Monday, October 31, 2011


Today is Halloween. It is weird. Yesterday we got 16 inches of snow and had a high of 28 F and today the snow is melting fast and the high is 50 F. Many towns throughout NH have postponed Trick-or-Treating (Manchester moved it to November 6th.) Manchester and many other places make you go Trick-or-Treating the weekend before Halloween - every year - unless Halloween falls on a weekend. I think Halloween parties and Trick-or-Treating should only be on Halloween.
I am going to do my usual things today: eat candy corn and watch movies. We live on a small, dirt, mountain road with only two other houses on it and no kids so I don't have to worry about answering the door tonight. I have only had to give out candy once on Halloween - when we lived in Virginia. Halloween isn't my favorite holiday (it is a tie between Thanksgiving and Christmas.) Halloween seems to only be fun if you are a little kid or have a little kid - otherwise it is just another day.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October Nor'easter

From USA Today:
"Snowstorm pelts Northeast, cuts power to more than 3M"

Millions of people from Maine to Maryland were without power as an unseasonably early storm dumped heavy, wet snow over the weekend on a region more used to gaping at leaves in October than shoveling snow. The snow was due to stop falling in New England late Sunday, but it could be days before many of the more than 3 million without electricity see it restored, officials warned. The storm smashed record snowfall totals for October, and several officials called its ferocity historic. At least three deaths were blamed on the weather, and states of emergency were declared in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and parts of New York. But in New Hampshire's capital of Concord, more than 22 inches fell, weeks ahead of the usual first measurable snowfall. Trees downtown still bright with fall colors were covered with snow. Some didn't survive — a large oak tree that had stood alongside the Statehouse fell, partially blocking a side street.

^ A few days ago we had our first snowfall of the season - we got 1 inch. Then from last night through this morning we got 16 inches. I cleared part of the driveway, but had to leave the rest to see if the plow guy would come and do our driveway - he did. Now I don't have to worry as much when we get a major snowstorm or we are away from home. It isn't even Halloween and I am already sick and tired of both snow and winter. I have the feeling we are in for a very long, snowy, cold winter. ^


This week they went to Malawi where they had to go to a tobacco company and move 10 200 lbs bags of tobacco while the workers ran around trying to delay them. It was a pretty boring challenge that took a lot of time. After that they then either had to do a sewing challenge or go to a school. At the sewing challenge they had to sew pants and a coat and give it to a person to wear (all the guys looked like little kids trying to play dress-up in their suits.) In the school challenge they had to build a truck out of milk cartons. The teams then had to go to a furniture store and transport two wooden beds to their Pit Stop. Andy and Tommy came in first by default (again) because the brother/sister team didn't pay their driver. Amani and Marcus came in last - they just gave up and allowed the old couple to pass them - but it was a non-eliminating round (there seem to be lots of those this season.)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

New Citizens Liberty At 125

From Yahoo News:
"New citizens sworn in at Statue of Liberty celebration"

She arrived in the United States from France 125 years ago, and has welcomed her fellow immigrants ever since. And although far fewer people literally sail past her on their first arrival to U.S. shores, much was made of her enduring symbolism at a ceremony on Friday marking the 125th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty's dedication. Hundreds of people took ferries across New York Harbor to Liberty Island on a cold but sunny Friday for the celebration in the statue's shadow. It began with a naturalization ceremony for 125 immigrants from more than 40 countries, who would leave the island as U.S. citizens. The "Star Spangled Banner" was performed, but so was "La Marseillaise", France's national anthem, recognizing that the copper-clad statue was a gift from the people of France to the people of America and designed by the French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi.

^ I think it is very fitting to make people new American citizens at a ceremony on the 125 th anniversary of the opening of the Statue of Liberty. It shows how the Statue has survived and thrived as a symbol of freedom and the American Dream both in the US and around the world. ^

New Succession Laws

From the BBC:
"Girls equal in British throne succession"

Sons and daughters of any future UK monarch will have equal right to the throne, after Commonwealth leaders agreed to change succession laws. The leaders of the 16 Commonwealth countries where the Queen is head of state unanimously approved the changes at a summit in Perth, Australia. It means a first-born daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would take precedence over younger brothers. The ban on the monarch being married to a Roman Catholic was also lifted. Under the old succession laws, dating back more than 300 years, the heir to the throne is the first-born son of the monarch. Only when there are no sons, as in the case of the Queen's father George VI, does the crown pass to the eldest daughter. The succession changes will require a raft of historic legislation to be amended, including the 1701 Act of Settlement, the 1689 Bill of Rights and the Royal Marriages Act 1772. The change to the Royal Marriages Act will end a position where every descendant of George II is legally required to seek the consent of the monarch before marrying. In future, the requirement is expected to be limited to a small number of the sovereign's close relatives.

^ This is long overdue. As a citizen of Canada (a Commonwealth Realm) I am glad that the laws no longer discriminate against Catholics or girls. ^

Poland Opening Auschwitz Cases

From Yahoo News:
"Poland reopens investigation into Auschwitz crimes"

Polish authorities have reopened an investigation into World War II crimes committed at Auschwitz and its satellite camps that was closed in the 1980s because of the country's isolation behind the Iron Curtain. One aim of the new probe is to track down any living Nazi perpetrators, according to an announcement Thursday by the Institute of National Remembrance, a state body that investigates Nazi and communist-era crimes. Nazi Germany opened Auschwitz in 1940, months after it invaded and occupied Poland. Over the next five years of war, German and Austrian Nazis murdered up to 1.5 million people there at the expanded Auschwitz-Birkenau camp complex, most of them Jews from across Europe, but also Poles, Roma, gays and others. The investigation was opened by a branch of the remembrance institute in Krakow, which is located near Auschwitz. Germany also operated other death camps across Poland — like Chelmno, Treblinka and Belzec — and it was not immediately clear if new investigations into them are also planned.

