Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Chris Jenkins murder connects dozens around country

KSTP.com - DETECTIVES: "University of Minnesota college student Chris Jenkins was found in the Mississippi River in February of 2003.
Minneapolis Police began investigating the case, which also caught the attention of two retired NYPD detectives.
Turns out, Jenkins' death was the missing part of the puzzle for Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte.
They think Jenkins connects dozens of other deaths around the country over the last decade. The stories are the same all over the country--an athletic, intelligent, well-liked college student goes missing.
Family and friends launch a massive search. Weeks or months later, the young man is discovered drowned. In more than 40 cases, the deaths are blamed on a drunken accident--except for one.
The death of Chris Jenkins in Minneapolis is the only one where the cause of death was changed from 'undetermined' or 'drowning' to 'homicide.'
"I can honestly tell you that I've walked every step of the way and it is hard for me to believe," Chris' mother Jan Jenkins told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. "The level of evil we are dealing with here is rampant, it's deep and it's widespread."
Because of extensive investigation by Duarte and Gannon, Jan Jenkins now says she knows exactly what happened to her son on the night he disappeared, Oct. 31, 2002.
"Chris was abducted in a cargo van," she said. "He was driven around Minneapolis for hours and tortured. He was taken down to the Mississippi River and he was murdered. And after that, his body was positioned and taken to a different spot and then to a different point in the Mississippi River," she said.
Gannon and Duarte say they've discovered a link between Jenkins' death and the drownings of at least 40 other men in 25 cities in 11 different states. "

Jesus Made Me Puke

Rolling Stone: "I pulled into the church parking lot a little after 6:00 p.m., at more or less the last possible minute. The previous half hour or so I'd spent dawdling in my car outside a Goodwill department store off Route 410 in San Antonio, clinging to some inane sports talk show piping over my car radio — anything to hold off my plunge into Religion.
There was an old-fashioned white school bus in front of the church entrance, with a puddle of heavyset people milling around its swinging door. Some of these were carrying blankets and sleeping bags. My heart, already pounding, skipped a few extra beats. The church circulars had said nothing about bringing bedding. Why did I need bedding? What else had I missed?
"Excuse me," I said, walking up to an in-charge-looking man with a name tag who was standing near the front of the bus. "I see everyone has blankets. I didn't bring any. Is this going to be a problem?"
The man was about five feet one and had glassy eyes. He looked up at me and smiled queerly.
"Name?" he said.
"Collins," I said. "Matthew Collins."
He scanned his clipboard, found my name on the appropriate sheet of paper, and X-ed me out with a highlighter. "Don't worry, Matthew," he said, resting his hand on my shoulder. "A wonderful woman named Martha is going to take care of you at the ranch. You just tell her what you need when you get there."
I nodded, glancing at his hand, which was still on my shoulder. He waved me into the bus.
I had been attending the Cornerstone Church for weeks, but this was really my first day of school. I had joined Cornerstone — a megachurch in the Texas Hill Country — to get a look inside the evangelical mind-set that gave the country eight years of George W. Bush. The church's pastor, John Hagee, is one of the most influential evangelical preachers in the country — not because his ministry is so very large (although he claims up to 4.5 million viewers a week for his Sunday sermons) but because of his near-absolute conquest of a very trendy niche in the market: Christian Zionism.
The whole idea behind Christian Zionism is to align America with the nation of Israel so as to "hurry God up" in his efforts to bring about Armageddon. As Hagee tells it, only after Israel is involved in a final showdown involving a satanic army (in most interpretations, a force of Arabs led by Russians) will Christ reappear. On that happy day, Hagee and his True Believers will be whisked up to Heaven by God, while the rest of us nonbelievers are left behind on Earth to suck eggs and generally suffer various tortures.
So here I was, standing in the church parking lot, having responded to church advertisements hawking an "Encounter Weekend" — three solid days of sleep-away Christian fellowship that would teach me the "joy" of "knowing the truth" and "being set free." That had sounded harmless enough, but now that I was here and surrounded by all of these blanket-bearing people, I was nervous. When most Americans think of the Christian right, they think of scenes from television — great halls full of perfectly groomed people in pale suits and light-colored dresses, smiling and happy and full of the Holy Spirit, robotically singing hymns at the behest of some squeaky-clean pastor with a baritone voice and impossible hair. We don't get to see the utterly batshit world they live in, when the cameras are turned off and their pastors are not afraid of saying the really dumb stuff, for fear of it turning up on CNN. In American evangelical Christianity, in other words, there's a ready-for-prime-time stage act — toned down and lip-synced to match a set of PG lyrics that won't scare the advertisers — and then there's the real party backstage, where the spiritual hair really gets let down. I was about to go backstage, to personally take part in the indoctrination process for a major Southern evangelical church. Waiting to board the bus for the Encounter Weekend, I had visions of some charismatic ranch-land Jesus, stoned on beer and the Caligula director's cut and too drunk late at night to chase after the minor children, hauling me into a barn for an in-the-hay shortcut to truth and freedom. Ridiculous, of course, but I really was afraid, mostly of my own ignorance and prejudices. I had never been to something like this before, and I didn't know how to act. I badly wanted to be invisible. "

More Clarity About Abuse, Intermarriage, Child Breeders, and the Fundamentalist Church of Later Day Saints

AlterNet: "So far, the wall-to-wall news coverage of the state of Texas's raid on the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints compound in Eldorado, TX has been focused on just a couple of narratives. The first, of course, is the state's dogged and thorough -- and long overdue -- attempt to prove that the church's young women have been systemically sexually abused by the men of the group; and that this abuse is not just rare, but rather an inherent and accepted feature of the group's social order.
The other is the cultural curiosity of the sect's women in general. We see them, looking like they just walked out of the 1890s in their bizarre high hairdos, pastel prairie dresses, and sturdy shoes, and wonder how such a group of fossils (let alone tens of thousands of them) could still exist in modern America. It makes for great TV; but I often look at these women (most of whom have never watched TV in their lives), and feel like they're lambs being dragged out in front of media wolves they've never learned to recognize or fear. In a world when all of us seem to be in permanent rehearsal for our own 15 minutes of fame, these women are so unprepared for all this that they're downright fascinating.

These are the two current storylines the media is focused on -- at least, so far. In time, though, if the reporters and investigators stick around, they might find other things to talk about. A careful reading of Daphne Bramham's excellent The Secret Lives of Saints reveals that there are plenty of other questions we should be asking about the FLDS -- and months worth of stories we're not hearing about right now, but which need to be discussed and generally understood if the country is going to deal with the group appropriately and effectively.
And the country will be dealing with it -- probably for quite some time to come. Throughout its 60-year history, the FLDS has dealt with prosecution (or persecution) by seeding itself into new states, laying down roots for new communities that it can migrate to. (Eldorado itself started out as one of these.) New compounds are coming together now in Idaho and South Dakota; and there are rumors of others being staked out in Colorado and Nevada as well. Hildale/Colorado City may have been effectively taken over by the state of Utah, and Eldorado is in crisis; but with somewhere between 40,000 and 100,000 adherents, this is a group that's not going to pass from the American scene any time soon."


"FLDS founding patriarch Rulon Jeffs with his last two wives -- sisters Edna and Mary Fischer -- on their wedding day. He received the pair as a 90th birthday present."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Recession Diet Just One Way to Tighten Belt

NY Times: "Stung by rising gasoline and food prices, Americans are finding creative ways to cut costs on routine items like groceries and clothing, forcing retailers, restaurants and manufacturers to decode the tastes of a suddenly thrifty public.
Spending data and interviews around the country show that middle- and working-class consumers are starting to switch from name brands to cheaper alternatives, to eat in instead of dining out and to fly at unusual hours to shave dollars off airfares.
Though seemingly small, the daily trade-offs they are making — more pasta and less red meat, more video rentals and fewer movie tickets — amount to an important shift in consumer behavior.
In Ohio, Holly Levitsky is replacing the Lucky Charms cereal in her kitchen with Millville Marshmallows and Stars, a less expensive store brand. In New Hampshire, George Goulet is no longer booking hotel rooms at the Hilton, favoring the lower-cost Hampton Inn. And in Michigan, Jennifer Olden is buying Gain laundry detergent instead of the full-price Tide.
Behind the belt-tightening — and brand-swapping — is the collision of several economic forces that are pinching people’s budgets or, at least, leaving them in little mood to splurge.
The price of household necessities has surged, with milk topping $4 a gallon in many stores and regular gasoline closing in on $3.60 a gallon nationwide.
Home prices are sliding, wages are stagnant, job losses are growing and the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, a broad measure of stock performance, is down 6 percent in the last year. So consumers are going on a recession diet.
Burt Flickinger, a longtime retail consultant, said the last time he saw such significant changes in consumer buying patterns was the late 1970s, when runaway inflation prompted Americans to “switch from red meat to pork to poultry to pasta — then to peanut butter and jelly.”
“It hasn’t gotten to human food mixed with pet food yet,” he said, “but it is certainly headed in that direction.”"

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pay No Attention to the Media Behind the Curtain

"We may not like it," wrote The New York Times' David Brooks, rising to the defense of Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos after last Wednesday's Democratic debate, "but issues like Jeremiah Wright, flag lapels and the Tuzla airport will be important in the fall." Brooks' fellow members of the media elite's innermost circle could not be blamed, he wanted you to know, for they were merely doing their jobs, forcing the candidates to answer the questions they'll have no choice but to confront in the general election.

