Political Tidbits-Milosevec, Daschle for Prez, Daylight Saving Time Saved? Miscellany-Geography Trivia, Those Annoying Traffic Light Photos

Blogcritics Feature Stories of the Week

  • DVD Review: Moonlighting - Season Three
    El Bicho

    For those unfamiliar with the series, Moonlighting was a detective show from the latter half of the '80s, but it had much more in common with the screwball comedies of the '30s and '40s, driven by the verbal fireworks and sexual tension between lead characters, Maddie Hayes and David Addison.

  • Whatever Happened to "Stage Fright" in the Men's Room?
    Mark My Words

    It's not very well known, but there has been an unwritten protocol for behavior in a men's room. At least there always has been for me. However, it seems recently, in the workplace, all those walls of isolation that my father and my father's father's generation have begun to be torn down.

  • Movie Review: {censored}
    Chris Beaumont

    Ever wonder what goes on in a test screening? Well, wonder no more

  • Political Tidbits

    Dubai Ports Deal-May It Rest In Peace

    Although personally I think the congress critters could have held off for the 45 days they requested and engage in an enlightening dialogue on this issue.

    I recall during the Carter era the turnover of the Panama Canal to the Chinese and during the Clinton era the Long Beach ports turnover to the Red Chinese was groused about. To those who lambaste that no one ever said a word about those deals, oh yes they did. Except during those time periods the Blogosphere, email and other methods of easy mass communication had not reached their nadir. Also, America was not actually at war with the Red Chinese.

    Don't say it because I know it. We are not at war with the UAE either but if the politicos can't get a grip on the fact that a lot has changed in terms of Americans' perspective on these sorts of things than they shouldn't be politicians.

    Perhaps with a little prodding from the White House, the UAE eventually withdrew from the deal.

    Below is a snippet from the Wall Street Journal which delineates just such a terrorist incident involving ports that the American public was so concerned about.
    Image hosted by Photobucket.comExperts have long seen ports as a vulnerable target and worried that terrorists might one day use the world's global shipping network to launch an attack. Their fears were deepened in March 2004, when two suicide bombers from the Gaza Strip stowed away in a false compartment of a shipping container bound for Israel. Israeli security officials believe that the bombers were targeting the port's fuel depot when guards discovered them. The bombers detonated early, and 10 people died in the explosion, including the bombers. The attack on the Israeli Port of Ashoda didn't prompt a security crackdown at ports around the world or in the U.S.

    Line Item Veto-Why Do I Care?

    One of the widely accepted tricks to get something passed quickly with little debate is to attach it as a provision to a budget package. An example would be to attach a proviso that drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge be banned to a budget bill for emergency funds needed for the Iraq war. So obviously the funds are needed fairly quickly thus the attachment should sail through.

    It's a problem. As I understand it, there was a line item veto passed during the Clinton administration but it was over-ruled by the Supreme Court as giving the executive branch unconstitutional power over the legislative branch.

    Well we can't have this but I'd softly suggest that the current rather sneaky practice gives too much power to the legislative branch. In the ANWR example above, the congress critters can essentially pass a law that the executive branch cannot veto due to how it was pushed through.

    As explained on
    In its 1998 ruling striking down the Line Item Veto Act of 1996, the Supreme Court concluded that the Act "g[ave] the President the unilateral power to change the text of duly enacted statutes." The Legislative Line Item Veto Act does not raise those constitutional issues because the President's rescission proposals must be enacted by both houses of Congress and signed into law.

    Which doesn't really explain much to me except that should the President strike out that ANWR provision, still working on my original example, then both houses of congress must then approve his changes or over-ride his veto.

    No matter how I mucked up the explanation, something has to be done to stop the practice of sticking desired legislation onto budget packages. It's blackmail, pure and simple. We'll be watching developments on this current Bush-backed line item veto legislation.

