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Administrative Law Judge
Corporate Training Specialist

Associate Legal Counsel to Police Commissioner William Bratton

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

 America!  It is still the land of opportunity, a place of refuge for people from all over the world.  We are currently being bombarded with refugees from Russia as well as from Mexico.  We should feel honored.  This country’s famous quote says   give us   your   tired, your poor and we welcome you here.  We should not disappoint a new crop of immigrants that need us now.  People from these countries are so desperate for  freedom and for a better life that parents are willing to give up their young children and break up families if they have to in order to save their lives.

Right now the challenge in Russia is to be gay.  Life has become more difficult and not easier for young gay men.  They are under attack and seem to be forced to leave their homeland.  There was a club in downtown Moscow called Central Station where you used to be able to see entertainment performed by drag Queens.  For years it used to be a meeting place for gay people to hook up.  Now they feel like outcasts in their own homeland being forced to flee their country.  To be young, gay and Russian must be whispered and a secret there for your   own physical safety.  The club has been closed and destroyed.

Gay people are currently being beaten   and tortured in that country not by other   citizens but by the local police.  All the violence is because of a controversial law that was passed in Russia last June that bans so callled, ”  of propaganda of non- traditional relationships to minors.” Human rights activists say it is really just a crackdown on gay rights.  The result is a more intense antigay climate in Russia.  There were more than 20 attacks on gay clubs. Bullet holes in the doors and   anyone who looks gay is beaten in the streets by the police.  The police are in vans called the Morality Patrol looking for young gay men.

The assaults had become too much for men who just want to dance dressed up like women and make love to other men.  They are not equipped to fight back so they are leaving their families and   moving to San Francisco for a better and free life.  They say it is the gay capital of the United States.  They come here for freedom of expression and freedom to love others. People don’t want much they just want to live a peaceful free life and are the wishes of the families of children being offered to us at Mexico’s border. People do not want to be with corrupt governments in Russia or Mexico.

No one here in America seams to even know about the gay Russian invasion because they are focused on the 52,000 Mexican kids sitting on the border wanting to start a new life in America.  It has to be a sad sight for parents to be so desperate to part ways with their own flesh and blood.  Throughout the last 30 years, the drug business has ruined   Mexico to the point that parents don’t have the resources to even take care of their own children.  There   has been a breakdown in authority in the governments of three Central American countries. These kid are coming from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala that is twice as dangerous as Iraq was at the height of the Iraqi War.  In desperation   you would rush your child to a safe border too.

These children are basically refugees.  The definition of a refugee is a person who is fleeing a horrific situation in their own country.  85% of these children have relatives in America that they can live with.  These children are not lawless violent   criminals but are young human beings seeking to avoid a lawless violent future.  It is a traumatic situation for all.

 Should we   guard our borders? Yes,   but we should also find a humane solution to the violent places that seem to be escalating all over the globe these days.  If we can’t stop the lawlessness and discrimination then at   least invest in humility and reasoning to help people find their way again in life.  America is a country built from immigrants and we need to help the newest generation of tired, hungry and poor to lift themselves up in happiness on some soil.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Did you know that recently The Supreme Court ruled that the Police can   not search your cell phones? It is a rare victory for privacy in America. It is also surprising that it was a unanimous decision. It is also rare that all the Justices agree totally on a decision. Now they have to get a warrant to view anything on your cell phone. People will have time to erase anything they think on there that could be incriminating. A decision that is great for our privacy but not so good for evidentiary issues.

Recently thieves have been able to steal your credit card information while you still have your card.  The Internet is a great place but is also a place where you can purchase a device called a Skimmer that reads and stores   credit card information.  A   cashier working in a Mcdonald’s drive through was swiping people’s credit cards twice.  Once through the register and again through his Skimmer.  The thief was collecting about 80 credit card numbers per day and then buying products online using other people’s cards.  He has since been arrested but it is a rising crime that is hard to control.  How do we know our credit information is safe anywhere we purchase stuff?

Police say he was stealing credit card digits during every shift he worked.  You drove in for a hamburger and left with somebody else buying all kinds of stuff and charging it to you.  Electronic   Skimmers are so advanced, you don’t even need a human to operate the device.  A common place they are showing up is in gas station pumps.  If you pay at the pump, and one of these devices have been installed, it automatically steals your credit card information. Shawn Marques from a company called Arizona Weights & Measures   has been assisting the police in covert operations to find these devices installed in gas pumps.
In order to catch   these criminals, he came up with the idea once it was found that a gas pump was stealing credit card information, to take the Skimmer out and replace it with a night vision camera.  When the organized bad guys tried to retrieve the Skimmer, they were caught   on camera. Many cameras are small and battery operated so they are easy to install.  We now have video of organized criminals trying to   retrieve the Skimmers, Quite often   the owners of the gas stations have no idea the devices have been installed into their machines.  Some Skimmers are so small, about the size of a matchbox that   they can fit into the ledge of a machine.

Skimming all over the country has gotten so bad that now   Steve Scarince   of the Secret Service, yes, the same guys that protect the President are investigating the matter.  There are now credit card hackers teaching the good guys how they do it in exchange for jail time.  If the gas   station owners   don’t know that Skimmers are in their machines, then how did they get there?  Believe it or not, there is basically a universal key that will open most gas pump doors.  It is the same key from Massachusetts all the way to California.  Unfortunately, you can also buy these keys on line.  We really need some Internet commerce regulations to stop the availability of these type of things for sale to anyone.
Dan DeFelippi, a former credit card thief says that the newer devices can use cell phone networks to transfer the data.  So now we don’t even get to see the bad guy!  They can get my credit card information without ever having to return to the pump.  So how do we stop them and how can we avoid being a victim?  I don’t need people going on shopping sprees with my credit card information.  If you choose to use your credit card at the pump, chose a machine that has a padlock on it and thus avoiding the universal key problem. You can be extra safe by paying directly to the attendant inside.