But don't let him fool you -- Brooks likes it just fine. He and his compatriots would find nothing more boring than a campaign consumed by discussions of individual mandates and redeployment plans, some kind of dreadfully tedious policy wonk-fest where issues of "culture" take only a supporting role. How then would he mine the red state-blue state pop sociology that took him from a mildly interesting writer for a conservative magazine to a prince of "serious" mass media, with gigs at The New York Times, PBS, and NPR? Where would he find the opportunities to explicate the contrast between riding mowers and Wal-Mart (virtuous and authentic) and lattes and Whole Foods (elitist and phony)?

Brooks' justification of the ABC personalities' shark-jumping performance was emblematic of the press' self-conception, the exaltation of the passive voice. "Issues" like flag pins "will be important." And how will this happen? From whence will this importance come? Will the heavens open, trumpets blare, and God himself command in a booming voice that reporters shall write about flag pins, no matter what their better natures and their obligations to the public might dictate?

Of course not. Reporters will choose to write about flag pins. They will choose to write about whether some catastrophic, heretofore hidden character flaw has been revealed by a comment a candidate made, or by a comment somebody who knows the candidate made. They are not merely conduits for the campaign's discourse, they create the campaign's discourse, as much as the candidates themselves.

Ah, but didn't Hillary Clinton criticize Barack Obama over his "bitter" comments? Doesn't that justify a week of relentless, repetitive discussion? Yes, she did (as he has criticized her before on matters equally trivial). But on that day, she probably held half a dozen campaign events and talked about a hundred different things. Had reporters wanted, they could have written stories about what she said about health care, the economy, Iraq, or just about anything else. They chose instead to write about this. The time is long past for them to stop pretending they have nothing to do with how trivial a campaign becomes.

But don't hold your breath. Political reporters will cling to their long-held conceit that they are but observers whose own choices have no impact on the campaign's progression. They are a clean, empty pipe through which the impressions and beliefs of the public flow unimpeded. But the act of observing the campaign doesn't just alter the campaign, it is the campaign. If reporters decide something is an "issue," than an issue it will be. If they decide to ignore something, it will disappear from the news, and eventually from voters' minds.

Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand


In the summer of 2005, the Bush administration confronted a fresh wave of criticism over Guantánamo Bay. The detention center had just been branded “the gulag of our times” by Amnesty International, there were new allegations of abuse from United Nations human rights experts and calls were mounting for its closure.

The administration’s communications experts responded swiftly. Early one Friday morning, they put a group of retired military officers on one of the jets normally used by Vice President Dick Cheney and flew them to Cuba for a carefully orchestrated tour of Guantánamo.

To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.

Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.

The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.

Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants. The companies include defense heavyweights, but also scores of smaller companies, all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administration’s war on terror. It is a furious competition, one in which inside information and easy access to senior officials are highly prized.

Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.

Analysts have been wooed in hundreds of private briefings with senior military leaders, including officials with significant influence over contracting and budget matters, records show. They have been taken on tours of Iraq and given access to classified intelligence. They have been briefed by officials from the White House, State Department and Justice Department, including Mr. Cheney, Alberto R. Gonzales and Stephen J. Hadley.

In turn, members of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated. Some analysts acknowledge they suppressed doubts because they feared jeopardizing their access.

A few expressed regret for participating in what they regarded as an effort to dupe the American public with propaganda dressed as independent military analysis.

“It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you,’ ” Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and former Fox News analyst, said.

******When I saw this on Sunday's front page, I thought it was a big deal. Good reporting. Not too surprising for those of us who are cynical liberal arts majors. But still, another tree falling in the woods it seems.

Picturing The Death Of A Newspaper



Martin Gee is a designer at the San Jose Mercury News, which, like every other paper, has been gutted by budget cuts, layoffs, and buyouts recently. One night on a whim he took a camera and shot a series of photos inside the almost abandoned newsroom. They do an amazing job of capturing the junkyard aura of the place [PDN via Animal]. It's newsroom-as-battlefield, the day after.\




Johnny Depp is picky about his wine

Johnny Depp loves French wine so much, he had 10 crates flown 4,147 miles to the U.S. during filming for his new movie Public Enemies.

The 44-year-old - who lives in the European nation with longterm partner and native Vanessa Paradis - asked for a selection from his own vineyard to be sent to the set in Illinois because he hates the taste of American wine.

A source tells British newspaper the Daily Express, “He is really enjoying filming but the only problem is that Illinois isn’t exactly famous for its vineyards and Johnny is quite particular about his wine. When he couldn’t put up with the local wine any longer, he decided to organise for a shipment of his own to be sent across.”


***Johnny, in Chicago, we're beer snobs, not wine snobs. Come have a Two Brothers brew on me, buddy. You just have to let me pick your brain on Hunter S. for a moment.

U.S. attorney reportedly targeted by heavyweights

April 23, 2008; 9:54 a.m.

More bombshells were lobbed in the Antoin "Tony" Rezko trial even before the jury was seated this morning and they involved a purported attempt to pull strings with the White House to fire U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald. In a hearing before court began, prosecutors said they hoped to call Ali Ata, the former Blagojevich administration official who pleaded guilty to corruption yesterday, to the stand.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Carrie Hamilton said she believed Ata would testify to conversations Ata had with his political patron, Rezko, about working to pull strings to kill the criminal investigation into Rezko and others when it was in its early stages in 2004.

"[Ata] had conversations with Mr. Rezko about the fact that Mr. Kjellander was working with Karl Rove to have Mr. Fitzgerald removed," Hamilton told U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve.

That sentence is loaded with a who's who of political heavyweights. Bob Kjellander was the veteran Republican National Committeeman from Illinois who was a sometimes business associate of Stuart Levine, who has pleaded guilty to conspiring with Rezko to rig state boards for contracts.

Karl Rove for years was President Bush's chief political strategist as well as an old friend of Kjellander. Patrick Fitzgerald was and is the U.S. attorney in Chicago who pressed the investigation of Rezko. Hamilton said the conversation she hoped Ata would testify to was about having Fitzgerald replaced by someone else, she said, "so individuals who have been cooperating in this investigation will be dealt with differently."

St. Eve did not make a ruling on whether Ata will be allowed to testify.

However, when jurors were brought in to court, St. Eve made a special point of asking them whether any had seen media reports about the trial last night or this morning. None said they had.

The action came after a Rezko lawyer told St. Eve the defense was worried about the fallout of publicity from the Ata plea.

St. Eve is careful at the end of the trial each day to warn jurors to steer clear of media coverage of the trial, but this is the first time she asked jurors at the beginning of the day about whether they had been following her directive.

The caution was inspired by heavy media coverage of Ata's plea on Tuesday in which he said he paid bribes to Rezko as well as donated heavily to the campaign of Gov. Rod Blagojevich to buy a $127,000-a-year post as the executive director of the Illinois Finance Authority.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Edwards endorsing Clinton?

by bobswern, Wed Apr 23, 2008 at 12:33:41 AM EST

Howard Fineman has reported on MSNBC in the past hour the Elizabeth Edwards will be making several campaign stops in coming days with Hillary Clinton in John Edwards' home state.

General sentiment in NC is that Elizabeth is better-liked there than her husband.

While it's been widely reported throughout the press that John Edwards would remain neutral in the Primary, it's also been widely reported that one of the main reasons he was remaining neutral was due to the differences in opinion within his own camp, starting with his wife's support of Obama. Clearly, the tide has turned in the Edwards' household, and this is about as close to an Edwards' endorsement as anyone's going to get, IMHO. Go, Hillary!


This would appear to be tantamount to an Edwards' tacit endorsement of the Clinton candidacy, at the very least, IMHO.

Keith Olbermann's Head Explodes

by Todd Beeton, Tue Apr 22, 2008 at 11:42:34 PM EST

I have to say I was amused to hear Keith Olbermann announce with child-like glee at 8:01pm that the race was too close to call and how that had to make the Clinton campaign nervous. The subtext of his enthusiasm was clearly shadenfreude that Hillary Clinton was going to underperform expectations. I thought to myself: where the hell has he been? Time after time exit polls overestimate Barack Obama's performance, not to mention that on election nights past, namely Feb 5th and March 4th, neither California nor Ohio, solid Clinton wins both, was called for her right away either. And sure enough, 93% in and she's still up by the magic 10%.

Then just a few minutes ago, Keith asked an uncomfortable Tom Brokaw whether it is wise for Hillary Clinton to be Bush to Obama's Gore in Bush v. Gore.

Riiight.

Seriously, at what point are these guys going to start holding their own candidate accountable for why this thing is still going on instead of complaining that Hillary is competing in contests that she is winning.

My Vote's for Obama (if I could vote) ...by Michael Moore

Friends,

I don't get to vote for President this primary season. I live in Michigan. The party leaders (both here and in D.C.) couldn't get their act together, and thus our votes will not be counted.

So, if you live in Pennsylvania, can you do me a favor? Will you please cast my vote -- and yours -- on Tuesday for Senator Barack Obama?

I haven't spoken publicly 'til now as to who I would vote for, primarily for two reasons: 1) Who cares?; and 2) I (and most people I know) don't give a rat's ass whose name is on the ballot in November, as long as there's a picture of JFK and FDR riding a donkey at the top of the ballot, and the word "Democratic" next to the candidate's name.

