Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Wave (2008)

I just saw this movie and thought it was really good. It is based on a book that was based on a true story. In the original story a teacher in California in the 1960s tried to show his students that what happened in Nazi Germany could happen anywhere. This movie takes place in modern-day Germany and has much more meaning than the original experiment in the US ever could (based solely on Germany's past with the Nazis and Communists.) The movie is a German film in German and some parts look and sound just like a Nazi or East German rally with the marching in step, the shouting orders and the hand signs. like most things it is about a social experiment that goes out-of-control. The experiment includes the popular, outcasts, rich and poor and aims to teach them about a dictatorship, but goes a step further and transforms the students into brained-washed members of a cult that only do what they are told, when they are told. In the beginning of the film the students say that things like the Third Reich and East Germany could never happen again in Germany. I don't know what they are on, but it is clear to anyone who has been to Germany or even read about the country that conditions - high un-employment especially in eastern Germany, strong extremist groups, a weakening currency and economy, etc - are ripe for a return of the old dictatorships (especially considering that the German Government often seems to encourage the actions of former German dictatorships by the way they do very little to punish former Nazis and former East German Communists and in most cases allows them to live openly with many receiving government pensions.) While I know this kind of thing can happen in any country of the world the fact that the movie is German gives it more symbolism. It was interesting to see how the students changed without even noticing. I did like that there were some students that resisted the experiment (there's a scene where two girls throw leaflets protesting the experiment just like the White Rose did against the Nazis.) In the end the teacher realizes that he took things too far and tries to stop it, but not before some students take things to another level.

Monday, May 28, 2012

None Left Behind

From USA Today:
"Why America scours the earth for its fallen soldiers"

No nation has ever tried so hard to recover so many remains from battlefields so distant and so old. This is manifest each Memorial Day at new grave sites bearing remains discovered or identified over the past 12 months. Since Memorial Day 2011, the bodies of 79 servicemen from wars past have been accounted for, including 20 from World War II. The military's "full accounting mission," originally focused on Vietnam, is expanding. As many World War II cases have been investigated over the past two years as in the six previous, according to the POW/MIA Accounting Command. Last year, the war was the focus of a third of the military's 63 recovery expeditions. Only the United States has the technology, the personnel (a force of about 600) and the money for such a task. Recovering a single set of remains can involve everything from ground-penetrating radar to hand-panning mud, and easily cost a million dollars.

^ It only makes sense that a country that is willing to send its military to fight and die are also willing to spend the resources to find their remains no matter how long it takes. Today is Memorial Day and it is only fitting that this article shows the commitment the US takes to make sure no soldier is ever left behind. It is a very time-consuming and expensive program, but something that needs to be continued and expanded. ^

The Buffalo Shuffle Ending

From Yahoo Canada:
"Canada ending 'Buffalo shuffle' for visas, closing consulate"

The Harper government is closing the Canadian consulate in Buffalo only 18 months after spending more than $1.5 million on renovations and signing a 10-year lease that is almost certain to stick taxpayers with millions in rent for empty offices, CBC News has learned. Foreign Affairs is expected to announce the closure, which will affect about 75 employees, sometime next week. One official estimates that abandoning the consulate's two floors in Buffalo's tallest downtown office tower will leave Canadian taxpayers on the hook for about $8 million in rent (that includes the renovation costs) between now and the end of the lease in 2020. The closure of one of Canada’s largest and oldest diplomatic outposts in the United States is the result of federal budget cuts and a major change to immigration rules. For decades, foreign students and temporary workers in the Toronto area wanting to extend their stay in Canada have been forced to travel to the Buffalo consulate to apply for the necessary changes to their visas. But the Harper government is putting an end to what became known in immigration circles as the "Buffalo shuffle" by getting rid of the requirement that foreigners have to leave the country for interviews regarding a requested visa change. Instead, officials say, foreigners wanting to alter their visas will be able to apply and pay the necessary fees online, and if an interview with Canadian officials is necessary, they will be conducted at immigration offices in Canada. All of the remaining functions of the Buffalo mission will be taken over by the consulate in New York City, the second-largest Canadian diplomatic office in the U.S. next to the main embassy in Washington.

^ It does seem a little dumb to spend all the money to fix the place up and sign a long lease just to turn around and shut it. I do like the new rule that will allow people to change their visa status inside Canada rather than leaving the country. ^


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Vietnam In HD (2011)

I saw this on the History Channel and thought it showed what really happened in Vietnam during the war. It didn't take sides, but showed the soldiers, the protesters, the Government and how each reacted. Of course I learned about the Vietnam War in school and the hippies and counter-culture at home, but this movie (mini-series) broke the key points of the war down to make things easier to understand and follow.
One item I didn't care for, and never will, is how the public treated the soldiers during and after the war. It is one thing to be against war in general or a specific war, but to go after the soldiers (most of them who were drafted) instead of the real people who make wars - the President, Congress and the Generals. I am all for voicing your beliefs as long as it is non-violently so the protesters should have shown their disgust for the war by protesting solely against Johnson, Nixon, Congress and the Generals. To call regular soldiers "baby killers" shows just how ignorant most of the protesters were (I'm sure most were too high to care how they acted.) I also believe that had we had a true leader (someone other than Johnson or Nixon) in power and we fought with all our might the war would have ended and we would have won. I also think that if we didn't have the Draft most Americans would not have cared how many soldiers fought and died to protect them - like what happened in Iraq and continues in Afghanistan.
This series showed home videos from ordinary soldiers and their families and what they had to deal with (separation, fighting in a foreign country, dealing with protesters at home, being wounded, death, etc.)
I have immense respect and pride for EVERY and ALL American soldiers that have fought and died to protect this country since the Revolution (except those on the Confederacy during the Civil War.) Whether I agree with the war or not I know there is a clear distinction between those who create and run the wars and those that fight them. I think watching this series a week before Memorial Day (when we stop to remember all those soldiers who fought and DIED) for this country is very fitting. I hope that Americans will start looking at the Vietnam War not as a failure, but as a sacrifice that thousands upon thousands of American men and women paid to honor the US.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Canadian? What's That?

From the BBC:
"What does it mean to be Canadian?"

