Will there be a lawless outcome to a lawless war?


Horrors! He fist-bumped Santa Claus.
Daylife/Reuters Pictures

Is George Bush preparing to give himself a presidential pardon? On first hearing, the idea sounds utterly incredible and outrageous. How can the head of a state in which respect for the law remains an active part of the national DNA even contemplate such an arbitrary and shameless act of apparent lawlessness? Amnesties and pardons of this kind are the stock-in-trade of tinpot dictators, not constitutional leaders. And yet …

A Bush pardon would be a sensational final act to the most divisive presidency in modern America. But he certainly has the power to grant it. Article 2 section 2 of the US constitution gives the president the power to grant reprieves and pardons. The US courts have traditionally interpreted this power widely, to include amnesties, conditional pardons and blanket pardons. And all presidents have used the power – Harry Truman’s 1,913 pardons is the postwar record…

Not even Richard Nixon pardoned himself. It fell to his hapless successor Gerald Ford to announce, a month after Nixon’s resignation in August 1974, that it was time to draw the line. Nixon had been at the centre of “an American tragedy in which we all have played a part”, Ford announced in a broadcast. “It could go on and on and on, or someone must write the end to it. I have concluded that only I can do that, and if I can, I must.”

There were a few occasions when I thought that even George W. Bush wouldn’t be crass enough, egregious, ignorant enough to try to get away with something the American people wouldn’t eventually catch him out with. He always proved me wrong.

I won’t be surprised if he tries this one.

Mac ‘security threat’ has evaporated in 24 hours

Shortly after updating a security bulletin recommending widespread use of antivirus software on Macs, Apple took it down. The action reflects the company’s confidence in the security of Mac OS X — confidence that is, for the most part, well-founded.

We have removed the KnowledgeBase article because it was old and inaccurate,” Apple spokesman Bill Evans told Macworld. “The Mac is designed with built-in technologies that provide protection against malicious software and security threats right out of the box.”

The bulletin was receiving a lot of media attention, and many bloggers theorized that Apple was implying Mac OS X is now more vulnerable to viral attack. In response, Apple removed the bulletin Tuesday to dispel such unsubstantiated speculation.

But then, the company is on fairly solid ground in asserting the relative safety of OS X. The debate of which OS is more secure — Mac OS X or Windows — is stale and getting more trivial each year. It’s clear that Apple has won the security game, given the diminutive number of viruses, Trojans and bots for Mac compared to Windows.

Even as Apple’s market share continues to get bigger, I have doubts that Mac OS X’s security is suddenly going to go haywire. The benefit of Apple’s tight control over its operating system and hardware is the ability it gives the company to implementing effective, reliable security measures.

So I’m going to go out on a limb here and say to my fellow journalists: Can we stop freaking out about the storm until it actually happens? Right now it’s barely even sprinkling.

Chen’s article will break the heart of anti-fanboys. Not that it will slow the sky-is-falling babble.

Nigeria ‘child witch killer’ held

Police in south-east Nigeria have arrested a man who claimed to have killed 110 child “witches”.

Bishop Sunday Ulup-Aya told a documentary film team he “delivered” children from demonic possession. But after his arrest, he reportedly told the police he had only killed the “witches” inside, not the children.

Self-proclaimed “pastors” extort money from families to exorcise children, but none has been charged until now.

“So many people here believe that children can be possessed by demons that there is rarely any action taken against those who claim to deliver the children in violent exorcisms,” says Sam Ikpe-Itauma, of the Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN).

He says he has been working for six years to bring the attention of the state government to the children being abandoned, sold to traffickers, or murdered.

His organisation is looking after 170 children who have been abandoned or abused after being accused of being witches.

Some religions have left the Dark Ages behind. I guess. I’m never really certain which of the True Believers to feel safe around, though.

There is no shortage of the demented ready to kill in the name of their god.

Solar-powered car completes trip around the world


Daylife/Reuters Pictures

A Swiss teacher has completed the first round-the-world trip in a solar-powered car and said he hoped the 52,000-km odyssey would inspire carmakers to make greener models.

Louis Palmer smashed his “solar taxi” through a wall of polystyrene blocks marking the end of the 17-month trip outside the venue of U.N. climate talks in Poland with Yvo de Boer, the U.N.’s top climate change official, in the passenger seat.

“I think it’s great — he’s driven around the world in this thing so that’s a world record,” de Boer said after clambering out of the blue and white three-wheeled car, which tows a flat-topped trailer with 6 sq meters of solar panels.

The car ran like a Swiss clock,” said Palmer, 36, after the trip through 38 nations during which he said he lost just two days to repairs since leaving Lucerne in July 2007.

