Archive for November, 2010

The Wiki has Leaked Again

November 30, 2010

Wikileaks LogoWikileaks has released its latest batch of files. However, these files are unlike those previously released. These files were gained from leaked internal communications regarding diplomatic relations with other countries. This means the files contain what leaders of Country A really think of Country B.  Some of these files are recent, but they are supposed to date all the way back to 1966, in some cases.  US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has been running around frantic trying to sweet-talk countries whose integrity may be compromised.  Prior to the release, Wikileaks was hacked, resulting in users losing access to part of the Web site.  As a fail-safe, copies of the files were sent to several major newspapers, including the UK’s Guardian.  The New York Times was supposed to receive the files in advance, but Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, did not send the NYT copies…it had to request the files from the Guardian.

The files are out, and the collection (so far) is available for your viewing pleasure at this location.  The number of files available is, supposedly, to reach 251,287.  If the page does not appear, refresh the page until it does.

I have cruised some files to see how bad they are…how can anyone interested in conspiracy theories resist such a temptation?  And who does not want to know such priceless tidbits as the reason behind Iran’s denying the US women’s badminton team visitor visas in 2009?  By the by, Iran denied the visas because the US announced the arrival before Iran wanted them to.  Iran wanted to control the media coverage because officials did not want Iranians to show up, en masse, and display American flags and such in support of the American team…not very surprising.

Dubai Knowledge VillageAnother interesting bit is the University of Connecticut almost established a campus in Dubai in 2007.  However, plans were halted when it came about that United Arab Emirates (UAE) regulations would have prohibited entry into Dubai by citizens of Israel.  Though the University of Connecticut did not make it, the US does have representation in the Dubai Knowledge Village.

More communications from 2007 bring Israel into the mix.  Mainly, their interests in changing the regime presiding over Iran.  They planned to do this through their “Five Pillar System.”  One of these pillars is “Sanctioning.”  Israel said sanctioning was the most effective method, at the time, bringing three Iranian banks to their fiscal knees…sounds like a vaguely familiar strategy where banks are concerned.  The current President of Iran (both now and at the time of document creation) is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  He could have been voted out of office in 2009, but he won amidst claims of fixed votes.  Protests have continued, and some have ended violently thanks to the Basij, a volunteer Iranian militia.  One such case is that of Neda Agha-Soltan (NSFW, depending whether you watch the video or not).

Julian AssangeThere are supposed to be files revealing how US officials feel about other world officials, so I am going to wait until the entire collection is online before searching for those documents.  Apparently, the US says India is a “self-appointed frontrunner” for a UNSC seat…but India self-appoints itself as a lot of things, including being congruent to China on many levels (this occurred during Copenhagen Agreement talks).  US officials say they are currently looking into possible criminal charges for Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange.  However, the search for a basis on which to arrest him does not look hopeful.

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Obama’s Bloody Lip

November 27, 2010

Barack Obama BasketballWhile playing basketball with friends at Fort McNair yesterday, President Barack Obama was (presumably) inadvertently elbowed in the mouth by Rey Decerega, an associate with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.  Back at the White House, hours later, medical staff gave Obama 12 stitches to close his lip.

President Obama has now joined the ranks of past presidents injured while in office.  Among them are George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.  George W. Bush suffered scrapes to his chin, upper lip, nose, right hand and both knees when he lost control of his mountain bike in 2004.  This was one of many health issues for Bush.  Bill Clinton required knee surgery in 1997 after he fell while exiting a golfer’s home in Florida.  He tore more than half of the quadriceps tendon in his right knee.  Ronald Reagan suffered a punctured lung (via bullet) during an assassination attempt in 1981.  For a longer list of past presidential injuries, visit this page.

US President SealPresident Obama must be commended in a regard:  He was playing basketball at a base located in Washington D.C., but he did not seek medical attention until he arrived at the White House, hours later…at which time he was given stitches.  This either says Obama is a trooper or the White House hands out unnecessary stitches.  Whichever may be the case, an elbow to the mouth never tickles.  I am interpreting the incident as a good indication of Obama’s character.