Seriously, I know so many people who don't care if the name under the Big "D" is Dancer, Prancer, Clinton or Blitzen. It can be Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Barry Obama or the Dalai Lama.

Well, that sounded good last year, but over the past two months, the actions and words of Hillary Clinton have gone from being merely disappointing to downright disgusting. I guess the debate last week was the final straw. I've watched Senator Clinton and her husband play this game of appealing to the worst side of white people, but last Wednesday, when she hurled the name "Farrakhan" out of nowhere, well that's when the silly season came to an early end for me. She said the "F" word to scare white people, pure and simple. Of course, Obama has no connection to Farrakhan. But, according to Senator Clinton, Obama's pastor does -- AND the "church bulletin" once included a Los Angeles Times op-ed from some guy with Hamas! No, not the church bulletin!

This sleazy attempt to smear Obama was brilliantly explained the following night by Stephen Colbert. He pointed out that if Obama is supported by Ted Kennedy, who is Catholic, and the Catholic Church is led by a Pope who was in the Hitler Youth, that can mean only one thing: OBAMA LOVES HITLER!

Yes, Senator Clinton, that's how you sounded. Like you were nuts. Like you were a bigot stoking the fires of stupidity. How sad that I would ever have to write those words about you. You have devoted your life to good causes and good deeds. And now to throw it all away for an office you can't win unless you smear the black man so much that the superdelegates cry "Uncle (Tom)" and give it all to you.

But that can't happen. You cast your die when you voted to start this bloody war. When you did that you were like Moses who lost it for a moment and, because of that, was prohibited from entering the Promised Land.

How sad for a country that wanted to see the first woman elected to the White House. That day will come -- but it won't be you. We'll have to wait for the current Democratic governor of Kansas to run in 2016 (you read it here first!).

There are those who say Obama isn't ready, or he's voted wrong on this or that. But that's looking at the trees and not the forest. What we are witnessing is not just a candidate but a profound, massive public movement for change. My endorsement is more for Obama The Movement than it is for Obama the candidate.

That is not to take anything away from this exceptional man. But what's going on is bigger than him at this point, and that's a good thing for the country. Because, when he wins in November, that Obama Movement is going to have to stay alert and active. Corporate America is not going to give up their hold on our government just because we say so. President Obama is going to need a nation of millions to stand behind him.

I know some of you will say, 'Mike, what have the Democrats done to deserve our vote?' That's a damn good question. In November of '06, the country loudly sent a message that we wanted the war to end. Yet the Democrats have done nothing. So why should we be so eager to line up happily behind them?

I'll tell you why. Because I can't stand one more friggin' minute of this administration and the permanent, irreversible damage it has done to our people and to this world. I'm almost at the point where I don't care if the Democrats don't have a backbone or a kneebone or a thought in their dizzy little heads. Just as long as their name ain't "Bush" and the word "Republican" is not beside theirs on the ballot, then that's good enough for me.

I, like the majority of Americans, have been pummeled senseless for 8 long years. That's why I will join millions of citizens and stagger into the voting booth come November, like a boxer in the 12th round, all bloodied and bruised with one eye swollen shut, looking for the only thing that matters -- that big "D" on the ballot.

Don't get me wrong. I lost my rose-colored glasses a long time ago.

It's foolish to see the Democrats as anything but a nicer version of a party that exists to do the bidding of the corporate elite in this country. Any endorsement of a Democrat must be done with this acknowledgement and a hope that one day we will have a party that'll represent the people first, and laws that allow that party an equal voice.

Finally, I want to say a word about the basic decency I have seen in Mr. Obama. Mrs. Clinton continues to throw the Rev. Wright up in his face as part of her mission to keep stoking the fears of White America. Every time she does this I shout at the TV, "Say it, Obama! Say that when she and her husband were having marital difficulties regarding Monica Lewinsky, who did she and Bill bring to the White House for 'spiritual counseling?' THE REVEREND JEREMIAH WRIGHT!"

But no, Obama won't throw that at her. It wouldn't be right. It wouldn't be decent. She's been through enough hurt. And so he remains silent and takes the mud she throws in his face.

That's why the crowds who come to see him are so large. That's why he'll take us down a more decent path. That's why I would vote for him if Michigan were allowed to have an election.

But the question I keep hearing is... 'can he win? Can he win in November?' In the distance we hear the siren of the death train called the Straight Talk Express. We know it's possible to hear the words "President McCain" on January 20th. We know there are still many Americans who will never vote for a black man. Hillary knows it, too. She's counting on it.

Pennsylvania, the state that gave birth to this great country, has a chance to set things right. It has not had a moment to shine like this since 1787 when our Constitution was written there. In that Constitution, they wrote that a black man or woman was only "three fifths" human. On Tuesday, the good people of Pennsylvania have a chance for redemption.

Yours,

Monday, April 21, 2008

Not-So-Free Ride

The Green Issue - Freakonomics - Stephen J. Dubner - Steven D. Levitt -New York Times: "The trouble with negative externalities
Americans drive too much. This isn’t a political or moral argument; it’s an economic one. How so?
Because there are all sorts of costs associated with driving that the actual driver doesn’t pay. Such a condition is known to economists as a negative externality: the behavior of Person A (we’ll call him Arthur) damages the welfare of Person Z (Zelda), but Zelda has no control over Arthur’s actions. If Arthur feels like driving an extra 50 miles today, he doesn’t need to ask Zelda; he just hops in the car and goes. And because Arthur doesn’t pay the true costs of his driving, he drives too much.
What are the negative externalities of driving? To name just three: congestion, carbon emissions and traffic accidents. Every time Arthur gets in a car, it becomes more likely that Zelda — and millions of others — will suffer in each of those areas.
Which of these externalities is the most costly to U.S. society? According to current estimates, carbon emissions from driving impose a societal cost of about $20 billion a year. That sounds like an awful lot until you consider congestion: a Texas Transportation Institute study found that wasted fuel and lost productivity due to congestion cost us $78 billion a year. The damage to people and property from auto accidents, meanwhile, is by far the worst. In a 2006 paper, the economists Aaron Edlin and Pinar Karaca-Mandic argued that accidents impose a true unpaid cost of about $220 billion a year. (And that’s even though the accident rate has fallen significantly over the past 10 years, from 2.72 accidents per million miles driven to 1.98 per million; overall miles driven, however, keep rising.) So, with roughly three trillion miles driven each year producing more than $300 billion in externality costs, drivers should probably be taxed at least an extra 10 cents per mile if we want them to pay the full societal cost of their driving."

Food Rationing Confronts Breadbasket of the World | The New York Sun

The New York Sun: "Mountain View, Ca: "Many parts of America, long considered the breadbasket of the world, are now confronting a once unthinkable phenomenon: food rationing.
Major retailers in New York, in areas of New England, and on the West Coast are limiting purchases of flour, rice, and cooking oil as demand outstrips supply. There are also anecdotal reports that some consumers are hoarding grain stocks.
At a Costco Warehouse in Mountain View, Calif., yesterday, shoppers grew frustrated and occasionally uttered expletives as they searched in vain for the large sacks of rice they usually buy.
“Where’s the rice?” an engineer from Palo Alto, Calif., Yajun Liu, said. “You should be able to buy something like rice. This is ridiculous.”
The bustling store in the heart of Silicon Valley usually sells four or five varieties of rice to a clientele largely of Asian immigrants, but only about half a pallet of Indian-grown Basmati rice was left in stock. A 20-pound bag was selling for $15.99.
“You can’t eat this every day. It’s too heavy,” a health care executive from Palo Alto, Sharad Patel, grumbled as his son loaded two sacks of the Basmati into a shopping cart. “We only need one bag but I’m getting two in case a neighbor or a friend needs it,” the elder man said.
The Patels seemed headed for disappointment, as most Costco members were being allowed to buy only one bag. Moments earlier, a clerk dropped two sacks back on the stack after taking them from another customer who tried to exceed the one-bag cap.
“Due to the limited availability of rice, we are limiting rice purchases based on your prior purchasing history,” a sign above the dwindling supply said.
Shoppers said the limits had been in place for a few days, and that rice supplies had been spotty for a few weeks. A store manager referred questions to officials at Costco headquarters near Seattle, who did not return calls or e-mail messages yesterday.
An employee at the Costco store in Queens said there were no restrictions on rice buying, but limits were being imposed on purchases of oil and flour. Internet postings attributed some of the shortage at the retail level to bakery owners who flocked to warehouse stores when the price of flour from commercial suppliers doubled.
The curbs and shortages are being tracked with concern by survivalists who view the phenomenon as a harbinger of more serious trouble to come.
“It’s sporadic. It’s not every store, but it’s becoming more commonplace,” the editor of SurvivalBlog.com, James Rawles, said. “The number of reports I’ve been getting from readers who have seen signs posted with limits has increased almost exponentially, I’d say in the last three to five weeks.”
Spiking food prices have led to riots in recent weeks in Haiti, Indonesia, and several African nations. India recently banned export of all but the highest quality rice, and Vietnam blocked the signing of new contract for foreign rice sales."

