Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saturday 06-30-12

Chickens are very good pest controlers also.

7 Natural Mosquito Repellents

I love summer, but that first mosquito bite always reminds me that the bug war is ON!

Unfortunately, citronella candles and bug spray can be smelly and packed with harmful chemicals like DEET, so I went on a quest for some natural alternatives to combat pesky bloodsuckers.


Basil, lemongrass and rosemary are good for us, but not for them. While they taste delicious in our food, they're also known to repel mosquitos. Grow an herb garden on your outdoor deck. At your next barbecue, try throwing some rosemary or sage onto the grill.


Not only will they make a lovely addition to your garden, but marigolds are easy to grow and their scent keeps skeeters at bay. We suggest potting them next to your front door or near windows to prevent pests from entering your home.

Tea Tree Oil

OK, it’s not Chanel, but unless you want to get eaten alive, it's summer's hottest fragrance!


It’s not just for your favorite feline. While cats go wild for catnip, mosquitoes hate the smell. Plant some around your house, and while you’re at it, dry some up for Mittens!


Eating raw garlic or cooking with it can also repel mosquitoes for up to 6 hours. Oil from the garlic reportedly masks your natural scent, deterring the bug-a-boos. If you don’t want to offend your date, pick up some odor-free garlic supplements from the drugstore.


Bats get a bad rap, but did you know they can eat HUNDREDS of mosquitoes a night? And sometimes 600 in an hour? Consider investing in a bat house to attract these nocturnal creatures. They’ll certainly earn their keep!


Standing water is a hotbed for mosquito breeding, so try to eliminate any around your house. If you have permanent pond or outdoor water feature, introducing some mosquito-munching frogs might not be a bad idea.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday 06-28-12

Use a Computer, Go to Jail

How a federal law can be used to prosecute almost anyone who visits a website

If you are reading this column online at work, you may be committing a federal crime. Or so says the Justice Department, which reads the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) broadly enough to encompass personal use of company computers as well as violations of website rules that people routinely ignore.

In April the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit rightly rejected this view of the CFAA, which Chief Judge Alex Kozinski noted could conceivably make a criminal out of “everyone who uses a computer.” Unfortunately, other appeals courts have been more receptive to the Justice Department’s interpretation, which gives U.S. attorneys the power to prosecute just about anyone who offends or annoys them.

Congress passed the original version of the CFAA in 1984, when the Internet was in its infancy and the World Wide Web did not exist, to protect government computer systems and financial databases from hackers. As a result of amendments and technological developments, George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr explains in a 2010 Minnesota Law Review article, “the law that began as narrow and specific has become breathtakingly broad.”

The 9th Circuit case involved David Nosal, who left the executive search firm Korn/Ferry International in 2004 and allegedly enlisted two former colleagues to feed him proprietary client information with an eye toward starting a competing business. Nosal was charged with conspiracy, mail fraud, trade secret theft, and violating the CFAA, which criminalizes unauthorized computer access in various circumstances.

Although Nosal’s confederates were authorized to use Korn/Ferry’s database, prosecutors argued that improperly sharing information with him rendered their access unauthorized. As Judge Kozinski noted, “the government’s construction of the statute would expand its scope far beyond computer hacking to criminalize any unauthorized use of information obtained from a computer.”

The felony Nosal was accused of committing involves unauthorized access “with intent to defraud.” But the CFAA also makes someone guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, if he “intentionally accesses a computer without authorization or exceeds authorized access” and “thereby obtains…information.”

Based on the government’s definition of unauthorized access, Kozinski observed, that provision would apply to “large groups of people who would have little reason to suspect they are committing a federal crime,” such as employees who violate company policy by using workplace computers to play games, read blogs, watch YouTube videos, or check sports scores. Even people using their own computers on their own time could be prosecuted for violating “terms of service” they have never read by fibbing about their age or weight on dating sites, posting photos of other people without permission, or sharing content Facebook deems offensive.

Kerr notes that terms of service “are written extremely broadly to give providers a right to cancel accounts and not face any liability.” Hence “violating the TOS is the norm,” and criminalizing it “would give the government the ability to arrest anyone who regularly uses the Internet.”

That danger is not merely theoretical. Remember Lori Drew, the Missouri woman who was widely vilified in 2007 after she played a MySpace prank on a 13-year-old girl who later committed suicide? Although Missouri prosecutors concluded that Drew had broken no laws, Thomas O’Brien, then the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, took it upon himself to prosecute her for violating the CFAA by disregarding MySpace’s TOS.

In 2009 U.S. District Judge George Wu threw out Drew’s conviction, ruling that O’Brien’s reading of the CFAA would make the law unconstitutionally vague, giving grandstanding prosecutors like him unbridled discretion while leaving their potential targets—pretty much everyone—uncertain about how to comply with the law. As Kozinski put it, “we shouldn’t have to live at the mercy of our local prosecutor.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesday 06-26-12

Interesting video, racist in it video (black people do own guns)  i guess

Registered Guns: Which Countries Have The Highest Registered-Gun-To-Citizen Ratio?

Believe it or not, at least one country is as gun-toting as the US. In Switzerland, the government issues firearms to all military-age men -- who are required to keep them, in case of invasion.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday 06-25-12

Our Federal Government at it's best.  If is broke and controls and subjugated people, then expand it.  But exempt us from it.

House bill extends TSA intel sharing to mass transit

The Transportation Security Administration already shares intelligence it collects with airports. Now a House bill would expand TSA's intel sharing to local mass transit systems as well.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), the bill's sponsor, said the legislation is a "common sense approach" to fighting terrorism. The House passed the bill May 30 and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is now considering the bill.

In an interview with The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp, Speier said the bill creates "fusion centers," where TSA can provide intel to local law enforcement and emergency management officials.
"We have put in place through TSA a very elaborate system [in airports]. We all go through those metal detectors and those secondary searches. And we've put a lot of focus on the airlines for good reason. But we have neglected the mass transit components, generally speaking," she said.

Speier said 2 million people fly each day, compared with more than 5 million who ride the subway each day in New York City alone. She pointed out that the most recent terrorist attacks have been on mass transit. Also, when U.S. Special Forces raided Osama Bin Laden's compound last year, intelligence gathered revealed the next attack was intended for mass transit.

"The writing is on the wall. We need to be better prepared than we are right now," Speier said.

