Just a few hours away from 2007

Happy New Year!Here are some New Year-related links for your perusal:

—- Australia, of course, has already celebrated the new year with a beautiful fireworks display at the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

—- Here are photos of other New Year fireworks displays from places already into the New Year. More here.

—- In the meantime, Bangkok is ringing in the New Year on a not so great note. Via the AP:

BANGKOK, Thailand – Nine bombs exploded across Bangkok as the Thai capital celebrated the New Year, killing two people and driving thousands of revelers home as the city canceled its countdown festivities.

The bombings late Sunday and early Monday capped a year of unrest in Thailand, including a military coup three months ago and an increasingly violent Muslim insurgency in the south.

Six near-simultaneous explosions Sunday night killed two people and injured 26.

Hours later, near the same shopping complex where thousands of people had planned to count down the New Year, three blasts minutes after midnight wounded eight people, including a foreigner who was rushed to the hospital after her legs were blown off, the iTV television station reported.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

National police chief Gen. Ajirawit Suphanaphesat said he did not believe insurgents were behind the attacks in Bangkok, a major international banking and technology hub for Asia.

Bangkok Mayor Apirak Kosayothin ordered the cancellation of the two major public New Year’s Eve countdown celebrations and other smaller ones.

“Due to several bomb explosions in Bangkok and for the sake of peace and security, I would ask all of you to return to your homes now” Apirak told some 5,000 revelers at the downtown Central World Plaza shopping mall, hours before the second set of explosions went off in the area. The crowd dispersed quickly but calmly.

The Counterterrorism blog is on top of the latest developments there, and notes that one suspected has been arrested.

—- Fresh off of creating yet another new “milestone” for troops deaths in Iraq, the MSM moves on to another one, this time, the 3,000th death. No matter the media’s obsession with casualties in the war, I’d like to wish our fighting men and women serving all the best in the coming year. May God bless you, and we’re all hoping things will take a turn for the better in Iraq and Afghanistan so you can start coming home.

—- Will attendance for the annual Times Square New Year’s eve festivities break the previous record?

—- The Washington Times reports on some new laws in various states that will take effect in the new year.

—- Slate posts what they believe to be the best cartoons of 2006.

—- Want to make more money in 2007? CNN’s Money page has some tips for you, you evil greedy capitalist $-)

—- The MSN movie page takes a look back at the entertainers we lost this year.

—- ABC posts their list of the 10 most annoying songs for 2006.

—- “Economists” are predicting “slow economic growth” and “no recession” for 2007.

—- Check out NRO’s symposium of opinions on the best and worst of politics in 2006.

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Lastly, I’d like to wish each and every one of my readers a very happy new year. Thanks for continuing to visit this blog and sharing your opinions with me on the various important issues of the day. 2006 was a great year for this blog, and I’m hoping 2007 will be even better <:-p

Carolina Panthers at the New Orleans Saints

In addition to a win over the Saints today, we needed a Giants loss yesterday and a Packers loss tonight against Chicago to make it into the playoffs. Well, today’s game is now meaningless for the Panthers as the Giants beat Washington yesterday.

Speaking of Green Bay, they still have a very slim chance of making the playoffs. Here’s the playoff scenario for GB:

The Packers (7-8) are one of five teams tied for the final playoff spot and could know their fate even before kickoff depending on what happens in games involving the New York Giants on Saturday, and Carolina, Atlanta and St. Louis earlier on Sunday.

If New York loses, then the Packers would need a win, coupled with either a Rams loss, Panthers win or Falcons win to reach the postseason.

If New York wins, Green Bay could remain mathematically alive to win a strength of victory tiebreaker with the Giants, but would need an elaborate, unlikely combination of results from around the league to make that happen.

If they don’t make it into the playoffs, I wonder if this will be the last game Bret Favre plays?

Update: The Cats make it a .500 season with a 31-21 win over the Saints. Mwalimu’s Cowboys lost to the Lions 39-31.

Are Americans spoiled brats?

ST reader Sev sends along this story, written by Craig Smith. Smith took a look at some poll numbers that said nearly 70% of people in this country were unhappy with the direction this nation was headed and concluded that we are indeed spoiled brats:

So being the knuckle dragger I am, I starting thinking, ”What we are so unhappy about?”

Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter? Could it be that 95.4 percent of these unhappy folks have a job? Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in the last year?

Maybe it is the ability to drive from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers as we move through each state? Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels we would find along the way that can provide temporary shelter? I guess having thousands of restaurants with varying cuisine from around the world is just not good enough. Or could it be that when we wreck our car, emergency workers show up and provide services to help all involved. Whether you are rich or poor they treat your wounds and even, if necessary, send a helicopter to take you to the hospital.

Perhaps you are one of the 70 percent of Americans who own a home, you may be upset with knowing that in the unfortunate case of having a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in moments and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames thus saving you, your family and your belongings. Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat screen TVs, a burglar or prowler intrudes; an officer equipped with a gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to defend you and your family against attack or loss. This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of bombs or militias raping and pillaging the residents. Neighborhoods where 90 percent of teenagers own cell phones and computers.

How about the complete religious, social and political freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world? Maybe that is what has 67 percent of you folks unhappy.

I think Smith has a point. I think Americans sometimes take their freedoms and how good we do have it here for granted. On the other hand, we can be content with what we have and still be concerned with the direction the country is headed. What do you think?

In the meantime, check out these semi-related dueling polls:

AP Poll: Americans Optimistic for 2007

Poll: Americans See Gloom, Doom in 2007

In fact, they’re not dueling polls at all – they’re the same poll, posted at two different news sites, with two different interpretations of the results.

Oops …

Honoring President Gerald Ford

The Associated Press has a nice write up and recap of the arrival of Ford’s casket at the Capitol yesterday:

With the thunder of cannon and the whistle of a bos’n pipe, the nation’s capital honored Gerald R. Ford’s memory Saturday in funeral ceremonies recalling the touchstones of his life, from combat in the Pacific to a career he cherished in Congress to a presidency he did not seek.

Lights bathed the granite arch of the World War II memorial commemorating the Pacific theater as Ford’s nighttime funeral procession, bearing his wife, Betty, and the casket of the 38th president, stopped there in tribute to his years as an ensign and gunnery officer. The other arch, representing the Atlantic theater, stood in darkness.

An aircraft from the White House fleet brought Ford’s body to Andrews Air Force Base from services near his adopted California home, where mourners streamed past his casket in quiet remembrance of the even- keeled man summoned to the presidency in a time of national trauma 32 years ago.

Vice President Dick Cheney, Ford’s chief of staff long ago and an honorary pallbearer now, stood silently among the dignitaries attending the brief arrival ceremony, which was punctuated by cannon fire. The arrival opened the Washington portion of Ford’s state funeral, with procession that took his casket from Maryland to Virginia and then over the Memorial Bridge _ dressed in flags and funeral bunting _ to the memorial, past the White House without pausing and on to the U.S. Capitol for the first service and a lying in state that continues until Tuesday morning.

Mrs. Ford sat stoically in the snaking line of gleaming limousines, clutching a tissue and dabbing her face on occasion, then walked slowly at the Capitol in the arm of her military escort, soon followed by the casket bearing her husband of 58 years. Another round of cannon fire rang out.

The pageantry was muted, as Ford wanted, but the ritual unfolded with regal touches and according to exacting traditions dating back to the mid-1800s.

In one departure from tradition, pallbearers placed his flag-draped casket outside the House chamber before it was taken to the Rotuna to lie in state. That honored Ford’s years of service in the House as a congressman from Michigan and minority leader.

Similarly, Ford’s body will rest briefly outside the Senate chamber on Tuesday, commemorating his service as vice president, which also made him Senate president.

On the way to Capitol Hill, World War II veterans and Boy Scouts gathered by the memorial and saluted at the brief, poignant stop. Mrs. Ford waved through the window. A bos’n mate stepped forward to render “Piping Ashore,” a piercing whistle heard for centuries to welcome officers aboard a ship and now to honor naval service.

Fitting services for a great man. Make sure to read it all.

Incoming House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers admits to ethics violations

And in turn, the House Ethics Committee punishes him by issuing a statement that essentially says that Rep. Conyers, who is also a proponent of impeaching President Bush, should refrain from doing it again.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who promised before and after the elections that the Democratic Congress would be the “most ethical Congress in history”, said through a spokesman that Rep. Conyers will “remain chairman of the Judiciary Committee.”

