News Hugs

January 31, 2008

The Texas X-Files

Filed under: entertainment — Tags: , , , , — newshugs @ 3:25 pm

i-want-to-believe.jpg“I know how this sounds…”

That’s what about 40 people in the conservative West Texas town of Stephenville said on January 8 as they described seeing an object as big as a Wal-Mart (maybe it was Wal-Mart trying out sky domination), ripping across the sky as two jet fighters hopelessly pursued it.

The jet fighters at first denied pursuing any such thing, then about a week later the jet fighter guys said, yeah, maybe they were flying around in formation. Maybe there were about 10 of them.

The media had fun with it all, as it does with every UFO story, and the local students began selling alien t-shirts, according to the local paper, the Empire Tribune.

If you look further back in that newspaper’s archives, residents there have been seeing mysterious lights for a few days leading up to the flying Wal-Mart. Now people are wondering what’s the truth.

Well, The Truth is out There.

Which reminds me that X-Files, the popular 90s TV show about alien chasers Fox Muldor and Dana Scully, is due out in movie form this July. I’m counting down the days.

The movie, directed and co-written by Chris Carter, is still untitled. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are in it–it wouldn’t work without them.

What’s up with Stephenville since all of the alien and media attention? It’s still in the spotlight. Japan and Brazilian news crews are coming to town.


If anyone in the world hasn’t heard of Stephenville, Texas, it could only be for one reason – they’re not listening.

Stephenville continues to capture national and international attention with news crews coming from all over the world. Last weekend, a Brazilian news crew came, while another is expected to come from Japan.

The UFO sighting on Jan. 8, by Steve Allen and friends, traveled around the world in about 14 hours after it hit the Associated Press.

Allen’s courage in coming forward with his story prompted many others to do the same.

People like James Fox, a documentary film producer, are encouraging individuals to write to their congressmen and representatives to demand congressional hearings on the subject of unidentified flying objects.

The Air Force stopped investigating UFOs in 1969 and the last congressional hearings on UFOs were in the late 1960s — more than 40 years ago.

Allen said he is still receiving phone calls and photos along with video from many sources.

Meanwhile, the latest tip Allen has received, and planned to check out on Saturday in his Cessna airplane, was activity at a military installation base between Walnut Springs and Meridian.

“I’m told the base was supposed to have closed several years ago,” Allen said. “But, recently, activity has been seen there in the way of Hummers and helicopters.”

Allen is speculating that perhaps the old base has reopened following publicity on recent UFO sightings, not just in the Stephenville area, but around the world.

Allen said he was told the Japanese are working to build a consortium of countries that will compare notes on UFOs.

Allen said a retired military man that worked at this particular installation contacted him and said the crews there used to set up “a mock up of the F-16 jet on a pedestal so that it could be tested to see if radar would pick it up.”

Allen said the base was a 3,000-acre secret facility, which includes a concrete runway and employed lots of military people.

“I’m just going to do a fly over and see what I can see,” Allen said. “I’m told that if you Google for an aerial view it comes out as a blur, but I haven’t had time to check that out myself.”

Allen also said the anonymous picture donor (see Friday’s E-T for the photo of the red object) from the Glen Rose area, came to his office on Friday, to view the David Caron video shown on Channel 11 and 8 TV news.

“They said, ‘That is exactly what we saw,’ ” Allen said. “As a matter of fact, the lady really got on to her husband for not thinking to get a video instead of a still photo.”

Andre Tal, correspondent for RECORD TV-EUA in Brazil, said his editor sent him from New York to check out the UFO sightings in Texas because “they are so spectacular.”

“We came special for what is happening here,” Tal said. “Now, we will relate it back to what is happening in the San Paulo State of Brazil.”

Tal then pulled up his station’s news reports on a computer at Allen’s office. He translated the Portuguese broadcast as it occurred.

” At 4 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 20, a noise thought to be wind, woke up a worker on a sugar cane plantation,” Tal said. “It was in Rio Landia.”

Tal said a lot of people including the owner of the sugar cane farm saw an object hovering over the field. He said it was a large object with dim yellow-orange lights and it appeared for just a few minutes.

Tal said the worker interviewed by his station exclaimed that it was hard to believe what he was seeing was “real and not a dream.” He said another witness said the object was loud, “like a train.”

Allen said this was a contradiction in what he had seen because there was “no noise at all and the lights were bright.”

Tal said his countrymen are skeptical but the country as a whole is talking about this particular sighting. He said his government has not made any statements regarding the incident.

“This was a very frightening experience for those that saw it,” Tal said. “And, it is believed the object touched down because an area of the sugar cane was flattened.”

Tal said anyone interested in viewing the broadcast, that will be watched by 20 million people in Brazil, on those interviewed in the Erath County area, should go to and click on Domingo Espectacular and choose a box labeled Sunday. From there he said to search for OVNI or UFO. He wasn’t sure under which label it would be listed.


