February 9, 2008

‘The Election Will Be About the Economy; the GOP’s Candidates Aren’t Ready’ Now Up at BizzyBlog

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:49 pm

My Thursday morning column originally posted at Pajamas Media is up on BizzyBlog, and back-posted to the time it originally went live at Pajamas. The column was actually written early Wednesday morning, before Mitt Romney suspended his campaign.

Wholly Toledo — Mayor to Marines: Go Away, You ‘Frighten People’

Filed under: Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 11:21 am

Is the Glass City becoming the Berkeley of the Midwest?

In today’s Toledo Blade (HT Maggie Thurber; bolds are mine):

VACATE THE PREMISES
Mayor to Marines: Leave downtown
He says urban exercises scare people

A company of Marine Corps Reservists received a cold send-off from downtown Toledo yesterday by order of Mayor Carty Finkbeiner.

The 200 members of Company A, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., planned to spend their weekend engaged in urban patrol exercises on the streets of downtown as well as inside the mostly vacant Madison Building, 607 Madison Ave.

Toledo police knew days in advance about their plans for a three-day exercise. Yet somehow the memo never made it to Mayor Finkbeiner, who ordered the Marines out yesterday afternoon just minutes before their buses were to arrive.

“The mayor asked them to leave because they frighten people,” said Brian Schwartz, the mayor’s spokesman.

“He did not want them practicing and drilling in a highly visible area.”

….. Members of the 1st Battalion, 24th Marines have trained periodically in downtown Toledo since at least 2004 and most recently in May, 2006.

….. The Reservists’ visit was no surprise to Toledo police, who Tuesday issued a news release to media outlets on behalf of the Marines that asked Toledoans not to be startled by the sight of camouflaged soldiers toting M16 rifles.

….. Mr. Schwartz said the Marines declined Mayor Finkbeiner’s alternative offer for them to practice their urban patrol tactics inside the former Jones Junior High School, 550 Walbridge Ave.

(Marine) Major (Jeffrey) O’Neill said he was not aware of such an offer.

A pair of Marines spent the better part of yesterday setting up the Madison Building with generators, heaters, radios, and food to become the unit’s overnight headquarters.

….. (Marine) Sergeant (Andrew) Davis and other company leaders estimated the total cost of the aborted training exercise, including travel, at roughly $10,000.

It’s clear that Marine visits for training exercises have become a routine thing. At least one of these exercises had to previously have taken place since Finkbeiner was re-elected mayor in November 2005 after a term-limited break in service. If he didn’t like what the Marines did in 2006, he could have told them not to come back after-the-fact in 2006. But noooooo.

“Somehow,” the Blade’s coverage missed this crucial point.

Maggie adds:

This is the most insane thing I’ve ever heard of. Marines don’t frighten me! They give me comfort and confidence that our nation is so well-protected by such dedicated individuals. Perhaps it’s only Carty who is frightened.

What’s frightening is how out of touch the mayor is.

This is disgraceful. The Mayor owes the Marines an apology and a re-invite. The City owes them 10 grand.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE: Roger Kimball at Pajamas Media has more.

UPDATE 2: Of course, the Blade didn’t identify the Mayor’s party.

UPDATE 3: Instapundit relays an e-mail — “The really rich part of this is that our downtown still has many vacant buildings. One of Carty’s ‘arts’ initiatives was to get artists to paint scenes that would be put up inside the windows of the vacant buildings so they wouldn’t look so ‘vacant’. Oh, and did I mention that the City and County were pleading with the Feds a couple of years ago not to move the local Air National Guard Base (and its jobs/payroll taxes) out of Toledo Express Airport? Pray for us.”

UPDATE 4: Blackfive wants the mayor to pony up the 10 grand himself.

Positivity: Cell Phone Reads to the Blind

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 10:37 am

As broadcast on NPR’s Morning Edition on January 29 (audio at link):

A new cell phone offers the smallest text-to-speech reading device ever built, a device especially useful for people with impaired vision. The phone and software come with a $2,000 price tag.

If you have normal vision and can read, there are thousands of things you do every day without even thinking even about it, little problems you solve with just a glance — like knowing which coffee bag in a hotel is caffeinated or decaf.

James Gashel is blind, but he can get his caffeine fix with help from his cell phone.

“All you have to do is snap a picture of the bag, and it tells you,” he says.

Gashel is showing off his new phone in a hotel ballroom filled with people who have come to check it out. Many are holding white canes, and there’s a guide dog resting by the wall. Everyone listens to the small silver phone as Gashel holds it a few inches above a green rectangle.

“Taking picture … detecting orientation,” a digitized voice from the phone says. “Processing U.S. currency image, please wait … $20.”

The phone is loaded up with software developed by the company Gashel works for — K-NFB Reading Technology, a joint venture between Kurzweil Technologies and the National Federation of the Blind.

Besides reading labels and telling a $20 from a $10, the phone can read pages of printed text.

Reading machines have been around for decades — this company already makes a hand-held device. But this reader is the smallest yet — just 4 ounces and a few inches long. And it’s in a high-end Nokia phone with features like an MP3 player, high-speed data connection and a GPS navigation system. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.