So much for your promises, eh, Rep. Pelosi?

Hat tip: Jason Smith

More bad news for Mike Nifong

On Thursday, the North Carolina state bar filed an ethics complaint against the embattled DA in the Duke lacrosse rape case. Now the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys have called for him to step down from the case. Via ABC News:

Dec. 29, 2006 — In yet another moral blow to Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong, the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys called for the prosecutor to step down from the Duke lacrosse case.

The group, which represents district attorneys from across North Carolina, said in a statement that “it is in the interest of justice and the effective administration of criminal justice that Mr. Nifong immediately withdraw and recuse himself from the prosecution.”

“It’s extraordinarily unusual and it means a great deal,” said Joshua Marquis, a district attorney in Clatsop County, Ore.

The district attorney group also called for the case to be reassigned and handed over to “another prosecutorial authority.”

The statement was prompted by charges of ethics violations against Nifong filed Thursday by the North Carolina bar. Those allegations accuse Nifong of making inappropriate comments about the case in a series of press interviews early in the proceedings.

“As prosecutors, we do not try our cases in the media. We do not file charges frivolously,” Marquis, who is active in the National District Attorneys Association, told ABC News.

“I do not know what the merit of the charges are, but Mr. Nifong has not brought respect to our profession,” Marquis said. “Some of his actions have brought great disrepute on the profession of prosecution.”

Yeah, I’ll say.

Some Democrats will support ‘spending restrictions’ on the Iraq war

Because it’s “time to get out.” Via the Brattleboro Reformer:

WASHINGTON — Fearing President Bush is poised to escalate the Iraq war, several New England Democrats said they will support spending restrictions to block a potential troop surge, or even leverage a withdrawal.

It is a challenging maneuver that could crosscut the promises of their incoming Democratic leaders to financially support the administration’s war plan while simultaneously calling on the president to reduce the United States’ presence in Iraq.

Moreover, the attempts to design spending roadblocks are muddied by divisions within a Democratic Party leery two years before a presidential election of losing its new and narrow majority by appearing soft on terrorism and against the troops, lawmakers and analysts say.

Still, several New England lawmakers expressed frustration with reports that Bush might stream up to 30,000 troops into Iraq. The lawmakers said they would support attempts to employ congressional purse powers to block any move toward enlarging the U.S. footprint in a country descending toward civil war.

Others said they would try to cut funding altogether, with or without the surge.

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, is having discussions with other senators about legislation that would restrict the president’s use of the military.

He said the “only way” a withdrawal would occur is through the budget process.

“I don’t know anyone who believes we’ll see an end to (the Iraq war) the way we’re doing it now,” he said in an interview. “It’s time to get out of there.”

[…]

If the president rejects the Iraq Study Group recommendations, such as withdrawing troops by 2008, the spending measure could provide an opening for lawmakers to place restrictions on the president’s use of military money.

“What will the president do? That’s the $64 million question,” said Congressman-elect Peter Welch, D-Vt. “I would oppose adding troops. And I would support steps to deny funding for adding more troops.”

There is a movement in Congress to halt all funding for the war, but it has gained only marginal support.

Nineteen House members signed onto the measure, offered by Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., last year to slash all funding for military operations in Iraq, except the cost of mobilizing a withdrawal.

Aside from McGovern, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., was the only other New England House member to cosponsor the bill, named the “End the War in Iraq Act.”

Sound familiar?

McGovern’s bill is reminiscent of a similar effort to end the Vietnam War, offered by former Sens. Mark Hatfield of Oregon and George McGovern of South Dakota in 1970. The Hatfield-McGovern amendment, later named the “Amendment to End the War,” was narrowly defeated on the floor, but marked a turning point after which several narrower spending measures restricting military operations in Southeast Asia were adopted.

Now similar amendments that could restrict the president’s options in Iraq are being discussed, said Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass., a member of the Armed Services Committee.

“Many of us are discussing all options relative to funding and what we can do to get us out of Iraq,” he said in an interview. “To the extent there are amendments to push the administration on Iraq, I think you’ll see those kind of amendments.”

Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Pa., has proposed banning any money for permanent bases in Iraq. John Podesta, former chief of staff under President Clinton, urged lawmakers this week to pass a measure prohibiting Bush from deploying more than 150,000 troops to Iraq.

Divisions within the Democratic Party, however, could prevent those and other measures from passing. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has dismissed efforts to cut troop funding, and incoming Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has endorsed a troop surge if it hastens training of Iraqi forces.

Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Mass., is on Pelosi’s transition team. He said the divergence among Democrats “is going to be very, very difficult” for Pelosi to manage.

“The Democratic caucus is not unified,” added Capuano, who supports withholding Iraq war funding, except from the cost of bringing troops home.

Rep. Charlie Rangel, the new head of the House Ways and Means Committee (who has been busy these days mocking our Commander in Chief), is not mentioned in that piece but he is also a proponent of cutting off funds for the Iraq war.

I so hope they try this. I really, really do. Let’s have a national debate about funding the war, Democrats, ok? And Republicans, don’t forget to mention the last time this happened and who was responsible for it.

Democrats don’t mind continuing to throw money into failed social program after failed social program here in the United States over and over and over again year after year because they don’t want to “hurt the poor” and really believe these programs do “some good” but yet they don’t seem to mind financially undercutting (or at the very least considering it) war missions past and present when they believe them to be failures. In other words, they’re ok with continuously funding their failures, but not ok with funding what they believe to be Republican failures.

For all the bumbling and stumbling we’ve sometimes seen from the Republican leadership on the Iraq war, putting Democrats in control of the purse strings of it was tantamount to putting the Keystone Cops in charge of our national security.

God help us all.

Guess it’s time for me to start doing those dishes

The BBC is reporting that a new study suggests that women who do a ‘moderate’ amount of housework are cutting the risk of getting breast cancer:

Women who exercise by doing the housework can reduce their risk of breast cancer, a study suggests.

The research on more than 200,000 women from nine European countries found doing household chores was far more cancer protective than playing sport.

Dusting, mopping and vacuuming was also better than having a physical job.

The women in the Cancer Research UK-funded study spent an average of 16 to 17 hours a week cooking, cleaning and doing the washing.

Experts have long known that physical exercise can reduce the risk of breast cancer, probably through hormonal and metabolic changes.

But it has been less clear how much and what types of exercise are necessary for this risk reduction.

And much of past work has examined the link between exercise and breast cancer in post-menopausal women only.

The latest study looked at both pre- and post-menopausal women and a range of activities, including work, leisure and housework.

All forms of physical activity combined reduced the breast cancer risk in post-menopausal women, but had no obvious effect in pre-menopausal women.

Chores protected

Out of all of the activities, only housework significantly reduced the risk of both pre- and post-menopausal women getting the disease.

Housework cut breast cancer risk by 30% among the pre-menopausal women and 20% among the post-menopausal women.

The women were studied over an average of 6.4 years, during which time there were 3,423 cases of breast cancer.

The international authors said their results suggested that moderate forms of physical activity, such as housework, may be more important than less frequent but more intense recreational physical activity in reducing breast cancer risk.

First thing tomorrow I’m going to buy a broom (the only one I currently have is used strictly for transportation).

Saddam’s execution “imminent”? (UPDATE II: SADDAM EXECUTED)

Rumors and news stories are swirling that the former Iraqi dictator who the US captured and ousted in 2003 will be executed this weekend. Hot Air and Malkin are on top of the latest developments. Jules Crittenden speculates on the time the execution will occur and has a link roundup of other opinions.

In the meantime, the NYTimes seems to be lamenting the fact that Saddam’s rec’d the death penalty. Hmm. The Washington Post, OTOH, takes a strong stance in favor of Saddam’s sentence. Good for them.

Latest development: Saddam wants the US to block his execution.

Update: Will it happen before 10 PM tonight? The AP reports on the possiblity.

Update II: He’s been executed. Via Drudge:

CNN Broke at 10:06… NBC first broadcast net to report execution of Hussein at 10:14 pm, ET — CBS went up at 10:18 — ABC up at 10:25…

Iraqi-Americans cheered the news.

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Here are some reactions from the blogosphere over the announcement.