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God tells me to copy and paste, so you can't stop me. -- Kate

"You know, I could run for governor, but I'm basically a media creation. I've never done anything. I've worked for my dad. I worked in the oil business ..." -- G.W. Bush

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use. -- Galileo Galilei

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Deja vu today. It’s scary, cute and funny all at the same time . . . again.

All Juan wants to do is play and learn how to ride a two-wheeler or maybe find a friendly Killer Whale to play with.


Berlin bear's break-out bid fails

A bold amphibious escape bid by a bear at Berlin zoo has been foiled in a dramatic shoot-out.

Juan the Andean spectacled bear first paddled across a moat using a log for a raft, then scaled a wall.

Finally he appeared to commandeer a bicycle, before zookeepers with brooms cornered him, and a colleague picked him off with a tranquiliser gun.

"Just think what could have happened," said a mother who saw the bear escape and head for the children's carousel.

"It went straight for the playground", said Liane Hertrampf to the Berliner Kurier newspaper.

Parents grabbed their children and fled as they realised what was happening.

But the zoo's deputy director Heiner Kloes was not so concerned.

"Spectacled bears eat both vegetables and meat but children tend not to be on their menu," he said.
"I'd have been a lot more worried if one of our polar bears had escaped," he added.

He did say, however, that he was "alarmed at how some fathers were too busy filming the bear to check where their children were".

Amateur photographers captured the bear investigating a bicycle and roaming around the playground.

The incident was the second breakout since June, when a gorilla climbed over a fence.

After being stopped with darts from a tranquiliser gun, 110kg (294lb) Juan was carried back to his enclosure.

Mr Kloes told the Berliner Kurier newspaper zoo staff would make sure there were no further logs in the moat to prevent Juan's future bids for freedom.
The picture of the bear checking out the bike is cute.

Sounds like Presidential CYA time to me and lucky for him, he’s got plenty of help to do the CYA'ing.

Bush Cites Doubt America Can Win War on Terror
NASHUA, N.H., Aug. 30 - President Bush, in an interview broadcast on Monday, said he did not think America could win the war on terror but that it could make terrorism less acceptable around the world, a departure from his previous optimistic statements that the United States would eventually prevail.

In the interview with Matt Lauer of the NBC News program "Today," conducted on Saturday but shown on the opening day of the Republican National Convention, Mr. Bush was asked if the United States could win the war against terrorism, which he has made the focus of his administration and the central thrust of his re-election campaign.

"I don't think you can win it," Mr. Bush replied. "But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world."

As recently as July 14, Mr. Bush had drawn a far sunnier picture. "I have a clear vision and a strategy to win the war on terror," he said.

At a prime-time news conference in the East Room of the White House on April 13, Mr. Bush said: "One of the interesting things people ask me, now that we are asking questions, is, 'Can you ever win the war on terror?' Of course you can."

It was unclear if Mr. Bush had meant to make the remark to Mr. Lauer, or if he misspoke. But White House officials said the president was not signaling a change in policy, and they sought to explain his statement by saying he was emphasizing the long-term nature of the struggle.

Taken at face value, however, Mr. Bush's words would put him closer to the positions of the United States' European allies, who have considered Mr. Bush's talk of victory simplistic and unhelpful.

Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Air Force One that Mr. Bush was speaking about winning the war "in the conventional sense" and that his comments underscored the reality that ridding the world of terrorists would take decades.

"I don't think you can expect that there will ever be a formal surrender or a treaty signed like we have in wars past," Mr. McClellan said. "That's what he was talking about. It requires a generational commitment to win this war on terrorism."
. . .
Analysts said Mr. Bush's comment reflected both foreign policy and political realities, and appeared intended in part to emphasize that even a striking breakthrough, like the capture of Osama bin Laden, would not by itself assure the nation's security.

You know what I want. I want a President who doesn’t need a team of people behind him explaining how the President isn’t changing what he’s been saying all along, he’s just expanding on it by way of various other people’s interpretations. How handy that the President doesn’t have to speak too much for himself.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I don’t know how this woman got into a Buch Campaign event, she seems to go against everything I’ve heard about who’s permitted in.

In New Hampshire, Mr. Bush got an unusually tough question at an "Ask President Bush" event at Nashua High School North, forcing him to detour from his message of the day and defend Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel.

"How can Ariel Sharon be a man of peace, as you've said, if he causes death and torture among innocent Palestinians?" demanded a young woman who said she had recently spent two weeks in Libya.

