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August 24, 2011

Strauss-Kahn freed despite damning evidence

By Suzanne MacNevin.

FEMINIST - Yesterday Dominique Strauss-Kahn's sexual assault charges have been dismissed by two judges and the charges withdrawn by the prosecutors, claiming they have lost faith in the star witness despite damning DNA evidence and numerous other victimized women who have come forward saying they were sexually assaulted by Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

The former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn was onced touted as a possible future president of France, and has no shortage of power or money. Legal activists are crying foul and corruption, saying the dismissal of the charges has nothing to do with the victim's credibility and everything to do with Dominique Strauss-Kahn's power and friends in high places.

The legal ramifications of the violent sexual assault and attempted rape against the hotel housekeeper isn't over yet however. Justice may yet prevail as a civil assault charge remains.

Overseas in France more charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn are coming forward, but for now he has been set free.

The damning DNA evidence is Dominique Strauss-Kahn's semen on the clothes of the victim. Everyone knows he attacked and sexually assaulted the woman, but bribery can grease unseen wheels.

Strauss-Kahn arrived at court in a six-car motorcade and was greeted by protesters wielding signs carrying such messages as “DSK treats women like property” and “Put the rapist on trial — not the victim.” The shouting could be heard inside the courtroom.

State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus said he would dismiss the case, but first wanted an appeals court to decide whether a special prosecutor should be appointed. Within hours, the appeals court agreed.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn attacked and sexually assaulted the maid originally from the West African nation of Guinea when she arrived to clean his luxury suite May 14. The 62-year-old grabbed her crotch and forced her to perform oral sex on him. Dominique Strauss-Kahn is claiming the maid had consensual sex with him and denies it was a forced encounter, despite the maid's physical injuries. Strauss-Kahn's lawyers claim the injuries are unrelated.

The 33-year-old maid, Nafissatou Diallo, is also sueing Strauss-Kahn, making it clear she isn't going to let this matter rest on corrupt public prosecutors. Her attorney Kenneth Thompson said outside court that she had been abandoned by the justice system and they will continue the fight in the civil case.

“No man, no matter how much power, money and influence he has, has a right to sexually assault a woman,” says Thompson. “We are disappointed that District Attorney Vance apparently does not believe in equal justice under the law and has denied an innocent woman a day in court.”

Overseas in Guinea the people there are watching and listening to the news and expressing shock that the justice system in the USA is so corrupt.

“Since the beginning of time, the powerful have always won. Nafissatou Diallo didn’t stand a chance against DSK,” says local Pepe Bimou. “The only possible outcome was that she would lose.”

This is hardly the first time men in power have gotten away with sexually assaulting women. It won't be the last, but at least now everyone knows Dominique Strauss-Kahn is a sexual predator.

See Also:
Feminist Truths / Crime

Virginia earthquake rattles North America

ENVIRONMENT - On Tuesday around 2 PM a 5.8 magnitude earthquake rocked North America, the epicentre near Mineral, Virginia. The shaking was felt all over the continent. Strong tremors were felt in Washington, New York and as far north as Toronto and Fredericton.

It was the biggest earthquake to hit Virginia since 1897.

The tremors were so strong people were evacuating buildings in Washington, New York, Boston and Toronto.

There were no reports of major damage or injuries from the quake. Two nuclear reactors at a power plant in Virginia went off line, while traffic lights were knocked out throughout Washington.

Flights were grounded briefly in Washington, Philadelphia and New York while authorities inspected control towers and runways. The tremors didn’t affect flights at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

The quake comes just days after a 3.3 magnitude earthquake near Sudbury, Ontario.

August 22, 2011

Libyan rebels capture Tripoli

POLITICS - Libyan rebels claimed control of the Libyan capital on Monday (today) after advancing quickly on Tripoli. The capture of the capitol heralds the fall of Moammar Gadhafi's nearly 42-year regime. Scattered battles erupted across the city, and Gadhafi whereabouts remain unknown.

The international community has repeatedly called on Gadhafi to step down. Colleagues warned Gadhafi wouldn't go easily. Two of Gadhafi's sons were captured on Sunday.

