Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Tomorrow I am going to Europe and will post again when I get back. Hopefully, there won't be any delays or cancellations due to the weather.

Russian In Advertising

From Moscow Times:
"Advertise in Russian or Pay the Penalty"

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service is planning to expand a crackdown on advertising using foreign words, with initial hearings in a spate of recent cases expected this week. The issue of using foreign words in advertising began attracting renewed attention about a year ago, and the interest is not going to subside, said the deputy head of the Moscow branch of the service, Alexander Tarkhov. If anything, the service is pursuing lawbreakers with renewed vigor. “Over the past year [we have seen] a great interest by both federal and local government agencies in the city’s appearance,” Tarkhov told The Moscow Times. “Advertising is a big part of its image.” Words like “sale,” “discount” and “free Wi-Fi” may soon disappear from advertisements, to be replaced by sometimes clumsy but legal Russian equivalents, or phonetic transliterations in Cyrillic — if they can be found in a dictionary. Although the law on advertising that addresses the rules and exceptions around foreign words and phrases came into force in 2006, Tarkhov said the recent enforcement impetus is also because of the fact that his “department is small and only really got around to the problem now.” Another law that affects the situation is the one that mandates Russian as the official language of the country. “According [to these laws] advertising should be done in the official language” of the country, said Alexei Lvov, head of the legal department at law firm Nalogovik. “These demands also stem from the idea that the consumer may be misled by advertising in a foreign language as to the content of the advertisement as a whole, the product that is being advertised and its producer,” he said. “But there are exceptions to any rule.” Foreign words are permitted as long as they are accompanied by a translation. But if they are part of a registered brand name, trademark or service mark, or the name of a television or radio show, they do not have to be translated. Companies use this clause as a loophole by registering slogans as trademarks. Tarkhov says the service has nothing against words in English but wants companies to abide by the law. “I am not against this. I am all for using foreign words. English is the language of international communication,” he said. Many words and phrases have now become common catch phrases, especially among Muscovites, he added. “But the law states, 'do the translation.' So let them use words like 'fashion' [in English] but have a translation in the ad someplace where it doesn't ruin the design.” Olga Belobrovtseva, strategic marketing director at IQ Marketing, which is the only domestic advertising agency to have won two Cannes Golden Lions, the Oscars of international advertising, believes that the law is condescending. “Our people are much smarter then they are being given credit for,” she said. “If a person does not understand something, he needs to have the right to find this out on his own. This is the kind of advertising we should be doing — the kind that educates and inspires,” she said. Advertisers maintain that often when a translation is included, it is either done in such a tiny font that it is meaningless or a bigger one that destroys the creative concept and aesthetics. Puns are often lost in translation as well. Belobrovtseva cited as an example an advertising campaign by Adidas. Their ubiquitous slogan “Impossible is nothing” was translated into Russian as “Impossible is possible,” she said. The beauty and the concept are gone, she said, adding that Russia was the only country that used subtitles in another Adidas commercial where children picked star soccer players to be on their teams. “The whole world watched this commercial undubbed and with no subtitles. Why should we be any different?” she said. In early November the Moscow branch of Federal Anti-Monopoly Service released a statement announcing that it initiated three separate cases against companies that used English words in promoting their products. Yaposhka-City, owner of Japanese fast-food chain Yaposha, got in trouble for putting up a billboard that said “Happy New Menu” with the words “happy” and “new” spelled out in English on a building facade. Trade Retail’s sportswear store, Bogner, and Potential, owner of Bar BQ Cafe, drew the service's ire for the use of the phrases “new collection” and “Halloween” — both comprehensible for anyone with a basic understanding of English. Results of the investigations by the service and possible fines against the three companies are expected in the coming days. Companies face fines of 100,000 rubles to 500,000 rubles ($3,200 to $16,000) for breaking the law, which increase in case of a repeat offense. Yaposhka-City did not respond to a request for comment.
Advertisers believe that while in most cases products and services can be promoted without the use of foreign — usually English — words, they can be an effective tool for attracting specific target audiences to certain types of products. Belobrovtseva said using foreign words can help an advertisement stand out, make a slogan memorable, create an aura of prestige around a product and even trick consumers into believing that they're buying an imported item when they really aren’t. But it’s a double-edged sword, she said, since they may sometimes alienate or confuse potential consumers and can result in legal trouble for the advertiser.
Other countries are more tolerant toward the use of foreign words in advertising, said Lvov, of the Nalogovik law firm. Belarus and Kazakhstan allow the use of Russian language in advertisements, he said.

^ It seems a little dumb, but many places (France, Quebec, etc) have similar laws. If English is the International Language then why shouldn't it be used to sell international products? ^


Airline Data

From Yahoo News:
"TSA says airlines providing more passenger data"

This is just extending the program from domestic flights to international ones. I see no issue with it.


Sunday, November 28, 2010


This week they went to Hong Kong. They had to find the fake food among the real food and eat all the real food the touched - and it was all sushi. Two of the people couldn't keep it down. I know I couldn't since I don't like fish. Then they had to either drive on the Ding Ding or search a bunch of boats for a number.
Nat and Kat came in first place while the Nevada team didn't finish and weren't sent home they will get a 6 hour penalty next time. Next time they go to South Korea although I won't be here to see it since I'll be in Europe. Guess I'll have to TiVo it and watch it when I get back.

The End Of Euros?

From the BBC:
"Leaving the euro: how would it work?"

