ... poses, obviously, security and intellectual property risks."

DEA Closes Eyes to Evidence, Rejects Petition to Reschedule Marijuana for Medical Use


After nine years of regulatory delay, the DEA rejected a petition by a coalition of groups including California NORML to reschedule marijuana for medical use.

The response came only after advocates sued in federal court for unreasonable delay.The petition, filed in 2002 by the Cannabis Rescheduling Coalition (, cited a growing body of scientific evidence plus the approval of medical marijuana in several states as grounds that marijuana qualifies as having "accepted medical use" and should be removed from Schedule I.

The DEA countered that none of the evidence was valid since it did not meet the standard of FDA new drug application trials.The DEA  cited a five-year old DHHS paper claiming that marijuana did not have medical use.  While referencing innumerable studies showing potential health risks of marijuana, it failed to reference any of the hundreds of studies showing medical efficacy of marijuana on the grounds that they did not meet the standard of well-controlled, large-scale, double blind FDA approval trials.  However, none of the negative evidence cited by the government met that standard, either.

The DEA failed to mention that it has deliberately obstructed FDA trials from taking place by denying the approval of a research-grade marijuana growing facility at the University of Massachusetts, contrary to the recommendation of its own administrative law judge. The only existing legal source of marijuana for U.S. researchers is the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which has stated that it will not pursue FDA studies of the drug for medical use.

"The government has created a Catch-22 situation, in which the DEA is free to ignore mounting scientific evidence and the experience of countless physicians and users who have found medical marijuana effective in order to protect its bureaucratic position," said California NORML director Dale Gieringer, who helped author the re-scheduling petition. " The government's response raises serious questions about its competence to manage Americans' health care. Surveys have shown that patients who use medical marijuana can dramatically reduce their use of other, more costly but less effective FDA-approved prescription drugs. Yet DEA drug bureaucrats are deliberately ignoring these facts so as to protect their bloated agency."

Advocates are planning how to challenge  the DEA decision. Medical marijuana advocates are supporting a bill by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), the State's Medical Marijuana Protection Act of 2011 (H.R. 1983), which would end marijuana's schedule one status and let states regulate its medical availability. Under a policy recently reaffirmed by the Obama administration, the federal government has arrested, charged , threatened, and/or imprisoned hundreds of individuals in states with legal medical marijuana for violating  federal laws. (

California NORML is calling on  Congress to investigate the DEA's malfeasance with regards to medical marijuana.

DEA answer to CRC petition:

CRC rescheduling petition:

California NORML, 2261 Market St. #278A, San Francisco CA 94114 -(415) 563- 5858 -

Finally Friday: poo police, win a baby game, and French robbers copy Wild West tactics to rob train

Good Morning Humboldt County!

I’m looking forward to another beautiful day. Have you got your cup of coffee or tea? Well then, join me this morning as we check out the news. Let’s start off with a case of POO POLICE!

Doggie DNA nails owners of pets leaving smelly piles

Some pet owners who failed to clean up after their dogs got a nasty surprise from apartment complex manager Deb Logan. Using DNA evidence, Logan started fining the irresponsible dog owners $100 per offense. Logan, property manager at Twin Ponds in Nashua, New Hampshire, started using a dog DNA-testing system to reveal which pooches were leaving feces scattered about outside.

Logan says the DNA technology called "PooPrints", developed by BioPet Vet Labs of Knoxville, Tennessee, is working "amazingly" well for Twin Ponds, a 339-unit complex that is home to about 241 dogs.

At Twin Ponds, all tenants with a dog now must use a PooPrints pet DNA sampling kit when they move in. To set up a profile, owners come to Logan's office, swab their dogs' cheeks for a saliva sample, and Twin Ponds then sends that to BioPet, which creates a reference database that includes all the community's canines. Photo source


New "win a baby" game draws fire

A controversial IVF lottery will launch in Britain this month giving prospective parents the chance to win thousands of pounds toward expensive fertility treatments in top clinics.The scheme, which the media have dubbed "win a baby," has already run into trouble on ethical grounds with critics calling it inappropriate and demeaning to human reproduction.