"That's a great question," Mr. Bush responded. "First of all, Ariel Sharon is defending his country against terrorist attacks, just like we will." Mr. Bush then blamed the Palestinians for holding up progress in the Middle East. "Ariel Sharon is a duly elected official in a democracy," the president said. "We would hope that the Palestinians would have that same kind of democracy."
Is it my imagination, or did the President just defend torture and murder as a way of defending a country??

“Just like we will.” Doesn’t he mean like his administration approved and did??


Monday, August 30, 2004

I’m not sure what to think about a friendly killer whale. It’s scary, cute and funny all at the same time.
'Friendly' killer whale batters boats
GOLD RIVER, British Columbia (AP) -- A "playful" killer whale who likes to frolic alongside fishermen has damaged three boats in separate incidents in recent weeks.

Luna, described by fishermen as a friendly 5-year-old whale, has made frequent contact with people and boats in waters off Vancouver Island, about 125 miles north of the U.S. border, since he began frequenting the waters more than two years ago.

Now Canadian officials and an Indian group that believes the animal is the reincarnation of its late chief are working on a plan to protect both Luna and humans. Officials hope to eventually reunite him with his pod of U.S. relatives.

Witnesses said Luna damaged the rudders of a sailboat and two gillnetters in Nootka Sound in recent weeks. For hours after damaging the boats, Luna bumped and nudged the vessels, apparently seeking social contact, said Les Rombough, president of Canada's Area D Gillnetters Association.

One fishing boat was so damaged that its 75-year-old skipper had to rig a rope-and-pulley system to steer it while Luna continued to "harass and bang around the boat like a beach ball for five hours," Rombough told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for a story in Saturday's editions.

Still, Rombough said, "he's just being playful."

But as Luna grows, there is concern the encounters have gotten increasingly dangerous. Rombough said fishermen would love to avoid Luna, but "you just can't do that anymore."

The Canadian Fisheries department and the Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nation -- a band that believes Luna embodies the spirit of their dead chief -- plan to unveil a formal "stewardship plan" for the whale this week, said Don Radford, acting director of the fisheries department's regional office.

The plan will include providing public information on how to avoid Luna and what to do if one encounters him, Radford said.

In the past, people have contributed to the problem by coming down to the dock to see the whale, who used to snoop around docks and boat propellers. One person even tried to brush the whale's teeth.

Radford said the Indian band has already posted warning signs, restricted some dock access and distributed brochures about the whale. He said the fisheries agency issues radio broadcast advisories about the whale over maritime frequencies.

In June, fisheries officials tried to capture Luna in an effort to reunite him with his pod as the small group of whales swam past the southern tip of Vancouver Island.

The plan was scuttled, however after canoes of Mowachaht-Muchalaht lured the whale away: They said they were uncomfortable with the plan.

Some said a stewardship should have been put into place soon after that incident.

Radford said his agency is committed to reuniting Luna with his pod and will resume negotiations with the Mowachaht-Muchalaht this fall.

Friday, August 27, 2004

How nice, our President has decided that the scientists know what they are talking about. Now that Bush believes it, maybe it will show up on Fox as true and my father may finally believe that global warming is real too.

Warming to Global Warming
After three years of belittling or suppressing science, the Bush administration appears willing to concede that humans and their industrial activity have been largely responsible for the recent warming of the earth's atmosphere. This tardy acceptance of what mainstream scientists have been saying for years does not mean that the administration is prepared to deal seriously with the problem - by, for instance, supporting mandatory caps on emissions of carbon dioxide. But at least nobody is trying to hide the evidence.

The administration's views are contained in a report to Congress accompanied by a letter signed by the secretaries of energy and commerce and the president's science adviser. It asserts that natural causes cannot explain significant warming since 1970 and says that man-made emissions from smokestacks and tailpipes are the likely cause.

White House officials, who did not go out of their way to publicize the report, clearly do not mean it to be interpreted as a campaign-year change in President Bush's position on global warming or as a precursor to more aggressive legislative and administrative measures. But they did not brush it off, as happened in 2002 when Mr. Bush dismissed a serious internal study written by his own experts. Nor did they attempt to suppress it, as happened later that year with a report on air pollution from the Environmental Protection Agency.

