Friday, February 25, 2005

Breast Cancer Hospitalization Bill

Important legislation for all women.

Please send this to everyone in your address book. If there was ever a time when our voices and choices should be heard, this is one of those times. If you are receiving this it's because I think you will take the 30 seconds to go and vote on this issue...and send it on to others you know who will do the same.

There's a bill called the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act which will require insurance companies to cover a minimum 48-hour hospital stay for patients undergoing a mastectomy.

It's about eliminating the "drive-through mastectomy" where women are forced to go home hours after surgery against the wishes of their doctor, still groggy from anesthesia and sometimes with drainage tubes still attached.

Lifetime Television has put this bill on their web page with a petition drive to show your support. Last year over half the House signed on.

PLEASE!!!! Sign the petition by clicking on the web link above. You need not give more than your name and zip code number. This takes about 2 seconds. PLEASE PASS THIS ON to your friends and family. THANKS

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Lies, Damn Lies

"The poor and the black are incarcerated for using pot and coke, while the rich and the white lie to their kids (and occasionally to the voters) about those same transgressions."

"Certainly that was how the justice system worked when Mr. Bush and Mr. Wead had their candid chats. The Texas politician couldn't reassure his friend that he hadn't used cocaine, let alone marijuana, but as governor he was imprisoning young men and women unlucky enough to be arrested in possession of those narcotics, often for draconian mandatory-minimum sentences. He always cherished his image as a tough, swaggering, law-and-order politician who didn't hesitate to imprison teenagers. "

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Continuing Cracks - Part 3

"The dollar is falling like a wall that comes crumbling down after standing strong for a long period of time... I checked the markets all day yesterday and early evening... It seemed that with the U.S. on holiday, the currency markets were going to be a non-event... But then overnight, there came word that South Korea's central bank, which at first glance you would think "so what", but on second glance would notice that it too has been building dollar reserves to the tune of over $200 Billion, announced that it plans to "diversify its reserves"... WOW! What a shot across the dollar bulls' bows!

The Bank of Korea story has pushed the euro to 1.3220... That's right, 1.3220... Why would this really have this kind of effect? Well... It's a built up thing... You see, I've long told you that one day central banks would look at their balance sheet and freak out... Sweating bullets... Tremble and shake, at all the dollars they own... And at that time they would make a decision to "diversify" their holdings... Well, these thoughts have been present in the minds of traders for some time now, and with the Bank of Korea making this announcement, all those thoughts come to the forefront of traders' minds... And the walls, come crumbling down...

In the last two months we've had The Bank of Russia and now the Bank of Korea both make diversification announcements... "Now support for the dollar will begin to disappear quickly", said Daiwa's head of overseas debt... I agree, and just look at the results in the markets if you need proof!"

Wander the Heavens

From time to time we need to reset our horizons. Take a minute to view these incredible photographs.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

100 Best Gadgets

If you are a gearhead like me, you'll enjoy this walk down memory lane.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Best Program to Tivo

You may recall my recommendation that you purchase a DVR (digital video recorder) to “tivo” your favorite programs. (Ed. Note: Tivo is a service providing a DVR and a search function for programs similar to the ones you like. You don’t need this service. Your cable or dish provider will provide you with the hardware, which you can purchase outright rather than rent, and you can program your own favorites, thereby avoiding a service which watches what you watch. Although Tivo is a tradename, tivo, with a small “t” has become a verb, and, yes, I’m guessing that eventually they will lose the tradename to popular usage. Ah, the price of being first.).

My favorite program to tivo is the “Imus in the Morning” show, 3 hours daily at 6:00 am to 9:00 am EST. Don Imus is a craggy old cokehead from the 60’s who delights with his blunt criticism and colorful language. MSNBC has put this radio show on TV and it is unique because of his connections to all of the top news people, who call in with their honest insights into today’s news.

However, there are two problems: there are way too many ads, promos, intros, and time- wasting graphics, and it is on in Denver from 4:00 am to 7:00 am. Both make it an ideal candidate for tivoing.

During a recent show, I kept track of how many times I pressed the 30-sec skip button on my remote – 180 skipped segments in one show. In other words, I was able to watch the actual content in 1 ½ hours and skip the 1 ½ hours of junk. This must be the most advertised show on television, as the commercial breaks often contain 12 30-sec spots. Tivoing makes it worthwhile, and skipping the ads adds an additional pleasure.

Note to the Iman: IMHO, the new set is horrible, not because it makes you look like a space cadet in your bumper-car pod, but because all of the other MSNBC news shows are shot in the same studio, albeit from different positions, and your pod looks like it is temporarily pushed into place each morning. Your cowboy hat helps to verify your identity, but nothing like your old radio studio, cramped and polluted, with you and the boys yucking it up.

