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Archive for July 2009

Mobile phone lost 4 days at sea: found – recharged – returned

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A mobile phone lost at sea for four days washed up in perfect condition in Taiwan after drifting 37 km and was discovered by a park lifeguard who tracked down the shocked owner to return it, the finder said on Friday.

Yu Hsin-leh of Taipei lost the phone on July 24 while snorkeling near the Taiwan port city of Keelung, Taiwan’s United Daily News reported.

On Monday, it turned up in Longdong Bay Park on the island’s northeasternmost cape after floating past numerous towns and rocky outcroppings.

A small water-resistant case had protected the phone at sea, said park lifeguard Lin Huan-chuan, who found it.

Lin said he recharged the battery and called Yu’s wife by finding her in the phone’s list of saved numbers.

I don’t care what brand the phone was; but, I surely would love to know who made the waterproof case?

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Written by Ed Campbell

July 31, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Musharraf faces exile – to avoid a trial for treason

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Lawyers dance in celebration outside Karachi Bar Association
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf faces an extended exile, possibly in Britain, following a court ruling that has paved the way for a possible – although unlikely – treason prosecution.

Celebrating lawyers danced on the steps of the supreme court after a 14-judge bench ruled that Musharraf acted illegally when he suspended the constitution and imposed a six-week period of emergency rule on 3 November 2007. At the time, the rule was seen as a gambit by Musharraf to strengthen his grip on power. After a long struggle, he was forced from office a year ago.

The court ruling was delivered by chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, whose attempted removal by Musharraf in March 2007 sparked a protest movement that eventually led to the general’s downfall…

Neither Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup, nor his lawyers attended the court hearing. The retired general left Pakistan for Britain two months ago, reportedly at the urging of the army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, who wanted to remove all political distractions as the army fought the Taliban along the Afghan border…

Talat Masood, a retired general and former Musharraf confidante, said it was unlikely he would return to Pakistan soon. “He will stay away and the army will advise him to stay away,” he said…”

According to the ruling, all judges who swore allegiance to Musharraf will now be sacked. Also, some 37 laws passed during the emergency period will be subject to review by parliament.

“It is open to the courts to condone all or any of them,” said Saeed-uz-Zaman, a former chief justice, speaking on Dawn television.

Does any of this sound like a potential scenario to be played out in the United States? Or the U.K.?

Any politicians and/or judges with the backbone to set precedents that include prosecution for suspending the constitution?

Written by Ed Campbell

July 31, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Utility wants penalty from Colorado residents who add solar panels

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“A license to print money”

Xcel Energy is proposing a new penalty on Colorado residents who generate their own renewable electricity.

The “infrastructure upkeep fee” could range between $20 and $200 per year, the Denver Post reports. Customers who buy and install their own solar panels would essentially be asked to keep paying for some of the energy they’re no longer using from Xcel’s electricity grid.

“It’s only fair everyone pay for the system,” an Xcel spokesman said, noting that the grid provides a “backup” for solar users.

Huh? Is there any other industry that could get away with proposing something like this? Your customers don’t need your product anymore, so you propose making them pay for it anyway, just in case they need it again someday?

What’s really going on here is the beginning of a potentially massive powershift, one in which Xcel and other large utilities’ customers are increasingly becoming the competition by generating their own electricity. Xcel has a strong record of supporting renewable energy, so long as it’s the one generating the profits.

These are the sort of schmucks who’ve been in charge of so-called public utilities all my life. They get a guaranteed profit structure. State regulators band over backwards [and forwards] to keep them happy. And, of course, you and I pick up the tab.

I look forward to the day when getting off the grid is truly affordable for us all. And people like the heads of Xcel have to get an honest job.

Thanks, Mike Herron

Written by Ed Campbell

July 31, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Cash for Clunkers runs out of money in a week!

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Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

White House staff and congressional lawmakers are meeting today to try to find a way to keep the U.S. government’s “cash for clunkers” program running, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

The popular program remains in operation, Gibbs said.

“If you were planning on going to buy a car this weekend, using this program, this program continues to run,” Gibbs said at a morning White House briefing. “If you meet the requirements of the program, the certificates will be honored.”