The Western Alliance is now moving ahead with postwar planning as ecstatic Tripoli residents celebrated in the Green Square, the symbolic heart of the Gadhafi regime.

The Western alliance promised to maintain its air campaign until all pro-Gadhafi forces surrender or return to barracks. NATO warplanes have hit over 40 targets in and around Tripoli since Saturday — the highest number on a single geographic location since the bombing started over five months ago, say officials.

The rebels capture of Tripoli in an hours-long blitz strike shows Gadhafi's forces are weakening and will likely face desertions soon since many of his fighters are hired mercenaries.

The rebels — mainly civilian volunteers who took up arms and had little military training — are big on zeal but short on organization and discipline, but their stunning success in Tripoli shows a high level of planning, co-ordination and discipline. They've gone from an unorganized rabble to an experienced fighting force in less than 6 months.

In London England, British Prime Minister David Cameron said frozen Libyan assets would soon be released to help the country's rebels establish order, saying Gadhafi's regime was “falling apart and in full retreat.”

Rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdel-Rahman in Tripoli, warned of pockets of resistance and said as long as Gadhafi remains on the run the “danger is still there.”

Today at Gadhafi's longtime command centre (Bab al-Aziziya) pro-Gadhafi government tanks emerged from the complex and opened fire at rebels trying to get in. The fighting continues.

Jack Layton dead, age 61

CANADA - Jack Layton, the fiery and eloquently spoken leader of the New Democratic Party has died of cancer at the age of 61.

Sometimes touted at the future prime minister of Canada, that dream now will never become a reality as friends and colleagues mourn his loss.

“Your support and well wishes are so appreciated. Thank you,” Jack Layton posted on Twitter in July after announcing he was battling a new form of cancer. “I will fight this and beat it.”

It was the last public announcement Jack Layton made in his long political career. He began as a campus activist and later becoming a left-wing municipal councilor and eventually the most electorally successful leader of the federal New Democratic Party in history.

Jack Layton was on a leave of absence as party leader since July 25, when he temporarily stepped aside to fight a second — and much more deadly — bout of cancer.

There are very politicians with the integrity and commitment that Jack Layton had. He will be sorely missed by the nation of Canada.

August 16, 2011

Moderation Key to a Long Healthy Life

HEALTH - When you live a balanced life style it can make huge differences in the quality of life and overall happiness.

#1. Moderation and balance. Both metaphorically and physically. You need to balance yourself mentally and emotionally (some might say spiritually) and also keep your balance in a literal sense. ie. Practice walking on top of things in straight lines like teenagers do to show off. If you practice good balance it hones various muscle groups which help keep you younger.

#2. Don't over stress yourself. Stress effects adrenalin and cortisol levels which you want to keep at moderate levels. If your work is too stressful it will be causing havoc with your health, decreasing your ability to work properly, sleep properly, eat properly and your health will deteriorate in a high stress job. (ie. Rob Ford has lost a lot of hair in the first 9 months of being mayor of Toronto, and he is pretty unhealthy to begin with.)

#3. Follow the BE SAFE program — Balance, Endurance, Strength And Flexibility Exercises. In general this means cycling, running, swimming, weightlifting and yoga. And various other activities just to make it more fun. ie. Archery.

#4. Don't smoke and avoid over-consumption of alcohol. A bit of red wine is actually good for you. Avoid environmental factors that are bad for you. ie. Noxious fumes and chemicals, food that is burnt / carcinogenic.

#5. The older you get the more you need to exercise. That includes WEIGHTLIFTING and keeping your balance.

#6. Decrease the intake of fatty, sugary, toxin filled foods and eat more healthy choices. Your body (and your sex drive) will thank you for it.

#7. Stay active. Don't let your body go to waste. Take up activities which cost nothing but give you both enjoyment and exercise.

Which would you rather be? A broken down person in a wheel chair complaining about the nurses who won't change your diaper? Or the old fogey at the gym lifting 200+ lbs at the age of 90?