Transit riders probably won't see more TSA agents in subways or bus stops, though, Speier said. The expanded TSA role falls more on analysts, she said.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday 06-22-12

Police Ticketing Informal Rideshare Participants Based On No Law, But To Protect Port Authority Revenue

We've talked many times about how legacy industries and organizations seek to protect against competition they don't like. One example we've mentioned a few times involves taxi companies and bus companies trying to shut down upstarts such as ride-sharing/carpooling services as being "unlicensed" transportation offerings. What they really mean, of course, is that they're competition in a market with artificial barriers to entry, which artificially keep prices high -- sometimes astronomically high. But, of course, as with any attempt to defeat real competition, those in support of cracking down have some sort of sob story, and governments and law enforcement often fall for it with no evidence.

Aaron DeOlivera points us to a sort of twist on the situation described above, where the real issue is people paying less money to the Port Authority of NY. You see, if you are in a carpool (of at least 3 people) and cross the George Washington Bridge (between the Bronx and New Jersey) you save $6 on the toll. That's a decent-sized savings, so people have set up an informal sort of ride share, in that those who want to get across will wait at a nearby bus station, and drivers will swing by and pick them up for the ride. The riders get a free trip across the bridge... and the driver gets a lower toll. Win-win.

Except for the Port Authority. And apparently the police are helping out the PA by giving tickets to people picking up hitchhikers based on absolutely no violation of any law.

... the crackdown on carpools smacks of a revenue-grab by the Port Authority, which has been criticized for lavish pay and benefits. With extensive overtime, some toll collectors make more than $100,000, while salaries for several officers working at the bridge topped $200,000 last year.

Curious to see what would happen, Mr. Topyan [an economist who's been observing the practice] recently picked up two passengers in plain sight of a police officer—and was promptly ticketed. Having researched the law, he spent six hours in traffic court and won his case. “The prosecutor was jumping up and down in disbelief,” he says. He didn’t have to pay.
Even so, the report notes that the police still show up. Even if there's nothing illegal happening, just having the police show up -- and having people think that there might be something wrong -- causes people to worry about taking part.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thursday 06-21-12

Is that really just a fly? Swarms of cyborg insect drones are the future of military surveillance
The kinds of drones making the headlines daily are the heavily armed CIA and U.S. Army vehicles which routinely strike targets in Pakistan - killing terrorists and innocents alike.

But the real high-tech story of surveillance drones is going on at a much smaller level, as tiny remote controlled vehicles based on insects are already likely being deployed.

Over recent years a range of miniature drones, or micro air vehicles (MAVs), based on the same physics used by flying insects, have been presented to the public.

The fear kicked off in 2007 when reports of bizarre flying objects hovering above anti-war protests sparked accusations that the U.S. government was accused of secretly developing robotic insect spies.

Official denials and suggestions from entomologists that they were actually dragonflies failed to quell speculation, and Tom Ehrhard, a retired Air Force colonel and expert on unmanned aerial craft, told the Daily Telegraph at the time that 'America can be pretty sneaky.'
The following year, the US Air Force unveiled insect-sized spies 'as tiny as bumblebees' that could not be detected and would be able to fly into buildings to 'photograph, record, and even attack insurgents and terrorists.'

Around the same time the Air Force also unveiled what it called 'lethal mini-drones' based on Leonardo da Vinci's blueprints for his Ornithopter flying machine, and claimed they would be ready for roll out by 2015.

That announcement was five years ago and, since the U.S. military is usually pretty cagey about its technological capabilities, it raises the question as to what it is keeping under wraps.

The University of Pennsylvania GRASP Lab recently showed off drones that swarm, a network of 20 nano quadrotors flying in synchronized formations.

The SWARMS goal is to combine swarm technology with bio-inspired drones to operate 'with little or no direct human supervision' in 'dynamic, resource-constrained, adversarial environments.'

However, it is most likely the future of hard-to-detect drone surveillance will mimic nature.

Research suggests that the mechanics of insects can be reverse-engineered to design midget machines to scout battlefields and search for victims trapped in rubble.

Scientists have taken their inspiration from animals which have evolved over millennia to the perfect conditions for flight.

Nano-biomimicry MAV design has long been studied by DARPA, and in 2008 the U.S. government's military research agency conducted a symposium discussing 'bugs, bots, borgs and bio-weapons.'

Researchers have now developed bio-inspired drones with bug eyes, bat ears, bird wings, and even honeybee-like hairs to sense biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

And the U.S. isn't the only country to have poured money into spy drone miniaturisation. France has developed flapping wing bio-inspired microdrones.

The Netherlands BioMAV (Biologically Inspired A.I. for Micro Aerial Vehicles) developed a Parrot AR Drone last year - which is now available in the U.S. as a 'flying video game'.

Not so tiny but a good spy: A ShadowHawk drone with SWAT team members

Zoologist Richard Bomphrey, of Oxford University, has conducted research to generate new insight into how insect wings have evolved over the last 350 million years.

He said last year: 'Nature has solved the problem of how to design miniature flying machines.

'By learning those lessons, our findings will make it possible to aerodynamically engineer a new breed of surveillance vehicles that, because they are as small as insects and also fly like them, completely blend into their surroundings.'

The insect manoeuvrability which allows flies the ability to land precisely and fly off again at speed may one day prove a crucial tactical advantage in wars and could even save lives in disasters.

The military would like to develop tiny robots that can fly inside caves and barricaded rooms to send back real-time intelligence about the people and weapons inside.

Dr Bomphrey said: 'Scary spider robots were featured in Michael Crichton's 1980s film Runaway - but our robots will be much more scaled down and look more like the quidditch ball in the Harry Potter films, because of its ability to hover and flutter.

'The problem for scientists at the moment is that aircrafts can't hover and helicopters can't go fast. And it is impossible to make them very small.

'With insects you get a combination of both these assets in miniature. And when you consider we have been flying for just over a hundred years as opposed to 350 million years, I would say it is they who have got it right, and not us!'

What do they say about figures never lie...?.

Top 10 States Most at Risk Of Disaster

..Disasters can happen at any time and anywhere. But some places experience more than their fair share of floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms and severe weather.

Where have these damaging events occurred most frequently and severely? worked with the Property Claim Services unit of Verisk Analytics, a leading source of insurance risk information, to identify the ten states that have suffered the biggest property losses from disasters over the past decade. If one of these disasters strikes where you live, make sure you have enough insurance coverage to protect your finances.

