Wednesday, October 29, 2008

BREVITAS

OUTLYING PRECINCTS

Hendrik Hertzberg, New Yorker
- Sarah Palin, who has lately taken to calling Obama "Barack the Wealth Spreader," seems to be something of a suspect character herself. She is, at the very least, a fellow-traveler of what might be called socialism with an Alaskan face. The state that she governs has no income or sales tax. Instead, it imposes huge levies on the oil companies that lease its oil fields. The proceeds finance the government's activities and enable it to issue a four-figure annual check to every man, woman, and child in the state. One of the reasons Palin has been a popular governor is that she added an extra twelve hundred dollars to this year's check, bringing the per-person total to $3,269. A few weeks before she was nominated for Vice-President, she told a visiting journalist-Philip Gourevitch, of this magazine-that "we're set up, unlike other states in the union, where it's collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs."

The first-year total annual returns for the S&P 500 have tended to be higher when a Democrat is sent to the White House, according to a nearly 60-year analysis of S&P 500 returns by members of the Zero Alpha Group. Since 1948, the S&P 500 Index has gained 16 percent under a Democratic president as compared to 11 percent with a Republican in the White House. In fact, six of the seven first full years after the election of a president since 1952 to have had negative returns featured Republicans in the White House starting a first or second term in office. However, any value for investors associated with this "White House effect" is less clear when additional information is added to the equation. For example, four of the seven "down" first years for Presidential terms took place when Democrats controlled Congress.

Barack Obama
will make his fourth appearance as a guest on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" on Wednesday, October 29 at 11:00 p.m. (ET/PT

ORWELLANDIA

Guardian, UK - Every police force in the UK is to be equipped with mobile fingerprint scanners - handheld devices that allow police to carry out identity checks on people in the street. The new technology, which ultimately may be able to receive pictures of suspects, is likely to be in widespread use within 18 months. Tens of thousands of sets - as compact as BlackBerry smartphones - are expected to be distributed. . . To address fears about mass surveillance and random searches, the police insist fingerprints taken by the scanners will not be stored or added to databases.

CORPORADOS

Reuters -
In a study conducted in Florida, researchers found that drugstores in the poorest areas charge more, on average, for four widely used prescription medications than do pharmacies in wealthier neighborhoods. . . Across the board, the researchers found, the four drugs were priced highest in the poorest ZIP codes, averaging 9 percent more than the average for the state. Independent pharmacies charged an average of 15 percent more for each of the drugs than the statewide average, but there was little geographic variation in the prices chain drugstores charged.

JUSTICE & FREEDOM

Lisa Rein, Washington Post -
The 53 political activists wrongly classified as terrorists by the Maryland State Police may bring lawyers to review their files and take home copies, the agency said in a sudden shift in policy. State police spokesman Gregory Shipley issued a brief news release on the policy change an hour before the activists were scheduled to protest in front of the agency's headquarters in Pikesville. Over the past month, activists were notified that they could view the criminal intelligence files that police gathered on them in 2005 and 2006 under the administration of former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R). But they were told they could not bring a lawyer or make copies before police purge the information from state and federal databases that track terrorism . . . A top aide to Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) said the outcry from the activists and the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland quickly reached the governor and Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D), who met with police Superintendent Terrence B. Sheridan to discuss a more open policy.

WORLD

Tim Whewell BBC -
The BBC has discovered evidence that Georgia may have committed war crimes in its attack on its breakaway region of South Ossetia in August. Eyewitnesses have described how its tanks fired directly into an apartment block, and how civilians were shot at as they tried to escape the fighting. Research by the international investigative organisation Human Rights Watch also points to indiscriminate use of force by the Georgian military, and the possible deliberate targeting of civilians. Indiscriminate use of force is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, and serious violations are considered to be war crimes. The allegations are now raising concerns among Georgia's supporters in the West. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has told the BBC the attack on South Ossetia was "reckless". He said he had raised the issue of possible Georgian war crimes with the government in Tbilisi.

ECO CLIPS

Rick Friedman, NY Times - Thoreau died in 1862, when the industrial revolution was just beginning to pump climate-changing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In 1851, when he started recording when and where plants flowered in Concord, he was making notes for a book on the seasons. Now, though, researchers at Boston University and Harvard are using those notes to discern patterns of plant abundance and decline in Concord - and by extension, New England - and to link those patterns to changing climate.

