Friday, September 26, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

Awful...A school bus carrying special-needs students collided with two dump trucks in rural northern Indiana on Friday and killed four of the five people aboard, including children, police said. "The victims are everywhere," said Cass County Coroner Gene Powlen. School officials confirmed that the four victims were children. The bus belonged to the Twin Lakes School Corp. in Monticello, according to the Logansport Pharos-Tribune. The driver was the only survivor on the bus and was flown to a hospital in Indianapolis, 70 miles to the south.

Old lying bastard gets called on it--wait, not McCain; Stevens. Employees of an oil services firm testified Friday that they spent hundreds of hours remodeling the Alaska cabin of Sen. Ted Stevens - labor that prosecutors say wasn't paid for or reported by the veteran lawmaker. "We were working 10 hours a day, six days a week," said Roy Dettmer, a VECO Corp. electrician dispatched in 2000 to rewire the home. Dettmer, testifying for the government on the second day of Stevens' corruption trial, estimated he worked 400 hours on the job at a rate of up to $29 an hour. Another VECO worker told jurors the company paid him to spend two days installing a $6,000 generator at Stevens' hillside chalet in Girdwood, Alaska, in 1999. A VECO roofer also detailed his work as prosecutors flashed photos of a project that greatly increased the size of the home.

How is Bush going to pardon anyone that isn't a Republican? The first black heavyweight champion should be granted a presidential pardon for a racially motivated conviction 75 years ago that blemished his reputation and hurt his boxing career, the U.S. Congress recommended on Friday. Jack Johnson became world heavyweight champion in 1908, sparking a search for a white boxer, dubbed "the Great White Hope," who could beat him. In 1913, Johnson was convicted of violating the Mann Act which outlawed the transportation of women across state lines for immoral purposes. Authorities had first unsuccessfully tried to charge Johnson over his relationship with a white woman who later became his wife. They then found another white woman who testified that Johnson had transported her across state lines in violation of the Mann Act.

Pakistan now protecting al Qaeda: Pakistan warned the U.S. not to stray across the Afghan border into its territory after a gunbattle between the anti-terror allies that was praised by tribesman as a victory against Washington. As if to underline the point that Pakistan can beat al Qaeda and Taliban militants without American firepower, a top general said Friday an offensive in another frontier province had killed more than 1,000 suspected insurgents and predicted the region would be "stabilized" within two months. Still, he also showed reporters photos of militant tunnel systems and trenches in Bajur, suggesting more tough fighting ahead in an area that is considered a likely hiding place for Osama bin Laden and other top al Qaeda leaders. Some ally.

Americans aren't going to have any money, so why emphasize "mobile banking" as a service?More cell phone operators and financial companies are jumping on the mobile financial-service bandwagon, but it remains to be seen if U.S. cell phone subscribers are even interested. Sprint Nextel announced on Thursday that it will be the latest U.S. wireless carrier to offer its mobile-phone customers the ability to bank from their headsets. The new MyMoneyManager service is a free downloadable application that enables cell phone subscribers to check bank balances, pay bills, and find nearby branches or ATMs from their handsets. Cell phone subscribers aren't going to bank from their phone if their bank has failed. And they're not going to incur extra fees they can't afford to do so.

Problems brewing with the process to grant asylum: Each year, tens of thousands of noncitizens apply in the United States for asylum, which provides refuge to those who have been persecuted or fear persecution. Asylum officers (AO) in the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and immigration judges (IJ) in the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) assess applicants' credibility and eligibility. The GAO is looking at why, and it seems to be a case of "adjudication" delay. Click over to see what's being done about it, if you're into parsing these things. It has a real world application--the thousands of Iraqis who bet on the US are going to need asylum here.

Might as well pound sand...Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Friday thanked US President George W. Bush for freeing his country from the Taliban for improving the quality of life -- and for weathering bouts of yelling. "I have yelled at times, I've been angry at times, but you've always been smiling and generous, and that's so nice of you," Karzai told his host at the White House, thanking him for "your patience with me and some of our habits." Uh, that's because he knows he can make you disappear, dude. He's not smiling because he cares.

Britain is moving to nationalize companies as well: British mortgage lender Bradford & Bingley, which has been hit by a housing downturn and weakness in the wider economy, may be nationalised, according to newspaper reports. The Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail both reported on Saturday, citing unnamed sources, that government ministers were considering a nationalisation of the troubled bank, little more than a year after the collapse of Northern Rock, which was eventually nationalised earlier this year. A spokesman for the bank told the Telegraph, however, that it was "fully funded and we are one of the strongest capitalised banks in the UK." Where have we heard that before?

If Megan McArdle says its not true, well...I cannot address all the patently untrue things that McCain and Obama are saying, but I must protest when Barack Obama claims that people are going bankrupt because of health expenses. There is no evidence to suggest that this is a widespread phenomenon. Okay. But let's turn that around--are people receiving such wonderfully inexpensive health care that they're not choosing between medicine or food, or medicine and utility bills, or medicine, medical treatment and medical care and their mortgage payments? In other words, shouldn't we then be prosecuting these people for lying their fucking asses off?

Mortgage restrictions rejected in California: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a proposal Thursday that would have imposed tough restrictions on mortgage brokers, such as banning exotic loans to risky borrowers that cause balances to grow rather than shrink over time. The Republican governor's veto of Assembly Bill 1830 blocked what consumer groups considered the most significant housing-related proposal on his desk. It was one of numerous bills this session that responded to California's battered housing market, whose problems have been partly blamed on irresponsible lending practices. Schwarzenegger, in his veto message, said AB 1830 had laudable goals but that it "overreaches and may have unintended consequences."