Tuesday, December 26, 2006

President Gerald Ford dead.

President Gerald R. Ford, who picked up the pieces of Richard Nixon's scandal- shattered White House as the 38th and only unelected president in America's history, has died, his wife, Betty, said Tuesday. He was 93.

He was the longest living president, followed by Ronald Reagan, who also died at 93. Ford had been living at his desert home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., about 130 miles east of Los Angeles.

Ford was an accidental president, Nixon's hand-picked successor, a man of much political experience who had never run on a national ticket. He was as open and straight-forward as Nixon was tightly controlled and conspiratorial.

He took office minutes after Nixon resigned in disgrace over the Watergate scandal and flew off into exile and declared "our long national nightmare is over." But he revived the debate a month later by granting Nixon a pardon for all crimes he committed as president. That single act, it was widely believed, cost Ford election to a term of his own in 1976, but it won praise in later years as a courageous act that allowed the nation to move on.

Ford also earned a place in the history books as the first unelected vice president, chosen by Nixon to replace Spiro Agnew who also was forced from office by scandal.

He was in the White House only 895 days, but changed it more than it changed him.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Gov Schwarzenegger breaks leg.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger broke his leg while skiing with his family Saturday morning in Sun Valley, Idaho, a spokesman said.

Schwarzenegger, 59, was taken to a hospital for X-rays and was discharged with a fracture to his right femur, said Adam Mendelsohn, the governor's Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications. Looks like he needs to slow down a tad. Cant't have him out of action for too long. He is doing a great job.

He will have surgery to repair the bone when he returns to Los Angeles, Mendelsohn said. The governor remained at his Sun Valley home Saturday night and still planned to spend Christmas there.

No one else was involved in the accident, Mendelsohn said.

The fracture was the third medical problem the governor suffered in a year.

He spent several hours at a University of California, Davis, hospital last December with a rapid heartbeat after coming down with a stomach flu. In January, Schwarzenegger needed 15 stitches to repair his cut lip after colliding with a car while riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle in Los Angeles.

The Sun Valley Resort, a favorite skiing destination for celebrities, includes a short ski trail named "Arnold's Run" after Schwarzenegger. The trail is categorized as a black diamond, or most difficult, for its challenging terrain.

The name and level of difficulty of the trail the governor was skiing when his accident occurred were not released.

Get well soon Gov.

(D) Sen. Obama getting some serious attention.

Two weeks after speaking to a sell out Manchester crowd of more than 1,600, Illinois (D) Sen. Barack Obama is reaping the benefits of his visit. If the Democratic primary were held today, Obama would be in a statistical dead heat with New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, according to a new Monitor poll. Last month, a Monitor poll showed Clinton trouncing her opponents, with Obama lagging 23 points behind. That is some serious advancement... It will be an uphill battle for him as Hillary has some great name recoqnition, but hey 2008 is going to be an interesting political year for sure.

"I'm not surprised, because Barack Obama got five days of constant media attention in New Hampshire," said Jim Demers, a lobbyist and former Democratic lawmaker who accompanied Obama throughout the senator's New Hampshire visit. "Obama has demonstrated to the people of New Hampshire that he's a top-tier candidate."

Although Clinton commands considerable support among likely Democratic primary voters, she struggles in general election match-ups, according to the poll. If the contest were held today, both Arizona Sen. John McCain and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani would prevail over Clinton. Obama, in contrast, would eke out a slight win over both Republican candidates. Former Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards is neck-and-neck with the Republicans. Very interesting indeed. Maybe it will be John Edwards and Hillary Clinton, of John Edwards and Sen. Obama as VP nominee?

"There are a lot of independents. These are the same people who loathe Bush, loathe the Iraq war," said Del Ali, president of Research 2000, the Maryland-based nonpartisan polling firm that conducted the poll for the Monitor last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. "But deep down, they don't like Hillary Clinton." That is a very realistic comment.

As the 2008 presidential primaries near, the Republican field has also become increasingly competitive. Giuliani closed the gap with McCain in recent weeks, turning an 8-point deficit into a slight lead, according to the poll. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House speaker Newt Gingrich trail behind, with 10 percent and 8 percent respectively. The poll shows Giuliani garnering 26 percent to McCain's 25 percent.

Ah American politics...Love it.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from Auckland New Zealand. Have a great day. All the best for 2007.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Cell phones on planes

According to CNN....In January, Emirates airline plans to launch mobile phone usage in its planes, making it the first airline to allow passengers to make cell phone calls on its flights.

