Saturday, May 31, 2008

Stewart: If Bush Hadn't Been F*cking Things Up All This Time --- Would We Still Love Him?

Wait, we don't love him anyway. After Bush's rather silly chest bump of an Air Force Academy cadet at a graduation ceremony in Colorado, Jon Stewart asked us on The Daily Show on Thursday,
When I see the president do the chest bump, I cannot help but think that if he hadn't been bleeping things up for the past seven years and was goofing around like this -- would we love him? Would we be like, 'He is irrepressible'? What a scamp!' Or does the whole doing that while Rome is burning aspect of his presidency sour us on his exuberance?

But here's how I explain it. Just imagine something. Come with me on a journey. Come with me on a journey if you will. Imagine that we had never gone into Iraq, that this president had taken immediate and effective action on Katrina, gas was like 99 cents for low-test and Cheney had never been born, just imagine that, and then look at these pictures.

Hey, it's President Bush doin' the Heisman, a little ring-a-ding-ding, ooh, kiss klss, blow blow, and of course the old power flex!

You like dogs? What do you think about these b*tches? Call the plumber.

But of course, he did bleep things up. So it all just seems -- asinine. But at least the president is out there supporting the troops, and isn't that what it's all about?
A montage of clips followed with a host of Republicans insisting that Americans must support the troops.
Yes! We must support out troops -- but not necessarily with equipment -- or strategy -- or aftercare -- or ending their service when you promised -- or having their country contribute in any way other than shop and not question us.

No! There are other better ways to support the troops. Like your flag pins, your flag pin hats, your car magnets.

But there actually is another way to support the troops. There's a new GI Bill, sponsored by Virginia Senator Jim Webb. Basically with this bill, you spend 3 years in the army and they will pay your tuition to the best public college your state has to offer. Give you a little housing stipend, the works. The old GI bill only reiumbursed soldiers fot the AVERAGE in-state tuition cost. So this new bill is more generous for our troops -- which is a huge problem with all those people we showed earlier saying support the troops. Why?

McCain: At a time when the United State military is fighting in two wars ... one study estimates that Senator Webb's bill would reduce retention rates by 16%.

A 16% drop in retention rates; that is tough to replace. Unless, of course, that same GI Bill would somehow increase recruitment in a way that might offset that loss. According to the same study McCain was quoting, it does -- by 16%, to be precise.
It's hard to imaging why Bush and his cronies have pushed for - and continue to want - more tax reductions for their rich friends, yet Bush has threatened to veto this bill.
Where did potential soldiers get the idea that the military was some kind of fast track to college in the first place?
Yes, where? Perhaps ... military recruitment ads? Stewart played a few clips.
Oh, right. But come on! Nobody believes those ads!
Ah yes, who would believe those ads? You shouldn't after all, since you can't believe them when they tell you when you are getting out of the army, either. After all, if McCain is worried about retention, hey, just use Stop-Loss again!

And finally, addressing McCain's statement:
"I will not accept from Senator Obama, who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform, any lectures on my regard for those who did."
Stewart said:

He's absolutely right. We should not allow military policy to be shaped by those who've never seen combat. To do that would be outrageous; it would be a huge disappointment to anybody who has ever judged themselves on the things ...

The screen behind him filled up with images of Bush, Cheney, and other GOP non-combat "personnel," who do influence our military policy.

Watch the video:

Friday, May 30, 2008

McClellan Defends Himself Against the White House: Plame Leak Was the Crossroads

In an interview Thursday on the Today Show, Scott McClellan explained his scathing attack on the Bush Administration in his memoirs, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception," and defended himself against Bush Administration officials who have said he is simply disgruntled about being forced out of his post as White House Press Secretary.

In fact, on Wednesday, current White House Press Secretary Dana Perino:
“Scott, we now know, is disgruntled about his experience in the White House. For those of us who fully supported him before, during and after his time as press secretary, this is puzzling and sad. This is not the Scott we knew.”
It appears they are not just saying he's ticked off; they are also saying he's either brainwashed or emotionally disturbed.

In a lengthy interview with Meredith Vieira, McClellan touched on several points.
Vieira: The book is called "What Happened," which is the same question people are asking about you this morning, particularly folks who are watching now in Washington, D.C. What happened t to the Bush loyalist who defended this administration, stood up for it when you were a part of it. Why now write such a critical book?

McClellan: Well, because I believe it's important to look back and reflect on my experience, and talk to people about what I learned and what we can learn from it - to hopefully change Washington for the better. The larger message kind of been lost in the mix of some of the initial reaction to the book, and I think it's important to go to that larger message. My hope is by writing this book and sharing openly and honestly what I lived and what I learned during my time at the White House, that in some small way it might help move us beyond the destructive partisan warfare of the past 15 years.
Ah yes, partisanship. Which is why our government, which was built with checks and balances, is so unbalanced. Since it requires a 2/3 majority to override a veto, and since most vote along party lines no matter what their conscience may be, overrides almost never happen. This places an enormous amount of power in the hands of one man.

More:
McClellan: The White House would prefer that I not talk openly about my experiences, but I think there's a larger purpose to this book and that is the message I just talked about: it's really about looking at this permanent campaign culture in Washington, D.C. and talking about how can we move beyond it.

When I went to work for President Bush back in 1999, then Governor Bush, I had all this great hope that we were going to come to Washington and change it. He talked about being a uniter, not a divider. This was a president that had a record as governor of Texas of being a bipartisan leader, of someone who brought people together to get things done; an approval rating well into the 70s.

And then we got to Washington, and I think we got caught up in playing the Washington game the way it's played today and I think a lot of Americans like me would like to see us move beyond that bitter partisanship that exists today.

Vieira: So he let you down then, this man that you believed in?

