Friday, December 9, 2011

I’m heading down the road for a few days – see ya soon

Time for a holiday blog break. Places to go and people to see who live outside of Humboldt County.

Please feel free to go over the archives on the left side of the page to see past posts and columns.


Cop found drunk in car, ‘Mockupy’ set flooded by protestors, and blinded by truck lights in Japan

          Good Morning Humboldt County!

Looks like another beautiful day in the neighborhood. C’mon inside on this chilly Fall morning and have a cup of hot coffee with me. I’ve selected several stories to jump start your day. Grab a seat, relax, and enjoy:

Florida cop found drunk in squad car

You know things are wacky in Florida when news of criminality continues to be about the cops rather than the robbers. The latest Keystone Kops-like episode came when an off-duty cop was discovered passed out and drunk in his patrol car, the Miami-Dade, Fla., police department told local media.

And it gets worse: Instead of being cuffed and booked, Fernando Villa, 32, was allowed to go home after signing a form promising he would appear in court, the Miami Herald reported. The DUI incident is the latest in a string of embarrassments to hit Miami-area law enforcement.

'Mockupy': Protesters flood into supposed TV set replicating Occupy camp

Dozens of protesters from Occupy Wall Street converged overnight Thursday on another park in New York City – where they say a television set for an upcoming “Law & Order” episode replicating their Occupy Wall Street camp has been set up, according to various reports on Twitter, a live video stream and a demonstrator.

“Light, camera, ACTION! Everybody head to Foley Square. Bring y(ou)r headshots and make y(ou)rself at home! See you at midnite! #Mockupy #D9,” read a tweet sent out from the OccupyWallSt Twitter account.


Japanese “light trucks” banned from highway for being too bright

These popular vehicles in Japan have given new meaning to the term, "blinded by the light." But Japanese authorities are putting the brakes on so-called "light trucks," citing the danger posed to other drivers.

There's huge competition amongst the "light truck" community in Japan's car culture. And if you've never heard of light trucks before, they're basically what they sound like: trucks decked out in intricate designs of brightly colored lights. Some light-truck enthusiasts spend hundreds of thousands of dollars decking out their vehicles. According to the Daily Mail, the trucks use up so much electricity that some are fitted with extra generators under the chassis and can only be powered up for about 20 minutes before overheating. You can check out a more extensive gallery of light truck photos by clicking here.

Time to walk on down the road…

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Senate approves indefinite detention and torture of Americans

Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images / AFP

A sad day for Americans…

The terrifying legislation that allows for Americans to be arrested, detained indefinitely, tortured and interrogated — without charge or trial — passed through the Senate on Thursday with an overwhelming support from 93 percent of lawmakers.

The irony to me is the morons agreed to something finally, and when they did, it involved taking away Americans rights.

Only seven members of the US Senate voted against the National Defense Authorization Act on Thursday, despite urging from the ACLU and concerned citizens across the country that the affects of the legislation would be detrimental to the civil rights and liberties of everyone in America. Under the bill, Americans can be held by the US military for terrorism-related charges and detained without trial indefinitely.

Wake up America! We’re quietly losing more rights as these bastards slipped this bill through without any fanfare.

Additionally, another amendment within the text of the legislation reapproved waterboarding and other “advanced interrogation techniques” that are currently outlawed. "The bill is an historic threat to American citizens,” Christopher Anders of the ACLU tells the Associated Press. For the biggest supporters of the bill, however, history necessitates that Americans must sacrifice their security for freedom.

Why hasn’t someone made that nut Graham resign? He doesn’t believe in American ideals. He’s just another chick-hawk SOB that has a perverted streak when it comes to dealing with people.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a backer of the legislation, says current laws protecting Americans are too lax. Rather, says the senator, anyone suspected of terrorism "should not be read their Miranda Rights. They should not be given a lawyer."

Graham adds that suspected terrorists, “should be held humanely in military custody and interrogated about why they joined al-Qaeda and what they were going to do to all of us,” although other legislation in the bill isn’t exactly humane. Waterboarding, sleep-deprivation and other methods outlawed in the 2005 Anti-Torture Act will be added to a top-secret list of approved interrogation techniques that could be used on suspects, American or other.

I think we need to waterboard some some politicians until they start serving the people who put them in there!

Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte said last week that "terrorists shouldn't be able to view all of our interrogation practices online,” and Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) added during debate this week, "When a member of Al Qaeda or a similar associated terrorist group, I want . . . them to be terrified about what's going to happen to them in American custody.”

