Archive for January 10th, 2011

Hey Sarah, At Least Stand By Your Free Speech

Last Saturday morning 20 people were shot in a Tucson Safeway parking lot by a 22-year-old who stated on YouTube he “won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver.” Fifteen minutes after the news broke, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin tweeted, “The price of gold today is at $1,368.90 an ounce.”



David Fitzsimmons / Arizona Daily Star (click to share)David Fitzsimmons / Arizona Daily Star (click to share)



None of us want to live in a society where hyperbole, exaggeration, satire, bad taste and horrible timing are subjective. Stupidity is legal. So are bad jokes. Ditto for calls for revolution. As are declarations using violent imagery. Pornography, too.

So Sarah Palin has a right to display images on her sites SarahPAC, Facebook and TakeDownthe20.com. On those sites she had riflescope icons over the districts of Democratic congresspersons who voted in favor of health care reform. She stated in bold red letters: “We’ve diagnosed the problem. Help us prescribe the solution.”

In March, shortly after TakeDownthe20.com was launched, the window of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ Tucson office was shot out with a pellet gun. Giffords said in an interview, “The rhetoric and firing people up….we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list. But the thing is that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district. And when people do that, they’ve got to realize there’s consequences to that action.”

There were reports of Tea Party protesters outside her office with signs like, “It’s time to reload” and “One way or another, you’re gone.”

Why? Because people listened to Sarah Palin. They listened to her debunked baloney that reforming health care would kill your grandmother. According to Palin, Giffords was trying to kill everyone’s favorite elderly relative. Therefore, there was a target on her.

There is no evidence any of those people who listened to Palin shot the member of congress in the head with a semi-auto Glock. Besides being steeped in revolution, a cockeyed view of The Constitution and anti-government rhetoric, the shooter has no connection to Palin.

However, minutes after the former governor tweeted about gold, her website was scrubbed of the now infamous crosshairs graphic. It was gone. Then there was a note on her Facebook page: “On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice.”

So in a moment of national peril – when a political “enemy” who was on a hit list had been “taken down” – the FIRST thing Palin does is act in her own interests?

In a word: yes.

This is the most cowardly thing I’ve ever witnessed. If you are going to say outrageous things, then you are going to have to stand by outrageous things.

By law Palin has the right to hurl verbal grenades. But free speech doesn’t mean you’re not accountable for the things you say. It means the government can’t pass laws to make saying them a crime. It doesn’t mean you can beat the drum of rebellion, sell a couple books, delete a graphic, embrace the Bill of Rights and you are magically not a selfish weasel.

Sarah Palin has the courage to delete her convictions and saunter away whistling like nothing happened. All of it is legal. I agree, and I will fight for that: Sarah Palin has the right to be spineless.

Here’s the thing: Palin had an opportunity to have a “bullhorn moment.” She had the opportunity to rise to the occasion and prove all her critics wrong. She could have proven she truly is a leader. That she’s not just a capitalizing catty mean girl who can’t tell the difference between an opponent and an enemy. That she is worthy of all this presidential buzz and not just skating by on some mushy conservative platitudes and good looks. She could have come out strong and expressed regret for demonizing a member of Congress who was shot in the head with a 9mm.

But instead…she cowered. Pitiful.

To be clear, I’m not blaming Sarah Palin for 20 people being shot – six of them dying from their injuries. I’m blaming Sarah Palin for taking down her “take down” map sans comment. I’m not blaming her for throwing bombs. I am blaming her for not uttering remorse when they explode.

Palin wants her followers to “stand up?”

Her first.




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Six ABC series have received early renewals, the network announced Monday.

Medical dramas Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, crime drama Castle and the network’s three sophomore comedies, The Middle, Modern Family, and Cougar Town will each return next season.

Winter Preview: Get scoop on all your favorite shows

“We really stood by our Wednesday comedy block and who would have thought a year ago that The Middle, which I think is such an underrated show, would kick off what I think is one of the best nights of comedy,” ABC President Paul Lee said at the Television Critics Association’s winter previews. “That’s a core part of our schedule.”

Lee also said Grey’s and Private Practice “were really at the top of their creative form” this season, while he heavily praised Castle‘s performance in the difficult Mondays-at-10 timeslot. (The show topped CBS’ buzzed-about Hawaii Five-0 reboot several times in the fall.)

Castle really showed its mettle this year,” Lee said. “It’s a show that I think hits the target of our brand. … We have a really powerful procedural there.”

Get more of today’s latest news

Notably absent from the pickups, however, were Sunday dramas Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters. Housewives creator Marc Cherry is contracted for two more seasons, but contracts for stars Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross and Eva Longoria expire at the end of this season.

