Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Another year, Another BCS fail

Well what is new. Another college football season and another totally failed BCS system. Now don't quit reading yet. I don't have a big problem with the LSU - Alabama rematch in the National Championship game. I agree they are most likely the two best teams in the country (no doubt about LSU).

Oklahoma State has a bit of an argument as they did beat more teams with a winning record than Alabama did (7 - 3), but in the end LSU - Alabama looks solid. Just keep your fingers crossed that someone can at least score a touchdown this time before half the country falls asleep in another 6-6 snorefest.

The Rose Bowl got it right. Just like last year when they had TCU and Wisconsin in a wonderful game, this year they have Oregon facing Wisconsin. A great matchup of contrasting styles. The high flying offense of Oregon against the powerful running game of Wisconsin.

Credit to the Fiesta Bowl as well. #3 Oklahoma State against #4 Stanford. Offense, offense and more offense. It's the other BCS games I have issue with.

The Sugar Bowl completely flopped. #14 Michigan? Sure they have a very high profile quarterback and will bring a zillion fans, but come on. Even worse...Virginia Tech. Didn't they get blasted by Clemson in the ACC Title game? Who wants to watch this game? Boise State - Michigan would have been fascinating. Instead #6, #7, #8 and #9 all got passed over for this gobbler.

And now the Orange Bowl. They give tickets away for $1 to get fans to come to the Orange Bowl lately. This year's matchup is no better at all. West Virginia - Clemson. #15 against #23. Ouch. In truth it will probably be an entertaining game, but nobody west of the Mississippi will tune in at all.

The real problem is that the BCS ignored top teams that played all year to get a top 10 ranking. Instead the BCS went with #11, #14, #15 and #23. Yuck. Please give us a playoff!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Super Committee not so Super

The name definitely must be changed. The so-called Super Committee appointed by Congress to come up with budget cuts and save the country from our crippling debt has failed. In fact they have crashed and burned in grand fashion.

No deal coming. No compromise. After weeks and weeks some of the most powerful people in Washington DC have absolutely nothing to show.

Now we will get $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts. $550 billion from defense. The rest from medicare and other programs. Republicans are already working on legislation to overturn them. Obama is already saying he will veto any such legislation.

And now the war of words begins. President Obama spouted at a news conference today blaming Republicans (as he always does). Seems to me the Super Committee was an even six from both parties. Blame should fall evenly on both sides.

A total political failure. I guess it should have been expected. All we have seen now for a few years are total political failures. Congress is a joke. The Presidential leadership is a joke. It's basically a total disaster.

Look around the world. Europe is in tatters. Egypt is once again blowing up. The Middle East is a powder keg that we will reignite over the next few weeks. We have the Occupy Wall Street movement (as goofy as it is). And we don't have twelve people from Congress that can sit down and come to any agreement.

Goodness things are bad.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Go get your Meteorology Degree!

I always tell my soccer players to go get a meteorology degree when they head for college. I was always joking because we live here in Dallas, Texas. So all summer long it just doesn't take much talent to be a weatherman. Everyday is 100 and sunny. The seven day forecast is 100, 102, 101, 102, 101, 103 and 102.

Not a cloud in the sky. Just doesn't seem like too difficult a job to me. If it does accidentally rain nobody cares that you missed the forecast because it rained! Even in the more difficult times where we get thunderstorms or cold fronts it just doesn't matter if you miss the forecast. The weathercasters on the local news here have been there for decades. David Finfrock can barely say a full sentence anymore without having to take pause. They have their jobs forever....no matter how many predictions they miss.

Well, seems my advice is even better now. A new article hit showing the college degrees with the least unemployment for graduates and meteorologist is listed at 0%. So get a meteorology degree and get a job for sure. Not too shabby.

A guaranteed job. Almost perfect job security. And a job where you can be wrong all the time with a summer that you basically have to do nothing. That's the ticket!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lindsey Lohan released from jail after only five hours!

So Lindsey Lohan was sentenced to another jail term for her continued transgressions and her continued attitude towards the law. This time she was given a 30 days sentence at the Los Angeles County jail for failure to take care of her community service requirements from a previous sentence.

Well Lindsey Lohan reported for jail last night and served a grand total of five hours. Yes that's right. Five hours. A few hours and she was released. So her fifth jail sentence lasted only a few hours. That is less than 1% of her sentence served.

So she is out. Lindsey is required to go to psychothereapy and perform all her old community service at the county morgue rather than the women's shelter as was previously assigned. She has to serve 423 hours at the morgue where she will mop floors, clean bathrooms and wash dirty sheets.

Bet she learned her lesson on this one. Until she gets some real jail time she will never adhere to the laws and sentences. She has already received five different jail terms. It's just a matter of time until we get the sixth.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Backwards California passes law giving tax dollars to illegal immigrant students

Seriously? California Governor Jerry Brown just signed a bill into law that gives illegal immigrants the use of public tax payer funds for college. Amazing what a crazy and backwards state California is. Giving American tax payer funds to illegal aliens rather than have it be used for our own students that need them.

The bill was passed by California Democrats in a party line vote. Typical Democrat crap.

Republican Tim Donnelly responded to the signing, "Citizens are having a hard enough time getting the classes they need now. Legally documented students from the next state over can only dream of such a benefit."

What part of "illegal" do these people not understand. They are "illegal immigrants" and using our tax payer dollars that should go to legal students!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Obama twisting the truth on how much taxes the rich actually pay

Here goes President Obama twisting the facts once again. His statement that high income families pay less in taxes than middle class families is nothing short of a lie. Here are some facts about our Federal Taxes straight from the Congressional Budget Office.

According to the latest IRS figures. In 2009, taxpayers who made $1 million or more paid on average 24.4% of their income in federal income taxes. Those making $100,000 to $125,000 paid on average 9.9% in federal income taxes. Those making $50,000 to $60,000 paid an average of 6.3%. So as you can clearly see Obama's statement is not even close to being accurate at all.

The 10% of households with the highest incomes pay more than half of all federal taxes. They pay more than 70% of federal income taxes, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Obama still not getting it - Wants to hike taxes to pay for his jobs bill

President Obama just doesn't get it. His lack of business background and business sense continues to show as he tries the same failing tactics to turn around the poor US economy. In a sharp challenge to the GOP, President Barack Obama proposed paying for his costly new jobs plan Monday with tax hikes that Republicans have already emphatically rejected. The reception to his new proposal was no more welcoming, setting the stage for a likely new fight with Congress.

Flanked at the White House by workers he said the legislation would help, Obama declared, "This is the bill that Congress needs to pass. No games. No politics. No delays." He sent it to Capitol Hill saying, "The only thing that's stopping it is politics."

The president's proposal drew criticism from House Speaker John Boehner, who'd previously responded in cautious but somewhat receptive tones to the $447 billion jobs plan made up of tax cuts and new spending that Obama first proposed in an address to Congress last Thursday.