See Also: Anti Aging Techniques

Former kidnapper admitted to bar

CANADA - Its sounds like a plot out of a CSI episode.

A Toronto man convicted of kidnapping a Hamilton woman years ago and holding her captive has been granted admission to the bar by the Law Society of Upper Canada. On August 9th a law society panel approved Alan Honner’s licence application, writing the lawyer “is now of good character.”

Alan Honner, age 30, pleaded guilty to charges of kidnapping and forcible confinement after helping a family accost and abduct their daughter, Mirella Brun Del Re, from a Hamilton street in 2005. They believed Mirella was in a religious cult and were worried she might be involved in a mass suicide.

The panel granted Honner admission to the bar because of his candour about his past as a kidnapper. But you have to admit the kidnapping was not normal circumstances. It wasn't for ransom or sexual assault. The Brun Del Re family was convinced their daughter was in danger and she wasn't listening to reason.

Mirella Brun Del Re, then 21, was held against her will for 10 days in a rented cottage in the Halton region before being transferred to her parents’ home, where an American woman tried to “deprogram” her from the cult. But Mirella Brun Del Re escaped and called police. (It is unclear whether Mirella Brun Del Re really was in a cult, or just a religious group that was a tad weird.)

Kidnapping and forcible confinement charges against Mirella Brun Del Re’s parents were later stayed just before the case was to go to trial.

Ontario’s Law Society Act requires only people with “good character” to be licensed to practice law. The law society requires Ontario applicants to complete 14 questions and offer two references from the legal profession to determine they are of “good character.”

Earlier this year, 29-year-old Ryan Manilla, an Osgoode Hall graduate, had his application rejected because of his aggressive and bizarre conduct as a member of his condo board.

Austin Powers 4: Thunderballs

ENTERTAINMENT - Canadian Mike Myers is reportedly writing on the next installment of his Austin Powers film... possibly named Thunderballs.

The randy British super-spy parody of James Bond hasn't been on the big screen since 2002 (Goldmember).

In a recent interview, Myers has hinted that the plot may focus on the father-son relationship between Dr. Evil (whom Myers also plays) and his son, Scott (played by Seth Green).

Jay Roach, who directed the three previous films, also touted the idea in a recent interview.

“For me, the secret is Dr. Evil. . .the Dr. Evil world of Mini-Me (Dr. Evil’s diminutive clone) and the Scott Evil triangle ... I could just watch that forever. So I hope he (Myers) will dig back into that side of it. Austin’s a great character, too, but we’ve done so much Austin, you know, I’d love to go deeper into Dr. Evil’s world,” Roach said.

However its also been 9 years since the last Austin Powers movie. Does the foppish, shagging-obsessed operative still have his mojo? Or will this be a case of the spy who shagged me only to find audiences have moved on?

And there is spoof titles... the current bet is on "Thunderballs".

Octopussy, Live and Let Shag, Licence to Shag, Shag Another Day? Whatever the end result it will likely be smashing, groovy, baby or shagadelic.

August 13, 2011

Virgin Mobile overcharging you on your bill

TECHNOLOGY - Remember to check your bill. Your cell phone company may be defrauding you.

This doesn't just apply to Virgin Mobile customers either. Rogers, Bell, Telus, AT&T... they're all overcharging customers.

And there is a number of ways they do it.

#1. Company is Forgetful

You sign up for your phone and they "forget" to add a service you requested and then overcharge you that service. ie. You signed up for unlimited text messaging and they instead wallop you with extra charges for every text message, even though it supposed to be unlimited. See Virgin Mobile overcharging me for text messaging.

#2. Extra Fees

Charging you extra for 911, road side assistance, insurance, etc. Things you didn't even sign up for. ie. Bell Mobility is notorious for adding road side assistance to customers' bills without asking them, often adding it to people who don't even drive.

#3. Bogus Fees

These are things like "utility usage", "connection charge", etc. Anything that sounds "official", but they're not legally supposed to be adding to your bill.

#4. Faulty Math

If you've ever had this happen you know they're messing with you.