Much has been written about the theoretical attractions for financially troubled countries in exiting the euro-zone. But the question of how a country would go about it is less well explored. And the more closely you examine the question of "how" - as opposed to "why" - a country might leave the euro, the clearer it becomes that the practical difficulties are huge. To establish a new currency a country would have to convert all existing euro-denominated savings at a fixed rate on a given date. But savers and businesses would not wait passively for that date to arrive.
The euro may be under pressure, but leaving it could make things worse The main reason for creating a new currency would be to increase the country's competitiveness by making its exports cheaper. So savers and investors would assume that the new currency would depreciate against the euro - probably very rapidly - and want to keep their savings in euros, or transfer them to another well-established currency such as the US dollar. The first practical problem, then, is that if it becomes clear that a country is seriously thinking of leaving the euro a huge amount of money will leave the country. This is sometimes referred to as "capital flight". The overall effect would be to trigger huge transfers of deposits out of the country and wreck the banking system. The government in question would almost certainly try to impose controls to prevent this kind of capital flight, but senior policy-makers are very sceptical about whether such controls would be effective in 21st century Europe. But if a prolonged national debate about leaving the euro creates a risk of capital flight, would the alternative be to prepare in secret and announce it suddenly? Such a plan might work in a totalitarian state, but does not allow for parliamentary debate, legislation and all the other processes of a modern democracy. And the idea that huge numbers of new bank notes could be prepared and distributed in secret - ready for the appointed currency conversion date - is absurd. Europe's troubled economies are finding it hard to borrow money from investors However, suppose for a moment that these practical problems could be overcome, where would the country leaving the euro stand financially? It would have a large national debt denominated in euros. Remaining committed to paying interest on that debt in euros while tax revenues are generated in the new currency would be a big risk. The alternative would be to announce that national borrowings have been converted into the new currency. For overseas bond investors, this would amount to a default. When the country wanted to borrow more it would almost certainly have to pay punitive interest rates to persuade bond market investors to participate. The counter-argument to all this is that currency conversions have been achieved successfully in the past. The euro came into circulation without too many hitches, albeit with many years of preparation.
But the key difference is that in these cases the currency into which savings were being switched was perceived to be stable. The incentive for capital flight did not exist. This does suggest that if the fundamental problem is substituting a weak currency for a strong one, the most practical solution would be for the strongest members of the euro-zone to leave the currency union. It means that - in purely practical terms - Germany could leave the euro while weaker countries could not. But while some Germans clearly feel nostalgic about the Deutschmark, it seems massively unlikely that a German government would initiate the break-up of the euro. The euro was not designed with any possibility of break-up in mind. Governments can choose to shadow another currency and then change their minds - the UK did just that in 1992.
Governments can create a supposedly fixed link to another currency which - in extreme circumstances - can be unfixed. But the point of a currency union is that it is supposed to be unbreakable. And whatever the theoretical attractions of breaking up the euro might be, the practical difficulties of doing so should not be under-estimated.

^ I have said it before: the EU grew way too fast to cope with all the issues it now faces. The same happened wit the Euro - countries joined and continue to join without much thought to financial problems in other member states. If I was the head of an EU country not already in the Eurozone then I would seriously reconsider changing currencies (at least until things stabilize.) ^


Germans And Israel

From Yahoo News:
"German president: Germans should act for Israel"

Germany's president says the "inconceivable crimes" of the Holocaust require all Germans to act forever on behalf of Israel. President Christian Wulff toured the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem on Sunday. It marks his first visit to Israel since assuming the presidency in July. The 51-year-old Wulff is the first German president to be born after World War II. The Nazis and their collaborators murdered 6 millions Jews during the war. Wulff is being accompanied in Israel by his 17-year-old daughter, various diplomats and lawmakers. He will be meeting President Shimon Peres and other senior Israeli officials during his two-day visit. Then he will head to the West Bank, where he will meet Palestinian leaders and visit Jesus' traditional birthplace in Bethlehem.

^ No matter how many years go by the effect of the Holocaust will be around forever and it is up to every German (whether they were alive during the war or not) to work to make sure the Holocaust never happens again. Of course only those Germans (and their collaborators) who were 18 or older in 1945 can be blamed for allowing the mass murders to happen. ^


Russia Blames Stalin

From Moscow Times:
"Duma Votes to Blame Stalin for Katyn Massacre"

The State Duma on Friday directly blamed Josef Stalin for the 1940 massacre of thousands of Polish officers at Katyn in a rare condemnation of the dictator, in a vote widely seen as an attempt by Moscow to improve ties with Poland. The Duma voted in favor of a resolution saying documents in secret archives showed Stalin directly ordered the massacre, the body said on its web site. The resolution was backed by 342 of 450 members. "Material, kept for many years in secret archives...bears witness to the fact that the Katyn crime was carried out under Stalin's direct orders," the resolution said. "The State Duma deputies extend a hand of friendship to the Polish people and hope this will mark a new era of relations between our countries," it added. Human rights campaigners have been alarmed by what they see as an attempt by some officials — especially during Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's years as president during 2000-2008 — to play down Stalin's atrocities by focusing on his achievements. Katyn, a village near Smolensk, is one of a handful of sites across Russia where NKVD officers executed Polish prisoners of war. The Katyn graves, discovered by Nazi invaders in 1943, hold 4,000 bodies out of what Poland says is a total of nearly 22,000 victims. While the original 1940 execution order signed by Stalin was declassified by then-President Boris Yeltsin, Friday's resolution is one of the strongest official censures of the wartime leader since the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991. "This is really a question of conscience, after so many years of negation and silence, to make a declaration that would close this chapter of our history," said Konstatin Kosachyov, head of the Duma committee on foreign affairs.
Poland welcomed the decision, which comes after Putin paid his respects at Katyn on April 7 and after a plane crash on April 10 that took the life of Polish President Lech Kaczynski on his way to a separate Katyn service. Kaczynski, his wife and 94 officials were all killed en route to a ceremony commemorating the massacre when their plane crashed and broke apart on treetops near Smolensk. Analysts viewed Friday's resolution as a bid to boost ties with Poland. The Kremlin is making a rapprochement after decades of tension. "If 10 years ago there were a lot of survivors — I mean from the side of those who participated in the repressions — now it's more like distant history," said Nikolai Petrov, an analyst with the Moscow Carnegie Center. "So to come forward with this now means to improve the image of the country at a very low political cost," Petrov added. Poland's foreign ministry said it was an important step towards full reconciliation between Poland and Russia. "This gesture confirms that there is no way back from the road of a truth-based Polish-Russian dialogue," the ministry said in a statement, adding that it hoped the decision would be followed by a rehabilitation of the Polish victims. Poland's center-right government also expects President Dmitry Medvedev to hand over more declassified files of the Katyn massacre to Warsaw during his visit slated for Dec. 6. Medvedev gave Poland some of the original files in April. For nearly half a century, Moscow blamed Nazi Germany for killing the Polish officers. It was not until 1990 that General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev admitted that Stalin's NKVD, the precursor to the KGB, was responsible. But Gorbachev stopped short of directly accusing the dictator. Virulent opposition to the resolution was voiced by the Communist Party, many of whose leaders still deny the NKVD's involvement in the massacre and admire Stalin for his role in leading Soviet troops to victory in World War II. "How can we apologize for the Katyn tragedy when it wasn't our fault?" Communist Party member Viktor Ilyukhin said. Rights group Memorial, which wages an often lonely battle to document Soviet-era repressions, hailed the move as a "serious step forward" but called for it to be followed by action.

