The official video for Paul Mealor's Wherever You Are by Military Wives with Gareth Malone.
Help the Military Wives raise money for two wonderful charities who work tirelessly to support the armed forces and their families. Buy the single and make this Christmas No 1 to make a difference to these wonderful people both at home and abroad.
'Wherever You Are' is a moving love song written by Royal Wedding composer Paul Mealor for the choir to sing at The Royal British Legion's Festival of Remembrance. The music is set to a poem compiled from letters to and from the servicemen and their wives on a 6-month tour of duty in Afghanistan. It is the raw emotion of the song that has touched so many of the British public.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5808 on: Dec 24th, 2011, 09:23am »
Gingrich, Perry fail to qualify for Virginia primary
The two Republican presidential hopefuls fall short of the 10,000 signatures needed to put a candidate's name on the ballot, but Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are in. In a poll released this week, Gingrich had a slight lead over Romney in the state.
From the Associated Press 5:17 AM PST, December 24, 2011 WASHINGTON
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have failed to qualify for Virginia's March 6 Republican primary, a setback in their bids for the Republican presidential nomination.
The Republican Party of Virginia announced the developments Friday and early Saturday, saying that the two have failed to submit the required 10,000 signatures to get on the ballot.
That Gingrich and Perry failed to get on the ballot in this state that votes on Super Tuesday underscored the difficulty that first-time national candidates -- many with smaller campaign operations and less money -- have in preparing for the long haul of the campaign.
It also illustrates the advantage held by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. He's essentially been running for president for five years, and his team, smaller than in 2008 but larger than those of most of his 2012 opponents, has paid close attention to filing requirements in each state. He will appear on the Virginia ballot, along with Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who also has run a national campaign before.
"After verification, RPV has determined that Newt Gingrich did not submit required 10k signatures and has not qualified for the VA primary," the Republican Party of Virginia announced early Saturday on its Twitter website.
State GOP spokesman Garren Shipley said volunteers spent Friday validating petitions that the four candidates submitted by the Thursday 5 p.m. deadline to the State Board of Elections. Shipley was not available early Saturday to discuss the announcement posted on the website.
Failing to get on the ballot will be a major setback for Gingrich, who has tried to use his recent upsurge in popularity to make up for a late organizing start. Ironically, Gingrich had a slight lead over Romney, with others farther back, in a Quinnipiac poll of Virginia Republicans released earlier in the week.
The load of catching up on organizing work and a lack of advertising money to counter an onslaught of negative ads from his rivals have been major disadvantages.
Gingrich had to leave New Hampshire on Wednesday and race to Virginia, where he needed 10,000 valid voters' signatures to secure a spot on the ballot.
He said Wednesday he had enough ballot signatures, but he wanted to come to Virginia to deliver them personally. Taking no chances, his volunteers asked everyone to sign petitions before entering Gingrich's rally Wednesday night in Arlington, just across the Potomac River from Washington.
Gingrich's early-December rise in several polls gave him renewed hopes of carrying his campaign deep into the primary season. Failure to compete in Virginia, which is among the "Super Tuesday" primaries, would deal a huge blow to any contender who had not locked up the nomination by then.
The state party's Shipley said the party was validating petitions the candidates submitted by the Thursday 5 p.m. deadline to the state elections board. It began validating signatures Friday morning.
The 10,000 registered voters must also include 400 signatures from each of Virginia's 11 congressional districts.
Meanwhile, Virginia's Democrats said President Barack Obama's re-election campaign gathered enough signatures to get him on the state's primary ballot though he was the only candidate who qualified.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5809 on: Dec 24th, 2011, 09:27am »
Marine’s ashes interred at USS Arizona
The Associated Press Posted : Saturday Dec 24, 2011 8:40:28 EST
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — A Marine who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor has returned to the USS Arizona — divers placed the urn holding Frank Cabiness’ cremated remains inside the battleship sunk by the Japanese 70 years ago.
“He said it was because that’s where he belonged,” the late Marine’s son, Jerry Cabiness, said after Friday’s solemn ceremony. “He lost all of his friends there and he wanted to be with them.”
The divers swam over to the sunken battleship and placed the container inside.
