Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

Did this bloke take the brown acid?
Police in Wales responded to a 999 call from a frightened local, requesting that they investigate a "bright, stationary" flying saucer that had been hanging around for "about a half hour" without moving. The investigating officers cracked the case immediately. Turns out that "bright stationary object" was the moon.

Libertarians prefer Obama
according to a new Rassmussen poll.

Gay bashing! That's the ticket!
On Faux Noise this morning Fred Barnes laid out his idea of a McCain victory strategy. “Here’s what he needs to do, he needs to touch on some of the social issues which energize the right,” he said. Getting to specifics, he said that McCain is “going to have to use” gays in the military and gay marriage as wedge issues. Swinging the sledge at wedges in the body politic is a favorite tactic of McCain chief strategist Charlie (heart of) Black, so Barnes wetdream is likely to be realized. We love the smell of rethuglican desperation with our morning coffee...

"If you have an R in front of your name, you better run scared"
Those are the words of Sen. John Ensign, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The Senate republicans are running scared, looking at a three or four seat loss as the best possible outcome. If the AARP spends enough money and targets enough republican incumbents for letting Medicare cuts take effect, the Democrats could, with enough hard work and shrewd strategy, get within striking distance of the magic number of 60 Democrats. Stay stupid and obstructionist, republicans. We beg of you. Big change takes big Senate majorities, and we need big change.

We do love stupid criminals stories
Who is stupid enough to send hundreds of pounds of pot via FedEx? And do it again...and again...and again...after getting away with it once??? When FedEx delivered a 200 pound bale of marijuana to the wrong address, the recipient freaked out and called the cops, and it lead to a massive bust. So lots of money gets spent to prosecute an extreme capitalist who filled a niche in the market, when we could be taxing the stuff and using the money to fight actual dangerous drugs like cocaine and heroine that cause crime. The stupid burns hotter than a spliff of the sticky icky.

Lindsey Graham is assuming prominence as McSame's number one confidante and wingman. The two are veritably joined at the hip these days. In a phone interview from Mexico City he told reporters "There’s nobody I trust more than Lindsey Graham. I'm honored to have him travel with me and give me the counsel I need." Graham, ever the loyal surrogate, does his part in the verbal 69 by chiming in "we’re going to have more conservative judges, we're going to have our taxes lowered, we're going to become more energy independent and we're going to win this (Iraq) war." Of course his assertions are detail free, bumper-sticker sloganeering, but that's all they got. How comforting.

Damn. We keep forgetting that diplomacy is for pussies
Finland is doing more to stabilize Iraq than the United States is. A couple of the details Lindsey skips in the item above is that there is no military solution in Iraq, and you can't win an occupation - you simply occupy until you leave; it has to be political. While the U.S. manages to reinforce divisions by building concrete walls to segregate neighborhoods, the Fins gave a venue to an American professor to bring together representatives from various sects, parties and interest groups together to hammer out political solutions, and a ceremony in Helsinki offers a real first step toward that end.

Hacks like H-squared plan to use Obama's honesty against him
Many people might not know that Barack Obama won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album in 2006 for the open, honest story of his disaffected youth (BG sez: Obama and I are about the same age - trust me, all of us who could legitimately claim sentience were disaffected back then). Obama, in his own voice, talks about experimenting with drugs in the seventies and eighties. Well, the world needs to get used to the fact that we are the product of our environment and our parents - many of whom were zoned on Valium and Elavil and never late for cocktail hour - for the most part, sucked at childrearing, and good judgment is not an inherent trait. America needs to get used to the fact that from now on, pretty much everyone who aims high - at one point or another got high - and yet, we did just fine for a bunch of unparented rabble who raised ourselves. But if we had been parented, and taught better manners, we might not ask questions like whether McCain was so forthcoming and honest in his memoires about his transgressions that did not occur as an impulsive teenage. Things like adultery, the five planes he lost, and the Forrestal fire that killed 132 Sailors and would have landed a lesser man's son in the brig for life, rather than the Senate? Or at least thoroughly investigated.