#5. Multiple Bills

Ever been on a group plan with family members? But for some reason they keep charging you separately straight to your credit card...

HOW TO FIGHT BACK AGAINST CELL PHONE COMPANIES

1) NEVER EVER GIVE THEM YOUR CREDIT CARD INFO. Always use online banking because at least then it forces you to look at your bill and know how much you're paying.

2) Remember to check your bill regularly if it looks like you're being overcharged. Look for anything suspicious.

3) When talking to customer service representatives make it clear you are not paying for their mistakes and demand retroactive changes / credits to your account. If they refuse to make those changes you know its time to start looking for a new company.

4) If you are forced to go look for a new cell phone company refuse to pay your old company anything until they fix the amount they were overcharging you. You may get a few calls from debt collection agencies, but you can explain to them you are not paying Virgin, Bell, Rogers, whatever one penny until they make retroactive changes / credits to your account. (If your credit rating is good a little dent will be worth it to stake a stand for your rights as a consumer.)

5) Remember that you always have rights as a consumer. Don't be bullied by the "big cell phone company". They're the one acting illegally, not you.

6) Organize a boycott on Facebook. Watch it go viral.

For more info check out the Ontario Consumer Protection website.

August 10, 2011

What the heck is a Reverse Mortgage Loan???

POLITICS - You would think the USA would be wary of mortgages and loans, but the truth is mortgages are a necessary evil in today's economics.

A "Reverse Mortgage" (I had to look this up on Wikipedia), one of the few times I actually find use for that website, is a release of equity...

Think of it a bit like selling your house, but slowly...! Its usually only done by seniors who are in retirement and want to slowly sell off their home (and not leave it for their kids).

However there are two types of Reverse Mortgages... large lump sum payments or multiple payments (which can set up monthly, thus giving the senior more money for their monthly budget). Its really for seniors who find themselves stretched for cash as they get older and find gasoline/food/electricity/health care costs are higher than they predicted.

The Reverse Mortgages adds a lien to the property so when the property is eventually sold (ie. the old couple dies or moves somewhere else) then the bank / lender gets their share of the equity from the sale of the property.

It may feel weird getting a Reverse Mortgage (it even sounds weird), but since a lot of Americans lost their jobs during the 2007 - 2009 recession and/or were forced into early retirement it is becoming a reality for many Americans.

There is also the matter of how much you can actually get. It really depends on the interest rates different banks and lenders are offering, where you live (real estate prices and interest rates vary by state and city), thus making it tricky to get an estimate on a reverse mortgage loan. Not an actual loan, just an estimate in an effort to calculate both the value of your home and the amount you can actually get either all at once or on a monthly basis.

If you later find / save / inherit money then you can also pay off the loan immediately. There is no required duration.

The good thing is that if your property keeps going up in value (American real estate prices have hit rock bottom and are now rising again) you won't have lost anything but a bit of equity.

Check out more real estate news at My Search for a Home.

August 9, 2011

Spermless Mosquitoes???

HEALTH - According to a team of British scientists releasing genetically modified, spermless male mosquitoes into the wild could help to prevent malaria transmission and reduce the chances of large outbreaks of the killer disease.

Researchers from Imperial College London have sterilized male mosquitoes by genetically modifying them to neutralize a gene required for sperm production.

Their study determined that female mosquitoes cannot tell if the males they mate with are fertile, or spermless and therefore unable to fertilise the females’ eggs.

The researchers say it might be possible to control the size of the malaria-carrying mosquito population by introducing a genetic change that makes males more sterile. Over time female mosquitoes would then unknowingly mate with the modified males and produce less offspring.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease that kills nearly 800,000 people every year. Its threat is greatest in Africa, where one child dies of malaria every 45 seconds.

Health experts and scientists are working towards the global eradication of malaria, but progress is slow and there is a constant need for better and cheaper ways to get there.

Genetically controlling the population is one possibility.

For these currently theoretical control ideas to work in practice, scientists first have to establish whether the insects would continue to mate as normal, unaware that they've lost the ability to reproduce.