Hawaii-based Marines from the 3rd Marine Regiment performed a rifle salute and taps Friday, some nine years after Cabiness died in Lewisville, Texas, at the age of 86.
Jerry Cabiness said his father always wanted to return to his ship, but his family took some time to fulfill that wish because of some financial problems and the expense of traveling to Hawaii.
“But we finally got it done. And it was a beautiful ceremony. The Marines did him proud,” he said.
Dozens of Arizona crew members who lived through the Dec. 7, 1941, attack have chosen to have their ashes interred on the battleship after death. Many do it out of a desire to join those they left behind.
Survivors who served on the USS Utah — the only other ship sunk in the attack that still sits in the harbor — have done the same.
Servicemen who served on other ships and on land may have their ashes scattered in the harbor if they choose. Most of the dozen U.S. ships that sank or were beached 70 years ago were repaired and returned to service.
Altogether, 2,390 Americans were killed in the attack that brought the United States into World War II.
The Arizona lost 1,177 sailors and Marines — more than any ship or unit. Most of those who died are still entombed on the vessel, which rests next to Ford Island where it sank nine minutes after being hit by a Japanese aerial bomb.
Cabiness, who was a private first class when Japanese planes bombed the Arizona on Dec. 7, 1941, was among the 337 crew members who survived.
Jerry Cabiness said his father was at his battle station in the main mast of the ship when the ship was hit. He narrowly avoided getting hit by machine gun fire, and luckily his only injury was from friction burns suffered when he slid down a ladder while rushing to abandon ship.
He said his father jumped into the water and wasn’t blown from the deck, which had been reported earlier from a Marine news release.
The family proudly retains the only thing he managed to leave the ship with: a watch that stopped at 8:15, the moment that Sunday morning when he hit the water after jumping from the Arizona.
After the war, he worked for an oil pipeline company in Texas that later became Amoco Pipeline. He measured and documented oil that traveled through a pipeline to a refinery. He never missed a day of work in 30 years, Jerry Cabiness said.
He didn’t mention the attack much.
“It was just too hard for him. He just couldn’t do it,” his son said.
The Cabinesses moved around a lot, but lived the longest in Levelland, Texas.
Today, Jerry Cabiness and his family live in Maumelle, Ark., a suburb of Little Rock.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5810 on: Dec 24th, 2011, 09:34am »
Mass. woman says TSA agent in Vegas confiscated frosted cupcake as possible security threat
By Associated Press, Published: December 23
PEABODY, Mass. — A woman who just flew back home from Las Vegas says an airport security officer confiscated her frosted cupcake because he thought the icing on it could be a security risk.
Rebecca Hains said the Transportation Security Administration agent at McCarran International Airport took her cupcake Wednesday, telling her its frosting was enough like a gel to violate TSA restrictions on allowing liquids and gels onto flights to prevent them from being used as explosives.
“I just thought this was terrible logic,” Hains said Friday.
Hains, who lives in Peabody, just north of Boston, said the agent didn’t seem concerned that the cupcake could actually be explosive, just that it fit some bureaucratic definition about what was prohibited. She said he even offered to let her eat it away from the airport security area.
Hains, a 35-year-old communications professor at Salem State University, said she told the agent she had passed through security at Boston’s Logan International Airport earlier in the week with two cupcakes packaged in jars, gifts from a student. But she said the agent told her that just meant TSA in Boston didn’t do its job.
The TSA, which is entrusted with protecting the nation’s transportation system, was reviewing the incident, agency spokesman Nico Melendez said. Passengers are allowed to take cakes and cupcakes through checkpoints, he said.
Hains ultimately surrendered the cupcake. But she said the encounter highlighted a lack of common sense by the agent and the ludicrousness of TSA policies.
“It’s not really about the cupcake; I can get another cupcake,” she said. “It’s about an encroachment on civil liberties. We’re just building up a resistance and tolerance to all these things they’re doing in the name of security, when it’s really theater. It is not keeping us safe.”
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5813 on: Dec 25th, 2011, 08:49am »
Angry former ATF chief blames subordinates for Fast and Furious
In a deposition with congressional investigators, Kenneth E. Melson faults agents, supervisors and top aides for the gun sale program that has been linked to drug cartel violence.
by Richard A. Serrano, Washington Bureau 8:42 PM PST, December 24, 2011 Reporting from Washington
In a confidential deposition with congressional investigators, the then-head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives blamed agents, field supervisors and even his top command for never advising him that for more than a year, his agency allowed illegal gun sales along the southwestern U.S. border.
