Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pocomoke Softball Wins State Championships!

Pocomoke High School Softball team won the State Championships with a score of 2-0 versus Fort Hill. This is the first time in years that the Softball team won a state championship and also puts an end to the High School's spring sports season. The team was coached by Sgt. Major Ron Trostle. This year alone, 5 different teams made it to state championships (Soccer, Boys Basketball, Girls Basketball, Field Hockey, and now the Sofball Team)

Anna Brittingham pitched a shutout in the win, the team’s most sucessful run since the school went to the state semi-finals in 1992.

Congratulations Pocomoke High School Softball!

WTH For the Day

Twin Boys Have Different Fathers

(May 19) -- Mia Washington, of Dallas, gave birth 11 months ago to her sons Justin and Jordan. The boys, who were conceived naturally, were born just seven minutes apart -- but medical tests show they're half-brothers, not full brothers.
Washington, it turns out, had a fling with a man other than her partner and ended up conceiving a child with both men. DNA tests from Clear Diagnostics, a local lab, showed there is no chance the boys have the same father, according to Fox 4 in Dallas.

Fox 4 asked doctor Chris Dreiling how such a pregnancy could happen. If a woman releases more than one egg during ovulation and has sex with more than one man during that time, her eggs can be fertilized by different men, he said.
But Dreiling added that such cases are extremely rare.

Washington had the boys' DNA tested after noticing their facial features were different. Her fiance, James Harrison, who fathered one of the twins, has decided to forgive her and raise both children as his own. The identity of the other father hasn't been disclosed.
Washington told Fox 4 she takes responsibility for what she did.
"I'm trying to let everybody else know: Don't put yourself in my shoes, because it can hurt and it does hurt, but you still have to go on with life," she said.

New Study Reveals Poor Roof Strength in Some Small SUVs

Kia Sportage gets poor rating
by Associated PressWith HP wireless printers, you could have printed this from any room in the house. Live wirelessly. Print wirelessly.
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Text Size A A A WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Kia Sportage sport utility vehicle received poor ratings Tuesday in new roof strength tests designed by the insurance industry to give consumers a better sense of how their vehicles might perform in a serious rollover crash.

The Volkswagen Tiguan, Subaru Forester, Honda Element and Jeep Patriot received top scores among a dozen small sport utility vehicles tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The Suzuki Grand Vitara, Chevrolet Equinox, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue and Mitsubishi Outlander received the second-highest score of acceptable. Roofs on the Honda CR-V and the Ford Escape merited the second-lowest rating of marginal.

The test results apply to 2009 model year vehicles. The institute tested 2008 versions of the Sportage and Element because 2009 models were not available at the time. The institute said there were few changes between model years and no changes to the roof.

The test results for the Sportage also apply to the Hyundai Tucson, which shares the same vehicle underpinnings. Results for the Escape also apply to the Mazda Tribute and Mercury Mariner, which also have the same platform.

The institute, based in Arlington, Va., released its first results of new tests on vehicle roof strength. The institute conducts crash tests on new vehicles and provides consumers with safety ratings in side, front- and rear-end crashes.

More than 10,000 people a year are killed in rollover crashes in the United States and the government has been considering tougher roof requirements for several years. The standards have not been significantly changed since 1973.

Current vehicles need to withstand direct pressure of 1.5 times the weight of the vehicle. The rules only apply to vehicles of 6,000 pounds or less, excluding many SUVs and pickup trucks. In the test, a metal plate is applied to one side of the roof to simulate it striking the ground.

The Bush administration considered a standard of 2.5 times the vehicle weight but did not finalize it. The Obama administration could release new requirements by late April.

Under the institute's criteria, a vehicle roof must withstand a force of 4 times the vehicle's weight to receive the top score. For the second-highest rating, a roof must withstand a force of 3.25 times the vehicle weight.

The second-lowest score applies to vehicles with a strength-to-weight ratio of 2.5 and anything lower receives the worst rating.

Automakers said it was difficult with a single test to measure a roof's ability to protect motorists in a rollover crash.

Kia spokesman Alex Fedorak said the institute's rating "by itself, does not provide a complete assessment of a vehicle's ability to protect occupants in these complex events." He said anti-rollover technology called electronic stability control has been standard equipment on all Sportage SUVs since 2005.

Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood said claims data from the insurance industry indicates that the Escape "performs well in all types of accidents, including rollovers." The Escape has anti-rollover technology along with sensors that help detect and prevent rollovers.

Honda spokesman Chris Naughton noted the CR-V had performed well in government and IIHS crash tests. He said it was "important that any safety test be considered in the context of overall safety performance."

Read More About Safety

Momorial Day Tribute To Our Heroes

Remember why you are having that cookout.

God Bless our Troops

Pocomoke Students rewarded during Sports Banquet

Way too go Pocomoke students!!

On Thursday, May 21, 2009, Pocomoke High School students were awarded for their performance during the spring sports seasons. Multiple awards were given out to people for their sportsmanship, gameplay, and their overall attitude. Each player on the Tennis, Baseball, and Softball teams were recognized for playing in the sport which they participated in. This year, the Softball team was able to make it to the State Playoffs, which their game will be on Saturday located at University of Maryland College Park, for the first time in years. Coaches were also honored for their work with the team. Congratulations Pocomoke Students for your awards and for all your achievements!

