Saturday, July 28, 2012

Olympic Opening

From Yahoo:
"NBC blasted for not showing Opening Ceremony live"

As the Olympic cauldron was being lit in London, American viewers of the Opening Ceremony were watching a segment featuring Bob Costas and Tom Brokaw discussing security measures at the Games. While millions on Twitter read about the queen parachuting into Olympic Stadium, NBC stations on the East Coast were showing local news. Most insulting, NBC's Twitter feed was discussing the Opening Ceremony while its network was blacking out viewers. The peacock network has proudly promoted the fact that the 2012 Olympics will be streamed live in their entirety on the network's website, but chose to hold the Opening Ceremony for tape delay on both television and the Internet. It was a decision that enraged Olympic fans nationwide and sent many seeking illegal feeds of the live BBC broadcast. The BBC did have one huge advantage over its American counterparts: No commercials.

^ I watched the Opening ceremony this morning. I figured since NBC was showing them taped last night - which I think they should have shown Live - it didn't matter when I watched it. I was very disappointed in the show. I knew it wouldn't be like it was in Beijing (where if someone messed up their would probably end up on a re-education camp or worse) but it is the 3rd time London has held the Games and it was just plain boring. The dancers were all off throughout the different pieces. It was weird that they went from Agrarian Society to the Industrial Revolution and then their Health Care System. It didn't flow well. I didn't care for the cheap Bond trick with the "queen" parachuting out of a helicopter (did anyone else notice that when the helicopter flew over the city is was bright and sunny and then when it got to the Olympic Dome it was pitch-black?) There's a picture going around Facebook with a bored-looking Queen Elizabeth 2 and a caption underneath saying "Look at all those countries I used to own." It was pretty funny. Then during the Parade of Nations I thought the Canadian team had ok outfits (although did they really need to have "Canada" on them - would they forget where they were from without it? The Great Britain team's (don't know why they are the UK team since GB excludes Northern Ireland) outfits were bad. The German team looked like a bunch of little middle schoolers trying to act like grown-ups. The worst was the US team's outfits. I don't know why they were wearing berets - they weren't from France - and their suits didn't look good (which is beside the point that they were made in China and not the US.) I did like the children singing and the deaf group singing/signing "Good Save the Queen." That was probably the best thing out of the whole, long show. Like I already said, London has hosted the Games 3 times now and I so far this one is the worst. I saw the 1948 Opening Ceremony online and it was pretty good (considering it was a few years after World War 2 and there were many bombed buildings as well as rationing on everything.) One thing that was just plain disgusting leave out in the Ceremony was marking the 40th anniversary of the Munich Olympic Massacre. It shows that the IOC has no real respect for the Games or the athletes. I think that during every milestone anniversary the 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Bombing should be remembered. Now that the Olympics are going on I can sit back and count how many medals we get  - I don't watch any of the events. ^

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

CO Theater Shooting

From The Huffington Post:
"Colorado Shooting: A Look At The Lives Of The Aurora Theater Shooting Victims"

A U.S. Navy veteran who served three tours of duty in the Middle East. A 6-year-old girl excited about her swimming classes. A Target employee who shielded his girlfriend and her brother with his own body. They and nine others were killed in the shooting rampage during a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" in a Denver suburb. Here are their stories:
Jonathan Blunk had high hopes for the future, with plans to re-enlist in the Navy and the goal of becoming a Navy SEAL.The 26-year-old served three tours in the Persian Gulf and North Arabian Sea between 2004 and 2009, said close friend James Gill of Brighton, Colo."It was guts or glory for him," Gill told The Associated Press. Blunk was also a certified firefighter and emergency medical technician, Gill added. He died in the shooting Friday after throwing himself in front of friend Jansen Young and saving her life, she told the NBC "Today" show. He told her to stay down."That's something he would do," Gill said. "If he was going to choose a way to die, that's how he wanted to go – defending someone from a (person) like that."Blunk, a 2004 graduate of Hug High School in Reno, Nev., most recently lived in Aurora and worked for a small flooring company.
His estranged wife, Chantel Blunk, lives with their 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son in Reno.
Alexander J. Boik, an 18-year-old known as AJ, had a reputation for making people laugh and tried to bring back the mullet hair cut in his freshman year of high school. "He tried to rock the mullet," said Tyler Lynch, 20, who played baseball with Boik on their high school team.Boik, a catcher who played on the team through his junior year, had recently graduated from Gateway High School in Aurora. He also played in the school orchestra.He was to start classes at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in the fall. Gateway principal Bill Hedges said Boik planned to become an art teacher. The family said in a statement that the 18-year-old was loved by all who knew him and was dating "a beautiful young lady" who was with him at the theater and survived.
Crofter said Boik and his girlfriend made a "perfect couple," and people expected them to get married. If he were still here, he'd try to make everyone have a positive outlook of the situation and not allow it to affect their outlook of life," Crofter said.
Jesse Childress was an Air Force cyber-systems operator based at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. Air Force Capt. Andrew Williams described the 29-year-old from Thornton, Colo., as knowledgeable, experienced and respectful. "We're going to miss him incredibly," he said.
Tech Sgt. Alejandro Sanchez, a co-worker, told the AP that Childress was his good friend and they were on a bowling team together. "He would help anyone and always was great for our Air Force unit," he said.
Gordon Cowden loved life and his family, and he had gone to the midnight movie premiere with his two teenage children. At 51, he was the oldest of the victims killed in the shooting. He lived in Aurora, but was described as a "true Texas gentleman" in a family statement. He loved the outdoors and owned his own business. "A quick witted world traveler with a keen sense of humor, he will be remembered for his devotion to his children and for always trying his best to do the right thing, no matter the obstacle," his family said. His teenage children escaped the shooting unharmed.
Jessica Ghawi recently wrote a blog post after surviving a shooting at a Toronto mall, saying it showed her "how fragile life was." Friends say the 24-year-old, who moved to Colorado from Texas about a year ago, didn't let the June 2 shooting in Toronto change her outlook on life as she pursued a career in sports journalism. "I think she even looked at that like, `Hey, even after that, I'm able to pursue my dream,'" said Peter Burns, a radio sports show host with Mile High Sports Radio in Denver, where Ghawi recently interned.She was a regular tweeter and her last post to the micro-blogging website stated in all capital letters, "movie doesn't start for 20 minutes."Brent Lowak, Ghawi's close friend who was with her at the theater, described to his family how he tried to tend to her wound before she was fatally shot. Lowak was expected to make a full recovery from a wound in his backside.
John Larimer was a Navy sailor based at Buckley Air Force Base, where he was a cryptologic technician – a job that the Navy says on its website should be filled by someone with "exceptionally good character, above-average writing and speaking skills, a good memory, curiosity and resourcefulness." Those who knew him described him in similar terms. The 27-year-old and another active service member, Air Force Sgt. Jesse Childress, were killed in the shooting rampage, the military said Saturday. Larimer, who grew up in the Chicago suburb of Crystal Lake, Ill., joined the service just over a year ago, the Navy said. "A valued member of our Navy team, he will be missed by all who knew him. My heart goes out to John's family, friends and loved ones, as well as to all the victims of this horrible tragedy," said Cmdr. Jeffrey Jakuboski, his commanding officer, in a written statement.
As the attack in the movie theater unfolded, Matt McQuinn dove in front of his girlfriend and her older brother to shield them from the gunfire.He died protecting them, said Rob Scott, an Ohio attorney retained by the families of McQuinn and his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler. Scott confirmed McQuinn's death to The Associated Press. He was 27. Yowler was recovering from surgery after she was shot in the knee at the theater. Her 32-year-old brother, Nick Yowler, who also shielded his sister, was not injured. McQuinn and Yowler moved to Colorado from Ohio last fall. A Colorado co-worker told the Springfield News-Sun that McQuinn and Samantha Yowler worked with her at Target.
Micayla Medek loved a night out with her friends, and she was with a group of about 10 of them at the "Dark Knight Rises" premiere. Medek was "Cayla" to her family and friends. She was 23 years old and juggling classes at Aurora Community College with a job at a Subway sandwich shop, said her aunt Jenny Zakovich, 57, of South Milwaukee, Wis. Medek was an independent-minded and sweet girl who rarely asked her family for anything, Zakovich said."She was one who wouldn't hurt anybody. She was a very loving person. This shouldn't have happened to somebody like her."
The youngest of the victims killed in the attack was Veronica Moser-Sullivan. She had just learned to swim, and at age 6, she was a "great little girl, excited about life," her great-aunt Annie Dalton said. "She should be at 6 years old." Her mother, Ashley Moser, remains hospitalized with gunshot wounds to her neck and abdomen. She has been in and out of consciousness and asking for her daughter during moments of lucidity. "Nobody can tell her about it," Dalton said. "She is in critical condition, but all she's asking about is her daughter."
Alex Sullivan's family called him "their real life super hero," and he was at "The Dark Knight Rises" premiere celebrating his 27th birthday and his first wedding anniversary. "Alex was a gentle giant, known and loved by so many. He always had a glowing smile on his face and he made friends with everyone. Alex enjoyed all sorts of movies, was an avid comic book geek and loved the New York Mets," the family said in a statement.
Whether he was running through obstacle courses at a Tough Mudder competition or interning at a school for students with special needs, Alexander C. Teves saw life as an adventure. "Alex will be remembered as an intelligent young man with a passion for living life to the fullest," said Mary Gomez, a counseling psychology professor at the University of Denver and one of Teves' graduate advisors. The 24-year-old Phoenix native earned a master's degree in counseling psychology in June.
He was a lovable person who made friends quickly and had a lot of them, said his grandfather, Carlo Iacovelli of Barnegat, N.J.

