NRA refuses discussion on guns, gun safety, with the DOJ

The White House said on Monday that the Justice Department is reaching out to “stakeholders on all sides of the issue. The goal would be to look at ways to find common ground” on “common-sense measures” on guns to improve public safety and security, while respecting the Second Amendment…

But NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre told Reuters in a telephone interview that if asked to attend such a meeting, the country’s leading gun-rights group would say no.

“I mean absolutely not,” adding that such a meeting would be with firm opponents of gun rights…

Obama waded into the politically treacherous gun control debate on Sunday, calling for reform of rules to prevent attacks like the one that wounded an Arizona congresswoman two months ago, while making conciliatory remarks toward gun owners.

In an opinion piece published in the Arizona Daily Star, he said some 2,000 people had perished from gun violence in the short time since a gunman in Tucson killed six people and shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the head.

“Every single day, America is robbed of more futures. It has awful consequences for our society. And as a society, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to put a stop to it,” he wrote.

Obama said he hoped the Tucson shootings could spark a national discussion on preventing gun violence.

Most gun-control advocates know that most gun owners are responsible citizens. Most gun owners know that the word ‘commonsense’ isn’t a code word for ‘confiscation,'” he wrote.

What LAPierre has clarified, once again, is that joining the NRA is like joining some fundamentalist religion that brooks no interference by common sense, open minds or rational thought and dialogue.

Pepsi escalates renewable bottle battle with Coke

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, cola wars rivals for a century, are now locked in a bottle battle.

PepsiCo Pepsi’s new bottle is made from switch grass, pine bark, corn husks and other materials. Ultimately, Pepsi plans to also use orange peels, oat hulls, potato scraps and other leftovers from its food business.

Two years after Coca-Cola Co. unveiled a bottle made partly from plant materials, PepsiCo says it is introducing a better one. The Purchase, N.Y. company says it has developed the world’s first plastic bottle made entirely from plant-based, fully renewable resources, cutting the use of petroleum. Coke’s PlantBottle is made of up to 30 percent plant sugars…

Beverage companies are trying to design bottles to counter environmental concerns. The bottled water industry is using lighter plastics, dropping the average weight of the 16.9 ounce “single serve” bottle by a third over the past eight years, according to the International Bottled Water Association.

That means less fuel consumed to transport the beverages.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle is available in nine countries and is expected to reach more than a dozen other markets this year. More than 2.5 billion PlantBottles have reached the marketplace, a number Coca-Cola says equates to saving about 3 million gallons of gasoline.

The technology will also appear in Heinz bottles, under a partnership with the ketchup-maker, and possibly in bottles for Honest Tea, a Maryland company Coca-Cola just acquired. The PlantBottle is made partly with natural sugars found in sugarcane ethanol from Brazil. Odwalla, a Coca-Cola juice brand, plans to switch to the PlantBottle within the next few weeks.

Before someone brings it up – yes, I know that glass is one of the easiest after-use commodities to recycle. And we’re not about to run out of sand to make glass bottles either. But, either road, glass production in the traditional manner consumes a boatload of energy. And that, too is a commodity which must be paid for by consumers.

Smart crooks of the day!

A group of burglars padlocked the gates to a French police station car park before carrying out a raid on a supermarket.

The gang then smashed through plate glass windows and stole laptop computers and mobile phone from the Carrefour store in the town of Feurs, near Lyon, France.

Police took ten minutes to cut their way through the locked gates of the car park – arriving at the scene to find the robbers had fled…

A Feurs police spokesman added: “An investigation is under way, but it does seem as if we are dealing with a very well prepared gang of professional thieves.”

The burglary at around 2.30am on Monday comes three months after another armed gang padlocked police station gates before a bank raid near Paris.

They also blocked an access road to the bank with a burning car before using explosives to blow open a cashpoint machine at the BNP-Paribas bank in Aulnay-sous-Bois.

The four gunmen armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles then stole several hundred thousand euros in cash before fleeing on two high-powered motorbikes, and were never caught.

Looks like it’s getting easier than ever to acquire high-powered weapons in Europe.

Ah, the cultural influences of America spread worldwide.

Police raid on children who picked daffodils in the park

Sienna Marengo, four, was seen picking flowers with six-year-old stepsister Olivia in Poole, Dorset. A member of the public reported them to police and two constables attended and advised the girls’ mother, Jane Errington, that she and her partner, Marc Marengo, could be arrested for criminal damage…

The family had been enjoying the spring sunshine with a walk through Whitecliff Park on Sunday when the girls broke off and started to pick daffodils.

