Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cheney Considers Canada Too Dangerous

Former US Vice President Dick Cheney has canceled a planned speaking engagement in Toronto, calling it too dangerous. He and his daughter, Elizabeth, had been scheduled to speak at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on April 24.

Ryan Ruppert of Spectre Live Corp. said, "After speaking with their security advisers, they changed their mind on coming to the event. They decided it was better for their personal safety they stay out of Canada."

In September Cheney had visited Vancouver, but his hotel was besieged by protestors. It took Vancouver police around seven hours to secure an exit for the former VP.

Don't Drink and Drive Your Buggy

On Sunday police were called to a disturbance in Sherman, New York. They received reports that a group of buggies were in the area drinking and boisterous.

When a patrol car arrived at the scene the buggies tried to flee, and one of the buggies struck the police care. That buggy flipped over causing minor injuries to it's four occupants. All of whom were arrested and charged with underage alcohol possession.

Last June, an Amish youth in the same area was seen, by a sheriff's deputy, drinking and driving his buggy. He refused to pull over and led police on a slow speed chase for awhile. When faced with a blocked road he had no choice but to stop and was arrested.

Taylor Swift Tops Another Chart

In what is but one more top spot for country/pop sensation Taylor Swift, she now is Billboard's top earning artist. In 2011, she earned $35 million from her albums.

The twenty-two year old also brought in over a dozen awards. She has also been continuing to make appearances in movies and tv shows as she travels the world on her sold out tours.

Helping her with her income is that she writes almost all of her songs and so does not have to pay royalties to others. She wrote her entire Speak Now album, which sold nearly two million copies in 2011.

Cleaning Occupy Denver

The city of Denver has announced that it will continuously be cleaning the Occupy Denver site. After scabies, a contagious parasitic disease, was discovered amongst the Occupy members, public health concerns have been forced into the forefront.

Denver Public Works says "to keep the area and its inhabitants free of potential health and safety hazards, it is critical to have an ongoing 'clean sweep' of the area."

Any items left behind will be kept at the Denver Police Department's property bureau for thirty days. After that time they will be destroyed. If an item could pose any sanitary, health, or safety hazard it will be destroyed immediately.

Remembering: The Beginning of The K9 Corps

March 13, 1942 the US Army begins training dogs for the newly created War Dog Program, or K9 Corps. By the fall, dogs were being trained for the other services as well.

Initially over thirty breeds were accepted, but it was eventually narrowed down to just seven: German Shepherds, Belgian sheep dogs, Doberman Pinschers, collies, Siberian Huskies, Malamutes, and Eskimo dogs. Since then a few breeds have been selected to join the ranks as well.

After basic obedience training, which lasted eight to twelve weeks, the dogs were sent to one of four specialized programs to prepare them for work as sentry dogs, scout or patrol dogs, messenger dogs and mine detection dogs. In active combat duty, scout dogs proved especially essential by alerting patrols to the approach of the enemy and preventing surprise attacks.

Chips, a German Shepherd attached to the 3rd Infantry Division, became the top canine hero of WWII. He had been trained as a sentry dog, but when his handler became pinned down he broke free and attacked a machine gun nest. The Germans manning the gun surrendered when faced with the dog. Chips was wounded in the attack, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and the Purple Heart. Sadly all were revoked due to an Army policy preventing commendations of animals.

Using dogs in war did date back before WWII. In WWI alone, it is estimated that over a million dogs saw use as messengers, or simple psychological comfort for soldiers. In 1918 US troops found an abandoned German shepherd puppy, and named him Rin Tin Tin. He would become a movie star, and made the breed famous across the USA.

Syrian Violence Continues as Government Mines Borders

Violence continues in Syria as the government continues shelling it's people. In Homs alone, another 47 were said to have been killed. The United Nations estimates that 8,000 people have been killed since last March. A figure a few thousand lower than that given by many humanitarian groups.

Nearly a month ago, it was estimated by most, that the death toll was nearing 10,000. With just the city of Homs seeing near fifty die daily, it isn't hard to imagine that the total could be at least 12,000 by now.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and British Foreign Secretary William Hague spent Monday trying to finally get the UN to act, and remove Syria's President Bashar al Assad from power. China continues to demand that the world not try to nation build in Syria., while Russia and Iran continue to actively support the Syrian government.

Meanwhile, Turkey and Lebanon decried that Syria has been laying mines along paths that refugees have been using to escape the country. "Any use of anti-personnel landmines is unconscionable," Steve Goose, Arms Division director at Human Rights Watch, said. "There is absolutely no justification for the use of these indiscriminate weapons by any country, anywhere, for any purpose."

Egypt's Lower House Votes to Expel Israeli Ambassador

Egypt's lower house of parliament has voted to expel the Israeli ambassador. The move comes as Israel finds itself under assault by a rain of terror rockets from Gaza.

The vote also calls for the recall of Egypt's ambassador to Israel and the halting of gas exports to Israel. The text voted on also stated, "Egypt will never be the friend, partner or ally of the Zionist entity which we consider as the first enemy of Egypt and the Arab nation." And that the Egyptian government must "revise all its relations and agreements with that enemy."

The military council is still in charge of Egyptian, and they are unlikely to approve such a motion. But it is a sign of the time and even more proof that Islamic Jihad has taken over much of Egypt. It is unclear how long the peace will last, once the military gives up it's power to the parliament, as it is supposed to do, sometime this summer.

Rain of Terror Against Israel

The past few days have seen over 200 rockets and mortars fired out of Gaza towards Israel. Luckily there have been no deaths caused by them. Israel has continued to defend itself by sending in guided missiles to target the precise locations of the attackers.

