Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

Month: February 2008 Page 2 of 4

John McCain’s Fraud

John McCain, in order to secure a bank loan, promised the bank that – even if he was failing in the primaries – he’s stay in it long enough to collect enough public financing to pay the private loan back.  Mark Schmitt explains it.  (Via TPM)

Strikes me kind of like that welfare fraud the GOP used to go on about . . .

Using Your Superpower For Good

Cory Doctorow bring us this bit of goodness – librarians waiving fees in exchange for Dance Dance Revolution play. While I’ve got a conflicted relationship with librarians*, I think this is fantastic.

*No, really. Just a few years ago, I was almost forced to deal a mortal blow to a Library of Congress librarian who thought he had to defend the stacks against a dear friend of mine. Because she couldn’t immediately articulate the exact focus of her research. Sonofabitch! But then I remember the librarian who declined to turn my 2nd grade self into my (working in the same school) mother, even though he’d caught me entering terribly obscene answers into the library’s “What Is This?” photo contest.

US Federal Judge Takes Wikileaks.org Down

It’ll be interesting to see how this resolves:

A controversial website that allows whistle-blowers to anonymously post government and corporate documents has been taken offline in the US.

Wikileaks.org, as it is known, was cut off from the internet following a California court ruling, the site says.

The case was brought by a Swiss bank after “several hundred” documents were posted about its offshore activities.

Other versions of the pages, hosted in countries such as Belgium and India, can still be accessed.

Wikileaks, in case you’ve never heard of it, has been gaining profile as the place to put information that someone is trying to keep under cover:

The site was founded in 2006 by dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and technologists from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa.

It so far claims to have published more than 1.2 million documents.

Here’s a mirror of the Wikileaks site. A bit popular, at the moment.

Update: here’s a list of all the various “cover names” for the Wikileaks site.  Clearly, the court didn’t have the first idea of how these things work.

Awakening: Gone By Wednesday

At the tip of Hains Point, where the Potomac and Anacostia rivers come together, there is an amazing bit of fancy, completely out of character for DC. And that’s why I love it, this sculpture called “The Awakening.”

Unfortunately, it’s been sold (apparently it was only “on loan” to Hains Point for the past 28 years . . .), and will soon be relocating to Maryland, where it’ll likely get lost amongst commerce. If you’re in the DC area, and have never seen it, you owe yourself a trip down there in the next day or so.

Update:  Went down to Hains Point with the hope of getting one last ride past the old man (and some shots of the usual lunchtime training crew going past it), but they’ve already blocked off the tip of Hains Point.  The crew working on it, however, was very cool and letting folks get in close for whatever shots they wanted.  Not sure if it’ll be like that tomorrow, though.

The cones and tape and construction equipment really changes the feeling of the piece. Instead of awakening, he looks like he’s getting sucked down to his death.

Kosovo: Hours Old, Centuries Old

Today, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. Maybe it’ll run as a back page story in American newspapers tomorrow. Or maybe it will find its way to the front soon, with talk of NATO security guarantees, Serbian demands, and Russian/American pressures. Doesn’t it all sound familiar? From Jasmina TeÅ¡anović, over at Boing Boing:

The Sirens :: 02.17.2008

It’s starting again: the language of war is the daily bread in Serbia. The sirens of nationalism are turned on again, as if nothing had changed in the eight years after Milosevic was toppled.

[ . . . ]

In Belgrade yesterday a thousand nationalists with Serbian flags marched downtown to the Slovenian embassy. Today, in front of the American embassy, potential riots were controlled by the police. In Kosovo province, two thousand policemen from EU mission will be deployed for 120 days until the situation “becomes stable.”

[ . . . ]

The president of the government with much harsher tones accused the US and EU of robbing Serbia of its territory, after destroying Serbia in 1999 with bombs. High ranked Orthodox priests also condemn the loss of their historical heritage. The members of the Serbian government tour Kosovo, encouraging Serbs to stay there. They could have done that eight years ago by coming to terms with the criminal ethnic cleansing.

Over and over again.

