30 December 2011

The sun sets on 2011 and the dawn of 2012

As 2011 fades into the sunset and 2012 rises at dawn, I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year! In Spanish, Feliz Año Nuevo! In Slovenian, Srečno novo leto! And in German, Glückliches neues Jahr!

If any year was newsworthy, 2011 was it. We started out 2011 here in St. Petersburg with the unfortunate loss of three St. Petersburg Police Officers and the funeral services that followed. Right as the funeral for Officer David Crawford was wrapping up another horrific news story was in the making across the bay in Tampa, and I watched the events unfold on Bay News 9: The horrific murder of Beau and Calyx Schenecker at the hands of their mother, Julie Schenecker.

Later on down the road in 2011 the Space Shuttle program came to an end with the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis. I remember very well when the Space Shuttle program started in 1981 and the horrific explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986; in fact, I was just coming out of classes at St. Petersburg College for the day and I was on my way home when I heard on the radio in my car that the Space Shuttle exploded after liftoff.

And we can't forget the biggest news story of 2011: Casey Anthony, found not guilty in the death of her 2-year old daughter, Caylee. The trial, held in Orlando for seven weeks, had a jury that had to come from Pinellas County due to the extensive pre-trial publicity. I was watching bits and pieces of the Casey Anthony trial on Bay News 9 at home, especially the closing arguments, and I thought Casey Anthony would be found guilty either as charged or on a lesser charge. I was at work watching Bay News 9 in the conference room next to my office when the verdict was read: Not guilty. The only offenses that Casey was guilty of was the four counts of lying to law enforcement.

I was shocked to see a not guilty verdict. There was a major uproar over the verdict after it was read; the Pinellas County jurors were fearing for their lives which is why the names of the jurors were not released for a few months. Unfortunately, this is how the American system of justice works.

We also have seen the end of a tradition which was on WMNF 88.5 FM for 25+ years: The end of the Polka Party Express, which aired its last show on Sunday, 20 March 2011. According to a blog entry I wrote earlier this year when the Polka Party Express pulled out of the station for the last time, it felt like the day when Amtrak pulled out of St. Petersburg for good in 1984.

Moreover, we also lost a Slovenian polka music legend on 29 September 2011: Lojze Slak. I enjoyed his music all the time, especially when it was played regularly on the Polka Party Express. My favorite Lojze Slak tune of all time? Glas Harmonike.

And we can't forget the first ever national test of the Emergency Alert System on 9 November 2011, which took place at 2 PM Eastern Time. The test from what I understand was far from perfect: The audio was garbled or hard to hear depending on what station you were tuned to as well as stations not even getting the test in the first place. If we want a better national warning system, it needs to be fixed.

Remember the reliable Emergency Broadcast System that served its purpose from 1963 to 1997? If you were growing up in that era (especially from the late 1960's onward) and you were watching Saturday morning cartoons, during commercial break a scary slide came on - sometimes with the Civil Defense symbol - and the infamous "this is a test" and the dreaded two-tone signal. Luckily, the Emergency Broadcast System did not have to be activated on a national scale, with the only exception being the EBS mishap in 1971.

So, if any year was newsworthy (other than the St. Petersburg Times writing scare stories about house values and the real estate crisis, thank you Mark Puente), 2011 was it. Did I mention the St. Petersburg Times?

When 2012 dawns come Sunday, 1 January 2012 the St. Petersburg Times will be known under a new name: The Tampa Bay Times. To me, this is a mistake. Why?

Let me set the record straight:

1. Tampa Bay is not only a body of water, it is the name of the region that encompasses two cities, St. Petersburg and Tampa, and within two counties, Pinellas and Hillsborough.

2. Tampa Bay is not a city, period.

3. We St. Petersburg residents have been accustomed to and know our daily newspaper as the St. Petersburg Times. This assures our identity as a city for well over 100 years.

4. We St. Petersburg residents are not part of Tampa nor Hillsborough County. In fact, it is the St. Petersburg Times that championed the cause for the creation of Pinellas County from the western part of Hillsborough County in 1912. In 2012 we celebrate 100 years of being a county separate and apart.

5. St. Petersburg slowly loses its identity as a city. We have been known by plenty of other monikers over the years such as God's Waiting Room among other things. Add to that the recent article in Men's Health about St. Petersburg being the most saddest city in America.

