Saturday, March 16, 2013

Nutty Celebrity Caricatures: Artist finds his muse & it’s a peanut

 Steve Casino is not nuts.

But he knows all about peanuts. The 26-year old toy inventor, turned a hobby into a body of work and thus far he’s got a corner on the market.

 His unique little sculptures sell for between $300 to $1,000, depending upon the complexity of the sculpture. To assure his art stands the test of time, he removes the legume inside, re-seals the shell, and dips it in polyurethane. Good for the ages.

If you’d like a special gift for someone, you can go to his website and order one of these clever little artworks. But don’t be surprised if it takes while to get one. I read that he has a backlog of commissions for his shell art. (information for this piece came from here)

Who cares if people are killed by guns every day in the USA?

                 Good Day World!

Today’s topic is about gun control. My question to you is: “Who cares if people are killed by guns every day in the USA?”

America is struggling with the amount of gun-related deaths every year. The deaths continue to increase. Sometimes the stories are sad. Accidents that happen resulting in disability, or death. Other stories are too horrible to imagine – like Sandy Hook for example.

We lead the world in gun ownership. Is this a good thing? Does the 2nd Amendment guarantee that we can own any type of weapon – regardless of it’s killing capacity? Should we each have a bazooka, or even our own missile launch system if we have the money?

How far will this fight to neutralize gun deaths in America go? The NRA resists even the slightest hint of gun control. But Americans are increasingly speaking up and saying they want changes in our gun laws.

10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down

“By cutting off federal funding for research and stymieing data collection and sharing, the National Rifle Association has tried to do to the study of gun violence what climate deniers have done to the science of global warming. No wonder: When it comes to hard numbers, some of the gun lobby's favorite arguments are full of holes.”

Related Stories:

Shot by sibling, police officer's daughter dies

Reports: Father accidentally shoots, kills 10-month-old son in front of family

Police: 7-year-old fatally shot by father outside gun store in Pennsylvania

U.S. Gun Deaths Since Sandy Hook Top 1,280

Time for me to walk on down the road…


Friday, March 15, 2013

Today’s Topic: Contamination at NC Marine base lasted up to 60 years

       Good Day World!

The extent of the criminal negligence in not addressing such a vital issue as clean drinking water boggles my brain. When I read that federal officials have known this for years I was livid!

Once again, the men and women of our military have been dishonored by exposure to potential hazards that have gone untreated for far too long. If we’re not poisoning our troops with toxins in wars like Vietnam, or unspent radium in Iraq, we’re letting them drink contaminated water.

How could a situation this important to the troop’s health go for so long? Wasn’t anyone paying attention? Who was asleep at the watch when report after report came in warning of high levels of contamination in the drinking water? I leave that for to you decide. The following article – and links below -  give more details:  

“Some of the wells that supplied drinking water to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina were contaminated by cancer-causing solvents for as long as 60 years, a new federal report shows.


Over the span of 35 years, between 500,000 and 1 million people were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, one of the most storied Marine bases in the country. A group of men have banded together saying that their surprising breast cancer diagnoses are linked to Camp Lejeune's contaminated water. Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.


Month-by-month calculations show that Marines and their families at the base drank and bathed in water that may have been tainted with trichloroethylene (TCE) from 1948 through 2008. Other water sources were contaminated with benzene from 1951 to 2008, the report shows.

Federal officials have known for years that the base’s water supply was badly contaminated, from fuel leaks and probably from a dry-cleaning plant as well.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that between 500,000 and 1 million people were exposed to the contaminated water from 1953 to 1987, when the last of several contaminated wells were closed. The new report takes the potential estimates back five years earlier.

"It is possible," Dr. Christopher Portier, director of the CDC's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, told NBC News. But he says he believes it more likely the contamination began in 1953, as previously estimated.” Read the whole story here


Marine Corps response to NBC Rock Center story

Contractor underreported levels of chemicals

Congress probes toxic water at Marine base

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, March 14, 2013

No post today due to external reasons that I’m looking into

The cable company that I use for my computer – Suddenlink – was vandalized (fiber optic line was cut) and thousands of Humboldt County residents were without a variety of services ranging from internet, television, and telephone.

