THE OTHER SHOE DROPS: Updates To Previous Posts
† Puppet Cleavage Smutty: Colorado Springs Prude: Miss Piggy will be taking a page from Lady Gaga’s playbook - not to mention items from her closet (well, except for pants) – in a new Muppet movie in the works, "The Greatest Muppet Movie Ever Made," being scripted by "How I Met Your Mother" actor Jason Segel, according to the Los Angeles Times blog "Ministry of Gossip":
"Miss Piggy ends up becoming like a Lady Gaga-esque character living in Europe," the source said. "Kermit ends up being destitute and the main characters find him living in squalor."
The script is said to involve an evil oil baron bent on destroying the Muppets' historic theater. All the classics, including Gonzo, Beaker and Swedish Chef, will rally to save the space with their version of a star-studded telethon.
Perhaps with Lady Gaga's persona serving as inspiration, the taste police won't mind a little puppet cleavage in the future?
Colorado Springs, brace yourselves. You may see Miss Piggy’s puppet hams, gams and cleavage in the new Muppet flick. You can’t say you haven’t been warned.
† Can The Nutrition Police Lay Off Coffee, Already?: Studies presented at the American Heart Association’s annual conferences on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention and Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism suggest that drinking coffee will not harm – and may even be beneficial to – heart patients, reports HealthDay News:
For example, coffee drinkers appear to have a lower risk of hospitalization for abnormal heart rhythms. And there's no indication that having a few cups every day increases the risk of atherosclerosis, the thickening of blood vessel walls that can lead to heart attacks and other problems. What's more, something in coffee other than caffeine might be responsible for a reduced risk of diabetes for women who regularly imbibe java. …
One report did find a potential link between coffee drinking and high blood pressure, but the effect was described as "modest." And, like the other studies, it came hedged with the caveat that the finding wasn't based on a controlled trial - the gold standard for assessing risk and benefit - but from observational studies, which don't exclude all possible factors.
The United States has reduced the manmade pollutants that left its waterways dead, discolored and occasionally flammable.
But now, it has managed to smother the same waters with the most natural stuff in the world.
Animal manure, a byproduct as old as agriculture, has become an unlikely modern pollution problem, scientists and environmentalists say. The country simply has more dung than it can handle: Crowded together at a new breed of megafarms, livestock produce three times as much waste as people, more than can be recycled as fertilizer for nearby fields.
That excess manure gives off air pollutants, and it is the country's fastest-growing large source of methane, a greenhouse gas.
And it washes down with the rain, helping to cause the 230 oxygen-deprived "dead zones" that have proliferated along the U.S. coast. In the Chesapeake Bay, about one-fourth of the pollution that leads to dead zones can be traced to the back ends of cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys.
Despite its impact, manure has not been as strictly regulated as more familiar pollution problems, like human sewage, acid rain or industrial waste. The Obama administration has made moves to change that but already has found itself facing off with farm interests, entangled in the contentious politics of poop. …
Around the country, agricultural interests have fought back against moves like these, saying that new rules on manure could mean crushing new costs for farmers.
Once again proving that private enterprise and the profit motive can solve problems when Big Government and regulation fail, Perdue has built a $13 million plant in DE that dries and heat-sterilizes poultry manure and compresses it into pellets of organic fertilizer that is sold to golf courses and homeowners. Calling it a “sort of a reverse chicken,” Perdue spokesman Luis Luna tells the WaPo that “In a chicken, the food goes in and the poop goes out. Here, the poop comes in and the plant food goes out.”
† Updates To Previous Posts (sixth item, “Daddy, What Causes Global Warming?”): The New York Times reports that after months of taking “a vicious beating in the media and on the Internet, accused of hiding data, covering up errors and suppressing alternate views” climate scientists “now realize they are facing a crisis of public confidence and have to fight back”:
Tentatively and grudgingly, they are beginning to engage their critics, admit mistakes, open up their data and reshape the way they conduct their work. …
A number of institutions are beginning efforts to improve the quality of their science and to make their work more transparent. The official British climate agency is undertaking a complete review of its temperature data and will make its records and analysis fully public for the first time, allowing outside scrutiny of methods and conclusions. The United Nations panel on climate change will accept external oversight of its research practices, also for the first time.
Two universities are investigating the work of top climate scientists to determine whether they have violated academic standards and undermined faith in science. The National Academy of Sciences is preparing to publish a nontechnical paper outlining what is known - and not known - about changes to the global climate. And a vigorous debate is under way among climate scientists on how to make their work more transparent and regain public confidence. …
The battle is asymmetric, in the sense that scientists feel compelled to support their findings with careful observation and replicable analysis, while their critics are free to make sweeping statements condemning their work as fraudulent.
Um, if the process by which climate scientists created global warming models had been transparent and the data on which they are based had been shared for analysis and replication, there would be no need for the investigations and oversight that the “Climategate” revelations have compelled.
On Monday Professor Phil Jones, the former head of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, told a special committee of Parliament that it was not “standard practice” to release data and computer models so other scientists could check and challenge research. That being the case, climatology stands apart from every other branch of science. Climate research is also unique in that man-made global warming was considered “settled science” without methods and findings being replicated – in particular, by those who had originally set out to discredit and disprove them.