"I want them not to know what's going to happen,” added the senator and former presidential candidate. Not only won’t they know their gruesome future, but they wouldn’t know their own rights — that’s because they won’t have any. "We need the authority to hold those individuals in military custody so we aren't reading them Miranda rights," adds Kelly.

You just have to be someone suspected of supporting terrorists to lose all of your rights as an American. Does anyone recall the Salem Witch hunt trials? Seems history is repeating itself.

While lawmakers rallied with overwhelming support to approve the legislation against terrorists, it can also be applied to anyone, including American citizens, who are even suspected of terrorist-ties. President Barack Obama has pledged in the past that he would veto the legislation if it made through Congress, and a White House official told the AP on Thursday that that threat still stands.

Don’t hold out any hope that Obama will keep his word…he’s a proven political creature that does what’s best for himself and his cronies.

As Obama is faced with a country on the brink of economic collapse so close to Election Day, however, a change of heart couldn’t be out of the question — the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 comes at a price-tag of nearly $30 billion below what Obama had asked for. (source)

New ‘Hangover cure,’ An abandoned fiberglass cow, and Contortionist makes a flexible calendar

              Good Morning Humboldt County!

It’s another day in paradise and the coffees on. C’mon in and have a cup with me. Pick a seat and relax while I share several stories to start your day.

It’s a strange world out there with lots of unique people and products. Enjoy:

“Hangover cure” approved for sale by FDA

The FDA has approved a new "hangover cure" product that could be available on U.S. store shelves as early as next month.

The "Alka-Seltzer like tablet" is not an actual new ingredient, but rather a potent combination of caffeine, aspirin and an antacid. ABC News reports that the product, called "Blowfish," is already available at the Ricky's pharmaceutical chain in New York City and is scheduled to be introduced nationally in January. "It's the only over-the-counter drug that's specifically hangover related," Blowfish creator Brenna Haysom told ABC News. "The [Food and Drug Administration] has specifically said our formula is effective for treating hangover symptoms."

'Moo-ve' that trailer! St. Paul impounds fiberglass cow

It's quite the sight to see inside the St. Paul impound lot. A trailer carrying a large fiberglass cow has been sitting in the lot for the past couple of weeks.

The trailer and cow had been parked on the 1400 block of E. Como Boulevard for such a long period of time that police considered it abandoned. Police took it to the impound lot on November 18. Authorities say the trailer had no registration. Someone went to the lot to claim the trailer, but the person couldn't prove ownership. The person who can prove ownership will have to pay more than $600 in towing and storage fees.

article-2068664-0F02CB2200000578-753_634x487.jpg width=400 title=Bend me, shape me, anyway you want me...

 Want A More Flexible Schedule In 2012?

Then do I have the calendar for you.
25 year old Russian contortionist "Zlata" has just released a calendar featuring her in 12 of her most eye- (and spine-) popping poses. From cooking in the kitchen with one leg behind her head, to getting off a bus with, er, one leg behind her head, the spry former-gymnast has tied herself in knots to produce something to please her legions of fans.

More facts about Zlata, with many more examples of her art, can be found here, courtesy of the Daily Mail.

Time to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A nostaligic look at some of the weirdest collectibles of the 1970s

Carter memorabilia at the Billy Carter Service Station Museum in Plains, Ga., 2008 © Johnny Clark/AP

Every generation has its own cultural icons that grow into collectibles over time. Yet the 1970s were a stranger time than most, and some of the artifacts of that decade are indeed bizarre.

There are, of course, the legions of Star Wars-related items that remain in demand. ... More

If you happen to have one of those Boba Fett dolls that came free with UPC symbols, you may be able to add an extra $2,000 to your bank account (especially if it's the version with a spring-loaded missile).

There were also fads a-plenty, such as the mood ring, a plastic, heat-activated bauble that would change colors, allegedly in sync with the wearer's emotions. The rings are still sold by various makers, but cognoscenti, we are told, have ways of telling an authentic '70s artifact.

Gay Bob dolls © Marty Lederhandler/AP, Aug. 3, 1978

Taste wasn't always an issue when it came to flash-in-the-pan fads of that decade. Amid the sexual revolution and a growing gay rights movement, advertising executive Harvey Rosenberg brought America Gay Bob, a doll that hit stores in 1977 and created buzz -- and denouncements -- as "the world's first openly gay doll."

Dressed in tight jeans and a flannel shirt, Bob differed from Barbie's pal Ken in one striking way: The doll was anatomically correct. Today, the dolls appear regularly on auction sites such as eBay. Remember Cowmumble? 