^ Hopefully these cases will result in the murderers being made public and convicted. It doesn't matter how old these people are today. They should be convicted and not allowed to spend the rest of the days in peace. ^

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Escape From East Berlin (1962)

This is a movie released in October 1962 about a successful escape from East Berlin to West Berlin that happened in January 1962. I am surprised it was made so soon after the actual events. The Berlin Wall went up in August 1961 and split friends and families overnight. The East Germans and Soviets said it was to keep the capitalists out of their territory, but it was really to keep their own citizens from fleeing to the West.
In the movie a man who lives in a bombed-out building by the Berlin Wall decides to build a tunnel to get his family and some friends into the West. In the end 28 people make it out while the East German police chase them.
I have seen movies about tunnels being built from West Berlin into East Berlin (as "The Tunnel" a German movie from 2001,) but this is the first one I have seen where the tunnels went from East Berlin to West Berlin.
It is a very good movie that shows just how badly people will work to get their freedom back.

South Sudan: English Schools

From Yahoo News:
"S.Sudan moves to end Arabic schooling"

Newly independent South Sudan will change the language of schooling to English this year, shrugging off decades of Arabic imposed from the north, the government announced on Wednesday. The new nation's parliament passed the Higher and General Education Bill late Tuesday that all education from primary level will be taught in English. "This new year, we are teaching our national languages at the pre-school and the rest of the instructions, mathematics or science, all in English, there's no Arabic. We'll have Arabic only as a language as a subject", Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin told reporters. "That's how it used to be, till it was changed, since 1898. They changed it only in 1989 when they declared sharia (Islamic) law in the whole country", he said of the former British colony. The fledgling government faces a host of daunting challenges in building a nation from scratch after gaining independence from the mainly Arab north in July after decades of civil war that left the country in ruins. "This will also make it easy for the syllabuses within South Sudan to fall within the context of East African syllabuses and universities", Benjamin said. Khartoum will still set exams for those already at secondary school for the next three years while the country makes the transition to English, which was made the official language in a new constitution last month, Benjamin said. The government plans to train 7,000 teachers to use English as the language of instruction and build 11 national secondary schools covering all 10 of the country's states. The new act makes primary education free and compulsory for all in a country lacking basic infrastructure, where only 10 percent of children complete primary school and 64 percent do not attend.

^ I think it is good that South Sudan is bringing back the English language after Sudan forced Arabic on them in 1989. South Sudan was a colony of the United Kingdom and so got English as a unifying language. South Sudan seems to really want to make something of itself even though it is very poor and has to start from scratch on almost everything. ^

Occupy Loosing Ground

From Yahoo News:
"New risk for Occupy Wall Street: less media interest"

"Occupy Wall Street" is occupying less space in TV broadcasts, newspapers and social media as the story settles into a familiar pattern and protesters dig in for what could be a protracted fight. While the movement's reliance on Twitter and Facebook to spread its message is well established, it has also benefited from becoming a media curiosity, at times drawing legions of TV crews and reporters to its encampments. Coverage fed on itself, as more people joined in more cities. But experts say the protests are now making a natural -- yet challenging -- progression off the front page and cable news, as new events like the death of Muammar Gaddafi take prominence. Any loss of the limelight, especially when the onset of cold weather has already started to reduce the ranks of protesters prepared to camp out overnight in lower Manhattan, could dampen the momentum of the movement.

^ I knew from the start that this would happen. These people have no real goals other than sitting in a park. Now they are abandoning their spots because of the cold weather - true commitment. I have heard them being interviewed around the country and they all sound the same, but have no clear message. This could have been a good grass-roots campaign but with no real goals it will eventually fade away. ^

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

US Looses Canadians' Passports

From Yahoo Canada:
"U.S. customs admit passport mixup"

U.S. border officials admit they've made a mistake when two Winnipeg couples were given the wrong passports at a Canadian-U.S. border crossing. The passport mixup at the border crossing near Emerson, Man., was an isolated incident, Chris Misson, a spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told CBC News on Monday. On Nov. 15, 2010, Huguette and Gilles Remillard were crossing into the United States from Emerson, Man., on their way to Mesa, Ariz. After checking their van, an American border official handed them back two passports. "I said, 'Those are not mine,'" Huguette recalled. "And he said, 'Uh oh.'" Border officials had mistakenly given their passports to a couple in the car ahead of them, who had driven off unaware of the error. The Remillards said U.S. officials made no effort to get their passports back, but did allow the couple to continue on to Mesa without their passports. "If we have an accident and have to go into the hospital and fly back, how the heck are we going to do this?" Gilles wondered. After a week of calls to border officials, they were able to identify the couple with their passports: Winnipeggers Dennis Slack and Susan Heywood, who were on their way to Texas. The Remillards' son managed to track down Dennis Slack's son, also in Winnipeg. Slack's son told his father to check his passport. "I pulled them out and said, 'Ahhh, what the hell are these?'" said Dennis. Both couples eventually got their own passports back, but they said U.S officials should review their security at the border crossing. Misson said there has always been a policy to verify the identity of a passport holder, but one border officer made a mistake that day. Officials have reviewed the policy with staff and are reminding officers to always open each passport to verify the owner's identity before handing the document back, he said.