After mating for the first and only time in her life, the female mosquito then eats a meal of blood, and lays a batch of eggs. This pattern is the same regardless of whether the eggs are properly fertilised.

In theory another route would be to genetically modify female mosquitoes so they produce less eggs.

However this idea may only have a small impact on mosquito populations. What is really needed is a way to kill large numbers of mosquitoes, but without harming insects like bees which are needed for pollination.

Giant blue electric bug zappers?

ie. California's fruit industry uses large commercial bug zappers. They emit an ultraviolet light which attracts insects and then zaps them with electricity.

However the problem is that bug zappers don't attract female mosquitoes (the only mosquitoes which bite). Thus they're useless for stopping mosquitoes and malaria.

What might work however is a blood-like substance laced with a toxin which female mosquitoes would find attractive, try to injest and then die from the toxin. Essentially it would be like rat poison and be left out to attract and kill female mosquitoes.

Scientists would need to determine what combination of iron, water and other elements mixed together best attract mosquitoes, determine what dosage of the toxin best kills mosquitoes and then test it on a larger scale.

The Practical Vegetarian Diet

HEALTH - Some of you may have heard about the health benefits of being vegetarian or vegan.

And there is a tonne of health benefits (and sexual perks) for those people who choose to go vegetarian or vegan. (There is also fruitarians, but those people are just plain crazy and suffer from a chemical imbalance.)

Vegans typically have less health problems, less headaches, less cancer, more energy and more sexual libido.




However for a a variety of practical reasons the vast majority of people are omnivores because...

#1. Eating omnivorously is more convenient. You don't have to be constantly checking labels to see if there is any animal biproducts in the food you are buying.

#2. Eating omnivorously can be cheaper (but isn't always). Especially compared to people who only buy "organic" fruits and vegetables which have been genetically modified. Organic is really a misnomer... what it means is its "pesticide free", but what they don't tell you is that they use other methods to kill insects... namely toxins in genetically modified plants which poison / deter the insects. However if you're not worried about buying foods that are organic (or grow your own vegetables) then going vegan is actually cheaper...

#3. Eating omnivorously is less stressful. You don't have to worry about vegan alternatives, where to eat, what to eat, who you are eating with, etc.

#4. Because their family / children / friends are omnivores and this creates problems for people socially.

#5. Because they're hopelessly addicted to bacon. (Okay, that is not a practical reason, but you get my point.)

Basically the majority of people can't deal with going Vegan because it just feels like too many rules, too stressful and not practical for their daily lives.

However there is a more practical approach to going vegan or vegetarian... I am not certain what to call this diet... its sort of a "Half Veg Diet"... or a "Veg-Curious Diet". Whatever you want to call it...

The Rules of the Half Veg / Veg Curious Diet

#1. The rules of this diet are really more like "guidelines". You can pick and choose which ones you want to follow. All the rules are OPTIONAL and can be modified as you see fit.

#2. You can make up and add your own rules. Whatever you find convenient or practical for you.

#3. Don't bother buying meat that often. ie. Only buy meat when its on sale.

#4. Avoid eating meat unless its offered to you. ie. You're at a friend's place and they offer you a burger.

#5. Avoid buying dairy or eggs (or other things you know to be non-Vegan) unless you actually need it. ie. You need milk for your cereal.

#6. Try to balance your diet towards more veggies / fruits / berries / grains and less meat/dairy products.

The end goal here is to do several things:

#1. Save money by buying meat less often and/or only eating meat when its either on sale or given to you for free.

#2. Still be an omnivore socially and still be able to enjoy the foods you love. (A bit like someone who only smokes when someone offers them a cigarette.)

#3. Not turn into one of those preachy people who look down on others for being an omnivore. (Not all Vegetarians or Vegans are like that, but there are a few preachy people out there who give the whole movement a bad rep.)

In theory the principles of this diet can also be applied to general dieting with respect to fatty / sugary foods... ie. Only buying fattening or sugary things when they're on sale and/or only eating such foods when they're offered to you and therefore are a treat.

