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Archive for April, 2011

Wal-Mart Brings Guns Back

Wal-Mart to bring back guns to hundreds of US stores

BBC News


Wal-Mart has said it will soon bring back the sale of firearms, including rifles and shotguns, at more than 500 of its US stores.

The retail giant stopped selling guns at hundreds of its 3,600 US stores in 2006, citing slumping consumer demand.

But a spokesman said guns would return to the shelves as “part of the overall push to bring 8,000 products back”.

Thursday’s news comes two months after Wal-Mart announced a seventh straight quarterly decline in US sales.

Poor Wal-Mart does not carry handguns, though, where the biggest growth trends have been occurring.

Well, give them time.


letters to Pluto

an excerpt

what I see about you, is that you are this person who is always trying to be seen as what and whom she is, but it rarely happens.

I identify with that a lot.

Who needs the curse of bigness?
Who wants to be a giant in a small land?

alas, the Underthings don’t have much presence on YouTube now.

Whatever and whomever you are, and whatever and whomever you are for whomever & stuff.. I cannot imagine not being here for you.

But, it’s complicated. I know.

I’m tired, lately. I’m trying to fix basic problems. And my family, all of whom are too far away, and many of whom don’t feel comfortable about me; are going through some really rough stuff, in some instances.

I get up every day, or sometimes every evening, and try to paste it back together again. I do this all alone. I can’t figure out how to make small talk work for me. Is that supposed to be a given?

I do okay, I guess, but it always is sort of shaky.

I sell things on the Internet. I throw things away.

I gave a bunch of things away on Freecycle awhile back. Then I stopped for now, because of all the having to deal with people who didn’t show up.

I can leave things out on the street, if it doesn’t rain, or if they aren’t breakable. I left paint out on the street once. The paint is still on the street.

Somebody should pay me to write about Carlsbad, I guess.

thanks for listening. Things are quite a bitch right now, but I think I’m going to still fight on through it.



from Pluto:

I forgot to tell you.

Last Saturday I spent half the day finding you in Carlsbad. The only plane that flies there has an impossible schedule, which leave El Paso as the only gateway. I drove that once when I was a little girl. Went to the caves.

So i got sucked into that realm (and the realm of hotels). So many tours. Admission is free this week, you know. Happens once a year.\

from Miep

You should have asked. I know all about what a bitch it is to get out of here, or into. That’s why I don’t worry about being stalked on teh Net. Half the day? You wasted half an entire day trying to figure this out? Imagine how much effort would take a stalker to come down here and throw rocks at my house, lol. I have even posted my physical address (401 South Maple St) on DK in comments, and taunted people to come down and find me. I’ve had people worry about my doing that. lol, lol, lol, lol.

Too much goddamned trouble, trying to get to or from effing Carlsbad.

The way you do it, is you drive. Or you deal with the El Paso airport.

I loves me some traveling, but I hates me some being trapped in Carlsbad. I want out, out, out, out, out.

I am trying to make money. I am working on selling just about everything I own here. I can’t get a job here because I am way too overqualified. That’s often really hard to explain to anybody, so usually I don’t try. I could write stories about how I scare people when I get into kick-ass work mode, though.

I’m currently reading “The Agony and The Ecstasy,” which I never looked at before. I thought it would be turgid. But no! it’s about being someone like me. I find it greatly cheering.

Someone like me is always hammered on when s/he isn’t operating to the full capacity of her brilliance. Someone like me just can’t stop being someone like me. Someone like me just can’t stop being angry when someone like me keeps getting crushed under anyone’s heels.

Yeah. Thanks for your letter, Pluto. Loves you.


It’s Eleven O’Clock; Does Your iPhone Know Where You Are?

IPhone Stored Location in Test Even if Disabled

WSJ, Today

Apple Inc.’s iPhone is collecting and storing location information even when location services are turned off, according to a test conducted by The Wall Street Journal.

The location data appear to be collected using cellphone towers and Wi-Fi access points near a user’s phone and don’t appear to be transmitted back to Apple. Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Still, the fact that the iPhone is collecting and storing location data—even when location services are turned off—is likely to renew questions about how well users are informed about the data being gathered by their cellphones. The fact that the iPhone stores months’ worth of location data was disclosed by two researchers last week.

They are collecting data even when location services are turned off and the data is not being transmitted, and they can store months’ worth of data, so that when you turn location services back on, there is all that data sitting there just waiting.

How quaint.


Programmer under oath admits computers rig elections

Anybody can do it!


Wolves Removed From Endangered List

Budget bill cuts federal wolf protection. Environmentalists howling.