"It would be fair to say this tax increase on job creators is the kind of proposal both parties have opposed in the past. We remain eager to work together on ways to support job growth, but this proposal doesn't appear to have been offered in that bipartisan spirit," Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said.

The biggest piece of the payment plan would raise about $400 billion by eliminating certain deductions, including on charitable contributions, that can be claimed by wealthy taxpayers. Obama has proposed that in the past — to help pay for his health care overhaul, for example — and it's been shot down by Republican lawmakers along with some Democrats.

Yet by daring Republicans anew to reject tax hikes on the rich Obama could gain a talking point as the 2012 presidential campaign moves forward, if not a legislative victory.

At a Rose Garden event Monday, Obama brandished his jobs bill in the air and surrounded himself with police officers, firefighters, teachers, construction workers and others he said would be helped by it. Adopting a newly combative tone that's been welcomed by dispirited Democrats, Obama demanded immediate action on the legislation, which the White House sent to Capitol Hill Monday afternoon.

"Instead of just talking about America's job creators, let's actually do something for America's job creators."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Michigan toughens welfare laws, limit to 48 months

Thank you Mr Governor for helping to move this country away from the socialist/freeloading agenda!

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder on Tuesday signed into law a stricter, four-year lifetime limit on cash welfare benefits, prompting advocates for the poor to warn that tens of thousands of residents will find themselves without cash assistance on October 1.

Michigan's first-year Republican chief executive said the state will offer exemptions to the limit for those with a disability who can't work, those who care for a disabled spouse or child and those who are 65 or older and don't qualify for Social Security benefits or receive very low benefits. Some recipients who are the victims of domestic violence also may be temporarily exempted.

"We are returning cash assistance to its original intent as a transitional program to help families while they work toward self-sufficiency," Snyder said in a statement. He noted that the state still will help the poor by offering food stamps, health care coverage through Medicaid, child care and emergency services.

Then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, signed a bill that created a four-year limit starting in 2007. But that law exempted many welfare recipients, including those whose caseworkers said they were making progress toward finding employment.
The 2010 election of Snyder and the simultaneous Republican takeover of the Michigan House gave the GOP a free hand to set its own course on public assistance.

The change gives Michigan the Midwest's toughest welfare time limit, according to a survey by The Detroit News. It said there are five-year limits in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin. Indiana has a two-year limit for adults — but none for children.

Gilda Jacobs of the Michigan League for Human Services said she expects about 41,000 people to lose their cash assistance payments on October 1 when the state's new budget year begins. That includes 29,700 children, according to the Michigan Department of Human Services.

"We're very, very concerned," Jacobs said. "As the days go by, new people will be meeting the 48-month limit. ... More will be falling off that cliff."

The new law will reduce the number of children and adults receiving cash assistance by nearly 20%, from more than 221,000 to around 180,000. Enforcing a four-year limit will save the state more than $60 million annually, according to a House Fiscal Agency analysis.

Jacobs said it's hard to see how 11,000 adults will find a job when Michigan's July unemployment rate was 10.9%, tied with South Carolina for third-highest in the nation.

"We still have to preserve a safety net for people who, through no fault of their own, can't find a job," she said, noting that most cash assistance goes to help poor residents pay their rent. "There's obviously a lot of anxiety out there. Folks aren't sure exactly what this means to them."

State officials say they're working with nonprofit organizations to direct welfare recipients to other services and provide a "soft landing" as they lose benefits. Recipients will be connected with other resources, given housing and job placement assistance for up to three months beyond October and mentored by trained job navigators.

"Michigan continues to face financial challenges, and the fiscal reality is that we cannot afford to provide lifetime cash assistance to recipients who are able to work," Health and Human Services director Maura Corrigan said in a statement. "Enforcing lifetime limits for cash assistance ensures that available funds are targeted toward those recipients who need a helping hand while they find employment."
Michigan ranked 38th in child poverty for 2009, defined as income below $21,756 for a family of two adults and two children. About 23% of Michigan's children lived in poverty in 2009, compared with 20% nationally. In 2000, only 14% of Michigan children lived in poverty. The average age of a child in a family receiving cash assistance is around 7 years old.

Snyder, a Republican, has said reducing the number of children living in poverty is a priority of his administration.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Barack Obama's Legacy - A Failed Recovery

There will be no significant recovery in the United States of America while Barack Obama is President. The evidence is overwhelming: everything Obama has tried to fuel a recovery (with his Democratic allies in Congress) has failed. Statistics claiming jobs saved by the stimulus package were mostly fiction, and cost American taxpayers about $275,000 each. Nearly 2-1/2 million fewer Americans have jobs than before the stimulus.

Barack Obama has been President for 30 months—2-1/2 years. He spent the first year obsessed with passing Obamacare, a program that doesn’t create jobs, but might destroy a lot of them. He “bailed out” GM, but many believe that his interference didn’t save GM; it merely cost taxpayers an extra $15-20 billion, and stole from legitimate investors to buy off the UAW. His broken campaign promises are too numerous to list. At some point, his statute of limitations on blaming Bush runs out. The latest joke is that the White House is that named the location of East Coast earthquake near DC “Bush’s Fault.”

Obama himself said, “…that after three years, if the economy wasn’t fixed he should be a one-term president.” Clearly the economic malaise started on George W. Bush’s watch. Its causes will be argued for decades, but most of them are traceable to irresponsible lending and excessive spending— both by government and the American people. The trouble that started before 2008 is directly traceable to actions (or inactions) of Bush and GOP allies in Congress. They spent America into the start of the current deficit during his eight years in the White House.

But that was then, and this is now. Since Obama took office the situation has gotten much, much worse. Obama has run up the deficit at more than twice the rate Bush did. During the first quarter of 2011, the US economy “barely grew” —at 0.4%—that was followed by second quarter’s “anemic growth” of 1%. This was during the period when the Obama recovery was supposed to be well underway. Employment data is unremittingly terrible: new jobless claims are stuck at 400,000+/- each month, with job creation well below what it takes just to absorb new workforce entrants. More Americans have been unemployed longer than ever in our history. And looking ahead, the news is not good.

This is Obama’s failed American recovery, and in the near future, Obama’s impending double-dip recession (thanks in no small part to his three consecutive years with Trillion-dollar in deficits that have inflated the national deficit to soaring heights—$14+ Trillion.) That legacy clearly belongs to President Barack Obama and with help from the Congress led by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi during 2008-2010. Thanks to them, our country hasn’t even had a budget since Obama took office.

Face it folks: This is Obama’s failed recovery. And if (or when) it comes to pass, this “double-dip” recession (just around the corner) is his too.
Make no mistake, there IS plenty of blame to go around. About 75% of Americans are fed up with both Obama and Congress. The conservative and liberal factions of the House and Senate behaved badly in the recent debt ceiling negotiation. President Obama wanted to stay above the fray so he provided no leadership. He didn’t even know how to bring the opposing viewpoints together. He talked about bi-partisanship and consensus, but his actions disproved his words.

