Archive | March, 2013

George Bush is the Most Expensive Ex-President

George Bush Phone

The U.S federal government spends about $3.7 million on its former presidents each year and George Bush makes sure he gets his share (and then some).

Former president George W. Bush cost the government $1.3 million in 2012, which included a $200,000 pension, compensation and benefits for office staff, and other costs like travel, office space and postage. Bush, pictured above trying to figure out how a phone works, spent $400,000 for 8,000 square feet of office space and $85,000 in telephone costs. What is he doing – calling sex hotlines? Or does he really not know how to use a phone?

Bill Clinton came in second place at just under $1 million. He probably is calling sex hotlines… George Bush the elder follows with $850,000 and Jimmy Carter trails behind with only $500,000 worth of expenses (probably because he lives in a Habitat for Humanity house).

At the very least, this should shut “some Republicans” up about Obama’s “extravagant” lifestyle with his non-existent dog walker and movie projectionists. But if the federal government ever wants to cut down on their expenses they should just send George Bush off on a hunting trip with Dick Cheney. Problem solved.

Via: Politico

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Monica Lewinsky Isn’t the Only Thing Bill Clinton Regrets About His Presidency

Bill Clinton Gay Marriage

As the Supreme Court hears arguments for and against marriage equality over a two-day gay marriage marathon, Bill Clinton is left regretting his decision to sign the Defense of Marriage Act.

Today gay-marriage activists will argue that the Constitution protects the right to same-sex marriage and states don’t have the authority to reject this. California’s notorious Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage, will be at the forefront of these discussions.

On the second day the court will hear arguments for the Defense of Marriage Act, signed by Bill Clinton in September, 1996. What’s interesting is that Bill Clinton is now urging the Supreme Court to overturn the legislation he signed during his presidency.

While it is extremely rare for former Presidents to admit mistakes made in office, much less to disavow a major piece of legislation, Bill Clinton expressed his regret in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post earlier this month. In anticipation of the Supreme Court hearings, Clinton wrote:

“On March 27, DOMA will come before the Supreme Court, and the justices must decide whether it is consistent with the principles of a nation that honors freedom, equality and justice above all, and is therefore constitutional. As the president who signed the act into law, I have come to believe that DOMA is contrary to those principles and, in fact, incompatible with our Constitution.”

His explanation for signing the act back in 1996?

“Although that was only 17 years ago, it was a very different time.”

At the time Clinton felt he couldn’t risk it politically. Despite having a heavy LGBT support base, public opinion was largely anti-gay marriage and after the whole “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” fiasco, the administration kind of backed away from any substantive gay rights issues. When the Defense of Marriage Act came around, the administration felt their reelection would be in jeopardy if Clinton vetoed it.

After Clinton’s reelection, he eased up a bit , supporting legislation banning discrimination against gays and appointing openly gay Americans to important positions.  It took him a while, but he finally endorsed same-sex marriage in 2009.

Clinton’s turnaround mirrors larger changes in America where gay marriage has gone from being a radical idea to a mainstream one. Now it seems everyone is doing it. Coming out in support of gay marriage is the new coming out of the closet. Hillary did it, Obama did it (via Biden) and even Republicans are coming out (albeit at a slower pace).

I guess the lesson learned is… conform to public opinion in your first term then do whatever you want in your second term?

Via: The New York Times

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Yahoo Buys 17-Year-Old’s Startup for $30M

Yahoo Teen

British whiz kid Nick D’Aloisio has reportedly sold his news app Summly to Yahoo for $30 million, leaving everyone else wondering what they’re doing with their lives.

The idea for the app, which essentially condenses content on a smartphone, came to the teen when he was 15 and studying for exams. He went on to crate a prototype of the app and attracted a slew of celebrity investors including Ashton Kutcher and Yoko Ono. Random.

“If you have a good idea, or you think there’s a gap in the market, just go out and launch it, because there are investors across the world right now looking for companies to invest in,” he said.

I guess there’s not a gap in the market for Current Event Cats. Otherwise I’d be an Internet billionaire.