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Meet Springsteen's Rosalita and rock muses Rikki and Sharona, too

Diane "Rosalita" Lozito
"Rikki" did lose that number. "My Sharona" has a Web site.
"Rosalita" hooked up with Bruce Springsteen at the beach - as her boyfriend "Wild Billy" drank with his buddies nearby.
All grown up now, these women made famous by classic rock songs told More magazine their lives were changed forever by playing bit parts in pop culture.
Rikki DuCornet
Four decades after she briefly met Steely Dan rocker Donald Fagen, Rikki DuCornet still cannot escape the song written for her.
"I notice it walking into a sushi bar, going into a drugstore. Take an airplane, there it is," DuCornet, 65, told More. "It's become a constant, something to hold onto."
DuCornet was pregnant and married when she met Fagen at a jazz show in an upstate New York college town. She planned to call him but lost the slip of paper with his number.
It was 10 years later that she first heard the song "Rikki Don't Lose That Number," which hit the top of the pop charts when she was living in France.
The woman who inspired the 1979 anthem "My Sharona" was a gorgeous high school senior with a killer body when a co-worker brought a boyfriend, the lead singer from an unknown band called the Knack, into the boutique where she worked.
Sharona Alperin wound up modeling for the cover of the band's 6 million-selling record - and dated the rock star for four years.
Now she's a real estate agent in Los Angeles with a husband and two kids. She was shocked and dismayed to find out that her namesake song is on President Bush's iPod. "Couldn't I be on Bill Clinton's?" she moaned.
Sharona Alperin
Rosalita's real name was Diane Lozito and she met the Boss in 1971 at a show at the Jersey Shore when he was an up-and-coming rocker.
Lozito, now a location scout, was actually the inspiration for more than one Springsteen tune. The story of their first kiss - behind a rock on the beach while her boyfriend was nearby - is retold in "Spirit in the Night."
Soon "Wild Billy" was out of the picture. Springsteen and Lozito moved in together over her parents' objections - "I know your mama, she don't like me 'cause I play in a rock and roll band" - but split up after four years.
Springsteen used the name of her grandmother, Rose Lozito, for his "greatest" love song because, he told her, "It's boring having a whole album about the same girl. And nothing rhymes with Diane."

‘Deadliest Catch’ caught in fishy editing


A sequence in which huge storm waves crashed over the deck of the Wizard in Tuesday's season debut of "Deadliest Catch" reportedly where not shot on the same day the crew's stateroom flooded.
Scene of life-and-death peril in season opener shot on different days
By James Hibberd
Hollywood Reporter
LOS ANGELES - Tuesday's fourth-season premiere of Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch" opens during a raging nighttime storm in the Bering Sea. Mammoth waves smash an Alaskan crab fishing boat called the Wizard, sending large swells crashing over its deck. Inside, alarmed crew members discover that their stateroom is flooding with incoming seawater.
The sequence suggests that the fishermen are in danger of sinking as a violent tempest tosses huge waves against the boat.
But here's the not-so-deadliest catch:
The boat flooded in September.
The huge storm waves were from October.
And a producer may have filmed extra footage to help stitch the two events together.
Pages from a production outline obtained by The Hollywood Reporter suggest that producers of the cable network's top-rated series may have strayed from reality while editing the harrowing sequence from the show's record-setting premiere.
The document directs producers of the Emmy-nominated program to patch together a scene of life-and-death peril from different days of filming.
Early draft
Discovery executives described the outline as an early draft that was dismissed by the show's production company. The sequence, however, does match what appeared in Tuesday's episode. The network strongly denies that re-enactment footage is ever used by "Catch," but it acknowledged that material from separate days of filming were combined to produce the scene in question.
From the outline:
"WIZARD ROGUE WAVE: Combine Wizard leak story on 9/26 with the Wizard being hit by a big wave on 10/1 and 10/2. The fiction we are constructing is that the big wave hit the Wizard on their steam up to Dutch — caused a leak in Lenny's stateroom. In reality these were two separate events. In addition to the original source material, (a producer's name redacted by THR) shot re-enactment footage."
Such editing and staging tactics are common on reality shows, but Discovery considers "Catch" a documentary and holds the series to the highest standard.
Discovery president and general manager John Ford said the outline was an early draft that did not rise to the level of network inspection. "It's a rough draft that was rejected," Ford said after speaking to producer Original Prods.
That said, the scene did combine shots from two different days. The exterior shots showing the Wizard being hit by the waves were filmed from another boat while the Wizard was alone during its actual flooding.\
"The Wizard was struck by a big wave, and that wave caused the leak you see in the show," Ford said. "The thing we didn't have on camera was the actual wave that struck the Wizard. That was shot at a separate time on the same journey and was an insert edit from the show. We did that for story continuity because we didn't have a boat-to-boat shot."
Despite mixing the footage to create a more dramatic scene, Ford said the story told in the episode remains accurate.
"Everything that you see in the show happened," he said. "Nothing is made up and nothing needs to be made up. The Wizard was struck by a big wave, and that wave caused the leak you see in the show. The show is 100% authentic."

Friday, April 18, 2008

Nerds might live longer


Did you know? The human head weighs 2.7 pounds, on average, and packs a whopping 100 billion neurons.
New study ties big brains to longevity
Brains are good for more than acing exams. Turns out, nerdy noggins also help primates like us live longer, anthropologists say.
Scientists have long pondered the reason for humans' and other primates' relatively hefty heads. Elephants boast the biggest brains by volume of all land animals, but relative to body size, humans hold the brain-size record.
"There's got to be a benefit to this big brain, because big brains are really expensive to grow and maintain, energetically expensive," said lead researcher Nancy Barrickman, a graduate student in Duke University's Department of Biological Anthropology and Anatomy.
The study, to be detailed in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Human Evolution, suggests primates basically balance the costs of growing big brains with the survival benefits they get from having stellar smarts — they live longer.
Growing a brain
By comparing brain sizes and other developmental features of 28 primate species, Barrickman and her colleagues found primates with larger brains take longer to reach sexual maturity.
The researchers focused on primates living in the wild, because captive species tend to grow up faster, a phenomenon that would skew results. For humans, the team studied the Ache, a tropical forest culture in eastern Paraguay.
This time-consuming bulking of the brain better be worth it: "In order to pay off all that time you spent growing up," Barrickman said, "either you live a long time and have lots of kids over that life span, or you reproduce really fast. Either way you're getting a lot of offspring."
The analyses showed big brain size is linked with longevity rather than reproductive rate.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

All Right Then

SuperKos, Grand Poohbah of the Fauxgressives, doesn't consider Hillary Clinton a Democrat anymore.

SuperKos: Clinton isn't a Democrat anymore. There's your marching orders.

QCoFM: Hmm. That seems unnecessarily divisive.

SuperKos: Divisive? How is it divisive?

QCoFM: Well, it seems to me like it's potentially pretty alienating of the millions of Democrats who have voted for Clinton during the primary.

SuperKos: Oh, they're not Democrats anymore, either.

QCoFM: Ah, I see. This is your new message of unity and hope and change and post-partisanship, then?

SuperKos: Yeah. Pass it on.

QCoFM: I'll get right on that.

Open Letter: Dear B & H

Dear B & H,

Wow, things are really getting heated up, aren't they? And it's not even summer yet! Just imagine when this thing goes blockbuster…
Anyway, I just want to get this bit of advice out into the ether of the world wide web.

The two of you have worked your whole life for the moment you are in right now. I know we keep focusing on November, but it's right now that you can accomplish greater inroads towards positive change. Right now, you have the national spotlight and therefore the two of you have the ability to shape the national dialogue. When it comes down to one nominee down the road, it will be once again be Us vs. Them: the Roves, Cheneys, McCains of this world who want absolute control and go about it with brute force, and their my way or the highway mentality.

But that's later. Now, it's the Hillary and Barack show. And we like it. There's tension, there's loyalty and rivalry. But overall, there's a brighter, more hopeful message for what our collective futures could be. So, let this play out. Have your little spats and ruff-n-tumbles, but don't forget that you are on the same team. Your spreading a message, and it's at a culminative period where you can both shout it louder than ever before.

Your both great characters – the Lavern and Shirley of politics. Engage us in new ways. Think about your appearances together in new ways. Be celebrities, be leaders, and not just politicians hitting us over the head with school yard arguments.

Define the Democratic message. Make it so clear, so definitive, so overwhelming, that we'll just completely outshine whatever song-n-dance McCain decides to do.

All I'm saying, let's take this process to a new level.

Sincerely,
KRB

chumby


The chumby is a compact device that displays useful and entertaining information from the web: news, photos, music, celebrity gossip, weather, box scores, blogs — using your wireless Internet connection. Always on, it shows — nonstop — what's online that matters to you.
Plug it in, connect to your wireless network, and use your computer to choose a playlist of "widgets" (the bite-sized applications that run on a chumby). And if, say, you want to see news, the surf report, and traffic in the morning, and animations, web cams and eBay auctions at night, you can group widgets in "channels." Watch constantly updated info, or use interactive widgets that take advantage of its touchscreen or motion sensor. You can share widgets and send ecards to other people's chumbys.



what do you think?