It's not Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music: The U.S. military bankrolled early development of a non-lethal microwave weapon that creates sound inside your head. But in the end, the gadget may be just as likely to wind up in shopping malls as on battlefields, as I report in New Scientist. The project is known as MEDUSA – a contrived acronym for Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio. And it should not be confused with the Long Range Acoustic Device and similar gadgets which simply project sound. This one uses the so-called "microwave auditory effect": a beam of microwaves is turned into sound by the interaction with your head. Nobody else can hear it unless they are in the beam as well. The effect has long been a laboratory curiosity, with no application. But, over the years, the military has been intrigued. The idea (dubbed "the telepathic ray gun") was mentioned in a 1998 US Army study, which turned up in a recent Freedom of Information Act document dump

So what's really going on in the county next door to Washington DC? Prince George's County development deals worth millions of dollars have gone to people with ties to County Executive Jack B. Johnson, several of whom received the land at cut-rate prices, had little or no development experience or were given no-bid contracts, according to government records and interviews. Since Johnson (D) took office in December 2002, his administration has agreed at least 11 times to sell county-owned land to people with connections to him, including a business partner, a former business partner, a golfing buddy and a campaign contributor who held political fundraisers for him. Two of those who won contracts had created their development companies weeks earlier. In one case, the development group named in the contract was not incorporated with the state until a month after the deal was signed. Johnson intervened in two of the deals, in one instance writing a letter that promised financing for a friend who did not have the money to get the project done, records show. Four of the projects were unsolicited or not put out to bid.

It's not like anyone cares to listen to Maliki, however: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has cautioned the United States against using Iraqi territory to carry out attacks on Iran. Maliki's statements came in a Friday video link meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush, al-Alam reported. Maliki said he was concerned about military pressure aimed at Iran regarding the country's nuclear activities, adding he would not permit U.S. forces to use Iraqi land, airspace and waterways as a means for attacking states in the region. He said the Mideast is in a "fragile" state and "fomenting tension in the region and pushing for military action against Tehran could wreak havoc on the entire region, including Iraq." Maliki said diplomacy would be the most effective way to resolve conflict surrounding Iran's nuclear activities. You read that right--on the 232nd birthday of this nation, a third rate wanna-be dictator who is kept in power by US blood and treasure told the President of the United States what he can and can't do. Out-fucking-Rageous how we've sunk so low.

And this is why Maliki can tell him this--Iraq is swimming in money and other Arab states are helping them swim in that cash by cancelling their debt: The United Arab Emirates canceled all its Iraqi debt Sunday and moved to restore a full diplomatic mission in Baghdad by naming a new ambassador. The move is part of a recent warming between Iraq's Shiite-led government and its mostly Sunni Muslim neighbors. Washington has pushed Gulf states like the UAE to restore ties with the war-torn country. Jordan named an ambassador last week, and Kuwait and Bahrain say appointments are imminent. The Emirates' official news agency quoted the country's president Sunday as saying the UAE was canceling all US$4 billion in debt owed by Iraq. The announcement came as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was visiting the Emirates. An Iraqi government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, confirmed his government was notified of the debt cancellation. Yep--Maliki tells the POTUS where he can stick it and the UAE cancels a chunk of Iraqi debt. And who funnels goods and hard currency into neighboring Iran? The UAE. Talk about a clusterfuck.

The folks in California need the good news: Cooler weather on Sunday gave a boost to crews battling an enormous wildfire on California's central coast that was threatening nearly 2,700 homes. The four-day-old fire in the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Barbara, which had blackened about 13 square miles, spread slightly during the night but firefighting crews were able to keep up with it, county spokeswoman Vickie Guthrie said. As of Sunday morning, the fire in the area of the town of Goleta was 28 percent contained, she said. And with lower wind and higher humidity forecast for Sunday, crews were optimistic they could get more acreage under control.

As the price of metals rise, thieves zero in on catalytic converters All across the country, police departments and auto insurers are noticing a dramatic increase in the number of reported thefts of catalytic converters. The pollution-control devices that have been mandatory on new cars for over thirty years contain small amounts of the precious metals palladium and platinum. With palladium trading at over $430 per troy ounce and platinum over $2000, thieves have taken to slipping under cars with battery-powered reciprocating saws and removing the catalytic converters in just a matter of minutes, then disappearing, leaving the vehicle owners with tremendous repair bills.

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