Saturday, December 31, 2005

Zeta Wants to Live; Eyes New Year

ORLANDO -- This year's record-shattering hurricane season just won't die.A month after the season officially ended, Tropical Storm Zeta formed in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, becoming the 27th named storm of 2005 and tying a 1954 record for the latest storm.

Zeta, about 1,000 miles south-southwest of the Azores with maximum sustained winds of nearly 50 m.p.h, was not expected to become a hurricane, threaten land or even stick around for the New Year." Fortunately, Zeta is more of a curiosity than a life-threatening event," said Chris Landsea of the National Hurricane Center. Even so, Landsea said forecasters were "incredulous" as they watched thunderstorms swirl into a small tropical storm during the final days of 2005.

[Full Story...]

Oil is Up; Welcome '06

Oil Rises, Gasoline Jumps to 2-Month High, on Motor-Fuel Supply

Dec. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil rose and gasoline surged to a two-month high on concern that U.S. supplies of the motor fuel will be insufficient to meet demand next year. ``Gasoline has led us higher this week and that should continue to be the case,'' said James Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, a Galena, Illinois-based researcher. ``There is a small supply deficit, a lot of refineries have scheduled maintenance early next year and imports are beginning to trail off. The gasoline market is going to shine in 2006.''

Gasoline supplies plunged 1.2 million barrels last week, the Energy Department reported yesterday. Stockpiles of the fuel were 4.5 million barrels, or 2.2 percent, below the five-year average for the date, the department said. Refineries delayed maintenance this fall because hurricanes shut facilities along the Gulf of Mexico.
Crude oil for February delivery rose 72 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $61.04 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest close since Dec. 13. Prices climbed 4.5 percent this week.

Gasoline for January delivery jumped 5.76 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $1.71 a gallon in New York, the highest close since Oct. 18. Futures touched $1.72 a gallon, the highest intraday price since Oct. 19. Gasoline rose to a record $2.92 a gallon on Aug. 31. Prices advanced 10 percent this week and 57 percent this year.

[Full Story...]

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Magic Lose Howard; Fall to Lakers

Dwight Howard left the game in the third minute with an ankle injury and the Orlando Magic dropped their fourth straight, 104-88 to the Los Angeles Lakers Friday at TD Waterhouse Centre. Kobe Bryant scored 21 points and Laker center Chris Mihm added 20, missing just one of his nine tries from the floor.

Howard limped off the court and into the locker room with a sprained right ankle. Mihm took advantage by ruling the paint, not missing until five minutes left in the game.

The Magic fell behind without Howard but then rallied in the middle of the second quarter to take the lead, only to see L.A. reel off a 17-1 to close the half and lead 54-40.

Steve Francis had one of his better recent games, scoring 28 points. Trying to provide an inside presence with Howard out, Tony Battie scored nine points and added eight rebounds in his most extensive action of the season (34 minutes).

After a 62-point effort in his last game Bryant took a decidedly different approach and in fact only attempted two field goals after scoring eight points in the first quarter. The Magic trailed by as many as 19 and never got he margin down to single digits in the second half.

[Full Story...]

NOTE: The Magic are now 9-15 on the season.

Friday, December 23, 2005

TO FRANCE WE GO!

Your eyes have not deceived you. France is working toward legalizing P2P file sharing. How about that. Goodbye ITunes, hello Paris!

France on track to legalize P2P downloading


PARIS (Hollywood Reporter) - France's lower house of parliament has voted to legalize peer-to-peer file-sharing of films and music on the Internet, unleashing a wave of protest from the country's film, audiovisual and music industry organizations.

If the measure passes in the upper house, France would become the first country to legalize peer-to-peer downloading at a time when most Western nations are battling to curb illegal downloading on the Internet. Introduced as two amendments to a government bill aimed at toughening digital copyright laws, the measure was approved by a vote of 30-28 at about midnight Wednesday, with very few of the National Assembly's 577 members present.

The amendments have recommended that Internet users pay a fixed-royalties fee of $8.50 per month -- in the form of a monthly subscription charge -- for unlimited downloading, thus legalizing all file-sharing deemed for personal use.

[Full Story...]