Don't the editors at Men's Health Magazine have something else to write about instead of labeling St. Petersburg in a negative spotlight? After all, depression knows no boundaries.

The St. Petersburg Times may be changing its name to the Tampa Bay Times come Sunday, 1 January 2012. However, it will continue to be the St. Petersburg Times in my book.

26 December 2011

Those After Christmas Returns and ID

Christmas 2011 has come and gone, and I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! Hopefully you got what you wanted and Santa was good to you.

Now comes the After Christmas stuff: The sales and the returns. Many of you may have to return something for a particular reason. So, if you plan on returning an item to exchange it for something else or a refund, you will want to keep some important pointers in mind:

1. Check your store's return and refund policy carefully. Note any fees you may be charged such as a restocking fee, especially for computer and electronics equipment. You can find out an individual store's policy just by going to their web site and clicking on the customer service link.

2. Bring your original sales receipt with you. This will eliminate plenty of inconvenience when you go to exchange or return an item. If you do not have your original receipt with you, more than likely you will be offered store credit so that you can purchase another item. Again, check your store's return policy.

Adhering to store policy and bringing your original receipt should make your return or exchange a breeze. However, there is an alarming trend with retailers when it comes to exchanges and refunds, and that is requiring ID and at the same time capturing the information on your ID! Just recently Best Buy has enacted a policy that requires ID from you when you return an item to them; as part of their return policy the information on your ID will be captured and entered into a secure database for the purpose of tracking returns.

What? Retailers such as Best Buy dabbling into your personal affairs by requiring and capturing ID when you return something? Best Buy, for instance, claims that their policy is to track customer returns as well as to cut down on return fraud; customer information captured is kept in a secure database and the information contained therein is not sold to third parties.

To me, Best Buy's return policy (as well as any other retailer requiring and capturing ID) is a recipe for identity theft. Any retailer can institute a legitimate return policy by having the customer fill out a form (which is generated by the register) with the customer's name and address, and the store clerk enters this information into the register. As to Best Buy's claim that the information captured from customer IDs is kept securely, the information will eventually end up being sold to third parties.

After all, despite federal laws prohibiting this practice the State of Florida has a habit of selling your name and address information on your driver's license to third parties. If the State of Florida sells your name and address information on your driver's license then I imagine what Best Buy is doing to your information when you return something to them for an exchange or refund.

Besides, as I mentioned in a previous blog entry a Florida Driver's License is the worst identity document to have in your possession other than the fact that you need it for driving a motor vehicle. You need it in case a law enforcement officer pulls you over or if you are in an accident. A Florida Driver's License contains - as required by the federal REAL ID law concerning standards for state drivers licenses - your name and your physical street address; in other words, where you live. Besides, a physical street address is a goldmine, not only for nosy and dabbling store clerks when it comes to returns but for stalkers and domestic violence perpetrators who happen to come across your license.

Any retailer that requires ID when you return an item will also try to claim that it is also their policy to help deter identity theft. Any retailer claiming the purpose of requiring ID to help deter identity theft is a false statement. Besides, store clerks have been involved in identity theft cases as the perpetrators!

So, what can you do to prevent your personal information from being misused at the hands of retailers such as Best Buy?

If you happen to have a passport or a passport card, use it as ID. Passports and passport cards do not have your physical street address on them, unlike a driver's license.

If you do not have either a passport or passport card, I would strongly recommend getting a passport card. It is a wallet size card and, being a federal identity document, meets REAL ID benchmarks. Not only you can use it when you check in for a domestic airline flight or to enter a federal facility, you can show your passport card as ID if in the event a retailer asks you. Passport cards cost $30 and are good for ten (10) years.

If you have a post office box as a mailing address, use it to your benefit. If in the event a retailer requires a street address, give your work street address - not the street address where you live. Again, residential street addresses are a goldmine not only for dabbling store clerks but for stalkers and domestic violence perpetrators too.

Be sure to hang on to your driver's license, but put that away in a safe place in your wallet or purse. The only time you need to produce your driver's license is in these situations:

1. While you are operating a motor vehicle.
2. In the event of a traffic stop.
3. In the event of a motor vehicle accident.
Remember, you must carry your registration and proof of motor vehicle insurance as well - it's the law!
4. When you rent a car - after all, it is illegal for any rental car company such as Alamo or Dollar to rent to anyone without a valid driver's license.

Remember: If you are asked for ID by a retail store clerk, pull out your passport or passport card if you got one. This solves 99% of all ID required issues when it comes to retailers.

