Saturday, June 30, 2007
The Real Survivor Fiji – Coup-less vs Clueless
An article in the Fijian news outlet Fiji Live ponders whither the overthrow Government formed through the latest coup headed by Commodore Frank Bainimarama will stand up to a legal challenge in the Fiji court system … or will the military change the constitution.
We at MAXINE could not believe what we were reading!
Look, we all like an intellectual exercise but the discussion initiated by the leading academic in Fiji just seems a little, well, Clueless!
Any Government that is established through a coup can not be legitimate … so why is the issue even a process open to an exploration in a court system that only exists at the behest of Commodore Frank's marauding party.
Of course, Commodore Frank will “SHAPE” the previous constitution to meet the needs of HIS idea of what Fiji should be and THAT would be the point of the military takeover in the first place.
We really are beginning to wonder about Fiji … does the island nation want to remain Coup-less or Clueless?
Excerpts from Fiji Live -
Regime may abrogate constitution: Lal
Fijilive.com - Saturday June 30, 2007
Fiji's interim regime may decide to abrogate Fiji's Constitution to get itself out problematic situations, says leading Fiji academic Dr Brij Lal.
A series of lawsuits are already being processed by Fiji Courts on the legality of the December 5 coup. Leading this is the litigation by deposed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and members of his ousted government.
Lal said the regime's "real challenge will come when the legality of the military overthrow is tested before the courts in the months ahead".
"Those challenges will take place within the provisions of the 1997 constitution, the very constitution the military claims to be withholding," he said.
"What happens if the courts decide against the military is anyone's guess. But by proclaiming that the 1997 constitution is still alive and well and functioning complicates the military's position.
"Of course the military may decide that the best way forward for it is to abrogate the constitution."
Lal said then some of the leading members of the regime "who had a hand in fashioning the 1997 constitution will have to explain why they are now advocating its abrogation".
"Fiji has been in a constitutional conundrum for the last six months," he said.
"A coup took place, but the constitution remained intact. It was claimed to be a 'constitutional coup but there is no such thing as a 'constitutional coup.
"No democratic constitution provides for its own overthrow by a military coup."
Lal said some of the changes the military wants to introduce are good, "such as removing racial voting, but they have to be introduced in the proper way".
"What people have to realise is that constitution making in the modern world is a comparative exercise," he said.
"It cannot be done in isolation.
The regime justified its "clean-up campaign" resulting in the termination of members of the civil service, government heads and government statutory bodies through a mandate given by the President Ratu Josefa Iloilo post December 2006.
"But in the Westminster system, the President acts on the advice of the elected government," Lal said.
"The mandate that the interim administration is claiming is so wide ranging, so sweeping, that it will take years to accomplish."
Lal said it gives "an entirely new meaning to the word 'interim.'"
When asked to comment on whether the abrogation of the constitution could be employed by the interim administration, Interim Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said, "the interim administration does not respond to speculation".
"We are guided by a mandate given to us by the president," he said.
"One of the clauses in that mandate is to uphold the constitution."
The last time Fiji's Constitution was abrogated was on May 30 2000 by military commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama who appointed Qarase as interim Prime Minister five days later.
A High Court verdict in November 2000 and a subsequent Fiji Court of Appeal decision in March 2001 declared that the 1997 Constitution was not abrogated by Bainimarama and remained intact.
Hey Fiji, Frank is an impatient man and the Fijian constitution be damned.
Friday, June 29, 2007
National Sovereignty … It’s A Good Thing
The Senate finally listens to the very strong opinion of the American people and shot down the revived effort to legalize the status of 12 to 20 million Human Beings. These Human Beings choose to continue to break our laws to be accepted and live here in the United States in a properly identified manner.
“Sanctu-Harry” Reid (Sanctuary/Harry), in a final attempt to stitch together a few more votes to gain passage of the cloture vote, took to the Senate floor and waxed about a phone call he had receive from “Tommy”.
While standing and addressing the whole of the Senate, Harry Reid stated that he was withholding the last name of Tommy for fear of the government would look him up and possibly deport him. Tommy had called the leader of the Senate to urge him on to pass the immigration reform bill so that he or his friend would not have to live in fear any more.
This is the leader of the Senate … sworn to uphold the laws of our land and he admittedly pursued a process of sanctuary for Tommy by withholding his last name. With leadership like this, no wonder we can not get funding for the border fence that had been approved last year.
Recognition of the 53 members of the Senate that believe National Sovereignty is a good thing should take place. A particular mention should be made for Senator Brownback of Kansas, who changed his vote from Yea! To Nay! during the course of the roll call vote process.
Voting "no" were 15 Democrats, 37 Republicans and 1 independent.
Baucus, Mont.; Bayh, Ind.; Bingaman, N.M.; Brown, Ohio; Byrd, W.Va.; Dorgan, N.D.; Harkin, Iowa; Landrieu, La.; McCaskill, Mo.; Nelson, Neb.; Pryor, Ark.; Rockefeller, W.Va.; Stabenow, Mich.; Tester, Mont.; Webb, Va.
Alexander, Tenn.; Allard, Colo.; Barrasso, Wy.; Bond, Mo.; Brownback, Kan.; Bunning, Ky.; Burr, N.C.; Chambliss, Ga.; Coburn, Okla.; Cochran, Miss.; Coleman, Minn.; Collins, Maine; Corker, Tenn.; Cornyn, Texas; Crapo, Idaho; DeMint, S.C.; Dole, N.C.; Domenici, N.M.; Ensign, Nev.; Enzi, Wyo.; Grassley, Iowa; Hatch, Utah; Hutchison, Texas; Inhofe, Okla.; Isakson, Ga.; McConnell, Ky.; Murkowski, Alaska; Roberts, Kan.; Sessions, Ala.; Shelby, Ala.; Smith, Ore.; Stevens, Alaska; Sununu, N.H.; Thune, S.D.; Vitter, La.; Voinovich, Ohio; Warner, Va.
