aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, June 11, 2007
Judge overturns Genarlow sentence
A Georgia judge on Monday voided a 10-year sentence for Genarlow Wilson for having oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17 and instead gave him a 12-month misdemeanor sentence with credit for time he has already served.
The state is likely to appeal the ruling from Monroe County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson. Wilson, who has already served more than 27 months, is expected to remain behind bars while that appeal proceeds.
Now 21, Wilson is serving 10 years without the possibility of parole after a jury found him guilty in 2005 of aggravated child molestation for having oral sex with a 15-year-old girl during a 2003 New Year’s Eve party involving alcohol and marijuana. Although the sex act was consensual it was illegal under Georgia law.
Finally, after months of embarrassing pressure from the media, politicians and human rights groups, someone has stepped up and seen how ridiculous that sentence was. And although the state can appeal this ruling, it certainly seems like more would be lost in terms of money, reputation and respect if Georgia didn’t do anything and everything in their power to let this one go.
LATER: The appeal has been filed.
Governor prays for rain in Macon
This is the kind of government action many in Georgia think is enough:
As Georgia’s drought continues, Gov. Sonny Perdue and close to 300 people appealed to a higher authority for help Monday.
Perdue, State Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin, some Central Georgia farmers and others gathered at the Georgia Farm Bureau headquarters in Macon to pray for rain. [...]
Perdue says faith is what will lead the state out of the drought crisis.
Via Gay Orbit, “It’s no coincidence that the forecast is actually calling for rain this week.”
Probability of success in Iraq: 26%
AJC’s Political Insider:
A University of Georgia researcher has determined that the world’s most powerful nations - including the United States - have had only a 39 percent success rate in military actions since World War II.
And based on her calculations, the current war in Iraq has a 26 percent probability of success - with an estimated duration of 10 years.
The study by Patricia Sullivan, an assistant professor at the university’s School of Public and International Affairs, looked at 122 interventions in which the United States, the Soviet Union, Russia, China Britain or France fought a weaker adversary.
Ethics update: links are not endorsements
I link for many reasons. Sometimes endorsement, sometimes commentary, sometimes merely to document and record for my own future reference the source of the material I’m referencing. If I do not explicitly add clarifying text that indicates an endorsement, A LINK IS NOT AN ENDORSEMENT. I will sometimes choose not to link to a source. That choice may be commentary, but the choice to on occasion use the absence of a link for commentary does not infer that any other choice to link is an endorsement.
The addition may be word-smithed in the future, but you get the point. It captures the essence of what I intend.
LATER: I added the line, “The paragraph above also applies to quotes.”
Sunday, June 10, 2007
The deal on Rand Knight
I just got a note from Rand Knight. Tom Baxter and Jim Galloway got one on Thursday:
Just got a note from Rand Knight, a 35-year-old scientist with the National Ecological Observatory Network, who announced his Democratic candidacy for the U.S. Senate race with his e-mail.
Here’s his web site, though some finishing touches are still needed.
The comments on their post suggest Rand’s got a tough slog ahead of him.
The Julie Group
At the end of most of the couple dozen posts I did on the Julie Amero case I appended this plea:
WE NEED A COMPUTER FORENSICS INNOCENCE PROJECT; a Barry Sheck and Peter Neufeld of the computer forensics world. We need experts who believe in the presumption of innocence and are willing to spend the time it takes to dig through logs, registry entries and hard drives to find exculpatory material when present. This is hardly the first case of its kind and, unfortunately, it’s not likely be the last. Prosecutors who look for - and presume - guilt do selective searches for data supporting guilt; those accused rarely have the resources to pay computer forensics experts to counter that selective evidence.
You can imagine my pleasure, then, when I read this:
I have been fortunate enough to participate in a private discussion list around the Amero case. One goal of the group on this list has been to expand what we’ve learned into something that reaches beyond Julie and toward others. TheJulieGroup blog is the beginning of that endeavor — a collaborative effort to identify unjust prosecutions of innocent citizens who are the victims of malware.
