It’s Fun To Say ‘Beaver Valley’

Scene:
    Beaver Valley, Pennsylvania.
    The Beaver Valley Nuclear Plant, Security Gate.
    Tuesday, April 18th, 2006.

A big semi tractor-tailer TRUCK arrives.

TRUCK DRIVER 1: We’re here to pick up that equipment that the contractors have been using to remodel your nuclear plant.

GUARD 1: Sure, we’re expecting you. Ah, we’ve got to inspect the truck, though. Say, what’s that duffel bag doing? It’s locked, too. I’ll need the key.

TRUCKERS: Yeah, we don’t have the key, alas.

GUARDS: Oh yeah? The interesting thing is, we’ve got bolt cutters, and…snap!
Say, wait a minute…there’s a half-million dollars in this bag!

TRUCKERS: Our boss was planning to buy a new truck soon? Possibly with this cash?

The GUARDS contact the TRUCKER BOSS on the phone.

TRUCKER BOSS (over phone): Money? What money?

GUARDS [in unison]: This is all very suspicious.

TRUCKER BOSS (over phone): Listen, TRUCKERS, just drive away, I’ll send another truck for the equipment, just take off.

GUARDS: Alas, it’s not our job to stop guys from leaving, just to stop them from entering.

The GUARDS contact the POLICE.

The POLICE stop the TRUCKERS about a mile away from the plant.

POLICE: So, what about this money?

TRUCKERS and TRUCKER BOSS [in unison]: It’s a Mystery!

DRUG DOG: Bark!

POLICE: Our DRUG DOG says there’s drugs!

But no drugs are found. Of course, most money in the U.S. has drug residue on it, and any random half million dollars in small bills in circulation probably has a noticable amount, especially if you’re a trained DRUG DOG.

POLICE: Well, I guess we don’t have any reason to hold you TRUCKERS here. Surely, this is not suspicious, terrorist-wise, that men were trying to drive an empty semi-trailer into a nuclear plant with a half-million dollars in small bills. You men are free to go.

POLICE: But we’re keeping the money, of course.

Read the Full Story in The Beaver County Times & Allegheny Times.
“Nuke plant riddle: Whose $504,000?”
April 20, 2006

…or here in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“No One Claims $500,000 Stash in Truck”
April 20, 2006

Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Nebraska

Now the great revulsion has arrived. The latest Fox News poll puts Mr. Bush’s approval at only 33 percent. According to the polling firm Survey USA, there are only four states in which significantly more people approve of Mr. Bush’s performance than disapprove: Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Nebraska. If we define red states as states where the public supports Mr. Bush, Red America now has a smaller population than New York City.

“The Great Revulsion”
Paul Krugman

Read the Full Story in The New York TImes.
April 21, 2006

Harry Taylor vs. the Pretender to the Throne

Bush has been making a lot of trips lately trying to build support for his un-Constitutional program of warrantless spying on Americans talking to Americans, and finally, in Charlotte, NC, someone in one of his sifted crowds told him just exactly what most Americans think about that. You wouldn’t think, with polls showing 33% support for W., that it would have taken this long.

Harry Taylor, 61, said, in a calm, clear voice (quoted here with interruptions by Bush and the crowd removed):

Harry Taylor

“You never stop talking about freedom, and I appreciate that. But while I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air and drinking clean water and eating safe food. If I were a woman, you’d like to restrict my opportunity to make a choice and decision about whether I can abort a pregnancy on my own behalf…

What I wanted to say to you is that I — in my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened by my leadership in Washington, including the presidency, by the Senate, and…and I would hope — I feel like despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administration, and I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself inside yourself.

And I also want to say I really appreciate the courtesy of allowing me to speak what I’m saying to you right now. That is part of what this country is about.”

Bush’s response was to claim that everything was legal and Constituional, and that the government was only spying on calls from Al Quaeda to Americans, or from Americans to Al Quaeda. But the “it’s Constitutional” claim is based on his assertion that he can do whatever the hell he wants during wartime, which is patently false.

Read a transcript from Think Progress or from The White House, or watch the video.

And, nearly simulatenously, Alberto Gonzales the Torture Guy was testifying to Congress that no, he couldn’t rule out that we were just spying, without warrants, on random Americans calling other random Americans while in the United States:

“I’m not going to rule it out,” he said in a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee.

The testimony caused alarm among some lawmakers.

“How can you not rule that out?” Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said later. “I think it’s a stretch to assume we gave them the authority” to conduct warrantless surveillance of international phone calls. But it’s unreasonable, he said, “that they would feel they have the authority to do domestic surveillance.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., called Gonzales’ testimony a “shocking admission” that shows the administration “doesn’t feel there is any limit to what they can do” under the 2001 congressional resolution authorizing military force.

Read the article about Gonzeles’s Testimony in The Detroit Free Press.

TGN1412 Drug Trial Participants Recovering

Amazingly, all of the young men stricken down by the TGN1412 drug trial fiasco are now conscious and apparently on the road to recovery.

Britain’s The Register reports:

All of the volunteers given an experimental immune drug in a London trial have now made it off the critical list at Northwick Park hospital.

The last of six men given biotech firm TeGenero’s TGN1412 compound is now fully conscious and looks set to make a full recovery.

…Meanwhile, Raste Khan, 23, one of the men given a harmless placebo, appeared in The Sun today, saying he was still traumatised by what he saw during the trials. “I still feel haunted by it and I know my family have been extremely upset. I am too frightened even to get sleeping pills from the doctor.”

He claims test contractor Parexel is demanding he honour the terms of his contract by attending follow-ups in order to pocket his £2,000 volunteer fee.

Testing contractor Parexel was unavailable for comment.

Read the Full Story at The Register

Eek! Alcatel to Buy Lucent

Alcatel has agreed to purchase Lucent (who in turn has agreed to be purchased). It will be the fourth time in my career that a company where I was employed has been bought out by another company (for trivia points, name as many of these as you can!)

Deal highlights:

Lucent Chief Executive Officer Patricia Russo is to be the CEO of the new merged company.

Alcatel’s CEO, Serge Tchuruk, 68, will be retiring in June, due to reaching Alcatel’s mandatory retirement age.

The new company’s name has yet to be determined.

The new company plans to eliminate about 10% of its combined workforce, or about 8,800 jobs.

A separate U. S. subsidiary will also be formed, so that defense contracts with the U.S. government can be in the name of an American company.

From Bloomberg:

The new company will have annual sales of about $25 billion, less than half their combined revenue in 1999, big enough to surpass Stockholm-based Ericsson AB, the No. 1 maker of wireless networks, and to challenge Cisco Systems Inc., the largest maker of computer networking gear. San Jose, California-based Cisco also has annual revenue of about $25 billion.

Bell Laboratories, Lucent’s research arm, will remain at the New Jersey headquarters, which will also be the merged entity’s base for North American operations.

And from the Ottawa Citizen:

Ms. Russo said the two companies are “taking a fair and balanced approach” to the job cuts. Roughly 30 per cent of the cost reductions will be achieved in the first year, and 70 per cent in the second year. She promised the cuts will be handled with “prudent speed” and “clarity”.

Yes, “fair and balanced.” Not the phrase I would have chosen. Perhaps FOX will sue.

Her Wikipedia entry notes that Forbes magazine rated Russo as the thirteenth most powerful woman in the world in 2005.

Her Lucent biography page mentions that Ms. Russo was appointed by President George W. Bush as vice chair of the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee in April 2003.