While officiating the wedding ceremony for her two friends in 2010, Rebecca Wingo shed tears of happiness. She had played a role in the two meeting each other, having taken her pal Cody Shafer out on the town the night he would meet his partner, Marq. So when the two men planned their nuptials, they knew Wingo had to be a part of it. Shafer said the 32-year-old was a hard-working single mother, balancing the raising of her two daughters with school and work.

^ I was in Canada when this happened and so didn't get a chance to write about it. I did see the news about it though. It seems Colorado has gone through a lot this year with this and the wildfires. I think this makes everyone feel bad because it happened in a normal place that many go to for a good time. I have heard and read numerous accounts of how people survived or how heroic some were. Despite the awful events it seems people are coming together. I hope that lasts. ^

Sally Ride

From Yahoo:"Sally Ride Remembered: Tributes to 1st American Woman in Space"

Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, died Monday (July 23) at the age of 61.
Ride made history when she launched aboard the space shuttle Challenger on the STS-7 mission in 1983. She became only the third woman to ever travel in space, after Soviet cosmonauts Valentina Tereshkova in 1963 and Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982. Ride traveled into space once more in 1984, as a member of the STS-41G crew on the space shuttle Challenger. Over the course of her career, Ride logged a total of 343 hours in space. Sally Ride's death came after 17 months of battling pancreatic cancer.

^ I was too young to remember when she went into space and only learned a brief summary of her space flight years later in school. Despite that I think it's good to remember what she did. ^

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Canada: Going Home

The next day (Friday) we left at 6 am (I had to leave the key in the room as the lobby was locked.) It was the exact day (July 20th) that 43 years earlier my mom was on vacation in Prince Edward Island with her parents and siblings and saw the first moon landing. It was fitting to be in the same place on the same day so many years later.  We drove to Summerside and ate breakfast at McDonald’s  - again I had a very stupid girl taking orders and messing everything up. We then drove 2 hours to the ferry. We had reserved a booking for the 11:15 am ferry, but got there early enough for the 9 am one. The place was crowded with young hippies going to some festival in NS.  I have never driven a car onto a ferry and it was pretty scary since we had to drive up a very steep loading bridge. We then had to get out and go upstairs. The ferry was delayed so it was good we got the earlier one. I was glad to get back in the car and took a really cool picture of my car “swimming” in water while we were on the ferry. When we got to Nova Scotia I had to drive down the loading bridge again – it was like being on a roller coaster. We drove several hours in Nova Scotia (had lunch at an A & W – which I had never been to before) and then continued to New Brunswick where it was another 2 1/3 hours to the border.

We crossed into the US in Houlton, Maine. There was a huge line of cars waiting to enter Canada and a good amount waiting to enter the US. Many cars (me included) went into one lane only to find out there was a very small sign saying it was for Nexus cardholders only. I don’t have a Nexus card and so had to fight my way into another lane (there were only 2 open.) There really should be a lane for American citizens like there are in airports. The male border guy tried to act tough, but I wasn’t buying it. We used our American passports and he asked what my occupation was to which I replied “nothing.” I could have told him I was a caregiver, etc, but he doesn’t need to know what I do for a living. American passports until the 1950s had occupation stated in them, but they don’t anymore. We then went to a gas station in the nearby town (where I could pay-at-the pump and it was in gallons.) We also got a snack at a Dunkin Doughnuts there – my mom had her first iced tea since the trip began. It was good to be back in the States. It was also good to be back where people say “about” and not “a boot” or “sorry” instead of “suerry.”

I then had a very long drive through Maine with nothing exciting happening. It was good to eventually see the “Welcome to New Hampshire” sign. We had a quick dinner at a McDonald’s 45 minutes from home. There were lots of cars out even though it was 9:30 pm (most people in NH stay home when it gets dark.) We made it home around 10:30 pm. I checked our mailbox and found that even though our mail was supposed to be held they had delivered some. Our mailbox is a mile from our house and stands with about 10 other mailboxes so I don’t like that it was sitting there for so long where people can mess with it. When we got home I unpacked the car and put things away. The house is very quiet with my dogs – which we will pick-up from the kennel on Monday. I was very tired after the 15 hour drive (not including the 2 hour ferry.)

