I found this hilarious article in The Pensacola News Journal
Bizarre news much the norm in Florida
BRENDAN FARRINGTON • ASSOCIATED PRESS • DECEMBER 30, 2009
TALLAHASSEE — You know you’re living in a weird state when the governor promotes a pay-per-minute sex chat line.
Or when a congressman asks the House speaker to move a day’s worth of votes so he can watch a college football game.
Or when employees at not just one, not two, but three state prisons use stun guns on their kids as part of “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.”
That’s Florida, once again making people snicker at its dumb criminals, strange animals and all-around oddness.
Gov. Charlie Crist was embarrassed when an on-hold recording he made transposed two numbers for an uninsured child helpline and callers instead were led to “horny” girls willing to talk about anything for just $2.99 a minute.
It wasn’t the only odd moment in politics. Rep. Cliff Stearns asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi to basically shut down Congress early so he and some of the Florida and Oklahoma House guys could go watch their teams in the national championship game. She said no.
Candidates for local offices were also embarrassed in 2009. A Miami Beach mayoral candidate was disqualified from the race after his qualifying check bounced, and a minister running for Belle Glade City Commission was charged with swinging a bat at a woman outside a polling place. He lost the election.
Two 8-year-old Alachua County boys made better use of their baseball bats — they successfully fought off a man armed with a gun who was threatening to kill the mother of one of the boys.
Booze A Factor
Alcohol seems to lead to a lot of Florida’s oddest stories.
Tampa police arrested a man who let his 12-year-old son drive his SUV so he could drink in the passenger seat.
A Marion County man was charged with driving under the influence after crashing a stolen riding lawnmower into a school bus.
A 22-year-old South Florida man climbed aboard a locomotive with a friend and took it seven miles down the tracks for a joy ride. They came up with the idea while heading to a local bar.
A Clearwater man was charged with drunken driving after police pulled him over for driving a car with only three tires.
Pasco County deputies arrested two men they said were fighting over $3 in gas money on the way home from a strip club. The weapons involved: a fish tank and a beer bottle.
In other random stories:
• A Lakeland eighth-grader was suspended from riding the school bus after farting to make other students laugh and badly stinking up the bus.
• A Melbourne-area woman changed diapers for a man who was faking disabilities. The man, whom she met through Craigslist, paid her $600 a week for the services. It took her three months to figure out he wasn’t disabled.
• The University of Florida’s disaster recovery plan included a section on dealing with zombies.
• DeLand authorities said a man strangled a pet rat after accusing his wife of taking his last cigarette and a Jensen Beach man was arrested after drenching his wife with a hose for smoking in the house.
• A woman sitting on a toilet in a Tampa restroom dropped her gun, which discharged and shot a woman sitting in another stall.
• Bank of America in Tampa refused to cash a check for a man born without arms because he couldn’t provide a thumbprint.
And finally, some readers might recall that a costumed Tigger was acquitted of charges he groped women at Disney World a few years ago. This year a 60-year-old man was convicted of groping Minnie Mouse at the same theme park.
Ahh, Florida, a whole new way of thinking . . . LLOOLLL!
I am dying laughing, what a way to end an old year and start a new one. I hope your celebrations are full of laughter and you keep your sense of humor through the coming New Year.
If all those lives had not been at risk, this would almost be pathetic.
Doha International Book Fair opens
Web posted at: 12/31/2009 1:50:32
Source ::: The Peninsula / By Nasser al Harthy
The Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage, H E Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari, opening the 20th Doha International Book Fair yesterday.
DOHA: The 20th Doha International Book Fair with France as the Guest of Honour was opened yesterday by the Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage, H E Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari.
Some 420 publishers from 24 countries are taking part in the exhibition, which the minister said, was much larger than previous editions of the fair.
“Book fairs in Qatar are always special and these are occasions we take care of every year,” Al Kuwari told reporters during the the opening.
“We wish that every event becomes better than what it was the year before. We have the participation of more publishers — either Arabic or foreign — and for the first time France is taking part in a big way.”
The minister also expressed his appreciation for the participation of publishers from all Arab countries and invited participants and visitors to take part in events on the sideline of the fair, especially seminars related to French and Arab cultures.
