Arrests in India over women attacked by right-wing “Army”

The leader of a right-wing group is among a number of new arrests that have followed an assault on women drinking in a bar in the city of Mangalore.

Pramod Mutalik heads the little known local group called the Sri Ram Sena (Army of Lord Ram) in the southern state of Karnataka. Mr Mutalik says it is “not acceptable” for women to go to bars in India. He has argued that Saturday’s assault on the women was justifiable because his men were preserving Indian culture and moral values.

The BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi says the attack – which was filmed and then broadcast on national television – has shocked many Indians. Television pictures showed the men chasing and beating up the panicking women – some wearing skirts. Some of the women, who tripped and fell, were kicked by the men.

Women’s groups have strongly condemned the attack which has been described by the country’s Women’s Minister Renuka Chaudhury as an attempt to impose Taleban-style values.

Right-wingers of most nations are often cowards. They prefer to attack people without comparable means of defense – like a pack of hyenas. What we call in my neck of the prairie – bushwhackers.

Mutalik’s gang seems no different.

Enviro campaigners in Japan posts “toilet poems” to save paper

“Don’t Piss Here”

Poetry in the loo can cut down on paper use too, says a Japanese group campaigning to save toilet paper as part of the country’s battle against global warming. Simply pasting a “toilet poem” at the eye level of a person seated in the cubicle can help cut toilet paper use by up to 20 percent, a study by the research center Japan Toilet Labo showed.

That paper will meet you only for a moment,” reads one poem. “Fold the paper over and over and over again,” says another. Or just: “Love the toilet.”

“We asked ourselves what we could do for the environment in the toilet?” said Ryusuke Nagahara of the Japan Toilet Labo. “The answer is to save toilet paper and save water.”

Toilet paper use in Japan has been increasing in recent years…because of a rise in the number of public toilets, where people tend to use more paper…”because it’s free,” said an official at the Kikaisuki Washi Rengokai. “At home, people are more inclined to scrimp.”

I’m OK with all of this – as long as people don’t start talking to the toilet paper.

Police Rob Bank for Practice, Endangering Everyone

Police chiefs in China have been slammed for hiring actors to rob a bank as a training exercise – without telling anyone else.

Only the director and the deputy director of the Zhenzhou police department knew it was a drill – everyone else, including the bank, thought it was a real raid.

Four ‘robbers’ rushed into the Post Office Bank, disarmed security and demanded all the people inside drop to the floor. They even snatched a customer’s bag containing £20,000, reports Guangzhou Daily.

Critics said police officers, unaware that it was a training drill, could easily have used their guns on the fleeing robbers.

They were also concerned about the psychological effect on bank cashiers and customers who had been put through a traumatic situation.

The kind of story that can be completely ruined by healthy skepticism.

MP3 player bought in thrift shop holds US military files

A New Zealand man who bought an MP3 player from a thrift shop in Oklahoma found it held 60 U.S. military files, including names and telephone numbers for American soldiers. TV One News said the 60 files contained personal details of U.S. soldiers, including some who had served in Afghanistan and Iraq. A New Zealand security expert said the information should not be in the public domain, but that it did not appear likely to affect U.S. national security.

The U.S. Embassy declined to comment on the incident.

Chris Ogle, 29, from the northern New Zealand city of Whangarei, said he bought the music player at a thrift shop in Oklahoma, and that he found the files when he linked the $18 device to his computer, TV One News reported.

The private information about troops included U.S. Social Security numbers and even which female troops were pregnant.

Details of equipment deployed to bases in Afghanistan and a mission briefing were also found on some files, the report said, displaying names like “Bagram,” a main U.S. base in Afghanistan, from the files on screen.

Some of the files included a warning that the release of its contents is prohibited by federal law. Oh, well, then everything is secure.

BTW, Ogle hasn’t yet heard from the Feds. He offered to turn the MP3 player over if they want it.