The trip was a lot of fun. I had a great time with my mom. Even though we had reserved our hotels ahead of time and had a basic idea of some places we wanted to visit along the way most of it was left to chance (something I’m not used to, but was good this time.) We had driven 2,130 miles and visited three provinces. It was a road trip I will remember for a long time.

Canada: Prince Edward Island

We left Bouctouche in the pouring rain and took the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island. The bridge takes 12 minutes to drive over and there is a toll of $45 when we leave PEI – which is very expensive for a toll. Once we got on the island it took us 2 ½ hours to drive to our hotel on the eastern part. The drive was nice since we took back roads. I don’t care for signage in Canada as they don’t tell you where to exactly where to turn or what to do.

We stayed at the Northport Pier Inn in Northport (right next to Alberton.) The Inn claims to be a “4 star hotel with a 5 star view” but I would call it a 2 star hotel. The rooms didn’t have a microwave/mini-fridge (as every other hotel, motel we stayed at did.) There was no pool or restaurant, the continental breakfast was small and not very good and they locked the main part from 9 pm – 7:30 am (all the rooms were accessible from the outside.) The beds also had wheels on them so they would move around the room all the time - which was pretty annoying. The only good thing about it was that it was right on the water and had a good view. We had lunch at a nearby Boat Restaurant. Their food was good especially their pierogies. After we ate I asked a woman at the hotel where we could buy post cards – as I hadn’t sent any yet – and she had no idea. She sent me to the only grocery store in Alberton (the “big” town close-by) where I then went to a nearby pharmacy who sent me to a hardware store (where we bought a cooler since our other one broke and they didn’t have a micro fridge in our room) and they sent us to a gas station. We came back to the room empty-handed. I have never had so much trouble getting post cards in any of the towns or countries I have been to – I did in Alberton though. That night we ate at one of two places open past 5 pm – a pub on Main Street. It was pretty quiet (even though there was a group of many woman near us) and the food was really good.

The next day we ate the continental breakfast at the hotel – our first and only time as it was pretty bad – and then drove along the northern scenic route. PEI has 4 scenic routes. At first the trip was nice although I wish they had the road by the water so you could see it. Instead you passed through little towns and saw nothing by trees. Every house had several Canadian flags on it (one would have be enough) and everything on the island was neatly mowed – it must have been a law there. We stopped at a lighthouse on the northern tip of the route and then drove down to the southern tip. We stopped at the only restaurant (called Sandals.) This was where we had the worst experience of our whole trip. First I ordered a 7-up which the waitress never brought. Then we both ordered the pork tenderloin as most items were seafood only to be told they were out of the tenderloin. We then both ordered a roasted vegetable flatbread (flatbread must be a stable in the Maritimes as it was everywhere.) When the flatbread came it had mushrooms – which I don’t eat. I told the waitress that the menu didn’t say a thing about mushrooms – only about roasted vegetables and that mushrooms were not a vegetable but a fungi. She could have cared less and said she was getting the chef. She came back without him and said that he couldn’t take them off. We asked for the check (which they call “bill” in Canada) and I gave her my credit card. She made some very rude remarks and that’s when I really let her have it. There was a guy standing right next to me (it turned out he was the chef/owner) and he said nothing as she was rude and unprofessional to me. He even denied that she was  - to which even my mom jumped in to discussion and let them have it. I told the chef/owner what had happened and he didn’t care at all. As I was telling him my side the waitress kept interrupting me and so I told her to shut up as I was talking and the owner only cared about me saying that – I think he was sleeping with her because he was making excuse after excuse for her stupidity. He finally said that when he was told by the waitress about our poor experience he told her to give us the meal – that neither of us ate – for free. I told him that the waitress had said nothing about that to us and even took my credit card and made us pay. I told him we weren’t mind readers and so had no way to know he had told her that and that was just another item to add to the waitress’ stupidity check-list. He was also defending that mushrooms were indeed a vegetable – which the dictionary told me later I was right  - they are a fungi not a vegetable. There were other customers (some had decided to leave than see the argument – and so the owner/chef threw me some cash and we left. I later filed a complaint with the PEI Tourism Office (which seems to be a big deal on the island.) We left the scenic route and ate lunch at a place called Cousins (we had heard about them at the hotel.) The food and service there was great.

The next day we had breakfast at Cousins and then went to the Canadian Potato Museum. It was very small and pretty boring, but I got some good pictures standing outside by the giant potato. I also bought my post cards there and some potato fudge – which was different. We then made a reservation at the marina to take a private whale watch tour. That night we got food at a small take-out place near the hotel. The girl there was friendly and a funny thing happened while I was waiting for the food – to bring it back to the hotel. A guy walked in and asked us if we were from the States – he had seen our license plate – and he asked me how I liked the island, etc.  When he was leaving he told me to have a good vacation. A woman had come in and heard that last part and so asked where I was from and how I liked the island. As she left she told me to have a good vacation. The girl making the food heard that last part and asked where I was from and how I liked the island. I eventually got the food and left.

Our third day on the island we had breakfast at a little dinner and then took the 2nd scenic route around the Cavendish area (Anne of Green Gables country.) It was a nice drive and you could see a little more of the ocean. We had lunch at a German cafĂ©. The food was decent, but not really German. We continued on our way to the third scenic route and then ended up in Summerside. Two months ago I had ordered tickets to see “Highland Storm” a Scottish music, dancing and singing show at the College of Piping. I picked up our tickets and then we went to a restaurant nearby called Gentleman Jim’s. It was a steakhouse that was made to look like the Wild West. The food was good, but we were there early (around 4 pm) and so we were the youngest people in the place. After dinner we went to a Wendys nearby for dessert. I used their Wi-Fi (which didn’t work in the restaurant, but only in my car in the parking lot.) I called and made reservations to take the ferry from PEI to NS – rather than take the bridge again.

We then went to the show. We had VIP seats and sat in the first row directly in the center. The show was really good. It had a very funny comical scene. The bagpipers and drums were also really good. The singing was decent. All-in-all it was a good night. Afterwards we drove the 2 1/3 hours in the rain back to our hotel.

The fourth day we went on the whale watch tour. It was big boat with just us and the crew on it. We didn’t see any whales, but it was still a nice time (it was sunny.) Last year when we were in Alaska we saw whales on a boat tour so we had seen them before. We went back to Cousins for lunch and then back to the Boat Restaurant for dinner and the take-out place for ice cream (since there wasn’t many places to eat we had to keep going back to the same places, but most were good so it was fine.)

Canada: New Brunswick

We drove from Lebec to Calais, Maine. People in Maine say “Cal-las” instead of the better French “Calais.”  We passed through Canadian Customs (again using our Canadian passports.) The female border guard there wasn’t the brightest. She tried to make me uncomfortable and asked me many dumb questions, but I didn’t fall for it (she wasn’t intimidating at all.) When she asked me if I planned on leaving anything in Canada I said “I hope not.”  I know what she meant, but wanted to play with here a little. I like how some Immigration officers try to act tough (I have dealt with countless all over the world and this Canadian one was nothing compared to the Russian or American ones.)

