Friday, December 24, 2004


Hello Everyone!,
I just want to wish all of you that see this a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy NEw Year!


PS- Politically Incorrect and proud of it!

'Naked Twister' Broadcast Nets FCC Fine

'Naked Twister' Broadcast Nets FCC Fine

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal regulators on Wednesday proposed a $220,000 indecency fine against the owner of two Kansas radio stations for broadcasting a ``Naked Twister'' game with local strippers and graphic interviews with porn stars.

The Federal Communications Commission said the material, which aired during the ``Dare and Murphy Show,'' was indecent and clearly intended to ``pander to and titillate the audience.''

The commission cited four broadcasts during April and May of 2002. They aired on stations KQRC-FM in Westwood, Kan., and KFH-AM in Wichita, Kan. - owned by Entercom Communications Corp., based in Bala Cynwyd, Pa.

The agency proposed a $27,500 fine - the maximum allowed at the time - for each of the four broadcasts by the two stations for a total penalty of $220,000.

The commission said the ``Naked Twister'' broadcast dwelled on descriptions of female genitalia and breasts in an explicit and graphic manner. Other broadcasts the FCC reviewed included interviews with porn actors Ron Jeremy and Dave Cummings.

The commission also noted Entercom's history of prior indecent broadcasts. In September 2002, the FCC fined the company $12,000 for broadcasting indecent material on a Seattle station.

No one from Entercom was available for comment Wednesday. A receptionist said management would be out of the office until Jan. 3 and could comment then. Calls to two numbers listed for KQRC were unanswered Wednesday.

At KFH-AM in Wichita, program manager Tony Duesing declined to comment on the fine but said the station has not aired the show for the past six months, dropping it after it became too cost prohibitive. The show had already been replaced when the station learned about the FCC investigation a month or two ago, he said.

12/23/04 20:41

© Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained In this news report may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Democratic Leadership Rethinking Abortion

Bill's Pre-comment: "Did you ever have to make up your mind?" - Anonymous

Democratic Leadership Rethinking Abortion

Thu Dec 23, 7:55 AM ET

By Peter Wallsten and Mary Curtius Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON — After long defining itself as an undisputed defender of abortion rights, the Democratic Party is suddenly locked in an internal struggle over whether to redefine its position to appeal to a broader array of voters.

The fight is a central theme of the contest to head the Democratic National Committee (news - web sites), particularly between two leading candidates: former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (news - web sites), who supports abortion rights, and former Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer, an abortion foe who argues that the party cannot rebound from its losses in the November election unless it shows more tolerance on one of society's most emotional conflicts.

Roemer is running with the encouragement of the party's two highest-ranking members of Congress, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and incoming Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada. Dean, a former presidential candidate, is popular with the party's liberal wing.

If Roemer were to succeed Terry McAuliffe as Democratic chairman in the Feb. 10 vote, the party long viewed as the guardian of abortion rights would suddenly have two antiabortion advocates at its helm. Reid, too, opposes abortion and once voted for a nonbinding resolution opposing Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion.

Party leaders say their support for preserving the landmark ruling will not change. But they are looking at ways to soften the hard line, such as promoting adoption and embracing parental notification requirements for minors and bans on late-term abortions. Their thinking reflects a sense among strategists that Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry and the party's congressional candidates lost votes because the GOP conveyed a more compelling message on social issues.

But in opening a discussion about new appeals to abortion opponents, party leaders are moving into uncertain terrain. Abortion rights activists are critical pillars of the Democratic Party, providing money and grass-roots energy. Some of them say they are concerned that Democratic leaders are entertaining any changes to the party's approach to abortion.

A senior official of one of the nation's largest abortion rights groups said she would be concerned if the party were to choose Roemer to head the Democratic National Committee.

"We want people who are pro-choice. Of course I would be disappointed," said the official, who asked that her name be withheld because of her close alliance with party officials.

Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood (news - web sites) Federation of America, said Democratic strategists who were pushing for the abortion discussion had misconstrued the results of the November election by overstating the strength of "values" voters.

She said the party should remain committed to the "women of America, and their health and their lives and their rights."

Feldt said she had spoken to Kerry and Roemer on Wednesday, and that both had sought to allay her concerns. Both assured her that the party was not changing its stance on abortion, but merely wanted to be more "inclusive."

The debate among Democrats comes at a time when abortion rights supporters are feeling particularly vulnerable. Congress passed a ban on what critics call "partial-birth" abortion last year that Bush signed into law. Last month, abortion opponents were emboldened when four conservative Republicans were elected to the Senate. Also, anticipated retirements from the Supreme Court could give Bush the chance to nominate justices that would tilt the court against Roe vs. Wade.

The race for Democratic Party chairman remains wide open among Dean, Roemer and several other contenders, including longtime operative Harold M. Ickes, New Democrat Network head Simon Rosenberg and South Carolina political strategist Donald L. Fowler Jr. The field of candidates is likely to remain in flux until days before the February vote.

In an interview, Roemer said he would not try to change the minds of abortion rights supporters. But he also said he would encourage the party to eliminate its "moral blind spot" when it comes to late-term abortions.

"We should be talking more about adoption as an alternative, and working with our churches to sponsor some of those adoptions," Roemer said Wednesday from his Washington office. He said he was calling 40 to 50 delegates a day to make his pitch. Most of all, he said, he thinks that abortion opponents would be more comfortable if the party talked about the issue in a more open-minded manner.

"We must be able to campaign in 50 states, not just the blue states or 20 states," said Roemer, referring to the most Democratic-leaning states.

Dean declined through a spokeswoman to talk about the issue, but earlier this month he signaled that he would maintain the party's defense of abortion rights, telling NBC's Tim Russert: "We can change our vocabulary, but I don't think we ought to change our principles."

Votes will be cast by 447 members of the Democratic National Committee, many of whom are among the party's most liberal members. These members are thought to be friendly to Dean and less receptive to Roemer. But the former Indiana congressman is getting attention amid reports that Pelosi and Reid urged him to run.

Roemer has also highlighted his service on the independent panel investigating the government's response to the Sept. 11 attacks, saying that credential builds his appeal to security-minded voters. He noted that he was an elected official from Indiana, a "red state" where Democrats want to make gains.

A Pelosi spokesman said the House Democratic leader liked Roemer because of his national security credentials. But a senior Democratic congressional aide said Pelosi also thought that Roemer's stance on abortion could be an additional benefit.

"She is pro-choice and very staunchly pro-choice," the aide said of Pelosi. But at the same time, the aide said, "she supports showing that this is a big-tent party."

In the presidential election, Kerry, a Catholic, said he personally opposed abortion but did not believe in imposing that belief on others. He said he would not appoint antiabortion judges to the bench.

But after his election loss, the Massachusetts senator concluded that the party needed to rethink its stance. Addressing supporters at a meeting held by the AFL-CIO, Kerry said he discovered during trips through Pennsylvania that many union members were also abortion opponents and that the party needed to rethink how it could appeal to those voters, Kerry spokesman David Wade said.

On the other side of the debate, Wendy Wright, senior policy director for Conservative Women for America, which opposes abortion, said she thought it would be "very smart" for Democrats to elect Roemer chairman of the party.

"It would make sense for Democrats as a whole to recognize that Americans want protections for women and unborn children, want sensible regulations in place, instead of forbidding the law to recognize that an unborn child is a human being," Wright said. "To not pass legislation just to keep the abortion lobby happy is nonsensical, and it appears that some Democrats have recognized that."

