February 11, 2006

Japanese whaling goes to the dogs

The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society reports that Japanese whale meat surpluses are so overflowing that whale meat is now being sold as dog food.

The WDCS rightly points out that this puts “paid” to the sham of Japanese “scientific” whaling. And Japanese scientists who actually try to defend this program will show themselves to not have a lot more scientific integrity than Korean geneticists.

If my guess is correct that Western dietetic influences account for the decline in human whale consumption in Japan, I guess our food is good for a few things once in a while after all.

February 09, 2006

Dick Pombo, National Parks hypocrite

California Rep. Dick Pombo, the man who loves to hate National Parks, took a two-week family vacation through some of those National Parks in the summer of 2003 — at taxpayer expense.

His hometown newspaper, the Tracy Press, reports:
Pombo was reimbursed $4,935.87 to rent the RV and spent $1,500.51 on a government credit card for “travel subsistence” during a two-week span from July 27 to Aug. 11, 2003, according to a Resources Committee spending ledger obtained by the Press.

A spokesman for the House Resources Committee, Brian Kennedy, said the RV rental was the only vacation expense covered by taxpayers. The credit card bill referenced in the Statement of Disbursements for the House was for expenses incurred during previous field hearings, he said.

Kennedy defended Pombo’s expenses. He said Pombo spent those two weeks visiting and meeting with officials at 10 national parks, over which his committee has jurisdiction.

“You bet his family was with him, of course,” Kennedy said. “What better way to see and judge the visitor experience of a national park?”

Nice try, Mr. Kennedy. Let’s look at House rules, even though your boss doesn’t like to:
House rules dictate “official travel may not be for personal … purposes,” but allows for members of Congress to bring family members along on official trips. …

House travel rules require that members reimburse travel expenses for family members accompanying them on chartered airplanes paid for with government money, but no similar rule exists for RV travel.

The rules also require that personal travel in officially rented vehicles be kept to a minimum and must “not otherwise constitute a significant activity or event.”

No Resources Committee staff members or fellow members of Congress accompanied Pombo on the trip, and Kennedy said he did not know how Pombo’s family occupied themselves while he was in meetings.

It is unclear exactly how much of Pombo’s time during the two-week span was spent on official business, but it was “probably a substantial amount,” Kennedy said.

Bottom line: The man who wants to close and/or sell off National Parks and chunks of National Parks certainly was NOT there for the “visitor experience.” Or, if he was, then he’s being an even bigger hypocrite than he’s shown himself to be before.

Picture these vacation comments:

"Hey, look, kids, see that endangered grizzly here in Yellowstone? He's interfering with possible oilwell drilling or coalbed methane exploring."

Or, "Hey, honey, do you think a golf course developer here in Rocky Mountain would give us free country club membership?"

Or, "Hey, family, I have to stop for a minute and take care of some 'official business' - I have to call a gypsum miner about this piece of White Sands."

No wonder Reid doesn’t want to return Abramoff campaign money

Turns out the Senate Minority Leader is just a little more in bed with Smilin’ Jack than he has wanted to admit.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid wrote at least four letters helpful to Indian tribes represented by Jack Abramoff. … The activities … are far more extensive than previously disclosed. They occurred over three years.

Abramoff's firm also hired one of Reid's top legislative aides as a lobbyist. The aide later helped throw a fundraiser for Reid at Abramoff's firm that raised donations from several of his lobbying partners.
And Reid's longtime chief of staff accepted a free trip to Malaysia arranged by a consulting firm connected to Abramoff that recently has gained attention in the influence-peddling investigation that has gripped the Capitol.

"All the actions that Senator Reid took were consistent with his long-held beliefs, such as not letting tribal casinos expand beyond reservations, and were taken to defend the interests of Nevada constituents," spokesman Jim Manley said.

Bullshit. Reid has never been a down-the-line opponent of California Indian casinos, for example. In fact, in California, as the story shows, there’s instead an issue of Abramoff clients vs. non-client tribes competing for gaming space. And, that would likely have been the scenario elsewhere, as the story also hints. You would have had one Louisiana Indian casino competing with another, or one Michigan casino with another, rather than with Vegas.

People who want all the glitter of Vegas will still go there. But, middle-of-the-middle middle-class gambling dollars aren’t so fungible. If they have an at-home option, they’ll certainly go there instead. If they have two, it’s going to be a choice between those two, and Vegas won’t be in the mix.

Throw in the fact that some of Reid’s efforts were related to Northern Mariana Island minimum wage exemption and you don’t have a great-looking picture.

Now, to modify somewhat my previous stance on how the whole Abramoff problem is not fully bipartisan, but has bipartisan elements, I do admit that Abramoff’s ultimate goal may have been to launder funds for the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, tiny outfit, originally founded by Interior Secretary Gale Norton, and part of a long-standing tradition of mountain state Republican anti-environmentalism. I’m not downplaying that connection, and as a committed environmentalist, I’m not downplaying the seriousness of that connection.

But that’s beside the point of what’s at hand. Read the whole story and see why Reid appears to have more invested in Abramoff than any other Democrat, which certainly doesn’t help on making this a political issue, either Abramoff’s base-level corruption, or the money laundering.

OK, so the EU wants to enter the “nanny press” stage

In light of Muslim furor over provocative editorial cartoons, the EU is considering adopting a media code of conduct.
In an interview with Britain's Daily Telegraph, EU Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini said the charter would encourage the media to show "prudence" when covering religion.

No, it would encourage them to STFU or risk government interference.

Now that we have that clear, I hope the same papers that have run most or all of the cartoons write long and loud against this bit of stupidity, or, rather, outright censorship.

February 08, 2006

Does Danish newspaper flunk fairness policy?

Jyllands-Posten, the Danish paper that ran a dozen editorial cartoons many Muslims found offensive, earlier refused to run an anti-Jesus cartoonas offensive.
“My cartoon, which certainly did not offend any Christians I showed it to, was rejected because the editor felt it would be considered offensive to readers — readers in general, not necessarily Christians,” cartoonist Christoffer Zieler said in an e-mail he sent to Reuters on Wednesday.

This sounds like it is just wrong. But, the newspaper’s editor said he rejected them because — they weren’t offensive enough.
Jens Kaiser, the former editor of Jyllands-Posten's Sunday edition who turned down the cartoons three years ago, said he had done so because they were no good.

“Having seen the cartoons, I found that they were not very good. I failed to see the purportedly provocative nature,” he said in a statement.

"My fault is that I didn't tell him what I really meant: The cartoons were bad."

Zieler's five colored cartoons portrayed Jesus jumping out of holes in floors and walls during his resurrection. In one, gnomes rated Jesus for style, another entitled "Saviour-cam" showed Jesus with a camera on his head staring at his feet.

"I do think the cartoons would offend some readers, but only because they were silly," Kaiser said.

Going by his description of the cartoons, I’d have to agree.

February 07, 2006

Ted Rall gets it exactly right on anti-Muslim cartoons

Speaking — as he points out — as the nation’s only syndicated cartoonist AND syndicated columnist, his comments bear weight. The real danger here, he says, is America’s “nanny press”.
I can't decide who's a bigger threat: the deluded Islamists who hope to impose Sharia law on Western democracies, or the right-wing clash-of-civilization crusaders waving the banner of “free speech” — the same folks who call for the censorship and even murder of anti-Bush cartoonists here--as an excuse to join the post-9/11 Muslims-suck media pile-on. Most reasonable people reject both--but neither is as dangerous to liberty as America's self-censoring newspaper editors and broadcast producers.

As for me, I e-mailed The Dallas Morning News’ Editorial Page Editor Keven Ann Willey and Vice President for News Management George Rodigue last Thursday to show at least one of the cartoons. In the Sunday op-ed section, the Snooze showed a bowdlerized version of one of the less-offensive cartoons.

I e-mailed Willey a second time, saying she got partial credit at best.

And, and, and — did her staff have permission to bowdlerize the cartoon as they did? (I just e-mailed Willey and Rodrigue again, asking that very question. We’ll see if we get a response.)

Blair: We have seven years to get serious about fixing our climate

The British prime minister said that’s our margin of error, and that the U.S., China and India must part of any post-Kyoto agreement.
”If we don't get the right agreement internationally for the period after which the Kyoto Protocol will expire -- that's in 2012 -- if we don't do that then I think we are in serious trouble.”

Asked if the world had seven years to implement measures on climate change before the problem reached "tipping point," Blair answered: “Yes.”

But, Tony the Poodle should well know by now that with BushCo, loyalty is totally a one-way street. So, scratch 2006-08, Tony; after you’ve left office and an environmentally-realistic non-Republican administration and Congress is in place here, then start giving us the “four years left” hard sell.

Unfortunately, the poodle continues to grasp at straws.
Blair said there were the "beginnings" of an international consensus and that Bush's comment in his State of the Union speech last week that America was "addicted to oil" was a sign of a change of mood but he urged Bush to move further.

“I think there are real signs of change,” he said. “I think if you could find a way of ensuring the right incentives weregiven without America feeling there was some desire to inhibit its economic growth, then I think we can find a way through.”

Did Blair not hear Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman repudiate Bush’s comments the very next day? (See my previous diary entry.

February 05, 2006

Reason No. 326 Bill Clinton was not a real liberal

He somehow found it in his heart (or his wallet) to free uber-wealthy financier buddy Marc Rich, an actual criminal, but went chickenshit in refusing to follow through on pardoning Leonard Peltier, the Indian activist framed for the deaths of two FBI agents in 1975.