Saturday, September 4, 2010

Boy Scouts strike deal with abuse victims to end lawsuits.

I don't trust any organization that obsessed with different types of knots. From Philanthropy Today:
Ending a long-running legal dispute, the Boy Scouts of America has a reached a settlement of undisclosed terms with six men who say they were sexually abused by a scout leader as boys, says The New York Times.

The agreement follows a jury decision in a case filed by one of the men, Kerry Lewis, in which the Boy Scouts were ordered to pay him $19.9-million in damages. A former assistant troop leader named in the case, Timur Dykes, admitted during the trial that he had molested Mr. Lewis when he was in the scout program.

The judge in the case ordered the parties involved in all six lawsuits to participate in mediation to try to reach a resolution.

The Boy Scouts of America said the organization since has put safeguards in place to ensure the safety of the youths who participate its programs. Deron Smith, a Scouts spokesman, said the charity was “deeply saddened by the events in these cases.”

Ryanair considers removing co-pilots to save money, says stewardesses can emergency land planes.

Ryanair is dangerously insane. From Orange:
Airline pilots have accused Ryanair's Michael O'Leary of endangering passengers' safety after he called for co-pilots to be replaced with air stewardesses.

Dismissing the vital role of second pilots, Mr O'Leary suggested money could be saved by getting rid of them all together.

If the pilot were to run into problems he suggested an air stewardess, trained to land the plane, could step in.

However, his flippant comments have led to outcry among pilots, who claim the decision would put passengers' lives at risk.

The British Airline Pilots' Association said the move would be "unwise and unsafe" with one senior pilot going as far as to say it would be a "recipe for business disaster."

The Ryanair boss, who has headed the airline for 17 years, made the comments in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek magazine.

"Really, you only need one pilot. Let's take out the second pilot. Let the bloody computer fly it," he said.

"If the pilot has an emergency, he rings the bell, he calls her in, she could take over."

A BALPA spokesman condemned the comments, saying: "Are there no lengths to which he will not go to get publicity?

"His suggestion is unwise, unsafe and the public will be horrified."

A senior pilot, who wished to remain anonymous, also criticised the move, saying: "The public have no wish to be flown at cheap rate into their graves."

He said that although Mr O'Leary may think "he will be laughing all the way to the bank", he would in fact see a worried public "desert him".

"In reality, it would be a recipe for business disaster, with the public deserting the airline in droves."

This is not the first time the Ryanair boss has landed himself in hot water with controversial comments, deigned to create maximum publicity for the airline.

Mr O'Leary has already suggested the airline reduce the number of toilets on board and make them coin operated to bring in more money.

He also put forward plans for stand-up space on flights, an idea that was rubbished by the European Aviation Safety Agency.


Dorky: Interesting NYT profile on the "real" William Shatner.

Aww: Slideshow of cute, angry otters.

Politics: Al Franken finally coming out of his shell.

Interesting: Illegal immigration to the US has actually plummeted in the last 10 years.

Lame: War profiteers Blackwater created 30 fake shell companies to rake in millions in government contracts.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Happy National Welsh Rarebit Day!

Happy National Welsh Rarebit Day to our British readers and other fans (?) of toast covered in a savory blend of melted cheese, dark beer, and mustard!

Universe not created by God, says Stephen Hawking.

Not to argue with the world's smartest living person, but I'm pretty sure an old man on a cloud made everything. From The Guardian:
God did not create the universe, the man who is arguably Britain's most famous living scientist says in a forthcoming book.

In the new work, The Grand Design, Professor Stephen Hawking argues that the Big Bang, rather than occurring following the intervention of a divine being, was inevitable due to the law of gravity.

In his 1988 book, A Brief History of Time, Hawking had seemed to accept the role of God in the creation of the universe. But in the new text, co-written with American physicist Leonard Mlodinow, he said new theories showed a creator is "not necessary".

The Grand Design, an extract of which appears in the Times today, sets out to contest Sir Isaac Newton's belief that the universe must have been designed by God as it could not have been created out of chaos.

"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing," he writes. "Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.

"It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going."

In the forthcoming book, published on 9 September, Hawking says that M-theory, a form of string theory, will achieve this goal: "M-theory is the unified theory Einstein was hoping to find," he theorises.

"The fact that we human beings – who are ourselves mere collections of fundamental particles of nature – have been able to come this close to an understanding of the laws governing us and our universe is a great triumph."

Hawking says the first blow to Newton's belief that the universe could not have arisen from chaos was the observation in 1992 of a planet orbiting a star other than our Sun. "That makes the coincidences of our planetary conditions – the single sun, the lucky combination of Earth-sun distance and solar mass – far less remarkable, and far less compelling as evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings," he writes.

Major GOP donor is US's biggest human trafficker.

From Raw Story:
A business owner indicted for the human trafficking of 400 laborers from Thailand is a frequent donor to the Republican Party and recently waged war against other companies involved with hiring illegal immigrants.

The Associated Press reports that according to the allegations, "the recruiters lured the workers with false promises of lucrative jobs, then confiscated their passports, failed to honor their employment contracts and threatened to deport them."

The FBI considers this the largest human-trafficking case in US history, and those indicted face maximum sentences of five to 70 years in prison, the Justice Department confirmed to AP.

The man at the helm is Mordechai Orian, 45, President and CEO of the Los Angeles-based Global Horizons Manpower Inc., a labor contracting group. Five of his affiliates and contractors were also charged in the scheme.

Orian gave tens of thousands of dollars to the National Republican Congressional Committee on eight occasions between 2004 and 2006, according to the election records database Newsmeat. His largest contribution of $11,000 came on July 13, 2006. Orian also gave $2000 to the GOP-affiliated Restore America PAC twice in that period.