Big-hearted R.I. bill would let gays have funeral rights

The Rhode Island state Senate has passed legislation allowing “domestic partners” the right to claim each others bodies and arrange funerals.
The bill would apply to both homosexual and heterosexual couples, defining domestic partners as those in an “intimate, committed and exclusive relationship,” The Providence Journal reported Wednesday.

Gay marriage is now legal in four of the six New England states with New Hampshire and Rhode Island the holdouts. A number of other bills have been introduced in Rhode Island to either ban gay marriage or extend partnership or marriage rights to homosexuals, but the all except the funeral bill remain stalled in committee.

During legislative hearings on the bill earlier this year, Mark Goldberg described spending weeks trying to arrange the release of his longtime partner’s body for cremation. He said state officials refused because he and Ron Hanby were neither related nor legally married until a state Department of Human Services employee went to bat for him.

“I felt as if I was treated not as a second-class citizen, but as a non-citizen,” Goldberg said.

How can some of these bureaucrats justify their pitiful existence? The biggest and best favor they could give the state is – NOT coming to work.

Barrett’s 5 Rules

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Craig Barrett, Intel’s former chairman and CEO, has offered up some great rules that helped guide his business life. In a profile for The Wall Street Journal, Michael Malone talked to the recently retired Barrett about his work ethics, business philosophies, and working with Intel legends like co-founders Gordon Moore and Bob Noyce and former CEO Andy Grove. If you are an entrepreneur, you might just find “Barrett’s Rules” to be invaluable.

1. Invest in hard times. Intel invested heavily in capacity, and when it came out of the downturn, it was able to meet the pent-up demand faster than others.

2. Consensus is mostly good. Except when it is not. “There’s a time to let everyone twist the knobs and a time to make a decision,” Barrett says.

3. Follow the business, not Wall Street. No arguments about that, though in the case of start-ups, his advice is not to follow the pundits, media and others who are not your customer. “The job of the CEO is not to reward the short-term speculator of your stock, but to do a good job long-term for your shareholders, employees and customers,” he says. Look what happened to the old AT&T, which paid too much attention to Wall Street.

4. When something works, don’t reinvent it, reproduce it. McDonald’s fries, anyone?

5. Good competitors matter. “It’s like athletes: To be a great company you need great competitors…It’s what keeps you alive and keeps you honest,” Barrett says.

RTFA. Worthwhile – and thanks to Om for steering folks to it.

Greenest car of the year is … another car we can’t get in the U.S.

Volvo S40 diesel DRIVe – 58 US MPG

It may not be a streamlined hybrid, a futuristic electric vehicle or a snazzy biofuel car, but a distinctly boxy diesel Volvo has won What Car? magazine’s award for the year’s greenest car.

A small family car with carbon emissions on a par with Toyota’s Prius, the Volvo S40 DRIVe received the award today from London mayor Boris Johnson. Vauxhall’s Ampera electric car and US electric car-maker Tesla also received awards.

Johnson said: “There are clear incentives for manufacturers to raise the bar higher and higher to design less gas guzzling cars that take hundreds of pounds off consumers’ fuel bills. This is good for the planet, good for the economy and great for the driver.”

What Car? editor Steve Fowler said of the winning Volvo: “It’s not just about a low CO2 figure. The S40 is great to drive, safe, has enough space for the family and, crucially, is cheap to run, too…”

Fowler warned the recession had made cars’ environmental credentials a low priority for consumers. “Green issues are still a hot topic, but it’s fair to say that they are not right at the top of car buyers’ priorities at the moment. It’s just as well then, that green cars will save you plenty of cash at the fuel pumps and will likely be worth more than other cars when you come to sell.”

Once again, we get to look at a laundry list of leading auto designs that most of these manufacturers don’t think of bringing to the United States.

Yes, part of that is the success the Big 3 had for several years cranking out gas-guzzlers. And everyone fears the motoring public in the States has the attention span of a cricket – and will not stick to sensible choices in transportation if the year-round price of gasoline drops to something considered affordable.

Do you think that’s really likely? The “dropping to affordable” part – I mean?

RTFA. Only four of the ten winners are available in the GOUSA.

Ex Israeli finance minister found guilty

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A former Israeli finance minister has been convicted of stealing millions of shekels from a national trade union he once headed.

Avraham Hirchson was found guilty by the Tel Aviv District Court of stealing 2.5 million shekels (more than $600,000) from the National Federation of Workers and its subsidiary. The former minister was indicted along with three other officials and charged with conspiring to steal funds from the organizations. He also was found to have received monthly payments of thousands of shekels under the table to cover his personal expenses, including meals in expensive restaurants, holidays, medicines and political activity…

In her ruling, the judge said…”he did not present one single honest explanation.” The judge also ruled that under Hirschson’s command, the two organizations were turned into a casino “in which all the executives earned money that wasn’t theirs.”

