Monthly Archives: November 2008
U.S. Foundation guilty of funneling $12 million to terrorists
New machines electronically read your drivers license from 50 feet away
People surf the Internet to flee reality
November 26, 2008
The Dallas Morning News reported Monday that a jury found a Muslim charity and five men who worked with the group guilty of three dozen counts related to the illegal funneling of at least $12 million to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. And USA Today reported Monday that the Homeland Security Department has new machines at the Canada and Mexico borders that allow personnel to “read” data on your passport and driver’s license from 50 feet away, as you approach the border. Meanwhile, USA Today also reported that when bad news gets overwhelming, some people turn to the Internet for live video feeds of puppies to keep themselves sane. Pundits debate charitable terrorist groups, charitable puppies and the ethics of strangers obtaining intimate knowledge of you, because you’re within 50 feet of them.
“If I want to give someone my personal information or hand terrorists some spending cash, that should be my choice and I shouldn’t be duped by a Muslim charity or scanned by Homeland Security without my knowledge,” said Larry Patron-Idee, a hard working maintenance worker and occasional postal recipient. “The economy is weak, terrorists want to kill us and our own government is logging personal information about folks who get close to the border. I’m so depressed that only puppies frolicking on video-cam can cheer me up.”
Not everyone thinks the latest news is negative. “We caught and busted the Muslims running the scam and pushing millions of dollars to Hamas. Do I wish we’d have busted them sooner? Sure, but we got them now and it’s stopped, so quit whining about it,” said Elizabeth Bixley-Protem, a temporary worker at Dollar General, who moonlights at Ziggy’s Tax Prep and Strip Club. “And it’s good that the border guards have some powerful tools like a scanner that can read the fake ID’s or real passports of people trying to get in or out of the country. The legitimate folks will go through quicker and the cheaters will get caught. This stuff is working people, that’s why it’s in the news. And it’s good news! Forget all the Internet puppy stuff; be glad we’re winning the war on terror and head down to Ziggy’s if you need a break. How many joints will let you drink booze and watch strippers while they do your taxes? It’s a hell of a good deal and fun to boot!”
The Dallas Morning News reported that a jury on Monday determined that the Holy Land Foundation and five men who worked with the Muslim charity were guilty of three dozen counts related to the illegal funneling of at least $12 million to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Guilty verdicts were read on 108 separate charges.
Robert Hirschhorn, a nationally known jury consultant based in Lewisville, said “The jury has handed the government a huge victory and a loud and clear message has been sent — if any group funnels money to a terrorist organization, the government will hunt you down and turn off the money spigot.” Defense attorneys argued that the foundation was a legitimate, non-political charity that helped distressed Palestinians under Israeli occupation.
USA Today reported that agents along the Canada and Mexico borders are using a controversial new machine that can “read” the personal information contained in some government-issued ID cards — such as passports and driver’s licenses — as travelers approach a checkpoint. The Homeland Security Department says the new practice will tighten security and speed the flow of traffic. Privacy-rights advocates warn that terrorists or other criminals can use their own machines in a process called “skimming” to read the information from as far as 50 feet.
Consumer privacy expert Katherine Albrecht says the chips create the “potential for a whole surveillance network to be set up.” She says police could use them to find criminals, abusive husbands to find their wives, and stores to track customers. Homeland Security says the chips are made not to reveal personal information to machine readers — just a code, that then shows the information on the border agents’ screen.
USA Today reported that when the reality of the world gets to be too much for Jana Ogletree, a waitress from Elgin, Idaho, she turns to — puppies. Six puppies, to be precise — romping, rolling, sleeping, yelping and playing. Ogletree doesn’t own the six furry shiba inu puppies. And she’s never touched them. Instead, the puppies are being raised by an anonymous couple in San Francisco, and Ogletree — along with some 4 million others around the world — watches them live, online via video feed on Ustream.tv three to four times a day.
“The economy is tanking. There’s going to be a new change in the administration,” says Ogletree, 42. “Everything happening in the outside world right now is just completely overwhelming. What’s a better little island in the midst of a giant sea of angst than six little puppies in San Francisco?”
Some pundits say that fuzzy puppies would cure all the world’s problems if we’d just let them.
“Send Hamas a dozen puppies and some puppy chow and I’ll bet they stop shooting Israeli’s and blowing themselves and others to bits,” said some innocent bystander, often caught hoping for the best, usually against all odds. “It was when Bill Clinton’s dog’s got killed or died that he kept turning to interns and associates for sexual favors; if somebody had brought him a puppy he’d have calmed down. Everyone is so serious and so fearful right now. Take an aspirin and a puppy and chill-out people. Or go to Ziggy’s Tax Prep and Strip Club and pretend to get your taxes done. Find some way to relax a little. Everything is going to be okay.”