^ All I have to say is it's about time Russia officially blamed Stalin. ^


Canadians Choose US

From The Globe and Mail:
"An ominous flight pattern: Canadians opting for U.S. airports"

It seems that Canadians are choosing to drive into the US and then fly from American airports. It seems to be much cheaper than flying from Canadian airports.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

TSA And The Disabled

From Yahoo News:
"For disabled, airport security hassles are old hat"

NEWARK, N.J. – For air passengers already fed up with being hauled off to the side of the security line for a pat-down or facing aggressive questions about bulky clothing or odd items in their luggage, advocates for the disabled have this to say: Welcome to our lives. For the disabled and infirmed — many forced to go through security lines in wheelchairs with ample hiding places for contraband, wearing prosthetic limbs that could harbor drugs or explosives or lugging oxygen tanks that could really contain god-knows-what — the added discomfort and inconvenience that many travelers are now experiencing is something they've put up with for years. "I didn't mind; it wasn't really that bad," 89-year-old Marquerite Aswad, who uses a wheelchair, said Tuesday after arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport from Fort Myers, Fla. "It was a lady, and she didn't pat me very hard. She said, 'You look like a nice woman; I don't think you're hiding anything in there.'" Since the new airport security screening procedures began Nov. 1, stories of travelers with disabilities or medical conditions being humiliated, perhaps inadvertently, by Transportation Security Administration agents have made headlines: A bladder cancer survivor from Michigan had to board a plane covered in urine after agents tore open his urostomy bag during a pat-down; a flight attendant and breast cancer survivor in North Carolina said she was ordered to expose her prosthetic breast to two TSA staffers. Those highly publicized confrontations appear to be the exception, not the rule, and advocates say they have not heard an outcry from disabled travelers, who are used to intrusions and in fact view the new rules as a teachable moment. "It's just one more thing for people with disabilities to think about when they're flying," said Phyllis Guinivan, of Wilmington, Del., whose 23-year-old son has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. "The fact that the general public is going through this may help their understanding of the kind of barriers people with disabilities face every day." Matthew Albuquerque, vice president of Next Step Orthotics and Prosthetics in Manchester, N.H., said that even before the new procedures, his clients often were asked to remove their prosthetic limbs. He said he has been hearing horror stories since security was increased after the Sept. 11 attacks. "Imagine being forced to take part of your body off and put it off to the side and hop over to someone to be patted down. This has been going on in the disabled community for a long time," he said. "If there's anything I'm glad about with the current circumstances, it's that it's brought a light and awareness to the whole thing." Screeners have never been told to ask travelers to remove a prosthesis, but travelers sometimes do so without being asked because they think it's required, TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis said. According to security protocols listed on its website, the TSA assures travelers its agents "will not ask nor require you to remove your prosthetic device, cast, or support brace." Screeners are authorized to conduct an explosive trace sampling on a prosthesis that could require a traveler to lift or raise some clothing; travelers can request a private screening, which TSA says it "will make every effort" to have conducted by two agents of the same sex as the traveler. For Guinivan, speaking to The Associated Press by phone from her home, the concern for her son goes beyond pat-downs to worries that his wheelchair may get damaged or that he will have trouble sitting between two passengers on the flight. "Our expectation when we fly is to be prepared for uncomfortable situations," she said. "A lot of the things people with disabilities experience every day, the general public is now having to deal with." Eric Lipp, a partial paraplegic, said he had no problems when he recently took four flights over two days, though he definitely noticed the pat-down he received was more aggressive. Lipp, executive director of the Open Doors Organization, a Chicago-based nonprofit group that focuses on accessibility in travel and tourism, said that TSA agents should get more training in how to treat people with disabilities in a respectful manner, but that he does not object to the new policies. "It might be a little more intrusive now," Lipp said, "but it's expected."

^ This is an article that needs to be read by everyone - including the TSA. I have travelled many times with someone in a wheelchair and have had many bad experiences going through security. I always read the TSA's website before every flight to make sure they didn't add something new and know our rights and have been questioned by the TSA over things that their own website says we can do. I think the TSA needs to retrain all their employees on how to deal with the disabled and to do so in a courteous way. Next week I will be going through security with someone in a wheelchair on my way to Europe and I am sure the TSA will have something to say - they always do. I will just keep my mouth shut and enjoy my trip and if anything bad happens will deal with it when I get back.^



Today is Thanksgiving and this year my sister-in-law, niece and nephew flew here to celebrate. My mom started making pies and ice creams from scratch about a month ago. Today we had: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, brussel sprouts, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes and rolls. For dessert we had: apple pie, pumpkin pie, vanilla ice cream, chocolate ice cream, coffee ice cream and cranberry bread. Everything (except for the sweet potatoes) was excellent.
We are under a Winter Weather Alert through tomorrow for freezing rain, sleet and snow. Hopefully, we will be able to take the kids to Funspot.
All in all it was a really great day with superb food.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


This week they were in Bangladesh and from I could see and what the teams kept saying about the smell I have no desire to ever go visit there. There was trash everywhere, the water was brown and the people looked like they hadn't ever washed. This was in the capital which is supposed to be the showcase of the country to the outside world.
The teams had to either move bricks or deliver food (which the teams also said smelled bad.) Two of the teams had U-Turns and had to do both tasks. They then had to put together a rick-shaw.
Chad and his fiancee came in last and were sent home.

1612 (2007)

This is a Russian movie about the Time of Troubles and how the Russians had to fight to get the Poles out of their country. The Russians even have a new holiday on November 4th called Day of National Unity that commemorates the event(which was celebrated up to 1917 and then again a few years ago.)
The movie has the makings of being great, but in the end it was very confusing. It kept skipping all over the place and was not made credible by all the unicorns and other magical things that went on.
With that said it could have been on par with Hollywood-made movies, but fell short.

TSA VS The Public

From Yahoo News:
"TSA has met the enemy — and they are us"

