Outback Australians face a 400-mile dry spell

Last weekend, The Ironclad Hotel, the only pub in Marble Bar, Western Australia, closed its doors for good. The town, with a population of just 300, is barely a dot on the map of the vast Pilbara region, and has no dedicated off-licence. Supermarkets in Australia are not allowed to sell liquor.

Temperatures in the town regularly top 113F and the average maximum temperature exceeds normal human body temperature for six months of the year.

So thirsty residents in search of a “tinnie”, or cold beer, were forced to drive more than an hour by car to Nullagine. But now that pub is running low on supplies.

Brett Powter, manager of Nullagine’s only pub, the Conglomerate Hotel, said that a quarter of Marble Bar’s residents had made the long journey so far – and he expects to run out of beer before his next delivery…

The high demand for beer and rum has almost emptied The Conglomerate’s cellars. Mr Powter expects to run out of beer before the next delivery is scheduled to arrive.

“I’ve got 10 cartons of XXXX (Fourex) and that’s it,” he said.

“I’ve got wine left, but nobody drinks wine out in the middle of nowhere.”

Until the next delivery, the beer lovers of Marble Bar will be forced to drive an extra 125 miles further south to the town of Newman, which boasts three pubs.

Has to be the closest thing to a sin against humanity in Outback Oz.

Ex-GOP official arrested for fraud, theft, money laundering

The Republican Flag

Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer has been charged with six felony counts for allegedly directing state party funds to his consulting company, which then paid him.

Greer, 47, faces one count of organized fraud, four counts of grand theft and one count of money laundering, prosecutor Bill Shepherd said.

Greer left the post in February after a chorus of state Republican leaders and donors raised questions about his leadership and management of party funds.

Someone didn’t get their share.

Governor Crist, asked about the arrest during a news conference about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, said it was “obviously disappointing and surprising.”

“I have faith in our judicial system,” Crist said. “I know they will handle it appropriately.”

Prosecutors accused Greer of steering $199,254 in state party money to Victory Strategies, a company he set up with former state Republican Party Executive Director Delmar Johnson.

Victory Strategies, which paid Greer $125,161, was given “a large amount for services that were never performed” by the company, prosecutors alleged.

Family values triumphs, once again.

This is the schmuck who got his national 15 minutes of fame – defaming the president for telling school kids to work hard and stay in school. He got his lying face all over the airwaves!

“Socialist indoctrination” – my aunt Petunia’s polkadot knickers.

Mercury <1% Ford’s market share = Bye-bye in Q4

My kind of Mercury

This was bound to happen sooner or later. Over the last ten years, Mercury’s sales numbers have plummeted, and currently, the brand only accounts for 0.8 percent of Ford Motor Company’s overall market share. In a press conference this afternoon…the automaker has officially announced that Mercury will be discontinued in the fourth quarter of this year.

With all of the forward momentum that Ford has been experiencing over the past few years, no brand-specific models were introduced to the Mercury lineup. What’s more, the vast majority of recent Mercury purchases were made through discounts offered to retirees, friends and family. Mercury’s dealer network (coupled with the Lincoln brand) is currently in the process of being notified about Ford’s decision, and owners are reassured that existing Mercury products can still be serviced at any Ford or (newly standalone) Lincoln dealer.

But it isn’t all bad news down in Dearborn – Ford is using Mercury’s demise as a better reason to seriously beef up the Lincoln brand. Including the 2011 MKZ Hybrid and refreshed 2011 MKX, Ford is expanding the Lincoln lineup with the addition of seven all-new or wholly refreshed vehicles, including the brand’s first-ever C-segment vehicle, possibly related to the C Concept that we saw at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show.

Furthermore, Lincoln will be offering EcoBoost powertrains across the entire lineup, including the next-generation Navigator full-size SUV. Ford is committed to making Lincoln substantially more prosperous in America, saying that the brand will house more useful features and technology than any other competitor, as well as offering the most fuel-efficient lineup of luxury vehicles.

Alan Mulally is the closest thing to Steve Jobs currently in the U.S. automobile industry. What I mean by that is the ability to see far enough ahead of consumers’ needs and requirements to get the next best thing ready in time for that market.

Whether it’s ahead or not, it will feel as if it is. For example, I never thought I’d see an American car company cranking turbo-charged engines and not only using that increase in efficiency to move the vehicle and save fuel; but, move the sales.

Disclaimer: I own enough Ford shares to buy a fraction of a Fiesta. But, I admit I bought ’em cheap.


Political tremors in Tokyo – Hatoyama resigns

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s resignation after just eight months in office has triggered shock across Japan and raised new doubts about the country’s political stability. The fact that a U.S. military base figured centrally in his decision has also generated concerns about the damage to the crucial relationship with Washington under his government.

