Monday, June 16, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

The information came up on the website of the man we actually elected in 2000 a few minutes before 3:00 p.m. eastern.
A few hours from now I will step on stage in Detroit, Michigan to announce my support for Senator Barack Obama. From now through Election Day, I intend to do whatever I can to make sure he is elected President of the United States.

Over the next four years, we are going to face many difficult challenges -- including bringing our troops home from Iraq, fixing our economy, and solving the climate crisis. Barack Obama is clearly the candidate best able to solve these problems and bring change to America.

I've never asked members of to contribute to a political campaign before, but this moment and this election are too important to let pass without taking action.

That's why I am asking you to join me today in showing your support for Barack Obama by making a contribution to his campaign today.

That isn't a nice patina on McSame's reputation - it's tarnish and corrosion
The man who used to have wide bipartisan appeal and was most commonly described as a "maverick" has kinda turned into something of a Pinto. In a Pew Research Poll just out, the term "maverick" didn't even make the list this year when voters were asked by the Pew Research Center to sum up McCain in a single word. "Old" got the most mentions, followed by "honest," "experienced," "patriot," "conservative" and a dozen more. The words "independent," "change" or "reformer" weren't on the list either.

So who is the pariah, exactly?
A new World Public Opinion Poll shows that in the rest of the world, Bush is less trusted that Putin, and even Ahmadinejad. The only leader less popular is Musharraf. That has to sting at least a little bit.

Finally, some justice for the victims of Argentina's "Dirty War"
On Thursday of last week, Argentine federal prosecutor Felix Crous delivered his three-hour closing statement asking the three-judge tribunal to sentence Juan Lapuyole, Carlos Gallone and Miguel Timarchi - all active policemen at the time of the "Fatima Massacre" to life in prison for the kidnapping and murder of thirty people. The incident took place in 1976, during the height of the Dirty War, during which Argentina's last military government "disappeared" around 15,000 people. The defendants do not dispute the facts of the case, but they do deny their involvement (of course). For 20 years they were outside the reach of the law, thanks to an "amnesty" law that let them off the hook for their crimes against humanity, but in 2005 the law was found unconstitutional, opening the way for prosecutions against the thugs and torturers to commence. The Fatima trial is the sixth since the amnesty was overturned.

In the old west they had a name for people who did this
...they called them "road agents."

Plug-in Prius will be available for the 2010 model year
The prototype got it's North American debut at the Congressional TVA Caucus Field Hearing in Nashville. These "stepping stone" models are based on the current production model, but has an expanded Nickel-Metal-Hydride battery pack that can be charged by plugging into a standard household electrical outlet. With more electric power in reserve, the vehicle is capable of operating in pure-electric mode for longer periods of time and at speeds up to 60 mph. By 2010, Toyota will have its next generation plug-in hybrid with Lithium-Ion batteries in the testing phase, being evaluated by commercial fleets in the U.S. and elsewhere. Toyota currently has over 1.5 million hybrid vehicles on the road worldwide.

Honda, on the other hand, started producing the FCX Clarity today
The first mass-produced fuel cell car looks like any family sedan, but costs more than a Ferrarri, and the company will only make 200 of the cars over the first three years. Five have already been sold, one to Jamie Lee Curtis. Honda said even the small initial production run represented progress toward a clean-burning technology that many rejected as too exotic and too expensive to gain wide acceptance. “Basically, we can mass produce these now,” said Kazuaki Umezu, head of Honda’s Automobile New Model Center, where the FCX Clarity is built. “We are waiting for the infrastructure to catch up.”

If you cheat, you are supposed to have consequences
That is what gives a legal system credence. The first trial at the International Criminal Court at the Hague has been stopped. In a 44-page ruling released Monday, the judges presiding over the trial of Thomas Lubanga, a former warlord in Congo who stands accused of forcing children to become soldiers, said that the prosecution had withheld “significant” exculpatory evidence from the defense. As a result, they wrote, “the trial process has been ruptured to such a degree that it is now impossible to piece together the constituent elements of a fair trial.”

The next time a wingnut says the free market is always best, ask 'em what they know about the utility companies in Texas
Prices are skyrocketing in the unregulated market, companies are failing right and left, and the customers are getting screwed at every turn. As the companies fail, customers are dumped involuntarily to high-cost alternatives. In some instances, they are paying for electricity that is never delivered. At least one man has been a victim of identity theft, and the police suspect his personal data was stolen by an employee of a failed utility, and that other people were probably similarly victimized. Carol Bierdrzycki, director of the Texas Ratepayers’ Organization to Save Energy, says it’s time to declare the electric market a bona fide disaster. The consumer advocate urges the Texas Legislature to make dramatic changes. "This whole system is defective," she said.

Gay marriages are underway in California
The first same-sex wedding in the state took place at 5:01 p.m. with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom officiating as Del Martin, 87, and Phyllis Lyon, 84 were legally married, The two long-time lesbian and gay rights activists have been a committed, loving and monogamous couple for 55 years. John McSame might begrudge these two women their wedding, but he sure can't lay claim to the three meritorious adjectives I used to describe them. Mazal Tov, ladies.

Shrimp season starts tomorrow, but the industry is hurting
- another victim of high fuel prices, coupled with a depressed market, due to cheap imported shrimp, mostly from Vietnam. Morris Sekul, a shrimper for more than 25 years, said this probably will be his last season. His 50-foot steel-hull boat has a 2,500-gallon tank that costs him $10,000 to fill at $4 a gallon for diesel. That normally would last him a 20-day run in the Gulf of Mexico. He rarely puts more than four or five days' worth of the fuel in the tanks. He can't afford it and he said the shrimp are not as plentiful - at least not in Louisiana, where a 17-day run netted him $550 after expenses. "Everything went back into the fuel tanks," he said. "We can't pass on the price to the consumer. With the fuel prices and then the shrimp price so low, we're getting paid prices that are 25 years old."

Midwest flooding spurs record corn prices
The worst flooding in the Mississippi basin in 15 years is sending shockwaves through global markets. For the first time in history, the Chicago Board of Trade was trading corn at eight dollars a bushel. "The market is being driven by water," said Glenn Hollander, a veteran grain merchant on the CBOT trading floor. "Estimates show 3 million acres of corn under water and probably 2 million didn't get planted. So that gets you up to 5 million or over 700 million bushels, and that takes out the entire carry-out," he said, referring to estimates for grain stocks carried over to the next crop year.

That was one hell of a U.S. Open!
Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate slugged it out for 19 holes - yes, nineteen. After a tie at the end of yesterday, it was tied again today at the end of 18, and they played a sudden death hole. Tiger won by one stroke after missing his birdie putt and shooting par on the par-four seventh hole. Mediate dropped his drive into a bunker and his second shot into the rough, and ended up bogeying the hole. "Roc looked like he was in control, I thought I was in control then he was back in control again," said Woods after it was over. "It was back and forth, back and forth and 90 holes wasn't enough. We had to go one more."

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