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Headless Walruses Appear in Droves on Alaskan Shores

| Wed Aug. 15, 2007 8:58 PM EDT

Dozens of decapitated walruses have washed up on the beaches of western Alaska this summer, but a particular surge in Norton Sound, a bay of the Bering Sea, has called for a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigation. To hear why this is happening, continue reading this post on our science and health blog, The Blue Marble.

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Headless Walruses Appear in Droves on Alaskan Shores

| Wed Aug. 15, 2007 7:39 PM EDT

Dozens of decapitated walruses have washed up on the beaches of western Alaska this summer, but a particular surge in Norton Sound, a bay of the Bering Sea, has called for a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigation.

The heads have likely been taken because of the walruses' valuable ivory tusks. The federal Marine Mammal Protection Act requires the use of at least the heart, liver, flippers, chest meat, and red meat. The only people allowed to hunt walruses for subsistence purposes are Alaska Natives who reside in Alaska. As of now, it is unclear if these beheadings were carried out by Alaskans and whether crimes were committed. But something seems fishy.

Authorities have counted 79 carcasses between Elim and Unalakleet, which is the largest number of walruses in the area in 10 years. Besides this wasteful disposal of walruses, the carcasses can be very disturbing to people visiting the beach not only by being aesthetically barbaric, but by also omitting a terrible stench.

—Anna Weggel

Chevron to Stand Trial in San Francisco for Human Rights Abuses in Nigeria

| Wed Aug. 15, 2007 7:30 PM EDT

After nearly ten years of legal wrangling, a group of nine Nigerians from the impoverished Niger Delta has been given the green light by a federal judge in San Francisco to go to trial against Chevron. Attorneys for the plaintiffs allege that Nigerian police, paid by Chevron and using Chevron helicopters and boats, tortured and shot people and destroyed two villages that were allegedly opposed to Chevron's oil Delta oil developments. A jury trial in the case is expected within the year.

Another case involving Chevron and human rights abuses was, the last time I checked, also winding its way through the San Francisco federal courts. But that case, involving four aggrieved women from the Ecuadorian rain forest, was actually welcomed by Chevron. Or at least Chevron did nothing to encourage it to be remanded to Ecuador. Why the different approach? Ecuador has been cracking down on oil company abuses while Nigeria is happy to pocket their money. In between these global poles of quasi-socialism and kleptocracy lies San Francisco. Looks like we'll soon find out whether Chevron finds a jury of its Bay Area peers to be a favorable middle ground.

Wide World of Blogs

| Wed Aug. 15, 2007 5:26 PM EDT

mojo-photo-daftpunkinside.jpg

  • The Daily Swarm has scans of Mixmag's pics from the inside of Daft Punk's pyramid, plus descriptions of the actual equipment, all much better than the last ones I posted. Nerd alert.

  • Brooklyn Vegan's got the scoop on the new Midtown Manhattan music venue, Terminal 5. Hell's Kitchen is so hot right now.
  • Idolator continues its countdown of the 100 Greatest R&B Songs of All Time: 80-61 now posted.
  • Yellow Stereo has some new Imperial Teen tunes. Hooray Imperial Teen!
  • Popbytes has the trailer for the new Michel Gondry film Be Kind Rewind starring Jack Black and Mos Def as video store clerks who have to re-enact all the movies after the tapes get erased.
  • New Super Awesome Music-Oriented Show for Kids

    | Wed Aug. 15, 2007 4:51 PM EDT

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    When you think about it, "Sesame Street" was pretty hip, with its parade of guest stars and wacky Yip Yip puppets, but ever since they brought Snuffie out of the closet it seems like it's gone downhill. Nowadays, the musically-discerning parent doesn't have a lot of options for cool children's programming. Enter "Yo Gabba Gabba!" which will make its debut on Nickelodeon August 20th. The first show features performances from indie-rockers The Shins and rapper Biz Markie. The show's creator is in fact M.C. Bat Commander of the Aquabats (a.k.a. Christian Jacobs) who became interested in kids' TV after becoming a parent himself. Future shows are slated to include guests like Shiny Toy Guns, Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo, Supernova, and Rahzel. Mostly, though, I just love the crazy striped green unibrow monster.

    The Times has a nice feature on the show, and Rock Sellout has some videos and mp3s, including a link to the Shins performance, and this track, "Party In My Tummy," which may be my new favorite song.

    U.S. to Use Spy Satellites for Domestic Surveillance

    | Wed Aug. 15, 2007 3:04 PM EDT

    Frightening, as per the usual:

    The United States is moving to expand the use of spy satellites for domestic surveillance, turning its "eyes in sky" inward to counter terrorism and eventually for law enforcement, a US official said Wednesday.
    The director of national intelligence, Michael McConnell, expanded the range of federal and local agencies that can tap into imagery from spy satellites...

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    White House to Write Petraeus' Report on Success/Failure of Surge

    | Wed Aug. 15, 2007 2:23 PM EDT

    So these past several months when President Bush has deflected questions about progress in Iraq with statements like, "I'm going to wait for... David Petraeus to come back and give us the report on what he sees," he's been bluffing us. David Petraeus isn't writing any reports — the much-ballyhooed September report that will give America an update on the situation on the ground in Iraq will be written by propoganda artists sitting in offices in Washington DC, likely in the White House itself.

    Should this bother us? I know, telling the public one thing and doing the other is standard fare for this administration, but now that we know this is the procedure, I wonder if all important reports about Iraq have been written from the White House, regardless of their official offices of origin. It feels so cynical to say, "Of course!" But it feels that with the Bushies, the most cynical answer is almost always the right one.

    Rumsfeld Resigned Before the Elections

    | Wed Aug. 15, 2007 12:49 PM EDT

    Check this out, from Reuters.

    NY Times: People Take Cell Phones to Concerts

    | Wed Aug. 15, 2007 11:41 AM EDT

    mojo-photo-cell.JPGYesterday's Times explores the phenomenon of cell phones being taken to concerts, or, um, just having a cell phone and then later going to a concert, I'm not exactly sure. According to the article, people can record videos of performers falling down, or pay money to enter contests. For instance, audiences at recent Gwen Stefani concerts were apparently quite eager to spend 99 cents to give their phone number to the record company in exhange for the possibility of better seats, and Korn fans could vote on the last song of the show--for $1.99. Hooray?

    The article's attention to moneymaking contests ignores the two ways cell phone proliferation has affected my concert-going experience: first, at Coachella, you can sign up (for free!) to receive text message updates on band set times or delays, which can actually prove invaluable; and second, madly texting "whr r u?!?!" 2000 times until knocking heads with the person I'm looking for, both of us staring down at our pretty glowing screens.

    Rove Love Hits Rhetorical Peak

    | Wed Aug. 15, 2007 10:32 AM EDT

    Lots of Rove coverage on MoJoBlog the last few days, I know. But this had to be pointed out.

    Laura blogged yesterday about Jay Rosen's very good and very complex take on why the national press slobbers over Karl Rove. Sometimes, though, it's simple: the writer is a party hack, Rove is the great god of party hacks, enough said. For the best example we're going to get in this post-resignation bubble, check out this take from Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard (via The Plank):

    Rove is the greatest political mind of his generation and probably of any generation.

    That sounds about right, Freddy boy. In reverse order, here are my top ten. See if you agree.

    10. St. Thomas Aquinas
    9. Karl Marx
    8. Thomas Hobbes
    7. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    6. Plato
    5. Machiavelli
    4. Thomas Jefferson
    3. John Locke
    2. Aristotle
    1. Karl Rove

    Not making the list: John Rawls, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, and Confucius.

    But Karl Rove, definitely number one.