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Archive for February, 2010

Open Thread 2/28/10 (part 2) / School Board Budget

February 28th, 2010 92 comments

Part 1 will remain on Anti. I hope no one said anything that we can’t live with out. If you said something totally great, cut and paste and bring it on over.

By request this thread is being moved to the top and will address school board budget topics.

Categories: General Tags:

Girl Scout Cookies Stink!

February 28th, 2010 16 comments

If you can’t trust the Girl Scouts of America, who can you trust?  Reports are coming in that the lemon cookies baked in Louisville Kentucky by Little Brownie Bakers stink and taste funny.  The baker reports that the cookies while unpalatable, are safe.  From their website:

Statement re: Lemon Chalet Crèmes™ Cookies

Little Brownie Bakers recently received a few contacts from consumers informing us of an off taste and smell from certain packages of Lemon Chalet Crème cookies. We immediately took the precautionary step of testing product samples. We determined that while the cookies are safe for consumers to eat, they are not up to our quality standards.

Read more…

Categories: General Tags:

Civil Rights-Era Killings Investigation Ready to Close

February 27th, 2010 3 comments
Southern Poverty Law Center Civil Rights Memorial

Southern Poverty Law Center Civil Rights Memorial

Three years after the FBI promised to investigate more than 100 unresolved civil rights-era killings, they have  made some surprising discoveries.  Most of the cases will close without indictments. .  The investigations led to very few indictments even though most of the cases were technically solved.  The passage of time left many witnesses too traumatized by events, witnesses  and perpetrators dead and other problems that are unique to cold cases.

Read more…

Puerto Rican–Americans Soon to be Without Birth Certificates

February 27th, 2010 3 comments

Last December, in an attempt to curb identity theft, the Puerto Rican government invalidated all previously issued Puerto Rican birth certificates as of July 1. 2010.  This measure leaves many Puerto Ricans living in the United States in a rather uncomfortable position– No birth certificate.

People born in Puerto Rico are American citizens because Puerto Rico is an American territoy.  However, their birth certificates come out of Puerto Rico.   Some background from Yahoo News:

The change catches many off-guard and unaware.

Julissa Flores, 33, of Orlando, Fla., said she knew nothing about Puerto Rico’s law.

“I was planning a trip and now I don’t know,” she said. “Do I need to go get a passport? If my birth certificate is invalid, am I stuck here?”

People born in Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth, are U.S. citizens at birth. Anyone using a stolen Puerto Rico birth certificate could enter and move about the U.S. more easily, which could also pose security problems.

Puerto Rico’s legislature passed the law after raids last March broke up a criminal ring that had stolen thousands of birth certificates and other identifying documents from several different schools in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Ricans on average get about 20 copies of their birth certificates over their lifetimes, said Kenneth McClintock Hernandez, the commonwealth’s secretary of state.

This is because they are regularly asked to produce them for such events as enrolling children in school or joining sports leagues. Schools and other institutions have typically kept copies, a practice prohibited under the new law since January, McClintock said.

As much as 40 percent of the identity fraud in the U.S. involves birth certificates from Puerto Rico, McClintock said he was told by the State Department.

“It’s a problem that’s been growing and as the need in the black market for birth certificates with Hispanic-sounding names grew, the black market value of Puerto Rican birth certificates has gone into the $5,000 to $10,000 range,” McClintock said.

Thus far, there seems to be little effort by the U.S. or Puerto Rican governmentsto educate the 1.5 million people born in Puerto Rico and living on the mainland about the new law.

Government officials in the US and in Puerto Rico have made very little effort to educate native Puerto Ricans about the change in the law, nor have they advised them how to resolve their problem of not having an official birth certificate.  It seems to me that the Puerto Rican government needs to set up an office in every state to assist those people living in the United States.  Certainly they don’t want to force them to return to Puerto Rico just for a birth certificate.  How can millions of people be processed in 5 months. 

This situation seems like a classical case of ‘Beware of unintended consequences.’

PWC Assessments are Here

February 27th, 2010 30 comments

Prince William County tax assessments are here.  Residents can check their tax assessments  out via LandRover.   It seems that not all is equal in Prince William County.  Some of my friends’ home values dropped around 5%.  Mine went up 15%.  Oh Good!  I get to pay higher taxes.  I suppose it is all supply and demand.  

