Stunned Bear Stearns shareholders who saw investments virtually wiped out overnight when a takeover deal with JPMorgan Chase was unveiled are demanding to know how it was put together in the first place.
For instance, they — and Washington lawmakers — want answers on how the deal was arranged, and gained government approval and financing, all in a few hours, and seemingly without alternative bidders being canvassed.
They also have a host of questions about the role of the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department in engineering the emergency deal.
At least a dozen soldiers and Marines have been electrocuted in Iraq over the five years of the war, and investigators now are trying to learn what role improper grounding of electrical wires played in those deaths.
The investigation was prompted by the death of Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, 24, of Pennsylvania, who was electrocuted Jan. 2 while taking a shower in his living quarters in the Radwaniyah Palace Complex in Baghdad.
In October 2004, the Army issued a safety warning after five soldiers had been electrocuted that year alone, Waxman said.
The warning noted that improper grounding of electrical wires is “a factor in nearly every electrocution,” Waxman said.
Altmire said those deaths were “easily preventable.”
KBR’s contract, the memo said, “only required KBR to fix the building (plumbing and electricity) as things broke. KBR did an initial survey of the building upon assuming responsibility and noted several safety issues concerning the improper grounding of electrical devices.
“The contract did not cover fixing potential hazards so those issues were never addressed,” the memo said.
The star cataloged as HD 189733 is a mere 63 light-years away. Its location is indicated in this deep, wide-angle image of the sky centered on the northern constellation of Cygnus. Considering the many bright stars, nebulae, and star clusters in the region more familiar to skygazers, HD 189733 may not seem to be remarkable, but it is known to have at least one hot, jupiter-sized planet orbiting very close, with an impressively short period of 2.2 days. Because the planet regularly eclipses its parent star, astronomers can study starlight that passes directly through the planet’s atmosphere and identify molecules through spectroscopy. Following the discovery of water vapor in the planetary atmosphere, astronomers now report that Hubble Space Telescope data also indicates the signature of methane (CH4). The exciting result is the first detection of an organic molecule on a planet orbiting another star. Although HD 189733′s planet is considered too hot and inhospitable to support life, the work is a step toward measuring conditions and chemistry on other extrasolar planets where life could exist.
The bunch of guys have came for some fishing. They parked their cars and went to the frozen lake to make some holes and enjoy the process. But when they got back it came out that the lake was not so frozen.
(more pictures at the link)
MIT threw videos of all its lecture courses – ALL its lecture courses – up on the web for anyone to watch for free. This was precisely comparable to SGI (remember them?) licensing OpenGL to Microsoft. What is it, then, that makes an MIT education worth $34,986? Is it the seminars that aren’t on the web? Faculty guidance? Research experience? Getting drunk and falling in the Charles River without your pants? Right now it is all those things plus a dimensionless concept of educational quality, which might well go out the window if some venture capitalist with too much money decides to fund an ISO certification process not for schools but for students.
Filmed Feb 2005; Posted Dec 2007
Responding to a tidal wave of outrage, Sony has reversed a plan to charge $50 to remove all the pre-installed applications — often derided as “bloatware” or “craplets” — from its high-end TZ-series notebooks.
“Which would you rather deal with: Loss of revenue or loss of customer satisfaction?” said Shim, who implied —accurately, it turned out— that it would be watching the response closely. “It seems like they’re (Sony) testing the waters to see what the customer threshold is for paying more for less headaches. … I don’t think it will go over well.”
I was laughing off the whole PZ-expelled-from-Expelled thing, but I’m now seeing a particularly evil side of this, a distortion so horrid I cannot keep quiet about it.
On the official Expelled website is a post that consists of an email from someone who was at the movie when PZ was evicted, and describes the movie itself. Remember, this was posted on the official Expelled site, giving it their tacit approval.
Sitting down? I hope so. The post on the Expelled website says this:
The film can best be described as subtly clever and occasionally funny. Emotions are stirred up especially built around the movies overall theme*, and many scenes especially later in the movie might be difficult to watch based on one’s ethnic and religious background.
and the footnote therein says this:
Many scenes are centered around the Berlin Wall, and Ben Stein being Jewish actually visits many death camps and death showers. In fact, Nazi Germany is the thread that ties everything in the movie together. Evolution leads to atheism leads to eugenics leads to Holocaust and Nazi Germany.
