Welcome to ...

The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Weight Watchers Floor Collapses During Weigh-in

20 zaftigs piled into a Swedish Weight Watchers facility to have their corpulence quantified: "We suddenly heard a huge thud; we almost thought it was an earthquake and everything flew up in the air. The floor collapsed..."

Americans Trust Obama On National Security

Despite repugican rants outlining President Obama's failure to protect the nation from the threat of terrorism, a new CNN poll shows that America's confidence in the administration's ability to keep the homeland safe remains strong.

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NYC crews sent to Haiti draw on 9/11 experience

When the twin towers came down on Sept. 11, 2001, deputy police inspector Robert Lukach was there, working on the pile, digging through the rubble for survivors.

Iraq says it captures man who oversaw UN bombing

Iraqi authorities have captured a senior leader of a militant group linked to al-Qaida in Iraq who oversaw the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad and other attacks, the military said Saturday.

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Body of UN mission chief Hedi Annabi found in rubble

Rescuers recovered the body of veteran diplomat Hedi Annabi, who was in charge of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti when the earthquake struck and collapsed the U.N. headquarters building, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced Saturday

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Kids build military weapons that fire marshmallows

Genghis Khan's military tactics were advanced for his time and shockingly brutal.

Kids build military weapons that fire marshmallows

Clinton visits Haiti as relief arrives

Clinton visits Haiti as relief arrives

The secretary of state tells the people of Haiti that the United States will provide long-term help.

Forget Fish Oils. Are Algae Oils an Omega-Rich Solution to Overfishing?

From Treehugger:

Image via: TheAgonist.org

To fish oil or not to fish oil has been the ongoing question among wellness- and eco-minded folks such as myself. For good reason, too. The benefits from omega-3 supplements are hard to give up: healthy skin, hair and joints in addition to their ability to fight heart disease, Alzheimer's, and depression. But the benefits hardly justify the fact that our fondness for fatty acids are threatening our ecosystems and depleting our fish populations.

Luckily, according to TIME.com, there's a fish-free solution in the works that still offers both DHA and EPA acids (unlike vegetarian-friendly flax).

Liars and Fools

Liars and Fools today are:

Wingnut sqawker Jim Quinn says if health care passes "you are going to see insurrection," "an uprising" and "it's going to be a bloodbath".
Promoting sedition is treason so when is this moron going to be put behind bars where he belongs?

Lush Dimbulb lies saying Obama will say "capitalism hasn't worked" to force people to "accept a transformation" toward socialism, fascism".
Yet again, Lush proves he is just so stupid it is painful for the rest of us

Jon Kyl (reptile - Arizona) lies saying he's never seen a piece of legislation that will take more of our freedom" than the Senate's health care reform bill.
He must have read some of his own 'legislation' with his eyes closed then.

Wingnut sqawker Jim Quinn continues to lie saying he thinks Obama is a Muslim.
Again, when is this delusional idiot going to be incarcerated like he belongs?

Haitian doctor turns home into hospital

Haitian doctor turns home into hospital

In a nation desperate for care, Claude Surena is providing victims with medical treatment.

One will cost more, one may be less

One will cost more, one may be less

A ruling that may help you save on taxes and increased baggage fees stir up the Web.

Jobs that can't be outsourced

Jobs that can't be outsourced

These five rewarding careers will always be needed close to home.

Rescue missions running out of time

Rescue missions running out of time

An untold number of people in Haiti are alive under rubble, but not everyone's getting help.

Polar bear poo helps in superbug hunt

Polar bear droppings are helping scientists shed light on the spread of deadly antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

Polar bear poo helps in superbug hunt

1 in 4 female teens involved in violence

About one in four female teens is involved in some sort of violent behavior at school or at work, according to a government report.

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55 Million Americans Sickened by Swine Flu So Far

An estimated 55 million people in the United States were infected with the H1N1 swine flu from the time the disease first emerged in mid-April until mid-December, and approximately 11,200 people died, federal officials reported Friday.