Errington, who owns a property maintenance business, said: “The little ones had been riding their bikes but after a while they got bored and went to play in the daffodils.

“I didn’t see them pick any flowers, but the next thing we knew a police patrol car pulled up and the officers in it started watching us.

“We didn’t know what was going on and after about 20 minutes my partner started feeling very uncomfortable.

“Two male police officers then came up to us, saying they’d had a report of flowers being ripped up. They said we had committed a crime.

“The little ones were really upset and started crying. It was quite frightening for them. They did have daffodils in their hands – I’d say about 20 between them – and they had been picking them up and sorting them out like children do.

“If we’d seen it, we would have stopped them, but all it needed was for whoever complained to have approached us and made us aware.

I had to explain to them that the police are friendly and it was just a mistake. I explained to them that the flowers were there for everybody and that in the future we will leave them there.

“I just felt it was unnecessary and upsetting. Surely the police have better ways to spend their time and taxpayers’ money?”

When I was a kid, the first police officer I knew was “Uncle Jimmy” who guided schoolchildren across the street at the one major intersection we had to cross on the way to elementary school.

Of course that changed over the years, Eventually I got to the day when I was beaten by seven coppers for demanding access to a federal courtroom where a trial was in progress. Forty-plus years later, I still have the scars across on my skull from their clubs.

Somewhere in between, the line between police as a force for directed repression and community aides blurred and disappeared. Over time, I’ve known coppers who joined the force for access to free drugs – and coppers who were inspired by TV shows like Quincy to study forensics to aide in determining guilt or innocence.

I doubt the change originated with Brother Blue. Like so much in our lives, change comes from the political hacks in charge, the small number of people they actually represent – and the willingness, the readiness of citizens to obey.

Obama criticized by senior Democrat John Conyers

Senior Democrat John Conyers of Michigan criticized Barack Obama Monday, hoping, Conyers said, to “make him a better president.”

Citing the troubled job market, rising energy costs, and turmoil in the Middle East, Conyers told reporters at the National Press Club: “We keep getting a longer and longer list of things he wanted to do, wished he could do more about, and is of course having a big problem.”

“The only thing that saves him, of course, is that there doesn’t seem to be anybody to run against him next year,” Conyers said.

After naming prospective challengers Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, among others, Conyers said he still supports Obama because “the alternative is unthinkable. I just want to make him a better president…”

Conyers said, “It is kind of amazing to me that there is still adopted, even in this administration, the attitude that military prowess will settle things down. And they rarely, if ever, do.”

He also responded to a question about the recent departure of a ranking State Department official who was critical of how the Pentagon is reportedly treating U.S. Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, a soldier suspected of a role in the WikiLeaks scandal. “I was not in agreement again with the president saying that he’s told Manning’s been treated — his confinement is okay, that he’s told everything is alright. I don’t think it’s all right.”

It’s almost a pleasantry to hear criticisms grounded in fact instead of the fuffarraw and agitprop we get from the KoolAid Party and corporate Republican hacks.

The American Left hasn’t been especially reluctant about criticising Obama for many of the issues he’s copped out on for one or another rationale. And, yes, Conyers certainly has it wired when he notes the alternatives are much worse.

Dumb crook of the day

Mahaveer Kankariya asked the dumb question

Two New York Diamond District wholesalers were already awaiting sentencing for hiring men to dress up as Hasidic Jews and rob their store at gunpoint in an insurance fraud. That’s when one of them reportedly asked a bail bondsman if they could bribe their way out of trouble.

According to the New York Post, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice threw Atul Shah and Mahaveer Kankariya back in jail last week after one of them asked, “Is there any way I can bribe the judge?”

Prior to the reported blab, both men were allowed to remain free pending sentencing.

Shah, 49 and Kankariya, 43, were charged Feb. 23 with grand larceny, insurance fraud and falsifying business records in connection with the bogus gunpoint robbery at their Midtown jewelry store on New Year’s Eve 2008.

Investigators became suspicious after the robbery when they discovered that the two owners had taken out a new insurance policy just before the heist.

Both men could face up to 15 years when sentenced April 29.

And maybe a bonus for the advice on bribery. I hope.