It is one thing that is rather peaceful about flying on a plane, not having people text and yap on the phone in close proximity. Currently they have to spend a pretty penny to used the telephones provided. I am not looking forward to cell phone usage on planes.

Qantas plans to start evaluating technology that lets fliers use their cell phones and PDAs during flight early next year. Looks like the Kiwi traveler may well get this service before propel in the USA.

Fliers have long been able to keep in touch with those on the ground by using phones built into the backs of airplane seats. But the costs of those seatback phones can be upwards of $10 a minute, plus a connection fee.

In contrast, the cost of calls made in-flight on Emirates will be in line with international roaming rates, the airline said. Those rates vary by mobile carrier and by location but can be as low as $1 to $2 a minute.

But while some upscale, long-haul airlines are installing equipment onboard that will allow for cell phone use, it may be a while before the service makes its way to the U.S. Thank goodness for that.

U.S. carriers don't allow in-flight cell phone calls, although the FAA is reviewing the safety concerns associated with mobile calls made in the air.

A majority of business travelers (61 percent) oppose the idea of being able to use their phones in the sky, according to a global survey conducted by travel management company Carlson Wagonlit Travel early this year.

But if the technology is there, the service will eventually make its way to the skies, said Chris McGinnis, editor of Expedia Travel Trendwatch.

"Whether people like it or not, in-flight cell phone use is going to become a reality," he said.

Airlines are also exploring less intrusive ways to keep in-step with the increasingly connected lifestyle of their passengers.

According to the annual Airline IT Trends Survey conducted by industry group SITA and Airline Business magazine, 59 percent of airlines plan to offer in-flight Internet access by the end of 2008. Internet access would be acceptable as you could get some work done on a flight, but cell phones could be agitating on a long haul flight. What do you think about that?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Canadian biofuel announcement

OTTAWA Canada. A $345-million federal announcement requiring more gasoline to be made from corn and other crops is to come into effect.

The package will require so-called biofuel content of five per cent in gasoline by 2010 and two per cent in diesel fuel and heating oil by 2012, Environment Minister Rona Ambrose and Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl told a news conference Wednesday in Saskatoon. This is great news, although I would like to have seen the percentage rates at at least 15% for petrol and 10% for diesel.

The package includes $200 million to subsidize new factories to produce ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels, and $145 million for research and development.

Biofuels are produced from organic materials such as wheat, corn, sugarcane, canola and soy.

"We know that cleaner fuel means less pollution," Ambrose said. "Requiring the use of renewable fuels fulfils a commitment by our government."

She said the package will cut greenhouse gas emissions by about four megatonnes each year, equivalent to taking a million vehicles off the road. Not bad for a start.

Ambrose said the biofuels program provides strong reason to support the federal Clean Air Act, which is currently facing an uncertain fate before a Commons committee.

But there is continuing debate about whether biofuels produced from food crops provide real environmental benefit, after the energy and chemicals used in their production are considered.

It is also stated that the real benefits lie in cellulosic biofuel, made from waste products like wood chips and straw rather than food crops. He said Ottawa's $145 million allocation for research and development could help bring cellulosic ethanol to market. This is also a good idea.

John Godfrey, Liberal environment critic, said a Liberal government would push biofuels even harder than the Conservatives, setting a 10 per cent target for renewable content. That is the only positive thing I have ever heard from anyone in the Liberal party of Canada.

All and all it is a good idea for any government to invest in a bio fuel strategy. It is a good start for Canada.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Jordan Luck at the Empire

I had a great night last night. Went out for dinner in Parnell to Thai friends with some old buddies, and was invited to go to the Empire Tavern by musicman Dave to watch Jordan Luck play some spectacular Exponents songs. The band was in full effect and the sound was great " thanks Dave ".
Afterwards we went to Ponsonby to Whiskey and Lime Bar. Someone should ask Peter what he got up too??? Secret Squirrel.

A fun night in Auckland.

Meanwhile in London UK Mr Greg Johnson and Ted Brown played to a packed audience and fun was had by all..... Did they play Swagger? HMMM

Baby in baggage x-ray LAX

According to the world famous LA Times. A woman going through security at Los Angeles International Airport put her month-old grandson into a plastic bin intended for carry-on items and slid it into an X-ray machine. I can't imagine what the lady was thinking by doing that. Maybe she is slightly deranged??