Promoter says Monster trucks are safe – then he’s crushed and killed

Sorry – I don’t have an actual photo of the accident for you!
Daylife/Reuters Pictures

A monster truck show promoter, who days earlier touted his event’s safety record, died after being crushed by one of the trucks during a show in Madison, Wisconsin. His death was the second fatality at a monster truck event in just over a week.

“Review of the incident shows that George [Eisenhart] accidentally stepped in front of a moving vehicle in a fashion that did not provide the vehicle’s driver adequate time to react,” said a statement from the Monster Truck Racing Association.

Eisenhart, 41, died eight days after a 6-year-old boy was killed by flying debris at a monster truck show in Tacoma, Washington. The shows were staged by different promoters.

Great accident. Brings together all the cultural qualities you could possibly wish for: superstitition, oversized motor vehicles, noise, smoke and death.

Gamer shoots 9 people, kills 2, leaves instructions on selling his PS3

This past Saturday night, suspect Erik Salvador Ayala fired shots into a random crowd in Portland, Oregon. After killing two and injuring seven, Ayala shot himself in the head. The gaming connection?

Ayala is described as being “quiet” and those who knew him say this shooting comes as a complete surprise. This shooting is the worst shooting in Portland’s history.

Police have released new details about the 24 year-old Ayala. He was unemployed and apparently depressed, leaving what appears to be a suicide note for his roommate. In it, he says that he can be found “somewhere downtown,” but he “wasn’t sure” where. Ayala also included all his personal information (SSN, back account number, alien number, etc.) He also left his PS3 to his roommate:

“You know my ps3 is special. Similar USED ps3’s go for AT LEAST $450-$500. Our landlord guy wants a ps3 like mine. Let him know that $400 would be a GOOD deal. If he doesn’t want it, format the drive by going to Settings>System>Format Utility. You can say it “comes with the latest firmware software” to help market it on the internet. In case you don’t know, it’s the special “100% backwards compatible” (60 GB) ps3.”

The Oregon press also points out that he enjoyed playing Resistance and Left 4 Dead. Just in case you’re keeping track.

Laser 1, Drone 0 in Boeing sandbox games

Last month, a small robotic plane flew into the skies over New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range. Tracking the drone was an experimental Humvee, equipped with a laser. The real-life ray gun then took aim at the drone, and began blasting. Soon, the drone had a hole burnt through it — and was crashing down to the desert.

For decades, the Army and the Air Force have used laser prototypes to zap unmanned planes. But what makes this test, held last month, a little different is that the laser was small, and low-powered. Which makes the ray gun, at least in theory, fairly easy to fit into an existing combat vehicle.

The laser-equipped Humvee is a modified version of the Army’s Avenger air defense system. It uses more traditional means — eight missiles — to take out low-flying targets. So why use the ray gun? “Laser Avenger, unlike a conventional weapon, can fire its laser beam without creating missile exhaust or gun flashes that would reveal its position,” Boeing’s Gary Fitzmire contends. “As a result, Laser Avenger can neutralize these UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] threats while keeping our troops safe.”

For now, the company is funding the Avenger out of its own pocket, “to demonstrate that directed energy weapons are maturing and are relevant to today’s battlefield.”

We’re doomed. Doomed! We’re all doooomed!

Texas Two-Step

One would think that by now the teaching-evolution-in-schools debate was settled. But not in Texas, where the State Board of Education fumbled a decision on curriculum standards last week. The struggle will be resumed in March, when the board is scheduled to take its final votes on new science standards that will govern what is taught in the classroom and in textbooks.

Seven of the board’s 15 members are deemed social conservatives. What the board decides could have an impact on many other states, because Texas is a huge market for textbooks and publishers are often reluctant to produce multiple versions of the same textbook.

The new standards dropped a phrase that had been in previous ones requiring students to study the “strengths and weaknesses” of all scientific theories. Although that language may seem innocuous, it has been construed in recent years as code words for introducing critiques of evolution theory put forth by advocates of creationism and its close cousin, intelligent design.

