Later On

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

Archive for November 14th, 2007

And still worse:

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ThinkProgress, carrying forward the story earlier blogged:

Earlier today, State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard told the House Oversight Committee that he was “not aware of any financial interest or position” his brother A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard had as “a member of the advisory board.” During a break in the hearing, Krongard called his brother and returned to tell the panel that his brother “had been at the advisory board meeting yesterday.” Krongard said he didn’t know this when he spoke to his brother “six weeks ago.” In an interview with TPMmuckraker today, “Buzzy” Krongard contradicted his brother:

In an exclusive interview with TPMmuckraker, Buzzy Krongard says that in that phone conversation, he specifically told Cookie Krongard he had agreed to join Blackwater’s advisory board. “I had told my brother I was going on the advisory board,” Buzzy Krongard says. “My brother says that is not the case. I stand by what I told my brother.”

Buzzy Krongard says the phone conversation was more recent than Cookie Krongard indicated to the committee. Cookie said it took place about five or six weeks ago. Buzzy says it was about two or three weeks ago.

“Buzzy” told TPM that the two brothers don’t speak regularly, adding that after this episode, he expects that it will be even “less often.”

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2007 at 5:29 pm

Cool lighthouses

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Take a look.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2007 at 5:22 pm

Posted in Daily life

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World’s largest

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Jewels, pearl, nugget.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2007 at 3:07 pm

Posted in Daily life

Largest object in the Solar System

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It’s not the Sun.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2007 at 3:05 pm

Posted in Science

When none have an edge

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No edge

Sometimes it’s hard to get ahead:

In many ecosystems, several competing species coexist because none is best at everything. Tobias Reichenbach of the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and his colleagues ran computer simulations of three virtual bacteria species fighting a sort of rock-paper-scissors game.

One species produces a toxin. A second is immune to the toxin and outcompetes the first. A third species is sensitive to the toxin but can overtake the second species because it’s unburdened by the metabolic cost of producing an antidote. Each virtual population, shown here in a different color, propagates in waves as it pushes aside its weaker competitor while being chased by the stronger one, the researchers explain in an upcoming Physical Review Letters. Scientists have observed similar patterns among certain marine organisms.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2007 at 2:54 pm

Posted in Science

Excellent! Take that, Dianne Feinstein

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ThinkProgress:

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) will offer an amendment in the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow to “strike retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies alleged to have assisted with the President’s illegal warrantless wiretapping program.” From his statement:

Granting retroactive immunity for companies that allegedly went along with this illegal program is unjustified and undermines the rule of law. Not only would retroactive immunity set the terrible precedent that breaking the law is permissible and companies need not worry about the privacy of their customers, but it would likely prevent courts from ruling on the President’s illegal warrantless wiretapping program. This program was one of the worst abuses of executive power in our history, and the courts should be able to rule on it once and for all.

Read his recent letter to the editor responding to John Ashcroft on the issue in The New York Times HERE.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2007 at 2:08 pm

Urban-chicken controversy

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A wonderful video, via Boing Boing. Watch it and enjoy.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2007 at 2:06 pm

Posted in Daily life

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How does this happen?

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If something is in neither the House version of a bill nor the Senate version of a bill, how does it get into the final bill?

Last year, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) worked to ensure that “budget justifications” for appropriations bills are made “available to the public at the same time they were made available to appropriators.” But in the just released House and Senate Conference report for the Transportation-HUD spending bill, a provision has been slipped in that “would ban the public from having timely access to budget information for the Transportation Department.” The secrecy language “was not included in either the House or Senate versions of the bill.”

It’s no wonder that Congress has such a low approval rating: it seems to be corrupt through and through.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2007 at 12:24 pm

Posted in Congress

Can you believe it?

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ThinkProgress:

During today’s House oversight committee hearing on State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard, “Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) dropped a bombshell: Krongard’s brother, former CIA Executive Director A.B. ‘Buzzy’ Krongard, sits on Blackwater’s board. Blackwater, of course, is a State Department contractor.” Under questioning by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Krongard denied that his brother worked for Blackwater and said he would recuse himself from Blackwater investigations if it’s true:

Cummings: “According to this email, Mr. Prince invited your brother to be at a board meeting to discuss strategic planning. And this meeting is taking place right now, in Williamsburg, Virginia, this week as we speak. Staff contacted the hotel to speak to your brother and the hotel confirmed that he was scheduled to be there. Did you know that?”

Krongard: “No sir, I did not.”

Cummings: “And so, if your brother is a board member, which you said he’s not, but if he is — since I know you’re sensitive to conflict — would you agree that you should recuse yourself of anything dealing with Blackwater investigations?”

Krongard: “Yes, sir. And that was why — first of all, by the nature of my brother’s work, you should understand that we have never discussed his work or my work, so I had no reason to even think that he had any involvement with Blackwater. But, when these things surfaced, I called him and I asked him directly, he has told me he does have any involvement, he does not have any financial interest. If you’re telling me he does absolutely I would recuse myself.

Cummings: “You will recuse yourself?”

Krongard: “Absolutely.”

Rep. Cummings: “Immediately?”

Krongard: “Absolutely.”

And there’s more—and it gets worse:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2007 at 12:16 pm

Great summertime fun for kids

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Take a look at this.

Help your child master problem solving with CTY’s innovative math adventures for middle school and early high school students! Created with generous funding from the AT&T Foundation and Toyota USA Foundation, the Cove includes six CDs for Windows or Macintosh computers, each launching a new island adventure and covering a different area of math.

