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Peanuts: Eat at Your Own Risk

Peanut-caution Boiled peanuts, roasted peanuts, peanut butter on saltine crackers, peanut butter cookies, and frozen Snickers bar: those are just a few ways I used to enjoy eating peanuts but not anymore.

Thanks to Peanut Corporation of America and the salmonella found in their products, it will be a long time before I eat peanut butter again. The conditions described in the plant were criminal. The company’s leaders should be jailed; no question about it.

Peanut Corporation owner Stewart Parnell, repeatedly invoked his right not to incriminate himself when questioned by the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee. In spite of the 600 people sickened and possible nine deaths linked to the salmonella contamination, Parnell defiantly refused to answer any questions; that’s unconscionable.

The sad reality is that Peanut Corp represents such a small percentage of the peanut industry. Their misdeeds has jeopardized an entire industry. As a consumer, there is nothing that leads me to believe that the conditions at Peanut Corp are different than other peanut processing plants. Perhaps the stimulus plan includes funding for more inspectors of our food supply. It may be time for meto seriously consider growing my own food.

Until this peanut situation is resolved to the satisfaction of the American people or is no longer highlighted in the media and the American people forget, the peanut industry will suffer. What's next?


Photo:  Bill Kennedy/The Plain Dealer

© 2009, Vanessa: Unplugged!,

Vote for this blog for Best Political Blog and for Best Blog Design in the 2009 Bloggers Choice Awards.


First Lady Michelle Obama Not Happy with Toy Company

First Lady Michelle Obama is not happy that the Ty Toy Company has produced dolls named after her daughters without the permission or consultation of the parents. The Ty Company makes Beanie Babies.

The dolls, "Marvelous Malia" and "Sweet Sasha" are not named after the first daughters according to a Ty Company spokesperson. Yeah, right. They also don't look like the girls either.

To my knowledge, First Lady Obama has made no public comment about the incessant merchandising of her husband but immediately addressed this Beanie Baby issue. It's unfortunate that the toy company produced the dolls but then to lie about it; not a good thing.

Regardless of Mrs. Obama's statement, the dolls will likely sell well. Put a picture of the Obamas on anything and it sells. So, here we have another installment of the Obama Stimulus Package. Watch the dollars roll in.


© 2009, Vanessa: Unplugged!,

Vote for this blog for Best Political Blog and for Best Blog Design in the 2009 Bloggers Choice Awards.



Obama’s Gift to the Folks at BlackBerry and the Windows Switch

It seems that in a few more days, President-elect Barack Obama will have to give up his trusty BlackBerry for a humongous Windows-based gadget. While the folks at RIM (Research in Motion) are happy for the free publicity that Obama has provided their company through his chronicled obsession for their product, quite frankly, they'd be pleased if he actually stopped using it now.

Why? Well, quite simply, their system becomes the target of hackers from other countries. Who wants their security system constantly under attack, right?

Anyhoo, it seems that all the Obama-BlackBerry coverage has been valued at $50-$100 MM. The Obama effect on merchandise sales has totally eclipsed the madness of an Oprah endorsement. Ben's Chili Bowl probably can't keep enough chili and hot dogs. It's incredible.


Obama's New Smartphone

(Click photo for more info.)



© 2009, Vanessa: Unplugged!,

Vote for this blog for Best Political Blog and for Best Blog Design in the 2009 Bloggers Choice Awards.



Bloody Black Friday at Wal-mart in NY

A temporary worker was trampled and killed at a Long Island, NY Wal-mart store. Hundreds of people stampeded the door, trampled the worker and even tore doors off the hinges. Those big metal doors torn off the hinges? What kind of foolishness is that? Since shoppers have said there was no organization for controlling the crowd or any security present, Wal-mart is likely looking at a lawsuit. A pregnant shopper was hospitalized because of the turmoil but it seems that she was okay.

Shoppers were said to have stepped on the worker or over him or around him. "Savages" was a term used to describe the shoppers.

What was your Black Friday experience?



© 2008, Vanessa: Unplugged!,

Vote for this blog for Best Political Blog and for Best Blog Design in the 2008 Bloggers Choice Awards.





Thanksgiving Reminder...Reality Check...Rant

Today is the day before the day before Thanksgiving. Folks are talking about their Thanksgiving plans and trying to remain pleasant and upbeat. The reality is that folks are losing their jobs all over the place. The signs of desperation in this country are sometimes unbearable if we're paying attention.

We are Americans and we will overcome this bad economy but the fact of the matter is that most of us have not experienced an economic downturn of this magnitude. It would be wise for us to read or re-read an American history book right about now. No matter how bad it is in this country, we are still way better off than most of the rest of the world.

President-elect Barack Obama has inherited a country so devastated by overspending and lack of oversight that it's just unreasonable to expect people who have been evicted or very well soon be to understand economics and why the government should continue to contribute to these bailouts for banks while forcing the auto industry to present a plan before bailing them out. All of this talk about Wall Street, Main Street, side streets and back streets means absolutely nothing but more talk.

I've worked for government for many years. You know the comments about lazy government workers and two-hour lunches….blah…blah…blah. Well, inarguably there are some folks that live down to that reputation but there are far too many others that don't.

Then, enter private industry. No, let's be more specific --- the heads of the Big Three auto companies with hat in hand and no plan. I guess they thought they were Lehman Brothers or AIG but anyway the answer was no; especially since each of them flew in on a private jet for the hearing. See, it's that kind of foolishness that just deserves a beat down. Talk about out of touch with reality. I've worked in private industry also. There was no excuse for the private jets. That spoke volumes about them as individuals and leaders. No wonder their companies are in such bad shape. And this is an example of the superiority of business and private industry that we tout so often? Give me a break.