Now here's my take on retailers requiring ID when you return an item for exchange or refund, especially in light of Best Buy's new ID required for returns policy:

1. Retailers have a right to control return fraud. Asking the customer for his name and address is the first step and using the information only for the purpose of processing the return and destroying the information collected from the customer after a period of time - such as 60 days - ensures privacy for the customer.

2. If a retailer wants to require ID for a return, that's their business. At least the information from the ID should not be captured and held in a computer database subject to unauthorized access.

3. To law enforcement or to a rental car company, a driver's license is one thing. However, to retailers such as Best Buy, Wal-Mart, CompUSA or any other retailer known to ask for IDs from customers, my residential street address - in other words, where I live - is none of your business.

If you have had a horrific experience at a retailer when you went to return an item for exchange or refund, I would like to hear from you. Simply post a comment with your experience (please, no personal identifying information).

22 December 2011

Christmas has arrived at EdwardRingwald.com!

Christmas time has arrived here at EdwardRingwald.com! I know, it's getting very close to Christmas but I had plenty of other stuff going on.

However, the hard work I did this past week alone in getting the elements of my Christmas 2011 page I feel paid off. This year I am featuring two locations in St. Petersburg and one location in Plant City. The two locations in St. Petersburg are over at North Straub Park in downtown St. Petersburg as well as the mega-Christmas display located at 2719 Oakdale Street South and the one location in Plant City - a town 20 miles east of Tampa on Interstate 4 and is well known for being the home of the annual Strawberry Festival - is in McCall Park in downtown Plant City.

What makes Plant City so special besides the Strawberry Festival is that it is the intersection of two important CSX Railroad lines, the A Line which runs from Tampa eastward towards Lakeland, Orlando, Jacksonville and points north and the S Line which runs from Tampa northward towards Dade City, Wildwood, Ocala and turning northeast towards the town of Callahan located northwest of Jacksonville where it joins up with the A Line.

Do you know why these railroad lines are identified as the A and S lines? There's a lot of history to it: The A Line used to belong to the Atlantic Coast Line while the S Line used to belong to the Seaboard Air Line Railroad. Both lines merged in 1967 to become the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad which evolved into today's CSX in the 1980's after a series of railroad acquisitions.

So, I am dedicating my Plant City section of my Christmas 2011 page to all the railfans out there, especially those railfans that I either subscribe to or subscribe to my channel out there on YouTube!

What are you waiting for? Head on over to my Christmas 2011 page today!

Breaking News from the Anti-Christmas and Anti-Holiday Season front

A few blog entries ago I reported on the ever increasing Anti-American holiday sentiment, especially around the Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays. More and more school principals - and school districts - are alarmingly shunning Christmas in one way or another. Sound scary, isn't it?

Just a few days before Christmas, the Anti-American holiday spirit has struck again - this time, right here in our back yard. As this St. Petersburg Times article from staff writer Tony Marrero indicates, the superintendent of the Hernando County School District, Bryan Blavatt, banned all instances of Christmas from all Hernando County public schools. The reason, according to the article? "To preserve precious teaching time". Bay News 9 also has a similar article as well.

Yeah, right. It is to preserve precious teaching time all right - after all, teachers cannot teach an effective class and are instead ordered to do nothing more than drill and practice for the all important FCAT test; nothing more than teach the FCAT test here. No matter why your children in Florida do not get an education in our public schools!

Further on in the St. Petersburg Times article, there is one principal in the Hernando County School District that Bryan Blavatt does not have to worry about when he issued his no-Christmas edict: Susan Duval, who happens to be the principal of Springstead High School in Spring Hill. After all, Ms. Duval discourages all forms of Christmas at her school by discouraging anything having to do with Christmas including Christmas parties and the like.

After all, Susan Duval is no stranger to controversy surrounding the operation of her school as principal of Springstead High. In 2005, she gave a commencement speech to the graduating class of that year utilizing words taken from other sources and passing them off as if they were her own. The punishment? A letter of reprimand and a one day suspension courtesy of the Hernando County School District, a slap on the wrist so to speak. Despite that punishment, wouldn't you think that Susan Duval is still doing this to every graduation commencement ceremony? That unfortunately I do not know the answer to. I wrote a blurb on Susan Duval and her involvement in the 2005 graduation commencement controversy which you can find over at my copyright topic.