Britain's Gambling Commission has granted a license to fertility charity, To Hatch, to run the game from July 30. photo source


French train robbers revive Wild West tactics

In a scene taken straight out of an American Wild West movie, masked men robbed a freight train in southern France Thursday night after blocking the railway tracks with shopping carts and metal beams. About 20 bandits looted several carriages and then vanished into the night. It was unclear what was taken.

"Attacks on trains aren't new, but it is a pretty rare phenomenon," David-Olivier Reverdy, a police union official in the area said. "It's worthy of stagecoach attacks in the Wild West," he said.

photo source

Time for me to head on down the road…

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What's in your navel? Hundreds and hundreds of types of bacteria

Belly button

When I was a teenager we use to kid about contemplating our navels to reach enlightenment.

It was back in the 60s and there were gurus and yogis everywhere.

Recently, scientists from the Belly Button Biodiversity project went navel-gazing and discovered 662 new species of bacteria.

Yuckkkk…read all about it here.

Immortal jellyfish: Does it really live forever?

Turritopsis nutricula jellyfish

While it is often joked that cats have nine lives, a certain species of jellyfish has been deemed “immortal” by scientists who have observed its ability to, when in crisis, revert its cells to their earliest form and grow anew.

That means that these tiny creatures, 4 mm to 5 mm long, potentially have infinite lives.

The creature, known scientifically as Turritopsis nutricula, was discovered in the Mediterranean Sea in 1883, but its unique regeneration was not known until the mid-1990s.

Muscle cells can become sperm or eggs, or nerve cells can change into muscle cells, “revealing a transformation potential unparalleled in the animal kingdom,” according to the original study of the species published in 1996.

Father gives daughter most unique name in America

It Was Bound To Happen: Baby Named After Facebook "Like" Button

Given the sheer number of people on Facebook — and given the vast number of parents who have no problem saddling a child with a name that will require an explanation for its entire lifetime — it was inevitable that someone out there would be so inspired by Facebook that they would name their kid after the site's "Like" button.

"We named her Like because it's modern and innovative," said the little girl's father. "I checked that the name does not exist anywhere elsewhere in the country, that was the main condition for me." The new pop says his baby girl's name is going over well, at least with his Facebook pals: "When I posted her picture and name on Facebook I got 40 'likes,'... Considering that I have only a little more than 100 friends on the network that's a lot."

image source

Thursday Thoughts: weird crime and punishment stories


Man in Spongebob pajamas robs store

A man wearing Spongebob Squarepants pajama bottoms and an accomplice robbed a Family Dollar Store in north Harris County, officials said Wednesday.

Investigators said the first robber was a black male in his late teens to early 20s, 5 feet 5 to 5 feet 7 inches tall, 200 to 220 pounds, with short Afro hair and a light complexion. He wore a light blue McDonald's work shirt with yellow Spongebob Squarepants pajama bottoms.


Burglar caught with blow-up doll in closet

This burglar couldn't wait to get his hands on the merchandise.Police said they caught a man inside a sex shop in Woodbridge in Virginia's Prince William County, Inside Nova reported. It happened early Tuesday morning at the MVC Late Night adult store along Jefferson Davis Highway. Police found Justin Dale Little Jim, 28, in the closet with a blow-up doll, prosecutors said. According to Inside Nova, law enforcement said Jim was caught "attempting sexual relations" with the plastic doll. He’s now charged with burglary, grand larceny and felony destruction of property, police said.

Bad-boy taxman paid dominatrix with city money

A tax collector who pleaded guilty to raiding town coffers of nearly $800,000 and using some of the money to pay a dominatrix is due to be sentenced on Wednesday.

Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Leo Hernandez said Bartolozzi, a Secaucus city employee for the past 25 years, stole about $750,000 in tax funds between February 2008 to May 2009. He also stole about $25,000 from the local municipal union, according to prosecutors.