So this is progress, of a sort. But it won't mean much unless Mr. Bush gets serious about remedies. His program of research and voluntary initiatives has generated modest enthusiasm in industry but inspires little confidence that the warming trends will be arrested, much less reversed, in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, there are several initiatives awaiting attention on Capitol Hill that could begin to restrict greenhouse gas emissions. But they have no chance of approval unless Mr. Bush gives the nod to the Republican leadership

Now to the confusing side of the story in another NY Times article.

Bush interview in Farmington NM with the NY Times
On environmental issues, Mr. Bush appeared unfamiliar with an administration report delivered to Congress on Wednesday that indicated that emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases were the only likely explanation for global warming over the last three decades. Previously, Mr. Bush and other officials had emphasized uncertainties in understanding the causes and consequences of global warming.

The new report was signed by Mr. Bush's secretaries of energy and commerce and his science adviser. Asked why the administration had changed its position on what causes global warming, Mr. Bush replied, "Ah, we did? I don't think so."

Scott McClellan, Mr. Bush's press secretary, said later that the administration was not changing its position on global warming and that Mr. Bush continued to be guided by continuing research at the National Academy of Sciences.
"Ah, we did? I don't think so."

Now that’s a quote that says so much about what W. knows is going on. The Presidential debates should be interesting this fall, especially since W. won’t have McClellan to say what W. meant to say or Cheney telling him what to say.


Thursday, August 26, 2004

Here’s another article showing why parents should always keep and eye on their kids, no matter what the little mon... er angels are doing.

Internet Gives Teenage Bullies Weapons to Wound From Afar

. . . one of many ways that the technology lubricating the social lives of teenagers is amplifying standard adolescent cruelty. No longer confined to school grounds or daytime hours, "cyberbullies" are pursuing their quarries into their own bedrooms. Tools like e-mail messages and Web logs enable the harassment to be both less obvious to adults and more publicly humiliating, as gossip, put-downs and embarrassing pictures are circulated among a wide audience of peers with a few clicks.

The technology, which allows its users to inflict pain without being forced to see its effect, also seems to incite a deeper level of meanness. Psychologists say the distance between bully and victim on the Internet is leading to an unprecedented - and often unintentional - degree of brutality, especially when combined with a typical adolescent's lack of impulse control and underdeveloped empathy skills.
. . .

For many teenagers, online harassment has become a part of everyday life. But schools, which tend to focus on problems that arise on their property, and parents, who tend to assume that their children know better than they do when it comes to computers, have long overlooked it. Only recently has it become pervasive enough that even the adults have started paying attention.

"I have kids coming into school upset daily because of what happened on the Internet the night before," Ms. Yuratovac said. " 'We were online last night and somebody said I was fat,' or 'They asked me why I wear the same pair of jeans every day,' or 'They say I have Wal-Mart clothes.' "
Recently, Ms. Yuratovac intervened when a 12-year-old girl showed her an instant message exchange in which a boy in her class wrote, "My brother says you have really good boobs." Boys make many more explicit sexual comments online than off, counselors say.
. . .

"I didn't see why they cared so much," said the girl, who preferred not to be identified. "It's obviously not as serious as it seems if no one's coming up to you and saying it."
Yes, sweetheart, it’s so much nicer to have a faceless unnamed person making rude comments about you. My guess, she’s never been dissed on-line herself. Anybody I’ve ever met who’s found out that someone has been talking about them behind their back would get nasty and want to know why the bleep didn’t have the guts to say what they had to say to their face.

By the way, you can tell that the annonymity of the internet is really important to these kids and their actions. Not one of the kids that were interviewed for the article wanted their names to be used.
Rosalind Wiseman, whose book "Queen Bees and Wannabes," was the basis for the recent movie "Mean Girls," said that online bullying had a particular appeal for girls, who specialize in emotional rather than physical harassment and strive to avoid direct confrontation. But boys do their fair share as well, often using modern methods to betray the trust of adolescent girls.

For instance, last spring, when an eighth-grade girl at Horace Mann School in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, sent a digital video of herself masturbating to a male classmate on whom she had a crush, it quickly appeared on a file-sharing network that teenagers use to trade music. Hundreds of New York private school students saw the video, in which the girl's face was clearly visible, and it was available to a worldwide audience of millions.
An eight grade girl!! For God’s sake parents watch your kids and teach them to have some respect for themselves. Of course, my saying that about the girl and her parents kind of lets the boy and his parents off the hook and it shouldn’t. So, for God’s sake parents watch your kids and teach them to have some respect for other people and themselves.

