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Terrorism Funds May Let Brass Fly in Style

Posted on July 18th, 2008 at 18:50 by John Sinteur in category: Security


The Air Force’s top leadership sought for three years to spend counterterrorism funds on “comfort capsules” to be installed on military planes that ferry senior officers and civilian leaders around the world, with at least four top generals involved in design details such as the color of the capsules’ carpet and leather chairs, according to internal e-mails and budget documents.


Air Force documents spell out how each of the capsules is to be “aesthetically pleasing and furnished to reflect the rank of the senior leaders using the capsule,” with beds, a couch, a table, a 37-inch flat-screen monitor with stereo speakers, and a full-length mirror.

The effort has been slowed, however, by congressional resistance to using counterterrorism funds for the project and by lengthy internal deliberations about a series of demands for modifications by Air Force generals. One request was that the color of the leather for the seats and seat belts in the mobile pallets be changed from brown to Air Force blue and that seat pockets be added; another was that the color of the table’s wood be darkened.

Changing the seat color and pockets alone was estimated in a March 12 internal document to cost at least $68,240.

Isn’t terrorism great?

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How Corporate Culture Creates Political Apathy (Or: There Is No Truth)

Posted on July 18th, 2008 at 18:11 by John Sinteur in category: News


One of the defining aspects of youth is political indignation and perplexed incomprehension: how is that no one else sees the lies, sees the injustice, sees the opportunity to fix the world and wants to seize it? In America, this is an especially common lament: why are citizens so radically disengaged, so indifferent to demonstrable political crime? Why don’t people care that Bush is an incompetent liar, for example?

I have felt for some time that the West learns its capacity for self-deception, for cultivated apathy, from corporate life.

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Motorist fined for having a parking ticket… because the traffic warden could not tell the time

Posted on July 18th, 2008 at 17:07 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ, Foyer of Ennui (just short of the Hall of Shame)


A traffic warden was caught ticketing innocent motorists – because he couldn’t tell the time.

He used a calculator to work out the expiry time of Dave Alsop’s ticket, without realising the device worked in decimals and not minutes and hours.

Mr Alsop, 29, parked near Torquay harbour, Devon, at 2.49pm and paid £1.20 for 75 minutes, covering him until 4.04pm.

But when he returned at 3.41pm, he discovered a £50 fine on his car. He found the warden and showed him the parking ticket, which clearly had time left on it.

The warden disagreed and tried to prove his point with a calculator.

He tapped in 14.49 and added 0.75 to produce a total of 15.24, claiming this meant Mr Alsop’s ticket had expired at 3.24pm, some 17 minutes before he returned to his car.

Mr Alsop, of Torquay, said: ‘I tried to explain but he didn’t have a clue. He just carried on doing other cars parked there.’

Happily for Mr Alsop, Torbay council waived the fee and apologised. It said: ‘The civil enforcement officer is new.

‘We have provided additional training to prevent this happening again.’

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  1. Additional training? Like, sending him back to elementary school, 1st grade??

EU is funding Bulgarian mafia, finds Brussels report

Posted on July 18th, 2008 at 17:05 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons


The Daily Telegraph has seen a damning European Commission report which harshly criticises Bulgaria over the administration of EU subsidies that are being looted by officials working hand in hand with the mafia.

The report is due to come out next Wednesday and, unusually for Brussels, it does not mince its words: here, for readers of this blog, is an exclusive preview.

“Bulgaria itself has to make the commitment to cleanse its administration and ensure that the generous support it receives from the EU actually reaches its citizens and is not siphoned off by corrupt officials, operating together with organised crime,” it concludes.

In the run up to join the EU, Bulgaria benefited from and continues to receive cash worth £1.7 billion – hundreds of millions in payments will now be cancelled.

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I love you people!

Posted on July 18th, 2008 at 17:01 by John Sinteur in category: awesome

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Rechter staat publicatie onderzoek Mifare toe

Posted on July 18th, 2008 at 15:27 by John Sinteur in category: Security


Een rechter in Arnhem deed vrijdag middag uitspraak in het kortgeding dat chipleverancier NXP tegen de Radboud Universiteit had aangespannen. Het bedrijf wilde voorkomen dat wetenschappelijk onderzoek naar de cryptografie van zijn RFID-chip werd geopenbaard.

De rechtbank acht de vrijheid van meningsuiting belangrijker dan de belangen van NXP. Volgens de rechters is het burgerrecht ook van toepassing op wetenschappelijk onderzoek en mag de publicatie doorgaan.

“Daaraan kunnen slechts beperkingen worden gesteld indien daarvoor een dringende maatschappelijke noodzaak bestaat en alleen als die noodzaak overtuigend wordt aangetoond. Dat vergt een afweging van concrete belangen. Overwogen wordt dat er in een democratische samenleving grote belangen zijn gemoeid met het kunnen publiceren van de resultaten van wetenschappelijk onderzoek en het informeren van de samenleving over de ernstige manco’s die de chip blijkt te hebben zodat maatregelen kunnen worden genomen tegen de risico’s van het lek in de chip”, zegt de rechtbank in een persbericht.