January 30, 2008

James Frey’s Bright Shiny Morning

Filed under: books — Tags: , , , — newshugs @ 3:46 pm

frey-bright-shiny-morn.jpg James Frey, shamed by Oprah for making up parts of his memoir, A Million Little Pieces, has another book coming out June 3: Bright Shiny Morning. I can’t wait.

Thankfully, it’s a work of fiction, so he can write whatever he pleases.

I loved A Million Little Pieces, a story of hope and redemption. His writing style is unique – short sentences and run-ons and little punctuation.

Oprah liked it, too, before she found out Frey exaggerated a bit. Frankly, I don’t read any memoir with the expectations that it’s the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The memory is a faulty and subjective thing. 

Frey may have taken too many liberties in dramatizing the memoir but it is an account of a liar, so it is fitting. His follow up, My Friend Leonard, is charming and funny. Ah, sweet Leonard.

I have high hopes for Bright Shiny Morning.

If his recent blog –Fun Facts Los Angeles– is any clue, it looks like the book will dwell in the eccentricities of LA.

January 29, 2008

Biz Kids

Filed under: financial literacy — Tags: , , , , — newshugs @ 9:40 pm

money-tree.jpgFrom the producers of Bill Nye the Science Guy, a new show on PBS  teaches kids financial literacy. Yes! Love this. Big hug.

With episode titles that include “What is Money,” and “How to Achieve Your Financial Goals,” Biz Kid$ aims to prepare children with the skills they will need to live successfully on their own when they become adults.

Biz Kid$ will air on all High Definition (HD) Channel PBS stations (approximately 100) on Sundays at 5 p.m. beginning on Jan. 27, 2008. This means all PBS stations that have HD channels will air Biz Kid$ at the same designated day and time slot across America.

Biz Kid$ is a half-hour television program on financial literacy distributed nationwide to elementary and middle school students. It is produced by the former producers of the Emmy-winning “Bill Nye the Science Guy” PBS television program.

Biz Kid$ is already airing in the United Kingdom and Ireland on a national business channel.
Reaching a nationalaudience, 81 percent of all PBS television stations across the country have committed to broadcast the 26-episode series, which is exclusively underwritten by credit unions nationwide. More are expected to commit by February.

Episodes include:

What Is a Biz Kid?
What Is Money?
How Do You Get Money?
What Can You Do With Money?
Money Moves
Taking Charge of Your Financial Future
A Biz: What Is It?
How to Succeed in Biz-Ness by Really Trying!
Cash and Credit
How to Achieve Your Financial Goals
Don’t Blow Your Dough
Introducing Entrepreneurs
The Biz Kids Challenge
How to Be a Smart Consumer
Using Your Credit-Crazy or Compelling?
Budgeting Basics
Understanding Business Ethics
A Closer Look at Careers
The Global Economy
Bulls, Bears, and Financial Markets
Sell, Sell, Sell (The Science of Sales)
Understanding Income and Expenses
Building and Growing a Business
Understanding Your Paycheck
Social Entrepreneurs

Funding for the production of Biz Kid$ has been provided solely by credit union organizations including $250,000 from The Richard Myles Johnson (RMJ) Foundation, the state foundation for credit unions in California and Nevada.

The Richard Myles Johnson Foundation, established in 1958, is dedicated to providing community service grants to support credit union efforts in spreading the financial literacy message to young people. The Foundation also provides scholarships for credit union volunteers and staff to attend seminars and conferences to further their educational and professional development. It is funded through donations from credit unions, League chapters, corporations providing credit union services, and individuals. More information is available at

Don’t Spend Your Tax Rebate

Filed under: Economics — Tags: , — newshugs @ 6:25 pm

img_0980.jpgSave it.

Does it seem odd to anyone that we’re getting money back so that we can spend it and boost the economy? What kind of economy is that?

Spend a little if you must, but why not pay off a debt or put it in a high interest savings account?

It’s all just fake wealth and the bubble’s gonna burst. (a rather dark and frightening economic story. not exactly a news hug).

Obama Moves Journalists

Filed under: election — Tags: , , , — newshugs @ 4:28 am

iowan-obama-snowman.jpg“If you‘re actually in a room with Barack Obama and you don’t cry when he gives one of those speeches, you’re not an American. It’s unbelievable.”

Team Obama Is Courting Everybody But the Presschange-we-can.jpg

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 28, 2008; C01

GREENVILLE, S.C. — When reporters filed onto Barack Obama‘s press plane after his acrimonious debate with Hillary Rodham Clinton last week, one thing was noticeably missing amid the wine and snacks on the Boeing 737.

