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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Another illegal alien story- 27 year old goes to high school

This one garners no sympathy from me either as did the other one this week. This Guatamalan man age 27, was enrolled in a local high school. He managed that trick by using fake identification. Did anyone ever check it? Apparently not. Mr. Ramirez-Mejia most likely faces deportation when his fraud case is resolved.

Open Post/Trackback- Cao's Blog and Bright & Early

Josue Oswaldo Ramirez-Mejia wanted to learn English. He wanted to read books. He wanted to learn so badly that he broke the law to get an education.

A month ago, the illegal immigrant from Guatemala forged his birth certificate, to age 17, and his school transcript to get into high school.

This week, his wallet containing his Guatemalan ID card slipped out of his pocket, and so did his secret — Ramirez-Mejia was 27.

Schools officials called him to the office, where sheriff's deputies questioned him. He was charged with forgery and could be deported.

"He just wanted to get in," his brother, Maximo Ramirez, said in a telephone interview Thursday night.

Ramirez-Mejia, who was born in Guatemala, had lived with his older brother in West Palm Beach before moving to Pasco County three months ago.

In August, he registered at J.W. Mitchell High School in an affluent and fast-growing section of Pasco County.

While his brother Maximo worked 15-hour days laying tile, Ramirez-Mejia listened to lectures on U.S. history, government and economics.

He was passing all his classes.

A sheriff's spokesman said there is no evidence to suggest he intended to do anything but get an education.

Ramirez-Mejia now sits in the Land O' Lakes Detention Center until someone can post his $5,000 bail. But that won't be anytime soon.

"I don't have any money," his brother said.

Ramirez and his brother are from an agricultural city on the west coast of Guatemala. They came to Palm Beach County four years ago to work.

In January, they incorporated a business, Torre Fuerte Inc. Three months ago, they moved to Pasco County.

A few weeks after school started, Ramirez-Mejia enrolled in the school. Ramirez said he doesn't know who helped his brother enroll in the school, but they both knew it was wrong.

On Tuesday, Ramirez-Mejia lost his wallet. A student picked it up after fourth period and turned it in to a gym teacher. The teacher opened it and saw a photograph of Ramirez-Mejia on a Guatemalan identification card. The date of birth was Jan. 3, 1978.

"I'm alone and I'm very sad because my brother is not here and I cannot speak to him,"

Ramirez said in Spanish. Ramirez, who does not speak English, said deputies did not provide an interpreter.

"They won't let me see him. They said I need $5,000."

Even if he bonds out of jail, Ramirez-Mejia may face deportation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will process him at its Tampa office, but spokeswoman Pam McCullough it's unlikely the agency will require him to post a second bail. He will face an immigration judge but not until the forgery case against him is closed.

Paul Krugman hits real low

The NYT columnist is either looking to be a news anchor or terribly bored. Is NY Times select to blame for this patch work column? Any one care to check out all that Mr. Krugman is writing about?

I've made my opinions clear on Senator Frist. Celebrity witnesses are nothing new to Congress, don't like it either way but at least Michael Crichton has a professional and educational background to back him up. I wouldn't argue with what Alan Greenspan said either.

There are two paragraphs that I find troubling.

Last week three men were arrested in connection with the gangland-style murder of Mr. Boulis. SunCruz, after it was controlled by Mr. Kidan and Mr. Abramoff, paid a company controlled by one of the men arrested, Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello, and his daughter $145,000 for catering and other work. In court documents, questions are raised about whether food and drink were ever provided. SunCruz paid $95,000 to a company in which one of the other men arrested, Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari, is a principal.


Tom DeLay, who stepped down as House majority leader after his indictment, once called Mr. Abramoff "one of my closest and dearest friends." Mr. Abramoff funneled funds from clients to conservative institutions and causes. The Washington Post reported that associates of Mr. DeLay claim that he severed the relationship after Mr. Boulis's murder.

Why is Krugman making this connection? I did a search of Washington Post articles, there is none that connects Delay and Boulis together. Just one which mentions Delay's relationship with Abramoff. Guilt by association and based on what? My make the comment except to slander someone? Krugman would shrug it off saying there is no insinuations in what he says. He's just reporting what the Post did. I'm no fan of Dey but I'd say what a crock.

No wonder Paul Krugman was #8 in Bernard Goldberg's book the 100 people screwing up America.

Breakfast/Traffic Jam- Basil's blog and Outside the Beltway

Hasn't a clue

Don't you like forecasters? They always predict the worst and they are almost always wrong. Then if you think about it, the media only publishes the most dire predictions or news. Just look at New Orleans.

Here we have UN health official predicting as many as 150 million people dying from Asian Bird flu. The low number this official predicts is 5 million. The low number is scary if accurate. Still I tend to agree with James Joyner, this UN official hasn't a clue.

Friday Special- Cafe Oregano

A new flu pandemic could happen at any time and kill between 5-150 million people, a UN health official warned.

David Nabarro, who is charged with co-ordinating responses to bird flu, said a mutation of the virus affecting Asia could trigger new outbreaks.

"The consequences in terms of human life when the pandemic does start are going to be extraordinary and very damaging," Dr Nabarro told the BBC.

"It's like a combination of global warming and HIV/Aids 10 times faster than it's running at the moment," Dr Nabarro told the BBC.

The UN's new co-ordinator for avian and human influenza said the likelihood that the Asian virus could mutate and jump to humans was high.

Because it has moved to wild migratory birds there is a possibility "that the first outbreak could happen even in Africa or in the Middle East", he warned.

The comments came as agriculture ministers from the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) endorsed a three-year plan to combat the spread of the virus, and pledged $2m to fund research and training.

The Knucklehead of the Day award

Goes to the management of Halifax Calderdale Royal Hospital. They want visitors to stop staring at babies in the maternity ward. It may disturb the newborns.

All newborns do is eat, sleep, cry, pee and poop. They also have a limited eyesight range. Did any of these bureaucrats ever raise a newborn or go to medical school? Apparently not. For being dumb and burdening staff and patients' families with more rules, the management of Calderdale Royal Hospital is today's Knucklehead of the day.

Hat tip- Don Surber
TGIF Special/Lunch/Open Post- Jo's Cafe, Basil's Blog, and Mudville Gazette

Nothing is more guaranteed to break the ice than the sight of a newborn baby.
But visitors to one hospital have been warned against cooing over the new arrivals - for fear of infringing their human right to privacy.

Managers at Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax have asked visitors to the maternity wing not to stare into cots or question mothers about their labour.

Staff in one of the wards have put up a display of a doll in a cot with a message saying: "What makes you think I want to be looked at?"

But not all mothers are so keen to have the privacy of their child protected.

Lynsey Pearson, 26, who gave birth to her daughter Hannah four weeks ago, said: "This ludicrous idea is taking patient confidentiality to the extreme.

"If people did not ask me questions about my baby I would be offended.

"I am so proud of Hannah and I want to show her off and I would imagine all new mums feel that way.

"When I was in hospital even the cleaners asked me questions and touched her and cuddled her. Babies love attention and I think it is cruel to ask visitors and parents basically to ignore them."
'People can't resist cooing'

Debbie Lawson, a ward sister at the special care baby unit, said: "We know people have good intentions and most cannot resist cooing over new babies but we need to respect the child.

"Cooing should be a thing of the past because these are little people with the same rights as you or me.

"We often get visitors wandering over to peer into cots but people sometimes touch or talk about the baby like they would if they were examining tins in a supermarket and that should not happen.

"Hopefully our message comes across loud and clear. The Government has set a benchmark that every patient has a right to privacy and dignity and we say that includes tiny babies as well.

"I can't imagine why any mother would complain about this. Most would be against strangers poking and prodding and asking questions."

The hospital held an "advice day" last week to promote the initiative. Cards were handed out to visitors headlined "Respect my baby", with a message underneath as written by a baby. "I am small and precious so treat me with privacy and respect," it said. "My parents ask you to treat my personal space with consideration. I deserve to be left undisturbed and protected against unwanted public view."

Hospital management tried to play down the initiative, insisting they were just "common sense" measures and not "firm rules".

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Tom Delay

Unless you been in a cave for 24 hours, you know the House Majority Leader was indicted yesterday in Texas. Delay has also stepped down from his leadership post and been replaced by Roy Blunt of Missouri.

The blogosphere is unsurprisingly lining up by what ideology one holds or what party one supports. Where do I stand? I don't really know. Previously I've expressed my skepticism towards politicians and unfolding corruption scandals. Whether its Democrat or Republican I tend to be a skeptic and believe the charges being made but not always.

The charges against Delay are as complex as the laws. What Dr. Stephen Taylor says at Poliblog pretty much sums up how I feel.

