Thursday, July 14, 2011

Somewhere under the Moonbow, down a Maui blowhole, and severe erosion along the West Coast

Good Morning Humboldt County!

Grab a cup of Joe and let’s go. There’s always something different like a moonbow:

Somewhere under the moonbow

Here’s something you don’t see every day — in fact, you can only experience it at night. It’s called a moonbow and if you’re at Yosemite National Park this weekend, you might want to consider staying up late to catch a glimpse.

As the lunar equivalent of rainbows, moonbows are created when moonlight shines on droplets of water. And with its abundant waterfalls and clear, artificial light-free skies, Yosemite is an ideal place to watch for moonbows, especially on July 15 during the next full moon.

Tourists saw Calif. man fall into Maui blow hole

Witnesses who watched a Northern California man get sucked into a Maui blow hole to his apparent death say that the tourist was dancing around and frolicking in the sprays of water moments before a wave knocked him down.

In this Saturday, July 9, 2011 photo provided and shot by Rocco Piganelli, Piper Piganelli, Marley Meyer, and Maddie Meyer, lower left, pose for a photo Piganelli says was taken moments before a man, in the spray at right, fell to his apparent death in a blow hole at Nakalele Point in Maui, Hawaii. Piganelli, of La Jolla, Calif., told The Associated Press that he watched the man spiral down the blowhole, pop up briefly before disappearing when the next wave hit. The 44-year-old man, identified as David Potts of San Anselmo, Calif., has not been found since Saturday afternoon. (AP Photo/Rocco Piganelli)

Image: Erosion along San Francisco beach

Battered West Coast a lesson on warming, study finds

Severe erosion along the West Coast during the winter of 2009-2010 offers a look at, and lessons for, a warming world with rising sea levels, a new study finds.

A natural El Nino cycle that warms the Pacific Ocean produced those severe conditions, but computer models suggest that similar damage could come from sea level rise tied to human-caused greenhouse gases.

"If these trends continue," U.S. government and academic experts wrote in their study, "the combination of large waves and higher water levels, particularly when enhanced by El Ninos, can be expected to be more frequent in the future, resulting in greater risk of coastal erosion, flooding, and cliff failures."

Lead author Patrick Barnard, a coastal geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, told msnbc.com that the study serves as a platform "to understand the broad coastal impact of conditions we are likely to experience more frequently in the future."

Time to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Comments on some of today’s headlines…

I read where a grief-stricken Hamid Karzai climbed into his assassinated brother's grave this morning. I have one observation to make, “Someone should have hurriedly filled it up when he was in thereImage: Afghans pray over the grave of Ahmad Wali Karzai in his family's ancestral village of Karz

I’m not thrilled with the Fed's new money policy: 'Wait and see'

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke was on Capitol Hill today testifying on the central bank's latest strategies for getting the economy back on a stronger footing.

Is it just me, or does this sound like a scene out of “Fantasy Island” where everything magically works out by the end of the episode?

File me under,Paranoid to fly these days.” When I see things like Scientists questioning cancer risks from exposure to full-body scanners, I add that to a growing list of concerns.

Budget talks between President Barack Obama and his GOP rivals are at a frustrating standstill, leading a top Republican to launch a long-shot proposal to give Obama sweeping new powers to muscle through an increase in the government's debt limit without the approval of a bitterly divided Congress. If that happens I’ll start believing in the Easter Bunny and The Great Pumpkin.

Watching the Murdoch empire crumble has been the highlight of the week thus far for me. Now investors are asking what might be the broader impact on Murdoch’s global News Corp. empire, which includes the Fox broadcast network, cable channels such as FX and Fox News, television stations, the 20th Century Fox movie studio and newspapers around the world, including The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal and The Sun in the U.K.

"This is going to have ripple effects over in the U.S., too, but it may take a while for it to all play out," predicted newspaper analyst Ken Doctor of Outsell Inc. Republicans throughout the country are probably really concerned their going to lose their “Voice,” on national TV (Fox execs are hiding beneath their desks waiting for the outcome) under the guise of a real news affiliate.

Can you imagine what would happen if Justin tried putting a move on Cpl. De Santis when she wasn’t interested? She’d kick his ass all the way down the Halls of Montezuma!