Sen. Obama's Handwriting Appears On Questionnaire Supporting Total Handgun Ban

Tonight, Sen. Obama flatly denied his handwriting appeared on a questionnaire where he expressed his support for a total gun ban:
Gibson: But do you still favor the registration of guns? Do still you favor the licensing of guns? And in 1996, you - your campaign issued a questionnaire. And your writing was on the questionnaire that said you favored a ban on handguns.
Obama: No, my writing was not on that particular questionnaire, Charlie. As I've said, I have never favored an all-out ban on hand handguns
That's not the case, you can see his handwriting on the very questionnaire here:

The entire questionnaire is available here.
More on this story, including the Obama campaign's initial denial he ever saw the questionnaire, here.

CHENEY IN SHADES: 'BITTER MAN'


by Mark Silva

“You’d be amazed at how many guys want to go fishing with me these days,’’ said Vice President Dick Cheney, donning a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses – like the ones that offered up a reflection that created much speculation on the Internet recently.

That was no naked lady reflected in the sunglasses in the photo of Cheney flyfishing on the White House Web-site – it was hands on a fly rod. But that was, for sure, the vice president of the United States on stage at the annual dinner of the Radio and Television Correspondents last night in Washington.

Cheney said he felt welcome: “Obviously you’re not the kind to look down on a bitter man who clings to his guns,’’ he said.

OK, so that was a shot at Barack Obama’s now-famous comment on the “bitterness’’ of working-class voters. Cheney also got off a shot at Hillary Clinton’s shot of whisky on the campaign trail: “Did you see that footage of Hillary knocking back that shot with a beer chaser? People say she did it like an and old pro. I didn’t realize she’d been in the Senate that long. Looked like she replaced Mark Penn with Johnnie Walker.’’

Cheney had met with Pope Benedict XVI earlier in the day. “I spent the morning with one infallible authority, and now I get to spend an evening with a thousand of them,’’ he told the correspondents. He had enjoyed his counsel with the Pope, he said – “It’s rare that I run into somebody who’s heard more secrets than I have.’’

He confided in the pontiff “that I have been thinking a lot of unkind thoughts about the news media.’’ Cheney told him, “I don’t think they like me.’ He told me: 'So?'’’

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Children's book explains Mommy's plastic surgery


Posted by Jessica
Children's book explains Mommy's plastic surgery
A new children's book, My Beautiful Mommy, (being released on Mother's Day, no less) aims to explain to kids why their mom is getting plastic surgery.

It features a perky mother explaining to her child why she's having cosmetic surgery (a nose job and tummy tuck). Naturally, it has a happy ending: mommy winds up "even more" beautiful than before, and her daughter is thrilled.
Okay, I can understand the need to explain to children why a parent is getting surgery, but this...well, it's just ridiculous.

"My Beautiful Mommy" is aimed at kids ages four to seven and features a plastic surgeon named Dr. Michael (a musclebound superhero type) and a girl whose mother gets a tummy tuck, a nose job and breast implants. Before her surgery the mom explains that she is getting a smaller tummy: "You see, as I got older, my body stretched and I couldn't fit into my clothes anymore. Dr. Michael is going to help fix that and make me feel better." Mom comes home looking like a slightly bruised Barbie doll with demure bandages on her nose and around her waist.
Superhero, huh? I suppose that should come as no surprise, given the book is written by a Florida-based plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael Salzhauer. Now, I'm certainly not going to sit in judgment of those who get plastic surgery - but do we really have to teach our kids that we need it to "feel better" and be "beautiful"? Ugh.

AP photographer freed by US military after 2 years


By ROBERT H. REID | Associated Press Writer
8:32 AM CDT, April 16, 2008
BAGHDAD - The U.S. military released Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein on Wednesday after holding him for more than two years without filing formal charges.
Hussein, 36, was handed over to AP colleagues at a checkpoint in Baghdad. He was taken to the site aboard a prisoner bus and left U.S. custody wearing a traditional Iraqi robe. He was smiling and appeared in good health.
"I want to thank all the people working in AP ... I have spent two years in prison even though I was innocent. I thank everybody," Hussein said after being freed.
AP President Tom Curley said Hussein "is safely back with AP and his family, and it is a great relief to us."
"Our heartfelt thanks to all of you who supported us during this difficult and challenging period," Curley said. "Bilal will now be spending some quiet time with his family and resting up."
The U.S. military had accused Hussein of links to insurgents, but did not file specific charges. In December, military authorities brought Hussein's case into the Iraqi court system for possible trial.
But an Iraqi judicial panel this month dismissed all proceedings against Hussein and ordered his release. A U.S. military statement on Monday said Hussein is no longer considered a threat.
Hussein and the AP denied any improper contacts, saying Hussein was doing the normal work of a photographer in a war zone. He was detained by U.S. Marines on April 12, 2006 in Ramadi, about 70 miles west of Baghdad.
Hussein was a member of the AP team that won a Pulitzer Prize for photography in 2005, and his detention drew protests from rights groups and press freedom advocates.
The photographer was embraced by family members, including his brother and mother, and received flowers. Hussein called other well-wishers by phone as relatives prepared a feast in his honor.

Barack Obama can thank 'citizen journalist' for 'bitter' tempest

A Huffington Post item by one Mayhill Fowler is the latest reminder of how untraditional reporters and news outlets have changed the nature of journalism and politics.
By James Rainey, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
April 15, 2008
Mayhill Fowler grew up with a mother who didn't like her talking politics in the home. As an adult, she faced publishers who wouldn't put her writing in print.
She found an outlet for her twin passions of writing and politics last year on the liberal Huffington Post website.
Fowler concedes that her early reports from the Democratic presidential campaign trail didn't produce anything particularly newsworthy.
But that all changed Friday, when her report on Barack Obama’s statements about small-town Americans -- that job losses cause them to become "bitter" and to "cling to guns or religion" or other views -- thrust the 61-year-old Oakland woman into a political storm that continued to rage Monday.
Her article caused his election opponents to charge him with elitism, and it exposed the neophyte "citizen journalist" to waves of vitriol.
The furor is the latest reminder of how untraditional reporters and news outlets have changed the nature of journalism and politics. Fowler, a contributor to Obama's campaign, gained access to an event deemed "closed" to mainstream journalists, and the resulting story forced big news outlets to take notice.
"We have entered new territory and the rules are not all clear," said Larry Pryor, a USC journalism professor. "You have to assume that everything is on the record. There's no getting around that anymore."
Fowler said Monday that she had received about 200 e-mail messages that ranged from "creepy to threatening," including a few death threats from purported Obama supporters. She said about 25 e-mails praised her.
Writers on the liberal website Daily Kos took up the complaints, accusing Fowler of intentionally undermining Obama and feigning support for the candidate to gain access to the San Francisco fundraiser where he made the controversial remarks April 6.
"It's like the liberal blogosphere has issued a fatwa against me," Fowler said in a telephone interview.
She said she was concerned enough about the angry response to her story that she did not want to reveal exactly where she would be reporting in Pennsylvania in advance of next week's primary. Fowler does, however, intend to continue covering the Democratic race. "But with some caution," she said.
Fowler, who is married to a lawyer and has two daughters in graduate school, said she began writing at 50. She has written a thriller, a mystery novel and a nonfiction account of caring for her ailing mother-in-law -- all unpublished.
Then last year, the Huffington Post put out a call to its readers to become citizen journalists, covering the campaign for its new Off the Bus feature. Fowler became one of the project's more prolific contributors.
She attended the Pacific Heights fundraiser after asking an Obama official she knew for an invitation. Although the event had been designated "closed press" by the campaign, she said she openly recorded the candidate's remarks. Others videotaped the session, as evidenced by clips that later appeared on YouTube.
Fowler said she initially didn't expect to file a report, as Obama did not diverge from his typical remarks. She got more interested as the candidate talked about the qualities he would look for in a vice president and about the mind-set of Midwesterners who have suffered years of economic losses.
Fowler posted Obama's vice presidential musings on April 7. She also talked to Off the Bus project director Amanda Michel about Obama's provocative response when a supporter asked him what to expect in Pennsylvania.
Obama attempted to account for the many disappointments Midwesterners have experienced from the government. "You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them," he said, in just part of his lengthy response.
"And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are going to regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
Fowler said she thought the comment was condescending, even elitist.
"I was thinking to myself, 'Oh my God, he is confirming to my fellow Californians the worst stereotypes they have of small-town America.' I was just dismayed."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