D’Aloisio will reportedly work from Yahoo’s London office so he can still finish his exams. He will also be the company’s youngest employee. I would hope so.

Which part of this article puts me most to shame?

  • a)   The fact that he’s is younger than Yahoo, which was incorporated in 1995.
  • b)   The fact that he effortlessly created a million dollar product while studying for a history exam
  • c)   The fact that he looks like a techie version of Justin Beiber
  • d)   All of the above

The answer, of course, is all of the above!

Via: The Washington Post

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Current Event Cat of the Day

Current Event Cat - Native

Current Event Cat of the Day:

A group of seven Native Canadian youths have finished a 1,600km trek from Whapmagoostui, Quebec to Ottawa in protest against living conditions on reservations. The youths began their journey in January, travelling by both snowshoe and sled. They were joined by protesters along the way, culminating with hundreds gathering outside the Canadian parliament yesterday in support of the Idle No More movement.

The Idle No More movement was gained attention after Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s faux-44-day hunger strike in December and January. It was Theresa Spence’s hunger strike that initially inspired the group to make the trek to Ottawa. Impressive journey, but talk about a terrible role model… 

Via: Current Event Cats

And in Other News…

What Reagan Missed: Other News of the Day

Other News - Jerry Sandusky

Sounds like Sandusky is doing more than just dropping the soap in prison. Jerry Sandusky, the disgraced former Penn State assistant football coach, allowed himself to be interviewed in prison where he is serving 30 years for child sex abuse. Interview highlights include 1: Sandusky not knowing if Joe Paterno suspected he was abusing children and 2: Sandusky still clinging to the defense that he was merely “fooling around” with Victim 2. Sandusky is appealing his conviction and continues to deny any wrongdoing. USA Today

Other News - Harper and PandaToronto has Panda fever! Prime Minister Stephen Harper greeted two giant pandas today as they arrived for their 10-year stay at the Toronto Zoo. Er Shun, a five-year-old female, and Da Mao, a four-year-old male, will spend 5 years in Toronto before moving on to Calgary for 5 years. The panda arrival was much anticipated as it marks the first time in almost thirty years that pandas have been at the Toronto Zoo. This was front page news in Canada. CBC News

SOFTWARE- GATESCondom-gate: Bill Gates is so rich that he wants a $100,000 condom. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is putting up $100,000 to try to entice someone into developing a condom that feels so good people will want to use it. Arguing that many men don’t like using condoms because of the reduced pleasure, the Foundation is looking for a “Next Generation Condom” that significantly preserves or enhances pleasure. The benefits of such a product could include reduced pregnancies and fewer cases of HIV. But if condom companies haven’t been able to do this, who will be? NBC News

Other News - VirusA vial of deadly virus has gone missing from a Texas lab but there is no reason for alarm. Really? Because it sounds like there are quite a few reasons to be alarmed. The vial that went missing from the research facility contained a virus that can cause hemorrhagic fever but officials are assuming it was destroyed during the lab’s cleaning process until the investigation is finished. Luckily the virus is transmitted only through contact with Venezuelan rats, not person-to-person. CBS News

Other News - Hong Kong MaidsHong Kong gives domestic workers a slap in the face by denying them permanent residency. A final appeals court ruled that foreigners in Hong Kong who are domestic helpers (read: maids), will not be eligible to become permanent residents like other workers from abroad. As it stands now, foreigners working in other jobs can seek permanent residency after living seven years in Hong Kong, but immigration rules explicitly bar domestic workers from doing so. Needless to say, the Filipino community was not impressed. Los Angeles Times

other news knoxThe Italian Supreme Court is set to rule on whether Amanda Knox should stand trial for a second time. Knox was convicted of killing her former roommate and spent four years in jail before the court overturned her murder conviction. If the acquittal is overturned, the case will go back to an appellate court and Knox might have to return to Italy. But even if that happens, the US is likely to reject the request because of a little thing called ‘double jeopardy’. CNN

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Central African Republic: France Has Another Mess to Clean Up

central african republic

Hundreds of rebels entered the Central African Republic (CAR) capital Bangui on Sunday, accusing President Francois Bozize of failing to honour a peace deal. 