Their conclusions are clear. On average, common species are flowering seven days earlier than they did in Thoreau's day, Richard B. Primack, a conservation biologist at Boston University, and Abraham J. Miller-Rushing, then his graduate student, reported this year in the journal Ecology. Working with Charles C. Davis, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard and two of his graduate students, they determined that 27 percent of the species documented by Thoreau have vanished from Concord and 36 percent are present in such small numbers that they probably will not survive for long. . .

LA Times
- With eight scorchers over 90 degrees this month, Los Angeles has been in the midst of the second-hottest October since 1877, according to climate records.

STORES THAT RECYCLE


MEDIA

NY Times - After a century of continuous publication, The Christian Science Monitor will abandon its weekday print edition and appear online only. The cost-cutting measure makes The Monitor the first national newspaper to largely give up on print. John Yemma, editor of The Monitor, said it was "making a leap that most newspapers will have to make in the next five years." The Monitor's home page on the Web. The new online focus will allow the paper to keep eight foreign bureaus open. Enlarge This Image Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor. . .
The Monitor is an anomaly in journalism, a nonprofit financed by a church and delivered through the mail. But with seven Pulitzer Prizes and a reputation for thoughtful writing and strong international coverage, it long maintained an outsize influence in the publishing world, which declined as its circulation has slipped to 52,000, from a high of more than 220,000 in 1970.

HEALTH & SCIENCE

NY Times
- Since April, [polio] outbreaks have been found in 10 countries beyond the 4 in which polio is considered endemic - Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan. And in those four countries, the number of cases is more than double the number found by this time in 2007. In Africa, cases have been found as far south as Angola and as far east as Ethiopia. Each detected case implies another 200 cases with few or no symptoms, experts say.

FURTHERMORE. . . .

Annals of Imporobable Research -
"Are Women Really More Talkative Than Men?", Matthias R. Mehl, Simine Vazire, Nairán Ramírez-Esparza, Richard B. Slatcher and James W. Pennebaker, Science, vol. 317, no. 5834, 2007, p. 82 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1139940). The authors, who are variously at the University of Arizona, at Washington University and at the University of Texas, report that: Women are generally assumed to be more talkative than men. Data were analyzed from 396 participants who wore a voice recorder that sampled ambient sounds for several days. Participants' daily word use was extrapolated from the number of recorded words. Women and men both spoke about 16,000 words per day.

Fark - TSA announces that it has won the war on large containers of liquid, and that passengers will again be able to replenish their dehydrated husks on airplanes starting next year

1 Comments:

At October 29, 2008 7:56 PM, Anonymous Charles said...

Howard Zinn now says he's voting for Nader.

The famous historian lives in Massachusetts, where Obama is ahead by 20 points.

Zinn created a stir earlier when he said he was voting for Obama.

He legitimately took some heat for supporting the corporate Obama.

But late last night, Zinn admitted in an e-mail to our campaign that he made a mistake and now says he will vote for Nader.

And Zinn urges all people of conscience to vote for the true progressive in slam dunk states.

Of which there are now many.

(Zinn says that in non slam dunk states, he urges people to vote for Obama. We obviously disagree with that bit of advice.)

Or as Ralph Nader put it today:

"A vote for Nader/Gonzalez on November, rather than being wasted by piling onto an Obama landslide or McCain implosion, will produce a stronger hammer and watchdog for what millions of Americans want -- including public Medicare for all with private delivery and a living wage for the one in three workers who don't make one."

"Unless millions of voters of conscience choose the progressive hammer and watchdog of Nader/Gonzalez, millions of votes will be tactically wasted and serve only to increase the mandateless landslide of Barack Obama."

So, if you are ambivalent about this election, fear not.

If you live in a slam dunk state, follow the advice of Howard Zinn.

Vote Independent.

Vote Nader for President.

Onward to November

The Nader Team

PS: A lot of our supporters heard that Zinn said he was voting for Obama. Now that he has set the record straight, it's important that we pass along the word. So, forward this e-mail to your friends and family.

 

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