Friday, July 25, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

Hats off to the pilot A team of engineers from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau was dispatched to the Philippines today to investigate the Qantas near-tragedy that happened yesterday, when a hole opened up in the fuselage of a 17-year-old 747 and forced an emergency landing in the Philippines, after the cabin lost pressure and the plane dropped 20,000 feet in a matter of minutes. Attention is focusing on the maintenance records of the plane, which reportedly had a large amount of corrosion when it was refurbished in March.

Another market drops Savage
His horribly uninformed and callous remarks about autistic children has caused him to be canceled in Cleveland. "This guy's a knucklehead, and I want to get rid of him," said Mark Jaycox, the manager of the radio stations in the Cleveland area that are owned by California-based Salem Communications.

Don Young's desperation grows
Fighting for his political life, the Alaska representative has resorted to making up phony awards for himself. He has rolled out a new ad, claiming that he received a "Hero of the American Taxpayer" award from a group called Taxpayers for Common Sense. Problem is, no such award exists. TCS did bestow an award on him, tho...they gave him a "Golden Fleece" award for spending like a drunken sailor.

Lurita Doan lands a new gig
The wingnut who was forced out at the GSA for being the definitive political hack and violating the Hatch Act will be a commentator on leadership the Federal News Service. As a staunch loyal bushie, she has had plenty of experience with lousy leadership.

Now you tell us: Only jalapeno peppers grown in Mexico seem to be implicated in the nationwide salmonella outbreak, the government announced Friday in clearing the U.S. crop. The Food and Drug Administration urged consumers to avoid raw Mexican jalapenos and the serrano peppers often confused with them, or dishes made with them such as fresh salsa. But the big question is how those who love hot peppers would know where the chiles came from, especially in restaurant food. "You're going to have to ask the person you're buying it from," said Dr. David Acheson, the FDA's food safety chief, who is advising restaurants and grocery stores to know their suppliers and pass that information to customers.

Can anyone figure out where McCain stands on the issues? In July, during a town hall event in Denver, Co., an audience member asked McCain if he would support the Community Choice Act of 2007 in the Senate. McCain responded, "I will not because I don't think it's the right kind of legislation. Well, that stance of his will hopefully cost him because activists are gathering their efforts to find out what they can do to expose this shabby aspect of McCain's record.

Obama to meet with Gordon Brown and his conservative opponent: US presidential hopeful Barack Obama meets British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London Saturday, with the focus on key foreign policy issues facing both countries, particularly Iraq and Afghanistan. The Democratic Party White House nominee was due at the British leader's official 10 Downing Street residence after an early meeting with Brown's predecessor, Tony Blair, now the international community's Middle East envoy. He was also to meet the leader of Britain's main opposition Conservatives, David Cameron, whose centre-right party is riding high in the opinion polls and on course to win the next general election.

Wait a minute--did we just endorse diplomacy over blowing the shit out of people? The United States welcomed Friday a decision by rival Cypriot leaders to begin direct talks on ending the island's 34-year-old division, saying it was prepared to back the leaders and the United Nations in the process. President Demetris Christofias, a Greek Cypriot, and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat after talks Friday set September 3 as the date when they will begin direct negotiations to end the Cyprus problem. They also decided that the results hammered out between them will be put to referendums in their two communities. "We applaud the UN's announcement today that (the two leaders) have agreed to start direct negotiations on September 3 under UN auspices aimed at the reunification of Cyprus," US State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said. Now, about all of those other conflicts...

A diplomatic row in the making: Senior US politicians have warned Serbia of serious consequences if it does not hand over a Serbian basketball player involved in a New York bar fight that left an American in a coma. New York Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer demanded in a statement Thursday that Belgrade extradite Miladin Kovacevic, 21, who is accused of beating Bryan Steinhauer in a bar in Binghamton, New York on May 4. "There would be significant consequences for Serbia if this matter is not resolved," Schumer and Clinton said after meeting with a Serbian representative in Washington. "We will not be satisfied until Mr. Kovacevic returns to the US to face justice," they said.

Why would a "pending execution" lead to violence from protesters? Gonna have to call bullshit on this one: A pending execution prompted the lawful state police surveillance of anti-war and death penalty opposition groups, the head of the force said Friday. Superintendent Colonel Terrence B. Sheridan said a preliminary review determined the officers involved did not break any laws, although their judgment could be questioned. The superintendent said he did not think a federal probe or new legislation was needed. Sheridan said the head of the state police's homeland security division made the decision to begin surveillance after receiving a request from a colleague in another division that was preparing for Vernon Evans' execution. The surveillance of the groups ended in May 2006, and Evans' execution was postponed about six months later, according to a timeline handed out by state police. Sheridan's statements "do very little to assuage concerns about political spying by the Maryland State Police," the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement Friday night. But Sheridan's argument that the spying was connected to opponents of the planned execution does not explain why peace groups were targeted, the group said. E-mail records show police were engaged in surveillance unrelated to the Evans case three months before Sheridan said surveillance began, the ACLU said. Catch all of the bullshit mendacity there? They feared violence from people opposed to the death penalty; and then they equated peace groups with the people who would supposedly get violent while opposing the death penalty and targeted them. Does any of that make ANY fucking sense? Of course not. Whoever that asshole was who had that "brilliant" idea should be fired--that person is fundamentally incapable of assessing threats.

Here's a nice little nugget of insight from the Arms Control Wonk: US Ambassador to the IAEA, Greg Schulte, was in London yesterday selling the US-India deal. I saw him talk at the IISS. Given all the speculation that both the US and North Korea want the IAEA to have a minimal role in the verification process, I couldn’t resist asking the ambassador what role he thought the Agency should have. His answer surprised me. He said that the US foresees a large role for the Agency both because it has relevant expertise and because the ultimate aim of the denuclearisation process is to get North Korea back into the NPT under IAEA safeguards. He wasn’t too specific about the exact division of labour between the US and the IAEA but he was much more positive about the Agency’s role than I had expected. He added that Chris Hill is in Vienna today discussing this issue with the DG and the safeguards people. Whoa, nelly. That really is a surprise--and somewhere, a wingnut's head exploded.

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