The early Saturday accident — bizarre but not unprecedented — caught airport workers by surprise, even though the security line was not busy at the time, officials said.

A screener watching the machine's monitor immediately noticed the outline of a baby and pulled the bin backward on the conveyor belt.

The infant was taken to Centinela Hospital, where doctors determined that he had not received a dangerous dose of radiation. Thank goodnes for that, although you'd be more inclined to get a larger dose of radiation by just flying in the plane for a couple of hours.

Officials, who declined to release the 56-year-old woman's name, said she spoke Spanish and apparently did not understand English. I don't care if she speaks brogue, it must take an element of stupidness to put your grandchild onto a conveyor belt in a plastic box that disappears into a large machine. Speaking english is not the reason that this woman did this. Lack of common sense is.

She initially didn't want the baby transported to a hospital, but security officials called paramedics and insisted that the child be examined by a doctor. Maybe she was an illegal immigrant?

The grandmother and the child were subsequently allowed to board an Alaska Airlines flight to Mexico City.

The rare incident drew attention to whether officials are staffing often busy security checkpoints enough to prevent such an accident. And it raised questions about the danger of X-rays used to pick out suspicious metal shapes in passenger bags, given the medical community's warnings that even low amounts of radiation can build up over a lifetime.

There is always going to be one or two that slip through the cracks... Sometimes you just wonder how it happened.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sean Penn (Buffoon?)

In New York, Sean Penn, the actor and occasional foreign correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle, hit the media and called for impeachment of the president in receiving the 2006 Christopher Reeve First Amendment Award from The Creative Coalition Monday night... Sean Penn in my opinion is one of the biggest buffoons in Hollywood. He can't keep his mouth shut and doesn't have the balls to run for public office (as yet).

Presented since 1997, the First Amendment Award recognizes "individuals who are dedicated to the sanctity of the first amendment and its free speech provision." Other Creative Coalition honorees last night included Branford Marsalis, Harvey Keitel, Heather Graham and Marcia Gay Harden. Surprise surprise.

In his remarks, Penn listed more than a dozen serious issues facing the country, and commented, ”We depend largely for information on these issues from media industries, driven by the bottom line to such an extent that the public interest becomes uninteresting.”

Turning to his views of President Bush, Penn said, “Now, there's been a lot of talk lately on Capitol Hill about how impeachment should be ‘off the table.’ We're told that it's time to look ahead - not back...

“Can you imagine how far that argument would go for the defense at an arraignment on charges of grand larceny, or large-scale distribution of methamphetamines? How about the arranging of a contract killing on a pregnant mother? ‘Indictment should be off the table.’ Or ‘Let's look forward, not backward.’ Or ‘We can't afford another failed defendant.’

“Our country has a legal system, not of men and women, but of laws. Why then are we so willing to put inconvenient provisions of the U.S. constitution and federal law ‘off the table?’”

Penn said he admired New York Times columnist Frank Rich but disagreed with his position that pursuing impeachment now would be “decadent.”

In his prepared remarks, he also lamented how the U.S. public was allegedly tricked into backing the Iraq invasion and derided those media figures who did that, describing Rush Limbaugh as “high as a kite on OxyContin,” Bill O'Reilly as “factually impaired,” and Sean Hannity as “simply a whore to the cause of his pimps Murdoch and Ailes?” He then rapped former Rep. Mark Foley, Sen. Joe Lieberman and even singer Toby Keith. It is relatively clear to me that Sean Penn has a Democratic Party fetish.

I challenge Sean Penn to run for public office in the 2008 elections and if he gets voted in by the public then power to him, I will have some respect. If he doesn't then I will still regard him as Hollywood's biggest buffoon. Time to step up to the plate Mr Penn, put your name forward. Do it.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Ahh pies

One of my favorite things to do when I come to NZ, is to eat meat pies. MMMMMMM

John Edwards to join 08 Presidential race?

Former Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards intends to enter the 2008 race for the White House, two Democratic officials said Saturday. I could see him winning the Presidency in 2008 with someone like Hillary Clinton as VP. That would all depend on if John McCain or Rudy are the front row contenders for the GOP.

Edwards, who represented North Carolina in the Senate for six years, plans to make the campaign announcement late this month from the New Orleans neighborhood hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina last year and slow to recover from the storm.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not want to pre-empt Edwards' announcement.