Christian Science Monitor

With the wolves’ comeback, all interested parties were working on a plan to “delist” the animal under the Endangered Species Act. As is typically the case with major environmental issues, federal courts had gotten involved in the effort to turn over wolf management to states.

This week Congress jumped into the fray. In a brief rider attached to the budget bill for FY 2011, lawmakers – with the Obama administration’s assent, however reluctant – removed wolves in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Utah from the federal endangered species list, returning wolf management to the states.

It was a bipartisan move, pushed by Sen. Jon Tester (D) of Montana and Rep. Mike Simpson (R) of Idaho, who emphasized that wolves had long since met the recovery goals set under the Endangered Species Act.

Montana’s ‘wolf man’

Helena Independent Record

Ed Bangs, who for 23 years led the effort to reintroduce and recover healthy wolf populations in the northern Rocky Mountains, is retiring from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in June.

As the federal agency’s wolf recovery coordinator, Bangs was the face of the polarizing wolf reintroduction, conducting thousands of international, national, state and local interviews and holding hundreds of highly charged meetings, all to explain the effort as part of a massive public outreach effort. At various times, depending on the stage of the reintroduction, he was heralded as a hero while simultaneously being denounced as a wolf lover or hater, depending on people’s perspective.

Yet somehow he managed to charm many on both sides of the wolf wars, with a mix of humor tinged with a reputation for fairness.

I’m not in favor of wolves being delisted, but these are both interesting articles and worth reading.

I do have a bit of a problem with Senator Tester saying “It’s what’s right for the wolves themselves.” Could we get the wolves’ feedback on that one?


Clean What?

Carcinogens Injected into U.S. Gas Wells

The Hill, today

A new report by three House Democrats stated that between 2005 and 2009 carcinogens were injected into wells by leading oil and gas companies. Twenty-nine of the chemicals are known human carcinogens.

Leaders who issued the report included Reps. Henry Waxman of California, Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Diana DeGette of Colorado. The chemicals cited were injected during hydraulic fracturing. Fracturing has been pushed as a clean alternative to gaining access to natural gas. Lately, fracturing has been cautioned as potentially releasing carcinogens from the earth into the atmosphere. The wildlife deaths in Arkansas at the beginning of 2011, were thought to be related to fracturing.

Advocates for fracturing, a non-regulated means of drilling for natural gas has been used in combination with horizontal drilling. Both have been considered an economical and “clean” way to extract natural gas from the earth.


News – Stevens

WaPo; Harold Meyerson on John Paul Stevens

April 9

John Paul Stevens the restrainer

Scholars will surely cite Stevens’s dissents as the leading examples of how judicial restraint became the mantra not of conservative justices but of liberal ones during the late 20th and early 21st centuries. And yet this shift, however epochal, has not been sufficiently acknowledged by either the news media or politicians. Indeed, Republican elected officials still get away with ritual condemnations of liberal judicial activism, as though it weren’t the right-wing justices, whom they elevated and supported, who were the real activists. Reacting to Stevens’s retirement announcement today, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said, “As we await the president’s nominee to replace Justice Stevens at the end of his term, Americans can expect Senate Republicans to make a sustained and vigorous case for judicial restraint and the fun

h/t swimming freestyle

Paging Paul Krugman: More apocalypse, please

Andrew Leonard, Salon

I am embarrassed to admit that I did not bestir myself to read Paul Krugman’s 8000-word New York Times Magazine piece from last Sunday, “Building a Green Economy,” until I read Worldchanging’s Alex Steffen’s post this morning arguing that framing the case for action against greenhouse gas emissions “as a cost-benefit discussion” while ignoring the dire consequences of climate change “is to abet delay, compromise and corruption.”

I thought, hmmm, that doesn’t sound like the Paul Krugman I am familiar with. So I read the piece, and I’m glad I did, because now I have something handy to recommend to anyone who wants a cogent, forceful introduction to the economics of climate change.

But as for the charge that Krugman understates the potential consequences of doing nothing? I’m not sure that will wash. After all, the second sentence of the piece is: “If we continue with business as usual, they say, we are facing a rise in global temperatures that will be little short of apocalyptic.”

US jails ready to take our thugs

Shipping out gangsters would slash prison costs

Sending Bermuda’s most dangerous criminals to private prisons in the U.S. could slash the cost of locking them up by 75 per cent.

The proposal to ship prisoners to jails overseas was put forward by Government to address claims that Westgate is a soft option and no deterrent to the gun-toting thugs causing mayhem on the streets.

But the policy – if it gets off the ground – could be an economic boon as well.