In other news, The New York Times reported last week that happy people spend a lot of time socializing, going to church and reading newspapers — but they don’t spend a lot of time watching television. The article said watching TV is what unhappy people do.
“We looked at 8 to 10 activities that happy people engage in, and for each one, the people who did the activities more — visiting others, going to church, all those things — were more happy,” said John Robinson, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland and the author of the study, which appeared in the journal Social Indicators Research. “TV was the one activity that showed a negative relationship. Unhappy people did it more, and happy people did it less.” No word on how much television the members of Al Qaeda and Hamas are watching, but it’s my guess that its way-way too much.
(C) 2008 InebriatedPress.com
Witches help lift Sweden’s job loss curse
Skinny models are a ‘turn off’ in advertising, claim scientists
Japan’s Latest Fashion Has Women Playing Princess for a Day
November 25, 2008
Sweden’s The Local reported last week that despite a slow economy, Häxriket i Norden is looking to hire 20 new witches for work around the country. And the UK Telegraph reported researchers have found that skinny models are a turn off to consumers. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported that the latest trend in Japan has women playing “princess for a day,” as more Japanese women aim to look like sugarcoated, 21st-century versions of old-style European royalty. Pundits wonder what the hell is going on as brains go topsey turvey along with the global economy.
“It seems pretty obvious that we’ve lost our asses financially — at least based on all the bailouts and my 401k — and it’s looking pretty obvious that we’ve lost our minds as well, at least based on reports in the major media about how folks are behaving nowadays,” said Roger Reddy-Maebee, a professional manager who tries to be prepared for anything, but has been struggling mightily in the current U.S. business climate. “Employment for witches is climbing while jobs in finance and manufacturing are falling; skinny chicks are turning off people in a culture weighed down by obesity, and typically understated and demure Asian women are dressing like over-the-top European princesses. I guess if you don’t know which way to turn, you spin in circles until you’re dizzy and then start doing goofy stuff. I don’t know whether to laugh and call it fun or shit and go blind. I guess I don’t know what to do myself.”
Not everyone is worried by the current trends in finance or society. “In times of duress you need to take action that is different than what they have been, in order to establish a new equilibrium in both society and finance,” said Fred Linda Biswitch, the secret cross-dressing CEO of a major U.S. corporation, currently trying to be all things to everyone as long as they can get more government bailout cash. “Normally I’m a capitalist in the most rigorist sense and I don’t give a rip about anyone and want to crush all competition by being dominant across all service categories. Today I have a new outlook for our financial service company and understand how critical its existence is to workers and poor bastards who have invested their life’s savings in our organization, and I know that the federal government must bail us out for the good of all humankind. That and I haven’t received all ten million in bonus cash I’ve got coming to me for the great job I’ve been doing. Like my chiffon top? You don’t see many that look like a Dallas Cowboys jersey do you?”
The Local reported that an enterprising Swedish company seeking to hire 20 witches has provided a welcome break in the country’s otherwise steady flow of dismal employment news. Häxriket i Norden, based in Åhus in southern Sweden, is currently seeking to place five witches each in four separate locations around the country, the Skånska Dagbladet newspaper reports. According to the company’s advertisement on a listing maintained by Sweden’s Public Employment Agency, qualified candidates should be well-versed in “contact with the other side, runes, tarots, crystals, herbs, rituals, exorcism, meditation, personal coaching, and more”.
The Telegraph reported that researchers have found that skinny models are actually a turn off to consumers in TV commercials and other advertising. In the study psychologist Phillippa Diedrichs, of the University of Queensland, Australia, created a series of ads for underwear, shampoo and a party dress. Researchers found that images of super-thin models carry no edge in encouraging young women to buy and for the majority of adult women ads showing skinny girls actually discouraged sales. So-called plus-size models, on the other hand, actually encouraged them to buy.
The Wall Street Journal reported that when Mayumi Yamamoto goes out for coffee or window shopping, she likes to look as though she’s going to a formal garden party. One day recently, she was decked out in a frilly, rose-patterned dress, matching pink heels with a ribbon and a huge pink bow atop her long hair, dyed brown and in pre-Raphaelite curls. Ms. Yamamoto is a hime gyaru, or princess girl, a growing new tribe of Japanese women who aim to look like sugarcoated, 21st-century versions of old-style European royalty. They idolize Marie Antoinette and Paris Hilton, for her baby-doll looks and princess lifestyle. They speak in soft, chirpy voices and flock to specialized boutiques with names like Jesus Diamante, which looks like a bedroom in a European chateau. There, some hime girls spend more than $1,000 for an outfit including a satin dress, parasol and rhinestone-studded handbag. The princess boom is seen as a more polished and sophisticated look that’s popular among working women in their 20s and 30s, perhaps as a bit of escapism from workaday stress and economic uncertainty.