1. Louisiana

Types of Disasters (2002-2011): 2 tropical storms, 7 hurricanes and 20 severe weather incidents

Estimated Insured Property Loss: $32.2 billion

The Pelican State has the unfortunate distinction of being the most disaster-prone state in the nation, largely because of Hurricane Katrina, which was the costliest disaster in U.S. history. Many of Katrina’s victims discovered they didn’t have enough insurance to cover the damage from the August 2005 hurricane. Make sure you have enough coverage before storm season strikes.

2. Florida

Types of Disasters (2002-11): 3 tropical storms, 8 hurricanes and 12 severe weather incidents

Estimated Insured Property Loss: $31.4 billion

Like Louisiana, Florida gets battered by hurricanes and tropical storms in late summer and early fall. The Sunshine State suffered through four major hurricanes (a record) in 2004 alone. It also has the highest number of tornadoes per square mile of any state (Texas has more tornadoes annually, but it is much larger in land area), and central Florida is known as the lightning capital of the U.S. If you live in Florida, we recommend that you do a thorough inventory of your insurance policies to make sure there aren’t any gaps in storm-related coverage.

3. Texas

Types of Disasters (2002-11): 1 wildland fire, 1 tropical storm, 4 hurricanes, 7 winter storms and 53 severe weather incidents

Estimated Insured Property Loss: $24.9 billion

Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are as common as tumbleweed in the Lone Star State. Cities close to the southern coast, such as Galveston and Houston, are often in the bulls-eye of destructive hurricanes that gain strength over the Gulf of Mexico, such as Hurricane Ike in 2008. If you live in a state plagued with so many different types of disasters, it's crucial to know exactly what your insurance policy covers.

4. Mississippi
Types of Disasters (2002-11): 1 winter storm, 2 tropical storms, 7 hurricanes and 26 severe weather incidents

Estimated Insured Property Loss: $15 billion

The Magnolia State took a pounding from Hurricane Katrina, with the storm surge and heavy rains causing extensive flooding. Many unfortunate homeowners discovered insurance doesn’t cover flood damage -- you have to buy a separate policy.

5. Alabama

Types of Disasters (2002-11): 3 tropical storms, 5 winter storms, 6 hurricanes and 26 severe weather incidents

Estimated Insured Property Loss: $7.9 billion

Alabama was hit hard by tornadoes in April 2011, especially in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. The Yellowhammer State also takes regular hits from Gulf Coast hurricanes. In states where storm damage is common, we recommend homeowners know all the ins and outs of the insurance claims process.

6. Tennessee
Types of Disasters (2002-11): 1 tropical storm, 3 hurricanes, 5 winter storms and 32 severe weather incidents

Estimated Insured Property Loss: $7 billion

The Volunteer State was among several southern states hit by the historic tornado outbreak between April 25 and 28 known as the 2011 Super Outbreak. To protect your home and finances from spring storms, make sure you know what damages are covered by your insurance policy and find out how to fill any gaps.

7. Missouri

Types of Disasters (2002-11): 1 hurricane, 9 winter storms and 46 severe weather incidents

Estimated Insured Property Loss: $6.2 billion

The tornado that swept through Joplin May 22, 2011, resulted in the greatest loss of lives on record (158 deaths) and generated $2.16 billion in insurance claims, according to Insurance Information Institute analysis of data from ISO’s Property Claims Service.

8. Oklahoma

Types of Disasters (2002-11): 8 winter storms, 39 severe weather incidents

Estimated Insured Property Loss: $6 billion

Two words for the Sooner State: Tornado Alley. Severe storms and twisters are so much a part of the state's weather that the National Severe Storms Laboratory and Storm Prediction Center are located here. Most Oklahomans know how to protect themselves if a cyclone has been spotted. We recommend that homeowners in tornado-prone states set aside an emergency fund and take photos of all valuables in the event of an insurance claim.
9. Ohio

Types of Disasters (2002-11):1 utility disruption, 2 hurricanes, 9 winter storms and 46 severe weather incidents

Estimated Insured Property Loss: $5.2 billion
Great Lakes-effect snowstorms blanket northern Ohio regularly in winter, and spring tornadoes plague the central and southern parts of the Buckeye State. Hurricane Ike blasted the Ohio Valley in 2008. The state also had more than 30 earthquakes between 2002 and 2007. Standard homeowners policies do not cover earthquake damage. If you are worried about earthquakes, we recommend you add an endorsement to your existing policy or buy a separate policy.

10. Illiniois

Types of Disasters (2002-11):1 hurricane, 8 winter storms, 61 severe weather incidents

Estimated Insured Property Loss: $4.9 billion

Thunderstorm activity in Illinois ranks above the national average, and the state also is part of Tornado Alley. It also gets its share of severe winter weather from Great Lakes-effect snowstorms.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wednesday 06-20-12

Well why would it not?

Talk of drones patrolling US skies spawns anxiety

WASHINGTON (AP) - The prospect that thousands of drones could be patrolling U.S. skies by the end of this decade is raising the specter of a Big Brother government that peers into backyards and bedrooms.

The worries began mostly on the political margins, but there are signs that ordinary people are starting to fret that unmanned aircraft could soon be circling overhead.

Jeff Landry, a freshman Republican congressman from Louisiana's coastal bayou country, said constituents have stopped him while shopping at Walmart to talk about it.

"There is a distrust amongst the people who have come and discussed this issue with me about our government," Landry said. "It's raising an alarm with the American public."

Another GOP freshman, Rep. Austin Scott, said he first learned of the issue when someone shouted out a question about drones at a Republican Party meeting in his Georgia congressional district two months ago.

An American Civil Liberties Union lobbyist, Chris Calabrese, said that when he speaks to audiences about privacy issues generally, drones are what "everybody just perks up over."

"People are interested in the technology, they are interested in the implications and they worry about being under surveillance from the skies," he said.

The level of apprehension is especially high in the conservative blogosphere, where headlines blare "30,000 Armed Drones to be Used Against Americans" and "Government Drones Set to Spy on Farms in the United States."

When Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, suggested during an interview on Washington radio station WTOP last month that drones be used by police domestically since they've done such a good job on foreign battlefields, the political backlash was swift. NetRightDaily complained: "This seems like something a fascist would do. ... McDonnell isn't pro-Big Government, he is pro-HUGE Government."

John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute of Charlottesville, Va., which provides legal assistance in support of civil liberties and conservative causes, warned the governor, "America is not a battlefield, and the citizens of this nation are not insurgents in need of vanquishing."