If anything, it seems to me that this whole case will underscore the labyrinthine nature of campaign finance rules and regulations.

Put me down as undecided then. Don't count on me blogging too often on the legal fight that is sure to be coming in the months and years ahead.

Lunch- Basil's blog

Our tax dollars at work- The search for the best Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

Don't laugh. Our military is just trying to improve the MREs our fighting men and women have to eat in the field. This use of government funds is more sensible than some senseless fence.

I wish the researchers good luck, but I'm not volunteering as a taste tester. Hat tip- Outside the Beltway

Making a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich is easy. But developing one that will remain stable under battlefield conditions has become a monumental task for scientists at the Defense Department's Combat Feeding Directorate.

Researchers at the Natick, Mass., center, which develops food for soldiers, have been working since the early 1990s to develop shelf-stable "pocket sandwiches" similar to those found in the frozen-food aisle of grocery stores.

Barbecued chicken was easy enough. So were beef pockets, an Italian-style pocket, even a french-toast pocket -- all of which are supposed to be ready to be included in soldiers' "first-strike rations" by 2007.

Sandwiches edible for 2 years

But what soldiers keep asking for is a classic PB&J. And that, as it turns out, has been a problem.
"You would think that would be the simplest," says Michelle Richardson, a food technologist for the U.S. military.

The problem is the peanut butter. It sucks moisture out of the bread, making it dry.

Richardson's team is looking for a way to add "barriers" to the surface of either the peanut butter or the bread, in hopes that would hold in enough moisture to make the sandwich taste the way a PB&J should, without promoting bacterial growth.

In combat, soldiers subsist mainly on "meals ready to eat," or MREs -- vacuum-sealed meals that require no preparation. There are about 24 MRE "menus" in rotation.

Pocket sandwiches -- which have been tested in the field for the last four years -- were designed to go into rations that tide soldiers over in the first few days of deployment until they can set up a kitchen.

A typical 2,500-calorie ration might include two pocket sandwiches, a side of applesauce, an energy bar and a beverage -- less weight and volume than an MRE, but still packed with nutrients, according to Richardson.

MREs keep for three years at 80 degrees and are eaten with a spoon. The pocket sandwiches can last two years, Richardson says, but they have the advantage of requiring no utensils.

The Knucklehead of the Day award

Goes to Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. She is blaming the slow response by the Federal Government to Hurricane Katrina on minority voters being supressed. The logic behind this Congresswoman's thinking is mind boggling.

Hat tip- Michelle Malkin
Breakfast/Open Post- Basil's blog and Mudville Gazette

Washington ( - The Bush administration's slow response to Hurricane Katrina may be the result of minority votes being suppressed and Democratic candidates losing the last two presidential elections, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus has alleged.

"Watching family members and others cling to rooftops in Hurricane Katrina, I wonder whether or not the absence of attention [to the recovery effort] is attributable to the loss of a vote in 2000 and 2004," U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat from Texas, said.

She added that the government's hurricane response gave her the feeling of "deja vu," following the Republican Party's alleged attempts to undermine the black vote in those two presidential elections.

Lee is not the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to lash out at President Bush and his administration in the aftermath of the killer hurricane that flooded New Orleans and demolished much of the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.

One day after Lee addressed the CBC convention in Washington, D.C., Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), one of the caucus' most prominent members, compared President Bush to the notorious Birmingham, Ala., police commissioner and segregationist from the 1960s, Bull Conner.

But it was Jackson Lee, often on the front lines of criticizing the Bush administration, who alleged a link between the electoral controversies of 2000 and 2004 and the weak storm response.

"The pain of disenfranchisement is still very fresh for those African Americans who were shut out of the voting process in 2000. It was a sheer travesty. We know America is smarter and better than that," said Jackson Lee, whose congressional district in Houston is now home to an estimated 150,000 Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

She also compared the hurricane's devastating effects on the minority residents of New Orleans with the often violent struggle for civil rights in the 1960s. In 1965 in Montgomery Alabama, "the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King was attacked by state troopers, beaten and jailed ... This overt violation of human and civil rights, took place live on national television in front of the entire world, as did the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. Who knows what [effect more African American] votes could have brought about in both of those instances," Jackson Lee explained.

"That is why we are so concerned about voting rights. They impact yesterday, today and tomorrow," she added.

A conservative African American group condemned Jackson Lee's comments, using one of the congresswoman's own descriptions -- "travesty" - to characterize her remarks.


That is how I describe all the parties involved in this story. The flight attendants are over reacting to a contrived Hollywood movie. Flightplan sounds like typical Hollywood schlock. The best way to treat films like this is ignore it. All the AFA is doing is giving this movie some extra publicity. And to the screenwriters, television and movies, try coming up with something original for chrissakes.

Thursday's Special- Cafe Oregano

SPOILER ALERT: If you are considering seeing this movie, a major plot line is given away in this story.They may have put up with being depicted as featherheaded flirts or even carry-on counting fascists, but flight attendants draw the line at the way they come across in Jodie Foster's new hit movie.

Three flight attendant groups are calling for a boycott of "Flightplan," which debuted at No. 1 last weekend, claiming that the depictions of a flight attendant and air marshal are outrageous and disrespectful.

In the thriller, Foster's character, Kyle Pratt, awakens mid-flight to find her 6-year-old daughter missing. A search is launched, an announcement is made, but the girl does not turn up.

As Kyle becomes increasingly upset, the plane's crew begins to suspect that Kyle is unbalanced, which seems to be confirmed by the fact that no one saw the girl board. According to one attendant, the girl is not on the passenger list.

But —spoiler alert — that attendant turns out to be part of a nefarious plot concocted by the federal air marshal who is "handling" the incident.

"With security concerns what they are, it is not a good time to release a film with a terrorist in the position of flight attendant," said Corey Caldwell, a spokeswoman for the Assn. of Flight Attendants. "There has to be a layer of trust between the passengers and the crew, to ensure good communication during times of emergency, and a film like this undermines that trust."

The groups calling for the boycott — the AFA, the Assn. of Professional Flight Attendants and Southwest Airlines flight attendants represented by the Transport Workers Union Local 556 — represent more than 80,000 flight attendants at 23 American-based airlines.

According to a statement, the groups were also troubled by the depiction of the non-villianous flight attendants, who were "rude, unhelpful and uncaring."

Florida the rules are different here- Chapter VI

Here is some typical Florida lunacy going on in Broward County. The City of Fort Lauderdale and The Broward County Commission are fighting over who has the responsibility for two communities that voted to be annexed by Ft. Lauderdale. As of October 1st people in these areas could have no police or fire services.

Thursday Special/Traffic Jam- Jo's Cafe and Outside the Beltway

FORT LAUDERDALE · Come Saturday, the communities of Rock Island and Twin Lakes North could be set adrift, with no government to provide police or fire protection, or to keep the street lights on.Both neighborhoods had voted in the past year to join Fort Lauderdale and are to be officially annexed Friday.

But a war has erupted between Fort Lauderdale and Broward County over who should be responsible for the communities of about 1,300 total residents.

Fort Lauderdale commissioners voted Wednesday night to file a lawsuit today at the Broward County Courthouse, seeking a judge to declare who should patrol the streets and give basic life safety services to residents while the fight between the two governments gets sorted out.

City Attorney Harry Stewart invoked an "Old African saying" to describe the situation:

"When two elephants fight, only the grass suffers."

That somewhat describes how Shahbanu "Bonnie" Dickey of Twin Lakes North feels."They have made what should have been a joyful experience for our neighborhood a complete nightmare," she said.

Dickey said her community is scared and upset that the county is holding them "hostage."The county and city are fighting because neither wants to pay to operate Osswald Park, currently a county park in the Rock Island area just west of Interstate 95. Twin Lakes North has been dragged into the fray.

Without the park matter resolved, the county won't sign an agreement transferring the unincorporated areas to the city.

The city says that without that signed agreement, the neighborhoods are not officially annexed. The county says the city takes over the neighborhoods regardless of any signed agreement.

Fort Lauderdale officials say that means no one knows which police agency will be in charge, nor which fire department. The disputed park in Rock Island would close, county officials warned recently."It's a very bizarre predicament," said Commissioner Dean Trantalis.

County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion, who represents Rock Island, said recently the dispute should be resolved by staff and not by county elected officials.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday afternoon City Commissioner Carlton Moore asked, "Who do they call on Oct. 1 for police?"

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Knucklehead of the Day award

Goes to the Florida Department of Transportation or DOT. They get today's award for their design of woefully inadequate interchange in the Jacknsoville Florida area that cost taxpayers 107 million. The DOT both underestimated traffic by at least 20%, they also built a bottleneck where six lanes narrow to three in less than a mile causing a unsafe situation. Typical Florida, you have to be a masochist to live here. For their incompetence, DOT is today's Knucklehead of the day.