How did an agency created to protect the public become the target of so much public scorn? After nine years of funneling travelers into ever longer lines with orders to have shoes off, sippy cups empty and laptops out for inspection, the most surprising thing about increasingly heated frustration with the federal Transportation Security Administration may be that it took so long to boil over. The agency, a marvel of nearly instant government when it was launched in the fearful months following the 9/11 terror attacks, started out with a strong measure of public goodwill. Americans wanted the assurance of safety when they boarded planes and entrusted the government with the responsibility. But in episode after episode since then, the TSA has demonstrated a knack for ignoring the basics of customer relations, while struggling with what experts say is an all but impossible task. It must stand as the last line against unknown terror, yet somehow do so without treating everyone from frequent business travelers to the family heading home to visit grandma as a potential terrorist. The TSA "is not a flier-centered system. It's a terrorist-centered system and the travelers get caught in it," said Paul Light, a professor of public service at New York University who has tracked the agency's effectiveness since it's creation. That built-in conflict is at the heart of a growing backlash against the TSA for ordering travelers to step before a full-body scanner that sees through their clothing, undergo a potentially invasive pat-down or not fly at all. "After 9/11 people were scared and when people are scared they'll do anything for someone who will make them less scared," said Bruce Schneier, a Minneapolis security technology expert who has long been critical of the TSA. "But ... this is particularly invasive. It's strip-searching. It's body groping. As abhorrent goes, this pegs it." A traveler in San Diego, John Tyner, has become an Internet hero after resisting both the scan and the pat-down, telling a TSA screener: "If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested." That has helped ignite a campaign urging people to refuse such searches on Nov. 24, which immediately precedes Thanksgiving and is one of the year's busiest travel days. The outcry, though, "is symptomatic of a bigger issue," said Geoff Freeman, executive vice president of the U.S. Travel Association, an industry group that says it has received nearly 1,000 calls and e-mails from consumers about the new policy in the last week. "It's almost as if it's a tipping point," Freeman said. "What we've heard from travelers time and again is that there must be a better way." Indeed, TSA has a history of stirring public irritation. There was the time in 2004 when Sen. Ted Kennedy complained after being stopped five times while trying to board planes because a name similar to his appeared on the agency's no-fly list. And the time in 2006 when a Maine woman went public with her tale of being ordered by a TSA agent to dump the gel packs she was using to cool bags of breast milk. And the time in 2007, when a Washington, D.C. woman charged that another TSA agent threatened to have her arrested for spilling water out of her child's sippy cup. TSA denied the last, releasing security camera footage to try and prove its point. But that did little to offset the agency's longtime struggle to explain itself and win traveler cooperation. It wasn't supposed to be this way. After Congress approved creation of the agency in late 2001, the TSA grew quickly from just 13 employees in January 2002 to 65,000 a year later. In the first year, agency workers confiscated more than 4.8 million firearms, knives and other prohibited items, according to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. But even as the new agency mushroomed, officials at the top, pressured by airlines worried that tighter security would discourage people from flying, looked to the business world for lessons on systems, efficiency and service. TSA set up "go teams" pairing government employees with executives from companies including Marriott International Inc., The Walt Disney Co., and Intel Corp., to figure out how to move lines of people through checkpoints efficiently and how to deal with angry travelers. But the agency was working under what Freeman calls "an unachievable mandate." Congress demanded an agency that eliminated risk. But the risks are always changing, as terrorists devise new methods and government parries. That has led to an agency that is always in crisis mode, constantly adding new policies designed to respond to the last terror plot. President Barack Obama says he has pushed the TSA to make sure that it is always reviewing screening processes with actual people in mind. "You have to constantly refine and measure whether what we're doing is the only way to assure the American people's safety," Obama said Saturday. "And you also have to think through, are there ways of doing it that are less intrusive." TSA operates on the belief that a key to foiling terrorists is to keep them guessing, agency watchers say. But it has never really explained that to a flying public that sees never-ending changes in policies covering carry-on liquids, shoes, and printer cartridges as maddening and pointless inconsistency. "If you ask what its procedures are, how you screen people, its `I can't tell you that because if the bad guys find out they'll be able to work around the system'," said Christopher Elliott, an Orlando, Fla.-based consumer advocate specializing in travel. "That's why a lot of what they've done has not really gone over well with air travelers. They perceive it as being heavy-handed and often the screeners come across as being very authoritarian." Over time, TSA has settled into a pattern of issuing directives with little explanation and expecting they be followed. But increasingly fed-up travelers don't understand the agency's sense of urgency and aren't buying it. "I don't think the law enforcement approach is going to work with the American public. You've got to explain yourself and reassure people. And they're not doing it," Light said. That goes beyond public relations, experts say. As more and more layers are added to air travel security efforts, it creates difficult and potentially unpopular choices. But the TSA has been unwilling to openly discuss how it arrives at policies or to justify the trade-offs, highlighted by its insistence over the need for the scanners. "They're very expensive and what they (TSA officials) should be able to do is answer if it does reduce the risk, how much does it reduce the risk and is it worth it?" said John Mueller, a professor of political science at Ohio State, who has researched the way society reacts to terrorism. The pushback against the body scanners and pat-downs shows the agency at its worst, Elliott said, issuing a policy that wasn't properly vetted or explained, but determined to defend it. Growing dissatisfaction with TSA has even led some airports to consider replacing the agency with private screeners. Such a change is allowed by law, but contractor must follow all the security procedures mandated by the TSA, including body scans and pat-downs. But frustration with the TSA was building even before the latest furor. In a December 2007 Associated Press-Ipsos poll asking Americans to rank government agencies, it was as unpopular as the Internal Revenue Service. Even so, a poll earlier this month by CBS News found 81 percent of Americans support the TSA's use of full-body scanners at airports. The poll, conducted Nov. 7-10, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Elliott said that better communication would probably win the TSA more cooperation. But the pushback suggests that a growing number of consumers, particularly frequent travelers, are questioning the premise at the heart of the agency's existence. "I think at some point Americans said to themselves, maybe in their collective subconscious...there's a line here where it's not just worth it anymore," he said. "There's a growing sense that that line has been crossed."

^ I have been saying for years that people blindly accept what they are told to do (whether it is the TSA or any other agency.) It seems that now people are starting to wake up and say something. I do not think it is wise for people to do or say anyhing to the TSA to show their disgust for the policies, but do think that people have a right to file complaints with their Congressmen and other public bodies so they can enact change. Anyone who has travelled outside the US knows how airport security around the world (at least in Western Countries) manages to treat passengers as people while keeping everything safe. Security at London's Heathrow Airport (which I was at last June and will fly to again in 10 days)were extremely friendly and helpful. They thought of even the little things to help people feel comfortable and safe. While I understand the US is larger than most countries and has more people flying within it's territory the Federal Government and TSA need to rethink their poliies and lack of concern for customer service. ^


Russia Tightens EU Visa Rules

From Deutsche Welle:
"Russia introduces stricter visa requirements for EU citizens"

