Archive for May, 2002

Kansas Prosecutors Told To Play Nice

Friday, May 31st, 2002

from the no-using-the-‘L’-word dept.

I missed this story when it first came out, but figured it’s still timely enough for posting: Appeals courts in Kansas are increasingly overturning convictions on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct when prosecutors go too far in their closing arguments. Repeatedly calling the defendant a “liar”, for example, is apparently a no-no, even in cases where the defendant admitted lying to police during his own testimony.

Lance Bass Cleared for Space

Thursday, May 30th, 2002

from the extraterrestrial-tourism dept.

N’Sync member Lance Bass has been cleared to go into space, moving him one step closer to blasting off on a Russian rocket for a trip to the international space station. When I was a kid watching the Apollo moon landings, imagining the glorious sci-fi future I’d be living in in the 21st century, I never thought of this particular scenario. But here it is: welcome to the future. Who will be the next celebrity in space? Michael Jackson? Britney??!!

Goshute Tribe Seeks To Open Utah Nuke Waste Dump

Wednesday, May 29th, 2002

from the sovereign-means-sovereign dept.

Some of the Goshute Indians, a smallish tribe in Utah, are apparently seeking to open a nuclear waste dump on the tribe’s land, which would both provide an interim storage location while Nevada’s Yucca Mountain facility is being prepared, and would make many of the impoverished Goshute fabulously wealthy. All kinds of stereotypes being stood on their heads here; as usual, reality turns out to be messier than the “all Indians are Iron Eyes Cody, solemnly crying over highway litter” circuitry some of us have hardwired into our brains. Anyway, links: the goddamn-registration-required (cypherpunk/cypherpunk) L.A. Times story, and a shorter, but in some ways more informative, piece from Alternet.

‘Liar’ Byers Ousted From British Cabinet

Wednesday, May 29th, 2002

from the trains-not-running-on-time dept.

So, Stephen Byers, former transportation secretary for British prime minister Tony Blair, has been forced out of his cabinet post, apparently in response to the really bad publicity accompanying a string of gaffes and misstatements. The principal event in his downfall, as near as a typically self-absorbed yank can reconstruct it, was when he failed to fire an underling spin doctor, Jo Moore, in the wake of an email she sent on September 11, advising recipients that it would be a “good time to bury bad news.”

5-year-old Expelled From Church-Run Kindergarten Over Mom’s Lap-Dancing

Tuesday, May 28th, 2002

from the never-too-early-to-teach-hypocrisy dept.

The Telegraph has the story of Christina Silvas, a 24-year-old single mother, who has been forced to quit her job as a lap-dancer in order to allow her daughter to continue attending a kindergarten in Sacramento, California, that is run by the Assemblies of God, a fundamentalist Christian church. Despite her doing so, however, the school has announced that the child will not be allowed back in the school in the fall, due to her mom’s former occupation. Note the interesting factoid late in the article: Attorney General John Ashcroft’s father is a senior minister in the Assemblies of God.

Attack of the Clones Racist, Says Panel

Tuesday, May 28th, 2002

from the in-a-reality-far,-far-away… dept.

a_stupid_box writes “I found this story via and read halfway through before I was so disgusted I had to stop. Remember, folks — these are ADULTS pointing this stuff out. It’d be SO amazing if those who are arguing for racial equality think for two hours and 22 minutes that someone ISN’T being racist…It must be frustrating for an actor/actress (don’t want to be sexist, after all) to get a part because they’re the best person for it, and then have to put up with all this crap about ulterior motives of their being cast because of their skin color.” Actually, I think the PC term for a gender-unknown member of the acting profession is just “actor.” Otherwise, though, I agree that the charges seem pretty over-the-top.

Scheer: Time For Ashcroft To Go

Tuesday, May 28th, 2002

from the religoius-fanaticism dept.

Arguing that the Attorney General is a dim bulb fanatic who was only appointed as a sop to the religious right, Robert Scheer says it’s time for John Ashcroft to be replaced. (Stupid registration required at the L.A. Times site, dammit. ‘cypherpunks/cypherpunks’ works for now, at least.)

Crowd Boos Claudia Schiffer at Wedding

Sunday, May 26th, 2002

from the show-us-your-dress dept.

A crowd of photographers and obsessive fans assembled outside the church where Claudia Schiffer was about to be married booed the big-lipped supermodel when she entered the church concealed by blanket-carrying security guards. Schiffer was marrying British film producer Matthew Vaughn, who reportedly won the 31-year-old’s heart by giving her a tortoise.

Paramedics Treat Sickened Filmgoers

Sunday, May 26th, 2002

from the dinner-and-a-movie…-and-oxygen dept.