Open Post- Mudville Gazette

Traffic forecasts used in designing a $107 million interchange in southeast Jacksonville greatly underestimated how many cars would travel Interstate 295 through Mandarin, and the erroneous prediction has caused gridlock for drivers during the evening rush hour, according to transportation officials and documents.

The state Department of Transportation recently opened the new interchange that connects Interstate 95 and Interstate 295 with the Florida 9A beltway. Just west of the interchange, drivers on I-295 heading toward the Buckman Bridge find themselves jockeying for position as six lanes of highway quickly narrow to three lanes in a span of less than 1 mile.

The traffic jams caused by the bottleneck have left drivers like Ferne O'Quinn asking about the DOT's design: "What were they thinking?"

"It's pretty scary and hazardous and unsafe," she said. "No matter what they need to spend to get it fixed, they need to get it fixed."

DOT engineers say they think they've found a short-term solution.

In the current configuration, three lanes of southbound Florida 9A connect with I-295 at the interchange and continue toward the Buckman Bridge. Those three lanes are joined by two lanes of traffic for drivers exiting from I-95 southbound to I-295, and another lane of traffic exiting from I-95 northbound.

The DOT's proposal would take the three lanes of Florida 9A traffic and narrow them using paint and signs to two lanes as drivers head through the big interchange. Those two lanes would join the three lanes for drivers exiting from I-95. From there, motorists would still face mergers, but it would be from a five-lane highway down to a three-lane highway. As a result, drivers would face fewer lane changes and slowdowns.

The DOT and the Federal Highway Administration did computer simulations that found the proposed change would result in an average speed of 45 miles per hour for drivers in rush hour, compared to speeds of less than 15 mph under the current setup.

"Computer simulations are computer simulations, but it shows significant improvement," said DOT project engineer Dennis Lord. "You never know until you get out in real life and test it."
He said the DOT is awaiting the Federal Highway Administration's approval, which could come as soon as this week, before proceeding with changing the lanes.

The new triple-deck interchange, which opened this summer, gives a long-awaited connection between I-295 and Florida 9A. Those two highways will form a continuous loop around Jacksonville when a section between Beach Boulevard and Butler Boulevard is finished next year.

The Federal Highway Administration approved construction of the interchange, including the lane configuration on I-295, after the DOT submitted a report in January 1994 that included predictions of future traffic.

For the section of I-295 between the interchange and St. Augustine Road, the report predicted that 69,000 to 89,000 vehicles a day would be on the highway in 2000. In fact, it turned out that 104,000 vehicles a day used that section of I-295 in 2000, according to state traffic counts. By last year, the number had risen to 112,000 a day.

Lord said the original traffic projections became outdated because of the rapid growth in southern Duval County and the suburbs of Clay and St. Johns counties. Many people living in those bedroom communities use I-295 on their daily commutes. The higher volume of traffic makes it much harder for drivers to merge because there are fewer openings between cars.

"That's the crux of the problem right there is all that traffic merging from six lanes back to three lanes," Lord said. "If the traffic projections had come out more accurately, we feel like it would have worked."

From the silly news desk

The airline just didn't want to allow it to fly for free.

MANILA (Reuters) - A mouse upset the best-laid plans of an airline and nearly 250 passengers in the Philippines, grounding a plane for 13 hours while engineers tried to smoke out the rodent.

The Qatar Airways plane was preparing for take-off from Manila airport earlier this week when a crew member spotted the mouse scampering across an aisle in the economy class section, the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted airport officials as saying.

The captain ordered the passengers to disembark while maintenance staff fumigated the aircraft and laid traps, but the mouse was nowhere to be found.

The Doha-bound aircraft eventually took off 13 hours late, presumably with the mouse still on board, dead or alive.

"There was an incident before with a cockroach, but it's the first time that we had to deal with a mouse," the Inquirer quoted airport operations chief Octavio Lina as saying.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Knucklehead of the Day award

Goes to Jose C. Rostro of Bolingbrook Illinois. Mr. Rostro a hospital technician, just pled guilty to videotaping a nude and anesthetized female patient at Edward Hospital in Naperville Illinois. Jose is a sicko in addition to being today's Knucklehead of the day.

BOLINGBROOK -- A Bolingbrook man faces up to a year in DuPage County Jail after pleading guilty Monday to taking photographs of an undressed anesthetized female patient in an operating room at Edward Hospital in Naperville.

Jose C. Rostro, 23, a former technician at the hospital, pleaded guilty to unauthorized videotaping.Rostro was arrested Oct. 28 for allegedly using a digital camera to take photos under the skirt of an 11-year-old girl as she rode up the escalator of a Downers Grove clothing store.

After his arrest on that charge, police viewed other photos on Rostro's camera and discovered the images of the female patient taken on Oct. 26, said Assistant State's Atty. Joseph Ruggiero.

Rostro pleaded guilty to the Downers Grove charge in January and was placed on 2 years of court supervision.

Officer do you prefer them Original or Crispy?

I'm still looking for a Knucklehead today but instead found this news from Georgia.

SMYRNA, Ga. (AP) -- A Florida woman was arrested after allegedly attacking a suburban Atlanta police officer with a plate of chicken wings and a 2-liter bottle, police said.

Beverly Anne Campbell, 61, of St. Petersburg, Fla., was arrested for misdemeanor battery and felony assault on a police officer, according to a Smyrna police arrest warrant. She was also arrested on a misdemeanor charge of inciting a riot, the warrant said.

The incident happened Friday during a function at the Smyrna Community Center, said Capt. Keith Zgnoc, a police spokesman.

Officer W. D. Nesbit stopped a driver leaving the event who was traveling the wrong way on a one-way street.

But Campbell apparently objected to the traffic stop and attempted to turn the crowd against the officer, according to the warrant.

She allegedly threw the plate of chicken wings at Nesbit, hit him with the Coke bottle in the neck and then punched him in the face, "several times, leaving visible injuries," according to the warrant.

Another partygoer, Darius Campbell, was arrested on felony obstruction and misdemeanor counts of battery and inciting a riot.

The car driver, Brian Cedric Campbell, was arrested for aggravated assault on an officer and obstruction and misdemeanor counts of inciting a riot, disobeying a traffic control device and refusing a DUI test.

What you really mean is where is my bribe?

Am I cynical or what? I love the 'managing the cost' quote and concentrate on essential requirements. Tuesday Special/Traffic Jam- Cafe Oregano and Outside the Beltway

LAUSANNE, Switzerland - IOC president Jacques Rogge urged the seven cities bidding for the 2014 Winter Olympics to control costs and concentrate on "essential" requirements.

Bid leaders from the European and Asian cities began a four-day seminar Tuesday at
International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne to learn about the campaign process.

The candidates are: Almaty, Kazakhstan; Borjomi, Georgia; Jaca, Spain; PyeongChang,
South Korea; Salzburg, Austria; Sochi, Russia; and Sofia, Bulgaria.

The cities have until Feb. 1 to reply to an IOC questionnaire. The IOC executive board will meet next June to decide whether to accept all the bids or trim the field. The host will be selected by the full IOC in Guatemala in July 2007.

The Winter Games are in Turin, Italy, in 2006 and in Vancouver, British, Columbia, in 2010.
Rogge stressed the importance of "managing the cost and complexity of the games; putting athletes and sport at the heart of your bid; and on focusing on technical excellence, not on things which are not essential."

Since being elected president in 2001, Rogge has pursued a policy of streamlining the size and cost of the Olympics. During Athens' frantic preparations for the 2004 Summer Games, he chided Greek organizers for installing a steel-and-glass roof over the main stadium. He considered the project nonessential for the games.

Rogge also encouraged the 2014 bid cities to heed the experience of past organizers and accept transfer-of-knowledge programs "so as to avoid repeating past mistakes."


Some biting news out of the Philippines.

MANILA, Philippines - A routine check of a shipment at Manila airport turned bloody when a piranha sprung up and bit one of the inspectors.

"I was checking one of the boxes when suddenly, something leaped out of it and bit me," fisheries quarantine inspector Mario Trio told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a report published Tuesday.

The bite left a V-shaped wound on the inspector's finger, and the 34 piranhas in the consignment he was checking — falsely declared as "ornamental fish" from Peru — were confiscated over the weekend, but died two days later, the newspaper reported.

The Filipino consignee faces charges of illegally importing live piranhas, punishable by up to eight years in prison and a fine, quarantine chief Felipe Santamaria said.

Tuesday Special/Breakfast- Jo's Cafe and Basil's Blog

How many lives have to be lost before we enforce our laws?