Al Kuwari added that he will address a news conference on Monday to talk about events which are going to be organised as part of ‘Doha, the Capital of Arab Culture 2010’ events.
France has brought in eight publishing houses in a massive 240 square meters pavilion, just near the entrance of the exhibition centre.
Actes Sud, a major French publishing house which has the copyright and translates the works of Arab authors into French is one of major participants at the book fair.
Some of prominent French publishers like Albin Michel, La Martiniere, Editions du Louvre, Connaissance des Arts and Dargaud are featuring over 2,000 French comics, magazines, novels and classic authors’ books.
This is one of the saddest articles I could read, a Nation that Does Not Read.
There is a secret to teaching your child to read. The secret is: be readers.
When a child grows up surrounded by books and magazines, when she grows up seeing her parents with books, magazines and newspapers in their hands, guess what happens? The child also grows up to be a reader.
YOU are the key to your child’s reading. Do you read to your children before bed every night? Do they already have their favorite books? Do you use books to reward good behavior?
There is a world of wonderful children’s books out there for children of every age. I commend Qatar for taking these first steps to create a nation of readers, and I urge that this be a long term project, with continuing support.
There are several bookstores in Qatar – the Jarir has a large number of children’s books. Virgin has books. The Dar ath Thaqafa stores have children’s books. There is a store in City Center called Eye Spy which has all kinds of children’s educational resources, it is up on the third floor, I believe. Buy books when you are travelling abroad and give them out during the year as special treats. You CAN create a nation of readers.
From the Gulf Times
Club will nurture rare ‘book worms’
By Ourouba Hussein
The Childhood Cultural Centre is to launch an ambitious project that aims to inculcate the reading habit among children in Qatar.
Called the “Book Club”, the project was conceived after a study found that children in Qatar read only a quarter of a page per year.
Book Club project manager Abdullah Hamid al-Mulla said that children in Qatar read almost nothing outside their syllabus while children in the US read 11 books a year and their counterparts in the UK 8 books.
“We are a nation that does not read,” he stated.
According to the study, the number of books published in the Arab world is eight for every 12,000 children, al-Mullah said, adding “we know why Arabs are lagging in many fields”.
He said the project, under the slogan “a trip into the minds of people”, targeted children in the age group of 6-18 years and aimed at expanding their perceptions, as well as creating a reading culture.
He noted that since statistics showed that Arabs did not read more than six minutes per year and experience proved that children did not go to libraries or book clubs, the centre decided to reach out to them, in schools and “wherever they are”.
“We will work out agreements with schools and provide the books in schools also.”
Al-Mullah said incentives associated with the project that will be launched in conjunction with the Doha Book Fair 2009, featured excursions inside and outside Qatar, awards and cultural publications. The book fair opens at the Doha International Exhibition Centre today.
He explained that once a child is registered with the club, he will earn points according to participation in activities organised by the forum.
“Points are earned according to the level of the child’s usage of the free library, reciting stories for reading groups or attempts to write on his own, as well as participation in workshops,” he said.
According to the number of points earned, the child will be rewarded.
Al-Mulla also pointed out that experts would be available to help children select the most appropriate books.
He noted that the club’s pavilion at the Doha Book Fair will introduce many interactive educational projects for children.
I needed some escape time, so I started The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, a mystery by Stieg Larsson, set in Sweden. I love these detective stories set in other countries; I can learn something as I pass the time reading an exciting mystery. And part of my heritage is Swedish, so I thought this should really be fun.
It wasn’t, at least not at the beginning. At the beginning, I didn’t like any of the characters, and they were always eating sandwiches that sounded awful, like liverwurst and egg. I felt like the characters didn’t have any moral center, like they drifted from day to day without neither conscience nor a plan. The main character, Mikael Blomkvist, is about to go to prison for libel; he printed a story about a major industrialist which turned out to be false, and he protected his source. We don’t really know the whole story, not until the end, which makes it hard to evoke a lot of sympathy for Blomkvist.
He is contacted by another industrialist, and asked to solve a mystery, if possible, about the disappearance, 40 years ago, of his niece, Harriet Vanger. Blomkvist would investigate under the cover of writing an autobiography of his employer and his family. There are members of the family who object. In many ways, it isn’t a very nice family.
