Saturday, October 27, 2007

Diplomacy - American Style

Are you a trained diplomat? Perhaps trained in a specific language and culture? Makes no difference. If W offers you a short straw, you're stuck with going to Iraq.

According to CNN, the State Department said Friday it will require some diplomats
to serve in Iraq because of a lack of volunteers willing to work at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Beginning Monday, 200 to 300 diplomats will be notified they have been identified as prime candidates to fill 40 to 50 vacancies that will open next year at the embassy, said Harry Thomas, director general of the Foreign Service.

Those notified they have been selected for a one-year posting will have 10 days to respond. Only those with compelling reasons, such as a medical condition, will be excused from duty, Thomas said.

He said those being sent to Iraq will receive extra pay and vacation time. About 50 diplomats will be needed in Iraq by January, in addition to the current level of 200.

However, those refusing Iraq duty may face disciplinary action up to and including dismissal for failing to uphold their oath to serve the United States and the Constitution, Thomas said.

"If someone decides that they do not want to go, we will then consider our options," he told reporters in a conference call. "We have many options, including dismissal from the Foreign Service."

All U.S. diplomats were being informed of the step in a cable from Thomas. The decision to move to so-called directed assignments is rare but not unprecedented.

In 1969, an entire class of entry-level diplomats was sent to serve in Vietnam, and on a smaller scale, diplomats were forcibly assigned to work at embassies in West Africa in the 1970s and 1980s.

So...Iraq is the new Vietnam...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pittsburgh Legal System Goes to the Dogs

Under Pennsylvania law, it is a felony to "willfully or maliciously taunt, torment, tease, beat, kick or strike a police animal."

Especially when it's the end of the month and there's a ticket-writing quota to be met.

Kenneth King, 23, of Pittsburgh's South Side, was expected to be released today from jail, where he has spent nine days on charges that he taunted and threatened a Pittsburgh police officer's K-9 dog.

His preliminary hearing in Municipal Court today was continued to Jan. 16. Defense Attorney James Ecker said his client's $100,000 bond was lowered to OR -- meaning he will be released on his own recognizance.

"He will attend anger management classes and when he returns to his hearing in January" the charges are expected to be withdrawn, Mr. Ecker said.

Mr. King was arrested Oct. 7 at the Sunoco gas station on Cedar Avenue, North Side, when a dog named Benny, who was in the back seat of a police vehicle, barked loudly at him.

Mr. King screamed at the dog, saying "shut the (expletive) up or I will shank you," according to the report filed by the dog's handler and partner, Officer Ron Absten. The report says Mr. King pulled a silver knife out of his pocket.

The stupid dog got off scot-free.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Coke vs. Pepsi - A Proposal For a Peaceful Solution in Indiana, PA

Coke vs. Pepsi. Everyone has a preference. Including, apparently, Coke and Pepsi delivery truck drivers. At an Indiana, PA, Wal-Mart, Coke and Pepsi drivers got into a skirmish, blood was drawn, and the Pennsylvania State Police were brought in to get the situation under control. You can watch a video about it here

But I HAVE A DREAM...of an Indiana, PA where the cola is judged, not by the color of its label, but by the taste of Indiana's favorite character. I say that we appoint a commission to determine Jimmy Stewart's favorite brand of cola and only allow that brand to be served in Indiana County! It's an idea that we all can live with. Plus, it should earn me a nomination for next year's Nobel Peace Prize.

You're welcome.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Kremlin Has Too Much Power, Says Condoleezza Rice

In a recent Associated Press Article, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice claimed that the Russian government under Vladimir Putin has amassed so much central authority that the power-grab may undermine Moscow's commitment to democracy.

"In any country, if you don't have countervailing institutions, the power of any one president is problematic for democratic development," Rice told reporters after meeting with human-rights activists (See picture of Rice with Sesame Street's Elmo at right.)

"I think there is too much concentration of power in the Kremlin. I have told the Russians that. Everybody has doubts about the full independence of the judiciary. There are clearly questions about the independence of the electronic media and there are, I think, questions about the strength of the Duma," said Rice, referring to the Russian parliament.

Telephone messages left with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov were not immediately returned Saturday evening.

The hypocritical Rice need look no further than Washington, DC to see the truth of the dangers of executive power grabbing.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Mr. Yuk is Mean. Mr. Yuk is Green

Even Mr. Yuk isn't safe from the heartless, soulless lawyers anymore. That's right. It turns out Mr. Yuk, the scowling green poison control symbol, has lawyers -- and they don't look happy about what's happening in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, Minnesota.

Local City Council member Paul Bakken has put Mr. Yuk-like faces on lawn signs opposing an upcoming vote to amend the city charter. Attorneys for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which holds the copyright on Mr. Yuk, weren't amused.

"It's just that this guy is using Mr. Yuk inappropriately and illegally. He's broken copyright laws. . . . It's clearly a violation," said Dr. Edward Krenzelok, the jerk who doubles as director of the Pittsburgh Poison Center, which is affiliated with the medical center.

