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The Farsider

January 3
, 2013

 

Bill Mattos, Editor and Publisher <bilmat@comcast.net>
Leroy Pyle, Webmaster <leroypyle@sjpba.net>

 

The Farsider is an independent publication that is not affiliated with the San Jose Police Benevolent
Assn. The SJPBA has allowed the Farsider to be included on its web site solely for the convenience
of the retired San Jose Police community. The content of this newsletter does not represent or reflect
the views of the San Jose Police Benevolent Association's Board of Directors or its membership.




ALICE WAGNER

Pete Graves phoned last night to advise that Alice Wagner passed away last Sunday. She was the secretary to the late Bart Collins, former Chief of Detectives. In 1969 she transferred to City Hall where she became Mayor Ron James' secretary, and eventually worked for Mayor Norm Mineta.

A viewing is scheduled for next Tuesday, Jan. 8, from 6 to 9 p.m. with a rosary taking place at 7:00 p.m. at Lima Family, 466 N. Winchester Blvd. in Santa Clara. The funeral will follow the next day at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9, at the same location. Following the service, a graveside ceremony will be held at the cemetery directly across the street (within walking distance). And after the ceremony, a reception will take place in a hall at the funeral home.

Alice, who was in her 90s, was living locally in an assisted care home. Her husband, Willard, passed away several years ago. The couple had a son and daughter.

Pete added that an obituary with additional information will appear in the Mercury News for three days starting tomorrow.


 

PENSION NEWS
 

For you out-of-towners, the following story made the front page of the Local Section of last Sunday's paper...
 

Fight Over Pension Reform Looms for 2013

—City leaders cite some progress, prepare for battle with unions—

By John Woolfolk <jwoolfolk@mercurynews.com>
Mercury News — Dec. 30, 3012

SAN JOSE — Six months after San Jose voters overwhelmingly approved sweeping pension reforms, city leaders cite some progress on changes to shrink yearly retirement bills devouring funds for services, but the biggest battles still lie ahead for the coming year.

“We’re certainly moving ahead,” said Mayor Chuck Reed, who has staked his legacy on his Measure B pension reforms, which won nearly 70 percent voter approval in June, while acknowledging “there’s a lot of work yet to be done.”

While San Jose leaders try to enact the pension reforms over union lawsuits, they also face blowback as some key, highly trained workers — chiefly police officers and wastewater plant workers — bolt for better paying jobs, worsening staffing shortages.

That exodus has sharpened the cries of critics who had urged Reed to abandon the ballot measure in favor of a negotiated deal with the city’s labor unions and another tax increase. They argue what progress has been made on pension changes — mostly for new hires — is overshadowed by legal bills to defend Measure B. The City Council this month set aside $1.2 million for contract lawyers handling the fight.

“We’re throwing money we desperately need at a political fight that ultimately is going to cost us dearly as a city,” said Councilman Ash Kalra. “I don’t think we can ignore anymore the depletion of city services to desperately low levels and the scary increase in crime in our neighborhoods.”

Despite the dispute over solutions, there’s little argument over the raw numbers that led voters to approve a measure that put San Jose in the vanguard of public employee pension reform, debated nationwide as governments grapple with the growing costs of retirement plans more generous than those in private industry.

San Jose’s employee retirement costs have more than tripled, gobbling funds for staff and services from police protection to libraries and road maintenance, even as city leaders cut pay 10 percent to limit layoffs.

Unions argue the city could have saved more money already by accepting pension concessions they offered.

But Reed said union offers mostly cut pensions for future hires and would not deliver meaningful savings through staff turnover for years. Projected retirement cost increases would meanwhile devour revenue from a proposed tax increase, he said. And Measure B’s new-hire pension cuts went further than what unions offered, making employees pay half the plan’s total cost and affirming the city can make future changes.

Since September, about 50 city employees have been hired under this plan, with later retirement ages, lower benefit formulas and smaller costs, and the city expects to add many more.