I am not one for basketball, but I have played (and will continue to play) my share of racquetball.  On an unrelated note, Barack Obama has yet to make his way into a spellchecker, I see.

TSA Policy Change…Not

November 22, 2010

President Barack ObamaLast I posted, airlines were losing friends…fast.  President Barack Obama is urging the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to place significant consideration on developing “less intrusive” inspection methods.  He then likened the TSA to his counterterrorism team in that both groups must consider whether the respective chosen courses of action are necessary or not.

According to ABC News, the TSA announced it is testing full-body scanners capable of showing nothing more than a stick figure, though no sample image is available.  It is odd that dumbing down an image is considered a technological advancement, but there you TSA Admn John Pistolehave it.  As a side note—ABC News ran a story indicating the scanner images are not very detailed prior to my previous TSA post, so I do not place a lot of weight on ABC News stories regarding the TSA.  The TSA also attempted to reassure the public the screenings will be “minimally invasive,” but the organization gave no indication of enacting an actual policy change.  Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, even expressed how she would not want to go through airport security.  Fox News also acknowledged implications made by Transportation Security Administrator, John Pistole:

Pistole appeared to shrug off statements by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that the agency would look for ways to alter screening techniques that some passengers say are invasions of privacy.

Rep. Ron PaulEnter:  Ron Paul and his proposed American Traveler Dignity Act.  He stepped in front of the House of Representatives and gave an excellent speech, in which he suggested members from various branches of government go through the scanner and the pat-down, which he referred to as “groping.”  Paul also made reference to the money trail and possible health risk associated with the full-body scanners.  It is nice to see Ron Paul get back in touch with his Libertarian roots.  Though he always runs on the Republican ticket, this introduction of legislation does not fit the ideology of conservatism (Republican).  Why?  Because the bill will be effectively extending the power of the federal government to regulate air travel.  Paul has voted against similar extensions of power in the past.

Charlie Sheen Losing his Sheen?

November 22, 2010

Charlie SheenIn October, Two and a Half Men star, Charlie Sheen, trashed a hotel room.  He paid $7,000 in damages after being arrested.  A porn star, Capri Anderson, was found locked in the bathroom.  At first, she told fans she was fine, and she did not indicate otherwise to police.  Now, she is coming back to file civil suits against Sheen  for offenses including abuse, assault and false imprisonment.  She acknowledges she was a paid escort, who was willing to do more than escort…when Sheen produced drugs, she took off her dress.  Also, she refuses to say what, exactly, set Sheen off to supposedly calling her a whore and threatening to kill her.

Capri AndersonCharlie Sheen‘s camp claims the so-called “adult actress” is attempting to cash in on Sheen’s celebrity status.  This is possible, but Sheen does have a history of being a semi-out-of-control party animal.  Still, Capri Anderson definitely waited long enough to report her account of what happened.  And with an interview by ABC News, she has already begun cashing in—regardless of her intentions.  Profiling for the sake of argument, Anderson does seem like the high-maintenance weasel type who appears capable of utilizing such an opportunity for the money.

At the beginning of November, Charlie Sheen filed for divorce from Brooke Mueller.  This is that supposedly charming third time for Sheen.

Facebook at Odds with the Other Book

November 17, 2010

Facebook Homepage - Getty ImagesNo one has said Facebook is against the Bible or anything…yet.  The Rev. Cedric Miller, a pastor in Neptune, New Jersey, has laid forth the claim that Facebook may guide some down an unsavory path—infidelity.

His beef stems from his experience giving marriage counseling.  Apparently, Facebook makes it easier for break-ups to reconnect…who would have thought?  This would normally lack malice, as Facebook would be bringing the two people back together.  However, the reconnection comes when at least one person has already entered a marriage with another person—not so good, under these conditions.  Miller has counseled 20 couples (of the 1,100 members) at the Living Word Christian Fellowship Church.  I can see why the good reverend is concerned.