The Central African Republic has known little but coups, rebellions, and poverty since it gained independence from France in 1960 and it doesn’t look like things are going to change.

Rebels took hold of the capital, ousting President Francois Bozize. The rebels, who call themselves Seleka, joined a power-sharing government in January but the deal quickly collapsed and now they are angry that their demands have not been met.

The invading rebels met little resistance from both from the country’s military and troops from the region who had been sent to bolster the government (although thirteen South African troops died trying). Apparently President Bozize was wary of having a large army in case they overthrew him in a coup. I guess that plan backfired because the now-ousted Bozize fled the country in fear,  seeking temporary refuge in Cameroon.

France, CAR’s former colonial kingpin, called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council and has sent 300 soldiers to Bangui from Gabon to back up the 250 it already has. France’s main/sole priority is to protect French citizens and the French Embassy.

Will Seleka restore law and order to the capital? Doubtful. Central African Republic’s new leadership already appears fragmented, with a split emerging in the rebel coalition. The rebels are attempting to difuse international criticism by pledging to name a power-sharing government. But as things stand now, the region is in chaos and Seleka’s leaders are struggling to control their men.

France has already indicated they wouldn’t intervene in the internal affairs of the country. But they said that about Mali too… Maybe they’ll just ‘pull a Mali’ and wait around until things get worse.

Via: Reuters

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Tilda Swinton’s Box is Art

Tilda Swinton Box

Oscar-nominated actress and androgynous fashion enthusiast Tilda Swinton has put her box on display at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

As part of a new art installation entitle “The Maybe”, Swinton will sleep in a glass box full of cushions for museum-goers to see/not really understand. Luckily, the above image is the first to come up when googling “Tilda Swinton Box”.

Swinton’s first appearance was on Saturday when the actress spent 6 and a half hours napping in the glass box. Swinton plans to appear again but nobody knows when she’ll be back. Even the museum doesn’t know when she is scheduled to be there.

MoMA said in a statement:

“An integral part of The Maybe’s incarnation at MoMA in 2013 is that there is no published schedule for its appearance, no artist’s statement released, no museum statement beyond this brief context, no public profile or image issued. Those who find it chance upon it for themselves, live and in real – shared – time: now we see it, now we don’t.”

The world will soon be divided into those who have seen Tilda Swinton sleeping in a glass box and those who have not.

Art is weird.

Via: NY Daily News

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Now That Berezovsky Is Dead, Putin Needs a New Enemy

Berezovsky and Putin

Boris Berezovsky, one of Russia’s most prominent post-communist oligarchs, was found dead in at his home near London over the weekend.

The Russian tycoon, who died at the age of 67, was a known Putin-hater who emigrated to the UK in 2000 after a falling out with Putin and was granted asylum in 2003.

The details surrounding Berezovsky’s death are sketchy to say the least. The cause of the oligarch’s death still remains unknown, but those close to the tycoon are pointing to suicide and those close to Putin’s thoughts are pointing to homicide.

Given that so many of Putin’s enemies have ended up dead in mysterious circumstances (Alexander Litvinenko anyone?), it’s not a surprise many suspect foul play. And Berezovsky has encountered several prior assassination attempts, including a bomb that decapitated his chauffeur. However, British police gave his mansion the “all-clear” on Sunday after combing it for biological, chemical and nuclear materials. The police are still looking into things.

“It would be wrong to speculate on the cause of death until the post-mortem has been carried out. We do not have any evidence at this stage to suggest third party involvement,” Detective Kevin Brown of Thames Valley Police said, “The investigation team are building a picture of the last days of Mr Berezovsky’s life, speaking to close friends and family to gain a better understanding of his state of mind.”

Suicide is another viable option. Berezovsky had numerous debts as a result of costly court cases. He also reportedly lost more than £100 in a divorce settlement.