But the city is fighting to get a reduced pension plan for new police officers and firefighters, but arbitration rights complicate that effort. The city has asked a judge to compel arbitration. Getting that resolved is a matter of urgency as the city expects to hire dozens of new police officers in coming months to replace a wave of retirements and resignations.

The city also is still working on the new disability retirement limits the measure called for, which officers say go too far.

And the biggest issue — whether San Jose can force current employees to pay more for their pensions unless they choose a cheaper plan for their remaining years on the job — awaits court decisions on union lawsuits arguing such a move would violate their “vested rights.”

Reed called that the “central part of the pension reform provisions,” noting that reducing pay or pensions for current employees is “where the most serious amount of money is.”

The city also has yet to secure federal permission to let current workers choose a cheaper, less-generous pension for their remaining years to avoid the increased pension payments called for in Measure B. Reed has made several trips to Washington, D.C., seeking Internal Revenue Service approval.

On the day the measure was decided in June, city officials filed suit in federal court seeking a declaration that it is allowable under U.S. contract law. City unions filed lawsuits the next day in state Superior Court arguing the measure violates state protections for public worker pensions.

After losing a bid over the summer to suspend the state court lawsuits while the city’s federal case is decided, San Jose officials dropped the federal case. The state lawsuits have been consolidated, and the city plans to pursue its federal claims along with them.

Those cases are expected to be heard early next year before Judge Patricia M. Lucas, a UC Berkeley Law School graduate who practiced complex civil litigation for more than 20 years before joining the bench in 2003. Whatever her decision, appeals are almost certain.

Gregg Adam, a lawyer for the police union, said San Jose is paying lawyers who continue losing similar arguments on vested pension rights in cases around the state, most recently in Redding.

“We’re six months into it, and they haven’t saved a dime,” Adam said. “In the meantime, nothing’s getting done to fix a problem both sides acknowledge is a problem.”

But Reed said he’s “optimistic” about the city’s chances, arguing that Gov. Jerry Brown signed pension reforms this year that also call for current employees to pay more toward their pensions, which “speaks to whether it’s legally defensible, and I think it is.”

And if judges disagree?

“We go back to laying people off,” Reed said, “and cutting pay.”

The following item was included as part of the article above...
 

San Jose's Pension Reform Effort

The problem: San Jose has seen annual employee retirement costs soar, driven by benefit increases, flawed assumptions and market losses — from $73 million a decade ago to $107 million in 2010 and $245 million today, with projections to reach $319 million in a couple of years, almost a quarter of the city’s general fund. That has driven a decade of budget deficits and led the city to cut 2,130 jobs since 2002 — more than half of them in the past three years, including 337 layoffs — shrinking full-time staffing from about 7,500 to 5,400.

Measure B: Mayor Chuck Reed proposed a ballot measure to tackle pension costs in May 2011, and the City Council softened it several times in union talks before approving it for the June ballot. Voters approved it by nearly 70 percent. It cuts new-hire pensions, raises retirement ages, lowers benefit formulas and requires workers to pay half the cost. It makes current workers pay up to 16 percent more for pensions if they don’t accept a reduced plan for their remaining years. It limits disability retirement, eliminates “bonus check” pension payments and lets the city suspend cost-of-living increases to retirees in a fiscal emergency.

The legal battle: California courts have granted some of the nation’s toughest public employee pension protections, entitling government workers to the same or better pension offered their first day on the job. City leaders and their legal advisers say those protections are ripe for review and that San Jose’s charter gives authority to enact changes.

Some changes enacted: San Jose has enacted a reduced pension plan for most new employees and stricken a “bonus check” pension benefit for most retirees.
 

• • • • •


The POA responded to the story above on Dec. 31st with a Membership Alert sent to all members whose e-mail addresses are on file with the association...

