Leave it to a Republican to run for Congress in four states at once


Just fill in whichever state you feel deserves this clown

Allan Levene says he is a Republican congressional candidate in his home state of Georgia, as well as in Michigan, Minnesota and Hawaii.

Levene, 64, admits running for four congressional seats simultaneously is unorthodox, but nothing in the Constitution forbids it — and he wants to be a member of Congress as a way of saying thanks.

“I have such a debt to this country, a debt of gratitude to the United States for taking me in and letting me become a citizen about 40 years ago that I have to repay it,” the naturalized citizen originally from Britain said.

Wait. Let me get my rubber boots on.

The Constitution states a person elected to the House of Representatives must be a resident of the state he or she will represent when elected, so Levene will choose one race if he wins a primary election…

The Founding Fathers “didn’t really understand you could fly from state to state … times have changed so I am running in four states,” he said. “I can represent the public no matter where I live…”

K. Mark Takai, a Democrat and Hawaii state representative running in Hawaii’s 1st District, a race Levene has targeted, said he is skeptical and unsure if Levene’s strategy will resonate with Hawaiians.

The heart of representative democracy (is that) you want someone to represent you who represents your community and its people,” Takai said.

Someone might explain further that Congress-critters should represent the whole community – not just the corporate flunkies who buy and sell electoral positions as an inherited right, defined by the class they truly represent.

Wearable tech, Japanese style: Smart bra unlocks for true love

In one of the more absurd examples of wearable technology we’ve seen lately, a Japanese firm has created a high-tech bra called the True Love Tester that literally snaps open only when it senses that the woman is in love.

Lingerie maker Ravijour developed the bra as part of a campaign to celebrate the company’s 10th anniversary. Featuring embedded sensors and a high-tech clasp, the True Love Tester bra connects to a smartphone app via Bluetooth. Sensors monitor the woman’s heart rate and the app analyzes the received data to figure out whether the woman is in the grip of true love.

The designers point out that the type of excitement a woman feels when she’s in love is distinguishable from other types of excitement. Presumably that spares the wearer from her bra dropping off at the sight of her favorite snack…

The bra’s makers do seem to take measuring true love quite seriously, though. There’s a graph in the promotional video that plots the woman’s heart rate alongside shopping, jogging, watching horror movies, flirting, getting a surprise gift and eating spicy food. The bra’s clasp comes undone automatically, but only when the “true love rate” exceeds a particular value…

Seems only fair and reasonable to make a companion piece. Say, a zipper for men’s jeans.

NY TIMES editor says Obama’s White House is the most secretive

jill abramson

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden helped The New York Times “keep the public informed on what I consider to be very important matters,” says Jill Abramson, the woman who has the final say on what constitutes “all the news that’s fit to print.”

As executive editor of the Times — the first woman to hold what has been one of the most influential positions in American journalism — Abramson sets the agenda. We talk to her about what she calls the “most secretive White House” she has covered as well as the newspaper’s “seriously flawed” coverage of the run-up to the Iraq War, which happened during her watch as Washington bureau chief. John Seigenthaler also asks Abramson about the future of print newspapers and about accusations that the Times is too far left.

John Seigenthaler: Let me dive right into the news and a little bit about the NSA and Edward Snowden. Daniel Ellsberg was quoted recently as saying that Edward Snowden was his hero. Do you see Snowden as a hero or a traitor?

Jill Abramson: I see him as a very good source. We have published many of the NSA and GCHQ (British intelligence) documents that came from Snowden. And so I view him, as I did Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, as a very good source of extremely newsworthy information.

Edward Snowden did help The New York Times keep the public informed on what I consider to be very important matters…

John Seigenthaler: Let me move on to another topic in the Obama administration. How would you grade this administration, compared to others, when it comes to its relationship with the media?

Jill Abramson: Well, I would slightly like to interpret the question as “How secretive is this White House?” which I think is the most important question. I would say it is the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering, and that includes — I spent 22 years of my career in Washington and covered presidents from President Reagan on up through now, and I was Washington bureau chief of the Times during George W. Bush’s first term.

I dealt directly with the Bush White House when they had concerns that stories we were about to run put the national security under threat. But, you know, they were not pursuing criminal leak investigations. The Obama administration has had seven criminal leak investigations. That is more than twice the number of any previous administration in our history. It’s on a scale never seen before. This is the most secretive White House that, at least as a journalist, I have ever dealt with.

