Friday, December 19, 2008



Russell Mokhiber
sends along this Q&A: Who were the two presidents to nominate Mary Schapiro to the SEC? Reagan in 1988 and Obama in 2008



Hollywood Reporter
- The older you get, the more you watch, according to a report from Deloitte indicating that Millennials, the generation of 14- to 25-year-olds, watches just 10.5 hours of TV a week. That compares to 15.1 hours for those belonging to Generation X (ages 26-42), 19.2 hours for Baby Boomers (33-61) and 21.5 hours for Matures (62-75). Lest one assume Millennials are shunning broadcast and cable in favor of watching DVDs on their TV screens -- they're not. They spend less time watching DVDs of movies and TV shows on television sets, 4.8 hours a week, than do Gen Xers. They are, though, spending more time watching DVDs on a computer -- 1.9 hours a week -- than any other age group.


The United States deported more than 154,000 Mexicans and Central Americans in the 2008 fiscal year, in a 46 percent rise on the previous year.
More than 212,000 were deported altogether, with almost three quarters from Mexico and Central America, according to the statement released by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.


- Scientists said on Friday they had replicated an experiment in which people obediently delivered painful shocks to others if encouraged to do so by authority figures. Seventy percent of volunteers continued to administer electrical shocks -- or at least they believed they were doing so -- even after an actor claimed they were painful, Jerry Burger of Santa Clara University in California found. . . Burger was replicating an experiment published in 1961 by Yale University professor Stanley Milgram, in which volunteers were asked to deliver electric "shocks" to other people if they answered certain questions incorrectly.
Milgram found that, after hearing an actor cry out in pain at 150 volts, 82.5 percent of participants continued administering shocks, most to the maximum 450 volts.


New American Media
- Taliban leader Mullah Omar released a statement warning that the increase of U.S. troops in Afghanistan will have a direct relation to the level of violence there, and vowed to direct attacks at NATO forces. But, as an alternative, he offered a "seven point plan" to resolve the conflict. According to Press TV, a 24-hour news channel based in Tehran, Mullah Omar delivered his plan through Saudi King Abdullah. The demands reflect a softening in the Taliban's position, despite their increasing influence.

Previously, the Taliban insisted that they would not enter peace negotiation unless all NATO and U.S. forces leave the country. Now, the Taliban are willing to accept a timetable for the withdrawal of all foreign forces and suggested the introduction of Muslim peacekeeping forces to ensure a smooth transition, until the Afghans can reach a consensus government. . . One of the key demands made by Mullah Omar was specifying a timetable for the withdrawal of NATO and U.S. forces from Afghanistan. Of course, this is contradictory to President-elect Barack Obama's promise to send as many as 20,000 additional forces to Afghanistan. . . Another demand made by Mullah Omar is about sharing power with the current Afghan regime


Richard Prince
- According to eyewitnesses, at least 11 people were shot by vigilantes in Algiers Point. In each case the targets were African American men, while the shooters all were white. "In an 18-month investigation appearing this week on the cover of The Nation and supported by The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute, reporter A.C. Thompson weaves together stories of both innocent victims and unrepentant vigilantes, painting a terrifying and never before told picture of a hidden race war in New Orleans in the days following Hurricane Katrina," the magazine announced.

"Most of the incidents took place in Algiers Point, a neighborhood which stood between the inundated Lower Ninth Ward and a National Guard rescue point. As black residents from the Lower Ninth tried to flee New Orleans, white residents in Algiers Point took up arms and opened fire, shooting with impunity. "Thompson, in 'Katrina's Hidden Race War' and a companion piece, 'Body of Evidence,' interviews witnesses on all sides of the gunfire, including shooters from Algiers Point, gunshot survivors, forensic pathologists, doctors, historians, private citizens, and law enforcement officials. Thompson reviewed over 800 autopsies and state death records, and reveals a city fractured across racial lines and evidence of brutal crimes.


- Scientists say they now have unambiguous evidence that the warming in the Arctic is accelerating. Computer models have long predicted that decreasing sea ice should amplify temperature changes in the northern polar region. . . Arctic ice cover in summer has seen rapid retreat in recent years. The minimum extents reached in 2007 and 2008 were the smallest recorded in the satellite age. . . Theory predicts that as ice is lost in the Arctic, more of the ocean's surface will be exposed to solar radiation and will warm up.