Baghdad Burning

Check out this blog directly from Baghdad...

"We’ve been staying at home most of the time because it’s not a good idea to leave the house during these ten days. It took us an hour and 20 minutes to get to my aunt’s house yesterday because so many streets were closed with masses of men chanting and beating themselves. To say it is frightening is an understatement. Some of the men are even bleeding and they wear white to emphasize all the blood flowing down backs and foreheads. It’s painful to see small children wearing black clothes and carrying miniature chains that really don’t hurt, but look so bizarre.

Quite frankly, it’s disgusting. It’s a quasi political show of Sadomasochism that has nothing to do with religion. In Islam it’s unfavorable to hurt the human body. Moderate Shia also find it appalling and slightly embarrassing. E. teases the Shia cousin constantly, “So this your idea of a good time, ha?” But the cousin is just is revolted, although he can’t really express it. We’re so “free” now, it’s not good idea to publicly express your distaste to the whole bloody affair. I can, however, express it on my blog…"

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Continuing Cracks

"Citigroup recently admitted to a 6.3% stake in Fannie Mae. Given that Fannie Mae has a $60 billion market cap, Citigroup's stake is worth $3.78 billion. Since December 31, 2004, Fannie's stock has declined by 11.2%, handing Citigroup an unrealized mark-to-market loss of $423 million year-to-date."

For every cent Fannie's stock price goes down, Citigroup loses nearly $600,000 dollars," says Rude Awakening editor, and former Citigroup employee, Tom Dyson, while gleefully punching numbers into a calculator. "Today it's down $1.09. Thing is, every portfolio in corporate America owns Fannie stock...pension funds, mutual funds, insurance companies, financial conglomerates...and they're all getting hit. Incidentally, Citigroup is not the largest holder...Capital Research and Management Company owns nearly 10% of Fannie, and Fidelity Management & Research Corp own over 8%. I don't know what these entities are, or who controls them, but if Fannie stock keeps falling, I suspect we may find out!"

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Iraqi Vote Tally In: Americans Must Go

"The election results are in: Iraqis voted overwhelmingly to throw out the US-installed government of Iyad Allawi, who refused to ask the United States to leave. A decisive majority voted for the United Iraqi Alliance; the second plank in the UIA platform calls for "a timetable for the withdrawal of the multinational forces from Iraq.

There are more single-digit messages embedded in the winning coalition's platform. Some highlights: "Adopting a social security system under which the state guarantees a job for every fit Iraqi...and offers facilities to citizens to build homes." The UIA also pledges "to write off Iraq's debts, cancel reparations and use the oil wealth for economic development projects." In short, Iraqis voted to repudiate the radical free-market policies imposed by former chief US envoy Paul Bremer and locked in by a recent agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

So will the people who got all choked up watching Iraqis flock to the polls support these democratically chosen demands? Please. "You don't set timetables," George W. Bush said four days after Iraqis voted for exactly that. Likewise, British Prime Minister Tony Blair called the elections "magnificent" but dismissed a firm timetable out of hand. The UIA's pledges to expand the public sector, keep the oil and drop the debt will likely suffer similar fates. At least if Adel Abd al-Mahdi gets his way--he's Iraq's finance minister and the man suddenly being touted as leader of Iraq's next government.

Al-Mahdi is the Bush Administration's Trojan horse in the UIA. (You didn't think they were going to put all their money on Allawi, did you?) In October he told a gathering of the American Enterprise Institute that he planned to "restructure and privatize [Iraq's] state-owned enterprises," and in December he made another trip to Washington to unveil plans for a new oil law "very promising to the American investors." It was al-Mahdi himself who oversaw the signing of a flurry of deals with Shell, BP and ChevronTexaco in the weeks before the elections, and it is he who negotiated the recent austerity deal with the IMF. On troop withdrawal, al-Mahdi sounds nothing like his party's platform and instead appears to be channeling Dick Cheney on Fox News: "When the Americans go will depend on when our own forces are ready and on how the resistance responds after the elections." But on Sharia law, we are told, he is very close to the clerics.

Iraq's elections were delayed time and time again, while the occupation and resistance grew ever more deadly. Now it seems that two years of bloodshed, bribery and backroom arm-twisting were leading up to this: a deal in which the ayatollahs get control over the family, Texaco gets the oil, and Washington gets its enduring military bases (call it the "oil for women program"). Everyone wins except the voters, who risked their lives to cast their ballots for a very different set of policies."