These are both just more reasons why kids should not have private access to the internet.

"It's so nebulous; it's not happening in the lunchroom, it's not happening on the school bus, yet it can spread so quickly," said Mary Worthington, the elementary education coordinator for Network of Victim Assistance, a counseling organization in Bucks County, Pa. "Over the last year when I've been out in schools to do our regular bullying program the counselors will say, 'Can you talk about e-mails or I.M.'s?' "

For parents of several students at the Gillispie School in San Diego, such strategies were to be developed on the fly when online threats between their children and those at another school turned into a more classic form of bullying.

About 30 students from Muirlands School showed up at Gillispie one afternoon last spring, carrying skateboards over their heads and calling out the screen name of one of the boys with whom they had been chatting online. Kim Penney, the mother of one of the Gillispie boys, said she had since removed the Internet cable from the computer in her son's room and insisted that he hold online conversations only where she could see them.
"It was frightening to see the physical manifestation of this back and forth on I.M.," Ms. Penney said. "I just never thought of it as such a big deal."

This is it isn’t the classic form of bullying, it’s a gang formed for a specific purpose. Bullying is small scale, usually one on one, usually on-going physical and psychological hostility. The above is a one-time quick event where some kid says so-and-so pissed me off and now I’m getting my friends together to go beat somebody up in retaliation. That’s “lack of impulse control and underdeveloped empathy skills.”

One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that no matter how smart your kid is and no matter how trustable you think your kid is, that kid is only going to use his or her brain and be trustable when they are being watched.

I lived next door to a family where the mother thought her kids were perfect little angels and that I was the one who taught them bad language. The day asked her if she ever yelled at a couple of different parents on the street, including her own husband, for the nasty language they talked around her kids she just stood there like dope. See her kids were pretty slick about things. They would look around to see who was watching before they would say anything nasty. Mommy’s little angels just never let her hear anything from their precious little mouths. Not long after my telling her about so many other people’s bad language around her kids, my storm door got a big dent and my doorbell was broken, par for the course. Things sure quieted down after they moved, the kids played nice with each other, didn’t fight so much, the language got better and nothing else was broken,

This article reminds me of a teeenager’s weblog I read while ago. It was on Blogger’s recently updated list and saw an interesting blog name so I clicked on it to read some. This teenage girl would write about school and her friends and what she was up to that day. She had one person making comments to her posts. This person was constantly making comments about seeing the blogger at school and how the blogger was stuck up and that the commenter didn’t like the blogger. The person writing the comments never identified him or herself as far as I know. What I read never got nasty but it sure was annoying from my point of view as reader/lurker. I figure it must have been even more annoying to the girl writing the blog wondering who the heck was watching her everyday, just a bit disconcerting. I should go back as see if anything has changed. (Darn, I can't find it and I can't remember the correct name or maybe it's gone, I don't know.


Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Bow to Giblets! Bow to Fafnir! Bow again to Giblets!!

What a cool blog! I’ve added Fafblog! to my List ‘o Blogs.

Some day I may be able to write half as good as Giblets and Fafnir.

Maybe.


Friday, August 20, 2004

One more reason why SUVs suck.

4x4s replace the desert camel and whip up a worldwide dust storm
Winds carrying 3bn tonnes a year threaten environment and human health

Dust storms emanating from the Sahara have increased tenfold in 50 years, contributing to climate change as well as threatening human health and destroying coral reefs thousands of miles away.

And one major cause is the replacement of the camel by four-wheel drive vehicles as the desert vehicle of choice.
. . .
“I am quite serious, you should look at deserts from the air, scarred all over by wheel tracks, people driving indiscriminately over the surface breaking it up. Toyotarisation is a major cause of dust storms. If I had my way I would ban them from driving off-road."

And I wouldn’t let them on the road unless the drivers could pass their driving test while driving their SUV.

African dust had also found its way to Greenland, Prof Goudie said. While white ice reflected sunlight and remains frozen, the dark dust on top absorbed the sun's heat, causing the ice to melt and accelerating the raising of sea levels.

Prof Goudie said it was as yet uncertain what other effects the dust was having on the climate. The airborne dust both reflected sunlight back into space and blanketed the earth holding the heat in. When it dropped in the sea it fertilised the plankton which absorbed carbon dioxide and cooled the ocean surface, creating fewer clouds and less rain - a vicious circle which made the dust problem worse.

And something to look forward to.

