Friday, August 18, 2006

Going Through The "Neglect Until Further Notice" Folder

I've been slow the last few days when it comes to decorating the Lappland infotainment Festivus pole with new news , so let's catch up.

The Onion: I Just Assumed The Hobo With The Top Hat Was The One In Charge

In regards to our encounter this past Saturday, apologies are in order, the first, and not the least of which to the gentleman, Meat, whom I approached at the hobo encampment last Tuesday night looking to acquire some temporary labor in exchange for a hearty bean dinner. I leapt to certain conclusions about you based on your appearance, and I shudder to think of my rudeness. Primarily, I am sorry that I took for granted that you were the mayor of your hobo village.
Associated Press: Wyoming to sue over feds wolf management

I used to write about this before I became a paid, accredited journalist. A note on this story: it has the added benefit of sources named Pat Crank and Ed Bangs. No joke.

Last month, the federal government rejected Wyoming's petition to remove wolves in the state from the federal list of threatened and endangered species. In addition, the federal agency has yet to take action on the state's request to amend regulations.

[Democrat governor Dave] Freudenthal has said he sees the spread of wolves outside the national parks as a public safety concern.

State officials had proposed allowing trophy hunting of the animals in certain areas and classifying them as predators that could be shot on sight elsewhere. The plan would allow the wolves to live undisturbed in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.


I subscribe to this daily e-mailer at work to get the skinny on behind-the-scenes government research, backdoor policy changes and the like. Checking the blog is just as good, and free to boot. "Freedom of information law" boils down to the federal Freedom of Information Act (which hotshot journalists like me just call "foya" because it's cool) and similar state "sunshine" laws that mandate the release of many types of information. You'd be surprised how easy it is to request government records in some states. To me, for the most part that's a good thing. Note the Kafkaesque "information directorate" at the end.

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) said this week that it will not administer a grant to a San Antonio, Texas law school to study state freedom of information laws.

In a story that prompted new concerns about official secrecy, USAToday reported last month that the government was going to pay St. Mary's University School of Law $1 million to reevaluate state freedom of information laws in light of the threat of terrorism.

But the proposed freedom of information study "doesn't fit with the information research and development that we do," said Dan Emlinof the AFRL Information Directorate in Rome, New York.
The New Republic: Republican Leaders May Back Lieberman

There's since been more hard evidence, but I thought I should still get the link out of my e-mail inbox.

On "Hardball" Chris Matthews just asked Republican National Chairman Ken Mehlman what he will tell GOP donors who ask his advice: donate to Lieberman, or to the Connecticut Republican nominee, Alan Schlesinger? Mehlman dodged the question, saying he would tell just people to give cash to the RNC to spend strategically. When Matthews pressed him, Mehlman again refused the chance to say that the GOP clearly supports Schlesinger over Lieberman.
Lieberman on Kerry on Iraq: Retreat and Defeat

Note: this story goes into a small amount of interesting detail about Lieberman's current Senate committee positions, what he does on those committees and what would happen if the Democratic party leadership stripped him of those assignments. Because, win or lose, after November he's no longer a Democratic senator.
Do you remember Lieberman going after Kerry's amendment for a phased withdrawal, calling it "retreat and defeat" on the Senate floor? Or the headlines Lieberman generated in the 2004 campaign, saying that George W. Bush is good for Israel? Well if I remember it, John Kerry certainly remembers it.
Federation of American Scientists (again): Recipients of "Leaks" May Be Prosecuted, Court Rules

In a momentous expansion of the government's authority to regulate public disclosure of national security information, a federal court ruled that even private citizens who do not hold security clearances can be prosecuted for unauthorized receipt and disclosure of classified information.

The ruling (pdf) by Judge T.S. Ellis, III, denied a motion to dismiss the case of two former employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) who were charged under the Espionage Act with illegally receiving and transmitting classified information.

The decision is a major interpretation of the Espionage Act with implications that extend far beyond this particular case.

The Judge ruled that any First Amendment concerns regarding freedom of speech involving national defense information can be superseded by national security considerations.
Update on the case here. It's not quite the Apocalypse yet.

Reuters: Guenter Grass, Famed German Author, Asked to Relinquish Polish Citizenship

The Polish ruling party is going very nationalist these days -- not enough to be genuinely scary, but enough so that things like this make perfect sense. On a personal note, The Tin Drum was one of the first serious books I ever bought. My dad took me to track down something of his at Barnes and Noble when he won the Nobel Prize in 1999.

GDANSK, Poland (Reuters) - Poland's ruling party called on German author Guenter Grass on Monday to give up his honorary citizenship of the port city Gdansk after his belated confession that he was once a member of Hitler's Waffen SS.

The admission from the 78-year-old, famous for his 1957 novel "The Tin Drum," came in a newspaper interview on Saturday before the release in September of his autobiography "Peeling Onions" in which he explains why he joined at age 17.

"It is unacceptable for a city where the first blood was shed, where World War Two began, to have a Waffen-SS member as an honorary citizen," Jacek Kurski, a member of the ruling Law and Justice party and parliamentary deputy from Gdansk, told a news conference.

"It would be good if Grass gave up the title voluntarily."
DailyKos: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Get a Grip

One second Reagan is up there standing toe-to-toe with the Rooskis, negotiating cool as a cucumber with 20,000 nukes pointed at him, and the next thing I know, the likes of Limbaugh or the crew at Powerwhine and Freeperland [two right-wing Web sites] are all shrieking like a class full of tweaked-out, neurotic fifth-graders having a panic attack every time OBL pops up in a grainy video with a rusty AK in the background. What the hell happened to the GOP I once knew?

Death and injury are every bit as tragic as they are inevitable for human beings. Understandably, we worry about both, we all cry and mourn when either strike, especially with ourselves or those we love playing the starring role. And I have no desire to down play the loss that anyone feels when someone they love is struck down, be it by terrorism or leukemia. But ... some perspective maybe?

Heart disease and cancer will claim about 1.5 million American lives each and every year. As far as accidental deaths (~100,000/year), motor vehicle accidents far and away lead the pack (+40,000/year), with accidental poisoning and falls in place and show. You can play with those stats all kinds of ways. But the bottom line is that over the course of a civilian lifetime, the odds of falling victim to Al Qaeda rank somewhere between falling off a ladder to your death and being struck by lightning inside your home.
Reuters (again): Possible Key Human Evolution Genes Identified

In the most active, identified as HAR1, they found 18 out of the 118 nucleotides had changed since evolutionary separation from chimps some 6 million years ago, while only two had changed in the 310 million years separating the evolutionary lines of chimps and chickens.

"Right now we have very suggestive evidence that it might be involved at a critical step in brain development, but we still need to prove that it really makes a difference," team leader David Haussler from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the University of California, Santa Cruz told Reuters.


"It is extremely unlikely that the evolution of just one region in the genome made the difference between our brains and the brains of non-human primates," he said.

"It is much more likely to be a series of many, many small changes, each very important, but none doing the entire job by itself," he added.


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