Yup, the aughts or naughts or naughties or whatever you want to call them have been confirmed to be the hottest decade in recorded history--a full 0.2 degrees C warmer than the nineties. And now, as Joe Romm puts it, "the hottest decade begins." So were do we stand?
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Researchers identify the genetic source of fatal tumors that are driving Tasmanian devils towards extinction.
Oklahoma cops Taser 10-year-old girl for not taking a shower when mum said to
Chicago police officer Tasers a man 11 times for having a diabetic seizure
South Carolina sheriff's deputy fired after fighting with other officers
Texas cop jailed on assault charge
DC Police: ‘It’s time to make the snowball conversation disappear’
Ex-cop charged with stabbing death of Canadian cop
Ohio police chief says he'll appeal 32-month sentence for burglarizing movie star's surrogate
Head of Wisconsin police union cited for drunken driving
Canadian police enter backyards of citizens without permission or notice in exercise and shoot man’s dog when it attacks
Guess what, they ... were wrong again.
It's not going to improve overnight but it's steadily improving.
Working off the problems of repugican economics will take time
The Labor Department said Thursday that new claims for unemployment insurance fell by 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 432,000, the lowest since July 2008. That's much better than the rise to 460,000 that Wall Street economists expected.
The four-week average, which smooths fluctuations, fell for the 17th straight week to 460,250, the lowest since September 2008, when the financial crisis intensified. The crisis led to widespread mass layoffs, which sent jobless claims to as high as 674,000 last spring.
The monk's legal team said the firearms had been planted and a confession extracted through torture. They added that while his property had been ceded to him, the paperwork had not been drawn up correctly.
An initial trial last year provoked a wave of media attention and a verdict was never returned. "The story of this religious leader is symptomatic of Beijing's heavy-handed treatment of Tibetans," said Woeser, a leading Tibetan activist. The local government in Kardze county viewed his case as one of the biggest causes of "instability" in the region.
At a second trial in Kangting, the monk's lawyers were disqualified from representing him and his family was forbidden to hire a fresh legal team and forced to use a court-appointed defence. Although he was acquitted of the illegal possession of a firearm, he was given seven years for illegally occupying state land and a further one-and-a-half years for possessing the bullets.
A 9,500-ton warship conceived during the Cold War isn't done being the "envy of the world" just yet.
As a prisoner at Guantanamo, Said Ali al-Shihri said he wanted freedom so he could go home to Saudi Arabia and work at his family's furniture store.
No New Year's Toasts In Sauna, Russians Urged
If this trend continues we will have to revisit our estimated timeline for when this blog will become the number one blog on the net.
We might make it sometime in the 2ooos instead of the 3000s as we previously we thinking.
A Somali court acquitted and released a suspect who tried to board a plane in Mogadishu in November with chemicals and a syringe -- materials similar to those used in the attempted attack against a Detroit-bound airliner.Full Story
At least four current or former chief circuit judges have been the subject of recent high-profile complaints about their behavior; one posted photos of naked women painted to look like cows and other graphic images on his publicly accessible Web site; another manipulated the outcome of a vote in a death penalty case.
Not one faced formal discipline.
Nationwide, the integrity of the federal judicial misconduct system relies heavily on chief judges. Each oversees complaints — more than 6,000 in the last 10 years — against all circuit, district, senior, bankruptcy and magistrate judges in multi-state regions called circuits.
Third Circuit Chief Judge Anthony Scirica, who is also chairman of the executive committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, told the Chronicle, “The federal judiciary takes its ethical responsibilities with the utmost seriousness. Every misconduct complaint is carefully reviewed.”
He was the only chief circuit judge who directly responded to Chronicle requests for comment, though other circuits' staff replied.
In seven circuits, according to the Chronicle analysis, supervising judges took no public disciplinary action at all in the last decade, meaning not a single federal judge faced any sanctions in 29 states with more than 875 full-time federal judges, despite thousands of complaints.
Defenders of the system, like Scott Gant, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney, argue that under-enforcement is a small price to pay for strong federal judges.
“That's the nature of the system — anytime you have a group investigate itself. But if we want to have an independent judiciary, I think we have to accept that,” he said.
Error rate ‘far too high'
Most experts argue that the secretive self-policing helps protect judges who uphold the nation's laws from unfounded slurs and allegations slung by convicts and disgruntled citizens.
But a recent spate of well-publicized illegal behavior by judges — including frequenting prostitutes, falsifying federal court records, molesting court employees and committing motor vehicle homicide — has prompted experts and members of Congress alike to call for reforms and more disclosure of federal disciplinary decisions.
One of those cases involved former U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent of Galveston, now imprisoned for obstruction of justice involving the sexual assault of two female employees.
In 2006, a Supreme Court committee, led by Justice Stephen Breyer, reported the system handled routine matters well, but botched five of 17 high-profile cases, an error rate “far too high.”