Brothers & Sisters‘ renewal prospects have been debated all season. The network originally ordered only 18 episodes for its current season. Decent ratings then led ABC to up the order to the traditional 22 episodes.

This batch of early renewals doesn’t necessarily mean those two shows or other network series such as Detroit 1-8-7, V and Better with You are doomed. Lee said the network “[has] ambitions” to renew Housewives and that a decision about Detroit wouldn’t come for two or three months.

Which of the renewed shows are you most excited about?


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GENEVA — A Swiss village has found a drastic way to compel dog holders to pay their pet’s annual tax: cough up, or the dog gets it.

Reconvilier – population 2,245 humans, 280 dogs – plans to put Fido on notice if its owner doesn’t pay the annual $50 tax.

Local official Pierre-Alain Nemitz says the move is part of an effort to reclaim hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes.

He says a law from 1904 allows the village to kill dogs if its owner does not pay the canine charge.

Nemitz told the AP on Monday that authorities have received death threats since news of the plan got out.

“This isn’t about a mass execution of dogs,” Nemitz said. “It’s meant to put pressure on people who don’t cooperate.”




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Monsters (old school)

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Build the Perfect Home Gym

The beginning of the year is a great time to muzzle some of the most common excuses for not working out—”I’m so busy!” “The weather is so bad!” How? By investing in home exercise gear. In one study, people with home gyms were 73% more likely to be active than those without one. Don’t worry about knocking down walls, either—you need only one tool to get your heart rate up for a cardio workout and some strength equipment to firm up. We have pinpointed the best options for your budget, along with some extras to help you meet your workout goals.

Get slim and strong anywhere with our guide to home workouts.


Choose at least one, and do 30 minutes 5 or more times a week.

Budget Buys between $20 and $80

Burn 110-plus calories in just 10 minutes with the Reebok Adjustable Speed Jump Rope. You can also add weight to the handles to sculpt shapelier arms. You’ll need at least a 9-foot ceiling and a body that can take high-impact exercise. ($20; amazon.com)

An indoor alternative Step while watching TV, or pop in a DVD for a challenge. Reebok’s Incline Step includes slanted risers (for variations that target different muscles) and a 20-minute DVD. ($80; amazon.com)

Exercise dvd fans can spice up their routine with Gliding Discs. Stand on them and slide around the room for a low-impact workout that hits underused muscles like the inner thighs. ($23 for discs and 3 DVDs; glidingdiscs.com)

Your ultimate guide to treadmills and ellipticals.

Mid-Priced between $599 and $1,000

Pedal off pounds pain free with the Vision Fitness R1500 bike. There’s no hunching over handlebars on this recumbent ride, and the cushioned lumbar supported seat is so comfy, you may not want to get off. ($599; visionfitness.com)

Baby your knees and burn megacalories. A no-impact elliptical trainer like the Nautilus E514 mimics running, and you can reverse directions to work more muscles. This model is so smooth, it feels like high-priced gym models. ($999; nautilus.com)

Fair-weather walkers and runners will like the Horizon Fitness T203 treadmill. Its cushioning system provides more shock absorption at the front of the belt where your foot lands and is firmer at the back where you push off. ($1,000; horizonfitness.com)

10 Reasons to get up and get fit today.


Choose at least one product, and do 2 or 3 workouts a week.

Budget Buys between $5 and $35

For a high-intensity strength and cardio routine, grab a kettlebell. In just 20 minutes, you can burn up to 400 calories and firm all over. GoFit offers a 10-pound kettlebell with a beginner dvd. ($35; gofit.net)

Rubber resistance bands and tubes mimic machine moves and target back, hip, and inner thigh muscles that are hard to hit with dumbbell exercises. Braided Xertubes are a bit pricier but more durable than traditional models. ($30; spri.com)

Perfect for beginners, dumbbells are easy to use. Choose lighter ones for small muscles like triceps, heavier ones for larger muscles. (from about $5 a set; available at retailers such as Sears)

Download these workouts to go and get fit anywhere.

Mid-Priced between $30 and $300

Make body-weight moves like planks and leg lifts more challenging with Contour-Weights (you’ll probably want two). Secure the long neoprene tube around your waist, drape it over your leg, or hold it like a bar for upper body exercises. Available in 6, 9, 12, and 15 pounds. ($30 to $57; spri.com)

Avoid dumbbell clutter but still challenge yourself with heavy weights (key for fast toning) with Stamina’s Versa-Bell weights. You get 9 dumbbells in 1: A simple click transforms the weight in Q 2.5-pound increments, from 5 to 25 pounds, m ($300 per pair; staminaproducts.com)

This portable device is like a gym in a bag. Attach the TRX suspension trainer to a door, put your hands and feet in the handles, and you can do more than 300 exercises. ($200, includes guide and DVD; fitnessanywhere.com)