The following story is outrageous. A mother of two is dead and it shouldn't have happened. An illegal immigrant arrested multiple times for driving without a license was the cause of the crash.(Just wait the Palm Beach Post will find this the time to come out with the obligatory editorial saying why illegals should get driver licenses.) Our immigration laws are almost only enforced against those who want to come here legally. Too many politicians either in the pocket of contributors who make their money off the work of illegals, or other politicians who are blind to the problem.

My feelings on this issue as with our often broken justice system are the same. The American public will only take so much. How many lives will be lost before our politicians learn?

LANTANA — A 42-year-old mother of two was killed Sunday evening after an illegal immigrant arrested four previous times for driving without a license stopped his truck in the middle of traffic on South Military Trail to find his cellphone, according to police.

Motorcyclists riding behind the truck crashed into it, claiming the life of Lantana resident Kimberly Jo Dahmer and seriously injuring her husband.

Daniel Rodriguez Mendoza, 21, of 3919 Nowata Road, was denied bail Monday on charges of driving without a license and leaving the scene of a crash resulting in death.

The family of Dahmer, who was on one of two motorcycles that slammed into the rear of Mendoza's 1988 Chevy Blazer, say those charges are not enough.

"He's got to be charged with murder; he's the reason she's dead," said Valerie Audain, Dahmer's niece. "Why should he get a chance to enjoy his own family? Jail is too easy."

Dahmer was riding northbound on South Military Trail near Blue Pine Circle on the back of a 1996 Harley-Davidson before 6:30 p.m. Sunday. The driver was her husband of 17 years, Steve Dahmer. He and two others aboard another Harley were taken to Delray Medical Center. On Monday, his 43rd birthday, he was in surgery still unaware of his wife's fate.

"They were soulmates," Audain said. "You never met two who belong together like them."
His family said doctors were trying to save his leg and will operate again today.

The driver of the other motorcycle, Pierre Nadeau, 49, of West Palm Beach, was in serious condition Monday afternoon. His passenger, 43-year-old Lynne Gardner, also of West Palm Beach, was released from the hospital.

None on the motorcyclists was wearing helmets when Mendoza abruptly came to a stop, said Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Terri Barbera. Following the crash and Kimberly Jo Dahmer's ejection from the bike, an unscathed Mendoza made a U-turn, fleeing about 500 feet before motorcyclists riding with the crash victims forced him off the road and removed his car keys, police reported.

Mendoza later told sheriff's deputies he stopped his truck because he thought he saw his cellphone in the road, Barbera said.

Dahmer left behind a 16-year-old daughter, a 9-year-old son and a 2-month-old grandson, relatives said. Friends and family gathered at the Dahmers' Ocean Avenue home Monday afternoon were infuriated that Mendoza had previous arrests for driving without a license.

In the span of one year, between July 2003 and March 2004, Mendoza was arrested four times on that charge, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement and other state records.

Out of the five total charges he faced, one of which was filed after an accident, he was found guilty once, for speeding, records show. He also was charged Sunday with failure to appear in court after one of the previous arrests.

Monday, September 26, 2005

How about Berkeley? Don Adams of 'Get Smart' dead at age 82

Who can forget that comedy classic Get Smart? Or its catch phrase 'would you believe?' Don Adams portrayal of a bumbling secret agent can't be forgotten even forty years later. He died yesterday in California at age 82

One of my favorite scenes is one of Agent 86 with his arch nemesis Siegfried. 86 is impersonating a Nazi and Siegfried is certain he met before.

Siegfried- "Was it Dunkirk?"
86- "Nein."
Siegfried- "Tobruk?"
86- "Nein."
Siegfried- "How about Berkeley?"

Remember this show was made in the late 60's. The time of the protests against the Vietnam war.

Don Adams has passed away but like Bob Denver will forever live in re-runs. RIP.

Lunch- Basil's blog

Believe it or not?

Today's Washington Post has an article on the IRA. The terrorist group says it has kept its pledge to disarm.

LONDON, Sept. 25 -- The Irish Republican Army has scrapped its vast arsenal of guns and explosives in a landmark step toward ending more than three decades of political and religious violence in Northern Ireland, according to a source close to the independent weapons inspection commission that witnessed the disarmament process.

The weapons inspectors will report their findings Monday to the British and Irish governments, said the official, who insisted on anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. The disarmament, which the IRA promised in a statement in July, was also confirmed by Martin McGuinness, a senior member of Sinn Fein, the IRA's political wing.

"The IRA's decision on July 28th to formally end its armed campaign has changed the political landscape in Ireland forever," McGuinness said in a statement issued Sunday night. "I am confident that tomorrow will bring the final chapter on the issue of IRA arms. I believe that Ireland stands on the cusp of a truly historic advance, and I hope that people across the island will respond positively in the time ahead."

The disarmament announcement, scheduled to be made at a news conference Monday given by John de Chastelain, the retired Canadian general who heads the weapons inspection commission, would be a historic breakthrough in the conflict between majority Protestants and minority

Catholics that has killed more than 3,600 people since 1969. The British and Irish governments hailed as momentous the IRA's July announcement that it would disarm, but any such announcement is unlikely to completely convince the province's majority Protestant community that peace is at hand.

The disarmament, which officials said took place at secret locations in the Republic of Ireland, was also witnessed by two members of the clergy: the Rev. Harold Good, a former president of the Methodist Church in Ireland, and the Rev. Alex Reid, a Catholic priest. They are also expected to make a public statement Monday.

The Protestant side has cited the IRA's failure to disarm as the main obstacle to full implementation of the landmark 1998 Good Friday peace accords. British and Irish government officials hope that this step will enable a power-sharing government to be reestablished in Belfast, the Northern Ireland capital.

Protestant leaders, particularly the Rev. Ian Paisley of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), have expressed deep skepticism about the IRA's intentions. They have also harshly criticized

British Prime Minister Tony Blair for responding to the IRA's promise to disarm by dismantling some British military posts in the province and ordering sharp cuts in troop strength.

"It would be naive to take the IRA at its word," Ian Paisley Jr., a top official of the party headed by his father, said in a recent interview. The DUP has distanced itself from negotiations to implement the Good Friday accords, which outlined a power-sharing plan for the troubled province. Paisley said that no matter how many weapons the IRA gave up, it could still have more hidden or stored.

I agree with Mr. Paisley. Right now I'm very skeptical about the IRA giving up the 'cause'. There is just too much hate for it to go away so easily. I am certain there are those with a financial stake in keeping the conflict alive. My own family on my mother's side is Irish, and there are people who both hate and support the IRA in it. My mother was the former. I don't think these opinions have changed.

That said I pray this news turns out to be true. Hat tip/Monday Special- Outside the Beltway and Jo's Cafe

The Knucklehead of the Day award

Goes to They are the host to my blog. This morning I went to complete a long Knucklehead award entry and when I was done I clicked on the publish link. Guess what happened? I got booted out to the password screen. Subsequently I learned the 15-20 minutes of hard work I did this preparing a post was lost. This was very annoying.

Something is going on with blogspot today. I've posted once but been asked five times for my ID and password. In spite of always clicking remember me. It was the third occasion when I lost my work from this morning. It was a long and personal knucklehead. I'll save it for another day. For making this blogger's day difficult, Blogspot is the Knucklehead of the Day.

PS- Lets see if this gets posted.

PPS- Lets see if I still have this blog after a Blogspot administrator reads this post.

Monday Special/Open Post/Traffic Jam- Cafe Oregano, Mudville Gazette and Outside the Beltway

1969 Masters Champ George Archer dead at 65

He died yesterday after a one-year battle with lymphoma. The tallest player on tour for much of his career, he won a memorable Masters in 1969 defeating Billy Casper, George Knudson and Tom Weiskopf by one shot. RIP George.

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nevada - George Archer, the 1969 Masters champion who was one of the best putters in the world during his long professional career, died Sunday after a yearlong battle with Burkitts Lymphoma. He was 65.

Archer died at his home in Incline Village, wife Donna said late Sunday night.

"I was holding him and it was a beautiful experience," Donna Archer said. "He was quite expressive about what a wonderful life he'd had, to be able to have that kind of career. He was on the tour for 40 years."

The 6-foot-5 1/2 Archer cut a memorable figure among professional golfers and stood almost doubled over when he used his trademark putting stroke.

At Augusta National in 1969, the 29-year-old Archer closed with an even-par 72 to beat Billy Casper, George Knudson and Tom Weiskopf by a stroke. He finished with a 7-under 281 total. Archer won 12 times on the PGA Tour and 19 times on the Champions Tour, the last in 2000 in the MasterCard Championship.

He set the PGA Tour record for fewest putts in a four-round tournament with 95 in the 1980 Sea Pines Heritage Classic. The mark was broken by Bob Tway in 1986.