Until the president saw an impending disaster, he sat on the sidelines, afraid to do anything that might hinder his reelection campaign. Then, when his intervention didn’t help, and arguably hurt the progress, he grew impatient, petulant and angry.
John Boehner, however, did an admirable job trying to build a compromise deal on the debt ceiling, and get his own Caucus to support such a plan. Except, Obama was attacked by his liberal base for even considering the “grand bargain,” so he came in and dumped another “raise taxes more” demand on Boehner. I’d have walked out too, which Boehner was right to do.

Whatever happens, this failed recovery and impending recession belong to President Barack Obama. His condescending explanations of why “we Americans” don’t get it, how “this will take a long time,” this recovery, and his “class warfare” about “millionaires and billionaires” versus the “common folk” are all wearing thin.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The stock market is feeding the current economic fear

Instead of reflecting the current economic cloudiness, the US stock market is starting to feed economic fear. Stocks have fallen for a disheartening four weeks in a row. Some on Wall Street worry that the resulting blow to confidence, not to mention 401k statements, has set off a spiral of fear that could push prices even lower, cause people and businesses to pull back and tip the economy into a new recession.

"I'm nervous that fear will lead companies to stop hiring and people to stop spending," says Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist of Wells Capital Management, famous for his usually bullish take on the markets.

A home sales report this past week showed that more sales than usual fell apart at the last minute, which suggests plunging stocks and dismal economic news gave buyers cold feet. At least 16% of deals were canceled ahead of closings last month.

Beth Ann Bovino, senior economist at Standard & Poor's, says that another big plunge in stocks could "push us closer to the brink." The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index ended Friday at 1,123.53, down 5% for the week. The average is down 16% during the four-week losing streak. One reason for the drop is fear that another recession, if not certain, is more likely now.

The run of bad economic news started last month when the government said the economy grew much more weakly in the first half of this year than thought. Growth, at a paltry annual rate of 0.8%, was the slowest since the Great Recession ended in June 2009.

The economic weakness has made investors more likely to sell stocks at the first hint that things are getting worse. And last week, they got signs aplenty. A regional survey by the Federal Reserve said manufacturing had slowed in the mid-Atlantic states by the most in more than two years. Existing home sales fell in July for third time in four months. Another report showed that exports from Japan, the world's third-biggest economy, had slumped for the fifth straight month. Japan is still reeling from the effects of an earthquake and tsunami in March.

The housing market, which usually helps lead an economic recovery, keeps getting worse. The plunging stock market and scary economic news won't make it any better.

"What you're seeing with the economy, on the job front, it's scaring a lot of people," says Brian Fine, a loan manager at Mortgage Master in Rockville, Md. He says the housing market will languish until buyers and sellers feel more secure about the economy.

"People are really motivated by larger economic trends. It's all about if you feel confident enough to buy a home right now," he says.

The news from Europe got worse, too. Its economy has slowed considerably — even in Germany, which has been its greatest source of strength. Fear spread that European banks, already ailing because they hold bonds of countries that are struggling with debt, were having trouble getting short-term loans to pay for day-to-day activities.

Some Wall Street analysts say reports of trouble were exaggerated, but that didn't seem to matter. For investors, the prospect of banks scrambling for cash dredged up bad memories of the global credit freeze that hit in the fall of 2008, and they sold stocks.

"A negative feedback loop ... appears to be in the making," two economists at Morgan Stanley wrote Thursday in a widely cited report that itself seemed to beget more fear and selling. It warned that the US was "dangerously close" to recession.

Stock investors aren't the only ones worried. Martin Fridson, global chief credit strategist at BNP Paribas Investment Partners, notes that investors in bonds issued by the riskiest American companies are dumping them, too. These investors fear that in a recession companies might not be able to pay interest on these so-called junk bonds.

The selling has forced up the average interest rate on the bonds to 8.3%. If investors had faith in the economy, the rate would be 4.6%, Fridson says. "I'm nervous. I think there's a very material risk of falling into recession."

Investors are responding to the risk by putting their money where they feel safe. Demand for the 10 yr Treasury note was so high last week that the yield dipped below 2% for the first time in half a century. And the price of gold has set one record after another. It topped $1,800 an ounce last week.

Although unemployment remains stubbornly high, at 9.1%, there are signs that the economy, while not strong, is still growing. Retail sales grew in July at the fastest pace since March. Employers added 117,000 jobs last month, but far better than the hundreds of thousands of jobs lost each month during the Great Recession. Factory production rose in July because automakers made more cars.

And Wall Street analysts who analyze companies and advise investors when to buy and sell don't seem to be worried. As stocks were falling Friday, research firm FactSet released figures that showed just how much more optimistic these analysts are than the average investor.

Stocks are priced at roughly 11 times their expected earnings per share over the next year. That's a steep discount compared with the market's long-term average of 15 times. Translation: If you believe the US will avoid recession and companies will generate profits as high as the analysts think they will, the S&P should be trading at 1,560 — just below the S&P's record high of 1,565 in October 2007.

Of course, if the economy is weak and earnings don't come in as expected, it could turn out that stocks were trading today at 15 times the next year's earnings. That's what many of today's sellers seem be expecting.

And skeptics note that analysts are notoriously bullish, and tend to overestimate profits as the economy slows. Wells Capital's Paulsen thinks stocks should be trading higher, though he suggests investors will pay a steep price if he's wrong.

"If we have a recession, we'll probably break 1,000" on the S&P index, he says.

Investors will be on edge this week as they scrutinize new data on the economy. On Tuesday, new home sales for July are released, followed on Thursday by a weekly report on how many people are joining the unemployment line. On Friday, the government will give its second estimate of how fast the economy grew from April through June.

The most anticipated event, though, is a speech the same day by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke at a retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. The Fed pledged earlier this month to keep interest rates low through mid-2013. Investors hope Bernanke will announce, or at least preview, further steps to help the economy. But economists say it is unlikely Bernanke will unveil anything ambitious.

With all the high emotion surrounding stocks, economist Joel Naroff cautions investors not to read too much into the recent swings. He says that stocks have a habit of running from one extreme to the other, including this spring, when he thought they were far too high. He thinks stocks may be fairly valued now.

They reflect an "economy that is growing but not growing at any great pace," he says. "It is not in recession."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Just Who Owns America's Debt? Americans!

Truth is elusive. But it's a good thing we have math. Our friends at Business Insider know this, and put those two principles to work today in this excellent and highly informative little slideshow, made even more timely by the ongoing talks in Washington, DC aimed at staving off a US debt default.

