Lawmakers probe unlicensed peanut plant – sort of

A Texas state legislator says he’ll investigate how a peanut processing plant was able operate nearly four years without a license or being inspected.

The state alleges the plant’s owner, Peanut Corporation of America, never obtained a license and never registered it as a food manufacturer so the state never knew to inspect it, yet a state inspector drove by Plainview, Texas, plant on his way to other inspections.

State Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, told the newspaper he plans to ask his Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee to dig into what went wrong at the peanut plant, including why the state failed to inspect it, saying, “It’s almost like a plane crash. We’ve got to get to the bottom of this to be sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Texas officials only discovered the Plainview plant’s existence after PCA’s other peanut operation, in Blakely, Ga., was connected to a nationwide salmonella outbreak in January which to date has sickened nearly 700 people in 45 states and killed nine, the Morning News said.

The local newspaper knew about the plant. They wrote about the contract. Can Texas politicians read?

Head Lice Going Around Senate

Eighteen senators were sent home from Congress after a routine screening found an infestation of nits, larvae, and adult parasites living on the scalps of high-ranking Washington lawmakers.

The outbreak of head lice, which many are calling the worst in U.S. Senate history, has brought the Capitol to a standstill, with presiding officer Vice President Joe Biden suspending all daily sessions until further notice.

“I regret to inform the American people that the Senate chamber has been struck by a devastating case of lice,” majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said. “Although we’ve already dismissed a number of afflicted senators, and thrown out most of their personal belongings, it is imperative that this issue be resolved as quickly as possible.”

“This outbreak needs to be addressed,” continued Reid, speaking from behind a podium wrapped in airtight plastic sheets. “We can’t risk having lice spread to the House.”

Continue reading

Doctor tells Venezuela’s Chavez to stop talking

It’s something few people can tell Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez: stop talking.

Chavez, whose speeches often stretch five hours or more, said on Sunday his doctor told him to stay quiet for three days to help a sore throat.

“I am a little affected by the intensive, continuous and permanent use of this cannon I’ve got here and the doctor has told me not to talk,” Chavez said to audience laughter.

Chavez immediately responded that silence was not the best medicine for him.

“I said ‘listen friend, do what you can but how am I going to follow this treatment?’ Three days without talking? I lasted one, not even one,” Chavez said at the start of a television show he presents every week.

RTFA. Good understanding, self-understanding albeit brief, about a man whom Americans know only as a demon.

Appeals court allows suit against warrantless wiretapping to proceed

The Obama administration has lost its argument that a potential threat to national security should stop a lawsuit challenging the government’s warrantless wiretapping program.

A federal appeals court in San Francisco on Friday rejected the Justice Department’s request for an emergency stay in a case involving a defunct Islamic charity. Yet government lawyers signaled they would continue fighting to keep the information secret, setting up a new showdown between the courts and the White House over national security.

The Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, claimed national security would be compromised if a lawsuit brought by the Oregon chapter of the charity, Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, was allowed to proceed.

Now, civil libertarians hope the case will become the first chance for a court to rule on whether the warrantless wiretapping program was legal or not.

RTFA. I’m certain you have an opinion.

Military contractor lets staff load P2P. Files leak. Surprise!

Daylife/Getty Images

Employees of Tiversa, a security company that specializes in peer-to-peer technology, reportedly found engineering and communications information about Marine One at an IP address in Tehran, Iran.

Bob Boback, CEO of Tiversa, told WPXI-TV: “We found a file containing entire blueprints and avionics package for Marine One, which is the president’s helicopter.”

The company was able to trace the file back to its original source.

“What appears to be a defense contractor in Bethesda, Md., had a file-sharing program on one of their systems that also contained highly sensitive blueprints for Marine One,” Boback said. Tiversa also found sensitive financial information about the cost of the helicopter on that same computer,

Someone from the company most likely downloaded a file-sharing program, typically used to exchange music, not realizing the potential problems, Boback said.

A minor number of Web-ignorant ideologues have announced this was Iran’s government “hacking” into U.S. secrets. No doubt the “enemy” source in Iran was another file-sharing geek as ignorant of security requirements as the unnamed Pentagon contractor’s IT department.