PWC is going through a little mini boom.  Is this a good thing?  Not necessarily.  Selling low cost housing at firesale prices is not good for our reputation, or the rest of our home values.  It is great for families just getting started.  It isn’t so good if investors buy up our neighborhoods.  All neighborhoods fare better if at least a majority of the homes are occupied by the owner.

If house values are going up, this is a good thing for the county coffers. Perhaps we won’t have to cut our fire and rescue down to bare bones.  Perhaps we can fill some cop positions.  Maybe our libraries won’t have to be closed on the weekends.  All of the things mentioned hurt new business.  Companies don’t want to move their people to areas where the quality of living is poor.  Inadequate fire and rescue and police force is always bad for business and residents.  Not having accessible libraries and services lowers quality of living standards. 

Nowadays ‘fiscal conservative’ seems to be the big buzzword–the voter red badge of courage.  Quality of life is going to be my buzz word.  If my house catches fire, a family member falls shoveling snow, or I get robbed, I want the safety folks there in a flash.  If that is not being fiscally conservative, well….tough. 

Perhaps we need to use the fiscally conservative expression a little judiciously when it comes to quality of life services.

Categories: General Tags:

8.8 Quake Hits Chile

February 27th, 2010 5 comments

 

An 8,8 earthquake hit Chile early this morning.  Areas are decimated.  So far, the death count is fairly low, but officials really haven’t fully assessed the area. 

Tsunami warnings are all over the Pacific region, including all the islands.  Hawaiian hotels are being evacuated.  My friends in Ocean Park, Washington are packing up essentials in the event that they are giving the word to ‘get out of there.’   They are at ground level on a peninsula near where the Columbia empties into the Pacific.  She was a young woman in the Alaskan earthquake of 1964 so she knows not to mess with Mother Nature when she rumbles.

This thread will be our earthquake and Tsunami thread.  CNN is providing excellent coverage on a human, scientific, and municipal level.

Categories: General Tags:

Unacceptable!—-Shannon Column: The 2010 Mexican roundup

February 26th, 2010 19 comments

Michael Shannon has a guest column in the News & Messenger. Unfortunately, his rantings often go over into the realm of unacceptable public speech. By allowing him to have a column in the News & Messenger, the newspaper gives his voice a platform of legitimacy that includes prejudice, ignorance, and racism. Were Shannon to post his diatribe against Hispanics and Chief Deane as a letter to the editor, he would be exercising free speech. Because he writes as a guest columnist, the News & Messenger becomes complict in spreading this hateful message:

Shannon Column: The 2010 Mexican roundup

There was a near miss in Fairfax County for Prince William County’s Jefe de la Policia Charlie Deane. Authorities there arrested a Belgian accused of soliciting prostitution. A records check, conducted as part of the Federal “Secure Communities” program, revealed this miscreant was also an illegal alien.

Thank goodness this bad man was caught before he had a chance to cross the Occoquan.

Adding Belgian outreach to his already extensive Hispanic illegal alien outreach could have pushed Jefe Deane over the edge. There is only so much apologizing for enforcing the law that one man can do.

Reaching out to Belgians is particularly difficult in that you have to pander in two languages: Flemish and French. Plus Deane would have had to find a police officer with a French surname that spoke French and a Flemish surnamed officer that spoke Flemish otherwise his outreach would not be sincere.

Que Lastima!

That sort of complication makes last year’s Hispanic Contrition Tour (or Festival de Contrición) look like a model of efficiency, since one abject apology in Spanish covers about 15 countries and most of the landscapers in the county.

“Secure Communities” is actually sort of an SAT test for illegals. It only matches arrestees with a database of aliens who had a visa and overstayed, or aliens who were caught earlier and are making a return visit to the hoosegow.

If Juan is clever enough to avoid attracting attention after he wades the Rio Grande—not difficult under Deane’s lethargic enforcement regime—his name won’t be in the database. And if there is no database hit, then Juan remains in El Norte.

“Secure Communities” is a much less stringent affair than the 287g program that allows deputized local officials to determine whether or not to pursue deportation of illegals.

Of course if it were up to Deane, the welcome mat (or alfombra de bienvenida) would never be withdrawn. He worries that a lot of crime is going unreported due to a victim’s immigration status, hence the constant reassurance that Deane’s heart is not really in immigration work.

But I wonder if when Charlie is talking to “immigrant rights groups”, do the terms “aiding and abetting” or “conspiracy” ever come to mind?

