Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for January 26th, 2007

A terrible stain on the US

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Did you watch it?

Written by LeisureGuy

26 January 2007 at 8:07 pm

Fortunately, I bought 8 lbs of popcorn at Costco

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8 lbs of Orville Redenbacher popcorn—that should see me through:

White House anxiety is mounting over the prospect that top officials—including deputy chief of staff Karl Rove and counselor Dan Bartlett-may be forced to provide potentially awkward testimony in the perjury and obstruction trial of Lewis (Scooter) Libby.

Both Rove and Bartlett have already received trial subpoenas from Libby’s defense lawyers, according to lawyers close to the case who asked not to be identified talking about sensitive matters. While that is no guarantee they will be called, the odds increased this week after Libby’s lawyer, Ted Wells, laid out a defense resting on the idea that his client, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, had been made a “scapegoat” to protect Rove. Cheney is expected to provide the most crucial testimony to back up Wells’s assertion, one of the lawyers close to the case said. The vice president personally penned an October 2003 note in which he wrote, “Not going to protect one staffer and sacrifice the other.” The note, read aloud in court by Wells, implied that Libby was the one being sacrificed in an effort to clear Rove of any role in leaking the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame, wife of Iraq war critic Joe Wilson. “Wow, for all the talk about this being a White House that prides itself on loyalty and discipline, you’re not seeing much of it,” the lawyer said. …

The possibility that Rove could be called to testify would bring his own role into sharper focus—and could prove important to Libby’s lawyers for several reasons. Rove has said in secret testimony that, during a chat on July 11, 2003, Libby told him he learned about Plame’s employment at the CIA from NBC Washington bureau chief Tim Russert, a legal source who asked not to be identified talking about grand jury matters told NEWSWEEK. If Rove repeats that story on the witness stand, it could back up Libby’s core assertion that he honestly, if mistakenly, thought he had heard about Wilson’s wife from the “Meet the Press” host—even though Russert denies he knew anything about Plame, and more than a half-dozen officials (including Cheney) have said they passed along the same information to Libby earlier than that.

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Written by LeisureGuy

26 January 2007 at 8:04 pm

More on the purge of Federal Prosecutors

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From McClatchy Washington Bureau. :sigh: Bush… the Surge and the Purge.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is transforming the ranks of the nation’s top federal prosecutors by firing some and appointing conservative loyalists from the Bush administration’s inner circle who critics say are unlikely to buck Washington.

The newly appointed U.S. attorneys all have impressive legal credentials, but most of them have few, if any, ties to the communities they’ve been appointed to serve, and some have had little experience as prosecutors.

The nine recent appointees identified by McClatchy Newspapers held high-level White House or Justice Department jobs, and most of them were handpicked by Gonzales under a little-noticed provision of the Patriot Act that became law in March.

With Congress now controlled by the Democrats, critics fear that in some cases Gonzales is trying to skirt the need for Senate confirmation by giving new U.S. attorneys interim appointments for indefinite terms. Some legal scholars contend that the administration pushed for the change in the Patriot Act as part of its ongoing attempt to expand the power of the executive branch, a charge that administration officials deny.

Being named a U.S. attorney “has become a prize for doing the bidding of the White House or administration,” said Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor who’s now a professor at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “In the past, there had been a great deal of delegation to the local offices. Now, you have a consolidation of power in Washington.”

A Justice Department spokesman said it was “reckless” to suggest that politics had influenced the appointment process.

The appointments have troubled some current and former prosecutors, who worry that the Justice Department is tightening its control over local U.S. attorneys’ offices in order to curb the prosecutors’ independence.

If they’re too close to the administration, these lawyers said, federal prosecutors might not be willing to pursue important but controversial cases that don’t fit into the administration’s agenda. Similarly, they said, U.S. attorneys could be forced to pursue only Washington’s priorities rather than their own.

The selection of U.S. attorneys has always been a political process.

Traditionally, the top assistant U.S. attorney in each local office temporarily fills any vacancy while home-state senators search for preferred candidates to present to the White House for consideration. If it takes more than four months to find a permanent successor, a judge can extend the temporary appointment or name another acting U.S. attorney. Ultimately, the candidates must be confirmed by the Senate.

Gonzales gained the ability to appoint interim U.S. attorneys for indefinite terms as a result of a change to the Patriot Act [thanks to Arlen Specter, who refuses to explain why he slipped in that provision - LG] that stripped federal judges of their appointment power.

