Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Friday, 19 August 2011

Why is CBS News Selling Barack Obama Merchandise in its Online Store? -

Why is CBS News Selling Barack Obama Merchandise in its Online Store? - 

There‘s some curious merchandise for sale in CBS News’ online store.*

Alongside a travel mug, tote bag and T-shirt that all bear the CBS News logo, the store also includes the following:

“Dreams From My Father,” by Barack Obama
“Dreams From My Father,” by Barack Obama (hardcover)
“Change We Can Believe In: Barack Obama‘s Plan to Renew America’s Promise”
“The American Journey of Barack Obama,” by Life Magazine
“Obama: The Historic Campaign in Photographs”
“The Official Inauguration Celebration DVD”

In fact, out of the 13 items for sale, seven are Obama-related, in addition to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s memoir, “True Compass.” The only CBS-related item is a DVD copy of “60 Minutes Presents — Obama: All Access – The Road to the White House.”

There is so much merchandise that a side bar on the site even has a separate “Barack Obama” tab for quick browsing:
Read more -

Friars pray for diarrhea punishment for bible thief -

Friars pray for diarrhea punishment for bible thief - 

A group of Franciscan friars furious at the theft of bibles from their church in Florence have taken the unusual step of praying for the thief to be struck down by diarrhoea.
Friars at the 15th century church of San Salvatore al Monte, which was a favourite of Michelangelo, were irritated when a rare and expensive bible disappeared from the lectern, and they flew off the handle when a replacement bible donated by a worshipper also went missing and within a few hours.
In a note, pinned up in full view of worshippers, the friars say they hope the thief sees the error of his ways. But in case he does not, they add: "We pray to God that the thief is struck by a strong bout of the shits."
This turn of events will, they hope, "encourage him to carry out no further thefts".
Described by La Stampa newspaper as "the product of the Tuscan ability to be ironic about anything", the note and its unorthodox request will be forgiven, claim one of the friars. "It is not exactly clean language," the friar said, "but we couldn't put up with it any longer. The Lord and the faithful will understand."
Read more - http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/18/tuscan-monks-diarrhoea-bible-thief

‘Sexting’ Tops Parents’ Back-to-School Worries - not grades, sports teams or bullying -

‘Sexting’ Tops Parents’ Back-to-School Worries - not grades, sports teams or bullying - 

It isn't grades, sports teams or bullying that have parents worried this back-to-school season. According to a recent survey, parents' top concerns for their children this school year is sexting, the practice of sending racy and inappropriate text and picture messages via cell phone.
Nearly half of the parents polled (49%) listed their top concern as sexting, followed by text messaging at 33%. In addition, 49% of respondents said their child had received an inappropriate text message or picture, and 21% reported their child has received a sext. The survey was conducted by SpectorSoft, a software company that produces internet and cell phone monitoring programs.