Not to be outdone, a female Marine wants a date with Justin Timberlake

After Justin Timberlake nudged Mila Kunis into accepting a Marine's invitation to be his date for the Marine Corps Ball, another Marine had a similar idea: put Justin Timberlake on the spot, too. Cpl. Kelsey De Santis, currently serving as the only female at the Martial Arts Center for Excellence at Marine Corps Base Quantico, has made a YouTube video inviting Timberlake to be her date for the Ball, taking place Nov. 12 in Washington, D.C.

Can you imagine what would happen if Justin tried putting a move on Cpl. De Santis when she wasn’t interested? She’d kick his ass all the way down the Halls of Montezuma!

Telecommunication companies takes your bill and ‘crams” it

Senator's probe slams phone firms for murky 'cramming' fees

Mysterious fees and services crammed onto phone bills are a “nationwide epidemic” for U.S. consumers, but a reliable source of revenue for some of America's biggest telecommunications companies, a year-long congressional investigation has found.

A report issued Wednesday by Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., says that three firms -- Verizon, AT&T and CenturyLink/Quest -- earned $650 million as their cut of cramming charges levied by third-parties since 2006.

Cramming charges -- such as unwanted $10-per-month voicemail or Web design services -- have been frustrating phone customers for more than 15 years, thanks in part to ill-considered rules designed to enhance competition in local phone markets. Consumers often don't spot the small monthly fees, but even when they do getting refunds can be a nightmare: The telephone provider that sends the bills often refuses to issue refunds, instead referring consumers to the third-party firms, which are often unresponsive.  The Federal Communications Commission estimates that 15 million to 20 million consumers are crammed every year.  Rockefeller’s report says cramming could cost U.S. consumers $2 billion annually.

Congress has been unable to fix the problem for more than a decade.

photo source

Tour a new Children’s Museum, buy the “First Dolt’s” basecard card, and (Déjà vu) lawyer accidently shoots another lawyer while hunting

Image: Egyptian TOMB

Good Morning Humboldt County!

Good to see you this morning. Pull up a stool and sit with me as we wander through some headlines:

Delving into the world's largest children's museum

Welcome to the new "Treasures of the Earth" exhibition here at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, launched in partnership with the National Geographic Society and world-renowned archaeologists, at the largest children's museum in the country, which draws well over a million visitors a year. The museum emphasizes using science, history and artifacts to encourage family learning and offers innovative hands-on activities, which by all accounts, works beautifully.

George W. Bush's baseball card

Now you too can have a baseball card with the “First Dolt” throwing a baseball! Imagine how you can impress your friends with this collectible prize?

President George W. Bush lent his signature to a new Topps baseball card release: For the first time ever, Topps issued autographed trading cards of a former President.

Lawyer sentenced for shooting fellow lawyer while hunting

This story reminds me of Cheney when he accidently shot a lawyer buddy. It wasn’t a fatal wound, but it was another case of where a lawyer couldn’t tell the difference between a deer and another lawyer!

A Pennsylvania attorney who shot and killed a fellow hunter by mistake in 2010 while hunting for deer on his own property was sentenced to up to 25 years in prison on Friday for involuntary manslaughter and gun violations.

David Manilla failed to call promptly for emergency help and tried to hide the rifle that killed Groh. Manilla also fired a shotgun he was carrying in order to claim it was inconsistent with the fatal rifle wound, James said.

Time to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Not the buzz they were hoping for: Truck spills 14 million bees on Idaho highway

Image: Truck spills millions of bees on Idaho highway.

Cleanup crews have finished clearing honey and an estimated 14 million bees that got loose after a delivery truck overturned on an Idaho highway.

Authorities say the semi-truck was hauling the bees from California to North Dakota when the driver veered off the shoulder, tipping more than 400 hive boxes and honey.

Authorities reportedly began receiving 911 calls late Sunday afternoon.

Fremont County Sheriff deputies say several workers were stung during the first few hours of the cleanup Sunday.

According to KPVI, officials had to spray fire foam on the truck and bees before responders could join the effort. The spill, which also unleashed a torrent of honey, reportedly required crews from numerous agencies.

Some observers told The Post-Register they saw a strange black cloud and heard a roaring noise above the spill area before realizing it was a massive swarm of bees.

Crews worked all day Monday before removing all the honey from the roadway, though deputies say a significant number of bees were still buzzing.           source

Tuesday Talk: Spiderphobes studied, Chuacabra spotted, and a pot smoking chimp documentary

Good Morning Humboldt County!