After we crossed the border (again we lost an hour) I had to use my GPS to tell me my speed in kilometers (or kilometres in Canada.) It’s pretty useless to use them. We drove around an hour and a half to our hotel near Fredericton (capital of New Brunswick.) There were no gas stations or restaurants for most of the trip. When I did find a gas station it was annoying to not have “pay-at-the-pump” which I only saw once in Canada and how they price their gas besides the fact that it is in litres (again, that’s liters to us.) They say “123 cents” instead of “$1.23”) which just looks weird. We stayed at the Riverside Resort and Conference Centre (that’s Center to us Americans.) I wouldn’t call it a resort. While the building looked nice it had no amenities other than tennis and an indoor pool. Also, it wasn’t barrier-free as it claimed and the main doors weren’t automatic – I saw many people had trouble with them. We had dinner at the restaurant there (as there was nothing else around.) The food was good, but there wasn’t much variety. Our waitress was nice, but pretty dumb and it was fun to mess with her – again with “soda” and “restrooms” (Canadians say washrooms), etc. The had a wedding outside while we were eating on the patio so we could hear the music which was good.

The next day we drove to a McDonald’s in Fredericton for breakfast. There was one register open and a long line. The girl working it wasn’t the brightest and messed up mine and many other people’s orders. She should have been cleaning the restrooms or in the back not dealing with people. After we ate we went around the city (which was basically shut down as it was a Sunday – talk about bad Blue Laws) until we found a place that had tape so I could fix my watch band which had broken

We then drove to King’s Landing Historical Settlement nearby. It is a replica of a Canadian town in the 1840s (pre-Canadian Confederation which was in 1867.) It is a pretty big place, but luckily they had a wagon you could take to cut-down on walking. We had lunch there and had the worst waitress. It took her 15 minutes just to take our drink order (nowhere in Canada did we find anyone with unsweetened ice tea and very few with Diet Coke.) We only had sandwiches, but even that took forever. As I was waiting to pay by credit card we saw the wagon drive by (and that meant it would be a long time before the next one.) I wasn’t happy and made sure the waitress knew it (I gave her a 1 cent tip and wrote why she was getting a bad tip on the receipt.) I firmly believe that people should only get a good tip if they do good to great service otherwise they get a penny. We left and started walking towards the entrance. Another wagon came by and was going the opposite direction so we got on and waited for it to make the loop. There was a group of kids from some Canadian military school who were also on the wagon and were a little too excited playing with some old toy that one of them had bought. The majority of them weren’t respectful as they almost knocked us down when we were getting off. There was one girl who waited and then held the door for us. I felt bad because when I first saw her (she was overweight) I didn’t think anything good and here she was the only nice and helpful one. I guess you can’t always judge a book by its cover.

After King’s Landing we headed to Bouctouche, NB – 2  ½ hours away. I had only picked this town because I found a website to a buffalo safari and that seemed like fun. Right before the trip I re-checked the site and saw they had closed down. We already had our hotel reservations and needed to stay someplace so we went there. Bouctouche – which is fun to say – is an Arcadian town and everything is in French. We stayed at the Bouctouche Inn which was nice, but the town has nothing in it. There was one restaurant (I would call it a diner) in town that was packed. We had to stand and wait for a table. The waitress kept running around speaking French to English speakers and English to French speakers. The menu was funny because they had hamburg (ie hamburgers) as a dinner or a side. Luckily our stay was quick and the next day we left for Prince Edward Island. If I went back to New Brunswick I would skip Bouctouche and not stay at Riverside.

Canada: Campobello

My mom and I left the house around 8 am to head for Campobello, New Brunswick, Canada. We had to drive through Maine for about 7 hours. The one item from this part of the trip that sticks out is there was a blueberry-themed park on the way where we saw a picture of a blueberry character chasing a little kid. It was pretty creepy, but a running-joke throughout our trip.

Campobello is a small island that only has two access points. One is a ferry to another island in New Brunswick (where you have to take another ferry to mainland Canada) and the other is across a bridge to Lebec, Maine. Of course everyone now needs passports to enter the US and so even to get gas at the one station in Lebec (there are none on Campobello) you have to use your passport, enter the US, get your gas and then re-enter Canada. As far as I could tell there was nothing special about Lebec. It is just a small fishing village near beautiful Campobello. When you crossed into New Brunswick you entered Atlantic Time and lost an hour and when you were in Maine you are in Eastern Time.

I put gas in our Jeep in Lebec and then crossed the bridge to Canadian Customs. It was the first time my mom and I got to use our Canadian passports. The female border guard was nice and polite. She asked a few questions. One that I thought was a little dumb was when she asked how long we were staying in Canada. As Canadian citizens we can stay, live and work forever if we wanted to. Had we used our American Passports I would have understood the question, but that wasn’t the case here.

We stayed at the Campobello Whale Watch Motel (which I found online.) It was a regular motel with nothing special The owners (a husband and wife) were very excited to speak to people and when I went a few times to ask them a quick question I had to listen to their whole life story before I could get my answer and leave. We were only there one night so it wasn’t too bad. We saw a brochure in the room for an island tour and so booked it for the next day.

Campobello Island is where President Franklin Roosevelt and his family vacationed throughout his life. There’s a park (called Roosevelt Park) with the house that he stayed in – we didn’t make it there. The island is very beautiful (as I already mentioned)and I took lots of pictures.  There isn’t much else except for parks and water. They have one grocery store with the only ATM on the island  - which had run out of money by the time I got there, a handful of restaurants, a school, a post office, golf course and that’s about it. I was able to go to a Variety Store (which is like a General Store) and get the first Kinder Egg I have had in 2 years – I had to make sure to eat it before we re-entered the US the next day as they are illegal in the States. I also got some Canadian cash there. Apparently, in Canada all of their credit cards now have chips in them that are put into a reader when you buy stuff whereas American ones have to be swiped (I can’t tell you how often throughout the trip I was asked if there was a chip or if I was from the States because it didn’t have one.)

We had dinner at the golf course as the other restaurants were only seafood and it was good.  I know they say “pop” in Canada instead of “soda” but I had to continue using “soda” everywhere – the look on the people’s faces while they tried to figure out what I wanted was priceless and that continued throughout the trip.

The next day (my mom's birthday) we took a tour around the island in a van. Our guide was an old German man who came to Campobello with his wife via Norway and Alberta, Canada. He had a lot of knowledge about the little island and kept saying “willage” instead of “village.” I don’t think I have ever met a German who could say “village.” The tour was both interesting and fun. I learned a lot, but had a good time. We had lunch (sandwiches) on the tour and then he brought us back to the motel where we got into our car and left.

We used our American passports to enter the US. The female border guard was very nice and didn’t ask any dumb questions. We travelled through Maine to continue our trip around the Canadian Maritimes.  I wouldn't mind going back to Campobello.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Heading To Canada

I am going to Canada and so won't write here again until I get back.