    Slobodan Milosevic Found Dead in Jail Cell

    As the Wall Street Journal's Online describes the lovely Mr. Milosevic:
    As Serbian leader after 1989, Milosevic unleashed the ethnic furies that sparked the bloodiest conflicts in Europe since World War II. Yugoslavia was the West's great failure for most of the 1990s. "This is the hour of Europe," proclaimed Luxembourg's foreign minister, Jacques Poos, in 1991 when the Croats and Serbs came to blows. Yet not until after Srebrenica and its 7,000 dead men and boys in 1995 did the U.S. step in and lead an ineffective Europe to stop the fighting.

    Of course the conspiracy theories abound as with any death of the celebrated. Let us assume Mr. Milosevic died of natural causes. Had his heart not stopped the man would likely have died of boredom what with his war crimes trial going on for almost a decade.

    Can the United Nations do anything? For sure they can't fight a war. For sure they do nothing to stop human rights abuses what with the UN's own peacekeepers raping and pillaging. For sure, with Milosevic dead, they can't even run a decent war crimes trial. All things the U.N. was formed to do.

    Be glad the U.N. isn't trying the sweet Saddam.

    Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior, Resigns

    Popular scuttlebutt has it that Gale Norton was not especially liked by the Republican base. First, she was viewed as being too liberal.

    Lately, with this Abramoff stuff coming to light, we discover that Ms. Norton was knee deep in the designation of Native American "sacred ground" that would allow such as casino money machines to be built upon.

    I suspect Norton was asked to leave.
    Image hosted by Photobucket.comWASHINGTON - Interior Secretary Gale Norton was expected to announce Friday that she is resigning from President Bush's Cabinet, ending a five-year run that included frequent clashes with environmentalists and American Indian tribes.

    Norton, the first woman ever to serve in the job, was expected to make the announcement Friday afternoon, according to a source who requested anonymity.

    From the start, Norton, a former Colorado attorney general, has been considered one of Bush's most loyal foot soldiers, using the position overseeing vast tracts of federal land and tribal areas to increase energy exploration.

    She faced fierce opposition from environmentalists, and in the early days of the Bush administration, it looked as if she would be one of the most divisive figures in the Cabinet.

    President Bush has chosen Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne to be the new Interior secretary.

    How Long Must We Be Fooled by CAIR Before We Get a Clue?

    The acronym stands for the "Council on American-Islam Relations". The popular hype is that the organization is the Muslim equivalent of the NAACP.

    Indeed CAIR officials are often invited to speak at official events involving Islam, and a CAIR official was part of the solemn ceremony memorializing the victims of 9-11 immediately after the attacks.

    Which is all well and good and in fact, the existence of such an organization as watchdog of the rights of Muslim American citizens is the sort of thing we encourage here in the melting pot of the United States.

    This does not mean that we should have to tolerate, in the name of diversity, an organization that speaks out of both sides of its mouth, a group that has members committed to the destruction of this country, a club that regularly raises money for terrorist organizations overseas and serves as a spy circle for their Mid-eastern thuggish leaders.

    Yes, it's a brutal description but at times we must open our eyeballs and see things for what they are. CAIR is no more an organization for "moderate Muslims" than the American Nazi organization is for conservatives.

    From the Middle East Forum:
    CAIR: Islamists Fooling the Establishment
    by Daniel Pipes and Sharon Chadha

    The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), headquartered in Washington, is perhaps the best-known and most controversial Muslim organization in North America. CAIR presents itself as an advocate for Muslims' civil rights and the spokesman for American Muslims. "We are similar to a Muslim NAACP," says its communications director, Ibrahim Hooper.[1] Its official mission-"to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding"[2]-suggests nothing problematic.

    Starting with a single office in 1994, CAIR now claims thirty-one affiliates, including a branch in Canada, with more steadily being added. In addition to its grand national headquarters in Washington, it has impressive offices in other cities; the New York office, for example, is housed in the 19-story Interchurch Center located on Manhattan's Riverside Drive.