From November, German citizens applying for a Russian visa must now show a bank account statement, proof of earnings and the registration of a personal business or place of residence. This is all meant to prove the applicant's willingness to eventually leave Russia and return home. Russian authorities cited the "principle of reciprocity" for the changes in requirements, as Russian citizens must present similar certificates when applying for entry into the European Union. Moscow has sought visa-free travel with the EU for years, and President Dmitry Medvedev has said Russia could lift visa restrictions immediately. "Our country is ready to solve this problem - the problem is not ours," he said. At a Russia-EU summit in Rostov-on-Don with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso earlier this year, Medvedev openly offered to end visa restrictions, hoping to accelerate negotiations. Now Russia is hoping for a deadline on visa-free travel by the next Russia-EU summit on December 12 in Brussels. Germany belongs to those EU member states which support a gradual relaxation of visa restrictions with Russia. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle made that clear at a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on November 1, stipulating that there were still many details the EU had to clear up. Medvedev has told EU leaders Russia is ready to drop visa requirements
Thus Berlin has shown little understanding for the most recent tightening of visa restrictions, and the Foreign Ministry stated it would not accept the restrictions without protest. The Bundestag also criticized Russia's move, with parliamentarian Marina Schuster of the foreign affairs committee saying she was "surprised that Russia has taken this step," which moved the process backwards. "The goal should be for both sides to make advances toward visa freedom - and Lavrov and Westerwelle also discussed this," she told Deutsche Welle. However, Hans-Henning Schroeder from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs said Russia's tightening of visa restrictions was a completely normal diplomatic step. "The Schengen zone makes certain demands of Russian applicants for visas, and now Russia is simply making the same demands," he said, referring to Europe's border-free travel area. This may be bothersome, he added, but it is not unusual. Schroeder said one should not assume that the tighter visa requirements would have consequences for negotiations on visa-free travel. "There won't be visa-free travel without compromises," he said. "Rather it's a negotiation process, and the Russian side has to bring bargaining power to the table." A host of questions must still be resolved, on issues like border security or readmission agreements. Schroeder said ultimately the Schengen states will hope to ensure that any ending of visa restrictions will not turn into a liability.

^ It makes sense that Russia requires the same documents for EU citizens that the EU requires from Russians. It is just like when the US raises the visa fee to $140 and countries raise their visa fees (usually only for Americans) to the same price. I think $140 is too much to charge (especially for transit visas), but I don't see the prices going down anytime soon. ^


Saturday, November 20, 2010

65 Years: Nuremberg Trials

From Deutsche Welle:
"Nuremberg trials left a lasting legacy"

The Nuremberg trials, launched in the wake of World War II, left behind a broad legacy. Successful in sentencing a group of key personalities of the Nazi Party, they inspired a series of further trials all aimed at punishing the war criminals of the Third Reich. The trials, which began on November 20, 1945, in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg, were a new type of event on the world stage. It was the first time an international tribunal had sought to sentence the leaders of a regime - politicians, army officers and economic advisors - even though in some cases direct responsibility for specific criminal acts could not be attributed to them.As a group, they were seen as initiators, aides, organizers and executers of crimes against humanity. They were accused of orchestrating wars of aggression, murdering civilians and prisoners of war, deporting people, plundering, engaging in racial persecution, murdering European Jews and occupying numerous European countries.
However, all these accusations had little impact on the Nazis in the courtroom, who did not see themselves as responsible for the listed crimes. Not a single one plead guilty.The judges for the trials came from the United States, the Soviet Union, France and Great Britain and were appointed by their governments for this role.
The chief prosecutor was Robert Jackson from the United States, and his assistant chief counsel was German-Jewish lawyer Robert Kempner, who had been stripped of his German citizenship by the Nazis before World War II and had immigrated to the United States."When I began to work on this matter in America in 1942, my American colleagues asked me, 'Is this all true? Can we prove it?'" recalled Kempner. "And I said, 'We can prove this 100 percent.'"The trials lasted 218 days, with 236 witnesses questioned, 5,330 documents and 200,000 statements submitted as evidence and 25,000 pages of protocol written. The hearings shed light on the dimensions of the Nazi regime's crimes.The verdicts came out on September 30 and October 1, 1946: seven imprisonments, 12 death sentences and three acquittals.The 218 days of trials produced various sentences and 25,000 pages of protocolThe first round of trials was followed by 12 others. These were aimed at Nazi medical doctors, lawyers, soldiers and even companies such as Flick - an industrial conglomerate that supported the Nazi party. Flick profited from the liquidation of Jewish property, assisted Hitler's rearmament efforts and used slave laborers from concentration camps.The German population and its attitude towards the Nazi era were largely unaffected by the trials. They were seen as an arbitrary act of the winning side and it was not long before the government of the newly-formed Federal Republic of Germany, together with party and church representatives, pleaded for clemency on behalf of the convicted persons.Some death sentences were turned into prison sentences, and there were some early releases. Some of the accused got the chance to resume their interrupted careers.Despite some of these sentences being overturned, the trials left a lasting impression on the world.The creation of the International Military Tribunal has served as a model for other tribunals, including The Hague in the Netherlands - for trying crimes committed during the Balkan wars - and the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, which tried Japanese officials for crimes against peace and against humanity.The trials also significantly influenced the development of international criminal law, serving as models for conventions such as the 1948 Convention on Genocide.

^ The Nurembeg Trials and the trials that came after it did not do enough to bring those responsible for the Holocaust or the Second World War. I think that the main reason was the tension between the US and the USSR. Had that tension not come about for several more years I think the Allies would have done what should have been done at the end of the war and treated all those involved like the criminals they are. ^


TSA Helps Pilots

From Yahoo News:
"TSA: Pilots to be exempt from some airport checks"

The Transportation Security Administration has agreed to let airline pilots skip the security scanning and pat-downs that passengers face at the nation's airports, pilot groups said Friday. Beginning Friday, pilots traveling in uniform or on airline business will be allowed to pass security by presenting two photo IDs, one from their company and one from the government, to be checked against a secure flight crew database, the TSA said. The Obama administration's retreat on screening pilots comes less than a week before the hectic Thanksgiving holiday travel period. Some travelers are threatening to protest the security measures by refusing to go through the scanning machines. Airlines are caught in the middle. Pilots welcomed the changes. "This looks good. It's basically what we've been after for 10 years," says Sam Mayer, a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association at American Airlines, the union that raised objections to the new screening process about two weeks ago. "Pilots are not the threat here; we're the target." Pilots have also argued that it made no sense to subject them to the same screening process as passengers since they control the plane. If they were intent on terrorism, they could crash it and the scanners wouldn't provide extra safety. TSA offered few details about the specific changes in screening of pilots, which expands a program tested at airports in Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Charlotte, N.C. "Pilots are trusted partners who ensure the safety of millions of passengers flying every day," said TSA Administrator John Pistole. He said putting pilots through a faster screening process would be a more efficient use of the agency's resources. Pistole has defended the invasive pat-downs and said intelligence about potential terrorist attacks and plots to evade airport security have guided these changes. Still, some lawmakers want a review of the government's pat-down procedure. Pilots have complained about possible health effects from radiation emitted by full-body scanners that produce a virtually naked image, and they said that pat-downs by security inspectors were demeaning. Passengers have lodged similar complaints, but the government is not changing the screening requirements for air travelers.