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Colorado Clips

Usually the news from Colorado involves a college football team, or recruiting for such a team, or the gangbanging done by such a team, or the coach, whose daughter was knocked up by a team player, who then died, who (the coach) went on to start an evangelical religious manhood thingy, or a basketball star bending a hotel employee over a chair because that’s the way he likes it … you get the idea…sex and sports, rough sports and rough sex. That’s the pattern. But every once in a while the word “outspoken” creeps into the news that splashes out of this state into the national media river.

Now comes an unlikely named Professor Churchill, speaking out. This guy actually thinks that the United States is and always has been an imperialist, warmongering, murderous, lying, deceitful country. And he has the audacity to call himself a professor, constantly professing this and that, chairing the ethnic studies department, creating an amazing website, selling books and tee-shirts, writing numerous articles, speaking in public for hire, inspiring reaction from “real” Indians,

© Marty Two Bulls. Published in Indian Country Today.

And drawing attacks on his heritage (“Prof's Indian roots disputed”) ,
and stomping around the CU campus looking like an Indian while being videoed.

This guy is great, a ‘60’s throwback bent on revolution. He reminds me of myself in the ‘60’s, the only white guy at the Black Panther meetings. “Power to the Peebles”, man, “Right Arm”!

Keep it up, Ward. Soon you'll lose your job and your influence, and if you are lucky, you won't be murdered in your sleep, like the Black Panther revolutionaries.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

I M C N Red

We have all heard the admonitions to check our credit card bills monthly for charges which we did not incur. This is the story of what happened to me recently when I discovered such a charge for on my card in the amount of $1053.00.

First I racked my brain trying to remember buying anything from a company called URCNBlue. I imagined it was netspeak for “You Are Seeing Blue” and thought it was some kind of porno operation. Instead I found it was an eBay seller of used jewelry with a perfect feedback record. I googled the phone number associated with it on the credit card bill and found an eBay reference to a cell phone with that number which had been purchased on eBay and which didn’t work. Curiously, this number is now in use by PayPal.

I immediately called both the credit card company and PayPal, which had apparently brokered the transaction. Both companies explained that they would have to have a real signature from me to proceed. The form for this could be sent to me by mail and I would have to sign and return the form by mail. Fortunately, I discovered that I could download the necessary forms and mail them, saving the days of waiting for the form. And I did so.

Within days I received replies from both that they were investigating. A few days later I received notification from both that my account would be credited with $1053.00 to reverse the charge. If fact, both did so and I was now $1053.00 ahead, but the credit card company found the error and withdrew their credit, leaving me wholly restored, except for the worry and paranoia about having been scammed. No explanation was given by either company for the original mistakes/scams.

Now paranoid, I went back to my credit card bills and carefully checked each item for the past two years. I discovered another charge for $9.95 by Eadenssoftcom, LLC in the same month as the first mistaken charge. I googled the name and discovered that this is a well-known scammer (see for a comprehensive report). Once again the charge was quickly reversed by my credit card company, but the widespread use of this scam was amazing.

So, what have I learned?
1. The credit companies involved acted quickly to reverse the error (scam).
2. Inquiries lead me to believe that no charges are ever brought against scammers until the amount exceeds $50,000.00
3. The $1053.00 may have been due to a “keying error”. I have emailed the person involved but have had no response to date. (Wouldn’t you want to clear this up?)
4. The $9.95 charge was a clear scam. These people are probably still operating.
Check your credit card bill carefully each month.

In short, Be Careful Out There!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

A Pre-embryo is a 'Human Being'

A frozen embryo destroyed in a Chicago fertility clinic was a human being whose parents are entitled to file a wrongful-death lawsuit, a Cook County judge ruled Friday.

Attorneys on both sides of the abortion issue said it was the first such ruling they had heard of as the country debates whether stem cells derived from embryos can be used in research and medicine.

Alison Miller and Todd Parrish hoped to conceive a child with help from the Center for Human Reproduction, but the one fertilized egg the couple created was thrown out "in error" by a clinic worker.

Friday, Judge Jeffrey Lawrence II said "a pre-embryo is a 'human being' ... whether or not it is implanted in its mother's womb" and the couple is entitled to seek the same compensation awarded to other parents whose children are killed.

Groundhog Day and the State of the Union Address

As Air America Radio pointed out, it is an ironic juxtaposition: "one involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of little intelligence for prognostication -- and the other involves a groundhog."

