Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Blanche Report: The Protest, The Shutdown & The Suit

Today we went to the protest against the charter of values. Believe it or not, it was our very first protest. For sure princess pauline knew this was taking place and was watching. One of the best parts of the protest was that it was organized by young french Canadian professionals.

We walked alongside young women in hijabs pushing strollers, Orthodox Jewish families, French Canadian families, Pakistanis, Indians, Jamaicans, you name it. We found the atmosphere to be determined – this is our home, we are Montrealers, Quebecers and Canadians and the bigoted policies of our government will not divide us. We are prepared to stand up to those who are set on destroying our home.

The only disappointment – and it was a huge disappointment – was the fact that the MNA for our riding D’Arcy McGee – who is Jewish and the only Jewish member of the National Assembly in Quebec –  refused to put on a yarmulka. Tommy – Montreal’s premier radio announcer ran into him at the protest and remarked immediately why he was not wearing a yarmulka. No response. Just shrugged his shoulders. He was then given a yarmulka which he promptly put into his pocket. By this time we were incensed. We strolled over to him and said, “If not now, when?” We have yet to figure out why he is afraid to be seen in public as a visible Jew. Shame on him.

The next protest is scheduled for Sunday October 20. Mark the date in your calendar, put a ribbon on your finger, a memo on your forehead and show up. As we told that MNA – if not now – when?

Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress are waging a budget battle that threatens a government shutdown on October 1 unless lawmakers reach a compromise on a federal spending measure. Here’s what might happen if the government of the United States of America actually shut down:
Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/09/28/203539/house-maintains-stand-against.html#.UkdT6D4k1yg#storylink=cpy

800,000 non-essential government employees could be sent home without pay

The state department’s bureau of consular affairs would go offline. That means that half a million visa and passport applications would sit in internet heaven somewhere for every week of the shutdown. Imagine the backlog?

If you happen to live in the District of Columbia in Washington, you will have no garbage pickup.

No renewal of driver’s license would take place as all the DMV (department of motor vehicle) office would be shut down.

As we are wont to say – the grass ain’t greener on the other side.

Andre Boisclair, former head of the Parti Quebcois, was relieved of his duties as Quebec’s official representative in New York City on Friday. Why you may ask. In order to fight the allegations put out by Jacques Duchesneau,  Coalition member of the legislature and former Montreal Chief of Police, who alleged Boisclair authorized a $2.5-million subsidy in 2003 for a construction project involving a company that had ties to the Hells Angels. Duchesneau made a link between the criminal organization and the fact that Boisclair has admitted to using cocaine before. What you say? A politician who isn’t quite honest? We have certainly heard that song before haven’t we Blanche?

Although he doth protest vehemently, princess pauline is obviously unimpressed with his overtures as she hauled him back to Montreal quicker than a sniffer dog can sniff your luggage at the airport – pardon the pun.

And Blanche – that position in New York was one of the cushiest you can have. Great apartment, wining and dining ‘officials’, shopping for clothes to look good for the wining and dining. Looks like the suave Boisclair will now be busy with lawyers back here in la belle province as he said he is suing Duchesneau.

Short report – another one on Tuesday.

We’ll talk…

The Blanche Report: Who Exactly Writes This???

It came to our attention recently that some people did not know where The Blanche Report comes from. Well, the name Blanche comes from Brooklyn. She was the late grandmother of the son-in-law of a very dear friend. The news report comes from Blanche’s (aka Joannie Tansky) computer. Just clarifying things…

On July 5, 2013, the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning that cautioned Americans about about “potential terrorist threats aimed at U.S., Western, and Kenyan interests in Kenya.” Here’s the text of the original warning: 

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Kenya. U.S. citizens in Kenya, and those considering travel to Kenya, should evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing and recently heightened threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime in some areas.

Considering what has transpired there in the past few days, it is probably a good thing to heed the warnings of the State department. What is happening in Nairobi is something the world has not yet seen. In a normal hostage situation, authorities can effectively isolate the location and  can then systematically begin to cut off water, power, air conditioning, and supplies. This is happening at a mall where ALL the stores were open — including a large grocery store — at the time of the shootings. This could mean that the terrorists can continue to resupply themselves. Perhaps even more significantly, the terrorists have insisted there was nothing to negotiate. Now who wants to go to Kenya on a safari vacation? Not too many people.