Some people say that if pretending you’re a princess or Swedish witch makes you feel good about current financial trends and helps you forget about Somoli pirates, Al Qaeda and your 401k, then have at it.
“The day after we elected a first-term Senator and community organizer the president of the United States, I was feeling pretty glum, but then I started dressing like a princess and signed up to be a Swedish witch. Damn I feel good about myself now,” said Betty “Ursula” Bombaske, a former senior investment advisor at a major U.S. firm, now juggling cash and debt the way Bill Clinton does reality. “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing but what’s new about that? At least the transition from my work in finance to witchcraft was smooth. And I’m still hot. At least I feel that way about myself and in this market that’s about the best you can hope for.”
In other news, Australia’s News Limited reported Friday, that a 61-year-old Northern Territory man stood naked in his back yard and bravely used a garden hose to fight off a teenage intruder. Walter Mayer was having a shower at his Tennant Creek home when he heard his roof being pelted with rocks. When he raced out to see what it was, he could hear his back screen door being rattled. He grabbed his garden hose and sprayed the intruder, and when the 20m-long hose could not be extended any longer, he chased the youth down the street in nothing but his birthday suit. Mr. Mayer – a fit and healthy TV repairman – said his actions were not brave. “It was quite foolish when you sit and think about it now,” he said. No word on whether he thinks dressing like a European princess or pretending you’re a Swedish witch is foolish, but in today’s world I guess you do what works for you.
(C) 2008 InebriatedPress.com
US clout down, risks up by 2025 -intel outlook
By Randall Mikkelsen
Thu Nov 20, 2008
WASHINGTON, Nov 20 (Reuters) – U.S. economic and political clout will decline over the next two decades and the world will be more dangerous, with food and water scarce and advanced weapons plentiful, U.S. spy agencies projected on Thursday.
The National Intelligence Council analysis “Global Trends 2025” also said the current financial crisis on Wall Street is just the first phase of a global economic reordering.
The U.S. dollar’s role as the world’s major currency would weaken to become a “first among equals,” the report said.
The outlook is intended to inform U.S. President-elect Barack Obama of factors that will influence global events. It is based on a year-long global survey of experts and trends by U.S. intelligence analysts.
“The next 20 years of transition to a new system are fraught with risks,” said the report, which was more pessimistic about U.S. influence and the potential for conflict than the last outlook for 2020.
Thomas Fingar, chairman of the intelligence council and deputy national director of intelligence for analysis, said harmful outcomes were not inevitable.
“It is not beyond the mind of human beings, or political systems, (or) in some cases (the) working of market mechanisms to address and alleviate if not solve these problems,” Fingar told reporters. “We could have a better world in 2025.”
China and India, following a “state capitalism” economic model, were likely to join the United States atop a multipolar world and compete for influence, the report said.
Russia’s potential was less certain, depending on its energy wealth and internal investment. But Iran, Turkey and Indonesia were also seen gaining power.
POTENTIAL FOR CONFLICT
A world with multiple power centers has been less stable than one with a single or two rival superpowers, and there was a growing potential for conflict, the report said.
Global warming will be felt, and water, food and energy constraints may fuel conflict over resources.
“Strategic rivalries are most likely to revolve around trade, investments and technological innovation and acquisition, but we cannot rule out a 19th century-like scenario of arms races, territorial expansion and military rivalries,” the report said.
“Types of conflict we have not seen for a while — such as over resources — could reemerge,” it said.
Global wealth was seen shifting from the developed West to the energy-rich Gulf States and Russia, and to Asia, the rising center of manufacturing and some service industries.
Global rich-poor disparities would grow, leaving Africa vulnerable to increased instability.
A reordering of the world financial system was happening faster than the report’s authors envisioned, Fingar said. Last weekend’s Group of 20 summit of advanced and major developing countries in Washington showed work had begun, he said.
A shift away from an oil-based energy system will be underway or complete by 2025. Better renewable technologies such as solar and wind power offer the best opportunity for a quick and low-cost transition, the report said.
There was a greater, but still small, risk of nuclear attack, based on spreading technologies and the weakening of international nonproliferation systems.
If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, Fingar said, that could set off an arms race in the Middle East, which is considered in the report as an “arc of instability.”
The risk that militant groups would use biological weapons was greater than the risk of nuclear terrorism, the report said.
The appeal of terrorism could decline over the next two decades, particularly if Middle Eastern countries provide productive education and opportunities for their young people, the report said. But with a growing population, the pool of potential terrorism recruits is likely to be larger, and access to dangerous weapons will rise.
(Editing by Vicki Allen)