Travel Music: Cape Town

This playlist came together during a trip to Cape Town a couple of years ago. Amusingly, most of the music comes from Indian DJs – I finally had a chance to listen to and enjoy all of the bootleg CDs I’d bought in Mumbai on the first leg of the trip. If you listen to nothing else, at least give the first track a shot – its turned into one of my regular trip anthems.

Unfortunately missing from this compilation is Brenda Fassie‘s Ngeke Umconfirm. I’ll work on that.

Tour of Calfornia: Starts 1pm PST

The United States’ premiere pro-cycling stage race – the Tour of California (ToC) – starts in Pasadena Sunday, at 1pm PST (4pm EST). Those of you who are suffering Cycling.tv premium subscriptions along with me know where to get it, but those of you who want to follow along with the live action can also head to the ToC site and click on “Adobe Tourtracker” button (in fact, those of you who don’t give a damn about cycling, but dig tech, might want to check it out. Seriously cool web app.).

If you get into it, and want to talk about the race, join my friends over at PodiumCafe (a community that runs the gamut from pro racers to couch cheerers). If you’ve never given pro-cycling a thought, this might be a good opportunity to check it out for the first time. The teams are strong, and as much as I can’t stand Dave Towle (the race announcer), he does a good job of explaining what’s happening and why it matters to the race. If you’re more of a reality-tv drama fan, well, there’s always Rock Racing, the question of whether or not American star Tyler Hamilton will start, and what the Lion King himself – Mario Cipollini – will show up wearing at the start line (no, seriously).

Update: Rock Racing will start sans Botero, Sevilla, and Hamilton.  For an explanation of this – along with most anything else interesting that goes on at the ToC – check this guy out.   Also, probably time for me to throw Steephill.tv into the links again.  A fantastic alternative look at the sport.  As best I can tell it’s purely a labor of love, and it shows.

Friday Notes: Late Edition

That was not a foul, woman!  – A private high school in Kansas, center of American enlightenment, refuses to let a woman referee a high school boys’ basketball game, because – as described by the referees – the “[woman] could not be put in a position of authority over boys because of the academy’s beliefs[.]”  You know, I try not to mock people for their religious beliefs, but . . .

What could possibly go wrong? – Was I the only person that thought that, when hearing about the US plans to shoot down the satellite it says is falling out of orbit?  When I first heard that the US was talking about the decaying orbit last month, it struck me as a bit odd – this isn’t really an Administration known for its open and straightforward approach.  Well, surprise of surprises, it turns out that the claimed justification for shooting it down – dangerous gas clouds forming from the remaining satellite fuel – is most likely bullshit.  Shocker.  I’m giving it, at best, even money that they hit the damn thing on their first try.

Don’t like it?  Tough.  That, essentially, is how Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-VA) office has responded to a request for an explanation of his vote for telecom immunity and the subsequent Senate FISA bill.  Get the details (along with a tidy explanation of this history of FISA) in Mark Levine’s diary at Raising Kaine.  I was particularly impressed with Webb staffer Jessica Smith’s attempt to get the proprietors of Raising Kaine to delete/edit what Mark wrote.  Fortunately, the RK folks did the right thing and ignored her request, but it should put the rest of us on notice that this is something thought to be acceptable.

Well, okay.  But just not when you’re hitting the ball.  In response to this earlier article on the BOA’s attempt at muzzling its athletes, a Blacknell.net reader and friend sent in this Guardian story outlining BOA’s walking back of the restrictions.  Apparently, athletes can say what they like, but just not when they’re in Beijing.  I suspect that by the time we get to Beijing, the restrictions will be gutted (as they should be).

VA House to Stage a Dawn Execution of Redistricting and Verifiable Voting Bills?

It looks like the Privileges and Elections Committee of the Virginia House of Delegates is about to kill very popular bills concerning bipartisan redistricting, no-excuse in-person absentee voting, recounts, registration receipts and election machine audits. They’ve scheduled a 7am session tomorrow, in which five members of the committee can kill each of these bills in an unrecorded voice vote. See Vivian Paige’s writeup for details and suggestions for action.

Crossposted to RK.

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