The report named no names but described matters bungled by four of 12 regional circuits: the Chicago-based 7th Circuit, the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit, the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit and the St. Louis-based 8th Circuit, the Chronicle found.
James B. Loken, who oversees the vast seven-state Midwest territory of the 8th Circuit, was among the supervising judges criticized for failing to properly investigate. Federal rules say chief judges should form a committee to probe matters “reasonably in dispute.”
But Loken has never formally investigated a complaint since becoming chief judge in 2003, according to Michael Gans, the 8th Circuit Clerk who works with Loken.
Early in his tenure, he dismissed allegations from an attorney as “signed by a person whose signature is illegible” and questioned whether he was even “a person … entitled to file” it, records show. The system allows anyone to file a judicial misconduct complaint.
Later, Loken rejected published allegations that a U.S. district judge in St. Louis improperly urged 314 newly minted citizens at a public ceremony to register and vote for his congressman friend “so he can continue his good work.” Loken accepted the jurist's denials without formal review.
When asked about Loken's decisions, Gans said: “The court does not comment on its orders or opinions.”
Critics such as California-based attorney Lara Bazelon said the system leaves “the mice in charge of the cheese” and the emphasis on secrecy permits supervising judges to ignore, conceal or explain away embarrassing errors or even crimes by colleagues.
“Judges are human beings just like the rest of us, and putting on a black robe should not immunize them from legitimate punishment,” she wrote in a recent Kentucky Law Journal article.
Some chief judges pursued no disciplinary action even after confirming that colleagues improperly dished out insider information, slept during trials, hurled obscenities in court, or broke laws themselves, the Chronicle's review of more than 3,000 records stored in a little-known judicial archive shows.
Yet many complaints, on topics ranging from alcoholism to personality disorders, are successfully managed behind the scenes through counseling, and, when necessary, quiet resignations, circuit court officials say.
“There's a lot more being done that doesn't appear (in public records),” said Collins Fitzpatrick, a longtime 7th Circuit executive who has worked on complaints for years and studied the system.
A dramatic and unusually public example of proactive action came in July when Chief Circuit Judge Karen Williams of the Richmond-based 4th Circuit resigned at 57 and disclosed her own diagnosis of early Alzheimer's disease.
“Judge Williams' decision to retire while able to perform her judicial duties in order to avoid any questions about future decisions is an admirable example of action preempting any future conduct issue,” Patricia S. Connor, circuit clerk, told the Chronicle.
Taxpayers have no way to know about most behind-the-scenes fixes. Both Fitzpatrick's and Williams' circuits are among seven that took no public disciplinary action in a decade.
Most federal judicial misconduct complaints deserve dismissal. One, for example, blamed a judge for “loss of vision and loss of teeth,” the Chronicle's review showed.
David Pimentel, an assistant professor at the Florida Coastal School of Law, said frivolous complaints tend to “siphon off the energy from legitimate complaints that I'm convinced are out there — and when they do get voiced, they don't get treated properly.”
Nationwide, about 50 out of 3,000 complaints in the last five years were resolved quietly after judges took some kind of private and anonymous action, statistics and the Chronicle's public orders show.
Only a handful of federal judges apologized publicly or privately even after admitting they made mistakes or broke laws, records show.
In 2007, a potential juror in the Northeast admitted in a questionnaire that she'd recently been sexually assaulted, a disclosure she assumed confidential. Instead, a federal judge grilled her about it in open court.
“The people in that room did not have a right to know about a very personal and private crime that had been committed against me,” she wrote in a formal complaint, according to a 2008 order from the New York City-based 2nd Circuit.
The matter was dismissed after the judge privately apologized.
Generally, chief judges alone decide how much to reveal about reviews in public summaries. Only four of 12 circuits post them on Web sites.
Some disclose more than others. Lengthy orders and documents of complaints get issued in the Northeast's 1st and 2nd circuits, as well as by the 9th Circuit in San Francisco.
The New Orleans-based 5th Circuit has most aggressively sought punishment — taking on rogue judges who lied to judicial investigators or broke laws.
The 11th Circuit oversees about 175 full-time judges in Alabama, Georgia and Florida. But it's hard to tell what — if anything — the circuit has done, based on public orders.
In 2005, the chief judge launched a probe into allegations that a Georgia magistrate judge abused his powers to enrich friends and family. Results were never revealed.
The incestuous nature of reviews gets more complicated when chief judges stand accused.
Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, (pictured) based in San Francisco, turned critic breaking ranks with his 9th Circuit peers for failing to respond to reports of abuse of power by a senior Los Angeles district judge.
“It does not inspire confidence in the federal judiciary, when we treat our own so much better than we treat everyone else,” he wrote in a rare disciplinary dissent.
