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|Good Monday Morning, |
Just in case there is no Monday (read: if the electricity goes out here in the Free State and we're the last to get turned on again which is the way it works out here,) I'm putting Monday's Edition out this evening.
I hope you all enjoyed whatever holiday it was you were celebrating this weekend. Thanks to PB, SCH, BV, PN, MS and others mine was pretty sweet. There were two dinners on Xmas day, one planned and the second a surprise! At the second however, I was compelled to accompany, on a borrowed guitar, a cellist and a singer in order to get the gelato/caramel pie for dessert.
Thanks also go out to a *new* supporter here at News That Matters and remember, if you've got that spirit and you're reading... Please Click Here.
We're enduring our first big storm of the season and all the standard rules apply:
Collected from the 'net:
"I've eaten pretty much every cookie anyone else has ever made for me, and I'm still here."
"No, the trees spill their seeds upon the ground. It's sort of a coniferous Onanism."
"Wikipedia seems to agree with me. Maybe I should be worried about that."
"I was visited by three ghosts this Christmas. They were all family members, and technically they were all still alive. I just find it comforting to imagine that they are already deceased." - Sedated Ape
What to do on a snowy day?
The national Film Preservation Board of the library of Congress has a collection of websites around the world where historically important films are maintained, most free for the viewing. Look, it's beats the TV. Go here.
Google has released a new dataset where you can compare up to 5 words from literature, one against the other, to see how often they were used over time. That link is here. For example, when comparing "aren't" and "ain't" we find that for some reason the latter spiked in use in the early 1940's. Why? You'll have to figure that one out for yourself.
Consolidating the vast amount of 'Strange Stuff' out there into 1 easy to use place. Haunted buildings, places, Urban legends, cemeteries, weird places, cool places, ghost towns, and anything else that is worth your time to visit. Visit Strangeusa.com It's fun, try it out!
Discover how far you can travel on land from a fixed point. Specify the start point, then input either how far you can go or your mode of transport with time available. This tool will then show you the range of locations that you can reach in that time. Visit How Far Can I Travel to find out.
While you're looking out the window at the snow, consider mind-traveling to St. Petersburg... Russia. Peter Sobolev says, "I am a great fan of digital photography. I have been taking pictures of St.Petersburg since 1997. Now this site contains about 500 albums with thousands of pictures of St.Petersburg [sic] historic center, its vicinities, suburbs etc. Much more than a typical tourist would be able to see. I kindly invite you to explore my collection of photos." See those here and really, it's quite amazing.
If you've got that spirit and you're reading this without supporting it... Please Click Here.
And now, The News:
By Brian J. Howard for the NY Journal News
PEEKSKILL — State officials say the city's downtown Business Improvement District does not properly safeguard cash, has no written agreement with the city, receives inadequate oversight and has no procedures for administering grants.
Delaware River Basin Commission Proposes Rules to Protect River from Impacts of Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling
|"When she finally got into the house, it was empty. All of her possessions were gone: furniture, her son’s ski medals, winter clothes and family photos. Also missing was a wooden box, its top inscribed with the words “Together Forever,” that contained the ashes of her late husband, Robert."|
The culprit, Ms. Ash soon learned, was not a burglar but her bank. According to a federal lawsuit filed in October by Ms. Ash, Bank of America had wrongfully foreclosed on her house and thrown out her belongings, without alerting Ms. Ash beforehand.
In an era when millions of homes have received foreclosure notices nationwide, lawsuits detailing bank break-ins like the one at Ms. Ash’s house keep surfacing. And in the wake of the scandal involving shoddy, sometimes illegal paperwork that has buffeted the nation’s biggest banks in recent months, critics say these situations reinforce their claims that the foreclosure process is fundamentally flawed.
“Every day, smaller wrongs happen to people trying to save their homes: being charged the wrong amount of money, being wrongly denied a loan modification, being asked to hand over documents four or five times,” said Ira Rheingold, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates.
Identifying the number of homeowners who were locked out illegally is difficult. But banks and their representatives insist that situations like Ms. Ash’s represent just a tiny percentage of foreclosures.
Nine years after the terrorist attacks of 2001, the United States is assembling a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans, using the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators.
The system, by far the largest and most technologically sophisticated in the nation's history, collects, stores and analyzes information about thousands of U.S. citizens and residents, many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing.
The government's goal is to have every state and local law enforcement agency in the country feed information to Washington to buttress the work of the FBI, which is in charge of terrorism investigations in the United States.
Other democracies - Britain and Israel, to name two - are well acquainted with such domestic security measures. But for the United States, the sum of these new activities represents a new level of governmental scrutiny.
This localized intelligence apparatus is part of a larger Top Secret America created since the attacks. In July, The Washington Post described an alternative geography of the United States, one that has grown so large, unwieldy and secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs or how many programs exist within it.
Today's story, along with related material on The Post's Web site, examines how Top Secret America plays out at the local level. It describes a web of 4,058 federal, state and local organizations, each with its own counterterrorism responsibilities and jurisdictions. At least 935 of these organizations have been created since the 2001 attacks or became involved in counterterrorism for the first time after 9/11.
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