Monday, May 30, 2005

Remembering America's Heroes

Here's a fantastic video for Memorial Day... "Don't Say Goodbye".

Friday, May 27, 2005

Cupcake Fever Hits L.A.

The newest food craze to hit Southern California diners: cupcakes. With flavor styles like red velvet, mini espresso with chocolate ganache and espresso buttercream, and madagascar vanilla, these tasty treats are going for up to $3 each. Wonder how long before the craze hits the South...

Good News From Iraq

Arthur Chrenkoff posted his latest Good News From Iraq column on Monday. Arthur compiles these columns and posts them about every two weeks. I can't recommend them highly enough. Here are some of the highlights, things you generally won't find reported in the mainstream media...

The selection of Iraq's new government has finally been completed. As it stands, "the new government, most of which was sworn in last week, includes 17 Shia ministers, eight Kurds, six Sunnis and a Christian.

The Iraqi government is partly or fully privatizing dozens of state-owned companies, and is developing outlets for domestic and foreign investment in Iraq's industrial sectors. The only exception: foreign interests cannot own 100 percent of Iraqi businesses dealing with natural resources such as oil.

Activity on the Iraq Stock Exchange is growing, with 89 companies now listed for trading, and a daily average of $2 million in trades.

ATM machines are being introduced in the coming weeks, according to the Trade Bank of Iraq. And Iraqi credit cards are now internationally recognized.

Iraqis are now buying cars, something the Saddam regine prevented. More than a million used cars have entered the country in the past two years.

Australia is providing increased agricultural assistance to Iraq, utilizing Australia's expertise in areas such as dry-land agriculture, irrigation, salinity and water resources management.

New roads continue to be built, existing roads paved and new bridges constructed.

The coalition has rebuilt 11 power plants, adding 2,000 megawatst to the Iraqi power grid. And more than 8,600 kilometers of electrical transmission wire have been run. Japan is building a new $100 million power station in southern Iraq.

Programs are in place distributing medicines and vaccines to the Iraqi people, including 48 million tablets to reduce iron deficiency anemia, prevalent in children and women of child bearing age, and a half-million doses of anti-tuberculosis vaccines.

More than 450 schools throughout Iraq have been renovated, with 350 left to rehabilitate. These 800 schools will greatly improve the education of more than 300,000 Iraqi children.
Arthur also includes small stories about individuals and groups across the country raising money, supplies, etc. for various causes relating to Iraq. I'll try to feature some of these over the coming weeks.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

To Protect and Serve? Not Even Close...

Drug dealers take over an apartment parking lot and hold an "open-air drug bazaar". They advertise that they're selling. How do you fight it? You call in the police, right? Not in Dallas, Texas. As Jim Schutze of the Dallas Observer learned, the police will only handle the problem if you hire them to do so when they're off duty.

As the apartment owner put it, "They were not doing their duty through the police department, but they were willing to do it on the side."

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

More Bad News For Newsweek

The folks at Newsweek, coming off the Koran flushing story and retraction, have been called on another of their journalistic decisions. This time, it's some pretty anti-American content in their international editions, content that never made it into U.S. magazines.

First, there was this cover on the Japanese edition of Newsweek, February 2, 2005.

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The same week, the international edition of the magazine featured a picture of President Bush on the cover with the headline, "America Leads... But Is Anyone Following?"

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What was on the U.S. cover that week? Here it is...

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Why the change in pictures and headlines for American readers? Is Newsweek afraid of offending mainstream America? The secondary headline on the Japanese edition, "With Bush Remaining In Office, The Ideal of 'Freedom' is Dashed to the Ground," certainly seems more like an editorial commentary that a bit of hard news. It's going to be interesting to see if anything comes of this.

Shaquille O'Neal - Cop?

Apparently there's more to Shaq than just game. The big man has joined a Justice Department task force tracking down sexual predators who target children on the Internet. He's already a deputy U.S. Marshall, and wants to someday be a sheriff or police chief.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Strong Home Buying Numbers

The housing boom continues across the country, with the National Association of Realtors reporting that sales of existing homes were up 4.5 % in April. Prices are up over last year, and the increase is the largest in 25 years. Last month, almost 7.2 million single-family homes and condominiums were sold, with a median price of $206,000.

Again, proof that the economy is strong and getting stronger. Low mortgage rates have helped the numbers. Hopefully, they'll stay low until Shannon and I can find our home.

Monday, May 23, 2005

What's News? What's Not?

Last week all three network news operations reported on tabloid photographs released showing Saddam Hussein in his tidy-whities. NBC's Today Show seemed especially outraged, even bringing on the deposed dictator's lawyer to gripe and moan about the pictures. Big news, right?