Think on that for a moment. Nazism is what ties all this movie together, meaning it says that evolution leads to the cold and ruthless slaughter of millions of people.
Go read the whole thing.
McCain’s tax plan, Gordon and Kvaal said, would cost more than $2 trillion over the next decade, delivering 58 percent of its benefits to the top 1 percent of taxpayers and just 4 percent to the bottom 60 percent of taxpayers.
“Once you get beyond the headlines, you have a really unappealing plan,” Gordon said, adding that there is no way McCain can cut government spending enough to compensate for the cuts’ cost to the Treasury. “You have tax breaks for Exxon, for corporations and millionaires.”
The Profit is a feature film written and directed by Peter N. Alexander. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in France in 2001. Distribution of the film was prohibited by an American court order which was a result of a lawsuit brought by the Church of Scientology, although the filmmaker says that the film is not about Scientology. The Disinformation Book Of Lists and The Times have characterized The Profit as a banned film in the United States.
The film was described by its producers as a work of fiction, meant to educate the public about cults and con men. It was widely seen, however, as a parody of the Church of Scientology and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. The main character L. Conrad Powers leads an organization called the “Church of Scientific Spiritualism”, and many elements about both the Church portrayed in the film, and Powers’ life have been compared to Scientology and Hubbard. The film was mainly produced and shot in Tampa Bay, Florida, and the cast included actors from the area and cameos from a few Scientology critics.
The Church of Scientology did not think favorably of the piece. Representatives from the Foundation for Religious Tolerance of Florida came to protest the film, and the film’s producers asserted that they were harassed by Scientologists. Initially, representatives of the Church stated the film had no resemblance to Scientology, but later the Church initiated litigation to block the film’s distribution. As a result of a 2002 court order from the Lisa McPherson case, a Pinellas County judge blocked further distribution of the film in the United States. According to the film’s attorney the injunction was lifted in 2007, but distribution is still blocked due to a conflict with one of the producers, Bob Minton. The film generally did not receive positive reviews from local press, and reviews in the St. Petersburg Times criticized over-the-top acting, and noted that the director should have instead produced a non-fiction documentary piece if he wanted to educate others about cults.
You probably weren’t even aware there were movies that you could not show in the USA.
So, if you’re in the USA and want to watch:
One of this week’s hysterical press scandals was that Minister Louis Farrakhan praised Barack Obama’s candidacy even though Obama had previously denounced numerous Farrakhan remarks and the Obama campaign did nothing to seek out the Farrakhan praise. Nonetheless, Tim Russert demanded that Obama jump through multiple hoops to prove that he has no connection to — and, in fact, “rejects” — the ideas espoused by Farrakhan deemed to be radical and hateful.
Yesterday, though, the equally fringe, radical and hateful (at least) Rev. John Hagee — a white evangelical who is the pastor of a sprawling “mega-church” in Texas — enthusiastically endorsed John McCain. Did McCain have to jump through the same hoops which Russert and others set up for Obama and “denounce” Hagee’s extremism and “reject” his support? No; quite the opposite. McCain said he was “very honored” to receive this endorsement and, when asked about some of Hagee’s more twisted views, responded: “all I can tell you is that I am very proud to have Pastor John Hagee’s support.”
John Hagee was one of the morons who said God caused Hurricane Katrina to wipe out New Orleans because it had a gay pride parade the week before.
Thus, white evangelical Ministers are free to advocate American wars based on Biblical mandates, rant hatefully against Islam, and argue that natural disasters occur because God hates gay people. They are still fit for good company, an important and cherished part of our mainstream American political system. The entire GOP establishment is permitted actively to lavish them with praise and court their support without the slightest backlash or controversy. Both George Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sent formal greetings to the 2006 gathering of Hagee’s group.
By contrast, black Muslim ministers like Farrakhan, or even black Christian ministers like Rev. Jeremiah Wright, are held with deep suspicion, even contempt. McCain is free to hug and praise the Rev. Hagees of the world, but Obama is required to prove over and over and over and over that he does not share the more extreme views of black Ministers.
It looks like everything Obama said in his speech was correct.