Here's the big idea:
Many people — politicians and pundits alike — prattle on that China and, to a lesser extent Japan, own most of America's $14.3 trillion in government debt. But there's one little problem with that conventional wisdom: it's just not true. While the Chinese, Japanese and plenty of other foreigners own substantial amounts, it's really Americans who hold most of America's debt. Here's a quick and fascinating breakdown by total amount held and percentage of total US debt, according to Business Insider:

Hong Kong: $121.9 billion (0.9%)
Caribbean banking centers: $148.3 (1%)
Taiwan: $153.4 billion (1.1%)
Brazil: $211.4 billion (1.5%)
Oil exporting countries: $229.8 billion (1.6%)
Mutual funds: $300.5 billion (2%)
Commercial banks: $301.8 billion (2.1%)
State, local and federal retirement funds: $320.9 billion (2.2%)
Money market mutual funds: $337.7 billion (2.4%)
United Kingdom: $346.5 billion (2.4%)
Private pension funds: $504.7 billion (3.5%)
State and local governments: $506.1 billion (3.5%)
Japan: $912.4 billion (6.4%)
US households: $959.4 billion (6.6%)
China: $1.16 trillion (8%)
The US Treasury: $1.63 trillion (11.3%)
US Social Security trust fund: $2.67 trillion (19%)

So foreigners own about $4.5 trillion in debt. But America owes America $9.8 trillion and there's where a default would hurt the worst!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Obama using scare tactics via television interviews rather than working on the problem

Well President Obama warned us yesterday that retirees might not receive their Social Security checks in August if lawmakers fail to reach an agreement on how to reduce the federal debt.

"I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on Aug. 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," Obama told CBS's Scott Pelley in an interview set to air tonight on the CBS Evening News.

Here's my response....."Why don't you quit giving all these television interviews and actually go work on fixing the problem?"

Roughly $20 billion in Social Security checks are set to be mailed out on Aug. 3--a day after the Treasury Department says the US will begin defaulting on its financial obligations unless the debt ceiling is raised.

But the president cautioned that it's more than just Social Security checks that could be affected. "These are veterans' checks. These are folks on disability," Obama said, according to excerpts released by CBS News. "There are about 70 million checks that go out."

The president's comments come a day after he warned of dire financial consequences should Republicans and Democrats fail to come to an agreement on raising the debt ceiling and paying down the deficit. In a press conference yesterday, Obama said if Republicans fail to compromise on a debt deal that it could "throw millions of more people out of work."

Obama and congressional leaders are set to meet again later today as the two sides continue to bicker over the debt ceiling and how to shore up the nation's dire fiscal state. The White House is pressing for an agreement by July 22nd (a little over a week before Aug 2), the date when Treasury officials say the US will hit its debt limit.

Get to work please Mr President and stop running around using fear tactics on the American public. Get a room. Sit both leaderships down. Hammer out a compromise. Get on with business rather than promoting your own personal agenda that is not in the best interests of our country!

Friday, June 24, 2011

US House of Representatives sends Obama message on Libya

President Barack Obama asked Congress for the authority for US military operations against Libya. On Friday the House of Representatives sent a resounding vote of no. In a repudiation of the commander in chief, the House voted overwhelmingly against a resolution that would have favored letting the mission continue for one year while barring American ground forces.

Even after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made a final hour plea the vote was 295-123, with 70 Democrats abandoning Obama's stance on Libya. The Republican leader of the House, Speaker John Boehner, said he supported the president's authority as commander in chief. "But when the president chooses to challenge the powers of the Congress, I as speaker of the House will defend the constitutional authority of the Legislature," he said.

House Republicans and some Democrats are furious with Obama for failing to seek congressional authorization as required under the War Powers Resolution. The 1973 law, often ignored by Republican and Democratic presidents, says the commander in chief must seek congressional consent for military actions within 60 days. That deadline has long passed.

Earlier this month, the House voted 268-145 to rebuke Obama for failing to provide a "compelling rationale" for the Libyan mission and for launching US military forces without congressional approval.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pottermore - All Things for the Harry Potter fan

Today famous author J.K. Rowling introduced the newest saga for the Harry Potter fan. Pottermore. The announcement was made via youtube and had been eagerly awaited for months by Potter fans. Details about the site come after months of guessing and social media hype.

The site goes live on July 31 when 1 million registered users will be chosen through an online competition to help flesh out the Pottermore world. Visitors can register now to enter that competition.

Rowling said she created the website to give back to Harry Potter's "muggle" followers. At Pottermore, users will be able to share comments, ideas and drawings about all things Harry Potter and even buy Harry Potter e-books. There is also a puzzle map called "Secret Street View," where users can enter secret map coordinates that spell out p-o-t-t-e-r-m-o-r-e.

The site lets fans delve into Harry Potter's beloved Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. They can shop for wands in Diagon Alley, travel to Hogwarts from the imaginary Platform 9 3/4 at London's King's Cross train station and be sorted into Hogwarts school houses by the perceptive Sorting Hat.

The deal brings longtime e-book refusnik Rowling into the digital fold, but comes as a bitter potion to established booksellers, who will be shut out of the latest chapter of a vastly profitable saga.

"You can't hold back progress," Rowling told reporters in London. "E-books are here and they are here to stay."

Rowling reiterated that she will not write any more Harry Potter books and that she is done writing in the immensely popular series. There could be an encyclopedia compiled though. The seven Harry Potter novels have made Rowling one of the world's richest women, with a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine at $1 billion.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Michelle Obama wasting American taxpayer dollars on another vacation

Well it seems Michelle Obama is off on another one of her famous "vacations". Last fall it was Spain where US taxpayers picked up the tab for Air Force One and $100s of thousands of dollars for 70 secret service and security personnel. This time it is Africa and the taxpayer is footing the bill once again.

Just so Michelle Obama, her mom and kids can go on a vacation to Africa? There's our taxpayer dollars hard at work! Oh, my bad. It is an official visit according to the White House. Botswana? Seriously? A safari? Dinner at a game preserve? Sounds like an official visit to me.

Fresh off the "London Leisure Tour" that the American taxpayers funded and now off to Botswana with the entire family in tow. Isn't it wonderful that we give millions upon millions of our money to countries that hate us. Now we have to fund vacation after vacation for the President's family and friends.

A trip to Africa to inspire African youth....how about trying to inspire American youth. How about instead of wasting $10 million taxpayer dollars on a trip to Africa we put that money to work in towns in the USA that have a need?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Some disheartening facts about the Barack Obama Presidency

Here are some facts about the Barack Obama Presidency thus far. Nothing short of disheartening to say the least.

1. Doubled the national debt in a single year

2. Proposed to double the debt again within 10 years

3. Joined the country of Mexico and sued a state in the United States to force that state to continue to allow illegal immigration

4. Put 87,000 workers out of work by arbitrarily placing a moratorium on offshore oil drilling on companies that have one of the best safety records of any industry because one foreign company had an accident

5. Used a forged document as the basis of the moratorium that would render 87,000 American workers unemployed

6. Spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to take his First Lady to a play in NYC

7. Reduced your retirement plan holdings of GM stock by 90% and given the unions a majority stake in GM

8. Given Gordon Brown a set of inexpensive and incorrectly formatted DVDs, when Gordon Brown had given him a thoughtful and historically significant gift

9. Given the Queen of England an iPod containing videos of his speeches

10. Visited Austria and made reference to the nonexistent "Austrian language"

11. Stated that there were 57 states in the United States

12. Flown all the way to Denmark to make a five minute speech about how the Olympics would benefit him walking out his front door in his home town

13. Been so Spanish illiterate as to refer to "Cinco de Cuatro" in front of the Mexican ambassador when it was the 5th of May (Cinco de Mayo), and continued to flub it when he tried again

14. Burned 9,000 gallons of jet fuel to go plant a single tree on Earth Day

15. Ok'd Air Force One flying low over millions of people followed by a jet fighter in downtown Manhattan causing widespread panic

16. Failed to send relief aid to flood victims throughout the Midwest with more people killed or made homeless than in New Orleans

17. Created the position of 32 Czars who report directly to him, bypassing the House and Senate confirmation process

WAKE UP FOLKS. These are not "political assertions" designed to make BO "look bad" (he does a very fine job of that without any help) - they are simply just some of the facts of his actions.