The audience for his outreach often is illegal or knows other illegals, harbors illegals, knowingly does business with illegals and generally approves of the mass violation of the nation’s borders. Yet our jefe is unperturbed.

It is interesting to compare Deane’s come-one-come-all (or viene uno que llega a todos) philosophy with that of Frederick County, MD Sheriff Charles Jenkins (trust me, the first name is the only similarity).

Jenkins’ policy is to target every inmate identified as an illegal for deportation, which amounts to about 9 percent of his jail population.

“One of the first persons we processed [for deportation] was driving under the influence of alcohol through a school zone during school hours at 30 miles over the speed limit,” Jenkins told the Washington Post. “Is he any less of a threat to the community than a [top-level] offender? I would argue no.”

A sentiment not shared by Deane who downplays illegal alien crime by explaining the most common violations are driving without a license, public intoxication and driving under the influence of alcohol.

That’s certain to be comforting to the taxpayer in an auto crash with an illegal who had neither a licencia de operador del automóvil or insurance.

It’s a mere property crime, don’t you know, and besides the county furnishes Deane with his ride.

But now if looks like Charlie’s foot-dragging has finally paid off.

The census has come to town and thar’s gold in them thar Mexicans. Why our Board of Supervisor’s says Uncle Sam’s bounty on illegals is $1,000 a head and we want to count every last Jesús and Jesúsa.

That measly thousand bucks will just about cover the county fee for the ambulance and first visit to the emergency room for our newly welcome South-of-the-Border guest.

After Obama’s thousand bucks is gone, who pays for the schools and associated social costs that illegals bring?

Once the public gets past the whiplash-inducing political hypocrisy, I don’t foresee a counting problem. Just ask Charlie for the list of groups he’s apologized to and work up from there.

One thing is certain: Hispanics aren’t shy about lecturing the U.S. on how to improve the illegal immigrant experience. Just this week Columbian fanny-shaker Shakira was in the White House to discuss “child development programs in Latin America.”

But she’s behind the curve. We already have a program for that. It’s called “anchor babies.”

Michael R. Shannon is a public relations and advertising consultant with corporate, government and political experience around the globe. He is a dynamic and entertaining keynote speaker. He wants you to share the machines and can be reached at michael-shannon@comcast.net.

The News & Messenger needs to balance its columnists with individuals who maintain proper public decorum. It is the opinion of this blog’s administrators that Mr. Shannon’s public writings should no longer be a part of the News & Messenger. Translation: Fire Mike Shannon.

Enteroctopus dofleini is coming! Hide the kids!

February 26th, 2010 11 comments

Enteroctopus dofleini — a giant Pacific Octopus is headed to Washington National Zoo.  Its claim to fame is that it will grow 13 times its present size  over the next year.  Sadly, it won’t be black and white like the little panda who recently left for his new home in China.   The zoo hopes to ignite excitement over invertebrates which make up more than 95% of the animal kingdom. 

Alan Peters, the Zoo’s curator of invertebrates  calls it the “giant panda” of invertebrates.  Here are some giant Octopus facts  from Yahoo News:

Now for some octopus facts: They emerge from eggs only a little larger than a grain of rice, but as adults they can tip the scales at more than 100 pounds. Some have arm spans of 25 feet (be glad you’re not sitting across the table from one.)

The Zoo’s new octopus doesn’t yet have a name. That will come in March. Zoo officials think it’s a he, but aren’t 100 percent certain.

According to Wikipedia:

The North Pacific Giant Octopus is considered to be short-lived for an animal its size, with life spans that average only 3-5 years in the wild. To make up for its relatively short life span, the octopus is extremely prolific. It can lay up to 100,000 eggs which are intensively cared for by the females. Hatchlings are about the size of a grain of rice, and only a very few survive to adulthood.

During reproduction, the male octopus deposits a spermatophore (or sperm packet) more than 1 meter long. Large spermatophores are characteristic of octopuses in this genus.[4]

Is it possible for an invertebrate to attract the same kinds of crowds as little Tai Shan did?  Is it possible to get attached to an invertibrate the same as one does a mammal?  Do octopus even have personalities?  Is keeping an invertibrate  the same as keeping a mammal in captivity?  How do our contributors feel about this youngster who is coming to live at the National Zoo?

Welcome to Moonhowlings

February 26th, 2010 38 comments

Today is our birthday…I mean our REAL birthday! Moonhowlings was born today. Anti was fun but our name really bothered us and other people. We didn’t want to be seen as a reaction. So, here we are, all spanking new and welcoming our family over from our old home.

