Sarah Palin's image already appears on the newer nickels.

calendar   Saturday - November 19, 2005

Mister Humanitarian?

Hmmmm. Jesse goes to Venezuela, cuts a deal with a dictator and Boston gets cheap heating oil. What does the dictator get in return? Good question. Publicity stunt? Who knows. All I know is if Jesse is involved, something’s rotten somewhere in this deal ....

imageimageVenezuela to Sell Cheap Oil to U.S. Poor
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP)

Venezuela will soon begin selling heating oil at discount prices to poor communities in Boston and New York, following up on a promise by President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s state oil company announced.

Citgo, a subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company that runs roughly 16,000 gas stations in the United States, will offer fuel at discounted rates in Boston as early as next week, according to a statement posted Friday on the company’s Web site.

In Boston, up to 1.2 million gallons of discounted heating oil will be offered, for a total savings of $10 million, the statement said. Heating oil will be sold later in the Bronx, a New York City borough.

The statement said the distribution of the discounted heating oil will be organized with the help of local nonprofit organizations. Chavez often blames the plight of the poor on unbridled capitalism and strongly criticizes the Bush administration for failing to reduce poverty in the United States.

Although tensions between the United States and Venezuela have increased since Chavez was elected in 1998, the oil-rich South American country remains a major supplier of fuel to the United States.

Chavez offered cheap heating oil for poor U.S. communities in August following a meeting in Caracas with the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Venezuela, which has the largest oil and natural gas reserves outside the Middle East, is the world’s fifth most important oil exporter and a founding member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.


Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 11/19/2005 at 08:27 AM   
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calendar   Saturday - November 05, 2005

Stoned On Facts

The world is still an awful, dangerous place to live. Some people can’t handle the pressure and some are just weak. Others are determined to make as much money as possible off of the weak links in society. No, I’m not talking about Eli Lilly and Pfizer who make billions selling Prozac and Zanax respectively. I’m talking about the Colombian cartels and the Afghan warlords and the Burmese farmers but especially your local pusher man and the organization behind him which gets 76% of the profit on drug sales ....

Drug Trafficking Facts:

Sources: U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime; Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN); DEA


Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 11/05/2005 at 01:58 PM   
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calendar   Thursday - October 27, 2005

Quote of the Day

The Salt Lake Tribune has a wonderful quote from First Lt. Bruce Bishop, who explains that he plans to re-enlist in the Utah National Guard:

“because as I look around at the state of this nation and see all of the weak little pampered candy-asses that are whining about this or protesting that, I’d be afraid to leave the fate of this nation entirely up to them.”

Go get ‘em Bruce!


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 10/27/2005 at 01:24 PM   
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calendar   Friday - October 14, 2005

Sean Penn, Call Your Office

Newsbusters caught NBC in a little game of “staging” a scene, and the timing couldn’t have been worse.

imageimageIn a deliciously ironic twist of fate, shortly before airing a segment aimed at embarrassing the Bush administration by suggesting that it had staged a video conversation between the president and soldiers in Iraq, the Today show was caught staging . . . a video stunt.

In the Bush/Iraq segment, Today screened footage indicating that prior to engaging in a video conversation with President Bush, soldiers on the ground in Iraq were given tips by a Department of Defense official.

But the only advice that the official was shown as giving was a suggestion to one solider to “take a little breath” before speaking to the president so he would actually be speaking to him. It was also stated that some of the soldiers practiced their comments so as to appear as articulate as possible. But there was no indication, or even allegation, that the soldiers were coached as to the substance of their comments or in any way instructed what to say.

A preceding segment focused on the incessant rains and ensuing flooding in the northeast. For days now, beautiful, blonde - and one senses highly ambitious - young reporter Michelle Kosinski has been on the scene for Today in New Jersey, working the story. In an apparent effort to draw attention to herself, in yesterday’s segment she turned up in hip waders, standing thigh-deep in the flood waters.

Taking her act one step further, this morning she appeared on a suburban street . . . paddling a canoe. There was one small problem. Just as the segment came on the air, two men waded in front of Kosinki . . . and the water barely covered their shoe tops! That’s right, Kosinski’s canoe was in no more than four to six inches of water!

