In addition to red light cameras and photo radar cameras to catch speeders, these newly approved cameras would store a video image of the front passenger compartment and rear license plate of every single passing vehicle. Optical character recognition software identifies the registered vehicle owner and allows for easy indexing of the time and location of travel for each person identified using the highway.
Our images are already captured several times a day by any number of closed-circuit cameras in banks, shops, gas stations, hospitals and even the local Starbucks. This new law in Texas seems somewhat more sinister, however, a significant step closer to the sort of society envisioned by George Orwell in his novel ‘1984′.
These Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) systems have been in use in the UK for some years now, where there is an even deeper Orwellian push, with each citizen and legal resident required to carry identity cards. The information yielded by the ANPR system has not always been accurate and has resulted in at least one innocent civilian death at the hands of police there.
It seems unlikely that the new law will encounter much resistance in the legislature and will come into effect soon. It will remain for the courts to determine whether the provisions are unconstitutional. Until then, it seems safe to conclude that some branch of the government, whether federal, state or local, will know exactly where you are and what you are up to for a significant part of each day.
Earth’s largest living crocodilian—and, some say, the animal most likely to eat a human—is the saltwater or estuarine crocodile. Most commonly found in Northern Australia, population estimates range from 200,000 to 300,000, and they are considered at low risk for extinction.
A distant cousin to the species found in Australia, the Norwegian Crocodile (Crocodylus nordmannii) is, however, on the verge of extinction. This species has a very limited habitat, specifically the isolated fjords between Stavanger and Ardal.
Average-sized males reach 12 feet and 800 pounds. They are excellent swimmers and have often been spotted far out at sea. Classic opportunistic predators, they lurk patiently beneath the surface near water’s edge waiting for potential prey to stop for a sip of water. They’ll feed on anything they can get their jaws on.
Population numbers for the Norwegian Crocodile are now estimated to be less than 100. Illegal hunting, habitat loss, and antipathy toward the species because of its reputation as a man-eater continue to put pressure on the population.
The SNC Trust works to conserve viable populations of critically endangered crocodiles in Norway. The SNC Trust recognizes that the future of wildlife is inextricably linked to the communities that share its habitat. By funding field projects and through education, their goal is to deliver material, long-lasting and widespread benefits to crocodiles and other endangered species, ecosystems and to the people living in these areas.
The SNC Trust is the world’s largest single-species crocodile charity, in terms of funds raised and grants made, and in terms of profile and positioning.
The funds raised by SNC Trust are used to support projects that address Norwegian Crocodile conservation through a number of measures:
Community conservation programs that develop sustainable methods by which local communities can creatively manage natural resources;
Environmental education programs that teach children and adults about the importance of preserving natural resources and address human-wildlife conflict issues;
Anti-poaching and monitoring patrols, which detect and deter poachers and gather information about Norwegian Crocodile ranges and numbers;
Research, for example into the threats to crocodile survival and alternatives to the use of crocodile hides; and
Veterinary work, such as the implanting of transmitters onto crocodiles.
Please do your part to help SNC Trust help the Norwegian Crocodile. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
George Bernard Shaw said: “If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.”
Shakespeare really meant to say “economists” in Henry The Sixth, Part 2 Act 4 Scene 2 when Dick the butcher uttered: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”
The global economy is in turmoil: credit is almost non-existent, the stock markets have plunged, oil prices are low and jobless numbers are on the rise. In times like these the media often turn to experts for commentary and insight to help the general public understand the situation and provide some context to the waves of information that wash over us.
NPR’s All Things considered turned to Sung Won Sohn, a professor of economics and finance at California State University. Professor Sohn enlightened us with this pronouncement on unemployment figures:
“These are God-awful numbers. The economy’s headed downhill and really the brakes are not working.”
lam•poon (lām-pōōn’) n. a light, good-humored satire
Lampooning is indeed a very fine art requiring a sharp wit, a keen intellect and of course, a refined sense of humor. There are occasions, though, when it is made all too easy. A great example of such a case comes from Canadian comedian Rick Mercer in “Talking to Americans”.
“It was English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 - 1834) who first hit upon the idea of a “willing suspension of disbelief for the moment”, and surely that is the basis for an old politician’s trick: repeat something often enough and people will begin to believe it, even if it isn’t true.”—
At a restaurant the other day and somebody orders mashed potatoes. The waitress says they are out of mashed potatoes but you could have a baked potato instead…. I guess the cook can’t figure out how to make mashed potatoes…..
A variant of the Aphtae epizooticae virus was isolated last year in Georgia. The highly contagious variant, Aphtae paulbrounae, was discovered in one human case, and appears to have been limited only to Congressman Paul Broun (R-GA).