And do you think this comes directly from the president?

I would think that it would have to…

John Seigenthaler: Everybody has an opinion of The New York Times, so let’s talk about some opinions of the Times. And in particular, The New York Times is often labeled as left-wing, liberal. How do you respond to that?

Jill Abramson: I respond to it by saying I think The New York Times represents a kind of cosmopolitan outlook towards the world and to this country and this city that may strike, you know, some readers as liberal because we have, you know, paid a lot of attention to stories like gay marriage, but these are newsworthy currents in our society.

But it’s not liberal in the sense of being doctrinaire or tied to the Democratic Party in any way. You know, I’ve run many investigative stories and political stories that have made liberal political figures furious.

Folks confuse editorial policy with journalism and reporting. A mistake falling in the category of ignorance – and not limited to the United States.

This is just a portion of the interview appearing at america.aljazeera.com…The full interview will be on AlJazeera America TV, Sunday evening at 7pm ET/4pm PT.

Jacob Williams — driving drunk — kills a motorcyclist, again!


Danny Sanchez and his daughter Megan

A New Mexico man sent to prison six years ago for killing a motorcyclist while driving drunk is back in jail on the same charges, this time for a crash that killed the brother of the judge who sentenced him.

The accident Saturday happened after a witness told KOB-TV that she called 911 twice to report seeing Jacob Williams, 27, driving erratically around her neighborhood near the town of Belen, about 30 miles south of Albuquerque.

But deputies failed to respond before a pickup that authorities said was driven by Williams veered over a center line, killing Daniel Sanchez, 51, and seriously injuring his 11-year-old daughter, Megan.

According to the criminal complaint, breath tests found Williams’ blood-alcohol level at 0.16 percent, or twice the legal limit of 0.08.

State police said Daniel Sanchez died instantly. Megan, a passenger on her father’s motorcycle, has undergone at least two surgeries for injuries to her leg, a family member told the Albuquerque Journal.

Sanchez’s brother, state District Court Judge William Sanchez, of Los Lunas, presided over the 2008 case in which Williams pleaded guilty to felony charges of vehicular homicide, great bodily harm by vehicle and aggravated driving while intoxicated.

William Sanchez sentenced Williams to the maximum six years in prison allowed under the plea agreement.

In that case, authorities said Williams, then 21, failed to stop at an in August 2006 intersection in the town of Rio Communities and struck a motorcycle. That crash killed the motorcycle driver, Quin Sanchez, 42, of Belen, who was no relation to Daniel and William Sanchez.

Tragedy compounded by coincidence. By all accounts Daniel Sanchez was a hard-working dude, an electrician at the University of New Mexico. He’d stay after work a couple times a week to play basketball with other university employees. They played a memorial game, today, one player short. Reminiscing about just another good guy they worked and played with, how much he talked about his wife and kids.

Williams got a 6-year sentence the first time he killed someone, drunk and driving. With good behavior, he was out and on the streets, again after 3 years. He was returned to the slammer for parole violation after a few months and served the rest of his term. Every couple of years we get a case like this. A drunk killing innocents, outrage and a public call for severe penalties, laws that will keep killers off NM roads. Little or nothing happens.

Being drunk and dangerous is culturally acceptable. Booze distributors are powerful enough here that folks don’t even try to get a bill passed requiring a deposit on beer bottles, anymore. And New Mexico politicians are not among the most diligent of hacks – to begin with.

Williams pleaded Not Guilty – this time – today.

Thanks, Mike

Academics balk at proposal to ban personal blogging

Academics across the world are up in arms at a proposal to bar the senior members of the International Studies Association (ISA) from blogging. The proposal says:

“No editor of any ISA journal or member of any editorial team of an ISA journal can create or actively manage a blog unless it is an official blog of the editor’s journal or the editorial team’s journal.

This policy requires that all editors and members of editorial teams to apply this aspect of the code of conduct to their ISA journal commitments. All editorial members, both the editor in chief(s) and the board of editors/editorial teams, should maintain a complete separation of their journal responsibilities and their blog associations.”