Now, the question before the good people of America is: Can we really stand anymore of him in office?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

President Obama completely out of touch with Texas border problems

Tuesday President Barack Obama visited El Paso, Texas and proved just how out of touch he was with the border issues facing Texas. Fighting political gridlock that has doomed immigration legislation for years, President Obama made his first visit to the border since taking office and told activists and immigrant rights supporters it’s up to them to force Congress to act.

Instead, he made the case that with more Border Patrol agents, a border fence and falling crime rates, he has checked border security off the to-do list. Obama proclaimed the border fence done and the Texas-Mexican border secure drawing jeers and boos from the crowd. Obviously he has not been keeping up with the press reports over the last few years giving evidence of out of control drug cartels and murder after murder.

Illegal immigration continues to be out of control with immigrants crossing the border and receiving free benefits from the American taxpayers. The border has been reported as 44% secure. Texans begged to differ with the Obama position.

“Mr. President, 44% is a failing grade,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, Texas Republican. “If 44% is the most secure the border has ever been, it’s time to get to work to improve the grade. The American people expect nothing less than an A+ on border security.”

The President was booed once again when he said his administration is just a few miles shy of completing hundreds of miles of border fencing - something he supported when he was in the Senate. In truth there are hundreds of miles of unsecured and completely open border.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How does Fukushima differ from Chernobyl?

Japan has raised the severity level of its nuclear crisis to put it on par with the 1986 Chernobyl accident, the world's worst nuclear power disaster. But for all their criticism of how Tokyo Electric Power and Japan's government are handling the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, experts agree with them on one point: Fukushima is not another Chernobyl.

"Fukushima has its own unique risks, but comparing it to Chernobyl is going too far. Fukushima is unlikely to have the kind of impact on the health of people in neighboring countries, the way Chernobyl did," said nuclear specialist Kenji Sumita at Osaka University.

Here are the main points of how the two accidents differ.

Unit 4 at Chernobyl was a water-cooled and graphite-moderated reactor, a combination that can and did yield a runaway chain reaction. A series of gross errors and misjudgment by operators resulted in an explosion and fire that catapulted radioactivity into the upper atmosphere.

The resulting release of radiation has been compared to 10 times that released by the 1945 US nuclear bomb attack on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The boiling water reactors at Fukushima do not have a combustible graphite core. The nuclear fuel in reactors No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 was allowed to melt at least partially, but operators have since succeeded in cooling both the reactors and the spent fuel pools and no chain reaction is happening now.

As long as cooling operations continue and Japan can prepare tanks fast enough to store the contamination overflow, Japan can still hope to buy time to figure out how to bring the reactors to a cold shutdown.

Chernobyl had no containment structure and nothing stopped the trajectory of radioactive materials into the air. Fukushima's reactors are built on granite foundations and are surrounded by steel and concrete structures. The reactor vessels and containment structures, as well as some of the pipes leading from the reactors, are likely to have been damaged by the March 11 tsunami and recurring earthquakes. But with radiation levels now down to a sliver of what they were at the peak, experts say that the structures are still holding. Chernobyl contaminated an area as far as 300 miles from the plant, and an area spanning 18 miles around the plant is still an exclusion zone and uninhabited.

At Fukushima, there have been no deaths so far due to radiation. Eight people have been injured. More deadly have been the 9.0 magnitude quake that hit on March 11 and the aftershocks that have rocked the site while workers tried to bring the plant under control. Two have died and three have been critically injured.

At Chernobyl, the initial explosion resulted in the death of two workers. Twenty-eight of the firemen and emergency clean-up workers died in the first three months after the explosion from acute radiation sickness and one died of cardiac arrest.

Bungling, yes. Disorganized, incoherent and sometimes contradictory, yes. But it is difficult to accuse Japanese officials or TEPCO of intentionally covering up information, with round-the-clock updates and a steady stream of data.

Chernobyl was initially covered up by the secretive Soviet state, which remained silent for two days. But authorities, obliged by huge radiation releases throughout Europe, gradually disclosed details of the accident, showing unprecedented Soviet-era openness.

It's not over yet. One month since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, workers still have to inject water into the reactors, creating more contaminated water that is hampering the restoration of power to pumps to cool the reactors and bring them to a cold shutdown.

The situation led a frustrated and demoralized TEPCO spokesman to say that the total fallout could exceed that of Chernobyl. Fukushima involves loss of control at four reactors and potentially more radioactive material, that could continue to seep, leak or burst into the environment. Officials have said that if power cannot be restored to the cooling pumps, there are other measures, such as air cooling, and that in a worst-case scenario, they could try water entombment in the reactors whose containment structures are sound.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Obama flip-flops on raising debt limit

Talk about sounding hyporitical. Here is a speach by Obama from the Senate floor in 2006:
"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. ... Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that 'the buck stops here.' Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem."

Now the same man is asking Congress top raise the debt ceiling. The country will reach its debt limit of $14.3 trillion by May 16. Instead of actually trying to do something to bring the debt down Obama is asking Congress to just raise the limit. Basically, just allowing the government to spend more mony that we don't have. Eventually the ridiculous debt is going to have to be dealt with.

"The president has asked us to increase the debt limit, in other words to increase the limit on the credit card, without doing anything about the source of the problem. And we've got to deal with the source of the problem," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Monday on Fox News Channel.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

France struggling to lead UN in Libya

France responded to rising criticism Wednesday from eastern Libyan rebels stating that NATO is not doing enough to protect them from Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces, as the air campaign nears the three-week mark. The rebels posit that NATO is overly concerned with avoiding civilian casualties, and as a result, it is allowing the Libyan army to regain territory lost during its low point last week.

Indeed, the army’s most recent counteroffensive has taken it back through Brega, with Ajdabiya now within its sights once again, while the rebel enclave of Misrata in western Libya continues to get bombarded by loyalist forces on a daily basis. France, which was the biggest proponent of involvement in Libya from the start, would very much like to step up the intensity of the campaign against Gadhafi, but is handicapped by the rules of engagement that NATO is operating under and the inherent limitations of airpower.

Thus, French officials took time Wednesday to explain why it is not Paris’fault that NATO jets are not pursuing the enemy more aggressively and how France was trying to adjust the way the military operation is being conducted.