The ultimate goal of the Half Veg / Veg Curious Diet is that you get to enjoy some of the health benefits of being a Vegan, but without going all the way. It also makes a good stepping stone for if you later decide to become a hardcore vegan.

If you do eventually decide to go the hardcore vegan route, you will likely want to learn more about veganism in general. I recommend the blog Beautiful Vegan for further reading. I also recommend the eBook Conscious Evolution available at the author's website or via Lulu.com.

Public Domain Fortunes

ENTERTAINMENT - Over the next couple of decades there is going to be a lot of books and movies which become "Public Domain". The recent Conan movie is just an example of one such film based on books which are now Public Domain (the Arnold Schwarzenegger movies however are not Public Domain, so Paradox Entertainment had to purchase the film rights from the previous films to avoid complicated legal battles.)

Robert E. Howard (the creator of Conan) committed suicide in 1936, leaving behind no family. Thus (depending on what country you live in) all of his books and stories are now public domain. (Any Conan stories written by other authors however belong to those writers. ie. "Conan the Berserker" by fantasy author Charles Moffat.)

We should note however that Public Domain laws vary from country to country... the following is a list of English speaking countries and the number of years required for copyright to run out.

Australia: 70 years after the death, or depending on the media it is 70 years from publication for sound recordings and films. For television broadcasts and sound broadcasts its 50 years after being broadcast. Photography has separate rules.

Canada: 50 years after the death of the creator.

New Zealand: 50 years after the death of the creator.

United States: 70 years after the death, but depending on when it was published or if the creator published anonymously then it is 95 years.

United Kingdom: 70 years after the death or 50 years after released/created for sound recordings.

There is also the Universal Copyright Convention...

Life + 25 years for general works.
25 years from publication (multiple creators).
10 years for photographic works or artworks.

Now depending on what the topic is you may also have to deal with film rights (due to previous films made on the same topic).

For example J.K. Rowling (of Harry Potter fame) did not actually create Harry Potter. Harry Potter is actually a character from the 1986 film "Troll" and was created by John Carl Buechler and Ed Naha. The makers of Troll have actually decided to remake Troll with a bigger budget, starring (guess who?)... Harry Potter. And there is nothing J.K. Rowling can do about it because she ripped off the name Harry Potter in the first place. (She does however own the rights to the Harry Potter franchise and words like Hogwarts, Slitherin, etc.)

That was a mistake by Rowling and her producers to not obtain the rights to the Harry Potter name.

But what this does raise is an interesting matter... all the books and films which were either published 50-70 years ago, and all the writers who died approx. 70 years ago. Or in some cases, earlier.

If you do your research you will find there is a long list of movies from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and even the 1960s / 1970s that are now Public Domain. Examples

1925 - The Lost World
1937 - Dick Tracy
1939 - Gulliver's Travels
1943 - The Outlaw
1944 - Zorro's Black Whip
1955 - The Fast and the Furious
1959 - Plan 9 from Outer Space
1959 - The Giant Gila Monster
1971 - Lady Frankenstein
1978 - Planet of Dinosaurs

The list of films is actually quite long... and for books there are hundreds of thousands that are either Public Domain or will soon become Public Domain.

Because of that status it also means people can take books and re-write them, thus creating books like:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters



There is a lot of money to be made selling / reproducing / recreating / changing Public Domain works. For writers it means an extra source of income and a way to get noticed by taking something old and making it new again.

August 8, 2011

31 American Special Forces killed when helicopter shot down

POLITICS - On Saturday Afghan warlords shot down a US military helicopter during fighting in eastern Afghanistan, killing 30 Americans, most of them belonging to the same elite Navy SEALs unit that killed Osama bin Laden, as well as seven Afghan commandos. It was the deadliest single day loss for American forces in the decade-old war.

The much lauded, tight-knit SEAL Team 6 took the hit hard. It was also a heavy setback for the U.S.-led coalition as it begins to withdraw thousands of combat troops fighting what has become an increasingly costly and unpopular war.