Ya know those Bixi bikes that take up tons of parking spaces from April until November? The ones that you rent with no helmet? The ones that cost you about $38 million? Seems the city is losing their shirts on those bikes and might not be able to continue operating. Don’t you wish you could go into a business with someone else’s money and if it fails just throw up your hands and walk away? With no accountability? Yes, this is how your government works.

After reading this next piece the only thing one can do is shake their head.
  Former Vice President (under George W. Bush) Dick Cheney recently entered the One Shot Antelope Hunt competition. What’s that you ask?  Each hunter gets one shot to kill an antelope. The team with the highest success rate wins. Here’s the kicker: He was raising money for a non-profit wildlife organization. Who kills animals for fun? Dizguzting.

Although she has not said if she’s running for President of the United States in 2016, Clinton already has a superPAC named “Ready for Hillary” actively raising money in support of a possible 2016 bid. Don’t look for Hillary to make any trainstops in the usual opening states like Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina anytime soon. Joe Biden has already been there – imagine –  he could be running for president? One thing you can be sure of – she’s doing plenty of polling and will not make this decision on a whim or in the dark. It will be calculated and very well timed. Stay tuned.

Imagine – Apple sold a staggering 9 million phones over the weekend while Blackberry is struggling on life-support.
It was reported today that Blackberry plans to become a private company in a deal that is worth a measly $4.7 billion. Fairfax Financial, a Canadian Insurance company hopes to buy the smartphone maker for $9 a share. Just to give you a picture of the deal they are getting – a few short years ago, Blackberry – aka RIM – was selling for $45 a share. How the mighty fall. Let’s guess what will happen to CEO Thorsten Heins. What? You already figured it out? He’ll walk away with a very tidy package, probably in the millions and million of dollars.

We’ll talk…

The Blanche Report: The Article, The Ship & The Winner

If you read nothing else for the next week, please paste this link into your browser and read Matthew Friedman’s article. It is simply a masterpiece. No words that we can use will do it justice. Bravo!

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/matt-friedman/quebec-values-charter_b_3943599.html

The McGill University Health Centre is the latest group to denounce the Marois government’s proposed Charter of Quebec Values.  Jean Francois Lisee stated today that groups cannot simply opt out of this charter, as they seem to be doing. Um, the government is going to have a big problem on their hands when the entire city opts out, which is slowly but surely taking place. What exactly are they going to do?

While this debate is bringing out small-minded bigots from under their little rocks, it is also  bringing together religious groups and diverse peoples who would normally have nothing to do with each other. Once it disappears – and with G-d’s help it will –  we hope that people will still be as tolerant of each other as they are now.

Not only is gun control a huge issue in America, so is mental health.
The man who murdered 13 people yesterday recently told police that he heard voices coming through walls and that he was being followed by individuals who were using a “microwave machine” to send vibrations into his body that kept him from falling asleep.

He was obviously deranged and should have been given some kind of help at the very least and hospitalized at  best. Instead he got his hands on a sub-machine gun and killed innocent people. The system in the United States – from top to bottom – needs a complete overhaul. Unfortunately, they are not getting it anytime soon with Obama at the helm.

The Costa Concordia has risen from the reef near the shore of the Island of Giglio in Italy.
It took almost 24 hours to do it, but they were successful. May we suggest that you google the words costa concordia and watch in time lapse (about 2 minutes) how the ship was righted. Fascinating.

We are definitely not a fan of beauty pageants. They somehow bring out all the wrong messages, no matter how well the contestants answer their ‘skill-testing’ questions, usually in pretty skimpy bikinis. Given that, they do exist and someone has to win.

Two days ago, the winner of the Miss America pageant was a native American from Syracuse New York, born to Indian immigrant parents. After she won, twitter went crazy with these kinds of tweets:  Congratulations Al-Qaeda. Our Miss America is one of you. She was wrongly referred to as a muslim, Arab, Egyptian and blamed for terror attacks. Maybe princess pauline should be taking her charter of values to America. Seems they already follow much of what she is espousing.