Wright said it was too early to know whether Democrats would change their votes on upcoming antiabortion legislation, or would only change the way they speak of abortion. She said the comments of some party leaders led her to believe that "it would just be changing of wording, just trying to repackage in order to be more appealing — really, to trick people."

Some local Democratic leaders said they would be open to an antiabortion chairman under the right circumstances, but that it would be difficult to envision those circumstances.

"That would be a very large philosophical mountain for me to climb," said Mitch Ceasar, a Broward County, Fla., lawyer who is a voting member of the party's national committee.

Ceasar said he took note of Roemer's abortion stance when he received a letter recently from him. He said he was surprised to learn that abortion was an issue in the contest to succeed McAuliffe. "It never occurred to me before his candidacy," Ceasar said. "I never wondered whether Terry McAuliffe was pro-choice or not."

Bill's Post-comment: How long will this last? Can somebody say appeasement? The entire Democratic Party needs to step back, look in the mirror, and look deep into their souls to see what they truly believe in. I forgot. The answer to that last comment depends on what the public surveys and polls say, along with despising anything that President Bush supports.

In Defense of Rumsfeld

In Defense of Rumsfeld
December 22, 2004
by Newt Gingrich

THE RECENT CALLS for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to step down provide a good opportunity to step back and review his record from the last four years.

Shortly after Mr. Rumsfeld began what would be his second tour of duty as secretary of defense, he made it clear that he would do what it takes to begin transforming the military and its supporting bureaucracies into a force capable of meeting the threats of the 21st century. In his 2001 Senate confirmation hearing, Mr. Rumsfeld testified, "The old deterrence of the Cold War era is imperfect for dissuading the threats of the 21st century and for maintaining stability our new security environment."

In the face of enormous internal opposition, Mr. Rumsfeld, who under President Gerald Ford directed a military that stood ready to face the might of the Warsaw Pact, began in the summer of 2001 to transform the defense bureaucracy by forcing it to recognize that the Cold War was over. He then began implementing the changes necessary to reflect that reality.

Most notably, he undertook an extraordinarily complicated set of negotiations with our allies to move forces from obsolete and expensive Cold War positions in Europe and East Asia to much more useful and less expensive positions from where they can be more effective in defending America.

Just eight short months into the new Bush administration and just weeks after Mr. Rumsfeld's Defense Department transformation plan had begun, the United States was attacked on 9/11.

By now the response to that attack is well known. Mr. Rumsfeld took control and led the remarkably successful campaign in Afghanistan, which led in short order to the defeat of the Taliban and the destruction of its terrorist training camps.

Even during ongoing military campaigns, Mr. Rumsfeld never wavered from his transformational objectives. In the summer of 2003, in order to accelerate transformation in the Army, he brought Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker out of retirement to become Army chief of staff. Mr. Rumsfeld, with the brilliant leadership of General Schoomaker, was able to move personnel from noncombat to combat units, enabling them with additional reorganization to create 15 newly restructured combat brigades.

Also, because of Mr. Rumsfeld's successful plan, our military is more flexible, more agile and better able to fight unconventional enemies.

A new civilian personnel system was designed to reward merit, reduce force stress and replace a bureaucratic culture of risk aversion with one of innovation.

Moreover, he was able to move military personnel out of jobs that should be and are now held by civilians. Under this reorganization, Army troop levels increased (by 30,000), as did the number of combat brigades (from 10 to 15), making a draft unnecessary despite some critics' claims that one was imminent.

At the same time, Mr. Rumsfeld directed the global war on terrorism through the Special Operations Command. The effort has helped other countries hunt down, capture or kill terrorists in the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Yemen, Pakistan and dozens of other countries. The combined effort has resulted in three-fourths of al-Qaida's senior leadership being killed or captured, while the organization's mastermind, Osama bin Laden, remains a powerless international fugitive (probably hiding in Pakistan).

Finally, there is the question of Iraq. The military performed brilliantly in the 23-day campaign led by Gen. Tommy Franks that defeated the dangerous Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein.

Today, Mr. Rumsfeld is working closely with the ambassador to Iraq, John D. Negroponte, to help create an interim government, build up the Iraq military and help Iraqis regain control over their own country.

Yet Mr. Rumsfeld is being used as a target by those who either oppose American military involvement in Iraq or lack the ability to understand or communicate the difficulty and the importance of defeating the insurgency inside Iraq and creating a stable elected government.

Mr. Rumsfeld, standing on his remarkable record of achievement, is far too effective a defense secretary for any serious student of recent American history to think that he should be replaced.

With Mr. Rumsfeld at the helm, the U.S. military has defeated two terrorist regimes, giving more than 50 million people a chance at freedom.

Ten million Afghans, 40 percent of whom were women who under the Taliban had no rights, voted in the free election of their first popularly elected national leader.

In Iraq, while Mr. Hussein sits in jail awaiting trial, tens of thousands of Iraqis are being trained and equipped to reclaim control of their country as the Iraqi people prepare to vote in their first free elections, planned for Jan. 30.

In addition, the most compelling reason to keep Mr. Rumsfeld as secretary of defense may simply be that there has not been another attack on our homeland since 9/11.

Mr. Rumsfeld's critics are off the mark. The military, under Mr. Rumsfeld's leadership, is our finest example of what works.

Winning the Future:
A 21st Century Contract with America

The dangers are manifold: Terrorism. Judges who think they're God (and who are anti-God). Rising economic challenges from China and India. Immigrants and young Americans who know little about American history and values. Can America survive?

Yes, says Newt Gingrich, and we as Americans can do more:We can create a safer, more prosperous, and healthier America for our children and grandchildren. How? By enacting a 21st Century Contract with America.

The challenges of the 21st Century are great, says Newt Gingrich, but so are the opportunities. The decisions we make over the next four years will determine our future. And no book can be more important for making the right choices than Newt Gingrich's Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Jersey Girls Named 'Women of the Year'

With Carl Limbacher and Staff
For the story behind the story...

Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2004 10:37 p.m. EST
Jersey Girls Named 'Women of the Year'

Four women who lost husbands in the World Trade Center attacks and used their connection to 9/11 to bash the Bush White House have been named "Women of the Year" by Ms. magazine.

"The 2004 Ms. Women of the Year included the 'Jersey Girls' (Kristen Breitweiser, Patty Casazza, Mindy Kleinberg, and Lorie Van Auken) the four 9/11 widows who made the 9/11 Commission happen," reports the Feminist Daily News Wire.

After complaining that President Bush failed to do enough to prevent the 9/11 attacks, the Jersey Girls signed on to John Kerry's presidential campaign, where they stumped side-by-side with the Massachusetts Democrat in a bid to counter his soft-on-terror image.

Others named "Women of the Year" by Ms. include Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., whose "courageous and determined actions," the magazine said, "saved the life of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti," and Betty Dukes, the lead plaintiff against Wal-Mart in the nation’s largest class action sex discrimination suit in history.

Why Christmas Without Christ?

Why Christmas Without Christ?

Susan Estrich
Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2004

At least the kids are used to it by now: no presents, no tree, no Santa, no Christmas. It's not as bad as it sounds. We're not characters out of a Grisham novel or a holiday movie. We're just not Christian.

It's not a religious holiday. I hear that all the time.

What is it? A celebration of crass commercialism? If Christmas isn't a religious holiday, it should be.

I respect those who celebrate Christmas. What I don't understand is how you can celebrate Christmas without believing in Christ. Or rather, why?