This is the fourth time in a week the vandals have struck, and the first time the malicious vandalism has affected the area I’m in. No one knows why this is happening. Theories abound. The one I’m entertaining is a past employee of Suddenlink with a grudge.

I guess one of the most troubling aspects is why. Why would someone do this? The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is asking asking the public to call with any information about these attacks. It’s also troubling to me how exposed our communication systems are to people with bad intentions.

As far as I know, there’s no salvage market on fiber optic wire (23 feet was stolen in the first vandalism incident). From what I gathered thus far today, the fiber optic line in Bayside (by Arcata) was just cut. Suddenlink employees had to search to find where the damage was done, unlike the last few incidents when the damage was open and apparent.

The editor and Publisher of The McKinleyville Press, Jack Durham, has asked me to do an investigative piece on the vandalism – as it has affected McKinleyville twice. I may be retired, but sometimes I come out long enough to do a special assignment.

Let the hunt begin…

Here’s the official press release from the Sheriff’s Office:

On 3-13-13 at about 1100 p.m. the Sheriff’s Office was contacted by Suddenlink and advised of vandalism to their Fiber Optic Cable.  This is the fourth vandalism to Suddenlink’s Fiber Optic Service since March 8, 2013.  The most recent vandalism is believed to have occurred in the 3400 block of Old Arcata Road however Suddenlink is still attempting to identify the exact location.  The Sheriff’s Office responded to the area last night and did not locate any suspects or find obvious signs of where the cable was damaged.

Sheriff’s Investigators are currently on scene investigating this crime and Suddenlink personnel are working to repair the Fiber Optic Cable.  Suddenlink previously estimated the repair costs to be approximately $10,000, per site.  The vandalisms have occurred in the areas of Ferndale, Trinidad and now Bayside.

Suddenlink is offering a $5,000 cash reward for the arrest and conviction of the suspect(s) that are responsible for these crimes.

This is an on-going investigation and the Sheriff’s Office is working diligently to identify a suspect or suspects in these crimes and to stop further vandalisms and interruptions to Suddenlink’s services.  

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call Detective Kirkpatrick of the Sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Division at    707-268-3640 or the Sheriff’s Tip Line at 707-268-2539.” 


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Todays Topic: Newspaper industry to lobby to retain Saturday mail delivery

    Good Day World!

By now, everyone knows the United States Postal Service is in financial straits. Not everyone knows the impact this will have on other businesses.

The following article details another side-effect – other industries that will be affected if the USPS has to cut out Saturday deliveries.

These are hard times and hard decisions are being made. 

“Members of Congress are going to be hearing a lot from newspapers this week — not via their editorial pages but in person.

There’s only one topic on the agenda: the U.S. Postal Service and its stated plans to eliminate many kinds of Saturday mail delivery later this year.

The National Newspaper Association is coordinating the lobbying effort that will involve newspaper representatives from across the nation, including those in Nebraska like the Daily News. "It's a business decision for us just like it's a business decision for them (the postal service)," said Max Health, a postal consultant for the Publishing Group of America. "It's not over until it's over."

Early last month, the postal service announced it plans to drop Saturday delivery of first-class mail beginning in August, a move intended to save it $2 billion annually. The postal service plans to continue to deliver packages and pharmaceutical drugs on Saturday, but not direct mail, newspapers, periodicals or first-class mail.

The Greeting Card Association, National Newspaper Association, American Forest & Paper Association, National Rural Letter Carriers Association and Envelope Manufacturers Association trade groups, along with the National Association of Letter Carriers labor union, are among many pushing to preserve Saturday delivery.

"We all lose if the postal service doesn't continue with Saturday delivery," said Rafe Morrissey, vice president for postal affairs at the Greeting Card Association.

Part of the argument to be relayed to members of Congress this week is that the postal service it acting illegally in its plans to unilaterally end Saturday mail delivery. That’s because Congress, through a series of continuing resolutions, has kept in place a requirement for six-day delivery.

The current resolution, however, expires March 27, which prompted the postal service to announce plans for the end of Saturday delivery, Heath said.

