“I only have several mistresses – I’m not a polygamist!”

A French Muslim threatened with being stripped of his passport for practicing polygamy on Monday denied the accusation, saying he had only one wife and several mistresses.

The case of Lies Hebbadj, an Algerian-born butcher who became a French citizen when he married a French woman in 1999, has flared into a major political row with opposition parties accusing the government of exploiting the situation.

Hebbadj’s story came to light on Friday, when his wife complained she had been fined for driving while wearing an Islamic veil on the grounds that it was dangerous.

Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux accused Hebbadj of having four wives, who between them were claiming single parent benefits for his 12 children…

Hebbadj said only one was his wife and the others were lovers.

If one can be stripped of one’s French nationality for having mistresses, then many French could lose theirs,” he told reporters in the Western city of Nantes, where he lives…

Local authorities on Monday launched an official investigation into the polygamy and benefit fraud claims.

One of the few situations where a trite phrase like “Damned if you do – Damned if you don’t” – fits.

Interior secretary Salazar approves Cape Wind

In a groundbreaking decision that some say will usher in a new era of clean energy, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said today he had approved the nation’s first offshore wind farm, the controversial Cape Wind project off of Cape Cod.

“This will be the first of many projects up and down the Atlantic coast,” Salazar said at a joint State House news conference with Governor Deval Patrick. The decision comes after nine years of battles over the proposal.

America needs offshore wind power and with this project, Massachusetts will lead the nation,” Patrick said.

The decision had been delayed for almost a year because of two Wampanoag Native American tribes’ complaints that the 130 turbines, which would stand more than 400 feet above the ocean surface, would disturb spiritual sun greetings and possibly ancestral artifacts and burial grounds on the seabed. The ocean floor was once exposed land before the sea level rose thousands of years ago…

“I am convinced there is a path we can take forward that both honors our responsibility to protect historical and cultural resources and at the same time meets the need to repower our economy with clean energy produced from wind power,” he said…

George Bachrach, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, hailed the decision, saying it was “a critical step toward ending our reliance on foreign oil and achieving energy independence. ”

“Those who continue to resist and litigate are simply on the wrong side of history,” he said.

I have a personal past that shares in this decision. I grew up with subsistence fishing on the New England coast.

I understand those who assign primacy to viewscape, nature. But, New England tradition included folks who were daring enough to sail halfway round the world in search of new economies. That tradition accepted the inclusion of new ideas into the commercial and social life of old communities – from steam power to the abolition of slavery.

Those who see only mutually exclusive conflicts in renewable energy and their view of the horizon, those who believe their religion trumps the needs of the greater modern society – are stuck in the wrong century.

North Carolina town bans thongs


Click for Florida alternative – NSFW in North Carolina

If you plan on going to Kure Beach, North Carolina, bring your sunscreen and shades, but please leave your thong behind.

The seaside community has adopted a zero tolerance policy on anyone wearing the barely-there bikini by the shore on their part of North Carolina’s Pleasure Island, just south of Wilmington.

“You can do what you want to in your own space,” said Mayor Dean Lambeth, “but for public decency, keep it off the public beach…”

The decision to forbid thongs was triggered by a couple’s recent inquiry about spending their honeymoon in Kure Beach, Lambeth said. According to the mayor, the couple wanted to know if they could wear thongs. The man thought the town’s policy on the matter was ambiguous, Lambeth said. After consulting with the police chief, he determined the ordinance should be amended to better address the issue.

Section 12-32 of the Code of the Town of Kure Beach, which was adopted on April 22, makes it illegal “for any person being naked or insufficiently clothed … to bathe or swim in the Atlantic Ocean” or any other area within the town’s jurisdiction. Sun-bathing “naked or insufficiently clothed” is also banned.

“Thong bathing suits or similar attire are specifically prohibited,” the code says.

Anyone wearing a thong on the beach will be fined $25…

He also suspected the decision on the thongs could end up in court and blamed liberals for that.

“You can file a suit — the way this country is leaning so far left, it wouldn’t surprise me,” he said. “They want to challenge it? They want to spend the money? Go for it.”

He’s probably right. Sex-obsessed Republicans seem to stick to public restrooms.

Goldman grilled on oversight – by those who ignored oversight


Just about every word – is a lie!