  • Includes 6 CD adventures, 100+ page Teaching Guide plus detailed solutions to all problems on CD
  • Follows the NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) standards for grades 6 to 8
  • Motivates students with adventure game themes, levels, rewards, and puzzles
  • Contains vivid 3-D graphics, animations, sound effects, and music

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2007 at 11:29 am

Posted in Education

Tagged with

Example of Business running government

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An in-depth report on what happened in Oregon:

The November 6, 2007 election brought a stinging defeat to Oregon’s cigarette tax increase. The proposal aimed to raise the state’s cigarette tax by 84.5 cents a pack to pay for health insurance for about 100,000 additional poor Oregon children who currently have no coverage. Measure 50, as the tax was called, went down by a wide 60-40% margin.

Increasing cigarette taxes to fund health care is not a new idea, and tobacco industry efforts to defeat such measures aren’t new either. What was new in this case was that tobacco interests poured a record $12 million into defeating Oregon’s measure, making it the costliest election in Oregon’s history. So stunning was the industry’s effort that Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski openly accused the tobacco industry of “buying the election” in his state.

The tobacco companies trotted out their most formulaic and time-tested strategies to defeat Oregon’s tax measure:

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Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2007 at 9:04 am

Good post on emailing a stranger

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From Lifehack.org:

… Here’s how:

  • Do your homework. Only contact someone if you’re very clear about who they are and how they can help you. Read their bio, learn about their work, and find out as much as you can about what they’re doing now — it does no good to email, say, a physicist about research she did 30 years ago and has since recanted. This means know your topic, too — don’t email someone with basic questions that could be easily looked up on Wikipedia.
  • Offer something of value. You’re asking for something — be sure to offer something in return. Your insight into their work, an interesting observation on the relationship between what they do and what you’re doing (or what someone else has done), a description of what you’re doing that will excite them, whatever, so long as it makes helping you valuable.
  • Be clear about what you want. Don’t make them guess what you’re asking of them — say it loud, say it proud! Even if you’re only writing to open a channel of communication, say it.
  • Offer your skills. Again, make the transaction valuable to the person you’re writing to by offering your future assistance. Perhaps you can help them with a thorny problem, provide some piece of information, even volunteer your labor on a project.
  • Introduce yourself. Don’t forget to say who you are and what you’re doing! Not just “I’m a student” or “I’m a designer” or whatever you are — say something useful about yourself that gives a sense of your personality. Don’t ramble on and on, just say enough to personalize your email.

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Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2007 at 8:53 am

Paul Rand, 1914-1996

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Interesting man, interesting work, interesting short video.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2007 at 8:41 am

Posted in Art, Business, Video

Would you like a little E. coli with your meatloaf?

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Eat up. (You know, perhaps it’s not really a good idea to have the beef industry run the USDA.)

  One federal inspector calls it the “E. coli loophole.” Another says, “Nobody would buy it if they knew.”

The officials are referring to the little-discussed fact that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has deemed it acceptable for meat companies to cook and sell meat on which E. coli, a bacterium that can sicken and even kill humans, is found during processing.

The “E. coli loophole” affects millions of pounds of beef each year that tests positive for the presence of E. coli O157:H7, a particularly virulent strain of the bacterium.

The agency allows companies to put this E. coli-positive meat in a special category — “cook only.” Cooking the meat, the USDA and producers say, destroys the bacteria and makes it safe to eat as precooked hamburgers, meat loaf, crumbled taco meat and other products.

But some USDA inspectors say the “cook only” practice means that higher-than-appropriate levels of E. coli are tolerated in packing plants, raising the chance that clean meat will become contaminated. They say the “cook only” practice is part of the reason for this year’s sudden rise in incidents of E. coli contamination.

“All the product that is E. coli positive, they put a ‘cooking only’ tag on it,” said one inspector, who like other federal inspectors interviewed asked to remain anonymous for fear of losing their jobs. “They [companies] will test, and everything that’s positive, they slap that label on.”

There is no evidence that “cook only” meat has directly sickened consumers. But some inspectors contend that the practice conceals significantly higher levels of E. coli bacteria in packing plants than the companies admit to. That’s because companies that find E. coli are allowed to shift that meat immediately into “cook only” lines, without reporting it to the USDA.

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Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2007 at 8:29 am

Is effective control the same as overt control?

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If large corporations and industry groups can effectively control the actions of government, is that equivalent to our simply being governed by those groups? Certainly we daily see legislation passed or blocked simply due to buying off making campaign contributions to legislators. Alaska took a particularly obvious turn, but take a look at this:

Why is it so hard to get things done for the people of California? The front page of Friday’s San Jose Mercury News has a story that points out one of the problems: the “insurmountable” influence of big, moneyed interests.
From the story, Analysis: Tobacco tax could doom plan for health overhaul:

… A new cigarette tax would be tantamount to a declaration of war on Big Tobacco, which last year spent more than $65 million to defeat a $2.60-a-pack tax on the California ballot and just this week easily turned back an attempt in Oregon to raise tobacco taxes…. Any attempt to overhaul health care is bound to invite opposition, given the huge financial stakes in the system. The tobacco tax idea is an example of the difficult balance that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democrats are struggling to strike at the negotiating table: achieving meaningful reform without triggering insurmountable opposition.

The challenge is amplified by the fact that any health care proposal is certain to end up on the ballot, where interest groups can spend tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars to defeat it.

This analysis is saying what we all know to be true: an industry group is able to mount “insurmountable opposition” to “meaningful reform” because they are able to use large amounts of money to influence the public’s understanding of issues, and regular citizens just are not able to do the same.

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Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2007 at 7:41 am

Posted in Business, Government

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