Edwards plans to travel from New Orleans through the four early presidential nominating states Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina as part of an announcement tour between Christmas and New Year's Day.

Among Democrats, Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois are drawing the most attention almost two years before the actual vote.

Edwards, however, is in a strong position as the leading candidate in Iowa. He was a top fundraiser in the race for the nomination in 2004 before he became Democratic Sen. John Kerry's running mate.

Since the Democrats' loss to President Bush, Edwards has worked to build support for a repeat presidential bid. He has a retooled agenda that is more openly progressive and has spent time building relationships with labor leaders and traveling overseas to build his foreign policy credentials beyond his one term in the Senate.

Edwards' spokesman, David Ginsberg, would not confirm or deny that Edwards planned to announce he would run in 2008.

Ginsberg said Edwards would make an announcement about his future when he is ready.

He is well known from the 2004 campaign and his profile has risen this year as he and his wife, Elizabeth, went on nationwide tours to promote their books.

A poll of Iowa Democrats that was published Thursday in the Des Moines Register showed Edwards with 36 percent support, more than Clinton's 16 percent and Obama's 13 percent combined.

Edwards' campaign plans include an aggressive fundraising effort to prove that he belongs in the top tier of contenders. Because he currently does not hold federal office, Edwards does not have a war chest like some of his rivals. In fact, he has several hundred thousands of dollars of debt from his 2004 presidential campaign.

I like John Edwards as I liked Howard Dean...Doesn't mean I'd vote for them though. I am sure that John Edwards if he was to be elected would make a fine President... Thats if he can beat Sen. McCain.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Borat wins.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - As the esteemed Kazakh television journalist Borat Sagdiyev might say: "High Five. Sexy Time. You Lose."

Two college fraternity buddies shown guzzling alcohol and making racist remarks in the "Borat" movie have lost their bid for a court order to cut the scene they claim has tarnished their reputations, court papers revealed on Monday. I am glad, as the DVD would not be complete without their ranting and raving.

The students sued the movie's distributor and producers last month, saying filmmakers had duped them into appearing in "Borat" by getting them drunk and falsely promising the film would never be shown in the United States. HE HE, suckers.

At the time the suit was filed, a judge denied the pair's request for a temporary restraining order that would remove footage of them from the film, but the plaintiffs were given a another chance to seek an injunction at a hearing last week.

The South Carolina college students lost again when Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joseph Biderman ruled they had failed to show a reasonable probability of success on the merits of their case or that money damages alone would be insufficient to resolve their claims.

Arguments on the latest motion focused mainly on the future DVD release of the hit movie, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan."

The faux documentary, distributed by 20th Century Fox, has already grossed more than $120 million at the North American box office after six weeks in theaters. Who would ahve thought?

The lawyer for the students, Olivier Taillieu, said last week that while the film's theatrical run is coming to a close, the perpetuity of the film on DVD posed ongoing problems for his clients, including harm to their ability to seek work.

Last month, Taillieu said the movie had cost one of the students a job at a major corporation and another a prestigious internship. The students were identified in court papers only as John Doe 1 and John Doe 2. A third student involved in the scene did not take part in the suit. Motto of the story.. Don't get filmed or agree to be filmed when you have had a few srinks with Borat.

The scene at issue in the lawsuit depicts Borat getting drunk with three frat boys in a motor home while they watch a sex tape and make racist remarks about slavery and minorities in the United States.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Christmas trees removed from Sea-Tac airport.

*** UPDATE *** The Rabbi has withdrawn his threat to sue due to various forms of hate mail received by him. The trees are now back up at Sea-Tac....

SEATTLE-TACOMA Airport WA - All of the Christmas trees inside the terminal at Sea-Tac have been removed in response to a complaint by a rabbi.

A local rabbi wanted to install an 8-foot menorah and have a public lighting ceremony. He threatened to sue if the menorah wasn't put up, and gave a two-day deadline to remove the trees. What a putz... I mean really this Rabbi needs to get a grip. Threatening to sue because of Christmas trees. What is the world coming too?

Sea-Tac public affairs manager Terri-Ann Betancourt said the trees that adorn the Sea-Tac upper and lower levels may not properly represent all cultures. So, it is America and the vast majority of people celebrate Christmas. A Christmas tree isn't areligiouss symbol as such. The fact that they took the trees down tells me that USA is getting way too PC.