US Navy Award
Andrew Timmons and Amber Holland
US Army Award
Kirstie Denning and Zach Hall
US Marine Award
Sarah Scher and Johnathan Ritter
Rotary Club Sportsmanship Award
Brianna Hall and Logan Becker
Bayside Scholar Athlete
Zach Hall and Amber Holland
Manager of the Year
Darrius Purnell and Ashley Northam
William Fredrick Dryden Award
Darrius Purnell and Sarah Scher
MVP - Tennis
Emily Leonard and Andrew Timmonsn
MVP - Baseball
Logan and Jordan Becker
MVP - Softball
Anna Brittingham
Sportsmanship award - Tennis
Brian Yeager
Gatorade Packet - Baseball
Eric Breithut
Player of the year Packet - Baseball
Logan Becker
Sportsmanship award - Softball
Taylor West and Dannielle Collick
Wilbert J. Mills Jr. Award
Sebastian Cartwright

Accomack County deputy BUSTED!!

An Accomack County deputy sheriff has been disciplined after a video of him speeding on Route 13 appeared on YouTube earlier this month.

The video on the popular Web site -- which allows anyone to upload content for public viewing -- has been watched more than 11,000 times.

The profanity-laced, eight-minute video, made by a 20-year-old male identified as Chura46 and posted May 5 on the Internet site, apparently was filmed from the interior of his Honda Civic and shows the car's speedometer reaching 100 mph briefly as he follows the deputy's cruiser down Route 13 through Melfa and Keller.

The man filming the deputy does not identify himself by name and had not been located for comment Friday. Throughout the video, he criticizes the deputy for speeding while committing his own moving violations -- including speeding and changing lanes in an intersection.

Accomack County Sheriff Larry Giddens said earlier this week that the incident happened May 1 and has been addressed internally.

The deputy, Jason Campbell, was disciplined for violating department policy by speeding, Giddens said. Campbell was not answering a call at the time and did not have his lights flashing as is required when an officer is exceeding the speed limit in the line of duty.

But it is unlikely the deputy's speed reached the 90 mph claimed by the video's maker, according to Giddens.

"He put the camera on his catch-up speed," Giddens said.

Giddens vouched for Campbell, who was hired in January.

"This guy's a good officer, but he's a young officer," he said.

He said deputies undergo more than 20 hours of classroom training in addition to field training before being put on duty.

Giddens was informed of the incident during the weekend by Campbell's supervisor. He would not comment on what disciplinary measures Campbell faced, but said speeding is not grounds for termination.

The Civic's driver repeatedly honked the car horn and tailgated Campbell after the two vehicles turned onto a secondary road in Keller. The deputy, after several minutes, pulled off the road into a dirt driveway.

But the man blocked the deputy's cruiser and continued filming as both men got out of their vehicles. He repeatedly challenged the officer to arrest him after Campbell asked the man to move his car.

"I want to be arrested," the man said. At the end of the clip, Campbell is seen re-entering his vehicle and driving off.

No charges were filed as a result of the chase and confrontation, Giddens said.

The video footage also shows both vehicles running a stop sign and the video maker changing lanes at a high rate of speed while going through an intersection on Route 13.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Obama vows not to send people to war without cause

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — President Barack Obama promised graduating midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy on Friday that, as their commander in chief, he will only send them "into harm's way when it is absolutely necessary."

In his first address to military graduates, Obama also pledged to invest in the men and women who defend America's liberty, not just in the weapons they take with them into battle.

"I will only send you into harm's way when it is absolutely necessary, and with the strategy, the well-defined goals, the equipment and the support that you need to get the job done," the president told more than 1,000 graduates during a sun-splashed ceremony at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay.

Obama praised the role of Navy SEALS in freeing a U.S. sea captain by killing his Somali pirate captors last month.

"The extraordinary precision and professionalism displayed that day was made possible, in no small measure, by the training, the discipline and the leadership skills that so many of those officers learned at the United States Naval Academy," Obama said.

He said he has halted reductions in the Navy, is building up the Marine Corps and investing in the hardware — combat ships, submarines and fighter aircraft — they'll need to do their jobs. He also promised higher pay, enhanced child care and improved support and other benefits.

"In short, we will maintain America's military dominance and keep you the finest fighting force the world has ever seen," Obama said, as more than 30,000 watched from the stands.

The ceremony included the son of Obama's presidential rival, Sen. John McCain, who was among the proud parents. Had the Arizona Republican and Naval Academy graduate defeated Obama, McCain could have been the speaker.

Obama did not recognize McCain in his speech. But he did so before leaving the White House, praising the senator as he signed into law legislation giving the Pentagon new power to curtail wasteful defense spending. McCain was a sponsor of the bill.

"Senator McCain couldn't be here today because he's making sure he has a good seat to watch his son graduate from the Naval Academy in a few hours, and that's where I'm headed as soon as I catch my ride over here," Obama said at the bill signing in the Rose Garden.

Presidents typically deliver the commencement address at one of the service academies each year. Friday's speech was the third graduation address by Obama in the past nine days. He used the previous two to tackle issues that threatened to overshadow both events.