In case you were wondering William and Kate have resumed some of their royal duties. Don’t worry, Prince George will be well taken care of. They picked the nanny that William had when he was a baby. Cute, eh? Guess she was good.

If you thought Hillary Clinton lost her voice you can rest easy – she found it. 
After an eight-month hiatus, the former Secretary of State and likely 2016 presidential candidate sat down with New York Magazine for her first major interview since leaving the State Department last February. The interview will be online Monday. Something to look forward to Blanche? Don’t think so eh? We gotta git dat princess to start talkin so she kin put her foot in her mouth. Den we won’t havta hear from her ever again.

Happy Sukkos and Good Shabbos,

We’ll talk…

The Blanche Report: Goldfish, Parbuckling & Gouging

Yet another senseless mass shooting in America. Yet again the flags are at half-mast and we have to watch Obama put on his sad face. What we never understand is if someone has an axe to grind and wants to do themselves in, why must they take others with them? Shoot yourself. Why must innocent people who happened to be in the wrong place for ten seconds lose their lives? This dude was arrested for two prior shootings. So much for gun control. Someone has to cut the stranglehold that the NRA has on America. No one needs guns. We don’t live in the jungle with lions attacking us. Something to be said for living in Canada.

Alternate side parking is suspended for the duration of the holidays in Jewish areas in our city.
A very nice gesture from our elected officials. New York, which is WAY bigger than Montreal does the same thing. Except there, they put ads in the local papers and on the internet advising their citizens of the days that the parking rules are suspended. Here we have union people who go to every single sign on all the streets involved and cover the parking signs – one at a time (say that very slowly) with magnetized blank signs. Now the unions are complaining. Are they making this up or are do they really have the brains of a goldfish?

If you have a moment tomorrow morning, take a look at Aislin’s cartoon in the Gazette. It’s priceless. If we were Princess Pauline, we would want to strangle him. Oy, does she look bad.

Now for the hail mary pass that the princess has put forward with the charter of values.  No doubt Rene Levesque is turning in his grave. The kind of Quebec she is trying to foment is not remotely connected to what he had in mind. For that matter, no one except the few hardliners left really give a hoot about separating. They, as we all do, just want to be left alone to earn a living and live in peace and harmony. Last night she attended a Quebec awards dinner and was publicly scolded by her own people.  This is her last kick at the can and after she sees the cartoon tomorrow, she may want to either go on a big diet or put that punim of hers in a can.

Remember the Costa Concordia? The humongous ocean liner that hit the rocks on the shores of a sleepy little Italian town almost two years ago when the captain was trying to impress his girlfriend on shore?
Well, for all this time, the ship has been lying on its side just by the shore of the island of Giglio. Quite the apropos name, n’est pas?

To right this ship is not for the faint of heart. More than 50 enormous chains and winches are being used to break the ship (which is twice as heavy as the Titanic) away from the reef. Engineers will try to roll the ship up using the cables and the weight of water contained in huge metal boxes welded to the ship’s sides – a process called parbuckling. The salvage project has so far cost more than 600m euros  – $800 million, but the cost is expected to rise.

The ship was abandoned as it was. Ergo, there’s still a lot of stuff on board such as: Refrigerators filled with milk, cheese, eggs and vegetables that have been closed tight since the disaster. The freezers that have not burst under the water pressure and are still locked with their thawed,  contents sealed inside, including 1,268 kilograms of chicken breasts, 8,200 kilograms of beef, 2,460 kilograms of cheese and 6,850 liters of ice cream. Feh.

They began to right the ship this morning at 9:00 am our time and as of this writing, will be doing so probably until tomorrow morning.

Here’s something that you may be interested in. Which airlines do you think have gouged you the most? The top two are United who wins the prize by taxing almost every passenger $38, collecting a whopping $5 billion. For what you ask? Your checked bag, some extra leg room and other things that used to be normal when traveling. Delta came in second making $2 billion for charging $15 per person for checked baggage, WiFi and (we love this one) – economy comfort. 

Seems that Yom Kippur lingered an extra day, so yesterday’s Blanche Report is going now.