She said that since this is their busiest time of year and they don't have time to add a fair representation of all cultures, her department decided to take down all of the decorations, review their policies, and decide if they need to make a change for next year.

"You know, our focus is on customer service, getting our passengers through the airport, and we thought if we could take the trees down and avoid litigation because we don't want tolitigatee with this individual, we want to reach some kind of solution," Betancourt said. "But that is going to take some thoughtful discussion and we would like to have time to have that thoughtful discussion."

Until then, no Christmas decor at Sea-Tac.

The same decorations have been put up for at least 10 years, she added. What a complete and utter bah humbug attitude the Rabbi has.. I would have told him to back off and make a submission for next year for his menorah.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The most expensive building ever sold in USA

According to CNN, the U.S. housing market in some parts of the country may be cooling, but skyscrapers in New York City are still red hot.

The commercial real estate firm Tishman Speyer Properties sold the 41-story office building at 666 Fifth Avenue to the New Jersey firm Kushner Companies for $US1.8 billion, according to a spokesperson for the Kushner companies. Now that would be a very pleasant commission for the salesperson(s)involved don't you think?.....

The contract for the deal, which was signed Monday, is the highest price ever paid for a single office building in the United States, according to Real Capital Analytics, which researches the commercial real estate industry.

Tishman Speyer and TMW, a German investment firm, bought the 1.5 million-square-foot Fifth Avenue building in 2000 for $518 million, according to the New York Times, which reported the story earlier Thursday.

The previous record for an office building sale was last year's purchase by Tishman Speyer of the MetLife building for $1.7 billion, according to Real Capital Analytics.

The building at 666 Fifth Avenue, which opened in 1957, currently houses a number of law firms and bankers, the paper reported. I would guess that you'd be paying a good amount of rent to have a office in this building.... What a sale.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Smelly fart causes emergency plane landing.

Flatulence brought 99 passengers on an American Airlines flight to an unscheduled visit to Nashville early Monday morning. This is brilliant....

American Flight 1053, from Washington Reagan National Airport and bound for Dallas/Fort Worth, made an emergency landing here after passengers reported smelling struck matches, said Lynne Lowrance, a spokeswoman for the Nashville International Airport Authority.

The plane landed safely. The FBI, Transportation Safety Administration and airport authority responded to the emergency, Lowrance said.

The passengers and five crew members were brought off the plane, together with all the luggage, to go through security checks again. Bomb-sniffing dogs found spent matches.

The FBI questioned a passenger who admitted she struck the matches in an attempt to conceal body odor (fart), Lowrance said. The woman lives near Dallas and has a medical condition. Maybe she ate too much fruit before takeoff.....LOL

The flight took off again, but the woman was not allowed back on the plane.

"American has banned her for a long time," Lowrance said. Maybe she completed her journey in a convertible.

She was not charged but could have been. While it is legal to bring as many as four books of paper safety matches onto an aircraft, it is illegal to strike a match in an airplane, Lowrance said.

That is a very embarassing thing to have to explain to 104 people, certainly one for the record books. Maybe the lady should chug some pepto bismol before flying again...

Got milk?

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Hoping to stir up thirst for milk, officials have installed advertisements in several San Francisco bus shelters on Monday that give off the scent of freshly baked cookies. How nice would that be unless you are hungry and there is no cookie or milk store around?

The technology that creates the scent is very similar to that used in magazine ads. Scented adhesives are placed throughout the interior of the bus shelters, including under the benches.

"As long as they are not harmful chemicals, it's OK," one somewhat confused elderly woman said as she pondered the cookie smell in one of the shelters. "They are trying to sell milk? Is that it?"

The effort at five bus shelters is part of a campaign cooked up by the California Milk Processor Board, whose iconic "Got Milk?" campaign has adorned famous figures from around the world with milk mustaches for 13 years.

While olfactory marketing has long been a staple of perfume companies in magazines, Jeff Goodby, chairman of the San Francisco-based ad firm Goodby, Silverstein & Partners that created the campaign, said he knew of no other completely outdoor campaign. I wonder how long the cookie scent will last?

I think it is a tease as there is nothing like the smell of baking cookies, and there is nothing more annoying than smelling freshly baked cookies and not being able to have one, or two.......HMMM

Friday, December 01, 2006

My day at the LA auto show

I went to the LA auto show today and had the opportunity of seeing some exciting new cars and taking a few photo's.
I have posted the pictures and comments on the show here .... So if you like cars take a look.