Friday, September 12, 2008

BREVITAS

OUTLYING PRECINCTS

McClatchy Newspapers - A new 30-second TV ad attacks Barack Obama's record on education, saying that Obama backed legislation to teach " 'comprehensive sex education' to kindergartners." The announcer then says, "Learning about sex before learning to read? Barack Obama. Wrong on education. Wrong for your family." Why that's wrong: This is a deliberately misleading accusation. It came hours after the Obama campaign released a TV ad critical of McCain's votes on public education. As a state senator in Illinois, Obama did vote for but was not a sponsor of legislation dealing with sex ed for grades K-12. But the legislation allowed local school boards to teach "age-appropriate" sex education, not comprehensive lessons to kindergartners, and it gave schools the ability to warn young children about inappropriate touching and sexual predators. Republican Alan Keyes tried to use Obama's vote against him in the 2004 U.S. Senate race. At the time, Obama spoke about wanting to protect young children from abuse. He made clear then that he was not supporting teaching kindergartners about explicit details of sex.

LA Times - A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows that McCain is now winning among white women 52% to 41% after having been statistically tied with Obama in that crucial category just a month ago.

Obama has promised to double funding for private charter schools, part of a national effort to undermine public education.

"No one knows what war is like other than my family. Period." - Meghan McCain, daughter of Sen. John McCain

Palin is still scared of the press. Reporters have been told that all Palin flight conversations will be off the record unless it's announced to the contrary.

Hillary Clinton says that returning the GOP to the White house is like "asking the iceberg to save the Titanic."

The Libertarians are on 42 state ballots, the Green Party 32, Constitution Pary 33 and Nader 41.

Political Wire - Sen. John McCain has now gone four weeks without holding a formal press conference and three weeks since his last town hall meeting, according to Fox News. McCain's new campaign strategy: staged rallies with his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin.

GEORGIA

Russia Today - The U.S. military provided combat training to Georgian commandos just months before Georgia attacked South Ossetia, according to an investigation by the Financial Times newspaper. It reports that a 15-man team of American special forces veterans spent 70 days training Georgia's elite troops outside the capital Tbilisi. The Financial Times obtained a recruitment email sent by a Pentagon contractor, MPRI, and a U.S. European Command spokesman confirmed the existence of the training programme when questioned about the email. The trainers were paid US $2000 per week plus expenses to train the Georgian troops. . . While U.S. "train and equip" operations are often highly publicised, the military has remained tight-lipped about the Georgian program. "We can confirm the programme exists, but ... we do not discuss specifics to ensure the integrity of the programme," a U.S. European Command spokesman told the Financial Times. A second 70-day training phase was due to begin on August 11, four days after the Georgian attack on its breakaway republic of South Ossetia.

ECO CLIPS

Fox News - UC Berkeley officials are preparing to remove the last remaining tree-sitters protesting a planned sports center next to Memorial Stadium. Workers are erecting scaffolding around the redwood where four protesters were still perched Tuesday. UC officials did not say how and when they plan to remove them. The protest began 21 months ago in an effort to prevent the campus from clearing an oak grove to make room for the new sports center. But the university has cut most of the trees after getting court clearance last week. The university has refused to meet the protesters' demand that it donate $6 million to environmental and Native American groups as part of an agreement for the tree-sitters to come down voluntarily. Campus spokesman Dan Mogulof said Monday the university is preparing for what it hopes will be a "quick and safe extraction" in the coming days. One of the tree-sitters, who goes by the name Huck, said he and the other three protesters with him plan to stay put.


MID EAST

John W. Warnock, Global Research - The most important current issue in Afghanistan is the drought, the crop failure, and the prospect of famine. This story has received no coverage in the North American media. Over the last winter Afghanistan received well-below normal rainfall and mountain snow pack. The spring runoff was light, and crop yields from irrigated agriculture have been significantly reduced. There are conditions of drought throughout the country. In many areas there are no crops and livestock has perished from lack of pasture. Wheat provides the staple food, and production is 60 percent below average. Recent rains have brought flooding, as the land has been hardened by the drought. Floods are more common because over the past few decades 60% of the woodland has been removed by the population seeking fuel for cooking and winter heating. The jump in fuel prices has raised the cost of the delivery of food from neighboring countries. Food prices are rising. The price of a 50 kg bag of wheat flour is now $35. One half of the population in Afghanistan lives on less than $2 per day. The government of Afghanistan reports that 42% of the population lives in "extreme poverty", defined as a per capita income of less than $120 per year. The United Nations Mission in Afghanistan reported in August that "at least four million most vulnerable people have already been pushed into the ‘high-risk food-insecurity ‘ category." Children are the most vulnerable. One in five children die before the age of five, mainly due to malnutrition. In response, the United Nations and other food agencies have called for an emergency fund of $404 million in order to purchase food. To date less than 20% has been forthcoming from donor countries.

