Evidence grows against federal judge – impeachment overdue!

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

It is not the lifestyle of a typical federal judge: five or six vodka cocktails at lunch; gambling with borrowed money; bankruptcy under a phony name; and cash, trips or home repairs from lawyers and a bail bondsman with business before his court…

Why should we believe this isn’t typical? 🙂

“The fact is that we are discovering a pattern of misbehavior that occurred over such a long period of time that it’s virtually unique in the annals of impeachment,” Michael Gerhardt, a constitutional law professor at the University of North Carolina, told the House panel. “Just imagine what happens if you don’t act here? What kind of precedent does that set?”

His lawyer, Richard Westling, acknowledges that the evidence does not look good…he says the House has disregarded significant facts and circumstances. Judge Porteous may have made mistakes, Mr. Westling said in an interview, but his transgressions do not warrant impeachment…

Mr. Westling has his work cut out for him.

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Move over Google phone – here comes the Google netbook

HP, Acer, Dell, and…Google? That’s right — Google could soon join the ranks of those netbook manufacturers. The rumor mill now suggests that a Google-branded netbook will arrive next year, in addition to the Google phone…The netbook would be branded with Google and sold directly to consumers…

As I’ve suggested with the Google phone, hardware isn’t the important thing. Smartphones and netbooks generally have similar specs. Software is key, but what’s potentially the most exciting about Google’s rumored smartphone and netbook plans is the idea of the company selling them directly.

That means you’re looking at a possible Google Store. It means that Google could advertise its hardware to you every time you do a Web search. As some have suggested, it means Google could maybe subsidize its own tech products with advertising.

It also opens the door to more Google-branded products down the line…I’m getting ahead of myself, of course, but if Google is, in fact, planning to directly market and sell a smartphone and netbook with its brand name, I don’t see any reason why it would stop there. Brace yourself for the day that Google owns your entire computing experience, from power up to shut down.


Military burns garbage, body parts in open pits

The pervasive smoke spewing from the junk heap at Balad Air Force Base in Iraq is causing many returning troops to be concerned about the effects on their long-term health.

For four years, the burn pit was a festering dump, spewing acrid smoke over the base, including housing and the hospital.

Until three incinerators were installed, the smelly pit was the only place to dispose of trash, including plastics, food and medical waste.

“At the peak, before they went to use the real industrial incinerators, it was about 500,000 pounds a day of stuff,” according to a transcript of an April 2008 presentation by Dr. Bill Halperin, who heads the Occupational and Environmental Health Subcommittee at the Defense Health Board. “The way it was burned was by putting jet fuel on it.”

A lawsuit filed against the burn pit operators by a contractor alleges the burn pit also contained body parts.

“Wild dogs in the area raided the burn pit and carried off human remains. The wild dogs could be seen roaming the base with body parts in their mouths,” says the lawsuit filed in Texas federal court.

Aside from Balad, there are similar pits at bases elsewhere in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some still have no incinerators…

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Toyota to sell 134 mpg plug-in Prius in 2011 model year

During the summer, Toyota announced it would lease hundreds of plug-in Prius models by the end of 2009 as a “key first step” in evaluating a version for mass production.

Now Toyota is more specific. Executive vice president Takeshi Uchiyamada told reporters in Tokyo that the company plans to sell a retail plug-in Prius hybrid for the 2011 model year, Bloomberg reports, with the intent to sell “several tens of thousands” annually around the world.

The plug-in Prius will run for about 14 miles on pure electricity generated by a lithium-ion battery, according to the report. After that, the gas engine will kick in and run the car as a hybrid, with an expected overall fuel economy of 134 miles per gallon. Toyota is aiming to price the car “affordably;” currently plug-in conversion kits for the Prius are running at about $10,000.

Toyota runs a business. They’ll price the plug-in at what the market can bear – and that will reflect everything from employment figures, wages, availability and price of gasoline to which way the wind blows. The 134 mpg econo-figure is conservative if anything. It is the result of Japanese government testing – not Uncle Sugar’s advertising mill.

Saying that, they’re also smart enough to pare down the price as the economies of scale kick in. The plug-in will be a very desirable little potato – which is why paid pundits are already starting to campaign against public acceptance.

Probably the best indicator of the enormous profits made by the Oil Patch Boys is the number of self-described “independent” pundits and skeptics they actually own.

Art at the level of masturbation

Does breaking a window count as art? Yes, murmured the 50 or so artniks who recently crowded into a former Edinburgh ambulance garage to view a film of sculptor Kevin Harman doing just that. No, insisted Kate Gray, director of the Collective Gallery in Cockburn Street, whose window it was.

The courts are on Gray’s side. [Phew!] Yesterday Harman, a prize-winning graduate of Edinburgh College of Art, was fined £200 for breaching the peace on 23 November, when he smashed a metal scaffolding pole through one of the gallery’s windows. Fiscal depute Malcolm Stewart described the affair as “a rather bizarre incident” which had left Collective staff “upset.”

As Harman, 27, had already paid £350 to have the window instantly replaced, his artistic intervention has proved pricey. The Collective’s decision to prosecute was promptly condemned by Harman’s supporters.

Hopefully, they’ll all chip in to pay the fine for him. No doubt they can afford it.

Gray was unavailable for comment, as was the Edinburgh College of Art, where Harman is in the second year of a master’s course. It is understood that several of his tutors had been supportive of the project, which was initially labelled Brick. The scaffolding pole was substituted as a safer option.

The student, who has a piece in the current show of the Royal Scottish Academy, explained that he was less distressed by the fine than by the Collective’s dismissal of his work as “vandalism”, as the charge sheet put it. “There have got to be serious questions asked of their position as arbiters of art,” he told the Guardian.

His question places him thoroughly in the school which claims graffiti and similar acts of onanistic scribbling – as art. Sadly, if he went to court here in Santa Fe, he would have had a 50-50 chance of getting off.

There is a class of art snob that specializes in categorizing crap as valuable. Mostly because they’re incapable of creating anything lasting on their own.