In the same regard, one should shun the following Senators for NOT protecting the sovereignty of the country they represent. Most surprising of these names voting to extend amnesty through the “Z-Visa” is the pro war-on-terror Senator Joseph Lieberman, Connecticut.
Voting "yes" were 33 Democrats, 12 Republicans and 1 independent.
Akaka, Hawaii; Biden, Del.; Boxer, Calif.; Cantwell, Wash.; Cardin, Md.; Carper, Del.; Casey, Pa.; Clinton, N.Y.; Conrad, N.D.; Dodd, Conn.; Durbin, Ill.; Feingold, Wis.; Feinstein, Calif.; Inouye, Hawaii; Kennedy, Mass.; Kerry, Mass.; Klobuchar, Minn.; Kohl, Wis.; Lautenberg, N.J.; Leahy, Vt.; Levin, Mich.; Lincoln, Ark.; Menendez, N.J.; Mikulski, Md.; Murray, Wash.; Nelson, Fla.; Obama, Ill.; Reed, R.I.; “Sanctu-Harry” Reid, Nev.; Salazar, Colo.; Schumer, N.Y.; Whitehouse, R.I.; Wyden, Ore.
Bennett, Utah; Craig, Idaho; Graham, S.C.; Gregg, N.H.; Hagel, Neb.; Kyl, Ariz.; Lott, Miss.; Lugar, Ind.; Martinez, Fla.; McCain, Ariz.; Snowe, Maine; Specter, Pa.
The 46-53 roll call vote by which the Senate voted to block final action on a bill that would have legalize millions of unlawful immigrants took place June 28, 2007.
Let the celebration of the sovereignty and power of the American people begin.
Also, let the vigorous enforcement of or borders and immigration laws begin as well.
(ht: Associated Press, Laura Ingraham)
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Fairness Doctrine vs Citizen Journalism
Here in the good ol’ USA, we have members of our congress walking the halls complaining about the success of “Talk Radio” and how it needs to be regulated. A recent account observed that senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Hillary Clinton (D-CA) were conversing about how the “Fairness Doctrine” needs to re-implemented in order to curb the free market influences that rule the popularity of this broadcast and communications medium.
This doctrine grew out of concern back in 1949 because of the large number of applications for radio station being submitted and the limited number of frequencies available. Broadcasters had to make sure they did not use their stations simply as advocates with a singular perspective. Rather, they had to allow all points of view. That requirement was to be enforced by FCC mandate. With the deregulation sweep of the Reagan Administration during the 1980s, the Federal Communications Commission dissolved the fairness doctrine.
It is funny how our currently elected leadership waxes philosophical regarding the limitation of free speech in the face of the communications landscape that exists today. The focus on the success of Talk Radio and the Fairness Doctrine leaves behind the rest of the singularly liberal forces that exist with mainstream broadcast television, newspaper print media, and the educator class that run our universities.
Oh!, And let us not forget the freedom of speech and communication that has become the “Wild West” landscape of the internet. How will our elected leaders like Boxer and Clinton address the internet in light of this concept of the “Fairness Doctrine”? … Maybe they can draw on the experience the political leaders in China.
Excerpts from Agence France-Presse via Breitbart -
'Citizen journalism' battles the Chinese censors
AFP - Jun 24 11:44 PM US/Eastern
In the strictly controlled media world of communist China, "citizen journalism" is beating a way through censorship, breaking taboos and offering a pressure valve for social tensions.
In one striking example this month, the Internet was largely responsible for breaking open a slave scandal in two Chinese provinces that some local authorities had been complicit in.
A letter posted on the Internet by 400 parents of children working as slaves in brickyards was the trigger for the national press to finally report on the scandal that some rights groups say had been going on for years.
The parents' Internet posting was part of a growing phenomenon for marginalised people in China who can not otherwise have their complaints addressed by the traditional, government-controlled press.
"The phenomenon of 'citizen journalism' suddenly arrived several years ago," said Beijing-based dissident Liu Xiaobo, who was one of the student leaders of the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests.
"Since the appearance of blogs in particular, every blog is a new platform for the spread of information."
He cited the example of a couple in the southwestern city of Chongqing who became known as the "Stubborn Nails" in April because they refused to leave their home until they received adequate compensation from the property developer who wanted them out.
"That case was first revealed through blogs," Liu said.
Also in Chongqing, parts of the city were this month set on fire following the beating of flower sellers by the "chengguan", city police charged with "cleaning up" the city's roads.
Witnesses to the beatings had appealed to local television journalists, but nothing was broadcast.
The incident only became known outside the city thanks to photos and stories published on the Internet, sparking anger among China's netizens.
"It's fascism," said one, while another mocked: "The inhabitants of Chongqing are truly naive, the Chinese media is all controlled by the Communist Party, they decide what people know."
Recognising the threat of China's growing online community, Chinese President Hu Jintao called in January for the Internet to be "purified", and the government has since launched a number of online crackdowns.
"The department of propaganda has sent out regulations to try and control the opinions being spread on the Internet, but every citizen has the right to criticise or to take part in public affairs on the Internet," said Zhu Dake, a professor at Shanghai Tongji University.
"The government has to accept the criticisms of the people, it can no longer react crudely like in the past."
Julien Pain, who monitors Internet freedom issues for Reporters Without Borders, is less optimistic.