There was no high-level campaign spinner to argue that Obama had gotten the better of the exchanges or that the verbal fisticuffs were part of some precisely calculated strategy. On the press bus the next day, mid-level aides dealt with travel logistics but made no attempt to shape the coverage.

In an age of all-out political warfare, the Obama campaign is a bit of an odd duck: It is not obsessed with winning each news cycle. The Illinois senator remains a remote figure to those covering him, and his team, while competent and professional, makes only spotty attempts to drive its preferred story lines in the press.

“There is no charm offensive from the candidate toward the press corps,” says Newsweek correspondent Richard Wolffe. “The contact is limited. . . . They see the national media more as a logistical problem than a channel for getting stuff out.”

As Obama’s blowout victory in Saturday’s South Carolina primary shows, an aloof attitude toward the media may not be a liability for a candidate with his oratorical gifts. Even the pundits’ attempts to minimize his win by focusing on Obama’s capturing a quarter of the white vote — no small achievement in a three-way contest — came after a week in which journalists talked about race far more than he did. But the contrast in his press strategy is striking, not just with Clinton’s campaign — which aggressively lobbies journalists around the clock — but also with the Bush White House and the Clinton White House before that. And that, Obama aides say, is by design.

The Clinton camp, says David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist, “is hyperbolic about it. What we don’t do is spend six hours a day trying to persuade you guys that red is green or up is down. . . . Their own spin was ‘We are the biggest, baddest street gang on the block.’

“We can’t be pacifists and cede the battlefield,” Axelrod says, but “what’s powering this campaign is a rejection of tactical politics.”

“That’s the best spin I’ve heard all day,” replies Clinton communications chief Howard Wolfson, inviting Axelrod to “send over some leather jackets.” “My sense is the Obama campaign spends eight hours a day spinning.” Clinton, for her part, abandoned her inaccessible approach after losing Iowa, scheduling far more time each day for interviews and press conferences. “She felt it was the best way to talk to the American people,” Wolfson says.

The no-spin zone is part of the Obama campaign’s identity, with the candidate stealing a phrase from John McCain in telling crowds he wants “a politics that’s not based on PR and spin but is based on straight talk.”

To be sure, the Obama camp stepped up efforts last week to challenge what it calls distortions of his record by Bill Clinton, perhaps the biggest media magnet ever to assume the role of presidential campaign surrogate. And some Obama strategists have been known to complain loudly when they think a story is unfair. But ever since Obama was embarrassed by a staff memo that assailed Hillary Clinton as the senator from “Punjab” (over her contributions from Indian Americans), he has ordered his team to steer clear of pejorative attacks not based on public actions.

All traveling campaigns have a bubble-like quality, but Obama seems unusually insulated. One moment of absurdity came Tuesday, when reporters on the press bus were asked to dial into a conference call in which Obama announced a congressman’s endorsement — even though the candidate was nearby and just as easily could have delivered the news in person to the bus captives. Obama answered a few questions, but reporters are generally placed on mute after they speak so there can be no follow-up. (Clinton held a news conference the same morning.)

That afternoon, as the candidate was working his way through a raucous crowd at Linder University in Greenwood, New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny shouted a question about whether Obama was allowing Bill Clinton to get inside his head.

“Don’t try a cheap stunt like that. You’re better than that,” Obama told him with a smile. He finally suggested that “the other side must be rattled if they’re continually saying false things about us,” before walking away. What creates such awkwardness are long days when reporters have only seconds to bellow a question.

When Obama decided to do a round of interviews on the next day’s morning shows, not only did the campaign fail to notify the traveling correspondents the evening before, but a press aide insisted when asked about the rumor that he knew of no such plans.

Obama often goes days without taking questions from national reporters, and when he does, the sessions can be slapdash affairs. In Nevada, for instance, correspondents were reduced to shouting queries at him during a photo op in the kitchen of the Mirage Hotel. (Yesterday, perhaps in a better mood, he did chat with journalists on his plane, now that his campaign has discontinued use of a second jet to save money.)

Some reporters say Obama seems disdainful toward journalists, having submitted to precisely one off-the-record chat over beer several months ago in Iowa. To them, the absence of a senior official traveling with the press is a sign of benign neglect.

The primary reason, say those who have observed Obama most closely, is that he’s never had to court the press, even in Illinois. Obama rocketed to national prominence with his 2004 Democratic convention speech, had an easy Senate election, and has gotten largely upbeat coverage from the moment he got into the presidential contest. His tactics have sometimes been criticized but not, by and large, his character.

The result: He has never had to learn press relations as a survival skill, not when he can just trot out Oprah Winfrey and ride the resulting wave.

Still, covering Obama has its compensations, largely because the man puts on a heck of a show. He draws big, noisy, mostly younger crowds that foster the impression he is leading not a campaign but a movement.