If you missed the Sunday Mercury, here is a link to an article written by John Woolfolk about the City's continued drive to implement Measure B. (The link takes you to the story above.) The Mayor is interviewed for the story and makes it clear that layoffs will be his answer if the courts do not allow Measure B to go into effect.  "We go back to laying people off," Reed said, "and cutting pay." He apparently said something similar on the radio this morning.

What a true statesman would have said was: "If Measure B is determined by the courts to be illegal, I will work to enroll officers into the same pension plan I am in: CalPERS." The POA proposed allowing current officers and all new-hires to enroll in CalPERS, which would have saved the City tens of millions of dollars. Reed rejected our offer, and his solution if the courts strike down Measure B is more layoffs and cutting pay.

We do not take Reed's statements lightly. This Mayor and his allies on the Council have shown they will lay off firefighters and police officers. On Dec. 14, 2012, POA V-P John Robb told Alex Gurza, Dep. City Manager and the City's lead labor negotiator, that the City should not use the talk of layoffs as an idle threat. Alex agreed. John went on to say that any mention of layoffs by City leaders would have to be taken seriously by our members. He told Alex to relay this message to the Mayor.

For our most junior officers, we are sorry if this news causes you distress. We strive to keep you informed so that you can make informed decisions that not only affect you, but your family as well. The City's position on this matter demonstrates how unimaginative and closed-minded the city's leaders are. As we learn more, we will pass the information along to you.

Jim Unland
<president@sjpoa.com>
John Robb
<vicepresident@sjpoa.com>


 

THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF SAN JOSE AND THE SJPD

Also for you out-of-towners was this story the paper ran on the front page of the Local Section on the first day of the new year...

Slaying Numbers Rise

—S.J. still deemed safe as few truly random killings take place—

By Robert Salonga <rsalonga@mercurynews.com>
Mercury News — Jan. 1, 2013

SAN JOSE — Rising crime rates have catapulted the issue into the forefront of city affairs, punctuated by 46 homicides, the largest tally the city has recorded in 20 years. But before anyone coins “the mean streets of San Jose,” a look at those deaths shows that most of the victims were killed by people they knew and that despite worsening crime trends, within the context of homicides, residents are generally safe.

“San Jose is still an incredibly safe big city,” said Alex Gerould, a lecturer in criminal studies at San Francisco State. “There’s been a doubling (of homicides) in two years, which looks extremely startling. But look back into the 1990s, taking into factor the population, we’re still down from where we’ve been.”

An analysis by this newspaper of 2012 homicide data furnished by the San Jose Police Department revealed that even after gang-related and domestic violence slayings are parsed out, the majority of the rest were between people who knew each other.

That leaves just more than a handful of genuinely random killings that people tend to have in mind as true threats to public safety. The kidnapping and presumed murder of 15-year-old Sierra LaMar, which occurred near Morgan Hill but was the South Bay’s highest-profile homicide of 2012, fits the profile of a rare random instance.

“Stories that are the most tragic are the ones that are going to make the news,” said Dawna Komorosky, an associate professor of criminal justice at Cal State East Bay. “If you watch the news on a daily basis, you would think violent crime was the most frequent. It’s not the most commonly occurring; property crime is more likely.”

Of the 46 homicides in San Jose — the city’s highest total since 53 were recorded in 1991 — 18 have been deemed gang related and five have been linked to domestic violence. For the rest, all but a few can be described as crimes of opportunity or passion, involving such elements as drugs or strained or severed relationships, according to a search of county court records.

“The victim and killer usually have a relationship and know each other,” Komorosky said. “But it makes us all feel fearful for our safety.”

One of those killings was in January, when two homeless men fought about how hard the other’s handshake was, court records show. Danny Klontz hit Manuel Andrade at least twice in the face. One witness reported seeing Klontz kick Andrade in the head three times. Andrade died five days later. Klontz was convicted of one count of assault with a deadly weapon. A murder charge was dismissed.