I'm not talking here about whether the town puts up a tree or holds a Christmas festival. Those issues tend to be fought out every year in the courts between the civil libertarians and the cities. Personally, I'm no bigger a fan of public menorahs than public trees, but in the list of issues worth fighting about, I wouldn't make a federal case of them. What I'm talking about here is whether a non-Christian family puts up that tree, or holds that celebration, in its own living room.

If you celebrate Christmas with your children, a rabbi once told me, your children won't celebrate the Jewish holidays when they grow up.

Rabbis call it the December Dilemma. Should non-Christians celebrate Christmas? Buy a Chanukah bush and put presents under it? Adopt Santa for their children, even if their own religion treats Dec. 25 as just another day? As we become a more and more diverse country, more and more non-Christian parents face children for whom Santa has no place in our religious tradition. A Buddhist Santa? A Moslem Santa? A Jewish Santa?

Even the most well-meaning Jews end up turning the minor holiday of Chanukah into a major occasion because of that other holiday in December. But a surprising number of parents of all stripes go beyond that, and celebrate Christmas as well, with all the bells and whistles, except for a trip to church.

We don't want them to feel left out, my Jewish friends always tell me, in explaining why they buy presents and trees, and knock themselves out for their Jewish children.

When I was growing up, in a New England town where real estate agents carried maps marked in color by religion to keep everyone in their place, I hated Christmas because it did make me feel left out. But the point was not simply that we were excluded, but that we were second-rate.

The Protestant section of town was nicer than the Jewish section, the houses were bigger, right on the water. There were no Chanukah songs, and no Chanukah play, in the public schools. We were taught that the Jews killed Christ. My Hebrew School teacher, Mr. Sherf, had a number on his arm.

I can't speak for other groups, but I do know that upper-middle-class Jewish kids growing up in Los Angeles aren't in much danger of feeling the same sort of victimization I lived with. Rather, the danger for them is that they are growing up without any sense of identity that will carry them later, when their parents aren't there to remind them who they are. But even if they were, the point would be the same.

Forging an identity may require a sense of exclusion, as well as a real dose of religious education. For Christian children, that should be part of the Christmas message.

The danger for too many children brought up with plenty of presents and no religion is that they never get a dose of education and end up with no system of beliefs and no faith in anything or anyone Bigger than themselves, which is no gift at all. They never do learn what Christmas is about. Or the Jewish holidays, for that matter.

Merry Christmas.


Christians in the Crossfire

Christians in the Crossfire
By Michelle Malkin Commentary
December 22, 2004

Yes, it's maddening when politically correct bureaucrats ban nativity scenes and Christmas carols in the name of "diversity" and "tolerance." We are under attack by Secularist Grinches Gone Wild.

But the war on Christmas in America is a mere skirmish. Around the world, a bloody, repressive war on Christians rages on.

In Iraq, Islamist rebel troops have declared open season on Christian churches, priests and missionaries. In February, four American pastors were traveling in a taxi near the capital when terrorists ambushed them. Rev. John Kelley, pastor of Curtis Corner Baptist Church in rural Rhode Island and a former Marine, was killed in the attack. The missionaries were starting up a new church south of Baghdad.

A friend of Rev. Kelley's noted upon word of his murder that "he wanted to be a witness for Christ in a part of the world where there aren't a lot of witnesses for Christ."

On March 15, Southern Baptist missionaries Larry and Jean Elliott of Cary, N.C., Karen Denise Watson of Bakersfield, Calif., and David McDonnall of Rowlett, Texas, were killed in a drive-by shooting in northern Iraq. McDonnall's wife, Carrie, survived the attack.

The group, one of several Christian aid groups helping with reconstruction efforts, was scouting out locations for a water purification project.

The McDonnalls were young students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Watson served on the Baptist International Mission Board, as did the Elliotts. At the Elliotts' funeral, their oldest son, Scott, touched his chest and looked upward in tribute to his parents: "Thank you for living for the Lord. I am a life that was changed."

Stephen Rummage, interim senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Cary, N.C., said the couple "loved the gospel and the souls of lost men and women more than themselves."

In Saudi Arabia, an Indian Christian man was abducted and held captive by the kingdom's religious police (the "Muttawa") for seven months earlier this year. Brian Savio O'Connor was singled out by the Wahhabist thug cops for "possession of Bibles and preaching Christianity."

In addition, the Muttawa falsely charged that O'Connor had illegally sold alcohol. While in custody, O'Connor was allegedly beaten and "pressed to convert to Islam," according to the AsiaNews Web site. The Saudi government succumbed to international pressure and freed O'Connor last month.

But persecution by the Saudi government against Christian Saudis continues. A Saudi Christian convert, Emad Alaabadi, was taken into custody by the Muttawa in November. The father of four became a Christian two years ago. Family and friends at the human rights group International Christian Concern fear he has been tortured for his beliefs.

On Dec. 1, Christian pastor Zhang Rongliang disappeared from his village apartment in Zhengzhou, China. According to The Voice of the Martyrs, a non-profit charity that tracks religious persecution, state police confiscated all of Pastor Zhang's Christian DVDs, materials and photos.

Three other Christian churches were reportedly raided after Pastor Zhang's arrest-part of a nationwide crackdown on the Chinese "house church" movement. More than 100 other Christian pastors were arrested in Kaifeng city in September. Many have been beaten, sentenced to "re-education through labor," and accused of being "leaders of an evil cult."

In Vietnam and North Korea, followers of Christ have been arrested, beaten, tortured and forced to renounce their faith. In Nigeria, an Islamist terrorist group named after the Taliban conducted religious pogroms in the northern part of the country this fall-kidnapping, raping and killing Christian villagers as part of a radicalization program that government officials suspect is being funded by Saudi Wahhabists.

In Sudan, Muslim radicals have perpetrated mass slaughter and enslavement of Christian men, women and children, some of whom have been literally crucified.

If America's mainstream media would give the global War on Christianity just a fraction of the attention it pays to the War on Christmas, lives might be saved. And light would be shed on the true heroes of the original religion of peace.

Doing so, however, would require the nation's secularized pundits and pontificators to take religious persecution seriously. In that, alas, I have no faith.

(Michelle Malkin is author of "Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores.")

Copyright 2004, Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Lisa Marie Presley Selling Elvis Estate

Bill's Comment: I, personally, have no problem with this decision. Elvis should be a worldwide phenomenon.

Lisa Marie Presley Selling Elvis Estate

Thu Dec 16, 7:43 PM

By WOODY BAIRD, Associated Press Writer

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Lisa Marie Presley is keeping Graceland but selling the bulk of the Elvis estate, including rights to her father's name and image, in a deal worth approximately $100 million.

Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. announced an agreement Thursday to sell 85 percent of its assets to businessman Robert F.X. Sillerman, founder of music and sports promoter SFX Entertainment.

The Presley estate brought in almost $45 million last year. Sillerman said more aggressive marketing, supported by capital raised through a new publicly traded company, can make Elvis an even bigger earner.

Presley occupies a unique place in American pop culture, and "I don't think there's much likelihood his influence is going to wane anytime in my lifetime," Sillerman said by telephone from New York, where he runs the Sillerman Companies.

As Presley's only child, Lisa Marie is the sole heir to the estate, most of which is now to become part of a publicly traded company that will be called CKX Inc.

The agreement will pay her $53 million in cash and absolve her of $25 million in debts owed by the estate. She also is to get shares in the new company expected to be worth more than $20 million.

Lisa Marie will retain possession of her father's home, its more than 13 acres of land and many of her father's "personal effects," an announcement on the agreement said.