Yup. The leading democracy – self-titled – in the Middle East proves once again it’s capable of corruption all the way to the top of the government. Think this is the tip of the iceberg?

Fighting porn the official rationale for more censorship in China

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The move will give the government unprecedented control over what can and cannot be seen on the internet. In recent weeks, China blocked access to a host of websites, including Hotmail and Twitter, and expressed worries that the internet was becoming a tool of protest.

An issue of the state-controlled magazine, Outlook Weekly, strongly criticised local officials for not paying more attention to the internet, saying that online debate forums in China are not just “ordinary chit chat in free time” but could also be stirring trouble…

The program, called Green Dam, is designed primarily to stop access to pornography, according to its makers, Jinhui Computer System Engineering company. “From July 1, every PC will be shipped with the software before it is sold to customers,” said a member of the company’s marketing department, who identified herself only as Miss Zhou.

“This is very good news for users, so they should not uninstall it. It will automatically filter pornographic images and antirevolutionary content. It will not take up much space on the hard drive. It is very stable and we have conducted many tests already,” she added.

A second program, called Youth Escort, filters out rude or subversive words.

If the two programs are installed, they can allegedly transmit personal information and make it difficult for users to tell what access is being denied.

Under the terms of the new rules, manufacturers can also ship the programme on a separate disc, but have to report how many units have been sold together with Green Dam.

Yes, this reminds me of what some governments in the West are also trying to make official policy – and meeting stern resistance from the geek community and anyone who espouses a constitutional view of civil liberties.

Of course, you needn’t wear a tinfoil hat to believe the tale that some software producers already collaborate with the FBI and CIA and provide a backdoor for spying on ordinary citizens. After all, most of our Telcos and Internet providers have already been proven to roll over for the Feds – and Congress passed laws protecting them from lawsuits over such an invasion of privacy.

China just appears to be barging ahead in a manner suited to their administrative style. We’re more democratic in the West. Our government allows discussion – before they screw us, anyway.

Recruiting moderates leaves losers in charge of Republican Party

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As Representative John M. McHugh of New York began planning his retirement from the House after being picked to be the new secretary of the Army, a chunk of Republican morale prepared to depart with him.

In picking Republicans like Mr. McHugh for top jobs, the Obama administration says it is assembling a coalition government that welcomes qualified members of the opposition. It gives the White House a claim to bipartisanship despite continuing clashes with Republican Congressional leaders.

But the political benefits are an equally strong incentive. Remaining Republican colleagues become discouraged and feel further isolated in the minority. Political vacancies are created. And Republicans can be painted as being hostile to more moderate Republicans or those willing to engage the Democratic administration.

You just figured that out, eh?

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Hillary Clinton – “At first I said no…”

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When then-President-elect Barack Obama first asked Hillary Clinton to be his top diplomat, she turned him down and recommended others for the job, the secretary of state said in an interview broadcast Sunday.

Speaking to ABC’s “This Week,” Clinton also said the president has answered the central question she raised about him when she was his chief rival for the Democratic nomination last year.

In her famous “3 a.m.” ad, she questioned whether Obama was the right candidate to handle a middle-of-the-night international crisis.

Has the president answered it for you?” host George Stephanopoulos asked.

“Absolutely,” Clinton replied. “And, you know, the president, in his public actions and demeanor, and certainly in private with me and with the national security team, has been strong, thoughtful, decisive, I think he is doing a terrific job. And it’s an honor to serve with him.”

The former senator from New York and former first lady revealed details of how she came to accept the role. Video Watch analysts dissect the Clinton-Obama relationship »

“I never had any dream, let alone inkling, that I would end up in President Obama’s cabinet,” she said. “When I left the presidential race after getting some sleep and taking some deep breaths, I immediately went to work for him in the general election. … And I was looking forward to going back to the Senate and, frankly, going back to my life and representing New York, which I love. And I had no idea that he had a different plan in mind…”

She added, “Ultimately, it came down to my feeling that, number one, when your president asks you to do something for your country, you really need a good reason not to do it. Number two, if I had won and I had asked him to please help me serve our country, I would have hoped he would say yes. And finally, I looked around our world and I thought, you know, we are in just so many deep holes that everybody had better grab a shovel and start digging out.”

I guess Stephanopolous didn’t read Richard Wolfe’s diary of the Obama campaign.

When I saw Wolfe on TV being interviewed about the book – he said Obama had picked Hillary for Secretary of State before he was even elected, before the primaries were over. Which describes his early insight – and confidence.