Bartolozzi made 19 wire transfers to a dominatrix, named "Tara Juliana," at addresses in five different states and internationally, prosecutors said. The dominatrix's website at one time included a picture of Bartolozzi, the dominatrix and others, the Journal reported.

Woman wearing purse on head tries to rob store

A woman wearing a purse on her head who claimed she was armed with a gun attempted to rob the Grill & Grocery store on Highway 700 in Ruffin on Saturday, Rockingham County deputies said.Deputies said the clerk asked the woman to show her gun, but the woman refused. She did have a bulge under her shirt, deputies said. Deputies said the woman left after being given no money and drove away in a red car that according to a witness was parked in a nearby driveway.No video of the incident was captured because the store's video surveillance system wasn't working properly, deputies said. Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call Crimestoppers at 336-349-9683. Editor’s Note: the photo is not of the woman who robbed the store in the story. Just a way of helping you envision what she might have looked like.

That’s all for now junior crime stoppers. It’s time for me to head on down the road…

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

On a starry starry night…they saw a strange sight


photo via stumbleupon

Why Do the Police Have Tanks? The Strange and Dangerous Militarization of the US Police Force

Editor’s Note: This is a guest opinion. 

Posted on July 6, 2011 by Rania Khalek

“Just after midnight on May 16, 2010, a SWAT team threw a flash-bang grenade through the window of a 25-year-old man while his 7-year-old daughter slept on the couch as her grandmother watched television. The grenade landed so close to the child that it burned her blanket. The SWAT team leader then burst into the house and fired a single shot which struck the child in the throat, killing her. The police were there to apprehend a man suspected of murdering a teenage boy days earlier. The man they were after lived in the unit above the girl’s family.

The shooting death of Aiyana Mo’Nay Stanley-Jones sounds like it happened in a war zone. But the tragic SWAT team raid took place in Detroit.

Clearly, the mission of the police officer is incompatible with that of a soldier, so why is it that local police departments are looking more and more like paramilitary units in a combat zone? The line between military and civilian law enforcement has been drawn for good reason, but following the drug war and more recently, the war on terror, that line is inconspicuously eroding, a trend that appears to be worsening by the decade.”

Read whole article here. --  Photo source

“And she finally stopped playing their song, when she realized she was dancing alone.” - Anonymous

photo source

Wednesday 1st Read: Shy bladders, store bans drunks trying to buy puppies, and a janitor/hero who won a lottery but still works

Good Morning Humboldt County!

Pull up a chair, or a stool, and have a cup of coffee or tea with me. This morning already shows the promise of another beautiful day. Let’s get started shall we?

Too shy to go? Bathroom stage fright a real condition

Given the choice, you probably prefer your home porcelain throne to using a public toilet. But for more than 20 million people in North America, peeing in a public restroom is no simple matter.

People with a "shy bladder," a real condition also known as paruresis, are fearful of urinating when other people are nearby.

"What people worry about is being in a bathroom near other people and not being able to urinate, and that others will notice and form judgments about them -- that they're weird, defective, inferior, or for men, not masculine," says Carl Robbins, director of training for the Anxiety and Stress Disorders Institute of Maryland in Baltimore, who has worked with paruresis patients for more than 20 years.


Store bans drunken customers from buying puppies

A New York City pet store that's surrounded by bars has banned drunken puppy-buying.

Workers at Le Petite Puppy in Greenwich Village say customers tend to stumble in after happy hour and purchase a dog without thinking.

Drunken customers now are forbidden to even hold the puppies, because they can drop them.

Store owner Dana Rich tells WINS-AM that she instructs people who have clearly been drinking to come back the next day.

Employees say they stress how much work it is to own a dog. They say they would rather lose a sale than send a puppy into an unsafe home.


He won $3.4 million — then went back to work as janitor

Someone has to turn on the lights in life. Someone has to do the jobs we take for granted. But you’d think Tyrone Curry would kiss his trash sack goodbye.