Other precautions you can take is to check your credit card account regularly.  Most credit card companies will take the loss if you report it within 60 days.  Choose a pump near the attendant.  Skimmers prefer to choose pumps   that are in the shadows.  Good luck using your credit card for anything anywhere these days.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Did you know that two dozen race horses   breakdown and die every week?  Where   are   all the animal activists that should be protesting in front of racetracks all over America?  Clearly this is cruelty to a beautiful majestic animal.  Each year at the Kentucky Derby we see a sanitized version of the sport of horse racing when in fact more often there is death at the racetrack.  This staggering amount of deaths can clearly be blamed on the widespread use and abuse of performance enhancing drugs.  If baseball players aren’t allowed to use it, why should   the   injection of these drugs be allowed in animals?  As usual, profits and greed is more important in this life than any ethics or compassion for a beautiful obedient animal.

I don’t believe that most Americans even know that this is going on.   At the track there is   an   unrealistic picture of what is really going on.  Many of the horses are dying in mid stride right on the track every week.  The industry is permitted to refuse to release accident rates and autopsy reports.  When a horse falls down, there are   cover-ups.  You will see   a white vehicle with a red cross painted on the door as if it is some sort of ambulance when in reality if the horse isn’t dead already, it is barely alive in that truck.   Veterinary technicians are then called in to inject a fatal dose of drugs into the broken down racehorse putting it out of its   misery.

Can this even be called the Sport of Kings   anymore when trainers are   routinely   injecting healthy horses   with   drugs and injured   horses   so they can run through the pain?  The results are   often   disastrous anyway.  Over run horses sometimes have stress fractures that can be seen through x-rays.  Instead of resting the horses they have been forced to race anyway.  Finding a veterinarian to administer drugs is never hard to find.  One injection takes 2 seconds to administer and costs about $30 dollars.   Do   that   10 times a day, that comes to about $300 dollars for 5 minutes of work. The hell   with the horses, let’s make some money.  Sad but true.

The fact is that American race horses die at twice the rate of those in   England where drug use is   much more restricted.  In this country some trainers use anything they can get in order to get bonus results during a race   on the track.  They will use Viagra, pig steroids, cobra venom and even secretions from the South American Tree Frog.  Those are weird   energy drinks.  More often they will use perfectly legal drugs even if the horses do not need them in order to run faster.  For years the   rules have been permissive and   un-evenly   enforced.

In 2012, at New York’s Aqueduct Racetrack, the number of deaths were very high.  There were   21 deaths in a very short time.  Governor Cuomo hired investigators to find out why.  The conclusion   was that a majority of the 21 horses were given drugs that may have masked pre-existing injuries.  The purses were more valuable than the horses themselves.  The investigation proved that each of the horses were given Theroxine a drug that increases heart rate. They died from heart attacks.   It is easy to make a mistake since every state has its own rules.

PETA, the animal rights group,  is finally getting involved and proving that drugs are being given to horses not to make them any healthier but to make them faster. We are in a culture of drug taking that is dangerous to all. When the horses collapse on the track the Jockeys   get serious injuries too. Despite all the deaths, injuries and obvious proof of drug use, the sport has actually gotten worse in regulations. After the amount deaths at Aqueduct were investigated NO tracks adapted any better safety rules.  The trainers have violations and the drugs administered are legal. Who is speaking for the horses? No one. Mr. Ed does not exist. The owners are protecting the trainers.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Let’s talk about the great divide in America between the very rich and the very poor.  We all work   hard   for   a living but why do some make unbelievable amounts of money and others don’t? In America today we have the top one percent of citizens making 85 percent of the nation’s wealth and they aren’t sharing anything. How did society allow this to happen? Well for one reason, our top lawmakers in Congress are all multi-millionaires. They simply protect themselves. Some weird democracy we live in.

Let’s look at one sweet deal that was given to the new CEO of Ford. The stock has always remained steady no matter what happened to the economy. So, this guy isn’t even among the biggest shots around big shots   making a lot of American’s hard earned money. His name is Mark Fields who was greeted at the door with a 13% raise, lots of   stock in the company and millions in incentives.  And he hasn’t   even done anything yet.  Most of us could only dream of that type of attention.  And who did he do to get such a sweet deal?

On the very first   day on the job he also gets to use a   private jet for personal travel.  Even the elitist population of folks get to   travel in private jets and land in private areas of airports as well. Fields salary will go from the $1.54 Million he was getting   as Chief Operating Officer to $1.75 Million dollars as CEO, according to documents filed with federal regulators.  What are they regulating anyway?  Certainly not any caps on how much money a single person could make. If all goals are met, Fields is also   eligible for $3.5 Million in performance incentives this year, making his 2014 package   worth   $5.25 Million, not including additional options that vest each year. Performance incentives sounds like something a circus clown has to do.

The board also granted Fields 710,227 Ford shares that are vested over three years and can be exercised over ten years. At $17.21 a share the current value would be $12.2 Million. Really? He needs that too? How about giving the employees some shares too? He can afford to buy his own shares and it would be a good faith gesture but no, upper one percent greed must flourish. Fields family lives in Florida so they determined for security reasons to give him a private jet to travel to work. Maybe this guy could get a home near where he works. Could the family sacrifice a little? Heck no.

Current CEO Alan Mulally   who retired this week received $23.2 million for 2013, with a salary of $2 million, a $5.9 million cash bonus and $15.3 million in long term stock options.  That is enough money to feed a small country for a year.  If there is any hope for an entire population of good ideas to be heard, we must do more to share the wealth that large corporations earn.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Do you prefer dying over the ocean or on land? Perhaps   when you take a flight from Malaysia the airliner should ask you that question before you board your flight. Let me start with prayers for the families of 534 people who died from two flights from Malaysia who will never see the people they love ever again. Why are these flight disasters happening and why from Malaysia? Why isn’t the United Nations demanding answers?

Everyone is skittish about flying in general now. Civilians, innocent people seem to be at risk. It is official. The airlines’ future may be at risk too. The wreckage from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near   Shakhtersk, Ukraine recently had bodies literally falling from the air into a farmer’s field of sunflowers. This is why whatever God you believe in that created you does not let you see one moment into your future and certainly leaves your own death the biggest surprise of your life if any of this rant is making any sense at all. Well not too many things in the news make sense anymore anyway.

