Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap (and open thread)

Oh, damn...This is a down side to the free market. A hops shortage is causing price instability and disruptions in the beer supply. Microbreweries are especially hard-hit, causing the price of a six-pack to increase by about a buck a six pack. Why the shortage? There was a glut of hops on the market, prices dropped and farmers stopped growing the grain. Now, there is a shortage.

Sour Grapes Much? Remember the Liberty City Seven? They were the hapless souls in Florida who were arrested on terrorism charges for plotting to blow up the Sears Tower. After a three month trial, the jury deadlocked on practically everything. One thing the jurors did agree on though . They all agreed that one one of the men, Lyglenson Lemorin, was not guilty. Yet two months after his acquittal, he is still in custody, and immigration officials are moving to deport him to Haiti...petitioning the administrative judge to order his deportation based on the exact set of charges the jury acquitted him of. The Jury foreman, who was willing to convict some of Lemorin's codefendants thinks the decision to seek his deportation is unfair. I think it is petty retribution after prosecutors humiliated themselves losing a high-profile case that should never have been brought.

Bending over backwards to piss off India? Let's get one thing straight - we need all the friends in Asia that we can get right now, and we have a pretty good one in India. Unless we end up falling off the tightrope between them and Pakistan, then we stand to lose a critical ally. So when I learn that the United States is planning on sending military advisers in to Pakistan, it gets my Jewish Mother up, and I make with the worry.

Getting the Band Back Together...Veterans of the 1972 McGovern Texas campaign are reuniting for one of their own, and getting in on the ground game for Hillary Clinton. Back then, Bill and Hillary, not yet married, were young campaign volunteers working round-the-clock for McGovern in Texas. Texas Democrats haven't forgotten, and the favor is being repaid. Her state director today is the same person who ran the Youth for McGovern shop 36 years ago, and even receptionists are being recalled. Half of me is moved by this, and the other half is struggling mightily to fight off the urge to make a Cocoon joke...but I'll just content myself with planting that seed and letting you get there on your own...

Shafting Seniors with "reverse mortgages" is all the rage in slimeball circles these day, it seems. Many seniors have benefited immensely from this relatively new financial instrument, but many others have lost their shirts - or everything but - as the industry mushrooms and the inevitable infestation of crooks and cons get in on the action. Caveat emptor, Nana, Caveat emptor.

What's going on outside your window right now? Yeah, that isn't climate, that is weather. And one outlier global season does not a trend make. Especially when the influence of the Pacific Ocean and the current La Niña phase. One brutal winter does not erase all the record-breaking heat we have experienced in the last decade.

“The current downturn is not very unusual,” said Carl Mears, a scientist at Remote Sensing Systems, a private research group in Santa Rosa, Calif., that has been using satellite data to track global temperature and whose findings have been held out as reliable by a variety of climate experts. He pointed to similar drops in 1988, 1991-92, and 1998, but with a long-term warming trend clear nonetheless.

“Temperatures are very likely to recover after the La Niña event is over,” he said.

An atmospheric scientist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, said that any attempt to focus on a few months, or even years, as evidence that anthropogenic climate change is a "hoax" is at best a waste of time and at worst, dangerous folly.

This tears it, I'm gonna call myself a PAC and register in Virginia George Pataki sure did clean up, and I want to get in before it's too late and they wise up and change the rules! PACs registered in Virginia have no limit on contributions, and even though it's technically illegal to use PAC money for personal use, the state hardly regulates spending at all. Pataki, after eying a run at national office, but not getting beyond the "set up a PAC (in Virginia!) and launch an exploratory committee" phase, opted out, but his PAC had a couple million bucks in it - and Pataki has spent a bundle...over a million so far, on Broadway theater tickets, soirees at the Yale Club, payoffs payments to political hacks loyalists and advisers...“The former governor is spending more than many active candidates for office, although it’s been clear for quite some time he doesn’t have any political plans for the immediate future. It looks like these committees primarily reward loyalists who have stood by him for years,” said Bill Mahoney, an analyst with the the New York Public Interest Research Group.

Maybe I haven't been critical enough of theState Department and the Iraq embassy, even though I have blasted it with only slightly less frequency than mortar rounds. Not a single one of the 26 buildings in the new embassy complex in the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad is habitable; indeed, some of the kitchens are fire hazards. In December, the outgoing head of the State Departments Overseas Building Office certified the complex as "substantially complete." His successor has revoked that certification. Waxman has sent another letter to Condi demanding documents. She beat the rush and pre-ignored it.

How's that Surge™ workin' out for ya? Remember a couple of weeks ago when the administration was crowing that the Iraqi parliament had passed significant legislation that set forth the political structure for the provincial governments and established a basis for elections in October? Yeah, well, they forgot one little thing...the presidency council had not accepted it yet, and lo and behold, they didn't. They vetoed it. No word yet on whether it was a ploy to assert their own relevance.

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