Five years ago, the Evergreen High School custodian won the Washington State Lottery’s Quinto game. “I was dumping garbage,” he says. “Just like today. This is where I was when I found out I won the jackpot and took off running."

You see, Tyrone isn’t just the Evergreen High School custodian; he also coaches the track team. And that’s where he decided to splurge with his lottery winnings.

“I’m getting excited!” he says, watching runners circling toward him on the school’s old cinder track. This summer he’s building them a new one. State-of-the-art. Cost him 40,000 bucks. 

His track team captain, DeVante Botello, is having a tough time. The 18-year-old's mother died of a heart attack, just before his graduation.

“We were really close," DeVante says. “Her death left a void at home. I slept in the living room after her heart attack and woke up waiting to go help her.”

But she was gone. “My family is in shambles. I’m kind of floundering. I don’t know what to do.”

‘A real hero’
The honor student was just dragging his pen across paper, until his track coach showed him how to play the game of life. “He taught me perseverance,” DeVante says. “How to hold on and deal with the cards you're dealt. ‘Power through,’ ” Coach said. “ ‘Life is hard.’ ”

DeVante's eyes glisten. “Coach has this soft chuckle and then a nod. That power nod gets me every time. He just wanted to let me know that he was there for me.”  He swallows hard. “Coach said I didn't have to feel alone.”

When life throws curves, people often dwell on the terrible things that happen. They isolate themselves in grief. Tyrone asked DeVante to notice those who were willing to put their hands on his shoulders and help him get through the ordeal. The boy’s father was not around. Tyrone offered to pay for college.

“When I was coming up, I just had my mom,” Tyrone says with a shrug. “So I'm here for him.”

“Coach is probably the most amazing man I'm ever gonna meet,” DeVante says. “He's my hero — a real hero.” One who hasn't gone to the moon or scored a touchdown, doesn't have a reality show, hasn't written a book. “Why do you need to write a book when you just live the way he does and reaches out and affects so many lives?” DeVante asks.

DeVante's plans now include college. “Whatever I do with my life is gonna be in honor of Tyrone. He is always gonna live on through my actions. I wish I was as good as him. I work for it. I work for it every day. Tyrone Curry, track coach, janitor. I’m never going to forget him.” The millionaire who cares more for other people's dreams than he does his own — the luckiest man alive.

Time for me to head on down the road…

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Verdict : Casey Anthony innocent of murder, so who killed Caylee?

UPDATE @ 3:30 p.m. below

I have to admit that I’m surprised jurors found Casey Anthony not guilty of her daughter’s death today. They only deliberated about 10 hours. This after 33 days of testimony that I found both compelling and bizarre.

I know that I’m not privy to everything the jurors were told to do in this case, and what they were allowed to consider, and what they were told to throw out because of technicalities…but someone killed that little girl. The duct tape evidence presented during the trial proved that. Just not who put it around her nose and mouth. That was left for speculation.

Someone got away with murder today. Was it Casey? Or, was it her father and mother? Or, a combination of the three? The mother was caught lying about using the home computer to search for chloroform. The state proved she was at work on her computer at the time those searches were made. So they know she lied to cover something up. Is the mother going to be tried for lying to the police like her daughter is? And how about dad? How many lies did he tell?

I can’t wait to see how many years (?) Casey Anthony is sentenced to. I have a sick feeling she’s not going to do one more day behind bars because she’ll be credited for time served awaiting the trail. By the weekend, I expect to hear all about Casey’s celebratory tour of local bars and strip clubs.

There was no justice today for little Caylee Anthony. It reminds me of another sensational trial back in the day – O.J.s Simpson’s – where justice was mocked and subverted by clever lawyers employing every trick in the book to save his life. Yes, some karma has hit O.J. and he’s in jail right now for a lesser offense, but it doesn’t change the fact he got away with murder.

