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Archive for December 10th, 2010

Jairam Ramesh makes India’s environment ministry an advocate

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At an impromptu press conference in Copenhagen
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

India’s environment ministry led by Jairam Ramesh is becoming increasingly assertive. The construction of dams, power and steel plants have all been delayed by him and he has spoken out against fuel-guzzling big cars.

Mr Ramesh’s decisions have pitted him against big business and his ministerial colleagues. In recent months he has kicked up a storm with his efforts, which he says are in order to balance development with the preservation of the environment.

In several instances he has blocked major industrial development on environmental grounds, angering those who say such projects would boost India’s economy. Some recent decisions have also been criticised by environmentialists – he gave the go-ahead to a new Mumbai (Bombay) airport and a nuclear power station in Maharashtra state…

For the first time in India’s history, the environment ministry is being seen as proactive and assertive under Mr Ramesh’s stewardship, say his supporters.

The environment ministry used to be an also-ran ministry before Mr Ramesh took over. He has given the ministry a high profile in face of opposition even from the prime minister’s office,” Outlook magazine editor Vinod Mehta said…

An engineering graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr Ramesh, 56, is a technocrat turned politician.

He worked with the World Bank and as an adviser with India’s Planning Commission before joining the ruling Congress party.

RTFA. Lots of interesting anecdotal information, some humorous, some pretty tough on industries accustomed to having their own way.

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Written by Ed Campbell

December 10, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Anti-Terrorist coppers roust 12-year-old at school

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A threat to UK Homeland Security?

The mother of a 12-year-old boy has criticised Thames Valley police for taking her son out of lessons because he was planning to picket David Cameron’s constituency office today.

Nicky Wishart, a pupil at Bartholomew School, Eynsham, Oxfordshire, organised the event on Facebook to highlight the plight of his youth centre, which is due to close in March next year due to budget cuts.

The protest, which was due to take place today, has attracted over 130 people on Facebook, most of whom are children who use youth centres in Cameron’s constituency, Whitney.

Wishart said that after the school was contacted by anti-terrorist officers, he was taken out of his English class on Tuesday afternoon and interviewed by a Thames Valley officer at the school in the presence of his head of year. During the interview, Wishart says that the officer told him that if any public disorder took place at the event he would be held responsible and arrested…

Wishart, who describes himself as a “maths geek” said he was frightened by the encounter. “I was really scared. Normally I’m a confident speaker but I lost all my confidence. My mum was worried, and I was worried and I didn’t know what to do.”

Young Wishart plans on going ahead with his protest. I really doubt that armed police will be needed to maintain law and order, to protect the future course of Western Democracy and Freedom.

What little is left.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 10, 2010 at 3:00 pm

The Federal Aviation Administration loses track of 119,000 planes

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Found in Colorado

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is missing key information on who owns one-third of the 357,000 private and commercial aircraft in the US, a gap the agency says could be exploited by terrorists and drug traffickers.

The records are in such disarray that the FAA says it is worried that criminals could buy planes without the government’s knowledge, or use the registration numbers of other aircraft to evade new computer systems designed to track suspicious flights.

Next year the FAA will begin canceling the registration certificates of all 357,000 aircraft and require owners to register anew, the Associated Press news agency cited them as saying on Friday.

About 119,000 of the aircraft on the US registry have “questionable registration” because of missing forms, invalid addresses, unreported sales or other paperwork problems, according to the FAA.

In many cases, the FAA cannot say who owns a plane or even whether it is still flying or is no longer functional…

The amount of missing or invalid paperwork has been building for decades, the FAA says. Up to now, owners had to register their planes only once, at the time of purchase.

The FAA sent out notices every three years asking owners to update their contact information if needed, but there was no punishment for not doing so.

RTFA. It’s worth a chuckle over a truly incompetent bureaucracy.

It doesn’t require a great deal of smarts to be a criminal, anyway. But, it surely aids the heavy hitters when the context of day-by-day operations of a federal regulatory agency are about as thorough as Mexican border controls.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 10, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Deja Vu all over again…

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February 23, 2008, speaking in Youngstown Ohio – Tom Buffenbarger, president of the International Association of Machinists made a prediction about Barack Obama’s abilities to fight the Republicans and other politicians of the useless persuasion.

I supported Barack Obama. Tom Buffenbarger was right. I was wrong.

********

Saying that, I should include some reflection upon Buffenbarger’s speech. I remember it well. Enjoyed it – and rejected his analysis for a couple of reasons. They’re still valid.

He appealed – as he should – to the class base of his union and supporters. I fit that definition perfectly. Working class through and through, born in a factory town, a union member [and organizer] all the years I worked in American factories.

