Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Wal Mart Begging

NYTimes (you need a free account to view)

With Wal-Mart Stores under mounting pressure to spend more on employee health insurance, the company's chief executive on Sunday urged the nation's governors not to pass legislation that would burden the giant retailer, and pledged to work with the governors to move workers off state Medicaid rolls.

The executive, H. Lee Scott Jr., said that state bills aimed at improving Wal-Mart's benefits "may score short-term political points, but they won't solve America's health care challenges."

Mr. Scott said that Wal-Mart's health plans were "not perfect" but that the company was committed to improving the health care system by expanding its benefits and by opening low-cost medical clinics for workers and the public in its stores.

Trying to broaden a debate over employer health care plans that has focused heavily on Wal-Mart, Mr. Scott said: "At the end of the day, this is not about me. It is not about Wal-Mart. And it is not about you. It is about all of us and what we can do to keep this country great."

I found this yesterday and have been discussing on another blog. Discussing might not be the best word, I'm getting blasted along with Wal Mart, America and anyone else that doesn't agree the blog owner. Check it out here: The News Blog. Just to clearify things I found that blog while checking on the Wal Mart story, I've just visited it the last 2 days.

The short version of my views is this- legistration to force WM to provide healthcare is bad. Medicaid is bad. Big government is bad. Socialized healthcare is bad. LBJ did a bad thing with his Great Society junk. Subsidizing anything with tax money is bad. Fairtax is good.


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posted by David at 4:48 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (20) ::

Ninja vs .357 - Guess Who Won

SF Chronicle

An armed man wearing a black, ninja-style mask was shot to death by a Healdsburg man this morning after he attacked the man's wife outside their home and chased her inside, police said.

The shooting happened about 7:30 a.m. at the end of Sunset Drive, a semi-rural street on the east side of town.

The woman was about to take the couple's two Wheaton terrier dogs for a walk when the masked man jumped her outside her garage, police said. The woman struggled, broke away and ran screaming into the house, with the attacker in pursuit.

Her screams awoke her husband. The man, whom police identified only as a man in his 60s, "grabbed their handgun, probably a .357 ... and fired more than one shot," Police Chief Susan Jones said.

The intruder "had what looked like a firearm in his hand," Jones said. He died at the scene. His identity has not been released.

"The husband is fine. He's uninjured," Jones said. "The wife is being treated for a head injury that she sustained sometime during the struggle, but she's going to be fine."

Jones said the intruder may have been hiding behind some garage cans, waiting for someone to emerge from the home.

The chief said the incident "is completely out of the blue" for the town.

"Actually, our crime has been down this year. This is really unusual," she said. "It's really frightening if this is a random act."

Chock one up for the 2nd Amendment. I'm glad the man is ok and that his wife wasn't hurt too bad. As for the ninja, I'm in a good mood today so I just won't say anything...


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posted by David at 4:32 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (2) ::

UN Is A Frat House...

NewsMax.com

"We find an organization that is deeply troubled by bad management, by sex and corruption and by a growing lack of confidence in its ability to carry out missions that are given to them," Bolton told an audience at a Columbia Law School symposium held by the Federalist Society, a conservative law organization.

Bolton, a longtime critic of the U.N., has been leading U.S. efforts to reform the United Nations after the oil-for-food scandal and sex scandals involving U.N. peacekeepers.

...that's what is sounds like to me. Assigning Bolton to the UN was one of Bush's best moves imho.


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posted by David at 4:29 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

Thomas Sowell On Social Security

This is an very article. You can read the whole thing in the extended section. Or at RealClearPolitics

Suppose someone left you an inheritance of a million dollars -- with the proviso that every cent of it had to be spent on tickets for you to go watch professional wrestling matches. If you happened to be a professional wrestling fan, you would be in hog heaven.

But what if you were not? How much would that million dollars be worth to you? Certainly a lot less than a million dollars.

What if there was a clause in the will which said that you could forfeit the million dollars and instead receive a cash amount of $100,000 to spend as you pleased? Many of us would take the hundred grand without strings, even if that was only ten cents on the dollar compared to the million for watching wrestling.

In short, money with strings is worth less than money without strings -- sometimes a lot less.

Many of us who receive money from Social Security or other government programs are learning the hard way the difference between money with strings and money without strings. For example, Social Security recipients have to be enrolled in Medicare, whether they want to be or not. "Universal" coverage means compulsory coverage, just with prettier political spin.

Those who are complaining about how hard it is to understand the new Medicare coverage seem not to realize that no government program voted into law by more than 500 members of Congress is going to be simple.

Everybody in Congress has his own pet notions or his own little claim to fame, and a lot of those pet notions and claims to fame have to go into the legislation, in order to get the votes needed to pass the law. The complications and restrictions are the strings attached to Medicare.

People who think that they are getting something for nothing, by having government provide what they would otherwise have to buy in the private market, are not only kidding themselves by ignoring the taxes that government has to take from them in order to give them the appearance of something for nothing. They are also ignoring the strings that are going to be attached to their own money when it comes back to them in government benefits.

That is not even counting the fact that government programs are usually less efficient than similar services provided by private enterprises.

Compare the service you get at the Department of Motor Vehicles with the service you get at Triple-A. No one who belongs to the American Automobile Association is likely to go to the DMV for a service that is also available through Triple-A.

Yet the illusion of something for nothing has kept the welfare state going -- and expanding. If there is something for sale in the marketplace for ten dollars and you would not pay more than five dollars for it, some politician can always offer to get it for you free -- as a newly discovered "basic right," or at least at a "reasonable" or "affordable" price.

Suppose that the "reasonable" or "affordable" price is three dollars. How do you suppose the government can produce something for three dollars that private industry cannot produce for less than ten dollars? Greater efficiency in government? Give me a break!

The fact that you pay only three dollars at the cash register means nothing. If it costs the government twelve dollars to produce and distribute what you are getting for three dollars, then the government is going to have to get another nine dollars in taxes to cover the difference.

One way or another, you are going to end up paying twelve dollars for something you were unwilling to buy for ten dollars or even six dollars. But so long as you think you are getting something for nothing, the politicians' shell game has worked and the welfare state can continue to expand.

The baby boomers, who are beginning to turn sixty, are unlikely to get back all the money they paid into Social Security, with or without strings. The illusion that Social Security can provide pensions more cheaply than a private annuity or other retirement plan is the grand something-for-nothing political triumph.

The baby boomers are going to pay the price big time.

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posted by David at 4:20 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (2) ::

Spending Too Much $$$ On Illegals

WRAL

The cost of educating children of illegal immigrants in North Carolina is more than 20 times what it was 10 years ago, and some argue the money would be better spent on other students.

A study by the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill showed educating illegal immigrants' children costs the state an estimated $210 million a year. Ten years before, the figure was less than $10 million.

The state has already been overwhelmed trying to pay for people who are supposed to be here, said Ron Woodard, director of the Cary-based group N.C. Listen, which advocates for greater immigration restrictions.

"Why are we having to spend money on people who are here illegally?" Woodard said in a series appearing this week in the News & Observer of Raleigh.

A very good question. North Carolians shell out big bucks to pay for all types of social programs for illegal aliens. This is wrong, wrong and just plain wrong. Remember legal immigration is good, jumping the fence is trespassing so use the front door or stay out.


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posted by David at 4:16 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (3) ::

Election Filings So Far

Here's a list of positions and canidates for Columbus County. Please note that I made this list and it may be incomplete and or wrong. If you see a problem with it let me know. I'll update it as I recieve more information.

County Commissioner - District 1
Amon McKenzie D Incumbent
Randy Adams R

County Commissioner - District 6
David Lee McPherson D
Kip Godwin Incumbent (not seeking re-election)
Ricky Bullard D
(Tony) Howell Strickland I

County Commissioner - District 7
Bobby Joe Long D
David Dutton D Incumbent
Ronald Gore D
Sammy Hinson R

Sheriff
Chris Batten Incumbent

Clerk of Court
Sheila Pridgen Incumbent

Coroner
Linwood Cartrette Incumbent

State House - District 20
Dewey Hill D Columbus County Incumbent
Ray Gilbert R Brunswick County

NC State Senate - District 8
Shirley C. Babson R Brunswick
Bill Fairley R Brunswick
R. C. Soles Jr. D Columubus Incumbent

Supreme Court Chief Justice
Rusty Duke
Sarah Parker

Supreme Court Associate Justice
Ann Marie Parkway
Jill Cheek
Bill Gore Columbus County
Gus Gray
Robin Hudson

District Court Judge District 13
Sasser-Douglas B. Sasser

District Attorney District 13
Rex Gore D
Alexis Jane Prease D
Jon David R

US Congress - District 7
Mike McIntyre D Incmumbent
Shirley Davis R

Updated: 2006-02-28
Orignally posted: 2006-02-24


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posted by David at 12:30 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (2) ::

A Few Stories For You To Check Out

Eminent Domain by the Back Door

State after state is rushing to bar government from “taking” private property for transfer to another private entity. It’s part of a populist firestorm triggered by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in a New London, Conn., case in which homeowners were ordered out of their houses in order to make way for a city-ordered redevelopment scheme.

BBC

Sudan man forced to 'marry' goat

Forbes

Who said Supreme Court justices don't have any fun? Surely the somber old judges are in for a thrill when Anna Nicole Smith shows up in their hallowed courtroom today.

NewsMax.com

Venezuela's Chavez May Cut Oil to U.S.