So who are we? Elena and I are the same moderate chix you knew over on Anti. We will be the blog admins/moderators and Alanna has kindly agreed to be our technical support when we ski into trees and stuff like that. And you all are the same folks you have always been. Note the new address however: www.moonhowlings.net

You will not have to link from Anti.

The web ‘clothes’ will remain the same and hopefully you will not find things changed around too much. Let us know if something is broken and we will try to fix it or holler for Alanna. And so we continue…and howl at the moon.

Categories: General Tags:

To Kill or Not to Kill?

February 25th, 2010 11 comments

Tilikum the Killer Whale turned killer again yesterday. He dragged 40-year old trainer Dawn Brancheau into the water and killed her in front of horrified spectators. Yesterday’s incident was not the first time this killer whale has killed. There have been 2 other incidents, one in British Columbia in 1991. 

According to the Orlando Sentinal:

Witnesses told the Orlando Sentinel that the animal suddenly grabbed Brancheau by the upper arm, tossed her around in his mouth and pulled her beneath the water as dozens of tourists looked on in horror.

Trainer Dawn Brandheau was an experienced trainer and had worked with this animal many times before. 

Sea World says it has no plans to put this animal down.  Animal training experts were somewhat shocked by this news.  Other animals who kill in captivity are usually euthanized as a matter of public safety.  Lions and tigers, elephants, and other animals often kept in captivity are nearly always put down.  Dogs are put down.  Apparently Tilikum will not be. 

Should any animal who has killed humans 3 times be euthanized?  What should happen in this case?  Frankly, I am shocked.  I would think at the very least this animal would be returned to the wild.  It is unclear if this animal was born in captivity or not.

Categories: Entertainment, General Tags:

Huckabee Blasts Critics of Michelle Obama

February 24th, 2010 5 comments

 

 

Huffington Post:

On Wednesday, former presidential candidate and Fox host Mike Huckabee pushed back at conservative bloggers who were “uncivil” about his recent decision to bring First Lady Michelle Obama onto his show to talk about her campaign to fight child obesity.

Huckabee’s show was the first lady’s debut appearance on Fox News, and there was considerable push back from viewers. “Some bloggers, it seemed, wanted me to bring her on my show only if I yelled at her. Or it seemed they wanted me to hit her,” Huckabee told a crowd in Wichita, Kansas.

The Wichita Eagle reports:

[Huckabee] said he disagrees with nearly every policy position of her husband, but that attacking people doesn’t accomplish anything. The viciousness of attacks from all sides, he said, are “disgusting … the anger and the meanness.”

Mediaite reports that Michelle Obama’s appearance on Huckabee gave the show its lowest ratings of 2010.

I like to bring Mike Huckabee out as a shining star every once in a while.  Huckabee respresents a decency I like.  Could I probably vote for him?  No.  He is far too conservative politically for me.   But I can like him.  Like goes a long way.   When I feel like I am getting too partisan (and Marshall-gate has made me feel that way.) the decency of Mike Huckabee restores my sense of equilibrium. 

Mr. Huckabee loves music and his band, the Little Rockers do a good job of highlighting artists who are not the stars of today.  The Little Rockers are building employees at Fox News.

We need more Mike Huckabees who always represent civility in politics. In many ways, Huckabee admonishes us all as bloggers also. As we sit behind our computer screens, would we say some of the things that come out of the ends of our fingers to a person’s face?  On Anti-bvbl, probably 95% of the time, yes.  Those who virulently attack others usually don’t make it ‘out on the floor’ of this blog.  However, not all blogs can make that claim.     Mike Huckabee is a standard we all can admire whether we agree with his politics or not.  Mike Huckabee is a gentleman.

Maddow: Whose Afraid of Virginia?

February 24th, 2010 31 comments

So far the new Republican regime is off to a rocky start. It seems that  the Moderate McDonnell was really a cultural warrior.  I wish that hadn’t happen.  I was trying to support him.

Unfortunately, Marshall-gate has captured national attention.  He has tried to explain his words but having failed at that, he is now blaming  Capital News Service for misinterpreting his comments.

According to the Richmond Times Dispatch:

After first blaming himself, Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, now is accusing a student-run media service of misinterpreting comments he made last week that suggested that disabled children were a form of punishment for women who had abortions.