^ This shows both the lack of caring and basic intelligence that those in the US Government charged with keeping our country safe have. Usually it is only the TSA in the news, but there are many other agencies - like the US Customs and Border - that are at fault too. The fact that the US officials did nothing but shrug their shoulders when made aware of their mistakes shows the complete stupidity and lack of checks and balances at the borders. If I were the people given the wrong passports I would have demanded a supervisor and filed an official report and if that didn't work I would have reported it to the US police and said the US border guards were the ones who gave the passports to different people. I would not have taken it lightly. Canadians tend to be the only citizens that stand-up for themselves when they travel to the US (other than Americans.) Other citizens tend to take the US Immigration officers' arrogance and stupidity - at least until they leave the US. I don't understand why we treat legal tourists and immigrants in the US as criminals and we treat the illegal tourists and immigrants as saints. We need to show the world that the US is still a great place to come visit and stay (legally) and that we will keep the "innocent until proven guilty" motto rather than the recent fad of "guilty until you prove yourself innocent." ^

Congress Downgrading Soldiers

From Yahoo news:
"Lawmakers open to changes in military benefits"

The government's promise of lifetime health care for the military's men and women is suddenly a little less sacrosanct as Congress looks to slash trillion-dollar-plus deficits. Republicans and Democrats alike are signaling a willingness — unheard of at the height of two post-Sept. 11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — to make military retirees pay more for coverage. It's a reflection of Washington's newfound embrace of fiscal austerity and the Pentagon's push to cut health care costs that have skyrocketed from $19 billion in 2001 to $53 billion. The numbers are daunting for a military focused on building and arming an all-volunteer force for war. The Pentagon is providing health care coverage for 3.3 million active duty personnel and their dependents and 5.5 million retirees, eligible dependents and surviving spouses. Retirees outnumber the active duty, 2.3 million to 1.4 million.

^ This is just plain disgusting. Congress sends the soldiers to wars and conflicts all over the world (sometimes a solider serves in more than one warzone) and then Congress complains about the cost of taking care of them and their families. Why doesn't Congress stop their own pensions, health care coverage and other perks they get? If they really cared about saving money they should take it from themselves and not from those that they send into combat and who protect us - many giving their own lives. I hope the veteran's groups, veteran's families and the American people can stop Congress from doing this. We need to give more support to the soldiers, veterans and their families - NOT LESS! If Congress expects the American Military to keep our country safe and serve/fight around the world then at the same time, they can not strip their basic benefits from them. ^

Monday, October 24, 2011


This week they started in Phuket where they had to ride an elephant, search the water for a clue and then had to take apart and then reassemble a spirit house. Most teams took notes on how to put the spirit house together, but some didn't and had to go back. They then had to go to the Bus Station and get a bus to Bangkok. It seems the Phuket taxi service has a scam going on where the drivers raise their price and pretend not to speak English so a third party has to get involved and translate. It happened twice in the one show (to the Twins and Ernie and Cindy.) The Twins had to do an extra challenge because they came in last the week before: they had to clean-up after an elephant and then wash it - which they seemed to love.
The teams then had to take a 13 hour bus to Bangkok. The Father/Son team got on a 1st class bus (although it looked exactly like the cheaper bus except it made less stops) and got off because they thought they couldn't take 1st class transportation - apparently that only applies to airplanes. I don't like the father on that team. He is always messing up and blaming his son.
The teams made it to Bangkok where they had to feed some fish and then make it to the Pit Stop. Andy and Tommy asked for directions at a school and a teacher took their clue and then went to teach her class. That was so funny. She didn't seem to care about anything/ If you are going to help then help and if not say so. I would have gone off had it been me.
In the end Armani and Marcus came in first and the Twins (who managed to get two free taxi rides since they had no money) came in last and were sent home. Next week they go to Africa.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Iraq Withdrawal: It's Official

From Yahoo News:
"Obama announces full American military withdrawal from Iraq"

President Barack Obama announced on Friday a nearly complete withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq by the end of the year. "Today, I can report that as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home from Iraq at the end of this year," Obama said. "After nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over. Over the next two months our troops in Iraq--tens of thousands of them--will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home." Obama affirmed that he has been in talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and that the Iraqi government supported the American withdrawal. The military will keep about 160 servicemen and women in Baghdad to provide security for the embassy there. Since the invasion in 2003, the war has claimed the lives of 4,478 American service members.

^ As I suspected the removal of 40,000 American soldiers from Iraq is now official and will not done by December 2011. While I do not think Obama will keep his word that "all will be home before the holidays" I do think they will be out of Iraq by then. I'm sure we will move many to Kuwait, Qatar or even Afghanistan. ^

Thursday, October 20, 2011


From Yahoo News:
"Social Security recipients to get 3.6 percent COLA"

Some 55 million Social Security recipients will get a 3.6 percent increase in benefits next year, their first raise since 2009, the government announced Wednesday. The increase, which starts in January, is tied to a measure of inflation released Wednesday morning. About 8 million people who receive Supplemental Security Income will also receive the 3.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, meaning the announcement will affect about one in five U.S. residents. There was no COLA in 2010 or 2011 because inflation was too low. Those were the first two years without a COLA since automatic increases were adopted in 1975. Monthly Social Security payments average $1,082, or about $13,000 a year. A 3.6 percent increase will amount to about $39 a month, or just over $467 a year, on average. Advocates for seniors said the raise will provide a much-needed boost to the millions of retirees and disabled people who have seen retirement accounts dwindle and home values drop during the economic downturn. Economists say the increase should provide a modest boost to consumer spending, which should help the economy. Most retirees rely on Social Security for a majority of their income, according to the Social Security Administration. Many rely on it for more than 90 percent of their income.