Malaysia Airlines is in deep trouble now with financial problems, missing plane and now a crash is hard news to overcome. What is the hardest thing to overcome is the evil hands at the controls of sophisticated   weapons ruining lives for political   stupid reasons.  Malaysia Airlines had financial problems even before the disappearance of a plane on March 8.  How do planes just disappear?  At this point could we blame UFO’s? All we know is that there are still very distraught families of 299 people demanding answers and receiving   nothing. Can the airline continue to function after the latest catastrophe?

The reason Flight 370 went missing with 239 people aboard is unknown, and Flight 17 with 295 people aboard, appears to have been shot down by military forces.  Both flights were tragedies from Malaysia Airlines.  The   Airline   and Malaysian tourism was already suffering before March.  The Airline has lost money for years because of higher fuel costs and airport charges, competition from lower cost carriers and weakening currency against the dollar. So does that make people disposable?  I hope not. Did these evil murderers target a week vulnerable Airline?

Legally it is imperative that the airline and relevant authorities   determine whether the crash is the result of   external fire from the ground, and thus, outside Malaysian Airlines control, or a problem with the aircraft or with its crew.  There are   still lingering concerns about the missing other plane.  The airline absolutely must take urgent, tangible and meaningful steps to show   that it is in control of   its   destiny.  This act of violence shook up the entire   airline industry Thursday.  Stocks were down. American Airlines -4%, Alaska Air -2.6%, Delta -3.5%.  Is this airline’s very bad luck going to trickle down to all other airline companies?

The plane that went down Thursday,   a Boeing 777-200ER is a similar model to the one that disappeared on March 8 with 239 people aboard on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to   Beijing. The search for that flight has focused on the Indian Ocean about 1,000 miles west of Australia, based on intermittent signals that a satellite picked up. Malaysia   Airlines can be compared to Jet Blue in size and revenue. Tell the monsters to stop making their political statements at the expense of innocent people and vulnerable small Airlines.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I love Melissa McCartny.  She is a breath of comedic air that we haven’t breathed in a long time.  We all love the old comedy women actresses like Lucy and Phyllis Diller, Carol Burnett and Roseann.  None of them were beauty queens but they all were intelligent and had charm. Melissa is pretty but I am sure her doctor considers her to be morbidly obese. I think she looks like most of American women.  Melissa just represents the newest generation of women that make us adoringly love her.

She is a star in her own TV sitcom called Mike & Molly that has been renewed for its fifth season. At first she did not want to do a show that was just about two people who meet trying to lose   weight. It then developed into a romantic comedy that she loved. It is a decision that won her an Emmy Award.  Judging by how physical she gets in her movies, she has proven to be fearless and confident in her body and we love it.  Happily she has become one of Hollywood’s leading ladies.  It is nice to see a real woman getting some real acting roles that is not all about their sexuality.  In fact, she has played parts that you can hardly call ladylike.
Melissa and her cousin Jenny McCarthy have mastered the type of comedy that makes you laugh but you are at the same time embarrassed for them.  I will never forget that old movie that Jenny stared in called Dirty Love.  In that movie Jenny had the courage to make the delicate problem that women face every month of having to deal with their messy period.  And even feminine product commercials sugar coat the advertised products by simply pouring blue water on a menstrual pad.  In that movie, Jenny has already soiled her white clothing and is dripping blood in the aisles of a drugstore desperately looking for a product.  It is funny but   so embarrassing. It is also a wake up call to help people understand the everyday problems that women go through.
Melissa is redefining the A list actor.  She can play it rough and her characters come with character flaws that make it funny.  Her   break   out role was in the movie called Bridesmaids staring Kristen   Wiig   and Maya Rudolph, her   fellow   students.  Melissa received an Academy Award Oscar nomination for her funny stuff. .  In her new movie called Tammy she is holding up a man with a gun.  He tells that he is a veteran of war, so she salutes him during the robbery.  In most comedies these days, women are just a pretty accessory to the funnymen.  Melissa grew up on a farm in Illinois.  She developed many of her comedic tools at the Groundlings   that is an improvisational comedy theater in Los Angeles where she met her husband that has had appearances in three of her movies and was classmates with Maya and Kristen.

It is there where she met   comedian Ben Falcone.  Dating in that environment helped them to get to know each other in every way through   comedy.  Imagine falling in love without having to look your best and be under the pressure of having to say the right thing.  They got married in 2005. He is the director of Tammy. Which they co-wrote. In real life they insist that they are not aggressive or use foul language. He is still embarrassed at watching her sex scene in the movie called Identity Theft. She is never raunchy or wrong at home where they are raising their two little girls. In the movie called The Heat with Sandra Bullock, the F bomb is used all the time.

The best thing about her is that she is willing to do just about anything to make you laugh. Thanks girl !

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

His name is John Green and if you know young teenagers who read books, chances are that they know his work and that they love this guy and love his work.  His videos on YouTube have been viewed 1 ½ billion times.  His latest book has been on the New York  Times best seller list for   123 weeks.  His live appearances sell out in minutes and you probably never heard of him.  He is 36 years old and the father of two kids.  He is an ordinary looking guy and I want to   know how he manages to inspire teenagers?  I can’t even inspire my teens to put towels in the   laundry.
This guy is a cult hero to millions of teenagers.  He has written four books including his biggest book ever called The Fault in Our Stars.  The movie version is about to open.  John Green’s own story began in Orlando Florida.  He said that he was a troubled kid who was anxious and depressed.  He felt very socially isolated at times but was still intellectually stimulated.  Then came   college, enrollment at divinity school, and a job at a children’s hospital in Chicago as a student chaplain.  While at the hospital he met sick children but they were   also so many other things like funny   and   angry and sad encompassing all the other emotions and wishes that we all have.

He spent years trying to put his hospital experiences into a book. In the meantime he published three other novels.  Then in 2008 he met a young teenage girl who was a fellow YouTube video maker who had thyroid cancer.  He met her, friended   her and was   changed by her.  She died in 2010 and her   name was Esther.  His relationship with her and respect for her became the story for his famous book called The Fault In   The Stars.  It is a funny and unsentimental book about   two teenagers that meet in a cancer support group and fall in love.