Rev. Cedric MillerHe is going overboard.  He suggested all couples in the congregation share their Facebook passwords or delete their accounts.  This weekend, he is going to delete his account, though he uses it to communicate with his sizable family.  He is also suggesting his married staff and church leaders follow suit, deleting their accounts, or resign.  Soon, he will suggest the policy spread to all married couples.  Staff members who are not married will not be required to delete their accounts.

First, he has no place suggesting couples exchange passwords…unless the couple has a single account, in which case the password is not an issue.  Yeah, that method adds transparency to the relationship…but some of us are capable of having Facebook without cheating on a spouse.  Even crazier, some of us can have exes as friends on Facebook without forgetting the bottom line:  it did not work out before, and it most likely will not work out now.  Simple.  And I would never give anyone my password to any online account I hold…except under extreme circumstances.

ExesAs far as Miller basically ordering church leaders to delete Facebook accounts…that is none of his concern.  If the person posts content unbecoming of someone in his/her position, I could understand Miller getting upset.  However, he is punishing the many for the lack of integrity of few in a preemptive move reminiscent of pre-sixteenth century England.  Banning Facebook is not the answer.  The shift in the paradigm he sees may not be one he likes, but it is probably going to happen.  If his congregation has such an affliction with Facebook, perhaps he should scale back his suggestion to merely not adding an ex as a friend.  Clearly, the underlying factor is not Facebook, but whatever void left a member of one of the couples susceptible to fantasies of an ex creeping back.  Somebody, obviously, had not moved on.

I have an ex as a friend on my account, but I do not actively seek to rekindle anything, nor consider it a possibility.  In honesty, I accepted the friend request to avoid being rude.  I will probably delete her in the future, as I do not have much to say to her.  Nevertheless, being friends with her on Facebook is not having any effect (adverse or otherwise) on life.

Another Guns N’ Roses Album?

November 17, 2010

It’s late…but there is another post left in me today.

Guns N' RosesCurrent Guns N’ Roses guitarist, D.J. Ashba, indicated, last week, that a new album would not take long to complete.  The other GN’R guitarist, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, posted on Facebook indicating the process had not even begun.

Among the myriad of production phases he listed as yet to be completed were basic steps such as getting in the same room and jamming…that is a rather important step on the ladder to releasing an album…the first step, actually.  I would not announce the release of an album until the group could consistently be in the same place long enough to know what the band is doing.  Apparently, the guitarists are recording different albums.  They have not even started the ball rolling.

Chinese Democracy album illustrationMy favorite thing on the list is getting a schedule and other details, from the record label, of which Axl approves.  I remember the gallons of feces Axl spewed for the better part of ten years leading to the release of Chinese Democracy. I remember watching the footage of the 2002 MTV Music awards and hearing “Madagascar.”  This is not the MTV footage, but it is a good version of the song as performed at Rock in Rio 2001.  I saw the MTV footage in 2005, and I thought, “wow, maybe this album will be out soon, considering they performed songs from the album in 2001.”  No-o-o…I downloaded the demo, was not impressed and forgot about it—until I saw an ad for its release last year.  I skimmed it, and nothing caught me immediately.  Now that I think of it, I will look more into that album.

Axl RoseIt is hard to give the album merit when Axl Rose is…Axl Rose.  I remember when former GN’R members Slash and Duff McKagan (guitarist and bassist, respectively) sued him in 2005 for affecting their royalty flow.  Then, he countered in 2006 by filing suit against Slash, wanting a judge to confirm he owned his own stuff or something to that nature.  Then, in March of this year (2010 for those who do not know) GN’R manager, Irving Azoff, sued the frontman for unpaid fees to the tune of about $1.8 million.  In May, Rose struck back, painting Azoff to be a manager so Machiavellian in his dealings, “Pebbles” (and her ordeal with that one group, TLC) comes to mind.