Excellent Extras

For a flatter belly Exercising on a stability ball activates more ab and back muscles for faster firming. The TrainerBall makes it easy: Moves are printed right on the ball. ($30; trainermat.com)

For better balance Basic moves like stepping forward and back become more challenging on the 6-inch-wide Beamfit Activity Beam. The result is a gentle strength and flexibility workout that targets your core and improves stability. ($125; beamfit.com)

For cyclists Turn your bike into an indoor cardio machine by hooking it up to the CycleOps Magneto bike trainer. It even provides progressive resistance: As you pedal faster, the difficulty increases without you having to shift gears. ($270; cycleops.com)

Yoga moves that blast belly fat!



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Seemingly harmless information can help ID thieves unlock key to your identity.

Your pet’s name is a fraudster’s best friend.

You may think you’re revealing precious little when you tell your Facebook friends that you’re dressing your pooch, Puddles, in your favorite color, red, for brunch at Grandma’s on Sunday. But you’ve actually just opened a Pandora’s box of risks.

[See Things to Stop Doing Now on Facebook]

The information consumers willingly, and often unwittingly, post on social-media websites can be a gold mine for fraudsters looking to steal everything from your flat-screen TV to your identity.

What’s more, tidbits like your birth date, birthplace and the last school you attended are typically the challenge questions posed by bank websites and online retailers to verify your identity.

“Despite all the awareness that people have about identity fraud and privacy on social networks, there is a disconnect between [that and what they are] disclosing in online space and social environments,” said Thomas Oscherwitz, chief privacy officer for ID Analytics, a San Diego-based consumer risk management firm.

More than 24 million Americans 18 years old and older are still leaving their social-network profiles mostly public, meaning they aren’t activating privacy controls that limit who can see their information online, according to a Harris Interactive survey conducted in October for ID Analytics.

The survey also found that nearly 70 million U.S. adults on social-networking sites include their birthplace — one of the most common security questions asked by financial institutions — on their profiles.

“The information people are disclosing is not the entire piece of the puzzle but it’s certainly helpful,” Oscherwitz said. Thieves steal identities in pieces, he said, and layer them on each other for a clearer picture.

[See Stolen: True Tales of Identity Theft]

Say you post on a social-media site that you’re at a tanning salon ahead of your week-long trip to the Bahamas the day after your birthday. You’re telling potential burglars that not only are you away from home for an hour or so, but beginning Tuesday, your home likely will be empty for seven days.

“Even listing daily activities can let strangers know your routine and put you at risk,” said Gail Cunningham, spokeswoman for the National Foundation of Credit Counseling.

Too much information can hurt you in other ways. John Sileo, a Denver-based identify-theft expert, said your online chatter could equip an ex-spouse with ammunition for a court challenge. Future or current employers could have a problem with information about your personal life that they deem inappropriate for a member of their staff, he said.

You also could be furnishing a would-be stalker with information about your whereabouts. “We are giving people the little pieces of our trust or access to our trust that allows them to get bigger things out of us,” said Sileo, founder of the ThinkLikeaSpy.com newsletter.

[See 6 Things You Should Never Reveal on Facebook]

Tips to Stay Safe

Here’s some advice from Sileo, who wrote the “Facebook Safety Survival Guide,” about protecting online privacy on all social-networking sites:

• Never post your exact date and place of birth. It’s invaluable information to identity thieves, particularly when the two are bundled together.

• Never post your address, phone number or email address. This is plum information to scammers and marketers who are looking for nuggets of your identity.

• Control who can see your personal information. Many social-networking sites have privacy features, but they change often. Know what they are, stay on top of them and restrict your page to your real friends, not friends of friends or someone you met in a bar.

• Limit information about your activities. If you must brag about a trip or a fabulous party, do it after the fact.

• Remember that what you post is public and permanent. Don’t put up embarrassing photos that you wouldn’t show your grandmother. Don’t complain about your job or your boss. Don’t say something to or about someone that you wouldn’t say to his face. Don’t threaten others.

• Know the four types of Facebook users: friends, outsiders, businesses and enemies.

• You should know exactly who wants to be your friend or is asking you to link into their network. Some people will befriend your friends to get to you or your company.

• Be wary of seemingly harmless quizzes. When someone invites you to take a survey, say, “10 Things Others Don’t Know About You” or “My Favorite Things,” it may be designed to harvest your data. The name of the street you grew up on or your favorite vacation spot could be clues to your passwords.

• Before you share any information anywhere online about yourself or your workplace, ask this question: What would the consequences be if this information fell into the hands of my boss, competitor or people who don’t like me?

Jennifer Waters is a MarketWatch reporter, based in Chicago.



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