Private prisons are a booming industry in the U.K. and U.S., where security firms boast that they have helped to cut the cost of housing criminals by thousands of dollars.

Grandmother: Boy terrorized adoptive family in US

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. — Torry Hansen was so eager to become a mother that she adopted an older child from a foreign country, two factors that scare off many prospective parents. Her bigger fears came later.

Torry’s mother, Nancy Hansen, said the 7-year-old’s violent episodes — which culminated in a threat to burn the family’s home to the ground — terrified them into a shocking solution: The boy they renamed Justin was put on a plane by himself and sent back to Russia.

Now, outraged officials in that country are calling for a halt to adoptions by Americans, and authorities are investigating the family. However, Nancy Hansen told The Associated Press that the motives of her daughter — a 33-year-old, unmarried nurse — were sincere.

“The intent of my daughter was to have a family and the intent of my whole family was to love that child,” she said Friday.

For homeless kids, Portland school bus is a constant in a world of chaos

Traffic is light and the sun still below the horizon as Penny Scrivner eases her yellow school bus to a stop in front of a Clackamas County apartment complex at 6:30 one recent morning.

“I never know if anyone will be here when I arrive,” she says. “Last week, I came to get a seventh-grader, and he was gone.”

She shakes her head. “Just vanished,” she says. “I hope he’s OK.”

Scrivner, a retired Greyhound bus driver and former long-haul trucker, is one of four bus drivers for Portland’s Community Transitional School, a private institution for students from homeless and poor families, nearly all of whom lead nomadic lives.

The Effectiveness of Air Marshals

Air marshals are being arrested faster than air marshals are making arrests.

Actually, there have been many more arrests of Federal air marshals than that story reported, quite a few for felony offenses. In fact, more air marshals have been arrested than the number of people arrested by air marshals.

We now have approximately 4,000 in the Federal Air Marshals Service, yet they have made an average of just 4.2 arrests a year since 2001. This comes out to an average of about one arrest a year per 1,000 employees.

Now, let me make that clear. Their thousands of employees are not making one arrest per year each. They are averaging slightly over four arrests each year by the entire agency. In other words, we are spending approximately $200 million per arrest. Let me repeat that: we are spending approximately $200 million per arrest.

The Business of Disaster: Where’s the Haiti-Bound Money Going?

Common Dreams

“A sweeping exercise in nation-building on a scale and scope not seen in generations,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the international donors conference on March 31 in New York, where foreign nations and other international institutions pledged $5.3 billion toward Haiti over the next 18 months, of which $1.15 billion comes from the U.S. government. Mr. Ban continued, “Today, we have mobilized to give Haiti and its people what they need most: hope for a new future.”[i]

In an informal survey of citizens’ views of the international communities’ plans for their nation, taken over the past two months in urban and rural Haiti, not one expressed ‘hope’ or a similar perspective for the plans of the foreign powers. Their experience of ‘nation-building’ under foreign powers has not been positive, either in process or in result.

Twenty-two Haitian organizations, representing religious, conflict resolution, women, human rights, development, and other sectors, had this to say about the three recent international donors’ meetings: “[T]he process is characterized by a near-total exclusion of Haitian social actors and a weak and non-coordinated participation by representatives of the Haitian state… We need an alternative process which can define a new national project which incorporates strategies to counteract exclusion, political and economic dependence, and poverty.”[ii]

More than 100,000 homeless U.S. soldiers roaming streets

Pakistan News.net

Disturbingly 107,000 former U.S. soldiers are roaming the streets of the nation they fought to protect.

The soldiers, most of whom returned home from wars in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, are homeless.

No-one who has ever served the United States in uniform should ever end up living on the street, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki insists.

VA is so concerned about the problem it has implemented a program to eliminate it – in the next five years. The association doesn’t just want to provide beds for the veterans, but wants to tackle the root cause of homelessness among former U.S. troops, and extend its reach to education, healthcare, and the provision of jobs.

Another View: Catholic Church was wrong to cancel support for Preble Street

Portland, Maine

Bill Nemitz got it right and the Editorial Board of The Press Herald got it wrong in their respective opinions of Bishop Richard Malone and the Catholic Diocese of Portland’s revoking funding for the homeless organization, Preble Street, and the Homeless Voices for Justice program.

Nemitz contacted Sue Bernard, diocesan spokeswoman, and he paraphrased her response as: “The (Good Samaritan) parable is about individual people giving unconditionally to help other individual people — not organizations giving to other organizations that in turn help individual people.”

Huh? Is the Catholic Church really suggesting it is free to pick apart the Bible because it is an “organization”?