French Foreign Minister Alan Juppe and French Chief of Defense Staff Adm. Edouard Guillaud both said Wednesday that NATO’s aversion to killing civilians is the main problem facing the operation. While Juppe was slightly less direct in his criticism of NATO, Paris clearly sees the current situation as unlikely to lead to any real success on the battlefield. More than two weeks of daily airstrikes have taken out almost all of the easy targets, and Gadhafi has shifted his tactics to avoid drawing enemy fire, meaning that a stalemate is fast approaching.

Indeed, Juppe expressed fears that at the current pace, NATO forces risk getting “bogged down” in a situation that has the ability to linger on for months without producing a clear-cut winner.

NATO officials tried to defend its record in response to the rebel criticism and the French complaints, with one spokesman saying Wednesday that its planes have flown more than 1,000 sorties — with at least 400 of them strike sorties — in the last six days, and on April 5 alone it flew 155 sorties, with almost 200 planned for Wednesday. This is unlikely to mollify concerns from those who want more intense action, however, about the potential for the Libyan intervention to accomplish nothing but create an uneasy, de facto partition. As no one, not even Paris, wants to put boots on the ground, though, the best solution Jupee could proffer was to broach the topic of NATO’s timid approach with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in a Wednesday meeting. There, he was expected to push the suggestion for NATO to create a safe sea lane connecting Misrata to Benghazi, so that supplies could be shipped in by unknown naval forces.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Middle East Crisis Has Just Begun

Despite the military drama unfolding in Libya, the Middle East is only beginning to unravel. American policy-makers have been spoiled by events in Tunisia and Egypt, both of which boast relatively sturdy institutions, civil society associations and middle classes, as well as being age-old clusters of civilization where states of one form or another have existed since antiquity. Darker terrain awaits us elsewhere in the region, where states will substantially weaken once the carapace of tyranny crumbles. The crucial tests lie ahead, beyond the distraction of Libya.

The United States may be a democracy, but it is also a status quo power, whose position in the world depends on the world staying as it is. In the Middle East, the status quo is unsustainable because populations are no longer afraid of their rulers. Every country is now in play. Even in Syria, with its grisly security services, widespread demonstrations have been reported and protesters killed. There will be no way to appease the region's rival sects, ethnicities and other interest groups except through some form of democratic representation, but anarchic quasi-democracy will satisfy no one. Other groups will emerge, and they may be distinctly illiberal.

Whatever happens in Libya, it is not necessarily a bellwether for the Middle East. The Iranian green movement knows that Western air forces and navies are not about to bomb Iran in the event of a popular uprising, so it is unclear what lesson we are providing to the region. Because outside of Iran, and with the arguable exceptions of Syria and Libya itself, there is no short-term benefit for the US in democratic revolts in the region. In fact, they could be quite destructive to our interests, even as they prove to be unstoppable.

Yemen, strategically located on the Gulf of Aden, as well as the demographic core of the Arabian Peninsula and a haunt of al Qaeda, is more important to American interests than Libya. In Yemen, too, a longtime ruler, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has shot protesters in the street to keep order. Yemen constitutes the most armed populace in the world, with almost four times as many firearms as people. It is fast running out of ground water, and the median age of the population is 17. This is to say nothing of the geographical, political and sectarian divisions in the sprawling, mountainous country. However badly Mr. Saleh has ruled Yemen, more chaos may follow him. Coverage by Al Jazeera can help to overthrow a government like his, but it can't help to organize new governments.

In Jordan, at the other end of the Arabian Peninsula, democratic pressure will force King Abdullah to give more power to the Islamists and to urban Palestinians. The era of a dependable, pro-Western Jordan living in peace with Israel may not go on indefinitely. Bahrain, meanwhile, may descend into a low-level civil war. The country's Shia have legitimate complaints against the ruling Sunni royal family, but their goals will play into Iranian hands.

Yemen, Jordan, Iraq, Bahrain and the other Gulf states are all individually more important than Libya because they constitute Saudi Arabia's critical near-abroad. In this era of weakening central authority throughout the Middle East, the core question for the US will be which regime lasts longer: Saudi Arabia's or Iran's. If the Saudi monarchy turns out to have more staying power, we will wrest a great strategic victory from this process of unrest; if Iran's theocracy prevails, it will signal a fundamental eclipse of American influence in the Middle East.

Criticize the Saudi royals all you want—their country requires dramatic economic reform, and fast—but who and what would replace them? There is no credible successor on the horizon. Even as Saudi Arabia's youthful population, 40% of which is unemployed, becomes more restive, harmony within the royal family is beginning to fray as the present generation of leaders gives way to a new one. And nothing spells more trouble for a closed political system than a divided elite. Yes, Iran experienced massive antiregime demonstrations in 2009 and smaller ones more recently. But the opposition there is divided, and the regime encompasses various well-institutionalized power centers, thus making a decapitation strategy particularly hard to achieve. The al Sauds may yet fall before the mullahs do, and our simplistic calls for Arab democracy only increase that possibility.

Democracy is part of America's very identity, and thus we benefit in a world of more democracies. But this is no reason to delude ourselves about grand historical schemes or to forget our wider interests. Precisely because so much of the Middle East is in upheaval, we must avoid entanglements and stay out of the domestic affairs of the region. We must keep our powder dry for crises ahead that might matter much more than those of today.

Our most important national security resource is the time that our top policy makers can devote to a problem, so it is crucial to avoid distractions. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the fragility of Pakistan, Iran's rush to nuclear power, a possible Israeli military response—these are all major challenges that have not gone away. This is to say nothing of rising Chinese naval power and Beijing's ongoing attempt to Finlandize much of East Asia.

We should not kid ourselves. In foreign policy, all moral questions are really questions of power. We intervened twice in the Balkans in the 1990s only because Yugoslav dictator Slobodan Milosevic had no nuclear weapons and could not retaliate against us, unlike the Russians, whose destruction of Chechnya prompted no thought of intervention on our part (nor did ethnic cleansing elsewhere in the Caucasus, because it was in Russia's sphere of influence). At present, helping the embattled Libyan rebels does not affect our interests, so we stand up for human rights there. But helping Bahrain's embattled Shia, or Yemen's antiregime protesters, would undermine key allies, so we do nothing as demonstrators are killed in the streets.

Of course, just because we can't help everywhere does not mean we can't help somewhere. President Barack Obama has steered a reasonable middle course. He was right to delay action in Libya until the Arab League, the United Nations Security Council, France and Great Britain were fully on board, and even then to restrict our military actions and objectives. He doesn't want the US to own the Libyan problem, which could drag on chaotically for years. President Obama is not feeble, as some have said; he is cunning.

Like former President George H.W. Bush during the collapse of the Soviet Union, he intuits that when history is set in motion by forces greater than our own, we should interfere as little as possible so as not to provoke unintended consequences. The dog that didn't bark when the Berlin Wall fell was the intervention of Soviet troops to restore parts of the empire. The dog that won't bark now, we should hope, is the weakening of the Saudi monarchy, to which America's vital interests are tied. So long as the current regime in Iran remains in place, the U.S. should not do anything to encourage protests in Riyadh.