Go watch the video and see if you can stop laughing. Apparently, Matt and Katie back in NY couldn’t hold it in either.

Matt: “Are these holy men, perhaps walking on top of the water?”

“Gee, is your oar hitting ground, Michelle?” inquired Katie, as she and Matt dissolved into laughter.



Posted by Drew458   United States  on 10/14/2005 at 12:37 PM   
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Too Much Information

How do astronauts in spacecraft keep themselves clean?
People’s Daily

Two Chinese astronauts, Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng, continued their space travel Thursday aboard the nation’s second manned spacecraft Shenzhou-6. How do they keep themselves clean during the planned 119-hour space flight?

According to Dr. Li Yongzhi, who is in charge of medical monitoring and guarantee for astronauts, the two men cannot brush their teeth as they did on the Earth. Scientists have prepared for them a sort of oral cleaner similar to chewing gum. It can be used after meal.

Alternatives include a kind of tooth cover made of germfree gauze and a sort of edible toothpaste, which can also kill odor in oral cavity, Li said.

“These approaches can make our astronauts more comfortable than their Russian peers, who use gauze soaked in physiological saline to clean their teeth,” Li said.

Since no shower is feasible in space, the two astronauts in Shenzhou-6 are provided with a sort of special tissue to clean their bodies and special cream to moisturize their skin, according to Li, adding that in the five-day flight, they will change their underwear once.

shut eye


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 10/14/2005 at 12:29 PM   
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calendar   Sunday - October 09, 2005

Earthquakes: The Science And The Result

Let’s face it, our planet is going to do what it wants without any help from us puny humans. Hurricanes are always going to head for the Gulf Of Mexico and certain areas of the world will always experience earthquakes because of plate tectonics. It has nothing to do with what we humans do. We are merely fleas on an elephant’s back. Here is the science ...

imageimageAmong the most dramatic and visible creations of plate-tectonic forces are the lofty Himalayas, which stretch 2,900 km along the border between India and Tibet. This immense mountain range began to form between 40 and 50 million years ago, when two large landmasses, India and Eurasia, driven by plate movement, collided. Because both these continental landmasses have about the same rock density, one plate could not be subducted under the other. The pressure of the impinging plates could only be relieved by thrusting skyward, contorting the collision zone, and forming the jagged Himalayan peaks.

About 225 million years ago, India was a large island still situated off the Australian coast, and a vast ocean (called Tethys Sea) separated India from the Asian continent. When Pangaea broke apart about 200 million years ago, India began to forge northward. By studying the history—and ultimately the closing-- of the Tethys, scientists have reconstructed India’s northward journey. About 80 million years ago, India was located roughly 6,400 km south of the Asian continent, moving northward at a rate of about 9 m a century. When India rammed into Asia about 40 to 50 million years ago, its northward advance slowed by about half. The collision and associated decrease in the rate of plate movement are interpreted to mark the beginning of the rapid uplift of the Himalayas.

Fifty kilometers north of Lhasa (the capital of Tibet), scientists found layers of pink sandstone containing grains of magnetic minerals (magnetite) that have recorded the pattern of the Earth’s flip-flopping magnetic field. These sandstones also contain plant and animal fossils that were deposited when the Tethys Sea periodically flooded the region. The study of these fossils has revealed not only their geologic age but also the type of environment and climate in which they formed. For example, such studies indicate that the fossils lived under a relatively mild, wet environment about 105 million years ago, when Tibet was closer to the equator. Today, Tibet’s climate is much more arid, reflecting the region’s uplift and northward shift of nearly 2,000 km. Fossils found in the sandstone layers offer dramatic evidence of the climate change in the Tibetan region due to plate movement over the past 100 million years.

At present, the movement of India continues to put enormous pressure on the Asian continent, and Tibet in turn presses on the landmass to the north that is hemming it in. The net effect of plate-tectonics forces acting on this geologically complicated region is to squeeze parts of Asia eastward toward the Pacific Ocean. One serious consequence of these processes is a deadly “domino” effect: tremendous stresses build up within the Earth’s crust, which are relieved periodically by earthquakes along the numerous faults that scar the landscape. Some of the world’s most destructive earthquakes in history are related to continuing tectonic processes that began some 50 million years ago when the Indian and Eurasian continents first met.

