February 21, 2008

Positivity: NYC cupid cabbie makes matches on the go

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 11:43 pm

From New York City (video is also at link):

Passengers in Ahmed Ibrahim’s taxi might find more than just a ride
updated 12:44 p.m. ET, Thurs., Feb. 14, 2008

When you get in Ahmed Ibrahim’s yellow cab in New York, there are no flashing lights, bursts of music and an ebullient driver announcing, “You’re in the Cash Cab!” But you just might find yourself with a prize worth more than a handful of Ben Franklins.

Crystal Ingorvaia and Tabber Benedict can vouch for that. As they told TODAY’s Hoda Kotb on the plaza at Rockefeller Center, Ibrahim set them up on a first date that has turned into a romance.

“We’re going to have a nice dinner tonight,” Benedict said of their Valentine’s Day plans. “It’s all good now.”

It’s nothing new for Ibrahim, who sat in his cab and told Kotb that 19 couples he’s introduced to each other have stayed together for more than a year.

Known as the “Cupid Cabbie,” Ibrahim is becoming something of a celebrity in the Big Apple because of the match-making services he provides for selected passengers.

“If they qualify, I take their e-mail and I e-mail them: What’s your religion, do you smoke, how old you are, what job, what you’re looking for? And I put them together with a little bit of common ground,” he explained.

In a town in which single women outnumber their male counterparts, word of a person like Ibrahim spreads quickly. He started somewhat by accident three years ago when he picked up a woman who was crying because she had just broken up with her boyfriend and asked her what was wrong.

The woman trusted Ibrhaim, a 50-year-old Egyptian immigrant who sports a neatly trimmed mustache and rimless glasses that make him look a bit like Mahatma Ghandi, and gave him her number. Three days later, he picked up a man who he thought would be a good match for her, called her up, and set them up.

Now, New Yorkers looking for dates seek him out. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

AP Writer Cites ‘Groundswell of Public Criticism’ — In Communist China

Associated Press writer Tini Tran, in covering the fallout inside Mainland/Communist China from Steven Spielberg’s decision to resign from his position as artistic adviser to the Beijing Olympics over that country’s involvement in Darfur, introduced the critical reaction to his decision as a “groundswell” rising up from the public. But the detail presented indicates that the reaction came from Chinese officialdom far more than from the public in general (bolds are mine):

China Media, Public Angered by Spielberg

Hollywood director Steven Spielberg’s decision to quit the Beijing Olympics over the Darfur crisis is drawing condemnation by China’s state-controlled media and a groundswell of criticism from the Chinese public.

….. Officially, the Chinese government has not directly criticized Spielberg by name, expressing only “regret” over his decision. But the state-run media and the public have been far less restrained.

In newspaper commentaries and lively Internet forums, they have expressed outrage, scorn and bewilderment that China’s Olympics have come under international criticism from Spielberg and others.

A biting front-page editorial Wednesday in the overseas edition of the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s official newspaper, blasted Spielberg for his decision.

….. Over the weekend, the Guangming Daily, also published by the Communist Party, ran an editorial saying Spielberg “broke his promise to make his contribution to the Beijing Olympics and betrayed the Olympic spirit.”

….. An editorial in the China Youth Daily was equally scathing.

….. China often uses its newspapers to make statements it does not want to officially comment on. But the issue also has exploded on the Internet, where scores of Chinese have been quick to add their criticism of Spielberg.

So let’s see. The first three examples Tran cited call came from official party publications. Finally, Tran got to “the Internet.” She only cited a couple of comments, one on the Sina.com portal, and another at an unnamed site.

So where’s the “public groundswell”? Even if there were a documented “groundswell,” what, if anything would it mean in a country that so tightly controls what people can and cannot say and do on the Internet (with the unfortunate help of US-developed high tech and US-based high-tech companies)? Finally, if the government wanted to created the impression of a “groundswell,” it would not be all that difficult. After all, it has an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 net minders (i.e., censors) monitoring what its citizens are doing. It would not be difficult to get a state-induced comment swarm going just among them.