SpectorSoft polled more than 550 of its users of mobile phone and internet monitoring software.
The parent respondents have children between the ages of 10 and 18. These parents have a right to know what their kids are doing with their phones, because they are likely footing the bill. The average person spent $47.21 on their monthly cell phone bill as of December 2011, according to CTIA- The Wireless Association, based in Washington, D.C. This is on local calls, not including roaming charges.
Lisa Shaw, senior director of Child Safety at SpectorSoft, says sexting is a major concern for parents because teens and tweens may not grasp the severity of the actions they are taking.
"There's not much time between the impulse and pushing the 'send' button. The judgment is very poor with tweens and teens. We have seen people in our government making these mistakes and there is that fine line between what's funny and appropriate and what isn't."
Parents often get their children a cell phone to use as a tool to keep tabs on them and make sure they are safe, according to Shaw, citing 89% of respondents saying they would like to track their children’s location through their cell phone. Keeping tabs on children is good for their safety, but the problem is, children often become more "savvy" with the device than their parents and use the phone as their own communication tool, sometimes inappropriately.
The survey did find that parents are monitoring their children's phone use, with 88% saying they look at the mobile phone or bill at least several times a month to see if their child's calls and texts are acceptable. Additionally, 34% of respondents said they will look at the phone and bill details more frequently once their kids get back to school.
Bryan Bowers, author of Keep Your Family Safe Online says the survey proves parents are starting to gain greater awareness of what their children are actually up to on their phones and online. Eighty-four percent of SpectorSoft’s survey respondents said they are speaking to their children more frequently about sexting or when sexting topics arise in the news.
"So many children have smartphones, and this tells me parents are starting to get the idea that these devices can be a problem for children," Bowers said. "They are starting to see the reality of what is out there."
Here are some tips for protecting your children while online and using their cell phones.
No. 1: Get their passwords. Bowers said parents should have access to their children's Twitter and Facebook accounts, and should check these sites on a weekly basis.
"Get in there and see what's going on, or if anything is suspicious," he says. "Cyber bullying can explode from day one to day six, that is why once a week you should be checking proactively to take steps to protect your child."
No. 2: Take note of the device your child is using. Laptops and computers aren’t the outlet for kids to hop online. Parents should realize where and how their kids are using the Internet and monitor that device. Also, keep tabs on the monthly phone bill to see how often and with who your child is texting.
No. 3: 'Friend' your kids. Send 'Friend' requests to your children on Facebook and request to follow them on Twitter. This way, they know you are on these sites and you can see what they are up to, Bowers says.
No. 4: Consider software. Parental control software will do the "heavy lifting" for parents in terms of monitoring children's online activity. 
"It will send alerts to you when something [irregular] occurs," Bowers says. "It will tell you if your child just got a suspicious text and other texting lingo for things like 'let's meet in real life,'" from online friends.
No. 5: Talk to them. "Make sure there is a two-way communication to understand what is going on in their life," Bowers advises. "Let them know they can come to you."
It’s also a good idea to reminds kids that what they say online can have long-lasting repercussions, and that they shouldn’t post anything that might come back to bite them as an adult.
"Educating your kids on anything that (they) say or do on that device is permanent," Shaw says. "Then you can make changes, and help address what to do next."

Read more: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2011/08/18/sexting-tops-parents-back-to-school-worries/?test=latestnews

US deploys 'ballistic underwear' to curb groin injuries... -

US deploys 'ballistic underwear' to curb groin injuries... - 

The U.S. military is working to protect troops against an increasingly common type of injury in Afghanistan: groin wounds.

Four months ago, the Army put in a rush order for $2 million worth of ballistic underwear designed to better protect service members. Recently, the Army again put in a rush order – this time for $19 million for “ballistic groin protection and armored exterior shorts.”

There’s a good reason to take a hard look at pelvic protection. As a result of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, troops in Afghanistan are suffering more and more blunt trauma injuries to their pelvic areas and genitals. The injuries can lead to internal bleeding and in some cases be fatal.

From 2009 to 2010, the proportion of injured troops suffering wounds to their genital areas rose from 4.8 to 9.1 percent — a 90 percent increase — according to a report by a group of surgeons who studied casualties at the main U.S. military medical facility in Germany, where virtually every evacuated soldier stops en route to the United States.

Of the 142 soldiers with “genitourinary wounds” who arrived at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in 2010, 40 percent suffered an injury to the testicles.

The new pelvic protection equipment is being manufactured by Cooneen, Watts, and Stone, Ltd., a Northern Ireland firm that is among the biggest providers of clothing for the military and police in Britain.

Because of pressing need for the equipment, and given the increased use of IEDs, the Army has asked that deliveries to Afghanistan begin in less than eight weeks.

Cooneen has already supplied some 50,000 of their armored exterior shorts and 250,000 of their undergarments to British troops in Afghanistan.

In justifying the purchase without putting the contract out for bid, the Army stated: ”U.S. Forces in Afghanistan sustain significant losses of life and serious injuries to the genital, perinea (between anus and scrotum), and femoral artery areas resulting from combat operations and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).”

The Cooneen product was justified as being combat-tested in Afghanistan and as having demonstrated both “effectiveness in saving lives and limbs [and] also effectiveness in the harsh environment of Afghanistan,” the notice said.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden jokes about debt held by China... - while in China on a five-day charm mission -

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden jokes about debt held by China... - while in China on a five-day charm mission - 

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, in China on a five-day charm mission, has worked hard with his hosts to inject a little amity into the sometimes fractious relationship, pulling punches but not his punch lines.

On Thursday, China's vice president and likely leader-in-waiting, Xi Jinping, met Biden at the Great Hall of the People.

"Good to see you again," Xi said. "I know you are very busy with national affairs at home."

"You ARE national affairs," Biden told his counterpart from the United States' largest creditor.

After on a stroll up the red carpet, Biden found a familiar face during introductions to the Chinese delegation.