Source: US Gelogic Service

The earth’s plates are in motion and have been for millions of years. We can’t stop it but we need to be smart about where we build and live and how we build and live. Here is the result of the most recent activity as the Indian subcontinent continues to push up and under the Eurasian Plate ...

Quake Kills More Than 19,000 in South Asia
BALAKOT, Pakistan (AP)

A massive earthquake cut a swath of destruction across South Asia Saturday, killing more than 19,000 people. The worst destruction was in and near the Pakistani side of the divided and disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir, where the quake flattened dozens of villages and towns, crushing schools and mud-brick houses. At least a dozen bodies were strewn on the streets of Balakot, a devastated village of about 30,000 just west of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, where the 7.6-magnitude earthquake that struck South Asia shortly before 9 a.m. was centered. Villagers desperate to find survivors dug with bare hands through the debris of a collapsed school, searching for children that were heard crying beneath the rubble.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao said 19,136 people were killed, 17,388 of them in Pakistani Kashmir. The worst-hit city in Pakistani Kashmir was its capital, Muzaffarabad, where 11,000 died, Sherpao said. He also said 42,397 were injured. Helicopters and C-130 transport planes took troops and supplies to damaged areas on Sunday. But landslides and rain hindered rescue efforts, blocking roads to some remote areas. President Gen. Pervez Musharraf appealed to the international community to help with relief efforts. He appealed for medicine, tents, cargo helicopters and financial assistance. The United States, the United Nations, Britain, Russia, China, Turkey, Japan, German and India all offered assistance.

“We do seek international assistance. We have enough manpower but we need financial support ... to cope with the tragedy,” Musharraf said. He said supplies were needed “to reach out to the people in far-flung and cut-off areas.” The president spoke in Rawalpindi, a city near the capital Islamabad, before leaving on a tour of devastated areas. The quake was felt across a wide swath of South Asia from central Afghanistan to western Bangladesh. It swayed buildings in the capitals of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, an area stretching across some 625 miles across. In Islamabad, a 10-story building collapsed. “We are handling the worst disaster in Pakistan’s history,” chief army spokesman, Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan said. Authorities in India reported 360 deaths and 900 people injured, while Afghanistan reported four killed.

On Sunday, Pakistani military helicopters ferried troops and supplies to some hard-hit areas. But there was no sign of government help in Balakot, in the North West Frontier Province about 60 miles north of Islamabad. The quake leveled the village’s main bazaar, crushing shoppers and strewing gas cylinders, bricks, tomatoes and onions on the streets. Injured people covered by shawls lay in the street, waiting for medical care. Residents carried bodies on wooden planks. The corpses of four children, aged between four and six, lay under a sheet of corrugated iron. Relatives said they were trying to find sheets to wrap the bodies. “We don’t have anything to bury them with,” said a cousin, Saqib Swati.

Nearby, Faizan Farooq, a 19-year-old business administration student, stood outside the rubble of his four-story school, where at least 250 pupils were feared trapped. Dozens of villagers, some with sledgehammers but many without any tools, pulled at the debris and carried away bodies. Farooq said that he could hear children under the rubble crying for help immediately after the disaster on Saturday. “Now there’s no sign of life,” he said. “We can’t do this without the army’s help. Nobody has come here to help us.” A 40-year-old man at the scene wept. He said four of his children were buried in the debris.

Elsewhere in Balakot, shopowner Mohammed Iqbal said two primary schools, one for boys and one for girls, also collapsed. More than 500 students were feared dead. In Pakistan’s northwestern district of Mansehra, police chief Ataullah Khan Wazir said authorities there pulled 250 bodies from the wreckage of one girls’ school in the village of Ghari Habibibullah. Dozens of children were feared killed in other schools. Mansehra was believed to be a hotbed of Islamic militant activity during the time the Taliban religious militia ruled neighboring Afghanistan. Al-Qaida operatives trained suicide squads at a camp there, Afghan and Pakistani officials told The Associated Press in 2002. Some 215 Pakistani soldiers died in Pakistan’s portion of Kashmir, Sultan said. On the India side of the border, at least 39 soldiers were killed when their bunkers collapsed, said Col. H. Juneja, an Indian army spokesman.