As for Casey Anthony and her parents…the way I look at it is they have to live with their shared dark knowledge until the day they die. They know why the duct tape was put there. They know she didn’t accidently drown. So, perhaps justice has been served, just in a more oblique way.

UPDATE: Internet explodes over Anthony verdict

I’ve been reviewing the case since the “not guilty verdict was handed down this morning. Some more thoughts; it was the State who failed little Caylee Anthony.

Why? Because they reached too far. They went for Murder One and the death penalty rather than take the safer conviction route of manslaughter which would have been easier to prove in a circumstantial case like this. The real pity resulting from this miscalculation is that Casey Anthony can’t be retried – it’s called “double jeopardy,” and prevents the accused from ever being tried for the same crime again.

If you’re outraged that Casey got off because of the State’s stupidity, I agree with you. If this case would have been handled more professionally (by all concerned) from the very beginning we might not even be having this conversation. The jury would have convicted her.

I can’t go so far as to say our system worked perfectly in this trial. Too many troubling aspects and wild stories later proven to be false that the defense threw out against the wall and hoped would stick. True or not. The judge and the jury knew this dysfunctional family all lied to authorities at one time or the other. Their guilt came out in the course of 33 days of multiple testimonies.

Yet, knowing the family was obviously obstructing justice (they were recorded lying) the jury still took their side. Casey’s side. What happened to common sense? When someone lies in a murder trial they’re doing it for a reason. Why did Casey run the police around in the first place? She was hiding something. Not an accidental drowning because there’s not one iota of evidence to that possibility.

The duct tape evidence was a smoking gun – you don’t tape up someone’s nose and mouth and expect them to live and you sure don’t duct tape up a dead body – so why was it there? The defense never provided a believable reason why the duct tape was wrapped around that poor child’s skull…instead they said she drown accidently.

Forget about that duct tape. The problem is I can’t forget about the duct tape. Someone put it there for a reason. No matter what it was, it was wrong. I have a four-year-old granddaughter and perhaps that’s why I’ve been following this damn case…hoping little Caylee’s murderer is brought to justice so I can believe our system works.

The idea that Casey Anthony is now going to forever be a celebrity – and probably will make a lot of money because of this terrible case sickens me. I think about her “happy tattoo” that she had done while Casey was missing and my common sense tells me she could care less about that baby. How could any mother react like she has? And how can Casey Anthony get away with murder? I blame the state in this case, but I also have to question our justice system. Who is it really slanted for? The victim? Or the murderer? You tell me.

Finally, who believes justice was done? I certainly don’t. 


Tuesday Talk: man hides in suitcase, teen survives train running over him, and the nation’s deadliest Superfund site gets worse

Image: Prison inmate Juan Ramirez Tijerina in a suitcase after his failed escape bid.Good Morning Humboldt County!

Jump start your morning with a cup of coffee or tea, and we’ll see what we see:

Peak-a-boo!I see you in that bag!

 A teenager tried to smuggle out her common-law husband serving a 20-year sentence for illegal weapons possession from a Mexican prison.

Iowa teen survives being run over by train

A 17-year-old boy suffered only cuts and bruises after being run over by a train in northwestern Iowa.

The teen, identified as Christian Latshaw by the Des Moines Register, told police he had been drinking at a music festival when he blacked out Sunday night.

Wood chips add to contaminated town's woes

For a decade, the people of Libby have longed for the day when they will be rid of the asbestos that turned their town into the deadliest Superfund site in America.

Now they are being forced to live through the agony all over again, thanks to two giant piles of bark and wood chips on the edge of town.


Thanks for stopping by. Time for me to head on down the road…

Monday, July 4, 2011

Do Fourth of July parades turn kids into Republicans?

Happy Fourth of July... if you're a Republican.