"Remember what I told you last time: if I had hair like yours I'd be president," the 68-year-old VP with a well-groomed but receding silver hairline said.

Pleasantries out of the way, Xi and Biden got down to real issues -- shoring up prospects for Sino-American relations and offering a dose of optimism about the U.S. economy.

Then it was time for lunch. But Biden was chicken when it came to having guts.

Eating at a tiny Beijing restaurant renowned for its fried liver and pig intestines, the vice president balked: "Noodles or dumplings."

That meal for five, which included the new U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke and Biden's granddaughter, cost about 79 yuan ($12), and seemed to have struck the right chord with Chinese microbloggers.

By noon the next day tens of thousands had weighed in on the lunch, many admiring the careful choreography to show how wisely Americans spend their money. Lend away, China.

After a good meal, it was back to business at the Great Hall, where he met with the Chairman of China's National People's Congress, Wu Bangguo.

Biden apologized to members of the Chinese delegation who had to listen to him speak "again and again and again."

He did not, however, apologize to the media.

Wu reminisced about the two leaders' last meeting in D.C.

"I remember I said to you back then that your office was exquisite, but not very big," Wu said.

"Very diplomatic," Biden quipped.

More diplomatic, anyway, than the Georgetown Hoyas and China's Bayi Military Rockets basketball teams, who ended a "friendly" match that night across town, not with Biden-esque jokes off the cuff, but with fisticuffs.

Best to leave the diplomacy to the professionals, who know the value of a little self-deprecating office humor.

"I used to have an important job when I was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee," Biden told Wu. "I had a big office, large staff. Then I became vice president."

Members of the press pool speculated that joke, at least, may have been lost in translation.


Is charity sex better than no sex? -

Is charity sex better than no sex? - 

Is pushing yourself when you’re not in the mood an investment in your relationship?
You may be bristling at the phrase “charity sex.” If you’re a woman, perhaps it brings to mind past, award-worthy, faked orgasms. Or maybe it reminds you of that time you bit your tongue and had sex because you were sick of hearing him ask for it. If you’re a guy, you might be thinking, “better than nothing.”
Or possibly, just possibly, you assume I’m referring to guilt-induced sex…... the sort you engage in because you feel bad for not throwing your partner a bone lately... the sort you suffer through, only to feel resentment later on.
But don’t equate charity sex with pity sex. Rather, see charity sex as a means of reestablishing a connection with your partner, and of making an important investment in your relationship.
Think of it as a donation, rather than an assessment. As blogger Heidi Raykeil has written, “The other night I was enjoying some “me” time, curled up on the couch watching the latest episode of "Grey’s Anatomy." Meanwhile, my husband was tossing and turning in bed, stressed out over his latest work project.
Frankly, between McDreamy and McSteamy, I was already pretty satisfied. But if I know one thing about my husband, it’s that sex helps him sleep. So I put down the remote and headed upstairs to take one for the team. That’s right: I had charity sex. And you know what? It was actually pretty hot.”
Pity sex is about checking sex off your to-do list. Charity sex is about checking in with each other. It’s not about meeting someone else’s physical needs—it’s about meeting your relationship’s emotional ones. It’s about opening up, quite literally, to each other.
Why might you engage in charity sex? You might do it because your partner is all wound up from work, and sex relaxes him or her. You might do it because she’s feeling a little down, and sex gives her a boost. Or maybe you do it because —- like some 41 million Americans - you’ve both gone too many days, weeks, or even months without sex.
It’s easy for sex to fall to the bottom of your to-do list when you have so many other things on your mind. The bills? The housework? The kids? The latest episode of "Breaking Bad"? Who has time for sex!? Unfortunately, the less often you have sex, the harder it is to get back into the groove. Testosterone levels drop and, as a result, libido levels drop, too. Before you know it, you’re experiencing the longest dry spell of your life.
Charity? You feel you don’t have enough to give! Fortunately, if you dig deep, you can still do your relationship some good. How?
Fake it ’til you make it. No. I’m not advocating fake orgasms. But there’s definitely something to be said for putting in a little effort. With charity sex, you may not initially feel as if you’re in the mood, but if you start going through the motions, your desire will likely catch up.
As Emily Nagoski has written in the "Good in Bed Guide to Female Orgasms," “Putting your body through the moves of faking one could actually lead to having one.” So start slowly, with intimate touching. Allow yourself to enjoy some pleasurable sensations. Try not to think about anything —- your to-do list; that meeting tomorrow morning -— but how it feels when the two of you touch. Before you know it, that offering of charity sex will start to feel like a gift to both of you.
Take away the pressure. When you’re not in the mood for sex, an orgasm may seem out of the question. And you may ask yourself: Why even have sex if I’m not getting the big payoff? But there’s a lot to be said about the stuff that happens before the orgasm. So don’t fixate too much on the end result. Rather, enjoy those moan-inducing caresses and toe-curling nibbles as they’re happening. Remain in the moment. You never know. Your body may surprise you.
Remember how good it was. Remember all the reasons you’re together. Remember what things were like when they were still new and undeniably hot. And then think of how much things have changed. How can you give back to that relationship? What are you willing to do to revitalize it?
Is charity sex better than no sex? And can it be a good thing for your relationship? You tell me.

