Saturday, February 07, 2009


A class act all the way:
A spinoff of Halliburton Co. is on the verge of pleading guilty to federal bribery charges.

Court papers filed in Houston on Friday show Kellogg, Brown & Root LLC is preparing to plead guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for promising and paying tens of millions of dollars in bribes to officials in Nigeria in exchange for engineering and construction contracts between 1995 and 2004.

Defense contractor KBR Inc. has been awarded a $35 million Pentagon contract involving major electrical work, even as it is under criminal investigation in the electrocution deaths of at least two U.S. soldiers in Iraq.


Sign of the Times

I suspect we might be seeing more and more of this, around the world:
The French far-left is enjoying a renaissance thanks to the economic crisis which has given new credence, in the eyes of millions, to its anti-capitalist ideas.

Its figurehead is Olivier Besancenot, a postman who ran as presidential candidate in 2002 and 2007 of the Communist Revolutionary League (LCR), a tiny Trotskyist group born during the May 1968 uprising.

With polls showing he is now one of the most popular politicians in France and media queuing up to interview him, Besancenot has seized the moment to dissolve the tired old LCR and on Friday he launched a New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA).

He wants to tap into anger over the crisis, which many people blame on free markets gone haywire, to bring about "a new May 1968" with mass protests and a general strike.


Spying on the British


American spy chiefs have told the President that the CIA has launched a vast spying operation in the UK to prevent a repeat of the 9/11 attacks being launched from Britain.

They believe that a British-born Pakistani extremist entering the US under the visa waiver programme is the most likely source of another terrorist spectacular on American soil.

Intelligence briefings for Mr Obama have detailed a dramatic escalation in American espionage in Britain, where the CIA has recruited record numbers of informants in the Pakistani community to monitor the 2,000 terrorist suspects identified by MI5, the British security service.

A British intelligence source revealed that a staggering four out of 10 CIA operations designed to thwart direct attacks on the US are now conducted against targets in Britain.


Friday, February 06, 2009

Hiding Torture

Bush went to extraordinary lengths to permit the torture to continue:

A FLURRY of letters between the British Foreign Office and the US State Department has revealed that Washington did threaten to withdraw intelligence-sharing with Britain if documents related to the alleged torture of a British terrorism detainee in Guantanamo Bay were made public.

The High Court in London said on Wednesday the Foreign Office had refused to allow the torture documents to be revealed because of a "threat" from Washington to stop sharing intelligence with Britain.

The US warning, related to the case of British detainee Binyam Mohamed, was promptly denied by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who insisted that there had been no threat from the US to "break off intelligence co-operation".

But on Thursday night British broadcaster Channel 4 revealed that a letter dated August 21, 2008, from the US State Department, stated the consequences if a British court published American documents on the capture and interrogation of Mohamed.



The First Guy of Alaska is in contempt:
The husband of 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin has been found guilty of contempt by the Alaskan Senate.

Last summer, Todd Palin and others had refused to comply with subpoenas issued by Alaska lawmakers seeking testimony in the "Troopergate" investigation launched in July, triggered by the allegedly forced resignation of a state official.



I think I've seen The Cramps more often than any other band:
Lux Interior, lead singer of influential garage-punk act the Cramps, died Wednesday morning (February 4) due to an existing heart condition, according to a statement from the band's publicist. He was 62.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Now This Is Just Getting Ridiculous

Airlines charging for pillows and blankets? Really?
If you want a pillow and blanket in coach on US Airways, it's going to cost you $7.

US Airways said Thursday it will begin charging for its "Power-Nap Sack" on Feb. 16. It's following the lead of JetBlue Airways, which announced a similar policy last summer.


Good News for the Land

Our new Secretary of the Interior is looking good:
The American public just scored a major victory on behalf of our public lands. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has announced that he is canceling all 77 contested leases surrounding some of Utah's most stunning national parks. Now, instead of being drilled and industrialized, this redrock wilderness can remain part of our natural heritage.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009


Just... insanity:

A WOMAN suspected of recruiting more than 80 female suicide bombers has confessed to organising their rapes so she could later convince them that martyrdom was the only way to escape the shame.

Samira Jassam, 51, was arrested by Iraqi police and confessed to recruiting the women and orchestrating dozens of attacks.

In a video confession, she explained how she had mentally prepared the women for martyrdom operations, passed them on to terrorists who provided explosives, and then took the bombers to their targets.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Joe the "Plumber" is an authority, somehow:
Fresh off his stint as a war correspondent in Gaza, Joe the Plumber is now doing political strategy with Republicans.

When GOP congressional aides gather Tuesday morning for a meeting of the Conservative Working Group, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher – more commonly known as Joe the Plumber — will be their featured guest. This group is an organization of conservative Capitol Hill staffers who meet regularly to chart GOP strategy for the week.


Monday, February 02, 2009

True to Form

Ratzi just keeps on giving:
An Austrian pastor who has been quoted as calling Hurricane Katrina God’s punishment for sin in New Orleans is being promoted to the rank of bishop.



Why, again, did I go into this profession?

For six years, Rebekah slaved at Boston University for her PhD in American Studies. Her plan: work in New York as a museum curator. She pictured chatty, engrossing interviews with like-minded creative types. “Everyone would be so pleased” with her PhD, she thought. Yet eight months after graduating, Rebekah is unemployed and considering a gig at a public library that requires only a GED.

The demand for humanities PhDs has long been tight -- for four decades, the number of jobs requiring them hasn’t kept pace with the number of people earning them. But by all indications, recent university hiring freezes and evaporating grant money have reduced the world’s most elite degree to junk-bond status.

On the Modern Language Association’s Job Information List, a bellwether for PhD employment trends, the number of job postings is down 21 percent, the steepest decline in the list’s 34-year history. One attendee of last month’s annual MLA convention in San Francisco, where doctorate graduates can score interviews for tenure-track professorships, found the event rendered “somber” by the scarcity of opportunities. The same air permeated last week’s American Historical Association conference. “Job candidates who a year ago had goals of four or five interviews here were thrilled to have one,” reported


Sunday, February 01, 2009

My Hearts Bleeds

The poor dears:

Of course, many Wall Street employees never expected the good times to end. They lived large, believing bonuses would always arrive, so they are ill prepared, both emotionally and financially, to cope with a sudden drop in income.

“Without a doubt, $18 billion is a lot of money, but it’s a drop in the bucket on Wall Street,” said Gustavo Dolfino, president of the WhiteRock Group, a headhunter for the banks. “These bonuses are down, and the salaries are not enough for these people. They can’t live on $150 to $180,000, so they haven’t saved any money. They put it on credit lines and at bonus time, they thought they’d pay it off.”


Teaching Tomorrow

Trying to remember how that works.