Canada is anything but a homogenous Commonwealth state; nearly one million indigenous people rub shoulders with immigrants from around the world, including many from Asia. What does it mean to be Canadian now? What are the traits which help make up modern-day Canada?  Defining this nation of six time zones is not easy. What could an English speaker in Vancouver possibly have in common with a francophone 3,000 miles (5,000 km) away in Quebec City? What, for that matter, could either have in common with a Gaelic speaker in easterly Nova Scotia? And, that's without taking into account the 200-plus ethnic groups across the land. John Ralston Saul, author of several books on Canadian culture, believes his country has a distinct approach to identity. "They accept that difference is actually quite interesting. What makes it possible to live together is agreement on things like ethics and public policy. Not agreement on accents and religion," he says. While most Canadians live in a narrow corridor hugging the US border, one thing they must never be considered is American. Indeed, when polled on national identity, Canadians defined themselves by characteristics such as free healthcare (53%) and by being more polite than their southern neighbours (15%). Lately, the country's gaze seems to be turning back to Britain. The ruling Conservatives are strengthening ties with the monarchy, hanging the Queen's portrait in federal buildings and restoring the 'royal' prefix to the country's navy and air force. After last year's honeymoon visit by Will and Kate, over two-thirds of Canadians said they believed the couple would help keep the monarchy relevant.
Bilingualism, a political priority under the premiership of Pierre Elliott Trudeau in the 1960s and 70s, is a core element of the country's identity. Today, 17.4% of Canadians are able to conduct a conversation in both languages, a marked increase on the 13.5% reported in 1971. "Is there enough? No. Should there be more? Yes. People take it for granted now, but if you want to be a cabinet minister or a supreme court judge, you have to be bilingual," says Mr Ralston Saul. Canadians, generally open-minded and tolerant, have mixed feelings about immigration. According to a recent poll, nearly two-thirds want their country to become a melting pot like the US, a unified culture into which newcomers must assimilate. Canadians are a highly connected population, with nearly three-quarters of the population on social networking site Facebook They are also well-informed, with the vast majority (89%) following current affairs frequently. Four in ten consider jobs and the economy to be the country's most pressing concern, ahead of healthcare and the environment.  "We're not better than the Americans. We're not better than the Britons. But, in a way, we're fundamentally lucky."

  ^ I just wanted to read what a Canadian reporting in a British newspaper think makes a Canadian. It was interesting although I knew all these aspects and didn't learn anything new from the article. ^


Royality Celebrating

From the BBC:
"Diamond Jubilee: World royals gather in UK for Queen"

Kings and queens from around the world have gathered in Britain to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Twelve UK royals joined the Queen to welcome the sovereigns of 26 countries for a luncheon at Windsor Castle. The world figures arrived at Windsor Castle in a convoy of black chauffeur-driven cars in time for the start of the lunch at 12:30 BST amid tight security. Also joining the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh for the lunch were Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Duke of York, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

^  I think Queen Elizabeth 2 has every right to celebrate 60 years on the throne by having other royalty from around the world to her palace. ^


Welsh Want Welsh

From the BBC:
"Welsh language plan for services unveiled by commissioner Meri Huws"

Welsh speakers would be able to access fully bilingual public services if new plans outlined for the language are given the go-ahead. The Welsh language commissioner has launched a consultation into standards which public sector bodies and some companies would have to follow. It means a Welsh speaker could expect to receive correspondence and phone calls in Welsh, along with accessing Welsh-speaking doctors and carers. Firms not complying would be fined. A Welsh Language Measure, which came into force last year, set a duty on public organisations to treat the Welsh language no less favourably than English.

Welsh services to be provided:
  • Correspondence - a Welsh speaker could expect to receive letters and bills from councils, along with water, gas, electricity and mobile phone companies in Welsh.
  • Telephone calls, helplines and call centres - if ringing an organisation, a person will be entitled to speak to someone through the medium of Welsh.
  • Care for individuals (medical and / or non-medical) - a Welsh speaker would have the right to request to be seen by a Welsh-speaking doctor. Similarly, in care homes, a person would be able to have a Welsh-speaking carer.
  • Meeting in a legal environment - court cases, tribunals and inquiries would be heard through the medium of Welsh.
  • Public meetings and private meetings - these too would need to provide Welsh speakers or translation services.
  • Youth activities - council-run leisure centres and youth clubs would be obliged to offer services in Welsh.
  • Educational meetings - Welsh would be used in classes, lectures, tutorials, discussion groups, workshops, training sessions and awareness raising sessions.

It is understood that it would be at least 2013 before any enforcement of the standards would come into effect.

^ It seems only fair that people in Wales who speak Welsh should be allowed to use the language to get services. Welsh and English have the same standard in Wales and both languages should be used for all public services. It's not like in Quebec where French is officially more important than English. Unlike the Quebecois, the  Welsh see the need to keep English as it is the only international language as well as protect their traditional language (Welsh.) ^


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cancelled Shows

From Web Pro News:
"Cancelled Shows 2012: Several Network Programs Get the Axe"

Cancelled Shows 2012: As always, there are a lot of them, and I’m sure some of the choices won’t be popular with fans. Of course, that’s always the case around this time of year, when networks are trying to figure out what to keep and what to kick to the proverbial curb for the upcoming fall season.
However, a few programs managed to survive the season with their productions intact. In addition to obvious choices as “Big Bang Theory”, “Bones”, “Family Guy”, “Glee”, and “Fringe”, other shows that will return this fall are “Mike & Molly”, “Modern Family”, “Parenthood”, “Community”, and “Parks and Recreation”.

Cancelled Television Programs 2012
Alcatraz (Fox)
Allen Gregory (Fox)
Are You There, Chelsea? (NBC)
Awake (NBC)
Best Friends Forever (NBC)
Bent (NBC)
Breaking In (Fox)
Charlie’s Angels (ABC)
Chuck (NBC)
CSI: Miami (CBS)
Desperate Housewives (ABC)
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (ABC)
The Finder (Fox)
The Firm (NBC)
Free Agents (NBC)
A Gifted Man (CBS)
H8R (CW)
Harry’s Law (NBC)
House (Fox)
I Hate My Teenage Daughter (Fox)
Man Up! (ABC)
Missing (ABC)
Napoleon Dynamite (Fox)
NYC 22 (CBS)
One Tree Hill (CW)
Pan Am (ABC)
The Playboy Club (NBC)
Prime Suspect (NBC)
Remodeled (CW)
Ringer (CW)
The River (ABC)
Rob (CBS)
The Secret Circle (CW)
Terra Nova (Fox)
Unforgettable (CBS)
Work It (ABC)

^ I am not surprised at most of these shows. I used to watch "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" but it was the same thing every week and just got boring. I watched "One Tree Hill" when I was in high school many years ago and am surprised that it is still on. I didn't really care for "Pan Am" but watched it in between shows. I saw "Are You There Chelsea?" but stopped when another show started. I really liked "Terra Nova" and wish it was still on. I heard that it's really expensive to produce in Australia and that's why it was cancelled - even though it was popular. ^