"One cannot truly say that the Internet in China is becoming more and more free, because at the same time as the development of citizen journalists, the government finds ways of blocking or censoring content," Pain said.
Reporters Without Borders, which labels the Chinese government an "enemy of the Internet," says about 50 cyber dissidents are currently behind bars in China.
At least here in America, we have the First Amendment in our Constitution.
Even Senators John Kerry, Dick Durbin, and Diane Feinstein and their wishes to stop the "hyperbole" coming from a free and open media with a fairness doctrine ... will not be able to "purify" the American communications landscape.
(ht: The Museum of Broadcast Communications and Fox News)
Saturday, June 23, 2007
NBC Plays The PC Card On IQ Test Report
(does not mention that the study also recognizes gender along with social rank in family dynamics)
The NBC Weekend Today Show for Saturday decided to report on an article published in the journal Science and when doing so decided to color the conclusions to meet their own politically correct, or should we say gender correct, template.
In the study titled - Explaining the Relation Between Birth Order and Intelligence
Petter Kristensen and Tor Bjerkedal, Science 22 June 2007 - NBC claimed that intelligence is more about environment than biology without EVER mentioning either the word Male or Female ... but if one reads the article, the phrase that really sticks out is the order on which the study finds the IQ ranking – “It's a matter of what they call social rank in the family - the highest scores were racked up by the senior boy - the first born - or, if the firstborn had died in infancy, the next oldest.”
By reading this, gender plays a greater role (ie. first born Male - as in senior boy) than does actual rank as first born.
CNN took a clearer and more direct description to the findings in the article in their title of the reporting of the findings.
This from AP via CNN –
Boys treated as eldest do better on IQ tests
POSTED: 5:51 p.m. EDT, June 21, 2007
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Boys at the top of the pecking order -- either by birth or because their older siblings died -- score higher on IQ tests than their younger brothers.
The question of whether firstborn and only children are really smarter than those who come along later has been hotly debated for more than a century.
Norwegian researchers now report that it isn't a matter of being born first, but growing up the senior child, that seems to result in the higher IQ scores.
Petter Kristensen and Tor Bjerkedal report their findings in Friday's issue of the journal Science.
It's a matter of what they call social rank in the family -- the highest scores were racked up by the senior boy -- the first born or, if the firstborn had died in infancy, the next oldest.
Frank J. Sulloway of the Institute for Personality and Social Research at the University of California, Berkeley, welcomed what he called the Norwegians' "elegantly designed" analysis.
"These two researchers demonstrate that how study participants were raised, not how they were born, is what actually influences their IQs," said Sulloway, who was not part of the research team.
And this from AP via Forbes -
Families' Eldest Boys Do Best on Tests
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID - Associated Press - 06.21.07, 4:15 PM ET
Boys at the top of the pecking order - either by birth or because their older siblings died - score higher on IQ tests than their younger brothers. The question of whether firstborn and only children are really smarter than those who come along later has been hotly debated for more than a century.
It's a matter of what they call social rank in the family - the highest scores were racked up by the senior boy - the first born or, if the firstborn had died in infancy, the next oldest.
The average IQ of first-born men was 103.2, they found.
Second-born men averaged 101.2, but second-born men whose older sibling died in infancy scored 102.9.
And for third-borns, the average was 100.0. But if both older siblings died young, the third-born score rose to 102.6.
The findings provide "evidence that the relation between birth order and IQ score is dependent on the social rank in the family and not birth order as such," they concluded.
It's an issue that has perplexed people since at least 1874, when Sir Francis Galton reported that men in prominent positions tend to be firstborns more often than would have been statistically expected.
Since then, several studies have reported higher intelligence scores for firstborns, while other analyses have questioned those findings and the methodology of the reports.
While the Norwegian analysis focused on men, other studies have included women, some indicating a birth-order effect and some not.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Champ Cars Take Flight In Cleveland
(Television Broadcast - CBS June 24, 1:00 pm ET)
The long, flat airport taxiways and runways make for one of the most exciting driver skill contested venues for an open-wheel event in Champ Car to be staged this year.
In Cleveland, the race is held on a working (but shut-down for the week-end) private aircraft airport right on the lakefront that the City of Cleveland resides on.
From Burke Lakefront Airport, the Cityscape of Cleveland acts a jewel of a backdrop with the Rock-N-Roll Hall Of Fame as a centerpiece.
The biggest attraction of the race venue has to be the track itself ... and in particular, Turn One on ANY start and restart.
The strightaway leading to the approach to Turn One is as wide as any concrete eight to ten lane freeway. The turn itself circles back to the other direction about 315 degrees onto a crossover to another runway heading back to the oposite direction.
As the Champ Cars and drivers head into Turn One, many are tempted to cut the corner short and take the shortest route to the apex, while others take a much higher line which allows one the hit the apex of the turn at a higher rate of speed.
The cars and drivers fan out and hope for the best. If a driver gets it right, they pass a few cars for position and get away clean ... if a driver gets it wrong? ...
... Well, here is the start of the race from last year where A.J. Allmendinger (currently racing in NASCAR) is able to just get past Sebastian Bourdais to maintain the pole starting position - Position One, while others will need assistance for a restart.
2006 Cleveland Grand Prix Race Start
This year may actually be the last race from Burke if some people in Cleveland have their way - and this would be very sad indeed. The Cleveland Grand Prix is one of just a few races that helped to define what it ment to BE a Champ Car venue. Really, it is right there with Long Beach, Elkhart Lake, and Toronto.
The Burke Lakefront Airport circuit in Cleveland, Ohio offers a challenging 2.106-mile, wide-open 10-turn race track. This will be the 26th time that the Champ Cars "Roar by the Shore". This event is the longest tenure of any temporary race venue on the Champ Car circuit.