In July, Marybel and Pedro Jimenez were gunned down in their San Jose home by a former boyfriend of Marybel’s, orphaning the couple’s three young children. Police say the suspect, Pedro Castellon Medina, was obsessed with Marybel. He has not been arrested and police believe he might be in Mexico.

One seemingly random incident was the Aug. 13 killing of Joan Anne Hughes, 70, a well-liked homeless woman in the Willow Glen area. She was savagely attacked with a samurai sword by an erratic and addled Marquis Reynolds in front of terrified onlookers near San Carlos Street and Meridian Avenue, police said. The death of Hughes, who also went by “Gail,” occurred in the midst of an 11-day stretch when eight homicides were recorded, marking one of the bloodiest stretches in city history.

On Nov. 16, Campbell resident Rory Park-Pettiford, 22, was killed during an attempted carjacking at a 7-Eleven on South Kiely Avenue. He was the unwitting victim of an alleged crime spree by suspects Jonathan Wilbanks, 26, and Adonis Muldrow, 15, who ended up in a shootout that injured an officer.

Outside San Jose, there were eight homicides in Santa Clara County, including the region’s biggest case in LaMar, who disappeared March 16 while heading to school. A suspect with no clear ties to Sierra is jailed on suspicion of her murder, but her body has not been found.

Still, homicides with no connection between killer and victim remain statistically rare in San Jose, and in a city of nearly a million, the homicide tally remains relatively low. As of Monday afternoon, Oakland had 131 homicides in 2012 in a city with just under 400,000 residents, and San Francisco recorded 68 homicides against a population of about 810,000.

San Mateo County had 12 homicides in 2012, six fewer than the previous year. The highest-profile cases of the year were a handful of killings in East Palo Alto and Menlo Park, stemming from a street war between rival gangs.

Gerould, of San Francisco State, cautions against drawing conclusions about the two-year homicide spike in San Jose: 40 occurred in 2011, double the 2010 count that was a 20-year low.

“We had two bad years, but whether that’s going to give way to a long-term trend, I don’t know,” Gerould said.

The police union has said that police understaffing they blame on austerity and pension reform efforts portends a worsening of things to come; city leaders say the policies are necessary to maintain the fiscal viability of all public services.

San Jose police had more than 1,400 officers in 2008 and is now budgeted for 1,109 officers, but in a November memo, outgoing Chief Chris Moore wrote that San Jose had 978 full-duty officers available. The force hasn’t been at this staffing level since 1990, when the city’s population was 785,000.

That equates to about 1.12 officers per 1,000 residents in San Jose. Oakland, with 616 officers, has a ratio of 1.56, and San Francisco’s 1,490 officers put its ratio at 1.83. All are below the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ national average of 2.5.

“Police right now have done a good job given what they have,” Gerould said. “But when you cut the force by 25 percent, you’re going to typically see some crime rises. There’s going to be less of an ability to investigate each homicide with the kind of resources you like. With less into each homicide, that means less into each burglary, less into each assault.”

Gerould and Komorosky say that residents are rightfully concerned about more common crimes, such as burglaries, which saw a double-digit percentage spike in 2012.

“If I were in San Jose, what I would be most concerned with is whether there’s a sentiment amongst the kind of criminal or lawless segments that there is less police,” Gerould said, “and therefore less chance they will get caught.”


 

WEEKLY POLL
 

   


Results from last week's poll...




For the most recent Rasmussen Reports releases, click here:
<http://www.rasmussenreports.com/older_content/home/top_stories/most_recent_articles>



 

MAIL CALL

Neither Leroy or I know which one of these postal workers took over our mail route this week, but we're pretty sure it was one of them...



There was no mail.




 

THE ONCE PROUD, AND NOW THE FEW...

POA Vice President John Robb penned an excellent article about the exodus from the once proud SJPD that lists the names of 30 officers who have resigned from the Dept. over the past two months. To read it, click on the link below...