I hope you’ll visit, subscribe, and tell your friends about it. I’ll be contributing to it when I have a contribution to make, so if you know of anyone who finds themselves at risk of losing their job, family or liberty because they were victims of malware, let me know.
Free Paris Hilton!
What does it say of us that in Paris Hilton’s release and subsequent reincarceration we have one of those rare occasions where popular American sentiment lines up with Al Sharpton:
“She’s a pawn in a turf fight right now,” said Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Law School Los Angeles. “It backfired against her because she’s a celebrity. She got a harsher sentence because she was a celebrity. And then when her lawyer found a way out of jail, there was too much public attention for it to sit well with the court.”
The struggle between the judge and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, which runs the jail, incited indignation far beyond the attention normally paid to a minor criminal matter.
Judicial and police officials here said they were inundated with calls from outraged residents and curious news media outlets from around the country and beyond. The Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist, decried Ms. Hilton’s release as an example of “double standards,” saying consideration was given to a pampered rich girl that would never have been accorded an average inmate.
In fact, her sentence was harsher than average because of her fame and at the time of her “early” release she had already served the average. Mary Fulginiti Friday morning on GMA:
Due to the overcrowding in the LA County jail system here in Los Angeles, defendants, especially nonviolent defendants, are serving approximately 10% of their time. So she was sentenced to 45 days. She served approximately what, between, I guess, anywhere between three and five days, arguably. And that would be consistent with what’s happening here in Los Angeles. [...]
So Paris Hilton, although you may not like her, although - you may - she may be easy to want to make an example out of, at the end of the day, she’s a nonviolent offender who hasn’t, who doesn’t have a significant criminal history, with a potential medical issue. And if there’s anyone that probably deserves under the overcrowding aspect in the system here to be released early, it will be someone similar to her.
I am no fan of Retributive Justice (the thinking man’s vengeance); I do not understand why we target our resentment towards her and not the system that created her. I can imagine that there could be some reason other than entitlement and privilege that precipitated her run in with the law. Finally, I do have empathy for what it must be like for her to be in LA County jail.
I’ve been making my way through the archive of the WNYC Radio Lab series and just recently finished the episode on morality. Wholly fascinating, in the section looking at the development of morality in children it notes the absence of empathy in young kids, and that the development of empathy is fundamental to the development of morality. I would say that today our culture has an absence of empathy and is, as a consequence, less moral.
But I don’t blame us for it. I blame our systems, most particularly in this instance the market-driven media system. A different media structure might be reporting the real story here - the one mentioned in that GMA piece but by happenstance rather than design - that the jails are full. We are locking up more people than any nation in the world (Russia is #3, Cuba #7) and do you feel safer for it?
A consequence is the sad fact that there’s no more room in our jails. What’s happening in California today will be happening in Georgia tomorrow and in your state the day after:
In the last five years, the Sheriff’s Department has released more than 200,000 inmates early, including some who ended up committing murders and other serious crimes when they otherwise would have been behind bars.
The releases were possible because of a nearly 20-year-old federal court order allowing the Los Angeles County sheriff to alleviate overcrowding by letting county offenders go home early.
We have to abandon our Retributive Justice, find some empathy, and move towards a moral system of Restorative Justice. I’d rather make that appeal on empathetic, humanitarian grounds, but ultimately it looks like it may come down to an economic reality: we’re not willing to pay the kind of money it costs to keep locking up all those people.
And if, as a consequence, all the Paris Hilton’s of the world are set free, I won’t feel the need to go home and hide behind locked doors.
The Ark easily had room for the dinosaurs (as you can see in other articles in this issue). First, the Ark was the size of a huge cargo ship (at least 450 ft [137 m] long). Second, there weren’t many different kinds of dinosaurs (only about 50 “kinds"). Third, God most likely brought the smaller juvenile dinosaurs, not the aging adults, because they would be better suited for the voyage and the responsibilities of reproducing rapidly after the Flood.
That from the new Creationist Museum. Mike Riddle, who authored that this past February, has a masters in education. Ugh!
Via Echidne of the Snakes, who also reports that the actor playing Adam in a Creation Museum video recently had a graphic Web site called Bedroom Acrobat where users would post explicit photos and stories. More on that from Raw Story (where I got the photo).