At the University of Notre Dame last Sunday, abortion opponents protested the president's appearance because he supports abortion rights. Obama jumped into the debate, telling graduates of the Roman Catholic university that people on both sides of the abortion issue must stop demonizing one another.

At Arizona State University, where Obama spoke on May 13, the issue was the school's decision not to award him an honorary degree on grounds that he hadn't accomplished enough. Obama said he agreed, saying no one's body of work is ever complete.

On Thursday, Obama delivered a different kind of speech, one in which he sought to regain control of the emotional debate over closing the detention center for suspected terrorists in Cuba. He denounced "fear-mongering" by political opponents and insisted that maximum-security prisons on the U.S. mainland can safely house the dangerous detainees he wants transferred out of Guantanamo Bay.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney countered the same day with a speech denouncing some of Obama's actions as "unwise in the extreme" and repeating his contention that the new president is endangering the country by turning aside Bush-era policies.

From DelmarvaNow

Obama Rides to the Rescue of Harry Reid

Republicans are styling President Barack Obama’s fundraising trip next week to Las Vegas as a desperate measure to save the bacon of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has precipitously fallen in the polls, according to a report by The Hill.

What the opposition is hoping for is a reprise of the rise and fall of another leader – former Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D.

While Democrats emphasize that the presidential trip has been planned for a long time and is not related to any perceived imminent danger of Reid, D-Nev., losing his seat, the numbers game indicates otherwise.

The latest poll by the Las Vegas Review-Journal contains little good news for the veteran politician.

Nearly half of Nevadans have had enough of Reid as the powerful Democrat heads into his re-election campaign.

About a third of the state’s voters would re-elect Reid if the 2010 election were held today, according to the poll, but 45 percent say they would definitely vote to replace him. Seventeen percent would consider another candidate.

Half of Nevada voters had an unfavorable view of Reid, while 38 percent had a favorable view and 11 percent a neutral opinion.
The Review-Journal noted further that Reid’s approval ratings at home have been subpar for years -- particularly since he ascended to Democratic leader in 2004 and to majority leader in 2006.

What’s more, hopes that things might take an uptick with the departure of President George W. Bush have not come to fruition. The Review-Journal described the poll as indicating voters bullish on Obama -- even as they are unhappy with Reid.

Much ado about nothing argue Reid loyalists, who point to the fact that the leader has already raised more than $5 million this quarter – after raising $2.2 million in the first quarter, according to The Hill.

Meanwhile, a Reid spokesman said they expect next week’s fundraiser to add “at least $1 million.”

“Don’t be tempted to Daschle-ize Reid,” one Democratic official told The Hill. “Nevada 2010 is not South Dakota 2004: George Bush not is at the head of the ticket, Barack Obama won Nevada by double digits and Reid has kept a very watchful eye on his own state.”

But others smell blood in the water.

Brian Walsh, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee was quick to lambaste the forthcoming Obama-Reid love-fest.

“Unfortunately for the majority leader, one night of rubbing elbows with President Obama and celebrity elites at a glitzy fundraiser is not going to mask a long voting record that’s increasingly out of step with Nevada,” Walsh said.

Walsh added that the big event, featuring such luminaries as Bette Midler and Sheryl Crow, “actually plays into Sen. Reid’s biggest problem facing reelection, which is the well-deserved feeling among his constituents that he consistently places Washington and special interests above the views and values of Nevadans.”

All pundit sparing aside, there’s still a very bright lining in the clouds for Reid – he still has no opponent in the race.

WTH Of Today

Well, other blogs have a "joke of the day" "Picture of Today" "Scoop of The Day" etc. etc.
Well, we are going to have the "WTH" (what the hell of today) of today, so here we go with our first WTH of today. Hopefully I'll be getting some local WTH of today in the near future.

EMT Posts Murder Victim Photo on Facebook, Gets Fired

On the list of stupid things to post to Facebook, photos from a murder scene have to be right up there at the top. Apparently, this never occurred to Mark Musarella, a now-former emergency medical technician (EMT) at Richmond University Medical Center in Staten Island, New York.

While on EMT duty on March 30, the 46-year-old retired police officer was called to a murder in the West Brighton area of New York's forgotten borough. According to Fire Chief, while he was on the scene, he snapped a few pics of the 26-year-old victim, Caroline Wimmer, lying dead on the floor of her apartment with the cord of a hairdryer wrapped around her throat. For some inexplicable reason, Musarella turned right around and posted the images on his Facebook page -- as expected, he was swiftly fired by the hospital and the NYPD was notified.

What's worse, one source told the Staten Island Advance that Musarella may not have even learned his lesson: Although the murder scene picture has been taken down, someone with access to his profile told the newspaper that Musarella's Facebook page still had a photo from a car crash he may have responded to.

If you have to be told that posting photos of a murder scene is inappropriate, then something is clearly wrong. [From: SI Live, via: Fire Chief

American Airlines Pilot Fails Breath Test

LONDON (May 21) - An American Airlines pilot failed a breath test at London's Heathrow airport, the airline said Thursday.
Fort Worth, Texas-based American said the pilot was given the test Wednesday after airport security staff alerted police.
The pilot, whom the airline declined to name, was supposed to operate a flight with 204 passengers to Chicago. The flight was delayed while a replacement was found and the plane eventually took off.
"The company has strict policies on alcohol and substance abuse and holds its employees to the highest standards," the airline's London office said. "Employees at all levels of the company are not allowed to be on duty whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol and regular screening is carried out."