De rechter snapt het.

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Posted on July 18th, 2008 at 14:29 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon

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Bridge gets poor marks

Posted on July 18th, 2008 at 13:41 by John Sinteur in category: News


Rotting holes in steel support beams, enormous rust patches, small splits in steel girders and broken bracing are evident all along the underside of the John Greenleaf Whittier Bridge, the heavily traveled Interstate 95 span that crosses the Merrimack River between Amesbury and Newburyport.

A just-released state safety report filed in the wake of last year’s disastrous collapse of the similarly designed Interstate 35 bridge in Minneapolis gave the 57-year-old Whittier Bridge “poor” ratings due to deterioration. On a 10-step ranking system, the rating is just two steps above the point where engineers consider closing a bridge due to safety concerns.

warning – tautology coming up

“The bridge is safe,” chief engineer Frank Tramontozzi said. “If it wasn’t safe, it would have been closed.”


But much of the report has been blacked out due to post-9/11 security concerns

Sure – we all feel much safer now!

Better not make any pictures of the bridge, or it’s a tasering!

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Parker For Congress

Posted on July 18th, 2008 at 13:27 by John Sinteur in category: Indecision 2008

Dear Wayne Parker, your opponent is called Parker Griffith. Perhaps you’d better add a party affiliation to your signs.

Signs reading “Parker v Parker” have apparently also been spotted, but I haven’t got a picture of one yet…

Oh, and we all know that the Dem color is blue. Based on that, can you guess which party Wayne is running for without visiting his site? The district is leaning fairly big Republican…

hat tip

update: I heard he now has new signs with “Wayne Parker” on them

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The Fate of the Duel

Posted on July 18th, 2008 at 11:55 by John Sinteur in category: News

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He Fills Out Literally Every Survey?

Posted on July 18th, 2008 at 11:34 by John Sinteur in category: Indecision 2008


John McCain at the NAACP convention today assured a questioner that he will indeed fill out the group’s civil rights survey, a comment that prompted a smattering of applause.

“I’ll look forward to filling it out,” McCain said. “We fill out literally every survey, so I’ll be more than happy to do that.”

Every survey? Well … not quite. Rewind to April 10, 2008, when Mother Jones reported that McCain was booted from the Project Vote Smart board for not completing the organization’s Political Courage Test. Mother Jones: “PVS contacted the McCain campaign 25 times from June 2007 to February 2008 in the hopes of avoiding the embarrassment this move entails for both the organization and one of its long-time board members.” Here’s PVS’ statement on the matter.

He also did not respond to the Midwest Democracy Network questionnaire. Or the Human Rights Campaign questionnaire. Or the Oregon Fair Trade questionnaire. Or the American Association of People with Disabilities questionnaire

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Gore sets ‘moon shot’ goal on climate change

Posted on July 18th, 2008 at 11:16 by John Sinteur in category: News


Just as John F. Kennedy set his sights on the moon, Al Gore is challenging the nation to produce every kilowatt of electricity through wind, sun and other Earth-friendly energy sources within 10 years, an audacious goal he hopes the next president will embrace.

The Nobel Prize-winning former vice president said fellow Democrat Barack Obama and Republican rival John McCain are “way ahead” of most politicians in the fight against global climate change.

Rising fuel costs, climate change and the national security threats posed by U.S. dependence on foreign oil are conspiring to create “a new political environment” that Gore said will sustain bold and expensive steps to wean the nation off fossil fuels.

“I have never seen an opportunity for the country like the one that’s emerging now,” Gore told The Associated Press in an interview previewing a speech on global warming he was to deliver Thursday in Washington.


The Alliance for Climate Protection, a bipartisan group that he chairs, estimates the cost of transforming the nation to so-called clean electricity sources at $1.5 trillion to $3 trillion over 30 years in public and private money. But he says it would cost about as much to build ozone-killing coal plants to satisfy current demand.

“This is an investment that will pay itself back many times over,” Gore said. “It’s an expensive investment but not compared to the rising cost of continuing to invest in fossil fuels.”

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  1. Gore is a idiot!

18.6 Million Empty Houses in America

Posted on July 18th, 2008 at 10:27 by John Sinteur in category: News


That is what the census says. Andrew Leonard in Salon notes that it is a bit misleading, that “4.7 million are for “seasonal use” only, the Census tells us — unoccupied vacation homes, in other words. 4.1 million are for rent, 2.3 million are for sale, and the remaining 7.5 million “were vacant for a variety of other reasons.”

The census also lists the total number of homeless in America as 759,101, so there are 24 empty houses for every homeless person in America

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Deregulation Jolts Texas Electric Bills

Posted on July 18th, 2008 at 10:10 by John Sinteur in category: Nederland is Gek!