REALATED - Ars Technica takes a field trip to the new Creationism Museum:
There was also an explanation as to why, with only one progenitor family, it wasn’t considered incest for Adam and Eve’s children to marry each other. Apparently there was less sin back then, and therefore fewer mutations in their DNA. Evidently sin, not two copies of the same recessive trait, gives rise to congenital birth defects.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
It’s time to stop using your Flickr account
Violet Blue, after receiving a vaguely worded email and a 30 day account suspension, has declared that she’s no longer a Flickr fan:
[U]nless you’re a member of the site, my account has been erased. Except, confusingly, right now you can go to my page and see *only* the nipple-tastic photos I removed form public searches. And if you’re a member but unaware of the changes Flickr has quietly made (and unevenly enforced) to their users’ search levels, my photos look like a fuzzy TV screen. This means that without a Flickr account you cannot see the photos, and even if you have a Flickr account, the thumbnail is all snowy until you decide that you will break the “safe” barrier and click into “unsafe” territory to see what is behind the fuzz. (Where is that in your account profile? Good question.) [...]
I want to play by Flickr’s rules—I’ve been doing so to the best of my knowledge all along. But Flickr isn’t telling me how I broke their rules, just that I broke them. They won’t even tell me what the rules *are*. I don’t know which photos I need to amend to get back on their good side—they’re not telling me. So, I visit the Community Guidelines link Terrence sent me to see exactly what those guidelines are, to understand how I broke them and what photos I might have overlooked somehow (or what has changed). I find out, well, nothing except vague wording about being responsible to who might see my photos, and that nudity is forbidden in my “buddy icon”
Next, I want to see how I violated, or screwed up, use of their safety filters. And I get more vague language about self-policing the filters…
But then I get my answer—in “how do I know I’m doing the right thing?” the answer is basically, “never"…
And then, when I sign out again and search for my own name, I get the same front page result I’ve been getting for a year, of an image I’ve been trying to have removed for—over a year. It’s the woman who’s been using my name to make porn, with her tits out…
Thanks, Flickr. Tonight I’m downloading all 1800+ of my images (only 152,307 views because I don’t blog my stream very often) and moving them to Fotki, where I know they’ll be visible. I really want to be able to share my silly cat photos with friends. And I’m sick and tired of these social networking sites screwing everything up for individuals within communities with their latest thoughtless, user-inconsiderate policies. Consider me no longer a fan, Flickr.
Read the whole post; clickthrough to the links. Flickr’s got more than just a little explaining to do. They’ve got to articulate and guarantee their community some specific rights before I will use them again.
RELATED: The SFChronicle reports today that Flickr’s being blocked in China. Flickr, whose parent company, Yahoo!, has cooperated with the Chinese government in implementing a system of internet censorship in China, is careful not to blame the Bejing government.
The phrase “Citizen Journalist” should go
Steve Boriss at The Future of News says it’s time we name ourselves:
“Citizen journalist” implies that the truly legitimate position is “journalist” with the adjective “citizen” used as a qualifier to diminish status, as in Vice President, Lieutenant Colonel, or Assistant Professor. Come to think of it, “Citizen journalist” sounds like a phrase invented by a mainstream journalist — one who clings to the belief that, in the future, journalists will still hold the same, lofty status they enjoy today, but just with the additional burden of using, taming, and managing a swarm of pesky news “wanna-bees.” Maybe it’s time for news bloggers to take responsibility for naming their own specialty — ideally one that would distinguish them from social bloggers on one hand and mainstream journalists on the other.
Boriss hit that nail right on the head! My suggestion, keep it simple: “News Bloggers” is a good start.
Via Martin Stabe.
TANGENTIALLY RELATED: A podcast by any other name would be much sweeter.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Apple in the Google cloud?