Gas prices drive travel plans

Someone needs to polish-up on their math. It may have been cheaper to fly only one person, BUT.... How about say four people in the car VS four flying?

SALISBURY -- Lorraine Esposito and her sister, Sandra Mari, flew to the Lower Shore from Florida for the holiday weekend while another family member, Al Lopez, drove.

Comparing notes Thursday in the lobby at the Hampton Hotel and Suites in Fruitland, they agreed flying was not only faster, but gas-wise, cheaper.
"We flew in; one in our party drove in," said Esposito said. "In the last few weeks, gas prices rose about 20 or 30 cents, and I found that taking a flight would be cheaper than driving."
The group was referring to Florida prices. But Maryland consumers also entered the holiday week after a double-digit increase a week earlier, to $2.27 per average gallon of regular unleaded gasoline the week of May 10, from $2.17, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.
But guess what? Compared to last year this time, more folks will be traveling by car for the Memorial Day weekend, which for many vacationers starts today, said Ragina C. Averella, manager of AAA Public and Government Affairs. Expect 609,000 Marylanders, or 3.9 percent more, to travel by all modes at least 50 miles or more round-trip, compared to the same period last year. About 83 percent reportedly will drive.
"Motorists will undoubtedly see gas prices continue their uptick through the Memorial Day weekend," Averella said this week. "However, despite increases at the pump, 32.4 million people are expected to take to the highways this Memorial Day weekend for the official start of the summer driving season."
Averella said warmer weather and travel destination bargains are an allure for travelers at the official start of summer.
"After months of cabin fever, deep travel discounts and cheaper gas will lure many Americans out and about for the upcoming holiday weekend," she said.
Despite recent spikes, gas prices remain a whopping $1.50 lower in Maryland than a year ago, Averella said. Nationally, prices are about $1.48 lower than the period last year.
In Salisbury, the current average price of gas is $2.24, compared to $2.19 last week and $3.70 this time last year, according to AAA.

Despite a creep upward, energy analysts say don't expect a repeat of highs last summer when a record bull market in oil sent gas to above $4 a gallon. AAA reports crude oil at $56.41 per barrel through last week, slashed more than half the $124 per barrel price a year ago. According to the Energy Information Administration, the price of regular gasoline will average $2.23 a gallon through September, which is $1.60 below the same period a year ago.
Andy Miller, manning the front desk at the Hampton Inn in Fruitland, expects this weekend to be among the hotel's busier and attributed the close to 100 percent occupancy rate Thursday to good weather, commencement at nearby Salisbury University and the holiday.
"Some will stay the weekend, leftover people from the (SU) graduation," Miller said. "People are celebrating, staying a few extra days through the holiday. We've got a mixture of people coming from the airport and driving. Springtime is the beginning of our season as well."
Esposito and Mari, who flew in from Florida, were in town for the SU commencement and decided to stay the holiday.
"We'll stay till Sunday," Mari said.
Lopez, who drove from Florida, said the national downturn would otherwise have kept him home, had it not been for his daughter's graduation.
"I'd probably would have done a backyard cookout, gone to the theater," he said. "I would have stayed at home."


Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Heat Is on, Mandate postal vote for absentee ballots

There's nothing inherently shady or dishonest about absentee voting. In 38 of Washington state's 39 counties, it's the only way to vote -- polling places are in the rearview mirror -- and plenty of other jurisdictions around the country allow people to cast votes in absentia with no fuss. What's key, though, is that they require the absentee ballot to go out and come back via U.S. Mail. That's not how absentee voting works in Pocomoke and Snow Hill. Recent events show it ought to.

Our news pages have covered the unhappy election sagas in those towns this spring. In both places, it's perfectly above board for candidates and their supporters to be part of the 'chain of custody' of absentee ballots. Candidates can take applications for absentee ballots to city hall on a voter's behalf; they can also carry a completed, sealed absentee ballot from a voter to the ballot-counting spot. Each town has some safeguards built in to protect the secrecy of a ballot. But, still, the system breeds ill will: some candidates campaign almost exclusively by recruiting absentee voters in in-person visits, and they hand packets of completed ballots -- ballots they can safely assume contain votes for them -- to elections officials. Other candidates wonder, with reason, whether ballots their opponents think won't help them are sitting in a drawer somewhere. When in-person vote tallies and absentee vote counts diverge wildly, passions flare.
It's remarkable, when you think about it, for a town to permit candidates in its elections to handle ballots at all. The opportunity for suspicion of fraud is too high. We have a delivery system for documents that makes any interference with those documents a federal crime -- the postal system. It's time for Snow Hill and Pocomoke City to take advantage of it, as the county's other municipalities do, and ensure that a voter and his mail carrier are the only people who lay a hand on absentee ballots. We don't mean to impugn the candidates who won recent municipal elections -- they played by the rules as they understood them. But the rules do need changing.