In China, extensive efforts had been made to plant trees to hold back the dust, and increases in rainfall had also helped, the study found. However, large dust storms were still emanating from the vast deserts in the north, which included the Lopnor nuclear test site - raising fears that storms could interfere with the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and might contain radioactive particles. The Chinese have said they were confident this would not happen.

Global dust storm trivia.

Dust storms are typically 200km (125 miles) wide and carry 20 to 30m tonnes of dust. Some carry up to 100m tonnes

Worldwide dust in the atmosphere is predicted to be 2bn-3bn tonnes this year

Florida receives more than 50% of the African dust that hits the US, causing increased respiratory problems

Mauritania, which had two dust storms a year in the early 1960s, now has 80 a year

The worst dust storm to reach Britain was in 1903 when an estimated 10m tonnes landed from the Sahara

And despite all the evidence, we have an administration that says global warming and climate change isn’t happening. Remember, it’s the Adminstration saying it, not the scientists. The people who study this stuff for a living are saying it is happening. Aren’t we lucky. Okay, now move along, nothing to see here you looky-loos. Take your allergy meds, keep your air conditioner on and stay inside.
Update:

8/20/2004 9:15
More on global warming, it ain’t just happening here. While Hurricane Charley was causing havoc here, a massive amount of rain was causing landslides in Great Britain.

The long-range weather forecast: more flash floods for Britain
Britain should expect more dangerous flash floods, catastrophic rain and hail storms, droughts and heatwaves from the rapid changes in rainfall patterns brought by global warming, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said yesterday as clean-up operations continued in flooded Boscastle.


Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Julia Child, what a great lady.

JULIA CHILD loved food, loved eating, loved cooking, loved teaching others to cook. But Mrs. Child had many other dimensions, as I discovered the first time I was seated next to her at dinner, at a fund-raiser in a Washington hotel.
We had met briefly before, and I had, of course, read her books and watched her on television, but for some reason I chose to break the conversational ice by asking her about her service in Ceylon during World War II in the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency. How in the world did I know about that? she asked in that wonderful warble of hers. "I'm very interested in that part of the world," I answered, "spent some time in Asia myself and I noticed your name in Barbara Tuchman's book `Stilwell and the American Experience in China.' "
. . .
Mrs. Child was a paid-up member of the generation that truly believed, as she once remarked, "that we could change the world." She sometimes said she wished she had stayed in government service, as either a spy or a diplomat. And she was always avid for the latest political news and gossip.
. . .
Few of the obituaries published after Mrs. Child's death last Friday at the age of 91 mentioned that she was a passionate liberal Democrat, a friend when she lived in Cambridge, Mass., of neighbors like the economist John Kenneth Galbraith. She campaigned for years for Planned Parenthood and other causes, and she greatly admired John, Robert and Edward Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
. . .
She was like that, utterly without snobbery, gastronomic or otherwise. In grand establishments, she often ordered foie gras; in airports, she often ate hot dogs for breakfast. She liked hamburgers (when good) and Chinese food (likewise). Visiting a famous restaurant, she, of course, greeted the chef, but she always went into the kitchen to say hello to the younger cooks, too. She patiently spent countless hours talking with admirers, some of them babbling incoherently, who accosted her at food conferences.

And no mention of Mrs. Childs dropping anything.

For the rest of the article, Recalling Julia Child, Oyster-Loving Idealist


Monday, August 16, 2004

The virtue of idleness
Or as the late, great British writer Jeffrey Bernard put it: "As if there was something romantic and glamorous about hard work ... if there was something romantic about it, the Duke of Westminster would be digging his own fucking garden, wouldn't he?"


Once again the folks with the lawyers and the cash win, just like Bush said.

No Bed of Roses in the Mines
The lot of Appalachia's coal miners has ever been a struggle, above ground and below. And now comes a fresh blow for more than 3,000 unionized miners who will lose their health care and retirement benefits under a federal judge's ruling that it is not necessary for their troubled employer to honor its contract guarantees. Some veteran miners among the 2,300 affected retirees already suffer from black lung and other occupational diseases, but they nevertheless face loss of their medical benefits. So do 1,000 active miners, under the order of a bankruptcy judge in Kentucky.

The ruling makes it easier for Horizon Natural Resources, the nation's fourth-largest coal company, to sell its six unionized mines as it undergoes bankruptcy. Potential buyers prefer the company's nonunion mines as better bargains, since they are freer of ongoing financial obligations to workers. So the order canceling medical and other contract benefits presumably levels the auction field for buyers. This is small comfort for the miners caught in the crunch of federal bankruptcy law.