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Big nations with major debt dangers

Big nations with major debt dangers

Huge national debts threaten many of the world's biggest economies, from Japan to the U.K.

Justice suit accuses Johnson & Johnson of paying kickbacks

And you know they're still doing it too.

Medical giant Johnson & Johnson paid tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks to boost sales of its drugs in nursing homes, including an antipsychotic that can be used as a chemical restraint, the Justice Department alleged in a lawsuit Friday.

Full Story

Terrorist leader killed in Pakistan

A U.S. missile strike in Pakistan killed one of the FBI's most-wanted terrorists, a man suspected in a deadly 1986 plane hijacking with a $5 million bounty on his head, three Pakistani intelligence officials said Friday.

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Electrosensitives tortured by a radio tower that had been switched off for six weeks

A group of South African "electrosensitive" activists had been tormented by their local packet-data radio tower, with terrible symptoms that only subsided when they left the area.

They're suing.

Only one problem: during a six week period while they were experiencing their symptoms, the tower was switched off, but the symptoms persisted.

So, either the symptoms are psychosomatic, or these people are "allergic" to very tall pieces of inert metal.

Of course, they're still suing.

In an email one Craigavon Task Force member, Tracey-Lee Dorny, describes the affected community's symptoms: "several rash cases were presented in person and by photos from people who could not attend [a meeting with iBurst]. Headaches, nausea, tinnitus, dry burning itchy skins, gastric imbalances and totally disrupted sleep patterns, especially with some of the children, were some of the issues presented by the residents."

Dorny told The Star that she and her son are spending alternate nights at her mother's house to get some relief. "When I'm off the property, the symptoms subside," she said... At the meeting Van Zyl agreed to turn off the tower with immediate effect to assess whether the health problems described by some of the residents subsided. What Craigavon residents were unaware of is that the tower had already been switched off in early October - six weeks before the November meeting where residents confirmed the continued ailments they experienced.

Hey, I'm allergic to work ... can I sue and get paid?

Science News

From BBC-Science
Photos of solar eclipse seen across Africa and Asia
How satellites are used to help after disasters
Scientists follow narwhals; strange, unicorn-like whales

The military's special alphabet

The military's special alphabet

When soldiers say "tango," "foxtrot" and other unusual words, what code are they using?

Science Headlines

Various Science Articles

Today in history ...

On January 16, 1957, the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England, opened.http://www.liverexectours.com/images/beatles%20cavern%201.jpg
It became famous as the place where The Beatles were a house band.

Sea level on N.C. coast continues to rise

The only question: how much?

The sea level on the N.C. coast is likely to rise by 1.2 feet to as much as 4.6 feet this century, a panel of scientists told a state forum today.

The broad range reflects the uncertainty in how much the seas will rise, the panel reported. Globally, the rise has accelerated since the 1990s and that trend is expected to continue.

The estimates will be used by coastal managers for planning purposes, but they could widely affect residents too. By including sea level rise in land-management plans on the coast, for instance, areas that are likely to flood in future decades could be declared unsuited for high-density development.

The N.C. Department of Transportation is already considering the likely rise of the sea in coming decades as it designs coastal bridges and highways, officials said.

Addressing sea-level rise "is going to cost. It's pay now or pay later," said David Knight, an assistant secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. "It's hard to think 80 to 100 years down the road, which is why it's important to incorporate it into long-term planning and let science lead on this."

The panel presentation wrapped up a two-day sea-level science forum organized by the N.C. Division of Coastal Management.

More on this story at This Old State: A frightening sea?

Mortgage Fraud

Homebuyer pleads guilty in mortgage fraud case

L.A. man charged with participating in conspiracy to inflate price of house in Waxhaw to get higher mortgage.

The first homebuyer has agreed to plead guilty in a growing mortgage fraud case involving expensive Union County homes.

Charles Harris Mathis Jr., a Los Angeles business owner, was a "straw buyer" for Mortgage Fraud Cell No. 2, according to federal court documents filed last week. He faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for one felony count of mortgage fraud conspiracy on a deal that inflated the price of a Waxhaw house by $444,000.