We’ll talk…tomorrow

The Blanche Report: What’s in your head; The Chicken & The Balloon Man

It’s been a long time since we read a really good ad. It was worth the wait. A hospital in Ontario put an ad online today, soon to be in the McGill university student paper. It’s a picture of a female doctor wearing a hijab with the following blurb: We don’t care what’s on your head. We care what’s in it. How brilliant is that?

They were of course referring to the nonsensical charter of values here in la belle province in which hijab and yarmulka wearing professionals in hospitals, schools, government offices etc would have to remove their head coverings so everyone is ‘the same’. Today the Jewish General Hospital came out with a statement that they will not conform to any such laws. Interesting that the first institution to come out with a statement was Jewish one.

They also pointed out that often physicians work in multiple hospitals. So in one place they might have to take off the yarmulka while in they could leave it on? And who exactly is going to make sure this happens? The religious police? Or will the language police be given more power? Or, will the princess herself appoint those little missives?

Not much else to say except it’s obvious that those in power here do not have much inside their little heads. What they do have is blinders – very large ones.

Anthony Weiner and Elliot Spitzer were mercifully defeated in the New York primaries on Tuesday. This was literally a case of other people saving those two from themselves. Especially Weiner. Not only was he shmaised, he was a bad loser. As his car was pulling away from a group of reporters, he flipped them the bird.

And are we the only ones who noted how thin he is? His neck looks like a chicken’s neck going to kapores.  Feh. Better he goes somewhere to fatten himself up, clean up the inside of his head, get a flip phone with no texting features and start looking online for a new career. Unless of course Hillary has something in mind for him. After all, Huma is still attached to her at the hip. Hey, wait a minute! Maybe he can work for Chelsea! She’s trying to get elected to the senate.

Sometimes it pays to just surf the web. Today United Airlines had some kind of glitch in their system and people were buying airline tickets for $5 and $10. Yes Blanche you read that correctly. Someone bought a ticket from Washington to Minneapolis-St. Paul for $7.50. Another person posted his ticket for $10 between Washington and Hawaii.

This went on for about an hour until poof! it was over. United’s reservation system slammed to a halt, reporting ‘United.com is currently undergoing maintenance. It seems that someone made a mistake – duh – entering the prices. United has not yet responded as to whether it will honor those tickets.

Imagine you are a waitress in an relatively upscale restaurant and one of the people you served gets inebriated. You watch him take his car keys out of his pocket and start to leave. You call out – wait! you can’t drive – you’ve had too much to drink. I will call a cab for you. Can one reason with someone who is three sheets to the wind? No. He continues to leave and the waitress says to herself – he’s going to kill someone, I must call the police which she does. What happens to her?

Does the gentleman call her the next day to thank her? Does the restaurant thank her? Neither of the two. She gets fired. And what does she do? She quietly writes what happened and posts it on facebook. Kaboom! It goes viral and now the restaurant is doing some major spin control. Irresponsible owners who should be taken to task big time.

Some people just have nothing to do with their lives.
A man by the name of Jonathan Trappe who specializes in cluster ballooning, wants to be the first person to cross the Atlantic using only helium balloons. He’s nervous about the weather. No kidding. On previous flights Trappe traveled on an office chair suspended by the balloons. On this trip, he is traveling inside a small yellow lifeboat. “If I touch down on water then the attempt will be over as it will be impossible to take off again, but the boat will keep me alive.” Get a life dude.

May we all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a sweet, happy, healthy New Year. 

Easy fast.

We’ll talk…

Reflections on 9/11 and Our Lives Today

It was not my intention to send out another email. Yet as 9/11 is passing, one cannot help but contrast that day with what we are now living here in our own home.

As everyone else, I remember exactly where I was on 9/11. I remember feeling there but for the grace of G-d go I. Who did not see people throw themselves out of windows 100 stories up? Who can ever forget that sight? Looking at pictures taped all over New York – if you see this person please call… On that day the world as we knew it changed forever.

Today I read a couple of first-person stories. One of a brilliant young 31 year old man with his entire life ahead of him. He was the first to die on 9/11, stabbed to death on the first plane. It seems he tried to take on the terrorists. There was another longer story about the mayor of Jerusalem who was in New York with his son. The mayor it seems was already en route back to Israel but his son was still in New York. When the son reached the assistant of the mayor in Jerusalem he told her that he was with a very good friend of his who could not reach his parents. Would the assistant please call them from Israel and tell them their son is alive. I wept thinking of my own children and the gripping fear parents, husbands and wives must have felt that day.