Canada's SIN

From The Globe and Mail:
"Your wallet just got a bit lighter: Ottawa nixes SIN cards"

Ottawa is phasing out the SIN card in an effort to save money and help prevent identity theft.The low-tech white plastic cards carrying the social insurance numbers of Canadians do not have any of the modern security features that are now common on drivers licences and credit cards. News of the phase-out was revealed Tuesday morning at the Senate finance committee, where parliamentarians are hearing from dozens of government officials on the various clauses in the government’s sweeping 425-page budget bill. “We would phase out the actual card,” said Peter Boyd, Service Canada’s director-general of service identity, authentication and epass. He said the change will be phased in and is expected to save $1.5-million a year. While credit card companies can quickly and easily give customers a new credit card number if a card has been stolen, a compromised SIN number can be a much bigger hassle. It is the number that government and employers use to track income, taxes and eligibility for various programs like Employment Insurance and the Canada Pension Plan. In light of concerns over identity theft, Mr. Boyd said Canadians should be living without the cards now. “We do not recommend people carry that card with them,” he told senators. The government’s omnibus budget bill, C-38, removes sections from several acts that mention a requirement to show a SIN card. Officials from the Human Resources department also explained several changes in the bill dealing with privacy protection of SIN, EI and CPP files. The budget bill consolidates privacy rules into a single act, which the officials said includes more stringent privacy protection. The officials said they discussed the changes with the Privacy Commissioner and the commissioner did not raise concerns.

^ The Government should continue to issue the SIN cards and just not require people to carry it or show it to receive benefits. I know in the US you can use your Social Security Card as a form of ID to apply for Passports, Driver's Licenses, etc. I'm not sure if Canada does the same with their SIN Card.  ^


Canada: No To Euro

From Yahoo:
"Canada says maybe Europe should give up euro zone"

If European countries are not prepared to bail out fellow euro zone members, maybe they should just abandon the whole concept of a common currency, Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Monday in some of his most direct remarks on the issue. "This is a time of crisis in the euro zone. The whole future of the euro zone is up for grabs, and this is very important for many of the euro zone member countries, given the history of Europe in the last 100 years or so," Flaherty told CTV television. "So they have to show courage. They have to do the right thing, use some of their taxpayers' money to bail out some of the weaker members of the euro zone - or start moving away from the euro zone and just say this was an experiment that has not worked."

^  It seems a little odd for Canada to say anything about this since it doesn't really affect them. If it was a private citizen saying this it would be fine, but not an official of the Government. Everyone knows that the Euro Zone is a bad idea (especially right now) and that the EU let anyone and everyone join without doing their "homework" and now the dozens of countries and millions of people who use the Euro are paying the price. The fate of the Euro is not whether countries will stop using it, but when they will. I see Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland giving up the Euro and doing so soon. As for the other countries I am not sure. ^


Monday, May 14, 2012

Most Russians Happy

From Russia Today:
"Over 82% of Russians are happy – poll"

The latest research showed 82% of Russians consider themselves happy in life – that's 16% more than just half a year ago. Feeling happy is more typical for young people – over 36 per cent of ‘happy’ Russians are aged under 35.  Another factor contributing to happiness is higher education: 30 per cent of well-educated Russians stated they feel good about their lives. Among other factors are health (73 per cent), job satisfaction (56 per cent), good sexual life (43 per cent), happy relations with friends and family (43 per cent).  The list of things that make Russians happy is topped by family welfare (32 per cent), children and grand children (15 per cent), success in life (13 per cent), having a soul mate and being healthy (ten per cent), good job (nine per cent), self-fulfillment opportunities (four per cent).
Among the reasons for being unhappy, Russians list poverty (15 per cent), bad health and aging (ten per cent), lack of good job opportunities (six per cent), loneliness (five per cent), bad living conditions (four per cent), worrying situation in the country, lack of family, surge of prices (one per cent each).
The poll embraced 1,600 people in 138 towns and 46 regions of Russia. The statistical margin of error does not exceed 3.4 per cent.

^ Hopefully, this poll is a true reflection of the vast views of Russians all over the country. The ordinary Russian who is in their 20s-30s has seen a lot in their short life (not as much as their parents or grandparents, but still more then most 20 somethings) and deserve to be happy and get a chance to enjoy life. Every country has problems (described in the article) and the measure of making someone feel happy is finding a balance between the good and the bad. I hope this trend continues to grow. ^


Limited Marriage Acceptance

From Yahoo:
"Rhode Island Recognizes Everyone's Same-Sex Marriages But its Own"

You can't marry your same-sex partner in Rhode Island, but as of Monday if you marry him or her in another state, the Ocean State will fully recognize the marriage, "It seems like an odd halfway measure between legalizing gay marriage and banning it, because making people cross the border from the nation's smallest state to tie the knot is really more of a slight inconvenience than anything else. But the gay marriage debate has been pretty divisive in Rhode Island, which enacted a bill legalizing civil unions last July, which Gov. Lincoln Chafee called imperfect but a "step forward," according to The AP via the Boston Herald. Chafee signed an executive order at the Rhode Island Statehouse Monday, recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages. AP explains what that means for same-sex couples whose marriages will now be legitimate."Since same-sex marriage is legal in every state that borders Rhode Island (that'd be Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York via Long Island Sound), and since the state is just about 40 miles long, that means you could simply go across the border and get married on your lunch break if you were so inclined.

^ I hope that this is merely the first step in Rhode Island allowing gays to marry in their state. If it is supposed to be the final law then it seems pretty dumb. Most of the states in the northern part of the US (except Maine and Rhode Island) allow gay marriage and it seems to be gaining more acceptance throughout the rest of the country. ^


European Austerity

From Yahoo:
"A European primer: What does austerity look like?"

Austerity has been the main prescription across Europe for dealing with the continent's nearly 3-year-old debt crisis, brought on by too much government spending. But what does it mean for the average European? Imagine paying sales tax of 23 percent or more. Or having your wages cut by 15 percent. Or, if you're in Ireland, both. Austerity comes in many forms: higher taxes, fewer state benefits, more job cuts, working longer until retirement, you name it.