Archer, born in San Francisco, won his first PGA Tour title in his hometown, taking the 1965 Lucky International a year after turning pro.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Does the Honolulu Advertiser need a civics lesson?

The newspaper has an editorial today on the Akaka bill. It's title- Akaka bill supporters must have backup plan. Here are the first two paragraphs.

Even if they put the best face possible on the latest signals from Washington, Akaka bill supporters can't feel very secure about chances for Native Hawaiian federal recognition this congressional term.

Yes, the bill still could get a vote on the Senate floor and might even pass. But then very little time is left for approval in the House, where administration support is needed for any quick action.

I think the Advertiser is confusing the end of 2005 with the end of the Congressional term. The later doesn't occur till late 2006. So any legislation in Congress thas has a little over a year to pass both houses. That's a great deal of time, not very little time as the Advertiser says. Only if no action occurs before Congress adjourns for the year in 2006 would the bill be dead. It could still be introduced to the next Congress.

Open Post- Bright & Early

Could you imagine?

I signed up for Times Select. A 14-day trial subscription. I have no intentions of paying when this ends. I'll enjoy it while it lasts.

Jack McKeon to return as Marlins manager in 2006?

There is a week to go in the 2005 season and no one is talking right now. Either McKeon or Marlins management. Jack McKeon is 75 years old and traditionally most managers are long retired by that age.

So the speculating for 2006 has started, something sports columnists do all the time. The Palm Beach Post's Greg Stoda is no different. In his column today Stoda writes about who he sees as the five most likely candidates.

1. Lou Piniella — He and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are going to have lost almost 300 games by the time they're finished with each other after this third season together. Big deal. He's also won more than 1,500 games at various stops with a World Series title in Cincinnati along the line. The volatile Piniella might be exactly what the Marlins need to shake them from their malaise, and he's one of the few managers who's an attraction on his own.

2. Ozzie Guillen — The former Marlins coach is in his second season as a manager, and he's trying to keep the faltering Chicago White Sox from an horrendous collapse. The White Sox were 83-79 last year (same as the Marlins, by the way) under his rookie stewardship and might maintain the American League lead in victories this time around if they somehow straighten themselves out. Guillen, though, is hinting about leaving Chicago after this season regardless of what the White Sox do or don't accomplish.

3. Jim Leyland — The man who took the Marlins to their first World Series triumph in 1997, stuck around through one season after the dismantling of that team, re-surfaced in Colorado and quit there. Now, he says he wants to give managing another shot "in the right situation." That means somewhere he'd have a decent chance of winning another World Series crown. Hmmm.

4. Joe Girardi — The Marlins would do well to beat a bunch of teams to this punch. Girardi is the New York Yankees' bench coach at the moment, but he's going to run his own shop soon enough.

5. Larry Bowa — Florida wanted him as a bench coach this season, which would have made Bowa a successor-in-waiting for McKeon's chair. His hyperintense personality wore out everything and everyone in Philadelphia, but the kind of spark Bowa unfailingly provides (in the short term, at least) would serve to keep the Marlins from falling into lapses of lethargy.

Stoda concludes his column by saying Guillen is the man for the job.

Experienced sucessful managers, a coach on a high profile team, a high profile coach with some managing experience and t he manager of the day. The usual suspects one might say.

Would any of them be the best manager for the Marlins? I can bring up cases of sucessful MLB who had limited, unsucessful or absolutely no managerial experience before stepping into the right job. What was so special about Casey Stengel before he managed the Yankees? It certainly wasn't his record with the Boston Braves or Brooklyn Dodgers. Gil Hodges record in Washington wasn't good at all before taking over the Mets. Joe Torre's wasn't much better before he took over the Yankees. I could go on.

Look at McKeon. He had never managed a pennant winner alone a World Series champ before taking over the Marlins. The rest is history.

What will make a sucessful manager? You really hear this discussed. Bill James wrote a book on managing, that's enlightening but still leaves questions unanswered. Would a new manager work good with youth or does he prefer veterans? Is he easy going or intense? Too extreme to one end or another with rare exceptions usually doesn't work. High pressure managers wear out their welcome. Look at how many teams Billy Martin managed. Low pressure managers leave the team wondering who is running the outfit. Look at Chuck Tanner when he managed in Pittsburgh.

There's in game strategies. Does the manager like to Hit& Run? Steal bases? Platoon? Does he prefer power or high averages? Does he know how to put together a line-up? I remember the Marlins first manager Rene Lacheman. Why did the Marlins hire him? Because he was a coach on a sucessful team? Because Rene's record as a manager stunk, his lineups were horrible in Seattle and his personnel decisions often questionable. Namely Roy Howell and Ted Simmons over Randy Ready in Milwaukee. Make a 3rd baseman out of a 37 year old catcher who has never played the position.

Stoda's column is an opening. I just think we need to do a more in depth discussion of what a manager does bring to a team. It hasn't happened often in the past, so I won't get my hopes up.

Knuckleheads- Why and how I started it

Blogger John in Carolina linked to me on Friday. He enjoys my daily Knucklehead award and was telling his readers to come over and pay me a visit. Thanks John.

Because of my site meter, I know where most viewers of my blog come in from. The most common entry point is my daily open trackback at Mudville Gazette. There I link to most recent Knucklehead winner. It seems there are people who want to know why these people win my award.

How did all this get started? I began my first blog, Bill's Correspondence Chess Diary last February. After months of reading blogs like Michelle Malkin and Captain Ed, I decided to dip my toe into the blog waters. Even with a small chess blog. Little did I know how addictive it would become.

The blog was supposed to be about chess, but not long after starting it I started talking about other subjects. It was March 17th when I gave out my first Knucklehead. A unknown truck driver whose series of wrong turns brought traffic to grinding halt. My mother-in-law was with me at the time and I think I said "What a knucklehead". An award was born.

My award is not totally original. Ankle biting Pundits gives out the weekly Judge Elihu Smails Award. The Washington Times does the knave of the week.

In the beginning the Knucklehead award wasn't always daily. I hadn't perfected my ways yet of finding these people. Now its a rare day I don't give out one. I haven't missed a day since July if you excuse my 10-day hospital stay in August where I didn't blog at all.

The awards really picked up when I started this blog The Florida Masochist. Here I blog on average five times a day. My very first post was a Knucklehead of the Day award. It went to the American Gold Star Mom board members that voted to deny membership to Ligaya Lagman.

How do I pick out the winners? Is it easy or hard? Some days the winners stand out immediately when I see the front page of the newspaper. Other times I have to search. I tell Dear wife many mornings the following- "If you see a Knucklehead, let me know." DW is often judge and jury as to who gets the awards. Last Friday she informed me of that day's winner.

Some days I have to comb multiple media outlets for a winner. I first start with Yahoo, then Florida newspapers before going to papers spread across the country. That's one of the reasons I have a long list of newspaper links on my website.

Do I look for a particular type of Knucklehead? Not really, though I do like the ones by ordinary people whose stupidity makes you laugh. Other Knuckleheads could be categorized by Politicians, Bureaucrats, Entertainment, Sports, Our Justice and Legal systems, The MSM, Groups/Corporations/Organizations, or Personal Knuckleheads. Politician Knuckleheads would seem to be the most likely candidates, but I am not certain that after doing a tally this group would be leading. Some of the most annoying knuckleheads in my opinion are those out of our Justice and legal systems.

Any way I just enjoy giving out these awards. I hope my readers enjoy them also.

Sunday Traffic Jam- Outside the Beltway and Bright and Early

No thanks Barney, Tom and Christopher

Three Congressmen have proposed new legislation in Congress. If passed the law would require that state and federal disaster preparedness plans have accomdotaions for evacuee's pets. This because some people stayed home with the hurricane approaching because they didn't want to abandon their pets.

I cannot help but wonder how many more people could have been saved had they been able to take their pets," Rep. Tom Lantos, D-California, said Thursday.

Lantos and Reps. Christopher Shays, R-Connecticut, and Barney Frank, D-Massaschusetts, are sponsoring a bill that would require that state and local disaster preparedness plans required for Federal Emergency Management Agency funding include provisions for household pets and service animals.

More than 6,000 pets have been saved in Mississippi and Louisiana, said Michael Markarian, executive vice president of the Humane Society of the United States, but tens of thousands more could still be in New Orleans alone. Texas, he said, has been better at allowing people to take their pets with them ahead of Hurricane Rita but a formal policy is still needed.

"We cannot rely on individual acts of compassion," Markarian said.

Holly Hazard, executive director of the Doris Day Animal League, said there are 4,000 outstanding requests to rescue pets more than three weeks after Katrina hit.

While the legislation may draw attention to the issue, it doesn't "have any real meat in it," said Sara Spaulding, a spokeswoman for the American Humane Association.