Is it possible that the race in Cleveland will go the way of other great venues that were Champ Car staples like Ohio and Vancouver?
Excerpts from the Cleveland Plain Dealer -
What to do with Burke?
Its past as landfill complicates future
UPDATED: 10 :30 a.m. EDT, June 20, 2007 - Joan Mazzolini - Plain Dealer Reporter (originally published - Monday, April 23, 2007)
The vast expanse of land that makes up Burke Lakefront Airport has tantalized residents for decades as the last, best hope to give Cleveland a real lakefront, akin to Chicago, Milwaukee or Toronto.
And with two underperforming local airports -- Burke and Cuyahoga County -- the refrain from various quarters has long been to close Burke and merge operations.
But the hurdles to use Burke's 450 acres for a commercial center or housing or even a massive park are greater and more expensive than many realize.
While often called prime lakefront land, the reality is very different.
Most of Burke sits on garbage and dredge material. In fact, a Cleveland city dump since the time of horse-drawn wagons was located there and the garbage was burned until the 1950s.
Workers doing any digging on or near Burke are required to wear environmental hazmat suits because of the contamination, which includes PCBs, methane, oil, car tires and other debris.
Image Credit: Google Maps
Mike Hoyle, chief executive of Business Aircraft Group Inc., an aircraft management and sales company at Burke, doesn't believe the airport can be closed, both for the economic benefit it brings to Cleveland and for the simple reason that turning the land into a park would be too expensive.
City officials and others estimate that Burke contributes at least $100 million a year to the economy.
"You dig 4 feet and you're in sludge," Hoyle said. "My building sits on 6-foot-wide footers and it has settled 9 inches. You can't build a high-rise here."
But long before any new use of the land can even be considered, another question must be answered.
Can it be done? Can Burke, in fact, be closed?
That may be finally answered, with a master plan of the airport that Burke Commissioner Khalid Bahhur expects to be complete later this year.
It would finally answer the question of "does Burke stay or does it go?"
"If it stays, we'll be able to say here's why, and if it goes, here's why," Bahhur said.
If Burke goes, and the process could take years, a big question is where do the hospital helicopters, the Federal Reserve flights, the flight schools, corporate jets and others that use Burke go?
Some say other close-by reliever airports, such as Cuyahoga County, Lost Nation and Lorain County, could take portions. Of those, only Cuyahoga County has a control tower.
To close Burke, Cleveland would probably have to repay the Federal Aviation Administration $4.1 million in grants it received for airport upkeep.
But it might not be that simple.
The FAA could require Cleveland not just to move all operations to other airports, but could also require the city to reproduce Burke and its acreage at a different location.
"It's more than simply repaying the money," said FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro. "We would do an airspace study . . . to see what the consequences are and does this create more congestion.
"We can say 'No, you can't close this.' "
Longtime Burke Commissioner Mike Barth, who left to run Lorain County airport, said he believes you can give people more access and keep the airport.
Barth, who left in 1999 after 28 years at Burke, including 10 as the airport's commissioner, said dredged material should continue to be dumped at Burke, which would ultimately allow a runway to be added to the north.
"We all know the lakefront would be really prime land. We could have parks, entertainment, housing and retail," Dimora said.
"What land in the county isn't contaminated? You'll have to build with pilings," he said. "It's more difficult, more costly. But it's more desirable."
Hey! ... and then there is the Cleveland Grand Prix and all the commerce and attention this event brings into the Cleveland economy every year for the last 26 years ... where is the mention of this little tidbit of information?
Long live the Cleveland Grand Prix at the Burke Lakefront Airport circuit.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Fear Of Seizure … Or Fear Of Failure
After the surprising breakout success of Michael Moore’s “mockumentary” Fahrenheit 9/11 … you remember, the “Palme d'Or” awarded 2004 film at Cannes designed to derail a presidential election and paint all people who believe our freedom loving way of life was somehow being hijacked by (not Islamo-Fascist terrorists) George H. W. Bush and his administration … the film maker had a very steep hill to climb with the release of his follow-on effort entitled “SICKO”.
He entered the film in the Cannes Film Festival for 2007 in the hopes of repeating his political and cultural coup. The film was a bust – no award, not even an honorable mention.
As one reviewer wrote, “Moore then tells how he anonymously sent a check for the cost of the wife's treatment -- $12,000. It's a funny bit -- and, to anyone who can parse a sentence, not actually 'anonymous' at all, anymore.
It's that tone -- of selfless self-celebration, of public altruism, of snide sensitivity -- that undercuts a lot of Moore's work, and it undermines Sicko.” - James Rocci
So now SICKO is reported as being leaked to a video posting site ostensibly to protect the film from being confiscated by the Federal Government.
This excerpted from Zero Paid -
Michael Moore's new documentary "Sicko" leaked on BitTorrent
posted by soulxtc in bittorrent - 6-15-2007
Won't have to worry about copies getting seized by the Feds after all as his new controversial film makes its way around BitTorrent tracker sites everywhere.
A couple of days ago it was reported that Michael Moore had decided to stash a copy of his latest and greatest documentary "Sicko," an apparently scathing expose on the US healthcare system, in Canada just in case the Feds decided to confiscate it.
He feared such a seizure because of the fact that part of the documentary was filmed in Cuba without proper authorization from the US Treasury Department. Its illegal for US citizens to travel to Cuba because of a trade embargo in place since 1962.
Moore insists he hasn't broken any laws because he traveled to Cuba for a "journalistic endeavor."