Not saying Azoff stole a lot of money from GN’R, just saying Rose painted this guy out to be bad news, and I remembered the manager from the TLC episode of VH1’s Behind the Music series I saw more than seven years ago.  That show had some great episodes, though the TLC episode was not one of them.

Axl Rose even entertains delusions that Azoff was trying to force him to reunite the original line-up.  I think it is safe to say that is never going to happen.  Given past experience, we can assume the album will be ready in 2019.  Personally, I do not care if this album is ever released.

iTunes Goes iBeatles

November 16, 2010

Since as far back as February of 2007, the Beatles has been negotiating with EMI to get the band’s music on Apple’s iTunes.  Finally, it has happened:  the Beatles catalog is available on iTunes.

The BeatlesThat is correct—you can now buy the Beatles tunes on iTunes.  It is great news, but not exactly day-changing.  I am not saying I do not dig the Beatles; merely that I already own the tunes that I like.  Also, I do not own an iPod, so I try to avoid using iTunes when I can.  Still, I guess it is worth the years of negotiations for iTunes users to walk in “Strawberry Fields Forever”…with their iPods in tow.

Correction to Palin Post

November 16, 2010

Sarah Palin WinkOkay…in this past post, I pointed out how her giving cookies to students, extending her own power, was a Democratic thing for her to do.  I was thinking about it after posting, and I have determined that, while it is a valid parallel, there is an underlying principle voiding it.  Palin gave the cookies to students in a private school.  We can safely assume the private institution is not cheap.

Meanwhile, the invalid point of her spiel was how the lower-class public school students were facing legislation restricting classroom sweets.  The article Palin referred to had been corrected, but let’s assume she was correct…

The public school students might have had to go without cookies, so Palin took cookies to the upper-class private institution.  Giving to the rich while the poor get poorer…that is Republican.

Bach Still Smashing…Stuff

November 16, 2010

Trailer Park Boys and Sebastian BachSebastian Bach, former frontman for Skid Row (80’s hair metal), was arrested yesterday morning following an altercation at a pub in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.  He was asked to leave, but he did not want to.  When told he could not leave with a glass of wine, he threw it at the door.  He was restrained by an employee, at which time Bach proceeded to bite the employee.  The 42-year-old is still acting like a rocker.  When the police got there, they found about two grams of greenery on Bach, real name Sebastian Philip Bierk.  He was cited for assault, mischief and possession of a controlled substance.

Today, Bach responded to the incident.  He said he was mourning the death of his father, and he let his emotions get out of hand.  According to the article, the mischief charge resulted in a $250 fine—it stemmed from a 2004 incident in which Bach trashed a club refusing to relinquish nude pictures of his wife from 1988.  If a club was showing a nude photo of my wife, I would not be happy, either.  Then, again…I probably would not marry a stripper.

Image at top is from here.  It is a pic of Canadian-born Sebastian Bach on the set of hit Canadian television show, Trailer Park Boys.

Obama is Doing it Now

November 16, 2010

First, Palin was reaching out to the kids.  Now, President Barack Obama is speaking to the children…through his new book.  Supposedly completed prior to his election, “Of Thee I Sing” is a 31-page tribute to 13 historical Americans including scientists, baseball greats and painters.

Cover illustration for "of Thee I Sing."The book is supposed to emphasize characteristics uniting all Americans, which is a good message.  No cookies, though…not even an entertaining video.  The children’s book seems to leave politics out, which is great.  What I find odd about the book is its subtitle, “A Letter to My Daughters.”  When the book was published, that bit should have been scrapped for something making the book demographic less exclusive.  The cover art for the book shows his daughters and their dog.

Obama will not be making money from the book, as the article linked to above claims:

Proceeds of the book will be donated to a scholarship fund for the children of soldiers who have been killed or disabled in service.