    But there is another side to CAIR that has alarmed many people in positions to know. The Department of Homeland Security refuses to deal with it. Senator Charles Schumer (Democrat, New York) describes it as an organization "which we know has ties to terrorism."[3] Senator Dick Durbin (Democrat, Illinois) observes that CAIR is "unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its associations with groups that are suspect."[4] Steven Pomerantz, the FBI's former chief of counterterrorism, notes that "CAIR, its leaders, and its activities effectively give aid to international terrorist groups."[5] The family of John P. O'Neill, Sr., the former FBI counterterrorism chief who perished at the World Trade Center, named CAIR in a lawsuit as having "been part of the criminal conspiracy of radical Islamic terrorism"[6] responsible for the September 11 atrocities. Counterterrorism expert Steven Emerson calls it "a radical fundamentalist front group for Hamas."[7]

    It's time to stop fooling ourselves and to stop giving these people legitimacy. They are not on our side.

    Wow. This Is Big News

    For what could be more important than one’s very time of day? So next year Daylight Saving Time beings in March? And ends in November?

    Seems a good notion to harness as much daylight as possible but I also learn to keep watch under the political radar. This one crept up on me quicker than the UAE Ports deal.

    Currently, in the United States, Daylight Saving Time begins at 2:00 a.m. local time on the first Sunday in April. On the last Sunday in October areas on Daylight Saving Time return to Standard Time at 2:00 a.m.

    Daylight Saving Time Extended

    On Monday August 8, 2005 President Bush signed into law a broad energy bill that will extend Daylight Saving Time by four weeks in 2007. The provisions of the bill call for Daylight Saving Time to begin three weeks earlier on the second Sunday in March and end one week later on the first Sunday in November. Currently Daylight Saving Time starts on the first Sunday in April and ends on the last Sunday in October.

    In 2007 when the provisions take effect Daylight Saving Time will begin on March 11 and end on November 4, 2007.

    Talk About Flying Under the Radar

    I suppose thought they had the scoop of the century. Seems a staffer to a Republican congress critter has been formally reprimanded by the military for his role in the abuse at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. The reprimand was based on the testimony of the most infamous of the Abu Ghraib offenders, Charles Graner. Of course Brinson is denying everything in Graner’s testimony and has filed an official protest with the army against his reprimand.

    What’s odd is how quiet the media has been about this. Abu Ghraib being one of their pet causes and all that. Read the whole article. Because if nothing else, it illustrates the army is following through with the investigation on this matter even without the media spotlight.
    Mar. 10, 2006 | A senior staffer to a Republican congressman revealed Thursday that he has been formally reprimanded by the Army for his role in the Abu Ghraib detainee abuse scandal -- and that he is fighting the disciplinary move. He says that higher-ups were responsible for the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

    U.S. Army Reserve Capt. Christopher R. Brinson, who in civilian life works as the deputy chief of staff for Alabama Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, was directly in charge of some of the military police later prosecuted for abuse at Abu Ghraib during the notorious autumn of 2003. Brinson received the reprimand in January 2005, but it had not been revealed publicly until his attorney, David P. Sheldon, confirmed it to Salon Thursday, noting that Brinson has since submitted a rebuttal to the Army. The attorney would not reveal the exact reason for Brinson's punishment.

    Tom Daschle for Prez?

    It’s that time when those who dream for a shot at the top job on the planet tentatively make the soft suggestion. One such potential Democratic candidate testing those waters is Tom Daschle, former Senate majority leader, then Senate minority leader, then defeated in the most recent South Dakota election by the Republican challenger.

    There’s a low-down and dirty story on Mr. Daschle. Which involves the mighty Native American reservations in South Dakota and the election shenanigans practiced there for too many years. The GOP put Daschle directly in their crosshairs and sent many wing-tipped Republican lawyers to Dakota land to monitor just why so many South Dakota Native Americans voted several times, even if they were dead! During this time there was plenty of media attention but it mostly fell under the radar. Almost every day yet another abuse of the “recruitment” of Native Americans for voter registration was revealed. With a little more honesty in the voting process restored, Daschle lost the next senatorial election as he likely should have a few times before.

    Now he wants to be President? Daschle has as much chance of being elected President as I do being the next superstar model. As for his chances of being the Democratic nominee, his chances might be a bit better. Soon the Democrats will realize that Hillary is not going to fly in flyover country, then who knows who might be plucked from the crowd? My own Delaware Joe Biden is too looking at that top post. Biden has a way better chance to clinch that nomination than Daschle.