"We brought back 15 minutes of the movie and we're concerned about any possible confiscation efforts," Moore told a news conference in New York.
"We took measures a few weeks ago to place a master copy of this film in Canada so if they did take our negative we would have a duplicate negative of this film in Canada."
Well, it would seem his concerns are no longer warranted because a DVDSCR of the film, the most magical download of them all (Oscar season anyone?), has appeared on BitTorrent tracker sites for all the world to see.
So now, even if the Treasury Dept does decide to seize his film, it looks like there will be plenty of copies to go around.
Moore's stance on file-sharing is that it's okay so as long people aren't profiting from it. He feels that the message behind his films are what's most important, and that he does well enough financially that he's more concerned with spreading ideas than he is with ensuring that everybody properly pays to hear them.
We at MAXINE believe this, SICKO was pre-released to the internet so that Michael Moore would have a scapegoat for the films commercial failure.
With all of Michael Moore’s liberal, socialistic views … he has proven himself a capitalistic egomaniac and will go to ANY length to promote his products and give himself wiggle-room. Especially when the appearent success of his current product does not match up to previous efforts.
SICKO may be the title of Moore’s latest effort but it is also describes a bent in the personality of Michael Moore himself --- A Counter-Culture-Capitalist!
This opinion and recommendation to Michael Moore from possible GOP Presidential nominee, Senator Fred Thompson -
UPDATE June 21, 2007:
Preview Screening Reviews are in:
B- (140 votes)
Slightly above Average but below Good ... not Excellent.
WILL PIRACY INFECT BOX OFFICE FOR SICKO?
Thursday, June 21 2007
Michael Moore’s Sicko had been downloaded about 4,000 times from peer-to-peer websites PirateBay and Mininova as of Wednesday, according to figures posted on the sites.
Clips from the film were also viewed over 1,000 times on YouTube and Google Video before they were yanked following protests by the Weinstein Company, which produced the health-care documentary. (Trailers and interviews with Moore remain.) Moore has said that the piracy appeared to be an “inside job,” given the fact that a perfect digital print was posted on the file-sharing sites.
CNET News writer Greg Sandoval commented Wednesday that he doubted that the online piracy will hurt the film at the box office. “First,” he wrote, “the controversy ... generated plenty of headlines for Sicko.
Nobody associated with the movie is going to be distressed about that. On the sites where the bootlegs appeared scores of comments were posted and that’s the kind of word-of-mouth promotion marketers love.”
“Castro said, under Political Prisoner Health Plan, I could easily lose 90 pounds in 90 days ... and that’s without surgery!” - Caption and Image Credit: Rocketman, Powerline Forum
UPDATE July 01, 2007:
SiCKO Is Ill At The Boxoffice
The results this weekend leave Michael Moore hoping to match “Bowling for Columbine” numbers as opposed to being able to heat up to “Fahrenheit 9/11”!
Excerpts from a FOX News report -
1. "Ratatouille," $47.2 million.
2. "Live Free or Die Hard," $33.15 million.
3. "Evan Almighty," $15.1 million.
4. "1408," $10.6 million.
5. "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," $9 million.
6. "Knocked Up," $7.4 million.
7. "Ocean's Thirteen," $6.05 million.
8. "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," $5 million.
9. "Sicko," $4.5 million.
10. "Evening," $3.5 million.
"Sicko," Moore's dissection of the ills of U.S. health care, played in 441 theaters, about half the number for his last movie, 2004's $100 million hit "Fahrenheit 9/11." With a $23.9 million opening, "Fahrenheit 9/11" did five times as much business, though.
Still, "Sicko" had the second-best documentary debut ever behind "Fahrenheit 9/11." By comparison, "Ratatouille" opened in nearly 4,000 theaters, about nine times as many as "Sicko."
Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of the Weinstein Co., said he wanted to roll "Sicko" out slowly to give it a longer shelf life and keep Moore's stand for universal health care on the front burner.
"The idea is to hold during the summer and just continue to build this thing," Weinstein said. "I just think the debate in this country is going to catch up with the movie, so we've got to keep it slow."
Weinstein and Moore said they hoped "Sicko" would do in the range of the $21.6 million total for the filmmaker's 2002 Academy Award winner "Bowling for Columbine."
(ht: FOX News)
Regardless of the spin Harvey Weinstein is putting on the numbers, “SiCKO” NOT the success that Michael Moore was aiming for.
I guess it is just going to be less for Moore!
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Hydroxymethylfurfural - A Substance For The Ages
Oil has become the root substance of our modern society. The compounds not only fuel our automobiles, they are the building blocks that form plastics and chemical compounds that make modern life easier.
Corn and other plant material, when distilled to make Ethanol, have been heralded as the replacement for gasoline for our cars but what if we were able to use plant material for more … much more.
Well, scientists at the The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland Washington is a US Department of Energy (DOE) government research laboratory, have released an article to the journal, Science, that describes just this breakthrough.
Scientists have discovered the most effective method yet to convert glucose, found in plants worldwide and nature's most abundant sugar, to Hydroxymethylfurfural - HMF, a chemical that can be broken into components for products now made from petroleum.
Excerpts from press release issued from The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) -
Scientists get plastic from trees
Submitted by Vidura Panditaratne - PNNL - Fri, 2007-06-15
The researchers at PNNL-based Institute for Interfacial Catalysis, or IIC, took a giant step closer to the biorefinery when they directly converted sugars ubiquitous in nature to an alternative source for those products that make oil so valuable, with very little of the residual impurities that have made the quest so daunting.
“What we have done that no one else has been able to do is convert glucose directly in high yields to a primary building block for fuel and polyesters,” said Z. Conrad Zhang [Chief Scientist - Institute for Interfacial Catalysis, Pacific Northwest National Lab], senior author who led the research.