That's one takeaway from a recent Harvard study by political scientist David Yanagizawa-Drott and economist Andreas Madestam. They found that attending Fourth of July parades makes you more likely to identify as a Republican, vote Republican, vote period, and give money to political causes. Conservatives are jumping on the study as Ivy League–certified proof that Republicans are more patriotic than Democrats — or that liberal eggheads are plotting to do away with our national birthday. What does the study really say? Here, a brief guide:

What does July 4 have to do with the GOP?
The researchers concluded that "the political Right has been more successful in appropriating American patriotism and its symbols during the 20th century," and that nowadays, "there is a political congruence between the patriotism promoted on Fourth of July and the values associated with the Republican Party." And since Republicans tend to be more invested in the celebrations, GOP-dominated areas have "more politically biased" parades that "socialize children into Republicans."

How much does July 4 boost the GOP?
Significantly. Children who attend at least one rain-free Fourth of July parade before age 18 are at least 2 percent more likely to identify as Republican in adulthood, 4 percent more likely to vote Republican by age 40, about 1 percent more likely to vote at all, and 3 percent more generous with campaign contributions. Yanagizawa-Drott says he and Madestam were surprised that childhood experiences with July 4 celebrations appeared to have "a permanent impact on political beliefs and behavior."

How did they come up with those numbers?
By studying the weather, and taking the expression "rain on your parade" literally. Since rain either cancels a Fourth of July parade or slashes attendance, the researchers looked at historical weather data, using the randomness of rain to correct for other influences on children who attend the parades, like family and education. Then they compared this data to political beliefs and actions later in life.

Is this study believable?
Of course, Republicans are "more patriotic that Democrats, says John Hinderaker at PowerLine. But Fourth of July parades turning your kids into Republicans seems "far-fetched." It makes sense to me, says Doug Powers at The Powers That Be. What's more Republican than our "American flag waving, tradition embracing, God fearing, gun firing, bomb exploding, US military appreciating celebrations of the founding of the United States of America." No, I call "bullsh*t" on this "ridiculous" study, says Janet Shan at The Hinterland Gazette. Seriously, "I would love to know who paid to fund" it, and what better use they could have put their money to.

Sources: Harvard, Hinterland Gazette, Huffington Post, New York Post, Power Line, Powers That Be, US News

View this article on

Would you want to live forever if you could? Scientist sees aging cured

Happy 4th of July!

While Americans are celebrating with parades and barbeques today, some (like me) are hanging around the house. I’ve heard at least one wit call it a “staycation.” Fellow Humboldt Blogger Tom Sebourn’s staycation certainly sounds more fun than mine on the surface. He’s taking advantage of this beautiful day to explore Little River and Moonstone Beach.

I ran across this article while surfing the net today and got to wondering how long I might live, or how many more staycations lie ahead in my future?

If Aubrey de Grey's predictions are right, the first person who will live to see their 150th birthday has already been born. And the first person to live for 1,000 years could be less than 20 years younger.

A biomedical gerontologist and chief scientist of a foundation dedicated to longevity research, de Grey reckons that within his own lifetime doctors could have all the tools they need to "cure" aging -- banishing diseases that come with it and extending life indefinitely.

De Grey's ideas may seem far-fetched, but $20,000 offered in 2005 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Technology Review journal for any molecular biologist who showed that de Grey's SENS theory was "so wrong that it was unworthy of learned debate" was never won.

The judges on that panel were prompted into action by an angry put-down of de Grey from a group of nine leading scientists who dismissed his work as "pseudo science."

They concluded that this label was not fair, arguing instead that SENS "exists in a middle ground of yet-to-be-tested ideas that some people may find intriguing but which others are free to doubt."

story source  -   graphic

Sunday, July 3, 2011

As It Stands: Oh say, can you see... a nuclear free country?

By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard

Posted: 07/03/2011 02:00:41 AM PDT

While we're celebrating Fourth of July tomorrow, I'd like to suggest there's another freedom which Americans should strive for: the freedom of not living under a nuclear shadow.

I believe we could be free of nuclear energy hazards if we could get past the politics involved in dismantling the powerful and influential nuclear energy industry. We have available alternative energies that are safer, cleaner and can do the job. It's a matter of utilizing them to their full capacities.