<http://tinyurl.com/alac446>



 

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM "MEYER WEED"

This posting showed up on Meyer Weed's blog on New Year's Day. We still don't know the identify of the blogger, and even if we did, we wouldn't out him or her for fear it would compromise the mystique of someone who appears to be well acquainted with the SJPD and city politics. Whoever it is, he or she has a following of several San Jose cops who are members of Facebook, and I suspect some of you as well...

To a Better 2013 — Reed Terms Out in 2 Years!



By Meyer Weed: The Meyer of San Jose
(It's one or the other.)

<http://meyerweed.blogspot.com/>

Jan. 1, 2013

Happy New Year to everyone. I hope the new year will be better for you than 2012 was.

2012 closed with more of the same. As I type this, SJPD is investigating its 46th homicide of the year, and I just read this quote from Mayor Chuck Reed in the Mercury News: "We go back to laying people off and cutting pay."

To put the quote in context, Reed was responding to indications that his version of pension reform known as "Measure B" is in jeopardy of being overturned in court.  Meanwhile, he is spending taxpayer money to defend "B." In a rare bit of honesty, the article points out that employee unions made legitimate offers that would have achieved the goal of pension reform while saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

One such offer was transferring Police and Fire retirement funds to CalPERS for a 3% @ 55 retirement benefit. Actuarial estimates concluded a cost savings of $500 million in the first 5 years of such a change. But Reed and a majority of the Council rejected the offer because it would have taken 12 to 18 months to complete the deal, and Reed said "savings had to be IMMEDIATE."  Consider the fact that $500 million is several times the projected City deficits for the next decade. It is clear that Reed is not really concerned about the City or its finances.

As the plight of the police and fire departments go, so goes the City. Reed has invested so much time and energy in tearing down morale that officers continue to flee in droves. The crime rate is increasing, and citizens are rightly concerned.

The A's Move to San Jose

I can't help but think that Reed's efforts to bring MLB in the form of the A's is in serious trouble. Last week, Oakland A's owner Lew Wolfe asked the City of Oakland for a 5 year extension on their lease at "O Co." MLB hasn't given any indication whether or not they will allow a move to San Jose.

Add to this County Assessor Larry Stone (a Reed supported and supporter of an A's to SJ move) was recently quoted as saying, "The original deal was pretty simple: the redevelopment agency would buy all the land, and the A's would build the stadium. That's all changed, and it's much more complicated.''

So what got more complicated? MLB wants a bigger facility requiring more land that will still need to be purchased. Brown has stolen the Redevelopment Agency's money, so the City would still need to find more than $300 million to improve the surface streets around any new stadium.  

Hey, Reed, that $500 million savings the unions offered could go a long way right now, not to mention the value of the political support police and fire could have generated had you not been such a jerk!

Has Reed learned anything? I doubt it. Now it's time to hang on for the ride off San Jose's fiscal cliff.


 

DOES STRICT GUN CONTROL WORK IN ENGLAND?

This YouTube video is likely to wind up in the inboxes of many of you, so here's a preview. It's about England's ban on fox hunting and handguns. The topic is referenced on dozens of different websites by going to Google and searching for "England warns America; don't let them take your guns." You could spend the rest of the day by going to some of the sites and reading the dialogue that has stirred up so many people who have seen the video.

Truth be told, it's a pretty compelling presentation that might lead some to believe the video is current, but it's not. In fact, it's several years old, but it has resurfaced and grown legs since the recent mass shootings here in the US. The question is, does that change anything? Watch the video and decide for yourself. You may come away with the opinion that England with its strict gun control isn't as safe as the American media would have you to believe. And keep in mind that the population of England is less than one-sixth that of the US (50 million vs. 313 million).
(9 Mins.)

<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9ZvwPmjJu4>

Note: Tony Martin, who is mentioned in the video as a farmer who ' is still in prison' for shooting a burglar, was released in July 2003 after serving three years of his five-year sentence that had been reduced from murder to manslaughter.