Participants in the fraud ring agreed to buy houses at one price from builders and then arranged buyers such as Mathis at a higher price, according to court documents. They lied to get mortgages at the higher amount and then shared the difference, court documents say.

On Feb. 23, 2007, Mathis paid almost $1.5 million for a house in Waxhaw's Woodhall subdivision, according to county and court records. A year later, the house went into foreclosure, as often happens in such frauds. The house resold last summer for $559,000, a loss of almost $1 million, according to Union County records.

Mathis could not be reached at his California business, Peak Performance Transportation. His Charlotte attorney, former prosecutor Brian Cromwell, said the firm provides transportation for people with special needs. Cromwell, with Parker Poe, declined to comment on why his client entered a guilty plea or how he came to buy a house across the country from where he lives.

"That will come out during sentencing," Cromwell said.

The Mathis case is linked to another participant in cell No. 2.

He bought the house from Todd and Jennifer Jackson. Neither is charged in his deal. But last month, Jennifer Jackson entered a guilty plea to felony mortgage fraud conspiracy on the July sale of a different Waxhaw house.

In that case, the seller was Jackson Custom Homes, which prosecutors called a small Union County builder of custom homes. Jennifer Jackson was described in the court case as an owner and operator of the firm. Both she and her husband signed the deed, filed with the county for the sale, as the firm's managers. Prosecutors have not filed charges against him. The U.S. attorney's office declined to say why he has not been charged.

Jennifer Jackson's attorneys say building was not her primary career, and that she will not renew her contractor's license this year. They would not identify her career. State records indicate she is a registered nurse.

In August, Jennifer Haynes Jackson renewed her license with the N.C. Board of Nursing, said David Kalbacker, the agency's spokesman. A question on the renewal form asks whether the applicant has "any charges pending whatsoever that have not been previously reported to the board." Jackson checked no, Kalbacker said.

Prosecutors declined to say whether they began discussing charges with Jackson before the August renewal date. Her employer was listed as the pediatric cardiology unit of Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute, at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. The hospital, the flagship of the Carolinas HealthCare System, confirmed Jennifer H. Jackson works in that unit of the heart clinic.

Kalbacker said the board was unaware of Jackson's mortgage fraud case and would likely review the court records and talk with her. He said such cases are evaluated on an individual basis and disciplinary measures can range from probation to license revocation.

Last month, Jackson, wiping away tears, entered her guilty plea in federal court. She faces a maximum of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

One of her Charlotte attorneys, Nathan Taylor, has previously said his client "deeply regrets being dragged into this conduct and has accepted responsibility for her minor role."

The buyer, Mathis, is the 13th person who has agreed to a guilty plea in the "Waxhouse Investigation" in which prosecutors have identified five mortgage fraud cells operating in 2006 and 2007 in Mecklenburg and Union counties. The first plea agreement came more than a year ago.

Home sale prices in the cases were generally inflated by $200,000 to $500,000.

The 12 people who have previously agreed to plead guilty include lawyers, builders, a real estate agent, a loan officer, a paralegal and a notary public.


Along the same vein:

New charges brought in '01 mortgage fraud case

Man tied to scheme involving 11 home loans in Charlotte area, documents say.

A man who fled prosecution more than seven years ago in a Charlotte mortgage fraud case has been arrested and faces new federal charges.

Patrick Corvo, 46, was originally apprehended in June 2001 in New Hampshire in connection with a Charlotte scheme that tied him to "eleven fraudulent home loans" in 1999, according to court documents. He was indicted on charges of mail and wire fraud and faced decades in prison, if found guilty.

During a hearing in New Hampshire, the judge directed Corvo to appear in court in North Carolina. The judged advised him that not showing up would be "another federal crime" that could add two years to his sentence, according to court documents.

"Like the dumbest move in the world not to show up," he said. "Really stupid."

