I'm glad someone is finally taking a stand against college kids who want to make cheap coffee tables.

Representative Michael F. Kane, a Holyoke Democrat, is pushing for the crackdown on milk-crate thieves, or, translated into legislativese, anyone who "intentionally removes a plastic bulk merchandise container that is used by a product producer, distributor, or retailer or agent thereof which is used as a means for the bulk transportation, storage, or carrying of retail containers of milk . . . with the intention of permanently depriving the merchant of the possession, use, or benefit of such container."
Inspired by complaints from several retailers and dairy suppliers, Kane said, his bill would set a sliding scale of fines for first, second, and third offenses, all the way up to $1,000 and a year in prison for stealing more than $100 worth of crates.
"These crates have been used for many years in college dorms for basically storage and furniture," Kane said. "Obviously, I don't want to see any college students going to jail over this, but it is becoming a cost to the industry." Kane is hoping the measure will come up for a hearing in the Judiciary Committee this winter.

Massachusetts must be a paradise, if this is what the legislature is acting on.

Slamming Hillary Clinton for crying didn't help John Edwards any in New Hampshire. In fact, it probably hurt him substantially. What makes the Obama folks think questioning those tears' authenticity will do anything other than cause a backlash?

Really? We're supposed to think that because Hillary Clinton didn't cry publicly over Katrina, these tears were part of a political calculation? This is stupid and weak.

Is assuming the worst on the behalf of your opponents part of the politics of hope?

This Friday, January 11, is the six-year anniversary of the arrival of the first prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. To observe it, the American Civil Liberties Union is asking everyone to wear orange, and there is a call to close Guantanamo Bay prison now. There will also be rallies and vigils in some U.S. cities, and Amnesty International is staging protests all over the world.

As of December 1, 2007, there were still 305 inmates at the prison, including 20-year-old Omar Khadr, who arrived in Guantanamo Bay when he was 15. The youngest known prisoner to spend time at Guantanamo Bay, however, was 13, and the oldest was 98. Four prisoners are known to have died in custody, and one of those is thought to have been 16 years old when he was detained.

55% of Guantanamo Bay's prisoners have been officially determined as not having committed any hostile acts toward either the United States or its allies.

The Bush administration has indicated that the prison will remain open throughout Bush's alleged presidency.

polar-bear150x180.jpgFederal authorities missed the deadline this week to classify polar bears as "endangered." Seems rampant habitat loss due to global warming isn't compelling enough to get them listed.

Well, today three conservation groups announced that they're going to sue the Department of the Interior to get the endangered status for the bear.

This all started last January, when an Interior Secretary proposed putting polar bears on the federal endangered list. The Endangered Species Act requires a final decision no later than a year after such a proposal. While the government claims that the deadline was missed because of the complex science involved, and because there has never been a species listed due to global warming, conservationists say that the federal government consistently uses such administrative excuses to keep animals off the list or meddle in scientific findings.

Just to give some context for the "science" part of the argument, a National Geographic study found that polar bears may be extinct by 2050 due to global warming, and in summer 2007, there was 40% less Arctic ice than there was in 2000, according to a study by the National Snow and Ice Data Center. As we wrote about last year, global warming is leading to extinctions across the global board. Unfortunately, we may not have the time it takes to convince the federal government otherwise, or to compel the feds to get their paperwork in order.

leopard%20taser.jpgIf giving people 50,000 volt electric shocks just doesn't thrill you like it used to, don't despair: TASER International has a fashionable solution! For a few hundred dollars, you can get yourself a brand new leopard-print stun gun, and an mp3-equipped holster to put it in. Read more over at The Riff.

—Casey Miner


Ever feel like shocking people just ain't what it used to be? Like your self-defense experience is a little bit...boring? TASER International, whose 50,000 volt "electronic control technology" has helped redefine "trigger-happy," knows what you're missing: a new leopard-print stun gun, and an mp3-equipped holster to put it in.

Yes, for just a shade more than $450, you can own not just a weapon, but a personal protection experience. So says TASER head Rick Smith. "Personal protection can be both fashionable and functionable," Smith elaborated in a press release announcing the company's plans to "unleash" the new weapon and holster. Weapon, you say? Thought TASERs were nonlethal? Well, they are—as long as you don't suffer from over-exhaustion, a heart condition, a back condition, or "excited delirium," and avoid the perils of "Sudden In-Custody Death Syndrome," which according to TASER "results from a complex set of physiological and psychological conditions characterized by irrational behavior, extreme exertion, and potentially fatal changes in blood chemistry." Symptoms include "extreme agitation" and "sweating profusely."

The company claims that these conditions, and not the device itself, account for the more than 150 recorded deaths of people who were for the most part perfectly healthy before receiving (often repeated) shocks from the device. But whatever: Seizures are such a buzzkill. Ditch those squares, rock on to your own soundtrack, and don't forget: shoot early and often. Ain't no party like a TASER party.

—Casey Miner

With results in from New Hampshire, the wild and pervasive fantasies surrounding the Paul campaign should finally be laid to rest. For months Paul supporters have swamped the comments section of this and pretty much every other major blog with the idea that his poll numbers were vastly underreported, either due to a media conspiracy, or the fact that his young, cell-phone-wielding supporters weren't counted in typical phone polls. I've pointed out that Dean supporters made pretty much the same, baseless case in 2004, and it's now clear that nothing has changed since then: In Iowa, Paul won 10 percent of the vote (phone polls had given him 9 percent) and in New Hampshire he won 7.6 percent (phone polls had given him 6 to 10 percent). In short, the Ron Paul myth should be about as dead as the decomposed remains of Guy Fawkes.

Steve Aftergood runs the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). From that perch, he has documented the shrinking of government transparency and civil liberties, including just in recent months, Cheney's office famously declaring itself exempt from both the executive and legislative branches for the purposes of refusing to submit itself to any form of oversight and security office procedures, as well as the National Archives secretly removing declassified documents from its shelves. He's sued the CIA for years to ask for the disclosure of the intelligence budget, published taxpayer-funded non-secret Congressional Research Service reports which Congress otherwise won't make available, and closely followed press coverage of well, the more secretive government agencies for years. As a long time close CIA watcher, I asked Aftergood to comment on controversial former CIA officer Philip Agee's death, and he obliged:

He was a man of his time, and his time was the 1970s. His public persona was shaped by anger at the U.S. Government and the CIA in particular over what he saw as its immoral, imperialist tendencies. He chose to break the rules of non-disclosure, and he paid a price in terms of exile, public opprobrium, etc. I doubt that the "celebrity" he enjoyed was much of a compensation.

sunrisephoto.jpgLast year, the SEC opened an investigation into accounting irregularities at Sunrise Senior Living, one of the nation's largest chains of retirement communities and assisted-living facilities, after the company restated its earnings by some $130 million. If anyone was wondering how the company might have misplaced so much money, it might look to former CFO Bradley Rush, who apparently was using his office computer to check out a lot more than the company's finances.

After Sunrise sacked Rush last year, he sued for wrongful termination, arguing that he was rooting out fraud at the time he was fired. However, during the litigation, the Washington Post reports that Sunrise disclosed that it had found some 25,000 unique pornographic images on Rush's laptop, including movies, after he left the firm. With his hard drive so crowded with T&A, it's hard to imagine there was much room there for Sunrise spreadsheets.

Sometimes, the blogosphere does something the mainstream media would never dare to do. And it is awesome.