CITIES

Springwise - Catering to those who are frustrated with the inconvenience of traditional laundry and dry-cleaning services - many of which, like banking, can involve parking hassles and limited hours - [San Francisco's] Laundry Locker offers on-site convenience and 24-hour service through a fleet of lockers located in apartment buildings throughout the city. Customers begin by creating an account online, then they place their dirty clothes in any available locker and pocket the key. (In addition to servicing lockers in 355 apartment buildings, Laundry Locker also operates several kiosks throughout the city, and home delivery is available as well.) Laundry Locker personnel check all locations each day and send an email confirming and requesting payment for each order received. Dry cleaning is cleaned and packaged, including minor repairs at no extra charge, for prices beginning at USD 2.25 per shirt. Regular washing, meanwhile, is separated into white and colored loads and washed separately from that of other customers, then neatly folded for pick-up. Wash-and-fold pricing begins at USD 1.35 per pound, and users can specify online exactly how they want their laundry done. Clean garments are then returned to the same locker by 5 p.m. the following day, Monday through Saturday, with notification to the customer via SMS and email. Users simply unlock the locker they originally used and take out their clean clothes-packaged in a personal laundry bag Laundry Locker provides-leaving the locker available for the next customer.

HEALTH & SCIENCE

Reuters - Just one can of the popular stimulant energy drink Red Bull can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke, even in young people, Australian medical researchers said day. The caffeine-loaded beverage, popular with university students and adrenaline sport fans to give them "wings", caused the blood to become sticky, a pre-cursor to cardiovascular problems such as stroke. "One hour after they drank Red Bull, (their blood systems) were no longer normal. They were abnormal like we would expect in a patient with cardiovascular disease," Scott Willoughby, lead researcher from the Cardiovascular Research Centre at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, told the Australian newspaper. Red Bull Australia spokeswoman Linda Rychter said the report would be assessed by the company's head office in Austria. . . The results showed "normal people develop symptoms normally associated with cardiovascular disease" after consuming the drink, created in the 1980s by Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz based on a similar Thai energy drink. Red Bull is banned in Norway, Uruguay and Denmark because of health risks listed on its cans, but the company last year sold 3.5 billion cans in 143 countries. One can contains 80 mg of caffeine, around the same as a normal cup of brewed coffee.

Furious Seasons - An explosive study in the August Journal of Psychiatric Research . . . contends that the placebo effect in anti-depressants is much larger than I think anyone in the research world expected. It's a meta study re-analyzing eight anti-depressant trials comprising 3,063 people diagnosed with depression. The study was done by Arif Kahn et al. Kahn is well known in the research world and runs a large clinical research facility in the Seattle area. So he's a long way from being an anti-meds advocate. In the study, which looked at trials that went longer than 12 weeks (some went as long as 12 months), Kahn found that 79 percent of patients on placebo remained well compared to 93 percent of anti-depressant responders. That would give an overall effect size of the anti-depressants studied of 14 percent, well under the usual 25 percent to 30 percent in shorter anti-depressant trials. . .

MONEY & WORK

WORKING CLASS STUDIES

FURTHERMORE. . . .

BBC - Poet Laureate Andrew Motion has said that the job of writing verse for the Royal Family is "thankless" and gave him a case of writer's block. Motion told the Ealing Arts Festival in London that the Queen "never gives me an opinion on my work for her". "I won't be including any of that work in my future collections," he said, adding he "did what I had to do".. . . The 55-year-old said the job has been "very, very damaging to my work". . . . "I dried up completely about five years ago and can't write anything except to commission."
Speaking about the occasion of the Queen's 60th wedding anniversary when his poem was read by Dame Judi Dench in Westminster Abbey, Motion said: "Afterwards the Queen stopped me and said 'thank you', but I have no idea if she really liked it."

Reuters - Prosecutors in Russia want to ban the award-winning satirical U.S. cartoon South Park, calling the series "extremist" after receiving viewer complaints, a spokeswoman said.

Daily Mail, UK - Telford Town Park in Shropshire, where council workers have been told to confront lone adults in the park to check if they are pedophiles. Park wardens have been ordered to stop and interrogate anyone who is not accompanied by children. The visitors who are quizzed have to explain their presence and risk being thrown out or reported to police if their answers are not satisfactory. . . Rachel Whittaker and Neil Donaldson were ejected because they had not undergone Criminal Records Bureau checks or risk assessments before entering the park - a requirement under the Child Protection Act. . . . Former childcare social worker John Evans said: 'It is authoritarian madness which can only be based on ignorance. It is absurd, it is insulting and it is dangerous as it panics people about the dangers their children face.'

3 Comments:

At September 12, 2008 5:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meghan probably has a point, insofar as I don't think too many other returning Vietnam POW's deserted their crippled wives to marry millionaire beer heiresses the better to fund their own future political careers.

 
At September 12, 2008 7:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As of a few moments ago . . .

Total States On The Ballot
Nader (Indep.) - 46
Libertarian Party - 44
Constitution Party - 35
Green Party - 32
(http://www.ballot-access.org/)

Check twice, publish once. ;)

 
At September 13, 2008 2:34 PM, Anonymous Charles said...

WRONG! Nader is on in 45 states plus your precious D.C., making that 46 ballot lines, right?

Face it, the Green Party is fading fast, time to start anew.

 

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