10-point victory for Women’s Rights over anti-abortion forces in Albuquerque special election

The anti-science, anti-civil rights coalition of religious true believers and right-wing organizers from around the country have failed. Their attempt to kickoff a shutdown battle against pro-choice women’s rights came down to failure by 10 percentage points. A spread that is at least as great as national averages – perhaps foreshadowing another step forward in the whole range of civil rights changes happening in the United States.

Nutballs from Operation Rescue moved to Albuquerque, setting up a field headquarters away from their bastion in Kansas here in New Mexico. Fortunately, though we have our own native crew of religious crazies, we also have a much larger number of religious folks, atheists, ordinary who-gives-a-damn citizens who resent attempts to shut down civil liberties in the name of superstition over science.

No need to refresh the realities of the issue. Just a chance to congratulate the citizens of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who turned out more voters in this special election than came out to re-elect a popular Republican mayor a few weeks ago.

With 49 of 50 polling places reporting, AGAINST 55% – 45% FOR limiting the right to choose an abortion.

Police arrest newlywed bride for biting her new hubbie


How far do you want to go with Goth?

Police in Washington state said a honeymoon was called off when the allegedly inebriated bride was jailed on accusations of biting her new husband.

Kennewick police Sgt. Ken Lattin said officers responded to the Red Lion Hotel in Kennewick during a fight between a 40-year-old bride and a 31-year-old groom after the ceremony Saturday night…

The bride was determined to be the aggressor in the fight and allegedly bit her husband.

Lattin said the husband refused to give a statement or allow officers to take photos of the bite mark.

You’re going to leave it up to our imagination?

UNACCOUNTABLE: The Pentagon’s deliberately bad bookkeeping


Behind the Pentagon’s doctored ledgers, a running tally of epic waste

For two decades, the U.S. military has been unable to submit to an audit, flouting federal law and concealing waste and fraud totaling billions of dollars

Linda Woodford spent the last 15 years of her career inserting phony numbers in the U.S. Department of Defense’s accounts.

Every month until she retired in 2011, she says, the day came when the Navy would start dumping numbers on the Cleveland, Ohio, office of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the Pentagon’s main accounting agency. Using the data they received, Woodford and her fellow DFAS accountants there set about preparing monthly reports to square the Navy’s books with the U.S. Treasury’s – a balancing-the-checkbook maneuver required of all the military services and other Pentagon agencies.

And every month, they encountered the same problem. Numbers were missing. Numbers were clearly wrong. Numbers came with no explanation of how the money had been spent or which congressional appropriation it came from. “A lot of times there were issues of numbers being inaccurate,” Woodford says. “We didn’t have the detail … for a lot of it.”

The data flooded in just two days before deadline. As the clock ticked down, Woodford says, staff were able to resolve a lot of the false entries through hurried calls and emails to Navy personnel, but many mystery numbers remained. For those, Woodford and her colleagues were told by superiors to take “unsubstantiated change actions” – in other words, enter false numbers, commonly called “plugs,” to make the Navy’s totals match the Treasury’s…

After the monthly reports were sent to Treasury, the accountants continued to seek accurate information to correct the entries. In some instances, they succeeded. In others, they didn’t, and the unresolved numbers stood on the books.

Read it and weep, folks! The Pentagon realized decades ago that they are untouchable. When the War Department became the Defense Department, after the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned about completed their triumph over Congress and the White House – the official religion of the United States put on a uniform and required focus only on “our brave defenders” and not the profiteers whose invoices and charges remained unchallenged in perpetuity.

Why mandate accountability at the consumption end when there is little or none at the production and profit end? We hear the rare voice lifted by some poor shlub in the Pentagon that they really don’t need 1500 more gold-plated toilet seats at $6000 apiece. Immediately followed by three political hacks in Congress screaming blue murder that 47 constituents in their home district will have to look for work elsewhere if this is allowed. And that is sufficient to put a halt to the idea.