ABCNews

Prosecutors call it a corruption case with no parallel in the long history of the U.S. Congress. And it keeps getting worse. Convicted Rep. Randall "Duke" Cunningham actually priced the illegal services he provided.

Prices came in the form of a "bribe menu" that detailed how much it would cost contractors to essentially order multimillion-dollar government contracts, according to documents submitted by federal prosecutors for Cunningham's sentencing hearing this Friday.

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posted by David at 4:38 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

Monday, February 27, 2006

I'm Back

After picking up the kids from school Friday, we went down to Mrytle Beach for the weekend. We stayed in the new Carolina Grande on Ocen Blvd. Friday was the first day guests could stay and we enjoyed our 3 bedroom room. CG is owned by Bluegreen which is a timeshare company that I've owned with for about 8 years. While in MB we saw Le Grande Cirque. It was a very good show and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the area. After the show we went to Soho on 31st avenue and had suishi. So needless to say I did very little news watching and spent no time on a computer at all. I should be back up to full speed later today.


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posted by David at 9:25 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (1) ::

NOOoooo! Arlen Introduces Guest Worker Bill

Last night while listening to Fox News on my XM radio I heard that Arlen Spector (R PA) has introduced the guest worker bill. This from what I heard will allow immigrants to work for 6 years in the US without trying to gain citizenship. No provisions are included for a limit of guest workers or how this affects the large number of illegal aliens aready in the US. I tried to get a link this morning to this report but haven't had a lot of time dig deeper. This is something to watch.


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posted by David at 9:14 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (5) ::

YES! I Like It

chron.com

El Paso County Sheriff's deputies and U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested more than 200 illegal immigrants in an afternoon roundup that began with a traffic stop.

Sheriff's spokesman Rick Glancey said the roundup started when a deputy stopped a speeding sport utility vehicle about 12:30 p.m. Friday in east El Paso County.

The deputy found 11 illegal immigrants inside the vehicle.

Information from those people led authorities to several locations around El Paso.

Glancey said a total of 229 illegal immigrants were arrested, including a 29-year-old El Salvador woman who told authorities she had lost her 7-year-old son when she crossed the border near Tornillo with her husband on Wednesday.

Maria Teresa Bolanos told investigators she last saw the boy, Carlos Antonio Alvarado-Bolanos, as the group they traveled with got separated somewhere near the border.

Glancey said it was unclear if the boy ever made it into the United States and may still be with his father.

Authorities were asking anyone with information about the boy to notify them.

Now that's a good days job right there. I heard that on the radio yesterday afternoon and had to verify it to believe it.


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posted by David at 9:10 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (2) ::

Friday, February 24, 2006

Taxpayers To Help Pay Black's Lawyers

I recieved this is my inbox from the Carolina Journal:

House Speaker Jim Black has asked for up to $200,000 in taxpayer money to pay legal bills from complying with a federal grand jury's subpoenas to his office. In a separate request, the governor's office has approved up to $20,000 to pay for two lawyers to represent 33 current and former members of Black's staff plus career legislative staffers. The lawyers will help respond to the subpoenas or to the ongoing federal and state investigations tied to Black's office.

Why would I want my money to go to defend this man and his staff when I want him out of office. This is a load of steaming crap.


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posted by David at 1:11 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (3) ::

Intern Fired For Off The Clock Religion

I found this while checking out fellow North Carolinian Ogre's blog

Ogre's Politics & Views

And no, that's not using government time or money to attempt to spread your religion, it's BEING Christian. The Department of Children and Family Services in California has decided it will simply not permit you to work for them if you are a Christian -- no matter how good work you do with them. Simply put, if you go to church on Sunday, that's enough to get you fired.

Jacqueline Escobar, an intern to DCFS, was fired because she openly spoke about her religion WHEN SHE WAS NOT WORKING. She was also told to sign a document that said she had "an inability to separate her religious beliefs from her role" as an intern. She refused to sign.

I'd love for someone to go to the DCFS and see if there is anyone there that doesn't murder. If there is, those people aren't correctly separating their religion from work. Oh, and there better not be a single person working there with a dot on their forehead from any Indian religion. Robes? Yarmulkes? Are all those banned as well? Not likely.

Only the Christian religion, NOT EXPRESSED at work, but by simply BEING a member of that one religion, is not allowed.

So, if you are a Christian, and actually believe your religion, you are not permitted to work for the government in CA. Apparently the Civil Rights Act of 1964 only applies to blacks and muslims.

A lawsuit has been filed, but it will likely be settled and the anti-Christian hate-mongers who fired her will very likely be promoted instead of fired. But no, Christians aren't hated and aren't persecuted, ever -- at least that's what the left claims.

What a bunch of junk. I then followed his source link and found this.

WorldNetDaily

A straight-A student, Escobar was complimented regularly by the DCFS for her work. But she came under scrutiny for sharing her faith with co-workers during lunch breaks and after-hours, and for changing into a shirt with a religious message – "Found" – after signing out for the day, according to the Pacific Justice Institute, which is representing her.

Escobar was directed to stop sharing her faith, even during breaks and after work hours.

Also, the university ordered her to sign a document admitting she had "an inability to separate her religious beliefs from her role" as an intern.

She refused to sign the document, arguing she couldn't agree to such a sweeping prohibition that included her religious practice during non-working hours.

Consequently, Escobar was terminated from her internship and threatened with expulsion from the graduate program.

Seems to me that Escobar has been treated unjustly in this case. 10 to 1 that the misinterpration of 'seperation of church and state' will be cited as just cause for the way she was treated.


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posted by David at 4:01 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (3) ::

Nagen Runs For Re-election

It's worth noting that the New Orleans mayor is facing no less then 10 challengers for his job. Good luck to each of them.


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posted by David at 3:53 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (3) ::

"Student under fire for yelling: 'Remember Chappaquiddick!'"

WorldNetDaily

Paul Trost, 20, a student at Massasoit Community College in Brockton, Mass., says he was upset by an introduction of Kennedy given by Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., in which the congressman noted how the long-time senator overcame hardship in life on his way to success.

"Lynch said Kennedy had overcome such adversity to get to the place he was, and that's a bunch of bull," Trost said of the introduction, which occurred in the school's student center yesterday morning.

Just as Kennedy began speaking, Trost was walking out of the room when he shouted, "Remember Chappaquiddick!"

It's worth noting that according to the article Trost is a liberal.


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posted by David at 3:23 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (4) ::

Way To Go Oregon

OpinionJournal

On a list of states with the worst property-rights protections, Oregon has long held a top position. So hearty congratulations to that state's landowners, who this week won a long struggle for more control over their acreage, and in the process may become a model for land-use reform across the country.

Their victory came in a unanimous Oregon Supreme Court decision upholding a 2004 ballot measure designed to curb "regulatory takings." Oregon lawmakers have spent 30 years perfecting the art of imposing their environmental agenda by restricting how landowners can use or develop their own property, whether it be building a new house or cutting down trees.

Oregon's ballot measure, which passed with a mere 61% of the vote, required authorities to either compensate landowners for any reduction in the value of their property, or exempt them from the regulations. This was the second time voters had passed the measure, the first version having been tossed out on a technicality by the state's notoriously liberal Supreme Court.

This time, however, the state's highest court surprised everyone by declaring that its only job was to examine whether the measure contravened the state constitution (it clearly did not), and that whether the measure is "wise or foolish, farsighted or blind, is beyond this court's purview." What brought about this healthy new respect for democracy isn't clear, although it could be the court is weary of intervening on behalf of every advocacy group that loses an initiative vote.

In any case, the decision is especially timely as a response to the U.S. Supreme Court's egregious Kelo decision of last year. Other states are crafting versions of Oregon's law, and a few, such as Wisconsin, had put legislative efforts on hold pending the outcome of Oregon's litigation. This week's victory may well inspire more Americans to continue defending that most basic of Constitutional rights: owning property.

I glad for the people of Oregon and I hope that many other states will follow this lead.


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posted by David at 3:22 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (1) ::

Dubai Update

I had this whole story typed up with links and quotes and comments and then...
Boom, Firefox crashed. So instead of the long article I had you're going to get this short one instead.

From what I've read and heard from various sources the port contract has been in the making for over 3 months yet most people of only heard of it within the last couple of weeks. I first heard about on the 15th of this month and posted about it on the 17th. But of course most news outlets where clogged with the Cheney hunting accident at that time. That's not a lot of time for people to swallow the concept that in March an Arab company owned by an Arab country was going to take over the operations of 6 major US seaports. The reaction generated by this news is understandable. People are afraid, rather they admit it or not, of extremist Islamic terrorist. And to hear that the Bush Administration which is already soft on protecting our northern and southern borders is going to give these 6 ports to the Arabs is shocking. The past couple of days I've been hearing of more people coming forward to support the deal but I can't make that choose until I get more information. The UAE of Dubai has said that they will put the deal on hold for a while to let people learn more and to calm down. Legistration to stop the deal has been threatened, followed by a promise to veto from Bush (I wonder if he even knows where the veto stamp is, it's not like he's had much use for it). New Jersey has sued to stop the lease deal. I also read where the Port Authority of NJ and New York had plans on doing likewise. If the administration had been more forthcoming months ago a lot of the outcries we have today may have been avoided. I'm starting to hear reasons here and there about why this is a good deal but I'm still weary of it and have yet to change my mind on it.

So in the mean time, I'm still looking for info and answers and will do so until I'm satisfied.