After reading those two stories I could not help but contrast what is going on in here, with a government intent on causing divisiveness among its own citizens.

I thought to myself, is this all these people have to think about? How they have lost sight of simple, common decency.

Imagine, G-d forbid, if we had some kind of terrorist attack here. Do you think for one second the french Canadian would refuse treatment in a hospital from a doctor wearing a hijab or a yarmulka? And do you think that the doctor would refuse to treat anyone?

People who live here are decent human beings. The ice storm showed that very well. Neighbors helped each other. People went out of their way to seek out elderly people trapped in their apartments. If one person had power, they opened their home to complete strangers on their street.

What can we do to counter evil in the world, which has now landed right on our doorstep? Do acts of goodness and kindness. Smile when you are in public – even if you don’t feel like it. Just be nice to everyone you meet, no matter what they look like or what they are wearing.

In the end, it is G-d who runs the world no matter what those in power here think.

The Blanche Report: The Missives, The Prez & 9/11

One of most incredulous lines that Drainville said today when revealing the charter of ‘values’ was this: “The best way to respect all Quebecers, the best way to respect all beliefs and all religious, is for the state to have no religion.” Uh, exactly what happened to freedom of religion?

Blanche – unless you’re a pure-laine quebecois, ya ain’t gonna count no matter how good yer french is – la.  Even if all yer friends are french. Even if ya went to a french school. Even if ya sent yer kids to a french school. Remember the ethnics-and-money speech from Parizeau?

Da brainwaves in la belle province decided dat ya better not wear dat ring with the star of David. What? Ya never heard of dat kinda ring? Dose dudes who drew dose pictograms need to eat more poutine wit extra cheese and gravy. Also a coupla molsons couldn’t hoit dem. Right now all dey have between der ears is air and dat ain’t good for no one.

The world is busy with Syria right now. Once they come to themselves and find out what’s going on here, the princess and her little missives will again look like the buffoons that they are.

It was no drama Obama tonight in his address to his ‘fellow Americans and those in Syria.  He managed to wiggle his way out of a war for the moment which is probably a good thing. He’s also the only leader in the world who actually did something – or almost did – about the slaughter of innocents.  That’s also good news. The bad news is that he thinks Putin is someone that tells the truth and can be relied on.  That’s pathetic.  As a Democratic strategist who works closely with the White House, and who requested anonymity to avoid political retribution, said “This has been one of the most humiliating episodes in presidential history.” And it ain’t over till the fat lady sings, which we haven’t heard yet.

And now for the New York Primaries: Voters went to the polls to choose the Democratic and Republican nominees for mayor, comptroller and other local races. It’s too early to tell who won with 39% of the polls in at this time, but we can tell you that Bill de Blasio has 39% of the vote while Anthony Weiner has 5.2%. Spitzer who is running for comptroller is running a close second.

In case you had nothing to worry about tonight, we’ve found you something. Apple has launched its new iPhone. Nothing spectacular about that except that it has a fingerprint sensor that can supplant your password and be used to make purchases from Apple’s various stores. Did your radar just go up? If it did, you are correct. When someone gets your password now and hacks into your email account, you just change your password. Ah, but imagine if someone hacked into your phone and got your fingerprint? Houston – we have a problem.

For starters biometric devices – which is what these phones are called,  are typically susceptible to fluctuations in temperature or humidity, and the vagaries of biology. Did you know that the quality of your fingerprint tends to decline significantly as you age? In other words, you could easily be locked out of your own phone. But the worst thing about this is once a thief has your fingerprint – you’re toast. He has it forever and ever. Blanche – what a night eh?

Where will you be in 2022? Hopefully not in Qatar who is hosting the world soccer championship during the summer when the temperatures can reach 120 in the shade. Would you believe that FIFA, the world cup soccer association is worrying about this now? They are thinking of moving it to November when it’s a tad cooler. Uh, let’s see, maybe they should have thought of this before they gave the games to Qatar? Na, that would have been intelligent.

