Thursday, February 28, 2008

This guy picked the wrong bar

An armed robber picked the wrong target when he raided an Australian bar where a biker gang was holding a meeting. He ended up hog-tied and in a hospital. The man and an accomplice, wearing ski masks and waving machetes, stormed into a club in a western Sydney suburb shortly before 9 p.m. Wednesday and yelled at patrons to lie down as they tried to rob the cash register, police said Thursday.

About 50 members of the Southern Cross Cruiser Club had just started a club meeting in another room, and the bikers jumped up to intervene. One robber escaped by leaping over a balcony, while the other tried to flee through a service entrance, the club's president, who identified himself only as "Jester," told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

"We caught him at the fence and crash-tackled him and hog-tied him to the ground and waited for the police to get there," Jester said.

Police confirmed that club patrons had subdued one of the robbers, who was taken to a hospital with minor injuries, but did not give further details. Police captured the other suspect nearby. Jester said the robbers had walked past the bikers as they entered the bar but apparently failed to notice them, perhaps because the ski masks obscured their vision.

"I don't think he did his homework very well," Jester said of the ringleader. "He picked the wrong night."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Buried WWII Nazi treasure?

German treasure hunters began digging Tuesday for what they say may be plunder buried by the Nazis in a man-made cavern near the Czech border. The area's mayor, Hans-Peter Haustein, and a man who believes he found the coordinates for the buried booty in a notebook among his deceased father's belongings, maintain that a scan of the spot has revealed that a large quantity of metal is about 20 meters below the surface.

They believe it to be either gold or silver, based on the scan with a sophisticated metal detector. A drilling company began boring pilot holes at one-yard intervals trying to find the entrance of the cavern, about 100 yards from the Czech border in the eastern German state of Saxony. Once it is found, the searchers are to snake a camera down into the enclosure to determine exactly what they have found.

"It can't be iron," Haustein said as work progressed at the site. "The computer readout clearly indicates gold."

By late afternoon, however, the most excitement for a crowd of onlookers from the tiny settlement was a short-lived geyser of water that shot up as one of the holes was drilled. Haustein — an amateur treasure hunter who is also a member of Germany's parliament for the opposition Free Democratic Party — said the process could take several days.

Haustein has been working with Christian Hanisch, who found the notebook in the belongings of his father, a former Luftwaffe radio operator who died last year. Haustein said last week that he was convinced they had found the storied Amber Room treasure but later acknowledged that, while there could be "cultural treasures" in the cavern, such as paintings or amber paneling, they are not things that show up with a metal detector.

The Amber Room — named for magnificent wall panels of golden-brown amber — was stolen by the Nazis from a palace outside St. Petersburg during World War II and has never been recovered in its entirety. Experts have been skeptical of Haustein's claim, pointing out that stories of the Amber Room surface regularly, only to be proved wrong, and that the Amber Room had no significant amounts of gold or silver in it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The One Percent - What a sham of a documentary

Well I just finished watching this documentary called The One Percent. It was all I could do to sit through it and I had to make myself finish it. What a sham. To sit there for 90 minutes and watch this pompous preppy young man put down the basic principles on what our country has been built upon for 3 centuries got me fired up. Then I had to watch him go to the projects and interview people whose only attribute I could see was an unwillingness to get out. One man was asked "Do you think your kids have a chance to get rich in thhis country?" His response was "Hell no." Well there's the problem right there. Get off your ass and go do something about it. It's not that difficult to get a good earning job. I can spend 15 minutes driving around and point out 20 help wanted signs. Welfare is the problem and all of our country's Depression Era socialist programs that were never meant to be long term institutions.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Thats some horned frog!

Being a TCU Horned Frog alumni this prehistoric horned frog story caught my eye:

A frog the size of a bowling ball, with heavy armor and teeth, lived among dinosaurs millions of years ago — intimidating enough that scientists who unearthed its fossils dubbed the beast Beelzebufo, or Devil Toad. But its size — 10 pounds and 16 inches long — isn't the only curiosity. Researchers discovered the creature's bones in Madagascar. Yet it seems to be a close relative of normal-sized frogs who today live half a world away in South America, challenging assumptions about ancient geography.

The discovery, led by paleontologist David Krause at New York's Stony Brook University, was published Monday by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"This frog, if it has the same habits as its living relatives in South America, was quite voracious," Krause said. "It's even conceivable that it could have taken down some hatchling dinosaurs."

Krause began finding fragments of abnormally large frog bones in Madagascar, off the coast of Africa, in 1993. They dated back to the late Cretaceous period, roughly 70 million years ago, in an area where Krause also was finding dinosaur and crocodile fossils. But only recently did Krause's team assemble enough frog bones to piece together what the creature would have looked like, and weighed.

The largest living frog, the Goliath frog of West Africa, can reach 7 pounds. But Krause teamed with fossil frog experts from University College London to determine that Beelzebufo isn't related to other African frogs. It seems to be a relative of South American horned frogs, known scientifically as Ceratophrys. Popular as pets, they're sometimes called pacman frogs for their huge mouths. Like those modern frogs, Beelzebufo had a wide mouth and powerful jaws, plus teeth. Skull bones were extremely thick, with ridges and grooves characteristic of some type of armor or protective shield.