There's concern as well among liberal civil liberties advocates that government and private-sector drones will be used to gather information on Americans without their knowledge. A lawsuit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation of San Francisco, whose motto is "defending your rights in the digital world," forced the Federal Aviation Administration earlier this year to disclose the names of dozens of public universities, police departments and other government agencies that have been awarded permission to fly drones in civilian airspace on an experimental basis.

Giving drones greater access to U.S. skies moves the nation closer to "a surveillance society in which our every move is monitored, tracked, recorded and scrutinized by the authorities," the ACLU warned last December in a report.

The anxiety has spilled over into Congress, where a bipartisan group of lawmakers have been meeting to discuss legislation that would broadly address the civil-liberty issues raised by drones. A Landry provision in a defense spending bill would prohibit information gathered by military drones without a warrant from being used as evidence in court. A provision that Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., added to another bill would prohibit the Homeland Security Department from arming its drones, including ones used to patrol the border.

Scott and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., have introduced identical bills to prohibit any government agency from using a drone to "gather evidence or other information pertaining to criminal conduct or conduct in violation of a regulation" without a warrant.

"I just don't like the concept of drones flying over barbecues in New York to see whether you have a Big Gulp in your backyard or whether you are separating out your recyclables according to the city mandates," Paul said in an interview, referring to a New York City ban on supersized soft drinks.

He acknowledged that is an "extreme example," but added: "They might just say we'd be safer from muggings if we had constant surveillance crisscrossing the street all the time. But then the question becomes, what about jaywalking? What about eating too many donuts? What about putting mayonnaise on your hamburger? Where does it stop?"

Calabrese, the ACLU lobbyist, called Paul's office as soon as he heard about the bill.

"I told them we think they are starting from the right place," Calabrese said. "You should need some kind of basis before you use a drone to spy on someone."

In a Congress noted for its political polarization, legislation to check drone use has the potential to forge "a left-right consensus," he said. "It bothers us for a lot of the same reasons it bothers conservatives."

A little common sence goes a long way, sometimes it falls on deaf ears (excuse the language)

The number of violations were staggering

At St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, the entrance has a dark red sign (sooooo easy to read…. *eye roll*) that says Absolutely No Weapons Permitted. I was concerned because practically every person who was in the hospital was armed to the teeth.

The nurses carried sharp scissors and pens that could stab. There were scalpels. The sheer amount of poisons just sitting around were scary. The chairs were not bolted to the floor, making them bludgeons you can sit on. People were allowed to walk around without their fists bound or their teeth covered via Hannibal Lecter masks. For God’s sake, they even had Oxygen Deprivation Devices (aka pillows) in each child’s room!!

If you were wanting to deal out a larger amount of damage, there was unlimited, flammable hand sanitizer you could use to wreak havoc.

Now, this is a private institution - they’re more than welcome to ban left shoes, Tap Out t-shirts and bubble gum at their whim. I’m sure that the weapons thing is the product of some lawyerly brain trust who thinks a sign is all the talisman they need to avoid lawsuits however my problem with it is that signs like that continue to promote the false, logically incorrect view that an object is a weapon that doesn’t require a human to operate it and by simply waving a magic wand posting a sign and preventing said objects from crossing a threshold, danger is removed.


There is no weapon without the human. If they found a dagger used to kill Julius Caesar and put it in a display case, it ceases to be a weapon and instead becomes an historical relic to look upon. However, if you were to shatter the glass that encased the knife, grabbed a shard, and tried to stab the guard with it, the very thing that protected the knife against fingerprints and sneezes is now the weapon.

Signs do nothing to stop a criminal. The law abiding tend to follow them. What this means is at the very time someone with ill intent enters to do harm, the very people you need to be armed, aren’t. If signs against objects worked, why not simply change them to say “No crime is permitted”. That way, the law abiding can remain within the bounds of your rules while not putting them at the mercy of the criminal?

Oh, and by the way - the entire campus is posted as a smoke free area. Twice I had to walk through a cloud of smoke where the offender was literally leaning on a ‘No Smoking’ sign. The magic signs didn’t work there, they won’t work on a determined criminal intent on doing harm.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tuesday 06-19-12

Something that bears watching.

Militants cross into Israel from Egypt, 1 killed

JERUSALEM (AP) - Militants crossed from Egypt's turbulent Sinai Peninsula into southern Israel on Monday and opened fire on civilians building a border security fence, defense officials said. One of the Israeli workers was killed, and two assailants died in a gunbattle with Israeli troops responding to the attack.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, which underscored the growing lawlessness in the Sinai desert since longtime Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was toppled by a popular uprising last year.

Military spokeswoman Lt. Col Avital Leibovich said the assailants have not been identified but acknowledged that defense officials suspected Palestinian militants in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, which also borders the Sinai desert in that same area, might have been involved.

Several hours after the attack, an Israeli airstrike killed two men riding a motorcycle in the northern Gaza Strip near the Israeli border. The Islamic Jihad militant group said the men were members on a "reconnaissance" mission and vowed revenge. Military officials said the incident was not connected to the earlier infiltration from Egypt.

Israeli security officials have grown increasingly anxious about the security situation in the Sinai since Mubarak's ouster. Continued political turmoil in Egypt, weak policing in the Sinai and tough terrain have all encouraged Islamic militant activity in the area. The mountainous desert now harbors an array of militant groups, including Palestinian extremists and al-Qaida-inspired jihadists, Egyptian and Israeli security officials say. The tumultuous situation surrounding Egyptian elections, in which Islamic groups made a strong showing, has added to Israeli unease.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Army Radio that there has been "a worrisome deterioration of Egyptian control" over the Sinai. Barak said he expected the winner of this week's presidential elections in Egypt to honor the country's international obligations - an apparent reference to Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel. The Muslim Brotherhood has said it would respect the historic peace accord but that it would also seek modifications.

Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz, a former defense minister and military chief, said he hoped Israel could conduct a security dialogue with the Egyptians and demand more forceful policing in the Sinai.

"No doubt Sinai has become a security problem," Mofaz told Army Radio. "Today's incident ratchets it up a notch."

There was no immediate comment from Egypt on the attack.

Following Mubarak's ouster, Israel stepped up construction of a security fence across the 230-kilometer (150-mile) border with Egypt in a bid to keep out both militants and illegal migrants from Africa. The government has said it expects the fence to be completed by the end of the year.