The book became a sensation.  It is a love story between two teenagers   that just   happen   to have cancer as well.  He has sold almost seven million copies of the book but millions of fans don’t know him   as John Green the author he is also known as a celebrity.  In 2007 he and his brother Hank began exchanging public video messages as a way of keeping in touch.  Most people do that in private, these two guys do it on YouTube so it has become a bit of a reality show.  Now the fans of John and Hank have their own inside jokes.  They call themselves Nerd Fighters.  Then there is the popular acronym DFTBA that stands for Don’t Forget to be Awesome.

The fans insist that they are not a cult but they do band together   for   charity.  He has orchestrated a 48 hour long telethon on YouTube called The Project for Awesome where   this year he has collected about $800,000.  Is there anything that’s not nice about this guy?  Even Laura  Dern  and the other actors  of the film love him.  A   movie of another John Green novel   called Paper Towns   is  already being done. He has proven that the traditional stereotype of teenagers is not true.  Parents believe that their kids are anti-social, are disengaged   and don’t care about the world.
John Green has been keeping them busy and has proven that teens are still reading, thinking and they do care about a lot of things.  He says he is inspired every day by their intellectual curiosity.  All parents should be thanking him for keeping our   teenagers interested   in something positive.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Guess where you can get the best barbecue dinner   now?  This time of year all men   claim to be masters of the grill but we all know they don’t know what they are doing.  We always thought   the best place to find the best barbecue was in the south but a few good   places have opened up in the New York area.  Everyone likes to fire up the grill these days from rank amateurs to decorated chefs and they   all are   firing up the grill.  The question is who   does it best and what is the best way to do it?  I have made a few decisions on this subject.

I love Texas barbeque but does it have to take place in Texas? Hell No.  In Texas alone there are  1900 great places like Mike Anderson’s A True Texas BBQ or Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse Barbeque since 1910 or Hickory House Barbeque to name a few. A typical day at Franklyn’s in Austin the lines to purchase food can stretch all the way down the block all day long and then a paper bag goes on the door that   simply   says   “sold out.” Nobody seems to mind as long as they get a chance to have that tasty meat that seems to melt in your mouth.

The   best advertisement for the barbeque   business is the customers themselves.  Barbeque is big business   nationwide mostly in Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana, the Carolinas and now in New York. That’s right!  East coast   barbecue is a top contender against the southern kings of meat.  The key is all in the process.  Throw away that brand new shining stainless steel monster in your backyard.  Instead, get   yourself    a   wood    burning grill that looks like a giant horizontal trash can and after about 4 hours of slow cooking with seasoned oak logs   burning, you are in business for a great meal.  The problem is who the hell has   four   hours  burning wood   to spend on a   meal?
Billy   Durney   is a body guard who turned himself into a grill master and   opened Hometown Barbeque   in Brooklyn less than a year ago and just 5 miles down the road head to Daniel Delaney Barbeque with his Texas inspired brisket .A barbeque isn’t a great barbeque unless you got pork ribs, sausage, brisket, pulled pork and turkey roasting. Forget that lame franks and burger crap. And leave those sickly looking vegan gluten   free   vegetarian folks home too. I don’t need any guilt trips on barbeque day. As I said,   If    you can’t do it yourself, then these guys will get it done for   you.

Daniel Vaughn is the BBQ editor of Texas Monthly Magazine who says these two New York places are just as good as any barbeque in Texas.. They have already become foody destinations. The secret is in a good hot low fire with white oak logs burning evenly. They will cook about 3 to 400 pounds of   meat at a time and slow cook the meat for about three hours before serving. On a weekend they will cook thousands of pounds of meat.  All you need is salt and pepper and not any goopy sauces or fancy rubs. Just good old fashioned slow cooking for the most   tender   meats.

So sit back play with your wood and serve your tender meat. Wow did I just say that?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

An average of 22 veterans kill themselves each month.  Should we even wonder why?  Our   mentally and physically wounded warriors were sent back to the front lines for repeated tours of   duty seeing fellow soldiers being   killed by not much of an army to shoot at.  Most of the veterans signed up for war while in high school.  After spending 4 or 5 years befriending families in faraway lands, they then tell you   to go somewhere that doesn’t look much like your home anymore.  Most of your buddies were killed by land mines, or by shots that came out of nowhere   or   by fellow soldiers that they   call   “friendly” fire.

The people you are protecting wore the same clothing as the enemy yet everyone knew the American soldier.  It was difficult to distinguish the enemy from your friend.  So you trusted   no one and every odd sound you   heard, you   reacted to in adefensive way all the time.  You cannot just shut off   instincts like that just because you are in the United States again. So, yeah I understand why a soldier would rather be dead   like their buddies then be alive alone living a nightmare.

The entire act of war has changed.  Years ago a   nation went to war where everyone banded to get the job done.  Now we have a small population of people that leave to fight battles in faraway lands over what? Oil for the Bushes? While   the rest of civilian life just carries on.  A soldier in uniform used to battle another soldier in uniform and a war would eventually end. That was the valor and pride World War II was.  The American soldier   now is in uniform not knowing the enemy from citizen because they wear the same clothing. The photos of old veterans all had them looking like movie   stars, the new photo s have them looking already like guilty killers. They go to war being   told to shoot to kill, in the states their religion says that killing is a sin and their laws say if they kill they are a criminal.  So, I understand that it can be easier to just kill yourself.

We are all proud of the 90 year old tough war veteran still proudly wearing their medals of valor. They survived civilian life because when they fought wars they did one tour of duty and came home a hero. They had parade, strange women would want to just kiss them like in that famous photograph.  They   were offered jobs and great prices on Levitown Homes made just for soldiers and their families. There was Bob Hope who did countless entertainment shows in war zones and who made the soldier feel like he or she was the most important person in the world at the time. Yes the pride of being an American Soldier died when Bob Hope died. There was the USO that sponsored great concerts for the soldier and in every port and city there   were USO places where a soldier could relax and feel like home.   Then a marriage meant forever. Your spouse would wait for you to return before they even thought of a new life with someone else. After 4 years away, your girl is not your girl no more. Yeah, I can see why the new soldier wants to kill themselves.  
Years ago a veteran got the best life insurance policies and health care and burial plots when they came home. We find out that our hospitals here have failed to give our soldier proper care here now. In fact an illegal immigrant can cross the United States border, have a baby on US soil and have access to tax funded services immediately. A Disabled Veteran coming back from Afghanistan has to wait a year to receive his or her benefits. It makes you want to load that gun for one last time too. 

