Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap - a roundup of news you might have missed

A bad decision...Major League Baseball reversed its long-standing opposition to instant replay and will allow umpires to check video on home run calls in series that start Thursday. The start date comes nearly 10 months after general managers voted 25-5 to use the technology, and following MLB agreements with the unions for umpires and for players. "I believe that the extraordinary technology that we now have merits the use of instant replay on a very limited basis," commissioner Bud Selig said. "The system we have in place will ensure that the proper call is made on home run balls and will not cause a significant delay to the game." Three series are scheduled to start Thursday, with Philadelphia at the Chicago Cubs, Minnesota at Oakland and Texas at the Los Angeles Angels. For other games, replays will be available to umpires starting Friday.

It doesn't stand for what you think it stands for...The Philippine government will ask Muslim guerrillas to disarm and dismantle armed units when peace talks resume to prevent further attacks once a final agreement is signed, a presidential peace adviser said Tuesday. Such a guarantee has become crucial because of recent attacks on civilian communities by three Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) commanders who were apparently frustrated over problems in the negotiations, Hermogenes Esperon said.

Monkey see, monkey do, monkey give...For capuchin monkeys, it seems, it's better to both give and receive than just to receive. At least, that is what researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, have found. Monkeys were given a choice of receiving a food reward, or receiving a food reward and also having another monkey receive food. When paired with relative or "friend" the monkeys primarily went for the double reward, known as the "prosocial" choice...

Thrifts warned not to change terms of home equity loans Following a spate of complaints by consumers, the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), the federal agency charged with regulating savings and loan institutions, issued a six page guidance letter on Tuesday warning lenders they could not arbitrarily change the terms of home equity loans.

How much? A federal jury awarded Mattel Inc. $100 million in damages Tuesday after a serious girl fight between the house of Barbie and the maker of her chief rival, the pouty-lipped Bratz dolls. MGA Entertainment Inc. and its chief executive officer Isaac Larian were told to pay a total of $90 million in three causes of action related to Mattel's employment contract with designer Carter Bryant, who developed the Bratz concept. The jury also ordered MGA, Larian and subsidiary MGA Hong Kong to pay a total of $10 million for copyright infringement.

Yep, money is tight. I still see A LOT of people walking when I used to see almost no one walking. With cash tight and fuel and food prices high, many parents are eyeing back-to-school lists warily, looking for bargains and buying used clothes. In some cases, they're even thinking about sending their children to school without all the supplies they need. Thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army say more parents and teachers are shopping at their stores nationwide, quickly snatching up school uniforms and supplies. Goodwill sales nationwide were up 6.2 percent for the first six months of 2008 compared with the same period in 2007, and are also expected to be up for the back-to-school season, spokeswoman Lauren Lawson said.

This is the column that should--should--get Richard Cohen fired from the Washington Post...The transformation of Michelle Obama from a bracingly proud contemporary woman -- mother, wife, career woman -- into a prime time Betty Crocker was sad to see. This is not to say that she was not up to the task assigned her Monday night. She spoke well and looked swell. But her speech was like one of those buildings where the interior structure can be seen. You could watch her hit all her marks, answering, point by point, the uninformed criticism: angry, although mighty privileged, black woman. Cohen is the douchebag's douchebag, and they need to put him so far out to pasture, not even the cows should be able to crap on him.

U.S. Warship steaming into Georgian port An American warship carrying humanitarian aid to Georgia was expected to put into port in Wednesday in the Black Sea port of Poti, a Georgian city that still has a Russian military presence. It puts U.S. military assets and Russian soldiers in close proximity for the first time since the conflict began. And yes, we are thinking the same thing you are...Is this some sort of setup for a Gulf of Tonkin incident, perchance?

Louisiana doesn't need to commemorate another John McCain birthday with a hurricane In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, authorities warned residents to be prepared for another major storm as Gustav passed over Haiti and into the warm waters of the Caribbean. "We all hope this will be a false alarm," Gov. Bobby Jindal said. "Now would be a good time, however, for families to review their evacuation plans."

First it was Postville, Iowa and now it's Laurel, Mississippi Federal agents swooped in to the Howard Industries transformer plant on Monday and rounded up nearly 600 plant workers suspected of being in the country illegally. About 100 of the 595 detained workers were released for humanitarian reasons, many of them mothers who were fitted with electronic monitoring bracelets and allowed to go home to their children, and 475 other workers were transferred to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Jena, La. Nine who were under 18 were transferred to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Federal officials said a tip from a union member prompted them to start investigating several years ago.