Join me in having a cup of coffee, or tea, and let’s see what’s happening in the world today:

Spiderphobes spot the bugs first, study shows

Picture this: you're sitting in a garden on a pretty summer day, and along comes a butterfly and a bumblebee. Which grabs your attention first?

Evolution would suggest that we're primed to detect threats, so we might pay attention to the buzzing little bee. But butterflies are pretty. And here are some complications: what if we're especially afraid of bees or especially entranced by butterflies? Instead of bees and butterflies, the researchers turned to arachnoids and cult TV: they exposed 72 British subjects to a variety of photos, including some of spiders and characters or objects.

'Chupacabra' rears its ugly head

The chupacabra has been an intriguing urban legend for decades, but one man said he spotted something like it and got pictures of it.

Jack Crabtree said he and a friend spotted the strange-looking creature outside his Lake Jackson home on July 4.

"He said, 'That's the strangest dog I've ever seen,'" Crabtree said. "I immediately said, 'That's not a dog, it's a chupacabra.'"

Crabtree said he's heard of the chupacabra as a mysterious creature with a scary look.

The word "chupacabra" means "goat blood sucker" in Spanish. It was given that name for its reported habit of attacking and sucking the blood of livestock, mainly goats.

Crabtree said what he saw was ugly, skinny and gray.

"Most prominent feature was his ears," he said. "I can see why people would conjure up myths and horror stories associated with something that has that appearance."

Nim: the little chimp that couldn't

"Project Nim," a documentary by Oscar-winning director James Marsh, is a heartwarming and heartbreaking story about a home-bred, pot-smoking, cookie-chomping chimpanzee called Nim Chimpsky. Nim was the star player in a controversial language experiment that failed ... but nevertheless laid the foundations for research into primate communication.

In the early 1970s, Herb Terrace, a Columbia University psychologist, adopted a 2-week-old chimpanzee. Nim Chimpsky (named after linguist Noam Chomsky) was to be the star of an experiment to see if non-human animals could be taught the elements of language. At the time, linguists and psychologists were locked in a shouting match about the true nature of our chatty brains and the origins of human language. Terrace hoped Nim would end the raging debate about how and why human language evolved.

The behaviorists led one camp, and said that language could be taught and learned by other intelligent, non-human species. The opposing camp, led by Chomsky, insisted that language was a human product and there were parts of it that non-human species could never ape.

Terrace, who still does research on primate intelligence at Columbia, had heard stories about another precocious chimpanzee named Washoe, who lived with her scientist "parents" at the University of Nevada in Reno and had been taught to communicate through American Sign Language.

But Terrace wasn’t satisfied with the way Washoe’s feats had been documented. Terrace wanted to raise young Nim among people, just as Washoe had been brought up, but scrupulously log his progress and learning abilities. If chimpanzees could in fact master elements of human language, he wanted to be sure how they did it, and how well they picked it up. "I wanted to have a total record of how Nim signed," Terrace told me.

So, at the age of 2 weeks, Nim Chimpsky was put in the foster care of Terrace's student, Stephanie LaFarge, who lived with her family in Manhattan. LaFarge, who even breast-fed Nim, would be the first of a string of chimp-sitters who tried to teach him American Sign Language. Laura-Ann Petitto, then an undergraduate at Columbia, would be next. She raised Nim from the time he was 3 months old until he was 4 years old.

Monday, July 11, 2011

South California as new state? Campaign is on — again

More than 220 groups/people have tried to propose a split of California since the 1850s…

Now a Southern California Republican says it is time to split California in half.

Jeff Stone, a Riverside County supervisor from Temecula, says he wants 13 of the state's mostly conservative counties to break away and become "South California".

The proposed South California would be made up of Fresno, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Mono, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego, Tulare and Riverside counties. That totals about 13 million people.

Riverside County's Board of Supervisors will consider the proposal tomorrow, according to the Los Angeles Times. If the board approves the plan, leaders will create a framework for secession and then host a statewide summit on the issue.

Stone says as it is, California is an ungovernable financial catastrophe that is forcing businesses to flee and crushing taxpayers with welfare programs.

A spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown says this is a laughable political stunt.