“Whether Congress passes a complete appropriations bill or another continuing resolution, it could still keep the (six-day-a-week delivery provision). The expiration date is not a valid legal reason to make a decision, unless you are trying to make a force play to get a lot of attention,” Heath said.

Another argument to be made by the supporters of retaining Saturday mail delivery is that the projected annual savings of about $2 billion is exaggerated.

In fact, the U.S Postal Regulatory Commission has said it believes the estimate of savings is considerably too high. U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat who is a co-sponsor of the House bill to preserve Saturday delivery, also said the postal service has not substantiated its projected $2 billion in annual savings from ending Saturday delivery.

Regardless of the accurate figure, the savings won’t come close to solving the postal service’s financial problems. In fact, it may simply drive more business away from the postal service, Heath said.

“The real problem is the unfair requirement from the 2006 postal reform act for the U.S. Postal Service to prefund future benefits over a 10-year period at more than $5 billion  per year. This is over and above the $2 billion paid from the postal service operating budget each year already,” he said. “No other government agency has this requirement. It was just a budget trick that year to help the deficit.”

Rep. Dave Loebsack of Iowa added, “By requiring the postal service to pre-fund retirement health benefits to the tune of over $50 billion over 10 years, which no other agency or business has to do, Congress is tying their hands. The USPS would not be in the dire situation it is today if it had not been required to pre-pay these funds.”

Another key factor is the impact ending Saturday delivery would have on rural areas, the elderly and some businesses, such as smaller daily newspapers.

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate majority leader, said, “Cutting down mail delivery to five days per week will not save the postal service from insolvency. This short sighted measure will deal a crippling blow to the millions of Americans and small businesses who rely on the timely and reliable delivery to every community in our nation.”

While newspaper industry representatives and many others will continue to press for a continuation of Saturday delivery — while also pushing for comprehensive financial reform measures that would improve the postal services’ bottom line — discussions are taking place and plans are being made if the effort is unsuccessful.

Heath said, “Newspapers with Saturday issues should get their department heads together and analyze options.”That’s what has been taking place at the Daily News, led by Cristina Anderson, the newspaper’s circulation manager, in recognizing the importance of the several thousand Northeast and North Central Nebraskans who receive the newspaper via the mail.

Expansion of motor routes, more use of electronic delivery of the newspaper and other possibilities are all being discussed. - The Associated Press contributed to this article - By KENT WARNEKE

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Today’s Topic: New Monthly Candidate for Dumbest Criminal Ever

Jarad S. Carr

       Good Day World!

From Wisconsin - Jarad S. Carr (left – courtesy of Chippewa County Jail ) just wanted to get a refund for his printer. The problem was he didn’t have a receipt for it. And, he didn’t have the paper tray and installer CD that goes with it.

Employees at Walmart (where else would something like this happen?) tried to work with Jarad, but he apparently came unglued and displayed a total lack of brains.

I think this is safe to assume, seeing how Jarad really had bigger and more important matters to worry about; like two felony arrest warrants for armed robbery and burglary in the next county. This did not deter him from telling the clerk he wouldn’t leave the building until he got a refund for the printer.

Understandably, an employee called the police. Meanwhile, one of the employees found two phony $100 bills still in the printer. Jarad reportedly crumbled them up and asked the employee to throw them away! No, really. Jarad could have walked away, but he wanted a refund so badly he offered to take half of the price for the printer!

The police arrived and promptly arrested Jarad and found more fake bills in his car. (read more about this story here) I guess there’s not much more to say. Other, than this guy was extremely stupid, clueless, drugged-out, or on a mission to become the dumbest criminal for the month of March.

Time for me to walk on down the road…   

Monday, March 11, 2013

Snakes Still Rule: Great Python Challenge Is Over & They’re Still Plenty Slithering Around

   Good Day World!

Today’s topic is snakes. Big Snakes. Burmese pythons. They’re invading Florida and the folks there have been trying to raise awareness about it.

They're an invasive species that transcend being the top predator in an ecosystem and take it to another level – more like an aliens in a world with no defense against them. They can grow to enormous lengths and there’s nothing in the Everglades that can kill them. I’ve got a hunch there’s going to be a lot of organized snake hunts in the future:    

“After all the hoopla and news of people buying tools to catch Burmese pythons invading Florida, the state's month long hunt for them is over. Hunters caught 68 pythons. That's right, 68, according to The Associated Press, even though 1,600 people signed up with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to search for them.