Now when a veteran gets a Medal of Honor they never smile. They are not proud. They are broken. They have tears in their eyes that stand for lost friends who died right next to them somewhere. The tears stand for stories too harsh to tell and a feeling of camaraderie that you can see bubble up in the presence of other veterans.  For some, those memories can cause guilt, anxiety or depression sometimes leading to substance abuse, broken  relationships or even suicide when the pain becomes too much to bear.  Our bloated bureaucrats    in Washington seem to have a deaf ear to the expressed problems that our newest soldiers from our newest wars have been telling them.  They ignore the soldier who says they feel that their government had abandoned them.  They came home to a system of dehumanization, neglect and indifference.

In 2006, Army reservist Joshua Omvig went home for Thanksgiving Dinner a week from returning from Iraq.  He pulled out a gun in front of his mother and shot himself.  The following year, President Bush signed into law a bill named after Omvig.  It called for   better screening of veterans returning from combat, more mental health professionals for the Department of Veteran Affairs and a new   suicide hot line. Despite the legislation, despite the good intentions, things have gotten worse.  In 2007, an average of 17 veterans killed themselves each month.   Today the number is 22.
Big deal!! So what!! The VA did not deliver on what it was supposed to do   ,The suits on Capitol Hill gave the speeches, had the law signing ceremony, and no one followed up to make things get done. Years ago instead of working on their tans there used to be Congressional Committees that would investigate everything all the time.    This past Thursday three sets of parents   testified about their dead sons before the House   Veterans Affairs Committee.  One of them, Clay Hunt, a Marine Corp Veteran who spent many days on Capitol Hill seeking better treatment for post -traumatic stress disorder strangely found out that the VA   lost all his records.  That would make anyone want to shoot themselves in the head.

So the political suits got together again and this time introduced The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act. Let’s see if another law will help these American warriors. I say give them job training other than the instincts   to kill people as in a war zone.  Give these people a reason to want to live again and have a industry of products that are made by veterans and only veterans that can really be supported in a viable way. Stop the stupidity. They deserve better.                                                             

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Travel should be fun.  Just the excitement of going somewhere far away should be interesting.  Taking a flight should be a restful luxurious adventure.  We all know that it is not.  For most people now having to deal with an airport can be a nightmare.  I travel a lot for my corporate   training jobs and have realized that airports can now be divided into two entirely different places.  When you arrive you are   faced with long lines, baggage   everywhere, children already bored and crying,   adults are   angry that if they don’t get through security soon, they might lose their flight.

If you are lucky enough to get past all that, you then enter into a world of no lines, little baggage, happier children even though you might have to wait at least another hour before your flight leaves and that is if it is on time. The emphasis used to be on a great flight that left on time, had hot meals during the flight, pillows and blankets.  If your flight was delayed or canceled, you were offered hotel rooms. Those days are long gone and now a distant memory.  Unless you want to purchase something that resembles food at one time in a heavily wrapped plastic box on flight, Like going to camp, you have to brown bag something you can purchase in the terminal and bring that on flight  Finally things are changing for the better at some of the best airports in the country.

If you haven’t noticed already in a lot of airports, once you pass security, things look much fancier than they used to.  There are fancy shops, spa treatments and upscale restaurants.  Has the industry given up hope for quick and efficient air travel?  I guess they figure you are going to   spend half your day in the Airport waiting, they might as well make it as comfortable as possible as you spend all your money there.  Should we be spending lots of money while waiting for a flight?  The industry thinks so.

Lately air travel has become known to bring out the worst in people.  There are more outbursts and incidents on airplanes than   ever   before.  No one wants to wait for delays or waiting on the tarmac.  We expect the efficiency and we don’t get it.  Stress is at an all time high for all.  So, airports around the country have gone through a major renovation with new upgrades and amenities.  They are cashing in on their captive audience waiting to board a flight. Holly Buckner, the Director of Business at Development Consumer Services Experts says that if you offer something enticing to the frazzled passenger that they will definitely be interested in, it is a win win for all.

Her company has been given the job to overhaul   airports nationwide. Consumers and passengers has been expecting more and more at airports then ever before.  They call it the Golden Hour between security and boarding in which travelers are going to spend $1.5 billion in airports according to last year’s data.  That is up 14% over the last three years.  San Francisco was awarded the third best airport in the country.  The list is as follows:

1.       Cincinnati (CVG)                                 6.  Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)
2.       New York (JFK)                                    7.  Denver (DEN)
3.       San Francisco (SFO)                           8.  Minneapolis (MSP)
4.       Boston (BOS)                                       9.  Atlanta (ATL)
5.       Detroit (DTW)                                      10.Seattle (SEA)

So once you are considered a safe person who actually spent the money for an airline ticket, you are allowed to eat at nice restaurants, get a spa treatment, shop for goods before you hop onto the plane. It is all there and part of the renovations in the sometimes two miles you can walk to find your departing gate. It looks like a trip to the Mall. Travelers spent more   money in San Francisco than any other terminal in the country last year. Over $150 Million dollars last year. The Hermes store puts on the white gloves and can offer you a $38,000 watch if you wish to purchase there right at the airport. Just last month JayZ entered the airport arena by releasing his music video Excuse Me Miss and opening a chain of restaurants called the 40’40 Club at the Atlanta airport.  The newsstands have expanded to offer electronics.