McClellan: Well, I think I'm disappointed that things didn't turn out the way that we all hoped they would turn out. We all had high hopes coming in. And I think this is sharing my personal experience of going through that, coming into Washington, D.C. as deputy Press Secretary, then becoming the White House spokeman, the White House Press Secretary. And by the last 10 months or so of my time at the White House, I grew increasingly disillusioned by things. When the first revelation came out that what I had been told by Karl Rove and "Scooter" Libby, that they were no way involved in the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity, which we now know is not true, despite the fact that I went to the podium and said "these people assured me they were not involved," uh, I started to become a more little disillusioned about things.
So it was the Valerie Plame episode that really started things unraveling for McClellan.

BTW, what does McClellan mean by "permanent campaign culture." While explaining the innuendo and "shading of the truth" that Bush and his cronies used in the prelude to the Iraq War, McClellan explained it as follows:
What it means is that everything is centered on trying to shape and manipulate the narrative to one's advantage. Each party or each side is trying to do that. That's Washington has become today; they're trying to manipulate the narrative to their advantage. And that's the way the game's played; it's a battle over power and influence, and how can we win those battles, how can we win over public opinion, instead of what it should be more on, which is bipartisan deliberation and compromise; that's become a distant second.
He's probably not the first one to say it, but he's certainly got it right. It's less about what's good for Americans, as how can we spin it to make it look good for Americans, while at the same time advancing our party.

Example: low taxes, always trumpeted by the GOP. Hey, I'm sorry, someone has to pay for stuff. If you don't want, say, high gasoline taxes, fine, but when those bridges start to fall, look to yourself for why.

Watch the clip from Thursday's Today Show.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fox: Carter Helped Iran with Statement About Israel's Nukes

On Fox and Friends on Tuesday, the "Friends" pretty much raked Carter over the coals over his comments a news conference at Wales's Hay literary festival on Sunday about Israel's possession of "150 or more" nuclear weapons. Their TV banner read: "Carter Outs Israel, Confirms country's nuke secrets."

Israel's nukes have never been a secret, at least since evidence leaked in 1986 by Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu. Estimates have put the number of Israeli nuclear weapons at between 100 and 200.
Gretchen: Remember last month when we told that you that former president Jimmy Carter was going to meet with Hamas and that created quite a firestorm amongst many people around the world actually that a sitting, er, former president would meet with the leader of a terrorist organization. Well, now it appears that he is giving out secret information about Israel and how many nuclear weapons they may have. According to most people, this information has never been made public before. At least the U.S. has not made it public.

Brian: And no one has done it. They haven't done it. So why not leave it to a former president, a one-term president like Jimmy Carter. he was in Wales and he was taking some questions about the Iranians' potential nuclear arsenal.

And he said, well, Israel's got an arsenal, about 150. Excuse me, we never heard that confirmed before. We've had rumors about that. Russia 12,000 nukes. We got 12,000, too. France and the U.K, a few hundred. Well, thanks a lot. Meanwhile, he goes I don't think iIan could ever. -- and he should know this though, because he's a nuclear scientist. -- I don't think Iran could ever put together any type of formidable nuclear arsenal.

Steve: We have a quote of what Jimmy Carter did say. It is extraordinary. He said, quote, the U.S. has more than 12,000 nuclear weapons, the Soviet Union has about the same, Great Britain and France have several hundred, Israel has 150 (or) more.

Now, the extraordinary thing is a lot of people throughout the Mid East have assumed for a very long time that Israel had it, but nobody has ever said officially that they have it. and so, here you got this guy who was once upon a time the president of the United States doing just that. And now what is going to happen is since he is making the argument well, they've got 'em. he's just helped Iran. Because now Iran could say, look, we should arm ourselves because Israel has got 150 of them, according to their former president.

Gretchen: And the former Israeli military intelligence chief just used one word to sum it up: irrepsonsible - about Carter's comments.

Steve: loose lips, Jimmy, loose lips.

Gretchen: I guess so.
To be honest, this was an "open" secret. Why make such a big deal out of it? Well, it just adds to the ammunition that the Bush Administration can use to push for another war.

And although the numeric portion of Carter's statement may have been new information, the fact that Israel has nukes was confirmed by none other than Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2006.

So let's not say that Carter was the first high-ranking official to give out this "secret." As far as the numbers go, that too was an open secret. One example of such an estimate is given by the Federation of American Scientists.

Watch the video, from Fox & Friends, broadcast on May 27th.

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Russert: Obama "Will Claim Mathematical Lock on Nomination Next Week"

As calls continue for Hillary Clinton to drop out of the race for the Democratic nominee for President, Obama still lies just 40 delegates short of the number necessary to secure the nomination. Tuesday night on NBC's Nightly News, Tim Russert said that Obama will claim a "mathematical lock" on the nomination after next Tuesday, following primaries in Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota.
“One week from tonight Brian (Williams), five months after the Iowa caucuses, Barack Obama just needs about 40 delegates to secure the nomination. There are 86 delegates that are available in Puerto Rico on Sunday, Montana and South Dakota on Tuesday. He will get those. Now, enter Michigan and Florida. There’s a meeting this coming Saturday which will have a deal on seating some of the delegates from Michigan and Florida, which means Obama will have to pick up probably another 40 delegates. There are over 200 superdelegates left; he only needs 40 of them. They have identified them. The Obama campaign will claim a mathematical lock on the nomination one week from tonight, Wednesday morning at the latest.”
Watch the video from Tuesday night's NBC Nightly News.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Beer Company to Market "Space Beer"

Consider me a critic. We have food riots around the world and yet, hedonistic as we humans are, here we go. Of course, there are plenty who will buy this beer. After all, we also have "moonvertising" by a different beer company.

It's the Japanese company Sapporo that has said it will make beer using the third generation of barley that spent five months on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2006. "We want to finish the beer by November. It will be the first space beer," Sapporo executive Junichi Ichikawa said.

Of course, Sapporo only has enough for 100 bottles of beer, and they have indicated no plans to make this a regular product.

And, since
scientists have not detected any DNA differences between Earth-grown barley and the barley from the ISS, this is really just a gimmick. Though, if they decide to sell the 100 bottles of beer, you can bet you will pay a pretty penny for it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Louisiana Barber Ticketed for Working on Monday

Strange, since nowadays it seems like companies want people to work as much as possible, yet this law is on the books in Houma, La. An obscure law on the books in Houma for decades bars barbers from working Sundays, Mondays, any of several holidays and even the day after Labor Day.