Well, the whole point isn't really to kill thousands of snakes, although it's estimated there could be as many as 150,000 of them slithering about in the Florida underbrush. The point is to raise public awareness, according to Professor Frank Mazziotti of the University of Florida, who told NPR's Talk of the Nation that many pythons were former pets whose owners released them.” Read the rest here

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Sunday, March 10, 2013

AS IT STANDS: Military suicides exceed combat deaths, now what?


By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard
  What mystifies and irks me is our government’s inability to learn from historical mistakes. Why did we go into Afghanistan when we had Vietnam as an example? Couldn’t anyone see the similarities?
  Historians agree Vietnam was a war that should never have been fought. It was a contrived war, just like Iraq and Afghanistan.

No amount of military history books detailing the mistakes America made in Vietnam were enough to stop the hawks in Washington from repeating them. Perhaps our current crop of politicians skipped that aisle in the library devoted to U.S. military books while attending high school or college. As for those people in the Pentagon, I doubt if recent military history plays any part in their plans of conquest.
    If it did, they would have chosen to avoid past mistakes. Right? Maybe not. Fact: political agendas - influenced by the military industrial complex - have little use for history if it gets in the way of current goals.
   Rather than take on the whole issue of listing all the military mistakes made in Vietnam, I’m going to focus on the one that bothers me the most; Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are killing themselves in record numbers.
  As a Vietnam combat veteran with PTSD, this issue is admittedly personal to me. Veterans struggling to mentally cope after coming home from repeated war zone tours are falling through the bureaucratic cracks and the results are unacceptable. 
  In a case of dark irony, more deaths are now attributed to military suicides than to actual combat with the enemy, every year. For truly disturbing statistics go to the official Department of Defense website.

  Some sobering examples: there were 349 service members (all branches) who committed suicide in 2012. There were 212 combated related deaths the same year.
  The Army, the largest body within the US military (562,000 personnel) has the highest rate of suicides at 32 per one thousand troops and had a total of 182 suicides in 2012. The Marine Corps was second with 24 suicides per one thousand troops. 
  One of the fallouts from all of these stressed-out troops is more of them are given prescription medications just so they can function. Bart Billings, a former military psychologist who hosts an annual conference on combat stress, recently told the LA Times  “We have never medicated our troops to the extent that we do now…and I don’t believe the current increase in suicides and homicides is a coincidence.”
  Military experts report the biggest problem comes from repeated tours of duty. Eighty percent of military personnel do three or more deployments. What results is no surprise. The mental fatigue these worn-out warriors experience is treated with sedatives, amphetamines, and anti-depressants.

  There are big concerns about the widespread and frequent use of mefloquine, an anti-malaria drug also called Larium. Suicides and other grim side effects include problems with psychotic behavior, paranoia, and delusions.
  The new Army guidelines of August 2012 confirm that PTSD tends to be under diagnosed and under treated because the stigma in the military discourages troops from seeking help for mental health issues.   
  Currently the Army is offering a pre-employment “resilience training” for “ongoing comprehensive soldier fitness.” As you might expect, the results thus far are questionable.
The Pentagon has tried numerous anti-suicide strategies in the last three years, but with no success. The number of suicides continues to grow annually.
  Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, once said “We learn from failure, not from success!” It’s too bad our politicians and warmongers haven’t learned this fact. Just think what a difference it would have made to our currently suffering service members, some of  whose lives teeter on the edge of sanity. 

  With talk about the war in Afghanistan winding down in 2014, I would like to see more time and resources spent to help our warriors deal with PTSD, an invisible wound that keeps on hurting if not treated.
  What I would really like to see is a simple requirement for all politicians: specifically, they must be well-versed in our past wars and the glaring mistakes that were made. That way when they try to lead us into another war we’ll know they’re not only stupid, but dangerous.
  As It Stands, let’s hope our ground troops don’t get involved in Syria or somewhere else in the middle east. It’s a scary possibility with the current crop of clueless politicians and military leaders.

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...