grow

Cops kill cougar on North Side

UPDATE:
Neighborhood stunned as animal cornered, shot in back alley
By Jeremy Manier and Tina Shah | Tribune reporters
11:33 PM CDT, April 14, 2008
A cougar ran loose in Chicago on Monday for the first time since the city's founding in the 19th Century. But by day's end, the animal lay dead in a back alley on the North Side, shot by police who said they feared it was turning to attack.
No one knew where the 150-pound cat came from, though on Saturday Wilmette police had received four reports of a cougar roaming that suburb, roughly 15 miles from the site of Monday's shooting.
Whatever its origin, the 5-foot-long cougar's unlikely journey ended in the Roscoe Village neighborhood, where residents reported sightings throughout the day to the Chicago Commission on Animal Care and Control. Resident Ben Greene said police cornered the cougar shortly before 6 p.m. in his side yard on the 3400 block of North Hoyne Avenue.
Greene said he heard a volley of gunfire as he was bathing his 10-month-old son. His wife, Kate, ran upstairs screaming with their 3-year-old son, and they all took cover in a back room.
"At first, I'm thinking there's a gun battle in the street," said Greene, who owns a trucking company.
As the shots stopped, Greene heard the police yelling, "We got him! We got him!" He ventured downstairs and moved on his knees to the front door, where he saw police on his lawn. The officers had shot holes in an air conditioning unit on the side of Greene's house while aiming for the tan cougar, which died in the alley near Greene's garage.
Chicago Police Capt. Mike Ryan said the cougar tried to attack the officers when they tried to contain it. Police said no one was hurt and they did not know the cougar's gender.
"It was turning on the officers," Ryan said, adding that no officers were hurt. "There was no way to take it into custody."
Normally reclusive creatures, most cougars retreated to habitats in the Rocky Mountains and Black Hills early in American history. But some researchers believe overcrowding in recent years has driven the animals back east.
Two cougars have been killed in Illinois in the last decade. In 2000, a train struck and killed one in Randolph County in southern Illinois, and in 2004 a bow hunter killed a cougar in Mercer County in western Illinois.
But in the previous century, there had been no confirmed sightings in Illinois of a cougar, which is also known as a puma, mountain lion or panther. The last known appearance of the animal was in 1864 at the southern end of the state.
The Wilmette and Chicago sightings capped a flurry of recent cougar activity in the area, though no one knows if that was all the same animal. Several people reported seeing a cougar at the end of March in North Chicago, about 20 miles north of Wilmette. A Wisconsin trapper came face to face with a cougar in January, about 25 miles from the Illinois border.
That trapper said the cat bounded away 12 feet at a leap.
Starting early Monday, frightened Roscoe Village residents began calling police with reports of a cougar which was bounding over high fences in the neighborhood. Greene said his wife got an e-mail alert about the animal Monday morning through a neighborhood watch list.
Frank Hirschmann, 50, of the 3500 block of North Seeley Avenue saw the animal pass by his home.
"I was sitting on the porch, and all of a sudden he crossed the street, and hurdled a 6-foot fence like nothing," Hirschmann said. He said he then ran into his house and watched police chase the cougar on foot.
Animal control officials were not sure if the cougar was wild or an escaped pet, though they noted that it is illegal to keep the animals as pets. It's unclear how a cougar could have traveled south into Chicago from Wilmette, but the areas are connected by a Metra train route, on which the cougar could have walked, and a waterway.
Ben Greene's neighbor, Romeo Dorazio, had just gotten home from dinner when he heard about 10 gunshots.
"I knew it was really nearby. I walked to the window and saw a cougar," Dorazio said. "It was the freakiest thing I ever saw."
James Reynolds was sitting in his living room when he heard what seemed like "fireworks popping."
The 45-year-old went out in his back yard and saw a cougar attempting to jump from his neighbor's fence to his. He knew it was a cougar because he had seen it on the Discovery Channel, he said.
Officers shouted for him to go inside his house, and he saw them kill the cougar in about 10 shots.
A spokesman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources said Monday that the state's current wildlife code does not protect cougars because they are not considered a normal part of the ecosystem here. The official said the only state regulations that might come into play would be gun ordinances, but because police did the shooting that issue is moot.
Greene said he agreed with the police decision to kill the cougar.
"As far as I witnessed, they did a pretty good job," Greene said. "Hypothetically, if there were kids in the yard and the cougar jumps in, what would the cougar have done?"

Monday, April 14, 2008

ASNE Survey: Over Last Year, Dailies Shrank Their Newsrooms By Biggest Margin In Three Decades

U.S. daily newspapers shrank their newsrooms by 2,400 journalists in the past year, a 4.4% workforce decrease that's the biggest year-over-year cut in ranks since the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) began conducting its annual census 30 years ago.

ASNE said 52,600 people work full-time in daily newspaper newsrooms -- a number that has not been that low since 1984.

Among those leaving dailies in the past year were a net of nearly 300 fewer journalists of color than worked in newsrooms this time last year, ASNE found in the census released Sunday.

Because of the wave of layoffs and hiring freezes, the percentage of journalists of color in daily newsrooms actually grew by a tiny margin, to 13.52% from 13.43 percent of all journalists, according to
ASNE.

"The numbers represent a dual reality: It's mildly encouraging that the minority percentage held steady despite difficult economic times that are causing many cutbacks," ASNE President Gilbert Bailon, the editorial page editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, said in a statement. "On the other hand, the total number of minority journalists employed at daily newspapers declined by nearly 300 people, which follows the pattern for the overall newsroom workforce. Such a trend will not help newspapers in their quest to reach parity with the minority population by 2025."

A Libertarian Surge?


Compact and Feisty Bob Barr, 59, probably will seek and get the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party, which convenes in Denver on Memorial Day weekend. Given the recent fund-raising prowess of a kindred spirit—Ron Paul's campaign for the Republican nomination siphoned up $35 million, mostly off the Internet—libertarians are feeling their oats. Come November, Barr conceivably could be to John McCain what Ralph Nader was to Al Gore in 2000—ruinous. Nader was a weak third-party candidate but was the most consequential in American history. He won only 2,882,955 popular votes nationwide (2.7 percent), but 97,488 of them were in Florida, where, because of Nader, George W. Bush won by 537 votes.

The son of a soldier, Barr graduated from high school in Tehran. In 1994, he was elected to Congress as the Republicans, led by another pugnacious Georgian, Newt Gingrich, ended 40 years of Democratic control of the House. Four years later, Barr, a former prosecutor inflamed by charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, was central to the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Since losing his seat in 2002, he has been active in the National Rifle Association and the American Civil Liberties Union, an unusual tandem.

Shane Cory, the Libertarian Party's executive director, knows that directing libertarians is like herding cats—almost a contradiction in terms. But he thinks his party is upwardly mobile. In 2004, its presidential candidate received just 397,265 votes, a mere .32 percent of the national popular vote. The party did best in Indiana (18,058 votes, .73 percent). But in no state was the Libertarian vote larger than the winning candidate's margin of victory. This year, however, Cory thinks the party can far surpass its best national performance—921,299 votes (1.1 percent of the total) in 1980. It has recruited 600 down-ballot candidates around the nation (including Michael Munger, chairman of the political-science department at Duke, who is running for governor of North Carolina) and expects to have 1,500 by Election Day.

The party's immediate challenge is to win ballot access. Barr and Cory say the party almost certainly will be on the ballot in 48 states, and perhaps on West Virginia's, but probably not Oklahoma's. Although Libertarian candidates have been on all 50 several times, the two major parties use laws and litigation to impede ballot access.

In 1968, George Wallace's supporters, with little national organization and negligible financing, got him on all states' ballots on the American Independent Party line. California required 66,000 signatures—not a daunting total but the signatures had to be gathered in 1967, and all signatories had to fill out a two-page legal-size form to register as members of Wallace's new party. More than 100,000 did. Ohio required Wallace supporters to gather 433,000 signatures—in 10 weeks. When that total was surpassed, an Ohio court ruled that Wallace's party was "fictional" because it was a phenomenon of spontaneous combustion. Wallace stopped execrating the U.S. Supreme Court long enough to ask it—successfully—to order Ohio to put him on the ballot.

Wallace had the three traits that, when combined, make a third-party candidate formidable. He had a burning issue (national disorder that he blamed on the civil-rights revolution), a regional base (the South) and a vivid personality. Barr's issues are national. They include limiting government, defending civil liberties during the war on terror, opposing preventive wars and "nation-building," and combating the elephantitis of the presidency. He especially opposes the "unitary theory of the presidency," which he says is: Where the Constitution gives the president power (e.g., national security), no other branch of government has any constitutional authority to limit it.

Brainscans of future thought

Researchers using brain scans have shown that decisions are made in the subconscious several seconds before we're even consciously aware of them. Scientists at Berlin's Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience used fMRI to watch their subjects' brains as they were asked to tap a button whenever they wanted to. Turns out, the prefrontal cortex lit up seven seconds before the volunteers ever hit the button. They published their research in the scientific journal Nature Neuroscience. From New Scientist:
"It seems that the brain is making the decision before the person themselves," (says neuroscientist John-Dylan Haynes.)

Although we make some choices in a heartbeat, Haynes thinks his experiment captures the dawdling tempo of daily life.

"In most cases, we decide internally in a self-paced way: 'Now I want to get some orange juice' or 'I'm going to get some apple juice instead','" he says

Our brains might pick beverages long before we realise, but Haynes thinks such decisions are still a matter of choice. "My conscious will is consistent with my unconscious will – it's the same process," he says.

Wilmette put on cougar alert

4 reports of sightings spur cops' warning
By Alexa Aguilar | Tribune reporter
9:48 PM CDT, April 13, 2008
Two weeks after several reported sightings of a cougar on the prowl in North Chicago, four Wilmette residents are convinced they saw a big cat, too.
Wilmette police said they received four reports Saturday morning of a cougar in the 300 block of 3rd Street near the CTA Linden station.
Police searched the area, but found no sign of a cougar.
"I've seen deer, opossums, raccoons, foxes and coyotes in this neighborhood," said Gail Teague, a Wilmette resident who lives on 3rd Street. "But a cougar? Now that would be unusual."
About cougars
ENCOUNTERING A COUGAR

- Pick up children immediately.

- Do not approach it. Give the cougar an avenue for escape.

- Do not run; this can trigger an attack.

- Back away without turning your back on it.

- Do all you can to look bigger. Don't hide or crouch down.