^ This is just plain wrong, EVERYONE we goes past the security line needs to be searched. That includes: airport employees, airline employees, pilots, stewardesses, passengers, crew, etc. No one should be exempted. While I do not support the new pat-downs I think that while they are in place everyone should get the same kind of security check. Pilots and other fight crew have done very little in the past decade to prevent bombings and the like on planes. The TSA has also done little to prevent attacks - something that even their own tests prove. Passengers on the plane are the ones who protect other passegners, the flight crews, the pilots and the people on the ground. The US Governmet, the TSA and everyone else in the travel industry needs to look to Israel and Europe to learn how to protect the skies and treat passengers like people. Like I already wrote, I do not agree with the TSA's new polices and how they treat everyone like terrorists (to them you are guilty until you prov your innocence) but I will abide by their procedures so I can continue to travel. ^


Rangel Censure

From Yahoo News:
"Rangel could be 23rd House member to be censured"

One of Congress' most likable veterans, Rep. Charles Rangel, would become the 23rd House member in the nation's history to be censured if the House goes along with a recommendation of its ethics committee. After Thanksgiving, House members will take up the solemn task of disciplining one of their own when the New York Democrat is reproached for financial and fundraising misconduct. It will be one of the more unpleasant jobs in the waning days of the 111th Congress because the congressman from Harlem is legendary for his friendliness and greetings to anyone he passes on the grounds of the Capitol. The normally self-confident, 80-year-old Rangel, newly re-elected with 40 years of House service behind him, was reduced to pleading with the ethics committee Thursday to refrain from calling him corrupt. It didn't. "Although prior committee precedent for recommendation of censure involved many cases of direct financial gain, this committee's recommendation of censure is based on the cumulative nature of the violations and not any direct personal financial gain," the committee said in a report. The ethics committee deliberated about three hours before voting 9-1 to recommend a censure, plus a requirement that Rangel pay taxes he owes on income from a vacation villa in the Dominican Republic. If the House agrees to a censure resolution, Rangel would stand before his colleagues at the front of the chamber — known as the well — where the resolution of censure would be read by the speaker of the House. The House has the option of changing the punishment to a reprimand, which eliminates an oral rebuke at the well. Rangel was convicted in an ethics trial this week by a panel of lawmakers on 11 counts of ethical wrongdoing, including his use of House letterheads and staff to solicit money for a college center named after him. A number of the donors had business before the House Ways and Means Committee while Rangel served as chairman. Rangel also filed a decade's worth of misleading financial statements understating his assets and converted a subsidized New York apartment — designated for residential use — into a campaign office. Other tenants who violated their lease got evicted. The tax issue was a sore point for several members of the ethics committee, who said it was especially egregious that a former chairman of the House's tax-writing committee failed for 17 years to pay taxes on the income from his island villa. It's unclear how much Rangel owes in taxes. An ethics committee document indicated he owed $16,775 as of 1990, but Rangel has paid some of his back taxes. The Rangel case won't end the ethics committee's business. On Nov. 29, the panel of five Democrats and five Republicans will hold an ethics trial for Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. Waters is vigorously fighting charges that she improperly attempted to get federal financial aid for a bank where her husband is an investor.

^ It seems that Congress doesn't really take breaking the law seriously. Rangel broke the laws and was found guilty on 11 counts and will only get a "slap on the hand." With "punishments" like that it is not surprising that more people break the laws. ^


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Private Airport Security

From Yahoo News:
"Airports consider congressman's call to ditch TSA"

In a climate of Internet campaigns to shun airport pat-downs and veteran pilots suing over their treatment by government screeners, some airports are considering another way to show dissatisfaction: Ditching TSA agents altogether. Federal law allows airports to opt for screeners from the private sector instead. The push is being led by a powerful Florida congressman who's a longtime critic of the Transportation Security Administration and counts among his campaign contributors some of the companies who might take the TSA's place. Furor over airline passenger checks has grown as more airports have installed scanners that produce digital images of the body's contours, and the anger intensified when TSA added a more intrusive style of pat-down recently for those who opt out of the full-body scans. Some travelers are using the Internet to organize protests aimed at the busy travel days next week surrounding Thanksgiving. For Republican Rep. John Mica of Florida, the way to make travelers feel more comfortable would be to kick TSA employees out of their posts at the ends of the snaking security lines. This month, he wrote letters to nation's 100 busiest airports asking that they request private security guards instead. "I think we could use half the personnel and streamline the system," Mica said Wednesday, calling the TSA a bloated bureaucracy. Mica is the ranking Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Once the new Congress convenes in January, the lawmaker is expected lead the committee. Companies that could gain business if airports heed Mica's call have helped fill his campaign coffers. In the past 13 years, Mica has received almost $81,000 in campaign donations from political action committees and executives connected to some of the private contractors already at 16 U.S. airports. Private contractors are not a cure-all for passengers aggrieved about taking off their shoes for security checks, passing through full-body scanners or getting hand-frisked. For example, contractors must follow all TSA-mandated security procedures, including hand patdowns when necessary. Still, the top executive at the Orlando-area's second-largest airport, Orlando Sanford International Airport, said he plans to begin the process of switching to private screeners in January as long as a few remaining concerns can be met. The airport is within Mica's district, and the congressman wrote his letter after hearing about its experiences. CEO Larry Dale said members of the board that runs Sanford were impressed after watching private screeners at airports in Rochester, N.Y., and Jackson Hole, Wyo. He said TSA agents could do better at customer service. "Some of them are a little testy," said Dale, whose airport handles 2 million passengers a year. "And we work hard to get passengers and airlines. And to have it undone by a personality problem?" To the south, the city's main airport, Orlando International, said it's reviewing Mica's proposal, although it has some questions about how the system would work with the 34 million passengers it handles each year. In Georgia, Macon City Councilor Erick Erickson, whose committee oversees the city's small airport, wants private screeners there. Erickson called it a protest move in an interview. "I am a frequent air traveler and I have experienced ... TSA agents who have let the power go to their head," Erickson said. "You can complain about those people, but very rarely does the bureaucracy work quickly enough to remove those people from their positions." TSA officials would select and pay the contractors who run airport security. But Dale thinks a private contractor would be more responsive since the contractor would need local support to continue its business with the airport. "Competition drives accountability, it drives efficiency, it drives a particular approach to your airport," Dale said. "That company is just going to be looking at you. They're not going to be driven out of Washington, they will be driven out of here." San Francisco International Airport has used private screeners since the formation of the TSA and remains the largest to do so. The airport believed a private contractor would have more flexibility to supplement staff during busy periods with part-time employees, airport spokesman Mike McCarron said. Also, the city's high cost of living had made it difficult in the past to recruit federal employees to run immigration and customs stations — a problem the airport didn't want at security checkpoints. "You get longer lines," McCarron said. TSA spokesman Greg Soule would not respond directly Mica's letter, but reiterated the nation's roughly 460 commercial airports have the option of applying to use private contractors. Companies that provide airport security are contributors to Mica's campaigns, although some donations came before those companies won government contracts. The Lockheed Martin Corp. Employees' Political Action Committee has given $36,500 to Mica since 1997. A Lockheed firm won the security contract in Sioux Falls, S.D. in 2005 and the contract for San Francisco the following year. Raytheon Company's PAC has given Mica $33,500 since 1999. A Raytheon subsidiary began providing checkpoint screenings at Key West International Airport in 2007. Firstline Transportation Security Inc.'s PAC has donated $4,500 to the Florida congressman since 2004. FirstLine has been screening baggage and has been responsible for passenger checkpoints at the Kansas City International Airport since 2006, as well as the Gallup Municipal Airport and the Roswell Industrial Air Center in New Mexico, operating at both since 2007. Since 2006, Mica has received $2,000 from FirstLine President Keith Wolken and $1,700 from Gerald Berry, president of Covenant Aviation Security. Covenant works with Lockheed to provide security at airports in Sioux Falls and San Francisco. Mica spokesman Justin Harclerode said the contributions never improperly influenced the congressman, who said he was unaware Raytheon or Lockheed were in the screening business. "They certainly never contacted him about providing screening," Harclerode said. Anger over the screenings hasn't just come from passengers. Two veteran commercial airline pilots asked a federal judge this week to stop the whole-body scans and the new pat-down procedures, saying it violates their civil rights. The pilots, Michael S. Roberts of Memphis and Ann Poe of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., have refused to participate in either screening method and, as a result, will not fly out of airports that use these methods, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Washington. Roberts is a pilot with ExpressJet Airlines and is on unpaid administrative leave because of his refusal to enter the whole-body scanners. Poe flies for Continental Airlines and will continue to take off work as long as the existing regulations are in place. "In her eyes, the pat-down is a physical molestation and the WBI scanner is not only intrusive, degrading and potentially dangerous, but poses a real and substantial threat to medical privacy," the lawsuit states.

