"More quietly, Wal-Mart has created its own electricity company in Texas, called Texas Retail Energy, to supply its stores with cheap power bought at wholesale prices. This saves the world's largest retailer about $15 million annually and gives the company total control over its utility bills."
"When a court-appointed special master last year rejected the claim of an Alabama couple that their daughter had suffered seizures after a vaccination, she explained her decision in part by referring to material from articles in Wikipedia, the collaborative online encyclopedia."
"...."Building Marketing" that employs unusual and eye-catching architecture to promote a company's brand, a trend which is catching on in Korea. Often competing for space and eyeballs with multi-story towers, these buildings rely on exquisite design to promote and enhance a brand image."
"There are very few authors who don't use a personal computer to compose their works but, what if the computer could write a book on its own? That's precisely what a piece of software called MEXICA aims to do, and in fact is doing. MEXICA, developed by Rafael Pérez y Pérez, is a computer program capable of authoring stories all by itself."
President Herbert Hoover promised "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage." With warnings about global warming reaching feverish levels, many are having second thoughts about all those cars. It seems they should instead be worrying about the chickens.
Last month, the United Nations published a report on livestock and the environment with a stunning conclusion: "The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." It turns out that raising animals for food is a primary cause of land degradation, air pollution, water shortage, water pollution, loss of biodiversity, and not least of all, global warming
From the standpoint of domestic politics, George W. Bush's current trajectory is baffling. The pol with the killer instinct appears not only to be committing slow-mo political suicide, but to be digging the grave ever deeper and wider to accommodate other Republicans.
A president who once fancied himself bold seems timid. Look at Iraq, and the "surge." If you are truly going to "double down," why do it with an obviously weak hand?
This isn't a mystery - it's of a piece with what we've seen before, maybe its apotheosis: an in-your-face political statement ("we won't pull out - we're doing the opposite!") with some shuffling of personnel - some competent people at that - but without a clear strategy or coherent policy to back it up.
To call this "incompetence" does not do it justice. This issue is at the core of our current ills. Look at it this way: Bush is sitting atop something - the U.S. government - that he neither understands nor much likes or appreciates, and pulling its levers to build something that he also does not understand or appreciate - a civil society in Iraq. The two - the dysfunctional U.S. government and dysfunctional Iraq - may not be mirror images (even the U.S. government isn't quite that bad) but they are strangely complementary." more
"Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interests are oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations. We aim for maximum political impact; this means our interface is identical to Wikipedia and usable by non-technical people. We have received over 1.1 million documents so far from dissident communities and anonymous sources.
We believe that transparency in government activities leads to reduced corruption, better government and stronger democracies. Many governments would benefit from increased scrutiny by the world community, as well as their own people. We believe this scrutiny requires information. Historically that information has been costly - in terms of human life and human rights. Wikileaks will facilitate safety in the ethical leaking movement."
"The makeshift clinic at a church where Justice Eta was vaccinated and the flares spewing over Ebocha represent a head-on conflict for the Gates Foundation [Bill & Melinda]. In a contradiction between its grants and its endowment holdings, a Times investigation has found, the foundation reaps vast financial gains every year from investments that contravene its good works."
"WASHINGTON, DC, Jan. 3–A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists offers the most comprehensive documentation to date of how ExxonMobil has adopted the tobacco industry's disinformation tactics, as well as some of the same organizations and personnel, to cloud the scientific understanding of climate change and delay action on the issue. According to the report, ExxonMobil has funneled nearly $16 million between 1998 and 2005 to a network of 43 advocacy organizations that seek to confuse the public on global warming science."
"The United States as a global policeman — why not? The post-cold-war situation effectively called for some global power to fill the void. The problem resides elsewhere: recall the common perception of the United States as a new Roman Empire. The problem with today's America is not that it is a new global empire, but that it is not one. That is, while pretending to be an empire, it continues to act like a nation-state, ruthlessly pursuing its interests. It is as if the guiding vision of recent American politics is a weird reversal of the well-known motto of the ecologists — act globally, think locally.
After 9/11, the United States was given the opportunity to realize what kind of world it was part of. It might have used the opportunity — but it did not, instead opting to reassert its traditional ideological commitments: out with the responsibility and guilt with respect to the impoverished third world — we are the victims now!"
"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats took control of the 110th Congress on Thursday, promising to challenge President George W. Bush's Iraq war policies, help the poor and middle class and clean up how lawmakers do business.
On the first day of a two-year session, the House of Representatives made history by electing liberal Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California the first female to lead the 218-year-old chamber as its speaker.
It also marked the first time in his six years as president that Bush will not have fellow Republicans controlling either the House or Senate."
"WASHINGTON — President Bush quietly has claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant.
Bush asserted the new authority Dec. 20 after signing legislation that overhauls some postal regulations. He then issued a "signing statement" that declared his right to open mail under emergency conditions, contrary to existing law and contradicting the bill he had just signed, according to experts who have reviewed it."