None of the 22 SEAL personnel killed in the crash were part of the team that killed Osama bin Laden in a May raid in Pakistan, but they belonged to the same SEAL unit.

Special operations forces, including the SEALs and others, have been at the forefront in the recent strategy of killing key insurgent leaders in targeted raids. The operation has been jokingly called "Hydra" because every time one leader's head is chopped off, another grows back. (In Greek myth the 5-headed Hydra would regrow its heads when they were chopped off.)

[Hydra is also a fictional terrorist organization in the comicbook Marvel Universe.]

America's Debt is a Ticking Time Bomb

POLITICS - The United States economy is sitting on a ticking time bomb which could strike at any time... its called a $14.35 trillion National Debt.

Earlier this week S&P downgraded the USA from its AAA rating to AA due to Republican unwillingness to cooperate with debt payments. It is the first time in world history that the USA has been considered a risky investment. The lowered rating means investors will be less likely to loan the USA money in the future, putting the USA one step closer to bankruptcy and financial collapse.

Only 16 of the 126 nations whose debt is rated by S&P earn its coveted triple-A rating, Canada among them. Republican unwillingness to pay off the US debt by raising taxes has led to a level of brinkmanship that is bordering on financial collapse just so they can blame Barack Obama if the economy turns sour.

But its not Barack Obama's fault this is happening. Its the fault of Republicans in Congress being wishy-washy on the best way to solve America's debt problems.

The USA can't cut social programs because that will hurt government jobs. One Republican proposal calls for the cutting of approx. 2 million American government jobs for the next 8 years. Cutting 2 million jobs would devastate the US economy.

The ONLY solution is to start raising taxes on the rich. The poor cannot take the pinch right now because the economy is too fragile, but the rich could certainly tighten their belts.

Meanwhile China’s central banker, Zhou Xiaochuan, is depicting the American debt as a threat to the world economy. “Big fluctuations and uncertainty in the U.S. Treasury market will influence the stability of international monetary and financial systems, thus hurting the global economic recovery,” the chief of the People’s Bank of China said last week. China is the world’s largest creditor nation and America's biggest lender.

Zhou says: “We hope that the U.S. government and the Congress will take concrete and responsible policy measures . . . to properly deal with its debt issues, so as to ensure smooth operation of the Treasury market and investor safety.”

In other words Congress needs to stop playing with matches.

The Xinhua News Agency meanwhile is calling Republican unwillingness to tax and pay off debt a “madcap farce” and called the American National debt a “ticking bomb”.

Especially since the USA will now have to pay higher interest rates on its riskier debt.

We should note however that America can recover.

S&P downgraded Canada in 1992, when Canada was too nonchalant about a record $43 billion deficit and didn't seem to have any goal to pay it off. S&P did not restore Canada's triple-A status until 2002, after 11 years of consecutive budget surpluses and clear efforts by the government of Jean Chretien to pay off a large chunk of the Canadian National Debt.

Thus we know from experience that it can be done.

The difference however is that Canada is a resource (mining, lumber, oil) driven economy... whereas the USA is manufacturing based... something the USA has been losing in recent years as more factory jobs go over to China and India.

WHAT IS THE SOLUTION???


The USA needs to cut taxes on manufacturing and raise taxes on the fat cats in Wall Street.

The only problem is that its Wall Street which is running the show in Congress. The White House and the American people are helpless to stop the corruption that is going on.

Americans need to be making products again. This era of stock brokers moving money around and not actually building anything while taking a percentage is hurting the US economy and its not sustainable.

August 3, 2011

Thieves try to steal abstract sculpture

ART HISTORY - Three "dumb thieves" tried to steal an $1-million sculpture by famed Canadian abstract artist Jean-Paul Riopelle ended up ditching the pricey sculpture in the Quebec woods. The sculpture was found, broken but fixable.

Art experts say the thieves probably hoped to sell the one-of-a-kind bronze sculpture for scrap metal, which would have netted them as little as a few hundred dollars.

The sculpture, titled "La Défaite", had been sitting for 40 years outside the studio and home of the late artist in the Laurentians town of Estérel, north of Montreal. The massive sculpture weighs about a thousand pounds and over 6 feet tall.