Gibbs said the Obama administration and congressional leaders are working today “to find and develop ways to continue to fund” this $1 billion program, which may be out of cash after a week of operation.

The incentive program, formally known as the Car Allowance Rebate System, provides credits of as much as $4,500 to new-auto buyers who turn in an older vehicle to be scrapped. Lawmakers had expected the $1 billion program to generate about 250,000 sales and to have enough money to last until about Nov. 1.

Har!

Especially good for a laugh at the dimwits who said this was a waste of time. Tell that to the folks who bought new cars – and the dealers who sold them!

Written by Ed Campbell

July 31, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Cops stalk surrogate mom of Sarah Jessica Parker twins – WTF?

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Is Friday the official day for stupid cop stories? Here’s another.

The two police chiefs who were arrested for allegedly breaking into Sarah Jessica Parker’s surrogate’s home have been charged today with burglary, complicity to burglary, tampering with evidence — and the list goes on.

Police Chief of Martins Ferry, OH Barry P. Carpenter and Police Chief of Bridgeport, OH Chad M. Dojack are accused of concocting a plan to break into the home of Michelle Ross and sell items that would identify her as the surrogate mother for Matthew Broderick and SJP.

Carpenter faces two counts of burglary, and one court for receiving stolen property, theft in office, tampering with evidence and unauthorized use of property or services. Dojack is charged with two counts complicity to burglary and one count complicity to receiving stolen property. The police chiefs face around 8 years in the clink if found guilty on the burglary charges.

A third man, who happens to be the son of Bridgeport’s mayor, is charged with complicity to receiving stolen property as well.

Don’t modern municipalities require psych evals for coppers?

UPDATE: Found guilty.

Written by Ed Campbell

July 31, 2009 at 10:30 am

Sir Bobby Robson, R.I.P.

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Sir Bobby Robson has died at the age of 76. The former England manager, who had fought a long battle with cancer, passed away at his home this morning.

“It is with great sadness that it has been announced today that Sir Bobby Robson has lost his long and courageous battle with cancer,” read a statement released by Robson’s family. “He died very peacefully this morning at his home in County Durham with his wife and family beside him…

“It is difficult to accept such a person is no longer with us,” said the Internazionale manager Jose Mourinho, who worked as Robson’s translator at Sporting Lisbon, and then as his assistant at Porto and Barcelona. “But he is immortal because he leaves in everybody who knows him a mark of his personality – a great coach but, more than that, a great person.”

The Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was similarly effusive in his praise, saying: “In my 23 years working in England there is not a person I would put an inch above Bobby Robson. I mourn the passing of a great friend, a wonderful individual, a tremendous football man and somebody with passion and knowledge of the game that was unsurpassed.” Brown’s predecessor Tony Blair, a Newcastle supporter, described Robson as “one of the nicest, most caring and genuine people I ever met – a real Geordie gentleman.”

He will be sorely missed.

Written by Ed Campbell

July 31, 2009 at 9:45 am

Reverend Ike is Dead

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Even so, I’m betting that he’s the only guy in history who will
figure out a way to take it with him.

The Rev. Frederick Eikerenkoetter, known as Rev. Ike to a legion of followers here and across the nation to whom he preached the blessings of prosperity while making millions from their donations, has died. He was 74.

A family spokesman said he died Tuesday in a Los Angeles hospital, two years after he suffered a stroke from which he never recovered.

Rev. Ike’s ministry reached its peak in the mid-1970s, when his sermons were carried on 1,770 radio stations to an audience estimated at 2.5 million.

He also preached his philosophy of self-empowerment on television and the Internet, in books and magazines, and on audiotapes and videotapes.

From the stage of the former Loews movie theater on 175th St. in Washington Heights, which he restored and transformed into his United Church Science of Living Institute, Rev. Ike would tell thousands of parishioners “this is the do-it-yourself church. The only savior in this philosophy is God in you.”

He then would exhort the believers to “close your eyes and see green … money up to your armpits, a roomful of money, and there you are, just tossing around in it like a swimming pool.”

As payback for spiritual inspiration, Rev. Ike asked for cash donations from the faithful – preferably in bills not coins. “Change makes your minister nervous in the service,” he would say.