Am. Samoa Minus"American"

From Yahoo:
"American Samoans ask for automatic U.S. citizenship"

Eight natives of American Samoa filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in an attempt to win U.S. citizenship rights, which despite the name of the South Pacific territory, they do not receive at birth.
The lawsuit asks a federal court in Washington to declare that American Samoans are citizens of the United States, a status that would make them eligible for full U.S. passports and rights such as the right to vote while residing in a state. American Samoa is unique as the only U.S. territory where those born there are not automatically U.S. citizens, the lawsuit said. In the past century, Congress granted citizenship to the inhabitants of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, but not for American Samoa, an archipelago in the Pacific that the United States first claimed in 1900. American Samoans can claim citizenship if, at birth, they had a parent who was a citizen. They can also pursue U.S. naturalization, but the lawsuit says they should not need to go through that "lengthy, costly and burdensome" process. As a result, many of American Samoa's 55,500 inhabitants receive passports with an imprint describing them as non-citizen U.S. nationals.
The status violates a clause of the U.S. Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment declaring that "all persons born ... in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States," the lawsuit said. Officials at the State Department, which issues passports, and the Justice Department, which defends the government in court, had no immediate comment on Wednesday.
Murad Hussain, a lawyer for the American Samoans, said he was not aware of any similar previous lawsuit. The eight American Samoans in question, including three minor children, face hardships for being denied automatic citizenship, the lawsuit said. It said they cannot vote. They were not eligible for certain government jobs or education subsidies. One living in Hawaii could not legally own a firearm, a right the state restricts to U.S. citizens. One thought he was a U.S. citizen because he served in the Hawaii National Guard, where citizenship is a requirement, but while renewing his passport in 1999, the State Department told him he was not, the lawsuit said.

^ Whatever Government official decided to make people in other US Territories American citizens and yet not allow those from American Samoa must have been very stupid. I knew that we had American citizens and nationals, but thought that nationals were only those born before the place became a US territory. Everyone born in any US territory deserves to be an American citizen and have access to all the rights that provides. ^

Foreign IRS Problems

From EZ Border
"New IRS Tax Amnesty for Americans Living in Canada"

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service has good news for the estimated one million U.S. citizens living in Canada who have not been filing U.S. tax returns. As of September 1, 2012, U.S. citizens can follow a new procedure to come clean and bring themselves into full tax compliance without massive penalties. This is important because the U.S. and Canada are moving towards sharing banking records. Once this sharing is implemented, Americans residing in Canada with Canadian bank accounts would very likely be arrested when they tried to cross the U.S. Canadian border.The new program requires individuals to submit three years of back tax returns, six years of bank account reporting forms (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, also known as FBARs) and a letter explaining why they haven’t filed. This procedure is only available for “low compliance risk” taxpayers – people who have simple returns and owe $1,500 or less in tax for any covered years. It is estimated that 90 per cent of Americans living in Canada will qualify for this program. If you owe a lot of tax, or have closely held partnerships, investment companies, or trusts, you may not qualify.
There is also a new “streamlined” procedure for reporting certain foreign retirement accountants, and the IRS specifically mentioned that it would apply to Canadian Registered Retirement Savings Accounts. Individuals will be allowed to retroactively elect to defer income in those accounts.
The IRS has not set an expiration date for this program but they can change its terms.The United States is unique among developed countries in requiring all citizens, including dual Canadian-Americans, to file a tax return with the IRS every year regardless of where they live. It does not matter how long you have lived in Canada, or whether you earned any U.S. income. The filing requirement applies even if you have never actually resided in the United States – which occurs when people have dual citizenship thanks to an American-born parent. U.S. citizens are also required to list all foreign back accounts they own. Given that someone living in Canada is most likely going to have a Canadian bank account, virtually all Americans residing in Canada are in violation of U.S. tax laws unless they file an annual U.S. tax return. Although the IRS is mostly trying to nab wealthy Americans who hide their assets offshore, this law snares many otherwise law-abiding Canadian residents who didn’t realize they had to file a 1040 tax return annually. Without this new amnesty program, Americans who haven’t filed their 1040′s could face penalties adding up to tens of thousands of dollars per year and even risk criminal prosecution.

^ This is very stupid. The US should not be able to tax people who have dual-citizenship and are living outside the US. If you are a dual Canadian-American and you enter Canada on your Canadian passport then you should not have to pay anything to the American IRS. If you enter Canada on your American passport then you should. The US should change this dumb policy.^

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Canadian E-Services

From the Globe and Mail:
"Canadians want more government e-services, but don’t want to pay for them: study"

Canadians are already more likely to go the online route when accessing government services — when the option is actually available, that is — and want more digital choices to avoid having to pick up the phone, use snail mail or wait in line, suggests a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers Canada.
The availability of government e-services varies across the country. For example, some provinces allow residents to apply for birth certificates online, while others still require the submission of an application in person or by mail. Service Canada offers Canadians e-services including online applications for employment insurance and the Canada Pension Plan. The results indicate Canadians are comfortable using digital means to interact with governments, said Domenic Belmonte, an associate partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers Canada. When asked what was stopping them from using government e-services, nearly half of all those surveyed said their lack of knowledge about their options was the biggest reason. Over 80 per cent of those surveyed said they were interested in receiving automatic notifications — presumably on their phone or via email — at times when government services might be applicable to them. As an example, the report suggests new parents might get an electronic message shortly after having a baby with information about next steps and paperwork to deal with. While Canadians seemed eager to embrace new digital services, they expected them to be free. More than 70 per cent said they wouldn’t pay for the new services, although 19 per cent said they would definitely pay to jump a line or wait list.

^ I like this idea (of free e-services) and would like to see them more both in Canada and the US. It is the second decade of the 21st Century and online government services should already be a reality in every province/state as well as the Federal levels, but not everything is. Hopefully, this study will show world and local governments to provide more services online - for free. ^

DirecTv Vs Viacom

From DirecTv:
"Viacom Lockout"

On July 9, 2012, it was publicly announced that DirecTV may black out any and all Viacom-owned networks if a deal isn't reached by July 10, 2012 at midnight. This includes Palladia, Centric, Tr3s, CMT, Logo, Nicktoons, VH1 Classic, TeenNick, Nick Jr., Nick@Nite, Spike, BET, VH1, TV Land, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and MTV. Viacom claims that DirecTV dropped 26 Viacom channels. ] DirecTV claims that Viacom wants 30% ($1 billion) more than what their customers are paying for. Viacom claimed "DirecTV is throwing around some big numbers that are misleading…Viacom is asking DirecTV for an increase of a couple of pennies per day per subscriber. That's far less than DirecTV pays other programmers with fewer viewers than Viacom."[ On July 10, 2012 11:45 PM Eastern time, DirecTV receivers displayed what customers were going to expect during the day of the warning that Viacom was going to take down select channels. Channels selected were taken down and a screen displaying technical difficulties was put up. The message stated that "Viacom, the owner of the channel forced DirecTV to suspend it, despite our many requests to keep it on.