The retaliatory airstrikes have killed around 25 militants. Unfortunately the Gazan terrorists have taken to hiding amongst populated areas, and some civilians have been injured and killed as well. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned the use of these human shields.

The rain of terror has caused schools and other places to be closed, all over southern Israel. Other parts of the country have prepared for the attacks to spread as well. Hospitals across the country have sped up their program of fortifying themselves. Concrete walls are being thickened, and special coating is being placed on windows to keep them from shattering.

The Iron Dome, ground to air missile batteries, have been almost entirely effective so far. And plans for the program to be expanded, with more batteries brought into being.

Normally such attacks out of Gaza are the work of Hamas. Until now it seemed that Gaza was controlled almost entirely by Hamas, but these attacks have made it clear that Hamas no longer has the power it once had. Hamas has in fact ordered multiple cease fires and attempted to reach a truce with Israel, but the militants have continued to ignore them. They have even now ignored an Egyptian brokered truce as well. Islamic Jihad, which is heavily supported by Iran, is thought to be running the show now.

This has led to the Israeli Defense Force to begin discussing sending ground troops in, so that the rain of terror can be stopped. IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai stated, "The IDF is prepared for any development, including a situation where we are forced to launch a ground operation. We have everything we need and are ready to step it up if needed. There are many measures that we haven't employed yet. There is no effective control in Gaza, and no clear distinction between the political and military wings of Hamas… we are prepared to turn it up a notch."

Buckley AFB Explosive Alarms Set Off

The South gate of Buckley Air Force Base was briefly closed Monday as a delivery truck set off explosive detector devices. Possibly explosive chemical residues were found on the steering wheel and door handle.

Bomb sniffing dogs were brought out, but found nothing. Eventually the driver and truck were cleared.

Aurora police did have to be called, to deal with the traffic backup that the closure caused.

Buckley Air Force Base has not released information on what chemicals were being delivered or what was detected.

It is good to see that the base's security was vigilant and prepared for any possibility. The base is the primary landing site for government officials, including the President, when coming to Denver.

FEMA Denies Harrisburg, Illinois Disaster Relief After Tornado

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that it will be denying Harrisburg, Illinois federal disaster relief. Harrisburg lost seven people as an E4 tornado destroyed a large part of the town, on February 29th. FEMA is also denying aid to the rest of Illinois that was hit by storm.

The same storm damaged parts of Indiana and Kentucky. Not a county or town in either of those states was denied funding by FEMA.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is appealing the decision, and is massively supported by the mayors and state senators and representatives of the effected areas. Harrisburg Mayor Eric Gregg has personally invited President Obama to visit the town, in hopes of getting his approval for aid.

FEMA's stance is that Harrisburg, and the rest of Illinois, have enough state and local funding to enact their own repairs. They feel that the other states would not be able to recover on their own.

Classic Pick: The Wrong Box

Must-see of the week is the epically zany British black comedy (one of the coolest, IMO) The Wrong Box, with great stars like John Mills, Michael Caine, Ralph Richardson, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Peter Sellers (in a hilarious tiny bit, one of his best, as the weird Dr. Pratt—“I was not always as you see me now”) in this spoof of a Victorian-era “tontine”, that is, a jackpot to be awarded to the longest living, last survivor of a group of schoolboys, and the only ones left decades down the road are brothers who hate each other.

You have never met a bore half so boring as Richardson, who seems to be the foremost authority on every subject known to man, nor have you seen a butler half as old (or as good) whose grunts are so rich with meaning. This plot mixes wit and slapstick, shows you with morbidly funny detail how all the other classmates croaked, has a strangler as well as a hearse and beer wagon chase thrown in for good measure.

You have to keep your eyes glued to this gloriously absurd utter chaos to catch all the famous and then not-yet-but-destined-to-be-famous faces, and you’re certain to come away with more than one scene or quote stuck in your head for the rest of your life, and that is the Box. "That is what that is." Catch it on TCM, Wednesday 2:30pm EDT.

Remake news department: this time it's A Star is Born, with director Clint Eastwood and possibly Tom Cruise and Beyonce in the story of an aging male star who's upstaged by his younger wife. The story was first filmed in 1937, and 1954's version included arguably one of the greatest film songs ever, with Judy Garland's performance of "The Man Who Got Away."

This is cross posted from Speakeasy, where you can find further classic entertainment news and reviews.

Breathe Life Into Your Phone

One of the latest devices is the Aire Mask. The Aire Mask fits across your mouth and uses the force of your breathing to create energy for charging a phone.

Inventor Joco Paulo Lammoglia said, "I hope to bring the concept into production and reduce the carbon footprint. It can be used indoors or outdoors, while you're sleeping, walking, running or even reading a book."

The mobile advantages of the Aire Mask are quite obvious, as you'd no longer have to search for a plug when somewhere else, and especially for in use when you're out doors. The green side of it will also be very appealing for the energy conscious.

It is really an attractive device, but if you're a Star Wars fan, you likely thought what I did, does it sound like Vader. Lammoglia avoided that question, but the look is definitely there.

Gorilla Loose in Alabama

Reports in Hale County Alabama, have been a little abnormal over the last few days. The sheriff department has received calls about sightings of at least one gorilla.

Sightings have centered around Newbern, and possibly include multiple gorillas, as different sizes have been described.

It is unknown how even one gorilla could have reached the area. The nearest zoo, about 150 miles away, confirms that their one and only gorilla is still present and accounted for.

Suggestions have come in, that it is not a gorilla at all, but the ever elusive big foot.