How about Trolls before they were associated with the internet!


Obama Invokes Cold-War Law to Unmask Chinese Telecom Spyware

The U.S. is invoking Cold War-era national-security powers to force telecommunication companies including AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. to divulge confidential information about their networks in a hunt for Chinese cyber-spying.

In a survey distributed in April, the U.S. Commerce Department asked for a detailed accounting of foreign-made hardware and software on the companies’ networks. It also asked about security-related incidents such as the discovery of “unauthorized electronic hardware” or suspicious equipment that can duplicate or redirect data, according to a copy of the survey reviewed by Bloomberg News.

The survey represents “very high-level” concern that China and other countries may be using their growing export sectors to develop built-in spying capabilities in U.S. networks, said a senior U.S. intelligence official who asked not to be named because he wasn’t authorized to speak on the matter.

“This is beyond vague suspicions,” said Richard Falkenrath, a senior fellow in the Council on Foreign Relations Cyberconflict and Cybersecurity Initiative. “Congress is now looking at this as well, and they’re doing so based on very specific material provided them in a classified setting” by the National Security Agency, he said.

The survey went to dozens of telecommunications companies, software makers and information-security companies, including some foreign firms, according to James Lewis, a cyber-security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, or CSIS, in Washington. Lewis said AT&T and Verizon Communications were among the companies that received it.

Several of the companies were hesitant to cooperate because they had learned the Commerce Department unit handling the survey had itself been hacked by the Chinese in 2006, creating the possibility that company data provided might become known to the Chinese, according to a former government official familiar with the discussions.

The Commerce Department refused a request by the companies for specific protocols to protect the data, according to the former official, who declined to be identified because the discussions were confidential.

In July, Greg Schaffer of the Department of Homeland Security testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that the department knew of instances of foreign-made components seeded with cyber-spying technology. He declined to provide further details.

The Commerce Department survey also reflected U.S. intelligence community concerns over discounting and loan packages offered by foreign manufacturers.

It asks companies to list makers of telecommunications equipment that offer the steepest discounts. Other questions ask what information or other conditions manufacturers require in exchange for sales or leasing, including knowledge of physical access procedures for entering buildings.

Lewis of the CSIS said U.S. officials suspect the Chinese government is subsidizing the discounts to give U.S. companies incentives to buy Chinese-made network equipment.

“Huawei says they’re doing this and it’s completely legitimate, and it’s just us competing in the market,” Lewis said. “The other possibility is that they are doing it because they have an intelligence motive.”

--Editors: Andrew Dunn, Mary Romano

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Riley in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

Couple on welfare living the high life, Mom denied food stamps shoots children, and freeloading at hotel breakfast buffets

         Good Morning Humboldt County!

Welcome to this mornings hard times post. The recession has affected most Americans in one way or the other. The results range from welfare cheaters to desperate mothers killing their children and themselves, to simple freeloading.

Grab a cup of hot coffee, take a seat, and make yourself comfortable. It’s a tough world out there. 

Feds: Couple claimed welfare, lived in $1.2M home

A Seattle chiropractor and his wife live in a $1.2 million waterfront home and have spent the past eight years flying to Moscow, Paris, Israel, Turkey, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. All the while, federal authorities say, the couple was collecting more than $100,000 in welfare.

Now, the U.S. attorney's office is suing David Silverstein and Lyudmila Shimonova, accusing them of filing false claims and demanding that the couple pay back more than $135,000 in federal housing assistance since 2003. Prosecutors are also seeking tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

Officials: Mom who shot her 2 kids was denied food stamps

A mother who shot and critically injured her two children and then killed herself had for months tried unsuccessfully to qualify for food stamps, Texas welfare officials said.

The woman, identified as Rachelle Grimmer, 38, first applied for food stamps in July but was denied because she didn't turn in enough information, Texas Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman told The Associated Press Tuesday.            

Photo - Officials say Rachelle Grimmer, 38, pulled a gun and staged a seven-hour standoff with police that ended with her shooting her two children in the Texas Health and Human Services building in Laredo, above.


Freeloading at the hotel breakfast buffet

Most people have heard the adage “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” But apparently it is not true for breakfast – at some hotels at least.

What started out as a simple complimentary cup of coffee and a doughnut has transformed into a kind of one-upmanship, said Chris Quilty, director of hotel operations for Hersha Hospitality Management, which owns and operates about 80 properties nationwide, representing all the major U.S. brands. About 70 of them offer free breakfast. There's anecdotal evidence to suggest that it's not just paying guests who enjoy this perk; it's not uncommon, say hotel experts and staff, to see people walk in from the street and serve themselves at the buffet.