Hatoyama pointed to two factors in his decision. The first was his inability to fulfill his campaign promise to relocate the U.S. military’s Futenma Marine Air Station on Okinawa…

Perhaps more surprising was the role of a political scandal. In Hatoyama’s announcement, he also asked the party’s secretary general, Ichiro Ozawa, to resign with him…

Perhaps as important is the DPJ’s foreign and security policy vision. The U.S.-Japan alliance and the management of forty thousand U.S. troops in Japan created opportunity for opposition party critique of the old-fashioned LDP approach of solving problems behind closed doors. Public tolerance for this approach was growing thin, particularly in Okinawa where the bulk of U.S. forces are concentrated. In its rise to power, the DPJ took aim at some of these oversight practices. Likewise, it took aim at some of the allegations that “secret agreements” with Washington ran counter to government statements on nuclear weapons transit and other sensitive issues…

What remains to be seen is how the Democratic Party of Japan internalizes the lessons learned over the past eight months as Japan’s governing party and what the legacy of Hatoyama’s resignation will be. In Tokyo, there is also concern that the first effort to govern by the DPJ so badly bruised the bilateral relationship with Washington–particularly with President Barack Obama, a president that many think shared so much of the DPJ’s own goals.

The CFR doesn’t confront the Democratic Party’s unwillingness to address secret agreements, obvious and unpublished restrictions on Japan’s freedom to manage their own political life.

There isn’t any populist army marching on the streets of Japan calling in unison for an end to American governance over portions of foreign policy – other than that last election. But, that vote rejected a half-century of sidekick politics.

Wars of national liberation have been fought over as much.

Obama rolls out investigation into the Gulf Disaster

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Calling the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico the “greatest environmental disaster of its kind,” President Barack Obama vowed to prosecute those responsible.

“If our laws were broken, leading to this death and destruction, my solemn pledge is that we will bring those responsible to justice ,” Obama said.

The president delivered those words as Attorney General Eric Holder announced a federal investigation into whether criminal or civil laws were violated in connection with the spill…

Holder last month dispatched Justice Department lawyers to the spill region to explore whether laws had been broken. Investigators have directed BP and other companies to preserve documents related to the disaster. Although government officials would not say who was being targeted in the criminal investigation, the probe could center on actions by well owner BP and rig owner Transocean…

And no one mentions Halliburton. They were performing the cementing prior to turning the well over to production. They were the outfit performing the same function on the drilling platform that exploded into fire in similar fashion off the coast of Australia, last year.

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Using bone marrow transplants to cure mental illness?

Scientists in the US claim to have used a bone marrow transplant to cure mental illness in a study that could have profound implications for patients with psychiatric problems.

Bone marrow transplants are routinely used to treat leukaemia and other life-threatening diseases, but have never been used to treat mental health problems.

The team, led by a Nobel prizewinning geneticist, found that experimental transplants in mice cured them of a disorder in which they groom themselves so excessively they develop bare patches of skin. The condition is similar to a disorder in which people pull their hair out, called trichotillomania.

A lot of people are going to find it amazing,” said Mario Capecchi at the University of Utah, who won the Nobel prize for medicine in 2007 for his work on mouse genetics. “That’s the surprise: bone marrow can correct a behavioural defect.”

The team said their work is the first to reveal a direct link between a psychiatric disorder and faulty immune cells, which grow in bone marrow before moving to the brain to protect nerve cells from damage.

Capecchi said the condition the animals develop is comparable to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and could shed fresh light on the roots of the disorder. Other illnesses including depression, schizophrenia and autism might also be linked to problems with the immune system, he added…

“This is immensely important and incredibly exciting. It’s definitely something people will want to follow up,” said Douglas Blackwood, professor of psychiatric genetics at Edinburgh University. “Current treatments for these kinds of conditions are not incredibly effective and there’s a massive need for alternatives.”

Other researchers were more cautious about the work. Paul Salkovskis, clinical director of the Maudsley Hospital Centre for Anxiety Disorders and Trauma in London, said it was impossible to draw strong conclusions about the role of the immune system in human mental illnesses from the study. “Excessive grooming in mice is not a good model for obsessive-compulsive disorder in humans, a condition that can be treated effectively with cognitive behavioural therapy,” he said.

RTFA. The analyses parallel my first reactions – in that I wondered if the behavior related to allergies and immune systems?

Dogs can develop a behavioral reaction to allergies that looks like OCD, compulsively licking their forelegs and paws. While humans – well, humans make the definition.

Gangs steal Mexican oil from pipelines

Farmer dips sugarcane into well contaminated with stolen oil

Mexico’s violent drug cartels are getting into the oil business, tapping into underground pipelines and siphoning off tons of crude, gasoline and other fuels, some of which is ending up in the United States.

The stolen fuel has created a huge income stream, as much as $715 million a year, that gangs can use to buy weapons, bribe officials and bankroll their bloody battle against the Mexican government, experts warn.

They sell the fuel through their own gasoline stations; sell it to unscrupulous manufacturers or trucking firms in Mexico; use it to pump up profits at front companies owned by the cartels; or sell it to foreign refiners on the international black market…

The number of illegal pipeline taps has more than quadrupled since 2004, from 102 then to 462 last year, despite renewed anti-theft efforts by Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-owned oil monopoly better known as Pemex. In 2008 alone, authorities arrested 528 people and seized 517 vehicles, Pemex said. Losses that year were $715 million; it has not released an estimate for 2009…

Since October, five American businessmen have pleaded guilty to importing stolen petroleum condensate, a raw ingredient for fuels.

RTFA. Long, detailed, a tale of corruption and crudity.

These thugs are perfectly willing to destroy agriculture, infrastructure – none of it matters to gangsters.