Later On

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

Archive for December 2nd, 2009

One more thing about the MBT shoes

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I just figured out one thing: why, compared to traditional shoes, the MBT shoes feel alive and responsive. For example, when you’re simply standing, with the MBT shoes your foot position is dynamic, though the range of motion is small: a little rocking and tiny tipping this way and that. But that little, constant movement makes your feet feel alive and involved. In a regular shoe your feet instead lie immobile, trapped in position.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 December 2009 at 8:31 pm

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Ghailani’s Speedy-Trial Challenge

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Marcy Wheeler:

Ahmed Ghailani’s lawyers have moved to have his indictment dismissed because he was denied a speedy trial. As a reminder, Ghailani is being tried for his involvement in the African embassy bombings, under an indictment first filed in 1998. His lawyers are arguing that the government held and interrogated Ghailani for 57 months (with two years in a Black Site) before they moved to try him on that indictment that was pending during that entire period of detention.

At the end of the day, certain things appear to be irrefutable: (1) the delay was caused by deliberate Government action which would knowingly deprive Mr. Ghailani of his right to a Speedy Trial; (2) the reason to cause this delay was the Government’s desire to interrogate Mr. Ghailani extensively about matters that involved the same entity and co-conspirators that were part of the charged indictment; and (3) by being able to interrogate Mr. Ghailani for as long as they did and in the manner and under the conditions that they did, the Government obtained the information it sought, without having to enter into a voluntary and binding plea agreement that could have allowed the Government to obtain the same information that the Government sought but after he was arraigned and provided counsel in the Southern District of New York.

In short, and in the interests of national security, the Government got what it desired, when it desired, but at the expense of denying Mr. Ghailani his Constitutional right to a Speedy Trial on the pending Indictment.

Now, the motion is going to be unique among potential Article III defendants, since no other detainees are known to have pending indictments in an Article III court. But it will be an early read on whether and how abuse will be introduced into these cases. There are extensive pages describing Ghailani’s treatment–all of which have been redacted in the public filing. The motion notes that: …

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Written by LeisureGuy

2 December 2009 at 4:42 pm

On Canada’s threat to world peace

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George Manbiot at AlterNet:

When you think of Canada, which qualities come to mind? The world’s peace-keeper, the friendly nation, a liberal counterweight to the harsher pieties of its southern neighbor, decent, civilized, fair, well-governed? Think again. This country’s government is now behaving with all the sophistication of a chimpanzee’s tea party. So amazingly destructive has Canada become, and so insistent have my Canadian friends been that I weigh into this fight, that I’ve broken my self-imposed ban on flying and come to Toronto.

So here I am, watching the astonishing spectacle of a beautiful, cultured nation turning itself into a corrupt petrostate. Canada is slipping down the development ladder, retreating from a complex, diverse economy towards dependence on a single primary resource, which happens to be the dirtiest commodity known to man. The price of this transition is the brutalisation of the country, and a government campaign against multilateralism as savage as any waged by George Bush.

Until now I believed that the nation which has done most to sabotage a new climate change agreement was the United States. I was wrong. The real villain is Canada. Unless we can stop it, the harm done by Canada in December 2009 will outweigh a century of good works.

In 2006 the new Canadian government announced that it was abandoning its targets to cut greenhouse gases under the Kyoto Protocol. No other country that had ratified the treaty has done this. Canada was meant to have cut emissions by 6% between 1990 and 2012. Instead they have already risen by 26%.

It’s now clear that Canada will refuse to be sanctioned for abandoning its legal obligations. The Kyoto Protocol can be enforced only through goodwill: countries must agree to accept punitive future obligations if they miss their current targets. But the future cut Canada has volunteered is smaller than that of any other rich nation. Never mind special measures; it won’t accept even an equal share. The Canadian government is testing the international process to destruction and finding that it breaks all too easily. By demonstrating that climate sanctions aren’t worth the paper they’re written on, it threatens to render any treaty struck at Copenhagen void.

