Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

Non-Palin related Alaska news is always a good thing: The airport serving Alaska's capital city doesn't have to worry about bears coming around anytime soon. Juneau International Airport had to be evacuated Friday afternoon because of an accidental discharge of anti-bear spray. The chemical comes in a canister like pepper spray but is used to defend against attacking bears.

Is it a tradition or an anachronism? In a state considered the American birthplace of hunting with hounds, George Washington's favorite sport has become a target for some Virginia landowners who say baying dogs and their owners are trampling property rights. Even other hunters object to a Virginia right-to-retrieve law viewed as the most absolute in the nation: Hunters have free rein to chase after dogs that stray onto posted private property. Proponents are rising to protect their right to hunt, mindful that other Southern states have already limited or eliminated certain forms of the sport because of complaints from property owners...Forms of hound hunting have been banned from Washington state to Massachusetts, and Southern states have followed suit — in part because of opposition from animal-rights groups, but also from landowners. Texas banned hunting deer with dogs in 1990, and Alabama, Georgia and Florida more recently have restricted the sport. Those actions have prompted officials to examine the sport in Virginia, where approximately 180,000 hunters use dogs.

Russia making noise: Russia called Saturday for a revival of the global coalition that brought the world together to fight terrorism after Sept. 11, 2001 but started unraveling after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and what it called the subsequent domination of world affairs by a single power - a veiled reference to the United States. "The solidarity of the international community fostered on the wave of struggle against terrorism turned out to be somehow `privatized'," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the U.N. General Assembly's annual ministerial meeting. He cited the U.S. invasion of Iraq "under the false pretext of fight on terror and nuclear arms proliferation" and questions of excessive use of force against civilians in counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan. And he said the recent crisis over Georgia's breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia proved again that "it is impossible or even disastrous to try to resolve the existing problems in the blindfolds of the unipolar world."

Oh, there's tons of opposition: As Democratic and Republican leaders hashed out a compromise to the Bush administration's proposed $700 billion bailout of struggling banks, Americans took to the streets. In Denver, several dozen protesters gathered Friday on the steps of the state Capitol to oppose the proposed federal bailout of the financial industry. The protesters shouted "Jail them, not bail them," and "Main Street, not Wall Street." Protesters included members of the Colorado Green Party, union workers and the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center.

Of course, the pirates have the upper hand--they can just sink the vessel: A Russian warship on Friday rushed to intercept a Ukrainian vessel carrying 33 battle tanks and a hoard of ammunition that was seized by pirates off the Horn of Africa - a bold hijacking that again heightened fears about surging piracy and high-seas terrorism. A U.S. warship is tracking the vessel but there has been no decision about intercepting it, U.S. Defense Department officials said.

This is quite common--misappropriating content to collect "hits" and make money is a scam: Via John at Square State, I've found out there's a site called Sharpy News that has no original material and is misappropriating the blogposts of hundreds of blogs, reposting them without proper attribution or authorization, allowing people to comment on our blog posts at its site, and inserting hotlinks within our posts that redirect the reader to its site. We have a site from Japan that was doing that to us on the old Blogger site. Wait a minute--did I just take a snippet of someone else's work and reproduce it here with a link? Weird...but at least we acknowledge that what we're attempting to do is find you stuff that you might like--as opposed to just taking shit and hoping some idiot stumbles in here.

The New York Times has a great story about Bolivia--check it out: The devastation is telling of the turbulence of Bolivia’s politics these days. But it belies Mr. [Evo] Morales’s gathering strength in the country at large, and the stresses it has placed on Bolivia’s wobbly democratic institutions, which he has set about recasting amid rising violence by his supporters and opponents alike. The election of Mr. Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, in 2005 was a watershed in South America, as long-marginalized native peoples took power for the first time — through the ballot box. Increasingly, the question confronting Bolivia, a country of deep ethnic and geographical divisions, is how they will wield that power, and whether Mr. Morales can redress the historical grievances of Bolivia’s indigenous majority while keeping his country from descending into chaos. “It’s been half a century since Bolivia has had a president with such power and public support,” said Gonzalo Ch├ívez, a Harvard-trained political analyst at the Catholic University of La Paz. “Now we have to see how Evo proceeds with plans for a radical reconstruction of the state and with what methods.”

Restating the obvious: The chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, a longtime proponent of deregulation, acknowledged on Friday that failures in a voluntary supervision program for Wall Street’s largest investment banks had contributed to the global financial crisis, and he abruptly shut the program down. The S.E.C.’s oversight responsibilities will largely shift to the Federal Reserve, though the commission will continue to oversee the brokerage units of investment banks. Also Friday, the S.E.C.’s inspector general released a report strongly criticizing the agency’s performance in monitoring Bear Stearns before it collapsed in March. Christopher Cox, the commission chairman, said he agreed that the oversight program was “fundamentally flawed from the beginning.” "Voluntary Regulation" is ridiculous and it does not work. It might work if we're talking about the honor system. But anyone who's ever been ripped off by one of those "honor system" snack trays could tell you something the SEC apparently hasn't figured out.

A delicate subject--but religion has no place in determining a security clearance: federal judge does not have the jurisdiction to second-guess security clearance decisions and should throw out a lawsuit by a Muslim scientist who claims he wrongly lost his clearance — and his job — at a nuclear warship plant, U.S. Justice Department attorneys said in court documents. Lawyers for the Department of Energy contend the lawsuit filed by Egyptian-born scientist Abdel Moniem Ali El-Ganayni is an effort to publicize the security review process, which could pose a threat to the U.S. The American Civil Liberties Union helped El-Ganayni sue this year, saying he was wrongly fired for speaking against U.S. foreign policy and the alleged mistreatment of Muslims by the FBI. The scientist, a U.S. citizen for 20 years, lost his Energy Department security clearance and then was fired in May from Bettis Laboratory near Pittsburgh, where he had worked for more than 17 years. El-Ganayni lost his clearance because the government says it has "reliable information" that he had contact with "a saboteur, spy, terrorist, traitor, seditionist, anarchist, or revolutionist, espionage agent, or representative of a foreign nation whose interests are inimical to the interest of the United States," the filing states. The government also says El-Ganayni "engaged in unusual conduct" that showed he was not "honest, reliable or trustworthy." They'd better be able to prove that. And if they do, case closed.