^ This just shows that companies in general do not care about their customers. I have DirecTv and now don't get these channels. Most of these I don't care for anyways, but a few I do. Regardless whether I watch them or not I should have the option of receiving them or not. ^

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

More Holocaust Money

From Jerusalem Post:
"'Germany agrees to compensate 80,000 Nazi victims'"

Germany has agreed to provide restitution payments to an additional 80,000 Jews in what Claims Conference officials are describing as a historic breakthrough. The agreement, which was reached Monday in negotiations between German officials and Claims Conference representatives, is likely to result in additional payments of approximately $300 million. Most of the money will go to Nazi victims in the former Soviet Union who have never before qualified for pensions or payments from German restitution money. “This is the last group of people who have never received any compensation,” Greg Schneider, the executive vice president of the Claims Conference, told JTA in a telephone interview from Washington, where the negotiations took place. “For people who suffered during the time of the Shoah, recognition from Germany is vital. To be able to do that at this stage, 60 years after the first restitution agreement, for 80,000 people, is tremendous,” he said. “For a survivor now in their old age to finally get acknowledgment from Germany is critically important.” Most of the money will come from the Hardship Fund, which grants one-time payouts of 2,556 euro -- approximately $3,150 -- to Jews who fled the Nazis as they swept eastward through Europe. Until now, those payments were not available to Jews in Ukraine, Russia and other non-European Union countries in Eastern Europe. Applications for the fund will be available starting November 1. In many of those countries, the lump sum could amount to four years of regular pension payments, according to Schneider. In Monday’s negotiations, Germany also agreed to equalize the monthly pensions it sends to survivors around the world, correcting what until now had been a disparity that saw survivors living in western countries receiving more than those in eastern countries. All survivors will now receive the equivalent of approximately $370 per month. Germany also agreed to relax the eligibility rules for those who receive restitution payments for being forced into hiding during the Nazi era. Until now, only those who went into hiding for at least 12 months were eligible; now the eligibility threshold will be six months.

^ This is a good move in the right direction. Despite what many ordinary Germans feel (ie that they shouldn't be held responsible for what happened 60 + years ago) the German Government should always be held responsible. It was the German Government (elected by the German people) who carried out the Holocaust and now they have to pay the piper. It seems that whenever a case is brought up for resitution the German Government does anything and everything to try and get out of paying (ie requring people to have hidden for 12 months, to prove they suffered  pain and abuse, etc.) Anyone and everyone who suffered at the hands of Nazi Germany - regardless of what country they lived in or currently live in - should be compensated by Germany until they die. This includes those in: ghettos, labor camps, forced labor battalions, concentration camps, had forced sterilizations, transit camps, prisons, death camps, POW camps, death marches, in hiding, in the resistance, those bombed and those that fled. Germany caused the war and committed these acts against humanity and so the German Government is solely responsible to try and make amends to the survivors. I think the same about the Japanese - with their death marches, comfort woman, POW camps, prisions, etc (but that is for another time.) The survivors are very elderly and many die everyday. They all deserve to live the rest of their days in peace, comfort and security and these payments help to that end. ^

Voting ID

From USA Today:
"Voter-ID laws may handicap black voter turnout, Dems fear"

There is good reason why President Obama's campaign refers to the African-American voting bloc as the "bedrock" of the president's support. Two million more black voters turned up at the polls in 2008 than in 2004, and central to the president's re-election strategy is expanding minority participation in 2012. But political analysts and supporters of the president in the African-American community say that tougher voter-ID laws in the pipeline in several states — including a few battleground states where the black vote will be crucial for Obama's re-election hopes — could diminish black voter turnout in November.  In the battleground state of Pennsylvania, where the NAACP is among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit to block a new voter-ID law there, more than 9% of the state's registered electorate does not have a driver's license or an alternative state identification required under new rules, the Philadelphia Daily News reported last week. In Philadelphia, with a majority African-American population, more than 18% of registered voters don't have required IDs. "I support efforts to say, look, we want people to come in and make sure they're a citizen of the United States and that they haven't voted multiple times and they're not voting for someone who's passed away," Romney said at a forum in Chester Township, Pa., in April. " I know a number of states are doing that, and we have the attorney general of the United States trying to keep that from happening." More than 5 million Americans could be affected by the new voting rules, according to an analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. These restrictions — including photo ID requirements, proof of citizenship to register voters and shorter windows for absentee and early voting — fall heaviest on young, minority and low-income voters, the analysis said.

^ This is just stupid. I fully support requiring people to show some form of government-issued ID with a photo when they vote. It seems the Democrats, like usual, are trying to find excuses as to why they will probably loose this November and of course to them it has nothing to do with their poor performance since the last election or the health care mandate. Now they are playing the race card. If the Republicans had played the race card back when  Obama was first running then they would have been called racist, but for the Democrats to do so now is apparently fine. As far as I understand no state - and my state just passed showing a photo ID card when voting -  that requires photo ID is preventing anyone (White, Black, Asian or Hispanic) from getting a driver's license or a non-driving id. They can also use Federally-issued Passports and Passport Cards as well as Military ID Cards and Tribal IDs. The fact that people do not have them is their own, individual fault - especially nowadays when you have needed ID for most things since 9-11. I think it is just plain disgusting to equate a photo ID for voting with the Jim Crow laws of the South or Nazi Germany (I heard the last one on TV.) No one is forcing anyone to take a test or pay a voting tax. They are merely saying that you need to prove you are who you say you are by showing a photo ID and that you are registered to vote at the polling station. Besides isn't voting a privilege and not a right  - like driving? Many places don't allow prisoners to vote and no one complains about that. Also, no one  complains (or cries "racism") that you have to show photo ID to fly, take a train, go to a medical appointment, take out a loan, buy a car, etc. It is just what we have to do nowadays. To all the people who don't have a photo ID I would tell them to stop complaining and go get one - you have several months before the election. To all the people who say forcing people to show a photo ID to vote I would tell them to "shut up" and focus on more important issues like the economy, Afghanistan, health care, etc.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Russo-US Visa Deal Closer

From The Moscow Times:
"U.S.-Russia Visa Deal Wins Approval in Duma"

The bureaucratic burden on Russians and Americans traveling to each others' countries is set to lighten next year, after the State Duma voted Friday for a less onerous visa regime between the two countries. The approval of a long-awaited visa simplification deal between Russia and the U.S. was hailed as a positive step, coming amid hot-tempered exchanges between the two countries over the conflict in Syria and the Magnitsky affair. The agreement will make three-year, multi-entry visas standard for business travelers and tourists, up from the current maximum visa period of two years. Waiting times for visas will be no more than 15 days. The pact could enter into force in late 2012 or early 2013, Communist Deputy and vice chair of the foreign relations committee Leonid Kalashnikov told The Moscow Times. The agreement will now be sent to the Federation Council, then to President Vladimir Putin for his signature, before publication in Rossiiskaya Gazeta, the government newspaper. The law comes into force 30 days after an exchange of notes between the two countries, a final diplomatic formality. The U.S. Congress does not need to ratify the law.