We were heartened when the board beat back, by a very narrow margin, efforts to reintroduce the language on “weaknesses.” But the conservative bloc immediately recouped by pushing through amendments that require students to assess the arguments “for and against” common ancestry, a core element of evolution theory, and its “sufficiency or insufficiency” to explain the fossil record. How that differs from the old language of “strengths and weaknesses” is not readily apparent.

The lesson we draw from these shenanigans is that scientifically illiterate boards of education should leave the curriculum to educators and scientists who know what constitutes a sound education.

“Social conservatives” – in Texas – means bible-thumping reactionaries who are still pissed off over losing the Civil War, the VietNam War, opening public schools to non-whites and scientific education beyond the reach of turning water into wine.

Cutting calories ‘boosts memory’ in elderly test group

Reducing what you eat by nearly a third may improve memory, according to German researchers.

They introduced the diet to 50 elderly volunteers, then gave them a memory test three months later. The study…found significant improvements…

There is growing interest in the potential benefits of calorie restricted diets, after research in animals suggested they might be able to improve lifespan and delay the onset of age-related disease. However, it is still not certain whether this would be the case in humans – and the the levels of “caloric restriction” involved are severe.

The precise mechanism which may deliver these benefits is still being investigated, with theories ranging from a reduction in the production of “free radical” chemicals which can cause damage, to a fall in inflammation which can have the same result.

The researchers from the University of Munster carried out the human study after results in rats suggested that memory could be boosted by a diet containing 30% fewer calories than normal…

They also showed other signs of physical improvement, with decreased levels of insulin and fewer signs of inflammation. Care was taken to make sure that the volunteers, despite eating a restricted diet in terms of calories, carried on eating the right amount of vitamins and other nutrients.

A spokesman for the British Dietetic Association said that people, particularly those already at normal or low weight, should be “extremely careful” about attempting such a diet. “It could even be dangerous if the person is already underweight.”

“It could even be dangerous if the person is already underweight.” Har! That’s not a problem for me.

Fiat-Chrysler partnership will offer 7 new models to U.S. drivers

Since the announcement of the Chrysler-Fiat partnership last week, speculation has swirled about what models would come out of the American-Italian venture. Automotive News got the skinny on what’s on the way, and according to their unnamed sources, we can expect seven new vehicles in North America – four under the Chrysler brands and three as Alfa Romeos or Fiats.

The plan covers vehicles on four platforms, spanning from a micro-car to a mid-size sedan, with plants in North America being tasked with building most of the new models. Chrysler’s Toluca, Mexico plant, which current builds the Dodge Journey and not-long-for-this-world PT Cruiser, will begin producing the Fiat 500 under the alliance.

What’s on the way?

The agreement involves two new minicars (A-segment) that share the same platform. The first is the aforementioned Fiat 500 and the second, a five-door hatchback based on the Fiat Panda, will likely be badged as a Chrysler or Dodge…

Moving up to the B segment, Chrysler could get the next generation Fiat Grande Punto, Alfa could begin selling the MiTo and the same platform could be used to create a small crossover for Chrysler.

On the mid-size front, Chrysler – which is in desperate need of both C- and D-segment models to replace the Caliber/Compass and Sebring/Avenger, respectively – could utilize Fiat’s new C-Evo architecture to create a new sedan and a more respectable compact car.

And what’s Fiat get out of all this? An inexpensive entry into the North American market, manufacturing capacity and a sizeable distribution network. And if you think Chrysler is getting all the goods, Fiat plans to distribute the Dodge Journey and Dakota pickup in South America, and will be able to utilize Chrysler’s new Phoenix V6 in its own line of products. Not quite balanced, but hardly a bad deal.

Probably no need to even note this in the United States; but, NO mention of diesel power. Which predominates? Ignorance or stupidity?

I know we need a campaign to remove the unbalanced excise tax system which leaves consumers with diesel costing more than gasoline. I know we need a campaign to overcome consumers’ pictures of leaking, smelly cars – courtesy of GM. But, having more power and better economy is sufficient motivation for me to make the switch.