November 29, 2006

Burning Six Update: Michelle Malkin Sums It Up

From her post today (related Hot Air vid):

Two unnamed Associated Press reporters get new acounts from three unnamed witnesses (who, of course, refuse to be identified by name–although the AP has no problem describing some weirdly specific details about their ages, occupations, ethnicity, and religions) about six burned-alive Sunnis, five of whom no one can name and whose bodies can’t be disinterred in an investigation because it would violate Islamic law. And of the two original sources who claim the incident happened, one has recanted and the other is someone whom the military and Iraqi officials maintain is not who he says he is.

Next move: CENTCOM’s.

According to a tip received by LGF, Centcom plans to push back about the bona fides of “Jamil Hussein.”

From: MNC-I PAO Victory Main JOC
Sent: Wednesday, November 29, 2006 9:14 AM
To: [deleted]
Cc: MNC-I PAO Victory Main JOC
Subject: RE: [U] RE: Could you confirm that the letter below was sent by CENTCOM
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

Sir:

I have just learned from Mr. Costlow, mentioned below, that Brig. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, the official Ministry of Interior spokesmen, will begin his regularly scheduled press conference at noon tomorrow with a statement that Capt. Jamil Hussein, is not a Baghdad police officer or an MOI employee.

Why they’re waiting at all is a mystery to me. Stay tuned.

Gateway Pundit, Flopping Aces, Dan Riehl (x 2), Democracy Project (who suggests contacting and provides info on the AP’s Board of Directors), and many others continue to monitor, and dig.

Recycling: It’s (Almost) All BS

Filed under: Consumer Outrage,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:32 pm

Yep — Recycling is (almost) all BS (HT George Reisman). The link has a half-hour Showtime program on the topic by entertainers Penn and Teller, who have a Showtime series dedicated to debunking BS. (Update, Sept. 2007 — the Showtime link is gone, but the segment on the absurd lengths people would be willing to go through to separate their trash is at this YouTube link.)

The program does an excellent job of refuting the supposed economics of recycling (which makes NO economic sense except in the case of aluminum cans). It is definitely R-Rated; you’ll have to endure a lot of unnecessary F-words and other four-letter bombs. If you can tolerate that, you’ll learn a lot, including quite a few things I didn’t know (not that there’s a shortage of that), and you’ll be armed with the truth.

The one point that Penn and Teller missed is that not only is there not a shortage of landfill space, but various techniques and technologies have are enabling us to use up the available space at a slower rate than what was anticipated in the 1980s, when the bogus “landfill crisis” scaremongering reached its highest db level. One city is even experimenting with vaporizing what would otherwise go into landfills.

The comments at the site where the video is show how impenetrable some people are to the truth, even when it’s presented in plain, understandable, and undeniable terms. But recycling is part of the enviros’ religion, and people won’t let go of “accepted dogma” easily.

Carnival Barking (112906)

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 1:45 pm

Newshound’s 50th Carnival of Ohio Politics is here.

Boring Made Dull’s 22nd on Economics and Social Policy, a special Milton Friedman restrospective, is here.

Advanced Cell’s Quiet ‘Never Mind’ — and Its Selective Bullying

From Life News (bolds are mine):

A leading biotech firm that came under fire for claiming to have created a new technique to obtain embryonic stem cells without destroying human life has modified its claims. In a new paper submitted to the scientific journal Nature, Advanced Cell Technology confirmed previous LifeNews.com reports indicating the assertions were false.

In an addendum to the original report, ACT admitted that none of the 16 human embryos in the original experiments survived the attempt at creating a new technique.

ACT also clarified its own claims about it’s research, now saying that it “might” be possible to obtain stem cells from a human embryo without killing it.

In the Thursday paper, ACT went on to say that “none of the biopsied [human] embryos” involved in the research survived.

Ultimately, ACT scientists extracted two embryonic stem cell lines from the 16 human embryos but, like other methods of obtaining the cells, the ACT methods resulted in the killing of all 16 human beings.