In a floor speech today, the General Assembly’s most prominent abortion foe said he used a poor choice of words but never made the comment the Capital News Service said he made.

CNS is run by students at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Urging a prohibition against state funding of the pro-choice Planned Parenthood, Marshall told a news conference last week that “the number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children.”

He continued: “In the Old Testament the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There’s a special punishment Christians would suggest.”

In its opening paragraph, CNS reported Marshall “says disabled children are God’s punishment to women who have aborted their first pregnancy.”

Read more…

Democrats Seek to Curtail Use of Military Contractors

February 24th, 2010 33 comments

According to the Huffington Post:

Today, the Pentagon employs more than 217,000 contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, doing the kind of work that enlisted military personnel would have performed in the past, according to a Congressional Research Service report.

Now, there’s a move in Congress to change that. On Tuesday, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) introduced the Stop Outsourcing Security Act, which would make it the military’s responsibility to use its own personnel to train troops and police, guard convoys, repair weapons, run military prisons and do military intelligence activity.

There are strategic reasons to move away from a reliance on contractors, says Schakowsky, a senior member of the intelligence committee. They damage the U.S. reputation with reckless behavior, are overly costly and hurt the morale of troops, who see private guards earning much more money than they do.

Many people tend to look at the military contractors has a big USA investment. They have gotten their training from our military. After the troops serve their time, they retire and sign up with a military contractor such as Blackwater, and make 4 to 5 times more money than if they were with our military.

Other critics fault the lack of discipline and the fact that the military and the contractors have 2 different set of rules of engagement.

How do our contributors feel about the United States scaling back its use of military contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq? Is this a good thing? Will it help troop moral to not have those making the big bucks doing the same jobs?  Should this scaling back be done during a war?  Why did Blackwater change its name?

Note: Blackwater has changed its name to XE.

Categories: US Politics, War/Military Tags:

Jon Stewart–CPAC 2010 – Rage Within the Machine

February 23rd, 2010 6 comments
Categories: General, Humor & Satire Tags:

GOP Filibuster Fails on Jobs Bill Thanks to 5 Republicans

February 23rd, 2010 44 comments

 

 

The GOP filibuster failed to materialize after 5 brave Republicans cast procedural votes in favor of the Democratic jobs bill.  Newly elected Scott Brown on Massachusetts led the charge and 4 other Republicans followed his lead:  Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) and  Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.).  Sen. Bond is retiring.

The Democrats ended up with 62 votes, 2 more than needed to avoid filibuster.  according to Huffington  Post:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) thanked the newly-elected Republican from Massachusetts. “I hope this is the beginning of a new day here in the Senate. Whether this new day was created by the new Senator from Massachusetts or some other reason, I’m very, very happy that we were able to get this done. But there are some winners. Not any individual Senator, not Democrats or Republicans. The winners are small business people throughout this country.”

Senator Voinovich spoke with Senate Majority Leader  Harry Reid to make certain a surface transportation reauthorization bill was brought to the floor this year.  Reid Agreed.  The Republican senators didn’t seen to be too worried about what the minority leadership said or thought. 

Voinovich, who was patted on the back by a grateful Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) after the vote, said that he could see himself working jointly with Brown and Democrats for the remainder of the term.

“I think he and I are going to do a lot of music together,” said Voinovich. “My vote was reflective of what I thought made sense.”

Voinovich didn’t stick around for any loyalty lectures after his vote. “I have no idea,” said Voinovich when asked what leadership thought of his vote. “I voted and took off.”

Brown also said that he had “no idea” how the rest of his colleagues would vote. But it was good enough for him. “It’s not a perfect bill. I would have liked broader and deeper tax cuts, but I was comfortable with that first vote,” said Brown.

Of the 41 Republicans, 29 opposed the measure, while six skipped the vote. More Republicans skipped the vote than voted in favor.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), meanwhile, muddled the message of Democratic unity behind the jobs bill. He voted against it.

Those who did the happy dance over the election of Scott Brown the other week are probably scratching their heads wondering what happened.  It looks like the Republicans have themselves another. ‘maverick’.’  So what will the minority party do about its new kid in town?  He obviously isn’t going to behave himself.

Senator Reid played a little hard ball when he made a direct challenge:

 “So to my Republican colleagues, here is your chance. Show us you’re serious about legislating. Show our constituents you’re serious about leading. Show the skeptics that you know putting people back to work is far more important than putting points up on the political scoreboard.”