Relay walkers get set to pace all night

POCOMOKE CITY -- With this year's plans finalized, the 2009 South Worcester Relay for Life will kick off at 6 p.m., May 30, at the Lower Shore Family YMCA with the presentation of the colors by the Pocomoke High School MCROTC color guard and the singing of the national anthem by Jennie Ronne, the choral teacher at PHS.

After the invocation by Pocomoke Mayor Michael A. McDermott, Dr. Elizabeth Burke will speak on the subject of cancer. Burke is a dermatologist, practicing out of Salisbury.
Following a roll call, the survivors will be honored by being asked to walk the first lap. They will be followed by the caregivers and finally the team captains. Treated to a reception, the survivors have a special place that evening. They are the people who have faced cancer firsthand. Any survivor who is not registered can do so the night of the relay.
After the special laps everyone will begin to walk, an activity that will continue until 6 the following morning. Laps will have special names such as the Patriotic Lap, the Kids Lap, Breast Cancer Awareness, Life Savers and a number of others.
Also during the evening the walkers and others attending will be entertained by a number of groups. Divided Highway, a band playing local oldies with Jack Burton, will lead off. Caruso will play contemporary Christian music followed by a group of singers led by Brandy Trader. Another presentation will be by soloist Frank Henry. Two men who are well known to relay participants, Jerry Barbierri and Mike Shannon, will serve as DJs later in the evening.
A special event, the Ceremony of Hope, will be held at 9 p.m. with the lighting of luminaries. Each of the lighted bags has a special meaning to the donor. Some will celebrate the life of a survivor who has battled cancer while others are lighted in memory of a loved one who has lost the battle.
In addition to the entertainment there will be a number of activities including a frozen t-shirt contest, a scavenger hunt, a recycled runway contest and a free sing karaoke.
The evening -- by that point, the morning -- climaxes with a celebration lap, closing ceremonies including announcements of top fundraisers and teams, and finally a church service led by Jamar Jackson.
During the eight years that the relay was held in Pocomoke City, between $300,000 and $400,000 was collected to advance the fight against cancer. The teams more than doubled the $15,000 goal in the first year and built on that amount during the subsequent years.
In the 25 years after Dr. Gordy Kiatt first ran on a track in Tacoma, Wash. to make a statement about cancer awareness, the Relay movement has grown to include more that 3.5 million people around the world.
There is still time for anyone who wishes to get involved with the relay. Call Jennifer Holland at 410-957-4898 or Jo Ella Brittingham at 410-957-3512.

Discovery Center offers new art class

POCOMOKE CITY -- The Discovery Center is offering an open art studio class time, with weekly sessions beginning June 11. Bring your watercolor painting in progress or start a new project in a relaxed open studio format, from 9 to 11:45 a.m. Paint, meet other artists, learn something new and build an art portfolio. An artist-instructor will be on hand to provide technical advice, support and critical feedback through informal individual and group critiques. Sessions will begin with a short demo or art lesson designed to enhance the knowledge of the watercolorist. Sign up by the month for $40 or pay $15 per single session.

Raffle and reception support award effort for all American City

POCOMOKE CITY -- Having been named one of the 30 finalists in the All-America Cities competition, Pocomoke City will send a group of leaders and citizens to Tampa, Fla. in June to compete for one of the winning slots.

To finance the trip, the group is planning a fundraising raffle. A 46-inch flat-screen television will be given away at the Great Pocomoke Fair on Aug. 22. Tickets for a chance to win the set are $10 each or three for $20 and are available at Pocomoke's City Hall or the Pocomoke Chamber of Commerce.
A reception will be held on Friday, May 29, at the Mar-Va Theater from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. There will be hors d'oeuvres, musical entertainment and a cash bar. Donations toward the project will be welcome.
Pocomoke City was selected as a finalist from among the 5,000 applicants for progress in the following areas: construction of the new fire house, improvements to the MarVa Theater, improvements to the Sturgis One Room School Museum, and the youth projects sponsored by the Pocomoke City Police Department.

UAW says it has reached deal with GM, government

Erm, This confirms everything I have thought about the unions. Why should a private business have to bow down to the government and the knee breaking UAW? This is the epitome of nanny government central control.

DETROIT (AP) — The United Auto Workers union has reached a tentative deal with the government and General Motors Corp. that would cut labor costs and change the way a union-run trust for retiree health care is funded.

The union announced the deal in a short statement issued Thursday that gave no details, which were withheld pending meetings with members to explain the terms.
The move is a key step toward GM's efforts to restructure outside of bankruptcy court. The company, which has received $15.4 billion in federal loans, faces a June 1 government-imposed deadline to restructure or be forced into bankruptcy protection.
A big hurdle remains. GM needs bondholders who hold $27 billion in unsecured debt to forgive what they're owed for an equity stake in the company. Analysts have said it is nearly impossible that the required 90 percent of bondholders will agree to the offer.
Union members still have to vote on their deal, according to the UAW's statement. It makes no mention of factory closures or production of vehicles outside the U.S., items that the union has protested in Detroit and Washington as the deadline approaches.
GM plans to close 16 more factories, costing 21,000 hourly workers their jobs, as it tries to cut labor costs and shrink its manufacturing footprint to match lower demand for its products.
The Treasury Department, which has been overseeing GM's restructuring efforts, had no immediate comment. A message was left for a GM spokeswoman.
GM has about 61,000 hourly workers in the U.S. but plans to take that number down to 40,000 by 2010.
The Treasury Department's auto task force had pushed for the union to take GM stock in exchange for 50 percent of the $20 billion the company must pay into the trust, called a voluntary employees beneficiary association.
UAW officials have said the union's agreement with Chrysler reached last month will serve as a template for any deal with GM, but some differences had to be worked out.
At Chrysler, the UAW agreed to take 55 percent of the company's stock in exchange for roughly $6 billion of the $10.6 billion that Chrysler owes the retiree health care trust.