That building block is called HMF, which stands for hydroxymethylfurfural. It is a chemical derived from carbohydrates such as glucose and fructose and is viewed as a promising surrogate for petroleum-based chemicals.
Glucose, in plant starch and cellulose, is nature’s most abundant sugar. “But getting a commercially viable yield of HMF from glucose has been very challenging,” Zhang said. “In addition to low yield until now, we always generate many different byproducts,” including levulinic acid, making product purification expensive and uncompetitive with petroleum-based chemicals.
Zhang, lead author and former post doc Haibo Zhao, and colleagues John Holladay and Heather Brown, all from PNNL, were able to coax HMF yields upward of 70 percent from glucose and nearly 90 percent from fructose while leaving only traces of acid impurities. To achieve this, they experimented with a novel non-acidic catalytic system containing metal chloride catalysts in a solvent capable of dissolving cellulose.
The solvent, called an ionic liquid, enabled the metal chlorides to convert the sugars to HMF. Ionic liquids provide an additional benefit: It is reusable, thus produces none of the wastewater in other methods that convert fructose to HMF.
“This, in my view, is breakthrough science in the renewable energy arena,” said J.M. White, IIC director and Robert A. Welch chair in materials chemistry at the University of Texas. “This work opens the way for fundamental catalysis science in a novel solvent.”
The chemistry at work remains largely a mystery, Zhang said, but he suspects that metal chloride catalysts work during an atom-swapping phase that sugar molecules go through called mutarotation, in which an H (hydrogen) and OH (hydroxyl group) trade places.
“The key is to take advantage of the open form to perform a hydride transfer through which glucose is converted to fructose.”
Zhang’s next step is to tinker with ionic solvents and metal halides combinations to see if he can increase HMF yield from glucose while reducing separation and purification cost.
“The opportunities are endless,” Zhang said, “and the chemistry is starting to get interesting.”
Friday, June 15, 2007
The Real Survivor Fiji – A Neighborly View
The United States, much like Fiji, has a lot of problems. Our nation states are suffering from a force of insurgency.
In the United States, the insurgency takes the form of twelve to twenty million people who are not here under a process of legal assimilation. This has the effect of hijacking the sense of fairplay and the dilution of the rule of law our country is known for. This problem also may result in our country becoming less safe from the threat of terrorism.
In Fiji, the insurgency takes a more sinister form in that the country has already lost its Government. The military hijacked any sense of fairplay and the rule of law through its “bloodless” coup when it ousted the freely elected democratic Government of the people. As for the threat of terrorism? ... the terrorists are already in charge!
In both cases, a minority illegally holds the culture and processes of the rule of law hostage to their selfish demands. The main difference here, however, the United States still has its Government (barely) whereas Fiji has lost any of its Governmental legitimacy through the demands of one headstrong military leader.
This view from the neighboring nation of New Zealand -
The Mapp Report: The Fijian Banana Republic
Friday, 15 June 2007, 5:04 pm - Press Release: New Zealand National Party
The coup in Fiji continues to cause problems, which is not surprising. Let's be clear; the current regime in Fiji is not a legitimate interim government, it is a military dictatorship.
And of course, they are acting just like military dictatorships always do. They rule by decree; they use fear and intimidation. The so called 'chats' with pesky journalists at the Queen Elizabeth barracks do not involve cups of tea and cucumber sandwiches; beatings and abuse are more the order of the day.
Military dictatorships hate hearing an opposing view to their own; that not everyone is actually keen on the end of democracy, freedom of speech and the ability to hold the government to account.
The New Zealand Parliament – on a fully bipartisan basis – is united on this issue. We want to see the end of Bainimarama's dictatorship, and the return to democracy. Because, as Winston Churchill said, "No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise.
Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." The Fijian dictatorship is certainly demonstrating the truth of that proposition.
They claim to have taken power to end corruption, rebuild the economy and protect the constitution. It really is a bizarre claim – the rule of the gun to protect constitutional government!
There does appear to be an element to all of this that we may be missing in New Zealand. The ostensible reasons for the coup simply do not stack up on any objective assessment. Normally when such coups take place, there is some desire on the part of the coup makers to ensure some level of normality is restored. But that is not happening in this case. People continue to be arrested and taken to Queen Elizabeth barracks.
The coup leaders seem quite enthusiastic to deliberately irritate the major countries in the region. They have been resistant to the efforts of fellow Pacific Island countries to defuse tension, and restore normality. There would seem to be other factors not readily apparent that are keeping tension at a high level.
But at some point Fiji will have to return to constitutional government, and this is clearly in our interests as well as Fiji's. New Zealand will always want a good relationship with Fiji, but it is not unconditional. The Fijian regime needs to understand New Zealand will not just look aside, irrespective of the actions of the coup leaders.
When they want something from New Zealand; be it aid, transit visas, support in the UN; then the rules of good governance are among the tests we should apply.
Right now Fiji is failing those tests. The Fijian interim government needs to start thinking about how to yet again re-establish itself within the Pacific family of nations.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
On Flag Day … It’s United We Stand
President Bush and those who are pushing to make legal the twelve to twenty million (depending on who is doing the estimating) squatters who continue to live openly flaunting our border, culture and our laws are doing something that even the threat of terrorist attack can't do.
Unite the country!
Here we are on Flag Day 2007, and the issue of “Amnesty” … giving people who have entered our country without proper procedure and continue to break our laws through false identity documentation … is beginning to galvanize those who love America because of its structure of fairplay and the rule of law.