    In my humble opinion, of course.
    "I haven't ruled anything out or anything in at this point," Daschle said in an interview Saturday night after a hometown dinner in his honor.

    "I'm encouraged by the strong support many people have voiced for my candidacy around the country and in South Dakota. I'll make a decision at some point later on this year," he said.

    The Supremes

    So if you are a college that takes federal money than you must allow the military to recruit on your campus. To not allow military recruiters on your campus is not a protection of your collegiate free speech rights. At least that’s the crux of the recent Supreme Court ruling on the matter.

    Many college campi did not allow military recruiters on site in protest of the military’s treatment of homosexuals. Which would be the vaunted “don’t ask, don’t tell” methodology.

    The other side of the coin is why on earth the federal government should keep supporting these same institutions with this position.

    Consider the matter decided.
    From Fox
    Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe Supreme Court agreed to hear the government’s appeal after a U.S. appeals court in Philadelphia ruled the law could not be enforced because it infringed on the constitutional free-speech rights of the universities.
    The justices reversed that ruling....

    More Political Tidbits HERE

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    Some Geography Trivia

  • Alaska
    More than half of the coastline of the entire United States is in Alaska.

  • Amazon

    The Amazon rainforest produces more than 20% the world's oxygen supply. The Amazon River pushes so much water into the Atlantic Ocean that, more than one hundred miles at sea off the mouth of the river, one can dip fresh water out of the ocean. The volume of water in the Amazon river is greater than the next eight largest rivers in the world combined and three times the flow of all rivers in the United States.

  • Antarctica

    Antarctica is the only land on our planet that is not owned by any country. Ninety percent of the world's ice covers Antarctica. This ice also represents
    seventy percent of all the fresh water in the world. As strange as it sounds, however, Antarctica is essentially a desert. The average yearly total precipitation is about two inches. Although covered with ice (all but 0.4% of it, i.e.), Antarctica is the driest place on the planet, with an absolute
    humidity lower than the Gobi desert.

  • Brazil

    Brazil got its name from the nut, not the other way around.

  • Canada

    Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined. Canada is an Indian word meaning "Big Village."

  • Chicago

    Next to Warsaw, Chicago has the largest Polish population in the world.

  • Detroit

    Woodward Avenue in Detroit, Michigan carries the designation M-1, named so because it was the first paved road anywhere.

  • Damascus, Syria

    Damascus, Syria, was flourishing a couple of thousand years before Rome was founded in 753 BC, making it the oldest continuously inhabited city in existence.

  • Istanbul, Turkey

    Istanbul, Turkey is the only city in the world located on two continents.

  • Los Angeles

    Los Angeles's full name is El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula --and can be abbreviated to 3.63% of its size: L.A.

  • New York City

    The term "The Big Apple" was coined by touring jazz musicians of the 1930's who used the slang _expression "apple" for any town or city. Therefore, to play New York City is to play the big time - The Big Apple. There are more Irish in New York City than in Dublin, Ireland; more Italians in New York City than in Rome, Italy; and more Jews in New York City than in Tel Aviv, Israel.

    Image hosted by

  • Ohio

    There are no natural lakes in the state of Ohio, every one is manmade.

  • Pitcairn Island

    The smallest island with country status is Pitcairn in Polynesia, at just 1.75 sq. miles/4,53 sq. km.

  • Rome

    The first city to reach a population of 1 million people was Rome, Italy in 133 B.C. There is a city called Rome on every continent.

  • Siberia

    Siberia contains more than 25% of the world's forests.

  • S.M.O.M.

    The actual smallest sovereign entity in the world is the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (S.M.O.M.). It is located in the city of Rome, Italy, has an area of two tennis courts, and as of 2001 has a population of 80, 20 less people than the Vatican. It is a sovereign entity under international law, just as the Vatican is.

  • Sahara Desert

    In the Sahara Desert, there is a town named Tidikelt, which did not receive a drop of rain for ten years. Technically though, the driest place on Earth is in the valleys of the Antarctic near Ross Island. There has been no rainfall there for two million years.