Lattes? Most Italian-American workers grew up in families that drank lattes and espresso. I’m half-Italian.

Prius-driver? Well, I drive a 16-year-old pickup truck; but, I worked construction the last years before I retired, it was part of my tool kit. I’d much rather have a Prius, nowadays; but, I can’t afford one on my social security check.

Birkenstocks? Ain’t wearing sandals on the factory floor or a job site. More often work boots with safety toes. Like most old farts, I wear sneakers, now.

Trust-fund babies? I live next to a town full of ‘em. But, I spent half my life in factories or building homes. Most of the men and women I worked with voted for Barack Obama. He said what we needed to hear. And college students aren’t trust-funders anymore. They’re the children of working class families who have gone into debt to try to get an education that gets the kids out of the factory and into a profession. That’s something equally prideful.

Hillary also said what we needed to hear – and frankly – I would have been equally happy to work for Hillary as Obama for president. Either would have been a 180 degree turn from the bigoted, mean-spirited, chickenhawk, upper-crust crooks that led our nation into wars of self-destruction and the worst economic crash since the Great Depression.

As American Democrats, neither one would do anything other than the bidding of Israel in the Middle East. Make no mistake there. As American Democrats, they both would have fought for the same legislation that has succeeded in getting past the Party of NO.

As a Black man who worked his way into political leadership as an American intellectual, Obama was a giant step forward for our nation. As a white woman who worked her way into political leadership as an American intellectual, Hillary would have been a giant step forward for our nation.

And I now sincerely believe she would have known better how to confront the reactionary, bigoted, corrupt politicians – Republican and Democrat – who continue to oppose any progress for the people of this land even after they damned near destroyed it with their allegiance to 19th Century political ideology.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 10, 2010 at 9:00 am

Get an iPhone 3GS for FREE this Friday only – UPDATED

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Earlier this week we reported that Radio Shack had an awesome iPhone deal this week only…however Best Buy plans to call Radio Shack’s bluff and raise it twenty by offering a free iPhone 3GS. The catch is that it’s for one day only… Friday, December 10.

While little is known about the deal for the moment, the free 8 GB iPhone 3GS “giveaway” applies to new accounts, additional lines and qualified upgrades. Reports claim that Best Buy brick-and-mortar outlets have stocked up to the neck to support the promotion. There’s also no need to worry about fronting the $99.99 and getting the money back later as a debit card, as it will be an instant, on-the-spot rebate.

There’s speculation that AT&T is experimenting with pricing in regards to the deals with both Best Buy and Radio Shack, determining which promotion would have a greater turnaround. In either case, hopeful AT&T clients would need to sign the typical 2-year (ball and chain) contract. Those purchasing the iPhone for the first time might find Best Buy’s deal a bargain whereas those looking to trade up might prefer Radio Shack’s incentives instead…

For those looking to get an iPhone 3GS with AT&T, the carrier offers three data plans: DataPro 2 GB for iPhone with Tethering @ $45.00/month, DataPro 2 GB for iPhone only @ $25.00/month and DataPlus 200 MB for iPhone @ $15.00/month. AT&T also charges a one-time activation fee of $36.00, and monthly plans (including messaging) could cost as little as $45.00 before tacking on the data package.

I’m still looking around the Web to see if anyone has more skinny on the deal[s]. I don’t own an iPhone – I’m happy enough Skypeing on my iPad – but, it might be tempting if I could use one on some sort of prepaid plan.

UPDATE: Wandering through Best Buy’s website, it appears they’re offering the same freebie deal on a boatload of smartphones. Rock’n roll!

Written by Ed Campbell

December 10, 2010 at 6:00 am

Space company’s rocket test flight had secret cargo

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Call it one small step for a cheese, one giant leap fromage-kind.

A wheel of Le Brouere cheese was the secret cargo aboard the SpaceX Dragon, the first commercial spacecraft to be recovered from Earth orbit, the company revealed Thursday. SpaceX co-founder Elon Musk hinted at the cargo after the capsule’s successful splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday afternoon, suggesting it had something to do with the British comedy troupe Monty Python.

The block of fermented curd was a nod to one of the group’s best-known sketches, “Cheese Shop.” The wheel, described only as “very big,” was being towed back to California aboard a barge along with the spacecraft and “basking in the glow of being the first cheese to travel to orbit on a commercial spacecraft,” company spokeswoman Kirstin Brost told CNN…

The Dragon was launched into low-Earth orbit on Wednesday from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center and splashed down about 500 miles off the coast of Southern California about three hours later. It was the first flight under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program, which aims to develop commercial supply services to the international space station.

Bravo! For the flight and the cheese both.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 10, 2010 at 2:00 am

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