"For the past few years, I've been looking for someone to join forces with to expand the many facets of (Elvis Presley Enterprises), to take it to new levels internationally and to make it an even greater force in the entertainment industry," Ms. Presley, also a singer, said in a statement.

Tours of Graceland, which gets 650,000 visitors a year, will continue unchanged. The throngs of fans drawn to Memphis each August on the anniversary of Presley's 1977 death will notice little different, Sillerman said.

Although Elvis already ranks No. 1 on the Forbes magazine list of top-earning dead celebrities, Sillerman said new markets and business opportunities may be available, including abroad.

"Does it make sense to invest in Elvis Presley enterprises in Japan? Does it make sense in Germany? Are there things that can be done in other jurisdictions in the United States?" he said. "The answer to some of the questions is obviously yes, we just don't know which ones."

Sillerman said the staff at Graceland will remain in place.

Elvis Presley Enterprises was created in 1980 by Priscilla Presley, the singer's ex-wife and mother of Lisa Marie, who was still a child then. She is to remain as a consultant to the new owners.

Sillerman founded SFX Entertainment in 1977 and ran the company until it was bought by Clear Channel Communications in 2000. He said he expected the sale to wrap up within two months, pending standard regulatory approval.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Surviving the holidays together

Surviving the holidays together

Randy B. Hecht and brought to you by!

All through the holiday season last year, you felt a twinge every time you saw a couple out together. "Where's my kiss under the mistletoe?" you thought. "Where's my date for New Year's Eve? Where's the one I get to snuggle with on all these cold and snowy nights?”

It was lonely being single during the holidays. But this year you did meet someone, and now you're looking forward to spending your first holiday season together.

You think you had stress before? Brace yourself for the big time!

Being in a relationship doesn’t automatically reduce the pressures of the season. Just as often — maybe more often — it increases them. How you approach the month of December can spell the difference between a season of peace and a season of falling to pieces.

To make your first holidays together truly worth celebrating, remember these tips:

Manage your expectations. It's not your sweetheart's job to make up for all the years when you didn't have a honey for the holidays. Nor for that really bad year when your ex turned out to be an absolute Grinch. Expecting the person you're dating to recreate the holiday season of your fantasies is unreasonable.

Good things come in no package, too. Speaking of gifts, don't put too much emphasis on them as a measure of just how merry your season has been. The pressure to find absolutely the most perfect presents for one another can take all the joy out of the occasion and create a stress — emotional and financial — unlike any other. And extravagance isn't the key to a happy holiday. Enjoying time with each other will do the trick.

Give each other some space. The holidays can be overwhelming, and eventually everyone needs a time out from the endless festivities. Allow each other time to relax, reflect, and recharge solo.

Share your traditions...Your favorite holiday decoration or recipe was passed down to you from your grandmother. Tell your sweetheart about it and her, the memories it brings back every December, and some of your favorite stories from holidays past. And ask to hear your sweetheart's stories and family traditions, too.

...And make some new ones, too. It can be as simple as agreeing that each of you will buy, or better yet, make a special ornament for the other to mark the year. Or that every year you're going to experiment with baking one new type of cookie. Or even that you're going to organize your friends for what you hope will be an annual night of caroling. The details don't matter — except to the extent that they will help put your own stamp on the holiday season for you as a couple.

Above all else, enjoy yourself and each other. Remember, you already have the gift that you swore just last year was the only thing you really wanted!

10 ways to beat holiday blues

10 ways to beat holiday blues

Marcia Jedd and brought to you by!

There's no getting around the holidays. The world slows down and everyone seems paired up or off with family and friends. If you feel the holiday blues creeping up on you — loneliness or the grass–is–always–greener blues — it's time for an antidote. Here's 10 sure–fire ways to feel upbeat:

1. Gratitude, honey. Nothing soothes your blues better than a deep feeling of gratitude. Put on soft instrumental music. Sit down, count your blessings and meditate. What do you have to be grateful for? Journaling is optional. Repeat as necessary.

2. Spa time. From a simple manicure, a pedicure with foot massage, to a full–on day at the spa, treat yourself. Schedule one of those new hot–stone massages or a deep–muscle massage. Experience the tingling of a light chemical peel or other facial.

3. Volunteer. Giving your time to others and being of service is a great way to feel valued. It could be reading to children at a day–care center, volunteering at a hospital or working at a soup kitchen during this trying time for the homeless or destitute. You'll lose your own blues when you find enough overflow to give to others in a meaningful way.

4. Bake. Forgot how much you loved those ginger snaps your mom used to make? Craving chocolate chip cookies? Cooking and baking puts your mind on the flavorful task at hand. Share your bounty with a neighbor or friend and you'll find it comes back to you in other ways.

5. Plan a party. Get some friends together and plan a theme party. Consider a single–mingle night where an equal number of invited males and females each invite a specific number of the opposite sex. It's never to late for a procrastinator's holiday party, such as hosting a white–elephant gift exchange after December 25. Or, casually have a few friends over, spur of the moment.

6. Cultural events. Want to see that traveling Impressionist exhibit at the art museum? What about that offbeat gallery in uptown? Plan an afternoon around it with a like–minded friend or relative. Or, take off by yourself: You never know who you could meet.

7. Take in a movie. Grab a friend and attend a matinee, go to a flick yourself (it's good for you) or simply rent a movie. You'll forget your funk after a light romantic comedy, thriller or even a tear jerker.

8. Stay moving. Get a zip of mood–enhancing endorphins with vigorous or even light exercise. Try dance, yoga, tai chi or a good workout at the gym. Many fitness clubs and yoga centers offer free sampler classes. Try a new activity and you may find a new sport for yourself.

9. Change your routine. Chase holiday blues by delving outside your comfort zone. If you are shy, go to a local coffee shop and read a book by yourself. Always drive to the video or grocery store? Try walking. Meeting friends at a local bar or nightclub? Go early and hobnob.

10. Find a date. Speaking of breaking out of your comfort zone, it may be time to start dating again. Try a quick search to find suitable singles in your city. The holidays are a great time to take out a clever ad and get a jump on the New Year.

U.S. health care needs a spark

In case you missed it...

U.S. health care needs a spark
December 15, 2004
by Newt Gingrich

It is time that we in the United States learn to think of health care as an economic opportunity, not a liability. Despite America's well-documented health-care delivery problems, America's actual health care is the best in the world. U.S. firms are responsible for some of the most important innovations in pharmacology and medical technology. Wealthy foreigners routinely come to the United States for advanced medical services with the best possible outcomes. To take advantage of this position, President Bush should create a new undersecretary for health in the Department of Commerce to promote the American system of health care worldwide.

Composed of 8,500 firms (mostly employing fewer than 50 people), the U.S. medical technology industry already sustains 350,000 high-value manufacturing jobs paying an average of 49 percent more than those in other manufacturing sectors and accounts for roughly half of the $175 billion global production of medical products and supplies. A 2003 New England Health Care Institute study showed that every job in the medical technology sector generates another 2.5 jobs elsewhere in the economy.

However, the $3 billion trade surplus the United States has historically enjoyed in this sector has recently vanished, prompting serious questions about the fairness of overseas markets. Countries such as France and Japan have recently imposed what are called "foreign reference prices" on U.S. technology that prevent firms from pricing products at a rate appropriate to the actual costs of doing business in their countries. Fewer than 1 percent of U.S. products launched in Japan over the last 10 years have received a new product price distinct from its predecessor, resulting in an unfair disadvantage for U.S. manufacturers.