Clyde Scott, who has owned Clippas barbershop for about 2 years, opened up on May 19th and received a ticket for his trouble. "I didn't know it existed," said Scott, 32. "It's crazy."

It does sound crazy, but it's there. It's crazier that it was actually enforced, but ...

Apparently Houma police received complaints about loiterers outside Scott's barbershop, and well, there you go. However, DA Joe Waitz Jr. said he won't prosecute the case, and is asking the parish council to repeal the law as unconstitutional.

"It's our job to prosecute criminals, not barbers," he said.

Americans Drive 11 Billion Less Miles in March 2008 vs. March 2007

A report issued on Friday by the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Adminstration (FHWA) indicates that compared to March 2007, Americans drove 11 billion less miles in March 2008 as gasoline prices approached $4 / gallon.

According to the report, this is the sharpest yearly drop for any month in FHWA history. Despite that, however, it was only a drop of 4.3%.

The AAA indicates that the national average price for a gallon of regular gas is now at a record $3.936 / gallon. That compares with an average price per gallon of $3.23 last Memorial Day.

What I'd really like to see is a study on speed - I'd like to see if anyone has slowed down, and if so, how much. I see people in the SF Bay Area casually driving about 80 - 85 MPH despite the price of gasoline.

Note to the government: if you're serious about reducing gasoline, and thus, oil use, lower the maximum speed limit to 55 MPH. Despite what some say about lower speeds hurting the economy, truckers and even airlines reducing their speed on their own. This is a way to reduce fuel consumption without any technological advances required.

The FHWA's past "Traffic Volume Trends" reports can be found here.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Hackers Add Porn to Library's "Dial-a-Story" Line

Benicia, California police are investigating a hacking incident which placed an X-rated recording about the intimate relationship between a dog and a pig on the Benicia Public Library's dial-a-story service.

Normally, the story line has fairy tales and children's books such as "The Three Little Pigs" or "Goldilocks." But Geri Engberg and her 6-year-old daughter heard something decidedly different: a pornographic, profanity-laced story about the dog and pig's relationship.

Library director Diane Smikahl said the dial-a-story system requires a four-digit code to change the recording and had not been hacked before. The story was immediately changed once Engberg reported the incident.

Police indicate that anyone caught would face computer hacking charges.

Fox Commentator Jokes About "Knocking Off" Obama

On Fox (or as I prefer to call them, Faux) News on Sunday morning, Liz Trotta, former New York bureau chief of the Washington Times, while commenting on the latest about Hillary Clinton's Robert F. Kennedy invocation, mixed up Osama bin Laden and Barack Obama. It's a familiar and one tends to wonder, perhaps intentional error frequently made by the GOP and its supporters. Beyond that however, her joke about "knocking off" Obama was over the top.

She said:
"For years, the media has told us that Hillary Clinton is the smartest person in the world, and that's up for grabs now. And the media's catching on to that, as well. The 'vast right-wing conspiracy' blame has been undermined by her evasions, by her outright lies, if I may say; by her pandering, by her race-baiting--and now we have what some are reading as a suggestion that somebody knock off Os--Osama--um, uh--Obama. Well, both, if we could..."
There's no excuse for such a "joke," but I'll bet we see plenty of these mistakes as the campaign heats up.

The following was broadcast on Faux News on May 25, 2008:

Sunday, May 25, 2008

"Peak Oil" is Here: Energy Expert

Have you heard of peak oil? Peak oil is "the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum production is reached, after which the rate of production enters its terminal decline."

It seems obvious, and common sense. Last time I looked there were no carboniferous ferns being crushed under billions of tons of pressure over millions of years to produce more oil. Oil is a finite resource. American geophysicist M. King Hubbert correctly predicted that American oil production would peak in 1965 - 1970, which it did. He made this prediction in 1956.

So, do you think $4 a gallon is high? Robert Hirsch, senior advisor for Science Applications International Corporation, sat down with MSNBC’s Alex Witt to discuss the peak oil scenario, with him raising the possibility of $15 a gallon gasoline.

It's amazing just how dense some "journalists" can be: Witt asked if his scenario about oil production applied to heating oil. Hello, heating oil is made from crude oil. Aaaagh.

And Hirsch brought up what many forget, and I try to tell people: so many things people don't think of come from oil. Plastics, fertilizers (hello, those of you who are ethanol fans, corn requires a ton of fertilzer), you name it.

Hirsch said:
The problem is that there’s not that much oil left in the ground. What we’ve done is been very fortunate to have oil production increase as our economies have developed over the past decades. And now we’re reaching a point where we’re about to get, or we may be, at the maximum world oil production. After that, oil production will then decline and prices, of course, will continue to do what they’ve been doing recently. So what we’ve got today may be the "good old days."
In terms of $15 / gallon gasoline:
It could happen within a matter of months. It could happen within a matter of a few years. But it’s essentially certain that we are at the maximum of world oil production. And after that, we’ll go into decline, and when there’s much less oil available, then, of course, the price of oil is going to increase dramatically.
Watch the interview, from MSNBC’s News Live, broadcast May 24, 2008.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

California Considers "Porn Tax" to Reduce Budget Shortfall

Interesting. So-called "sin taxes" have been added to alcohol, tobacco, and the like, but pornography? That's the idea being fronted by state Assemblyman Charles Calderon, who has introduced bill AB2914.

The tax would be 25% on the production and sales of pornographic videos, most of which are produced in Southern California. Obviously the porn industry is a huge one, and such a tax would be very useful at refilling the state's coffers.

Many economists believe that the demand for pornography is inelastic:
An economic term used to describe the situation in which the supply and demand for a good are unaffected when the price of that good or service changes.
If that's the case, then this cost will simply be passed on, and California will reap major benefits. If instead, however, producers choose to leave California, the state will lose out on the income taxes, etc. already paid by the producers.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Is Stop-Loss Just a Back-Door Draft?