A lot of these guys, if you think back, reached their peak in the ’70s and ’80s. Yet just when I think they are, figuratively speaking, going to die off, a new crop of them, and a new crop of followers, comes along.

Written by K B

July 31, 2009 at 9:00 am

Why do Republicans oppose food-safety laws?

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In a major step toward an overhaul of the nation’s food safety system, the House of Representatives passed legislation on Thursday to require more frequent inspections of processing plants and give the government the authority to order the recall of tainted foods.

“No legislation like this has moved forward this far in decades to overhaul the food safety laws,” said Erik D. Olson, director of food and consumer product safety issues at the Pew Charitable Trusts. “It’s a pretty historic moment.”

House passage sets the stage for the Senate to take up the issue, though probably not until the fall. The Obama administration has voiced strong support for a comprehensive food safety revamping.

The bill passed the House on a vote of 283 to 142. Democratic support was overwhelming, but Republicans were split, with 54 voting in favor and 122 against

The measure would also give the agency the power to order recalls of tainted food. Under its current authority, it can only ask companies to recall their food products.

Among the bill’s other provisions are heightened inspection requirements on imported foods, a mandate that records of processing plants be made available to inspectors and investigators, and a requirement that processing plants develop elaborate safety plans meant to head off problems before they arise.

In addition, the bill would direct the F.D.A. to create a system that would better trace food products and ingredients, as a way of quickly getting to the source of future outbreaks of food-borne illness.

Food-borne illness, sickness and disease resulting from contaminated food is one of those topics that gets a response from our readers every time we post on the topic. Americans are sick and tired of being told that we have the best food-production and distribution system in the world – which is true BTW – but, there’s “just been some little slip-up” that’s causing a problem.

Hogwash!

Just about every bad food story we’ve covered in recent years has carelessness and cover-ups rooted in maximizing profit. When the latter becomes more important than the health of consumers, families – and attempts to remedy the situation are opposed by politicians in the name of whatever they choose as window-dressing – the smell is still one of corruption.

Written by Ed Campbell

July 31, 2009 at 6:00 am

Quaker sues Feds over draft registration

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A young Washington state man has sued the U.S. government because the draft registration form has no place to show conscientious objector status.

Tobin Jacobrown, 21, of Indianola, a practicing Quaker, is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union in the lawsuit filed Wednesday in the District of Columbia, The Washington Post reported…

The military draft was abolished in 1973, but young men are still required to register in case Congress brings it back.

Jacobrown said he refused to fill out the forms. That means he cannot get a job with the U.S. government or receive federal student aid.

A big part of my religion is not submitting to any system that you feel is unjust,” Jacobrown said. “And I think this is unjust.”

American newspapers really hate to make it clear that religious grounds are NOT REQUIRED to win conscientious objector status.

One of the important cases won during the resistance to the VietNam War – that went all the way to the Supreme Court – allowed that you could reach your objection to participating in war as a political solution without committing to religious ideology.

Not that I think the present Supreme Court would support that kind of free thought.

Written by Ed Campbell

July 31, 2009 at 2:00 am

The Caux dream, dreams of peace in South Asia

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India-Pakistan relations do not move in a straight line. They zigzag from crisis to crisis.

In the interregnum the two countries either engage in negotiations or struggle to revive an interrupted dialogue. This is not something new. It has always been the case.

This pattern veils a strange paradox. Behind all the polemical exchanges the reserve of goodwill between the people of the two countries has continued to grow. This was manifest in abundance at Caux (Switzerland) on the sidelines of the Forum for Human Security last week.

Nearly 30 delegates from all walks of life — activists in their own way — from India and Pakistan got together to talk about various issues that have divided their two countries. This meeting was the brainchild of Rajmohan Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, that great apostle of non-violence…

Adopting the Chatham House rules — no one can be cited by name without his/her permission — the participants could speak freely. And voilà! What emerged was a wealth of information which is considered too sensitive to be shared at public forums. Hence the need to protect the anonymity of the speakers.

A number of issues were discussed — some with the idea of creating a better understanding of what is happening on the ground and others to unravel the knots that have made disputes between the two countries so intractable. Of course, the ubiquitous Kashmir dispute was brought up as were the water issue, terrorism in Fata, trade and extremism in India.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ed Campbell

July 30, 2009 at 10:00 pm

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