Blomkvist gets an assistant, a deeply troubled and flawed young woman, Lisbeth Salander, with a gift for investigation. There is a lot of violence, sexual violence, and mutilation of animals. One of the points I credit Larsson with making is the amount of violence against women in Sweden, which goes on under a seemingly civilized veneer. The truth, as I see it, is that there is violence against women in every society; in some it is better documented than in others. In some, it is better punished that others. It exists in all societies, in all countries.
Another think I ended up liking about the book was that the main character, Blomkvist, who writes financial analysis, takes the press to task for printing what passes for financial news without critically reading and evaluating, which he feels is a responsibility of the press. At one point, as people quail with fear that the stock exchange will drop dramatically, he is interviewed and explains that the stock market is based on perceptions, while the Swedish economy is based on production and services; that while the markets may fail, the economy can still be going strong.
Slowly, the book tightens up. Actually, by the end, I was hooked. The only question in my mind is – did I like it enough to read another?
The book is available, new, from Amazon.com at $6.00 plus shipping.
Three market trends to watch for in ’10
Web posted at: 12/27/2009 11:51:49
Source ::: LAT-WP
Washington: In case you missed it, Treasury Secretary Timothy F Geithner this week promised America that there won’t be another financial crisis in 2010.
“We’re not going to have a second wave of financial crisis,” Geithner said in an interview with National Public Radio. “We’ll do what is necessary to prevent that. We cannot afford to let the country live again with a risk that we’re going to have another series of events like we had last year.”
Well, there it is. And you wonder why the stock market is at 14-month highs? Anyone who has deep-seated doubts about the financial system’s health may view Geithner’s explicit guarantee as a sign of dangerous government hubris, or simple naivete.
But his promise does address what is for some investors the pre-eminent question about 2010: Can the world avoid another calamity on the scale of what fueled the markets’ meltdown from September 2008 to March 2009?
To put it another way: Your financial planning for the new year would be a lot easier if you knew that the chance of another collapse was remote even if markets were likely to be volatile.
The strongest evidence against a second collapse is that the credit crisis has eased dramatically. That may not be evident in banks’ lending. But by many key barometers, including new issuance of corporate bonds and the rates banks charge each other for short-term loans, credit has begun to flow again worldwide.
If we assume that Geithner is right about the absence of another mega-crisis in 2010, I think there are three important financial trends that either got under way or accelerated in 2009 that also will be critical for investors and savers in the new year:
The Great Deleveraging rolls on. Many Americans piled on excessive debts in the 1980s, 1990s and first half of this decade. On that much, everyone agrees. Now, that total household debt load of $14 trillion is being worked down — voluntarily, as people pay off credit cards, for example, or involuntarily, as banks force foreclosures. Consumer credit excluding mortgages fell for a ninth straight month in October, a record stretch of declines, according to Federal Reserve data.
But debt reduction has a “long, long way to go,” says Ian Shepherdson, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, New York. The question is whether it can proceed without tipping the economy back into recession.
One ticking time bomb: a jump in 2010 in the number of homeowners with so-called option ARM loans who will see their loan rates reset at higher levels.
An obvious implication of consumers’ need to reduce debt is that people will save more and consume less than before. That will be a continuing drag on the economic recovery. I know we’ve all heard that a million times, but that doesn’t make it less true.
The upshot: no imminent rate relief for savers who now are lucky to earn 1 percent or 2 percent on their cash.
Corporate earnings keep improving. Expectations of a profit recovery helped stoke the stock market’s turnaround in March. Wall Street has been pleasantly surprised since then.
Starting with the current quarter, earnings are forecast to begin rising, albeit from extremely depressed year-earlier levels.
Sales have edged up for many companies this year as the global economy has begun to rebound. But a big part of the profit-recovery story has stemmed from companies’ slashing of their payrolls, driving the US unemployment rate above 10 percent for the first time since 1982.
Many investors keep looking for a middle ground on risk-taking. That means cash probably will keep pouring into bonds — at least until some people discover, to their surprise, that it’s possible to lose money in fixed-income securities, too.
Small investors usually are prone to chasing hot stock markets. Not this year. Even as the US stock market has continued to rally Americans have shunned domestic stock mutual funds. Each week since late August more cash has been pulled from them than has flowed in via new purchases, according to the Investment Company Institute’s data.