Update on the missing 777 from Malaysia

John Young at the press conference ab’t 10:30 MDT

This is for you lot who don’t have TV service allowing you follow this from Al Jazeera?

Tony Abbot is a predictable conservative stiff. He’s not saying everything he knows; but, his staff and the US Spooks they work with have identified at least 2 large objects and many smaller clustered in a single area within the range of the ping arcs tracked by the NTSB. West of Australia about 2300 km. He announced this much to the Parliament in Oz a couple hours ago.

A later press conference – about a half-hour ago – headed by an Oz Maritime official, John Young, just finished and details continue to come out with all the proper cautions that nothing is confirmed until someone can lay hands on what’s floating in the Indian Ocean. The weather ain’t great; but, they’ve scrambled 4 planes capable of flying the 4 hours to the site – spending 2 hours onsite and then returning to base. 1 of those planes should be there right about now with the other 3 to arrive over the next 2-4 hours.

There is a merchant ship changing course to be there tomorrow. Aussie Navy can’t get anyone there for a day or two.

At least 1 of the 2 large objects is about 24 meters along its greatest portion. That’s big enough to be a wing section from one side of a 777.

Plenty of news if you know where to look. I’m going to bed and will check AJAM – Al Jazeera AMerica – in the morning.

Dumb tattoo of the day

One resident got a rude awakening when police with assault rifles surrounded his home after a tree removal crew mistakenly reported he had a gun.

Michael Smith, of Norridgewock, Maine, was woken up by the authorities when a crew contacted by a utility company to trim branches near some power lines notified the police at 10am on Tuesday.

Smith went outside shirtless to yell at the crew to leave, exposing a life-sized tattoo of a gun he had on his stomach.

The workers mistook it for an actual weapon, and notified authorities to the home located off Ward Hill Road.

Smith was not charged and said the tattoo has never been a problem before. Smith has multiple tattoos, including several covering his left arm.

‘Obviously it was a misunderstanding and he didn’t have a weapon, but we had to respond to the initial report as if he did,’ Maine State police trooper Scott Duff told the Morning Sentinel…

Give me a break. Police absolutely have to respond to anything that looks like a dangerous weapon – until assured otherwise. What’s the alternative? Don’t show up until after someone is shot – verifying it was a real gun?

Pentagon says climate change is a present danger — again!

Like the Olympics and leap year, the Quadrennial Defense Review comes at us every four years. A big-picture look by the US military at the threats they see out there, the QDR [.pdf] is a broad document, but you can read in it just how big the military thinks its mission is (global dominance, really). As part of that mission, the military tries to find a way to reduce the threats it sees, but what do you do about dirty air that we all create? You can’t go and bomb the highways to stop the cars from polluting.

The QDR is a straight shooter when it comes to climate change. It warns of devastation to “homes, land, and infrastructure” thanks to climate change, as well as threats to water and food supplies. The QDR says:

Climate change poses another significant challenge for the United States and the world at large. … The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world. These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions – conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.

Note the complete lack of political equivocating. Climate change is a serious problem, the Pentagon says. That’s a refreshing change from most of what comes out of DC, but it is awfully similar to what the QDR said in the 2010 version.

There is no mention of bombing highways, but the QDR does say the Department of Defense, “will employ creative ways to address the impact of climate change.” As we’ve seen in the past, the DoD has expressed an interest in plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles, but those purchases may have been made for more financial reasons. As clear as the DoD is on the affects of climate change, it is also familiar with paying up to $400 for a gallon of gas in certain situations, so any reduction in fuel use can be good for the air and the defense budget.

We can expect this to have the same effect on Congress as acid rain rolling off a Confederate tin roof. Tea Bag Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats dedicate about as much time to sound science as the average drug dealer does to reading up on the dangers of hydrocodone.

Still – this is another tool for the oh-so-slowly expanding number of courageous progressive voices who’ve managed to tuck into some corner of elected officialdom. Who knows? One of these days a significant number of Americans may wander into the pages, page-views or news segments that make it onto cable TV or a corner of the Web that actually considers science of more use than a rain dance in Tucson. They may even be old enough to vote and living in a state where that is still permitted.

NYPD sued over coppers stealing White Castle hamburgers from Brooklyn men – and then arresting them!

Two Brooklyn men are suing the NYPD cops who took their freedom and allegedly tried to take their White Castle hamburgers.

It was Halloween 2012 in Coney Island, the neighborhood reeling from Hurricane Sandy, when Danny Maisonet and Kenneth Glover had a craving for sliders.

They were getting out of a taxicab, carrying a bag of the burgers, when they walked into cops rounding up a group of men suspected of looting a supermarket on Neptune Ave., lawyer Robert Marinelli said in the suit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court.

The cops — it’s unclear if they were kidding or starved out of their minds — demanded the bag of food. The plaintiffs refused to turn over the burgers…

Glover and Maisonet claim they were struck with flashlights and handcuffed. They were charged with obstructing government administration and disorderly conduct — not looting.

Officer Angelo Pizzarro swore in the complaint that Glover and Maisonet were standing in his way and forced him to walk around them while struggling with the alleged looters.

The charges against the duo were ultimately dismissed.

I’d wait a year or two before admitting to eating White Castle hamburgers. Though, I imagine a certain amount of time was wasted waiting to see if these phony charges were going to proceed to trial.

Truly, some coppers think they are above the law – and the rest of humanity.

Sustainable home built in four days — using a screwdriver


French architectural firm Multipod Studio recently unveiled a new sustainable house prototype that’s lightweight, recyclable, and promises to be an inexpensive purchase and extremely efficient to run. The suitably-named Pop-Up House also boasts another notable selling-point: all that’s required to assemble it is four day’s patience and a standard electric screwdriver.

Pop-Up House measures a total of 150 sq m (1,614 sq ft), and the interior features a large combined open space that contains kitchen, dining and living room areas. Elsewhere in the home are two bathrooms, a master bedroom, two additional bedrooms, an office, and a terrace.

The structure is simple to build and comprises a spruce wood frame, laminate veneer wooden floor, and expanded polystyrene insulation blocks, and everything is held together using wood screws. Indeed, Multipod Studio states that no prior construction experience is necessary for assembly, likening the process to building with Lego…

At present, Pop-Up House is still in the prototype stage, so finer details on the home are lacking. A preliminary price is available though, and the home will set you back $41,000, which includes labor, but doesn’t include finishing touches like waterproofing, electricity, and plumbing.

Even with infrastructure essentials missing, that’s an impressive price. Especially since you can take your time and practically do-it-yourself. Well, maybe with some willing friends and a couple cases of beer.