This cruel situation sounds like the stuff of another folk-song lament in Appalachia as the miners watch creditors go to the head of the line. But the bankruptcy judge, William Howard, found that he was well within existing law and might even save jobs if the mines can be sold and kept open in some fashion. Thus does bankruptcy law trump miners' supposedly guaranteed, doubtlessly hard-earned benefits. The union is vowing an appeal, but the law clearly needs humane revision.

And that is why we need tort reform because the big guys don’t want the little guys to win. Ever.

Creditors get to go to the head of the line. Contracts for workers don’t seem to be worth the paper they are written on. Somehow, workers have to change their possibly worthless contract for a pension and other retirement benefits to a debt owed by the company so they can get in line too for some kind of compensation if the company goes under.


Friday, August 13, 2004

Gun victim fails in weapons bid

Tort reform, yup, we need tort reform. God knows we wouldn’t want some parapalegic 17 year-old to be able to pay for the continuing care he is going to need for the rest of his life. At least now he has a half a million to help pay for hospital visits. I guess this is just another example of what Pres Bush says, the rich won’t pay, the rest of us will.
A teenage boy paralysed 10 years ago in a gun accident has failed to buy the firm which made the firearm at auction.

Brandon Maxfield had hoped to buy Bryco Arms and melt down its stock of 75,000 guns. But his final bid of $505,000 was bettered by the firm's ex-foreman.

Last year, he won millions of dollars from the firm when a court accepted a design defect was behind the accident.

But the owner of the company filed immediately for bankruptcy - shielding himself from the obligation to pay up.

On Thursday, Bryco's former foreman Paul Jimenez purchased the company for $510,000 after a bidding war.

Mr Maxfield, 17, claims the owner is trying to reconstitute Bryco Arms through his foreman, and had hoped to buy and melt down the entire stock to prevent him.

But despite an internet fundraising campaign, Mr Maxfield, was unable to beat Mr Jimenez's final bid.

"What happened today is a tragedy," Mr Maxfield was quoted as saying on his website.

"But please know that while I am heartbroken that we didn't keep those guns off the streets, I will continue to face battles everyday and continue to win."

Spine shattered

Mr Maxfield was seven years old when he was paralysed by a bullet accidentally fired by a 20-year-old babysitter who was trying to unload a gun.

The bullet struck Mr Maxfield in the chin and exited through his neck, shattering his spine. Since then, he has spent more than 500 days in hospital and suffered pneumonia 28 times.

Doctors say his spine is degenerating and he will eventually require a metal rod in his neck.

In May 2003, Mr Maxfield argued successfully in court that Bryco Arms owner Bruce Jennings knew a defect in the design of the gun meant it was impossible to unload with the safety catch on.

He was awarded $51m in damages - $24m from Bryco Arms.

However, the following day Mr Jennings filed for bankruptcy.

Before Thursday's auction, Mr Maxfield's lawyer claimed Mr Jimenez was being used as a front for Mr Jennings to buy back the company and begin trading again.

"It started with horror, the realisation that - notwithstanding the fact that we had this unanimous finding of defect - there was nothing in the law to prevent them from putting these defective guns back on the market," Richard Ruggieri told the Associated Press.

In a 1999 interview for Business Week magazine, Mr Jennings said if his company were sued, he would "go away until the litigation passes by, then re-form and build guns to the new standard - if there is a new standard".

The lawyer representing Mr Jennings has described Mr Maxfield's campaign as a publicity stunt.

"From our standpoint, it's not a moral question of keeping guns off the street or not," Ned Nashban said.

"Bankruptcy court is not the place to socially legislate. It's to create the most money to pay creditors."

We surely don’t want morality to rear it’s ugly head when it comes to profits. Selling defective guns is part of a business person’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It’s ok if the business person takes away someone else’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness just as long as money is made and morality stays out of the picture.

Monday, August 09, 2004

I know this has been covered other places but boy is it worth it to show again.
Media didn't see much to like about W

Candidate George W. Bush made an appearance on Friday in front of nearly 5,000 minority journalists in Washington.

It wasn't one of his best moments, not because of the 40 to 50 protesters outside carrying banners demanding peace. No, it wasn't one of the President's best moments because, even though he was in full campaign mode, his performance did nothing to advance his reelection ambitions.