In Monday's attack, two civilian vehicles carrying construction workers were driving toward the security fence when militants activated a roadside bomb and opened light arms and anti-tank fire at them, said Leibovich, the military spokeswoman.

One of the vehicles was struck and turned over into a nearby ditch, killing one worker, she said. Israeli troops rushed to the area and engaged in a gunbattle with the militants. One militant, who was carrying a large explosive device, blew up, she said. Another militant, and possibly two others, also died, but other gunmen may have escaped back into Egypt, she said.

The militants were carrying camouflage uniforms, flak jackets, helmets and assault rifles, she said. There was no word on their identities or membership in any of a wide range of armed groups.

Leibovich said Israelis living in five small communities in the area were instructed to lock themselves inside their homes, and two major southern roads were closed to civilian traffic while troops scoured the area for other militants. The military later concluded no other gunmen were in the area.

Israel had been bracing for the possibility of more attacks from the Sinai after two rockets believed fired from there struck southern Israel over the weekend, though Leibovich said it was unclear whether the two events were related.

The magnitude of the growing threat from Sinai was driven home last August, when gunmen from Sinai infiltrated Israel and ambushed vehicles on a desert highway, killing eight Israelis. Six Egyptians were killed in Israel's subsequent hunt for the militants, causing a diplomatic crisis between the two neighbors that ended with an Israeli apology.

The deadly August attack shattered decades of calm along the frontier area, prompting officials on both sides of the border to examine security arrangements and pushing Israel to speed up construction of the border fence.

As part of its landmark first peace treaty with an Arab state, Israel agreed in 1979 to return the Sinai, captured in the 1967 Mideast war, to Egypt, but insisted the vast desert triangle separating Asia from Africa be significantly demilitarized. As the frontier area grew more volatile following Mubarak's ouster, Israel allowed thousands more Egyptian troops to police the area and has beefed up its own military deployment along the border.

The reinforced security deployment has not quieted the Sinai, however, and democratic elections for parliament and president did not resolve the instability in Egypt, which has Israel worried about the future of the 1979 peace accord.

The ruling Egyptian military dissolved the newly elected parliament and assumed sweeping powers subordinating the president and ensuring their hold on the state. The Muslim Brotherhood, which declared early Monday that its candidate, Mohammed Morsi, won this week's presidential election, has challenged the military's power grab, raising the prospect of a power struggle between Egypt's two strongest forces.

It is amazing, they call it violence against their employee but they do it to the public millions of times a day.

Woman accused of groping TSA agent

FORT MYERS - A lot of people get peeved about TSA pat downs. But a Bonita Springs woman is accused of groping an agent at Southwest Florida International Airport and it's all on tape!

It happened on her way to Cleveland, Ohio. Airline passenger Carol Price says while going through security to catch her flight, a TSA agent groped her.

In response, the video shows Price put down her carry-on bags, turn to a TSA supervisor and grab her - allegedly without permission - to show the supervisor what Price says she went through.

"It was a customer complaint of an extremely inappropriate search," said Price's defense attorney John Mills.

Mills says another TSA agent first groped Price's genitals and breasts.

"She did not touch the supervisor as intrusively as she was touched," Mills said.

Price says the TSA agent wasn't following protocol - and she should know.

Price is a former TSA agent who worked at the airport until a few years ago. She got along with some, but not all of her co-workers, and says her pat down was personal.

"She's obviously been through training and knew this lady," Mills said.

But Mills admits Price was already emotional that day.

"She was going to her brother's funeral," he said, adding that she did not make it.

Instead, Price was removed from the flight, taken to jail and now faces misdemeanor battery charges.

She has pleaded not guilty

"Ms. Price just wants her name cleared," Mills said.

The TSA says: "The pat down was conducted correctly in accordance with our procedures. Violence against our officers who work every day to keep the traveling public safe is unacceptable."

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday 06-18-12

TSA tentatively okays private screeners in Orlando

By Joe Davidson

The Transportation Security Administration has given preliminary approval to a plan that would allow Orlando Sanford International Airport to use private security screeners.

Screeners employed by private companies are already used at 16 airports under the agency’s Screening Partnership Program. Republicans have pressed for greater use of private screeners and welcomed last week’s announcement.

"I hope this opens a new era of reform for TSA operations, not only at Orlando Sanford but across the nation,” said Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “It’s critical that TSA get out of the business of running a huge bureaucracy and human resources operation and refocus its attention on security, analyzing intelligence, and setting the highest risk-based security standards. TSA needs to focus on going after terrorists — not little old ladies, veterans and children.”

Democrats and the union representing TSA officers, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), have opposed privatization of the workforce that screens people and luggage at the nation’s airports.
In February, AFGE President John Gage told Congress: “The mission of corporations is to make profits from the shareholders and that is in direct conflict with the single focused mission of air travel security for Americans.”
At a House hearing earlier this month, TSA Administrator John Pistole rejected an assertion by Rep. Mike D. Rogers (R-Ala.), chairman of the Homeland Security transportation subcommittee, that TSA “could reduce its ranks by 30 percent to 40 percent and still be able to do the job just as effectively.”
Said Pistole: “No, I don’t agree with that. That’s a huge number.”

TSA said the Orlando plan for private screeners will not become final until the agency approves “a proposal that does ‘not compromise security or detrimentally affect the cost-efficiency or the effectiveness of the screening of passengers or property at the airport.’ There will be no immediate change to operations or the federal workforce” at the airport.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday 06-15-12

Etiquette to follow on Flag Day and any day

WASHINGTON - June 14 is Flag Day, and a good time to be reminded of proper etiquette for handling the American flag.

It's customary to have the American flag displayed in front of federal and state government buildings. Flags are raised at sun up and lowered at sundown, according to Maryland State Trooper Sgt. Robert Fraley. There's only one exception.

"Unless it's a situation like out front where you have the spotlight illuminating a flag, which you're allowed to display at all hours of the darkness," says Fraley.

The flag also should never be dipped.
"Our nation does not bow for anything, and neither does our flag," Fraley says.

Here are more tips directly from

•The flag should not be used as a drapery, or for covering a speakers desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.

•The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard

•The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.

•The flag should never have placed on it, or attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind. The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.

Military drone mistaken for ‘UFO’ along DC highways

Read more:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thursday 06-13-12

The Wounded Warrior Veterans Directory is an online website dedicated to promoting and assisting businesses owned by Service Disabled Veterans. The only businesses listed are those certified as Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB).

