Through The Static

July 29, 2008

Missing Persons Alert

Filed under: Missing Persons,Pokemon — disciplepete @ 12:26 am

We at Through the Static are appealing to the public for any information regarding the whereabouts of our colleague, Tranimal. There has been no sign of Tranimal for several weeks. Below is a recent photograph.

Tranimal was believed to have been working on a lengthy blog post about Pokemon when she mysteriously vanished. A $20 reward is being offered for information leading to her whereabouts (you can collect the cash from bobbleheadedbob).

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US faces record budget deficit

Filed under: Economics,Government — disciplepete @ 12:15 am

Tell ’em, Al:

The US government’s budget deficit is expected to soar to a record $482 billion in the next fiscal year, the White House budget office has said.

The Office of Management and Budget said on Monday it blamed the “recent economic slowdown” for the record figure.

The budget deficit measures the gap between how much the government spends and what it raises through taxes…

…Gerald Friedman, a professor of economics at the University of Massachussetts Amherst told Al Jazeera the government had underestimated the size of the deficit.

“They are not indicating all the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan despite a mandate from congress to do that. They are only including the first nine months of the fiscal year. 

“They are also projecting that the economy will recover faster than most economists think. We’ll probably be looking at a deficit of around $600 billion by now.

“The problem is that the Bush administration spends money like a drunken sailor rather than investing wisely in schools and infrastructure.”

The budget has been sapped by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that came as Bush’s tax cuts went into effect.

 

 

Report Faults Aides in Hiring at Justice Dept.

Filed under: Eeeeep!,Government,Politics,There's way too many categories — disciplepete @ 12:12 am

This is some pretty shady shit. NYT:

Senior aides to former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales broke Civil Service laws by using politics to guide their hiring decisions, picking less-qualified applicants for important nonpolitical positions, slowing the hiring process at critical times and damaging the department’s credibility, an internal report concluded on Monday.

A longtime prosecutor who drew rave reviews from his supervisors was passed over for an important counterterrorism slot because his wife was active in Democratic politics, and a much-less-experienced lawyer with Republican leanings got the job, the report said.

Another prosecutor was rejected for a job in part because she was thought to be a lesbian. And a Republican lawyer received high marks at his job interview because he was found to be sufficiently conservative on the core issues of “god, guns + gays.”

The report, prepared by the Justice Department’s inspector general and its internal ethics office, centered on the misconduct of a small circle of aides to Mr. Gonzales, including Monica Goodling, a former top adviser to the attorney general, and Kyle Sampson, his former chief of staff. It also found that White House officials were actively involved in some hiring decisions.

Farm row stalls WTO talks

Filed under: Uncategorized — disciplepete @ 12:08 am

Free trade drama at the World Trade Organization talks in Geneva. Al Jazeera:

Talks on a deal to liberalise world trade appear on the brink of collapse after more than a week of often tense meetings as the US blamed China and India for holding up a deal…

…Tensions peaked late on Monday and early into Tuesday as negotiators from seven key trading nations dug in their heels over the details of a seldom-used “special safeguard mechanism” which allows poor nations to protect their farmers against any surges of imports or price falls in agricultural products such as rice…

.. Kamal Nath, India’s commerce minister, rejected suggestions he was deliberately holding up the talks.

 “Who’s holding up this round I think are the large developed countries … who are looking for commercial interests and enhancing prosperity rather than looking for content which reduces poverty,” he said…

…Raj Petal, a trade analyst, told Al Jazeera that “the European Union and the United States have kind of fixed the rules of the game”.

 
“The EU and the US are allowed to support their agriculture to the tune of billions of dollars a year … but developing countries are not allowed to have similar programmes in place. It’s still a very asymmetrical game.

 
Talks to rescue the trade deal will continue on Tuesday with negotiators trying to avert a collapse, ministers said.

 

 

 

Japan’s Booming Sex Niche: Elder Porn

Filed under: OMGZCUTE,Sex,SeXiNeSS,World News — disciplepete @ 12:02 am

Ok folks, I think I’ve found how I want to spend my golden years. Time:

Besides his glowing complexion, Shigeo Tokuda looks like any other 74-year-old man in Japan. Despite suffering a heart attack three years ago, the lifelong salaryman now feels healthier, and lives happily with his wife and a daughter in downtown Tokyo. He is, of course, more physically active than most retirees, but that’s because he’s kept his part-time job — as a porn star.

Shigeo Tokuda is, in fact, his screen name. He prefers not to disclose his real name because, he insists, his wife and daughter have no idea that he has appeared in about 350 films over the past 14 years…the country has seen a surge in demand for pornography that has turned adult videos into a billion-dollar industry, with “elder porn” one of its fastest-growing genres…

…”People of my age generally have shame, so they are very hesitant to show their private parts,” Tokuda says. “But I am proud of myself doing something they cannot.” Still, he says, laughing, “That doesn’t mean that I can tell them about my old-age pensioner job.”

So this next thing kinda blew my mind…they’re talking about how it’s cheaper to produce porn with “mature” women:

A popular young actress can earn up to $100,000 per film, while a mature actress is paid only $2,000.

100 grand per film?? Damn.

 

July 25, 2008

3 naked men robbed after women lured them to motel by promising to party

Filed under: Eeeeep!,Oh,Randomness,WTF — disciplepete @ 6:07 pm

This sucks! SJ Mercury:

CALIMESA, Calif. — Three naked men were robbed after women lured them to a Calimesa motel for some partying.