Stunning 3D Imaging Records Solar Storm Engulfing Earth -

Stunning 3D Imaging Records Solar Storm Engulfing Earth - 

New data processing techniques, coupled with a pair NASA spacecraft has allowed scientists to see the awesome power of the sun in dramatic detail as it recorded a massive solar storm engulfing Earth.

Using the techniques, NASA was able to produce a video, for the first time on Thursday, showing the effects a Coronal Mass Ejection has on the planet as it hurtles around Earth at 3 million miles per hour.
"The movie sent chills down my spine," says Craig DeForest of the Southwest Researcher Institute in Boulder, Colorado. "It shows a CME swelling into an enormous wall of plasma and then washing over the tiny blue speck of Earth where we live. I felt very small."
CMEs are billion-ton clouds of solar plasma launched by the same explosions that spark solar flares. The effect on earth can range from beautiful auroras, to radiation storms, and in extreme cases power outages.
Tracking these clouds and predicting their arrival is an important part of space weather forecasting.
The new insight is coming from NASA's twin Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, or STEREO, launched in 2006. The duo comprises a key fleet that gives NASA insight into solar activities, and aids predictions.
When the storm occurred, STEREO-A was more than 65 million miles from Earth, giving it the "big picture" view other spacecraft in Earth's orbit lack, NASA said.
"We have seen CMEs before, but never quite like this," says Lika Guhathakurta, program scientist for the STEREO mission at NASA headquarters. "STEREO-A has given us a new view of solar storms."

'Backdoor amnesty'? Fewer youths to be deported under new Obama policy -

'Backdoor amnesty'? Fewer youths to be deported under new Obama policy - 

 The Obama administration announced Thursday that it would suspend deportation proceedings against many illegal immigrants who pose no threat to national security or public safety.

The new policy is expected to help thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as young children, graduated from high school and want to go on to college or serve in the armed forces.
White House and immigration officials said they would exercise “prosecutorial discretion” to focus enforcement efforts on cases involving criminals and people who have flagrantly violated immigration laws.
Under the new policy, the secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, can provide relief, on a case-by-case basis, to young people who are in the country illegally but pose no threat to national security or to the public safety.

The decision would, through administrative action, help many intended beneficiaries of legislation that has been stalled in Congress for a decade. The sponsor of the legislation, Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, has argued that “these young people should not be punished for their parents’ mistakes.”
The action would also bolster President Obama’s reputation with Latino voters as he heads into the 2012 election. Just a week ago the leaders of major Hispanic organizations criticized his record, saying in a report that Mr. Obama and Congress had “overpromised and underdelivered” on immigration and other issues of concern to Latino voters, a major force in some swing states.
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Lamar Smith, Republican of Texas, denounced the new policy.

“The Obama administration has again made clear its plan to grant backdoor amnesty to illegal immigrants,” Mr. Smith said. “The administration should enforce immigration laws, not look for ways to ignore them. Officials should remember the oath of office they took to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the land.”