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Written by LeisureGuy

26 January 2007 at 8:00 pm

Oh, dear. I knew they were watching me

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Just now read this:

Exercise is among the best things people with diabetes can do to manage their disease, but most either are not getting the message or are ignoring it, a new report confirms.

Only 39% of surveyed adults with diabetes engaged in regular physical activity, compared with 58% of adults who did not have the disease, according to a report in the February issue of Diabetes Care. And activity levels declined as risk factors for type 2 diabetes increased.

The national survey of more than 23,000 adults with diabetes, those at high risk for the disease, and people without diabetes was conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

Lead researcher Elaine Morrato, MPH, DRPH, tells WebMD she was not surprised to find that those with diabetes were more sedentary than the general public. But she was surprised so few at-risk people were physically active.

“Exercise has been shown to be instrumental in preventing diabetes among people at high risk and in helping to manage symptoms in people with the disease,” she says.

Study after study has confirmed that regular exercise, combined with modest weight loss and a healthy diet, can lower type 2 diabetes risk and improve outcomes once people have the disease.

In one of the most persuasive, researchers from the Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group concluded that diet and regular exercise were more effective than one of the most widely prescribed drug treatments for preventing type 2 diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association recommends 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise, at least five times a week. Prevention guidelines released by the ADA last August recommend 2.5 hours of regular physical activity a week.

People at high risk for developing diabetes should be even more physically active, depending on their ability to exercise.

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Written by LeisureGuy

26 January 2007 at 7:48 pm

Posted in Daily life, Health

Some martial-arts movies

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Martial arts movies are often more interesting for the martial arts part than, say, plot and characterization. The movie I just saw, The Protector, starring the amazing Tony Jaa, is like that in spades: weird plot movement, no characterization, but amazing demonstrations of Muay Thai, a particularly fascinating (and brutal) martial art that uses strikes from hands, feet, shins, knees, and elbows. In addition, it uses interesting grips based on, for example, of one fighter intertwining his arms with his opponent. So the movie’s worth seeing for that—and the almost cartoon-like plot is sort of fascinating in itself.

Tony Jaa’s earlier movie, Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior, is a better movie with a better plot, and it also showcases Muay Thai. Well worth renting.

Kill Zone stars the redoubtable Donnie Yen and has some amazing fight sequences. In particular, the Special Features includes the choreographing and filming of one fight sequence in an alley (called “The Alleycats”), in which Donnie Yen explains how he films the scene and his thoughts on what makes a good sequence. That is particularly worth watching. The sequence was shot in an alley to cut costs, and it took 5 days to film.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 January 2007 at 5:33 pm

Posted in Movies

Epicycles upon epicycles

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This is a cute little toy that The Elder Grandson might like. Click on the ? to get the instructions.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 January 2007 at 3:37 pm

Posted in Daily life, Software

Discovery: the sacred cave of Rome’s founders

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Discovered at last:

Archaeologists say they have unearthed Lupercale—the sacred cave where, according to legend, a she-wolf nursed the twin founders of Rome and where the city itself was born.

The long-lost underground chamber was found beneath the remains of Emperor Augustus’ palace on the Palatine, a 230-foot-tall (70-meter-tall) hill in the center of the city.

Palatine Hill

Archaeologists from the Department of Cultural Heritage of the Rome Municipality came across the 50-foot-deep (15-meter-deep) cavity while working to restore the decaying palace.

“We were drilling the ground near Augustus’ residence to survey the foundations of the building when we discovered the cave,” said Irene Iacopi, the archaeologist in charge of the area.

“We knew from ancient reports that the Lupercale shouldn’t be far from the Emperor’s palace, but we didn’t expect to find it. It was a lucky surprise.

“We didn’t enter the cave but took some photos with a probe,” Iacopi added.

“They show a richly decorated vault encrusted with mosaics and seashells, too rich to be part of a home. That’s why we think it could be the ancient sanctuary, but we can’t be sure until we find the entrance to the chamber.”

Ancient Legend

According to myth, Lupercale is where a she-wolf suckled Romulus and Remus, the twin sons of the war god Mars and mortal priestess Rhea Silvia, who had been abandoned in a cradle on the bank of the Tiber River.

The cave’s name, in fact, comes from the Latin word for wolf, lupus.

The brothers are said to have later founded Rome on April 21, 753 B.C., at the site. But they eventually fought for the leadership of the new city, and Romulus killed his brother.

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Written by LeisureGuy

26 January 2007 at 3:30 pm

Posted in Daily life

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