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posted by David at 2:38 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (1) ::

Teacher Arrested, Allegedly Had Sex With Student

WRAL.com

A Wayne County teacher has been arrested and charged with a felony for allegedly having sex with an 18-year-old male student.

Laurie Spurlock, 36, of Goldsboro, a teacher at Charles B. Aycock High School, turned herself in to authorities Thursday afternoon after the Wayne County Public School System asked the sheriff's office to investigate.

The relationship was reported to the Wayne County Sheriff's Office as having occurred between mid-September 2005 and January 2006, but the alleged accusations against Spurlock did not occur on school property, according to authorities.

Spurlock, who is listed as an English teacher on the Wayne County school system's Web site, was charged with two counts of felony sexual offense with a student. Secured bond has been set at $15,000.

The case, according to the sheriff's office, is still under investigation.


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posted by David at 2:19 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (3) ::

NC Supreme Court Hopefuls

The News Observer

5 aim for top court
Andrea Weigl, Staff Writer
The lure of an open seat on the N.C. Supreme Court has already led five hopefuls to announce their intent to run for associate justice.

Justice George Wainwright's retirement has attracted the most candidates for any judicial seat this election year, and others are rumored to be considering a run as well.

THE CANDIDATES SO FAR: N.C. Court of Appeals judges Ann Marie Calabria of Morrisville and Robin E. Hudson of Raleigh; Beecher "Gus" Gray, 58, of Durham County, an administrative law judge; Jill Cheek of Carrboro, who has spent 20 years working in the N.C. Attorney General's Office; and Senior Resident Superior Court Judge William C. Gore Jr., who is based in Columbus County.

LARGEST CAMPAIGN KITTY: Hudson, with about $20,000 in the bank.

BEST NICKNAME: Gore, who is called the "Swamp Judge."

A WINNING RECORD: Cheek says she has argued 37 cases before the N.C. Supreme Court during the last 16 years, losing only twice.

STRONGEST WAKE COUNTY LEGAL TIE: Calabria served as a Wake District Court judge for six years.

HOPING THE SECOND TIME IS A CHARM: Gray, who is mounting his second run for the appellate courts; he lost a primary race in 2002 for a Court of Appeals seat.


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posted by David at 2:13 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (2) ::

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

About 1492

What

1492 is a reference to my home county of Columbus in southeastern North Carolina. I bet you can guess the connection between 1492 and Columbus, so I won't go into details there. I started this blog the end of 2005 to cover my interests. So far must of the topics covered are of a national political flavor and NC politicals with regional news coverage. I've written a little about movies, TV and such.

Why

I've been active on the internet for years and visited several blogs regularly. One of my favorites is Sayanythingblog.com. Rob and his friends covered international, national and if you live in North Dakota local news. After being unable to find a similar blog for NC, I decided to give it a shot myself.

1492 isn't my first website, I've had several from pc tech support to gaming to condo rentals, but it has been one of the most challenging.

So far I've enjoyed blogging on 1492 and feel that the site has grown and matured over the last several months. 1492 still needs some work and I've tried to get a couple of friends to help with the content of the site but work and family schedules are too tight for them at this time.

Design

The night I decided to do 1492, I searched for a free blog host and Blogger was the first one to come up and that's how I picked it. At first I used one of Blogger's two-column designs but being a fan of three-column layouts, I started to play around with the template. I soon grew tired of things not coming out right and searched for a new template on Google. I found one that I liked and started to use it. After a short bit of time I started to notice problems with the layout, some elements just won't coming out right. I played around with it for a while but could never get all of the items to be correct in a browser, so off ot Google I went in search of another template. And that's when I found the one I have now. It's Thur's Templates blue blogger, 3-column design with floating positions. I've done some moding to the template and so far with only a couple of minor bugs I think the template is great. I'ld like to add a banner for the title. The only thing holding me back on that is that I've yet to had time to design an image to use (any suggestions are most welcome.)

Blogger Description

This is a blog on some of what I find interesting. Local, State (NC) and Nationial politics will be the main focus of this site, with a splash of sports, tech, computers, books, sci-fi, tv, movies and whatever else catches my eye.


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posted by David at 10:17 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (10) ::

Man Sells Beach House He Didn't Own

WWAY TV 3

A man took on a fake identity to sell a house that he didn't own.

Investigators say William Dathan Holbert got a fraudulent driver's license and bank account, and then forged property deeds before getting away clean with hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It just looks like a normal house getting a facelift, but it's actually a house two different people thought they owned.

This guy is good. That was a pretty good idea, if you are a criminal. He made several mistakes though and police know who he and his girlfriend are and are looking for them


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posted by David at 7:52 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (4) ::

Pay Me What You Promised Me

WWAY TV 3

She claims her boss promised to pay her $20 an hour, but Andrea Leach is still waiting for her money.

The 25-year-old Wilmington woman used to work as a personal trainer for Beyond Fitness says she got fired last week after complaining her paychecks were coming up short.

Andrea took the job at $20 an hour, so she was understandably upset when she got paid $16 an hour instead.

Andrea noticed the discrepancy months ago on her pay stub, and brought it to her boss's attention.

She says her boss, Denise Burke, said she would work on it and later wrote her a short note saying "Sorry, corporate wouldn't approve you at $20 an hour."

Andrea says that would have been nice to know before she took the job.

"I'm paying a mortgage by myself, I have bills, I have a dog and I'm also taking classes at Cape Fear," Andrea said. "I have a degree in exercise science and seven accredited certifications that I worked very hard for, so I believed I was worth even more than 20 bucks an hour, but I was going to settle for that."

Andrea has the $20 pay rate in writing with her boss's initials.

Manager Denise Burke wouldn't go on camera, but says that quote was never official. She also said Andrea got fired because she was a negative influence at the gym.

We did some research on Beyond Fitness and found out they have an unsatisfactory rating with the Better Business Bureau.

I know a bit about labor law and if Andrea has this paper with the promised wage and her ex-boss's initials (signature would be much better) then that's the wage she should recieve.

There are very few laws to protect the average employee but the most notable is that your employer must inform you of your rate of pay and pay you that rate for hours worked. If they decide you're over paid or something they can change the rate but have to let you know about the change before it takes effect.

In my opinion she is owed the $20 per hour up to the point her ex-boss told her that corporate wouldn't allow it.


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posted by David at 7:44 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (3) ::

WPD Against "25 to Life"

WWAY TV 3

Wilmington police are joining a nationwide protest about a new video game called "25 to Life."

Players get points for shooting police officers and gang members. They can use innocent bystanders as human shields.

The campaign against the game asks parents to keep their kids from buying or playing "25 to Life," saying it breeds violence.

WPD's Chief Ralph Evangelous said, "And I say to parents: number one, don't buy it for your kids and number two, if you find out your kids have it take a big old hammer to it and destroy it because it is nothing but junk."

Chief Evangelous signed a national petition against the game and he's encouraging his officers to do the same.

I agree that kids shouldn't a have this game because of it's content, but if someone of age wants it then so be it. This is one of those personal freedom things. The game itself doesn't hurt anyone and just because you play the game doesn't mean the next time you see a cop you're going to bust a cap in him. Chief Evangelous has more pressing issues on hand then a violent video game.


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posted by David at 7:27 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (1) ::

No Auto Insurance, Better Not Get Pulled

WWAY TV 3

A new North Carolina law could mean big hassles for you the next time you get pulled over.

A lapse in your insurance payment could mean losing your license plate on the spot.

They're not targeting people who have just lapsed in a payment, or switched insurance companies, but the new law requires if the insurance is not 100 percent up-to-date officers have to take the tag when you get pulled over.

Officers ask for your license, registration and proof of insurance. A new state law makes not having the insurance a big deal. Last month a car was among the first in our area to loose its license plate, on the spot, because the driver was uninsured.

Since December 2005 the highway patrol has seized over 150 license plates for this violation.

These officers are demonstrating how easy it is to enforce the new rule and it's just as easy for you to get caught on the wrong side of this law. Even missing an insurance payment for 24 hours can mean you'll have to find another way home.

Officers say the tough new policy is to protect people on the roads and make it easier for cops to enforce the law.

Under the old law officers would have to go through the DMV to get the plate removed. This change streamlines the system and requires the plate to be taken.

So what's the big deal? We have a big problem in NC with un-insured drivers (a lot are migrant workers) and if this law keeps people insured then great. If there is a instant penalty for being caught without insurance then more people will be weary of driving illegally and in my opinion that's a good thing. This article from TV 3 is looking at it like a bad thing and that's something I don't understand, but then I guess a nine car pile-up caused by an un-insured illegal alien is more news worthy then two insured little old ladies in a fender bender.


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posted by David at 7:13 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (2) ::

'N.C. Group Asking For Removal Of Confederate Monument'

WRAL

GREENVILLE, N.C. -- A citizens' group has asked Pitt County commissioners to remove a Confederate memorial from the grounds of the county courthouse, but it's unclear if its request will even be considered.

"We're not asking it be destroyed. We're asking it be taken down and moved to a more appropriate location," Ozie Hall told commissioners Monday, suggesting that the monument may belong in a museum.

The monument featuring a Confederate soldier was erected in downtown Greenville in 1914. It reads in part: "Erected by the people of Pitt County in grateful remembrance of the courage and fortitude of her Confederate soldiers."