Here's a look at some of Europe's austerity pain:
Greece, one of three eurozone nations to need an international bailout, has cut spending on just about everything it can — public sector salaries, pensions, education, health care and defense. As a result, unemployment has soared to over 21 percent, fueling social unrest that has sometimes turned deadly. In the last two years, riots have erupted frequently and the country's near-daily strikes and demonstrations have shut down schools, airports, train stations, ferries and harmed medical services.
Portugal is paying its bills only because of an international rescue loan. But the effect of lower government spending has been brutal: The economy is expected to contract 3.4 percent this year after a double-dip recession last year. Unemployment has climbed to a record 15 percent. New labor laws have made it easier for employers to hire and fire workers and change their working hours. Rent controls have been scrapped and state energy companies have been sold off.
Ireland, the third European nation on rescue loans, has already seen five austerity budgets since 2008. It has been forced to raise taxes and slash spending for years — and that won't stop until at least 2015. The sales tax is now up to a whopping 23 percent and middle-class wages have been cut around 15 percent. Residents face higher taxes on incomes, cars, homes and fuel, while the nearly 15 percent who are unemployed have seen lower welfare and other benefit payments. Ireland has also cut the number of civil servants.
The government has raised income and property taxes, cut spending on health care and education and made it easier for companies to fire workers. Coming on the heels of a real estate market implosion, the austerity measures have hit Spaniards hard. Unemployment is now around 25 percent, a record in the 17-nation eurozone, while about half of its young people have no jobs. The country's sales tax has already been increased to 18 percent and experts don't rule out another rise.
Over fierce protests, the government has increased the retirement age from 60 to 62, raised the sales tax from 5.5 to 7 percent on non-essential products, cut tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations, and cut regional and local government budgets. For the next two years, two state workers have to retire before one is replaced.
Austerity measures have sent Italian unemployment up to 9.8 percent and put the country in a recession that is expected to shrink its economy 1.2 percent this year. In addition, Premier Mario Monti is trying to change laws to make it easier to fire workers. Amid the budget cuts, Rome dropped its bid for the 2020 Olympics after the government said it could not back its estimated $12.5 billion cost and an art museum near Naples burned paintings to protest the lack of culture funding.
Britain's coalition government is making spending cuts worth about 103 billion pounds ($166.8 billion) through 2017, cuts that have sent the country into a double-dip recession. University tuition costs have soared, provoking violent protests. Harsh spending cuts have slashed government jobs by the thousands and cut funding to police. Unions have threatened to strike and disrupt the upcoming London Olympics to oppose the sharp austerity cuts.

^ This gives a good, basic summary of what certain countries in the EU are going through. It helps the reader (especially a non European) make some sense of all the reports we hear about what is going on over there. ^


More Ghettos

From Yahoo:
"Excruciating details emerge on Jewish ghettos"

Even after decades of in-depth Holocaust research, excruciating details are only now emerging about more than 1,100 German-run ghettos in Eastern Europe where the Nazis murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews. And there were about 200 more ghettos than previously believed, said Martin Dean, editor of the recently published "Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945, Volume II." It's part of a long-term effort to document every site of organized Nazi persecution, beyond the well-known Warsaw ghetto and extermination camps like Auschwitz. It "gives us information about ghettos that would slip into historical oblivion and be forgotten forever if we didn't have this volume," Holocaust scholar Lawrence Langer said. "Who knew there were more than 1,000 ghettos?" More Jews died during World War II in Poland and the western Soviet Union — today's Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania — than the estimated 1 million gassed in Auschwitz, Langer said.
"The people are dead, but at least we have the memory of the place where they lived and some knowledge of who killed them," said Langer, an 83-year-old professor of English emeritus at Boston's Simmons College. The museum fields inquiries daily about survivors' families using the new information — some of it from non-Jews divulging locations of unmarked mass graves. Researchers at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington painstakingly collected details for the encyclopedia's more than 2,000 pages from the communities where Germans herded Jews and killed them if they tried to escape. Researchers and writers scoured the world to find new witnesses, study archives opened after the fall of communism and survivors' texts and testimonies in many languages. For town after town, village after village, and even just spots in the countryside, Dean and his team assembled pieces of a grisly puzzle, which he said "shows that the Nazis made a concerted effort to find every last Jew in every last place" and eliminate each one. Another encyclopedia on World War II ghettos was published in 2009 by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel's official memorial to Holocaust victims. The "Encyclopedia of the Ghettos" sums up the story of each ghetto for either lay readers or researchers. The two-part tome compiled by the U.S. Holocaust museum and published in early May by Indiana University Press includes more listings, with extensive scholarly footnotes and bibliographies. The new volume covers ghettos from Moscow to today's German border, and St. Petersburg to Yalta, in Ukraine. The next volume will cover camps and ghettos run by states aligned with Nazi Germany like Vichy France, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, Italy and Croatia.

^ It's always important to document each and every site where something horrible happened (whether it's from the Holocaust or a battle.) In this case, most of the information was keep secret by the Communist governments behind the Iron Curtain and it was only in the past 20 years that the files were opened and everyday people decided they could finally talk about what they saw and did without fear. ^


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Survivor: OW

Tonight was the season finale.Kim won immunity both times which assured her position. First Alicia and then Christina were voted off. It caught Alicia off-guard (which was nice.) So the final three were: Kim, Chelsea and Sabrina. There weren't any real break-throughs or out-bursts when the jury got to speak. I thought Cat would have gone off, but instead she talked about her heart problems. Troyzan and Tarzan seemed weird as usual. Sabrina did mention that her goal in the game was to do nothing and even try not to win challenges - which is just dumb. In the end it was between Sabrina and Kim (Chelsea didn't get any votes that they showed.) I think Chelsea played a better game, but wasn't as social as Kim and so Kim won (she also won the Viewer's Choice.) During the reunion show Colton still look and acted as he did on the show - he tried to say he was sorry for how he acted, but it didn't seem real. His mom sounded more sorry for what her son did than he did. They talked to Tarzan and his wife and they look and act like a bunch of hillbillies (and he said he was a millionaire.) If he was still a surgeon I wouldn't let him operate on anyone I know. Bill looked like a throw-back from the 1980s and not in a good way. The reunion show was alright, but didn't give a whole lot of drama - just a lot of fake tears.
At the very end they announced that the new season would take place in the Philippines (I'm surprised it wasn't Samoa again) and would include 3 former contestants that had to leave because of medical reasons - I'm sure one of them is Colton. Hopefully, there are a lot more twists, turns and drama on the new season. The show really needs to pick itself up to keep people watching.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Some Germans Did Help

From Deutsche Welle:
"Exhibition documents German help for Jews"

