Happy New Year to all of you…

A Happy New Year from the few of us you see up front on this blog, and lurking in the background with encouragement and suggestions…all our mates and family and friends.

A happy holiday to my kin up on PEI, family back in New England…all the folks who drop by and reflect upon our opinions.

Sith gun robh so…

We shot your laptop – Welcome to Israel!

When an American woman recently traveled to Jerusalem, she was allegedly questioned by border security guards about content on her MacBook. Lily Sussman said her computer was confiscated, and returned to her with three bullet holes in it.

She documented the experience and provided photos on her personal blog. Although the MacBook was completely destroyed, Sussman said she was able to remove her hard drive intact and retrieve all of her personal data.

She said she was provided with a form that included phone numbers and addresses of Israeli government officials that might help her get a replacement for her destroyed laptop. Officials she reached said she could expect compensation deliverable only to an Israeli bank account within a month.

If the nutballs ever succeed in gaining complete control of the United States…this is the way Dick Cheney would run the TSA.

Malaysian court rules your god may be called “Allah”

Flying Spaghetti Allah

A court in Malaysia has ruled that Christians have a constitutional right to use the word Allah when referring to God.

The High Court said a government ban on non-Muslims using the word was unconstitutional.

The court was ruling on a lawsuit filed by the Herald, a publication of the Catholic Church in Malaysia, in 2007. The authorities had insisted that Allah was an Islamic word which could only be used by Muslims.

The BBC’s Jennifer Pak in Kuala Lumpur said some Muslim groups suspect the Catholic Church is seeking to encourage Muslims to convert to Christianity – a move which is illegal in Malaysia…

The Herald filed for a judicial review after it was temporarily ordered to stop publishing in 2007 for referring to “Allah”.

The publication said it had been been using the word for decades, and had a constitutional right to do so.

Just one more jive problem with religion in politics.

Issues of semantics are usually dumb enough on their own. Listen to the average teabagger falling out of their army shoes over “socialist” this-or-that, or Dick Cheney blustering about this week’s favorite “war” on whoever he hates or fears or both – and you know you’re wasting time trying to negotiate common sense from the body politic.

Add politics to the scrum – and you discover yourself knee-deep in ancient effluent.

Duck Sex is all screwed up!

Female ducks have evolved an intriguing way to avoid becoming impregnated by undesirable but aggressive males endowed with large corkscrew-shaped penises: vaginas with clockwise spirals that thwart oppositely spiraled males…

“In species where forced copulation is common, males have evolved longer penises, but females have coevolved convoluted vaginas with dead-end cul-de-sacs and spirals in the opposite direction of the male penis,” said Patricia L.R. Brennan, lead author of the paper…“This coevolution results from conflict between the sexes over who is going to control fertilization.”

The research builds upon a 2007 Yale study that first described the strange morphology of a duck’s sexual organs. While most birds have no phalluses, ducks turn out to have relatively large, flexible penises—up to 20 centimeters—tucked inside their bodies. During sex, male ducks extend, or evert, their phalluses inside the female. Brennan and her Yale colleagues used high-speed video to document the erection of the duck penis for the first time and found the whole process takes less than half a second—an act the Yale team described as “explosive.”

Such large phalluses are supposed to give males a reproductive advantage when there is much forced mating. However, the Yale team hypothesized that females could make copulation difficult for the males with their complex genitalia…

Cripes. I thought finding a quiet place to park was the toughest challenge to sex in the wild.

Move your money!

Double-click on the video for a larger version

The video speaks for itself. I may not entirely agree with the post-crash analysis – but the basic premise is right on the money.

When I quit traveling, I spent the last several years before retiring involved with home-builders here in Santa Fe. Everything from community-built affordable housing to movie star mansions. The smartest people I worked with – builders, contractors, homeowners, subs – always had their projects financed by community banks.

They always were the best. They still are.

I don’t have to move my money because the only bank account I have – already is with a locally-owned community bank.

Thanks, Helen

Being Black and Blue doesn’t protect you from racism

The more times change – the more they stay the same

The New York Police Department has been accused of racial profiling by one of its own.

NYPD Sgt. Reginald McReynolds, who is African-American, said he was a victim of racial profiling when he was stopped by two fellow police officers while in his girlfriend’s apartment building in the Bronx on October 26.

According to the official police report, the officers were responding to a domestic abuse call in the same building and mistook McReynolds for the suspect, handcuffing him after he refused to identify himself.

Eric Sanders, McReynolds’ attorney, told a different story. As a former NYPD officer himself, Sanders claims McReynolds immediately identified himself despite what he said was a lack of grounds for stopping him…

The police report said, after being advised that (an) alleged suspect might still in the building, the officers immediately stopped McReynolds thinking he might be the alleged abuser…

When back-up officers were called in, McReynolds was released, but was later suspended for 30 days on charges of misconduct toward an officer. He has since been ruled to be fit for duty and has returned to his position in the Quality Assurance Division of the department…

Both Sanders and the police report said that McReynolds clarified that he “was on the job.” Sanders explained this is a common phrase among the law enforcement community as indication of officer status, adding that the officers should have recognized that.

Sanders also said McReynolds never pushed any of the officers, and never instructed Cruz to lie on (her 911 call reporting the assault), citing the lack of a call transcript in the police report…

No charges have been filed against the officers involved.

It’s not likely there ever will be. The silent treatment from police officers is further compounded by an unwillingness to admit to racism – whether coppers are assaulting Black civilians or police officers.

You can automatically add-in collusion from the political hacks who generally head police commissions in the United States. Guys who want to be governor.

TSA agents threaten bloggers posting screening directive

TSA agent John Enright, left, returns Steven Frischling’s laptop

The document, which two bloggers published within minutes of each other Dec. 27, was sent by TSA to airlines and airports around the world and described temporary new requirements for screening passengers through Dec. 30, including conducting “pat-downs” of legs and torsos. The document, which was not classified, was posted by numerous bloggers. Information from it was also published on some airline websites.

“They’re saying it’s a security document but it was sent to every airport and airline,” says Steven Frischling, one of the bloggers. “It was sent to Islamabad, to Riyadh and to Nigeria. So they’re looking for information about a security document sent to 10,000-plus people internationally. You can’t have a right to expect privacy after that…”

Frischling, a freelance travel writer and photographer in Connecticut who writes a blog for the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, said the two agents who visited him arrived around 7 p.m. Tuesday, were armed and threatened him with a criminal search warrant if he didn’t provide the name of his source. They also threatened to get him fired from his KLM job and indicated they could get him designated a security risk, which would make it difficult for him to travel and do his job…

When they pulled a subpoena from their briefcase and told him he was legally required to provide the information they requested, he said he needed to contact a lawyer. The agents said they’d sit outside his house until he gave them the information they wanted.

Frischling says he received the document anonymously from someone using a Gmail account and determined, after speaking with an attorney, that he might as well cooperate with the agents since he had little information about the source and there was no federal shield law to protect him.

RTFA. Much would be hilarious excepting for the topic, fear-ridden bureaucrats ready to wipe out an ordinary citizen who believes an informed public makes better decisions.

They screwed up his laptop, they dashed to WalMart to buy a standalone hard drive – which they couldn’t get to work, and on and on.

Classy small turbo-diesels roll out to the public – just not here!

Audi A3 1.6 TDI – over 60mpg

Back in September, Audi first announced the addition of the new 1.6 TDI model to the A3 lineup over in Europe and now it’s available to order in the UK. The newest A3 features the VW group’s latest 1.6-liter common rail injected four cylinder diesel powerplant. In the A3, this engine combines with several other tweaks – including brake energy regeneration and automatic start-stop – to get a CO2 rating of just 99 g/km and mileage of 61.9 mpg (U.S.) on the EU combined cycle.

Audi conducted an efficiency challenge in Europe in late September that included the new A3 1.6 where the cars averaged 59.4 mpg (U.S.) going from Norway to Italy. In the UK, the new A3 costs about $28,500 before value added taxes. Volkswagen and Audi have not given any indication that it will offer the 1.6 in the U.S. market, although other elements like stop-start and regen braking probably will be added here in the coming years.

It feels like some new variant on this theme is offered somewhere else in the world – every week.

Just not in the good old US of A.

Pro-shoplifting vicar suffers pasta protest

A Yorkshire priest who caused controversy this month by preaching that shoplifting could sometimes be justified has had a bucket of pasta thrown over him by an irate parishioner.

Shortly before Christmas, Father Tim Jones gave a sermon in which he suggested that the desperately poor should consider shoplifting from supermarkets if it stopped them from committing violent crimes or burglary against members of the public.

His comments were met with a storm of criticism from fellow clergymen, police and politicians alike. But one York local, 48-year-old Martin Stot, took matters into his own hands and threw the pasta over the priest as he left church on Sunday afternoon.

I was just offended by what he said,” Mr Stot told the York Press. “I just got this thing in my head where I thought I would make my own little protest.”

Speaking to The Independent last night, Father Jones said he had been “frightened and humbled” by the experience. “In conversation with the man afterwards, it emerged that his has been a very hard life indeed,” he said.

Yet, he managed to survive without stealing.

Of course, the easy rationale in contemporary American society is you turn to dealing drugs.

Harper suspends Canada’s Parliament to avert defeat

The Conservative government has shut down Parliament for two months, until after the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper telephoned Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean on Wednesday to ask her permission to end the parliamentary session. Jean signed the proclamation later that day, granting his request.

The move triggered immediate condemnation from opposition MPs who labelled the Conservative government’s move an “almost despotic” attempt to muzzle parliamentarians amid controversy over the Afghan detainees affair…

A speech from the throne will be delivered March 3, followed by presentation of the budget the next day. The session had been scheduled to resume Jan. 25 after the holiday break…

“Three times in three years and twice within one year, the prime minister takes this extraordinary step to muzzle Parliament. This time it’s a coverup of what the Conservatives knew, and when they knew it, about torture in Afghanistan. So their solution is not to answer the questions but, rather, to padlock Parliament and shut down democracy…”

By the time Parliament resumes, Harper would have had time to ask Jean to name five new senators, which would give the Conservatives a majority on the newly formed Senate committees and greater control for passing their own legislation.

Even George W. couldn’t do a worse job of governing. Harper is running away and hiding – hoping the spectacle of the Winter Olympics will distract angry citizens and politicians alike. Before he has to face up to his incompetence.

Cake and circuses didn’t work the last time it was tried.

Thanks, Cinaedh, for a better link