Police bust faux-holy water racket – well, one of them!

Italian police have arrested 39 doctors who were selling holy water as a cure for cancer and other diseases…

Those arrested were charged with conspiracy, fraud, personal injury and wrongful practice for selling the holy water, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported.

Customers were told online the miracle cure, called “White Light Water,” came from the holy shrines of Lourdes, Fatima and Medjugorje and cost as much as $263 per vial. Doctors selling the fake holy water often told customers to abandon traditional medical treatment and rely instead on the “frequencies” given off by the blessed water, police said.

Police searched four doctors’ offices in Ancona, Bari, Milan and Venice, where the concoction was bottled and redistributed, plus 4,000 flasks of ready-to-ship water.

Face it. People who believe that water can be changed into something holy that will cure your ills – are ready and willing targets for fraudsters.

The questions before the court – in Italy? Hah! – are these doctors charged with selling phony holy water? What if they sold “official” holy water with a spif to the Catholic Church?

Never mind that last question. I already know the answer to that one. Including the part about not paying taxes on the sale.

Forbes magazine names Miami the most miserable U.S. city

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Warm sun, white beaches, and million-dollar mansions notwithstanding, Miami has captured the dubious distinction of being the most miserable city in the United States, according to a new poll.

The playground of the rich and famous is home to a crippling housing crisis, one of the highest crime rates in the country, and lengthy daily commutes for workers, all of which have propelled it to the No. 1 position in the Forbes.com list.

“Miami has sun and beautiful weather but other things make people miserable. You have this two-tier society: glitzy South Beach attracts celebrities, but the income inequality has skyrocketed in recent years”.

The rankings are based on factors including jobless rates, violent crime, foreclosures, income and property taxes, as well as considerations like weather, commute time and political corruption…

“We’re trying to judge cities where residents have a lot of complaints. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t terrific things there,” said Kurt Badenhausen. And for the haves Miami’s charms remain undiminished.

The one percent in Miami is doing fantastic. But for the vast majority, who make less than $75,000 a year, Miami can be a challenging place,” he said. “Forty-seven percent of homeowners sit on underwater mortgages. That’s tough.”

The complete list can be found at: tinyurl.com/75clrr9

Why am I not surprised? Florida voters keep professing their love for politicians devoted to screwing them to a wall of poverty, overextended budgets and reliance on corrupt bureaucrats.

Time to put Supreme Court arguments on TV

The Illinois Supreme Court’s recent decision to permit the televising of trials in the state’s circuit courts brings to mind another question of television in a court: the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court will soon hear oral argument — the fascinating, highly informative back-and-forth between the justices and the lawyers before them — in a monumental case that will determine the constitutionality of the government’s new health care plan.

Everyone is interested. C-SPAN has asked the justices for permission to televise the extraordinary five-and-a-half hours of oral argument (most cases get just one hour) scheduled for March 26 through 28. But the Supreme Court, despite numerous requests and even proposed congressional action extending over several decades, has never permitted television.

The justices fear the presence of cameras would tarnish the court’s dignified proceedings. But bear in mind that the Supreme Court doesn’t try cases, so there’s no danger of uncorking sensational trials like those of O.J. Simpson, Casey Anthony or Michael Jackson’s doctor. That’s not the issue.

Chief Justice John Roberts — offered the usual crap arguments politicians always come up with about undue influence, blah, blah.

In fact, there’s lots of experience to point to, and the precedents are clear: television would not impair the Supreme Court’s dignity or its proceedings.

Two-thirds of the state supreme courts admit cameras to their oral arguments. Two federal appellate courts have allowed them. They’re standard in the Supreme Court of Canada. Most of these courts have welcomed cameras for years without adverse consequences, effectively dispelling the vague worries of the justices in Washington…

In Canada the proceedings of the nation’s Supreme Court have been televised since the mid-1990s. Four fixed cameras, mounted high on the walls of the courtroom in Ottawa, face the bench and the counsel’s podium. When a judge asks a question, she pushes a button that both opens her microphone and focuses a camera on her.

“Our judges are proud of it,” said Andres Garin, executive legal officer of the Supreme Court of Canada. “There’s no downside. It has not been disruptive. There’s no playing to the camera.”