In San Francisco there is even a Director of Guests Experiences who has instituted a program of providing The Wag Brigade Program that has dog petting stations for adults and children to play with the animals randomly. Now that has to put a smile on your face.   They are certified therapy dogs and handlers that walk around the airport engaging with customers. After the security check experience why not do Yoga? XpresSpa will give you the complete rub down experience too. A delayed flight will give you plenty of time to play with your young kids at the Butterfly Wall where there are various fun interactive games .It is free for kids and for adults.  Now I feel like just traveling to the airport, forget getting on a stinkin  plane.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

When do things people say become really hurtful or can be just a harmless comment   not really meant to hurt anyone?  Comics   say harmful things all the time but somehow we are able to laugh it off.  Entertainers perform publicized Roasts where famous people are mean to each other in a fun way.  Your closest friends and family make fun of you sometimes.  They will soon after say it was said because they love you.  Meanwhile, for example, they don’t want you anywhere near   them wearing that ugly sweater.

Well, ugly comments has filtered over into the app world   and who knows apps  better then young kids who are also experts at being mean to each other? It   just means that school bullies are now armed   with new weapons.  Kids take their phones everywhere with them.  They value a celebrity   selfie more than an autograph.  They are also very sensitive about what is mentioned about them on line.  So maybe things really haven’t changed that much just the medium that we use has changed.

Apps are   the newest thing in a lawless Internet where bullies can inflict enormous pain and ruin reputations.  This entire culture dominated by social media where anonymous people can like any type of behavior on line is a dangerous thing that I never grew up with.   Everyone wants to be liked and approved by their peers but when being drunk or stoned is a liked behavior over someone who posts a kind deed, then   society is broken.  No wonder we have lonely sick kids shooting up schools.

The Bullies have an edge and we need to know what can be
 done to fight them.  Vicious cruel postings like, “  You are gross, and You are so pathetic” that you look to  your phone and say to yourself, “ What did I do?” no one wants to be gross or pathetic meanwhile the anonymous poster is just laughing  not even realizing how much emotional damage they are inflicting upon others. Bullies are real tough especially when they could hide behind not being exposed.

“I’m going to throw a rock at your head when you are cheer leading, you suck at it anyway.” Should we be worried about violence too?  How do you defend yourself when something like that has been posted on the app Ask,fm?  A kid’s grades could go down because she cannot concentrate on her studies.  She worries if she really is going to get that rock thrown at her head.  Her best friend who she is walking with could have posted that for all   she knows.  Petty high school gossip is nothing new but this   playing field is very new.

Cyber bullying has been featured in movies like Mean Girls and Gossip Girl.  There are other apps like Yic YaK that a student, Will Haskell   wrote about and had his article published in New York Magazine.  Teachers and students downloaded the app and now his school, Staples High School in Connecticut is on an electronic lock down.  Who ever heard of such a thing?  Responding to complaints, the creators of Yic    Yak has set up geo-fencing that is   using GPS coordinates to prevent the app being used on school grounds protecting   almost 85% of middle schools and high schools.  This has never been done before.

Brooks Buffington, the Co-Founder of Yic Yak claims that his site is for 17 year olds and up.  He looks like he is 14 years old.  He is proud that his company has taken a proactive approach to limiting an age group.  He said that most parents are blocked out from their children’s phones so that is why he is acting as a parent. Meanwhile the site is only blocked in the vicinity of schools. Kids can have access anywhere else.

 Paula Todd wrote the book Extreme Mean and said apps like these are creating the most toxic environment we have ever seen.  These days it is easier than ever to hide behind technology.  You just don’t know who is doing what on the Internet.  Jimmy Kimmel has even done a spoof Called Celebrities Read Mean Tweets.  It is all a dangerous environment for impressionable teens.  We can even go as far as saying that the Internet makes people behave like psychopaths.  Living in the mindset of a psychopath means not caring about others, not seeing each other, getting your laughs at the expense of someone else, and really hurting someone.

 As for the cheerleader worrying about getting a rock thrown at her head, notifying the police   means that there is nothing that they can do   because Ask.fm is based in the foreign country called Latvia.  Even if you had the power to take down these apps, new and different ones would just crop up immediately and the owners have no idea how much harm they are causing.  I say convince your kids not to download any of these crappy apps.  What you don’t know won’t bother you.

Monday, July 7, 2014

It seems that anything goes these days.  Who are we to judge others when quite often we can’t even look in the mirror   and be comfortable with what we see?  No matter who we are or what we do, we all seek comfort and   happiness and most of all self-esteem.  How we achieve that feeling of greatness has changed for many and in some circles have become socially acceptable.  I am blah blah blahing today about the epidemic of sugar babies and their sugar daddies.  Young beautiful girls   need money and     older   men have plenty of money and need to feel younger again.

It is love and money taken to extremes.  Is stunning younger women paired with older men who pay their way   a brilliant strategy or just a thinly veiled form of prostitution?  We all know that ladies love to be spoiled.  There are clubs where people can mingle but with the click of a mouse, even a beautiful college girl can be delivered to your door.  As long as you are not just paying for sex, it is legal.  If you pay for the college or buy them cars or apartments you have become a mentor of sorts helping someone to have a better life.  If consensual sex is added to the formula, that is fine and is considered just a perk legally.

Now you could see a 60 year old with a 20 year old and people understand. Go to any resort or vacation place and it is easy to find a younger woman with   a great new boob job holding hands with an older man.  She is extremely grateful whereas the older wife would just treat a lovely vacation as something that is expected.  The young woman loves sex and the older wife has had enough   of sex.  Young women       always   need money and older men can provide that.  Older men can provide the advice and   education that she can’t afford.

The men just want to have fun.  They want an attractive woman that will make them look handsomer.  Just travel with him and have fun.  Be around him and keep him company.  Being a  sugarbaby can come with perks.  It is not unusual for a man to drop $5000 a month on his girl paying for perks like clothing.  Remember you are paying for companionship and   not for sex alone.  Spend hundreds of dollars on the young girl and she looks fabulous.  Spend hundreds of dollars for clothes for the older   wife and she is still an older woman with new clothes on.

