Saturday, June 05, 2010

Slow news day links

# From the Environmental Desk, there's the ongoing bleeding sore of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Big Picture has some bloody depressing shots of over-lubricated flora and saturated fauna. Latest news is that the head of BP is passing the clean-up over to the US government, partly to stem the Brit-bashing. Strangely enough, no-one has had a bad word to say for ages about the other culprit in all of this; Halliburton.

# Boing Boing points to a leaked BP document showing that the company knew exactly what kind of fallout a leak would have. The part that really creeped me out was:
Corexit oil dispersant toxicity has not been tested on ecosystems, according to the Oil Spill Response Plan. "Ecotoxilogical effects: No toxicity studies have been conducted on this product."
# Meanwhile in Guatemala, there's a bloody great sinkhole which has appeared. It's a fairly good chance that neglected stormwater pipes assisted the subterranean implosion.

# With these man-made disasters in mind, it's worthwhile revisiting Cracked's 6 Natural Disasters That Were Caused By Human Stupidity. Top of the list is the tale of Centralia, Pennsylvania. A rubbish burnoff that started in May 1962 is still burning to this day. Most of the town was paid to move away, a bit like Springfield in The 200th Simpsons episode Trash of the Titans. Wikipedia goes on to mention that the government has revoked the town's postcode, and that the fire is expected to burn out 250 years from now.

# Moving on from stupidity to cupidity, Q&A producer Tim Watkin calls out John Key as a wimp on the Great Grey Gorilla of boomer superannuation. There's a lively thread, with Public Address' Graeme Edgeler highlighting how loose NZ's super policy is compared to its introduction. Point Two, the requirement that recipients must have lived continuously in the country for 25 years beforehand contrasts sharply with today's policy, where one doesn't even have to reside in the country to collect it. I think it's a 10 year minimum residency requirement now.

# Which still won't help Rocky Horror Show creator Richard O'Brien get permanent residency here, and fair go too. He hasn't lived in NZ for 46 years. No disrespect, but you're way too late mate. NZ isn't the Catholic Church. We don't accept recantations of kiwiness on the near-death bed.

# In domestic drug news, there's the latest on the Switched on Gardener raids, with talk of asset freezes and counter-litigation:
The company director said he understood why the Government had introduced the civil forfeiture law, and had no problem with his house being frozen.

"You can't have people accused of major crimes selling their assets off. But I'm not guilty of any crimes and I don't intend to sell my home."

However, he said, he had instructed his lawyers to apply to get the $189,000 back.

"We are going to fight that. The bank had instructed me to use that money to prop up the business.
"If I can't get that money and we go bust, then we win the court case, we'll be going after the Crown for our lost earnings."
# The government is rejoicing in the 101 convictions under the new drug driving laws. This is in spite of yet more research (controlled, double-blind, placebo, the works) demonstrating that smoking marijuana doesn't affect driving performance.

# But stupid driving laws are very much in fashion. Mobile phones bans, tight control of speeding offences, blah blah blah. David Farrar calls it naked revenue gathering. Lindsay Mitchell agrees, with a personal impact statement thrown in for good measure.

# And finally, a bit of light-hearted Geopolitik from The Economist. HT Inquiring Mind: