Monday, May 5, 2008

BREVITAS

The ACLU of Colorado has filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Secret Service and the city of Denver to ensure that protesters are within "sight and sound" of delegates attending the Democratic National Convention this August. "Ultimately, it's the federal courts that are sort of the last resort protectors of constitutional rights," Mark Silverstein, the ACLU's legal director, said . . . Silverstein said the city is dragging its feet on processing applications for parade and park permits, affecting protesters' planning efforts, and that it has yet to reveal where the so-called free speech zone will be located. The city says it's waiting for the Secret Service to determine the boundaries of a security perimeter, and the Secret Service says that decision may not happen until July, he said. - Rocky Mountain News

The current drinking age limits are unconstitutional as 18-20 year olds are full citizens entitled to the same rights as other citizens. According to the Suburban Chicago News, "Wisconsin is one of many states that are considering lowering their drinking age from 21 to 19, considering that people 18 and older are eligible for military service. Missouri and Minnesota may lower the bar to 18."

Nicole C. Wong, Boston Globe For America's already beleaguered air travelers, there's something new on the runway. The airlines call it unbundling. . . A window seat? That will be $5 more. Extra leg room? $10. A number that will connect you more quickly to a reservations agent when your flight is delayed or canceled? That will be $25, and thank you very much. US Airways, JetBlue Airways Corp., and Air Canada recently introduced such charges as part of an accelerating industry trend that is transforming the world of air fares from all-inclusive to a la carte. Just about everything travelers once took for granted, right down to the pillow behind your head, may soon carry a price tag.

Cyclists in Riverside, California will soon be able to enjoy greater peace of mind when locking their bikes around town, thanks to the installation of 12 BikeLid systems at the Riverside and Corona Metrolink stations. The somewhat odd-looking BikeLids are certainly not as attractive as other systems we've seen, such as the Cyclepod, the Slim, or the bike tree, but they are made from a polyethylene shell that is reinforced with steel and is "attached by a spring-loaded hinge to a steel bike guide/frame. The Bikelid bolts to any ground surface, from earth to concrete." What's more, the company claims that the basic unit "is made from up to 90% industrial plastic waste materials (when supplies are available) and recycled steel." The unit is 100% recyclable. Oh, and a bicycle has yet to be stolen from beneath a Bikelid.

WHERE FAMINE CAME FROM

As part of its plan to expand online "information operations," the Pentagon is launching "a global network of foreign-language news websites . . . and hiring local journalists to write current events stories and other content that promote U.S. interests," reports Peter Eisler. . . The goal of the Pentagon's "Trans Regional Web Initiative" is to launch "a minimum of six" websites run by regional U.S. military commands. Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Vickers said, "Our adversaries use the Internet to great advantage," so the Pentagon must counter their messages with "truthful information, and these websites are a good vehicle." Harvard University's Marvin Kalb called the websites "deliberate deception" that "weakens the image of journalism as an objective bystander." - PR Watch, USA Today

A corruption investigation by Israeli police is overshadowing a planned meeting between Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister. . . An aide to Abbas said Olmert will not be able to focus on the talks in Jerusalem and an unnamed official in the prime minister's office was quoted as saying "their head isn't into it right now." Israeli army radio also said that the police findings "will shock the country". Israeli police questioned Olmert on Friday, the fifth criminal investigation they have opened into Olmert's activities since he took office in 2006. . . Media have been prohibited from reporting the details of the new case, which is subject to a court-issued gagging order, but the investigation has already led to calls for Olmert to suspend himself or resign. - Al Jazeera

The U.S. breast-feeding rate has hit it's highest mark in at least 20 years with more than three-quarters of new moms nursing their infants, according to a government report . . . About 77 percent of new mothers breast-feed, at least briefly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. . . Experts attributed the rise to education campaigns that emphasize that breast milk is better than formula at protecting babies against disease and childhood obesity. A changing culture that accommodates nursing mothers may also be a factor. The percentage of black infants who were ever breast-fed rose most dramatically, to 65 percent. Only 36 percent were ever breast-fed in 1993-1994, the new study found. For whites, the figure rose to 79 percent, from 62 percent. For Mexican-Americans, it increased to 80 percent, from 67 percent. Seattle Times

A man who was denied a liver transplant because he used marijuana with medical approval to ease the symptoms of hepatitis C has died. Timothy Garon, 56, died Thursday at Bailey-Boushay House, an intensive care nursing center. . . His death came a week after his doctor told him a University of Washington Medical Center committee had again denied him a spot on the liver transplant list because of his use of marijuana, although it was authorized under Washington state law. - AP

Julia Silverman, AP, Portland Or - Tony Marino, a Republican newcomer who is trying to capture a legislative seat in Tigard. . . introduced himself to voters via a letter to constituents that outlines the mea culpas of his life, including bankruptcy and a run-in with the IRS, five divorces and a PhD from an online university that's not accredited in Oregon. Oh yeah, and his first mailer features Marino and his young daughter on a Harley, neither of them wearing a helmet. (Though a notation underneath notes that the photo was taken in a studio, and that "all smart motorcyclists wear helmets." Oregon law requires motorcycle riders to wear helmets.) Marino's campaign slogan is "Politics Unusual."

But how could not vote for the guy after you've seen his video?

Conservative columnist Mark Steyn gets uncomfortably close to the problem with Obama: "The notion that the Amazing Obama might be just another politician doing what politicians do seems to have affronted the senator more than any of the stuff about America being no different from al-Qaida and the government inventing AIDS to kill black people. In his belated 'disowning' of Wright, Obama said, 'What I think particularly angered me was his suggestion somehow that my previous denunciation of his remarks were somehow political posturing. Anybody who knows me and anybody who knows what I'm about knows that ­ that I am about trying to bridge gaps and that I see the ­ the commonality in all people.'. . . As he chugged on, the senator couldn't find his groove and couldn't prevent himself from returning to pick at the same old bone: 'If what somebody says contradicts what you believe so fundamentally, and then he questions whether or not you believe it in front of the National Press Club, then that's enough. That's ­ that's a show of disrespect to me.' And we can't have that, can we? In a shrewd analysis of Obama's peculiarly petty objections to the Rev. Wright, Scott Johnson of the Powerline Web site remarked on the senator's 'adolescent grandiosity.' There's always been a whiff of that. When he tells his doting fans, 'We are the change we've been waiting for,' he means, of course, he is the change we've been waiting for."

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