"The Chinese used poles in an attempt to snag the Impeccable's towed acoustic array sonars," said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman, reporting on the standoff between the USNS Impeccable and five Chinese military and fishing vessels on Sunday. The event ended with seamen on the USNS Impeccable turning their firehoses on the crews of the Chinese vessels, and the Chinese stripping down to their underwear. So... Other than needing a bath, what's irking China? Maybe it's the fact that the USNS Impeccable was 75 miles off the coast of the Island of Hainan, where the Chinese have a major submarine base (and the Impeccable has the latest generation of sub-hunting sonar). Oh, and the Chinese practically own America (our debt at least) and were probably using those poles to secure some collateral. One other note: China's newly announced 15% increase in military spending this year pegs its total budget at $124 billion - which is hardly one-sixth of America's last year (including Iraq and Afghanistan). Don't worry one bit: Take the entire world and total their spending on defense, and America still outspends everyone - combined. In fact, we spend so much money on sonar and guns and bombs and drones that we have obviously run out of names for our Navy ships; thus the "Impeccable."
Like Tibet, We're Losing Our Religion
Blame Wicca, not us at The Source. Researchers with the American Religious Identification Survey found that the percentage of Americans not claiming to identify with any religion has doubled since 1990, and now stands at 15%. Catholics remain the largest group (with 57 million followers) but were hardest hit, yet Christians overall did not see their numbers flag. Evangelicals can be both thanked and blamed: 34% of Americans now say they are "born again" while a sampling of those who claim to not identify with any religion say the rise in Evangelicals has pushed them away from identifying with any specific religion. Buddhism slipped, while Wiccans increased in number. On a local note, the Pacific Northwest has the highest number of non-religious people, followed by Vermont.
GOP: The Reality Show
This is just getting embarrassing. The GOP is so flustered by its failures that it is resorting to Mormons (whose numbers held steady in the above report) and cannibalism. Mitt Romney was tapped as the frontrunner (for what, we don't know) in a straw poll, followed by creepy Bobby Jindal, all-too-plain Ron Paul, and Sarah "Have you seen my daughter?" Palin. Meanwhile, newly elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael "Don't Call Me Token" Steele, has taken a bruising from die-hard zombies like Rush Limbaugh, who continue to call for Steele's resignation (after less than one month at the helm of the Titantic). It's strange to see, indeed, and anyone with a long-view knows that the GOP doesn't rise in popularity due to their own pseudo platforms and strengths, but rather, due to the ineptitude of the Democrats.
About Those Dems...
If you haven't heard, the Dem's gavel in the House is Nancy Pelosi, a handsome woman who loves her grandchildren and Ghirardelli chocolate. How quaint. Except for the fact it's a façade for this second generation politico from San Fran. "If people are ripping your face off, you have to rip their face off." Pelosi was quoted as saying (all thanks to Time Magazine's exposé on the party's pit-bull) followed by "If you take the knife off the table, it's not very frightening anymore." Yes, this sweet grandmother is another Tom Delay in stockings, and proudly admits to keeping lists of favors fellow elected officials have bestowed and are owed (earmarks anyone?) and kneecaps that need bustin'.
Heath Care? What's that?
President Obama will need all of Pelosi's favors and brass-knuckles if he is to bring health care to the 47 million (and counting) Americans lacking insurance. Tucked inside his budget is $634 billion as a "down-payment" to expand government subsidized health coverage. Who's paying for this, you may be asking? Rich people (as if there's any left) of course! By raising income taxes (from 35% to 39.6%) and curbing deductions on couples making more than $250,000 a year, Obama hopes to bring health coverage to more Americans. It ain't universal, yet, so keep ignoring that growth, cough and/or condition...
Local Stuff that Will Make You Smile and Sneer
An unnamed former Bend resident who passed in January has left the Bend Fire and Police Departments $1 million, to be equally split. A "temporary" 50-cent surcharge has been levied on all distilled spirits from April-June of this year, as adopted by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (come July 4th, we'll all be 50 cents richer, and drunker). Our Twitter World
For this week's column, the "W" in WTF will represent "who" rather than "what." Thank you for your understanding.
WTF cares about the "25 Things" Wendy Jones thinks everyone should know about her or the fact that Zack Martin is eating spaghetti or that Jill Hanson is now friends with Ted Bronson or that Ken Stevens is now a fan of U2? You can change those names to those of your "friends" and you'll know exactly what we mean. We're talking about the continuing attack of FIESSI (Facebook Induced Exaggerated Sense of Self Importance) on our society. With Facebook invading the lives of nearly everyone with an Internet connection or a library card, FIESSI is becoming increasingly common. We know. We're victims. We've recently caught ourselves scouring our hard drives for our most flattering photos and even-gasp-updating our status with trivial comments like Upfront is watching the Bachelor and OMG this guy is a dick. Then we think, WTF would possibly, remotely, even slightly care about this? And we suddenly realize that we're not that important. We miss the good ol' days when Facebook was merely a forum for college freshmen to post photos of themselves getting inordinately.