Texas had some of the cheapest power rates in the country when it zapped most of the state’s electric regulations six years ago, convinced that rollicking competition would drive prices even lower.

This summer, electricity there is some of the nation’s priciest.

Power costs are rising in the rest of the U.S., but everything is bigger in Texas: On a hot day in May, wholesale prices rose briefly to more than $4 a kilowatt hour — about 40 times the national average.


Not long ago, Texas thought it had the answer. When then-Gov. George W. Bush signed the state’s deregulation bill in 1999, he assured that “competition in the electric industry will benefit Texans by reducing monthly rates and offering consumers more choices.” The law, which took effect in 2002, left few restrictions on what power generators could charge and what consumers could pay.

And politicians never learn – they’re making the same deregulation claims over here, and prices are also going up faster than ever..

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  1. The article does a lousy job of teasing apart the relative contribution of different factors to the high prices in Texas. Network structure and congestion are cited as an issue, but there’s also the mention that Texas uses more natural gas than other states to generate power. Natural gas prices might explain most of the price increase. You certainly can’t say “it’s all because of deregulation”.

  2. Well, here they started to privatize the electricity. Same promises “the deregulated competition will mean lower prices” I think it’s up by 34% by now, and climbing.
    So probably the deregulation has nothing to do with it. Neither does giving it out to private companies.

  3. If it says nothing about the deregulation, what does it tell you about the promises?

  4. Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day,
    And make me travel forth without my cloak,
    To let base clouds o’ertake me in my way,
    Hiding thy bravery in their rotten smoke?
    ‘Tis not enough that through the cloud thou break,
    To dry the rain on my storm-beaten face,
    For no man well of such a salve can speak
    That heals the wound and cures not the disgrace:
    Nor can thy shame give physic to my grief;
    Though thou repent, yet I have still the loss:
    The offender’s sorrow lends but weak relief
    To him that bears the strong offence’s cross.
    Ah! but those tears are pearl which thy love sheds,
    And they are rich and ransom all ill deeds.

  5. I think it will take time for most of the companies to lower to a reasonable rate. So many new companies want to undercut the big dogs and then they lock in with the customers and realize they can’t actually pay for their power because they don’t even generate their own. Being a middle man energy provider can’t be fun.

    I’m just glad I get paid just for referring people to the largest CREP (competitive retail electric provider) in TX. The rates are lower than the monopolies like Reliant and TXU and even able to provide a GREEN 100% renewable option that is cheaper than their standard generation.

    Wait for the gas prices to go down and if prices are still high then maybe deregulation does have something to do with driving prices up. Either way we are in a period with high rates and I think people just need to realize you don’t have to pay month to month rates if you don’t want to. You don’t even have to stick with the monopoly companies either as electricity is the same everywhere.

    I just helped a person who was on a .22/kw rate using 3000+ kw with Reliant. My first question to him was why he didn’t switch sooner. Does he like spending 25% more a month for the same electricity? NO. It’s more about customer education and hopefully everything will level itself out.

  6. “I think it will take time for most of the companies to lower to a reasonable rate”
    Yes, for example when their legal duty will not be to produce the maximum profit in any way. They will price it as high as people are willing to pay.
    Just a short history question: Do you remember Enron?
    There you go.

NASA’s Deep Impact Films Earth as an Alien World

Posted on July 18th, 2008 at 9:53 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture


Other spacecraft have imaged Earth and the moon from space, but Deep Impact is the first to show a transit of Earth with enough detail to see large craters on the moon and oceans and continents on Earth.

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California Uses More Gas than China

Posted on July 18th, 2008 at 9:40 by John Sinteur in category: News


Given all the news coverage about the rise of the Chinese economy, you could be forgiven for thinking that the world’s most populous country is hogging all the world’s resources, while the developed nations are fighting for scraps.

But, at least with transportation fuel, you’d be wrong. California alone uses more gasoline than any country in the world (except the US as a whole, of course). That means California’s 20 billion gallon gasoline and diesel habit is greater than China’s! (Or Russia’s. Or India’s. Or Brazil’s. Or Germany’s.)

That’s according to the California Energy Commission’s State Alternative Fuels Plan, which was posted online last Christmas Eve (pdf). The whole report makes for some fascinating reading because it’s a blueprint for a low-carbon and renewable transportation fuel future. The dominant takeaway: it ain’t going to be easy.


On Monday, President Bush lifted the executive ban on offshore drilling for oil in most U.S. coastal waters. The only barrier to exploiting these resources now is a congressional ban.


CNN reported Monday that there are 18 billion barrels of oil off the U.S. coast that are not currently available because of the congressional ban. 

A separate restriction on drilling in Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) protects fragile lands that sit on 12 billion barrels of oil. 

All together, that’s 30 billion barrels of oil.

That may sound like a large figure, but, as of 2005, the world used crude oil at a rate of 83.6 million barrels a day. We now use more than that. 

If every single barrel of U.S. oil in currently restricted offshore and ANWR regions were recovered and sold it would meet world energy demand for only one year.

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