After giving the finger to Kyoto, Canada then set out to prevent the other nations from striking a successor agreement. At the end of 2007 it single-handedly blocked a Commonwealth resolution to support binding targets for industrialised nations. After the climate talks in Poland in December 2008, it won the Fossil of the Year award, presented by environmental groups to the country which had done most to disrupt the talks. The climate change performance index, which assesses the efforts of the world’s 60 richest nations, was published in the same month. Saudi Arabia came 60th. Canada came 59th…

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Written by LeisureGuy

2 December 2009 at 4:40 pm

The GOP obstruction manual

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The GOP really does dislike government, and they are doing their best to ensure that the government doesn’t function. Steve Benen at Political Animal:

If Republican lawmakers put half as much energy into learning policy details as they do into obstructionism, Congress would be a more credible, effective institution.

Sen. Judd Gregg, (R-NH) has penned the equivalent of an obstruction manual — a how-to for holding up health care reform — and has distributed the document to his Republican colleagues.

Insisting that it is "critical that Republican senators have a solid understanding of the minority’s rights in the Senate," Gregg makes note of all the procedural tools the GOP can use before measures are considered, when they come to the floor and even after passage.

He highlights the use of "hard quorum calls for any motion to proceed, as opposed to a far quicker unanimous consent provision. He reminds his colleagues that, absent unanimous consent, they can force the Majority Leader to read any "full-text substitute amendment." And when it comes to offering amendments to the health care bill, the New Hampshire Republican argues that it is the personification of "full, complete, and informed debate," to "offer an unlimited number of amendments — germane or non-germane — on any subject."

The details of Gregg’s outline are a clear reflection of the extent to which Republicans are turning to the Byzantine processes of the Senate chamber as a means of holding up reform. And doing so with eagerness.

For the record, Senate Republicans now have a detailed obstructionism plan, but not a detailed health care reform plan.

Sam Stein posted the full text of Gregg’s three-page memo, which offers specific instructions on all of the various ways GOP senators can interfere, interrupt, and undermine the legislative process — not to improve the bill to make it more to Republicans’ liking, but just for the same of obstructionism.

Jim Manley, a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said, "Just in time for the holidays, here it is in black and white, the Republicans’ manual for stall, stop and delay."

In the meantime, debate is in its third day, and thanks to senseless and unnecessary Republican objections, not a single amendment has received a vote. Brian Beutler reported that Democrats are now making it clear that the Senate will "stay in session through Christmas" — working on Dec. 25 — if the GOP’s blind obstructionism continues.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters, "We’re just not going to sit here forever and watch this bill go down."

Written by LeisureGuy

2 December 2009 at 4:37 pm

Only the rich pay taxes???

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John Amato at Crooks & Liars:

If conservatives are correct and only the rich pay taxes, then… why do Americans care if taxes are raised at all? And why should Americans care about tax cuts also?

As you guys know, I watch the mind-numbingly sophomoric Fox Saturday block of Stock Shows that goes by the name of "The Cost of Freedom." They consist of four 30-minute shows, and every single week there’s an idiot on who says the only people that pay taxes are the richest members of our society.

OK, let’s say I agree. Then why should 290,000,000 Americans more or less give a rip about the ramifications of raising taxes? They make the argument for us that taxes should be raised since only the very rich pay them.

Dave Neiwert wrote about this in one of his earlier posts: Populism: It’s all the right-wing rage these days

The Tea Parties, in every incarnation — from the Tax Day protests to the health-care town halls to the "Tea Party Express" and the "912 March on Washington" to Michele Bachmann’s lame "Super Bowl of Freedom" — has been all about populism, and it is distinctly right-wing populism.