French firefighters administered oxygen to 20 people who passed out during a screening at Cannes of Gaspar Noe’s film Irreversible, which features a graphic rape scene. Two hundred fifty audience members walked out of the screening, but those who remained (and remained conscious) gave the film a 5-minute standing ovation when it ended.

Teacher Gets Probation For Affair With 13-Year-Old

Friday, May 24th, 2002

from the lapse-in-judgement dept.

Pamela Diehl-Moore, a 43-year-old New Jersey teacher who pled guilty to sexual assault after she had a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old former student, has been sentenced to five years’ probation. The judge is catching heat for his lenience from a Republican state senator; meanwhile, I’d have to think that lawyers for Tonya Hadden, the southern California teacher who was recently apprehended in Vegas with her own youthful Romeo, will be trying to figure out how they can take advantage of the ruling at her trial.

Tool-Using Chimps

Friday, May 24th, 2002

from the so,-exactly-what-is-it-that-makes-us-so-special? dept.

Reported today in the journal Science is the story of a band of West African chimpanzees that use stone hammers to open a coconut-like nut. The chimps have apparently been using the tools for up to a century, teaching their offspring to carry on the practice.

Kournikova Takes Title… As ‘Sexiest Woman’

Friday, May 24th, 2002

from the will-pander-for-page-views dept.

Professional tennis player Anna Kournikova, who has yet to win a major tournament yet still pulls down a reported $30,000 a day in endorsements and modelling jobs, came out on top in British men’s magazine FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women in the World poll, published today.

The Dead Grandmother/Exam Syndrome

Friday, May 24th, 2002

from the silent-epidemic dept.

From Janus comes this cool scientific paper correlating college student examinations with the unexpected death of those students’ grandmothers. Scary stuff.

Ashcroft’s Pre-9/11 Terror Stance Questioned

Friday, May 24th, 2002

from the 20/20-hindsight dept.

The Guardian Unlimited has an interesting piece on Attorney General John Ashcroft’s resistance to putting resources into anti-terrorist efforts in the months leading up to the September attacks. Oops.

Research Demonstrates Precognition

Friday, May 24th, 2002

from the irreproducible-results? dept.

From WiredNews, via Hiro, comes this cool story about the Nature of Time workshop, currently being held in the Slovakian town of Tatranska Lomnica. The best part is at the end, where it describes an experiment conducted by Dick Bierman of the University of Amsterdam, in which test subjects exhibited a measurable physiological reaction several seconds before viewing a randomly displayed image – but only in cases when the image to be displayed was disturbing or sexually explicit. No reaction was seen prior to the display of benign images.

Contracting Cancer to Cure AIDS?

Thursday, May 23rd, 2002

from the weird-juxtapositions dept.

No, I’m not just running a Reuters photo of a not-quite-topless woman with flaming nipples because it’s May-sweeps month in blog-land (though you’re welcome to link to and boost my googlerank regardless). No, I’m commenting on the irony of the other woman in the photo, the one smoking a cigarette she has lit from the first one’s flaming hooters. See, the photo is from a charity gala intended to raise money to fight AIDS. I guess the Reuters censors wouldn’t let them run the photo of the person contracting AIDS in order to fight lung cancer.

Escaped Canadian Prisoner Didn’t, Actually

Thursday, May 23rd, 2002

from the not-quite-freedom dept.

From Reuters Oddly Enough (via Yahoo News) comes the story of Raymond Tudor, a Canadian double murderer serving time in the Drumheller medium-security prison in Alberta (guess he didn’t murder anyone too important). Two months ago Tudor disappeared, and authorities assumed he had escaped. Turned out he hadn’t, though; he was hiding out in the prison’s ventilation ducts (shades of Star Trek: The Original Series). He lost 30 pounds over the course of his almost-but-not-quite escape. I can’t help but wonder what sorts of conversations he had with himself during that time, as to the philosophical nature of freedom, and the extent to which he was actually experiencing it.

Synthetic Video Demonstrated

Thursday, May 23rd, 2002

from the last-chance-to-kill-your-TV dept.

So, the propeller-heads at MIT have come up with a demonstration of how to make videos of people saying things they never actually said. Prepare yourself for the intelligent-sounding dubya.

Army To Use Video Games As Recruiting Tool

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2002

from the bang!-you’re-dead! dept.

Struggling to compete for the attention of the crucial late-adolescent-male demographic, the U.S. Army has announced a new tool in its recruiting efforts: a “sanitized” version of Unreal Tournament that puts players in the role of an army soldier getting headshots on terrorists and so on and so forth. Sign me up!

Silly Sony; Music is for Hax0rs!

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2002

from the dept.

a_stupid_box writes “So it seems that Sony’s awesome encryption, meant to curb the “piracy” [ed. note: LIBERATION in the circles I converse with] of music from CDs, can be circumvented by spending less than the cost of a bag of Gummi Worms… and that’s not even PER DISC!”