Keith Cooper, another proponent of the statue's removal, called it a "relic representing slavery" and questioned why tax money should maintain it. Hall and Cooper were among about 10 people at the meeting who wanted the statue relocated.

About 30 people came to ask that it remain untouched.

Retired U.S. Marine Jimmy Ward said the monument should stay because it represents a chapter in the nation's history.

"Sanitizing history only hurts future generations," he said.

David Collins, an East Carolina University history professor, recommended building a second monument in honor of black Union soldiers.

"There shouldn't be any objection to honoring anyone who fought," he said.

County commissioners did not discuss the removal proposal Monday. A commissioner would have to sponsor the measure and include it on the board's agenda before it could be formally considered.

I say leave it. People have been mislead in what the war between the states was really about. For some it was slavery but for most in the south it was opposing a federal government that was being just as opressive as that of England that we fought with in the 1770s. For those in the north that wanted the war it was largely based on economics. I'll save this topic for another day, but let me just say for the record that North Carolina didn't secede until Lincoln sent Federal troops into the south to force the CSA to rejoin the Union. North Carolina didn't fight to keep slavery we fought for our Constitutional rights and the rights of our neighbors.


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posted by David at 12:15 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (3) ::

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

'N.C. Local Schools Board Sue Over Eye Exam Requirement'

WRAL

Nearly a dozen local school boards sued the state Tuesday over a new law requiring comprehensive eye exams for children entering kindergarten, arguing it violates the U.S. constitution and the state constitution's mandate for free public education.

Flanked by a pediatrician, eye doctor and others opposed to the exam, local schools representatives said the examinations, which cost from $65 to more than $120, are too expensive and unnecessary since children already must receive vision screenings before entering school.

"The effect of this new law is to put an unconstitutional price tag on admissions to public schools," said Ann Majestic of the North Carolina School Boards Association, a party to the lawsuit. "The law leaves out thousands of families who do not qualify for public assistance."

The law set aside $2 million to help parents pay for exams uncovered by Medicaid or other government programs. Opponents say that won't go very far.

The exams are not needed. If a parent wants a better exam then they can get on their own. There should not be a state law that requires this type exam. Especially a law that was stuff in a bill at the last minute and had no review or discussion. Why would the "honorable" Mr. Black do such a thing you ask?

[snip]the largest booster of the "Gov.'s Vision Care Program" has been House Speaker Jim Black, a Charlotte-area optometrist. The program was inserted into the House version of the budget last June and passed without even a public hearing.

[snip]

Black received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from fellow optometrists during the 2003-04 election cycle. A State Board of Elections investigators said earlier this month that Black's campaign and the N.C. State Optometric Society's political action committee appear to have violated the law by filling in the payee line on incomplete checks from committee members. The board hasn't completed its investigation.

Does that help you to see things better?

And this is one reason why JimBlackMustGo

BTW Black filed for re-election yesterday.


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posted by David at 11:52 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (9) ::

No Justice For Terri: Morales Execution Put On Hold

Prison authorities called off the execution after failing to find a doctor, nurse, or other person licensed to inject medications to give a fatal dose of barbiturate, said Vernell Crittendon, a spokesman for San Quentin State Prison.

"We are unable to have a licensed medical professional come forward to inject the medication intravenously, causing the life to end," he said.

It was unclear when the execution would be carried out, but the delay could last for months because of legal questions surrounding California's method of lethal injection.

The 24-hour death warrant for Michael Morales was set to expire at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. After that, state officials have to go back to the trial judge who imposed the death sentence in 1983 for another warrant.

What a load of crap. If I was in Cali and was lincensed to do the deed would be done. I heard earlier that he original judge no longer supports the death penalty in this case, so it looks like he just gets life.


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posted by David at 11:37 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (5) ::

The Gas Cap In Hawaii

WorldNetDaily

Gas-price controls backfire in Hawaii
Cost of fuel rises faster under new law, while drivers pay less in other 49 states

Hawaii's gas price controls, imposed last fall when the cost of fuel was hovering around $3 a gallon in many parts of the U.S., have actually triggered much higher costs for consumers.

As of Friday, Hawaii drivers were paying the highest per-gallon costs in the nation, with record-setting prices of as much as $3.39. A year ago, consumers in Hawaii were paying nearly $1 a gallon less. The national average today is $2.24 a gallon.

The price controls were set by the state Public Utilities Commission Sept. 1. The idea was that the limits would bring Hawaii's gas prices in line with the mainland, which has traditionally had lower prices on many goods because of the transportation costs involved in delivering product to the islands.

Now there are moves afoot in the Hawaii legislature to scrap the price controls.

Hawaii's current controls base limits on per-gallon charges by averaging wholesale gas prices in New York, Los Angeles and the Gulf Coast. The PUC then adds a 4-cent "location adjustment" fee and another 18 cents as a market margin factor. Then a few cents more are added for transportation costs to various islands. Wholesale prices are set by the bureaucrats every Wednesday and go into effect the following Sunday.

In a recent check Hawaii's average cost per gallon was $2.84, followed by New York at $2.57, California at $2.53 and Connecticut at $2.47. The least expensive gas in the country is in Utah at $2.13.

Before the gas cap law, Hawaii paid an average of 44 cents more per gallon than the rest of the mainland. Since the law went into effect in September, however, the differential has increased to more than 50 cents per gallon.

Still, the proponents of the gas cap insist that prices would be even higher without the limits. Rep. Marcus Oshiro, an advocate of the gas cap, claims the new law has actually saved islanders $33 million. But even he is having second thoughts.

He said this week Hawaii has "achieved price parity with the mainland and in that sense, the law has been working." But he also notes that "oil companies have posted record profits during this period and without greater transparency, we are unable to determine whether the cap has allowed unreasonable profits."

"Basically the implementation of the gas cap was not as we expected," said Oshiro, the House majority leader. "The enforcement was not as vigorous as we thought it could be."

Three House committees in Hawaii this week approved a proposal to suspend the gas cap as of July 1, while mandating the PUC to closely monitor data on the petroleum business in Hawaii, including new standards for the kinds of confidential business information the industry needs to provide to the PUC.

One of the gas cap's key supporters is Senate Consumer Protection Chairman Ron Menor, who said he will do everything he can to make sure the cap stays in place.

"I cannot support a repeal because I think that would really be caving in to the oil industry that doesn't want to be regulated," Menor said.

Menor is proposing changes to the cap which he says could save drivers an extra 16-cents per gallon.

"Instead of talking about a repeal or suspension, legislators ought to be seriously considering strengthening and improving the law so we can provide even greater savings to consumers," Menor said.

Meanwhile, free-market advocates say retailers charged the maximum allowable under the limits to compensate for the threat of not being able to profit in the future.

Remember that the next time you say, "Exxon made how much money, there ought to be a law." In a free market system prices fix themselves and any attempt by corporations or government to adjust it never works out. Example, the gas companies decide to get together and raise prices for no good reason except to screw the working man, well after a couple of weeks of this one company says to itself, "I can make more money by cutting my prices and gaining volume." So that company cuts it's price and the other companies say what a minute we aren't going to stand for this and cut theirs below the first companies and you then have a price war and the consumers make out like bandits. On the other hand some "we know what's best for you" politicians decide the oil company is makeing too much profit at your expense, so they inact a bill that limits the price of fuel. As this cap goes on and the price of crude rises (because OPEC slows production)the oil companies start to loose money as they loose money they stop sending as much fuel to the stations because it's not worth it. This decrease in supply causes cost of fuel to soar and the people that do get fuel end up paying much more then if the politician had done nothing. Let the market handle itself and everyone will be better off.


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posted by David at 9:05 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (2) ::

Roberts Lead Supreme Court Backs 1st Amendment

CNN.com

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday that a small congregation in New Mexico may use hallucinogenic tea as part of a four-hour ritual intended to connect with God.

Justices, in their first religious freedom decision under Chief Justice John Roberts, moved decisively to keep the government out of a church's religious practice.

Federal drug agents should have been barred from confiscating the hoasca tea of the Brazil-based church, Roberts wrote in the decision.

Not a bad start. Let's see if this will continue in the years ahead.


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posted by David at 9:03 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (3) ::

From Cox & Forkum


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posted by David at 8:46 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (1) ::

Late Post

Here is something I forgot to post about, better late then never.

Here are pics that help prove Al Gore is right and that we must do something about global warming.




You go Gore!


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posted by David at 8:41 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

Update On The UAE Port Buying Fiasco

I've been following this one since I first heard about it, but I never thought it would go this far. In case you've been hanging out with Survivorman here's the deal:
The British company (Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co.) that operates 6 major US ports (Baltimore, Miami, New Jersey, New Orleans, New York and Philadelphia) is being acquied by Dubai Ports World which is owned by the government of Dubai which is a part of the United Arab Emirates. The Bush administration has brokered a $6.8 million contract with Dubai Ports World for them to take over operations of the ports.

In case you forgot UAE was the base of operations for the USS Cole bombing ringleader. UAE was the last country to withdraw support from the Taliban after 9/11. There is evidence of UAE funneling money for bin Laden and a UAE jet was found at a bin Laden camp. And two of the 9/11 hijackers where from the UAE.

The White House has said that there is no conflict with DP operating the 6 major US ports and that the deal poses no security threat to the US. But US citizens, both houses of Congress (Reps and Dems), media and talk radio do have a problem with the deal. The White House yesterday said that the deal was done and Bush added that he would veto any legislation that was aimed at stopping the deal with DP.