A giveaway moment came during Sean Hannity’s April 15 evening "Tea Party" broadcast from Atlanta, when he brought in a live feed from the Rick and Bubba Tea Tantrum in Alabama:

Hannity: And I’m going to tell you one other thing: When did we ever get to a point in America where, we’re nearly at the point where fifty percent of Americans don’t pay anything in taxes! Nothing!

[Crowd boos]

Rick: The numbers out are just astounding that, that, how much that the very top taxpayers actually pay. I feel like these taxpayers are disenfranchised. I want them to have a share of the burden just like they have a share of the vote.

That’s right — it’s the wealthy top percentage of the country that needs a tax break. After all, they are the one Obama’s targeting, right? So at least they’re being upfront about just who "the taxpayers" are whose interests they’re out marching to defend…read on

Don’t you feel sorry for these poor rich bastards? If this is their argument, then I say President Obama should impose immediate tax increases like a war tax, a health-insurance tax and a jobs creation tax on the top tier of Americans. Make it a payroll tax and take it right out of their checks every pay period. That would immediately satisfy the deficit scolds.

After all, who will care if it’s only the Fox Noise demographic? In the end all conservative policies do is destroy the least of us. They treat the American worker like trained seals, whose only function in life is to fuel their wealth.

Digby has more:

I think they tend to make their judgments about the upper and lower classes based as much on tribalism as anything else. (Recall that the populist hero Ross Perot was a billionaire who made his fortune from government contracts — but he sounded like a good old boy.) These things never play themselves out exactly the same ways but the fundamental appeals remain the same. The upper levels of society usually find a way to pull the strings and control these people, but the more vulnerable often suffer quite a bit at their hands. Neiwert’s piece is a very important primer for those of us who are trying to understand where this Palin-Beck teabag phenomenon comes from and how it relates to other right0wing philosophies like Randism and militias. At the end of the day it all translates into ugly know-nothingism that lashes out at everyone but the adherents themselves, who see themselves as the defenders of the Real America.

I get the impulse and I feel the same frustrations. But their solutions are always worse than the problems they seek to solve.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 December 2009 at 4:33 pm

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Government

More on neti pots

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Written by LeisureGuy

2 December 2009 at 4:27 pm

Posted in Daily life, Medical, Science

Potentially dangerous chemicals in newborn umbilical cord blood

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Somehow, humans must stop polluting their environment. The problem is that businesses, always eager to externalize costs, work to find ways to discard instead of sequester pollutants. Here’s the story by Sara Goodman in Scientific American:

U.S. minority infants are born carrying hundreds of chemicals in their bodies, according to a report released today by an environmental group.

The Environmental Working Group’s study commissioned five laboratories to examine the umbilical cord blood of 10 babies of African-American, Hispanic and Asian heritage and found more than 200 chemicals in each newborn.

"We know the developing fetus is one of the most vulnerable populations, if not the most vulnerable, to environmental exposure," said Anila Jacobs, EWG senior scientist. "Their organ systems aren’t mature and their detox methods are not in place, so cord blood gives us a good picture of exposure during this most vulnerable time of life."

Of particular concern to Jacobs: 21 newly detected contaminants, including the controversial plastics additive bisphenol A, or BPA, which mimics estrogen and has been shown to cause developmental problems and precancerous growth in animals. Last month, researchers reported that male Chinese factory workers exposed to high levels of the chemical experienced erectile dysfunction and other sexual problems.

"BPA is a really important finding because people are really aware about its potential toxicity," Jacobs told reporters. "This is the first study to find BPA in umbilical cord blood, and it correlates with national data on it."

Jacobs said the study focused on minority children to show that chemical exposure is ubiquitous, building on 2005 research on cord blood from 10 anonymous babies. That study found a similar body burden among the babies. This is the first study to look at chemicals in minority newborns.

"Minority groups may have increased exposure to certain chemicals, but here we didn’t focus on those chemicals," Jacobs said. "The sample size is too small to see major differences, but we want to increase awareness about chemical exposures." …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 December 2009 at 2:06 pm

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