Tran’s take on the criticism of Spielberg only works if you believe that the official publications she cited represent public sentiment. Give me a break.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Dick Morris Notes Why Ted Strickland and Ed Rendell Should Be Squirming

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:34 am

Well, not directly, but it isn’t too tough for a reader to figure out:

God help the governor of a state, or its U.S. senator, if he votes for Clinton when his state went for Obama! Because everybody knows which state went for which candidate, it is so very easy for voters to keep track. Iowa went for Obama. New Hampshire went for Clinton. Minnesota voted for Obama. California was for Hillary. Every schoolchild knows that in this most highly publicized and followed of all presidential elections. For a governor or senator to vote against the will of his state is the most obvious form of thumbing one’s nose at one’s own voters.

Both Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell have declared for Hillary Clinton. Strickland has actively campaigned for her. Rendell has raised a ruckus when he said that a significant percentage of his state’s white Democrats won’t for a non-white candidate.

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey haven’t declared.

An IMO likely Ohio win 12 days from now by the candidate I often refer to as BOOHOO (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama) would place Ted Strickland squarely in the dilemma Morris just raised. I would expect that heavy pressure for him to change his declaration will arrive at about 12:01 a.m., March 5.

Fortunately for Rendell, he has the luxury of another seven weeks for all of this to sort itself out, which it probably will.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (022108)

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:07 am

This is a week old, but worth noting.

Current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said we’re probably going to avoid a recession. Fair enough, and hope he’s right.

Meanwhile, current Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan made yet another of his megathousand-dollar speeches. It is becoming more clear with each passing day that under his watch, the mortgage lending and housing sectors went on an unregulated, uncommented-upon, and from all I can tell, unnoticed (by him) speculative tear.

Now Greenspan says we’re “clearly on the edge” of a recession.

Okay, Alan. If a recession occurs, when is your “I was wrong, I am sorry” going to arrive? Actually, the “I’m sorry” needs to come anyway, because the difficulties in those two sectors noted earlier could easily have been avoided.

Or is Greenspan going to try to unfairly pass the blame to his successor at some date in the not too distant future (or stand by while Old Media does it for him)?

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Hugo Chavez would love to stop selling us oil. There’s only one problem: He can’t afford to:

Venezuela sells more than half its oil output to the U.S. It can’t quickly shift to new customers because its thick, sulfur- rich oil can only be handled by refineries designed specifically for its characteristics. Most of those are on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

….. (Venezuelan Oil and Energy Minister Rafael) Ramirez said today during the television program that there is a global shortage of oil, and that Venezuela won’t have problems finding new buyers. Chavez, who says the Faja has reserves of more than a trillion barrels, said reports that PDVSA is in financial trouble are false.

“Supposedly Venezuela is going to go under, PDVSA is going to go under, because only the U.S. has refineries to process our oil,” Chavez said. “Don’t believe these lies.”

The president said he’s considering the creation of an “unexpected gains” tax on the oil industry. The levy would be charged progressively as oil prices rise above average levels, Chavez said.

PDVSA is the state-run oil enterprise. I’ll betcha it’s in plenty of trouble. This explains the need for what is, in essence, a resurrection of a 1970s idea — Jimmy Carter’s “windfall profits” tax.

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Only in Old Media could a Democratic presidential candidate run for over a year (in this case, Hillary Clinton), and then come out with anew economic message,” without any curiosity as to what happened to the old one.

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Speaking of Mrs.Clinton, Emmett Tyrell at Townhall is bemused at the awe in which her husband Bill is held in Old Media circles, and the presumption that he is an asset in his wife’s campaign:

For that matter, why have members of the press insisted on claiming that the former Boy President is a political genius? The Democratic Party went into decline almost everywhere throughout the republic while he was bemanuring the White House. Truth be known, when Boy Clinton began campaigning for her, her prospects darkened. The stubborn minority of journalists who have remained undeluded by the Clinton legends and aware of the Clinton record recognized the impending danger.

….. Hillary’s staff always has been uneasy about the presence of her big loveable lug on the campaign trail. Anyone who might bother to contemplate his record as a campaigner would recognize that he is poison when he campaigns for others. In 2004, of the 14 fated Democrats he campaigned for, 12 lost.

It will be interesting to see how Bill handles the apparently imminent demise of his wife’s candidacy, and how much, if any, support he provides to the presumptive Democratic nominee. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him act as a saboteur.