Hans Rosenthal survived the Second World War hiding in a Berlin garden. The author Valentin Senger survived with fake papers. These are the fates of two Jews documented in a new exhibition in Frankfurt. After the end of the Second World War, Oskar Schindler, businessman and savior of more than 1200 Jews in Poland, lived a lonely and impoverished life in a small apartment in Frankfurt. Only a small number of people knew about his courageous efforts during the war. He could never have predicted he would one day be the subject of an American film. There were however less prominent people who, despite all the dangers, made attempts to help persecuted Jews during the period of National Socialist rule. They have long remained unsung heroes, whose stories have taken time to come to the public's attention. A number of these feature in a new exhibition "Against the Tide: Help and Solidarity for Persecuted Jews in Frankfurt and Hessen" at the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt.Failed escape Nicole Jussek-Sutton stands before a photograph depicting a man in a swimming costume, arms outstretched, ready to spring into the water. It is Arthur Schaub, a Swiss man married to Nicole's grandmother, who fled to Switzerland in 1940. The photograph was sent as a postcard to her daughter (Nicole's mother) who was left behind in Germany and contained a secret message. Schaub wanted to rescue the young woman by swimming across the Rhine, and twice swam over to the German side of the river. The audacious endeavor ultimately failed. "My mother survived in Germany by hiding in an isolated house. This was despite the huge danger she was in, being both a Jew and a member of the resistance," explained Nicole Jussek-Sutton, who today lives in Ireland. Her mother died in 1996. She rarely talked about her experiences during the Second World War. She continued to feel persecuted, right up until her death.A small number of Jews survived the Holocuast using forged identity papers. It was ordinary German people who fought to help persecuted Jews during the war. Out of Christian charity, friendship, love, or because they did not agree with the politics of the National Socialists. They provided food and supplies, forged documents and hiding places. They saved Jews from deportation trains or even from concentration camps. Such as the caretaker who helped to alleviate the suffering of an elderly man in a Jewish retirement home. The married couple from Frankfurt who hid a young man in their attic who had fled from the Majdanek concentration camp. The priest who acted as an escape agent. The police officer who tampered with registration papers so that it was possible for a number of Jews to survive in the city of Frankfurt. Wetzlar businessman Ernst Leitz – a leading producer of optical instruments and cameras – purposefully sought to employ Jews after 1933 so that they could acquire professional qualifications which would help them to emigrate and build a new life elsewhere. Leitz employed around 600 female Ukrainian laborers. He and his daughter ensured the women had a half dignified existence and above all, enough to eat on a daily basis. Leutz's daughter was imprisoned in a Frankfurt jail for this and other work assisting Jews. But there was also the British consul general, Robert T. Smallbones, who during the November riots in 1938 took persecuted Jews into the consulate, providing shelter and later helping them flee. Around 48,000 Jews were able to travel to Great Britain with transit visas and from there make their way to other countries. For a long time, little was known about such attempts to help the Jewish community. After the war, the issue of Germans having assisted persecuted Jews was taboo: "In comparison to other European countries, only a very small number of Germans helped Jews," said Raphael Gross, director of the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt. There was never any recognition given for their work. "For German postwar society it was a provocation. The fact that a minority of Germans had sought to help Jews really highlighted the inaction of the great majority of Germans, as well as the fact that it was possible to do something, despite the terribly difficult political situation." The people who did assist Jews were themselves reluctant to make a fuss about the work they had done, since they felt it was the only natural thing to do. The political climate in the young German republic also forbade such actions from being talked about. For a long time, opponents of the Nazi regime were considered traitors. Later, protracted debates ensued concerning what exactly "resistance" to the Nazi regime constituted, and then concentrated almost entirely on military resistance. But even that was limited, explained historian Wolfram Wette: "The German armed forces had around 18 million members, up to now, the number of rescuers we know of remains under 100." Social recognition, but also the research that was required into the subject, came late. "It was a very laborious process," said the curator of the exhibition, Heike Drummer. Historical source material was difficult to locate. Even today no central archive exists even today. Museum director Gross explained: "The few who were active did everything they could to cover their tracks because their lives were in danger." In the meantime, the German Resistance Memorial Center in Berlin exhibits documentation on the work of these unsung heroes and their courageous acts. Now the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt is also making its own contribution to the existing evidence and research.

^ I think it's great that the stories of Germans who helped Jews before and during the war are finally coming out. It is about time. I can understand why the majority of Germans who were 18 or older in 1945 do not want to discuss or even let it be known that ordinary Germans DID help save Jews - since most Germans either actively helped to discriminate and kill them or looked the other way. They don't want to be reminded that what they did. The fact that Germans did help save the Jews - even before people knew the full extent of what was going on in the Holocaust - shows that not every German at that time was a Nazi or helped the Nazis. The small numbers of these courageous Germans does show that they were a minority working against a whole nation intend on destroying the Jews and other "sub-humans." ^


Russia's Hot Water - Not!

From Russia Today:
"Moscow braces itself as city turns off hot water"

The time of year that every Muscovite dreads has come to the Russian capital, as the authorities have started turning off the hot water taps. ­Since Soviet times, switching off the hot water has been an obligatory and unpopular event all Muscovites go through for two weeks between May and August. The reason is that the pipes need to be checked for the upcoming winter.This year, however, the authorities promise that the annual ritual will be shorter than usual. The city’s new mayor Sergey Sobyanin has decided to turn the city's most dreaded summer traditions into history, cutting the inspection from two weeks to only ten days in total. In three to four years, it is planned to introduce a new technology of changing pipes that would require no water shut-down at all. Until the new technology is up and running, Muscovites continue coming up with different ways of warming up. One option is simply escaping from the city; others prefer going to a Russian sauna (banya) or simply make a visit to a luckier neighbor. While the city’s wealthy residents are digging into their pockets to buy a water heater, the majority still go for a method foolproof since Soviet times. The simplest survival kit includes a kettle and a basin. Just mix boiling water with the hot water – and enjoy your bath. And console yourself that in Soviet days, people were left without hot water for over a month.