I don’t typically join the gaggle of folks trying to guess what Steve Jobs’ next move is going to be, but for once I can’t resist. On Monday Jobs is taking the stage at Apple’s worldwide developers conference in San Francisco to do what he does best - tell us all about Apple’s latest products and reinforce his place as the most charismatic CEO on the planet. He’ll probably announced a new Ipod, tell us more about the iPhone etc etc. One announcement I’m almost sure of, however : A far reaching, cloud computing partnership with Google. Both companies have been hinting about it for months, and it makes perfect sense.
Cloud computing is the hot new thing in the world of technology right now; Apple is a complete laggard; and it knows it needs to fix it. Apple makes beautiful hardware, but it hasn’t improved on .Mac, its cloud based storage offering, in years. You get 1GB of storage on .Mac for $100. That’s laughable in an era where you can get double that for nothing. READ ON
Parallels updates Windows-on-Mac software
Version 3.0 of the software adds a number of new features, including SmartSelect, which lets Mac users choose which program opens a particular file type, regardless of whether it is stored in the Mac or Windows desktop. Other features include support for hardware-accelerated 3D graphics, support for Vista Boot Camp partitions and a new file explorer that enables people to view and change the contents of their Windows virtual hard drive without launching Windows.
A Parallels fan, that last new feature will be the most useful to me.
YouTube Embedded Videos interface updated
Embedded YouTube videos have now received the new interface that had been around for a while, as Daniel Garcia reports in the forum. For a live sample, have a look at the two promotional videos posted here earlier. The time line navigation has been optimized so that you can now jump ahead in a video even if that part hasn’t been loaded yet (Google Video already did this before). The time control is still flaky when it comes to certain details – e.g. jumping back to a specific point in the video by clicking the control doesn’t always work. Also, embedding the code on your own site has been made easier through new buttons displayed at the end of a movie.
The bigger change in this roll-out is the related videos feature; when you hover over certain parts of the video (which may happen accidentally), an array of related videos pops up at the bottom, represented by video stills. Clicking a thumbnail seamlessly opens the new video in the same player. This change might ensure that people stay longer and longer on embedded YouTube content, jumping from clips they wanted to see to clips they didn’t even know existed. As soon as ads are rolled out into embedded YouTube content – something we can be quite certain will happen one of these days as a good way for YouTube/ Google to create revenue from all the free hosting they provide – this will also be a way to expose viewers to more ad time than before.
Via ZDNet’s Garett Rogers, who calls the related videos feature a money machine. “As soon as it becomes second nature for users to use the tool, we should start to see sponsored results mixed with these related videos. These advertisements stay out of the way and are only seen when users are actually looking for something - the reason Google’s other ads are so effective.
Bovine Rights Now
“COWS HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE COWS.
Cows are not machines-we are equals in the interdependent circle of life. All our rights begin with this right.
COWS HAVE THE RIGHT TO GRAZE.
Turn us loose to graze in pastures free of synthetic pesticides and herbicides. We will take only what we need and we will refresh the soil. You will be happier for it, too. Our milk will be delicious and delightful. Promise.
COWS HAVE THE RIGHT TO JUST SAY NO TO DRUGS.
The days of experimentation are over. Stop pushing the synthetic hormones and antibiotics! Organic is the right way for Sisters everywhere.
COWS HAVE THE RIGHT TO DIGNITY AND JOY.
When we are free to move about outdoors, it’s our best opportunity for dignity, health and joy-and a chance at joy should be the right of all living things. Even dogs.
COWS HAVE THE RIGHT TO DECENT HELP.
Sure, us cows are the all-stars, but the time has come to say thanks to the little guys-the organic family farmers. We can’t do this alone. Fair pay for an honest day’s nurturing and care. It’s all we ask. Viva la family farm!
COWS HAVE THE RIGHT TO CLEAN AIR.
Nothing makes us breathe easier than local customers. When you choose milk from pastures close by, you reduce trucking. It’s pretty nifty. Less air pollution, less fuel used, and support for your neighboring farmers, all from one little milk choice.”
But do please keep in mind that there is a distinction between animal rights and animal welfare. I come down on the welfare side of that distinction.
Via Eating Liberally.