Tomorrow is 9/11. Say a silent prayer that the day comes and goes quietly. And take a moment to remember the over 3,000 souls who perished on that day.

We may be sending out another report on Thursday given barrage of news this week.

We’ll talk…

The Blanche Report: The Princess, The Climber & The Stork

In case you were losing sleep over who was hosting the 2020 summer olympics, it’s Tokyo which happens to be listed as the most expensive city in the world. If you intend on going, best you start saving your money now.

Things have been hopping at Buckingham palace in the past few days. First someone obviously not afraid of heights scaled the twelve foot high fence and was discovered inside the palace in one of the state rooms. Then, Prince Andrew aka the Duke of York and the Queen’s second son  was challenged by police officers during a stroll around the palace gardens and was reportedly ordered put up his hands and surrender. His identity was eventually verified and he was released. Ya wouldn’t want to be that policeman. Yikes.

Princess Pauline has opened her mouth again only to change feet. We would love to see her keep talking and giving interviews because she every time she says something she has to put on her running shoes to scamper back to the microphone and say, no, no I didn’t mean that.

This time she said she didn’t intend to offend anyone with comments she made about multiculturalism in England. In an interview with Le Devoir, Marois said multiculturalism in Britain has led to “people beating each other up and setting off bombs,” because British society has no clear sense of identity.

Her office gave the following retraction: “The comments she made were, in no way, meant to be offensive and did not constitute an attempt at interfering with policies practiced in the United Kingdom.”

Oh really. They were not meant to be offensive? The woman has lost her sense of anything resembling normalcy and needs to go away for a very long time. Hey – maybe send her to Syria to try and solve the problems there! No one else has been able to do so until now. Ya never know. And then if she even remotely succeeds she would win the Nobel Peace prize, like Obama did. Ah, but we digress.

Things on the Syrian-US maybe-we-should-attack front are getting more complicated by the minute.
Phone calls intercepted by a German surveillance ship operated by the BND, the German intelligence service, and deployed off the Syrian coast, seem to suggest that Assad did not order those chemical attacks on his people. It is certainly in the realm of possibilities given that those in the ‘brotherhood’ are not exactly boy scouts to say the least. How convenient and plausible that they did those attacks and are trying to frame Assad. What a huge mess over there with no end in sight.

We know that you will not believe this, but it’s true. Iowa is giving gun permits to people who are legally or completely blind that will let these residents acquire guns and carry these firearms in public. Officials from Polk County report that at least three people who can’t legally drive and weren’t able to read the application forms have been given permits to carry firearms. Only in America. And dudes – maybe stay out of Iowa.

Remember that stork we told you about last week? The one who Egyptians thought was a spy? Well after it was let out of jail it seems that some people were kind of hungry…Feh.

We’ll talk…

The Blanche Report: The Race, The Slap & The Swimmer

In case you were wondering how Anthony Weiner is doing in the mayoralty race in New York he’s at 7%.  Could someone please text him and tell him to quit now? Uh, maybe that’s not such a good idea – texting him. Maybe send him a telegram.

Talk about insensitive. The mayor of Boston, Thomas Menino was asked where he would live if not in Boston. He thought for a moment and then said Detroit. When the reporter asked what he would do in Detroit he responded that he would blow up the whole place and start all over again. Needless to say those living in Detroit were not amused.

While Obama is publicly holding a debate on whether he should give Assad a slap, things are happening in Syria. Assad is moving weapons to  schools, hospitals and highly populated areas. Obama is certainly giving him plenty of time to clean things up there. There’s one thing that we can be pretty sure will not happen if and when the United States shoots some missiles at Syria – nothing will change. The waring factions in Syria will continue to kill each other, as they have done in Egypt. 

Could someone please remind Obama that he’s the president of the United States of America and as such is the commander in chief? Maybe it’s time he should start acting like the president. Just make a decision one way or the other.