^ I remember going through this several times in Yaroslavl -once even in Winter. It felt like living in a Third World country. When I tell friends and family about what I had to go through (ie washing myself and clothes with a bucket or travelling to another part of the city to take a shower at a friend's house that still had hot water) they think I am making it up to fit the traditional stereotypes of life in Russia. This article proves I was telling the truth since even the capital of the country has its hot water shut off. Hopefully, the country will modernize its heating and water systems soon in the whole country so it can be brought into the 2nd decade of the 21st Century. ^


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Survivor: OW

This week, for the Reward Challenge, they had to collect three disks and then use those disks to decode some numbers that would unlock a flag. Chelsea won and took Kim and Sabrina. They went to a yacht where they showered, ate and spent the night. Christina was mad because she had an agreement with Chelsea that whichever one won and they could take another person they would take each other. Of course right after they talked Christina ran and told everyone. For the Immunity Challenge they had to solve a puzzle of a fish with one hand. Alicia won (although Kim was close) and so Tarzan spent a bunch of time actually playing the game and trying to save his skin. I was really glad that Tarzan was voted out. He was very creepy - even when he wasn't wearing women's clothes. I would still like to see Kim leave because it would really shock her. Chelsea is still the one I want to win. Next week is the Season Finale.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Underwear Bomb

From Yahoo:
"US sends airport security guide to other countries"

In the wake of a terrorist bomb plot disrupted by the CIA, the U.S. advised some international airports and air carriers Tuesday about security measures for passengers traveling to the U.S. The guidance from the Transportation Security Administration was a reminder of methods the U.S. provided to these international airports and carriers in the past six to eight months to help protect against threats from liquid explosives and explosives hidden inside a person's body or clothes or in printer cartridges. All are methods officials said al-Qaida's spinoff group in Yemen has considered for plots against the U.S, according to an American official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the details of the guidance. The CIA recently foiled a bomb plot in Yemen in which officials say a suicide bomber was to have detonated an explosive on a U.S.-bound flight. Despite the discovery of a sophisticated new al-Qaida airline bomb plot, congressional and security officials suggested there was no immediate need to change airport security procedures, which already subject many shoeless passengers to pat-downs and body scans. The CIA, with help from a well-placed informant and foreign intelligence services, conducted a covert operation in Yemen in recent weeks that disrupted a nascent suicide plot and recovered a new bomb, U.S. officials said. They said the bomb represented an upgrade over the underwear bomb that failed to detonate aboard a jetliner over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. The new bomb was also designed to be used in a passenger's underwear, but this time al-Qaida developed a more refined detonation system. Before the bomber could choose his target or buy his ticket, however, the CIA moved in and seized the bomb. The fate of the would-be bomber remains unclear.
^ It seems that the majority of these terrorists are coming from Yemen and surrounding countries so you would think that any plane bound for or from the US would take anyone with a passport from Yemen and surrounding countries and give them additional security checks (100% checks) including their baggage. Also anyone who has travelled to Yemen and the region in the past decade should be included. I don't understand why the government feels so confident. They merely found the bomb and not the bomber. I wouldn't feel secure until they catch him as he can just make another bomb and try again. ^


USPS Cut, But Open

From Yahoo:
"USPS to Cut Hours, Not Close Post Offices"

After 10 months of angst and outrage that spanned from rural Montana to Capitol Hill, the U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday that the 3,700 post offices targeted in May for closing will remain open. Instead, USPS plans to reduce the hours of operation at 13,000 rural post offices from a full eight-hour day to between two and six open hours per day, a move that the struggling mail service claims will save about $500 million per year. "This is a win-win," Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said at a news conference Wednesday. "The bottom line is that any rural community that wants to retain their post office will be doing that." Under the new plan, about 9,000 current full-time postal employees will be reduced to part time and lose their benefits after the offices they work at are put got to two to four open hours per day. Another 4,000 full-time employees will see their hours reduced to part-time, but will retain their benefits. These workers will be at post offices whose hours are reduced to six hours per day. Donahoe is also pushing for a plan to reduce mail delivery to five days per week and reform the postal employee retirement system, but has to have Congressional approval to implement either item. Postal reform is currently caught in a tug-of-war between the House and the Senate. The Postal Service aims to start reducing office hours at selected rural post offices starting around Labor Day and have all 13,000 offices now under review operating under reduced hours, consolidated with a nearby post office or local business or closed in favor of rural delivery by the fall of 2014. Since USPS announced their decision to begin cutting post offices in July, 500 have already closed and will remain closed under the new plan. But the 400 offices that had been targeted for elimination will now remain open and operate for between two and six hours per day.

^ Living in a rural, mountain town (my mailbox is over a mile from my house as the USPS won't go on two nearby roads) and I have to drive 25 minutes to the closest Post Office to pick up my boxes and mail anything big. If the USPS would drive on my road, deliver my mail and pick up anything I have to send out then I wouldn't care about the Post Office staying or not (ours wasn't scheduled to close.) ^


NC Anti-Gay

From the BBC:
"North Carolina approves constitutional ban on gay union"

Initial results show North Carolina has approved a constitutional amendment effectively banning same-sex marriage or civil unions. State election officials said 61% had voted for the measure banning gay unions, and 39% opposed it. Recent polling had suggested the ban would pass, defining marriage as only between a man and a woman. North Carolina law already bans gay marriage but the vote enshrines this in the constitution. With the passage of the amendment, North Carolina becomes the 29th state to use its state constitution to explicitly ban gay unions. Eight states and the District of Columbia allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. Same-sex marriage laws have passed this year in New Jersey, Maryland and Washington state.

^ I have said before that I believe the voters of a state should decide whether to allow gay marriage or not. What gets me about this vote is that it goes a step too far and bans gay civil unions. It is one thing to not feel right about gay marriage - although I don't personally see any reason to fear it - and another to deny gays the basic rights that straight couples in a common-law relationship have. This vote shows that the vast majority of people in NC are just as simple-minded as the stereotypes of Southerns show them to be. ^


Bilingual PR - Si?

From Yahoo:
"Puerto Rico aims to become fully bilingual by 2022"

The governor of Puerto Rico is trying to do what more than a century of American citizenship has failed to accomplish: make Puerto Ricans fluent in English. Gov. Luis Fortuno, who has been mentioned as a possible Republican vice-presidential candidate, has proposed an ambitious, and what critics call far-fetched, plan to require all public schools to teach all courses in English instead of Spanish. The U.S. territory has had a long and contentious relationship with the English language, and many Puerto Ricans are skeptical about embracing it, fearing they will lose a key part of their identity and find themselves a step closer to statehood, a status that only about half of islanders have backed in recent polls. "Bilingualism opens doors and provides opportunity to our children so they can shine and become successful in a labor market that is increasingly competitive and globalized," he said. Only 12 of the island's 1,472 schools offer an all-English curriculum of the sort envisioned by Fortuno, while 35 other schools offer some courses in English, such as math and physical education, said Education Secretary Edwin Moreno. "The main idea is to have a Puerto Rican who can communicate in Spanish as well as English," said Moreno, who acknowledged that he himself has an imperfect command of English. Moreno is overseeing an initial $15 million project to install a bilingual curriculum in 31 schools starting in August and to reinforce the English-Spanish curriculum already in place in the 35 other schools. Plans for adding the rest are still hazy, but the governor says he wants all public school students to be bilingual within 10 years. Under the governor's plan, schools would continue to offer Spanish grammar and literature classes. All public schools are currently required to teach English from kindergarten through high school, and 9,000 teachers are devoted to that. But about 96 percent of the island's 3.9 million people speak Spanish at home, and some 2.8 million Puerto Ricans do not consider themselves fluent in English, according to the U.S. Census.  From 1900 to 1948, all high school subjects were taught in English, until the island's first democratically elected governor, Luis Munoz Marin, ended the practice. In 1991, Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon went further by declaring Spanish the island's sole official language. The law was repealed a couple of years later by Gov. Pedro Rosello, whose first official act was to make both English and Spanish the official languages, a law that stands to this day, even if only a few places have street signs in English.