Though the new paper establishes that one cell from a human embryo, called a blastomere, could generate embryonic stem cells, the ACT team destroyed the human embryos by using several cells from them.

Even if the ACT team had used just one cell from each embryo, more human embryos would have to be used and likely eventually destroyed.

Nature requested the addendum after ACT and Nature press releases in late August misstated the results of the study and claimed the new technique solved the ethical problems that pro-life advocates have with embryonic stem cell research.

….. Though the original ACT paper had no flaws — it admitted that all of the human embryos were destroyed and a new technique to obtain embryonic stem cells without destroying human life was not created — the press statements about the paper were misleading.

Nature later apologized for the wrongful claims in its own press releases on the ACT research.

Instead of apologizing for its own false assertions in its press release, ACT stood by its claims in media interviews and sent a threatening letter to LifeNews.com after the pro-life news service exposed ACT’s false statements.

Life News’ coverage of the threatening letter ACT sent to it is here. Notice that the company hasn’t chosen to pick on other publications or individuals who either carried criticism of or spoke out about the differences between the actual research results and the company’s press release. Those would include the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sens. Arlen Specter and Tom Harkin, and “many in the field” — a phrase used by Nature Magazine to describe the outcry over ACT’s hyped-up claims (all except the WaPo are ID’s at the Life News link about the threatening letter. No — ACT decided to pick on a little not-for-profit online newsletter.

Apparently ACT’s chairman wrapped up his letter to Life News with this specific threat:

Caldwell finished his letter by threatening LifeNews.com if it did not pull the supposedly erroneous news reports and promised to monitor the pro-life news service’s further coverage of ACT’s research.

Life News has, of course, not pulled anything, and remains the best source of fact-based prolife news anywhere.

From here, it looks like ACT’s management is acting like a bunch of shameless creeps with lots to hide.

Even after the runup and rundown in share price that followed the press release, ACT’s stock (as of Monday’s close, 88 cents a share) is between roughly 2 to 3-1/2 times where it was before the release (between 25 cents and 40 cents), making quite a few insiders quite a bit better off than they were previously. The basis for the company’s valuation appears to be possibly-duped shareholders believing the company’s hype. If (emphasis “if”) it becomes clear that there’s no justification for the enthusiasm, shareholders will have to look out below, and management will be looking over its shoulders at the regulators and litigants pursuing them.

_____________________________________

Selected Previous Posts:
- Sept. 1 — Advanced Cell Technology Update
- Aug. 28 — An Across-the-Board Chorus Blasts Advanced Cell Technology’s Claims
- Aug. 27 — Paging the SEC: Investigate Advanced Cell Technology

Jumpin’ GDP: 3rd Quarter Revised to 2.2% from 1.6%

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:50 am

A bit of an early Christmas present, I’d say.

It looks like the biggest contributors to the upward revision were bigger increases in the private investment categories other than residential housing.

I’ll take it, especially given that my guesstimate of an upward revision to about 2.0% has already been exceeded. I expect the final revision near the end of December to be no more than a couple of tenths of a percentage point either way.

___________________________

UPDATE: “Expectations” were for an increase to only 1.8%.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (112906)

Filed under: Environment,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:23 am

This has a lot of potential to change a lot of things.

_________________________________________

Hurricane season is, for all practical purposes, over. Relatively little happened, (at link — “…. [no storms] formed in October, the first time since 2002 that no storms formed that month. Also, no Category 4 or 5 storms formed this year for the first time since 1997.”), especially compared to what was “predicted” (at link — “According to AccuWeather.com, the 2006 tropical storm season will still be more active than normal, but less active than last year, with fewer storms than 2005′s record 26 named storms and 14 hurricanes.”). Globalarmists are surely working furiously on how to spin this result as due to “climate change,” even though 2005′s heavy hurricane season was supposedly caused by it too. Maybe they’ll invent some kind of (ahem) “wave theory.”