^ I know many people rely on this monthly money and am glad it is going up for the first time in two years. Seniors and the disabled deserve all the help we can give them and this is one step in the right direction. I only wish there were more programs and services to help them live without worrying about medical care, housing, food, etc. ^

Gaddafi Dead!

From the BBC:
"Muammar Gaddafi killed in Libya"

Libya's ex-leader Col Muammar Gaddafi has been killed after an assault on his birthplace of Sirte, officials say. Acting Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril announced the death, and later said the colonel had been killed in a crossfire between Gaddafi loyalists and fighters from the transitional authorities. He confirmed that Col Gaddafi had been taken alive, but died of bullet wounds minutes before reaching hospital. US President Barack Obama said it was a "momentous day" for Libya, now that tyranny had fallen. He said the country had a "long and winding road towards full democracy", but the US and other countries would stand behind Tripoli. Col Gaddafi was toppled from power in August after 42 years in charge of the country.

^ This is a great thing (almost as great as when Saddam or bin Laden were killed.) I don't care whether he was taken alive and then shot or just shot. He is dead and that is all we should care about. Hopefully Libya can now open itself to the rest of the world and become a democratic and civilized nation. ^

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Survivor: SP

This week Ozzy had a hissy fit and said he was a "lone agent" rather than working with his tribe. Everyone in the game needs to work with their tribe until at least the merge. He was upset that his tribe voted Elyse out instead of following everything he tells them to. He also told his tribe that he had the Immunity Idol which was the worse thing he could have done. In the end he actually stopped and thought about things and decided he did need his tribe and it was dumb of him to tell them about the idol.
Elyse and Christine had their challenge on RI. It was shuffleboard and Christine won - her fourth challenge. She looks very worn out at being stuck on RI.
At the main challenge the teams had to build a wheel barrel, move it on a course, fill it up with coconuts, empty the coconuts and build a sling-shot to knock some boards down. Coach was getting mad at Mikayla because she couldn't shoot the coconuts to knock the boards down - she was trying with one hand and that wasn't working. Ozzy's team won the challenge and went on a picnic to a rock water slide.
At Tribal Brandon did his usual thing and told everyone everything they didn't need to know. The team was split between voting Mikayla or Edna out and in the end Mikayla was sent to RI.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Schalit Released

From Yahoo News:
"Hamas militants release captured Israeli soldier"

Looking dazed, a thin and pale Gilad Schalit emerged from a pickup truck Tuesday under the escort of his Hamas captors and the Egyptian mediators who helped arrange the Israeli tank crewman's release after more than five years in captivity. A short while later, the 25-year-old soldier was transferred to Israel, said Israeli army spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who told a news conference: "Today, Gilad Schalit is with us."

^ I am really glad that he is released after 5 years and that neither the Israeli Government nor the ordinary Israelis have forgotten him. The release shows just how good Israel truly is and how truly bad and terroristic Hamas is. The fact that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip elected Hamas shows their support for terrorism. Israel can be proud today for everything they have done throughout their history. I'm sure Hamas and most of the released Palestinians will continue to try to bomb and destroy Israel but as usual Israel will prevail (as it has constantly for the past 63 years.) I'm sure this release will also hurt the Palestinian statehood bid as all it shows is Israel as a compassionate country that is willing to allow over 1,000 convicted terrorists free to save the life of 1 man while the Palestinians are shown as supporters of terrorism who resort to kidnapping who can only get things done through violence. ^

USPS Raises Stamp Prices

From Yahoo News:
"U.S. Postal Service lifts stamp price by 1 cent"

The cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service announced on Tuesday a one-cent increase in the cost of mailing a letter, starting in January. The new prices lift the cost of a first-class stamp to 45 cents starting on January 22, 2012, the first increase in more than two years. The Postal Service said the cost to mail a postcard will go up three cents to 32 cents, letters to Canada or Mexico will increase five cents to 85 cents, and letters to other international locations will increase seven cents to $1.05.

^ The USPS just keeps pushing customers away. I really wish they would get their act together - as other Postal Organizations around the world have - that will solve their budget woes as well as provide the service people pay for. ^

Monday, October 17, 2011

7 Billion People

From Yahoo News:
"Challenges loom as world population hits 7 billion"


It's 6 p.m. in Mumbai, India's financial hub, and millions of workers swarm out of their offices, headed to railway stations for a ride home. Every few minutes, as a train enters the station, the crowd surges forward. For nearly 7 million commuters who ride the overtaxed suburban rail network each work day, every ride is a scramble. Each car is jam-packed; sometimes, riders die when they lose their foothold while clinging to the doors. Across India, the teeming slums, congested streets, and crowded trains and trams are testimony to the country's burgeoning population. Already the second most populous country, with 1.2 billion people, India is expected to overtake China around 2030 when its population soars to an estimated 1.6 billion. For now, China remains the most populous nation, with 1.34 billion people. In the past decade it added 73.9 million, more than the population of France or Thailand. In the 1970s, Chinese women had five to six children each on average. Today China has a fertility rate — the number of children the average woman is expected to have in her lifetime — of around 1.5, well below the 2.1 replacement rate that demographers say is needed to keep populations stable in developed countries. Three decades of strict family planning rules that limit urban families to one child and rural families to two helped China achieve a rapid decline in fertility but the policy has brought problems as well. Before long, there will be too few young Chinese people to easily support a massive elderly population.