Instituting a new draft would be political suicide, but would likely get us out of the Middle East faster than you can say "boo." However, according to an NBC report, the military's stop-loss policy has forced 58,000 U.S. troops to serve past their enlistment terms, in what they call a back-door draft.

Stop-loss is "the involuntary extension of a service member's active duty service under the enlistment contract in order to retain them beyond their initial end of term of service (ETS) date." Basically, your enlistment term is extended, like it or not. Besides being the subject of much controversy, it's also been made into a movie.

According to NBC, despite a pledge in 2007 by the Pentagon to cut back on stop-loss, is at its highest since the start of the war.

According to the report:
Jim Miklaszewski: Stuart McKenzie's stop-loss not only cost him his time, it nearly cost him his life.

Stuart McKenzie: "The bomb was about 5 - 10 feet away. Severed my left hand almost completely off; it was just dangling by some skin."

Miklaszewski: Army surgeons reattached McKenzie's hand, which now gives him limited use. To this day, McKenzie blames the stop-loss.

The army says it uses stop-loss to keep soldiers who reach the end of enlistment from leaving the battlefield in the middle of a combat tour.

But many lawmakers and critics claim the army has used stop-loss as a back-door draft.
It should be noted that not only has this criticism been made, it's also true that the army has relaxed its standards by allowing more felons to join with "felony waivers."

Watch the full story. This video is from NBC's Nightly News, broadcast May 18, 2008.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

McCain's Pastor Problem: Hagee, the Holocaust and God's Will

John Hagee, the controversial evangelical leader and endorser of Sen. John McCain, could be as big a problem for McCain as Rev. Wright is for Barack Obama. In a speech unearthed by Bruce Wilson, Hagee described the Holocaust and Hitler as God's Will. As Hagee said in his speech:
Now how is God going to bring them back to the land? The answer is fishers and hunters.

The answer is given in Jeremiah 16, verse 15 and following. God says in Jeremiah 16 - “Behold I will bring them the Jewish people again unto their land that I gave unto their fathers” - that would be Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - “Behold I will send for many fishers and after will I send for many hunters. And they the hunters shall hunt them” - that will be the Jews - “from every mountain and from every hill and from out of the holes of the rocks.” If that doesn't describe what Hitler did in the Holocaust... you can't see that.
Hagee later apologized for these remarks, but it's interesting, as Bush used the example of Hitler and appeasement against Barack Obama only a few days ago, that this would come up.

Wilson also notes that in Hagee's 2006 bookk "Jerusalem Countdown", Hagee says anti-Semitism, and the Holocaust, were and are the fault of Jews. They were a divine curse for worshiping idols.

Listen to the whole clip:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

United States Ranked 97th Among "Peaceful Nations"

The "Global Peace Index," compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, looks at 24 indicators of the existence or absence of peace. These include the level of respect for human rights, the rate of homicides and violent crimes, the level of militarization and access to weapons, and the number of external and internal conflicts fought.

Number one on the 2008 list is Iceland. The United States dropped from 96 to 97 in this year's ranking.

Of course, the U.S. can be proud to say it ranks higher than Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya. However, it's interesting to note that China ranks 67th, despite the fact that it is a communist dictatorship, Syria 75, Libya 61, and our neighbors to the North, who many compare to the U.S. in terms of lifestyle, economy, and more, Canada is 11th.

The idea for the index came from Steve Killelea, an Australian businessman and philanthropist who wanted to identify just what creates a peaceful country.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Anti-Fraud Researcher Arrested for .... Fraud

Brett Oliphant, who had been vice-president of security services of ScanAlert before the company was acquired by McAfee in January, is facing 11 counts of securities fraud. It's alleged that the transactions brought in more than $1.215 million.

I remember this technology, and seeing it on websites. ScanAlert's technology audited and certified Web sites as "Hacker Safe." In January, McAfee paid $54.9 million for the company and has renamed the certification service "McAfee Safe."

Oliphant and his brother Bryan were charged in December. Their trial is set for Nov. 18 at the Elkhart County Superior Court in Indiana.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Webb: Bush to Be First President to Veto Veterans Benefits Bill

Senator Jim Webb (D-Va) has proposed a "21st Century G.I. Bill of Rights" to help finance college education for military veterans. It is opposed by the Bush administration and by Sen. John McCain of Arizona,the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Bush has threatened to veto the bill if it is passed.

Sunday on Meet the Press, Jim Webb made his case for the bill, and blasted Bush for the threatened veto. After all, as Webb indicated, Bush is just fine with extended tours, repeated tours, and stop-less to keep the military in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I, I introduced this G.I. bill my first day in office. The idea was to give to people who'd been serving since 9/11 the same educational benefits, the same right to a first-class future as those who served in World War II. We, we started working hard on this bipartisan, nonpartisan, hopefully; we have now got 58 sponsors in the Senate, 300 sponsors in the House of Representatives, and a, and a good number of the, you know, the thinking Republicans have moved to us.

And now the president says he's going to veto this bill. No president in history has, has vetoed a, a benefits bill for those who've served. So on the one hand, we have this rhetoric, which goes to what I was writing saying, "This is the next greatest generation, these guys are so great." And then we see this president, he's fine with sending these people over and over again where they're spending more time in Iraq than they are at home. He's fine with the notion of stop loss, where we can, we can make people stay in even after enlistments are done. And then we say, "Give them the same benefit that the people in World War II have," and they say it's too expensive. So I think the Republican Party is, you know, is, is on the block here to, to clearly demonstrate that they value military service or suffer the consequences of losing the support of people who've, who've served.