The chief executive of Goldman Sachs has defended his company’s business practices amid accusations of conflict of interests, that it knowingly sold customers products it thought would lose money, and that it helped cause the US financial crisis.

Testifying before the senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in Washington DC on Tuesday, Lloyd Blankfein said customers who bought securities from Goldman were looking for risk “and that’s what they got”.

Carl Levin, the panel’s chairman, said there was a “fundamental conflict” in Goldman selling securities and then betting against the same securities, without telling customers…

The senator told Blankfein: “They’re buying something from you, and you are betting against it. And you want people to trust you. I wouldn’t trust you.”

And we should trust our senators? Fat chance!

But Blankfein, the final witness at the day-long hearing, denied such a conflict.

“We do hundreds of thousands, if not millions of transactions a day, as a market maker,” he said, noting that behind every transaction there was a buyer and a seller, creating both winners and losers…

Senior executives said that they were not prescient about the housing market, just diligent about limiting its risk.

“Unfortunately, the housing market went south very quickly,” Blankfein said. “So people lost money in it…”

The housing market went south through illegitimate gambles on mortgages for people who didn’t qualify. Programmatic sleaze endorsed as often by Democrats as Republicans.

Hoping Tuesday’s hearing would build support for financial reform legislation now before the senate, Democrats said Goldman’s actions leading up to the financial crisis clearly demonstrated a need for stronger regulation.

Over the course of the day, members of the committee left to vote on cloture, to allow debate before the Senate on financial oversight. Every single Republican voted against allowing debate.

Hypocrite of the day was the Democrat Claire McCaskill. Yammering at Lloyd Blankfein, she demanded to know why Goldman, Sachs didn’t provide oversight of derivatives?

She and her peers in Congress have the responsibility to legislate and monitor such oversight. Over the last couple of decades they have done exactly zero to provide what they whined about.

Personality, aging – and brain shrinkage!

Psychologists at Washington University in St. Louis have found an intriguing possibility that personality and brain aging during the golden years may be linked.

Studying MRI images of 79 volunteers between the ages of 44 and 88 — who also had provided personality and demographic data — the researchers found lower volumes of gray matter in the frontal and medial temporal brain regions of volunteers who ranked high in neuroticism traits, compared with higher volumes of gray matter in those who ranked high in conscientious traits…

She notes also that the results could be seen as “the tail wagging the dog.” That is, it is actually brain changes during aging that influence personality.

Right now, we can’t disentangle those two, but we plan to in the future by conducting ongoing studies of the volunteers over time to note future structural changes,” Head says…

“We assumed that neuroticism would be negatively related to structural volume,” Jackson says. “We really focused on the prefrontal and medial temporal regions because they are the regions where you see the greatest age changes, and they are also seats of attention, emotion and memory. We found that more neurotic individuals had smaller volumes in certain prefrontal and medial temporal parts of the brain than those who were less neurotic, and the opposite pattern was found with conscientiousness…”

Another way of looking at the findings, Head says, is that neuroticism might add an increasing vulnerability to the pathological processes that go on in aging, particularly in Alzheimer’s.

So, if I plucked some bible-quoting, creationist birther from the middle of a Tea Party rendezvous – grabbed him by the neck and gave him a shake – I’d probably hear his brain rattling around inside his kettle, eh?

Stealing electricity with a meat hook and not too many brains


This guy was not Benjamin Franklin

German police are investigating a man for theft after he siphoned electricity off a high-voltage overhead transmission line for one month with the help of an ordinary meat hook.

The 36-year old man from Sibbesse in Lower Saxony concocted the plan to steal electricity after the power company cut him off for failure to pay his bills, police said.

The man attached a cable to the meat hook and tossed it onto an overhead power line. He then drew power from the transmission line to his home, located about 150 meters away.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my 34-year-career,” said Friedrich-Wilhelm Lach, chief executive of regional utility Ueberlandwerke Leinetal GmbH, told Reuters. “It’s incredibly dangerous and utterly stupid.”

An employee of the utility noticed the meat hook during a routine check. Lach said the man was lucky he is still alive and warned copycats not to try it: “It will kill you,” he said.

I can’t wait for this stunt to be tried by some of the knuckle-dragging gangbangers in my neck of the prairie.