It’s a long, detailed verifiable article. A worthwhile read. One that will anger you sufficiently – I hope – to holler at your elected Congress-critters and demand action. At a minimum.

It is nice to see BTW that although I fear the Thompson cartel’s purchase of Reuters is trying to steer news-gathering down the primrose path of conservative ideology, they haven’t yet succeeded in crushing the tradition of honest investigative reporting.

US Military has no problem wasting $25 million on a useless project

Afghan poppy field
Could you teach me to grow these here poppies back in Texas?

A U.S. military investigation found no wrongdoing in a decision to keep building a $25 million regional headquarters in Afghanistan that local commanders said they didn’t need or want.

The 64,000-square-foot command headquarters in Helmand province, approved as part of a surge of U.S. troops to Afghanistan in 2009, has a war room, a briefing theater and enough office space for 1,500 people.

The special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, John Sopko, criticized the project in July, saying he was “deeply troubled that the military may have spent taxpayer funds on a construction project that should have been stopped.”

Army Major General James Richardson, a deputy commander of United States Forces-Afghanistan, found “no evidence” that proceeding with construction amounted to any “violation of law or regulation,” according to a memo obtained yesterday on his investigation of the project at the request of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Sopko had said the headquarters risked becoming a “white elephant” to the Afghan government when most U.S. and allied forces depart by the end of next year. The inspector general has issued a stream of reports that he says show waste and mismanagement of U.S. spending in the country.

As early as April 2010, the local Marine commander of the region found the project “was no longer necessary to execute the mission” and requested its cancellation

Not that the Pentagon and their overseers – the real ones in the military-industrial complex, not the incompetents in Congress – have any problem with cost overruns or producing structures and devices of no value whatsoever. After all, the worst case scenario – for them – is a minimal cost-plus structure. And the average American politician like the average American voter never has caught on to programs with costs inflated – since the guaranteed profit is based on “costs”.

Drone too small for any pilot bigger than a cockroach

You may have noticed that we enjoy our quadcopters here at Gizmag, from the GPS-equipped Phantom 2 Vision to the palm-sized 1SQ V-cam. Recently though, we had a chance to try out a somewhat unusual style of quad in the form of the tiny Proto X from Estes. It may not have a laundry list of features under its belt, but the Proto X does hold the distinction of being the smallest quadcopter we’ve ever reviewed … by a huge margin.

The Proto X costs US$39.99 and comes ready to fly with its own controller right out of the box…The only necessary components missing from the box are two AAA batteries, which are needed for the transmitter. However, fitting them into the controller and charging the quadcopter via USB are the only steps needed before the Proto X is prepared to take off.

I really can’t stress enough how incredibly tiny this quadcopter is. It’s actually a little startling to pick it up for the first time, because it isn’t much bigger than some insects you might find in your backyard…

Due to its size, flying the Proto X feels like guiding a large bug, right down to the faint buzzing noise it makes. If it weren’t for the LEDs that light up when it’s switched on, it would be difficult to keep track of it at a distance. My haphazard attempts to take photos of it in flight with an ordinary digital camera made me sympathize with anyone who’s tried to record a UFO.

The box and instructions say it’s intended for indoor use, so that’s where I flew it most, but I did take it outside once just to see how it would handle. After a gust of wind blew it far away after it had barely lifted a few feet off the ground though, I understood why the manufacturer had made that call. It might fare better on a nicer day, but in my area, this isn’t exactly the time of year to find out…

At one point when it was hovering in place, my dog actually leaped up and snatched it right out of the air. He released it almost immediately, and I made sure to get him out of the room before flying it from then on, but the quadcopter still came out of it without even a scratch. I doubt it would survive being stepped on or dropped off a building, but it’s still nice to know it can survive a few mishaps during regular use.

We would have to keep our Sheila outdoors if we got one of these to play with in the house. She catches and eats grasshoppers on our walks this time of year.

For about $40, I can think of all sorts of evil deeds this critter might be used for by the average high school or undergrad geek. Phew!