GM has said it is negotiating to give the UAW about 39 percent of its stock in exchange for roughly half the $20 billion it owes to the trust. Half the stock would go to the government, with 10 percent going to bondholders in exchange for wiping out $27 billion in GM debt. The remaining 1 percent would go to current shareholders.
Bondholders have resisted the 10 percent offer, saying they're getting too little for the amount of money they are owed. The offer expires Tuesday but could be extended.
A spokesman for a committee of GM's bondholders had no immediate comment on the union agreement.
If its bond exchange offer goes through, GM plans to issue 62 billion new shares and then do a 1-for-100 reverse stock split. The whole deal would severely cut the value of GM's existing shares.
Also under the Chrysler deal, workers will no longer get most of their pay if they are laid off and placed in the controversial "jobs bank." Instead, they will get a smaller amount of pay from the company to supplement state unemployment benefits. Cost-of-living pay raises also were suspended through 2011, and a provision was added for binding arbitration on a new contract through 2015.
The union also agreed to consolidate nonskilled labor job classifications into a team concept at all factories. Performance and Christmas bonuses will be suspended this year and next to help pay health care costs.
Ford Motor Co., which is not receiving government support, agreed in February to a revised contract with fewer concessions than the Chrysler deal. But the company has said it does not want to be at a disadvantage to its Detroit competitors, so it may eventually reopen negotiations with the union.
GM shares rose 15 cents or 10.3 percent, to $1.60 in afternoon trading.

Ten things that Christian Conservatives and Ron Paul Libertarians Can Agree On!

Help me out folks. I have discovered the following three political realities:1. There are a ton of Christian Conservatives who are no longer happy with the Republican Party and are not actively participating.2. There are a ton of Libertarian Conservatives who are no longer happy with the Republican Party and not actively participating.3. In the meantime, Democrats are registering more Democrats and taking our country faster and faster toward Socialism.My question is simple. Christians and Libertarians have far more in common than they either group has with the current Democrat Party.Can all of you brainstorm with me to come up with 10 practical objectives that Christian Conservatives and Ron Paul type Libertarians can agree on?

I'll start.#1 - Eliminate the I.R.S. by implementing a flat-tax, national sales tax, fair-tax, etc.