The men told Riverside County sheriff’s deputies they met three women in a Yucaipa park and they rented a room at the request of the women.

After the men took off their clothes, sheriff’s investigators say four other men entered the room and robbed them of about $80 and fled.

One of the victims ran from the motel room at about 1:20 a.m. Thursday, leading to 911 calls about a nude man in the area. Sheriff’s dispatchers then got a call reporting a robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.

What math gender gap? Study finds girls, boys equally adept

Filed under: Culture,Gender — disciplepete @ 6:02 pm

SJ Mercury:

Girls = Boys.

A new study puts to rest one of the most widespread myths about boys’ and girls’ aptitude in math. After analyzing 7 million test scores, researchers found no difference.

The findings demonstrate great strides since the 1970s, when major studies showed pronounced differences in the scores of males and females. By the 1980s, younger students were matched – but girls fell behind when they hit adolescence.

Study authors at the University of California-Berkeley and University of Wisconsin-Madison offer several theories behind the improvements, including changes in educational approaches and career expectations.

“Stereotypes are very, very resistant to change, but as a scientist I have to challenge them with data,” said Wisconsin’s Janet S. Hyde, lead investigator of the study, published in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

Using vast data generated by the No Child Left Behind legislation, which mandates annual testing of youths from elementary school through high school, the new study concludes that the gender gap has vanished among students of all ages.

This is an interesting tidbit:

Among math whizzes, there remain sex differences.

But they don’t add up to anything definitive. For instance, there are more white boys than girls with scores in the 99th percentile. But among Asian-Americans, it’s reversed: Girls outperform boys. (Reliable data was not available for Hispanics, blacks and American Indians.)

California Is First State to Ban Trans Fats

Filed under: Culture,Food,Health — disciplepete @ 5:54 pm

NYT:

LOS ANGELES — California, a national trendsetter in all matters edible, became the first state to ban trans fats in restaurants when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill Friday to phase out their use.

Under the new law, trans fats, long linked to health problems, must be excised from restaurant products beginning in 2010, and from all retail baked goods by 2011. Packaged foods will be exempt.

New York City adopted a similar ban in 2006 — it became fully effective on July 1 — and Philadelphia, Stamford, Conn., and Montgomery County, Md., have done so as well.

Pa. teens charged in fatal beating of immigrant

Filed under: Culture,Oh White People...,Race,Wake Up Call,White People! — disciplepete @ 3:13 pm

Yahoo:

PORT CARBON, Pa. – Three white teens were charged Friday in what officials said was an epithet-filled fatal beating of an illegal Mexican immigrant in a small northeast Pennsylvania coal town. Brandon J. Piekarsky, 16, and Colin J. Walsh, 17, were charged as adults with homicide and ethnic intimidation in the July 12 attack on Luis Ramirez.

A third teen, Derrick M. Donchak, 18, was charged with aggravated assault, ethnic intimidation and other offenses. All are from Shenandoah, where the attack occurred.

Additional charges are expected in the case that has roiled Shenandoah, a small, economically depressed town where police have reported friction between whites and a growing Hispanic population…

…The youths goaded Ramirez and the girl, saying, “You should get out of this neighborhood” and “Get your Mexican boyfriend out of here,” documents said. After Ramirez and the girl began walking away, someone yelled an ethnic slur at him, court documents said. He responded, “What’s your problem?”

A fight ensued, during which police said Walsh punched Ramirez in the face. The victim fell and hit his head on the street, leaving him unconscious, after which Piekarsky kicked him in the head, police said.

All three suspects used ethnic slurs during the fight, which ended with Ramirez in convulsions and foaming at the mouth, authorities said. The attackers fled the scene; Ramirez underwent surgery but died July 14 of head injuries.

Piekarsky and Walsh were being held without bail, while Donchak was held on $75,000 bail.

The lawyer of one of the attackers says that this wasn’t a racially motivated attack…umm, ok:

He said that although slurs might have been used, the fight was not motivated by ethnicity.

“I think any time there’s a fight and any time you have one ethnic group fighting another, there’s going to be racial slurs,” he said. “I’ve seen that since I was a kid on a playground 20 years ago, but they never called it ethnic intimidation until very recently.”

July 24, 2008

China Presses Hush Money on Grieving Parents

Filed under: Government,Politics,World News,WTF — disciplepete @ 10:50 am

NYT:

Local governments in southwest China’s quake-ravaged Sichuan Province have begun a coordinated campaign to buy the silence of angry parents whose children died during the earthquake, according to interviews with more than a dozen parents from four collapsed schools. Officials threaten that the parents will get nothing if they refuse to sign, the parents say.

Chinese officials had promised a new era of openness in the wake of the earthquake and in the months before the Olympic Games, which begin in August. But the pressure on parents is one sign that officials here are determined to create a facade of public harmony rather than undertake any real inquiry into accusations that corruption or negligence contributed to the high death toll in the quake.

Officials have come knocking on parents’ doors day and night. They are so intent on getting parents to comply that in one case, a mayor offered to pay the airfare of a mother who left the province so she could return to sign the contract, the mother said.

The payment amounts vary by school but are roughly the same. Parents in Hanwang, a river town at the foot of mist-shrouded mountains, said they were being offered the equivalent of $8,800 in cash and a per-parent pension of nearly $5,600.

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