The Charbonneau commission on the corruption in the construction industry in Quebec has risen again.
Here are a couple of tidbits you may be interested in:

So far, the commission has cost you about $20 million
Salaries for the commission’s staff ($6,912,110)
Administrative and other day-to-day expenses ($6,110,692)
Honorariums ($5,615,694)

We saved the best for last:
The commission’s original two-year mandate was extended by 18 months this spring, meaning the inquiry is now set to wrap up in April 2015. If it continues to spend the same average amount each month as it has to date, the final cost to taxpayers over 42 months will be about $37.4 million.  Yes Blanche, they still have their hands in your pocket. But now they made it look legal.

Guess you heard of 64 year-old Diane Nyad who swam from Cuba to Key West Florida. If nothing else she’s determined. Now she has set her sights on swimming for 48 hours in a New York pool to raise money for hurricane Sandy victims. Wait. She’s doing even more good deeds. They are then going to take that pool and on the anniversary of the Boston marathon and she’s going to swim in the pool again there. She said she was happy swimming in the pool because there are no no waves, no jellyfish, no seasickness. Along with determined, she’s also a tad extreme would you say?

May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life for a sweet, happy and healthy New Year. May there be peace in Israel and the world over.

We’ll talk…

The Blanche Report: The Plant, The Stork & The Rabbi

For the month of September, Blanche will be writing on Sundays and Tuesdays. Back to our regular scheduled programming in October.

L’affaire Syria gets stranger by the minute.
Let us first say that this is a very complicated matter. Now pretend you are an Israeli politician watching  Obama’s 11th-hour turnaround on striking Syria — a decision he took alone, after he had sent his Secretary of State John Kerry to speak out passionately and urgently in favor of military action. Confused anyone?

But there is a much bigger issue looming – the ever-deeper perception of Obama’s America in the Middle East as weak, hesitant and confused — most especially in the view of the region’s most radical forces, notably including Bashar Assad, Hezbollah, and Iran. That is not good news. It gets worse.

The president has set a precedent, in seeking an authorization from Congress that he had no legal requirement to seek — and that Congress was not loudly demanding — that may complicate, delay or even rule out credible action to thwart a challenge that dwarfs Assad’s chemical weapons capability: Iran’s drive to nuclear weapons. Pretty ugly and getting uglier. Maybe if Obama went golfing he’d have some kind of revelation on the ninth hole.

Remember the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan? The one where Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Company) both hid and then lied about the monumental radiation disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant? Well, it appears that those in charge did not change their ways, although there was a changing of the guard.

Radiation levels in the nuclear plant are 18 times higher than previously thought. The incident is believed to be the fourth major leak from storage tanks at Fukushima since 2011. The best line is this one: TEPCO said it is confident it can provide safety for workers dealing with the problem. Just be happy you’re not one of those workers in about five years.

The Sochi Olympics, scheduled for February 2014 are quickly approaching.
  In case you didn’t know, Putin has made the Olympics his personal, pet project. He is determined to use them to show the world that Russia is powerful and prosperous, and has spared no expense to make sure the games are a success. So far they have spent – ready? – $51 billion and they are far from finished. Of course the money is coming from the government so the limit is endless. One of the reasons that the costs are so high is that the entire infrastructure and every single  Olympic venue had to be built from scratch.

What people may be shocked to see there is the intense security. Chechnya is close by and has a history of nasty attacks in Russia. Guards with assault rifles and German shepherds are patrolling the sports venues in groups, trying to keep a low profile. Not sure how exactly how that’s done with a vicious dog in one hand and a machine gun in the other.

How nuts things are in Egypt? We’ll tell you. About 280 miles south of Cairo, a man noticed a stork near his home had an electronic device attached to its wing. Worried it might be some sort of spying device, the man took the bird  to his local police department. Officers there weren’t sure what to make of the device either, and held the bird overnight until it could be inspected by veterinary specialists. Sounds like a good joke so far, eh?

Turns out the device was a wildlife tracker installed by French scientists to study the habits of migrating birds. Paranoid anyone?

In case you were wondering – or not wondering –  Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is no longer the chief rabbi of England. The new chief rabbi of Britain is Ephraim Mirvis, originally from South Africa. Prince Charles was in attendance, along with many Archbishops and other dignitaries for the changing of the guard.

Noted broadcaster David Frost passed away today. We remember him for his very candid interviews with Richard Nixon. For us, he was the first hard core interviewer on television.

We’ll talk…