Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

San Francisco considers requiring ID scans for most public events -

San Francisco considers requiring ID scans for most public events - 

The San Francisco Entertainment Commission was scheduled Tuesday to consider a proposal that would mandate ID scans for every person entering a "place of entertainment" attended by more than 100 people -- a move that immediately sparked the fears of civil libertarians, who saw it as yet another encroachment of a creeping "police state" culture.
The commission said it would take up the proposal at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday evening, at their typical meeting place in San Francisco's City Hall.
The proposal before members would also mandate that cameras be placed in event halls where they can be clearly seen by attendees. The systems would also need to be freely accessible to local, state and federal law enforcement on demand.
The rules make no mention of safeguards to protect the privacy of event patrons. They would instead require that scanned IDs and video footage from the venues shall be kept for "no less than 15 days" -- meaning, they would be able to keep the information forever.
It would also mandate that all event attendees pass through a metal detector.
The Electronic Frontiers Foundation, a San Francisco-based privacy non-profit, warned that the rules would ultimately change the city's culture and infringe on Americans' civil liberties.
"Scanning the ID’s of all attendees at an anti-war rally, a gay night club, or a fundraiser for a civil liberties organization would have a deeply chilling effect on speech," they cautioned in a Monday advisory. "Participants might hesitate to attend such events if their attendance were noted, stored, and made available on request to government authorities.
"This would transform the politically and culturally tolerant environment for which San Francisco is famous into a police state."
A spokesman with the EFF was not available for comment.
Though it would likely affect anti-war rallies or other political gatherings, the rules would most directly impact event organizers like concert promoter Live Nation. A message left for the company's corporate communications department received no reply.
The California Music and Culture Association said it was opposed to the proposal, which was initially pitched as a crackdown on nightclubs.
The proposal reads like an eerie echo of a warning imparted by Texas Republican state Rep. David Simpson, who told Raw Story last month that he expected a broader push for TSA-like security at football games and on sidewalks.
"This is not a left or right issue," he said. "They are treating American citizens with great indignity, and we've got to make this right."

Read more - http://www.roguegovernment.com/San_Francisco_considers_requiring_ID_scans_for_most_public_events/25420/0/6/6/Y/M.html

Seattle school renames Easter eggs 'Spring Spheres' -

Seattle school renames Easter eggs 'Spring Spheres'  - 

A sophomore at a local private high school thinks an effort to make Easter politically correct is ridiculous.
Jessica, 16, told KIRO Radio's Dori Monson Show that a week before spring break, the students commit to a week-long community service project. She decided to volunteer in a third grade class at a public school, which she would like to remain nameless.

"At the end of the week I had an idea to fill little plastic eggs with treats and jelly beans and other candy, but I was kind of unsure how the teacher would feel about that," Jessica said.

She was concerned how the teacher might react to the eggs after of a meeting earlier in the week where she learned about "their abstract behavior rules."

"I went to the teacher to get her approval and she wanted to ask the administration to see if it was okay," Jessica explained. "She said that I could do it as long as I called this treat 'spring spheres.' I couldn't call them Easter eggs."

Rather than question the decision, Jessica opted to "roll with it." But the third graders had other ideas.

"When I took them out of the bag, the teacher said, 'Oh look, spring spheres' and all the kids were like 'Wow, Easter eggs.' So they knew," Jessica said.

The Seattle elementary school isn't the only government organization using spring over Easter. The city's parks department has removed Easter from all of its advertised egg hunts.

Read more - http://www.mynorthwest.com/?nid=11&sid=459668

Owe Back Taxes? You May Have to Travel Later - Feds Could Recoup Billions in Unpaid Taxes by Withholding Passports -

Owe Back Taxes? You May Have to Travel Later - Feds Could Recoup Billions in Unpaid Taxes by Withholding Passports - 

Owe thousands in back taxes and need to get out of the country? No problem. Under current law, the State Department can't withhold a passport over unpaid taxes. 
But that could change, if lawmakers decide to run with the findings of a new government report suggests Uncle Sam could recoup billions by blocking delinquent Americans from getting passports until they settle their debts to the IRS. 
The Government Accountability Office, at the request of Congress, released a study Monday examining how the government could leverage the passport process to recover unpaid taxes. The office found that in fiscal 2008, Americans who received passports owed a collective $5.8 billion to the IRS. The debt of the internationally traveling public, though, is likely far larger, considering that estimate only factored in a year's worth of recipients. 
The GAO report projected that linking passports and tax obligations could lead to a windfall for the IRS, if Congress opts to draft legislation making that possible. 
"The federal government has a vital interest in efficiently and effectively collecting the billions of dollars of taxes owed under current law," the report said. "Such legislation could have the potential to help generate substantial collections of known unpaid federal taxes and increase tax compliance for tens of millions of Americans holding passports." 

It's not clear whether Congress wants to go down that road. The study was apparently conducted at the request of Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. Representatives for the senators did not return requests for comment. 
The GAO said that if Congress wants to extract tax debt with the help of the State Department, it would have to authorize State to deny passports on that criteria and authorize the IRS to share its tax data. The GAO also suggested determining whether some individuals should be exempted for "national security purposes" and setting a threshold for when a tax debt would be high enough to trigger the denial of a passport.
After all, plenty of travelers likely owe a modest amount of back taxes without even realizing it -- the GAO report also showed that only a small percentage of those who received passports in 2008 were delinquent. 
The report suggested privacy issues would have to be dealt with if Congress pursues the change. 
But the office pointed out that U.S. law already allows the State Department to deny passports for other reasons -- ranging from an applicant owing more than $2,500 in child support to having an outstanding felony warrant. 
The GAO report examined a handful of severe cases where individuals received passports despite owing money to the U.S. government. In one case, an individual identified as a "gambler" owed nearly $47 million, despite filing tax returns claiming no outstanding balance with the IRS. 
Another individual owed $40 million and did not file a personal income tax return for four years. 
"IRS officials stated that screening passport applicants for federal tax debts would likely improve tax collections," the GAO report said.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/04/12/study-suggests-feds-recoup-billions-unpaid-taxes-withholding-passports/#ixzz1JLz2kpnv