When he became the 9th Circuit Chief Judge in 2007, he began posting misconduct reviews on the Internet. But he also quickly drew complaints about his behavior: While overseeing an obscenity case in 2008, Kozinski ran a personal Web site that included lewd photos of women, an aroused donkey and other off-color content, a complaint disclosed.
In 2009, Kozinski was admonished, a public scolding considered just short of formal discipline, by the Philadelphia-based 3rd Circuit for showing “poor judgment” that “caused embarrassment” to the judiciary.”
That circuit has no reported disciplinary actions.
Cochin, Kerala, India
Banbury, England, United Kingdom
Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, United Kingdom
Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey
Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
London, England, United Kingdom
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada
Saint John's, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Your focus will definitely be on one-to-one relationships, especially with your significant other, over the next few days -- even amid the New Year's Eve celebrations.
Just be careful of one thing: Don't let a disagreement over something petty or irrelevant come between you two.
That goes for everything from which wine to order to which party to attend tonight.
Concentrate on what you have in common.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Wisconsin man's bank quip earns him Champion Liar title
A Somali man tried to board a plane last month with chemicals, liquid, and a syringe.
Starting in early 2010, shoppers can get as much as $200 back on certain new appliances.
Photo via Marietta
The relationship between the tropical acacia plant and 'guard' ants that defend it from predators has long been a fascinating example of symbiosis in nature: the ants feed on the acacia's sugary nectar, and in turn aggressively sting and bite other animals that would eat and damage the plant. But it turns out that this arrangement might not be as friendly as previously thought. New research reveals that the acacia plant actually produces a chemical that drives the ants into a defensive frenzy--alternately persuading them to fight to protect it and banishing them from its flowers when convenient.
In Africa, vultures are facing the threat of extinction from an unlikely source--gamblers who want to smoke their brains. Some people believe that inhaling the smoke from the burning vulture brain will give them insight into the future, which will help them place wiser bets. And, with increased gambling around the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, environmentalist groups fear that the practice may be on the rise.
You're looking at a water flea, as captured by Dr. Jan Michels of the University of Kiel, Germany. It's the top-prize winner in the 2009 Olympus BioScapes contest—a competition focused on images taken via microscope. The winners gallery is full of gorgeous pictures in striking, day-glo purples, greens and reds. Worth browsing, for both art and science nerds.
Olympus BioScapes 2009 Winners Gallery
Image credit: nick_russill/Flickr
Named after Aurora, the Roman goddess of the dawn, and Boreas, Greek for "northern wind," the aurora borealis is more commonly known as the "northern lights."
"Polar lights," however, is a more accurate name, as they occur in both the northern and southern hemispheres, but intensify with increasing proximity to the magnetic poles.
There is a lot more to this seemingly magical phenomena than pretty lights.
Photo via Steve aka Crispin Swan @ flickr
If you live in the kind of place where pigeons and robins are pretty much de riguer for bird sightings, then you're missing out on a whole world of birds that look--well, to be honest, atypical in comparison. Short bodies, huge wings, giant beaks, and rainbows of feathers make these weird and wacky birds must-sees--but since they're all classified as vulnerable or endangered, you'd better catch these feathered friends while you can.
From space storms to vampires to porn, here's a countdown of the year's most-read articles. Warning: contains sex stories. A lot of them.
Thoughts of climate change were never far away, but with ice on fire and a salamander uglier than ET, there was more to 2009 than political brouhaha.
More brainpower than ever before has been expended on technologies to cut the damage we do to the environment – here are some of the most interesting.
A N.Y. hotspot that was once America's highest-grossing restaurant will serve its last meal on New Year's Eve.
Authorities say a Florida man who called 911 claiming he'd been beaten and shot at was hoping the tale would get him a ride to a bar.
Florida man wanting ride to bar calls 911, arrested
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
London, England, United Kingdom
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Rome, Lazio, Italy
Coburg, Bayern, Germany
Whitby, Ontario, Canada
Bergen, Hordaland, Norway
Horgen, Zurich, Switzerland
Ibiza, Islas Baleares, Spain
Cagayan De Oro, Misamis Oriental, Philippines
Saint John's, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Bydgoszcz, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Poland
The Hague, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands
Bucharest, Bucuresti, Romania
Linkoping, Ostergotlands Lan, Sweden
Munich, Bayern, Germany
Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Contending with wild mood swings, either yours or other people's, could consume most of your energy, leaving you with little to show at the end of the day.
Although stops and starts normally wouldn't bother you so much, you're feeling an intense urgency right now to push forward.
Running in place leaves you frustrated and exhausted.
Instead of fighting these conflicting forces, take control by making a plan of action.
Write it down if you must and encourage yourself to follow it.
Is it that time of the month again all ready!?
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
US appeals court nixes Vatican Bank Holocaust suit
In a sign that the 2010 primary season is beginning to heat up, and is likely to get ugly, a repugican candidate for the Senate has "accused" a rival repugican of being a closeted homosexual.
Iranian security forces intensify crackdown