Sunday, December 18, 2005

President Shakes Off Critics; Looks Ahead

Iraqis of every background are recognizing that democracy is the future of the country they love -- and they want their voices heard. One Iraqi, after dipping his finger in the purple ink as he cast his ballot, stuck his finger in the air and said: "This is a thorn in the eyes of the terrorists."

Another voter was asked, "Are you Sunni or Shia?"
He responded, "I am Iraqi."

That one quote sums up my feeling on the Iraq War. The president should not have to come out defending his decision this late in the game. WE ARE AT WAR. He said it well tonight. Victory or Defeat? I have said it before and will say it again, what will a U.S. retreat from Iraq say to the terrorists? Heck, I'd be feeling pretty good if I just ran the United States out of my CAVE, yes, CAVE, of all places. Nice speech Mr. President.

---

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush asserted Sunday night the United States is winning the war in Iraq and issued a plea to Americans divided by doubt: "Do not give in to despair and do not give up on this fight for freedom." In a prime-time address, Bush acknowledged setbacks and sacrifice and cautioned there would be more violence and death in the months ahead. "Some look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude that the war is lost and not worth another dime or another day," he said.

Struggling to build confidence in his policy, the president held out hopes for withdrawing American forces as Iraqi troops gain strength and experience.
The president spoke from the Oval Office, where in March, 2003, he announced the U.S.-led invasion.


Nearly three years later, more than 2,150 U.S. soldiers have died, Bush's popularity has plummeted and about half of Americans think the war was a mistake. Yet a strong majority oppose an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces.

[Full Story...]

[Full Speech Transcript]

Sunday, December 11, 2005

We Acknowledge Christmas Here.

Too bad you can't shop at Austin's Blog. At least here you'll get a Merry Christmas.

Sorry for the light blog-posting but Finals are coming up and I need to study, study, study! Enjoy these pictures I took recently:


Take 2



Sunday, December 04, 2005

One Million Frequent Flyer Miles

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - After two months of zig-zagging across Canada by plane, frequent flyer Marc Tacchi has reached his goal of accumulating one million miles of credits -- and become something of an Internet celebrity in the process. On his blog "The Great Canadian Mileage Run 2005," Tacchi reported on Wednesday that he had racked up 1,003,625 mileage points and spent 56 of the last 61 days in an airplane. "I myself need to get to bed in a prone position for some serious rest," he wrote.

The 30-year-old embarked on his venture using Air Canada's North America Unlimited Pass -- a C$7,000 ticket that allowed passengers limitless travel within the continent between October 1 and November 30. Frequent fliers programs, like Air Canada's Aeroplan, are designed to promote customer loyalty by allowing people to upgrade to better seats or book free flights in the future "I just sort of moved it to a new level," Tacchi joked in an interview last week at the Vancouver International Airport before boarding another airplane.

A typical day would start with a 10 a.m. flight to Victoria, British Columbia, about 70 km (45 miles) from Vancouver. He would fly back and fourth between the two cities about six times and then catch an overnight flight 4,300 km (2,700 miles) to Toronto.

[Full Story...]

What a life. "56 of the last 61 days in an airplane."

Dow Could Reach 11,000

Economy Strength

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street bulls are looking for the stock market to resume November's gains this week on continued signs of economic strength despite a slight setback for two of the major indexes. The Dow industrials and Standard & Poor's 500 index snapped a five-week winning streak by Friday's close, while the Nasdaq notched its seventh straight week of gains. But the three indexes finished November with the best monthly gains in four months and saw their best daily increases in a month on Thursday. "I think there's still more upside ahead into (this) week, and as we look at the market beyond near term, I think the surprising strength in the economy is going to help us in the first half of 2006," said Barry Hyman, equity market strategist, Ehrenkrantz, King, Nussbaum.

For the week, the Dow Jones industrial average ended down 0.5 percent, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ended off 0.25 percent and the technology-laced Nasdaq Composite Index closed up 0.46 percent. Thursday's big gains were partly tied to a report showing an inflation index closely watched by the Federal Reserve -- the core personal consumption expenditure index -- rose just 0.1 percent, only half the gain that Wall Street expected.

[Full Story...]

Note: Crude Oil: $59.32 per barrel.

Aside from all this happy news, the country is doing terrible! *chuckle*

UPDATE 1/9/06: DOW SLIDES PAST 11,000 MARK