“People love this idea of a solar car,” he said. “I hope that the car industry hears ….and makes electric cars in future…”

The car runs on solar power but Palmer also had a battery for travel at night or in less sunny nations, such as winter-time Poland, that he recharged from local electricity.

Good for you, dude. Certainly better than spending your money on Hummers and imitation hybrids.

Roy Keane resigns as Sunderland boss

Roy Keane has resigned as manager of Sunderland after 27 months in charge.

Keane, 37, took over in 2006 but chose to step down with the club lying 18th in the Premier League following five defeats in six matches.

Roy’s decision sums up his desire to always do what is best for the club, despite the club’s efforts to keep him,” said chairman Niall Quinn. “Roy deserves huge respect for his contribution and the manner in which he guided the club from the depths of the Championship back to the Premier League.

“His winning mentality and singled mindedness were just what this club needed. Even in his departure he has been more concerned for the welfare of the players and his staff than himself.

I’ve just had to call my wife at work and pass along the sad news.

Like many foreign fans of proper football played at its best – the English Premier League – we skew our favorites, the teams we support, not by locale or someone we grew up supporting. Ofttimes, a stellar player, a strike team, even a back four draws us to support. But, most often, the man who guides style and system, attack and defense, decides our loyalty.

Roy Keane was the man for us. From his years anchoring the heart of Manchester United to Niall Quinn drawing him to Sunderland, Roy’s integrity and grit – even when you disagreed with his decisions – represented the classic mold of Hard Man easier to admire than imitate.

We’ll miss you, Roy. Hopefully, not for long.

Stove Top stuffing sponsors hot air in bus shelters

In the latest example of a trend that is becoming increasingly popular among advertisers, heated air will descend from the roofs of 10 bus shelters in Chicago, courtesy of the Stove Top brand of roast meat stuffing sold by Kraft Foods. From Tuesday through the end of this month, Kraft is arranging for the company that builds and maintains the bus shelters, JCDecaux North America, to heat them, trying to bring to life the warm feeling that consumers get when they eat stuffing, according to Kraft.

Such “experiential marketing” is intended to entice consumers to experience products or brands tangibly, rather than bombarding them with pitches.

It is a response to the growing ability of consumers to ignore or avoid traditional advertising, thanks to technology like digital video recorders. Experiential marketing is also an acknowledgment that products and brands must offer alternatives to the interruptive model of peddling, which disrupts what consumers want to watch, read or hear. That model has been the mainstay of advertising for more than a half-century.

Other brands wooing consumers with experiential efforts during the holidays in major markets include the ABC Family cable channel, Burger King, Jameson Irish whiskey, Memorex audio products, Remy Martin Cognac and TD Bank.

Uh, I want to know where they’re doing the experiential marketing for Jameson.

Husband says he accidentally shot wife while having sex!

An Urbana Township woman is listed in critical after a strange accident. Investigators say 38-year-old Carolyn Havens was shot in the chest by her husband, Timothy Havens.

Timothy Havens called 911 stating he had accidentally shot his wife while they were having sex.

Havens told authorities he was reaching for something on a night stand while they were being intimate, when the .38 caliber pistol went off, striking his wife in the upper chest…

Court documents indicate the couple has had problems before. Havens served 60 days in jail for assaulting his wife and violating a protection order in October. The judge also ordered Havens to get anger management counseling.

Somehow, I don’t think this is an “oops!”.

CNN shuts down science and technology department

CNN has decided to shutter its science and technology unit — a move that will result in the loss of seven jobs including veteran space correspondent Miles O’Brien…

The decision to do away with science-and-tech reporting as a standalone unit is an editorial one, not an economic one, the media company said. Instead, those stories will be integrated into other parts of the network, CNN spokeswoman Christa Robinson said. For example, the bulk of the network’s environmental coverage is part of Anderson Cooper 360’s “Planet in Peril” occasional series.

O’Brien, who joined CNN in April 1992, was CNN’s chief technology and environment correspondent. At one time he hosted a weekly science-and-technology show.

“In television news, a nearly 17-year stint at one shop is more than just a good run, it is an epoch. I can honestly say I have loved every minute of my time at CNN,” O’Brien said in a statement. “I see a lot of exciting opportunities — and I look forward to exploring what is on the horizon.”

CNN becomes less and less watchable by the day. From being the leading 24/7 news source in the United States, Time-Warner has emasculated and diminished all pretense at journalism.

Since my primary source for TV news is via DirecTV satellite – and they haven’t any more courage and integrity than CNN – I’m fortunate in having a decent broadband connection and an iTunes subscription to proper news channels via AppleTV into our living room.