Senate beancounters still haven’t extended jobless benefits

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

With U.S. unemployment rising, lawmakers hope to resolve a logjam this week on a measure that would extend jobless benefits for those who already may have exhausted them, Senate aides said.

Congressional leaders had hoped to extend benefits before the end of September, when some 400,000 recipients were expected to use them up. But while the House of Representatives last month passed a bill, jobless benefits legislation stalled in the Senate due to a dispute over how many workers should be eligible.

While some details remained unresolved, the measure could come up for a vote in the Senate within days, said an aide to Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who argued that the legislation was too narrowly targeted.

Shaheen objected to legislation passed by the House that would extend benefits for jobless workers only in states where the unemployment rate is above 8.5 percent. The unemployment rate was 6.8 percent in August in Shaheen’s home state of New Hampshire…

A compromise measure drafted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus would give workers in hard-hit states an additional 13 weeks of benefits, while those in states like New Hampshire that have not suffered as badly would get an extra four weeks.

Shaheen hopes to broaden that to an extra 17 weeks for jobless workers in all states, an aide to the senator said. Both versions would extend a temporary tax on employers for at least two years to avoid adding to the budget deficit.

The gun-thug amalgamation of Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats who could hardly be expected to give a damned about someone who’s out of work is at it, once again.

These sleazy lawyers and other layabouts never spent a day in their lives worrying about how to feed their kids or scrounge up gas money for job hunting. Their only time away from the public trough – was early days spent plotting how to get there when they set out on their personal political gold-brick road.

Oh, they have managed to agree on spending an extra half-billion$ on a jet engine Gates says we don’t need. But, that keeps life on an even keel at the country club.

Nobel for Physics won by the Masters of Light

Willard S. Boyle, Charles K. Kao, George E. Smith

The mastery of light through technology was the theme of this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics as the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences honored breakthroughs in fiber optics and digital photography.

Half of the $1.4 million prize went to Charles K. Kao for insights in the mid-1960s about how to get light to travel long distances through glass strands, leading to a revolution in fiber optic cables. The other half of the prize was shared by two researchers at Bell Labs, Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith, for inventing the semiconductor sensor known as a charge-coupled device, or CCD for short. CCDs now fill digital cameras by the millions…

All three of the winning scientists hold American citizenship. Dr. Kao, 75, was born in Shanghai and is also a British citizen, and Dr. Boyle, 85, is also a Canadian citizen.

Dr. Smith, 79, said he was planning to celebrate later in the day. “I’m hoping for an early cocktail hour today,” he said. “Once the photographers and phone calls and reporters thin out.”

Dr. Boyle, raised by telephone to address a news conference held by the Nobel committee in Stockholm, sounded stunned. “I have not had my morning cup of coffee yet, so I am feeling a little bit not quite with it all,” he said…

Half the world thinks these guys are magicians in a distant castle. The other half thinks they are the antichrist or something equally dangerous.

Somewhere in the pie graph is a thin slice of active scientists – and devotees of scientific progress – who exult in the knowledge gained, processes understood, advancements for humankind.

14-year-old strolls through TSA using his mom’s name


A strapping 14-year-old Canby, Oregon, runaway – Dakota Davis – was able to board a flight to Chicago using his mother’s name and credit card.

Dwayne Baird, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, said minors are not required to show identification to pass through security. He said they must show a boarding pass and are screened like all other passengers.

But, uh, then how do you ascertain you’re talking to a minor? This kid is 6’2″ tall.

Baird said a TSA screener asked the boy if his name was Virginia — the first name of the passenger listed on the ticket — and he answered, “Yes.” The boy then passed through security and made the flight.

That’s right. He ordered the ticket online using his mom’s credit card. The boarding pass was issued in his mother’s name – Virginia.

Using an AT&T program the family bought for about $9, company technicians were able to locate Dakota, who was carrying his cell phone. The program showed that he was near Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

Davis then alerted Clackamas County sheriff’s deputies, who contacted Chicago police. Officers met Dakota at a baggage claim area and arranged for a free return flight home, courtesy of United Airlines.


Blue Stonehenge discovered near the original

Archaeologists have discovered Stonehenge’s little sister, dubbed Bluestonehenge, just 2.8km away on the west bank of the River Avon.

