Mint fires boss over coin typo


Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Chile’s mint has sacked its managing director after he sent into circulation thousands of coins bearing an incorrect spelling of the country’s name.

The 50-peso coins, worth around 10 U.S. cents each, were issued in 2008 with Chile spelled “Chiie” — an error that was only noticed late last year.

Director Gregorio Iniguez has been fired over a series of issues, including the misspelled coins, which have brought the institution into disrepute,” a mint official told Reuters on Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Yes, if you can find any hang onto them. Screwups like this always appreciate better than the real deal.

Why Iran unrest is not a re-run of the Islamic Revolution

As the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution approached, with the promise of mass protests from Iran’s growing opposition movement, it was tempting to compare the upheaval with unrest that ultimately toppled the Shah of Iran…

While there are striking similarities between the movements separated by decades of Islamic rule, experts say there are even stronger differences that make what lies ahead for the current movement extremely challenging.

“This is a movement that isn’t trying to make a revolution in the sense of toppling a regime,” said Abbas Milani, director of Iranian studies at Stanford University. “It’s making a revolution in trying to make a democratic change…”

“The present day movement is clearly anti-despotic, and it shares that feature with the movement in 1979,” said Ali Banuazizi, a political science professor at Boston College. But that’s where the similarities between the two movements largely end…

“The shah had very little legitimacy — he was brought to power by a foreign-inspired coup (the CIA, folks),” he added, noting that Pahlavi was restored to power after a coup led by Britain and the United States ousted nationalistic Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. The shah had previously fled Iran after (democratically elected) Mossadegh and his supporters challenged Pahlavi’s control.

“The present regime, even though it lost a lot of legitimacy with the irregularities of the election and the refusal of allowing the public to express itself — that aura of legitimacy is still there…”

The makeup of today’s protesters — youth, women, teachers, reformists — also lacks a key component that helped bring down the shah: labor workers.

“There were very strong labor strikes — that’s what really broke the back of the old regime,” Milani said. “We know from documents that when the oil industry when on strike, the regime had no choice”

Experts agree that there’s been no significant upheaval from Iran’s industry workers or the merchants at bazaars.

Of course, this same knowledge and analysis is common knowledge in the State Department, the White House, even Congress. That means little or nothing to the pundits and politicians running their agitprop through the mouth of TV Talking Heads.

Americans will continue along the highway to the potential of war – led by the nose, ignorant of history, impressed by Iranian students who know how to use Facebook, Twitter and text messaging, oh boy – without examining any of the roots of the contempt Iranians hold for our politics.

Officer, you’ve got the wrong person – once again

Three police cars pulled into Christina FourHorn’s front yard one afternoon just before she was supposed to pick up her daughter at school. The officers had a warrant for her arrest.

“What do you mean robbery?” FourHorn remembers asking the officers. Her only brushes with the law had been a few speeding tickets.

She was locked up in a Colorado jail. They took her clothes and other belongings and handed her an oversize black-and-white striped uniform. She protested for five days, telling jailers the arrest was a mistake. Finally, her husband borrowed enough money to bail her out.
“They wouldn’t tell me the details,” she said.

Later, it became clear that FourHorn was right, that Denver police had arrested the wrong woman. Police were searching for Christin Fourhorn, who lived in Oklahoma.

Their names were similar, and Christina FourHorn, a mother with no criminal record living in Sterling, Colorado, had been caught in the mix-up…

The problem of mistaken arrests continues, said attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado. The group, which represented FourHorn, calls Denver’s police work “recklessly sloppy.” An ACLU mistaken identity lawsuit on behalf of four other people is pending against Colorado police agencies…

Since the FourHorn case, the ACLU found at least 237 cases in Colorado in which police may have arrested the wrong person. The figure is likely a small sample since police often release those wrongfully arrested before the first court appearance, the ACLU said…

“Naturally police think people are lying when the person says they didn’t do it,” said Jack Ryan, an instructor at the Legal & Liability Risk Management Institute and police officer for two decades.

“But that doesn’t change the fact that there needs to be an investigation,” he added. “The overall philosophy of justice in this country is that an innocent person shouldn’t be locked up.”

In Christina FourHorn’s case, she was about 100 pounds heavier then the suspect, Christin Fourhorn. Her middle name is Ann, while the suspect’s middle name is Blue. She was also seven years older and didn’t have a tattoo on her left arm, which the suspect did.

Sounds like a police department where families buy a job for the dullest nephew. The one who couldn’t figure out how to work a shovel in the state highway department.

Blame for MySpace turmoil belongs to NewsCorp and Murdoch


Why is this man not smiling?
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Days after MySpace, the struggling social network site, replaced its chief executive, a leading media pundit has said that interference from its owner, Rupert Murdoch, has left the business in a state of “total desperation”.

Last week the site, which was bought by Murdoch’s News Corporation in 2005, made the shock announcement that Owen Van Natta was stepping down as chief executive after less than a year in the job…

Michael Wolff, author of The Man Who Owns the News, a biography of Murdoch, said that the roots of MySpace’s problems were much deeper. “It certainly is not [Van Natta’s] fault – he inherited a business in which you could only manage decline,” he said.