^ This can only be a step in the right direction. We have seen for almost 10 years have "effective" the TSA is. At least by having private security the screeners would be more likely to treat passengers as people which is something the TSA has not been able to do. It is the same concept at military bases. When you go to one with MPs at the gate (like at Quatico) they are very arrogant and rude, but when you go to a base with private security (like Hanscom) they are nice and friendly yet still get the job done. I have personally seen this. I see no issue with using private security at airports. The companies and employees would still be required to uphold TSA and Federal laws regarding security, but would most likely do it in a friendly and caring way. I only hope this becomes a trend that spreads quickly. ^


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Survivor: N

This week they kicked Brenda out. I wouldn't have cared if it was Brenda, Chase or Naonka. I thought it was funny that their camp and food burnt down due to their own stupidity. I was surprised that Jane won immunity though. As of right now I would like to see Benry win because he hasn't done all that much to annoy me or the others.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


This week they started in Saint Petersburg and then went to Oman. Chad and Stephanie overslept and then he asked her to marry him and she said "yes." I don't think they are a very good couple as he is constantly yelling and swearing at her. They did come in first place though (thanks to the other team getting a 30 minute penalty.) I'm really glad that Mallory and Gary went home. Mallory was very annoying. I have no idea how she was Miss Kentucky. I still would like to see Nat and Kat win the whole race. Next week they go to Bangladesh which looks worse than India - and that's saying a lot.

Rebuilding Haiti

I just saw a report on TV about the situation in Haiti. Months after the earthquake almost nothing is being done. The report had the Haitian Prime Minister and even Bill Clinton on saying how the world is not doing what it promised. Right after them saying that the report then said that material and supplies were being held up in the ports by the Haitian Government and only after the reporter questioned the Prime Minister did the cargo get released(this time.) I am a firm believer in helping those that need it, but not when the supplies, material and money is being wasted. I personally would no get one more cent to help rebuild Haiti until a new organization (not the Haitian Government) takes over the rebuilding. To give any money now is just adding to the pockets of the Haitian Government and not doing a thing to help the ordinary people. There are so many other places, charities, etc that the money will be wisely and effectively spent and I would give my money to them. Haiti my try to act the victim, but in the end they (especially the Haitian Government) are the main reasons nothing is getting done. Clinton should focus on the corruption and mismanagement by the Haitian Government rather than trying to raise money that will go in their pockets.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Airline English

From Moscow Times:
"English Language to Rule Skies"

Russian pilots and air traffic controllers at the country's international airports will be required to conduct all conversations in English starting in March 2011, and the practice could eventually be extended to domestic flights. English could become the only language for communication between traffic controllers and pilots for non-military Russian flights, said Alexander Neradko, head of the Federal Air Transportation Agency. Currently, both Russian and English are used for radio communication at the country's international airports, while the rest only use Russian. Neradko said it was difficult for dispatchers to accept incoming flights in two languages, posing a safety risk. The conversations are held on one frequency, meaning that they are heard by all pilots, who need to know what nearby planes are doing, he said. In March, all international airports will switch to English. At the same time, pilots and staff will be required to demonstrate Level 4 conversational skills according to the six-level scale of the International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO. The organization had planned to introduce that requirement in 2008, but a three-year delay was requested for several countries, including Russia, to train pilots and flight control staff. In Russia, knowledge of "radio-exchange terminology," a standard set of commands and phrases, is all that is needed now, Neradko said. The new ICAO standards would require a knowledge of English comparable to that of graduates from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, he said, adding that companies were ready to make the change. Level 4 under the ICAO system is roughly equivalent to the knowledge of a high school student who scores a B- or C+ in English, said Sergei Melnichenko, deputy head of the language school Kompleng, which has a program for aviation professionals. The current level is adequate for standard flights, he said. But in an emergency, more fluency is needed to give advice and make quick decisions, requiring at least Level 4 knowledge, Melnichenko said. In March, a Swiss Air flight taking off from St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Airport struck a flock of birds, causing vibrations in both engines and forcing the pilots to issue a Mayday signal. The air traffic controller was unable to understand the problem for several minutes until a pilot on another plane explained the situation in Russian. An eight-minute audio recording of the incident, including further miscommunication once the plane had safely landed, was eventually posted online. Aviation officials have confirmed its authenticity. Airlines say they are ready for the new rules. Transaero began preparing to comply with the ICAO standards in 2004, and since 2006 it has been testing its pilots, a spokesman said. By March, Transaero pilots will be fully compliant, he said. An Aeroflot spokesperson said knowledge of English at Level 4 or better was one of its main requirements for hiring pilots. Aeroflot, the country's largest carrier, has even suggested switching to English at all of the country's airports, Neradko said, adding that the proposal was being considered. The Aeroflot spokesperson declined to comment on the matter. Not everyone likes the idea. A full switch to English only makes sense for mixed airports that handle international and domestic flights, said Andrei Martirosov, chief executive of UTair. "There's probably no need to require the use of English for domestic flights. That could have a negative effect on small airlines that fly between minor cities and towns," he said. In Europe, English is required at international airports, while domestic flights operate in the national language, Martirosov added. A sharp change in English requirements would be economically ineffective, said Oleg Panteleyev, director of the Aviaport industry news site. "Most pilot crews at the majority of airlines are nearing pension age, and spending money to improve their language skills isn't worth it," he said. "Young people need the training." Most companies pay for pilots to improve their professional qualifications, Melnichenko said. The Level 4 training course requires 180 hours, which can cost up to 40,000 rubles ($1,300) per person. The state-run company that hires and manages all flight controllers did not respond to a request for comment.