COUGAR FACTS

Habitat: Rocky canyons, tropical rain forests, prairies, deserts, forests

Range: North and South America

Length: 7-9 feet Weight: 80-230 pounds

Life span: 15-20 years

Diet: Deer, elk and small mammals
So unusual that there have only been two confirmed cougars found in Illinois in more than a century. In 2000, a train struck and killed a male cougar in Randolph County and in 2004, a bow hunter in Mercer County killed a 95-pound male. Before that, the last confirmed sighting in Illinois of a wild cougar was in southern Illinois in 1862.

But wildlife experts say there is some preliminary evidence that cougars are prowling eastward from their normal habitats west of the Rocky Mountains. In January, a trapper in a Wisconsin town 25 miles from the Illinois border came face-to-face in a barn with a big cat that fled into the woods. Officials tested blood the animal left behind and confirmed it was a cougar.
At the end of March, several North Chicago residents, including a police officer, reported cougar sightings. Officials searched, but found nothing. They did discover the paw print of a "very big cat."
North Chicago is about 20 miles north of Wilmette.
In 2004, there were dozens of reports from people in Lake County who were convinced they saw the big cat. Officials hired a trapper to search out the animal, and schools kept children indoors for recess. A cougar was never found, and officials described some of the sightings as coyotes or large dogs.
Teague said Sunday that she heard the news of the cougar spotting from a neighbor. Other residents expressed surprise and some skepticism about the sighting, but said they would keep their eyes peeled nonetheless.
Wilmette police are asking residents that they not approach the cougar if they see it and to immediately call police.

Dear Sen. Obama, Campaign Staff, and Your Media Cohorts: Have You No Shame?

Damndest coincidence, that is. Isn’t it. That Barack would use the “Annie Oakley” line, and here we see a photo of Annie Oakley herself smack on the front page of HuffPo. Uncanny, it is. Simply uncanny.
Then there was Talking Points Memo’s front page...we noticed an odd similarity in two front pages this afternoon: HUGE headlines about Hillary and guns. First, there was the Huffington Post’s front page And then it all made sense. I opened Mark Halperin’s The Page blog for Time magazine, and saw these blaring headlines:
After remaining silent all day Sunday, Obama lashes out against Clinton in Steelton, Pennsylvania.
“She knows better. Shame on her. Shame on her.”
Insists he does relate to small-town Americans, and mocks Clinton’s sudden vocal support for gun rights:
“Hillary Clinton is out there like she’s on the duck blind every Sunday. She’s packing a six-shooter. Come on, she knows better. That’s some politics being played by Hillary Clinton.”
Back to the Original: This is not the first time we’ve noticed strikingly similar headlines and stories on pro-Obama sites like Huffington Post and Talking Point Memo. Halperin’s big red headlines — about Hillary Clinton “on the duck blind every Sunday” and that she’s “packing a six-shooter” — come straight from Obama’s mouth, quoted in a Fox News article.
The similarities cannot be overlooked: Have you also noticed how that the anti-Hillary and pro-Obama stories leading the Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo are exactly the same? We are not just talking a mere coincidence. Day after day both sites appear to parrot the same “talking points”? For those who are at least 50 years old this comes across like an American version of Pravda and Izvestia. For you youngsters, Pravda and Izvestia were the “news” outlets for the Soviet Union. They functioned pure and simple as propaganda machine.
I think the Izvestia and Pravda comparison does not really fit either the Huffington Post or Talking Point Memo. But their collective behavior and cheer leading does call to mind the writings of Lewis Carroll and the antics of Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
Here are some more questions:
Although both websites have different editors, how close are they to David Axelrod, the Obama campaign’s media message manipulator?
How do they receive the Obama campaign talking points–via email or on a phone conference or both?
And why do both sites so cavalierly dismiss Barack’s claim that “folks in Pennsylvania, frustrated by the economies of Bill Clinton and George Bush’ are bitter and seek solace in religion, guns or bigotry?” Why do both find it so easy to excuse words like this that, if uttered by Hillary, would in their view justify a political lynching?
Could it be the money? Consider the possibility that a big Obama money bundler, Ken Lehrer, also happens to be a major investor in Huffington Post. Hmmm. Coincidence? Would you be shocked to learn that another big Obama bundler, Reed Hundt — we hear in whispered discussions — is a close confidant of Josh Marshall?
I do not challenge the right of either Arianna Huffington or Josh Marshall to put up what they want. That’s the beauty of having their own blog. But I do think it is important to disclose any close political contacts with the Obama or Clinton campaign if you are shilling for them. Here at No Quarter, we do monitor pro-Hillary blogs. But we have no connection whatsoever to the campaign. And this blog’s owner, Larry Johnson, has made it quite clear that he is not seeking nor will he accept a position in a Clinton Administration if Hillary is elected.
Perhaps we should give Obama’s campaign credit for having a better machine for manipulating the blogosphere and the press. What bothers me is the depth of political manipulation directed against Hillary and the willingness of the media to participate in the print equivalent of mob violence. Even someone like Mark Halperin appears to have snagged a cup of kool aid today. He links to The Page byFox News, which quotes Barack Obama’s outburst today:
Clinton called Obama’s claim that economically depressed Pennsylvania voters cling to God and guns “elitist” and “demeaning,” and talked about her duck-hunting experience in Arkansas. Obama sounded skeptical. “She’s running around talking about how this is an insult to sportsmen. How she’s, she’s valuing the second amendment,” he said mockingly. “She’s talking like she’s Annie Oakley. Hillary Clinton’s out there in a duck blind every Sunday. She’s packing a six shooter. Come on!”
Now where did I hear that before?
::::::::::::::::
By the way, I do not get guidance from top Clinton campaign staffers. However, a few weeks ago, I finally got around to calling the Clinton press office, and they kindly signed me up to receive their press releases. Anyone can sign up to get their releases to the media. Here is tonight’s:
Response to Sen. Obama’s Outburst
Phil Singer, Deputy Communications Director, issued the following statement tonight:
For months, Barack Obama and his campaign have relentlessly attacked Hillary Clinton’s character and integrity by using Republican talking points from the 1990s. The shame is his.
Sen. Clinton does know better — she knows better than to condescend and talk down to voters like Senator Obama did. Senator Obama’s outburst won’t change the fact that he has embraced his characterization of the millions of Americans who live in small towns.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

AdFreak: Chicagoans feast on bus-shelter ad snacks

AdFreak: "People in Chicago must be starving after the long, cold winter there, as they have ravaged this bus-shelter ad from ampm convenience stores to retrieve the snacks inside. Ogilvy put the ad up with the idea of slowly taking the snacks away over a four-week period, to reveal the tagline, “Too much good stuff.” Area vandals shortened the campaign’s run to two days. Curiously, they didn’t seem to like the Doritos much. See the pre-vandalized ad here. "

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lehman's - Products for Simple, Self-sufficient Living

Lehman's - Products for Simple, Self-sufficient Living: "This little pressure washer is portable and quick. It cleans clothing with very little water and soap in only two minutes! It's not magic, it's science. When warm water is sealed in the airtight drum, the heat causes the air to expand, which builds pressure. This drives the soap and water into the clothing and combines with agitation to "blow" the dirt out.

Put warm water and detergent into the drum with the clothing, rotate for 1-2 minutes, then dump and rinse. Ideal for delicate fabrics (use lukewarm water). Maximum load: 5 adult shirts or 1 pair of jeans. Works best on small loads. Detailed instructions included, 1-year warranty. 17"Hx12"W, 4 lb. USA made."

Another Installment in... Our Dying Planet: Something is killing our bats


Last year, some 8,000 to 11,000 bats died in several Albany, N.Y.—area cave hibernacula, more than half the wintering bat population in those caves. Many of the dead bats had a white fungus. This year, biologists are seeing the white fungus on bats hibernating in New York, southwest Vermont, northwest Connecticut and western Massachusetts.

At least one of the affected species, the Indiana bat, is protected by the Endangered Species Act. Little brown bats are sustaining the largest number of deaths, as well as northern long-eared, eastern pipistrelle, small-footed and other bat species using the same caves.

Bats with this white–nose syndrome have the white fungus on their noses and occasionally other parts of their bodies. It is unknown if the fungus is causing the deaths or is symptomatic of a disease. Human health implications are not known; there is no information indicating that people have been affected after exposure to the white fungus.

The states of New York, Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts are investigating the geographical extent of the outbreak, revisiting sites to determine the amount of mortality, and providing bat specimens to laboratories throughout the United States for analysis to help determine the cause of bat deaths. The bat conservation community is concerned and involved in exploring the possible cause of the disease and raising funds to assist in the research. National and regional caving organizations are coordinating with state biologists to help assess the situation, providing the most current information to the caving community regarding advisories, and documenting cave visitations to determine if cavers could be spreading the cause of the outbreak.