The Wounded Warrior Veteran's Directory is the first of its kind and currently features almost 6,000 Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses. Visitors may find goods and services provided specifically by searching categories, search by city, State, company name, by relevant keyword or by using the North American Industry Classification System NAICS Codes.

I could not agree more with the next article, glad i saw it on the Wood Pile Report

10 Signs That The Highways Of America Are Being Transformed Into A High Tech Prison Grid

Once upon a time, the open highways of America were one of our greatest symbols of liberty and freedom. Anyone could hop in a car and set off for a new adventure at any time and even our music encouraged us to "get our kicks on route 66". But today everything has changed. Now the highways of America are being steadily transformed into a high tech prison grid. All over the country, thousands upon thousands of surveillance cameras watch our highways and automated license plate readers are actually being used to track vehicle movements in some of our largest cities. Many state and local governments have come to view our highways as money machines and our control freak politicians have established a vast network of toll booths, red light cameras and speed traps to keep cash endlessly pouring in. If all of that wasn't enough, TSA "VIPR teams" are now hitting the interstates and conducting thousands of "unannounced security screenings" each year. Driving on the highways of America used to be a great joy, but now "Big Brother" is rapidly sucking all of the fun out of it. Eventually, it may get to the point where Americans simply dread having to go out on the highway.

The following are 10 signs that the highways of America are being transformed into a high tech prison grid....

#1 Surveillance Cameras

All over the United States, a vast network of surveillance cameras is carefully watching our highways. The following is an excerpt from a recent article in the Baltimore Sun about this phenomenon....

The room is large and well lit, and it buzzes with activity even though its occupants remain seated.

The video screen at the front of the room is as wide as an IMAX, though not quite as tall. It consists of 64 smaller screens – 16 columns of four apiece – that monitor every inch of interstate between Great Wolf Lodge and the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. There is an emphasis on tunnels and bridges, and one corner screen is tuned in to a 24-hour weather report.

If you are driving on an highway in Hampton Roads, VDOT is watching you.

#2 Automated License Plate Readers

In a previous article, I detailed how automated license plate readers are being used to track the movements of every single vehicle that enters Washington D.C.

A recent Washington Post article explained that most people do not even know that they are there....

More than 250 cameras in the District and its suburbs scan license plates in real time, helping police pinpoint stolen cars and fleeing killers. But the program quietly has expanded beyond what anyone had imagined even a few years ago.

With virtually no public debate, police agencies have begun storing the information from the cameras, building databases that document the travels of millions of vehicles.

Nowhere is that more prevalent than in the District, which has more than one plate-reader per square mile, the highest concentration in the nation. Police in the Washington suburbs have dozens of them as well, and local agencies plan to add many more in coming months, creating a comprehensive dragnet that will include all the approaches into the District.

A lot of police cruisers are being outfitted with this technology around the nation as well.

So if you see a police car pull up behind you, there is a very good chance that a computer has already read your license plate and is giving the officer all of your information.

#3 Ridiculous Regulations

Some of the new "auto safety laws" going in around the nation are absolutely absurd.

For example, do you buckle up your pet when you go for a ride? Well, in New Jersey you can now be fined up to $1000 for not having your pet properly restrained while you are out driving.

#4 Outrageous Fines

In many areas of the country, unpaid traffic tickets can rapidly become a major financial burden.

For example, the new tolls on the 520 floating bridge in Seattle are absolutely killing some commuters.....

Registered vehicle owners who do not pay their toll within 80 days or more will be mailed a $40 civil penalty for each unpaid toll transaction in addition to a $5 reprocessing fee.
WSDOT confirmed some tolls plus penalty fees have added up to more than $1,000.

#5 Oppressive Toll Roads

Toll roads have become one of the favorite "revenue raising tools" for our politicians.

At this point the tolls on some roads have become so incredibly oppressive that many people simply cannot afford to drive on them anymore.

And for some reason the toll increases are coming especially fast and furious this year.

A recent USA Today article summarized some of the oppressive toll increases that we are seeing all over the nation....
•California and Washington authorized high-occcupancy toll (HOT) lanes, where tolls rise or fall depending on traffic flow. Texas enacted laws authorizing private toll roads and allowing regional authorities to collect tolls. Indiana removed a provision requiring legislative approval for toll roads.

•Some Maryland tolls will double this year as the state seeks money to rehabilitate aging roads, bridges and tunnels.

The use of tolls on interstate highways also is spreading:

•Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, just won approval from the Federal Highway Administration to add tolls on Interstate 95 in his state. The state estimates that tolls on the heavily traveled corridor could generate $250 million over the first five years for expanding, improving and maintaining the highway.

•New York and New Jersey recently announced that E-ZPass commuters will pay $1.50 more and cash customers $2 more to cross bridges and tunnels between the two states.

•Georgia just created toll lanes on Interstate 85 in suburban Atlanta.

The toll hikes are more than chump change: Cash tolls on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge jumped to $4 from $2.50, and to $12 from $8 on all the New York-New Jersey Hudson River crossings.

Toll roads are one of my pet peeves. Any time I see a toll booth it immediately puts me in a bad mood.

#6 Red Light Cameras

Red light cameras are another favorite "revenue raising tool" for the control freaks that run things.

Unfortunately, these cameras don't always work right so a lot of innocent people end up getting ticketed.

But politicians love them because they can raise a lot of cash. The following is from a recent Business Insider article....

According to U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group), nearly 700 U.S. cities and towns installed the cameras, which accounted for more than 90 percent of tickets issued for illegal right turns, or rolling stops.

In one New Jersey town, PIRG found 2,500 tickets were issued at one intersection within the first two months of installing a camera.

#7 Speed Traps

In the old days, speed traps were mostly about making the roads safer.

Today, they are mostly about raising money.

One police chief up in Michigan has even admitted that the nature of his job has fundamentally changed....

"When I first started in this job 30 years ago, police work was never about revenue enhancement, but if you’re a chief now, you have to look at whether your department produces revenues."

Speed traps are becoming more common almost everywhere, but some areas of the country are worse than others.

A recent report from the National Motorists Association ranked how likely you are to get a speeding ticket in each of the 50 U.S. states....

After crunching the numbers, the NMA found that Nevada is the state most likely to issue you a traffic ticket, followed by Georgia and Alabama. In 2010 Florida took the top spot and Georgia and Nevada tied for second place.