Obama’s EPA Pays to Upgrade Mexican Trucks So They Can Enter US - picked up the cost to replace old mufflers -

Obama’s EPA Pays to Upgrade Mexican Trucks So They Can Enter US - picked up the cost to replace old mufflers - 

The fact that Obama’s EPA is punishing US industry with a slew of new business-killing regulations is one thing… The fact that Obama’s EPA is paying the Lung Association to defeat Republicans is somethnig else… But, this takes the cake… Obama’s EPA is upgrading Mexican trucks so they can travel and do business in the US.

Corruption Chronicles reported, via Doug Ross:

In the latest effort to accommodate its cherished trade partner in the south, the U.S. government is paying to upgrade outdated Mexican trucks that hemorrhage illegal amounts of exhaust on their trips north to deliver merchandise.

The Mexican trucks enter the U.S. under a 17-year-old international trade pact known as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and they’ve created an air pollution crisis. The air quality in border towns has been especially impacted by the exorbitant levels of exhaust released by the Mexican trucks, which also fail to meet American safety standards.

Since the Mexican truckers have no intention of fixing the problem, Uncle Sam has stepped in to save the environment. U.S. taxpayers have picked up the cost to replace old mufflers on dozens of trucks and many more are scheduled to be upgraded by the middle of this year. The unbelievable story was reported this week by an Arizona newspaper that says replacing the old mufflers with new catalytic converters will reduce harmful diesel emissions by up to 30%.

This radical government agency is doing all it can to destroy US business but they’re helping Mexican truckers?… Something is terribly wrong with this administration.

Read more - http://gatewaypundit.rightnetwork.com/2011/04/obamas-epa-pays-to-upgrade-mexican-trucks-so-they-can-travel-in-us/

Iceland's penis museum finally gets human specimen - 95-year-old Icelander's pickled penis will be the main attraction -

Iceland's penis museum finally gets human specimen - 95-year-old Icelander's pickled penis will be the main attraction - 

In life, Pall Arason sought attention. In death, he is getting it: The 95-year-old Icelander's pickled penis will be the main attraction in one of his country's most bizarre museums.
Sigurdur Hjartarson, who runs the Phallological Museum in the tiny Icelandic fishing town of Husavik, said Arason's organ will help round out the unusual institution's extensive collection of phalluses from whales, seals, bears and other mammals.
Several people had pledged their penises over the years — including an American, a Briton, and a German — but Arason's was the first to be successfully donated, Hjartarson said.
"I have just been waiting for this guy for 15 years," he told The Associated Press in a brief telephone interview.
Hjartarson's museum started in Reykjavik but has since moved to Husavik, a small community better known for its whale watching. The Phallological Museum is an important part of the region's tourist industry, bringing in thousands of visitors every summer.
Highlights of the museum's collection include a 170-centimeter (67-inch) sperm whale penis preserved in formaldehyde, lampshades made from bull testicles and what the museum described as an "unusually big" penis bone from a Canadian walrus.
Hjartarson, 69, said his interest in what he calls "phallology" began when, as a youngster in rural Iceland, he was given a whip made from a bull's penis to help him herd cattle. Later, when he worked at a school near a whaling station, colleagues brought him whale penises as gifts.
"That was how it started. I opened this museum 15 years ago with 62 specimens," he said. Now, with the addition of Arason's organ, he has 276, many suspended in formaldehyde or dried and mounted on the walls.
Photos posted to the museum's website show small army of ghostly, whitish penises stuffed into jars, tall glass cylinders and large aquariums. There are sculptures, molds and other penis-related craft items. Outside, the museum has a large tree trunk carved into the shape of an erect phallus.
Most items are donations from friends and well-wishers, people listed on the museum's website as "honorary members."
Arason was described by Hjartarson as a former tourism worker who died Jan. 5 in the nearby town of Akureyri. Thorvaldur Ingvarsson, the medical director of Akureyri's hospital, didn't give a cause of death but said the specimen was removed from the body under the supervision of a doctor.
The phallus was officially installed in a ceremony last week, Hjartarson said, adding that he saw nothing wrong with the idea of having someone donate their penis to be shown off to the public.
"People are always donating some organ after they died," he said. "It's no more remarkable to donate a penis than it is to donate an organ like a kidney."
Hjartarson said the donation fit with Arason's personality.
"He liked to be in the limelight, you know? He was a funny guy," he said. "He was a boaster, a braggart ... he liked to be provocative."
But the museum director was coy when asked about the size of his newest acquisition.
"I can't tell you that," Hjartarson said. "You will just have to come and see it."

Extraordinary video images have emerged of an Air France Airbus A380 colliding with a Comair Bombardier CRJ700 at JFK -

Extraordinary video images have emerged of an Air France Airbus A380 colliding with a Comair Bombardier CRJ700 at JFK - 

Extraordinary video images have emerged of an Air France Airbus A380 colliding with a Comair Bombardier CRJ700 during taxiing at New York JFK.
Air France has grounded the aircraft, which suffered damage to its left wing, while the CRJ has similarly been taken out of service with damage to its empennage.
The Air France jet was operating flight AF007 to Paris Charles de Gaulle on 11 April. The carrier says it was transporting 495 passengers, 22 cabin crew and three pilots.
A spokesman for Air France says the A380 "clipped the tail fin" of the Comair jet – which had arrived from Boston as flight DL6293 – while the CRJ was parked.