Blackwater Bulks Up Air Power Using Little-Known Company


Private security contractor Blackwater Worldwide has purchased a light attack counterinsurgency aircraft, and over two dozen other aircraft, under the name of an obscure aviation company.
An Embraer Super Tucano was placed on the U.S. civil aircraft registry on February 21, 2008 under the name of EP Aviation LLC. Additionally, 28 other aircraft have been registered to this company, most over the past few months. The list includes 14 Bell 412 helicopters, as well as a number of fixed wing aircraft.
While Blackwater hasn't advertised this news, neither is it keeping it a state secret (EP Aviation isn't the sneakiest way to hide connections to Blackwater owner Erik Prince). A spokesperson for Blackwater, in fact, confirmed to Danger Room that EP Aviation is an affiliate of Blackwater.
Jane's Defence Weekly first reported last year that Blackwater was trying to get an import license for the Super Tucano. (The Super Tucano's recent registration was first reported as a small item in the April issue of Air Forces Monthly.) But what isn't clear is why the company would register these aircraft under the name EP Aviation LLC. After all, Blackwater has another, better known, affiliate, Presidential Airways, which also has a number of registered aircraft.
So what is EP Aviation LLC? The company, located in McLean, VA is described as providing "nonscheduled air transportation." The company's phone number is the same number in McLean (and physical address) as that of the Prince Group, whose holdings include Blackwater, among a number of other related companies.
What are all these aircraft for? Well, the Super Tucano makes sense; it could be used to provide counterinsurgency aircraft training to the U.S. government. As for the other aircraft, one blog, which doesn't note the Blackwater connection, says the aircraft are part of the FBI's contractor fleet.
Anyhow, I'm going to rely on the plane spotters out there to use the N numbers in the FAA registry to track these aircraft.

Nubrella Offers Dorky Hands-Free Umbrella



The Nubrella may as well be spelled N00b-rella for all the sex appeal it has. It's a hands-free brolly designed to not only keep your hair perfectly placed, but to protect your entire upper body from the elements.
This "umbrella of the 21st century" attaches via shoulder straps and has a stabilizing handle. Because it wraps around the torso, the $60 canopy won't catch the wind and turn inside out: the makers claim that it will withstand gusts of up to 50mph. What you should really watch out for, though, is the stones that will be thrown at you by gangs of laughing children.
Still, the company remains optimistic that this ridiculous device will become popular:

Lured Toward the Right Choice

If you want people to use less energy, you could make it very expensive--or you could just let them know how much they use in comparison with their neighbors. When that bit of information was added to electric bills in San Marcos, Calif., heavy users quickly lowered their consumption, even though no one had asked them to. To borrow a term from behavioral economist Richard Thaler and legal scholar Cass Sunstein, the good people of San Marcos had been nudged.
In NUDGE: IMPROVING DECISIONS ABOUT HEALTH, WEALTH, AND HAPPINESS (Yale University Press; 293 pages), the two University of Chicago professors sketch a new approach to public policy that takes into account the odd realities of human behavior, like the deep and unthinking tendency to conform, even in areas--like energy consumption--where conformity is irrelevant. For 30 years, Thaler has documented the ways people act illogically: we eat more from larger plates, care twice as much about losing money as about gaining it, fret over rare events like plane crashes instead of common ones like car accidents. That research underpins Nudge's argument that as policymakers go about their jobs--whether regulating the mortgage industry or organizing food in school cafeterias--they should design programs that give people choices but also invisibly coax them away from bad ones. Putting healthful food at the front of a cafeteria line, for example, leads kids to take more of it, even with nothing to stop them from picking the chips and cookies farther down.
Thaler and Sunstein, longtime colleagues and friends, dub this "libertarian paternalism." The deliberate oxymoron is meant to exalt individual freedom (the authors use their system to explain how one might structure school vouchers or privatize Social Security) while protecting people from cognitive and social forces that lead them to decisions that even they would describe as poor. We are all like houseguests who eat from a bowl of cashews, then thank our host for removing the nuts so that we don't spoil our dinner.
Thaler has been putting these ideas to work for years in corporate retirement-savings plans. Some 30% of people eligible for such plans fail to sign up, even though companies often match contributions--free money, as it were. As a result of Thaler's work, many firms have switched to automatic enrollment. In the language of Nudge, the plans have moved from "opt in" to "opt out." That turns people's inertia-like tendency to stick with the default option--whether or not it's a good one--into an advantage.
The same "choice architecture," as the authors call it, could be used to bolster the nation's ranks of organ donors. In one survey, only 64% of people wishing to be organ donors had marked that choice on their driver's license. If, instead of making people choose to donate, states asked them to check a box if they chose not to, participation rates would skyrocket--from 42% to 82% in one experiment. Even just forcing people to make a decision one way or another (with no default) boosts participation to 79%. More lives saved, and more people following through on a desire to be donors. That's a nudge that can pack a punch.

Affirmative Action for Boys


By NANCY GIBBS
Back in olden days--in 1974, to be exact--Mr. T. Harding Jones of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton lamented how "coeducation has ruined the mystique and the camaraderies that used to exist" on campus. Admitting girls to Princeton, he predicted, was "going to prove a very unfortunate thing."
I landed at college a few years later, at the very moment the number of female undergraduates nationally reached parity with that of men--though my school was still 3-to-2 male. Like my peers, I suspect, for every pterodactyl who thought I had no business being there, I found three gentle mentors who smoothed the way.
But a gender gap has reopened: if girls were once excluded because they somehow weren't good enough, they now are rejected because they're too good. Or at least they are so good, compared with boys, that admissions committees at some private colleges have problems managing a balanced freshman class. Roughly 58% of undergraduates nationally are female, and the girl-boy ratio will probably tip past 60-40 in a few years. The divide is even worse for black males, who are outnumbered on campus by black females 2 to 1.
While educators debate whether there is a "boy crisis" that warrants a wholesale change in how to teach, colleges are quietly stripping the pastels from brochures and launching Xbox tournaments to try to close the gap in the quality and quantity of boys applying. "It's a gross generalization that slacker boys get in over high-performing girls," says Jennifer Delahunty, dean of admissions at Kenyon College, "but developmentally, girls bring more to the table than boys, and the disparity has gotten greater in recent years."
Of course, admitting this is taboo, as Delahunty learned two years ago. She was in marathon committee meetings, stacking glorious girls on the waiting list while less accomplished boys wiggled through, when she got an e-mail informing her that her own daughter had been wait-listed. The experience inspired her to write a confessional Op-Ed, "To All the Girls I've Rejected," for the New York Times, responses to which lit up her inbox. "It pissed off the feminists and the misogynists--I got both sides of the spectrum," she told me. "The misogynists said women already have too many advantages. And the feminists said, How dare you not treat women like men." But what most amazed her was the reaction of young women: by and large, they assumed this is just how things work. "Why aren't they marching in the streets? That's the part that slays me," Delahunty says. "It isn't fair, and young women should be saying something about it not being fair."
But when it comes to private-college admissions, the law is murky, the process opaque, the needs of the institution primary. This includes ensuring that the freshman class is not 70-30 female, because that makes the school less attractive to male and female applicants alike. U.S. News & World Report found that the admissions rate of men at the College of William and Mary, for example, was an average of 12 percentage points higher than that of women--because, as the admissions director memorably told the magazine, "even women who enroll ... expect to see men on campus. It's not the College of Mary and Mary; it's the College of William and Mary."
But the gap persists on campus, where women tend to win more honors, join more clubs, do more volunteer work. "We sit and talk about why no men are applying for leadership roles," says Jason Zelesky, associate dean of students at Clark University in Massachusetts, which is 60-40 female. "Do we need to concentrate more on traditional masculine words--'Be a leader on campus,' as opposed to 'Come join our team'?" He's launching a "men helping men" support program to help boys adjust to their minority status.
I wonder if there's a price boys pay for the "soft bigotry of low expectations." The college deans I talked to worry that there is some message boys are not receiving, role models they are missing, that speaks to the importance of an education both broad and deep. "I found it harder to talk to guys in interviews, even after 40 years," says Haverford dean Greg Kannerstein, "because they seem narrower in their interests than the women." He wonders if schools and parents have wrapped boys in cotton, focused on "support" at the expense of accountability. "For a long time, guys were left on their own, which was not so great either," he says. "Now maybe we're shielding them a little too much." That would be the crowning irony, if it turns out that girls emerge stronger somehow from having the game rigged against them.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

UPS Makes Right-Turn to Increased Efficiency

Written By: Seyth Miersma
It’s a right-turn world for UPS, and a world that is ever increasing in both efficiency and profitability.
With a fleet of 95,000 trucks delivering packages across the country everyday, every small step UPS can make to reduce waste in time, gas, and money for each vehicle become dramatically important. That is one of the reasons that the company utilizes a software program called “package flow,” that, among other tasks, maps out routes for drivers that place a premium on right-hand turns.
With left turns commonly requiring more time and gas to execute, UPS sees the right-turn as just one way of increasing its overall efficiency. The software won’t (we’re told) take the left-turn ban to such extremes as to make routes ridiculous, but does strive to avoid them where possible.
According to UPS spokeswoman Heather Robinson, package flow has helped to cut 28.5 million miles off delivery routes so far, saving the company three million gallons of gas, and sparing the atmosphere 31,000 metric tons of CO2.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Al Gore: New thinking on the climate crisis

In Al Gore's brand-new slideshow (premiering exclusively on TED.com), he presents evidence that the pace of climate change may be even worse than scientists were recently predicting, and challenges us to act with a sense of "generational mission" -- the kind of feeling that brought forth the civil rights movement -- to set it right. Gore's stirring presentation is followed by a brief Q&A in which he is asked for his verdict on the current political candidates' climate policies and on what role he himself might play in future.

Gender bias