Wicomico Board of ed and daily times attempt to scam tax payers

Wicomico Board of Ed and Daily Times Attempt to Scam the Taxpayers … AGAIN
May 21, 2009 by Cato Filed under Education, Fiscal Policy, Maryland, Media, Wicomico Politics
Never fear. The government is here to help you. In today’s case, it is the good folk at the Wicomico Board of Education (WCBOE) who are colluding with our own local version of Pravda to pick the pocket of the average, hard working citizen of Wicomico County.
The folks over at the WCBOE are going to scrimp and save to help fix a problem of their own making - a $2 million shortfall in the county budget which the board and Supt. John Fredericksen exacerbated by fighting the county’s request of a waiver of the state momentum of effort (MOE) rules. The Daily Times wants us to somehow believe that the WCBOE are the champions of our children.
It’s interesting. Just last week the WCBOE voted to increase the taxpayer paid portion of retiree healthcare benefits from 55% to 70%. Only board president Robin Holloway dissented. Yet, the $357,000 of taxpayer money to be spent on yet another juicy benefit for government workers and retirees would amount to almost 18% of the $2 million budget hole. The county’s budget will have been adopted before the public even gets a chance to find out whether Wicomico County teachers and staff will receive a pay increase next year, and how much.Where does Fredericksen plan on realizing savings? By deferring needed maintenance on school buildings, reducing school supplies and cutting school programs the WCBOE proves two things:
Public education in Wicomico County is about a lot of things, but it ISN’T For The Children
Public education in Wicomico County IS about keeping the board’s four employee unions happy.
I’m sure that Fredericksen and company will argue that we have to remain competetive in order to attract and retain teachers. Maybe. However, in a down economy this argument is specious to the point of being laughable. A few miles north, in Delaware, school district after school district has announced PAY CUTS, EMPLOYEE FURLOUGHS, and even EMPLOYEE LAYOFFS. In neighboring and nearby states, teachers are paid less than what teachers earn here, yet we are told that our teachers and staff are grossly underpaid. The wage inflation spiral caused by this sad argument has finally caught up to us in tough economic times. It may actually come down to an ambulance not reaching its destination in time to save a life so that artificially high wages can be maintained at the WCBOE.
I know. Supt. Fredericksen and his faithful acolytes will claim that this argument is ridiculous. Really? I recall a conversation with some members of the Salisbury Career Firefighters a couple of years ago where they shared some comparative salary data with a group of ordinary citizens who were (and still are) fighting to get these people well deserved pay increases. Firefighters in Ocean City are paid 40%+ more than their counterparts in Salisbury. Yet, Salisbury is still able to hire personnel. Sure, their retention rate could be higher, but that is a consequence that must be endured until Salisbury can find the money to pay its public safety personnel better. Additionally, the good men and women at the SFD aren’t staging “work actions” like the teachers in Delmar, DE who are upset at a small pay cut.
Back to the Daily Worker on the Wicomico. Reading today’s piece we are to believe that Fredericken and company are heroes. However, we need to remember that this coverage is literally in a vacuum. Where was reporter Candice Evans last week when a majority of the WCBOE essentially gave county taxpayers the finger? She sure wasn’t at the board of ed meeting.
While we have all read about the problems between the Worcester Board of Ed and Worcester’s County Commissioners, the Daily Times has been mute about the WCBOE. While we have read coverage of the Indian River school district and pay raises for their teachers we get fluff, if anything, about the WCBOE. Did any of you read about the retiree healthcare windfall in Wicomico? Now I know that Daily Times managing editor Erick Sahler SWEARS that coverage, or lack thereof, of the WCBOE has NOTHING to do with the fact that his wife is the board’s public information officer. I’m just getting a tad skeptical.
Unfortunately, I consider myself a rational human being. I believe that coincidence is rare. Given the fair amount of coverage given to neighboring boards of ed, particularly in the past few months, I am more than skeptical about the Daily Times‘ relationship with our local school board. I’m reminded of piece I wrote almost two years ago where I criticized Sahler and his boss for continually failing to disclose their relationships to people or entities that they cover (at the time Executive Editor Greg Bassett’s wife was Communications Director for then-Rep. Wayne Gilchrest). Sahler’s response was essentially that if he had disclose his relationship with his wife he would also have to disclose that Op-Ed editor Susan Parker is in the symphony everytime the paper mentioned a concert. Sophistry at its worst.
We need fair, balanced, coverage of our county’s third largest employer. Instead, we receive none … or the lopsided pablum we enjoyed under the Barrie Tilghman administration (and seem to keep getting under the reign of the pretenders - Barrie Comegys and Princess Louise).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Somerset racial disparities eyed

Hmmmmm? It's evident that the NAACP has not looked at the breadwinner jobs at UMES. Hey NAACP! how about adding 51% white staff to UMES?

PRINCESS ANNE -- Civil rights leaders, labeling Somerset County "the most out of step" jurisdiction in Maryland and perhaps the nation when hiring or appointing blacks, are campaigning to reverse what they call a historical practice of passing over minority applicants.

On Tuesday, officials for the Somerset County NAACP Branch and the ACLU of Maryland jointly invited Somerset leaders to discuss reforms for "racial disparities" in a work force of about 243 employees of which about 13.5 percent are African-Americans.
At a noon news conference at St. James United Methodist Church in Westover, members of the two civil rights groups publicly invited Somerset officials to a June 11 forum to begin an open dialog on disparity in county hiring practices, citing the county's 42 percent African-American population -- the highest black population percentage of any Eastern Shore county with among the lowest number of black workers.
Sam Boston, Somerset County administrator, said he received the report Tuesday morning and had not had time to read it in its entirety. Although, he said, he sees no disparity in the county's hiring practices in recent years. Boston said he is willing to meet with the groups, and added that "I think County Commissioners are open to meet with them."
A spokeswoman at Somerset Human Resources said that Boston's office on Tuesday had requested employment numbers in order to review the situation.
Civil rights members also discussed representation of African-Americans in Somerset County government later Tuesday on National Public Radio's WEAA, 88.9-FM in Baltimore, said talk show host Marc Steiner, who said the issue has gained attention outside the local jurisdiction.
"It is my vision to bring all parties together in a town talk," Steiner said Tuesday from Baltimore, adding Somerset commissioners declined an invitation to join the broadcast because of a schedule conflict.
The civil rights groups delivered a report to County Commissioners detailing county demographics and racial diversity in employment they said show "deeply disturbing disparities" that also are evident at the Somerset Board of Education.

"This is an important day for the ACLU and the NAACP," said Meredith Curtis, an ACLU spokeswoman. "Somerset County is out of step with other counties in Maryland; we would like to see reforms enacted and start a process, put a plan in place, that would see that diversity is valued."
American Civil Liberties Union Legal Director Debbie Jeon said the group's attempt to mend racial injustices in Somerset "goes back decades."
"It is deeply troubling to see the disparity today," she said, mocking the Somerset County motto, "Semper Eadem," which in Latin means "Always the Same."
"With the nation's first African-American president, it's striking how little has changed in Somerset County," she said. "There is a 42 percent African-American population, the highest on the Eastern Shore.
Kirk Hall, president of the Somerset NAACP Branch, said racial disparity also spills into other segments of county leadership and authority. Specifically, Hall pointed to the county Democrat Central Committee, which overlooked community activist and NAACP former president Ken Ballard and Clarence Bell, a businessman with expertise in law enforcement, for consideration as an appointee to the board of County Commissioners. The Democratic Central Committee forwarded two other names to Gov. Martin O'Malley, who will made a selection for the vacant position.
Hall said the commission appointment mirrored the county's past.
"No African-Americans have been elected or appointed to a top county office in the county's history," he said, adding that of the blacks hired, few have professional roles.
Now is the time, Hall said, to "expose the great racial disparity in the great Somerset County."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Oil Changes: How Often?