Fellow bloggers Kobayashi Maru and Jay at Wizbang also questions this legislation and I have to agree. I think there are three valid points.

1- Should Congress be micromanaging like this?
2- FEMA is burdened with enough to do in preperation for any disaster.
3- The first priority should be human not animal life. I'm a owner of two cats, they are like family. However in an emergency my spouse, children and any other family member's safety (as it should be for everyone) are my highest priority. Or as Jay wrote will a person have to give up a seat with the reason 'Granny needed my seat for Fluffy and Mittens and Mr. Froo-Froo'

No matter how much you warn people, some will do as they please. Like remain in a evacuation zone when a hurricane is coming. You can't protect every idiot and their pets from themselves.

Honestly I would think these Congressmen have better things to do.

He calls it Juche, I call it murder

Just more proof of how mad the government is in Pyongyang. North Korea is asking that all humanitarian internation assistance end by year's end. In face of food shortages(if not famine), and a medical system that was called a national disaster by the WHO, this is madness. Kim-il Jung and his cronies promote what they call juche or self-reliance. An admirable goal except their countrymen have died by the millions because of such a policy.

I truly wish for an end of suffering for the people of North Korea. They deserve better than the corrupt, insane leadership they now posess.

Note- The article was written by Bo-Mi Lim. He writes that the food situation is getting better over the last few years. Every article I can remember before this one has said that DPRK was on the verge of another famine. Mr. Lim is unaware of the facts or a propagandist for the North.

Sunday OTB- Jo's Cafe

SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea's demand that food aid be terminated and changed into development assistance underlines the regime's desire for a long-term strategy for feeding its people and becoming less dependent on foreign help, according to experts on the country.

The North, emerging from a famine that killed 2 million people by some estimates, announced Thursday that it wanted all emergency humanitarian assistance from international organizations to stop by the end of the year, in part because of what it called political interference from the United States.

In line with the North's request, the United Nations' World Food Program, which provides food assistance to about 6.5 million North Koreans, said earlier it would end a decade of emergency food shipments by January and focus on development projects.

"North Korea has survived a life-and-death situation where people starved to death and there is now some stability, albeit at a minimum level," said Paik Hak-soon of the Sejong Institute in Seoul. "They now want a long-term survival strategy."

North Koreans would want development assistance rather than "aid that can be consumed and simply disappear," Paik said.

The nation of 22 million people has relied on foreign assistance since natural disasters and mismanagement caused its economy to collapse in the mid-1990s. Nearly $2 billion in food aid has flowed into the country over the last decade, according to a report by the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.

The food situation has improved in recent years, but not enough for aid groups to end their humanitarian work, Undersecretary-General Jan Egeland, the U.N. humanitarian affairs coordinator, warned Friday.

Analysts stress the North is not asking for a halt to food assistance, but for programs that will grant more independence — central to its guiding national ideology of "juche," or self-reliance.

"The North obviously doesn't have leftover food laying around," said Lee Woo-young, professor at the University of North Korean Studies. "But with emergency food aid, there is the issue of dependency."

On Thursday, North Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Choe Su Hon said the humanitarian situation has improved "to a great extent," grain production is expected to increase, and the government can feed its people.

But he said another reason for the termination is the attempt by 13 countries, especially the United States, "to politicize the humanitarian assistance" by linking it to human rights.

While the United States insists it does not use food aid as a political tool, its recently appointed special envoy on North Korea's human rights, Jay Lefkowitz, suggested earlier this month that future U.S. aid might be linked to the North's human rights record.

The Knuckleheads of the Day award

Today's winners are Mary Gilbert, Jeff West, Mark P. Brumley, Peggy Diane Burge and Little Joe West. As the Tallahassee Democrat reports these five Hurricane Katrina evacuees were charged Friday in Leon County Florida with fraud for scamming an additional $10,000 from the American Red Cross.

These people deserve sympathy for the havoc Katrina caused in their lives. Do not deserve sympathy for cheating other evaucees potentially of the help of the Red Cross. Shame on all five of them, they are despicable Knuckleheads of the Day.

Open Post- Mudville Gazette

An investigation is ongoing and more arrests are expected, said Sgt. Steve Harrelson of the Leon County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Bureau.

The five arrested so far, all related by blood or marriage, either stole or forged Red Cross voucher forms, known as disbursing orders, for money from the organization's hurricane disaster relief fund over the last week, reports show.

For instance, one voucher was made out for "$305" and "three hundred five dollars." That form had been changed to "$1,305" and "thirteen hundred five dollars," with word "thirteen" in cramped-looking writing.

In several states, authorities have arrested people accused of falsely claiming to be Hurricane Katrina victims to get money. But those charged here appear to be legitimate evacuees.

They used the money to buy clothes, beer, cigarettes and a used Pontiac Montana minivan while in Tallahassee, Harrelson said.

Officials of the Capital Area Chapter of the Red Cross have determined that five blank vouchers had been stolen - four of which have been recovered - and another five were given out, then altered.

All of those arrested had signed up for help at the local relief center, said Chris Floyd, the chapter's director of emergency services. He suspects the blanks were swiped out of a pile on a case worker's desk when her back was turned.

"It's unfortunate that disasters bring out both the best and worst in humanity," Floyd said.

Harrelson said the vouchers were cashed over the last week at the Envision Credit Union and the Credit Union Service Center, both on Thomasville Road. Executives there could not be reached for comment Friday evening.

The suspects had been staying nearby, at the Hilton Garden Inn, also on Thomasville Road, and the Studio Plus on Raymond Diehl Road.

Discrepancies were caught by Red Cross auditors in the last couple of days, when they noticed that amounts on voucher copies kept in the office didn't match ones coming back from the credit unions, Floyd said.

They alerted sheriff's detectives, who were able to nab the suspects after watching the credit unions' surveillance videotapes, according to Harrelson.

The Red Cross' disaster relief fund consists of donated money; none of that comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The evacuees, who were charged with organized scheme to defraud, grand theft, forgery and passing forged checks,

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Why I will never use SunPass

A month ago I blogged about how the SunPass an automated toll collection service was charging drivers tolls incorrectly. According to today's Orlando Sentinel refunds are being sent to those affected.

SunPass is scrambling to fix faulty toll-plaza violations by issuing thousands of dollars in refunds to drivers, writing far fewer tickets -- and collecting more information about customers to reduce future mistakes.

In the past three weeks, SunPass has paid a total of nearly $8,000 in refunds to 86 people, according to Florida's Turnpike Enterprise, the agency that operates the system.

It also has been working with E-Pass, the toll system run by the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority, to acquire license-tag data. That will help it identify when a toll violation is just an equipment glitch, not someone trying to avoid paying the toll.

An investigation last month by the Orlando Sentinel found a sharp rise in the number of citations -- 5,000 in July alone -- since SunPass began a crackdown on toll violations in May.
Many of the E-Pass users involved said a large number of the violations were caused by faulty
SunPass equipment at tollbooths or honest mistakes by drivers, such as placing the transponder in the wrong location of a vehicle.

SunPass' effort to reduce errors is little consolation to Erin Jolley of Oviedo and potentially hundreds of other drivers who are still struggling to undo tickets incorrectly issued by the agency since the crackdown began.

Mr. Jolley and others have my sympathy. For governments its easier to create a clusterfuck than it is to fix one. This Sunpass story is further proof you need to be a masochist in Florida. I will never use this service.

Bill Frist's sale of HCA stock- Getting hard to believe

AP has a very detailed article on the Senate Majority Leader's handling of his so called blind trust and the HCA stock in it. I blogged earlier about this here. If what AP is reporting is true, then I feel Bill Frist has a great deal of explaining to do. Right now the Senator's sale is under investigation by the SEC.

WASHINGTON - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., was updated several times about his investments in blind trusts during 2002, the last time two weeks before he publicly denied any knowledge of what was in the accounts, documents show.

The updates included stock transactions involving HCA Inc., the hospital operating company founded by Frist's family.

Frist's sale of HCA stock is under scrutiny by the federal government. Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA said Friday it had received a subpoena from prosecutors for the Southern District of New York, asking for documents the company believes are related to Frist's sale of company stock this past summer.

Prosecutors also have contacted the senator's office, Frist spokesman Bob Stevenson said Friday. He said neither the senator nor his office had received a subpoena.

But the interesting part comes here.

Frist sold his HCA stock from several blind trusts this summer, at a time when insiders in the company also were selling off shares worth $112 million from January through June. Frist aides say he sold his stock to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.
Frist, asked in a television interview in January 2003 whether he should sell his HCA stock, responded: "Well, I think really for our viewers it should be understood that I put this into a blind trust. So as far as I know, I own no HCA stock"

Frist, referring to his trust and those of his family, also said in the interview, "I have no control. It is illegal right now for me to know what the composition of those trusts are. So I have no idea."

