3.5% Military Pay Raise Too Much for Bush

From the Honolulu Advertiser:

Talk about lousy timing. With President Bush’s popularity scraping bottom in opinion polls, with U.S. casualties rising in Iraq in a force surge that has stretched tours to 15 months, the Bush administration has said it “strongly opposes” key military pay and benefit gains tossed into the fiscal 2008 defense bill.

Initiatives the administration opposes include:

# A military pay raise for next January of 3.5 percent versus 3 percent endorsed by the White House.

# Lowering the age-60 start of reserve retirement annuities for reserve component members by the length of their future mobilizations.

# Expanding eligibility for Combat-Related Special Compensation to service members forced by combat disabilities to retire short of 20 years.

# Directing pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide the Department of Defense with same-price discounts for Tricare retail pharmacy network that are provided on medicines dispensed from base pharmacies.

The administration also grumbled that the Senate intends to block for another year Tricare fee increases for under-65 retirees and dependents.

The objections appear in a “Statement of Administration Policy” from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget delivered to Senate leaders as they opened floor debate on the defense authorization bill.

A day later, Senate Republicans, at White House urging, blocked amendments that would have shortened Iraq tours for U.S. ground forces and slowed the frequency of war deployments.

Harry Potter’s Saturday Release Causes Dilemma in Israel

Uh oh.

The worldwide launch of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the wildly anticipated final instalment in the seven-book series, will occur at one minute past two in the morning this Saturday.

The problem for Jews is that this also marks the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath.

And in Israel, the law requires most businesses to close.

But many bookstores say they will launch the book and be damned.

Israel’s biggest bookstore chain Steimatzky has declared it has no plan to change its launch schedule.

“We’re required by our agreement with the book’s publisher to launch the book at the same time as everywhere else in the world,” spokeswoman Alona Zamir said.

Attitudes like that have drawn fire from Orthodox Jewish lawmakers, including Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai, who’s threatened to fine any store that opens on Saturday.

Avraham Ravitz of the United Torah Judaism Party has also taken the Potter books to task for their “defective messages”.

“We don’t have to be dragged like monkeys after the world with this subculture, and certainly not while violating our holy Sabbath,” he said.

MS Patent for Contextual Advertising From Hard Drives

Hmmmm.

It’s such a tremendously bad idea that it’s almost bound to succeed. Microsoft has filed another patent, this one for an “advertising framework” that uses “context data” from your hard drive to show you advertisements and “apportion and credit advertising revenue” to ad suppliers in real time. Yes, Redmond wants to own the patent on the mother of all adware.

The application, filed in 2006, describes a multi-faceted, robust ad-delivering system that lives on a “user computer, whether it’s part of the OS, an application or integrated within applications.”

“Applications, tools, or utilities may use an application program interface to report context data tags such as key words or other information that may be used to target advertisements,” says the filing. “The advertising framework may host several components for receiving and processing the context data, refining the data, requesting advertisements from an advertising supplier, for receiving and forwarding advertisements to a display client for presentation, and for providing data back to the advertising supplier.”

The adware framework would leave almost no data untouched in its quest to sell you stuff. It would inspect “user document files, user e-mail files, user music files, downloaded podcasts, computer settings, computer status messages (e.g., a low memory status or low printer ink),” and more. How could we have been so blind as to not see the marketing value in computer status messages?

(Thanks PVC)

Daily Dose of Ingersoll

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Yet we are told that it is our duty to love this God. Can we
love the unknown, the inconceivable? Can it be our duty to love
anybody? It is our duty to act justly, honestly, but it cannot be
our duty to love. We cannot be under obligation to admire a
painting — to be charmed with a poem — or thrilled with music.
Admiration cannot be controlled. Taste and love are not the
servants of the will. Love is, and must be free. It rises from the
heart like perfume from a flower.

Robert Green Ingersoll – “Why I Am An Agnostic”