^ Puerto Rico should keep English and Spanish as the two official languages and encourage they study and use of English. English is the sole international language and anyone who wants to make something of themselves - even in PuertoPuerto Ricans want they could always vote for independence and loose all the Federal money they currently get  - which makes the island one of the richest in the Caribbean  but I don't see that happening anytime soon. It seems they just want to constantly complain and at the same time take our money. While I don't see Puerto Ricans becoming fluent in English by 2020 I do hope the islanders will wake up and see its practical useage. ^

Monday, May 7, 2012

Smoking Animals

From Russia Today:
"‘Russia treats smokers like animals’ – doctor"

Russia's chief addiction doctor says smokers should stop being treated like animals. He has calling for "humane" areas at airports and other public places in which they can light up." The sale of tobacco in Russia is allowed officially and the government gets an income in the form of excise duties,” says Evgeny Bryun an expert in drug and alcohol dependency at Russia’s Health Ministry, "So the government must provide smokers with smoking areas."  Bryun added that although there must be an official policy of lowering tobacco consumption, smokers should be treated decently and not forced to smoke in small areas with bad ventilation like those at the airports. "Otherwise it seems smokers are treated like animals," Bryun said. “The emphasis should be on pre-emptive measures and encouragement for those who quit smoking rather than on the policy of bans. Bans alone will not achieve much.” He cited the example of Europe, where those who stop smoking get a pay rise, as well as those who get up an hour early and go the gym. Bryun’s remarks come amid a major government crackdown on smoking. According to recently-adopted laws, smoking in public places and tobacco advertising, including on public transport, will be banned from 2014. Hotels, cafes and nightclubs will become smoke-free starting from 2015. By 2013, cigarettes will disappear from store shelves to be sold only by catalogue. At least 400,000 people die in Russia annually from smoking-related diseases. Official statistics indicate that 45 per cent of Russian citizens have smoked, and 34 per cent smoke regularly. Currently, the average age when a person starts smoking in Russia is 11 years old. Despite the annual decrease in the population, cigarette consumption grows every year.

^  I think that most countries in the world (not just Russia) have been treating smokers like animals and discriminating against them for the past several years - the US more so then most places. I am all for educating people about the dangers of smoking and having certain areas for smoking, but  local, State and Federal governments tend to treat smokers as criminals even though smoking is legal. Until cigarettes are banned from being sold and smoked then places (ie airports, restaurants, hospitals, universities, etc) should not be allowed to outright ban all smoking on their property. They should be required to have separate, indoor areas where smokers can go and where non-smokers do not have to worry about second-hand smoke. ^


Good-Bye Americans

From Russia Today:
"Americans renounced their citizenship in record numbers in 2011"

If you think residing in America is taxing, just talk to one of the many expatriates who is contributing to a shocking statistic recently discovered: across the globe, people are renouncing their US citizenship in record numbers. At least 1,788 Americans officially threw away their US citizenship in 2011, exceeding the totals from 2007, 2008 and 2009 combined. The Internal Revenue Service has been keeping a tally of US citizens driven to renouncing that title since only 1998, but last year’s number has officially raised the bar when it comes to calling America quits. What’s more, experts say, is that more and more Americans will soon be saying 'sayonara' to Uncle Sam if the federal government keeps up its trend of heavily taxing US citizens abroad. Out of the 34 countries that belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States is the only nation that taxes its citizens no matter where they reside on Earth. As long as a person maintains citizen status, they are expected to send the United States government pennies on every dollar earned no matter where they live, under current law. With the US enacting stricter guidelines in recent years that demand wealthy Americans abroad paying the IRS even more, citizens are voluntarily refusing the perks and protection of the United States in numbers unmatched in recent memory.

^ It does seem pretty stupid that the US Government forces Americans living and working outside the country to pay US taxes. What really gets me is how they go after dual-citizens. If I enter Canada on a Canadian passport I am considered a Canadian and the US Embassy in Ottawa can't do a thing to help me yet I still have to pay US taxes. ^


Sunday, May 6, 2012


Tonight was the season finale. The teams left India and went to Japan (I'm surprised they didn't go to China this season as they seem to always go there.) They first had to take a ferry to an island for a clue - which Rachel and Dave missed, but made up the time because the clues weren't handed out until the next morning. Then they went to Hiroshima for a clue. They had to do a very stupid Japanese Game show where they had to pick three chickens  while running on a treadmill. Most of the teams did it pretty quick, but Vanessa had trouble because of her leg - she still did a good job. Next the teams had to either take pictures of people in sumo cutouts or play sushi bingo - all the teams except Dave and Rachel did bingo. In the end, Dave and Rachel came in first place for the 7th time and Vanessa and Ralph came in last and were sent home. The next leg they left Japan and went to Hawaii. They had to climb up some large twin towers  - the Border Patrol got lost. Then the teams took a helicopter and had to rescue someone in the water. Rachel and Brendon got lost on that one. The next challenge was to slide down a hill on a Hawaiian sled - which the Border Guards couldn't do - and then throw a ball in a net. Rachel and Dave missed that clue and went to the last challenge of paddle surfing. Phil told them they had to complete the challenge before he could check them in. I thought they were finished, but since the Border Patrol couldn't use the sled they managed to go back, do the challenge and win the Race. This is the first time that I can remember the team I wanted from the beginning actually won. They not only won the Race, but also were the only teams in the history of the show to win 8th legs. The Border Patrol came in 2nd - which was fitting since they were pretty annoying and Big Brother came in last. All in all it was a pretty good season. I can't wait to see the next season.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Survivor: OW

This week the tribe got to have their family members come. Most were either a sister or brother and one was a cousin while Tarzan had his wife and Christina had her dad. For the Reward Challenge each team (a tribe member and their family) had to un-tie rope. Kat and her cousin (the two seemed a little more than just cousins) won and Kat took Kim, her sister and Alicia and her sister. Most of the tribe was mad and thought Kat should have taken Tarzan, his wife and Christina and her dad - I agree. Kat was not thinking, as usual, and just wanted to "hang out" rather than play the game. That would hurt her in the end. For the Immunity Challenge they had to stand on a ledge facing water and hang there until they couldn't take it anymore. Kim won and Kat was mad. At Tribal, Kat was so excited and said that blind-sides were funny because no one saw them coming. It was very ironic when she was voted off. I'm glad she was sent home as she was beyond stupid and blamed her stupidity on her being 22. I still want Chelsea to win.  