12 Signs That We Are Getting Dangerously Close To War With Syria -

12 Signs That We Are Getting Dangerously Close To War With Syria - 

Are you ready for another war?  Now that Barack Obama and most of the other major leaders of the western world are publicly calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, we are getting dangerously close to war with Syria.  It is not going to happen next week, and it is almost certainly not going to happen next month.  But right now the U.S. government is going down the exact same road that it went down with Libya.  There is all kinds of talk about how Assad has lost "legitimacy", "human rights violations" have been declared, sanctions have been imposed and Syrian government assets have been frozen.  But just like with Gaddafi, Assad has no intention of ever stepping down.  He is not going to resign just because the U.S. and the EU ask him too.  The opposition in Syria is certainly not strong enough to remove Assad, so just about the only way that it will be accomplished is through direct military action.  Right now the U.S. and the EU are basically painting themselves into a corner with their bold declarations about Assad.  But when the time comes will they be willing to risk starting World War III in order to remove him from power?
So what is all the hubbub about?  Well, the Syrian government has been cracking down on the recent protest movement really hard.  Some human rights groups estimate that at least 2,000 people have been killed and at least 10,000 have been arrested since the protests began last March.
And as we have seen in Libya, the U.S. and the EU are now willing to conduct military operations in foreign nations in order to protect civilians from their own governments.  The precedent for a "humanitarian" military operation has already been set.
But with Syria things are going to be different.  For one thing, Syria has much closer ties with both Russia and China than Libya did.  Russia and China are not about to approve any military operation against Syria.
And the Assad regime is much stronger than the Gaddafi dictatorship.  In Libya, if Gaddafi gets killed the game will more or less be over.  In Syria, taking down Assad will not end things.
Right now it appears that Assad is trying to cool things down.  He has told the United Nations that operations against protesters have stopped.
But that didn't stop a chorus of leaders in the U.S. and the EU from declaring today that Assad has lost "legitimacy" and that he must step down.
The Obama administration and the EU have now put Assad on the same level as Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein.  There is no going back.  They aren't going to turn around 6 months from now and say that now it is okay for Assad to stay in power.
They have crossed a line and there is no going back.  It is the same roadmap that was used leading up to the airstrikes in Libya.
The relationship between the western world and the Assad regime will never be the same again.  You can count on that.
The following are 12 signs that we are getting dangerously close to war with Syria....
#1 Barack Obama is demanding that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down....
"We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way. He has not led. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside."
#2 U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was far more blunt in calling for Assad to resign....
"The transition to democracy in Syria has begun, and it is time for Assad to get out of the way"
#3 British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a joint statement in which they demanded that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down....
"Our three countries believe that President Assad, who is resorting to brutal military force against his own people and who is responsible for the situation, has lost all legitimacy and can no longer claim to lead the country"
#4 EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is calling for Assad to resign....
"The EU notes the complete loss of Bashar al-Assad's legitimacy in the eyes of the Syrian people and the necessity for him to step aside."
#5 Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says that Assad should "vacate his position, relinquish power and step down immediately".
#6 The U.S. government has imposed a fresh round of economic sanctionson Syria.  These include sanctions targeting Syrian oil and gas sales.
#7 There are reports that EU officials will also impose new economic sanctions against Syria on Friday.  These sanctions will also reportedly include sanctions targeting oil and gas sales.  Approximately 90 percent of Syrian oil exports go to the EU, and oil and gas account for about 25 percent of Syria's GDP.
#8 The U.S. government has frozen all Syrian government assets in the United States.
#9 Presidential candidate Mitt Romney supports these moves against Syria and believes that we need to do more to "move" Syria "toward modernity"....
"America must show leadership on the world stage and work to move these developing nations toward modernity"
#10 At least 12,000 refugees from Syria have flooded into neighboring Turkey, and Turkey has been reinforcing its military forces along the border area.  In recent days Turkey's warnings to Syria have become more heated.
#11 The United Nations is "temporarily" removing some of its staff from Syria.
#12 A U.N. fact-finding mission has determined that the Syrian government is guilty of multiple human rights violations....
"The mission found a pattern of human rights violations that constitutes widespread or systematic attacks against the civilian population, which may amount to crimes against humanity"
Without a doubt, the pressure on the Syrian government is going to be very intense?
So what if Assad gets desperate?
What will he do?
What is his play?
Well, if he really feels backed into a corner he may pull out one of the only cards that he has left - a war with Israel.
There would be nothing like war with Israel to unite the Islamic world.  It would be a way that Assad could get all of his neighbors in the Middle East back on his side.
But in the event of a war between Syria and Israel, there is a very good chance that the U.S. and /or the EU would intervene.
And that could potentially be the spark that sets off World War III.
Even before this recent crisis in Syria, tensions in the Middle East were rising to very dangerous levels.  Another major war could literally start at any time.  The Middle East is a timebomb that could go off at any moment.
We live in very unstable times, and it is almost as if someday is trying to push the Middle East towards war.  Let us hope for peace, but let us also realize that war is becoming more likely every single day.
Read more -