When one listens to the leader of the Senate, Sen. Harry Reid, speak about the legislation being proposed (CSPAN News Conference with Sen. Harry Reid, D-NV on Immigration - 6/12/2007) and state that 80% of the Democrats and 14% of the Republicans support the bill one wants to grab him by the collar and say … well, 86% of the Republicans and 20% of the Democrats oppose it.
At Maxine, all we see is that the American people are against the Kennedy/Kyl/Bush form of REFORM. Why can’t we just enforce the border, and apply the current laws on the books and open things back up to real documented citizens as if we all actually matter?
With an 86% plus 20% body count in the Senate, one would think Harry Reid and The Crowd could at least FUND the fence they approved last year, ostensibly to increase our border security and reduce illegal immigration.
After listening to Dennis Miller ... At MAXINE, we think we know why they won't!
Oooooh Boy, this will leave a mark ...
(ht: Pajamas Media)
Excerpts from The Washington Times -
Groups unite against 'amnesty'
By Ralph Z. Hallow - THE WASHINGTON TIMES - June 14, 2007
The debate over President Bush's immigration bill and opposition to it as an "amnesty" proposal have invigorated otherwise dispirited conservative interest groups and forged an anti-Bush unity on the right not seen since the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers.
"The right generally has been invigorated by the debate and has pulled together in part because of the way the administration has attempted to demonize its conservative opposition," said David A. Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union (ACU).
"So the conservatives who have concerns about the direction the administration wants to take the country on immigration but who disagree with each other have come together to defend each other," Mr. Keene said, making conservatives stay united "in a way they have not been since the Harriet Miers debacle."
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, reports a similar experience even though his group focuses on religious and values issues and has "not been directly involved in the immigration debate."
Nevertheless, he said, "it is obvious that this issue has struck a nerve among conservatives, and they are pushing back against what they perceive to be a wayward GOP as individuals and through organizations that are challenging the Republican Party."
"Even people who have not given [donations] to us on the basis of immigration ask us about our position," said Paul M. Weyrich, president of the Free Congress Foundation, a conservative think tank and lobby group that opposes amnesty for illegals.
"When we tell them our position, we get a bigger-than-expected contribution -- or at the very least, we get them to continue as a contributors," Mr. Weyrich said. "It's clear that if our position were different and we were in support of the president's bill, we would get no further contribution."
Mr. Keene said that ACU members "are very much engaged on immigration. They aren't all singing the same tune, but they are enraged at what they see as a political establishment attempting to jam something down their throats without prior discussion or consultation. And there's nothing like that to get people's blood flowing."
Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly said that while her group has not seen significant membership changes, its members overwhelmingly support her stance against the president and his political strategists on immigration.
"The conservative movement in general is very despondent about the Republican leadership and Bush, especially on immigration," she said.
"I have been writing about immigration since 9/11, my membership is strictly grass roots and mostly Republican, and about 98 percent are in agreement with what I'm writing in opposition to what Bush wants on immigration," Mrs. Schlafly said.
Organizers for GOPAC, a group founded by former Delaware Gov. Pete du Pont to use donations and educational programs to elect Republicans at state and local levels, appears to be holding its own. Once led by Rep. Newt Gingrich before he became House speaker, GOPAC too has taken a stand against amnesty for illegals and against the Senate bill backed by Mr. Bush.
"We are having no trouble with fundraising," GOPAC Executive Director Paul D. Ellington said, although he did not provide a dollar figure. "In fact, we sent out a 'Secure the Borders Now!' bumper sticker and have received a good response."
Reference Here (subscription)>>
American Flag Jigsaw Puzzle - Unite Around The Flag!
Monday, June 11, 2007
Stick-Pin Tour & Travel Planning Made Easy
People love to photograph their travels, especially in this digital age. Increasingly, people are posting their travel photos on photo posting portals like Flickr, SmugMug, & Everytrail … and, what is really cool, adding locater tags along with GPS data to the photos they upload.
What makes this really cool is that it is much easier to plan a tour in a particular travel destination tailored to ones specific interests. It’s easy - just type in a few tags into the Google, Flickr, SmugMug, and etc. search window and behold locations one can plot to create a tour of ones interest.
The planning and search process is pretty simple because the work is done through the meta-data travelers are eager to provide for being able to find and identify the photo they took to share with others they know … the extended benefit is everyone else’s gain.
Excerpts from The New York Times via CNET News.com -
Snapshots that do more than bore friends
How sharing your family vacation photos online can help others discover a place through your travels.
The New York Times - By Michelle Higgins - Published: June 9, 2007, 11:42 AM PDT
Few sentences in the English language are more dreaded than this seemingly innocent offer: "Oh, I must show you the pictures from my vacation." Who wants to see endless shots of a friend lounging by a pool or in front of a monument, or -- worse yet -- their kids doing the very same things?
But, of course, those very same shots can be extremely useful when researching your own trip. How big is that pool? What, exactly, does the room at that five-star hotel you're thinking of booking look like? What's the crowd like at the so-called hot restaurant? It's good to have documented evidence from someone who has been there.
Through a technology called geotagging, users can add GPS data to their pictures, which can then be plotted on a digital map. This not only allows users to see exactly where a photo was taken, but, when uploaded to an Internet map, users can also quickly browse a trove of photos that were taken nearby, providing a kind of scattershot collage of a place.
For example, people planning a trip to Cancun can use Google Earth, a free mapping software, to zoom in on Cancun's crowded hotel zone and click on dozens of candid photographs, from the lounge chairs at the Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach hotel and the pool at the Omni Hotel & Villas, to snapshots of less crowded beaches and the nearest mall.