This is another Bush screw up. How can we feel that he is protecting the US with his weakness on illegal immigration and now this contract with the UAE owned DP? Someone screwed up in the Bush administration and I hope it does come back and bite us in the butt.

Oh, I almost forgot that one person does support the contract outside the Bush administration...believe it or not former President Jimmy Carter is backing Bush on this one.


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posted by David at 10:36 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

It's Going To Hurt

While driving my kids to school today I heard that Michael Morales was not exucuted last night. In case you don't know who he is, he'e a California man convicted for strangling, raping and beating a teenager with hammer a 25 years ago. Guess what, he's afraid that he'll feel too much pain from the lethal injection. So what? How did that girl feel after he beat her in the face with a hammer and then raped her? He should have been killed long before now. They are suppose to try again tonight, let's hope everything goes as planned.

Remember the guillotine was painless.


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posted by David at 8:18 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

Saturday, February 18, 2006

John Locke On The NC Education Lottery

John Locke Foundation study on the NC Lottery proceeds:

North Carolina’s education lottery would set aside too much revenue for unproven educational programs, a new John Locke Foundation report argues.

A better formula could lead to more school construction money for 22 school systems across the state. Those include some of the state’s largest districts: Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Wake, Durham, Forsyth, and Guilford.

Others that would benefit would be Alamance-Burlington, Brunswick, Buncombe, Cabarrus, Catawba, Chapel Hill–Carrboro, Currituck, Dare, Davidson, Henderson, Hoke, Iredell-Statesville, Johnston, Kannapolis, New Hanover, Pitt, and Union.

State law currently mandates 35 percent of lottery revenues to go toward education. In his new Spotlight report, Terry Stoops, JLF education policy analyst, examines the educational uses of those revenues and proposes better alternatives.

“The lion’s share of the lottery proceeds will fund class-size reduction and pre-kindergarten programs,” Stoops said. “The state’s own assessment of these programs found that they haven’t improved students’ academic performance. So why spend more money on them when there are other, more critical needs out there?”

Under the current law, more lottery proceeds would go toward class-size reduction and pre-K programs than for school construction. The lottery funds would replace general-fund money that already covers class-size reduction and pre-K programs. There’s no proof that those programs have significant educational benefits, Stoops said.

Stoops proposes increasing school construction and cutting back on the unproven programs. He also proposes funding school construction cost-saving incentives — programs that reward school districts and administrators for finding innovative, low-cost solutions to facilities needs.

“Construction expenses are rising and have dramatically increased the cost of new school construction,” Stoops said. “School districts have been unresponsive to these cost increases, however, since they have been able to pass them on to the taxpayers. That’s why it’s important to set up financial incentives for them to economize.”

High growth is a problem for some school districts, too, such as Wake County and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, the state’s two largest districts. Stoops proposes revising the distribution of lottery funds to direct money toward high-growth districts.

A major educational need that the lottery ignores is charter schools, Stoops said. His proposed distribution of lottery funds would include funding charter schools, too. As public schools, charters receive no state money for capital expenditures. The demand for charter schools, however, is growing exponentially. Charter-school enrollment has almost doubled in the last five years, and thousands of students are turned away from charters because of their limited facilities.

“Lottery revenue should go toward expanding charter-school facilities as well as to a charter school startup fund,” Stoops said. “If and when the state lifts the cap of 100 charter schools, the startup fund could help new charter schools hit the ground running.”

You can download the .pdf of Terry's article here.


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posted by David at 10:09 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

Houston Chief Wants To Install Cameras In Your Home

Techdirt.com

Earlier this week, we wrote about proposals that would require businesses to install surveillance cameras, noting that we're seeing way too many people bring up the bogus old line that "If you're not doing anything wrong, what do you have to worry about?" -- and suggesting that someone name the concept that any discussion about privacy issues will eventually have someone make a statement just like that, showing just how little they actually understand about privacy rights. Well, here's another one. Found on Digg is the story that Houston's police chief doesn't think surveillance cameras should be limited to public places. Nope, he wants them installed in private homes as well. And what's the first thing out of his mouth in the article? You guessed it: "if you are not doing anything wrong, why should you worry about it?"

This is an attack on your privacy rights. I hope something like this never happens but who knows what will happen in the next fifty years. Our personal freedoms are slowly but surely being eroded by government doing what's best for you and the USA. I understand the need for security but the Patriot Act and the NSA's snopping is not what's needed. I just hope that people wake up and stop this erosion before it's too late or else in fifty years as people sit in their living rooms with video feeds to the local pd and FBI office and their NSA made phones sitting on the side table will look back and ask why did we allow this to happen to such a great nation? And if you don't think that it's possible think about how you feel about the New Deal and Great Society social reforms everytime you get your paycheck (or what's left of it) and realize that someone half your age in better health then you has the rest of your money in his EBT account.


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posted by David at 9:52 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (2) ::

Friday, February 17, 2006

US Ports Being Sold To Arab Company

This is something I heard on the radio this week.

Washington Post

The Bush administration on Thursday rebuffed criticism about potential security risks of a $6.8 billion sale that gives a company in the United Arab Emirates control over significant operations at six major American ports.

Lawmakers asked the White House to reconsider its earlier approval of the deal.

The sale to state-owned Dubai Ports World was "rigorously reviewed" by a U.S. committee that considers security threats when foreign companies seek to buy or invest in American industry, National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones said.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, run by the Treasury Department, reviewed an assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies. The committee's 12 members agreed unanimously the sale did not present any problems, the department said.

This is a sticky situation. I support capitalism and free markets and yet I also know that we have to watch our borders and backsides from possible threats. If you remember one of the suspects in the USS Cole bombing said he was contacted by Mohammed Omar al-Harazi, a Saudi of Yemen descent based in the United Arab Emirates. This is a sale worth keeping your eyes on.

Posted in the extended section is the rest of the article.

"We wanted to look at this one quite closely because it relates to ports," Stewart Baker, an assistant secretary in the Homeland Security Department, told The Associated Press. "It is important to focus on this partner as opposed to just what part of the world they come from. We came to the conclusion that the transaction should not be halted."

The unusual defense of the secretive committee, which reviews hundreds of such deals each year, came in response to criticism about the purchase of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co.

The world's fourth-largest ports company runs commercial operations at shipping terminals in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.

Four senators and three House members asked the administration Thursday to reconsider its approval. The lawmakers contended the UAE is not consistent in its support of U.S. terrorism-fighting efforts.

"The potential threat to our country is not imagined, it is real," Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., said in a House speech.

The Homeland Security Department said it was legally impossible under the committee's rules to reconsider its approval without evidence DP World gave false information or withheld vital details from U.S. officials. The 30-day window for the committee to voice objections has ended.

DP World said it had received all regulatory approvals.

"We intend to maintain and, where appropriate, enhance current security arrangements," the company said in a statement. "It is very much business as usual for the P&O terminals" in the United States.

In Dubai, the UAE's foreign minister described his country as an important U.S. ally but declined to respond directly to the concerns expressed in Washington.

"We have worked very closely with the United States on a number of issues relating to the combat of terrorism, prior to and post Sept. 11," Sheik Abdullah Bin Zayed al-Nahyan told The Associated Press.

U.S. lawmakers said the UAE was an important transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuclear components sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya by a Pakistani scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan. They also said the UAE was one of only three countries to recognize the now-toppled Taliban as Afghanistan's legitimate government.

The State Department describes the UAE as a vital partner in the fight against terrorism. Dubai's own ports have participated since last year in U.S. efforts to detect illegal shipments of nuclear materials.

Rep. Vito Fossella, R-N.Y., urged congressional hearings on the deal.

"At a time when America is leading the world in the war on terrorism and spending billions of dollars to secure our homeland, we cannot cede control of strategic assets to foreign nations with spotty records on terrorism," Fossella said.

Critics also have cited the UAE's history as an operational and financial base for the hijackers who carried out the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"Outsourcing the operations of our largest ports to a country with a dubious record on terrorism is a homeland security and commerce accident waiting to happen," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. "The administration needs to take another look at this deal."

Separately, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said Thursday it will conduct its own review of the deal and urged the government to defend its decision.

In a letter to the Treasury Department, Port Authority chairman Anthony Coscia said the independent review by his agency was necessary "to protect its interests."

The lawmakers pressing the White House to reconsider included Sens. Schumer, Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Reps. Foley, Fossella and Chris Shays, R-Conn.

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posted by David at 5:05 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (3) ::

Lottery Money and the General Fund

I heard a bit of this on the radio the other day but between planting potatoes and hanging paneling I hadn't got a chance to read about it till today on WWAY TV 3. I've searched for more sources but haven't had much luck. So here is the 2 articles I did find about the subject.

WWAY TV 3

Lottery revenue money to replace some school funds
Feb 15, 2006, 04:59 PM

Some people across the state are saying I told you so. They're reacting to word from the Governor's office that profits from the state lottery will go into the general fund to replace money in the education budget. Not add to it. That could mean less money to help with things like school construction and scholarships.

"Things have seemed to take quite a turn for the worse right now," Steve Bilizi said.

New Hanover County School Board member, Steve Bilzi has said from the beginning the lottery was never a good idea for North Carolina.

"If it was what it was supposed to be, it would be wonderful," Bilzi said. "Things like this if it sounds too good to be true it really is."

Mr. Bilzi says he's disappointed to hear there's a possibility revenue from the lottery could just replace current education spending and not add to it.