With Hernando County Schools Superintendent Bryan Blavatt and Springstead High's Susan Duval apparently taking on an anti-Christmas stance, perhaps a study abroad program in the summer in a country where human rights and civil liberties are grossly violated as well as where the celebration of Christmas is illegal would be appropriate. After all, as long as there is an United States of America in existence Christmas as well as the other American traditional holidays will be around, so get used to it.

End of Breaking News from the Anti-Christmas and Anti-Holiday Season front

In closing, I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! In Spanish, ¡Feliz Navidad! In Slovenian, Vesel božič! And in German, Frohe Weihnachten!

15 December 2011

Our (un)reliable and (in)efficient United States Postal Service

By now you have probably heard of the United States Postal Service's plan to increase the price you pay for a first class letter from 44 cents to 45 cents effective 22 January 2012, according to this press release from the USPS. That's right, postage is going up unless you happen to have those "forever" stamps that you use to protect yourself from having to put additional stamps on your letter when postage increases.

If you think that the United States Postal Service keeps raising postage rates while the quality of service gets poorer, it is. In fact, there is a proposal according to this Bay News 9 article that would slow down oridinary first class letter mail. That's right, ordinary mail such as letters and bills you pay where you just put a stamp on it and mail it off.

So, what does this mean for you?

First class mail has what is called a delivery goal, not to be mistaken with delivery guarantee. First class mail that is mailed in a defined local area is delivered overnight, while first class mail that is destined for outside the defined local area but within the state is delivered in two business days. First class mail destined for out of state is usually delivered in three business days.

OK. Let's take an ordinary letter, mailed in St. Petersburg at the St. Petersburg post office that is headed to Tampa.

Right now, that letter you mail from St. Petersburg to Tampa is delivered overnight. If the United States Postal Service gets its way, that same letter you mail from St. Petersburg to Tampa will be delivered not overnight, but in two business days. You got that right, two business days.

With all the customer complaints and customer issues that have plagued the United States Postal Service, I decided to make this a topic all of its own here at EdwardRingwald.com. What you'll see is based on my experiences when I have to unfortunately deal with the United States Postal Service over the years. The complaints about the USPS range from damaged mail to a letter delivered - especially constantly - to the wrong address.

The next time you go to your local post office to mail that package off to Grandma's so it will get there before Christmas Day, keep these pointers in mind:

Long lines, especially backed up to the door.
Worker's hours - 8 AM to 5 PM, whihch means that you have to take time off from work. And often times, without pay depending on your employer.
Poor service by surly, belligerent or rude window clerks.
Inadequate tracking information when you need it.
Customer service representatives at the USPS' 1-800 toll free number that don't take the time to listen to you, making you repeat it so many times to the point of being annoyed by the representative on the phone.

Speaking of the USPS' customer service representatives, I had a poor experience with them a very long time ago, this was back before the Internet and the World Wide Web as we know it today made things a lot easier. I called asking for Zip Code information for a letter and I had the unfortunate experience of speaking with a customer service representative for the USPS that had a foreign accent. The representative kept repeating back information to me wrongly even after I took the time to slowly give the representative the information I needed. Needless to say, I was so disgusted that I hung up the phone on the representative.

While we're on the same subject, does the United States Postal Service use overseas call centers in the same manner as other businesses such as Bank of America? Before I got to speak to a USPS customer service representative as I mentioned earlier, I had to do the IVR battle (or the Interactive Voice Response battle) to get through a few options before you are given the option of speaking to a representative. To me, the combination of IVR plus overseas call centers is bad business.

So, as you do your holiday shopping (and shipping) before you head out the door to endure the long lines at the USPS be sure to read my new topic on our (un)reliable and (in)efficient United States Postal Service. And by the way, if you have a USPS horror story that you would like to share please feel free to post a reply; just please make sure to keep the comments clean.

12 December 2011

Holiday Shopping and ID

The holiday season is underway, and by now you are out there going after all those holiday specials! But before you head out the door, here are some important shopping tips when you pay for your purchases by credit or debit card:

1. Make sure that all your credit and debit cards are signed on the back. Don't write "SEE ID" on the back - that statement is not valid as a signature. Besides, merchants have to comply with the policies set by the credit card issuers, and among the policies is that credit card users must sign the back panel of the card prior to use.

2. Keep - in a separate place such as a password protected Word document or Excel spreadsheet - a list of the credit and debit card numbers and the associated toll free telephone number to that card's particular issuer in case the card is lost, stolen, or the number is compromised. Don't keep a printed copy with your cards!