† Updates To Previous Posts (eighth item, Madoff’s Victims: Gullible Or Greedy?): Federal Bankruptcy Judge Burton Lifland dealt a blow to hundreds of Bernie Madoff’s victims, who insisted that court-appointed trustee Irving Picard calculate their losses using the amount shown on the last account statement received from the Ponzi schemer before his arrest. Lifland ruled that the statements “were bogus and reflected Madoff’s fantasy world of trading activity, replete with fraud and devoid of any connection to market prices, volumes or other realities,” and agreed with Picard that investors’ losses amount to “the difference between the cash they invested in their Madoff accounts and the cash they withdrew in the years before the scheme unraveled,” reports The New York Times:
Under this “cash in, cash out” approach, investors who have already withdrawn all of their original capital are not entitled to further compensation from the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, an industry-financed organization that oversees brokerage industry bankruptcies and provides limited protection and compensation for customers of failed firms. …
But investors who did not retrieve all - or, in many cases, any - of their initial investment with Mr. Madoff have argued that they should have first claim on whatever assets Mr. Picard collects - since it was their money that Mr. Madoff used to cover the withdrawals and fictional profits collected by those who object to Mr. Picard’s approach. …
The ruling was immediately denounced by Helen Davis Chaitman, a lawyer for several hundred Madoff victims and a victim herself, who said the decision was “letting Wall Street off the hook at the expense of Main Street investors and taxpayers.”
If the decision stands, “no American who invests in the stock market with the hope of retiring on his savings has any protection against a dishonest broker,” Ms. Chaitman said in a statement released by a coalition of Madoff victims. …
As her comments suggest, the decision seems certain to be appealed.
† Updates To Previous Posts (sixth item, The Keystone Kops Are Enforcing U.S. Immigration Laws): Three years and $1 billion later, our southwestern border is as wide open to “terrorists, violent drug smugglers and a flood of illegal immigrants,” reports The Washington Times, because repeated Government Accountability Office reports to Congress and Homeland Security since 2007 that the “virtual fence” being built by Boeing “needed better oversight and accountability, and that it lacked realistic measures of cost, timing and benefits”:
Early on, GAO found that Boeing had failed to show how the $1.1 billion high-tech system would meet the objectives of the Secure Border Initiative (SBI), a comprehensive, multiyear, $4 billion Homeland Security proposal to secure the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border, and urged revisions to the company's lucrative contract.
Despite such warnings, based on GAO's detailed evaluations of the root causes of major problems, the goals of the high-tech project, dubbed "SBInet," were not realized and deadlines were pushed back. In September, GAO reported to Congress that the virtual fence scheduled for completion in 2009 will not be ready until at least 2016 - if it goes forward at all. …
The GAO has asked repeatedly how much more the government is willing to spend on a failed initiative.
"There's a trillion-dollar budget deficit and you're looking for programs that don't work?" said Richard M. Stana, GAO's director of homeland security issues. "This one hasn't proven yet that it's workable." …
William K. Moore, a former political consultant and now a lobbyist whose clients include the Texas Border Coalition, a group of local officials and community leaders who represent more than 6 million people who live along the Mexican border, described the project as a "political strategy" by the Bush administration to shore up immigration reform.
"The department either pursued it for a political purpose that had nothing to with homeland security, or pursued it without any strategy whatsoever," Mr. Moore said.
† Updates To Previous Posts (third item, How ACORN Got Buried By “Squirrelly Right-Wingers”): After a four-month investigation of ACORN triggered by undercover videos made by conservative citizen journalists James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes announced that having reviewed unedited footage, he found no criminality on the part of three ACORN employees. A law enforcement source tells the New York Daily News that the unedited tape did not show clear-cut evidence that the ACORN workers were advising a prostitute how to hide the source of her income when applying for loans and grants through the group.
† Updates To Previous Posts (sixth item, What It’s Like To Live In The Bronx): Those feral chickens roaming The Bronx may be able to find a new home and a new purpose to their indolent lives – but they will have to cross the pond. The environmentally-conscious town council of Mouscron, Belgium, will give each family two chickens. The idea is, people will feed the chickens food scraps that would normally be thrown in the trash, and the chickens will give them eggs to eat. The only catch, reports BBC News: Recipients of the chickens must agree not to eat or give them away for two years.
Meanwhile, the cougars roaming Manhattan have been joined by coyotes. Not illegal alien smugglers - this isn’t Phoenix - Canis latrans. Good thing the Bronx chickens are separated from the Manhattan coyotes by the Harlem river. Or should that be the other way around?
† Updates To Previous Posts (last item, 10 Reasons Michelle Obama Should Be Proud – Really Proud – Of America): This latest installment in The Stiletto Blog’s ongoing series meant to help instill the necessary pride of country in Michelle Obama’s consciousness to enable her to serve as an unofficial ambassador focuses on college students nationwide who plan to spend their spring break in Haiti – even though they are being discouraged from lending a hand because conditions remain dangerous, reports USA Today:
David Adewumi's plans for spring break don't look like those of most other college juniors. He won't be heading to a resort town for a week of beaches and bars, or home for a week of naps and TV-watching.
Instead, he and 10 other students from Pennsylvania State University will fly south to Haiti, on an earthquake relief trip. They expect to spend a week helping with minor medical care, food distribution and shelter building. "We know we're a tiny Band-Aid on a huge wound," he said. "But we're still doing what we can to help." …
Adewumi, a Spanish major who a few years ago spent six months on a mission to the Dominican Republic, said his group is going to Haiti because they are needed there. "We didn't invite ourselves to come. An organization on the ground decided they needed a certain number of nonskilled laborers. If they didn't want us, we wouldn't be there." The trip is being coordinated by Adventures in Missions, a Christian group. …
Major secular groups like Habitat for Humanity and Partners in Health aren't taking unskilled volunteers, but some religious groups and institutions are sponsoring trips. …
For those who want to help but don't have skills that make them desirable volunteers this spring, the obvious means of contribution is financial. Brooks, of CIDI, is urging volunteers to help from afar, whether by raising funds, counseling Haitians in the United States or providing legal aid.
After the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that Haitian nationals would be eligible to apply for temporary protected status, the University of Miami School of Law's Health and Elder Law Clinic quickly developed a system largely staffed by students to help refugees with the paperwork.