^ This is one step closer. Come on Russia. You can do it. ^

US Needs The Draft

From the Stars and Stripes:
"McChrystal says it's time to bring back the draft"

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former top commander of international forces in Afghanistan, said this week that the United States should bring back the draft if it ever goes to war again. "I think we ought to have a draft. I think if a nation goes to war, it shouldn't be solely be represented by a professional force, because it gets to be unrepresentative of the population," McChrystal said at a late-night event June 29 at the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival. "I think if a nation goes to war, every town, every city needs to be at risk. You make that decision and everybody has skin in the game." He argued that the burdens of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan haven't been properly shared across the U.S. population, and emphasized that the U.S. military could train draftees so that there wouldn't be a loss of effectiveness in the war effort. "I've enjoyed the benefits of a professional service, but I think we'd be better if we actually went to a draft these days," he said. "There would some loss of professionalism, but for the nation it would be a better course." The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq placed unfair and extreme burdens on the professional military, especially reservists, and their families, McChrystal said. "We've never done that in the United State before; we've never fought an extended war with an all- volunteer military. So what it means is you've got a very small population that you're going to, and you're going to it over and over again," he said. "Because it's less than one percent of the population . . . people are very supportive but they don't have the same connection to it."
Reservists following multiple deployments have trouble maintaining careers and families and have a "frighteningly high" rate of suicide, he said. "The reserve structure is designed for major war, you fight and then you stop, but what we've done instead is gone back over and over to the same people," he said. "We're going to have to relook the whole model because I don't think we can do this again."
McChrystal was speaking at a panel focused on how to manage marriage in the military. He was joined by Annie, his wife of 35 years, and the discussion was moderated by CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. Multiple deployments often result in divorces and split families, he said. "The marriages I see most strained are the senior NCOs (non-commissioned officers) and officers who have four or five tours . . . you're apart so much that it's hard to have a marriage if you're not together at least a critical mass of time, and that's tough," McChrystal said. Malveaux asked McChrystal how he has managed to get through 35 years of marriage." One day at a time," he responded.

 ^ He has a point. Most Americans do not think twice about the men and women who fight and die everyday and have been for over a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan. If the war affected everyone (not necessarily in a bad way) then maybe we would treat the soldiers and their families better than we do today. We need to get back to how it was during World War 2 and not like in Vietnam. I also think it should be mandatory for anyone who wants to be President to have some sort of military service since they are the Commander and Chief and would put soldiers' lives at risk by sending them to war zones. ^

New Gestapo?

From Yahoo:
"The ‘New Gestapo’? Maine Gov. Blasts Massive Expansion of IRS Agents"

Governor Paul LePage of Maine is making news for allegedly referring to the IRS as the “new Gestapo” Saturday, after blasting the president’s overhaul of our health care system.
He reportedly said:
This tax will add to the $500 billion in tax increases that are already in Obamacare. Now that Congress can use the taxation power of the federal government to compel behavior or lack thereof, what’s next? More taxes if we don’t drive Toyota Priuses or if we eat too much junk food or maybe even pea soup? This decision has made America less free.We The People’ have been told there is no choice. You must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapo – the I.R.S. Even more disheartening is that reviving the American dream just became nearly impossible to do. We are now a nation in which supports dependency rather than independence. Instead of encouraging self-reliance we are encouraging people to rely on the government. 
^ He does have a point. The Federal Government is forcing people to get health insurance and not doing much to help those that can't afford it. The IRS is poised to be the agency to police and fine those that do not have insurance. I wouldn't want to work for the IRS - people didn't like them before and now they definitely won't. I think Obama should be the one to police every American personally - it was his idea after all and if anyone is going to dislike someone for policing it should be him. ^

CA Trains

From BBC:
"California high-speed rail wins approval"

California lawmakers have approved financing for a bullet train that would eventually become part of the first dedicated high-speed line in the US. In a 21-16 vote, the Senate approved a 130 mile (209km) stretch, part of a larger line proposed to run from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The final cost of the completed LA-San Francisco line is estimated at $68bn.

^ It's a little odd that the US is one of a few Western countries that does not have high-speed rail. High-speed trains would allow people to skip flying and all the current problems and restrictions that has. Last week I was at Penn Station in NYC and heard many trains delayed or cancelled (it felt more like being at an airport than a train station.) I don't think it involved the only high-speed train the US has - the Acela from Boston to DC. If they can get these high-speed routes built and keep them on-time I think it will do a lot - especially along the busy Northeast. ^

Gumby Scanners

From Yahoo:
"Less Invasive, 'Gumby' Body Scanners to Debut at Boston Airport"

The Transportation Security Administration introduced full-body scanners at airports across the nation in 2009, and many travelers hate that a "naked" image of themselves is reviewed by officers in a nearby room. The only way to avoid the image process is to instead undergo a physical screening by a TSA officer, which some travelers say can be just as invasive. Now a new generation of scanners is emerging that will display "Gumby"-like images of passengers rather than today's more detailed passenger-specific snapshots, as pictured at left. Boston Logan International Airport will be the first U.S. airport to use the new advanced imaging technology (AIT) body scanning machines during the next two months. By the fall, all 25 of the Boston airport's current scanners will be swapped out with the new machines. And more airports will see the new units in the coming years.
The TSA in 2011 announced it would spend $44.8 million to purchase 300 of the new "L-3 Security ProVision AIT" units to be deployed at 29 airports in the U.S. Instead of an explicit "naked" image, the new machine offers a rougher outline of a passenger's body that's similar to the H-shaped silhouette of "Gumby," the green clay cartoon character.And the new machines may even speed up the security screening process. George Naccara, TSA's federal security director-Massachusetts, told Air Transport World that the machines may be "nearly as fast" as walk-through metal detectors.
It's a move in the right direction where passengers can feel more comfortable knowing their images aren't quite as revealing, yet still maintain a high level of security.

^ I thought the TSA already used a new software that made a basic human form rather than a personalized one. If that was the case then there would be no need for the Gumby picture.^

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bloody Sunday Reopened

From BBC:
"Bloody Sunday: Police to investigate Derry deaths"

The police are to launch a murder investigation into the deaths of 13 people shot dead by soldiers in Londonderry on Bloody Sunday in 1972. The move comes after the PSNI and Public Prosecution Service reviewed the findings of the Saville inquiry, which said none of those killed was armed. The police investigation is expected to take at least four years and involve a team of 30 detectives.
Police have said no decision has been made as to when it will start. Chief constable Matt Baggott told the Northern Ireland Policing Board: "It is a matter that I think we should be investigating and will be investigating." The Saville Inquiry said the Army had fired the first shots on Bloody Sunday and were to blame for what happened.  It published its report in June 2010, after a 12-year inquiry.
Prime Minister David Cameron issued an apology, describing what happened as "both unjustified and unjustifiable." Some relatives of victims said they wanted the soldiers responsible to be prosecuted for murder and attempted murder. Bloody Sunday occurred on 30 January 1972 - a civil rights demonstration through the streets of Derry in the north-west of Northern Ireland ended with the shooting dead of 13 civilians by the British Army. Fourteen others were wounded. The Saville Inquiry cost £195m and was the longest-running and most expensive inquiry in British history.
'Whitewash' It followed an earlier official inquiry in 1972, led by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Widgery, which was described as a "whitewash" by the families of the victims and their supporters.