In addition, nationalized health-care systems - confronting aging societies and sluggish economies - are seeking to manage rising health-care costs by limiting patient access to new drugs and medical technologies through price controls and other barriers to market entry. These actions don't just damage U.S. firms; they harm these countries' own health industries and, ultimately, their own populations, whose health is put at risk by limiting their choices to inferior options.

An undersecretary for health would have the important task of ensuring that overseas markets provide a level playing field for exports of the U.S. health economy. He or she could help break down these barriers by accelerating patient access to medical innovations; encouraging robust research and development opportunities (much of which is spurred by small U.S. start-up firms that require venture capital); promoting transparent and consistent product approval policies at home and abroad; and helping ensure predictable pricing that consistently rewards innovation.

The commerce undersecretary for health would also play a major role in increasing information-sharing among medical professionals worldwide through telemedicine and other electronic formats, giving the United States the opportunity to promote its clinical services and medical talent abroad. A key component to successfully marketing our health-care services would be the development of a system of reporting outcomes for specific procedures. That would encourage consumers both home and abroad to make better decisions about providers, which, in turn, would increase quality because of competition.

In every decade since World War II, America has lost jobs in entire sectors of the economy. But in each of those same decades, America has created millions more jobs than those that died away. By focusing on the future, new jobs in health, new drugs and medical technologies, and the development of larger markets for American health care, we will help ensure that our children and grandchildren will have the best, highest-paying jobs in the world, with the large wealth creation that allows our seniors the opportunity of a prosperous retirement.

We must always try to promote industries in which the United States currently holds a clear advantage. Health care should be no exception. The time is right to maximize the enormous potential of the American health economy.

Conservative students sue over academic freedom

Conservative students sue over academic freedom

(AP) — At the University of North Carolina, three incoming freshmen sue over a reading assignment they say offends their Christian beliefs.

In Colorado and Indiana, a national conservative group publicizes student allegations of left-wing bias by professors. Faculty get hate mail and are pictured in mock "wanted" posters; at least one college says a teacher received a death threat.

And at Columbia University in New York, a documentary film alleging that teachers intimidate students who support Israel draws the attention of administrators.

The three episodes differ in important ways, but all touch on an issue of growing prominence on college campuses.

Traditionally, clashes over academic freedom have pitted politicians or administrators against instructors who wanted to express their opinions and teach as they saw fit. But increasingly, it is students who are invoking academic freedom, claiming biased professors are violating their right to a classroom free from indoctrination.

In many ways, the trend echoes past campus conflicts -- but turns them around. Once, it was liberal campus activists who cited the importance of "diversity" in pressing their agendas for curriculum change. Now, conservatives have adopted much of the same language in calling for a greater openness to their viewpoints.

Similarly, academic freedom guidelines have traditionally been cited to protect left-leaning students from punishment for disagreeing with teachers about such issues as American neutrality before World War II and U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Now, those same guidelines are being invoked by conservative students who support the war in Iraq.

To many professors, there's a new and deeply troubling aspect to this latest chapter in the debate over academic freedom: students trying to dictate what they don't want to be taught.

"Even the most contentious or disaffected of students in the '60s or early '70s never really pressed this kind of issue," said Robert O'Neil, former president of the University of Virginia and now director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.

Those behind the trend call it an antidote to the overwhelming liberal dominance of university faculties. But many educators, while agreeing students should never feel bullied, worry that they just want to avoid exposure to ideas that challenge their core beliefs -- an essential part of education.

Some also fear teachers will shy away from sensitive topics, or fend off criticism by "balancing" their syllabuses with opposing viewpoints, even if they represent inferior scholarship.

"Faculty retrench. They are less willing to discuss contemporary problems and I think everyone loses out," said Joe Losco, a professor of political science at Ball State University in Indiana who has supported two colleagues targeted for alleged bias. "It puts a chill in the air."

Conservatives say a chill is in order.

A recent study by Santa Clara University researcher Daniel Klein estimated that among social science and humanities faculty members nationwide, Democrats outnumber Republicans by at least seven to one; in some fields it's as high as 30 to one. And in the last election, the two employers whose workers contributed the most to Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign were the University of California system and Harvard University.

Many teachers insist personal politics don't affect teaching. But in a recent survey of students at 50 top schools by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a group that has argued there is too little intellectual diversity on campuses, 49 percent reported at least some professors frequently commented on politics in class even if it was outside the subject matter.

Thirty-one percent said they felt there were some courses in which they needed to agree with a professor's political or social views to get a good grade.

Leading the movement is the group Students for Academic Freedom, with chapters on 135 campuses and close ties to David Horowitz, a one-time liberal campus activist turned conservative agitator. The group posts student complaints on its Web site about alleged episodes of grading bias and unbalanced, anti-American propaganda by professors -- often in classes, such as literature, in which it's off-topic.

Instructors "need to make students aware of the spectrum of scholarly opinion," Horowitz said. "You can't get a good education if you're only getting half the story."

Conservatives claim they are discouraged from expressing their views in class, and are even blackballed from graduate school slots and jobs.

"I feel like (faculty) are so disconnected from students that they do these things and they can just get away with them," said Kris Wampler, who recently publicly identified himself as one of the students who sued the University of North Carolina. Now a junior, he objected when all incoming students were assigned to read a book about the Quran before they got to campus.

"A lot of students feel like they're being discriminated against," he said.

So far, his and other efforts are having mixed results. At UNC, the students lost their legal case, but the university no longer uses the word "required" in describing the reading program for incoming students (the plaintiffs' main objection).

In Colorado, conservatives withdrew a legislative proposal for an "academic bill of rights" backed by Horowitz, but only after state universities agreed to adopt its principles.

At Ball State, the school's provost sided with Professor George Wolfe after a student published complaints about Wolfe's peace studies course, but the episode has attracted local attention. Horowitz and backers of the academic bill of rights plan to introduce it in the Indiana legislature -- as well as in up to 20 other states.

At Columbia, anguished debate followed the screening of a film by an advocacy group called The David Project that alleges some faculty violate students' rights by using the classroom as a platform for anti-Israeli political propaganda (one Israeli student claims a professor taunted him by asking, "How many Palestinians did you kill?"). Administrators responded this month by setting up a new committee to investigate students complaints.

In the wider debate, both sides cite the guidelines on academic freedom first set out in 1915 by the American Association of University Professors.

The objecting students emphasize the portion calling on teachers to "set forth justly ... the divergent opinions of other investigators." But many teachers note the guidelines also say instructors need not "hide (their) own opinions under a mountain of equivocal verbiage," and that their job is teaching students "to think for themselves."

Horowitz believes the AAUP, which opposes his bill of rights, and liberals in general are now the establishment and have abandoned their commitment to real diversity and student rights.

But critics say Horowitz is pushing a political agenda, not an academic one.

"It's often phrased in the language of academic freedom. That's what's so strange about it," said Ellen Schrecker, a Yeshiva University historian who has written about academic freedom during the McCarthy area. "What they're saying is, 'We want people to reflect our point of view."'

Horowitz's critics also insist his campaign is getting more attention than it deserves, riling conservative bloggers but attracting little alarm from most students. They insist even most liberal professors give fair grades to conservative students who work hard and support their arguments.

Often, the facts of particular cases are disputed. At Ball State, senior Brett Mock published a detailed account accusing Wolfe of anti-Americanism in a peace studies class and of refusing to tolerate the view that the U.S. invasion of Iraq might have been justified. In a telephone interview, Wolfe vigorously disputed Mock's allegations. He provided copies of a letter of support from other students in the class, and from the provost saying she had found nothing wrong with the course.