_________________________________________

Conservative Culture notes that Ohio Commercial Activities Tax (CAT) collections are running about 20% ahead of expectations. Before it generates so much money that politicians start thinking they can’t live without it, the CAT should be killed.

__________________________________________

Dennis Prager is outraged that incoming congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota wants to have the oath of office administered with the Quran instead of the Bible. I wonder if Ellison told voters that’s what he would do? Thinking longer term, if he gets his way, it will probably be the first step towards eliminating religious books entirely from oaths for public office, as is already under discussion for oaths taken in courtroom proceedings in at least one section of the UK. I do not see this as a favorable development.

UPDATE: Quite the spirited discussion in occurring at Hot Air. Volokh weighs in at National Review.

Ho-Hum Hiring News (112906): College Grads’ Division

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:18 am

From USA Today (HT Right Angle Blog via Weapons of Mass Discussion):

Posted 11/26/2006 5:27 PM ET

College graduates are experiencing the best job market in four years as a stronger economy leads more employers to ramp up hiring.

Employers expect to hire 17.4% more new college graduates in 2006 and 2007 than in 2005 and 2006, according to a new survey by the Bethlehem, Pa.-based National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

Signing bonuses range from $1,000 to $10,000, with the average at $3,568. And employers reported plans to boost their starting salary offers by 4.6% over last year, nearly a full percentage point higher than increases for the classes of 2006 and 2005.

“This is the fourth year in a row that employers have predicted an increase in hiring,” says Andrea Koncz at NACE. “It really is because of the economy and more demand. Companies are growing.”

Not bad for the worst economy since Herbert Hoover.

TEL Wins a Court Battle; A Mixed Blessing

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:13 am

Soon to be newly-minted entrepreneur Bill Sloat at Cleveland Openers has an interesting footnote to the Tax Expenditure Limitation (TEL) Amendment that doesn’t please me as much as you might expect:

The anti-tax group that Ohio’s secretary of state fronted, Citizens for Tax Reform, scored a significant legal victory Monday on the front lines of protecting Free Speech, winning a federal court ruling that makes it easier to get ballot issues before voters statewide.

The ruling grew out of Citizens for Tax Reform efforts to collect more than 300,000 names on petitions for Blackwell’s proposed constitutional amendment to restrict expenditure growth to 3.5 percent per year.

….. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott in Cincinnati agreed with the anti-taxers that Ohio’s election laws were too strict because they banned the right of groups to pay petition circulators to place important issues on the ballot.

Dlott said the state’s rules clashed with Citizens for Tax Reform’s ”core political speech rights” and she declared the ban unconstitutional. She also issued an injuction against future enforcement.

The ruling, which may yet be appealed by Attorney General Jim Petro, means any group hoping to change Ohio’s constitution via a petition drive could have an easier path to the ballot.

I don’t necessarily have a problem with paid petition gatherers, though groups like ACORN are clearly abusing the process in voter registrations already, and could certainly do the same while gathering petitions.

I don’t like the fact that initiatives in general “could have an easier path to the ballot.” Don’t get me wrong; I like the idea in general. But something has to be done when hodgepodged garbage like the Ohio Learn & Earn measure gets through without anyone apparently able to put on the brakes.

Initiatives are supposed to be about single issues, and Ohio law should be changed to ensure that future initiatives only get through a judicial review process if they are that way. OL&E was anything but that; it was about slot machines and establishing college tuition accounts, two items that are about as different as two items can be. I recognize that there is potential for judges to throw out perfectly good initiatives by pretending there are multple issues involved when there aren’t, but I believe that carefully crafted legislation can eliminate most of that risk.

Major Props to Microsoft If This Works

Filed under: Business Moves,Money Tip of the Day,Privacy/ID Theft — Tom @ 6:08 am

From eWeek:

Although Internet Explorer 7 has been out for several weeks now, users of the Microsoft Web browser have yet to see all of its new features. That’s because the version of IE 7 included with Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system has a few capabilities that aren’t found in the version that runs on Windows XP.