The site, once made up of 25 blue Preseli stones – hence it’s nickname – was constructed about 5,000 years ago. According to archaeologists from the Stonehenge Riverside Project, Bluestonehenge linked the ‘domain of the dead’ to that of the living at Durrington Walls further upstream, with the River Avon being the vital link between the two.

Archaeologists believe the stones represented the end of the Avenue that marked the funerary processional route from the River Avon to Stonehenge: no pottery, animal bones, food residues or flint tools associated with domestic life have been found at Bluestonehenge…

Prof. Julian Thomas, co-director, added: “The implications of this discovery are immense. It is compelling evidence that this stretch of the River Avon was central to the religious lives of the people who built Stonehenge. Old theories about Stonehenge that do not explain the evident significance of the river will have to be re-thought.”

RTFA. Good photos. Inspiring work.

Oz motorheads limited to four 6-packs a day!

Australian police are gearing up for an annual crackdown on motor-racing fans – limiting race-goers to 24 cans of beer a day.

Spectators at the Bathurst 1000 – a three-day race meeting staged this week – will be told to stick to just the one “slab” of beer while at the racetrack…

Police hope the limits will prevent the famous New South Wales race being blighted by alcohol-related violence.

Known as “The Great Race”, the Bathurst 1000 is a 1,000km (621 mile) event, the highlight of the three-day meeting held annually in the town of the same name. Boasting a long, proud history, the race – seen as the most prestigious motor event in Australia – is currently contested by teams of drivers racing powerful touring cars equipped with V8 engines.

The “one-slab” limit was first imposed in 2007, with police insisting drunken hooligans were tarnishing the reputation of the race and causing disruption in town. Those choosing to drink lower-strength beer will be allowed to bring in 36 cans, police said.

Oh yeah. The beer cans are a little larger, too.

Italian scientist produces mate to Shroud of Turin

An Italian scientist says he has reproduced the Shroud of Turin, a feat that he says proves definitively that the linen some Christians revere as Jesus Christ’s burial cloth is a medieval fake.

The shroud, measuring 14 feet, 4 inches by 3 feet, 7 inches bears the image, eerily reversed like a photographic negative, of a crucified man some believers say is Christ.

“We have shown that is possible to reproduce something which has the same characteristics as the Shroud,” Luigi Garlaschelli…

Garlaschelli reproduced the full-sized shroud using materials and techniques that were available in the middle ages…

Garlaschelli expects people to contest his findings.

“If they don’t want to believe carbon dating done by some of the world’s best laboratories they certainly won’t believe me,” he said…

RTFA. Detailed analysis of method used. We could produce a Shroud of Michael Jackson.

Tales of religious relics are always good for a chuckle. That is if you respect science and reality more than superstition.

Texas utility owner has criminal record the state never noticed

Ken Weaver had a problem with his past. A decade of scheming, stealing and prison made for many inconvenient truths. So by the time Texas licensed him to provide phone and electric service, he had constructed a heroic history.

The college dropout from Duncanville became a dual-degreed university graduate and varsity football legend. The carpenter was transformed into a corporate vice president who developed resorts in Brazil.

The fake pedigree, as well as state inattention, allowed Weaver into the lucrative deregulated utilities market. He was one of a breed of entrepreneurs who saw opportunity in selling expensive electricity to people living on the economic edge.

Weaver’s Freedom Power developed a track record of cutting power to customers in midsummer, despite a state-imposed moratorium on cutoffs during a heat emergency. It also compiled the highest rate of consumer complaints in Texas and one of the highest rates of rule violations of any electricity provider in the state.

The Public Utility Commission, which is supposed to protect consumers in the deregulated market, ultimately fined Weaver’s company $21,050 for a few electrical cutoffs. But it took no other action even after The Dallas Morning News informed it of Weaver’s criminal history and false statements his company made in filings to the commission…

The PUC had little to say about Weaver. One current and two former commissioners said they didn’t know him. Staff lawyers declined to speak on the record.

RTFA. Long and absurd tale of deceptions we’re supposed to accept. The Dallas Morning News cut right through the lies and deceit in a few weeks; but, the Texas Public Utilities Commission never figured it out. They say.