Horowitz, who has also criticized Ball State's program, had little sympathy when asked if Wolfe deserved to get hate e-mails from strangers.

"These people are such sissies," he said. "I get hate mail every single day. What can I do about it? It's called the Internet."

Bill's Comment: It is about time these liberal indoctrinates called professors are being challenged. Go for it!

Lottery Winner's Granddaughter Found Dead

Lottery Winner's Granddaughter Found Dead

By APRIL VITELLO, Associated Press Writer

SCOTT DEPOT, W.Va. - The 17-year-old granddaughter of the nation's largest lottery winner was found dead near her boyfriend's home, her body wrapped in a sheet and plastic tarp.

"All I know is she OD'd and Brandon freaked out," Steve Crosier, the father of Brandi Bragg's boyfriend, Brandon, told reporters in a brief conversation outside the house.

Bragg, who lived in the nearby town of Hurricane, was last seen alive Dec. 4. She was reported missing five days later by Jack Whittaker, who won a $314.9 million jackpot on Christmas Day 2002 but has battled legal and other problems since then.

The cause of death was under investigation. Authorities said there were no obvious signs of violence, and they would not comment on whether drugs were involved. An autopsy was planned for Tuesday, and police said Tuesday morning there was nothing new to report.

Bragg's body was found Monday behind a junked van several hundred feet from the home of Steve Crosier, whose son Brandon was Bragg's boyfriend, said Trooper S.E. Wolfe.

A preliminary investigation indicated that Bragg may have died in the Crosiers' house and her body was later moved.

Wolfe said Monday's discovery was based on interviews with Brandon Crosier and others. "We are focused on him but I wouldn't call him a suspect yet," he said.

After his conversation with reporters outside his home, Steve Crosier told The Associated Press he did not know any details of Bragg's death or when her body was placed outside on his property. Crosier said he had been busy tending to his daughter, Jennifer, who died of cancer Dec. 13.

Bragg's body was identified by tattoos on her neck, said State Police Sgt. Jay Powers. "The troopers had talked to her in the past and knew her," Powers said.

Whittaker and other family members did not return messages. There was no listing for Bragg's mother, Ginger McMahon of Beckley, who is Whittaker's daughter.

Shortly after he won the lottery, the biggest undivided lottery jackpot in U.S. history, Whittaker said he had few plans for himself but wanted to lavish his winnings on his daughter and Brandi, then 15.

But Whittaker — already a wealthy contractor before his lottery win — has had several brushes with the law since he won the prize. Earlier this month, a magistrate ordered him to go into rehab and surrender his driver's license after his second drunken driving arrest this year. He must report to rehab by Jan. 2.

He has also been accused in two lawsuits of assaulting female employees of a racetrack. And his vehicle, business and home have been broken into.

In September, an 18-year-old friend of his granddaughter was found dead at Whittaker's home. That death remains under investigation. Whittaker was out of town at the time.

Bill's Comment: Is fame and fortune really worth it?

Monday, December 20, 2004

"Philled to the Brim" (12/20/04)/ "The Real World" (Medley)

I know that it is the holiday season, and that I should be as happy and gay as the next person (if that next person is James E. McGreevey), but with the post I had placed right before this, I have no choice but to vent off a little random anger.

I am getting sick and tired of the selfish, asinine parents who want to spoil it for everyone one, because they don't like Christmas. However, they will be hypocritical and force their religious holiday (if they have one) on both myself and the rest of us folks. Do not get me wrong. I respect those who celebrate Chanukah and Kwanzaa, and they reciprocate my wishes.

To me, this is just another example of both liberalism and political correctness trying to cling on like a dryer sheet in the upper arm of one my dress shirts where my armpit normally occupies. These misanthrope yuppies, along with the ACLU, deserve to get coal in their stockings. (I guess I just pissed off the environmentalists with that last comment. They can go bite the big one, as well.)

These are the same folks that dumb-down what the kids learning in school today, as well as trying to tell how to raise our children today (when they probably don't have any themselves), and want to take "Under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance, just to name a few.

If you whiners and crybabies do not like it here, then LEAVE! I dare you to go to France. They don't give two hoots for you, yet alone themselves. Canada wants nothing to do with you, either.
12/21/04- Addendum: One More Thing

In regards to these adolescent grinches that want to spoil our holiday season for their selfishness, I have one one more question to ask, and it goes out to all school boards and administrators.

When are you ever going to get some fortitude, both intestinal and testicular, and IGNORE them! Why do you always seem to cower like a whipped puppy every time the word "lawsuit" is spoken?

Back to the folks that cause all of this mayhem. If you want to spoil a school Christmas program (Yes, I said it!), then DON'T GO! STAY HOME (and be miserable)! Yes, it is a public forum, but attendance is not mandatory.

Since I am such a nice guy, I will provide a bit titled "The Real World":

The Real World

Charles Sykes is the author of DUMBING DOWN OUR KIDS. In his book, he talks about how the liberal, feel-good, politically correct garbage has created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and set them up for failure in the real world.

Rule 1 Life is not fair; get used to it.

Rule 2 The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world Will expect You to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3 You will not make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice president with a car phone until you "earn" both.

Rule 4 If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn't have tenure.

Rule 5 Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping; they called it opportunity.

Rule 6 If you screw up, it's not your parents' fault so don't whine about your mistakes. Learn from them.

Rule 7 Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. So before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents' generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8 Your school may have done away with winners and losers but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades, they'll give you as many chances as you want to got the right answer. This, of course, bears not the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.

Rule 9 Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10 Television is not real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11 Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

N.J. School Reverses 'Silent Night' Ban

With Carl Limbacher and Staff
For the story behind the story...

Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2004 10:51 a.m. EST

N.J. School Reverses 'Silent Night' Ban

A New Jersey talk radio host has succeeded in forcing the Egg Harbor Township board of education to reverse its ban on the Christmas classic "Silent Night," which had been dropped from the school district's holiday program based a single parental complaint.

Last night's 7-0 vote by the panel means that "Silent Night" can now be included in this week's Holiday Singalong at the E.H. Slaybaugh Elementary School, where the controversy first erupted.

The complaining parent, an attorney who has not been publicly identified, asked that the holiday carol be dropped from the program, even though songs about other religious holidays, such as "The Dreidel Song" and "Kwanzaa's Here," were included.
The controversy erupted last Wednesday after WOND Atlantic City radio host Jeff Whitaker received a tip about the Christmas music ban.

"I had on the air the lawyer for the school district, Will Donio, who advised them to do away with 'Silent Night,'" Whitaker told NewsMax.

The Atlantic City talker said he was deluged with calls as the controversy percolated through the week, including requests for more information from local pastors.

As a result, "four of five pastors wrote to the local school board," Whitaker said, prompting district officials to rethink the ban.

After Egg Harbor educrats voted to reverse the ruling in a special session on Monday, Whitaker declared victory, posting a message to his Web site crediting his audience with the success.

"The credit in this turn of events goes to the listeners of our radio show, the outrage and stand taken by many of Egg Harbor Township parents and the prayers of people all across the region," he said.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Homeless Man Compacted in Garbage Truck

Homeless Man Compacted in Garbage Truck

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - A homeless man who fell asleep in a commercial trash bin was dumped into the back of a garbage truck Friday and compacted - but escaped serious injury, officials said.

``It's really quite miraculous the guy got out without serious injury,'' said Bryan Weinert, program director for Ann Arbor's solid waste department.

