Tuesday, May 13, 2008

BREVITAS

A University of Leicester space scientist has worked out that sending texts via mobile phones works out to be far more expensive than downloading data from the Hubble Space Telescope. Dr Nigel said: "The maximum size for a text message is 160 characters, which takes 140 bytes because there are only 7 bits per character in the text messaging system, and we assume the average price for a text message is 5p. There are 1,048,576 bytes in a megabyte, so that's 1 million/140 = 7490 text messages to transmit one megabyte. At 5p each, that's £374.49 per MB - or about 4.4 times more expensive than the ‘most pessimistic' estimate for Hubble Space Telescope transmission costs. . . Hubble is by no means a cheap mission - but the mobile phone text costs were pretty astronomical!" - Physorg

There was something interesting missing from Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner's introductory remarks to journalists at his regular news briefing in Baghdad on Wednesday: the word "Iran," or any form of it. It was especially striking as Bergner, the U.S. military spokesman here, announced the extraordinary list of weapons and munitions that have been uncovered in recent weeks since fighting erupted between Iraqi and U.S. security forces and Shiite militiamen. . . . A plan to show some alleged Iranian-supplied explosives to journalists last week in Karbala and then destroy them was canceled after the United States realized none of them was from Iran. A U.S. military spokesman attributed the confusion to a misunderstanding that emerged after an Iraqi Army general in Karbala erroneously reported the items were of Iranian origin. - LA Times

The presumptive Democratic presidential candidate's politics were born in Chicago. Yet [Barack Obama] is presented to the nation as not truly being of this place, as if he floats just above the political corruption here, uninfected, untouched by the stain of it or by any sin of commission or omission. . . My argument is not with him -- but with the national political media pack that refuses to look closely at what Chicago is. . . Why is Obama allowed to campaign as a reformer, virtually unchallenged by the media, though he's a product of Chicago politics and has never condemned the wholesale political corruption in his home town the way he condemns those darn Washington lobbyists - Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass.

About 12 Indiana nuns were turned away from a polling place by a fellow sister because they didn't have state or federal identification bearing a photograph. Sister Julie McGuire said she was forced to turn away her fellow members of Saint Mary's Convent in South Bend, . . . because they had been told earlier that they would need such an ID to vote. The nuns, all in their 80s or 90s, didn't get one but came to the precinct anyway. Some showed up with outdated passports. None of them drives. . . Secretary of State Todd Rokita was unapologetic. "Indiana's Voter ID Law applies to everyone. From all accounts that we've heard, the sisters were aware of the photo ID requirements and chose not to follow them," he said in a statement released by his office. AP

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa, says blacks and whites remain divided in the U.S., that race has become a huge issue in the presidential campaign, and that many voters are supporting candidates based on the color of their skin. And as for the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., Democratic hopeful Sen. Barack Obama's former pastor, Archbishop Tutu says: "You might be shocked to discover that he's articulating the views of very many who haven't had the chance of that kind of exposure. And instead of hearing what he is saying, again, people are trying to gain political capital." Inside the Beltway, Washington Times

Barack Obama, who labeled discussion of whether he wears a flag pin in his lapel a false issue in a debate with Hillary Clinton, was wearing one Monday as he campaigned in West Virginia ahead of Tuesday's primary vote there. Obama made no reference to the pin, which could be clearly seen in television images and through telephoto lenses as he spoke in Charleston, W. Va., about veterans issue. Monday morning, pollster and former Bill Clinton adviser Douglas Schoen wrote in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal that Obama needs to better define his values heading into the general election. "First, and obviously symbolically, he must start wearing the flag lapel pin,"Schoen wrote. "He simply cannot afford to raise doubts about his patriotism." Margaret Talev, McClatchy

