The Bush Administration has apparently dropped its plans to punish nonconforming JAG officers by withholding promotions:
An attempt within the Pentagon to politicize promotions for military judge advocates general appears to have been blocked after protests from military lawyers and threats from key lawmakers....The Senate will once again stay in session over the holiday break, in order to prevent Bush from making recess appointments:
Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice and a senior partner at Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell, said the proposal clearly was an attempt to stifle military lawyers who have criticized Bush administration policies on torture and the rights of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“Against the backdrop of the events of the last several years, it’s hard to see this as anything other than payback for the independence of the JAG corps,” Fidell said.
"We're going to go into pro forma session so the president can't appoint people that we think objectionable," Reid said on the Senate floor as the chamber prepared to wrap up business for the year.The Senate has also voted to strengthen the Whistleblower Protection Act:
A similar bill (H.R. 985), sponsored by Rep. Waxman (D-CA), passed the House in March with a 331-94 vote. It’s unclear now whether the two pieces of legislation will be worked out in conference or informally. There’s a strong possibility that President Bush will veto the final bill, yet Congress could override it if votes remain the same.Dr. Jeffrey Lewis is somewhat heartened by planned reductions to the 2012 nuclear stockpile:
To my mind, that is a modest reduction that does not alter the character the arsenal in a significant way — but it is welcome nonetheless. As I have stated before, on this blog and in the Washington Post, the goal should not be the size of the stockpile when Ike left office (19,000), but when he entered it (1,200).King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has pardoned the young rape victim who'd been sentenced to 200 lashes:
The woman's husband welcomed the pardon, telling The Associated Press by telephone Monday that when his wife heard the news, she was "very, very happy and felt psychologically better."I don't doubt it.
New Mexico has become the 15th state to reject abstinence-only funds:
The Health Department says national studies have found that abstinence-only programs are not effective in preventing teen pregnancy or in delaying young people from having sexual relations.Democrat Dan Barrett has won a surprising victory in Texas:
House District 97 was not drawn to be a Democratic seat. In 2006, Barrett had taken on the recently retired Anna Mowery and claimed only 40.82% of the vote. Tarrant County on the whole only gave Barbara Radnofsky, the U.S. Senate nominee, 34.80%, Chris Bell 31.07% in his bid for Governor, and the bellwhether Texas Supreme Court candidate Bill Moody 42.79% of the vote. The Republican's should have won this election based on the poor democratic performance index (DPI) of the district alone. During the special election yesterday, Barrett won with 52.2% of the vote.The Forest Service claims it will close more roads to ORVs:
“This action comes not a moment too soon for the health of these streams and the critical habitat they support,” said Michael “Squeak” Smith, with the North Carolina Council of Trout Unlimited. “The Forest Service is finally walking the talk – and we’ll fully expect them to follow through with their intent to do a more thorough, long-lasting plan.”India has launched a plan to educate its street children:
Eleven-year-old Anurag never went to school because he had to scavenge through Delhi's bins, dumps and gutters in search of sellable trash each day before spending his nights sleeping on the street.More new species have been discovered in Indonesia:
Now, thanks to India's biggest effort yet to educate every last child, he has a smart blue uniform and has started going to a mainstream state school in the Indian capital -- something he had once considered a luxury for destitute children like himself.
[T]he team documented two mammals, a Cercartetus pygmy possum, one of the world’s smallest marsupials, and a Mallomys giant rat, both currently under study and apparently new to science. They also recorded the mating displays of several rare and little-known birds for the first time.
Japan promises to avoid killing humpback whales...for now, at least:
The move follows an announcement by Australia on Wednesday that it would send a fisheries patrol ship to gather evidence for a possible international court challenge to halt Japan's yearly slaughter.New standards have been set for the harvesting of medicinal plants:
“This important effort will benefit the health and well-being of both the ecosystems they are part of, and the local people who depend on them for their livelihoods”, stresses Dr. Susan Liebermann, Director of WWF’s Species Program.A new study claims that organic lemonade has 10 times the amount of antioxidants found in conventional juice:
The study showed that the total eriocitrin (a glycoside form of eriodictyol) in organic lemonade had levels 10 times higher compared to conventional lemonade, and the agylcone form had over three-times the level in conventional juice.The Sietch Blog reports on a bicycle-powered supercomputer:
The afternoon was about setting a Guinness record for human-powered computing. This time the team used 10 riders. As in the morning run, the bikes were used to power machines made by SiCortex, of Maynard, MA, a venture-funded startup (investors include Flagship Ventures, Polaris Venture Partners, and Prism VentureWorks, along with Chevron and JK&B Capital) that specializes in low-powered supercomputers. To give you an idea of how low-powered, CEO John Mucci says the chip in his supercomputer, with six processors, uses about eight watts of power.Xan alerts me to a new and improved lithium-ion battery:
The folks at Stanford have come up with an improvement in lithium-ion batteries which effectively raises their storage capacity by a factor of 10. The battery that powers your computer for 2 hours now would run for 20 on this new device.Making left turns often requires idling while waiting for traffic to clear. Accordingly, UPS has redrawn its routes to reduce left turns:
The company employs what it calls a “package flow” software program, which among other hyperefficient practices involving the packing and sorting of its cargo, maps out routes for every one of its drivers, drastically reducing the number of left-hand turns they make (taking into consideration, of course, those instances where not to make the left-hand turn would result in a ridiculously circuitous route).The omnibus appropriations bill passed by Congress requires the EPA to reopen the libraries it closed:
Last year, according to Heather Robinson, a U.P.S. spokeswoman, the software helped the company shave 28.5 million miles off its delivery routes, which has resulted in savings of roughly three million gallons of gas and has reduced CO2 emissions by 31,000 metric tons.
The report language attached to the omnibus appropriations bill for the remainder of the 2008 fiscal year directs EPA to use $3 million to “restore the network of EPA libraries recently closed or consolidated by the Administration…” and to report within 90 days on its plans to “restore publicly available libraries to provide environmental information and data to each EPA region…”Norway will ban products containing mercury as of January 1, 2008:
The ban will put Norway ahead of the European Union in restricting mercury. Norway is not a member of the EU which plans to ban mercury in measuring instruments, including thermometers, in the first half of 2009, and on exports of mercury by 2011.South Korea plans to ban single-hulled oil tankers ahead of schedule:
South Korea originally planned to phase out visits by those vessels by 2015 but it is now considering advancing the deadline by up to five years.This illuminated table is a nice way to recycle a washing machine drum:
Alexandre Orion's Metabiotica includes a number of striking images:
As does this gallery of work by Josh Dorman (via Moon River).
There are new issues of Polar Inertia and Micscape, the latter featuring "a fascinating macroscopic tour of decaying wood" and "a selection of arthropod images":
Also: The David A. Bontrager Vintage Letterhead Collection. The Linnean Herbarium. And a must-see NASA video of a solar flare. (All three via Coudal.)
Last, "Daffy Doings in Doodlebugville: The Milky Way."
(Illustration at top via Boing Boing.)