Weinert said there is a large, dull steel blade that pushes the waste against the wall of the truck to maximize space. He said a person could be protected by trash that is hard to compact.

Lt. Scott Robertson of the Ann Arbor fire department said he did not know how much of the compacting process was completed before the man was discovered.

``Just being in the Dumpster and being dumped would have been a heck of a ride, let alone being compacted,'' Robertson told The Ann Arbor News.

He said firefighters got on top of the garbage truck and were able to get the man out.

The man was in a container behind a bar and grill when he was picked up.

Information from: The Ann Arbor News,

12/17/04 16:39

President Bush Named Time's Person of 2004

President Bush Named Time's Person of 2004

By SAM DOLNICK, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK - After winning re-election and "reshaping the rules of politics to fit his 10-gallon-hat leadership style," President George Bush (news - web sites) for the second time was chosen as Time magazine's Person of the Year.

The magazine's editors tapped Bush "for sharpening the debate until the choices bled, for reframing reality to match his design, for gambling his fortunes — and ours — on his faith in the power of leadership."

Time's 2004 Person of the Year package, on newsstands Monday, includes an Oval Office interview with Bush, an interview with his father, former President George H. W. Bush, and a profile of Bush's chief political adviser, Karl Rove.

In an interview with the magazine, Bush attributed his victory over Democratic candidate John Kerry (news - web sites) to his foreign policy and the wars he began in Afghanistan (news - web sites) and Iraq (news - web sites).

"The election was about the use of American influence," Bush said.

After a grueling campaign, Bush remains a polarizing figure in America and around the world, and that's part of the reason he earned the magazine's honor, said Managing Editor Jim Kelly.

"Many, many Americans deeply wish he had not won," Kelly said in a telephone interview. "And yet he did."

In the Time article, Bush said he relishes that some people dislike him.

"I think the natural instinct for most people in the political world is that they want people to like them," Bush said. "On the other hand, I think sometimes I take kind of a delight in who the critics are."

Bush joins six other presidents who have twice won the magazine's top honor: Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower (first as a general), Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan (news - web sites) and Bill Clinton (news - web sites). Franklin Roosevelt holds the record with three nods from the editors.

Kelly said Bush has changed dramatically since he was named Person of the Year in 2000 after the Supreme Court awarded him the presidency.

"He is not the same man," Kelly said. "He's a much more resolute man. He is personally as charming as ever but I think the kind of face he's shown to the American public is one of much, much greater determination."

The magazine gives the honor to the person who had the greatest impact, good or bad, over the year.

Kelly said other candidates included Michael Moore and Mel Gibson, "because in different ways their movies tapped in to deep cultural streams," and political strategist Rove, who is widely credited with engineering Bush's win. Kelly said choosing Rove alone would have taken away from the credit he said Bush deserves.

This is the first time an individual has won the award since 2001, when then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was celebrated for his response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The American soldier earned the honor last year; in 2002, the magazine tapped Coleen Rowley, the FBI (news - web sites) agent who wrote a critical memo on FBI intelligence failures, and Cynthia Cooper and Sherron Watkins, who blew the whistle on scandals at Enron and Worldcom.

Written on 12/16/04

It is not a very good start for me this morning. I broke down and cried right before I left home this morning. With people bringing up the "M" word, my niece due to have her third in February, and people asking me whether or not I am still a temporary have finally caught up to me. I suppose that the tears that rolled down my face have been a long time coming. Each person can only take so much.

As far as work goes, I would not be shocked if I was notified that tomorrow is my last day. Apparently, I did something wrong. The one person that I had been working with on this came over not long after I had arrived. I told her that I had entered was given to the file room personnel. All that I have for a defense is that I am giving it my best effort, trying to keep mistakes to a minimum. I do not claim, nor have I ever said, to be perfect. Right now, I am sitting here doing this while waiting for something to work on. Yes, my confidence is as about as steady as a buoy in the Delaware River.

In regards to the temporary/permanent status, I have absolutely no control over that. Yes, I have been working at the same place for over two years as a temporary, handling various special projects. I have enjoyed my tenure here, doing whatever it is they ask me to do. Changing my status at the temporary would probably not change matters much. (I am omitting the rest of this paragraph that I originally wrote.)

As far as the "M" word goes, even Ashley e-mailed me, saying that it just takes time. To a degree, she is correct. Even Diana Ross and The Supremes sang about it. Besides that, it also requires the opportunity to see if things will work out. It is called a chance! I lost count a long time ago how many times I have come up short, regardless of the effort level on my part. As for my niece, I am sure to get around and voice my Dr. Phil/ Judge Joe Brown-like opinion. I wish not to elaborate on these subjects any further, at this time.

Update: My niece is having a boy. I just found out on Saturday, 12/18. I will be going back to my assignment on Monday, as usual.

N.J. Airport Security Spot, Lose Fake Bomb

N.J. Airport Security Spot, Lose Fake Bomb

By WAYNE PARRY, Associated Press Writer

NEWARK, N.J. - Baggage screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport spotted — and then lost — a fake bomb planted in luggage by a supervisor during a training exercise.

Despite an hours-long search Tuesday night, the bag, containing a fake bomb complete with wires, a detonator and a clock, made it onto an Amsterdam-bound flight. It was recovered by airport security officials in Amsterdam when the flight landed several hours later.

"This really underscores the importance of the TSA's ongoing training exercises," said Ann Davis, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, the agency responsible for screening passengers and baggage for weapons and explosives. "At no time did the bag pose a threat and at no time was anyone in danger."

Earlier this month, French authorities lost a bag containing real explosives that were being used to train bomb-sniffing dogs. That led French authorities to prohibit using live explosives in future tests.

The incident at Newark Liberty International was only the latest embarrassment for screeners at one of the airports from which some of the Sept. 11, 2001 hijackers took off.

In October, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported that screeners missed one in four fake explosives and weapons in secret weekly tests conducted throughout the summer by TSA agents.

In Tuesday night's test, a TSA supervisor secretly placed the bomb, which was designed to resemble the plastic explosive Semtex, inside a bag that was put through screening machines, Davis said.

A baggage screening machine sounded an alarm, but workers somehow lost track of the bag, which was then loaded onto a Continental Airlines flight.

Despite the incident, no flights were delayed and the terminal remained open.

Davis said the TSA is still investigating how screeners lost track of the bag.

"It was an error that the bag was not intercepted before it was loaded," she said, adding it was too soon to say if anyone would be disciplined for the failure.

Bill's Comment: The fake bomb was found in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, the next day.
Imcompetency at its finest. When is our government going to get serious, and hire people that fit the bill for airport security?

I work in Security at one of my jobs, and trust me when I say this. It is not meant and made for just anybody! The fact that this incident took place at Newark Liberty International Airport is another story in itself. Thank you, "Mayor For Life" Sharpe James, for making New Jersey another butt for jokes.

Would-Be Thief Is Duct-Taped to Pole

Bill's Comment: I wonder if somebody brought this to Glenn Beck's attention? Hats off to the family for thinking fast

Would-Be Thief Is Duct-Taped to Pole

Tue Dec 14, 1:33 PM ET

GEORGETOWN, Guyana - A would-be thief got a taste of his own medicine in Guyana when he was caught and attached to a utility pole with the same duct tape he intended to use to bound a family and rob them, police said Tuesday.

Sabanah Gravesande, 13, was watching television at her home Monday in the capital of Georgetown when two men entered her family's house and tried to tape her mouth shut, police said.