"There are going to be an awful lot of upset people and there should be, should be I hope, there's an awful lot of legislators upset that they just let this...shim, sham..this flam, sham job go through in Raleigh the way it did," Bilzi said.

There are. Local republican house member Carolyn Justice is one.

"That's absolutely contradictory of what we were told was going to happen to the funds," Justice said..

Representative Justice says the bill she voted for did not allow for new money to be put in place of already spent funds. It targeted half of the revenue to school construction, and a smaller amount for other education programs like scholarships.

Ms. Justice thinks the bill changed when it went into the budget.

"It's a major disappointment for me," Justice said.

She says she would not pass it again.

In a statement, Governor Mike Easley defended the talk.

"Education lottery money will supplement, not supplant existing spending for education and I will not recommend nor sign legislation that reduces the state's spending for education."

Senator Julia Boseman says she does not support it as she hears it now. She tells NewsChannel 3, for this to happen, this would have to go before the House and Senate for a vote. She and other legislators said they will not support money not going more for education.



WWAY TV 3

Easley says public not misled by lottery legislation
Feb 17, 2006, 08:29 AM

Governor Easley says the public was not misled by legislation that put a statewide lottery in place last year.

The lottery bill Easley signed in August contained a requirement that the gambling proceeds would add to existing school revenue.

But the state budget Easley says he signed two weeks earlier contained lottery provisions that deleted that obligation if the lottery bill ultimately became law.

Easley told The Associated Press after a speech at Duke University Thursday that it's not supplanting existing education money because the lottery money will go toward new programs, such as pre-kindergarten and school construction.

Easley says his new budget will include at least this year's amount for education plus the lottery money.

The governor also says he won't sign a budget that cuts state spending because of lottery revenues.


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posted by David at 3:22 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

'Commissioners tighten up agenda process '

This is an excellent move by Commissioner Godwin. News Reporter

Columbus County Commission Chairman Kip Godwin responded to criticism last week that the county’s airport management contract with a private company was approved as a last-minute add-on item to the board’s agenda by instituting new policies for department heads.

An add-on item gives the public no advance warning and commissioners little time for review.

Godwin wants commissioners to have more time to review everything that goes on the agenda, especially contracts, agreements and legal documents. He has banned add-on items except in “critical or urgent” situations.

The rest is in the extended section.

“If a situation arises where there is an add-on, it must be approved and cleared by the (county manager, county attorney and Godwin),” he said

Godwin said he is also instituting a pre-agenda meeting with the county manager, county attorney and clerk to the board to review all items submitted prior to their placement on the agenda.

“This new procedure will hopefully alleviate some of the concerns we have had in the past with add-ons or items tabled for lack of details,” he said.

Department heads have to submit items for the board agenda one week before the Monday night meetings. The previous deadline was Wednesday at noon. Contracts, agreements and other legal documents that require review by the county attorney must be submitted at least two weeks prior to the meeting.

Budget amendments and other financial documents that require review by the finance committee and finance officer also must be submitted two weeks early.

The board has had a history of using add-on items, which gives the public no notice of a pending action. It also has a history of tabling items because staff furnished them with incomplete information prior to the meeting.

Sammy Hinson, president of the grass-roots political group Columbus County Citizens for Better Government said Godwin’s move is good government.

“I think the people should have time to know what’s coming up before it’s brought up in a meeting and voted on,” Hinson said.

Commissioner James Prevatte agreed.

“I do think it’s a good thing not to have any add-ons,” he said. “I told Kip today how pleased I was (with his new policy). I don’t think unless it’s an emergency that things should be added on to the agenda.”

Godwin said he spoke to County Manager Jim Varner and let him know that it is commissioners who decide what gets on the agenda, not the county’s staff.

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posted by David at 2:05 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (1) ::

Election Filing So Far

News Reporter

The first three days of filing for political office have produced few surprises. Some candidates who have already announced have yet to file with the Board of Elections.

In keeping with local tradition, seven-term incumbent state Rep. Dewey Hill was the first to file. Hill, a Democrat, is running for the 20th District House seat that includes all of Columbus and parts of rural western Brunswick county.

While no one has yet filed against Hill, he said he expects both Democrat and Republican opponents.

State Sen. R.C. Soles Jr. filed for the District 8 Senatorial seat, as did Shirley Babson, a Brunswick County Republican. Fair Bluff resident T.S. Enzor briefly filed to run in the Democratic primary against Soles but withdrew the next day.

Two county commissioners filed for re-election – District 7 incumbent David Dutton and Amon McKenzie, who represents District 1.

Nakina resident Ronald Gore will face Dutton in a primary challenge. No one has filed to challenge McKenzie.

The winner of the District 7 primary will face Republican Sammy Hinson in November.

In District 6, where commissioner Kip Godwin has announced he won’t run for re-election, James “Ricky” Bullard signed up to run. David Lee McPherson has announced his intentions to run but has not yet filed.

The winner of the Bullard-McPherson race will face Fair Bluff farmer Howell Strickland in November. Strickland is running as an independent.

Sheriff Chris Batten, Clerk of Court Sheila Pridgen and Coroner Linwood Cartrette have all signed up to run for re-election and are so far unopposed.

Filing continues through noon on Feb. 28.


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posted by David at 2:01 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

Another Good Cartoon

Cox & Forkum

Last week we noted CNN's latest excuse for not showing images of the Danish Mohammed cartoons:

"CNN is not showing the negative caricatures of the likeness of Prophet Mohammed because the network believes its role is to cover the events surrounding the publication of the cartoons while not unnecessarily adding fuel to the controversy itself."

Keep in mind, as Michelle Malkin noted, that one or two of the cartoons are not "negative" in any way -- they are simply tame cartoon portraits (see all the of cartoons here). CNN refused to show even these, despite their specific disclaimer about "negative caricatures."

Yesterday, this story ran on CNN with an image: More images of abuse at Abu Ghraib.

Apparently CNN's excuse for the Mohammed cartoons was not a matter of principle. If the new Abu Ghraib photos are newsworthy images relating to a controversial subject, then so are the Mohammed cartoons, if only the cartoons that do not editorialize about Mohammed. Obviously CNN has a double standard at work, one that clearly favors Islamic religious sensibilities, or perhaps fears them.

UPDATE -- Feb. 17: Blackfive has Abu Ghraib photos of a different kind, and Jawa Report has prisoner abuse photos that aren't being shown in mainstream media.


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posted by David at 1:57 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

Wired News: Judge Orders Release of Spy Docs

Wired News

A federal judge ordered the Bush administration on Thursday to release documents about its warrantless surveillance program or spell out what it is withholding, a setback to efforts to keep the program under wraps.

At the same time, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said he had worked out an agreement with the White House to consider legislation and provide more information to Congress on the eavesdropping program. The panel's top Democrat, who has requested a full-scale investigation, immediately objected to what he called an abdication of the committee's responsibilities.

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posted by David at 4:47 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

More on the Cheney Incident

Los Angeles Times

President Bush on Thursday broke his public silence about the vice president's shooting of a hunting companion, declaring that Dick Cheney had delivered 'a very strong and powerful explanation' of the incident. Meanwhile in Texas, the sheriff's office looking into the shooting said it had ended its investigation and no charges would be filed.

Bush said he had no complaints with the manner in which Cheney handled the disclosure of the shooting, which came a day after Saturday's incident.

But asked whether he was "satisfied with the timing," the president said: "I'm satisfied with the explanation he gave."

The shooting occurred about 5:30 p.m. Saturday, but it wasn't until about 3 p.m. Sunday that news of it was reported on the website of the local paper, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. In an article Monday, the paper said it had received a tip about the incident Sunday morning from a member of the family that owns the Kenedy County ranch where Cheney and seven others were hunting quail.

That family member was subsequently identified as Katharine Armstrong, who described the incident to a Caller-Times reporter. Cheney's office confirmed the tip around noon on Sunday, the paper reported.

In the days following the incident, the vice president's critics said that his reluctance to speak out about what happened typified the secrecy in which he had operated within the Bush administration and showed a disdain for providing what they contended should be public information. On Wednesday, Cheney sat for a interview lasting about half an hour with Brit Hume of Fox News.

The account Cheney gave on television was largely echoed in a 2½-page report made public Thursday by the Kenedy County Sheriff's Department.

The report, dated Feb. 15, was written by Chief Deputy Gilberto San Miguel Jr., who went to the Armstrong Ranch on Sunday to investigate the shooting.

Cheney's television interview, the sheriff's report and the information Armstrong gave to the local newspaper agree on what happened Saturday: At about 5:30 p.m., the vice president turned to fire his 28-gauge shotgun, a Perazzi Brescia, at a bird flushed out of the brush, but he shot hunting partner, Harry M. Whittington. The 78-year-old lawyer was struck in the face and torso from about 30 yards.

The sheriff's report includes the first account from Whittington, which was taken at the hospital. During the interview, Whittington emphasized that "there was no alcohol during the hunt" and that everyone was dressed in hunter orange. (Cheney said in his interview with Hume that he had a beer at lunch hours earlier.)

Whittington's description of the incident appears to have been interrupted as he was getting to the shooting. San Miguel said a nurse entered the room and asked the investigators to allow Whittington to rest.

Whittington "reiterated that this incident was just an accident. He was concerned this incident would bring a bad [image] to hunting in Texas."