Saturday, February 05, 2005

NASA Enhanced Photo Reveals Wire

"The enhancements done by NASA scientist Robert Nelson show a rectangular object with a long "tail"; in some shots a wire leading over Bush's shoulder is visible. This configuration closely resembles a PTT (Push To Talk) receiver with an induction earpiece, a device used by some actors, newscasters and politicians to allow for inaudible voice communication in a public setting."

Friday, February 04, 2005

The Cracks Begin to Appear

Fannie, Freddie regulator seeks power to close
companies; legislation begins moving in Congress

By Robert Schroeder
Thursday, February 3, 2005

WASHINGTON -- The federal office that regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is seeking authority to close the giant mortgage finance companies in the event of a financial crisis, as legislation toughening rules on the firms begins to make its way through Congress.

"Receivership is a valuable thing," Patrick Lawler, chief economist of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, told a forum about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Thursday. Receivership refers to the ability of a regulator to settle the affairs of a business or to manage a corporation during reorganization.

Lawmakers and the Bush administration have their sights set on both Fannie and Freddie as the legislative year begins. Both companies, which pump millions of dollars into the mortgage market, have weathered accounting scandals recently, with two of Fannie's top executives resigning over a massive earnings restatement. The company may have to record a loss of $9 billion and it is still being investigated by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Meanwhile, legislation is beginning to move through Congress. Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, and John Sununu of New Hampshire have co-authored a bill that would create a receiver for Fannie and Freddie, as well as allow for higher levels of capital at both institutions. The senators are members of the Senate Banking Committee, which has scheduled a hearing about Fannie and Freddie for Feb. 10. Assistant Secretary of Housing John Weicher is scheduled to testify. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Separately, chief Securities and Exchange Commission accountant Donald Nicolaisen will testify before a House Financial Services subcommittee about his determination in December that Fannie Mae broke accounting rules. Meanwhile, a coalition of 37 federal, state, and local groups urged the federal government and Congress to cut ties with Fannie and Freddie Thursday. Warning that Americans are threatened by a potential taxpayer bailout of the two companies, the groups recommended privatizing both.

Russia Ends De-Facto Dollar Peg;
Moves to Align Rouble with Euro

By Steve Johnson
Financial Times
Saturday, February 5, 2005

LONDON -- Russia said yesterday it had abandoned efforts to tie the rouble's movement closely to the dollar and switched to shadowing both the euro and the US currency.The move heightened expectations that other countries operating de-facto dollar pegs, such as China, could follow suit.With 81 percent of Russia's oil exports currently sold to Europe, the move also provoked fresh speculation that Russia could decide to denominate its oil in euros. Russia is the world's second-largest oil exporter, behind Saudi Arabia.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Crunch Time

Fannie Mae, the nation's second largest financial institution is set to collapse... and take down a nation of homeowners with it. They recently fired the CEO and CFO. They're being investigated by the SEC. They're being sued for millions of dollars. Their credit rating has been slashed. A 20-year string of uninterrupted profit growth has been broken, and the stock price is crumbling.

Meanwhile, homeowners in Las Vegas, Denver, Toledo, Dallas and California's Orange County are seeing their homes lose value. Those are just a few of the 39 major metro areas where real estate is going DOWN. Across the country, millions of homeowners have gone way out on a limb to buy houses they can't afford. The government-fed credit industry was happy to oblige.

In 2001, only 1 out every 10 new homeowners needed an adjustable rate mortgage to qualify for a loan. Last year, more than 1 mortgage in 3 was adjustable. In some 'hot' markets, half of all buyers are financed with ARMs. Fact: every time rates go up, these homeowners will pay higher financing costs. Consider that, at the same time, their houses may be losing value. It's the perfect double whammy. Crunch time is here.

Make sure you're just a spectator when it happens.

Addison Wiggin
The Daily Reckoning

Two Inch Execution Device in Space

It is not possible to make up stuff this funny.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

What would Jesus add?

Execution Device Upgrade

This is the guy responsible for the conversion of GW, not Billy Graham as is often reported. What I love about Blessit is the wheel and luggage carrier update of the execution device. He has wheeled it through 303 countries.

"In April 1984, aware that he was floundering, Bush asked for a private meeting with traveling evangelist Rev. Arthur Blessit at the Holiday Inn in Midland, Texas. When Blessit asked him if he had an assurance that he was going to heaven, Bush responded that he did not. Though he and Blessit—who was known for carrying (ed. note: wheeling) a 12-foot cross with him from city to city as part of his ministry—prayed together, he acknowledges that he continued for more than a year on a wayward path."

I'm a Robot

I can't say that I'm a fan of rap music, but this is fantastic. Requires QuickTime.