The next month, Corvo appeared in federal court in Charlotte, as directed. He was released on the same conditions. The trial was delayed several times at Corvo's request.

He "allegedly suffered a back injury" the day before one court date, according to court documents. Corvo was declared a fugitive after failing to appear for trial in September 2002.

The alleged Charlotte scheme had the characteristics of a common mortgage fraud.

Corvo recruited "straw buyers" for foreclosed or inexpensive houses that were located by co-conspirator David Roberts, who acted as the seller, Realtor or broker on most of the deals, according to documents. Buyers were told rental payments would cover the mortgages while the houses were remodeled, then resold, and the proceeds shared. Roberts, now 47, and Corvo lied to get loans in the buyers' names, documents said.

Corvo collected rent but never paid the mortgages and the properties fell into foreclosure, with a loss to lenders of about $1.2 million, according to documents.

Roberts, the co-conspirator who also faced a lengthy prison term, "provided significant intelligence" to build the case against Corvo, documents said. As a result, prosecutors recommended a lighter sentence. He was given five months and ordered to pay restitution in excess of $300,000.

Corvo was arrested last year in Canada while attempting to cross the U.S. border, according to people familiar with the case. On Dec. 30, he was committed to Mecklenburg County jail pending trial. Additional charges include failure to appear and obstruction of justice.

Candy-ass vice-principal calls the bomb squad over an 11-year-old's science project, recommends counseling for the student

A San Diego school vice-principal saw an 11-year-old's home science project (a motion detector made out of an empty Gatorade bottle and some electronics), decided it was a bomb, wet himself, put the school on lockdown, had the bomb-squad come out to destroy X-ray the student's invention and search his parents' home, and then magnanimously decided not to discipline the kid (though he did recommend that the child and his parents get counseling to help them overcome their anti-social science behavior).
When police and the Metro Arson Strike Team responded, they also found electrical components in the student's backpack, Luque said. After talking to the student, it was decided about 1 p.m. to evacuate the school as a precaution while the item was examined. Students were escorted to a nearby playing field, and parents were called and told they could come pick up their children.

A MAST robot took pictures of the device and X-rays were evaluated. About 3 p.m., the device was determined to be harmless, Luque said...

The student will not be prosecuted, but authorities were recommending that he and his parents get counseling, the spokesman said. The student violated school policies, but there was no criminal intent, Luque said.

Sheesh, what paranoid, delusional idiots are 'running' schools these days!?!?
I guess that model volcano from eighth grade science class that actually DID explode and have flowing 'lava' would be out of the question then.

President Obama's Weekly Address

Remarks of President Barack Obama
As Prepared for Delivery
Weekly Address
January 16, 2010

Over the past two years, more than seven million Americans have lost their jobs. Countless businesses have been forced to shut their doors. Few families have escaped the pain of this terrible recession. Rarely does a day go by that I do not hear from folks who are hurting. That is why we have pushed so hard to rebuild this economy.

But even as we work tirelessly to dig our way out of this hole, it is important that we address what led us into such a deep mess in the first place. Much of the turmoil of this recession was caused by the irresponsibility of banks and financial institutions on Wall Street. These financial firms took huge, reckless risks in pursuit of short-term profits and soaring bonuses. They gambled with borrowed money, without enough oversight or regard for the consequences. And when they lost, they lost big. Little more than a year ago, many of the largest and oldest financial firms in the world teetered on the brink of collapse, overwhelmed by the consequences of their irresponsible decisions. This financial crisis nearly pulled the entire economy into a second Great Depression.

As a result, the American people – struggling in their own right – were placed in a deeply unfair and unsatisfying position. Even though these financial firms were largely facing a crisis of their own creation, their failure could have led to an even greater calamity for the country. That is why the previous administration started a program – the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP – to provide these financial institutions with funds to survive the turmoil they helped unleash. It was a distasteful but necessary thing to do.