3. Provided you have signed your card on the back as required, merchants have NO right to demand your ID. Why?

First and foremost, it is against policies set by the credit card issuers, namely MasterCard and Visa. However, there is one exception: A merchant can require ID if the card is not signed on the back as you are supposed to.

Second, a merchant's wanting to know where you live is absolutely none of their business. Merchants such as Wal-Mart (in Florida, we should call them trespass and ban for life happy Wal-Mart) and CompUSA are very notorious for this.

A Florida Driver's License is the worst identity document to have in your possession other than the fact that you need it for driving a motor vehicle. You need it in case a law enforcement officer pulls you over or if you are in an accident. A Florida Driver's License contains - as required by the federal REAL ID law concerning standards for state drivers licenses - your name and your physical street address; in other words, where you live. Besides, a physical street address is a goldmine, not only for nosy and dabbling store clerks but for stalkers and domestic violence perpetrators who happen to come across your license.

If you are confronted by a store clerk at the register demanding your ID, you are well within your rights to say no. If the store clerk gets belligerent with you, politely and professionally ask to speak with the store manager. Nine times out of ten a store manager will say that checking ID is their policy to prevent identify theft, but that alone is a false statement. Besides, store clerks themselves have been involved in identity theft cases as the perpetrators!

Protecting yourself against identity theft is a straightforward process on your part. We know how to keep our credit/debit cards and Social Security numbers out of the hands of unknown persons, and to check our credit reports once a year.

4. Always check your credit and bank account statements periodically. Notify your bank, credit union or credit card issuer of any inaccuracies.

While we are on the subject of ID's, the best American identity document you want to carry around is the Passport Card. Not only it fits in your wallet unlike the traditional passport book, you can use it to cross the Canadian/Mexican border for short trips to Canada or Mexico across our land borders as well as domestically here in the USA to board your flight and gain admittance to federal facilities as the passport card is a REAL ID compliant document. (Remember, a passport card cannot be used to enter the United States by air, even if you are coming from Canada or Mexico - this is where the traditional passport book comes in).

And the good thing about a passport card is that it does not reveal where you live, such as your physical street address (unlike a Florida Driver's License or a Florida ID card). The passport card contains the benchmarks required by the federal REAL ID law yet providing a degree of privacy for the cardholder. Better yet, a passport card costs $30 and it's valid for ten years, compared to a State of Florida ID card which costs $25 but is only valid for eight years. Besides, if you have a Florida ID card and you move to another state, you have to end up getting a new state ID card in your new state of residence which means more fees and more hassle at the state DMV, but if you have a passport card it is a federal document good anywhere in the USA.

Reminder: If you have a driver's license and you move, be sure to obtain a driver's license in your new state of residence. It is the law in all 50 states! Active duty military pursuant to federal law are exempt, just make sure you have your military ID with you in case you are questioned by a law enforcement officer regarding your out of state driver's license.

The U.S. State Department has more details on the passport card as well as how to apply and application forms. Believe me, it's worth the $30!

Remember, the only time you need to carry your Florida Driver's License (or the driver's license from your home state) and to produce it is this:

1. While you are operating a motor vehicle
2. In case of a traffic stop
3. In case of a motor vehicle accident
Besides, you also need your registration and proof of insurance - it's the law
4. When you rent a car - it is illegal for any rental car company (such as Alamo) to rent to anyone who does not have a valid driver's license

To law enforcement or a rental car company, a driver's license is one thing. But to store clerks such as those at Wal-Mart, CompUSA or any other merchant who has strict ID policies when it comes to using your credit or debit card, my driver's license and where I live is none of your business!

If you are confronted by a belligerent store clerk who rudely or surly demands your ID, and the store manager on duty does not wish to help you, there are at least two things you can do:

1. If you have a passport card, use it as ID. This takes care of 99% of all ID encounters when retail stores are involved.

2. Leave the items on the counter and patronize a different merchant.

And I did not forget Item Number 3: Go to RipOffReport.com and share your experience with that particular store. Also go to ConsumerAffairs.com and share your experience wth that particular store as well. These sites are also great to share your experiences if you have run into rude, belligerent or surly store clerks and you get no satisfaction from the store manager in charge.