The deposition, which was taken in July and was recently obtained by the Washington bureau, shows that Kenneth E. Melson was irate. Even his chief intelligence officer at ATF headquarters was upset with the operation, dubbed Fast and Furious, but did little to shut it down, Melson complained. "He didn't come in and tell me, either," Melson said. "And he's on the same damn floor as I am."
But B. Todd Jones, Melson's replacement as acting director of the agency, said in an interview that Melson allowed overzealous field agents and supervisors to go beyond approved tactics.
Pointing out that the ATF has had five acting directors in the last six years, Jones said the resulting weak management structure has given some field agents a license to operate independently of Washington.
"There was a vacuum. Fast and Furious went off the rails, and there were plenty of opportunities to pivot so none of this would happen," Jones said.
Under the program, devised to help agents follow weapons from gun stores to Mexican cartel leaders, about 2,000 firearms were lost. Two were found after the killing of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry last December. Hundreds more were recovered after violent crimes in Mexico
"Anybody, including Mr. Melson, who waits for things to happen or waits for information to come to them, that is something I personally am not a believer in," Jones said. "I'm a believer in management by walking around. If you're not hearing it, you seek it out. And there are a lot of ways to do that other than sitting in your corner office waiting for memos to come in."
Melson was transferred to a lower-level job at the Department of Justice on Aug. 30. Jones, the U.S. attorney in Minnesota, was appointed by Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. as the new acting director.
At Holder's request, the Justice Department's inspector general began investigating Fast and Furious in February, a month after the controversial operation in the ATF's Phoenix field office came to light.
Jones expects the inspector general's report early next year. He said he will immediately refer it to the ATF's Office of Professional Responsibility for recommendations on job terminations or suspensions. "We sure will" be making some quick personnel decisions, he said.
Jones has visited about a fourth of the ATF's 25 field offices, and has brought in six new top managers. He said he is also working closely with Justice officials who oversee the ATF. "It's been tough on people, tough on morale. And yet I think we are pulling the car out of the ditch."
In his deposition, Melson said that the lack of management oversight went beyond his own agency to the Justice Department.
Once Fast and Furious broke into public view, Melson said, Justice officials strenuously objected when he wanted to disclose everything to Congress. "We were floating the idea and asking them to allow us to do that," he said. But he said he was told "it is a long-standing policy of the Department of Justice that we don't talk about ongoing cases."
Justice officials said they were never told about the Fast and Furious tactics and cite ATF internal emails as evidence.
Hours after Terry was killed south of Tucson, David J. Voth, the ATF group supervisor for Fast and Furious in Phoenix, sent an email to lead Agent Hope A. MacAllister. He titled the email, "no more rose colored glasses."
"If you have not heard a Border Patrol agent was shoot and killed here in Arizona," he told her. "The trace came back to Fast and Furious…Ugh...! Call as soon as you can, things will most likely get ugly."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5814 on: Dec 25th, 2011, 08:52am »
Japan looking to buy Chinese government bonds
BEIJING | Sun Dec 25, 2011 7:33am EST
BEIJING (Reuters) - Japan will seek to buy Chinese government bonds, the Japanese government said in a statement issued after Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda held talks in Beijing with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Sunday.
The statement given to reporters gave no details of when Japan might seek to buy the bonds or on what scale.
Japan had earlier indicated it is in talks to buy Chinese government debt to strengthen economic ties.
Despite sometimes rancorous political ties between the two neighbors, Japan's economic fortunes are increasingly tied to China's economic growth and consumer demand.
China has been Japan's biggest trading partner since 2009.
In 2010, trade between the two nations grew by 22.3 percent compared to levels in 2009, reaching 26.5 trillion yen ($339.3 billion), according to the Japan External Trade Organization.
China and Japan are also the world's first and second-biggest holders of foreign reserves.
(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Yoko Nishikawa)
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5815 on: Dec 25th, 2011, 08:56am »
Iraqi PM chides Sunni provinces pushing for autonomy, warns of ‘rivers of blood’
By Associated Press, Published: December 24
BAGHDAD — Iraq’s prime minister warned Saturday that efforts to create an autonomous Sunni region within Iraq would divide the country and lead to “rivers of blood.”
