Pic of the Week

You know that Green is starting to happen when three variants on Green Cars get into a mixer with each other.

Shows you how strong a Prius is when – as far as I can see – it was the Prius in the photo that shoved theTesla underneath the VW Touareg.

All three drivers are presumed to have walked away from the crash including the Tesla Roadster pilot.

Yes, I count the Touareg as Green because other sources noted it as a diesel.

President Obama declares a National Emergency over swine flu


There wasn’t any such thing as flu vaccine in 1918

President Barack Obama declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency, giving his health chief the power to let hospitals move emergency rooms offsite to speed treatment and protect noninfected patients…

Health authorities say more than 1,000 people in the United States, including almost 100 children, have died from the strain of flu known as H1N1, and 46 states have widespread flu activity. So far only 11 million doses have gone out to health departments, doctor’s offices and other providers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials…

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius now has authority to bypass federal rules when opening alternative care sites, such as offsite hospital centers at schools or community centers if hospitals seek permission…

The national emergency declaration was the second of two steps needed to give Sebelius extraordinary powers during a crisis.

On April 26, the administration declared swine flu a public health emergency, allowing the shipment of roughly 12 million doses of flu-fighting medications from a federal stockpile to states in case they eventually needed them. At the time, there were 20 confirmed cases in the U.S. of people recovering easily. There was no vaccine against swine flu, but the CDC had taken the initial step necessary for producing one.

”As a nation, we have prepared at all levels of government, and as individuals and communities, taking unprecedented steps to counter the emerging pandemic,” Obama wrote in Saturday’s declaration.

The most contemptible political contradictions in this process come from conservatives and libertarians who started out fear-mongering over vaccines and have now switched to finger-pointing, trying to blame the government for the inability of producers in the U.S. to come up with an adequate supply to match demand.

You can’t have it both ways, folks.

Science says you’re an idiot for relying on gossip and ignorance to stop people from being vaccinated. And I say you’re just a bunch of creeps for the opportunist whine about circumstances beyond the control of government or, for that matter, the vaccine manufacturers.

RTFA to understand how the regs mostly concern quarantine and treatment centers.

Alaskan Republican identified in corruption proceedings

In documents filed this week in Alaska’s long-running political corruption investigation, the government’s lead witness said he had given thousands of dollars in gifts to “United States Representative A” — who could only be Republican Rep. Don Young.

Alaska, uh, only has one Congressional representative.

Bill Allen, a former oil services company executive, said he paid $10,000 to $15,000 a year from 1993 to 2006 out of VECO Corp.’s funds for the representative’s annual fundraiser in Alaska. The lawmaker, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing, did not list any such payments on financial disclosure forms…

Testimony and evidence provided by Allen, who is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday on his 2007 guilty pleas to conspiracy, bribery and tax charges, has helped convict several Alaska state legislators and former Gov. Frank Murkowski’s chief of staff on corruption charges stemming from influence VECO wielded over pending legislation on oil taxes and other matters affecting the industry…

Young, 76, has never been directly identified by federal officials as a target of the probe, and he consistently has refused to publicly answer questions about it. His spokeswoman, Meredith Kenny, declined to comment, and Young’s lawyer did not return a phone call.

Young — Alaska’s only member of the House of Representatives — waved off a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, which initially reported the new court filing. “Don’t bother me,” he said…

The House last year directed the Justice Department to look into a controversial earmark Young had attached to a 2005 highway bill, steering $10 million to study building an interchange of Interstate 75 in Florida near land owned by a major campaign donor and fundraiser for Young.

What? You thought corrupt politicians limited their crooked dealings just to their home states?

Japan’s latest foolish fad – IV vitamin cafes

In trendy neighborhoods of Tokyo customers are lining up for vitamin injections that promise to improve health and beauty.

These intravenous vitamin “drips” are part of the latest quick-fix, health fad catching on in Japan: the IV cafe. Each drip pack contains saline solution and specific vitamins and minerals to target a particular health ailment or beauty concern.

There are 10 different varieties to choose from at Tenteki. The “orange” variety touts anti-aging properties, loaded with antioxidants. The “placenta pack” is said to help rejuvenate and ease muscle stiffness.

Prices range from $20 to $30 per injection, and nurses see about 30 to 40 people each day. Their most common patients are Japanese businessmen who work in the same office building.

Registered nurses and doctors administer the drips at Tenteki, but there’s no conclusive medical evidence to back up the health claims.