“If you are savvy and need something to eat, it’s an easy thing to do,” said Bobby Bowers, senior vice president of operations for STR, a hotel research company. STR does not track how many non-guests take advantage of free breakfasts, but “I don’t doubt that it occurs,” Bowers said. “I would say it’s probably more of a problem now because economic times are tough.” But nine out of 10 times staff won’t say anything unless the person is a regular offender or “looks tough and dirty,” he said.

Time to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

iPAD addiction gets Alec Baldwin booted off American Airlines flight

I guess it’s just a matter of priorities for one TV star. Play game on iPAD or get kicked off airplane – No brainer! Winning! 

In a statement to NBC News, Alec Baldwin's rep Matthew Hiltzik explained what went down:

"Alec was asked to leave the flight for playing 'Words with Friends' on his iPad, while parked at the gate. Alec is so in love with 'Words with Friends' that he would risk getting thrown off a flight to play. He's already been re-booked on another American Airlines flight."

Halliburton accused of destroying evidence after Gulf spill, Earth’s twin discovered? Mugger gets beat up by victim

      Good Morning Humboldt County!

 Nice to see you could stop by today. C’mon in and grab a cup of hot coffee and check out the following stories I’ve gathered for your entertainment and education. Enjoy:

BP accuses Halliburton of destroying evidence following Gulf spill

BP has accused Halliburton of destroying damaging evidence about the quality of its cement slurry that went into drilling the oil well that blew out last year and caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

In a court filing, the oil company alleged that Halliburton did inadequate cement work. BP also asked a federal judge to punish the oilfield services company. The accusation raises the stakes ahead of a trial, expected in late February, to assign blame and damages for the April 2010 blowout of the Macondo well, which triggered the spill. Citing recent depositions and Halliburton's own documents, BP said Halliburton "intentionally" destroyed the results of slurry testing for the well, in part to "eliminate any risk that this evidence would be used against it at trial."

Could there be a race of aliens living on this planet?

A 'major milestone' in search for Earth's twin

NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft has confirmed the discovery of its first alien world in its host star's habitable zone — that just-right range of distances that could allow liquid water to exist — and found more than 1,000 new exoplanet candidates, researchers announced Monday.

The new finds bring the Kepler space telescope's total haul to 2,326 potential planets in its first 16 months of operation. These discoveries, if confirmed, would quadruple the current tally of worlds known to exist beyond our solar system, which recently topped 700.

  Mugger left bloodied after attempt on MMA fighter

A convicted felon decided to mug an MMA fighter on the Southwest Side of Chicago, police say, and ended up paying a steep price. Police did not release the victim's name but said he was able to ward off Anthony Miranda, 24, who ended up with two black eyes and a gunshot wound to the ankle after a tussle.

The victim was sitting in his parked car near 55th St. and Kenneth when Anthony Miranda, 24, walked up to the car asking for a lighter, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.When the victim did not have one, Miranda pulled out a handgun and demanded money, police officials said. He then demanded the victim get out of the car. At some point, the victim was able to grab control of the gun while Miranda's attention was diverted. The two men wrestled on the ground and during the fight, Miranda accidentally discharged his gun, shooting himself in the ankle, police said. The victim was able to pin down Miranda until police arrived and later told officials he was a martial arts expert and ultimate fighting champion.

Time to walk on down the road…

Monday, December 5, 2011

Once upon a time no one wanted to be skinny in America


More Vintage photos like this here.

Kids digging for gold, Post Office woes, and smelling neuroticism

12% of the world’s gold comes from Mali, and 20% of the workers are children.

     Good Morning Humboldt County!

Welcome to my little corner of the world. Step right in and find a confortable seat. I have hot coffee on so don’t hesitate to grab a cup. Here’s some stories to start your day:


Digging for gold, children work in harsh conditions, paid with bags of dirt

Mali is Africa’s third largest gold producer. Artisanal mines rely on heavy human labor and little mechanization.  People throughout West Africa are flocking to work in the primitive pits.“Globally, we’ve seen an increase with the number of artisanal gold miners because of the rise of gold prices, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to better living conditions,” said Juliane Kippenberg who helped author a forthcoming Human Rights Watch report on Mali’s mines. The skyrocketing price of gold has led to a rush on the precious metal in the United States and throughout the world, but some of the mining that’s helping feed the world’s craving involves child labor and a dangerous process involving mercury.