McCain: America Needs Someone Who is "Very, Very, Very Old"

On this week's season finale of Saturday Night Live, John McCain addressed an issue that is frequently brought up: his age.
Good evening. Good evening, my fellow Americans. I ask you, what should we be looking for in our next President? Certainly, someone who is very, very, very old.
He also addressed pork barrel spending.
Most of these projects are at best unnecessary, such as $15 million to the US Postal Service for a commemorative stamp honoring Tom Delay’s appellate lawyers. Whose idea was that? Or this bit of pork: $160 million to the Department of Defense for developing a device that can jam gaydar. Now I don’t know if this is anti-gay or pro-gay or if such a device would even work. But I do know this: jamming gaydar is not a federal responsibility. That’s something best left to state and local governments.
He then addressed pork barrel spending as it relates to his own state.
When I entered the Senate in 1987, Arizona had 47,000 miles of paved roadway. Today, it's less than 900.

I've also opposed federal water projects, even when they benefited my state. That's why thanks to me, 15% of Arizona citizens must get their drinking water from cactus.
It's fun to joke about it but, of course, small government and low taxes is part of the GOP message. But as I've always said, people want things, and yet don't want to have to pay for them. For example, as people rant about gasoline taxes, they also rant about infrastructure issues, such as last year's Minnesota bridge collapse. Sorry to say, that's what gas taxes pay for.

It should also be interesting to note that the federal gas tax has bee around $0.18 since 1993, give or take a tenth of a cent. Most people don't ask this question, but I will: why is it not adjusted for inflation? Prices for infrastructure maintenance / repair go up, but no one wants the gas tax to go up, so they don't use - their common sense.

McCain finished up by stated that he has what it takes: the "oldness" to be president. It should be noted, by anyone who votes for him that anyone who votes for him should carefully note his Vice-Presidential candidate.

Watch the video.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Man Uses Gun as Backscratcher - Need I Say More?

Has anyone ever seen the (arguably) worst movie ever made, Plan Nine from Outer Space? There's a scene where a cop scratches an itch on his face with a gun. This Fort Worth, Texas man must have been watching a late night repeat of the movie when he decided to do this.

Jorge Espinal, 44, had an itch he just couldn't scratch. Seeing as how it was 3 AM and he had been drinking and playing poker for a while, he probably wasn't all that clear-headed. According to Espinal, he left the table, went into another room, and as his back was itching, grabbed the first thing he could find - the revolver.

It went off, and he then went back and told his poker-playing buddies that he was shot. They apparently didn't believe him at first (they didn't hear the gunshot?), but they did when they say the blood pouring down his back.

Espinal was taken to a local hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries. He was released with a dose of (hopefully) more common sense.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

T-Shirts Comparing Obama to Curious George May Earn a Lawsuit

In Georgia, bar owner Mike Norman has been selling T-shirts at his Mulligan's Bar and Grill in Cobb County showing a picture of Curious Georgie peeling a banana, with the words "Obama '08" underneath.

Norman began selling the T-shirts in late April. He has said that they are not meant to be racist, and that he thinks the Illinois senator and the character "look so much alike." Yeah, right.

Bill Nigut, southeast regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, disagreed.
He can pretend he doesn't understand what the message of that T-shirt is, but he knows full well that's an offensive and demeaning stereotype used to insult African-Americans.
Houghton Mifflin is the publisher of the Curious George books, and they are considering legal action.

Company spokesman Richard Blake said:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt did not nor would we ever authorize or approve this use of the Curious George character, which we find offensive and utterly out of keeping with the values Curious George represents. We are monitoring the situation and weighing all of our options.
Yeah, well, go for it. In 1998 they sued a punk band named Furious George over the use of the Curious George image.

Let's not just sue them, but let's get some damages too, eh?

Racism is alive and well in America.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Bush Invokes the Nazis in Attack on Obama

Despite the fact that Bush has said he would not become entangled in the Presidential race, it seems, on Thursday, that he jumped in with both feet. While traveling in Israel, in a speech to the Knesset, Bush said the following, in an obvious attack on Barack Obama:
Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along.

We've heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American Senator declared: 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.
It interesting to note that the person who Bush quoted was William Borah - a Republican.

Obama fired back, releasing the following statement:
It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 6Oth anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack. It is time to turn the page on eight years of policies that have strengthened Iran and failed to secure America or our ally Israel.

Instead of tough talk and no action, we need to do what Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan did and use all elements of American power -- including tough, principled, and direct diplomacy -- to pressure countries like Iran and Syria. George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the President's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel.
It should also be noted, as MSNBC's political analysts Pat Buchanan and Harold Ford, Jr. said, that it's always been considered taboo to attack a Presidential candidate from foreign soil.

Additionally, as Ford noted, just yesterday Secretary of Defense Robert Gates argued that United States needed to engage with Iran:
We need to figure out a way to develop some leverage . . . and then sit down and talk with them," Gates said. "If there is going to be a discussion, then they need something, too. We can't go to a discussion and be completely the demander, with them not feeling that they need anything from us.
Negotiation as a first step should always be considered. Naturally if that fails, other actions may be required. But at least talk to people!

Watch the MSNBC video:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Why Bush Quit Golf: The Iraq War

In a video interview with Yahoo! and Politico, George W. Bush revealed the reason behind his quitting golf.
Q Mr. President, you haven't been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it really is. I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the Commander-in-Chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as -- to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.

Q Mr. President, was there a particular moment or incident that brought you to that decision, or how did you come to that?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I remember when de Mello, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man's life. And I was playing golf -- I think I was in central Texas -- and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, it's just not worth it anymore to do.
Ah, yes, I see it. Golfing sends the wrong signal. Torture during a war, that sends the right signal, despite the fact that the U.S. used to try to be the moral leader of the war, right?

I can think of a lot of other things that Bush could have done to send the right signal. Such as perhaps, resigning. But oh, well.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Clinton Supporter Won't Vote for Obama Because "He's a Muslim"

It seems, no matter what you tell people, they still won't believe it. Despite the fact that many use Rev. Wright as a weapon against Obama - which would tend to indicate that he's not a Muslim - many still believe, no matter what they are told.

Witness Janice on this video:

Janice: "He's a Muslim, and you know, and that has a lot to do with it. I just, you know, I'd just rather have Hillary."

Reporter: "Just for the record, he constantly says he's ..."

Janice: "I know he does, he says he isn't."