No matter who you're voting for, you have to admit that Barack Obama has good taste in TV. He told the Las Vegas Sun that his favorite TV show was The Wire, the HBO police drama set in inner-city Baltimore that just completed its fifth and final season. Obama even told the Sun that his favorite character is Omar Little, a "charismatic, sawed-off shotgun toting, Honey Nut Cheerios-eating, gay stickup artist." Some have compared Omar to a modern day Robin Hood because he kills drug dealers and then gives the drugs to the users that have been exploited by the dealers. "That's not an endorsement. He's not my favorite person, but he's a fascinating character," Obama said. . . During the current presidential administration, and throughout this campaign season, the issues of cities have been woefully ignored. We've heard about Iowa corn and ethanol and more than we ever wanted to know about the candidates' personal lives, bowling scores, and nutty pastors. But what about housing and transportation, infrastructure and education? To millions of Americans, these are the issues that matter. . . Corinne Ramey, DMI Blog

Former Republican Rep. Bob Barr launched a Libertarian Party presidential bid Monday, saying voters are hungry for an alternative to the status quo who would dramatically cut the federal government. His candidacy throws a wild card into the White House race that many believe could peel away votes from Republican Sen. John McCain given the candidates' similar positions on fiscal policy. Barr, who has hired Ross Perot's former campaign manager, acknowledged that some Republicans have tried to discourage him from running. But he said he's getting in the race to win, not to play spoiler or to make a point. - DC Examiner

CATHOLIC ACTIVISTS WANT BISHOPS MADE MORE RESPONSIBLE FOR PRIESTS' ACTS

WE'RE PAWNS IN THE HEDGE FUND CHESS GAME

Earlier this year, North Braddock, Penn. resident Shawn Hicks came back from a night out and plopped down on his own couch in his own home. Unfortunately, he failed to deactivate the silent alarm on his home security system. According to Hicks, two police officers responded to the alarm, entered his home, and woke him with a taser between the shoulder blades. When Hicks tried to explain that the whole thing was a misunderstanding, and that the officers were in his own home, they tasered him again. They next checked his wallet and ID, which confirmed his name and address. Then they tasered him again. The police then removed the taser pellets from Hicks' bloody back, refused to get him medical treatment, and arrested him for "being belligerent." They threw him in a holding cell until 5 am the next morning, when they released him without filing any charges. - Reason

Aaron Peskin, president of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors points out, "The greenest building that exists today is one that is already built." He wants to make sure the city's new green codes do not foster a wave of teardowns. Demolishing buildings to erect new ones--even green buildings--generates huge volumes of solid waste, creates pollution, and consumes energy and natural resources. Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, calculates that even a new state-of-the-art green building using 40 percent recycled materials will take 65 years to recover the energy lost in demolishing and replacing an existing building. "Durability is the most sustainable thing an architect can do," says Philip Bess, professor at the Notre Dame School of Architecture, who played a key role in preserving Boston's Fenway Park baseball stadium. "Sustainable architecture means buildings that people love," adds his Notre Dame colleague David Mayernik. "They won't be torn down." - Jay Walljasper, Ecopolitan

CHART ON THE ECOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF DIFFERENT BIOFUELS

IF THEY CRIMINALIZE INCANDESCENT BULBS, PRETTY SOON ONLY CRIMINALS WILL HAVE INCANDESCENT LIGHT BULBS

Bob Hezzelwood said he has been visiting Bonita Beach for years and no one has bothered or complained about his bathing suit. However, recently, a Lee County sheriff's deputy gave Hezzelwood a ticket for trespass and told him not to return to the beach. A judge tossed out the case. However, Hezzelwood said he plans to sue the sheriff's department, saying his civil rights were violated. "It frightens me and embarrasses me to go public with it. But by the same token, I don't know what else to do," Hezzelwood told The Naples News. "I'm a civilian out here who's been picked on by a little bully deputy and that's wrong. It's just wrong." - Channel Six FL

The American Civil Liberties Union has a new version of its Get Busy, Get Equal online activist toolkit. The website offers tools for ending gay and transgender discrimination, making schools safe, and winning recognition for LGBT relationships.

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