In the background of the ongoing Middle Eastern drama looms the shadow of a rising China. China is not a "responsible stakeholder" in the international system, as we proclaim it should be; it is a free rider. We are at war in Afghanistan to make it a safe place for China to extract minerals and metals. We have liberated Iraq so that Chinese firms can extract its oil. Now we are at war with Libya, which further diverts us from concentrating on the western Pacific—the center of the world's economic and naval activity—which the Chinese military seeks eventually to dominate.

Every time we intervene somewhere, it quickens the pace at which China, whose leaders relish obscurity in international affairs, closes the gap with us. China will have economic and political problems of its own ahead, no doubt, and these will interrupt its rise. But China is spending much less to acquire an overseas maritime empire than we are spending, with all our interventions, merely to maintain ours.

The arch-realist approach would be to forswear a moral narrative altogether and to concentrate instead on our narrow interests in the Middle East. The problem is that if we don't provide a narrative, others will, notably al Qaeda, whose fortunes will rise as the region's dictators, with their useful security services, struggle to survive. But we should craft our narrative with care. It should focus on the need for political and social reform, not on regime change.

Order is preferable to disorder. Just consider what happened to Iraq after we toppled Saddam Hussein. The US should not want Iraq's immediate past to be a foretaste of the region's future.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Solar Energy is likely to benefit from nuclear problems

With the recent problems at the nuclear power plants in Japan, solar energy is looking to be the big beneficiary of a shift to safer energy sources. Solar stocks have been on the upswing in recent weeks as Japan's tragic nuclear crisis has led investors away from nuclear stocks and towards alternative energy plays. Companies such as LDK Solar (NYSE:LDK) and Yingli Green Energy (NYSE:YGE) are expanding their business quickly.

Japan's devastating earthquake may impact solar in both the short and the long term. Japan accounts for around 10% of total world solar production, and in the near term there will be a reduction in supply of polysilicon, solar wafers, cells and modules from Japanese manufacturers that have been idled.

Longer term, alternative energy bulls are hopeful that solar will be a direct beneficiary of a shift in Japan's energy strategy. Last week Jefferies analyst Jesse Pichel argued in a research note that solar power could help Japan deal with the nuclear facility shutdowns. He asserted the country could add a significant amount of photovoltaic power over the next few months.

Recently LDK Solar swung to a 4th quarter profit as the solar wafer manufacturer posted growth in shipments and revenue. LDK said profits totaled $145.2 million compared to a loss of $24.3 million.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

ESPN The Magazine ranks TCU #1 for developing NFL talent

ESPN The Magazine senior writer Bruce Feldman has ranked TCU football #1 nationally for its ability to develop National Football League talent. The Horned Frogs' top ranking comes from head coach Gary Patterson being able to consistently develop NFL draft talent out of unheralded recruits.

TCU consensus first-team All-Americans Jerry Hughes (2008, 2009) and Jake Kirkpatrick (2010) were two-star recruits.

Hughes, a 2010 first-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts, won the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation's best defensive end. He was also the Lott Trophy winner. Kirkpatrick was the 2010 recipient of the Rimington Trophy, honoring the nation's top center.

Current NFL players who were also two-star recruits for TCU include tailback Aaron Brown (Detroit), offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse (Green Bay) and linebacker Jason Phillips (Baltimore).

Offensive tackle Marcus Cannon and quarterback Andy Dalton, projected draft picks this spring, were both three-star recruits. Dalton was ranked as the nation's 82nd best quarterback coming out of Katy (Texas) High School.

Among current Horned Frogs, All-America linebacker Tank Carder and 1,000-yard rusher Ed Wesley were two-star recruits that have flourished. TCU had 24 players drafted and 48 in NFL camps through Patterson's first nine years as head coach. Thirteen former TCU players are currently on NFL rosters.

In 2011, the Horned Frogs put together their first national top 25 ranked recruiting class.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Huge Earthquake moves island of Japan 8 feet

The powerful earthquake that unleashed a devastating tsunami Friday appears to have moved the main island of Japan by 8 feet and shifted the Earth on its axis.

"At this point, we know that one GPS station moved 8 feet, and we have seen a map from GSI (Geospatial Information Authority) in Japan showing the pattern of shift over a large area is consistent with about that much shift of the land mass," said Kenneth Hudnut, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Reports from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy estimated the 8.9 magnitude quake shifted the planet on its axis by nearly 4 inches. Friday's monster quake killed hundreds of people and caused the formation of 30 foot walls of water that swept across rice fields, engulfed entire towns, dragged houses onto highways, and tossed cars and boats like toys. Some waves reached six miles inland in Miyagi Prefecture on Japan's east coast.

The quake was the most powerful to hit the island nation in recorded history and the tsunami it unleashed traveled across the Pacific Ocean, triggering tsunami warnings and alerts for 50 countries and territories as far away as the western coasts of Canada, the US and Chile. The quake triggered more than 160 aftershocks in the first 24 hours with 141 measuring 5.0 magnitude or more.

The quake occurred as the Earth's crust ruptured along an area about 250 miles long by 100 miles wide, as tectonic plates slipped more than 18 meters, said Shengzao Chen, a USGS geophysicist.

Japan is located along the Pacific "ring of fire," an area of high seismic and volcanic activity stretching from New Zealand in the South Pacific up through Japan, across to Alaska and down the west coasts of North and South America. The quake was "hundreds of times larger" than the 2010 quake that ravaged Haiti, said Jim Gaherty of the LaMont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University.

The Japanese quake was of similar strength to the 2004 earthquake in Indonesia that triggered a tsunami that killed over 200,000 people in more than a dozen countries around the Indian Ocean. "The tsunami that it sent out was roughly comparable in terms of size," Gaherty said. "[The 2004 tsunami] happened to hit some regions that were not very prepared for tsunamis ... we didn't really have a very sophisticated tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean basin at the time so the damage was significantly worse."

The Japanese quake comes just weeks after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck New Zealand on February 22, toppling historic buildings and killing more than 150 people. The timeframe of the two quakes have raised questions whether the two incidents are related, but experts say the distance between the two incidents makes that unlikely.

"I would think the connection is very slim," said Prof. Stephan Grilli, ocean engineering professor at the University of Rhode Island.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Huge Earthquake strikes off Japan sending tsunami's towards US and Hawaii

A monster magnitude 8.9 earthquake struck off Japan's eastern coast, unleashing a 10 meter tsunami that swept boats, cars, houses and tons of debris miles inland. The quake was so strong it was felt all the way in China. Tsunami warnings have gone out all across the Pacific as tsunami fears are rising. It is officially the largest earthquke to strike Japan since records have been kept.