"It's a supremely ridiculous waste of everybody's time," spokesman Gil Duran told the Times. "If you want to live in a Republican state with very conservative right-wing laws, then there's a place called Arizona."

NBC Bay Area Business & Tech Analyst Scott McGrew says this deal would probably benefit Northern California more. "Housing prices here have been somewhat more stable," said McGrew. "The state is able to get more money from stock gains here thanks to tech and we have smaller numbers of people in entitlement programs."

story source -- poster source

Sportsmanship fail: Parents charged after youth baseball brawl

Aaawww Summer time! Blazing temperatures and tempers flare during America’s favorite past time, a baseball game. Not a pro game,or a college game, but a youth game. Pre-teens who should be learning sportsmanship instead of World Wrestling moves from their parents, got a taste of hypocrisy that won’t soon go away. 

 CASTLE ROCK, Colo.Police charged three parentsincluding the town prosecutor — with third-degree assault and disorderly conduct after a brawl during a youth baseball tournament put a player in a hospital, a city official said Monday. The fight involved at least six adults during a game for 12-year-olds, and police were still trying to sort out what triggered the brawl and who was involved, KUSA-TV reported.

Newborn may have set record in Texas – he weighed 16-lbs, 1 ounce!

I’ve always been the standard for big babies in the Stancliff clan. I weighed a whopping 10 lbs, 2 ounces when I was born. That family record pales beside the birth of JaMichael Brown. I wouldn’t be surprised if he set a national record, but who knows? Somewhere in this country there may have been a bigger baby born and we just haven’t heard about it yet:

This big boy sure looks at peace doesn’t he? If only he knew what lay ahead!

Baby boom! 16-lb. newborn may set Texas record

“Coming out of the womb weighing more than 16 pounds, JaMichael Brown couldn’t even fit in one of his home state’s famous 10-gallon hats. Even in a place where everything is reputedly bigger, the newborn boy may have set the record for the biggest baby ever born in Texas.

Doctors underestimated just how big JaMichael would be. When he came into the world via Cesarean section a little after 9 a.m. last Friday, he weighed 16 pounds, 1 ounce. JaMichael was born with a full head of hair, measuring a full 2 feet long with a head measurement of 15 inches and a chest measuring 17 inches.”

Monday Musings: marriage goes to the dogs in Peru, thirst for career bums people out, and Free Slurpees today at any 7 Eleven stores

Dogs wear a bridal veil and a groom hat

Good Morning Humboldt County!

Good to see you. Pull up a chair and enjoy a cup of coffee with me while being entertained by today’s headlines. Got some good ones this morning. Enjoy: 

For Better Or Woof: Dog Couples Tie The Knot

Marriage went to the dogs in Peru's capital Lima as multiple canine couples tied the knot.The ceremony was made legal when the canine couples put their paw prints on the matrimonial documents.

Thirst for career happiness is bumming us out

Finding career happiness seems to be what everyone wants these days.

The shelves in bookstores are lined with books on how to find career happiness, and an endless stream of life coaches are trying to help workers attain it. Twitter is rife with advice and corny quotes about finding job joy.

But is happiness a wise career goal? There is growing evidence that our thirst to find happiness, especially during tough economic times, is actually bumming us out.

Free Slurpees = cash in 7-Eleven's coffers

You have to give some to get some. That’s apparently the theory behind 7-Eleven’s campaign to dole out free Slurpees to customers today to celebrate the chain’s unofficial birthday: 7/11.

USA Today reports that 7-Eleven expects to give out 5 million, 7.11-ounce Slurpees, or about 1,000 free drinks per store. No coupon needed.

That’s a lot of Slurpees, to be sure. But the paper says that 7-Eleven has found freebies to be very lucrative. The chain’s vice president of marketing Nancy Smith tells USA Today that the same gimmick last July 11 pushed Slurpee sales for the day up 33 percent.

"Slurpee drinkers are some of the most loyal fans we have," Smith told USA Today. "They come here to have fun." And, she said, many of them spend more on other items.

Thus proving there’s no such thing as a free lunch … uh, Slurpee.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Sunday, July 10, 2011

As It Stands: Shell Corporations: The modern version of the old con game

By Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard

Posted: 07/10/2011 02:30:25 AM PDT

“Step right up, folks! It's your lucky day. Pick a shell. A pea is under one of the three. Find the pea and win the prize!”