Neighbors heard her screams as she and her grandmother scuffled with the men, authorities said. Neighbors came to their assistance and caught one of the unidentified men, tying him by the neck to a nearby utility pole with the tape until police arrived and took him away.

His legs and hands were also duct-taped as hundreds of people looked on, some openly guffawing at the spectacle.

Police said they would charge the man later this week, indicating that he was a cocaine abuser trying to raise money to support his addiction.

Guyana, a former British colony in South America, has a population of 700,000.

Taxi Driver Shoots Man in Bin Laden Mask

Taxi Driver Shoots Man in Bin Laden Mask

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) take note: You wouldn't be safe in Costa Rica. A startled taxi driver shot and wounded a jokester wearing a plastic mask of the al-Qaida leader, police said Tuesday.

Leonel Arias, 47, told police he was playing a practical joke by donning the Bin Laden mask, toting his pellet rifle and jumping out to scare drivers on a narrow street in his hometown, Carrizal de Alajuela, about 20 miles north of San Jose.

Arias had startled several drivers that way on Monday afternoon. But when he jumped out in front of taxi driver Juan Pablo Sandoval, the motorist reached for a gun and shot him twice in the stomach. He was hospitalized in stable condition.

"For me and I think for anybody else at a time like that one thinks the worst and so I fired my gun," Sandoval told Channel 7 television.

Police declined to detain Sandoval, saying he had believed he was acting in self-defense.


Bill's comment: I bet that, if you were to look up the word "moron" in an updated dictionary, you would find a picture of Mr. Arias with the word underneath.

Paris is the City of Blight for culture-shocked Japanese: report

Paris is the City of Blight for culture-shocked Japanese: report

PARIS (AFP) - A strange illness has descended on Japanese living in Paris, tipping many of them in a state of profound culture shock after realising their ideals about the French capital were unrealistic, a study said.

More than a 100 expatriates a year are sinking into a state called "the Paris syndrome" which is characterised by feelings of persecution or suicidal tendencies, according to the mental health facilities of city hospitals, according to a study in the Liberation newspaper said.

Part of their clinical depression stems from having to reconcile their romanticism about Paris with reality, psychiatrists said.

"Magazines are fuelling fantasies with the Japanese, who think there are models everywhere and the women dress entirely in (Louis) Vuitton," Mario Renoux, the head of a French Japanese Society for Medecine was quoted as saying.

After a relatively short period of only three months or so, Japanese immigrants expecting to find a haven of civilisation and elegance instead discover a tougher existence with many problems dealing with the French.

"They make fun of my French and my expressions", "they don't like me" and "I feel ridiculous in front of them" are common refrains heard by the doctors.

The need to forcibly express one's self to be noticed -- seen as vulgar in Japanese society -- and exposure to a humour sometimes seen as offensive adds to the unhappiness.

"However, not wanting to give up their Paris dreams, the patients refuse to go back to Japan," the newspaper noted.

"The phenomenon manifests itself in those who are unable to adapt to France because of the shock resulting from the confrontation between the two cultures," Dr Ota, a Japanese psychologist treating some of the patients at Sainte-Anne Hospital, said.

He and other experts underlined Japan's ideal of collectivism, or putting the group first, as a barrier for some of the immigrants who suddenly find themselves in a Western society based more on individualism.

Many of those feeling victimised by the experience are Japanese women.

"They are, in general, young ladies who have been spoiled and protected. Ill-prepared for Western freedom, they often go off the rails," the head of the French association Young Japan, Bernard Delage, said.

The Japanese consulate in Paris said there were 14,000 Japanese registered as living in Paris, and thousands more unregistered. Most are students, artists, businessman and employees of international companies.

Trying to Lose Weight? Sleep More, Get Dog

Trying to Lose Weight? Sleep More, Get Dog

Wed Nov 17, 7:33 AM ET


LAS VEGAS - Experts have this unconventional advice for dieters: Don't scrimp on sleep and think about getting a dog.

A very large study has found a surprisingly strong link between the amount of shut-eye people get and their risk of becoming obese. Researchers also found that dog owners who dieted alongside their pets did slightly better than their dog-less counterparts.

Both studies were reported this week at a meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity.

The sleep study found that people who got less than four hours of sleep a night were 73 percent more likely to be obese than those who got the recommended seven to nine hours of rest. Those who averaged five hours of sleep had 50 percent greater risk, and those who got six hours had 23 percent more.

"Maybe there's a window of opportunity for helping people sleep more, and maybe that would help their weight," said Dr. Steven Heymsfield of Columbia University and St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York, who did the study with Columbia epidemiologist James Gangwisch.

They used information on about 18,000 adults participating in the federal government's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, or NHANES, throughout the 1980s.

It may seem odd that sleeping more would prevent obesity because people burn fewer calories when they're resting, but they also eat when they're awake. The effect of chronic sleep deprivation on the body's food-seeking circuitry is what specialists think may be making the difference in obesity risks.

"There's growing scientific evidence that there's a link between sleep and the various neural pathways that regulate food intake," Heymsfield said.

Sleep deprivation lowers leptin, a blood protein that suppresses appetite, and raises ghrelin, which does the opposite.

It also hurts "executive function" — the ability to make clear decisions, said Dr. Philip Eichling, a sleep and weight-loss specialist at the University of Arizona who also is medical director of the Canyon Ranch, a spa in Tucson that caters to business executives.

"One of my treatments is to tell them they should move from six hours to seven hours of sleep. When they're less sleepy, they're less hungry," he said.

Meanwhile, Chicago doctors are hoping people consider a "buddy system" for losing weight that includes man's best friend. Two-thirds of Americans and one-fourth of pets overweight or obese, so there's huge potential.

According to the first study to put people and their pets on a simultaneous diet and exercise program, experts found both lost weight and kept it off. Dogs did better than owners, but owners said they had fun, something people rarely say about their diets.

"If you're looking for motivation and social support to lose weight, you probably don't have to look any further than the pet in your own home," said Dr. Robert Kushner of Northwestern Medical School, who did the study with Chicago veterinarian Kimberly Rudloff and Dennis Jewell, a nutrition expert for Hill's Pet Nutrition, which makes Science Diet and a prescription diet dog food used in the study.

They tested three groups: 56 people, 53 dogs, and 36 dogs and their owners. The dogs ranged from pudgy poodles to husky Huskies, and target weights were set by a "doggie BMI" based on age and breed.

People attended weekly counseling sessions at Northwestern on diet and exercise, and were encouraged to walk at least 20 minutes and limit calories to 1,400 a day. Dogs were fed the prescription diet and walked with their owners.

All were followed for one year.

The dog owners did slightly better than the dieters who walked and dieted alone. Overall, people lost an average of 11 pounds, or 5 percent of their body weight, in the first four months and kept it off for the next eight.

Dogs lost an average of 12 pounds — 15 percent of their initial weight. Of course, that's easier to do when someone controls your food dish. But the dogs didn't seem to mind as judged by something any dog owner can understand:

"Begging behavior did not go up," Jewell said.

Owners said their dogs had more pep and were anxious to go outside for walks and play.

Kathleen O'Dekirk, a 51-year-old Chicago lawyer, said that certainly was true for her paunchy Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Winston, who lost seven pounds during the study.

"He bounds up the stairs three and four at a time whereas before he used to just crawl up," she said.

She lost 13 pounds, and it encouraged her so much that she joined a fitness class and now does more strenuous exercise than she'd ever done before.

"I had never been on a diet," she said. "I dropped two pant sizes."


On the Net:

Science Diet's "pet BMI" calculator: http//