Many nutritionists actually caution against using injectable vitamin supplements because the quantities are not regulated.

How close are we coming to the sort of decadent sci-fi world where middle-class fops have their bodies and lives tailored to fit whatever appearance is fashionable. We already have the nip-and-tuck brigade. And now the injectable energy, clear thought and executive brains on demand.

How about some affordable – and legalized – calming agents for the rest of us drones.

Carefully cleaning up the garbage that glows in the dark!

The best-known product of LANL

No one knows for sure what is buried in the Manhattan Project-era dump here. At the very least, there is probably a truck down there that was contaminated in 1945 at the Trinity test site, where the world’s first nuclear explosion seared the sky and melted the desert sand 200 miles south of here during World War II.

But now a team of workers is using $212 million in federal stimulus money to clean up the 65-year-old, six-acre dump, which was used by the scientists who built the world’s first atomic bomb. They are approaching the job like an archeological dig — only with even greater care, since some of the things they unearth are likely to be radioactive, while others may be explosive.

The dump has become part of the $6 billion stimulus program to clean up the toxic legacy of the arms race, which is one of the biggest sources of direct federal contracts in the $787 billion stimulus act. More than $1.9 billion is being spent at the Hanford site in Washington, the home of the nuclear reactor that made the plutonium for the atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki. Another $1.6 billion is being spent cleaning up a Savannah River site, in South Carolina.

After the stimulus bill passed, some Republicans questioned the wisdom of devoting so much money to nuclear cleanups, noting that the Department of Energy’s environmental management program had been bedeviled by cost overruns in the past…

Work that was delayed, diverted, disputed by conservative beancounters for decades. There is nothing more frustrating than political hacks who lament disbursing funds for the clean-up of their pet weapons – more than the life and safety of ordinary citizens affected by radioactive detritus.

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Some of Germany’s wealthiest demand higher taxes

A group of rich Germans has launched a petition calling for the government to make wealthy people pay higher taxes.

The group say they have more money than they need, and the extra revenue could fund economic and social programmes to aid Germany’s economic recovery. Germany could raise 100bn euros (£91bn) if the richest people paid a 5% wealth tax for two years, they say.

The petition has 44 signatories so far, and will be presented to newly re-elected Chancellor Angela Merkel…

Simply donating money to deal with the problems is not enough, they want a change in the whole approach.

“The path out of the crisis must be paved with massive investment in ecology, education and social justice,” they say in the petition.

Those who had “made a fortune through inheritance, hard work, hard-working, successful entrepreneurship, or investment” should contribute by paying more to alleviate the crisis.

The man behind the petition, Dieter Lehmkuhl, told Berlin’s Tagesspiegel that there were 2.2 million people in Germany with a fortune of more than 500,000 euros.

If they all paid the tax for two years, Germany could raise 100bn euros to fund ecological programmes, education and social projects, said the retired doctor and heir to a brewery.

I’ve heard much the same from the seer of Omaha, Warren Buffett. Someone should pull a few coattails on Wall Street.

Todt elected as Mosley successor


Jean Todt and one of the chauffeurs who endorsed him

Jean Todt will succeed Max Mosley as the new head of motorsport’s world governing body, the FIA, after winning the presidential election in Paris…

The vote brings an end to Mosley’s controversial 16-year reign.

Mosley had agreed he would not stand for a fifth term as president as part of a peace deal struck in July to end the threat of a breakaway championship by Formula 1 teams.

Among Todt’s proposals is the introduction of a new commissioner to oversee the running of F1, as well as the other FIA championships.

The Frenchman also wants to examine improvements to the stewards’ decision-making process.

“As the regulator of a hugely competitive and technically complex sport we will also establish an independent disciplinary panel to investigate breaches of the rules and to recommend the most appropriate response.”

Mosley’s presidency has become identified with a period of political strife in F1, with a series of damaging rows in recent years…

What little Moseley accomplished was negated by the expense of his impulsive annual changes – always characterized by his excuse that they would make every aspect of motorsport more exciting for the fans. Which is patently absurd. The excitement drew from the drivers and technicians of the sport getting round his crap, most of the time.

I’ve always felt he was obsessively dedicated only to his own petty self-image. His sexual pecadilloes seem to reinforce that aspect of his personality.

What I find interesting is Todt’s concept of commissioners dedicated to standalone divisions, e.g. F1, WRC, etc.. It’s rumored his choice for Formula One is Michael Schumacher. Which ain’t half-bad in anyone’s book.