You've heard of the “shell game.” It's been around since ancient Greece. It's also known as “Thimblerig,” an old Army game.

It's really a “short con” that's easy to pull off and swindle unsuspecting dupes. It's all about sleight of hand. You're never going to pick the right shell unless the operator wants you to. Which leads me to today's topic: A growing niche in the modern business con handbook is called shell corporations.

Like paper-only shells, shell companies are set up to hide the real ownership of assets. Once these secretive business havens were in the Cayman Islands and Cyprus, but that's changing rapidly.

For example, a recent investigation by Reuters discovered a “Cayman Island on the Great Plains.” Located in Wyoming. A single address (2710 Thomas Ave. in Cheyenne) is stuffed with an A-list of corporations. It's headquarters for Wyoming Corporate Services, a “business-incorporation specialist that establishes firms which can be used as 'shell' companies,” according to Reuters. In other words, if you want to hide assets, Wyoming Corporate Services is the place to go.

The company's website gleefully explains how “a corporation is a legal person created by state statute that can be used as a fall guy, a servant, a good friend or a decoy. A person you control... yet cannot be held accountable for its actions. Imagine the possibilities!”

How about that? Creating your own fall guy? You'll be offered a bank account for your shadow identity, and a lawyer as a corporate director to invoke attorney-client privilege. But wait! There's more. You'll have appointed stand-in directors and officers as high as CEO.

Wyoming Corporate Services offers a variety of “shell” companies which come with years of regulatory filings behind them. A solidarity coveted by those interested in hiding their assets.

You, too, can create shell companies like the one set up by online-poker operators to evade a U.S. ban on Internet gambling. Or like the owner of two other firms who was banned from government contracting in January for selling counterfeit truck parts to the Pentagon.

Wyoming Corporate Services offers 700 shell companies for sale in 37 states. The hotbeds of the shell company industry are three states with the lightest regulations: Delaware, Wyoming, and Nevada.

Here's something else to consider: The incorporation industry, overseen by officials in the 50 states, has few rules. Convicted felons can operate firms which create companies, with no background checks.

According to the Reuters investigation, “No states license mass incorporators, and only a few require them to formally register with state authorities.” No states collect the names and addresses of “beneficial owners,” the individuals with a controlling interest in corporations, according to a 2009 report by the National Association of Secretaries of State, a group for state officials overseeing incorporation.

The loopholes in U.S. disclosure of bank-account and shell-company ownership are as numerous as holes in a block of Swiss cheese. The U.S. was declared “non-compliant” in four out of 40 categories monitored by the Financial Action Task Force, an international group fighting money laundering and terrorism finance, in its 2006 evaluation report.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee's Permanent Subcommittee for Investigations, has introduced the Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act each year since 2008. The bill would require states to obtain and update information about the real owners of companies and impose civil and criminal sanctions for filing false information.

I'm not surprised that this bill has failed to pass. The 2006 U.S. Money Laundering Threat Assessment, prepared by 16 federal agencies, devoted a chapter to the ways U.S. shell companies can be attractive vehicles to hide ill-gotten funds. I have no doubt that special interest groups have been involved in smothering the bill.

“In the U.S., (business incorporation) is completely unregulated,” says Jason Sharman, a professor at Griffith University in Nathan, Australia. He is preparing a study for the World Bank on corporate formations worldwide, according to an Associated Press story. “Somalia has slightly higher standards than Wyoming and Nevada,” Sharman added.

An estimated 2 million corporations and limited liability companies are created each year in the U.S., according to Senate investigators.

As It Stands, step right up, ladies and gentlemen, and pick a company. Any company. Why pay taxes when you can play the shell game?

Other websites and online magazines carrying this column:

God’s Vacation - blog about metaphysics, spirituality,kundalini, synchronicity, mystical experiences, personal para-normal experiences, politics, comparative religions, global warming, the future, you name it.

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cross-referenced news and research resources about

shell corporations

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US Senate Newswire - Comprehensive Real-Time News Feed for US Senate.

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Latest Toys/Games News – scroll down (the 7th headline) strange site if you ask me.

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The Federal Circle – Want advise on how to make money? Take a look at this site. The administrators also know how to make money…by bringing you aboard their team. I’m not recommending this site, just sharing it because it carried my column this week.

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