Archive for April 22nd, 2009
National and state wildlife protection groups say South Carolina is trying to use a phony homeland security designation to dodge a new federal regulation aimed at protecting one of the most endangered species of whales.
The S.C. House Judiciary Committee was scheduled to take up Tuesday afternoon a measure placing the state’s harbor boat pilots within the South Carolina Naval Militia, a new agency whose creation coincides with the imposition of the federal rule to safeguard the North Atlantic right whale.
That federal regulation, developed under the Endangered Species Act, sets a new speed limit of 10 knots per hour — 11.5 mph — for boats 65 feet or longer to prevent them from striking right whales, scarcely 300 of which remain on the planet.
An average of two North Atlantic right whales are struck and killed each year, mostly by larger boats traveling at higher speed.
"That may not seem like many, but with only 300 right whales left, it’s a lot," said Connie Barclay, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "We absolutely must do something to stop the number of ship strikes."
A Spartanburg couple operating a 31-foot boat six miles east of Hilton Head struck a 40-foot right whale March 31, putting out a mayday call when their blood-stained craft began to sink. The stricken whale’s fate is unknown.
"Even one death of a female of calf-bearing age seriously undermines the ability of this species to survive," said Hamilton Davis, project manager of the Coastal Conservation League.
The federal rule partially exempts law enforcement personnel and their vessels, a status Port of Charleston officials and their S.C. General Assembly allies hope to obtain via the new state regulation moving through the legislature.
Senior officials with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, which developed the federal regulation, are skeptical…
South Carolina is the only state along the Atlantic seaboard that is fighting the federal rule, which took effect in December after years of development and the filing of 10,252 public comments…
Interesting article on how the US has adopted "disappearing" people. It begins:
Last week, we pointed out that one of the newly released Bush-era memos inadvertently confirmed that the CIA held an al-Qaeda suspect  named Hassan Ghul in a secret prison and subjected him to what Bush administration lawyers called "enhanced interrogation techniques." The CIA has never acknowledged holding Ghul, and his whereabouts today are secret.
But Ghul is not the only such prisoner who remains missing. At least three dozen others who were held in the CIA’s secret prisons overseas appear to be missing as well. Efforts by human rights organizations to track their whereabouts have been unsuccessful, and no foreign governments have acknowledged holding them. (See the full list. )
In September 2007, Michael V. Hayden, then director of the CIA, said  "fewer than 100 people had been detained at CIA’s facilities." One memo  (PDF) released last week confirmed that the CIA had custody of at least 94 people as of May 2005 and "employed enhanced techniques to varying degrees in the interrogations of 28 of these ".”
Former President George W. Bush publicly acknowledged the CIA program in September 2006, and transferred 14 prisoners from the secret jails to Guantanamo. Many other prisoners, who had "little or no additional intelligence value," Bush said, "have been returned to their home countries for prosecution or detention by their governments."
Bush did not reveal their identities or whereabouts — information that would have allowed the International Committee for the Red Cross  to find them — or the terms under which the prisoners were handed over to foreign jailers. The U.S. government has never released information describing the threat that any of them posed…
Why not? It looks relatively easy. Except that I can’t find anyplace that sells pork belly.
Excellent post by John Cole of Balloon Juice:
I’m Not a Lawyer or a Constitutional Scholar
And as such, will probably not understand the legal intricacies of this case that was debated in the Supreme Court yesterday. However, I can state that as someone with an IQ over room temperature, the fact that we are debating whether it is appropriate for school authorities to strip search kids is a sure sign that something has gone horribly, horribly wrong with this country and our sense of perspective, and I blame the war on drugs.
*** Update ***
Government by old men afraid of Advil is disgusting:
On the courthouse steps after argument today, Redding is asked what she’d have wanted the school to do differently. “Call my mom first,” she says. You see, we now have school districts all around the country finding naked photos of teens and immediately calling in the police for possession of kiddie porn. Yet schools see nothing wrong with stripping these same kids naked to search for drugs. Evidently teenage nakedness is only a problem when the children choose to be naked. And the parents? They are always the last to know.
Where is the outrage? Oh, yeah. They are too busy protesting the fact that Bill Gate’s taxes are going to go up 3%! Tyranny!