Whittington, who experienced a mild heart attack Tuesday when a birdshot pellet migrated to his heart, is being treated at Christus Spohn Memorial Hospital in Corpus Christi. Dr. David Blanchard, the hospital's director of emergency services, said Whittington might be discharged within five days.

As the sheriff's report was being made public, Lt. Juan J. Guzman said by telephone that "the investigation is closed and there will be no charges filed."

During a photo session at the end of an Oval Office meeting with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, Bush told reporters that the vice president "handled the issue just fine."

"This is a man who likes the outdoors and he likes to hunt. And he heard a bird flushed and he turned and pulled the trigger and saw his friend get wounded," Bush said.

"And it was a deeply traumatic moment for him and, obviously, it was a tragic moment for Harry Whittington. And so I thought his explanation was a very strong and powerful explanation, and I'm satisfied with the explanation he gave."

Bush took issue with criticism that disclosure of the incident fueled perception of a secretive White House: "I think people are making the wrong conclusion about a tragic accident."

He said that the shooting had "profoundly affected" the vice president, and that when he saw Cheney in the Oval Office on Wednesday, "I saw the deep concern he had about a person who he wounded."

Whittington has been a force in the Texas Republican Party and has served on a number of state boards. When Bush was governor, Whittington was appointed to the Texas Funeral Services Commission. "He's a fine man," Bush said Thursday. "He's been involved in our state's politics for a long period of time. And, you know, my concern is for Harry. And I know the vice president feels the same way."

The deputy's "incident report" reads much like any police report — except that the subject of the interview was the vice president of the United States and the investigator was greeted by Secret Service agents, who escorted him to Cheney.

The deputy wrote that Cheney named the people in the three-vehicle hunting party; the sun was setting, the vice president said, as took aim at a covey of birds that hunting dogs had flushed.

"There was a single bird that flew behind him and he followed the bird by line of sight in a counter-clockwise direction not realizing Harry Whittington had walked up from behind and had positioned himself approximately 30 yards to the west of him," San Miguel wrote.

"Mr. Cheney told me the reason Harry Whittington sustained the injuries to his face and upper body was that Mr. Whittington was standing on ground that was lower than the one he was standing on. Mr. Cheney told me if Mr. Whittington was on the same ground level the injuries might have been lower on Mr. Whittington's body."
This is a non-issue. Cheney accidently shoot Mr. Whittington plain and simple. There was no cover up no trying to hide it from the press. The media is really blowing this one out of proportion. I saw the Cheney interview with Hume and he looked generally upset with what had happened. Accidents happen all the time while hunting and the danger is increased with quail hunting. I mustly just hunt deer myself but I know from experience that when you come up on a covey of quail they take off fast and low which is why you hunt them in a line if you are with a group. The only concern is for Mr. Whittington's recovery.

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posted by David at 4:45 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

DMCA Is At It Again

Techdirt.com

The DMCA was never supposed to be used for anti-competitive reasons. That was said repeatedly when it was first put into place and people raised objections. Yet, over and over again we hear cases where it's obviously being used to stop competitors. The latest, as pointed out by the EFF, is that prepaid wireless provider Tracfone is suing a company that unlocks Tracfone handsets. Tracfone subsidizes the handsets to make it easier for people to buy them, but locks them down to keep people from taking them elsewhere. We actually wrote about this case last September, based on a Wired article that left the participants unnamed (since it was before the suit had been filed, and the writer only knew about it because she was contacted by the unlocking firm for advice on what to do about the cease & desist). Apparently, no one was able to convince Tracfone that using the DMCA as their weapon of choice was a bad idea, so now a lawsuit has been filed. These types of cases have had mixed results so far in the courts, with some rulings being better than others. The courts haven't really set a clear precedent yet, which is unfortunate. Of course, what's silly is that Tracfone could just do this contractually, forbidding anyone who buys a subsidized handset from using it on another network, rather than using the DMCA to go after the firm that does the unlocking. However, most people like to believe that they actually own the products they bought -- which means they should be allowed to modify them, if they choose to do so. Well, at least Tracfone isn't trying to throw the unlockers in jail, like some mobile operators.
I've never liked the DMCA and thought it should never have passed like it did. It's way to restrictive to consumers and way to protective to producers.

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posted by David at 4:33 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

XM & Sirius In Trouble?

Techdirt.com

From the very beginning of satellite radio, I was skeptical of its potential. While I admit I was wrong about the number of people it would appeal to, my bigger issue was with the cost structure of the business. Launching and maintaining satellite is extremely expensive. Just ask anyone who worked on Iridium or Teledesic. Even if you can sign up a lot of users, the capital costs are tremendous. If the costs of getting those subscribers is high, then it's a definite recipe for trouble. So far, Sirius and XM have been able to keep kicking, mainly through a ton of investment money and the promise of future potential profits -- stacked up against continued losses. It looks like a few are finally doing the math on all of this and realizing that the satellite radio business, as much as some people like it, may not be sustainable. XM posted wider than expected losses today, blaming higher than expected customer acquisition fees -- suggesting that, for all the good press, not as many people as expected have been rushing to sign up. Also, one of the company's directors resigned, citing a "crisis on the horizon," which is anything but inspiring.

My wife got me XM for my birthday and I love it. I listen to it about 95% of my time in the truck. With the Morning Line, Boortz and odd cd filling out the remainer of the time. It surprised me how much I do listen to it and I'ld hate to see it going away. We have 2 recievers right now and may get a 3rd.


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posted by David at 4:27 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Lottery To Continue

WRAL.com

he North Carolina lottery can continue preparing for a March 30 kickoff while a court considers a legal challenge to the way the Legislature passed the lottery law last year, a Wake County judge ruled Wednesday.

The decision is somewhat of a loss for both parties in the legal fight. While Superior Court Judge Henry Hight denied a motion by taxpayers, lawmakers and advocacy groups who sought to temporarily stop work on the lottery, he also declined the state's request to dismiss the complaint completely.

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posted by David at 12:45 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Carter Eavesdropped Too

The Washington Times

Former President Jimmy Carter, who publicly rebuked President Bush's warrantless eavesdropping program this week during the funeral of Coretta Scott King and at a campaign event, used similar surveillance against suspected spies.
"Under the Bush administration, there's been a disgraceful and illegal decision -- we're not going to the let the judges or the Congress or anyone else know that we're spying on the American people," Mr. Carter said Monday in Nevada when his son Jack announced his Senate campaign.
"And no one knows how many innocent Americans have had their privacy violated under this secret act," he said.
The next day at Mrs. King's high-profile funeral, Mr. Carter evoked a comparison to the Bush policy when referring to the "secret government wiretapping" of civil rights leader Martin Luther King.
But in 1977, Mr. Carter and his attorney general, Griffin B. Bell, authorized warrantless electronic surveillance used in the conviction of two men for spying on behalf of Vietnam.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Follow FISA. We must follow the law and the President must follow the law. People argue that times are different since 9/11, and while that is true it doesn't change the law. Without the law the USA is not a republic just and electorial dictatorship.

The rest of the article can be read in the extended section. Just because a bunch of past Presidents did it doesn't make it legal, right or lawful.

The men, Truong Dinh Hung and Ronald Louis Humphrey, challenged their espionage convictions to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which unanimously ruled that the warrantless searches did not violate the men's rights.
In its opinion, the court said the executive branch has the "inherent authority" to wiretap enemies such as terror plotters and is excused from obtaining warrants when surveillance is "conducted 'primarily' for foreign intelligence reasons."
That description, some Republicans say, perfectly fits the Bush administration's program to monitor calls from terror-linked people to the U.S.
The Truong case, however, involved surveillance that began in 1977, before the enactment of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which established a secret court for granting foreign intelligence warrants.
Democrats and some Republicans in Congress say FISA guidelines, approved in 1978 when Mr. Carter was president, are the only way the president may conduct surveillance on U.S. soil.
Administration officials say the president has constitutional authority to conduct surveillance without warrants in the name of national security. The only way Congress could legitimately curtail that authority, they argue, is through an amendment to the Constitution.
The administration's view has been shared by previous Democrat administrations, including Mr. Carter's.
When Mr. Bell testified in favor of FISA, he told Congress that while the measure doesn't explicitly acknowledge the "inherent power of the president to conduct electronic surveillance," it "does not take away the power of the president under the Constitution."
Jamie S. Gorelick, deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, agreed. In 1994 testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Miss Gorelick said case law supports the presidential authority to conduct warrantless searches and electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes.
Earlier this week, however, Mr. Carter said it was "ridiculous" for Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to say the spying is justified by Article II of the Constitution.
Republicans say they welcome such criticism because it proves Democrats can't be trusted with national security.
"Just when you thought that the Democrats' image of being soft on defense issues couldn't get any worse, enter the sage wisdom of President Jimmy Carter to save the day," said Brian Nick, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

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posted by David at 3:18 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

The Fox

The Washington Times

The U.S. government has sent more than $376 million to Mexico in the past decade for that country's military and police to help stop alien and drug smugglers, guard against terrorists and protect America's southern border, including $50 million due this year.

The money, quietly authorized through State and Defense department programs, has been used to train and equip the Mexican military and police, drawing disagreement on whether those institutions are part of the solution for U.S. border security, or are part of the problem.

Can you say the fox guarding the chicken coop?

Rep. Rick Renzi, Arizona Republican and a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said the program has had "great success" and helped put narcoterrorists and smugglers "on the defense."