Instead, he suggested, the reshuffle is indicative of a wider panic over the way in which News Corp deals with its online businesses.

The thing that’s going on at News Corp right now is total, total desperation over this digital stuff,” he added. “Rupert is saying, ‘What’s going on with MySpace? What’s happening? Why isn’t this working?’ It’s impossible to explain to him that it’s not working because it’s over, because this is the way the technology business goes. Once it’s past, it’s really past. There is almost no way to get that back…”

While the site has generated plenty of cash for News Corp – at one point, advertising on the home page alone was valued at $1m a day – a series of missteps has left it in turmoil, struggling for success and flailing in the wake of its rivals…

Figures from comScore, the internet traffic analysts, suggest that MySpace has about 57 million users in the US, down from a peak of more than 75 million. Facebook, meanwhile, has experienced incredible expansion in the past 18 months and now boasts more than 400 million users worldwide…

I used to have a modicum of respect for Murdoch’s business acumen. Turns out it hasn’t moved much beyond the end of World War 2.

He brags about NewCorp’ jump in revenues and profits – the bit that derived from Avatar – which is wholly James Cameron’s creation. He failed at trying to make DirecTV a stepchild to SkyTV – and bailed out in months. And, now that MySpace has fallen victim not only to the simple passage of time in Internet years – but, has become a turnoff since he made the home page look like the front of the advertisers’ weekly own paper – he looks for someone else to blame.

He’s getting what he deserves.

Obedient hack proposes $100 million annual tax cut for Microsoft – and, oh yeah, amnesty for $1 billion in tax evasion


Why is this man smiling?
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Facing a $2.8 billion deficit and pending insolvency, Washington State’s House Bill 3176 proposes changes to its B&O Royalty tax that would give Microsoft an estimated $100 million tax cut annually and possible amnesty for more than a billion dollars in past tax evasion.

Under current law, all of Microsoft’s worldwide licensing revenues of approximately $20.7 billion annually are taxable at .484 percent or ~$100.1 million. Under the new law, only the portion of software licenses sold to Washington state customers would be taxable – perhaps resulting in less than a million annually in royalty tax from the company.

The lead sponsor of HB3176 is Democratic Representative Ross Hunter, who represents Medina, home to Bill Gates and a number of current and former Microsoft billionaires and multi-millionaires, and other areas around Microsoft’s corporate campus.

BTW, Hunter is a former Microsoft manager.

Thanks, Cinaedh

F.D.A. to increase oversight of medical radiation

With evidence mounting that radiation exposure from medical scans is a growing public health issue, the Food and Drug Administration is taking action.

The agency says it’s got a “three-pronged approach” to reducing unnecessary exposure to X-rays during exams, such as CT scans and angiograms:

Encourage safe use of medical imaging devices, including stronger safeguards against dangerous doses;

Help doctors make better decisions by making patient doses easier to see and record in medical files;

Empower patients with better information and tools to track their doses, such as a personal dose card.

FDA’s goal “is to support the benefits associated with medical imaging while minimizing the risks,” said a statement quoting Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the agency’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health…

Last week, the National Institutes of Health said it would take steps to standardize recordkeeping of radiation doses at its own hospital, a move that could set a standard for others to follow.

Uh, why did this take so long?

If you care to read through the agency’s report, it’s over here.

Free Speech becomes less than a right for professional patriots

Ralph D. Fertig, a 79-year-old civil rights lawyer, says he would like to help a militant Kurdish group in Turkey find peaceful ways to achieve its goals. But he fears prosecution under a law banning even benign assistance to groups said to engage in terrorism.

The Supreme Court will soon hear Mr. Fertig’s challenge to the law, in a case that pits First Amendment freedoms against the government’s efforts to combat terrorism. The case represents the court’s first encounter with the free speech and association rights of American citizens in the context of terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks — and its first chance to test the constitutionality of a provision of the USA Patriot Act.

Opponents of the law, which bans providing “material support” to terrorist organizations, say it violates American values in ways that would have made Senator Joseph R. McCarthy blush during the witch hunts of the cold war.

The government defends the law, under which it has secured many of its terrorism convictions in the last decade, as an important tool that takes account of the slippery nature of the nation’s modern enemies.

The law takes a comprehensive approach to its ban on aid to terrorist groups, prohibiting not only providing cash, weapons and the like but also four more ambiguous sorts of help — “training,” “personnel,” “expert advice or assistance” and “service…”

Douglas N. Letter, a Justice Department lawyer, said in a 2007 appeals court argument in the case…it would be a crime for a lawyer to file a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of a designated organization in Mr. Fertig’s case or “to be assisting terrorist organizations in making presentations to the U.N., to television, to a newspaper.”

Speech, the Press, thought must all be evaluated according to some sacrosanct standard of patriotism before it is to be “free” in the home of the unbrave. These are the same sort of rules a small band of rebels opposed in 1775. And won.

Now, we have politicians in Congress and the White House who fear defending those same rights. Cowards all.

Most predictably, looking around the blogosphere, today – rightwing nutballs, religious reactionaries, all are pissed off about the Times covering Fertig’s defense of the Bill of Rights. They have become so sucked up by their fear of terrorists, their usual blather about liberty has been completely cast off.