  • Spain

    Spain literally means 'the land of rabbits.'

  • St. Paul Minnesota

    St. Paul, Minnesota was originally called Pigs Eye after a man named Pierre "Pig's Eye" Parrant who set up the first business there.

  • Roads

    Chances that a road is unpaved in the U.S.A.: 1%, in Canada: 75%.

  • Texas

    The deepest hole ever made in the world is in Texas. It is as deep as 20 empire state buildings but only 3 inches wide.

  • United States

    The Eisenhower interstate system requires that one-mile in every five must be straight. These straight sections are usable as airstrips in times of war or other emergencies.

  • Waterfalls

    The water of Angel Falls (the World's highest) in Venezuela drops 3,212 feet (979 meters). They are 15 times higher than Niagara Falls.


    David M. Bresnahan
    March 3, 2006

    The manufacturers of red-light and speed cameras typically sell their equipment to cities and receive a large percentage of the revenue from each ticket, creating a billion-dollar industry.

    Lobbyists from the manufacturers of the controversial traffic enforcement cameras teach elected officials how to convince constituents that the cameras are all about safety. In the lingo of lobbyists it is called "framing the issue."

    Virtually all the negative news stories about cameras that give unjust tickets to thousands of innocent drivers, or how the cameras have actually caused accidents to increase only reach a small audience. The stories are usually treated as local news and do not gain national circulation.

    The result: the general public are not aware that there are major problems with the cameras in cities all around the world.

    Despite the class action lawsuits, despite the news reports of cities refunding millions of dollars plus more in damages, and despite the fact that government studies show there are ways to reduce accidents without using the cameras, politicians are voting for the cameras and the revenue they produce.

    Media investigations in Virginia, Colorado, and Washington, D.C. all showed that accidents increased at intersections where the cameras are in use. Government sponsored studies have shown that the easiest way to improve safety at intersections is to increase the length of time of the yellow light.

    Politicians receive donations to their campaign funds. Lobbyists receive incentives from the manufacturers, and salespeople get gigantic commissions. Every ticket sent to an unsuspecting motorist puts many dollars into a lot of pockets, not just the local cities.

    Now, if we can only come up with a way for people to make money by making traffic lights stay yellow longer we just might actually have safer roads. Until that happens it seems that our only defense against immoral and unjust traffic enforcement camera tickets is to put PhotoBlocker spray on our license plates.

    I have it on mine, simply because I do not have the time, energy, or money that would be needed to go to court and fight a ticket that is sent to me in error. I claim the right of self-defense.

    Published reports about PhotoBlocker reveal that journalists, doctors, lawyers, firefighters, teachers, judges, politicians, and even police officers are all using PhotoBlocker spray to avoid unjust traffic tickets.

    PhotoBlocker is an aerosol spray that does not change the appearance of the plate to the human eye. The flash picture from a red-light or speed camera makes the plate unreadable because the light reflects back blinding the camera, similar to the effect of a flash picture in a mirror.

    The spray works, according to published media reports of tests conducted by police and journalists. Illinois and New York have passed laws against the spray, which is further testimony that it works. There are no laws against the spray in other states.

    The company reports sales of over 500,000 cans in 23 countries. Information about the product is available on the Internet at Dozens of links to news stories and television news reports are posted on the site and make for interesting reading.

    The bottom line for me is simply that I have no intention of letting my dollars end up in the pockets of lobbyists, salespeople, and politicians for something I did not do. I obey the laws, and I do not want anyone to speed or run red lights. But at the same time I do not want anyone to be victimized by a automated system that simply does not work as advertised.

    If we all use this spray on our license plates maybe then the politicians will get the message and do what is right -- junk the cameras and lengthen the time of the yellow lights.

    © 2006 David M. Bresnahan - All Rights Reserved


    David M. Bresnahan has over 30 years of experience as an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, radio station owner, talk show host, and business owner. David has been a prominent writer for many Internet newspapers.

    More Miscellany posts HERE

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