Cash-strapped US Post Office to slow first-class delivery service

Unprecedented cuts by the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service will slow first-class delivery next spring and, for the first time in 40 years, eliminate the chance for stamped letters to arrive the next day.

The cuts would close roughly 250 of the nearly 500 mail processing centers across the country (Eureka, California is one of those facilities that will be closed) as early as next March. Because the consolidations would typically lengthen the distance mail travels from post office to processing center, the agency would also lower delivery standards for first-class mail that have been in place since 1971.

          People can smell your neuroticism

Getting to know someone usually requires at least a little conversation. But a new study suggests you can get a hint of an individual's personality through his or her scent alone.

Participants in the study assessed, with some degree of accuracy, how outgoing, anxious or dominant people were after only taking a whiff of their clothes. The study is the first to test whether personality traits can be discerned through body odor.

Time to walk on down the road…

Sunday, December 4, 2011

As It Stands: Watch out for the Grinches when you shop for the holidays


             By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard
 It’s shopping time. Oh, excuse me. It’s holiday shopping time.
Christmas is around the corner, and just about everyone is shopping for something other than bare necessities. Including thieves.
 Shoplifting means higher prices for American consumers and less sales tax revenue for state and local governments. That doesn’t add up to Ho! Ho! Ho! Happy Holidays for the economy.
In California, where there are 620,000 retailers, it’s estimated that shoplifting occurs 330-440 million times per year at a loss of $10-$13 billion dollars. Nationwide, that equates to 1.0-1.2 million shoplift incidents everyday at a loss rate of $19,000-$25,300 dollars stolen per minute, according to the FBI website.
 When you factor in employee and vendor theft, this sum skyrockets to an estimate of over $33 billion dollars stolen per year. The end result is the consumer has to pay higher prices as the retailer tries to recoup the loss.
  It’s important to note that I’m not just talking about amateurs when citing these astounding statistics. A growing problem, according to the FBI, is the increase in organized theft rings and people who make their living by stealing from retail stores.

 Fences send out teams of shoplifters in exchange for room, board, and training on how to steal and overcome technology designed to stop them. They pay these recruits 10-20 cents on the dollar. They have been known to bail workers out of jail and get them legal representation.
 What happens is a strange street loyalty much like the story of Olive Twist.
There was a big case in California a few years ago that illustrates my point. Two criminal organizations were charged for their role in a large-scale fencing operation to buy and sell over-the-counter health and beauty products—as well as other items like camera film, batteries, and infant formula—that had been stolen from major retail chain stores.
 The merchandise was passed off to crooked out-of-state wholesale distributors, who  sold it back to unsuspecting retailers.
 Most shoplifters, according to FBI statistics, are amateurs. Amateurs can be highly skilled and steal daily without getting caught. Law enforcement officials say most are opportunistic and even crude in their methods. 
   If you’re like me
, you seldom see a shoplifter in the act. They come in all shapes and sizes, ages and sexes, and vary in ethnic background, education, and economic status. In other words, you could stand right next to one and not know it.  
  I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention employee theft. Less than honest employees contribute to the monstrous amount of money lost every year by the stores. Employee theft is an insidious crime because the merchant is pays a wage and benefits to the thief on top of the cost of their dishonesty.
 Studies have shown that employees can do a lot more damage than amateur shoplifters because they are trusted and have an insider’s knowledge of store security measures. According to the University of Florida 2005 National Retail Security Survey, employee theft was estimated to be responsible for 47% of store inventory shrinkage.

 That represents an estimated employee theft of about 17.6-billion dollars per year. This astounding figure makes employee dishonesty the greatest single threat to profitability for the store. There is also a health and safety aspect—in many cases, stolen food products, pharmaceuticals, and other consumables aren’t maintained under proper conditions or labeled properly, so when they finally make their way back to unsuspecting consumers, they may be ineffective or may even make people sick, according to the FBI.
 From everything I’ve read, and throwing in some common sense, the best thing to do if you see someone shoplifting is to report it to a store employee. Do not, I repeat, do not try to apprehend the thief. In this day and age it’s not worth being hurt or even killed by someone who may be mentally unbalanced, or determined not to be captured.

 This is the time of the year when most America’s retailers expect to make a big profit. This year consumers are showing signs of buying, even if it’s on credit they can‘t afford.

The spirit of the holidays is upon us and we’re all looking for a gift to give.

  As It Stands, happy hunting and watch out for the Grinches/shoplifters.

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...