I'm not saying we can eliminate nuclear power plants overnight. However, it's time this country converted to safer technologies in all 50 states. The good news is California is on the right road to achieve nuke-free power.

Many large solar energy projects have been proposed in California's desert area on federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land and are awaiting approval. BLM has received right-of-way requests encompassing more than 300,000 acres for the development of approximately 34 large solar thermal power plants that will produce approximately 24,000 megawatts.

For example, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, located in eastern San Bernardino County, when constructed, will produce nearly 400 megawatts of clean, reliable and cost-effective electricity - nearly as much as modern power plants fueled by natural gas, without the air pollution or carbon emissions.

The project calls for three generating plants, including 346,000 billboard-sized heliostat mirrors focusing solar energy on steam boilers located on solar power towers. The developer and technology provider, BrightSource Energy, modified the project to minimize its impact on the environment. They are a good example of how utility-scale solar power plants can be built in an environmentally responsible way.

One thousand jobs are projected during the peak of it's construction, and 86 permanent jobs are projected. The total economic benefits are estimated at $3 billion.

The project is one of twelve that have been approved and are currently under construction. The $2 billion dollar plan will bring jobs to a struggling economy and is a positive step toward shutting down unsafe nuclear power. Details on this project can be found at “Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System.”

Another example is The Blythe Solar Power Project, a solar thermal power station under construction in Riverside County. It has a parabolic trough design. Solar thermal energy will play an increasingly important roll in solving California's energy needs as we back away from the nuclear option.

Right now, we are a country waiting for a nuclear accident to happen. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) recently released a report examining the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the government agency tasked with enforcing safety regulations at U.S. nuclear plants. It said 14 investigations were launched in 2010 in response to “troubling events, safety equipment problems, and security shortcomings,” according to an Associated Press story in May.

The UCS overview of these 14 “near misses” found that many of them happened “because reactor owners, and often the NRC, tolerated known safety problems.”

On June 21st an AP inWe Can Create a  Nuclear Free Futurevestigation reported radioactive tritium leaking from three-quarters of the U.S. commercial nuclear power sites. The leaks were often into groundwater from corroded, buried piping.

 The one-year investigation showed that tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, has leaked from at least 48 of 65 sites, according to NRC records. Leaks found in 37 of those facilities caused tritium concentrations exceeding the federal drinking water standard -- sometimes at hundreds of times the limit.

The need to phase out our nuclear plants before we experience a catastrophic event like that in Japan increases every day. We have to stop poisoning our underground water sources with byproducts from nuclear use.

Disposal of spent nuclear materials is another major pollution problem. The toxic stockpiles last thousands of years and states are increasingly unwilling to be the repositories of these radioactive materials.

 Europe it seems, understands the need to get away from nuclear energy. There are 11 European countries that are nuclear-free. German lawmakers overwhelmingly approved on Thursday plans to shut the country's nuclear plants by 2022.

Italians recently rejected starting up their old nuclear power plants with a landslide referendum; 90 percent of Italy's voters said “No Nukes.”

It makes sense. We should approach the process state-by-state. Depending upon their unique environments we can utilize different types of clean energy that work best for each state.

Hopefully, California will lead the way to a future of clean and safe energy for all Americans.

As It Stands, wouldn't it be nice to someday say that we're “Nuke Free” in the USA?

                                                      Websites carrying this column:

#1 Accidentin -  #2 It’s For Home #3 Solar Power Forum #4 Solar Energy Blog #5 Doing it Green

#6 TOPSY #7 Nuclear Energy News #8 Business Insider – The Green Sheet #9 Solarfly

#10 SiloBreaker #11 Energy out of Nothing #12 Alternative Energy Links #13 Riverside County Newswire

#14 Your Solar Energy #15 Potassium Iodide Pills #16 San Bernardino County NewsWire

#17 The Crisis Jones Report



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...