RELATED NON SEQUITUR: An artist’s disembodied, robotic cow tongues. Yuck.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Happy Birthday Harvey Fierstein
In honor of Harvey’s birthday yesterday, an encore reminiscence...
Our office was in the turreted northwest tower of the municipal building and we came out of WNYC (TV, sold off by Rudy Giuliani in 1997). It was great fun. I so wanted a gay network then, and confidently foresaw the day that it would come about.
Alas, now that it’s here (and it is here on my rural Georgia cable system, though I don’t subscribe) I’ve stopped wanting it.
In fact, in 1983 I talked with one of Torch Song’s producers, John Glines, about starting the gay network I envisioned (he wasn’t interested, theater was his thing). And today we’ve got two and I still don’t want one. And still don’t subscribe. But with word of Harvey’s new show I went digging up in the attic. And this is what I came down with:
- Thanks for the link Kenneth!
Hillary was right
Jonathan Cohn, a senior editor at The New Republic and the author of Sick: The untold story of America’s health care crisis--and the people who pay the price, writing in the very magazine in which Elizabeth McCaughey wrote her piece picking apart Hillarycare that was a significant moment in its demise, says that, looking back, Hillary was right on health care:
[T]oday some 45 million Americans have no health insurance--or nearly 16 percent of the population, which is about one point higher than the figure was when Hillary and her task force got to work. You can say a lot of things about the plan that process produced: that it was complicated to explain, that it was botched politically, and that, above all, it was hardly perfect. (Some of us still think a true single-payer system would work better.) But, if Hillarycare accomplished absolutely nothing else, it would have made certain every American had access to affordable health care--sparing millions of people physical harm, financial calamity, and countless indignities. For a plan that was supposedly such a debacle, that would have been an awfully mighty accomplishment.
Homophobe Surgeon General & science rejected
President Bush’s nominee for surgeon general, Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr., wrote a paper in 1991 that purported to make the medical argument that homosexuality is unnatural and unhealthy. Doctors who reviewed the paper derided it as prioritizing political ideology over science, and Democratic aides on Capitol Hill say the paper will make his confirmation hearings problematic.
Holsinger, 68, presented “The Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality” in January 1991 to a United Methodist Church’s committee to study homosexuality. (Read the paper here.) The church was then considering changing its view that homosexuality violates Christian teaching, though it ultimately did not do so. Relying on footnotes from mainstream medical publications, Holsinger argued that homosexuality isn’t natural or healthy.
Via Michael J.W. Stickings, “It purports to be a purely scientific argument for what he calls ‘the complementarity of the human sexes,’ with respect to both intercourse and procreation, but what it really is is an attack on homosexual activity and hence on homosexuality itself. And remember, it was written in 1991, not 1891!...What is clear from all this is that Bush has nominated yet another theocratic ideologue for a key position in government.”
In other Republican Scientism news, If you caught Senator Sam Brownback’s op-ed screed last week in New York Times in opposition to evolution, don’t miss Jerry Coyne’s analysis of it:
Whether he knows it or not, Brownback’s forthright declarations, denying any possibility that empirical matters of fact might differ from those assumed by his creed, amount to nothing less than a rejection of the whole institution of science. Who is “we”, and where did “our” conviction and certainty come from? Would Brownback believe these “spiritual truths” if he hadn’t been taught them as a child, or brought up in the United States instead of China?
According to Brownback, we should reject scientific findings if they conflict with our faith, but accept them if they’re compatible. But the scientific evidence says that humans are big-brained, highly conscious apes that began evolving on the African savannah four million years ago. Are we supposed to reject this as “atheistic theology” (an oxymoron if there ever was one)?
Via Boing Boing.
Congressional support for Study Abroad
I went with a group of students to the Czech Republic last year; Doug is in Germany now with a group from Georgia and Ohio (their blog is here). These programs offer students incredible learning opportunities that they’ll recall for a lifetime.
Congress passed a bipartisan bill on Tuesday aimed at increasing study abroad opportunities. From The Chronicle (subscription only):
The legislation approved by the House, known as the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act (HR 1469), would create a foundation whose goal would be to send one million American students abroad each year within the next 10 years. Only 206,000 students studied abroad during the 2004 academic year, the latest for which figures are available. That number represents about 1 percent of all university students.