Wow, some people are just ... seeing as it's West Virginia, and based on the stories about racism, is it all just a convenient excuse people use rather than saying the real reason is that he's black?

JetBlue Sued for Downgrading Passenger from Coach to Toilet

Gokhan Mutlu of New York was told by the pilot of a JetBlue airliner to "hang out in the bathroom" about 90 minutes into a San Diego to New York flight. Why? Because the flight attendant complained that the "jump seat" she was assigned was uncomfortable, according to a lawsuit filed last Friday in Manhattan's state Supreme Court.

Mutlu was a standby passenger, traveling on a "buddy pass," on Feb. 23rd. He was originally told the flight was full, but a stewardess told him that he could take her assigned seat and that she would sit in the "jump seat." 90 minutes into the flight, however, the pilot told Mutlu that he would have to give the seat to the flight attendant. However, since only JetBlue employees are allowed to use the "jump seat," Mutlu was told to use the toilet.

Further, the pilot told him that "he was the pilot, that this was his plane, under his command that (Mutlu) should be grateful for being on board," the lawsuit said. To make matters worse, the plane hit turbulence. Normally passengers have to return to their seats. You see where I'm going with this?

The lawsuit says JetBlue negligently endangered him by not providing him with a seat with a safety belt or harness, in violation of federal law.

Two questions: do those jump seats have standard belts? And secondly, whatever happened to trying to satisfy a customer?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

SNL: Hillary Clinton: "I Have No Ethical Standards"

As Hillary Clinton ignores calls to end her candidacy, some have wondered if the continued fight between Barack Obama and herself is aiding the GOP. All right, more than some, many.

But, despite some past assertions that SNL was backing Clinton, they certainly skewered her on Saturday's show - as well as the question as to why she has still not dropped out - which was hosted by Shia Labeouf.

As portrayed by SNL, Hillary Clinton listed several reasons that we should consider her the better candidate against McCain.
First, I am a sore loser. If and when I am the nominee, I know as do the superdelegates that Senator Obama will work his heart out for my election. If, on the other hand, Senator Obama is chosen, I will probably refuse to campaign for him. Or if I do so, it will be in a resentful, half-hearted way, thus ensuring his defeat, so that I can run again in 2012. You see, unlike my opponent, I'm just not going to lose gracefully.

Second, my supporters are racist. If and when I am the nominee, Senator Obama's African-American supporters will be disappointed perhaps, but they will still rally to me. If however, Senator Obama is the nominee, my supporters will refuse to vote for him, partly because I will secretly tell them not to, but mainly because they are racially biased and would never vote for any African-American candidate. I'm not bragging, that's just the way it is.

Now, for those of you that worry if my opponent is denied the nomination that African-Americans might simply stay home, I remind you I remind you that

a) until Senator Obama shockingly and might I add rudely and selfishly won the Iowa Caucuses, most African-Americans supported me
b) my husband was the first black President
and c) in the days ahead we expect to receive the endorsement of America's pre-eminent African-American leader, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Which brings me to third and final argument: unlike Senator Obama, I have no ethical standards.
This was a hilarious skit. Watch the whole clip:

Monday, May 12, 2008

78-year-old Blind Man Bowls Perfect Game

It's enough that a 78-year-old bowled a perfect game, but to top it off, Dale Davis of Alta, Iowa is also legally blind.

"It's a great sport. It's something the young, the old and the handicapped can do," Davis said Thursday. "I guess I count as the old and handicapped."

Although Davis is not completely blind, he has suffered from macular degeneration, a chronic eye disease, for the past decade. Davis is completely blind in his left eye and has limited peripheral vision in his right eye.

Davis' league average is 180. He says the only time he sees the ball is when he picks it up, but he can usually tell how his throw went by sound. All 12 tosses sounded great to Davis.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Fox Fires Intern for Revealing the Bias We All Know They Have

Fox News, or as I prefer to call it, Faux News, fired an intern for revealing the bias we all have toward the GOP. As MSNBC's Don Abrams said, she apparently did not get the memo that said that on Faux News, "you are supposed to pretend you are fair and balanced."

The production assistant, identified as Jennifer Locke, was on assignment with a camera crew to cover the Time 100 Party.
Locke: "John McCain, Fox News."

McCain: "Fox News, I'm always glad to talk to Fox News."

Locke: "I voted for you in the primary."

McCain: "Thank you very much, you're not supposed to reveal that."

Locke: "You're gonna win."

McCain: "Thank you, thank you."
But why fire her? For being honest about they way they all really feel? I've often wondered if everyone at Fox News is as far right as they portray themselves, or if some fake and for their career's sake and feel bad about it off-camera.

Adds MSNBC's Don Abrams, "When you work at a place that’s clearly partisan, they should at least make sure that their younger staff get the memo about feigning objectivity."

This video is from MSNBC’s Verdict, broadcast May 9, 2008.

video

Saturday, May 10, 2008

U.S. to Halt Cremation of Troops at Animal Crematorium

Revelations that cremations of U.S. soldiers have been taking place at a crematorium that serviced animals as well as humans have created a stir, such that the Pentagon on Friday announced that military cremation procedures have been changed.

It all began when a soldier complained that his friend's remains were taken to a facility that had a sign outside saying it was a pet crematorium. The Torbert Funeral Home, the one in question, displays a sign advertising the "Friends Forever" pet cremation service.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates believed the earlier situation was "insensitive and entirely inappropriate for the dignified treatment of our fallen," said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell.

"Our heroes deserve to be better treated than that," Morrell said, adding that a sign at one of the crematoriums noted that it also does pet cremations. He said Gates offered an apology to military families for the insensitivity.

Morrell said there is "absolutely no evidence whatsoever at this point that any human remains were at all ever mistreated, or ever not cremated where they were supposed to be cremated. That said, the secretary believes that is it inappropriate, even if permissible under the rules and regulations, to cremate our fallen, our heroes, in a facility that also cremates pets."

The Pentagon now recommends that troops' remains be incinerated only at facilities that are dedicated entirely to humans.