Spain used to give parents 2,500 euros (more than $3,000) for every newborn child to encourage families to reverse the country's low birth rate. But the checks stopped coming with Spain's austerity measures, raising the question of who will pay the bills to support the elderly in the years ahead. It's a question bedeviling many European countries which have grappled for years over how to cope with shrinking birth rates and aging populations — and are now faced with a financial crisis that has forced some to cut back on family-friendly government incentives. Spain and Italy, both forced to enact painful austerity measures in a bid to narrow budget deficits, are battling common problems: Women have chosen to have their first child at a later age, and the difficulties of finding jobs and affordable housing are discouraging some couples from having any children at all. Unlike many countries in Europe, France's population is growing slightly but steadily every year. It has one of the highest birth rates in the European Union with around 2 children per woman. One reason is immigration to France by Africans with large-family traditions, but it's also due to family-friendly legislation. The government offers public preschools, subsidies to all families that have more than one child, generous maternity leave, and tax exemptions for employers of nannies. Like France, the United States has one of the highest population growth rates among industrialized nations. Its fertility rate is just below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman, but its population has been increasing by almost 1 percent annually due to immigration. With 312 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country after China and India.

^ It seems odd that the uneducated and poor always have the most children even though they know they can not take care of them or themselves. If people can not provide the basics then they should not have children. It is that simple. ^

Sunday, October 16, 2011


This week they went to Thailand. The first two teams (the snowboarders and the father/son) left Indonesia but didn't make it to Phuket until all the other teams - because of their connections. The teams then had to either put up beach chairs or coral reefs. Most teams first tried the coral, but then changed to the beach chairs. After that they had to climb a rock and get a clue to a floating village.
The Twins came in last, but were saved from elimination. They are very annoying and pretty dumb. I won't mind if they were kicked out, Jeremy and Sandy or Cathi and her husband. I still would like to see the snow boarders or the father/son win the Race. It seems that next week they stay in Thailand.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Israelis Agree With Shalit Deal

From Yahoo News:
"Majority of Israelis 'back Shalit deal'"

More than two thirds of Israelis approve of the prisoner swap deal made with Hamas for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, a private television network said on Saturday. A poll commissioned by Channel 10 found that 69 percent of Israelis back the exchange of Shalit for some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, 32 percent oppose it and the remainder gave no opinion. While backing the deal, 62 percent of respondents said the release of Palestinian prisoners would "worsen Israel's security situation." But 32 percent thought "it will have no impact." When asked what pushed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to seal the deal with the Islamist Hamas movement, only 22 percent said he had acted exclusively "in the interest of Israel." In contrast, 35 percent thought he had caved in to public opinion. Another 35 percent said it was a bid to weaken Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, who requested UN membership for a Palestinian state, or to distract attention from the social opposition movement that rocked Israel in the summer. The Hamas rulers of Gaza are to release Shalit, captured in a cross-border raid in 2006, in exchange for a first batch of at least 450 Palestinian prisoners and a second of 550 within two months. Israel, which will decide on the prisoners in the second group, has not yet announced their names but a diplomat from Egypt, which brokered the deal, said his country had insisted since 2007 that they be members of Abbas's secular Fatah movement.

^ I think that this agreement (1 soldier for 1,000 terrorists) could only be achieved in Israel because everyone - men and women - have to serve in the military and know that it could be them or their loved ones that are captured by terrorists and held for years. Even countries that have conscription (like Russia) wouldn't be able to do this type of deal. While all Russian men are expected to serve many get official and unofficial excuses and don't. In Israel it is almost unheard of for a citizen not to serve - unless they are Israeli Arabs. I hope that Gilad Shalit is released and that Israel doesn't get attacked or bombed by the 1,000 Palestinians being released - or anyone else for that matter. This release shows the world (and the Arabs/Muslims) just how important a life is to an Israeli. ^

US Leaving Iraq? It's Unofficial

From Yahoo News:
"US drops keeping troops in Iraq"

The U.S. is abandoning plans to keep U.S. troops in Iraq past a year-end withdrawal deadline, The Associated Press has learned. The decision to pull out fully by January will effectively end more than eight years of U.S. involvement in the Iraq war, despite ongoing concerns about its security forces and the potential for instability. The decision ends months of hand-wringing by U.S. officials over whether to stick to a Dec. 31 withdrawal deadline that was set in 2008 or negotiate a new security agreement to ensure that gains made and more than 4,400 American military lives lost since March 2003 do not go to waste. But a senior Obama administration official in Washington confirmed Saturday that all American troops will leave Iraq except for about 160 active-duty soldiers attached to the U.S. Embassy. A senior U.S. military official confirmed the departure and said the withdrawal could allow future but limited U.S. military training missions in Iraq if requested. Throughout the discussions, Iraqi leaders have adamantly refused to give U.S. troops immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts, and the Americans have refused to stay without it. Iraq's leadership has been split on whether it wanted American forces to stay. Some argued the further training and U.S. help was vital, particularly to protect Iraq's airspace and gather security intelligence. But others have deeply opposed any American troop presence, including Shiite militiamen who have threatened attacks on any American forces who remain. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has told U.S. military officials that he does not have the votes in parliament to provide immunity to the American trainers, the U.S. military official said.Regardless of whether U.S. troops are here or not, there will be a massive American diplomatic presence. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is the largest in the world, and the State Department will have offices in Basra, Irbil and Kirkuk as well as other locations around the country where contractors will train Iraqi forces on U.S. military equipment they're purchasing. About 5,000 security contractors and personnel will be tasked with helping protect American diplomats and facilities around the country, the State Department has said. The U.S. Embassy will still have a handful of U.S. Marines for protection and 157 U.S. military personnel in charge of facilitating weapons sales to Iraq. Those are standard functions at most American embassies around the world and would be considered part of the regular embassy staff.