Documents filed with the Senate showed that just two weeks before those comments, the trustee of the senator's trust, M. Kirk Scobey Jr., wrote to Frist that HCA stock was contributed to the trust. It was valued at $15,000 and $50,000.

The documents filed by the trustees of Frist's blind trusts were obtained by The Associated Press on Friday.

On Nov. 20, 2002, Scobey wrote Frist that 14,781 shares of HCA were sold, along with three other investments. The same day, Scobey wrote that four other investments were sold, none of them HCA stock.

On May 16, 2002, Scobey advised Frist that four investments were contributed to a Frist
blind trust, including HCA stock valued at $500,000 to $1 million. A second letter the same day mentions the same four investments going into a different trust, but with different valuations, including HCA stock valued at $250,000 to $500,000.

On Jan. 14, 2002, a trustee for Frist's children notified the secretary of the Senate that two investments were added to the blind trusts of Frist's sons Jonathan and Bryan — including HCA stock valued at $5,000 to $10,000. It was not clear whether Frist received a copy of the letter.

Senator Frist 2003 statement and the blind trust statements gotten by AP are absolutely contradictory. If true the Senator is lying, and recent sales of HCA stock by other corporation officials and him look awfully damning.

The Senator was a yet unannounced GOP candidate for President. This in no way can help him even if exonerated. I'll reserve final judgement but this smells to me. You'd think Frist would be smarter, but powerful people make dumb decisions regularly. To me it don't matter Democrat or Republican, I don't like corruption or politicians flouting the laws.

Again the laws of insider trading are murky to me, but this is a matter for prosecutors to look into. I have to agree with Captain Ed, Bill Frist should step down as Senate Majority Leader while this investigation plays out. The Republicans don't need this albatros hanging over their heads with the mid-term elections approaching.

Open Trackback- Stop the ACLU and My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

An insider's view of the last Papal conclave

A diary annonymously leaked to the press has given a great deal of details about the last conclave. Can you believed disgraced Cardinal Law got a vote on the first ballot?

Excerpts of the diary, published Friday, show Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger led in each of the four ballots cast in the Sistine Chapel during the mystery-shrouded April 18-19 conclave. But, in a surprise, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Jesuit, was in second place the whole time.

Most accounts of the conclave have said retired Milan archbishop Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini was the main challenger to Ratzinger, who became Benedict XVI after his election, and that a Third World pope was never realistically in the running.

While Bergoglio never threatened Ratzinger's lead -- and made clear he didn't want the job, according to the diary published in the respected Italian foreign affairs magazine Limes -- his runner-up status could signal the next conclave might elect a pope from Latin America, home to half the world's 1 billion Roman Catholics.

The diary of the anonymous cardinal is also significant because it shows that Ratzinger didn't garner a huge margin -- he had 84 of the 115 votes in the final ballot, seven more than the required two-thirds majority.

That's just part of the CNN article. I do recommend reading the whole thing. One conclusion I make from this diary is high likelihood for the next Pope to come from Latin America.

Hat tip- Captain Ed who thinks it is sad commentary today that Vatican officials can't even be trusted withs secrets. Betsy also notes that this leak was probably done for political reasons and who ever leaked it broke a vow and you wonder how many other vows this Cardinal has broken.

Open Trackback- Basil's blog

A costly oops

Some news from South Carolina. This sheriff's mistake has cost him his job. Weekend Special- Cafe Oregano

COLUMBIA, S.C. - A Sumter County sheriff's deputy was fired for being married to two women at the same time, and his second wife was married to another man at the time of their wedding, according to a department investigation.

Jay Follin, 27, was separated but not divorced from his first wife when he married Melissa McLeod on July 20 last year in Georgia, according to an internal investigation by the Sumter County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff's Maj. Gary Metts said Follin was fired Wednesday.

Metts said Follin knew he was still legally married when he wed Melissa McLeod, 28. Follin spent some time as a Sumter police officer before moving away, but after returning, Metts hired him as a sheriff's deputy.

"He's a great officer. I didn't ever have a problem with him," Metts said, adding that the incident comes as a "total shock."

McLeod's first husband is Kelly McLeod, 32, who lives in Sumter. The couple had separated, but Kelly McLeod filed a complaint with the sheriff's department after his wife told him she and Follin had married.

The Charter bus fire/Hurricane Rita

If you been following the Hurricane Rita and related stories you have to heard about the bus fire south of Dallas that killed 34 people.

Today's Houston Chronicle is reporting the charter bus company had a troubling history. Among it were-

*- In the last 2 1/2 years, the carrier, Global Limo Inc. of Pharr, had five drivers put "out of service" during random inspections in Texas, New Mexico and Missouri, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

*- Although Global Limo, a small, 10-bus carrier, had an impeccable maintenance record, its driver safety rating is 97. That means it is worse than 97 percent of all companies.

*- In 2003, a Texas inspector discovered a driver for Global who was not licensed to drive a bus.

*- The 1991 vehicle (that caught on fire) was not among the 10 buses registered with the state as being used commercially by Global.

The Dallas Morning news also reported that Global had filed for bankruptcy this year. One thing is certain, the lawsuits will start flying soon.

Hurricane Rita came ashore this morning. Please continue to pray for all those in the path of this storm.

Open Trackback- Wizbang

Chutzpah or go take a flying leap

Former Knucklehead winner Jostens Inc is back in the news today. The company that failed badly on its contract to supply diplomas for Palm Beach County Students says it will pay the county thousands of dollars for that failure. If Jostens is allowed to continue its three-year contract with the school board.

In spite of Jostens offer of scholarships, I feel the county should tell this company to do the act I mention in this post's title. Jostens is an abysmal failure and needs to pay up, at the same time the school board should end all business with this firm.

Saturday Special- Jo's Cafe

The company whose contract was broken by the Palm Beach County School District after it sent out diplomas months late says it will pay the district thousands of dollars if it allows Jostens Inc. to continue its three-year contract.

None of the seniors at Palm Beach Gardens High School — as with nearly half of the county's 9,000 graduates — received their diplomas on graduation day because of massive problems with Jostens.

In a letter to Superintendent Art Johnson, Jostens offered to pay the district $10,000 to cover the costs of mailing diplomas to students over the summer and to provide $1,000 scholarships to 16 high schools affected by the delay. Jostens also would agree not to submit bids for any projects for three years.

District spokesman Nat Harrington said Johnson and staff have not decided how to respond to the company's offer, but this summer the district signed a one-year contract with Herff-Jones to purchase diplomas.

The Herff-Jones contract won't exceed $50,000, compared to $117,000 that the district paid Jostens last year.

Jostens attributed the delay to the movement of its printing operations from its longtime Minnesota plant to new ones in Tennessee and Kansas.

In addition to missing diplomas, many schools did not receive the leather covers that cradle them. Because students receive the covers as they cross the stage during the ceremony, the problem forced students to share covers or use generic ones shipped at the last minute. Some students didn't get their diplomas until late July.

The Knuckleheads of the Day award

Goes to Leonard Stob and Ontario(CA) Christian school. They get it for expelling one of their students Shay Clark. The reason? Her parents are lesbians.

This is so dumb and foolish. Who's the school punishing? The girl because of her parents. Ontario has a school policy that parents don't act in a immoral fashion. The girl's mothers could possibly fight this but won't. That doesn't help Ontario Christian and its Superintendant Mr. Stob. They look like foolish idiots. Ther isn't any condoning their behavior. They may have a right to do it, but then I got a right to call them the Knuckleheads they are.

Open Trackback/Post- Point Five and Mudville Gazette

ONTARIO, Calif. -- A 14-year-old student was expelled from a Christian school because her parents are lesbians, the school's superintendent said in a letter.Shay Clark was expelled from Ontario Christian School on Thursday.

"Your family does not meet the policies of admission," Superintendent Leonard Stob wrote to Tina Clark, the girl's biological mother.Stob wrote that school policy requires that at least one parent may not engage in practices "immoral or inconsistent with a positive Christian life style, such as cohabitating without marriage or in a homosexual relationship," The Los Angeles Times reported in Friday's edition.

Stob could not be reached for comment by the newspaper. Shay and her parents said they won't fight the ruling.

School administrators learned of the parents' relationship this week after Shay was reprimanded for talking to the crowd during a football game, Tina Clark said.

Clark and her partner have been together 22 years and have two other daughters, ages 9 and 19.

Friday, September 23, 2005


and more proof our justice system is warped and broken. A rapist serving 13 years in prison is filing lawsuits, including against the person he was convicted of raping. Finally the CT Attorney General is trying to stop this harassment.