Friday, May 9, 2008

McCain's "Spiritual Guide": America was "Founded, in Part, to See Islam Destroyed"

Barack Obama's image has been tarnished by his past association with Rev. Wright, although he's since distanced himself from Wright (interestingly, despite the publicity over this many still believe Obama to be a Muslim). It turns out that John McCain has a similar problem, with the pastor he has called his "spiritual guide."

During a 2005 sermon, Reverend Rod Parsley called Islam "the greatest religious enemy of our civilization and the world," claiming that America was "founded in part with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed."

According to Mother Jones, the sermon:
reiterates and amplifies harsh and derogatory comments about Islam he made in his book, Silent No More, published the same year he delivered these remarks.
The sermon is currently sold by Parsley's megachurch.

Watch the video:

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Spain's "Calendar Girls" Receive Help from Porn Site

Remember the so-called "mothers of Serradilla?" They had the bright idea to raise money for their town's school with a tongue-in-cheek erotic calendar, a la the movie Calendar Girls. Unfortunately they ended up with 5,000 extra copies and a ton of debt.

They received help from an unexpected source on Wednesday: a porn website.

The website Fisgonclub said "This morning, the famous 'mothers of Serradilla' announced that www.fisgonclub.com has paid the 9,000 euros owed to their printer."

Fisgonclub, bills itself as an "amateur live porno site." It said that five of the "mothers" will take part in a live Internet video-conference this week from their village in an attempt to sell the rest of the calendars.

Mike Gravel Tries, Fails to Get Obama Girl to Drop Her Crush

Lucky Mike Gravel. He got a chance to not just get "up close and personal" with Obama Girl, but to sing with her as well. On the other hand, let me just say: it's a good thing his daytime job isn't singing.

On the other hand, as Obama Girl says in the video:
6'2" from Alaska,
I could give that a shot.
I'll see what I can do,
But should I drop my crush on Obama?
Yeah, sorry Mike, but it didn't seem that even your 62 years in the political game made a dent in her crush, as she didn't drop it.

Watching Mike Gravel do the "Soulja Boy" dance was hilarious though.

Watch the video:

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Fallout Over Voter ID: Indiana Nuns Lacking ID Denied at Poll

The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld the law requiring photo identification for Indiana voters. Although reports are that the majority of voting has gone smoothly, one report shows just what's wrong with this idea, and why the GOP so strongly supported it.

12 Indiana nuns were turned away Tuesday from a polling place by a fellow nun because they didn't have state or federal identification bearing a photograph.

Sister Julie McGuire said she was forced to turn away her fellow sisters at Saint Mary's Convent in South Bend. Here's what's interesting. She said they were not given provisional ballots because they could not possibly get to the DMV and get a photo ID in the 10-day time frame. Why?
"You have to remember that some of these ladies don't walk well. They're in wheelchairs or on walkers or electric carts."
Disenfranchised because of age?

Some of the nuns showed up with outdated passports. While I understand that the law specifies a type of ID, I fail to see why they could not have added a provision allowing expired passports. After all, expired passports are just fine as ID when getting a job.

At any rate, this is just a small example of how poor and seniors will be disenfranchised by voter ID laws. These are usually groups that vote Democratic in elections.

Sister McGuire said the convent will make a "very concerted effort" to get proper ID for the nuns in question prior to the general election.
"We're going to take from now until November to get them out and get this done. You can't do this like school kids on a bus. I wish we could."

School Teacher Fired Over "Wizardry"

It's Florida. I shouldn't wonder. A substitute teacher was fired for doing a magic trick in front of his students. When he was fired, he was told it was for "wizardry."

Now, we're not talking about animal sacrifice or any sort of Wiccan ritual. No, this was garden-variety stage magician stuff. Substitute teacher Jim Piculas made a toothpick disappear, then reappear in front of a classroom at Rushe Middle School in Land O' Lakes, Florida.

Piculas says he got a call in the middle of the day from the head supervisor of substitute teachers. He was told "Jim, we have a huge issue. You can't take any more assignments. You need to come in right away." When he asked about it, he says he was told, "You've been accused of wizardry."

Now, it should be noted that the Pasco County School District said there were several other performance issues. Still, it was wizardry that was named, according to Piculas, as the straw that broke the camel's back, or rather, the incident that made his job vanish.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Japanese Official Demoted for 780,000 Hits on Porn Sites

A Japanese official was demoted after it was discovered that he had - over a nine month period - logged 780,000 hits on porn sites from his office computer over nine months.

The unnamed man, a Kinokawa city government employee in western Japan, was, ahem, surfing madly from June 2007 to February 2008. Despite the frequency of his visits, none of his co-workers noticed anything untoward as, city official Tomiko Waki noted, "Each desk is set apart from each other."

What clued his bosses into the problem? Increased network traffic? Bills on city credit cards? Nope, it was a virus picked up along the way. Along with the demotion, he received a $190 monthly pay cut, Waki said.

Lesson to be learned: if you're going to do this, make sure your antivirus software is up-to-date, work PC or no work PC. Oh, and Kinokawa probably ought to install filtering software on his PC.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Pat Tillman's Mother: Cover-Up was a "Public Deception"

Last night Mary Tillman appeared on 60 Minutes, and was interviewed by Katie Couric. During the interview, she spoke of the "public deception" over her son's death.
Mary Tillman: When you're lied to, your brain goes all over the map, and things that aren't really true can appear to be true.

Couric: What will it take to satisfy you? What do you need to know or what information ...

Tillman: That's the point that everyone seems to miss. This isn't about us. This is about what they've done to the public. This is a public deception.

Couric narration: She believes the Bush administration needed a heroic story to bolster support for the war.
Watch the entire video:

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Lindsay Lohan Becomes a Liquor Industry Spokesperson --- Sort Of

As I said, sort of. The American Beverage Institute used her mug shot (shown) from her July 24, 2007 arrest for drunk driving in a full-page black-and-white ad which appeared in USA Today on Friday.