However, the big attraction to being with a young woman is the wild abandonment of morals and ethics and good plentiful sex.  The young girls seem to get so many perks, they don’t mind having sex with an older man.  In fact, they may like the old school attention of doors   being held open for them and gentle politeness from a previous era.  Some older men are lucky enough to just fall in love   with a   lovely young woman.  Other men seek young woman through Internet sites like Seeking Arrangement.com

The owner of this website makes it clear that he is not promoting prostitution.  The courts have decreed that as long as the woman is being paid for services other than sex such as   companionship, the act does not classify as prostitution.  Who wrote that law?  I bet it wasn’t somebody’s wife.  Brandon Wade is the Founder and CEO of the website and   says that any one that uses the website simply for sex in exchange for money is in violation of their terms of agreement.   90% of the million and   a half members of the site are sugardaddies.  10% are sugarbabies.  Not all men are very wealthy and not all girls expect all that much.  A lot of it is about relationships and companionship.  However many girls are in relationships with many men at the same time.  I guess life is just complicated these days.

Some Mormon   men visit the site and claim that their relationships are nonsexual till marriage.  The girls feel that it is a dream come true to have someone care for them, give them money and not to expect much back in return.  Many girls feel that their   lives have been upgraded to a luxurious level that they would never be able to attain through their own efforts.  So do all   men who have become successful in life feel they have to go this route to have excitement in their lives?  Do all young beautiful girls need to spend some older man’s money   to have a comfortable life?  Of course the answer is no to both questions.  But as in the case of Donald Sterling, the old man owner of the Basketball team , the Clippers,who was going out with a   young girl and gave her lavish gifts. while being married and no one commented on his sexual behavior. Society’s outrage was not with his sexual habits but with his racial comments.  Go figure.  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Real estate attorneys have been seeing   it happen more often than not these days. Imagine renting  a summer home for your family and friends over the summer and upon arrival finding that the place is not what you expected and even worse, finding the homeowners there declaring that they  never rented to anyone.  What happened to the good old fashioned neighborhood travel agencies agents?  They used to do everything for you and they were responsible for their bookings.  Now everything is done on the Internet which is totally unregulated.  It is a major problem.

In the age of the Internet, booking a vacation is easier than ever.  It is also easier than ever for con artists to rip you off.  Whether it is that beach house you crave or the nice apartment in a big city, this summer lots of families will be ditching the hotels looking for homes and apartments for short term rentals through websites like Airbnb and VRBO. There are other sites like Flipkey or HomeAway.  Sometimes the listings are not what they seem.  Fake advertisements are everywhere and if that deal seems unbelievably cheap, it probably doesn’t even exist.

Homeowners are having problems finding their home listed on line for rent and strangers   showing up randomly at the house.  It has happened to HomeAway.Com   but they claim that less than one in 10,000 listings are fake.  Well, no one wants to fall victim to that one fake listing.  That same fake listing could be listed on other web sites with other families   falling victim to the same scam.  It is virtually impossible to find the scammers.  Chris Elliott is a travel consultant who says that   most people are scammed for a couple of thousand dollars to as much as $10,000.  As far as scams go, this is an epidemic.

Sometimes a so called great deal can arrive right in your inbox.  There is  one rental site VRBO that will write to you right on your wall and   promise you a great deal.  If it is a overseas deal,   all you have to do is wire   them the money.  You could send the money and find that the website just disappears and you are out thousands of dollars.  Quite often they will say as soon as we receive your deposit, we will send you further details about your property rental, and soon you receive nothing.

How it works is that a scammer intercepts   e-mail addresses, and contacts people directly.  In many cases offering a real property for rent without the homeowner   ever even knowing it. You give the scammer a down payment and they are gone with your money without a trace of finding them. There are things you can do to protect yourself. It is called homework.

1.      1.  NEVER EVER WIRE MONEY. Use a credit card or pay-pal instead. We can trace who cashed that money.

2.   2.    VERIFY THE RENTAL AGREEMENT. Find out who is on the other end of the rental agreement. Simply by calling most legitimate   listings will provide you with a phone number.

3.      3. USE SECURE RENTAL WEBSITES. Try to use in house systems that are more secure. Don’t answer anything that comes out of unusual channels.

4.      4. REVERSE GOOGLE SEARCH. Take the image of that rental and run it through Google Images and if it comes up on multiple sites, well, be   careful.

Hundreds of thousands of people use rental sites every day. You do not want to be the one with a problem. Be careful and do some research. Have a great vacation at a nice place.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

We use our telephones for everything these days that it reminds me of the old science fiction movies where they even took your temperature with a device they   spoke into.  Most of us do not wear wristwatches anymore to tell time and most of us track all our banking and stock market trading on our phones.  They thought of   something else they can do with our portable phones.  It seems to all be in an effort to create a paperless and now card free   society.  I am talking about greeting cards and all the plastic we used to carry in our wallets.

Some of the plastic we used to carry in our wallets
included hotel key cards.  We can deal them out soon since there has been an app created to replace them.  The hotel room key may become as obsolete as the brass room key it replaced.  Door lock   vender's have developed the technology to let smart phones function as keys, and the   hotel industry is starting to experiment with it.  The keys are activated through smart phone apps.  When guests check in through the app, the hotel sends them their hotel room   numbers and enables the   phones to act as virtual keys.  Does that mean I don’t have to talk to someone at the hotel lobby?  Will that job disappear too?

Sensors in the door can detect and verify the phone through technology such as Blue tooth.  There’s no need to wait in line at the front desk. “We’re eliminating keys!” says Phil Dumas the President of UniKey, which is partnering with Miwa Lock to offer key less entry, said at last week’s HITEC Hospitality Technology Conference.  This is a boom and completely new change to the security business as a whole.  Imagine the surge of   business for these companies as locks across the world disappear into just being scanners.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts is testing virtual keys on IPhones and Androids at the Aloft Harlem in New York and Aloft Cupertino   in California. The Aloft chain of hotels is a perfect place to try out something techno new since the chain caters to the young preppie technologically   suave   traveler. I stay at this chain of hotels and like its   sleek modern look. Intercontinental Hotels and Marriott are not testing mobile keys but have introduced mobile check-in which lets guests   bypass   the front desk.  Marriott offers both mobile check-in and check-out at 500 hotels, and plans to expand it.  Yes folks, it is a changing world again where someday you can also use this as A Remember When Story about plastic key   entries into rooms.