He said Mr. Yuk was created more than 30 years ago to warn children away from dangerous substances. He said that his role as Chief Jerk of the Pittsburgh Poison Center has compelled him to asked the medical center's lawyers to straighten things out, for a nominal fee.

"It doesn't hurt us," Dr. Krenzelok acknowledged. "It's just inappropriate use, and we have to control the use to maintain our copyright." Jerk.

Mr. Bakken, a lawyer, defended his use of Mr. Yuk. He said federal law allows some use of copyrighted material for satire or academic criticism. He said he found Yuk-like images spread across the Internet.

"It appeared to be in the public domain," he said. "If this is genuinely harming the good work that they do, I sincerely apologize."

Fie on the Dr. Krenzelok and his fellow jerks at the Pittsburgh Poison Center.

Even Pittgirl at the Burgh Blog should agree with me on this one.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Massima Brown Didn't Score Hannah Montana Tickets

You have to read the article. Tickets are sold out for the January 4 Hannah Montana concert at Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena. It appears that scalpers may have bought some of the tickets.

But the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, one of America's Great Newspapers, is focusing on the victims. Like Massima Brown.

I am going to be as nice about this as possible. Her idiot mother, Linette Brown, of Ross Township, a suburb of Pittsburgh, offered up her big-screen television on Craigslist in the hopes of getting tickets for Massima. "Hannah Montana is someone my daughter really looks up to on TV," she said.

And there's her idiot father, Mr. Brown. He left their son's football game early to get home that Saturday morning to buy tickets online, but it was all for naught.
"Our daughter was devastated," Mrs. Brown said.

In case you were wondering, Massima, the object of this activity, is 4

Heaven help Toys-R-Us if the Browns are unable to purchase an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas.

Update: Pittgirl from the Burgh Blog apparently didn't get tickets, either.

Things Amiss at the Website

It's Saturday night, October 6. Pittsburgh Pirates Manager Jim Tracy was fired yesterday afternoon, October 5. Yet the recently uglified website of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, called "Post-Gazette Now" has an article with the following headline posted on its homepage:

Tracy decision 'doubtful' for today

Pirates' GM says he needs more time, MLB clearance for announcement

The Post-Gazette is "One of America's Great Newspapers" in much same way as the Pirates are one of America's Great Baseball Teams.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

It's Official - October is National Toilet Repair Month

Fluidmaster, the world's leading manufacturer of toilet repair parts, has once again officially designated October as National Toilet Repair Month. This is the seventh consecutive year Fluidmaster has sponsored the October observance.

"We're taking the hassle and mystery out of toilet repair," says Gary Harris, Vice President of Sales & Marketing. "Tuning up a typical toilet is actually a very easy D-I-Y project. It provides lasting satisfaction for the homeowner and consistent profit for our retailers. That's why we feel Fluidmaster is the obvious choice to endorse National Toilet Repair Month." Fluidmaster, the world's leading manufacturer of toilet repair parts, has once again officially designated October as National Toilet Repair Month. This is the seventh consecutive year Fluidmaster has sponsored the October observance.

The month will kick off with a tribute to Thomas Crapper and a zany poetry contest. Creative and talented contestants will vie for cash prizes by writing their best short poem celebrating Mr. Crapper's advancement of the modern flush toilet.

Winners will be announced in mid October during an awards ceremony at Fluidmaster's world headquarters in San Juan Capistrano, California. A 21-Flush Salute to Thomas Crapper will precede the ceremony.

As always, Fluidmaster will promote Toilet Repair Month nationally with consumer publicity that spotlights America's #1 D-I-Y plumbing project. D-I-Yers will learn of toilet trends, trivia and most important, the steps and components of a Toilet Tune-Up™. October was selected as National Toilet Repair Month because it is historically a strong sales period for toilet repair products since many home repairs are tackled prior to holiday events and the arrival of house guests.

We at Scott's Spot will flush to that!

Python Found In Clarion, PA!

That venerable source of news, the Oil City Derrick, recently reported on a pet python from Clarion which made a break for freedom, only to be thwarted whilst trying to cross Wood Street.

Office workers at Howard Hanna - located at the intersection with South Fifth Avenue - noticed a disturbance after one vehicle slowed to miss the snake and a second motorist stopped to move it onto the sidewalk.

Employees Beth Smathers and Joe Rex were part of the rescue effort. "I didn't want it getting into the office. All the girls would be screaming." Smathers said.

They notified the Clarion Borough police department and the newspaper office to see if anyone had reported a reptile pet missing. No one had.

Officers Shawn Zerfoss and Neil Kemmer arrived in the area to find the snake resting in a garbage can outside the office. It was estimated the python is probably about 2 to 3 years old. Zerfoss said they are not poisonous and rarely bite. The snake was then taken to Pets Fifth Avenue for safekeeping.

Anyone with information may contact the department at 226-9140.