The name comes from the Greek word for devil, Beelzebub, and Latin for toad, bufo (pronounced boo-foe). The family link raises a paleontology puzzle: Standard theory for how the continents drifted apart show what is now Madagascar would have been long separated by ocean from South America during Beelzebufo's time. And frogs can't survive long in salt water, Krause noted. He contends the giant frog provides evidence for competing theories that some bridge still connected the land masses that late in time, perhaps via an Antarctica that was much warmer than today.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Lowdown on the coming tax rebaets

Heres the lowdown on the coming tax rebates:

President Bush signed a stimulus plan into law Wednesday that seeks to spark the economy with tax rebates for consumers and tax relief for businesses. Here's a closer look at how the rebates will work.

Q: Who qualifies for a check?

A: Individual tax filers with earned incomes of more than $3,000 but less than $75,000 in 2007 will receive checks of $300 to $600. For joint filers with adjusted gross incomes up to $150,000, the checks range from $600 to $1,200. For filers with children who have valid Social Security numbers, there also will be rebates of $300 per child. Because of an omission when the bill was drafted, the Internal Revenue Service can't say yet whether the cutoff to qualify for child tax rebates is children who turned 17 in 2007 or in 2008

Q: What if my/our income exceeds the caps?

A: There will be partial rebates for higher adjusted gross incomes, up to $87,000 for individual filers and $174,000 for joint filers. In a small number of cases, filers with incomes above those thresholds who have children may qualify for some rebate.

Q: What if I don't have earned income?

A: For Americans who live on benefit checks from Social Security or the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for some retired railway workers, there will be refund checks of $300 as long as the sum of their benefit checks in 2007 exceeded $3,000.

Q: What if I collected benefits for only part of 2007?

A: Multiply the benefit by the number of months you received it to see whether the sum exceeds $3,000. If it does, you get a $300 check; if it doesn't, you don't.

Q: What must I do to get my stimulus check?

A: Most Americans need only to file their usual 2007 tax paperwork before the April 15 deadline. The IRS will calculate what you get and send a letter in advance. Filers who provide bank-routing information to get their usual tax-refund checks electronically will get their stimulus checks first. People living off Social Security or Veterans Affairs checks who usually don't file tax documents must file 1040 or 1040A tax forms this year to receive the stimulus checks. They'll have to file their names, addresses and, most important, valid Social Security numbers.

Q: Will this check count against my tax refund next year?

A: No. The stimulus checks won't be treated as taxable income in 2008, nor will they be treated as early refunds subtracted from the 2008 tax year. They're bonus checks whose value is determined by the adjusted gross income on 2007 tax returns.

Q: When will the checks go out?

A: By mid-May, the IRS hopes.

Q: What if I file for an extension of the April 15 tax deadline?

A: Your rebate check will be delayed until you file your tax documents. You have until Dec. 31 to file tax paperwork and still get a stimulus check.

Q: If I've taken out a refund-anticipation loan from a tax preparer, will this affect my stimulus check?

A: Filers who've taken out refund-anticipation loans for their regular 2007 taxes won't qualify for electronic deposits of their stimulus checks and instead will receive them later by mail.

Q: Who doesn't qualify for a stimulus check?

A: Anyone who can't legally obtain a Social Security number. That would include immigrants with I-10 tax ID numbers from the Treasury Department. College students who are counted on their parents' tax returns as dependents also won't qualify.

Q: How much are these stimulus checks costing the government?

A: Tax filers will receive rebates totaling $100 billion to $110 billion. The IRS has been given an additional $202 million to help get the checks out quickly. Treasury's financial services management, which will disperse the checks, will get $64 million. The Social Security Administration will receive about $31 million to conduct an outreach effort to help seniors and people with disabilities apply for checks.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Russia and the spy satellite

Seems Russia is protesting the fact that the US wants to use a missile to shoot down a falling satellite. The US claims to want to blow it up with a missile so it will not fall to Earth with environmentally harmful fuel. Now Russia seems to think it is an excuse for the US to test its capability to shoot down objects in space. Well, my solution is for the US to say "ok we won't shoot it down"....then use the remaining fuel to direct it to fall on Russia. Then we can say "well you should have let us shoot it down!"

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Cuba's hypocritical request

So Cuba wants Guantanamo Bay back from the US. Well I am not surprised they raised the issue once again, but it is the reasoning that is so funny. Cuba and Castro are renowned for their human rights violations. Heck, they won't even let their own citizens leave the island freely. Well, their reasoning for demanding Guantanamo Bay back are that the US is committing human rights violations there. Talk about hypocrites!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Here's a slap in the face

In a surprise move and slap in the face to hometown Hillary Clinton the New York Post endorsed Barack Obama today. Here's a story:

The New York Post on Thursday delivered a qualified endorsement of Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, snubbing Hillary Clinton, its hometown US senator. Ahead of next Tuesday's slew of primaries in 22 states, the conservative tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch said "Obama represents a fresh start."

"We urge (voters) to choose Obama -- an untried candidate, to be sure, but preferable to the junior senator from New York," the paper said referring to Clinton.

The paper said it was not eager for a reprise of the scandal-plagued era of President Bill Clinton, and suggested the former first lady would offer more of the same. The Post wrote it was reluctant to return to "the opportunistic, scandal-scarred, morally muddled years of the almost infinitely self-indulgent Clinton co-presidency." The newspaper did not endorse Obama without some reluctance, however.

"For all his charisma and his eloquence, (Obama) sorely lacks seasoning. And on national security, his worldview is beyond naive -- blithely unware that America must defend itself against those sworn to destroy the nation. But he remains a highly intelligent man, with a strong record as a conciliator. And, again, he is not Team Clinton. That counts for a very great deal."

The daily's upscale rival, The New York Times earlier this week endorsed Clinton in the Democratic race.