Funny where NBC's priorities are. A couple of weeks prior to the pictures, the New York Times reported the discovery of new Saddam-era mass graves in southern Iraq, including one believed to be holding as many as 5,000 corpses. NBC didn't air that story.

Over at CBS, Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer seems to be having trouble finding the line between news and editorializing. Introducing their top story for Thursday night's broadcast, Schieffer led off with the comment, "It just keeps getting worse in Iraq." Here's the rest, courtesy of the Media Research Center and taken from a transcript of the broadcast...

[Schieffer] recited a litany of dire news which only CBS considered to be the lead story of the day: "The death toll is rising. Tension is growing between Shiites and Sunnis. Is the country sliding toward civil war?"

From Baghdad, Mark Strassmann backed up Schieffer's thesis: "Tit-for-tat terror seems to be pushing Iraq towards civil war. This man says, 'We are heading toward a catastrophe.'"

A frustrated Schieffer recalled how U.S. military leaders recently predicted that "it might be possible to start drawing down the American force there early next year sometime. Now you just hear one bad report after another. I'm beginning to wonder, 'Does anybody know what's going on there?'"
Or, for that matter, what's going on at CBS? Different anchor, same old prattle...

Friday, May 20, 2005

Admitted Anti-Military, Bush Bias In Media

ABC White House correspondent Terry Moran appeared on Hugh Hewitt's nationally syndicated radio show on Wednesday, and during the discussion admitted to bias among the mainstream media against the military and President Bush.

TM: There is, Hugh, I agree with you, a deep anti-military bias in the media. One that begins from the premise that the military must be lying, and that American projection of power around the world must be wrong. I think that that is a hangover from Vietnam, and I think it's very dangerous.
HH: Are there members of the White House Press Corps, Terry, who actually hate Bush?

TM: I would say the answer to that is yes.

HH: And what percentage of them, do you think that amounts to?

TM: Uh, small, I would say, but some big fish.

HH: What's your guess about the percentage of the White House Press Corps that voted for Kerry?

TM: Oh, very high. Very, very high.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Any Chance To Get In A Hit

We know that the movers and shakers in Hollywood, by and large, are quite liberal. We know that they hold a deep, festering hatred for conservative values in general, and President Bush in particular. They will take any opportunity to take a shot at the Right, any chance to make President Bush and his supporters look bad. Director George Lucas, talking about the new "Star Wars" release, takes his opportunity...

Lucas, speaking to reporters, emphasised that the original "Star Wars" was written at the end of the Vietnam war, when Richard Nixon was U.S. president, but that the issue being explored was still very much alive today.

"The issue was, how does a democracy turn itself into a dictatorship?" he said.

"When I wrote it, Iraq (the U.S.-led war) didn't exist... but the parallels of what we did in Vietnam and Iraq are unbelievable."

He acknowledged an uncomfortable feeling that the United States was in danger of losing its democratic ideals, like in the movie.

"I didn't think it was going to get this close. I hope this doesn't come true in our country."

Although he didn't mention Bush by name, Lucas took what sounded like another dig while explaining the transformation of the once-good Anakin Skywalker to the very bad Darth Vader.

"Most bad people think they're good people," he said.
That's just lovely, isn't it? He says the parallels between Vietnam and Iraq are "unbelievable." Let's see...

In Vietnam we spent a decade fighting (mostly under two Democratic Presidents) to drive out communist influence in a country that, as a whole, probably couldn't have cared. We left defeated.

In Iraq, we went in under a Republican President and freed an entire nation from a brutal, bloodthirsty dictator in just a matter of days. That nation now has a freely elected democratic government, is on its way to maintaining its own defense, and provides a beacon of hope for freedom in the Middle East. Since the fall of Saddam's regime, the Syrian occupiers of Lebanon have been kicked out, free elections have been promised for the first time in Egypt, and corrupt governments have been replaced by democracies in Ukraine and Georgia. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi even disbanded his WMD programs. Oh, and we also freed millions of Afghans from the tyrannical rule of the Taliban prior to the Iraq War.

Can anyone say apples and oranges?

Friday, May 13, 2005

Peach State... Under Russian Influence?

President Bush visited the former Soviet Republic of Georgia recently, offering support to the nation's new democracy and its desire to join NATO. The Arizona Republic newspaper published a small blurb about the visit in their "News Briefing" section. Check out their map below. Who knew Tbilisi was so close to Atlanta?

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The paper did issue a correction.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Did NY Times Fudge The Numbers?

Looks like the New York Times has slanted some of the figures in their reporting on tax reform. Who caught them? Bloggers, of course.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Student Suspended For Having Nails In Pocket

An 11-year-old boy was arrested this week for carrying nails in his pocket at a Rock Hill, South Carolina middle school and charged with carrying an unlawful weapon. The boy's father said the nails were left in his pocket after a Boy Scout outing.