NY Times
- Scientists at the University of Nevada, Reno, have made diesel fuel from used coffee grounds. The technique is not difficult, they report in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, and there is so much coffee around that several hundred million gallons of biodiesel could potentially be made annually.
Mano Misra, a professor of engineering who conducted the research with Narasimharao Kondamudi and Susanta K. Mohapatra, said it was by accident that he realized coffee beans contained a significant amount of oil. "I made a coffee one night but forgot to drink it," he said. "The next morning I saw a layer of oil floating on it." He and his team thought there might be a useful amount of oil in used grounds, so they went to several Starbucks stores and picked up about 50 pounds of them. Analysis showed that even the grounds contained about 10 to 15 percent oil by weight. The researchers then used standard chemistry techniques to extract the oil and convert it to biodiesel. The processes are not particularly energy intensive, Dr. Misra said, and the researchers estimated that biodiesel could be produced for about a dollar a gallon.. . . Even if all the coffee grounds in the world were used to make fuel, the amount produced would be less than 1 percent of the diesel used in the United States annually.


Newsweek -
The land of Lincoln boasts some impressive stats. Dick Simpson, a political scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, says more than 1,000 people have been convicted in political corruption cases since 1971, including an astonishing 30 aldermen. If Blagojevich goes to prison, he will be the fourth of the last eight governors to wear stripes, joining predecessors George Ryan (racketeering, conspiracy, obstruction), Dan Walker (bank fraud) and Otto Kerner (straight-up bribery). Should he be assigned to the U.S. penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., Blagojevich could become the first governor to share a cell with someone he defeated at the polls.

But don't count Louisiana out. According to the Corporate Crime Reporter, it was No. 1 for the period between 1997 and 2006 with 326 federal corruption convictions. That's a rate of 7.67 per 100,000. Illinois had 524 convictions in the same period, but with a larger population, its rate was only 4.68, which puts it an embarrassing sixth. And Louisiana can boast some impressive streaks. In 2001 Jim Brown became the third consecutive insurance commissioner to be convicted. Rep. William Jefferson, who was just defeated for re-election following corruption charges, apparently liked cold, hard cash so much he kept bundles of it in his freezer. His brother, sister and niece recently joined him under indictment. (Jefferson, his brother and niece have pleaded not guilty; his sister has pleaded guilty.)


Aaron Houston, AlterNet - Buried in the latest Monitoring the Future survey -- the major annual, federally funded survey of teen drug use -- is an astonishing finding: More 10th-graders now smoke marijuana than smoke cigarettes. . . In the just-released survey, 13.8 percent of 10th-graders reported smoking marijuana in the past 30 days (considered "current use" by researchers), while just 12.3 percent smoked cigarettes. For eighth and 12th grades, cigarette use still exceeded marijuana, but the gap narrowed to insignificance. This year, current and past-year marijuana use increased for eighth- and 12th-graders and declined for 10th-graders, but none of the changes were large or statistically significant. In contrast, current cigarette smoking did drop significantly for 10th-graders. Changes for most other drugs were marginal, except for a significant increase in methamphetamine use among 10th-graders.




The Economist
- Although the U.S. refused to a sign a treaty banning the use of cluster bombs -- a treaty ratified by 94 countries, including such traditional U.S. allies as Britain, Germany and France -- the nation may still find itself bound by the treaty in the future. Although the treaty does not rule out joint operations between signatories and non-signatories, signatories are nevertheless discouraged from assisting in military campaigns in which cluster bombs are used, and the treaty itself provides an effective negotiating point for outlining military actions between the U.S. and its allies.



At December 19, 2008 5:32 PM, Anonymous seriously said...

Re:"According to eyewitnesses, at least 11 people were shot by vigilantes in Algiers Point. In each case the targets were African American men, while the shooters all were white."
I don't know if anyone in the US is aware of what happened in Rwanda, but if a race war ever breaks out in the US, god (of whatever variety) help us all.

At December 19, 2008 7:19 PM, Anonymous robbie said...

More 10th-graders now smoke marijuana than smoke cigarettes.

I bet RJ Reynolds et al will be setting aside some major coin for the ONDCP. I mean, sheesh, what if kids stopped smoking cigarrettes altogether!?!?

At December 21, 2008 12:31 PM, Anonymous Mairead said...

If a race war ever does break out, Goddess forfend, I know what side I'll be fighting for. And it won't be the racists'.


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