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Martin_%28farmer%29>

And Tony Blair, who was England's Prime Minister when the demonstration in the video took place, left office in June 2007.

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Martin_%28farmer%29>



 

WEEKLY SNOPES URBAN LEGEND UPDATE AS OF DEC. 22, 2012

The facts behind the legends, information and
misinformation that has or may show up in your inbox

New Articles

• Did actor Denzel Washington make a large donation to the Fisher House while visiting Brooke Army Medical Center?
<http://www.snopes.com/politics/military/denzel.asp>

• How real is the Discovery Channel's Amish Mafia "reality" series?
<http://www.snopes.com/politics/crime/amishmafia.asp>

• Was Fox News host Bill O'Reilly arrested for assaulting a department store Santa?
<http://www.snopes.com/politics/satire/santaassault.asp>

• Did a newspaper publish a map showing the home addresses of handgun permit holders in two New York counties?
<http://www.snopes.com/politics/guns/gunmap.asp>

• Phishing scheme: FedEx undeliverable parcel notifications.
<http://www.snopes.com/fraud/phishing/fedex.asp>

• Letter from nonagenarian World War II veteran criticizes President Obama.
<http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/haroldestes.asp>

• Does NORAD annually track Santa's progress because a wrong phone number was once published in a newspaper ad?
<http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/santa/norad.asp>

• Text reproduces former president George H.W. Bush's 1995 letter of resignation as a Life Member of the NRA.
<http://www.snopes.com/politics/guns/bushnra.asp>

 • Don't forget to visit our Daily Snopes page for a collection of odd news stories from around the world!
<http://www.snopes.com/daily/>


Worth a Second Look

• A compendium of New Year's Superstitions.
<http://www.snopes.com/holidays/newyears/beliefs.asp>


Still Haunting the Inbox

• Check out our 25 Hottest Urban Legends list to keep abreast of what's circulating in the on-line world.
<http://www.snopes.com/info/top25uls.asp>


Fraud Afoot

• Visit our Top Scams page for a list of schemes commonly used by crooks to separate the unwary from their money.
<http://www.snopes.com/fraud/topscams.asp>



 

THE LIGHTER SIDE & OTHER ODDS AND ENDS

This beautiful rendition of Auld Lang Syne by Sissel seems like a good way to start off the New Year. It begins with a short prayer, and given what took place in 2012, many would say the world could use one. (6 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhiF-PD4E_c>
 

• • • • •


If you would like to be a fly on the wall of the cockpit of the world's largest commercial passenger jet, simply click on the link below and you will immediately find yourself aboard Lufthansa Flight 454 as the massive A380-800 Airbus makes its approach and lands at SFO to a wet greeting by two of the airport's fire trucks.
(14 Mins.)

Best viewed in large or full screen...


 

<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDMDuRczDI0>

Sudden thought: If neither of the pilots informed the hundreds of passengers on board about the fire truck greeting, what are the odds that some of those with window seats wet themselves thinking the plane was on fire?

 

• • • • •

 

Steve Postier says everyone who uses a gas grill should consider viewing this short video. If you watch ESPN or saw the Rose Parade on ABC you will recognize Hannah Storm. (3 Mins.)



<http://tinyurl.com/a4nhl53>


• • • • •



Thinking back seven months ago I recall seeing snippets on the news of the Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary Fireworks Celebration. But it wasn't until a few days ago that this video of the entire show wound up in my inbox. Stick with it long enough and you'll hear some great songs from the past. Or you can use the scroll bar to fast-forward to 16:24 for the finale and listen to Tony Bennett sing his signature song. (19 Mins.)



<http://vimeo.com/42969389>


• • • • •



Joe Suske says he feels much more comfortable with his handgun after adopting this guy's modified gangster shooting style. The problem for Joe and me and other guys in their 60s and 70s centers around the "super modified gangster" style because many guys our age can't always find their 'package.' (3 Mins.)
 