I feel for the people of Pakistan and India, especially the children who were killed in this monumental disaster. I can only hope and pray that Osama bin Laden and his murderous thugs were buried under a pile of rubble over there.

However, as always, I believe that both India and Pakistan would be better served if their governments would spend less on nuclear weapons and missiles and spend more on earthquake detection equipment. The technology is out there and has been proven to give at least some advance notice of impending danger.

I can think of no reason why a country should spend billions to build a nuclear bomb when those same billions could install thousands of subterranean sensors, recording equipment and analysis software to help keep people alive. Not to mention building houses and buildings to standards which would allow the structures to survive a major quake. It saddens me to see this many people killed. What saddens me more is that a lot of this loss of life could have been prevented if governments would simply do their job.


Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 10/09/2005 at 07:00 AM   
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calendar   Saturday - October 01, 2005

What Would You Pay?

imageimageHurricane Brings Miss. Real Estate Frenzy
MyWay AP

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - Rubble piles bear “For Sale” signs. Homes without roofs are being sold as-is. Placards announcing “We Buy Houses, Cash!,” are posted on corners throughout middle-class neighborhoods.

The Mississippi coast, wracked by Hurricane Katrina, is caught up in a real estate rush, as speculators and those looking to replace their own wrecked homes pinpoint broken and battered waterfront neighborhoods. In the weeks since the hurricane, prices of many homes - even damaged properties - have jumped 10 to 20 percent.

But what Katrina spared, the real estate rush now imperils. The arrival of speculators threatens what’s left of bungalow neighborhoods that are among the Gulf’s oldest communities, close-knit places of modest means where casino workers, fishermen and their families could still afford to live near the water.

Many, underinsured and with few alternatives, see no choice but to sell.

People are paying 10%-20% or more for piles of rubble than they would have a month ago for the house that was there.  Incredible.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 10/01/2005 at 05:08 PM   
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calendar   Monday - September 26, 2005

Agent 86 has left the building

ABC News

Don Adams of ‘Get Smart’ Dies at 82

LOS ANGELES Sep 26, 2005 — Don Adams, the wry-voiced comedian who starred as the fumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart in the 1960s television spoof of James Bond movies, “Get Smart,” has died. He was 82.

Adams died of a lung infection late Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, his friend and former agent Bruce Tufeld said Monday, adding the actor broke his hip a year ago and had been in ill health since.

As the inept Agent 86 of the super-secret federal agency Control, Adams captured TV viewers with his antics in combatting the evil agents of Kaos. When his explanations failed to convince the villains or his boss, he tried another tack: “Would you believe … ?” It became a national catchphrase.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 09/26/2005 at 03:11 PM   
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calendar   Friday - September 23, 2005

Rita Bits



Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 09/23/2005 at 12:18 PM   
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calendar   Wednesday - September 21, 2005

Snugged Down and Waiting

Jim at Smoke on the Water just signed off.......for now. 

Thank you all, each and every one!  That is all I can do now, for it is time for me now to take leave of my beloved home, to trust her to the hand of God, and the to the will and the effort I have invested to keep her safe against the storm.

I shall drive away, unwillingly.  But drive I must, if only to not subject the pure love of my two cats to the hell that is due to descend upon these docks in but thirty-six hours time.

My course is uncharted, the waters strange and the waves of patterns yet to be learned.

But I will sail into this future determinedly.  It is the only future I have, it is the only course I can sail.

May God be with you, and the Sloop New Dawn


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 09/21/2005 at 07:57 PM   
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calendar   Thursday - September 15, 2005

Pied Piper, Call Your Office!

This story is rather disturbing.

Plague-Infected Mice Missing From N.J. Lab

Sept. 15, 2005 — The FBI and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating the disappearance from a New Jersey research lab of at least three mice carrying a deadly strain of plague.

The rodents have been missing for two weeks.

Two weeks!  In New Jersey?????  There’s probably 100,000 infected little buggers out there now.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 09/15/2005 at 11:51 AM   
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calendar   Tuesday - September 13, 2005

Early Morning New Bytes