But the real loss in all of this is Putin’s. After putting so much effort into hating (and potentially killing?) Berezovsky, Putin will undoubtedly be left with a gaping hole in his life. And that hole will need filling. But who should be Putin’s newest arch-nemesis? Another oligarch? Pussy Riot? Bears? The Bank of Cyprus? Only time will tell who will wind up in the morgue next.

UPDATE: He died by hanging.

Via: BBC News

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Current Event Cat of the Day

Current Event Cat - Bailout

Current Event Cat of the Day:

With only hours to spare, the government of Cyprus reached a bailout agreement with the European Union. The $10 billion-euro bailout, designed to save the country’s banks from collapse, will protect small savers with deposits under €100,000. Depositors with more than 100,000 euros, many of whom are wealthy Russians using Cyprus as a tax haven, will face big losses. While the actually amount their savings will be taxed is still unknown, it will have to be enough to raise €5.8 billion.

Banks in Cyprus have been closed since last Monday while politicians and officials tried to figure out the whole bailout issue but that hasn’t stopped Cypriots from making ATM runs. On Sunday, Bank of Cyprus further limited cash machine withdrawals to 120 euros a day. Laiki Bank (which will eventually be merged with Bank of Cyprus under the new deal) also lowered its daily limit to 100 euros. I guess that’s what happens when your main industry is off-shore banking…

Via: Current Event Cats

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And in Other News…

What Reagan Missed: Other News of the Day

Other News - Assad

Assad vows to “wipe out” Syria’s extremists. Yeah, I’m pretty sure he’s been trying to do that for a few years now. Unsuccessfully. But this time, it’s personal! President Bashar Assad’s latest fit is over a suicide bombing at a mosque that killed dozens of people, including Sheikh Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Buti, a top Sunni cleric and a strong supporter of Assad. But not to worry al-Buti. Assad says “Your blood and your grandson’s, as well as that of all the nation’s martyrs will not go in vain because we will continue to follow your thinking to wipe out their darkness and clear our country of them.” Them being the extremists, I presume. Associated Press

Other News - Turkey ObamaHmm.. maybe Obama really is making peace in the Middle East. The president reportedly got Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to apologize to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the way he handled the deadly commando raid on a Turkish ship in 2010. The Turkish PM accepted the apology and now diplomatic relations have been restored for the first time since 2010. New York Times

Other News - UnityOh what could have been… Apparently, in the weeks leading up to the Michigan primaries Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum nearly agreed to form a joint “Unity Ticket” to consolidate conservative support and beat the struggling Mitt Romney. In the end negotiations collapsed as Gingrich and Santorum could not agree on who would be the Batman and who would be the Robin in their little duo. I’m pretty sure I could settle that one right now: Santorum would be Robin. Businessweek

Other News - ChinuaNigerian author Chinua Achebe, 82, dies after a brief illness. The author, of “Things Fall Apart” fame, was regarded as the founding father of African literature. Achebe wrote more than 20 works – mostly critical pieces about politicians and leadership failures in Nigeria. His latest book was about the Biafran region’s failed war of independence and resulting famine. You know, just your typical light easy read. Los Angeles Times

demimoorewhipitsSorry Demi Moore, your depressing middle-aged fun is over. Los Angeles police are cracking down on whippets. Use of the recreational drug, also known as the laughing gas your dentist knocks you out with, has grown in recent years but now the police are fed up. According to LA authorities, the drug has been linked with fatal car accidents, rapes and teen deaths. Police have busted more than 350 illegal parties since September and plan to track further whippet use using social media. Note to white trash drug users: do not post your whippet activity online or there will be no moore whippets for you. Fox News

Other News - CyberFirst they blame North Korea, then they blame China, and then they realize you should always go with your gut instinct. South Korea is suffering from embarrassment after they misidentified China as the source of the cyber attack they experienced earlier this week. After they initially suspected North Korea, South Korean investigators announced they had traced the virus to an IP address is China. This turned out to be false and South Korea is once again giving North Korea the suspicious side eye. CBC News

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