Many members of the ISA, a professional association for scholars, practitioners and students in the field of international studies with more than 6,000 members from 80 countries, have erupted in protest at the proposal…

Daniel Drezner, professor of international politics at Tufts university in Boston, said: “I cannot see how this can be a viable long-term policy… At best, it’s draconian, and at worst, an infringement of academic freedom…”

But Harvey Starr, the the South Carolina university professor who serves as the ISA president, said the ban would strengthen the organisation’s code of conduct.

He is quoted by Insider High Ed as saying: “The proposed policy is one response, not to blogs per se, but to issues that can arise with people confusing the personal blogs of the editors of ISA journals with the editorial policies for their journals. This proposal is trying to address that possible confusion.”

Baloney! Any reader who can’t differentiate between a blog produced for a specific journal and a personal blog should have their reading skills checked to see if they passed the 6th grade.

Regardless of the trimming and template for some personal blogs, those productions which represent a profession or sub-group, an organization, ISA journals in particular are clearly identified as such. Mr. Starr’s sophistry is sophomoronic.

Turning off your pacemaker?

Nobody really knows exactly how many Americans are walking around with pacemakers and defibrillators. But with surgeons implanting at least 225,000 pacemakers and 133,000 defibrillators each year, “there probably are a couple of million” out there now, said Dr. Paul S. Mueller…

The devices prolong lives, but “all those people will face decisions down the road,” Dr. Mueller said. “’Do I keep it going? Do I turn it off?’” Physicians have similar questions, including what kinds of patients confront these choices and who usually winds up making these decisions.

We know a bit more now that Dr. Mueller and his colleagues have reviewed the medical records of 150 Mayo Clinic patients who, over four years, requested that their devices be deactivated — the largest group of such patients examined to date. What the data show is that these patients are mostly male, quite old, very sick — and unprepared to deal with this issue.

“These patients typically are very ill. They’re approaching death,” said Dr. Mueller. Two-thirds were men; their median age was 79. In the years since they received their devices, many had developed other problems in addition to heart disease, including cancer and respiratory and neurological diseases.

Yet the majority hadn’t recorded their desire to deactivate their cardiac devices. More than half — a comparatively high proportion — had done what health care providers perennially urge and had prepared advance directives, but only one of those documents made any mention of cardiac technology…

“The consequence is, a huge number of surrogates had to make these decisions,” Dr. Daniel Matlock said in an interview, pointing out that about half of the requests for deactivation in the study came from surrogates. “Nobody wants that. People’s big concern at the end of life is not to burden their families…”

Continue reading

Street vendor/thief accidentally saves baby from suffocation

A street vendor who stole a bag from a local train in India accidentally saved the life of a baby boy concealed inside, investigators say.

Kishor Kale, 20, left the train Monday with the bag in Kurla, a Mumbai suburb, the newspaper MiD Day, reported Tuesday. He opened the bag at the station, hoping to find cash or valuables, and instead a tiny hand poked out.

Kale tried to dump the bag and baby on the platform but was caught by an alert ticket seller. He told police he was hawking nail polish on the train when he spotted the bag on the floor.

Police said the baby is only about 15 days old. While he is in good health, he would probably have suffocated if he had remained in the bag 10 minutes longer.

Jitendra Rathod, a senior officer with the Government Railway Police in Wadala, said investigators are examining security camera footage to verify Kurla’s story of how he came by the bag and to find out who dumped it and the baby.

Phew! Hope his story is verified. Otherwise this dude is up the proverbial body of water without a means of locomotion.

The size of the chemical blitz bees face in fields


Not-so-mellow-yellowOwen Humphreys/PA

Perhaps I was naive, but when I discovered the extent of the chemical soup applied to typical fields I was astonished. As part of our ongoing investigations into the impact of pesticides on bees, we looked at 25 fields containing winter rapeseed or winter wheat during the 2012-13 growing season. For any particular field, the list of pesticides applied is worryingly long.

These are perfectly normal farms; not especially intensive, situated on the edge of the South Downs in East Sussex, an area of gentle hills, hedgerows and wooded valleys. Beautiful, rural England – Constable would have liked it here. But let’s look at it with a bee’s perspective rather than a painter’s eye.

Let’s look at one fairly typical field. The rapeseed crop, whose flowers the bees will feed on in season, is sown in late summer with a seed dressing containing the insecticide thiamethoxam. This is a systemic neonicotinoid, with exceedingly high toxicity to bees. Taken up into the plant, detectable levels will be in the nectar and pollen the bees gather.