^ I don't know if this is going to happen or not since a lot can happen in a few months. If the US leaves Iraq I am sure the country will fall more into civil war. If we leave Iraq then we should stay out and not keep coming to their aid (militarily.) It seems that Obama is already sending troops to other warzones (Uganda, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo) so I'm sure that Iraq will be replaced by a war someplace else. ^

More Air Rights In EU

From Deutsche Welle:
"European court ruling expands passenger rights"

The European Union's highest court has ruled that airline passengers are now entitled to compensation for nonmaterial damages, including taxi rides and housing for pets, in cases of flight cancellations or long delays. The ruling referred to a case in a Spanish court in which seven Spaniards sued Air France after their flight from Paris to the northeastern Spanish city of Vigo in September 2008 had to turn back because of a technical malfunction.The passengers were delayed by a day as a result of the enforced return to Charles de Gaulle airport. The seven plaintiffs have since demanded compensation for taxi fares and meal costs, as well as non-material damages, including an extra night that a pet dog had to spend in a kennel.
The ECJ's new ruling means, firstly, that a flight counts as cancelled if it takes off but fails to reach its destination and, secondly, passengers can theoretically claim compensation for extra losses incurred by the cancellation. The European Court of Justice upheld the Spanish complaints The decision takes the possibility of compensation substantially further than current EU law, whereby passengers are entitled to receive between 125 and 600 euros ($172 - $825 dollars) when their flight is cancelled.

^This is good news for passengers. I hope that the US and other countries see what is happening in the EU and do the same for their air passengers. ^,,15460922,00.html

Friday, October 14, 2011

Commonwealth Monarchy Changes?

From Yahoo News:
"Commonwealth to discuss changing royal succession"

Commonwealth leaders will discuss proposals to change the rules of succession for the British throne when they meet in Australia later this month, Prime Minister David Cameron has said. Cameron wrote to the leaders of the 15 other Commonwealth realms which have Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state in September to propose allowing first-born daughters and heirs who marry Catholics to inherit the throne.
There has long been discussion about changing the archaic and discriminatory rules, but the issue has taken on fresh urgency since the marriage of Prince William, the second in line to the throne, to the former Kate Middleton in May. Proposals to change the law, which must be approved by all the affected realms, will now be discussed at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Perth, western Australia, from October 28 to 30. The queen will attend the Commonwealth meeting. A palace spokesman said: "This is a matter for government, in consultation with Commonwealth realms." The first proposed change would be to scrap the rule which says an elder daughter should take a place in the line of succession behind a younger son, something Cameron told Commonwealth leaders was contrary to gender equality. He also wants to end the situation whereby heirs who marry Catholics cannot take the throne, arguing: "This rule is a historical anomaly." Finally, Cameron has proposed amending the rule that any descendants of the 18th century king George II require the monarch's permission to marry, so that it only applies to the first six in line to the throne. The 15 realms being consulted are Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

^ I think these changes are needed. It is the 21st Century and are long over-due. I think the main points that need to be changed are allowing the monarch to marry a Catholic (on non-Protestant) and first-born females should have priority over males. Hopefully the countries in the British Commonwealth can come together and modernize the monarchy. ^

100 US Troops In Uganda

From Yahoo News:
"Obama sends 100 U.S. military advisors to Uganda"

The Obama administration announced plans on Friday to send about 100 U.S. combat forces to Uganda to act as military advisers to Ugandan and African Union forces fighting the Lords' Resistance Army (LRA). The U.S. forces will lend assistance to other central African nations trying to apprehend the LRA's top commanders and bring them to justice, and to bring about an end the group's two-decade campaign of atrocities and destabilization of the region, the administration said. President Obama announced the decision in an official notification letter to Congress Friday. In the letter, Obama said that he had sent the initial team of armed U.S. combat troops to Uganda on Oct. 12. He explained that the rest of the roughly 100 military advisers would be deployed over the next month to Uganda--as well as to the neighboring countries of South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic.

^ This is a very bad move. The US is already fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and has troops all over the world. We should not get involved in Uganda, South Sudan, DR Congro or the Cenral African Republic. It starts out as sending advisors and then becomes another Vietnam. I don't see why the EU, the African Union and other countries around the world can't step in and do this. ^

South Korea/US Free Trade Pact

From the BBC:
"US Congress votes through South Korea trade deal"

US lawmakers have approved a long-delayed free trade agreement with South Korea, calling it the most significant in 16 years. Both houses of Congress voted in quick succession on Wednesday to approve the agreement, as well as pacts with Panama and Colombia. It will now go to President Barack Obama to be signed into law. The agreement is expected to increase US exports to the Asian economy by as much as $10bn (£6.5bn). The free-trade deal with South Korea is the largest US trade pact since it signed the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994. However, it still needs to be passed by the South Korean parliament.

^ I don't really see this Free Trade Pact as doing anything major to the US Economy - not like NAFTA did or a European Free Trade Pact would. ^

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


This week Stacey was sent home from RI. She tried to tell the other tribe about Coach/Benjamin and how he controlled her tribe, but I couldn't understand what she was saying. During the main challenge the tribes had to rip pieces of pork off a pig and put it in a basket. It was a very disgusting challenge. In the end Coach's team won.
Ozzy was completely left out of the dark at Tribal. He thought they were voting out Cochran, but instead they voted Ozzy's "hammock mate" Elyse. It was a real blindside to her and to Ozzy. The previews for next week show Ozzy becoming a "free agent."