A groundskeeper noticed on Monday that one of the pieces had been toppled. When a security guard showed up to check the grounds, he surprised the thieves at work.

One of the thieves fled into the woods, while two others drove away in a white van.

The thieves didn’t get far. News of the theft quickly spread via Twitter and in the news media, and Quebec police found the empty van Tuesday. A few hours later, they found the sculpture in the woods about two km from the Riopelle property.

The sculpture was found broken into 4 pieces to make them easier to carry.

“These guys were imbeciles. They were certainly not professionals,” said Simon Blais, an abstract art gallery owner and Riopelle expert in Montreal. He said it would have been close to impossible to unload an artwork of that bulk and weight. “You can’t smuggle it. You can’t put it on a plane.”

The loss of the 1963 sculpture would have been a tragedy. Riopelle, known chiefly for his abstract mosaic canvasses painted with a palette knife, also produced sculptures in the 1960s. Adding to its value was the fact that it was a single cast and came from his early sculpture works. It was purely one of a kind.

“This is a major work of art of an iconic Canadian painter and sculptor of the 20th century,” says Simon Blais. “It’s a part of Canada’s heritage. Imagine losing it because some dumb thieves hoped they might get a few hundred dollars in scrap metal. It would have been tragic.”

It wouldn't be the first time.

A two-tonne bronze sculpture by Henry Moore worth £3-million was stolen from the estate of the Henry Moore Foundation in England in 2005, and police believe it was melted down and sold for about £1,500.

The thieves in the Laurentians didn’t realize what they’d put their hands on – and didn’t appreciate that the odd-shaped, highly abstract piece of art sitting outside a rustic waterfront home was the work of a man whose canvasses hang in the most famous museums of the world.

Montreal-born Jean-Paul Riopelle, who died at 78 in 2002, was an abstract art master and one of Canada’s most internationally celebrated painters.

“I think the thieves didn’t realize the gravity of what they’d done,” says Jean-Paul Riopelle’s widow, Huguette Vachon. “Once they saw all the publicity, they realized their mistake and panicked.”

The damaged sculpture will be appraised, restored and then eventually displayed again in a safer place.

The three thieves are still at large.

See Also
Canadian Art

August 2, 2011

Conan the Barbarian Returns!

ENTERTAINMENT - Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian has spawned its 4th movie and numerous novels and short stories (including the free ebook Conan the Berserker).

But the latest movie looks to be the best yet.



Lets face it, the old Arnold movie was pretty low budget in comparison and highly inaccurate compared to the actual stories by Robert E. Howard.

Anyone who uses Black Hat SEO is an amateur

TECHNOLOGY - If you want to market your website or business the first thing you should do is try to find someone who does Search Engine Optimization and is a professional.

The problem these days is that the SEO industry is rife with amateurs, snake salesmen, Black Hatters and worse. To explain what that means lets get some definitions...

#1. Amateur = Anyone who claims to know what they're doing, but lacks experience and knowledge. (And to some extent wisdom to know what SEO tactics yield the most results.)

#2. Snake Salesmen - These guys are all sales pitch. They'd sell you Google.com as long as you open your chequebook and agree to buy it.

#3. Black Hatters - These are the spammers, the tricksters, the guys who claim they get you to the top of the search engine for super cheap using "Black Hat" tactics banned by Google.

But what you probably don't know is that Google is getting smarter and smarter about catching Black Hatters and then downgrading / banning websites using Black Hat SEO.

When in doubt about whether something is White Hat or Black Hat SEO, its best to consult The SEO Checklist.

If your SEO person is using any methods discouraged by the SEO Checklist, fire your SEO person. (Do it nicely, but as quickly as possible...) Why? Because Black Hat SEO often backfires (and the ratio at which it backfires is getting higher thanks to Google's batting average going up) and ends up hurting your website's ranking and popularity. Black Hat SEO simply isn't worth the risk.

Visit designSEO.ca to get more Free SEO Advice.

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