The state where you’re least likely to get ticketed is Wyoming, followed closely by Montana. These two ranked at the bottom in 2010 as well.

#8 Government Spying

It has been revealed that the federal government has been secretly putting GPS tracking devices on thousands of vehicles in order to track the movements of people that they are interested in watching.

Most of the time the people involved have not even been charged with any crimes.

The following is a short excerpt from a recent Wired magazine article about this phenomenon....

The 25-year-old resident of San Jose, California, says he found the first one about three weeks ago on his Volvo SUV while visiting his mother in Modesto, about 80 miles northeast of San Jose. After contacting Wired and allowing a photographer to snap pictures of the device, it was swapped out and replaced with a second tracking device. A witness also reported seeing a strange man looking beneath the vehicle of the young man’s girlfriend while her car was parked at work, suggesting that a tracking device may have been retrieved from her car.

Then things got really weird when police showed up during a Wired interview with the man.

The young man, who asked to be identified only as Greg, is one among an increasing number of U.S. citizens who are finding themselves tracked with the high-tech devices.

The Justice Department has said that law enforcement agents employ GPS as a crime-fighting tool with “great frequency,” and GPS retailers have told Wired that they’ve sold thousands of the devices to the feds.

#9 Extraction Devices

If you get pulled over by police, you never know what to expect these days. Previously, I have written about how law enforcement authorities in some parts of the U.S. are using "extraction devices" to download data out of the cell phones of motorists that they pull over.

The following is how a recent article on CNET News described the capabilities of these "extraction devices"....

The devices, sold by a company called Cellebrite, can download text messages, photos, video, and even GPS data from most brands of cell phones. The handheld machines have various interfaces to work with different models and can even bypass security passwords and access some information.

#10 VIPR Teams

If all of the above was not bad enough, now we have to deal with TSA "VIPR teams" terrorizing us on the highways.

If you regularly travel across the country, there is a good chance that you have already encountered one of their "unannounced security screenings".

The following is from a local news report down in Tennessee about how local authorities are working with VIPR teams to fight "terrorism" on the interstates....

You're probably used to seeing TSA's signature blue uniforms at the airport, but now agents are hitting the interstates to fight terrorism with Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR).

"Where is a terrorist more apt to be found? Not these days on an airplane more likely on the interstate," said Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons.

Tuesday Tennessee was first to deploy VIPR simultaneously at five weigh stations and two bus stations across the state.

TSA VIPR teams now conduct approximately 8,000 "unannounced security screenings" at subway stations, bus terminals, seaports and highway rest stops each year.
Are you starting to see what I am talking about?

All of this "security" is becoming extremely oppressive.

We don't need "Big Brother" constantly watching us, tracking us and fining us on our highways.

So do you have any examples of how the highways of America are being transformed into a high tech prison grid to add to the list above?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below....

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wednesday 06-13-12

Makes North Dakota go up on my list

North Dakota Considers Eliminating Property Tax
 Since Californians shrank their property taxes more than three decades ago by passing Proposition 13, people around the nation have echoed their dismay over such levies, putting forth plans to even them, simplify them, cap them, slash them. In an election here on Tuesday, residents of North Dakota will consider a measure that reaches far beyond any of that — one that abolishes the property tax entirely.

“I would like to be able to know that my home, no matter what happens to my income or my life, is not going to be taken away from me because I can’t pay a tax,” said Susan Beehler, one in a group of North Dakotans who have pressed for an amendment to the state’s Constitution to end the property tax. They argue that the tax is unpredictable, inconsistent, counter to the concept of property ownership and needless in a state that, thanks in part to wildly successful oil drilling, finds itself in the rare circumstance of carrying budget reserves.

“When,” Ms. Beehler asked, “did we come to believe that government should get rich and we should get poor?”
An unusual coalition of forces, including the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce and the state’s largest public employees’ unions, vehemently oppose the idea, arguing that such a ban would upend this quiet capital. Some big unanswered questions, the opponents say, include precisely how lawmakers would make up some $812 million in annual property tax revenue; what effect the change would have on hundreds of other state laws and regulations that allude to the more than century-old property tax; and what decisions would be left for North Dakota’s cities, counties and other governing boards if, say, they wanted to build a new school, hire more police, open a new park.

“This is a plan without a plan,” said Andy Peterson, president and chairman of the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce, who acknowledged that property taxes have climbed in some parts of the state and that North Dakota’s political leaders need to tackle the issue. “But this solution is a little like giving a barber a razor-sharp butcher knife — and by the way, this barber is blind — and asking him or her to give you a haircut. You’ll get the job done, but you might be missing an ear or an eye.”

Polls conducted last month and last week suggest that voters here overwhelmingly oppose the ballot measure to ban the property tax.

Still, even if the measure here fails on Tuesday, the notion is picking up steam in some Republican circles in other states, including North Carolina, Texas and Pennsylvania.

“No tax should have the power to leave you homeless,” said Jim Cox, a state representative in Pennsylvania who has proposed legislation to eliminate the school property tax in the state where, he said, such taxes have led to residents’ losing homes to sheriff’s sales, entering into reverse mortgages or simply moving away.

In a way, North Dakota, though 48th in population among the states, was a logical place for such a movement to brew. While the state’s property tax collections per capita generally fall near the middle among states, the surge in oil production over the past five years, mainly in the western portion of the state, has seen its effects ripple through other parts of life here. The state’s coffers are full, overflowing even. Assessments of home values, especially in some areas, have risen drastically too.

The political mood here, too, leans toward Republicans (who dominate Bismarck), small government, little intrusion and fiscal conservatism. Though opponents to the property tax here received a $12,000 donation in 2010 from the American Tax Reduction Movement, a sister group to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which grew out of California’s Proposition 13, members say the efforts here were largely organic, the result of unhappy property taxpayers getting fed up.

“The same problem kept coming up,” said Charlene Nelson, a homemaker who became a leader of the effort to amend the Constitution, pointing to what she deems the underlying problem with the property tax. “It means all of us are renters — none of us are homeowners.”

In recent years, state officials sent more money to localities to pay for schools in an effort to lower property tax bills. But opponents of the property tax said those efforts did not go nearly far enough, and collected nearly 30,000 signatures on petitions to bring the matter to the ballot.