Fires triggered by the quake burned out of control up and down the Japan coast, including one at an oil refinery. The devastation left by the quake and the waves will be massive and the loss of life is unavaoidable. About 4.4 million people in Japan are currently without power and public transportation is at a standstill. Japan's meteorological agency said that within two hours, large tsunamis washed ashore into dozens of cities along the country's eastern shore, from the northern island of Hokkaido to central Wakayama prefecture.

The tsunami also roared over embankments in Sendai city, washing cars, houses and farm equipment inland before reversing directions and carrying them out to sea. Flames shot from some of the houses, probably because of burst gas pipes.

Hawaii is expecting several tsunami waves the first of which is expected near 3am local time and could be up to 6 feet in height. It is yet to be seen if the waves will reach all the way to the United States coast. California has issued warnings that the waves could reach there around 8am local time.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Soccer-recruiting.com for the prospective college soccer player

For a club soccer player one of the ultimate goals is to get to play college ball. Soccer-recruiting.com is for all the club soccer players that have a goal of playing college soccer. Available right now from soccer-recruiting.com is a great packet with pages of useful information and advice on how to navigate the college soccer recruiting process.

Everything from identifying the right college soccer program to the best ways to contact that program as well as information on college showcasing and what to expect from the college soccer game. Here are the chapters from the packet:
I.Identifying colleges of interest - Everything from quality of soccer program and roster size to academics offered and scholarships available plus much more will be discussed in this section.
II.Communicating with target colleges - the best ways and when to make contact with your target schools. Also how to respond to coaches as well as all the NCAA recruiting rules will be the topic here.
III.Campus visits - advice on scheduling visits and topics to discuss while on the visit. Also NCAA rules for unofficial and officail visits will be outlined.
IV.Showcasing - how to best take advantage of the showcasing process from when and how to contact as well as the rules for approaching college coaches.
V.Summer camps - the advantages of the college summer camp and how to best utililize them to gain scholarships.
VI.NCAA Clearinghouse - what purpose does the NCAA Clearinghouse serves and how to register to become compliant. Information on where and when to register.
VII.Financial aid/scholarships - everything from how athletic scholarships are broken down to the financial aid part of the equation is touched upon.
VIII.Preparations for the college game - how to best prepare as a player for the step up. Advice on training and what to expect when you arrive on campus.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Trouble in Bahrain a big opportunity for Iran

Several significant Bahrain-related developments occurred on March 7 as the Sunni monarchy ruling the Persian Gulf Arab kingdom tried to deal with an uprising led by its overwhelmingly Shiite population. Although Iranian state media denied earlier reports in the Arab press that a Bahraini delegation had traveled to Tehran on Feb. 27, Saudi sources said the Bahraini delegation was led by the kingdom’s Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa. There were also reports in the Saudi media discussing a March visit of the Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa to Riyadh.

While the Bahraini crown prince did indeed travel to Saudi Arabia, it is not certain Bahrain's prime minister traveled to Iran. The purpose of the purported visit was apparently to seek Iranian assistance for Manama’s attempts to pacify the Bahraini Shiites. Whether or not Bahrain sent a delegation to Tehran, the key fact remains that Bahrain is geopolitically caught between the Saudis and the Iranians.

Bahrain, an island nation, is linked via a causeway to Saudi Arabia and through its Sunni al-Khalifa rulers. At the same time, some 70% of the country's Shiite population, whose political principals are Islamist, pulls the tiny Arab country into the orbit of Iran. In fact, the country only came under Sunni Arab rule toward the end of the 18th century. Prior to that Bahrain was under various periods of Persian and Shia control for many centuries.

The unrest in the region, especially in Bahrain, provides the Iranians with a historic opportunity to wrest Bahrain from Sunni Arab control and gain a foothold on the other side of the Persian Gulf. The Iranians are not about to squander this opportunity. Tehran has long been engaged in covert intelligence operations in Bahrain.

From Iran’s point of view, the current situation where the al-Khalifas are in negotiations with the largely Shiite opposition should at the very least result in a compromise offering significant concessions to the majority community. The al-Khalifas may have to give up some powers to parliament. Such an outcome is unpalatable for Saudi Arabia and the United States.

More problematic is that Riyadh and Washington do not have many good options to prevent the empowerment of the Bahraini Shia and Tehran. The Saudis have no qualms about opposing the demand for democracy but they have very little room to maneuver. The Americans have far more room to maneuver but cannot oppose calls for the monarchy to engage in democratic political reforms.

In the end, public agitation for democracy in the Arab world is a potentially powerful tool in Tehran’s hands. First, it allows the Iranians to turn an American weapon against Washington. Second, it could do away with structures that have thus far blocked Iran. Third, it empowers the Islamic republic’s Arab Shiite allies. Regional geopolitical conditions have never been this favorable for Iran since the 1979 foundation of the Islamic republic.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hosni Mubarak - What part of "Go Away" do you not understand?

Tonight Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak made a recorded speech to the Egyptian people and the world. What he had to say was just not acceptable. He did announce he was handing over some of his powers to his vice president Omar Suleiman, but basically said Mubarak would be staying on until elections in September.

Protesters in Cairo's central Tahrir Square, hoping he would announce his resignation outright, watched in stunned silence to his speech, slapping their hands to their foreheads in anger, some crying or waving their shoes in the air in a sign of contempt. After he finished, they resumed their chants of "Leave! Leave! Leave!"

Seventeen days of protests have not gotten the message across to Mubarak. Strikes have brought the economy to its knees. Yet Hosni Mubarak continues to cling to power. It is going to take a crowbar to get him out of power.

Concerns are for tomorrow as the crowd grows angrier by the minute. Shock. Disbelief. Anger. Those are the emotions in Tahrir Square and those eotions are expected to spill over when daylight comes. Will the people continue to support the military? Will the military continue to stand by? If either of those conditions erode then it could be quite ugly. So all eyes continue to be on Egypt as they struggle to move forward. Everyday that goes by without resolution moves Egypt closer to a crisis.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Basics of Rockhounding

Rockhounding can be very rewarding for both the serious collector as well as the hobbyist. I think everybody has a little rockhound in us. The thrill of the hunt.  The yearning for "treasure".  I can remember the times when I was a little kid searching around my grandmothers creekbed finding fossils and having a blast all by myself.

Read about Rockhounding in West Texas!

Every collector, regardless of how serious they are, will need to know a few basic tools. Everyone needs a geologists hammer (geopick). The geopick is a hammer which is flat on one end and comes wither to a point or chisel on the other. If you are more serious about your collecting you can invest in a crack hammer, pry bar, chisels and wedges to aid in your collecting.

The Do's and Dont's of Rockhounding
The Do's
1. carry lots of water
2. communicate with others where you are going
3. watch for snakes, cactus or other dangerous plants or animals
4. be careful with fires
5. watch the weather
6. carry sun lotion & wear a hat

The Dont's
1. go anywhere alone
2. drive where your vehicle cannot
3. leave trash behind
4. trespass
5. collect more than you need

For some wonderful rockhounding and treasure hunting articles check out TexanTreks.