Of course, if the U.S. Supreme Court should allow television, but then finds that its presence is deleterious, the justices could always reverse their own decision. They’ve done it before.

Political cowards are usually political hypocrites. Please, let’s don’t ascribe legitimate motives to the hacks in black robes who oppose transparency. There are members of the court who support the broadcasts. They’re the one who weren’t appointed by Republicans.

Komen Kave-in reversed — Planned Parenthood victory

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

The Susan G. Komen foundation has reversed a controversial decision not to renew funding for some Planned Parenthood projects, the group said in a statement Friday.

“We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives,” the statement said. “We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.”

Planned Parenthood said Tuesday that the foundation had “succumbed to political pressure” by cutting its funding for breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood amid increased scrutiny by [right-wing Republicans in] Congress over how Planned Parenthood provides abortion services.

The decision triggered strong emotions.

In Washington, at least 22 Senate Democrats signed a letter calling on Komen to reconsider its decision.

CREDO, which describes itself as the largest corporate donor to Planned Parenthood, said Thursday that 250,000 of its members had signed a petition urging the Komen Foundation to reverse its decision.

“The move is clearly connected to attempts by Republicans in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood,” the organization said in a statement. “In responding to questions about its decision, the foundation cited as its rationale a sham ‘investigation’ into Planned Parenthood launched by Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns.” who the group called “one of the most militant anti-choice members of Congress.”

A lifetime of thanks is owed to the thousands of Americans who stood up and voted with their wallets, voices and conscience against the cowardly decision made by Komen executives.

A lifetime of assistance is extended to the tens of thousands of women who will retain access to medical exams provided by Planned Parenthood.

A special thanks to my sisters and brothers in the blogosphere who jumped to defend reproductive rights.

Fireman lands passenger jet replacing absent air traffic controller

As a Jet Airways flight from Hyderabad approached Tirupati airport in Andhra Pradesh, its pilot was alarmed when he received no instructions from its control tower, where two air traffic controllers would normally guide them to a safe landing.

Instead, he was eventually greeted by an airport fireman ordered into the control tower by an official after it emerged that two senior controllers due on duty had either overslept or failed to call in sick.

The fireman, known as Basha, was sent to the tower by the airport’s deputy general manager who issued instructions on how to guide the pilot by phone.

Despite successfully guiding the plane to safety and possibly saving dozens of lives, the fireman has yet to be recognised as a hero while airport bosses announced they would be taking disciplinary action against air traffic control officers for dereliction of duty…

The air traffic controller says he called in sick. His boss doesn’t even wish to give credit to the fireman who handled communications with the Jet Airways flight. I wonder where he was when telephoning to the control tower? Is there a golf course near Tirupati airport?

Someone should recognize a solid performance by Mr. Basha, the fireman.

21,000 people now on U.S. no fly list — Feel safer?

The U.S. government’s list of suspected terrorists who are banned from flying to the United States or within its borders has more than doubled over the past year, a counterterrorism official told CNN…

The “no fly” list produced by the FBI now has approximately 21,000 names on it, according to the official, who has knowledge of the government’s figures. One year ago about 10,000 individuals were on it.

Only about 500 people currently on the no-fly list are Americans, the official said…

The United States can now ban people from flying who are “deemed to be a threat to national security” or who had gone to terrorist training camps, said the official. The earlier standard was to block only those considered a specific threat to try to bring down a plane…

…Analysts can now use single-source information, if it’s considered credible, to recommend someone for one of the government’s terror watch lists, including the no-fly list…

The government also has a much larger list, called the Terrorist Screening Database, with approximately 510,000 names currently on it. The smaller no-fly list is a subset of that.

About 1,000 changes are made to the catalog of possible terrorists each day. Names are added and deleted, or more information is included on individuals.

If I ever intended to fly again, I’d probably take the time to harass the bureaucrats in charge of this crap to see if I made the list, yet.

Actually, I refuse to travel anywhere in the world I can’t drive to in my old pickup truck. Courtesy of George W. Bush, Homeland Insecurity and the TSA.