Do you really need to change your oil every 3 months/3000 miles?

I have been in the auto repair industry since 1972 ... hummmm, a simple calculation of the math illustrates that I have been in car repair for, uh, well, let's not go there. It makes me depressed. You do the math and keep it to yourself. At any rate, enough about my mid life crisis. Let's talk about oil change intervals.
For years the accepted oil change interval (as per the carmakers) has been every 3 months or 3 thousand miles, whichever comes first. Why? Because the oils of yesterday degraded and broke down when left in the crankcase environment for longer than the prescribed interval. The combination of heat, friction, and the oil oxidizing over time resulted in an unholy clothing of the engine's internal parts called sludge. As an automotive machinist for a good part of my career, I can tell you that sludge is an engine killer. Sludge takes a greasy, cake-like oily form and plugs oil return passages and acts like a sponge and soaks up good oil to grow its grotesque form starving the engine of vital lubricants. Once established, engine heat crystallizes it to a hardened rock of ughhhhhh, I have spent many an hour scraping and yes, sometimes chiseling established sludge from the inside of an engine before performing a machining operation on it! As the machinist prepares to perform a machine operation on a cylinder head, crankshaft, engine block or the likes he/she must clean their work meticulously before performing the prescribed operation. If the sludge is not cleaned properly, the result will be a failed engine.
Why this lesson about sludge? Because without clean good quality oil in your car's engine, it will develop sludge and cause premature engine failure.
Now more than ever before, vehicle engines operate at high heat and close tolerances. The reason for this is the Federal Emissions mandates the government has imposed on the carmakers. Vehicles have to emit a smidgeon of the tailpipe emissions they did a decade ago. Carmakers have risen to this occasion by increasing combustion chamber temps with higher compression engines, running leaner fuel systems, adjusting ignition timing for optimum emissions, narrowing cooling system water jackets, and tightening engine oil tolerances. All this makes for hotter running engines that emit less tailpipe emissions. Putting these demands on engines requires a lubricant that can stand up to this harsh environment. Hence, petroleum companies' work hand in hand with carmakers to develop engine lubricants to meet the requirements and demands of a particular powerplant, still delivering the advertised horsepower and torque output that consumers expect. Research and development between carmakers and petroleum companies has resulted in improved engine lubricants that properly lubricate your vehicle's engine as well as keep the inside clean of sludge buildup, AND CAN GO LONGER BETWEEN OIL CHANGES!
A pioneer in extending oil change intervals ...
A few years back, GM introduced a system called the OLM (Oil Life Monitor) system. This system had been in testing since 1984 and actually was put into some Buicks on a test basis. The goal of this system? To extend oil change intervals and attain bragging rights to having a more maintenance-free vehicle. The OLM monitors crankcase temp, moisture, and combustion chamber events (this represents the actual work the engine is doing while in operation). By closely monitoring these elements of engine operation the system can measure the serviceable life of the oil to within 10%. After officially introducing the OLM with virtually no engine failures attributed it the OLM, GM changes their service recommendations to what they called an "Enhanced Maintenance Schedule." With the Enhanced Schedule, the motorist need only follow the dictates of the OLM and have other scheduled services done at prescribed intervals.
Ford Motor Company has followed GM into the extended oil change interval march. In March 2007, Ford announced that they are revising engine oil change intervals to every 7500 miles. The reason? Quoting the article from the Associated Press dated March 22nd, 2007:
"Not only are modern oils better, modern engines are also better. You don't have carburetors metering poorly on winter mornings, tolerances are a lot tighter, and operating temperatures are typically a little hotter, helping to cook off the junk that accumulates in the oil. Ford contends that its customers prefer a set amount of miles between changes. The automaker also cites the environmental benefits that come from less waste oil, monetary savings, as well as extensive tests as positive aspects of the new recommendation."
Yes oil is much better than it used to be, engines are better protected with today's new lubricants but the same old logic still applies to the oil filter: always use a good quality filter when having the engine oil changed. The filter is the storehouse for dirt in the engine and when it doesn't do its job, the engine suffers internally. When dirt and grit are allowed to circulate over, within and on the engine bearing surfaces, cylinder walls, crankshafts, piston rings, camshafts and virtually all metal mating surfaces, they are damaged resulting in wider oil tolerances, lowered oil pressure and ultimately premature engine failure.
While I concur with R&D results over the years with respect to oil change intervals, I am still squeamish about leaving petroleum-based oil in an engine for 7500 miles. I guess I just know too much based on personal experience.
So while yes, I have revised my thinking regarding extending oil change intervals:
Here are my revised oil change recommendations: change regular petroleum based oils every 4-5 thousand miles and synthetic every 5-7 thousand miles.
There, those of you that for years have criticized me as being in the back pocket of petroleum companies for recommending 3 thousand mile oil changes, are you happy now?
'Til next time ... Keep Rollin'