Those who want to keep the property tax have vastly outraised the opponents, gathering more than $500,000, campaign finance reports show. Though the question is among four on ballots here on Tuesday — including the highly contentious question of whether the University of North Dakota should give up its Fighting Sioux nickname — residents here said they had been deluged with information about the property tax measure, on signs, in radio talk shows and through months of debates in school gymnasiums and recreation halls in small towns like Edgeley and Bowman.

For his part, Gov. Jack Dalrymple, a Republican, said he opposed the property tax ban. “It’s mind-boggling, really,” he said, in an interview, of the effects of such a ban. “We’d be changing everything, frankly.”

The notion, he said, that the state has enough surplus to replace property taxes for localities around the state without raising other taxes is false. For starters, he said, much of the state’s benefits from the oil boom are already dedicated legally to particular funds and cannot simply be transferred to support schools, counties, towns, park districts and the like.

Even if the ban fails, North Dakota lawmakers now seem all but certain to tackle broader solutions to the property tax question as early as next year.

“I have to say that we totally understand that North Dakotans are very concerned about their property tax payments,” Mr. Dalrymple said. “You have a tension there, and people say this can’t keep on.”

Beyond the Tried-and-True: Generating Cash in Later Life

These days trying to find high-quality income-producing stocks or bonds—ones yielding better than a measly 2% or 3%—can be as frustrating as trying to tie your shoelaces with one hand.

Don't despair: There are ways to boost income in retirement that go beyond the usual suspects—sometimes way beyond.

Here are five ideas:

1. Grow Trees

If you live in an area where people routinely burn wood to heat their homes, you might consider buying some woodland. Not only can you use the wood to heat your home, you can sell logs to others.

"An awful lot of people in the Northeast use wood for fuel because they can't afford anything else," says Robert Maloney at Squam Lakes Financial Advisors LLC in Holderness, N.H.

The usual quip, however, is that wood will heat you twice: once when you cut it and once when you burn it. That's also a way of saying that this method of earning extra income can be hard work.

The labor starts with weeding out trees for harvesting. (Trees can take decades to reach maturity, so you don't want to cut them all down at once.) The thinning lets the remaining trees grow bigger and provides room for saplings. The felled trees then must be left to dry, which can take more than a year. Finally, the trees need to be cut into logs before they can be sold.

The returns you generate will depend in part on how much of the labor you are willing and able to do yourself and how much you pay for the land, says Theodore E. Howard, professor of forestry economics at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H.

Woodland in New Hampshire is going for around $1,500 an acre, and a cord of wood commands about $115 once it has been cut, according to the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association in Concord, N.H. A sustainable level of production is about a cord an acre a year.

If you determine firewood doesn't offer a big enough return, there are other possibilities for woodland income. These include leasing the land to hunters, leasing out maple-syrup taps (if you live in a Northern state) and selling timber.

2. Make Loans

You're probably getting less than 1% on your bank deposits—but your bank, using your money, can get as much as 15% for an unsecured loan. Suddenly lending seems appealing.

If you have ever co-signed a loan for a friend or family member, you have come close to being a lender. As a co-signer, you're on the hook for the money if the primary borrower doesn't make the loan payments. The difference is, you don't get any interest.

If the person who needs the loan co-signed has decent credit, it might make sense to make the loan directly. Before doing so, draw up a contract that could potentially be used in a court of law, says Farnoosh Torabi, personal-finance expert and author of "Psych Yourself Rich."

If the idea of lending to family gives you hives, consider lending via a peer-to-peer network such as That website boasts returns of more than 10%. If you do so, make a variety of loans to different people of different credit quality to help diversify risk, Ms. Torabi says.

3. Rent Out a Room

If your kids have left the nest, you might have a spare room. Instead of downsizing to a smaller home in a weak housing market, consider renting out a room to a lodger. This might be especially suitable for those living in university towns. Graduate students—those whose partying days are behind them—could make great paying houseguests.

There are a few things to consider, however.

You need to check out local zoning laws," says Chip Addis, co-founder and president of financial-planning firm Addis & Hill Financial Advisors in Wayne, Pa. Not every town has liberal policies, he says.

Then there are questions of safety and privacy. You might want to run a background check on a potential lodger, and you will need to decide which part of your house you are willing to share. Says Mr. Addis: "There are a lot of practical issues, such as the use of the washer/dryer and parking."

Dana Pingenot, president of Dallas-based Lee Financial Corp., says she had an exchange student live with her family for a year, mainly for the experience. "When she goes home, we'll think about renting the room out," says Ms. Pingenot, who expects to charge somewhere between $200 to $400 a month for the room.

Note: Rental income may be taxable, so talk to a tax specialist.

4. Tutor Students

Anyone who has reached retirement age should have amassed a wealth of knowledge on a variety of topics, all of which could provide the basis for a part-time career.

For instance, if you have been an engineer for 30 years, you clearly have some math skills. Perhaps that could be parlayed into a part-time gig tutoring school kids?

"As long as you are a patient person and have a gift for making complex concepts clear and simple, perhaps you could be a very good tutor," says Linda Abraham, founder of, a college-admissions consulting firm in Los Angeles. Pay for tutors can vary widely. Some people can command as much as $200 an hour, but around $75 to $100 is more typical, she says.

There are other avenues to pursue on the teaching front. New York native Andrew McKeon parlayed a career at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. into tutoring students for the GMAT business-school entrance test. He did that through education firm Kaplan Inc., but cautions that the selection process was rigorous.

In addition to financial rewards, these sorts of jobs have the added benefit of social interaction. For many in retirement, that can be a blessing.

5. Preferred Stock

Don't forget about preferred stock. The high yields offered by these hybrid securities—often more than 6%—could put a big smile on your face.

Preferred stocks are like bonds in that they have a fixed percentage payout. They are, however, lower down on the food chain than bonds in terms of claims on bankrupt companies, so while the returns tend to be higher, preferred stock carries more risk.

"It is still equity and not debt in terms of claims," says Vinny Catalano, president of New York-based Blue Marble Research. "If the company goes south, you would likely not receive very much money."

So which preferred stock do you pick? You can always buy an exchange-traded fund full of them. PowerShares Financial Preferred (PGF) yields a hefty 6.9%, while PowerShares Preferred (PGX) yields around 6%. Those two funds are heavily invested in securities of financial companies, which typically offer higher yields.

"I think that financials are out of the death-row woods, but they are still in a very difficult spot," says Mr. Catalano. So if banks deteriorate, these picks may not pay off.