Excommunication is the ultimate punishment for drug dealers. WTF?

Bush, Benedict and Bertone – three caballeros
Daylife/AP Photo

A senior adviser to the Pope has said excommunication could be used to punish Mexican drug traffickers. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who is the Vatican secretary of state, said it was the church’s severest form of rebuke.

Cardinal Bertone said the church was alarmed at what it called the disasters of drug-fuelled violence in Mexico, a largely Catholic nation…

Speaking ahead of a trip to Mexico, the cardinal said excommunication could be a possible punishment for the traffickers, who last year alone were blamed for more than 5,000 deaths…

Cardinal Bertone said it was a very harsh deterrent, that the church used only for the most serious of crimes.

Of course, you could stand in the middle of the fracking Sahara and pray for rain, too. Works about as well.

Wonder if the ecclestical crowd is giving any thought to the fact that in a nation where they are the predominant ideology they can offer nothing better than rude words to some of the most violent lowlife criminals on the planet. They offered little else to the poor and starving of Mexico their whole lives.

Canada’s Taxman yanks Little League charity status

“I might be a CRA undercover agent”
Daylife/AP Photo by Tom Puskar

When thousands of children hit the baseball diamonds across Canada in the spring to play in various little leagues, they’ll have to prepare for more than just wins and losses. Many could see funding for their uniforms, equipment, umpires and field maintenance cut because of a decision by the Canada Revenue Agency.

The CRA has revoked the charitable status of Little League Baseball Canada because of its participation in a tax-shelter program that has raised more than $82-million for six sports groups…

About 40,000 children play in roughly 140 Little League chapters across Canada. Those leagues rely on the charitable status of Little League Baseball Canada to issue tax receipts to donors and to qualify for grants from community foundations and government agencies.

The CRA has issued warnings about tax shelters, which it alleges are structured in a way to give donors a higher tax credit than the amount they actually contribute. It alleges that “buy low, donate high” shelters are designed to help investors profit from tax credits rather than aid charities.

The shelter involving the sports groups was set up by the Parklane Financial Group, based in Burlington, Ont. According to a summary on Parklane’s website, an investor who donates $2,400 to a fund managed by a Parklane affiliate can end up with $10,000 in tax receipts.

Everybody wants to get in on the act. It’s play money, isn’t it?

V-wing turbine one of four alternative energy pilot projects

The Energy Technologies Institute, an energy research consortium with a potential funding pot of $1.6 billion, has today announced the first four projects in which it will be investing.

The projects, which will receive a total amount of £20 million in funding from both the Energy Technology Institute (ETI) itself and the government, focus on offshore wind and tidal power technology.

Led by OTM Consulting, E.ON Engineering and Blue H Technologies respectively, Projects Nova, Helm Wind and Deepwater Turbine are all concerned with offshore wind technologies.

Project Nova aims to assess the feasibility of a unique wind turbine with a pair of giant vertical wings, which developers say has the benefit of ruggedness, stability and simple maintenance when compared to conventional horizontal axis turbines…

Lord Hunt, Minister for Sustainable Development and Energy Innovation, said: “Today’s announcement is a key milestone for the Energy Technologies Institute. The UK has pledged to increased…our use of renewable energy to further secure our energy supplies and help fight the damaging effects of climate change.

“In order to meet these challenge we need to turn the best innovative ideas in wind and marine power in to reality. The Energy Technologies Institute is an excellent example of Government working with the private sector to achieve a quantum leap forward in these vital low-carbon technologies,” he added.

Rock on, Lord!

BTW – look back sometime and give credit to Brian Wilson who got y’all started down this path.

Financial manager fled on motorcycle after staging plane crash

She filed for divorce just a few weeks ago

An Indiana financial manager who apparently tried to fake his death by crashing his airplane left on a motorcycle he had stashed in his parachute landing zone.

Marcus Schrenker fled Harpersville, Alabama, on a red motorcycle he kept at a storage unit leased under an assumed name, officials said.

When authorities searched the unit late Monday night, the motorcycle was gone, and some damp clothes had been left on the floor, the Marshals Office said.

It’s gone. He’s gone,” said Harpersville Police Chief David Latimer.

Schrenker allowed his plane to crash into a Florida swamp near a high-end neighborhood, authorities said. “When I heard there was a plane crash, my first reaction was, this had to be staged,” Tom Britt, a friend in Indiana, told CNN affiliate WRTV. “[My] initial reaction was, ‘I bet he wasn’t in it.’ That turned out to be correct. My second reaction was, he’s trying to escape the pressure that was compounding on him.”

On Monday, a judge in Indiana froze Schrenker’s assets after investigators looking into his businesses dealings for possible securities violations requested the temporary restraining order, said Jim Gavin, spokesman for the Indiana secretary of state.

Meanwhile, this clown could have killed any number of people with his rigged plane crash. It hit only 75 meters from occupied homes.

UPDATE: Schrenker is now in custody in Florida.