Monday, October 10, 2011

Netflix's Back And Forth

From Yahoo News:
"Netflix drops unpopular Qwikster DVD plan"

Netflix Inc Chief Executive Reed Hastings reversed an unpopular decision to separate his company's DVD rental business and online video streaming service, sending the stock up 7 percent in early trading. U.S. customers will continue to go to for streaming and DVD-by-mail rentals, as the company has dropped plans to move its DVD rentals to a separate business called Qwikster, Hastings announced in a short statement on the company blog on Monday."In a statement issued on Monday, Hastings said "there is a difference between moving quickly -- which Netflix has done very well for years -- and moving too fast, which is what we did in this case."
Netflix said it will not rename the DVD service. U.S. members "will continue to use one website, one account and one password for their movie and TV watching enjoyment under the Netflix brand," the company's statement said.

^ Netflix needs to stop all this back-and-forth. They also need to fire the employee/employees that continue to think up these stupid ideas (except for the one/ones that lowered the price for just the DVD service - I like that one.) I'm sure that Netflix will continue to "shoot-itself-in-the foot" and change things so more and more customers will get fed up and leave. I hope they decide to do nothing a(if it's not broken, don't fix it) since I like using the DVD service. ^


This week they stayed in Indonesia. The teams had to ride colonial Dutch bikes around the town. Then they either had to deliver lunch to workers in a rice field and then plant 300 rice plants or fill two bags with grass and lead two sheep to a pen and then give them water. After that they had to go to a Buddhist temple (which is odd since Indonesia has the largest concentration of Muslims in the world) and count the different Buddhas. That was a really hard challenge as their were thousands of little Buddhas and they had to pick the big Buddhas to count.
I'm really glad that Kaylani and Lisa were the last team and sent home. I have not liked them since the very beginning and think it is too coincidental that the lost passport made it's way from the gas station to the airport just in time. Andy and Tommy came in 1st place because Laurence and Zac had a penalty for using more than two buckets to give water to the sheep. I would like to see either of these two teams win or Ernie and Cindy (although if Cindy continues her melt-downs I would want her to go home early.)
Next week they go to Thailand.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Survivor: SP

This week Papa Bear and Christine had their challenge on Redemption Island. Christine won the bag toss and Papa Bear left the game. For the main challenge the teams had to hold weight bags on a stick over their shoulder. Dawn won and so Coach's tribe had to go to Tribal. As usual Brandon had several emotional breakdowns and kept telling everyone he was sorry and that he wasn't his uncle. His little cry-fests are getting very annoying. I wish he would get voted out.
In the end Stacey was sent to RI and when she was walking towards Jeff her tribe got up and wanted to give her fake hugs which she turned down. So far this season is no different from any of the others. I wish they would add new twists and turns.

Friendly's Closing Stores

"Friendly's Announces Bankruptcy, Closes Restaurants"

After 76 years of serving frappes, burgers and fries, the Massachusetts-based Friendly's chain abruptly closed more than 60 restaurants Tuesday night and announced it was initiating bankruptcy proceedings. The one New Hampshire restaurant closing is the Portsmouth location on Lafayette Road. The Friendly Ice Cream Corp., announced it had filed a voluntary Chapter 11 petition in order to begin a restructuring process. It said 424 Friendly's restaurants would be open for business as usual during that process.

^ I have always liked Friendly's. I have always lived near one whether it was New York, Massachusetts, Virginia or New Hampshire. Luckily, none of the stores near where I would be are closing. ^

Finally Going After Nazis

From Yahoo News:
"Hundreds of Nazi probes reopened"

In a final quest to bring Holocaust participants to justice, German authorities have reopened hundreds of dormant investigations of Nazi death camp guards — men who are now so old that time has become "the enemy" for prosecutors hurrying to prepare cases. The efforts could result in new prosecutions nearly seven decades after World War II. Special Nazi war-crimes investigators reopened the files after the conviction of former U.S. autoworker John Demjanjuk, whose case set a new legal precedent in Germany. It was the first time prosecutors had been able to convict someone in a Nazi-era case without direct evidence that the suspect participated in a specific killing. Demjanjuk, now 91, was deported from the U.S. to Germany in 2009 to stand trial. He was convicted in May of 28,060 counts of accessory to murder for serving as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. Munich prosecutors argued that if they could prove that he was a guard at a camp like Sobibor — established for the sole purpose of extermination — it was enough to convict him of accessory to murder. Schrimm said his office is going over all its files to see if any other cases fit into the same category as Demjanjuk. He estimated there are probably fewer than 1,000 possible suspects in Germany and abroad who are alive and can still be prosecuted. He would not give any names. "We have to check everything — from the people who we were aware of in camps like Sobibor ... or also in the Einsatzgruppen," he said, referring to the death squads responsible for mass killings, particularly early in the war before the death camps were established. He estimated the number of suspects at 4,000. "Even if only 2 percent of those people are alive, we're talking 80 people. And let's assume half of them are not medically fit to be brought to justice. That leaves us with 40 people, so there is incredible potential," he said. Investigations of the lower ranks eventually fell to German courts. But there was little political will to aggressively pursue the prosecutions, and many of the trials ended with short sentences or acquittals of suspects in positions of greater responsibility than Demjanjuk. However, the current generation of prosecutors and judges in Germany has shown a new willingness to pursue even the lower ranks.