It was a tough crowd, no doubt, made up of professional journalists of color from all over the U.S. who gathered last week in the nation's capital to attend Unity 2004. With more than 7,500 registrants, Unity 2004 was, by far, the largest journalistic convention ever in the U.S.

The President and his campaign people were, or course, aware of the fact that whatever was said in the gigantic Washington Convention Center ballroom would resonate well beyond its walls. Actually, they - like Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry, who addressed the convention the day before - knew it would be news across the country.

That is why it was surprising, disconcerting and even a little frightening to listen to his opening remarks, punctuated by a strange syntax and mysterious logic.

"You can't read a newspaper if you can't read," the President said at one point when he spoke about the success his administration has had in teaching children how to read. When responding to a question posed by a Native American journalist on what he thought about the sovereignty of the Indian tribes in the U.S., Bush could only respond with something like "sovereignty is well ... sovereignty, and if you have sovereignty you are sovereign." Say what?

”Say what?” is right! Maybe I’m being silly but aren’t opening remarks usually scripted remarks, can’t the President of the United States READ the scripted remarks?

And the sovereignty thing, Bush babbled a bit about tribes being sovereign and that the Federal government treats them that way. Huh? Since when? As far as I’ve ever read tribes have been treated like the proverbial step-child by Federal and State governments.
Listen to fumble mouth here.

Conversely, Kerry, who visited Unity the day before, seemed to benefit from his appearance. After the requisite couple of lines about his support for diversity in the newsroom (Bush did the same thing), he proceeded to deliver introductory remarks that made him look self-assured and knowledgeable on the issues. He even looked comfortable in front of such a difficult crowd.

While people were disconcerted by Bush's weak performance, they seemed to have found a new appreciation for Kerry's credentials for the presidency after his appearance. That morning, declaring that health care was everybody's right, the Massachusetts senator promised to send a health care bill to Congress the first day of his presidency if he wins the election.

He also said that, in recognition of the fact that the U.S. is "and always has been" a nation of immigrants, he would submit an immigration reform bill within the first 100 days of his term that would stress family reunification and provide avenues for legalization.

But nothing was better received by the audience than his promise that - opposite to what happened in 2000 when many black voters were deprived of their right to vote - in November he would make sure that all of them were counted.

"The harsh fact now is that in the last election, more than 1 million African-Americans were disenfranchised in one of the most tainted elections in history," Kerry said. "We have to see to it in November that every vote counts and every vote is counted."

Surprisingly - and a little embarrassingly - many in the audience, in behavior little suited for professional journalists, chose to turn Kerry's visit into a love fest, even rewarding him with a standing ovation.

Yet in this particular Bush-Kerry match, the unanimous decision has to go to the challenger, who looked even more presidential after Bush's bumbling performance the next day.

These are difficult and dangerous times, though, and many things can happen in the next couple of months. No one can really predict who is going to sit in the Oval Office come January 2005.
Originally published on August 8, 2004


Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Anti-identity theft freeze gaining momentum
Credit companies resist measure
Tuesday, August 3, 2004 Posted: 1410 GMT (2210 HKT)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Little by little, a weapon against identity theft is gaining currency -- but few people know about it.

It's called the security freeze, and it lets individuals block access to their credit reports until they personally unlock the files by contacting the credit bureaus and providing a PIN code.

The process is a bit of a hassle, and the credit-reporting industry believes it complicates things unnecessarily.
But it appears to be one of the few ways to virtually guarantee that a fraudster cannot open an account in your name.

The freeze became an option in California and Texas last year, and Louisiana and Vermont will allow it beginning next July. However, the Texas and Vermont laws apply only to people who already have been victimized by identity theft.

Only 2,000 Californians and 150 Texans have taken advantage of the freeze, according to Experian Inc., one of the three major credit bureaus.

But identity theft watchdogs say usage is low simply because the credit bureaus don't publicize the option. With identity theft apparently growing, the advocates hope the freeze gains national momentum. Congress resisted calls for a freeze rule during debate over a major credit law last year.
"It's the best protection we have," said Linda Foley, executive director of the Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego.

While the freeze may be an extreme step, its backers say it is necessary because the existing system is broken.

The Internet and consumer databases have made it easier than ever to find someone else's social security number and apply for accounts in that name. Meanwhile, obtaining credit is a breeze, as zero-percent financing offers crowd our mailboxes and appliance stores make no-money-down come-ons.