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDnEkFSMRik>


• • • • •



Bruce Morton says if you grew up in the 1950s and can't identify more than 35 of these 48 cars for a score of 73 percent or better on your first try, either you were not paying attention, or you spent your childhood playing with dolls. (For the record, I scored 83 percent on my first try. Can you do better?)
 

 

<http://www.americantorque.com/game/car-show-50s/>


• • • • •



Bert Kelsey says he can't understand why every team in the NFL isn't on its hands and knees trying to sign this guy.



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDwbjHV8jLo>
 

Turns out that one team is in fact interested. According to the Blaze website...
 

Viral Video of Insanely Talented Norwegian Kicker Has Caught the NFL’s Attention


Although we’re tempted to offer an analysis of Norwegian football player Havard Rugland’s kicking technique and style, it’s probably best if you see it for yourself:

Rugland posted the video to YouTube in September and it was met with moderate success. However, it wasn’t until major U.S. sports networks started promoting the video that it went viral:

Unsurprisingly, the video has caught the attention of some in the National Football League, namely the New York Jets. The team recently hosted Rugland and his kicking coach, Michael Husted, for a tryout.

“Havard’s workout with the Jets went very well,” says Husted. “They definitely see his potential. They understand that he has never played the game, but his leg strength impressed them. They would like him to continue to train and then they will bring him back in for another workout at the end of February.”

“It has been very exciting to be part of something that has gone viral,” he adds. “It has been amazing that in just a couple of days, the number of views for Havard’s kicking video has doubled. His talent and creativity in the video that got him noticed by NFL teams, and the subsequent workout with the Jets, has caught the attention of the media worldwide and more NFL teams.”
 

• • • • •



If you think the real estate bubble that was helped driven by speculators was huge here in California a few years ago, watch this Dateline clip from Australia we received from Tom Macris and look at what's happening in China with its "ghost cities." Might the problem lead to a new Chinese revolution? Time will tell. (14 Mins.)
 



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbDeS_mXMnM>


• • • • •


This mind reader in Belgium is spot on when he correctly describes details of various individuals. So how does he do it? Watch the end of this short video clip and you will see. And learn about something important. (2 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7pYHN9iC9I>


• • • • •


This is an interesting short film about smart phones we received from Dewey Moore that shows where we may be a few years down the road. Like George Orwell's "1984" that may have been assigned reading when you were in high school, it has a dark side that asks: Paper or plastic? (15 Mins.)
 



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqDRhf1UpvE>


• • • • •



For you golfers, this clip showcases what are considered by many to be the top ten shots of 2012 on the PGA Tour. (7 Mins.)



<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ts2ppvZPqdg>


• • • • •


Ah, memories. If you would like to take a trip back in time when you could fill your gas tank for less than five bucks, click on the website below and have a look at several gas stations from the past...



<http://hipspics.freewebspace.com/gas/gas.html>


• • • • •



If you are among those who believe that intelligent life exists only on our planet, take a couple of minutes and look at what the Hubble telescope found when it was pointed at a purely black, apparently empty part of the universe. Then ask yourself what are the odds? This isn't about religion; it's about numbers and may make you believe that the late Carl Sagan was spot on when he said there were more stars in the universe that there are grains of sand on all of the beaches on Earth. (4 Mins.)
 



And keep in mind that far more powerful telescopes than the Hubble are in the works.

<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAVjF_7ensg>


• • • • •



Mike and Karen Thompson invite you to take an uplifting train ride set to the instrumental "Viya Con Dios." It's an excellent way to leave 2012 behind and welcome in 2013, but exercise a wee bit of patience as it may take a few moments to load. (3 Mins.)



<http://www.openmyeyeslord.net/Train%20Ride.swf>


• • • • •
 

So long 2012...



...and hello to 2013.

C'ya


 

Pic of the Week:

Bruce Fair says there are priorities at this time
of the year, and hunting season isn't one of them...


 
   

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