Bicycle ‘3-foot-rule’ bill advances

A bill that would require that drivers observe a 3-foot buffer zone around bicyclists has emerged from the House Environmental Matters Committee — potentially giving two-wheel enthusiasts a significant victory this legislative session.

Del. James Malone, chairman of the subcommittee that labored over the Senate-passed bill, said the vote was 18-4. It’s expected to come to the House floor Saturday, and it’s rare for a bill from that committee to be rejected on the floor.

Climatologist Warns Of Epic Drought

A local scientist said climate change could create the type of drought that Oklahoma hasn’t seen since the Dust Bowl.

The comments come as the state is about to mark the 75th anniversary of the worst dust storm in history, brutal conditions that led to a mass exodus out of parts of Oklahoma during the 1930s.

“Drought happened and what caused it was poor farming practices,” said climatologist Gary McManus. “We plowed up entire plains, soil was bare for the wind. There was erosion.”

Reality of drought hits home

Edmunton Journal, Canada

Would-be sophisticated city folk often express a degree of world weariness when farmers and ranchers complain about weather conditions and crop yields. As in an uniformed, uncomprehending: “Get a life.” But it seems the boot is on the urban foot these days, as Edmontonians ponder the drought that is slowly killing our treasured trees.

There might well be those among us who wouldn’t mind dropping a scruffy poplar or two, or a “messy” mountain ash. But a decade of statistically dry years is taking a toll on city and region birches and black ashes, among other prized arbours. Sales of root feeders have been brisk as neighbours have witnessed proud old conifers sporting brown patches, dropping needles, looking downright peaky. It’s distressing to anyone with a heart.

It’s also elemental, historical. Planted trees — especially those not native to the area — were among the first signs of settlement in this place, a line of demarcation between the wild prairie and domesticated townsite every bit as striking as wood-frame houses or sod huts set on open prairie. To this day, to view Edmonton from above — via airplane or a highrise aerie — is to spy buildings and antlike people set among thousands of trees, like so many figures glued to a model train village. Imagining an urban landscape without noble trees is a dismal prospect.

Hawaii reaches worst drought level

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The new drought numbers are out and for the first time Hawaii has reached the worst level possible on the drought scale.

Oahu is the only island in Hawaii without any drought classification however the leeward side of the Big Island has the worst drought conditions in the country.

“This is the most difficult time I’ve ever seen. I’ve watched a number of other growers in the area go out of business walk away from their property and their farm and house the whole thing and let it go back to the bank. It’s really seriously a problem,” said Dan Wegner, Aloha Protea Farms Owner.

Lack of funding for Guatemalan food crisis appeal sparks concern at UN

9 April 2010 – More than a month after the United Nations and its aid partners appealed for $34 million to respond to the food crisis in Guatemala, less than 10 per cent of that amount has been received, prompting UN officials to express concern today over the plight of the estimated 680,000 people in need.

Guatemala has been hit by a prolonged drought, one of the worst in the country in three decades, resulting in severe food shortages that have exacerbated the country’s chronic malnutrition problem, Elisabeth Byrs, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told reporters in Geneva.

An estimated 43 per cent of Guatemalan children below the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition, one of the worst rates in the world.

Judge Wanger Affirms Flows to Protect Central Valley Salmon

California Progress Report

Environmentalists, fishermen and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe scored a legal victory on March 31 when a federal judge affirmed restrictions on Delta pumping to protect imperiled Central Valley salmon populations.

In a rebuke to junior water rights holders, Judge Oliver Wanger of the Eastern District of California refused to grant the Westlands Water District and its co-plaintiffs a temporary restraining order on the biological opinion of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The opinion includes seasonal water flows required to protect Sacramento River endangered spring-run Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead in the California Delta, according to the Planning and Conservation League (PCL).

Despite claims to contrary from the plaintiffs, the Judge found that the NMFS opinion, expressed in written comments to the Delta Flow Criteria Proceeding as the absolute “…minimum flows necessary to avoid jeopardy,” was based on the best available science and takes the human impacts of seasonal flow regimes into account.

And last but not least, for all those interested in Confederate Day or National Confederate Month, or any of that:


BP Whistleblowers, where are they now? Dead, Missing or Jailed


Sourced to Real Coastal Warriors on Facebook, this piece lists almost a dozen people involved who have since come to bad (and mostly violent) ends of varying sorts.

This is a new blog by Lauren Ragland and this is its first entry.


It Gets Better

There are apparently a lot of pieces being done along these lines, by other choirs.

This one was noted to me by peterborocanuck on Daily Kos. Blew me away, watching this.