If you have an unfavorable experience with a belligerent or surly store clerk, especially if ID is demanded of you when you pay for your items at the register, please feel free to share your experiences here by posting a reply. All I ask is that the replies be kept clean and no personally identifying information; your reply will not show up until I have moderated it.

09 December 2011

Almost a year later: Rick Scott is still Florida's Number One Dictator!

Soon we will be approaching the one year aniversary to the day that Florida's 45th Chief Crook Executive, Rick Scott, took office as Florida's 45th Governor.

Lately in the St. Petersburg Times The Daily Show's Aasif Mandvi happened to crash not one but two press conferences, one with Rick Scott and the other with Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi. One of Rick Scott's unpopular acts was to require anyone seeking welfare benefits to submit to drug testing. During both news conferences, Aasif Mandvi asked both Scott and Bondi to submit to a urine sample in the same manner as Florida's welfare recipients.

I commented on that article as to how both Rick Scott and Pam Bondi are both destroying the State of Florida as we see it. Back in a previous blog entry on how Rick Scott deals with dissenters, here is a reminder of how Rick Scott is doing a major disservice to the people of this great state:

Rick Scott = Adolf Hitler

The Republican Party of Florida and the Florida Chamber of Commerce = the Nazi Party

Law enforcement commanded by Rick Scott to deal with and threaten dissenters with trumped-up criminal charges such as trespass (and trespassing after warning, too) = the Nazi SS Troops

And we need to add this to the list:

Pam Bondi = Nazi People's Court Judge Roland Freisler

(After all, Roland Freisler was state secretary of the Reich Ministry of Justice and president of the Nazi People's Court, set up to deal with people who said no to Hitler. People who voiced their opposition to Hitler's rule, such as Sophie Scholl and the White Rose Movement, ended up paying the ultimate price.)

Now why is Pam Bondi trying to do to make life more miserable for us Floridians? First and foremost, right after she took office as Florida Attorney General she made it very hard for anyone convicted of a felony to seek a pardon, even after the prison time and/or probation was served, fines paid, court orders complied with, etc. After all, these people who were convicted felons wanted to put their past behind them and get on with their lives so that they can become productive members of society once more.

In short, Pam Bondi wants to make things a lot easier for Floridians - especially law abiding Floridians - to acquire a criminal record upon arrest (yet make it harder to get a pardon or even a criminal record seal/expungement for that matter). That would be simple enough - law enforcement can arrest a person on trumped up charges of trespassing after warning (using the recent arrests of members of the Occupy Movement in Tampa and Orlando as great examples) and find ways to upgrade the charges to felony charges.

Simple trespassing charges in Florida Statute 810.09 are misdemeanor charges. However, the law goes on to state that if you are even caught within a certain distance of a specified property (and I do not mean going onto the specified property itself), the misdemeanor trespassing charges become felony trespassing charges.

Even if the charges are later dropped by the State Attorney or if you are found not guilty in the courts, you still have an arrest record. You can go through the hoops with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to have your record sealed or expunged, but most people don't do it due to the high cost among other things.

And one more thing: A St. Petersburg Times reader whose name is Fighting Irish replied to my comment. Although he disagreed with my comparison between Rick Scott and Adolf Hitler, still he agreed that Rick Scott is doing everything to destroy our great state.

I replied to Fighting Irish thus (the reply you see here is different than the reply I made at the St. Petersburg Times article, as comments and replies are limited to 1,000 characters but the content is basically the same):

Be glad we live in America and in a free country where we have freedom of speech and freedom of lawful expression. In Thailand, freedom of speech and freedom of lawful expression are less than half-existant; an American was recently arrested in Thailand for violations of their very strict lese majeste laws, which mean one can be arrested and jailed for criticizing the Thai Royal Family.

Just imagine for a moment if Florida was an independent nation and we had Thai style lese mejeste laws: Our jails and correctional facilities would be extremely overcrowded with people arrested and convicted of criticizing Rick Scott. Just be glad we don't sing Phleng Chat - the National Anthem of Thailand - at a Tampa Bay Rays home game at Tropicana Field!

Just a reminder of what a way of life we Floridians have to endure under a governor that does not care about the people and now an attorney general that will not go after the real criminals: The people in Florida who are responsible for the real estate and mortgage crisis that sent property values downward and put millions of Floridians underwater on their mortgages. Just remember this blog entry the next time you pass by the Welcome to Florida sign at the Florida Welcome Center on Interstates 75 or 95 when you cross into our great state.