In November, despite the protection supposedly offered by the neonicotinoid seed dressing the crop is sprayed with another insecticide, the endearingly named Gandalf. What harm could the wise old wizard possibly do? Gandalf contains beta-cyfluthrin, a pyrethroid. Pyrethroids are highly toxic to bees and other insects – killing insects is their job, after all – but as there should be no bees about in November that shouldn’t be a problem.

The following May, while flowering, the crop is sprayed with another pyrethroid, alpha-cypermethrin. Only weeks later the crop is blitzed with three more pyrethroids just for good measure – a real belt-and-braces approach. Why use one when three will do? The crop is still flowering at this point (it was a late year), and will be crawling with foraging bumblebees, hoverflies and other pollinators.

Between winter and summer, the crop is also treated with a barrage of herbicides, fungicides, molluscicides and fertilisers – 22 different chemicals in total. Most may have little toxicity to bees in themselves, but some, such as a group of fungicides (demethylation inhibiting or DMI fungicides), are known to interact with both neonicotinoids and pyrethroids, increasing their toxicity to bees.

So, when the fungicide prothioconazole is added to the mix tank that includes the year’s final application of chemicals, any feeding bee will be simultaneously exposed to a barrage of three pyrethroids, the thiamethoxam from the seed casing now in the nectar and pollen, and a fungicide that amplifies the toxicity of all these chemicals.

While farmers, agrochemical companies and food distributors say they haven’t a clue why bees are dying off at extinction levels.

Hogwash!

How an accidental magma strike was harnessed to heat homes


One of the “ordinary” geothermal power plants

Can enormous heat deep in the earth be harnessed to provide energy for us on the surface? A promising report from a geothermal borehole project that accidentally struck magma – the same fiery, molten rock that spews from volcanoes – suggests it could.

The Icelandic Deep Drilling Project, IDDP, has been drilling shafts up to 5km deep in an attempt to harness the heat in the volcanic bedrock far below the surface of Iceland.

But in 2009 their borehole at Krafla, northeast Iceland, reached only 2,100m deep before unexpectedly striking a pocket of magma intruding into the Earth’s upper crust from below, at searing temperatures of 900-1000°C.

This borehole, IDDP-1, was the first in a series of wells drilled by the IDDP in Iceland looking for usable geothermal resources. The special report in this month’s Geothermics journal details the engineering feats and scientific results that came from the decision not to the plug the hole with concrete, as in a previous case in Hawaii in 2007, but instead attempt to harness the incredible geothermal heat…

…cementing a steel casing into the well, leaving a perforated section at the bottom closest to the magma. Heat was allowed to slowly build in the borehole, and eventually superheated steam flowed up through the well for the next two years…

The well funnelled superheated, high-pressure steam for months at temperatures of over 450°C – a world record. In comparison, geothermal resources in the UK rarely reach higher than around 60-80°C.

The magma-heated steam was measured to be capable of generating 36MW of electrical power. While relatively modest compared to a typical 660MW coal-fired power station, this is considerably more than the 1-3MW of an average wind turbine, and more than half of the Krafla plant’s current 60MW output.

Most importantly it demonstrated that it could be done. “Essentially, IDDP-1 is the world’s first magma-enhanced geothermal system, the first to supply heat directly from molten magma,” Elders said. The borehole was being set up to deliver steam directly into the Krafla power plant when a valve failed which required the borehole to be stoppered. Elders added that although the borehole had to plugged, the aim is to repair it or drill another well nearby.

Bravo! None of this response was as placid as it may sound written up for scientific journals. The facility faced the danger of eruption and fire throughout the experiment. Staff and scientists demonstrated their resourcefulness, resolving questions on the fly.

Cow farts sparked into explosion, fire at German dairy farm

The methane gas released by 90 flatulent cows caused an explosion in a farm shed in Germany, damaging the roof and injuring one of the animals, local police said.

In a statement, the force said high levels of the methane gas had built up within the structure in the central German town of Rasdorf on Monday thanks to animals belches and flatulence, before “a static electric charge caused the gas to explode with flashes of flames.”

The subsequent blast damaged the roof of the cow shed, Reuters reported. Emergency services who attended the scene took gas readings to check for any potential further blasts.

One of the cows was injured and had to be treated for burns it sustained during the incident, a police spokesman added.

No need to add a political comment. You can come up with your own, no doubt.