Among the inquiry's findings were:

  • No warning had been given to any civilians before the soldiers opened fire
  • None of the soldiers fired in response to attacks by petrol bombers or stone throwers
  • Some of those killed or injured were clearly fleeing or going to help those injured or dying
  • None of the casualties was posing a threat or doing anything that would justify their shooting
  • Many of the soldiers lied about their actions
  • The events of Bloody Sunday were not premeditated
  • Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein, was present at the time of the violence and "probably armed with a sub-machine gun" but did not engage in "any activity that provided any of the soldiers with any justification for opening fire"
^ This is great news. I really hope the Northern Irish police convict the soldiers who murdered the innocent people and also those that helped to cover it up. The names of those involved need to be erased from the memorials praising them as heroes (Queen Elizabeth 2 gave at least one a medal) and whenever their names are mentioned it should be with shame and disgust. ^

Spanish Airport Tax

From BBC:
"Tourists to Spain face extra airport tax"

Holidaymakers in Spain this summer are facing a surprise new airport tax imposed by the Spanish government as it tries to balance its books. Some airlines are passing the new departure tax on to passengers, even if they booked their flights months ago. Some passengers have received emails telling them either to pay an extra charge of up to seven euros (£6) per person - or to cancel their flights. Other airlines are deciding whether to absorb the cost themselves. The budget airline Ryanair said Spain's 2012 budget, passed into law at the end of June, obliged airlines to pay increased taxes.
The European travel agents' association ECTAA said the amount of the extra levy varied depending on which airport people used.  It said the average rise in the tax was 18.9%, but at some of the larger airports it would almost double. For instance, at Madrid-Barajas the tax would rise from 6.95 euros to 14.44, while at Barcelona's El Prat airport it would rise from 6.12 euros to 13.44. Ryanair said it would pass the cost on to passengers, even those who had already paid in full for their flights, because the tax applied "retrospectively to customers who booked flights before 2 July 2012 and are travelling from 1 July onwards". It said for bookings made on or after 2 July, the increased tax would have been included in the price. The Spanish low-cost airline Vueling is also passing on the cost. It sent emails to passengers giving them seven days to cancel their flight, or the extra payment would be debited automatically from the card they used to book. British Airways and Iberia told the BBC they had not yet decided whether to pass on the cost or absorb it.

^ It is one thing for a country to impose a tax, but in cases like this involving travel those that already booked their tickets should not have to pay. They should be "grandfathered-in." to when there was no tax. The Spanish Government and those airlines taking the tax out from those that already booked should be held at fault. ^

1,000th Post!

I have just written my 1,000th post. I like writing a blog because it is a good way for me (and others) to remember the things I thought were important at a particular time and see if my views have changed from when I first wrote them.

No 1972 Remembrance

From BBC:
"London 2012: Silence for Munich Olympic victims rejected"

Calls for the victims of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre to be remembered with a minute's silence at the opening of the London 2012 Games have been rebuffed by the organisers.  Ankie Spitzer has campaigned unsuccessfully for the act of remembrance since the atrocity. Her husband - fencing coach Andre Spitzer - was one of 11 Israeli athletes and trainers killed when the Palestinian "Black September" organisation attacked apartments in the Olympic village and took them hostage in what was the darkest chapter in Olympic history. The world looked on in horror as friendly competition was replaced by killing and bloodshed.  Many of those who died, including a West German police officer, were killed in a botched rescue effort.  Five Palestinian hostage takers were killed. Others were tracked down and subsequently killed by Israeli intelligence forces over the following years. A spokesman for London 2012 said in a statement that tributes would be paid to the victims at a separate ceremony at London's Guildhall in what was a joint initiative between the Israeli Embassy, the country's Olympic Committee and the Jewish Community. "They were not accidental tourists" she said. "They were part of the Olympic family and they should be remembered within the framework of the Olympics." An online petition supporting her initiative has gained 83,000 signatures worldwide. Ankie Spitzer's campaign has drawn attention to those terrible events 40 years ago but it is also a reminder of the security threats facing London 2012 and the veneer which masks the world's real conflicts when athletes take to the track.

^ It shouldn't be surprising that the IOC is doing nothing official at the Games to remember the athletes murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympics since they (the IOC) did nothing to remember them when it happened 40 years ago. It seems that the IOC - then and now - don't care that Israeli athletes were murdered. Mrs. Spitzer is right that something official should be done since they were part of the Games. At least Israel was able to get revenge and hunt down and kill those responsible while the IOC, West Germany and the world watched. ^


From BBC:
"US approves first over-the-counter HIV home-use test"

A home HIV test is expected to go on sale in the US within months, after winning regulator approval.
The OraQuick test checks saliva from a mouth swab for HIV and can produce results in 20 to 40 minutes. Government estimates suggest 1.2 million people in the US are HIV-positive, but 20% do not know they are. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said it hopes the over-the-counter test will reach people who might not otherwise get tested. The test is expected to be sold in as many as 30,000 pharmacies and homeware shops, as well as online.  The manufacturer, OraSure, has not said how much the test will sell for but confirmed it would cost less than $60 (£38).

^ I don't think many people will pay $60 if they think they have HIV since they would then just be told to get the results checked by a doctor. ^

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4th Of July!

From USA Today:
"Patriotism, fireworks, hot dogs mark nation's 236th birthday"

The nation marked its 236th birthday Wednesday with parades, fireworks, an iconic hot dog-eating contest — and a cake-and-ice-cream party featuring new citizens at the home of the nation's first president. At a special ceremony held at George Washington's lush, sprawling estate overlooking the Potomac River, 103 immigrants took the oath of citizenship. Afterward, about 6,500 people of all ages swarmed the sunny field in front of the mansion for the reading of the Declaration of Independence.

President Obama marked the holiday at the White House, where he welcomed 25 U.S. servicemembers as newly sworn American citizens.

In Wolfeboro, N.H., presidential nominee Mitt Romney was to march in a parade near his summer home.

•Holiday fireworks were canceled across most of Colorado and other western states where wildfires continue to burn. In one Colorado Springs neighborhood, a homemade sign read, "FAIR WARNING: Anyone using or allowing use of fireworks in this neighborhood will be dealt with harshly! And that doesn't mean just by the police!"

Colonial Williamsburg, Va., the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia, planned to celebrate with fifes and drums, musket and cannon fire, and a reading of the Declaration of Independence — despite stifling heat.

^ Today is Independence Day and even though it was sunny and hot here I didn't do do anything. We decided to BBQ tomorrow (which turned out to be a good decision because we got a very strong thunderstorm.) I did drive into town - during the lull - and pick-up dinner and bring it home. Most places here are having their holiday celebrations this coming weekend - which is very weird. ^