The text of the anti-ignition interlock ad reads:
Ignition interlocks, or in-car breathalyzers, are a great tool for getting hard-core drunk drivers off our roads. However, activists now want to put one in every car in America. That means the end of moderate and responsible drinking prior to driving. No more champagne toasts at weddings, no more wine with dinner, no more beers at a ballgame.

Let's stop drunk driving without eliminating our traditions.
Oh, give me a break.

I'm not sure how their argument holds, ahem, water. If you don't drink enough to make the interlock register an excessive amount, why should you care? If "our traditions" mean that you are driving with a BAC above them limit, is that a good thing?

The argument is the same as for those folks who defend warrantless wiretapping: if you have nothing to hide, why should you worry, right (not that I agree with warrantless wiretapping, BTW).

"The reason that we used Lindsay Lohan is because she's had multiple DUIs that have been high profile," American Beverage Institute managing director Sarah Longwell told AP. "We needed to create the distinction for the public what someone with multiple DUIs looked like versus a low blood-alcohol-level first-time offender."

Flicking Your Bic While Siphoning Gas? Not Too Bright

Grand Junction, Colorado, a hotbed of brainy thieves apparently. Showing just how desperate people have become with higher gas prices, a pair of thieves, Cody Sellards and Timothy Long, tried to siphon gas from Hank Ibarra's boat early Friday morning.

Actually, they were successful - to a point. While siphoning gas, they wanted to see just how much gas they'd managed to get into their gas can. Seeing as how it was 3 AM, they needed to use a light - er. Yep, a lighter.

People with some brains know that while gas itself is flammable, so are the fumes.

"It was pretty exciting," Ibarra said. "About 3:15, the neighbors called, my wife answered the phone … Of course I got woke up and she said, 'The boat's on fire.'" In fact, the boat wasn't on fire, the gas can in front of it was.

Police found the two at the hospital being treated for burns.

Sellards and Long face fourth-degree arson, theft and trespassing charges.

"If you haven't got better sense than to check gas with a lighter or match to see the level of what's in it, or how much is in the can, I guess you deserve what you get," Ibarra said.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Medical Marijuana User Dies After Being Denied Transplant

I've said before that federal restrictions over medical marijuana use will disappear as soon as the President, Vice-President, or one of their family members needs it, or perhaps a Supreme Court justice or one of their family members, to relieve the pain of cancer or some other terminal disease. Until then we will continue to see incidents like this.

Timothy Garon, 56, died Thursday at Bailey-Boushay House, an intensive care nursing center. He was denied a spot on the transplant list primarily because he used medical marijuana to ease the symptoms of hepatitis-C.

He was told last week he would not be placed on the list until he completed a 60-day drug treatment class. Obviously, as he had less than a week to live, a ludicrous requirement.

Dr. Brad Roter told Garon to smoke marijuana to alleviate nausea and abdominal pain and to stimulate his appetite. He said he did not realize it would create an obstacle for Garon if he were to need a transplant.

Dr. Robert Sade, director of the Institute of Human Values in Health Care at the Medical University of South Carolina said, "Marijuana, unlike alcohol, has no direct effect on the liver. It is however a concern ... in that it's a potential indicator of an addictive personality."

An addictive personality? Oh come on, he needed it in order to survive the suffering he was enduring. Those who criticize medical marijuana users need to experience their suffering to really know why it is necessary.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Poll: Bush "Most Disapproved" President in History

Not only is Bush the "Vacation President," he is now the "Most Disapproved" President. A new poll shows President Bush is the most unpopular president in American history.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey conducted by telephone from Monday through Wednesday among 1,008 adult Americans, indicates that 71% of the American public disapprove of how Bush is handling his job as president. The previous all-time disapproval rating record in CNN or Gallup poll history was Harry Truman, 67% disapproval in January 1952.

According to CNN, "No president has ever had a higher disapproval rating in any CNN or Gallup Poll; in fact, this is the first time that any president's disapproval rating has cracked the 70 percent mark."

Also, and perhaps part of the problem for Bush, support for the war in Iraq is at its lowest: 30% favor the war, 68% oppose it.

Of course, you can bet the economy and oil and gasoline prices are a factor as well.

The poll's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Fox "Facial Coding Expert" Analyzes Clinton

On Fox’s Live Desk, broadcast Wednesday, Fox had a "facial coding expert" analyze a preview of Hillary Clinton's Wednesday night appearance on The O'Reilly Factor.

O'Reilly asked her questions about Reverend Wright, and Clinton expressed her outrage. But after the clip, Fox's analyst said:
I think it's very interseting - we see Hillary Clinton actually has her head tilted up a little bit; this is as if she’s looking down her nose at even being asked these questions.

It seems like she's a little uncomfortable answering them. She's kind of dancing around the topic instead of giving us a direct response. Her body language is interesting 'cause she gave us a microexpression of surprise where her eyebrows went up and are curved. The problem is her eyebrows stayed up and are curved. Surprise is the most quickest motion; it's very fleeting. It appears and then usually surprise goes into sadness or fear or anger - some other emotion. But here she's hanging onto surprise.

So I don't know, I think that she's really trying to restrain herself from how she really feels. She being politically correct here and trying to let the damage be done to Obama, by what's already being done without adding fuel to the flame. I think she wants to stay out of it.
Well, it's interesting how we've sunk to using facial analysis to pick our next president? Or try to make a candidate look bad, at any rate? Watch the clip.

video

Sweden to Change "Walk" Symbol's Gender

Well, here's something I haven't heard a lot of women complaining about, equality-wise. I hear a lot more complaints about equal pay (and justifiably so), particularly after the non-passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fail Pay Act. Sweden is about to introduce a new "Walk" icon at street lights, one in a feminine vein.

Cities will be able to choose their street sign gender, however, going with either or both, if they wish.

"The Swedish government has asked the Swedish Road Administration to design the new sign. The administration should get back to us October 1 with proposals," a spokeswoman for the infrastructure ministry said.

The idea was initiated launched by the small southwestern town of Mariestad, which installed roadsigns featuring women crossing the road. It then spread, and apparently became a popular idea.

The new signs could be posted by the end of this year or early next year.