I say it again, a revolution will take place in this country because of crap like this. The innocent and victims are treated like criminals. The public will only take so much of it.

Hat tip- Point of Law
Open Post- Bright & Early

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has gone to court to stop a convicted rapist from harassing his victim from his prison cell. Allen Adgers, 41, who is serving a 13-year prison sentence for kidnapping, raping and assaulting his victim, has filed numerous frivolous lawsuits attacking his conviction and incarceration since May 2001, according to Blumenthal.

Some of the lawsuits have been directed at judges and prosecutor who put Adgers behind bars, but others have been directed at his victim. Adgers has used the lawsuits to force his rape victim to appear in court, where he cross examined her about her sexual relationship with another man and attempted to have her admit that she consented to the sexual activity related to his rape conviction.

Blumenthal said Wednesday that Adgers, acting as his own attorney, has also questioned his victim about her bra size, and winked and blew kisses at her in court.

"This outrageous case has exposed a gross injustice in our judicial system and must be stopped immediately," Blumenthal said. Adgers has filed approximately two dozen lawsuits in the past four years.

He is serving a 13-year sentence for the rape and an additional four years for sending her harassing letters.

Random Sports notes

Here we go.

*- Dontrelle Willis won his 22nd game of the year last night. He along with the Cardinal's Chris Carpenter are the leading candidates for this year's National League Cy Young award.

Willis is 22-9, Carpenter 21-4. I predict Carpenter gets it. Voters don't look much past winning percentages with win totals so alike. Willis does pitch in one of baseball's best pitcher's parks too, so the award would probably be justified.

The Marlins chances of getting a wild-card birth appear slim. Wait till next year.

*- Could we be in for baseball history thanks to the Chicago White Sox? After last night's loss the team's lead in the AL Central dropped to 1.5 games over the Cleveland Indians. On August first the Chisox were up by 15.

This would be a record collapse if Chicago doesn't hold on. The 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers blew a 13.5 game lead. History doesn't bode well for the White Sox. They have only been to 1 World Series since 1920. This streak started the year after they threw one to the Cincinnatti Reds.

*- The President's cup matches between the US and the rest of the World(Not including Europe) have started in Virginia. Without Ernie Els, I see the US winning 16-12.

Think I will be watching it this weekend? Nope, I have no interest. That probably surprises you considering my interest in similar golf matches. Former President's Cup matches have failed to move me and this hasn't either.

I find this weekend's Texas Open more interesting. Can Robert Gamez win for the first time in 15 years?

*- Past Knucklehead winner and 2005 US Women's Golf Open champ Birdie Kim finally paid the money she owed her caddie.

*- The Dolphins sold out their home game for Sunday versus Carolina. Coming off a 4-12 season Miami has been having problems with their games selling out. The team has had a history of this, their last two home playoff games didn't sell out either and therefore were blacked out locally.

My prediction for Sunday- Miami loses again, this time to Carolina. Final score 21-10.

China arising from its slumber

The always interesting Charles Krauthammer has a column on China's influence in the recent statement of principles on North Korea dismantling its nuclear program.

First Mr. Krauthammer brings up the analogy of 100 years ago when the US brokered the treaty that ended the Russo-Japanese war. That marked the beginning of US influence in world affairs. Did this week's events in Beijing mark the same for China?

If it holds -- the "if" is very large -- it will mark China's emergence from an economic and demographic dynamo to a major actor on the world stage, and serious rival to American dominance in the Pacific.

Why is the Beijing agreement different from the worthless "Agreed Framework" Bill Clinton signed in 1994 and North Korea violated (we now know) from the very first day? That agreement was bilateral. This one is six-party, but the major player is China.

China conspicuously made itself the locus of the conference and its host. Its vice foreign minister declared that "North Korea committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning at an early date to a nuclear nonproliferation treaty." If China can succeed where the United States failed miserably in solving the knottiest problem in the Pacific, China will have emerged. That means a lot for China. It has a large stake in this agreement.

Absolutely. If the North Korean nuclear agreement holds, the prestige China will gain from enabling it I think will be immeasurable on the world stage and more importantly in Asia. China's size and economic might already make them too formidable to ignore in the region.

Mr. Krauthammer goes on to ask why China's sudden involvement now. Some in the past have mentioned the instability North Korea causes in some Chinese provinces that border on the country. To a country as massive as China, I really think these are pinpricks. The third possible reason mentioned in this column is the one I feel is behind what China is doing.

Third and perhaps most important, this was less a crisis than an opportunity. China has spent the past decade trying to translate its economic power into geopolitical power to make itself the arbiter of Asian affairs. It has established several regional organizations with Asian neighbors (ASEAN Plus Three, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, East Asian Summit) that pointedly exclude the United States. Its major ambition is to displace America as the major Pacific power. At which point, specific and smaller objectives, such as the absorption of Taiwan and the extension of oil rights to waters claimed by weaker neighbors, become infinitely more possible.

I think these are China's goals. To establish their dominance in Asia, ultimately to re-gain Taiwan and to diminish US influence in the region. China has little concern for what happens outside of Asia, except where it concerns them. Their ultimate goal is to prod the US peacefully into voluntarily reducing its influence and interests there.

Mr. Krauthammer's final conclusion is absolutely on the mark. The US could stabilize the Korean situation as a result of what happened this week at the cost of China becoming a major player. Or as the column says, wake our one rival in the region from its slumber.

Hat tip- Betsy's page
Traffic Jam/Lunch- Outside the Beltway and Basil's blog

The ongoing saga

Yesterday i had a check-up with my primary care doctor. This was follow-up for my the pulmonary embolism I had last month.

If you recall I had an MRI in late August after it was discovered I had spots on my adrenal glands. About four weeks ago my doctor, Dr. Nguyen told me the MRI results and said I'd be re-tested and a needle biopsy wasn't needed right away.

To now make a long story short, I will be needing that needle biopsy right away. Today I will be picking up my MRI films and dropping them at JFK hospital. After a radiologist reads them I will have the procedure done at a date yet to be determined.

All of this is very worrisome and depressing. I'm a layman but have seen enough medical results to be to read them. The MRI impression for my enlarged adrenal glands read.

Signal characteristics to not correspond to benign adrenal adenomas. Consider adrenal hyperplasia versus metasteses to both adrenal glands.

In other words the doctor thinks they could be my skin cancer having spread. Please pray I get good results.

*- In late July I sprained my knee. This caused me to have to have x-rays, visit the ER and an orthopedic doctor. I saw Dr. Donahue on 8-2. There I paid my $15 co-pay for a doctor's office visit.

Yesterday I got a bill from that orthopedic specialist's office. For the entire amount of my office visit minus my co-pay or $135. I'm not annoyed with this, just bemused. The insurance company has already handled this. I just wonder how much money this doctor's office throws away on sending out unnecessary bills a year.

Breakfast- Basil's blog

One more time with feeling

Some news from France. All joking aside with lower birth rates, I wouldn't be surprised if more countries try this approach.

Friday Special- Cafe Oregano

PARIS - France announced financial incentives Thursday for parents to have a third child, hoping to boost its fertility rate by helping people to better juggle the demands of work and family life.

A new measure will award $916 a month to parents who take one year's unpaid leave from work after the birth of a third child, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin announced at the close of a national conference on families.

It will take effect in July 2006. De Villepin said he believed the measure will appeal to "numerous parents" and allow for a "better reconciliation of professional and family rhythms."

"We must do more to allow French families to have as many children as they want," the prime minister said.

France's fertility rate, at an average of 1.9 children per woman, is the second highest in Europe after Ireland's, around 2. But it is still below the 2.07 level needed to prevent population decline.

The Knuckleheads of the Day award

Today's winners are Artemio Castillo and Ernesto Garcia. They stole a gas station employee's car. An hour later they came back to the same station, to gas it up!

TGIF/Open Post Jo's Cafe and Mudville Gazette

PENSACOLA · If you're going to steal a gas station employee's car, don't come back an hour later to get a fill-up.Investigators say that bit of logic escaped Artemio Castillo and Ernesto Garcia, who were arrested Tuesday night near the Parade gas station.

Employee Pam Pease, 49, was sweeping the parking area when she noticed a familiar car pull up to pump No. 7.It was her blue 1994 Ford Escort with a missing hubcap. She had reported it stolen less than an hour earlier.

"It just blew my mind, but there they were," Pease said. "I'm glad it was low on gas."Another attendant, Vince Nguyen, recognized suspects Castillo, 49, and Garcia, 41, as the men who had asked him for a ride to Mississippi as he arrived at work shortly before Pease noticed her car was missing.

Nguyen asked the men in Spanish why they had returned and they replied that they needed gas, Pease said. Other employees called 911. The suspects fled on foot and Nguyen followed them through a back alley, Pease said.

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