There is no patch for stupidity.

Dumb crook of the day


A man suspected of robbing a California store has landed in custody after turning up to take a police entrance examination in the same town.

Chula Vista police realised Romeo Montillano was a suspect in the December robbery when he signed up for a police test two months later.

Detectives doubted he would show up after he phoned in from Las Vegas to say he was having car problems. But he arrived on time, by bus, only to be arrested by astonished officers.

Detectives were waiting at the registration table when he walked up and signed himself in as Romeo Ogilve Montillano. Momentarily stunned, they called Mr Montillano out of the exam room and into a nearby office, where they arrested him for the robbery of the town’s KMart discount store on 8 December last year.

During his arrest, Mr Montillano asked if he would still be able to take the exam.

When told that he could not, he then asked if he could re-apply and maybe take the test later.

British coppers are world’s chief loonies at policing protests

Police search wheat field looking for subversive weevils
Daylife/Getty Images

Police have been accused of setting a “dangerous precedent” when they confiscated hundreds of items of property – including children’s crayons, a clown’s outfit and a pensioner’s walking stick – from people attending an environmental protest camp at Kingsnorth power station.

A list of more than 2,000 possessions taken from protesters, who were repeatedly searched going to and from the camp last August, has been obtained through a freedom of information request by Liberal Democrat justice spokesman David Howarth.

It shows that officers took packets of balloon, tents, a clown’s outfit, camping equipment, cycle helmets and bike locks, plastic buckets, bin bags, blankets, soap, banners and leaflets, books, party poppers and nail clippers. A toy plastic gun, life-jackets, inflatable dinghies, paddles and foot pumps were also confiscated, police say, to stop protesters taking to the river around the Hoo peninsula in Kent. Much of the property has yet to be returned…

Kent police were embarrassed over the event last year when, after ministers had justified what they called the “proportionate” £5.9m cost of the security operation by pointing out that 70 officers had been injured at the event, they then had to admit that the injuries reported by officers included heat exhaustion, toothache, insect bites and headaches.

The police admit that almost all the items seized had a legitimate purpose. The idea that it is appropriate to seize ordinary people’s property on the off-chance that it might be used to commit a crime is a dangerous precedent.

“Almost anything can be invested with sinister intent with enough imagination. I even heard of one case where police confiscated a camper’s soap on the basis that it could be used to make them slippery and evade capture by police. This is simply farcical.”

Some of my friends on the Vegetarian Left may have enough hair to intimidate the average school-leaver-copper. That neither justifies preemptive theft nor abuse based on 19th-Century ideology. Demonstrators or crowd-minders.

States look to sin taxes for revenue streams

Legislators across the United States are looking for new sources of revenue from casinos in Massachusetts to legalizing and taxing pot in California.

State Rep. Martin Walsh, a Boston Democrat, told The New York Times his colleagues, who voted his casino bill down, may be more receptive to it now. The measure would authorize two resort-style casinos in Massachusetts, one of them in Boston.

In Nevada, brothel owners support a bill to tax them.

“I think they figure if they become part of the tax stream, the less vulnerable they will be to some shift in mores,” said the sponsor, state Sen. Bob Coffin.

Hawaii is considering legalizing same-sex marriages to lure gay couples.

In Washington, state Rep. Mark Miloscia was surprised by the resistance to a tax on pornography. He said he did not see anything like this when he raised taxes on cigarettes and liquor. “Apparently porn is right up there with Mom and apple pie.”

California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who represents San Francisco, suggests legalizing marijuana would allow the state to capture some revenue from a major cash crop.

This all not only makes sense, it proves that politically, economically, we’re about a half-century behind the rest of the civilized world.

I don’t gamble; but, I chuckle whenever watching a Sunderland football match on Setanta and the electronic hoarding pops up with “ will pay 3 to 2 that Kenwyne Jones will score in the next 10 minutes. Press the Red Button on your remote to place that bet!”

DirecTV, the FCC and all the fuddy-duddies in Congress won’t let the Red Button on my remote do anything like place a bet. I don’t get to make that choice.