At this point in time, so many organizations are reviewing budgets, spending plans and job duties. People are being laid off. No insurance benefits. No housing. Nothing. Yeah, Happy Thanksgiving.

With these lay-offs comes an increase in crime but wait, the police and fire departments have been cut also. I'm feeling a lot more like Mad Max. Anyhoo, in spite of what's happening, in the end, we must remain positive, prayerful and grateful. President Obama will not solve America's problems with the wave of a magic wand. Each of us plays a role in America's recovery. CEOs must sacrifice and set the example, Unions must compromise and American businesses must return jobs to American workers.

Our economic recovery is like going on a diet to get in shape. We know what we need to do and we know that there's really no short cut for lasting results. We also know that there's really no such thing as a diet only a lifestyle change. Let's just do this.


© 2008, Vanessa: Unplugged!,

Vote for this blog for Best Political Blog and for Best Blog Design in the 2009 Bloggers Choice Awards.



Verizon Fires Workers Who Breached Obama's Cell Phone Records


The Verizon Wireless employees who breached the cell phone records of President-elect Barack Obama, have been fired according to reports from company management.

It seems the employees were hired to do customer care and authorized to access customer records unless specifcally directed by the customer.

Verizon management really had no choice in this matter if they were to retain customer confidence. It was also reiterated that the cell phone records compromised were for a simple flip phone and not for Obama's Blackberry or other sophisticated equipment. No e-mails or voice messages were accessed.


© 2008, Vanessa: Unplugged!,

Vote for this blog for Best Political Blog and for Best Blog Design in the 2009 Bloggers Choice Awards.


Agreement Reached on Economic Bailout Plan

It seems a deal has been reached on an economic bailout plan for Wall Street. I suppose I should be excited but I'm not. What are the specifics of the plan? How and when will the American people benefit from it?

I am pleased that there will be a limit to the compensation CEOs will receive but what is that limit?

Call me jaded but I'm just not feeling this recovery…welfare plan.

I'm still open to learn what staffers present as the bailout plan but I tell you, the American public needs to hold the politicians and oversight groups responsible and accountable.

© 2008, Vanessa: Unplugged!,

Welfare for Wall Street

The last couple of days have seemed like an episode of The Twilight Zone. The United States' economy is on the brink of collapse and the presidential election has become a carnival rather than the serious contest that it actually is.

Washington Mutual, one of the largest banks in my home state, Florida was seized by the government and portions were purchased by J.P. Morgan Chase. All of this because of a mortgage crisis?

Somewhere, some folks weren't doing their job in order for all of this to happen. Our lending institutions should have checks and balances --- controls --- in place to prevent this kind of stuff from happening. Finger pointing at Wall Street and the banks doesn't quite get it. There are a lot of people responsible for this. The situation we find ourselves in is what happens when oversight and rules are not followed. Rules, regulations and benchmarks are a good thing.

I know of several people who jumped at the opportunity to purchase a home. These folks thought they could afford the home and while there was an attempt to have them slow down and think about what they should consider in making the purchase, their realtor and the bank encouraged them to buy.

Buying a house you really can't afford is like buying a car you really can't afford. Sales people know the costs involved beyond the purchase price. So do the lenders. If a borrower actually does their homework, they will know also.

But that didn't happen and far too many people in the U.S. bought homes they really couldn't afford. They bought cars they couldn't afford. They took out loans they couldn't repay.

While all of these things happened, the heads of investment banks and fragile corporations continue to collect their obscene pay. The lending institutions that are in trouble and seeking welfare from the government are not willing to forgo the obscene pay for their corporate leaders.

That's just too bad. Far too many individuals in this country are suffering because these trusted institutions ripped them off. Who's bailing them out? These folks got eviction notices and a kick to the curb.

It's time to put our economy back in balance. Some sort of welfare bailout may be necessary but the agreement cannot include pay to CEOs of affected lending institutions in such obscene amounts. Just say no to corporate greed.



© 2008, Vanessa: Unplugged!,






Starbucks: A store closing near you?

There was a recent announcement that Starbucks will close 600 under-performing stores resulting in lay-offs of about 12,000 employees. The impending lay-offs and store closings really come as no surprise but probably not for the reason you make think.

Rising fuels costs and the resulting increased operating overhead do play a role but the real culprit is management. They drifted away from the company's evaluation formula when opening new stores and chose to open stores to close to existing stores and in areas that could not produce sufficient sales.

Things had gotten so bad that Starbucks had to bring back CEO Howard Schultz to turn the company around. Schultz is already implementing plans but those plans will not preclude the store closings.

Not knowing if your Starbucks store is on the list to be closed is all the more frustrating but announcements should be made mid-July.

Researching offshore oil drilling

I live in Florida where there has been a lot of controversy on our governor's flip-flop on the issue of offshore oil drilling. Yes, we know that Governor Charlie Crist is on the McCain VP short list and this flip-flop aligns him with McCain's position on the issue.

Of course, environmental activists have loudly and frequently proclaimed that increased oil drilling will not change much in our lives in the bear future regarding gas prices. They go on to talk about the threats to the environment oil drilling brings.

In doing my research on the topic, I surfed across a great site called How Stuff Works. It was very detailed about offshore oil drilling and I suggest you check it out if want to know how it works. There's also coverage of gas prices that I must check out later.