The average incubation period of the virus varies but is generally around three to eight days. The disease is characterized by high fever that declines rapidly after two or three days and a marked inclination to make outlandish and bizarre statements. Adults may suffer weight loss from which they do not recover for several months as well as swelling in the testicles of mature males. Some infected individuals remain asymptomatic, but they nonetheless carry the virus and can transmit it to others.
In an interview with The Associated Press on 10 November 2008, Rep. Broun said he feared that then President-elect Obama would establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship. Broun cited a July 2008 speech by Obama that has circulated on the Internet in which the then-Democratic presidential candidate called for a civilian force to take some of the national security burden off the military.
Broun went further: “That’s exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it’s exactly what the Soviet Union did,” Broun said. “When he’s proposing to have a national security force that’s answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he’s showing me signs of being Marxist.” Broun probably meant “fascist”. Pervasive confusion is also one of the symptoms of the virus.
Running with the Nazi theme while trying to appear not to, Broun summed up his argument thusly: “We can’t be lulled into complacency,” Broun said. “You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I’m not comparing him to Adolf Hitler. What I’m saying is there is the potential of going down that road.”
There may be signs Rep. Broun’s condition is improving: he did say his remarks “may sound a bit crazy and off base.” That may have been the only accurate statement Broun made on the subject. Treatment is available, and hopefully Rep. Broun has taken advantage of it.
I went to a Fourth of July parade, and something has been bugging me ever since. The parade had a marching band, baton twirlers and some soldiers. It also had something that gave me cause to take umbrage.
Perhaps the largest contingent in the parade was the local chapter of the Tea Party brigade. The group contained men and women, young and old, and children from about two to fifteen years of age. This particular Tea Party brigade was rather vocally protesting government spending, taxation and just about every other thing President Obama has done in office so far. They sported signs both professional and crafted at home including “We are taxpayers! We are pissed!” and “Obama don’t take my guns away!” (the latter carried by a boy of about nine).
Several thoughts occurred while watching the group march past. One of them was that the Fourth of July parade was an inappropriate venue for a political protest. I voted for President Obama. Do I agree with everything he has done so far? No, I don’t, especially on the spending side. I can see the potential tie-in for the Tea Party brigade thematically what with the Fourth of July holiday being a celebration of independence from the taxing powers of the British crown, but I don’t think taxation is the biggest issue for them. These folks didn’t vote for the President and are having trouble keeping quiet about that. The Fourth of July parade is a celebration of that quintessential American trait: freedom. It is not a time for political protest.
Now, before anyone gets too excited, I not suggesting that the Tea Party brigade be prevented from making their protest. On the contrary, I fully support their right to protest and try to make whatever point it is they are trying to make: I just don’t think the Fourth of July parade is the right place to do it. Freedom of speech is one of the things that makes America great, and makes us lucky.
The parade is, after all, a family event, and I was presented with the unique opportunity of having to explain to my two youngest children what “We are pissed!” means. That was a little earlier in the game than I was hoping for on that issue. The kids were also keen to know why a young boy thought the President was going to take his guns away and, rather perceptively I thought, why the young boy had guns at all. (N.B. I will not digress here into a discussion of guns and the right to own them. That is for another day.)
So, what’s the big deal, you ask? Why shouldn’t the Tea Party brigade be allowed to march in the Fourth of July parade? Well, here’s the thing: just because you have the right to do something, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you should do it whenever you please. Also, “Obama sucks!” sloganeering doesn’t make me feel quite as proud and thankful as it does to stand and cheer the Marines who march past in the parade.
A new Treasury Department agency is to be created to oversee, regulate and enforce minimum credential standards for financial analysts. Serious concerns have arisen over the devastating impact analysts have had on the national and global economies in recent months. Much market trading is based on the predictions of analysts. Studies have suggested that serious economic downturns correspond directly to corporate performance failing to meet overly ambitious and unrealistic analyst predictions. Sources indicate the new, as yet unnamed, agency is to be phased in quickly.
Sources point to the following case as an example where the agency could step in to help:
Exxon Mobil again reported the largest quarterly profit in U.S. history, posting net income of $11.68 billion on revenue of $138 billion in the second quarter. That profit works out to $1,485.55 per second.
Analysts predicted the company, the world’s largest publicly traded oil firm, would make $12.1 billion in profit on $144.4 billion in revenue, according to Thomson Reuters. Exxon shares fell promptly about 3% on the New York Stock Exchange.
Sell-side analysts on Wall Street are reactionary, not anticipatory. The market is forward-looking, so what already happened is irrelevant.
Enough is never enough, is it? If a company sets a record profit, not just a record for the company but for the entire country, ever, and the analysts’ predictions were wrong, why not punish the analysts instead of the share price of the company? Where would the Dow be today if the reactionary tendencies of analysts did not prevail?