'A new lock and key on your security files'

People who suspect trouble can place fraud alerts on their credit reports. But identity theft watchdogs say the alerts are often ignored by creditors who are willing, say, to gamble that the potential plasma TV purchaser in front of them is legitimate, and write off any losses that might occur if the person turns out to be a con artist.

That scenario is "unfortunately not uncommon," said Joanne McNabb, chief of the California Office of Privacy Protection.

A 2003 study for the Federal Trade Commission determined that in the previous year, 3.2 million Americans' personal information had been stolen by thieves who opened new accounts or loans. On average, victims lost $1,180 and spent 60 hours resolving the problem.

The freeze costs nothing for ID theft victims in the states it is allowed. Louisiana's freeze is also free for people 62 and older.

For everyone else in California and Louisiana, the initial freeze is $10. Unfreezing it temporarily is $8 in Louisiana and up to $12 in California. But the cost of each step is multiplied by three because it must be performed with all three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

With the freeze on, if someone applies for credit in your name, the creditor will be unable to check your history, and the applicant will get rejected. (The freeze won't keep credit card offers out of the mail -- those are generated through a "prescreening" process that doesn't require full examination of your credit until you actually apply for the card.)

If you want to apply for credit or let someone run a background check on you, you have to call the credit bureaus, provide the PIN, and say who -- a landlord, for example -- will be inquiring about your history. Or you can thaw the credit report for a given period of time -- a week in which you're shopping for cars, for example.

"It's like putting a new lock and key on your security files," said Bridget Thomas of Prairieville, Louisiana, who lobbied for the freeze in her state after a woman with the same name -- but a different middle initial -- got Thomas' social security number and went on a spending spree that wrecked Thomas' credit status.
"This gives you a modicum of control. Instead of the social security number being the old key, this PIN is your new key."

Fighting the freeze

The time or money required to freeze and unfreeze credit reports probably will dissuade many people from doing it unless they've already been badly stung by ID theft. Foley, who has frozen her files, says it's probably best for people who are older, settled in life and unlikely to open new accounts or apply for credit very often.

The credit bureaus think it isn't wise for anyone.

The industry has fought the freeze, contending that fraud alerts and new protections in last year's federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act offer significant defense against identity theft.
In testimony to a Louisiana legislative committee in May, Eric Ellman, a lobbyist for the Consumer Data Industry Association, called freezes "the most dramatic and draconian alteration" ever to hit the credit reporting system.

Consumers are accustomed to quick mortgage approvals and other conveniences that exist because banks, retailers and insurance companies have efficient access to credit histories, Ellman said. The freeze, he said, would only gum up the works and confuse people.

"It's using a machine gun to get at a fly," he said.

That argument angers victims like Thomas, who says the best that the existing system offers is detection of the crime, while a freeze brings invaluable protection.

"The only thing you have in this world," she said, "is your name."

Now, is it possible that the credit report companies aaren’t interested in the credit freeze because it would mean less work for them with the possibility of one or two of them going out of business.

Let’s say that you have the freeze on your credit reports. You recieve a credit card offer in the mail, the rates look good but you know you’re going to have to unfreeze your accounts to get this card. Isn’t it more likely that this person will check their other cards to make sure the offer is good before taking it maybe even just forget about it without comparing.

Then the credit bureaus will have less to do. People not taking on new cards just because they come in the mail leads to less requests for credit checks. Less credit checks means the credit bureaus will need less workers; less worker need means higher unemployment; higher unemployment leads to more debt and higher unemployment and debt makes Bush look bad therefore the freeze option won’t become widely available.

Skipping a new credit card is bad for the credit industry but it sure seems good for people trying to stay out of or get out of debt.

I'm guessing too, that credit bureaus don't want to hand over any control of this information to anyone, not even to the person who holds the cards.

Reading the Script
by Krugman.

A message to my fellow journalists: check out media watch sites like campaigndesk.org, mediamatters.org and dailyhowler.com. It's good to see ourselves as others see us. I've been finding The Daily Howler's concept of a media "script," a story line that shapes coverage, often in the teeth of the evidence, particularly helpful in understanding cable news.
. . .

Luckily, in this age of the Internet it's possible to bypass the filter. At c-span.org you can find transcripts and videos of all the speeches. I'd urge everyone to watch Mr. Kerry and others for yourself, and make your own judgment.

What he said, go see for yourself. Oh yeah, and stop watching Fox for crying out loud.

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