Gitmo guard joins former prisoners to speak out on torture

Daylife/Reuters Pictures

A former Guantánamo Bay guard has joined forces with released detainees in Britain to expose the torture inflicted by interrogators at the camp…

Chris Arendt, from Michigan, joined the army shortly after September 11, aged 17, and was sent to work as a guard in Guantánamo two years later, in 2003. After becoming disillusioned with what he saw there, he left the army and joined the campaign group Iraq Veterans Against the War. “It was like sitting down with a bunch of brothers,” said Arendt about meeting a dozen former inmates in London yesterday. “It was really natural, a really organic fit.” He said he was held in immigration for seven hours before being allowed to enter Britain as officials were suspicious that he might try to settle in the UK…

Although a lawyer warned Arendt that he could be charged with treason, the former guard said he did not believe the US government would pursue him through the courts because Guantánamo had become so discredited…

Moazzam Begg, a former Guantánamo detainee who is travelling with Arendt, said the experience of being reunited with a former guard had been “truly unique … We embraced like brothers, like we knew one another.” He said that while the public had become familiar with the experiences of detainees, the guards’ stories were barely known.

I think we’re for a cottage industry after the abdication of King George and Emperor Dick – based essentially on replacing lies with truth, confirming the extent of crimes previously relegated to the category of left-wing war stories by the tame talking heads of American journalism.

Rapid mobile OS development hurting Windows Mobile

Daylife/AP Photo by Paul Sakuma

Lost in the Palm Pre device and WebOS is this fact: It’s an exciting time of non-stop development for mobile operating systems–and it’s killing Windows Mobile.

Microsoft will show the next version of Windows Mobile next month. That’s good news because Microsoft has to do something–Windows Mobile looks homely relative to the new entrants.

A brief recap of the last year or two in the wonderful world of mobile:

* Apple revamps expectations for mobile operating systems with the iPhone;
* Google launches Android (all resources);
* Palm unveils its latest OS;
* BlackBerry’s platform chugs along;
* Nokia bought Symbian;
* The mobile world increasingly goes open source.

And then you have Windows Mobile, which looks more stale by the minute–even when you consider the relatively new Windows Mobile 6.1. It hit me on the plane home last week. Most folks had one of two devices: iPhone (west coast folks going east) and BlackBerries (east coast folks going home). The guy across the way had his Windows Mobile device. He might as well been using Fred Flintstone’s iStone.

Why not? “Fred” Ballmer is in charge of the company, now.

Inauguration time, Google plans a Ball crossing party lines

Eric Schmidt on Meet the Press – last month
Daylife/Getty Images

Google, whose chief executive endorsed Barack Obama during the campaign, is having a party when Obama takes office. “We’re calling it an alternative to traditional inaugural balls,” said a Google spokesman, Adam Kovacevich.

The party, on Jan. 20, is meant for both Democrats and Republicans.

“The guideline that we follow here is that you can’t get anything done in Washington unless you build relationships on both sides of the aisle, and that is our guiding principle to approaching Washington,” Kovacevich said…

Instead of charging guests, as most inaugural balls do, Google is asking them to contribute to five nonprofits, including the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, which is a co-sponsor of the party. Google is matching those contributions.

There will not be any performers at the event, Kovacevich said, but there will be a dance floor.

Asked whether the Democrats or Republicans make better dancers, Kovacevich, well versed in the ways of the capital, declined to answer.

“This is definitely a bipartisan event,” he said.

Isn’t there something about dancing to a tune – and paying the piper?

Toyota plans to have a plug-in hybrid on US streets in 2009

Toyota Plug-In Hybrid at Detroit Auto Show
Daylife/Getty Images

Toyota plans to introduce its plug-in hybrid electric vehicle late this year, a year earlier than originally planned, and a year ahead of the Chevrolet Volt. James Lentz, the president of Toyota Motor Sales USA, said in an interview that Toyota planned initially to make about 500 plug-in hybrids, which would be made available first to commercial customers. About 150 plug-ins will be scheduled for customers in the United States.

General Motors said it planned to introduce its plug-in Volt by late 2010. The Volt, which will be made in Detroit, and powered by a lithium ion battery, is the centerpiece of GM’s efforts to market environmentally friendly cars.

The Toyota plug-in hybrid will be built in Japan, where Toyota also builds the Prius. The first plug-ins will be essentially built by hand, said Masami Doi, Toyota’s general manager of its global strategic planning department.

The plug-ins also will be powered by lithium ion batteries, Lentz said, unlike the Prius, which will continue to be powered by a nickel-metal hydride battery. The lithium-ion batteries will be produced in Japan by Panasonic, which also produces batteries for the Prius, Doi said.

Lentz said the first Toyota plug-ins would be provided to commercial customers like utility companies and others where their use could be carefully monitored. “We’ll learn how they’re used, and where people want to recharge them.”

GM announced it first. Toyota gets it to the market first. See anything consistent in this picture?

New high-altitude, heavy-lifter balloon successfully flight-tested

NASA and the National Science Foundation have successfully launched and demonstrated a newly designed super pressure balloon prototype that may enable a new era of high-altitude scientific research. The super-pressure balloon ultimately will carry large scientific experiments to the brink of space for 100 days or more.

This seven-million-cubic-foot super-pressure balloon is the largest single-cell, super-pressure, fully-sealed balloon ever flown. When development ends, NASA will have a 22 million-cubic-foot balloon that can carry a one-ton instrument to an altitude of more than 110,000 feet…

Ultra-long duration missions using the super pressure balloon cost considerably less than a satellite and the scientific instruments flown can be retrieved and launched again, making them ideal very-high altitude research platforms.

You can track the balloons online. Which is a real gas. Har!