The bill authorizes Congress to appropriate $80-million annually for the foundation, which would distribute the money largely in the form of grants to students through universities and other study-abroad providers.
One of the bill’s key goals is to bring more diversity to study abroad, both in terms of where students travel and who goes overseas. For example, it seeks to raise the number of community-college, low-income and minority students who study abroad, as well as increase the number of students studying in developing countries.
They’re hoping for senate action within the next couple of weeks.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Amero gets a new trial
A judge has granted a new trial to Julie Amero, a former substitute teacher in Norwich, Connecticut who was convicted in January on four felony counts of risking injury to minors after she was unable to prevent pornographic pop-ups from showing up on a computer in a classroom in 2004.
The city’s prosecutors did not oppose the motion for a new trial, raising the possibility that Amero will not be tried again.
The opportunity for a new day in court marks a reversal in fortune for Amero who faced sentencing this week that could have landed her in jail for forty years. Amero was convicted of endangering children after several students saw pornographic thumbnails on a computer screen.
Despite testimony that the monitor did not face the children, that Amero asked for help from other teachers and a vice principal, and that the schools IT administrator allowed the school’s filtering software to expire, Amero was found guilty.
Even more likely now that she will get off - which would hardly make up for all she’s been through. Still, for all those who have not gotten our attention, this is the plea I’ve appended to all of my Amero posts:
WE NEED A COMPUTER FORENSICS INNOCENCE PROJECT; a Barry Sheck and Peter Neufeld of the computer forensics world. We need experts who believe in the presumption of innocence and are willing to spend the time it takes to dig through logs, registry entries and hard drives to find exculpatory material when present. This is not really the first case of its kind and, unfortunately, it’s not likely be the last. Prosecutors who look for - and presume - guilt do selective searches for data supporting guilt; those accused rarely have the resources to pay computer forensics experts to counter that selective evidence.
UPDATE: Alex Eckelberry knows it’s not yet over. Still he’s relieved and points to the forensic team it took to get this obviously innocent woman off, “ This event was a testament to the power of a community of people coming together in a common cause.”
LATER: Now everyone’s talking about it.
Genarlow ruling Monday
A Georgia judge is expected to decide by Monday whether to overturn a mandatory ten-year prison sentence for a man who was convicted of having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17.
A lawyer for Genarlow Wilson now 21 argued during a brief hearing today that the sentence was “grossly disproportionate” to the crime.
Appeals lawyer B.J. Bernstein asked the court to void the sentence. But Senior Assistant Attorney General Paula Smith says a law that was passed to reduce the sentence applied in Wilson’s case cannot be applied retroactively.
Monroe County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson says he expects to issue a decision by noon Monday.
Net ban overturned: the antithesis of “narrowly tailored”
So said the 3rd Circuit Court as it ruled for the Pennsylvania sex-offender who appealed the ban on his using any computer network at “any location, including employment or education” forever:
The condition is the antithesis of a “narrowly tailored” sanction. The lifetime ban on all computer equipment and the Internet is the functional equivalent of prohibiting a defendant who pleads guilty to possession of magazines containing child pornography from ever possessing any books or magazines of any type during the remainder of his/her life.
We realize, of course, that the anonymous access to all kinds of information opens the door to all kinds of abuse. This case clearly illustrates the potential for abuse and victimization that is also endemic in the Internet. Here, the victims of that abuse are children who tragically become involved in the world of online child pornography. This was obviously the district court’s concern and focus in imposing this condition.
Nevertheless, we have never approved such an all-encompassing, severe and permanent restriction, and nothing on this record inspires confidence in the propriety of doing so now.
The court said try again:
This does not, of course, mean that the district court may not impose some kind of restriction on Voelker’s computer use and Internet access on remand. However, any such restrictions must be...appropriately tailored and impose no greater restriction on Voelker’s liberty than necessary.