Hotel Tonight, a last-minute room-booking mobile   app, said it would offer mobile check-in and “key-less entry” powered by Brivo Labs on Android devices. The technology won’t work unless the hotels installs compatible hardware on their door locks.  Hotel Tonight says it is in talks with major global hotel brands to adopt the   technology.  The problem is that change costs money.  That’s probably   what   has held up the widespread use of virtual keys.  Hotel companies have been reluctant to invest in changing or retrofitting locks.

Despite the challenges, Robert Cole, the founder of Rock Cheetah, a hotel marketing strategy and travel tech consulting firm, said most hotels will adopt key less entry in the next 5 to 10 years.  Several door-lock   companies, such as OpenWays and Yikes, showed off key less capabilities at  HITEC.  There are people who go to these trade shows just to find the next big thing.  Investor type of people who simply want to make a lot of money in the stock market.  But Peter Klebanoff, senior vice president of business development for the Americas at OpenWays, and others say hotels don’t have to replace door-locks; adaptors can be installed.

So it is the day after the 4th of July.  A day we clean up after the party, the celebrations and we have time to reflect on how great this country really is.  We still have the dreamers and innovators here to always think of something new.  Honey!  Just keep your phone charged so we can get into our hotel room.  It sounds weird but get used to it.  Now if we could only find an easier way to charge our phones.  They would be fully charged if both every time we say something stupid or did something dumb on the phone would create some power. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

As we approach the day of our independence, shouldn’t we know something about the iconic symbols that have been sculpted trough out our   country?  Patriotic things.  We should even know about things that are not directly related to Independence Day.  Our country is still a mecca for tourists from all over the world.  As citizens shouldn’t we know more about our country than   them?  Well we don’t.  All we have to do is ask   Mom and Dad if they are   citizens and if we were born on United States soil, then we automatically become a citizen as well.  Others who come to this country and crave to become an American must learn an awful lot about our history and pass an exam.
By living in the northeast, I see many immigrants visiting and hoping to make America their home arriving through   the New York airports and are very eager to visit the Statue of Liberty they   were   so happy to see from   an airplane window prior to landing.  What do we know to say about her besides, “Yeah there she is.” as we look at her standing alone in the water.  Author, Elizabeth Mitchel wrote a book recently called Liberty’s Torch where she says that sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi would have felt gratified that more than 125 years later, people are still making the ferry boat trip and   taking pictures   of his Lady Liberty

The ferry filled with tourists from all over the world leaves the southern tip of Manhattan heading 1½ miles west into New York Harbor to a 14 acre island which is home to one of the world’s largest and best known statues.  The lady made out of copper, The Statue of Liberty, has stood there for 128 years since 1886.  It has been renovated and reinforced and is now guarded with Airport like security.  Elizabeth’s book goes on sale on Wednesday in time for the 4th of July.  She advertises that her book is about the great   adventure it took to build The   Statue of Liberty.  For a sculpture, the closest thing to immortality is to have your work looked   at for over a century.

The author describes the French sculptor   as being peevish   and obnoxious.  She uses words like crazy and driven and a career climber as if she knew him well.  He   rarely missed an opportunity to advance his career.  In this country we call that success driven and we applaud people like that.  Yet he had a 15 year struggle to achieve success.  Were it not for Bartholdi’s obnoxiousness to get the massive project done, we probably wouldn’t have had the Statue of Liberty.  In today’s world it would cost a fortune and where would we find that talent to create such a pretty lady?
The book tells us how   Frederic at age 21 takes a trip to Egypt to see the colossal and   skilled statuary and massive pyramids.  The author met Frederic by accident a decade ago   in the archives of the New York Public Library.  The sculptor died in 1904, but writers and historians have a way under the right circumstances of breathing life into old stories and dead characters even though in biographies, they are breathing new life into a very real character who left us   very real things that we still treasure today.

In this book we learn through her research new important facts.  Mitchell realized that Bartholdi’s story was   more complex and interesting than the myths that had grown up around the statue.  She learned it was not a gift from the government of France to the people of the United States.  That the money came from a variety of sources, that some   of it was  raised   by Bartholdi.  She saw that Bartholdi did not like most Americans.  He though they were more interested   in money than art.  So why did he go through the trouble to make such a thing for us?

His original idea for a giant female figure holding up a light was not designed for   New York.  He designed that for the mouth   of the Suez Canal.  Only after Egypt   rejected his plan did he shift   his sites to the USA a country he   had never visited.  When he did visit America   in 1871 at age 36, he was more impressed by America’s landscape and bridges than by the people he met. The author of the book found a quote of his. He said, “America is an adorable woman chewing tobacco.” I agree that this country has a sarcastic charm to it.

He then returned to Paris with plans   to build a 151-foot statue that the French would pay for.  The Americans would build its 154-foot stone pedestal.  Fundraising was a struggle. Bartholdi   put parts of the statue on display with an admission charge. The arm and torch in Philadelphia in 1876.  It’s head in Paris in 1878.  I think it is a shame that talented artists must seek their own projects, create the project and find the source of financing.  Who puts that much effort into any dream they have?  Our youth   should all know his name and not the Kardashians who has produced nothing but   gossip and   sex tapes.

Frederic copyrighted the statues image intending to get paid every time it was used in advertisements, postcards and trinkets.  But he found tracking and enforcing the copyright too difficult.  If he did enforce it his estate would be worth a fortune.  If we all could ask him one question we would want to know who he used as a model for the statue’s face. Lady Liberty has a strong jaw, a troubled brow and a slightly down turned   mouth.

She was finally dedicated on October 28 1886.  Her height is 305 feet tall, 6 inches from the base of the pedestal to the tip of the torch. Originally she was a dark reddish brown.  Its copper   exterior turned   light green because of weathering. Bartholdi failed in an effort to have it gilded in gold.  He never raised that much money yet I believes Americans would band together   in an effort to   make her look as beautiful as possible. 
After the 911 terrorist attacks in 2001 the statue was closed for security reasons.  The pedestal reopened in 2004, the statue in 2009.  It closed again in 2012 because of   damage caused by Super storm Sandy and it reopened July 4th of 2013.  She is open for business now.  Give her a look and thank a persistent Frenchman for all his efforts in giving America such a proud symbol of our freedom to all people here in this beautiful country.