Why I Like Best Buy

A Denver, Colorado woman purchased a new computer from Circuit City. While making the purchase, she asked if store technicians could transfer the contents of her old computer's hard drive. They did, but they also transferred them to one of the store's floor model computers. That computer was sold to another customer, who wound up with all of the woman's personal info, including banking data, personal writings, etc. Circuit City claims no responsibility, saying customers have no expectation to privacy when they bring their computer into the store. They'll hash it out in court later this month.

Friday, May 06, 2005

We're Cleaning The Air! Wait, It's A Bad Thing...

From the darned if you do, darned if you don't file:

According the the journal Nature, the Earth's air is getting cleaner and clearer. Twenty years of cleaner skies have led to more of the sun's light and energy reaching the ground. In a real sense, the Earth is becoming brighter. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

But wait, researchers say that by clearing the air of smog, particulate matter, carcinogens and all other manner of crud, we're harming the planet and ourselves. The clear skies are allowing more of the sun's warmth to reach the ground, increasing the planet's temperature and, in turn, accelerating global warming. I just love this line from the story:

"Researchers will now focus on working out the long-term effects of clearer air."

Please Define "Outbreak"

An Associated Press story out today reports on Brazil's halting of processed beef exports to the U.S. while they try to improve sanitation and inspection standards. It's a simple, basic little story, until the last line:

"Brazil is the world's largest beef exporter, expanding sales last year after an outbreak of mad-cow disease in the United States."
An outbreak? One cow is considered an outbreak? So if I come down with the flu, there's been an "outbreak" of flu in this country. I never knew one person could be so important.

Also, that cow wasn't even raised here, it had been imported (already infected) from Canada.

Pardon me for climbing atop my soapbox. I know this doesn't mean squat to most of you, but it sticks in my crawl. As a journalist, and as a member of the agricultural community, it infuriates me when news outlets play loose with the facts. The AP story, like so many others, refers to "mad-cow disease". Actually, the condition is bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE. Unless things have changed and I missed the memo, journalistically it's incorrect to refer to something (in the initial reference in a story) by a nickname. And to call what we had here an "outbreak" is just journalistically incorrect. It would be more correct to have said something like:
"Brazil is the world's largest beef exporter, expanding sales last year after the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, in a single cow imported from Canada."
Stepping down from soapbox now...

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Giant Oil Discovery In Utah

An independent oil company has struck a reserve in Utah that may deliver as much as a billion barrels of high-quality oil. It's an area that had already been surveyed, studied and abandoned by the larger oil companies. In a 'little guy makes it big' story, the tiny oil company only has 25 employees and has accomplished what Chevron was unable to do on the same land... strike it big.

Bloggers Having Effect On Mainstream Media

The approximately 11 million American bloggers, and the 32 million who regularly read blogs, are leading to a "house cleaning" among the mainstream media. The CBS Memogate controversy is one example of the influence the blogosphere wields, calling the network on its questionable reporting and eventually leading to the resignation of Dan Rather.

"What blogging has created is a million eyes watching over the shoulders of journalists," says Matthew Felling, media director of the Center for Media and Public Affairs in Washington. "If some questionable news-gathering behavior had grown to be tolerated, the blogosphere has put an end to that."

Monday, May 02, 2005

Those Crazy Techies

Looking for something new now that Star Trek: Enterprise has been cancelled, the nerds and geeks at M.I.T. are hosting a convention for time travelers this Saturday night. Wouldn't you just love to be a fly on the wall at that shindig?

Suspension Erased

A few days ago I mentioned Bridget O'Neill, the Maryville, Tennessee high school student suspended after she was interviewed by a TV station. That suspension was relented during a disciplinary hearing, and Bridget was allowed to return to class. Unfortunately, she missed nine days of school (and school work) thanks to the seemingly incompetent administration at William Blount High School.

GOP Victory In Washington State

Dino Rossi , the Republican candidate for governor in Washington, won the initial ballot count in November in a very tight election. In a hand recount, his Democratic challenger, Christine Gregoire, won by an even slimmer margin. The state GOP contested the results, citing more than 1,000 cases of invalid votes being counted. Votes that were cast by felons, or by persons who had died PRIOR to the election. Strange that...

Anyway, Superior Court Judge John Bridges handed the GOP a victory, giving the go-ahead to apply "proportional analysis" to the illegal votes. Using proportional analysis, they want the court to subtract illegal votes from both candidates' totals according to precinct voting patterns. For example, if 10 illegal votes came from a precinct that voted 60 percent for Gregoire and 40 percent for Rossi, six votes would be deducted from Gregoire's total and four from Rossi's. A trial is scheduled to begin May 23, with the GOP asking for the hand recount results to be put aside.

It sure would be interesting to see how the felons and corpses voted...