His comments came as a government crisis has strained ties between two main Muslim sects, Sunnis and Shiites, to the breaking point.
Nouri al-Maliki, the Shiite prime minister, is engaged in a showdown with the top Sunni political leader in the country. His government has issued an arrest warrant for Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi for what al-Hashemi says are trumped-up charges that he ran hit squads against government officials.
Since al-Maliki formed his government last December, minority Sunnis have been complaining of being marginalized by the Shiite-led government, prompting some Sunni provinces to call for turning into an autonomous region similar to the northern Kurdish region.
As an autonomous region, they would be able to conduct their own security affairs and have more independence in attracting investment. While the regions would still be part of Iraq, it would weaken Baghdad’s control. Many worry that it would be the first step to breaking up the country along sectarian lines.
The calls have been repeatedly rejected by al-Maliki.
On Saturday, al-Maliki renewed his rejection to forming regions on a “sectarian basis,” saying it would lead to “dividing Iraq and to rivers of blood.”
“I can’t reject this issue (forming regions) since it is allowed by the constitution,” he told representatives from Sunni Salahuddin province, one of three Sunni-dominated provinces which has seen calls for more autonomy. Diyala and Anbar provinces have also seen cries for more autonomy.
“But doing it now means dividing Iraq on a sectarian basis while our country is unified,” he said.
Tensions between minority Sunnis and Shiites have skyrocketed in recent days, laying bare an underlying mistrust that has never really gone away, despite years of effort to overcome it. Minority Sunnis fear the Shiite majority is squeezing them out of any political say, and Shiites suspect Sunnis of links to insurgency and terrorism.
Iraq’s anti-American Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, launched an initiative Saturday calling for peaceful coexistence among all Iraqis after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country. The last soldiers left Dec. 18.
Al-Sadr, whose militiamen were blamed for sectarian killings during the worst years of Iraq’s violence, is seeking to assert his political weight Iraq after the U.S. pullout.
Al-Sadr’s proposal comes just two days after a terrifying wave of Baghdad bombings killed 69 people and wounded nearly 200. The bombs tore through mostly Shiite neighborhoods of the Iraqi capital, evoking fears the country could descend into a new round of sectarian violence.
Al-Sadr’s associates handed out to the media a 14-point “peace code” proposal written by the radical cleric. It warns against spilling Iraqi blood and urges respect for all religions, sects and ethnic groups.
Al-Sadr’s aide Salah al-Obeidi described the code as an attempt “to preserve the unity of the country and save it from fighting.”
It remained too early to say how much traction al-Sadr’s proposal could gain among Iraqis or the country’ top leadership.
Also Saturday, two policemen were killed and two other people were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded in Hawija, 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of Baghdad, said Kirkuk police commander Brig. Gen. Sarhad Qadir.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #5817 on: Dec 25th, 2011, 3:25pm »
We have cedar trees all around us up here on the hill. I'm sitting there watching some Christmas movie with the Girls (dogs). Alan is upstairs happily playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. It's windy but it's almost always windy here in the winter. I look out my back window and my neighbor is at the back fence pointing up like there is something about to land on the house. I go out there, mind you it's blowing like all heck, and I ask what's wrong. He tells me that one of our cedars looks like it's gonna snap off and come down into our house. I walk around to get a better look and I see the security truck for the Village stopped out front. I think, "WTF! It's Christmas! Come ON!" I walk back to the neighbor and he's saying, "You better get out of the house." I'm thinking, "Where would you like us to run?" The security guard is at the front door, I yell for Alan. He comes down wondering what is going on. Well I ask our poor neighbor and good friend if we can park in her yard until the wind blows over, or we get crushed, whichever one comes first.
We ran screaming (okay I was screaming just a little) into the car with the three dogs after I run through the house unplugging everything I can. The friend says she doesn't see what all the panic is about. Alan is looking around like, "Hey! I was just playing SWTOR!" We stayed in her yard until the dogs whining and crying drove us back home. Merry Christmas! We must have really looked nuts. I hope the wind dies down, I have a ham to make.