Fat Americans

From Yahoo:
"As America's waistline expands, costs soar"

U.S. hospitals are ripping out wall-mounted toilets and replacing them with floor models to better support obese patients. The Federal Transit Administration wants buses to be tested for the impact of heavier riders on steering and braking. Cars are burning nearly a billion gallons of gasoline more a year than if passengers weighed what they did in 1960. The nation's rising rate of obesity has been well-chronicled. But businesses, governments and individuals are only now coming to grips with the costs of those extra pounds, many of which are even greater than believed only a few years ago: The additional medical spending due to obesity is double previous estimates and exceeds even those of smoking, a new study shows. Many of those costs have dollar signs in front of them, such as the higher health insurance premiums everyone pays to cover those extra medical costs. Other changes, often cost-neutral, are coming to the built environment in the form of wider seats in public places from sports stadiums to bus stops. The startling economic costs of obesity, often borne by the non-obese, could become the epidemic's second-hand smoke. Only when scientists discovered that nonsmokers were developing lung cancer and other diseases from breathing smoke-filled air did policymakers get serious about fighting the habit, in particular by establishing nonsmoking zones. The costs that smoking added to Medicaid also spurred action. Now, as economists put a price tag on sky-high body mass indexes (BMIs), policymakers as well as the private sector are mobilizing to find solutions to the obesity epidemic. The U.S. health care reform law of 2010 allows employers to charge obese workers 30 percent to 50 percent more for health insurance if they decline to participate in a qualified wellness program. The law also includes carrots and celery sticks, so to speak, to persuade Medicare and Medicaid enrollees to see a primary care physician about losing weight, and funds community demonstration programs for weight loss. Such measures do not sit well with all obese Americans. Advocacy groups formed to "end size discrimination" argue that it is possible to be healthy "at every size," taking issue with the findings that obesity necessarily comes with added medical costs. The percentage of Americans who are obese (with a BMI of 30 or higher) has tripled since 1960, to 34 percent, while the incidence of extreme or "morbid" obesity (BMI above 40) has risen sixfold, to 6 percent. The percentage of overweight Americans (BMI of 25 to 29.9) has held steady: It was 34 percent in 2008 and 32 percent in 1961. What seems to have happened is that for every healthy-weight person who "graduated" into overweight, an overweight person graduated into obesity. Because obesity raises the risk of a host of medical conditions, from heart disease to chronic pain, the obese are absent from work more often than people of healthy weight. The most obese men take 5.9 more sick days a year; the most obese women, 9.4 days more. Obesity-related absenteeism costs employers as much as $6.4 billion a year, health economists led by Eric Finkelstein of Duke University calculated. Even when poor health doesn't keep obese workers home, it can cut into productivity, as they grapple with pain or shortness of breath or other obstacles to working all-out. Such obesity-related "presenteeism," said Finkelstein, is also expensive. The very obese lose one month of productive work per year, costing employers an average of $3,792 per very obese male worker and $3,037 per female. Total annual cost of presenteeism due to obesity: $30 billion.
Decreased productivity can reduce wages, as employers penalize less productive workers. Obesity hits workers' pocketbooks indirectly, too: Numerous studies have shown that the obese are less likely to be hired and promoted than their svelte peers are. Women in particular bear the brunt of that, earning about 11 percent less than women of healthy weight, health economist John Cawley of Cornell University found. At the average weekly U.S. wage of $669 in 2010, that's a $76 weekly obesity tax.
 ^ I don't see why I should have to pay more because someone else is fat. Places openly discriminate against smokers (supposedly for the health of others) and make them pay more so why not the same for fat people?  ^


Canada's Hospitals

From Yahoo Canada:
"Hospital staff refuse to aid patient in their parking lot"

An investigation is underway at an eastern Ontario hospital after staff allegedly refused to leave the hospital and come to the aid of a woman in a car parked outside. The family of Norma Brown, 91, said the elderly woman suffered a heart attack on Saturday afternoon, prompting them to rush her to the Winchester District Memorial Hospital in Winchester, Ont., some 50 kilometres south of Ottawa.
They said they were shocked when staff refused to come out to help carry Brown inside. "I ran into to get help because my husband and I could not lift her out of the van and the receptionist said they are not allowed to leave the building and that I would have to call 911 to get help to lift her out of the van," said Margaret Brown, her daughter. Margaret Brown said an ambulance was already parked outside, but the family still had to call 911 so another ambulance could be dispatched. It arrived within five to 10 minutes and brought her mother inside, she said. Norma Brown is now recovering from her heart attack at the hospital and may soon return home, but her daughter said she is coming forward because she wants to save others from the ordeal. The hospital has launched an investigation into the incident, said Lynn Hall, the hospital's senior vice president of clinical services. Hall was adamant that there was not any policy or practice preventing staff from helping patients get into the hospital. Margaret Brown, however, insists more than one staff told her just the opposite. "Even a medical doctor confirmed they are not supposed to go outside to help," she said. The situation is similar to an incident at the Greater Niagara General Hospital last October. In that case, Doreen Wallace broke her leg while inside the hospital and was told to phone for an ambulance. A hospital surgeon treated her before the ambulance arrived. That incident prompted an apology and a review of hospital policy.

^ This is just plain disgusting and shows one of the many issues with the Canadian Health System. If there is a policy restricting hospital staff to help people get into the hospital then it needs to be changed immediately and if there isn't then everyone involved from the hospital and the ambulance needs to be severely reprimanded and maybe even fired. People in the medical profession (whether doctors, nurses, orderlies, receptionists or ambulance crews) are supposed to help everyone who needs it regardless and I have read too many articles that show the same basic thing - negligence and uncaring practices at Canadian hospitals. The system needs to be completely over-hauled one way or the other to make sure that common sense and compassion take hold. ^