Plotting photos on maps also allows trip planners to "see" the terrain before booking a trip. On Everytrail.com -- which lets users upload geocoded photos from their favorite hiking trails, biking routes and sailing trips -- visitors can check out sights along a specific driving route in Namibia, or examine trail conditions on a hilly bike route near Palo Alto, Calif.
“Gowanus” - This photograph of Brooklyn-area graffiti was submitted by a community member. The Brooklyn Museum exhibition - Graffiti. Image Credit: Flickr
For example, fans of graffiti can search the word, "graffiti," and "New York City" at Flickr.com/map, and pull up photos of freshly painted tags, all plotted with pushpins on a clickable Yahoo map. A search for "Dumbo Brooklyn graffiti," for example, finds some 99 photos, including the infamous "Neck Face" tag, spray-painted on a brick warehouse at Jay and Front Streets in Brooklyn. Try finding that in a guidebook.
"Dumbo Brooklyn graffiti" – Photo of screenshot search for tourpoint locations. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (MAXINE)
Geotagging photos brings a whole new level of context to the image, said Andy Williams, general manager of SmugMug.com, a photo-sharing site. "After all," he said, "pictures are flat." But the real reason geotagging is getting so popular, he added, are the bragging rights involved. "We want people to know the cool places we've been," he said. "And this is a cool way to show off."
The steps needed to geotag photos are admittedly somewhat geeky.
To streamline the process, several camera makers have released models that are GPS-ready, with either a built-in device or a special accessory. But they tend to be geared toward professionals and are expensive.
Once your photos are plotted geographically, others can discover a place through your travels.
Web sites are increasingly embracing geotagging as a way to draw users. Last month, Google announced plans to acquire Panoramio.com, a photo-sharing site with more than two million images that allows users to integrate photos into Google Earth. And as photo-sharing continues to evolve, travel Web sites are recognizing how valuable images can be when users essentially act as free contributors and submit their own pictures.
Zoomandgo.com, a travel review site, recently redesigned its site around photos and videos submitted by travelers. A team of four people spent months "geocoding" thousands of hotels and attractions so that user photos can be displayed on digital maps. A new social-networking feature also allows users to create their own travel profiles, connect with like-minded travelers, and swap tips through photos.
"Facebook meets Frommers" is how Jonathan Haldane, the founder of Zoomandgo.com, described it. Before the social-networking feature went up, he said, users spent about eight minutes on the site, mostly reading or posting hotel reviews. Now, he said, users spend an average of 18 to 19 minutes, sending messages to each other and browsing through photos and videos.
But though travel sites are embracing the flood of user-generated photos, the quality can vary. A Flickr search for the W hotel in New York City, for example, turns up a mix of candid room photos and pictures of friends eating pizza
Zoomandgo.com, which pays users a nominal fee for relevant photos, says it vets every submission.
Panoramio, on the other hand, has a devoted online community that tends to self-edit, and post photos only of places rather than people.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Boiiiiiiiing! Five New Frog Species Found
This Oblate Spheroid holds so many secrets left to uncover and expose to the rest of our consciousness.
Suriname, a country located on the northeast coast of South America, has become a most recent hotbed of new animal discoveries with this latest report from scientists who are combing the region, hoping to catalogue life in the hopes of saving it.
Suriname - Located on the northeast coast of South America, with Guyana to the west, French Guiana to the east, and Brazil to the south. It is about one-tenth larger than the State of Michigan. The principal rivers are the Corantijn on the Guyana border, the Marowijne in the east, and the Suriname, on which the capital city of Paramaribo is situated. Image Credit: infoplease
Excerpts from Reuters -
Purple frog among 24 new species found in Suriname
By Deborah Zabarenko, Reuters Environment Correspondent - Mon Jun 4, 2007 5:01PM EDT
A purple fluorescent frog is one of 24 new species found in the South American highlands of Suriname, conservationists reported on Monday, warning that these creatures are threatened by illegal gold mining.
The discovery of so many species outside the insect realm is extraordinary and points up the need to survey distant regions, said Leeanne Alonso of Conservation International, which led the expedition that found the new species.
"When you go to these places that are so unexplored and so remote, we do tend to find new species ... but most of them are insects," Alonso said by telephone from Suriname's capital, Paramaribo. "What's really exciting here is we found a lot of new species of frogs and fish as well."
The two-tone frog -- whose skin is covered with irregular fluorescent lavender loops on a background of aubergine -- was discovered in 2006 as part of a survey of Suriname's Nassau plateau, the conservation group said.
Scientists combing Suriname's Nassau plateau and Lely Mountains found four other new frog species aside from the purple one, six species of fish, 12 dung beetles and a new ant species, the organization said in a statement.
These creatures were discovered by 13 scientists who explored a region about 80 miles southeast of Paramaribo, including areas with enough clean fresh water sources to support abundant fish and amphibians.
A fish, of the genus Guyanancistrus and discovered by the 2005 RAP team, is seen in this undated handout photo. This species of dwarf catfish, likely to be unique to the eastern plateaus of Suriname, is called "big mouth" by its discoverers due to the unusually large size of its mouth. It is one of 24 new species found in the South American highlands of Suriname, conservationists reported on June 4, 2007, warning that these creatures are threatened by illegal gold mining. Image Credit: REUTERS/Jan Mol/Handout
They also found 27 species native to the Guayana Shield region, which spreads over Suriname, Guyana, French Guiana and northern Brazil. One of these was the rare armored catfish, which conservationists feared was extinct because gold miners had contaminated a creek where it was last seen 50 years ago.
Including the new species, the scientists observed 467 species at the two sites, ranging from large cats like panthers and pumas, to monkeys, reptiles, bats and insects.