^ It is about time the German Government stops helping the former Nazis and punish them as they should have 70 years ago. It is sad that it had to wait until a new generation of Germans that was not directly affected by the war to grow up and finally make things right. If the Germans who lived during the war were truly sorry for what they helped their country to do then they had 70 years to make things right and they never did. It doesn't matter that the former Nazis are now in their 80-100s. The Nazis didn't discriminate against the elderly or disabled when they murdered people in the gas chambers, the ghettos, the mass pits or the death camps. ^

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Amanda Knox Free

From Yahoo News:
"Knox supporters cheer appeals court's decision"

Once it was clear that Amanda Knox's Italian murder conviction was overturned, her supporters in Seattle burst into cheers, threw their hands in the air and began to cry in joy. Surrounded by news cameras, the dozen or so supporters began hugging each other at a downtown hotel suite. The celebration marked four years of uncertainty for friends and supporters of Knox's family. In its ruling, the Italian appeals court also cleared Knox's co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito, of murder in Meredith Kercher's death. Kercher, 21, shared an apartment with Knox when they were both students in Perugia. She was stabbed to death in her bedroom. Knox and Sollecito, her former boyfriend from Italy, were convicted of murdering Kercher in 2009. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison, Sollecito to 25. Also convicted in separate proceedings was Rudy Hermann Guede, a drifter and native of the Ivory Coast.

^ I have only recently started reading about this case and right away I could tell that she didn't do it. The Italian Government, Police, Lawyers and Judges should be embarrassed and ashamed that they did such an awful job when collecting the evidence. They did not follow standard procedures and rushed to convict Knox because she was American and lived in the same apartment. Those involved in the first trial where she was convicted should be investigated as anyone with half a brain can see that there was no DNA or any other evidence that Knox or her former boyfriend were in the victim's room yet there was no doubt that the guy from Africa was. I don't understand the victim's family saying that they are back to "square one" since it is clear the guy from the Ivory Coast was in the room and did it and is still convicted of the murder. It is only a shame that these two innocent people had to wait 4 years for Italian justice to finally work. At least now she is coming back home. I'm sure she will never go to Italy every again. ^

Sunday, October 2, 2011


This week the teams left Taiwan and went to Indonesia. The teams had to go into a cave and get a statue and then either dance in the streets for money or park motorcycles. They then had to go to an orphanage and give all the money (not just what they earned dancing or parking) and then go to the Pit Stop. The majority of teams only gave the money they earned from the challenge and so had to go back to give the rest. This week 2 teams were eliminated: Ron and Bill and Ethan and Jenna. I don't mind that the first team was sent home, but would have liked Ethan and Jenna to stay and either the Showgirls or the Twins leave. Those two girl teams are beyond stupid and don't deserve to be on the Race. Ernie and Cindy would have come in first place if they had given all their money instead of having to go back, but they didn't and so Andy and Tommy did. At least this week no one lost their passport.

Who Will Buy: East Germany

From Deutsche Welle:
"West Germany mulled buying back East Germany for billions of dollars"

West German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard had big plans for his time in office, which would end up lasting just three years. Declassified documents from the CIA and the US State Department reveal that Erhard wanted to buy East Germany back from the control of the Soviet Union, according to an article in the German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel. A member of Erhard's staff at the time told the magazine the former chancellor considered paying $2 billion a year for 10 years. The Soviet government was struggling economically and would be open to a trading then East Germany for hard currency argued Erhard, a former finance minister who would become known as the father of the economic miracle that brought the West German economy back to life after World War II. The plan was proposed to the American Ambassador George McGhee in the West German capital of Bonn in October 1963. McGhee sent a report to Washington detailing the "originality" and the typical for Erhard "economic touch" of the plan. He concluded, however, that the idea demonstrated a "serious political naiveté. A few months later, after the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy, Erhard met with newly sworn in President Lyndon B. Johnson on his ranch in Texas. Erhard suggested that Johnson pass on West Germany's offer to USSR's Nikita Khrushchev. Johnson reacted coolly, according to the Spiegel report, saying he had no plans to meet with the Soviet leader. By October 1964 Khrushchev had lost power, Johnson was distracted by US elections and England, France, Italy and Japan had all offered the Soviet Union cheap loans. Two and a half decades later, however, German reunification would take place after a peaceful East German uprising. Germany is set to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the country's reunification on Monday.

^ I don't think the East German Government or the USSR would have accepted this proposal (especially not after 1961 when the Berlin Wall and the Inner-German Wall was already in place.) This idea may have had some weight before 1961 but not after. ^,,15431851,00.html

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Til Death Or

From Yahoo News:
"'Til 2013 do us part? Mexico mulls 2-year marriage"

Mexico City lawmakers want to help newlyweds avoid the hassle of divorce by giving them an easy exit strategy: temporary marriage licenses. Leftists in the city's assembly -- who have already riled conservatives by legalizing gay marriage -- proposed a reform to the civil code this week that would allow couples to decide on the length of their commitment, opting out of a lifetime. The minimum marriage contract would be for two years and could be renewed if the couple stays happy. The contracts would include provisions on how children and property would be handled if the couple splits. The bustling capital, one of the world's largest cities, is much more liberal than the rest of the country, where the divorce rate is significantly lower although on the rise. Abortion is legal in Mexico City, while the Supreme Court ruled this week to uphold state laws in Baja California that say life begins at conception. Leftist Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, who angered the Catholic Church when he made Mexico City the first Latin American city to legalize gay marriage in late 2009, announced this month he would soon step down to run for president.

^ That has to be one of the dumbest ideas I have ever heard. If people don't want to marry for longer than 2 years than they shouldn't get married in the first place. They can live together and "play house." ^