In fact, some journalists say they have to guard against getting swept away by the excitement. NBC‘s Lee Cowan was candid about fighting such temptations, saying on the network’s Web site: “I think from the reporter’s point of view, it’s almost hard to remain objective, because it’s infectious energy.” Politico Editor in Chief John Harris said on CNN that when he was a Washington Post editor a couple of years ago, “you would send a reporter out with Obama, and it was like they needed to go through detox when they came back — ‘Oh, he’s so impressive, he’s so charismatic,’ and we’re kind of like, ‘Down, boy.’ “

MSNBC‘s Chris Matthews told Jay Leno: “If you’re actually in a room with Barack Obama and you don’t cry when he gives one of those speeches, you’re not an American. It’s unbelievable.”

One media narrative that seems to be taking root is of Obama as the candidate of lofty rhetoric and Clinton as the maven of pedestrian policy talk. At a rally at Furman University here Tuesday, Obama brought the audience to several peaks, raising his voice over the applause while describing how his days as a community organizer “taught me that ordinary people can do extraordinary things” and how “the dream that so many generations fought for feels like it is slipping away.” read the rest

photos at BarackObamadotcom

January 28, 2008

Cowboy Poetry

Filed under: entertainment — Tags: , , , , — newshugs @ 3:47 pm

cowboy-08.jpg The Cowboy Poets are in Elko, Nevada for their annual meetup, through February 2.Cowboys and poetry are two things you wouldn’t expect to go together. But surprisingly, they do. The poets write about horses, solitude, nature and cowboy culture.

They even write about love:

She was a thing of beauty

As she stood there in the sun

Her eyes were dark an’ dreamy

As she anticipated fun

I hope you don’t think

It’s a lady I’m talkin’ about

‘Cause Juanita was a mule

A rank one, I hope to shout.

Ha! That’s an excerpt from poet, Bill Beam.

Waddie Mitchell and Baxter Black are two of the biggest names in cowboy poetry. It’s a must-see, at least once.  

January 27, 2008

Filed under: environment — Tags: , , — newshugs @ 9:37 pm

oil-film.jpgThe oil crash is coming says Matt Savinar, who’s become somewhat of an expert on the topic. His site doesn’t just scare you, it offers ways to be prepared.

Iraq: The War Card

Filed under: iraq — Tags: — newshugs @ 6:36 pm

The Center for Public Integrity notes how many lies were told to justify the invasion of Iraq

On September 8, 2002, Bush administration officials hit the national airwaves to advance the argument that Iraq had acquired aluminum tubes designed to enrich uranium. In an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, for example, Vice President Dick Cheney flatly stated that Saddam Hussein “now is trying through his illicit procurement network to acquire the equipment he needs to be able to enrich uranium.”

Condoleezza Rice, who was then Bush’s national security adviser, followed Cheney that night on CNN’s Late Edition. In answer to a question from Wolf Blitzer on how close Saddam Hussein’s government was to developing a nuclear capability, Rice said: “We do know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. We do know there have been shipments going into . . . Iraq, for instance, of aluminum tubes that really are only suited to—high-quality aluminum tools that only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs.”

In April 2001, however, the Energy Department had concluded that, “while the gas centrifuge application cannot be ruled out, we assess that the procurement activity more likely supports a different application, such as conventional ordnance production.” During the preparation of the September 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, the Energy Department and the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research stated their belief that Iraq intended to use the tubes in a conventional rocket program, but the Central Intelligence Agency’s contrary view prevailed.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence subsequently concluded that postwar findings supported the assessments of the Energy Department and the Bureau of Intelligence and Research.


There was dissent within the intelligence community in the first 48 hours after 9/11 over the connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda. Richard Clarke, President Bush’s chief counterterrorism adviser, has written that President Bush asked him on September 12 to “see if Saddam did this. See if he is linked in any way. . .” Clarke said that he responded by saying, “Absolutely, we will look . . . again,” and then adding, “But you know, we have looked several times for state sponsorship of al Qaeda and not found any real linkages to Iraq.”

Bono’s Answer to Poverty

Filed under: poverty — Tags: , , , — newshugs @ 6:17 pm

Don’t change your lightbulbs. Change your leaders.”

Bill Gates’ contribution to farmers.

Save the Banana!

Filed under: environment — Tags: , , , — newshugs @ 5:38 am

banana-tree.jpgWe feed our babies mashed up bananas.

When they’re older, we put bananas in their lunch bags, and we, ourselves, eat bananas– in banana splits, as banana bread, banana smoothies, fried or just plain.

Elvis loved his peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

Who doesn’t love bananas?

Now, a new book by Dan Koeppel called, Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World, says we may not have bananas for much longer. A dreaded fungi is taking over. 

The banana that you see at the grocery store might be gone in 10 years. How could this be? Better yet, what’s being done about it? Who’d ever think that the banana would be on the endangered species list along with whales and frogs?

Save the bananas!

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