Greenhouse gass costs of getting to the summit
MARK PHILLIPS reporting: The G8 leaders clock up a lot of air miles when they get together for these summits. And for a meeting that has global warming at the top of its agenda, they spew out a lot of greenhouse gases getting there. Seven leaders taking off from seven far-flung capitals heading for Germany. Not only do the miles add up, so do the tons of climate changing carbon dioxide produced by their planes. In some cases, multiple planes for each delegation.
John Buckley runs an outfit called Carbon Footprint, which calculates the global warming gases released by companies or households. We asked him to crunch the numbers of the G8 leaders’ travel. So how much carbon dioxide will they produce?
Mr. JOHN BUCKLEY: Three thousand seven hundred seventy one tons for this whole conference, G8 Summit.
PHILLIPS: A lot, when you compare it to the carbon footprint of the average American over a full year… By far the biggest contributor, the segment in blue, the United States. President Bush is actually visiting six countries on this trip. And with Air Force One, a separate plane for reporters, others ferrying around his limos and helicopters and smaller planes needed for some legs, US presidential trips are by far the most carbon expensive.
The CDC planes
In a new twist in the trans-Atlantic health scare triggered by tuberculosis patient Andrew Speaker, a Senate committee will hold hearings Wednesday to find out why the CDC didn’t use one of its emergency jets to bring Speaker home from Europe.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has three private jets to use in case of an emergency. They cost $7 million a year for taxpayers, and in the last year, they were used nine times. [...]
The CDC now admits that the doctor who first talked to [Andrew] Speaker “may have said a plane was not an option” because he did not know it was. Officials say that they were considering the use of a CDC plane—or even a military plane—but that Speaker left too quickly.
The CDC planes cost $3,000 an hour to operate and are usually only used to carry CDC staff to emergency situations, but they have been used for other business. One was used regularly for political travel by Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, until Congress started asking questions.
So the rates quoted to Andrew would have gotten him 33 to 47 hours of a CDC plane. You’d have thought that even George Bush’s government would have been able to get to Italy, pick him up and get him back to Denver in that amount of time.
Ordering the chaos of abundance that surrounds us
The typological array’s inherent ability to depict prevalence and repetition make it the perfect technique for examining the excess, redundancy, and meaningless freedom of our current age of consumption. Part of my intent with this work is to answer the question implied by the title of Robert Adams’s book What We Bought: If there is some kind of big sellout occuring, what are we getting in the deal?
The typological form achieves an uncanny synergy and resonance with this subject matter because it mimics the mental images I suspect many of us form as a way of ordering the chaos of abundance that surrounds us. We can’t help but form in our heads lists, groups and categories based on product, brand, price point, style, market segment, country of origin, etc.
To see one of these turned into a group of images lined up together can be unnerving, though. In print, they confront us in a way never possible when they’re just in our heads. We are presented with order, and while it is often an absurd, seemingly pointless order, it is one that we recognize immediately.
Via Duncan Rawlinson.
Piling on: WHO faults US health authorities
Top officials of the World Health Organization yesterday criticized U.S. health authorities’ handling of the case of a 31-year-old Atlanta lawyer with a dangerous strain of tuberculosis who defied official requests that he not take a long airplane flight.
At the least, local health officials should have told airlines to keep Andrew Speaker from boarding a plane once they concluded he was likely to defy advice and go ahead with plans to fly to Europe to be married. [...]
Georgia health department officials said yesterday they were advised by the CDC—the federal government’s chief public health agency—that local health officials should consider asking airlines to prevent Speaker from boarding a plane.
The CDC also offered two other suggestions to Georgia health officers on May 11 in response to the state’s request for advice. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection service could be notified to stop him, and health authorities in Greece, where he was to be married, could be told that he was coming their way and posed a possible health threat.
Taka Wiley, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Division of Public Health, said her department passed that advice on to the health department in Fulton County, where Speaker lived. She said she did not know whether county officials acted on any of the CDC’s suggestions. The state did not pursue them, she said, and did not know that Speaker had left the country until May 17—five days after his flight.
I still expect Gerberding will go. If the Homeland Security Admin issue takes center stage (an error, I think) she may get to go quietly after the brouhaha dies down.