The biggest difference in the version of IE 7 that runs on Vista—or IE 7+—is that it inherits the Vista interface and all that it entails, including the translucent Aero Glass view of open windows.

IE 7+ also includes what is called Protected Mode, a sort of sandboxed version of the browser that prevents applications from interfacing with the browser in any way other than through a temporary folder.

eWEEK Labs thinks Protected Mode is by far the best value-add of IE 7+. In fact, we wish the feature was in all versions of the Microsoft browser, as it can prevent most spyware and Trojan horse access.

Protected Mode is turned on by default. It can be turned off, although we don’t recommend doing that. If you have an application that requires shutting down Protected Mode, you should probably change the application.

Since MS appears to be either unwilling or unable to put Protected Mode into IE7 if it is not running on Windows, that feature alone would appear to be reason enough for people who must use IE7 to upgrade to Vista as soon as any initial kinks are worked out by the early-adopters.

The fact that Protected Mode is the default shows that someone in the browser community has finally learned that you should force the user to turn security, privacy, and protection features off (which they usually won’t do), instead of dreaming that they will actually spend enough time to learn how they work and turn them on before a computer gets compromised (which, as noted last year, can take as little as 12 minutes any more). Of course, it took almost a decade, and millions of compromised computers, for the lesson take, but late progress beats no progress.

Hopefully, the other Vista-based browsers will take the same “protected by default” approach. I’d like to think that other Windows-based browsers could try their own versions of default protection, but I’m not knowledgeable enough to know whether it’s possible, or if Windows XP itself has so many holes that default protection would not only be a waste of time, but might even give users a false sense of security.

Ho Hum Hiring News (112906): Downtown Dayton Edition

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy — Tom @ 6:03 am

From the Dayton Daily News (may require free registration):

CareSource Management Group has committed to build its $55 million corporate headquarters in downtown Dayton.

The announcement follows months of uncertainty concerning the company’s plans, said Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin.

….. The nonprofit company expects to break ground on a 10-story office tower and parking garage at Main Street and Monument Avenue early next year.

The headquarters will house the growing company’s 600 local employees, CareSource President and CEO Pamela B. Morris said Monday.

The Medicaid managed care services firm plans to add 500 jobs in five years.

Positivity: The Colonel Harlan Sanders Story

Filed under: Business Moves,Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

The Colonel’s makeover earlier this month creates a good reason to be sure everyone knows his rags to riches story:

Sanders was born Sept. 9, 1890, in Henryville, Ind. His father died when he was 6 years old, and since his mother worked, he was forced to cook for his family. As a teenager, Sanders held jobs as a firefighter, steamboat driver and insurance salesman. He also served as a U.S. Army private in Cuba.

It wasn’t until he was 45 years old that he was dubbed a colonel, but it had nothing to do with his stint in Cuba.

He was given the honorary title “Kentucky Colonel” in 1935 by then-Gov. Ruby Laffoon for his culinary acumen, in particular his now-famous chicken, which he served at a road-side motel restaurant. Unlike most Kentuckians who received this title, Sanders turned it into shameless self-promotion.

From that day, he chose to call himself “Colonel Sanders,” and to complement the title, he would don the duds of a “southern gentleman.” A legend was born.

Sanders set up his first franchise in 1952 at age 62. His business model was almost too simple: If only he had a nickel for every piece of chicken he sold, he would do well.

He did.

The Colonel traveled across the country to various restaurants, cooking batches of chicken for the owners and their employees. If the “secret” 11 herbs and spices tickled their taste buds, Sanders and the owners shook on a deal. The terms: a five-cent payment to the Colonel for each chicken the restaurant sold.

The Colonel passed away in 1980. To this day, his recipe of 11 herbs and spices remain a mystery in the business world. According to a Food Network profile of KFC, portions of the spice mix are made at different locations in the United States, and the only copy of the recipe is kept in a vault in corporate headquarters.

Also of note: Wendy’s late founder Dave Thomas calls Sanders, who he worked under for a time at KFC (then Kentucky Fried Chicken) one of the greatest influences in his life.