Many originally feared that most of the $700 billion in TARP money would be lost. But when my administration came into office, we put in place rigorous rules for accountability and transparency, which cut the cost of the bailout dramatically. We have now recovered most of the money we provided to the banks. That’s good news, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s not good enough. We want the taxpayers’ money back, and we’re going to collect every dime.

That is why, this week, I proposed a new fee on major financial firms to compensate the American people for the extraordinary assistance they provided to the financial industry. And the fee would be in place until the American taxpayer is made whole. Only the largest financial firms with more than $50 billion in assets will be affected, not community banks. And the bigger the firm – and the more debt it holds – the larger the fee. Because we are not only going to recover our money and help close our deficits; we are going to attack some of the banking practices that led to the crisis.

That’s important. The fact is, financial firms play an essential role in our economy. They provide capital and credit to families purchasing homes, students attending college, businesses looking to start up or expand. This is critical to our recovery. That is why our goal with this fee – and with the common-sense financial reforms we seek – is not to punish the financial industry. Our goal is to prevent the abuse and excess that nearly led to its collapse. Our goal is to promote fair dealings while punishing those who game the system; to encourage sustained growth while discouraging the speculative bubbles that inevitably burst. Ultimately, that is in the shared interest of the financial industry and the American people.

Of course, I would like the banks to embrace this sense of mutual responsibility. So far, though, they have ferociously fought financial reform. The industry has even joined forces with the opposition party to launch a massive lobbying campaign against common-sense rules to protect consumers and prevent another crisis.

Now, like clockwork, the banks and politicians who curry their favor are already trying to stop this fee from going into effect. The very same firms reaping billions of dollars in profits, and reportedly handing out more money in bonuses and compensation than ever before in history, are now pleading poverty. It’s a sight to see.

Those who oppose this fee say the banks can’t afford to pay back the American people without passing on the costs to their shareholders and customers. But that’s hard to believe when there are reports that Wall Street is going to hand out more money in bonuses and compensation just this year than the cost of this fee over the next ten years. If the big financial firms can afford massive bonuses, they can afford to pay back the American people.

Those who oppose this fee have also had the audacity to suggest that it is somehow unfair. That because these firms have already returned what they borrowed directly, their obligation is fulfilled. But this willfully ignores the fact that the entire industry benefited not only from the bailout, but from the assistance extended to AIG and homeowners, and from the many unprecedented emergency actions taken by the Federal Reserve, the FDIC, and others to prevent a financial collapse. And it ignores a far greater unfairness: sticking the American taxpayer with the bill.

That is unacceptable to me, and to the American people. We’re not going to let Wall Street take the money and run. We’re going to pass this fee into law. And I’m going to continue to work with Congress on common-sense financial reforms to protect people and the economy from the kind of costly and painful crisis we’ve just been through. Because after a very tough two years, after a crisis that has caused so much havoc, if there is one lesson that we can learn, it’s this: we cannot return to business as usual.

Thank you very much.

Today is ...

Today is Saturday, January 16, the 16th day of 2010.

There are 349 days left in the year.

Today In History January 16

Today's unusual holidays and celebrations are:

Appreciate A Dragon Day


Nothing Day

Our Readers

Some of our readers today have been in:

London, England, United Kingdom
Athens, Attiki, Greece
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Viana Do Castelo, Viana Do Castelo, Portugal
Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
Jakarta, Jakarta Raya, Indonesia
Brussels, Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest, Belgium
Kiev, Kyyiv, Ukraine
Sundsvall, Vasternorrlands Lan, Sweden
Chichester, England, United Kingdom
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Liverpool, England, United Kingdom
Saint John's, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Bristol, England, United Kingdom

as well as Singapore, and the United States

Daily Horoscope

Today's horoscope says:

Your financial situation seems to be a bit shaky at the moment -- or is it only that you're worried about it because you've been pleasantly distracted by more tender matters?
Regardless of how or why it's happened, return your attention to numbers, just for a bit.
If the emotional situation is for real, it won't go anywhere -- and definitely not in the time it takes to balance the checkbook, sort through credit card receipts and get your financial house in order.

Is it that time of the month already!?