^ I thought it was already international aviation law that international flights use Standard (or Simple) English. It is news to me that it isn't. I think it is good that Russia is going to start requiring all its international airports and flighs to use English. It only makes sense to use one language for all the different international airlines and airports and as English is the current lingua franca theses places shoul only use English. ^


Disabled Vet Memorial

From Yahoo News:
"Disabled veterans memorial has DC groundbreaking"

For South Florida philanthropist Lois Pope, the journey to create a memorial for disabled veterans began more than 40 years ago when she sang for Vietnam War vets at a rehabilitation center. Pope made herself a promise that night, that if she could ever do something for disabled veterans, she would. On Wednesday, Pope hosted the groundbreaking of The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial. It will be within view of the Capitol on a 2.4-acre plot, across from the U.S. Botanic Garden. Pope, a onetime Broadway actress and singer whose late husband owned the National Enquirer, said at the groundbreaking ceremony that she got the idea for the tribute when she learned — after performing for disabled veterans — that there was no permanent memorial in their honor. "Long after the fighting on the battlefield ends, our disabled veterans continue to fight to reclaim their lives and readjust to society," Pope said. "Far too often, they are marginalized and forgotten. This memorial will ensure that they and their sacrifices will always be remembered, while educating future generations about the human cost of war." Pope, 77, of Delray Beach, said it took her about 14 years to see that promise through to fruition. It took her five months just to get the then-secretary of Veterans Affairs, Jesse Brown, on the telephone. Then she partnered with the Disabled American Veterans and thus began the 24-step process of getting the memorial off the ground. The nation has more than three million living disabled veterans, including 53,000 who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress passed a bill, which President Bill Clinton signed, allowing for the establishment of the memorial. Its design is a star-shaped reflecting pool with a surface broken by a single eternal flame. The site will be framed by glass and granite walls, representing both the strength and fragility of human spirit, she said. A grove of ginkgo trees beside the pool will signify the persistence of hope, she said. Actor Gary Sinise, the star of TV's "CSI: NY" and the memorial's spokesman, said the tribute is long overdue. In the movie "Forrest Gump," Sinise's character, Lt. Dan Taylor, loses both legs in Vietnam. "We have various monuments and memorials to honor our fallen warriors from various wars, but there is nothing that has been done to pay tribute to disabled veterans," he said by telephone from Studio City, Calif. "They have to live the rest of their lives with the scars of the battle." Sinise said America owes its veterans a great debt. "It will never be enough. No matter what we do, we can always do more. You don't want people to get lost in the cracks or fall through the system," he said. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said in prepared remarks that the memorial "will stand as an enduring tribute to the towering courage, selfless sacrifice, and steadfast loyalty of all our disabled Veterans." "The creation of this memorial is fitting tribute to patriots who answered the Nation's call of duty, and who have, in the face of devastating injury, shown us a quality of courage at which we can only marvel," Shinseki said. Pope wants to officially dedicate the memorial on Veterans Day 2012, but she still has some fundraising to do. The price tag is $85 million, all of which is private funds, including $9 million of her own money. About $10 million was donated by more than a million members of Disabled American Veterans. She still has about $2.5 million to raise. To help fill the gap, the group is selling commemorative coins from the U.S. Mint. "The most ironic thing is that they built their own memorial," Pope said. Art Wilson, head of DAV and co-founder of the memorial foundation, said the memorial is also important to educate citizens and lawmakers. "It's there to remind our lawmakers every day of the service and sacrifice," he said. So, ultimately, what does Pope want people to get out of a visit to the memorial? "I want them to be grateful for the sacrifices of disabled veterans. I want them to come away with the feeling of gratitude and respect, and when they see a disabled veteran to go say 'Hi. Thanks for what you have done for our country,'" she said.

^ All I have to say is "It's about time!" ^


Survivor: N

This week the tribe was separated between men and women for the reward challenge (with Chase picking to side with the women.) That was a very bad choice on his part. The men won the reward. I think they should have voted off Naonka or Jane, but am fine with Marty. The show is starting to get pretty boring. There isn't much drama or blindsiding. Hopefully that will change.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


This week the teams stayed in Russia. The "true" side of the new Russians was shown when many of the taxi drivers overcharged the teams. The fact that it is on camera shows how dumb they are. If you are going to do something illegal then don't do it on camera. They went to a circus and had to either spin plates or learn the Russian song "Kalinka." I never made it to a Russian circus - even though it was near where I went everyday. I don't think I missed much.
In the end the father and son team were sent home. It seems that a few of the teams had penalities added to their times. I also thought the Nevada team had to do an extra challenge since they came in last.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Class Reunion

I just saw on Facebook that my class has finally decided on where and when to hold the class reunion. It started last year when the class officer was deciding whether to have it in Summer 2010 or Fall 2010 and whether to have it at a bar or a park. Then nothing was said for months and all of the sudden it was announced that it will be on December 23rd. That has got to be the worst date - only 2 days before Christmas. By the way it is going to be at a restaurant.
There are many people, me included, who don't live in the area or even in the same state and it being around the holidays just shows poor planning. There were 619 students in my graduating class (that's large for a suburban school) and no one thought of having it in a place big enough to hold 1,238 (the 619 plus one guest each.)
I have no desire to go to the reunion since everyone I want to stay in contact with I have by myself. I just like how the old high school politics still reign years later.

Survivor: N

Yesterday the two tribes merged into one. Naoanka was caught in both stealing and lying and yet no one seemed to care. One female and one male won individual immunity and even though it looked like Marty would go home it was Alina (because she opened her mouth at the very end and sealed her fate.)