[snip]

But T.J. Bonner, a veteran U.S. Border Patrol agent who heads the 10,000-member National Border Patrol Council, described the program as "appalling," saying it amounted to the U.S. government funding attacks on U.S. law-enforcement personnel along the border by rogue Mexican military troops.

"This funding program should cease immediately, and the Mexican government needs to be placed on notice that any further incursions by its military or police will not be tolerated," he said, referring to recent incidents on the border in which men in Mexican military uniforms confronted U.S. law-enforcement officers in this country.

Seems to be some disagreement there. I'll lend to Mr. Bonner's side since he is the one on the front line and not sitting at a desk in Washington spending taxpayers money.


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posted by David at 2:30 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

Jack Kelly - Best Quote of the Weekend

post-gazette.com

Washington Post Executive Editor Len Downie told Editor & Publisher he wouldn't publish the Danish cartoons because of "general good taste." Had Mr. Downie developed his good taste a week earlier, the Post might not have published a Tom Toles editorial cartoon of a quadruple amputee soldier so vile all six members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff wrote a letter to the editor protesting it.

Most in the news media don't mind offending people who express their outrage by writing letters to the editor. But when the offended threaten to cut off the editor's head, editors become more "culturally sensitive."

That is funny. Jack hit the nail on the head with the above paragraph. You can read the whole article at the above link.


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posted by David at 1:35 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

Overboard, You Betcha!

I saw this at Cox & Forkum


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posted by David at 1:29 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

Here They Are!

Because you asked for them here are the Dannish cartoons that where published by JyllandsPosten back on 2005-09-30:
























I downloaded them from Muhammadcartoons.com


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posted by David at 1:11 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

Dumb Cop Story

WQAD.com

Police in Aurora have confirmed that a 12-year-old boy who said he brought powdered sugar to school for a science project last week has been charged with a felony for possessing a look-alike drug.
The sixth grade student at Waldo Middle School in Aurora also was suspended for two weeks from school after showing the bag of powdered sugar to his friends.

The boy, who is not being identified because he is a juvenile, said two other boys asked if the bag contained cocaine after he showed it to them in the bathroom Wednesday morning. The boy's mother said he told them it did, but then added, "just kidding."

Aurora police arrested the boy after a custodian at the school reported the boy's comments. The youngster was taken to the police station and detained before being released to his parents that afternoon.

A felony for having powered sugar? This is just a lack of common sense. Kids where doing this back when I was in school. Kids are kids, they joke, they horseplay and they goof off we should let kids be kids and save the felonies for killers, rapist, thieves etc.


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posted by David at 12:57 AM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

Monday, February 13, 2006

FEMA Cuts Off Paying for Rooms

WRAL.com

About 12,000 families made homeless by last year's hurricanes began checking out of their federally funded hotel rooms around the country Monday after a federal judge let FEMA stop paying directly for their stays.

[snip]

Earlier in the day, attorneys for the evacuees pleaded with U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval for a last-minute reprieve, saying the rent assistance will not be enough for decent living accommodations or continued hotel stays.

"These people are going to be homeless. We've heard from a lot of people who are going to be sleeping in their cars," said Bill Quigley, a lawyer for the evacuees.

But Duval denied the request.

[snip]

At a meeting of state emergency managers in Alexandria, Va., acting FEMA chief R. David Paulison told reporters the judge's ruling "recognized that we're doing the right thing for these people."

"We have caseworkers down there and most people have already received rental assistance," Paulison said. "I just gave approval to purchase 10,000 more travel trailers. We're working also with some of the apartment owners to rehab some of the apartments down there. We are going to make sure that people are taken care of. But the judge recognized that, and recognized that the right thing to do is to get them out of hotels and into some decent housing."

Monday marks the second wave of evacuees losing FEMA financing of their hotel rooms. Last week, the occupants of roughly 4,500 rooms lost FEMA funding after failing to ask the agency for extensions.

It's not like these people didn't see it coming. They where suppose to be out in December and then in January. But nope they stayed hopeing that the Fed would continue to use our tax money to house them. I'm sure this isn't over.

Boortz's response"

Now they've adopted the very same lifestyle they were living in New Orleans ... one of dependency and plunder. They see these hotel rooms as a right, not as a temporary act of charity. Those evacuees with a sense of personal responsibility and self-sufficiency left their free hotel rooms long ago. What we have left, by and large, are those who have no desire or intent to work their own way out of this situation. Expect howls of anguish and outrage from various liberal groups as these ticks are plucked over the next few weeks.

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posted by David at 11:17 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

Not My Job, It's Not His Either

WRAL.com

It may be great for finding telephone numbers, but the Greensboro BellSouth telephone book leaves something to be desired for social studies.

The newest book says John Edwards is still a U.S. senator. In fact, the blue pages suggest he's North Carolina's only senator. The state's current U.S. senators, Republicans Richard Burr and Elizabeth Dole, aren't listed at all.

Edwards was the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 2004 and didn't seek re-election to his Senate seat. Burr won that seat.

An Edwards spokeswoman says she asked the Senate telecom office to look into the matter. BellSouth spokesman Clifton Metcalf says while it's apparent Edwards didn't seek re-election, he doesn't have the authority to make the change without instruction from what he calls the reponsible[sic] party.

I guess no one at BellSouth has enough sense to fix obivous errors. And just who is "the responsible party?"


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posted by David at 11:07 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

Update: Lottery In Court

This is an update to 'Judge To Consider Motion To Block Initial Lottery Spending'

WRAL.com

The law creating a state lottery in North Carolina should be repealed because legislators, in a hurried effort to avoid losing their narrow majority, violated the state constitution by not putting off a second vote for another day, a lawyer argued Monday to a judge he wants to stop work on the lottery.

"The question before the court has nothing to whether North Carolina should or should not have a lottery," Robert Orr, a former state Supreme Court justice, told Judge Henry Hight later during the 90-minute hearing. "The real question is whether political expediency trumps the state constitution."

Hight said he would rule by the end of the week.

Read the rest in the extended section.

State lawyers have asked Hight to dismiss the suit. The constitution only requires votes on separate days for laws that lead to higher taxes or borrow against the state's credit, argued Norma Harrell, an attorney with the state Attorney General's Office. The lottery isn't a tax because it doesn't require citizens to participate, Harrell said, likening it to a highway toll paid only by people who choose to use the road.

"If a toll is voluntary, then buying a lottery ticket, your honor, is truly voluntary," she told Hight.

The House approved the lottery bill last April by a vote of 61-59. In August, the Senate needed a tie-breaking vote from Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue for the measure to pass 25-24. Neither chamber held the bill over for a second roll-call vote the next day, pushing it through on voice votes despite calls for delay from lottery opponents.

"I had my light on. I had my microphone on. I said it about six times," Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, one of the plaintiffs, said after the hearing.

Gov. Mike Easley signed the bill into law, and lottery executives are working to get the first scratch-off tickets behind convenience store counters by March 30 and plan to offer Powerball two months later.

The law requires that at least 35 cents of every dollar spent on lottery tickets go to the state for education. Orr argued that's tax revenue.

"What is this 35 percent?" asked Orr, who heads the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law. "It is inarguably and clearly a tax, although the Legislature didn't call it that."

Net lottery proceeds -- expected to reach more than $400 million in the lottery's first full year -- will go to Easley's preschool initiative, public school class-size reductions and building construction, and need-based college scholarships.

Cutting off access to that money by issuing a preliminary injunction would irreparably harm public education, Harrell said.

"The children of this state will lose one-and-a-half million dollars a day for every day the lottery is delayed," she said.

The hearing comes two weeks after the state lottery commission awarded a contract to Rhode Island-based GTECH Holdings Corp. to run North Carolina's lottery games for the next seven years.

If an injunction is issued, the General Assembly could return for a special session to approve the lottery law using the procedure the plaintiffs favor, Orr said. Passage could be questionable given the narrow votes last year.

The N.C. Education Lottery Commission is scheduled to meet Tuesday, when it will probably consider which of four agencies will receive the lottery's advertising contract. The winning firm will receive a three-year deal that includes an $8 million budget for the lottery's first year in operation.

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posted by David at 11:04 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::

WISE, A Foolish Decision

WRAL.com

Students and parents say glitches in a statewide school administration computer system have resulted in some students actually failing classes.

"This is so frustrating and so upsetting," said Pam Taylor. "You don't actually know what to do with it. You don't have a clue."

Taylor's daughter failed three subjects as a result of teachers improperly entering grades into the computer system, known as N.C. WISE.

[snip]

Even though Taylor's grades were corrected, Taylor said she worries that the grade mix-up could happen to her daughter again.

"If the system's going to do what it wants with their grades, why should they even study?" Taylor said. "That's what their mentality is."

N.C. WISE has faced problems since it started seven years ago and has been plagued by complaints, delays and cost overruns of more than $100 million. Overall costs are now projected to top $250 million.

Last week, the State Board of Education terminated its agreement with IBM to develop the information system. Educators had hoped it would be complete and running by now, but only one-third of the project is complete.

$250 million! That's outrageous! The government mentality is ruining the school system. Pumping money into crap like WISE takes away from the individual schools. This money would have been better spent on teacher pay, faculity upkeep and the needs of the individual student. Where is the oversight on capital projects like this? A program that doesn't work and yet is at least 40% over budget needs to be looked at a lot sooner. The school my children attend burned down 2 years ago and we school system had to scrap and beg and pled just to get construction going on what will be an incomplete campus.


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posted by David at 10:49 PM :: Permalink :: Comments (0) ::