In case you missed
9-11 fund compensations based on earning potential
A new book by Washington
lawyer Kenneth R. Feinberg, who headed the 9-11 fund to compensate
the victims of the tragedy and their families, said that survivors
were paid based on the earning potential of the victim, according
to an article in the New York Times.
“By law, he was
required to calibrate awards according to the financial worth of
the deceased victim,” the Times said. “… telling
the wife of a fireman, for example, that her husband was worth less
than a stockbroker.”
“What is Life Worth: The Unprecedented Effort to Compensate
the Victims of 9/11,” is a firsthand account of the difficulties
he faced creating such a compensation system for an unprecedented
tragedy. In the book he urges that if Congress decides to hand out
awards in the event of a terrorist attack, however, it should make
the same payment to everyone, regardless of income.
the Incalculable in the Aftermath of Sept. 11,” New York Times,
June 15, 2005.
GOP judge compares administration to “Nazis”
A candidate for Chief Justice of the North Carolina
Supreme Court said last week she will leave the Republican Party,
likening the Bush administration to “Nazis.” Longtime
Republican Rachel Lea Hunter also harshly criticized the federal
government’s occupation of Iraq, saying that those who disagree
with the administration are branded as “traitors.”
Hunter also defended Republican Congressman Walter
Jones, who was attacked by pro-Bush Republicans after calling for
U.S. troops to be brought home from Iraq. Jones had called for “French
Fries” to be renamed “freedom fries” at the start
of the war, to snub European nations who did not support the Bush
administration, but turned against the war recently after talking
with returning veterans.
“…the administration in Washington
will brook no criticism of its policies,” Hunter said in her
statement. “So it has sent out its dutiful attack dogs to
shoot the messenger. What have we heard? That Walter Jones is a
member of the lunatic fringe. That Walter Jones should resign …
What I find disturbing is that we are criticized for nothing more
than the exercise of our Constitutional rights. Those who disagree
with any aspect of the administration are branded as traitors and
must be silenced.”
“Republican Candidate Calls Bush Administration
‘Nazis.’” Lincoln Tribune, June 23, 2005.
2 charged for murder of 74-year-old conservationist
Two Brazilians have been indicted in the United
States for the murder of a 74-year-old American nun in the Amazon,
the Justice Department said on Wednesday.
On Feb. 12, Rayfran das Neves Sales and Clodoaldo
Carlos Batista allegedly killed Sister Dorothy Stang, a Catholic
nun and 30-year missionary who worked for greater rights for farmers
in Brazil and against the destruction of the rainforest. The accused
men allegedly killed Stang at the behest of their boss, a wealthy
Brazilian landowner Stang was fighting, Justice Department officials
The indictment said that in the early morning
hours of Feb. 12, the defendants approached Stang on a dirt road
and shot her at least three times, killing her. Officials said the
men had been offered the equivalent of $20,000 to commit the murder.
“U.S. indicts two Brazilians in nun’s
murder,” Reuters News Service, June 22, 2005.
Japan to promote market for whaleburgers
The Japanese government has introduced a new
public school program to train a generation of students to eat whales,
Britain’s Sunday Telegraph reported June 26.
Almost 60,000 whale meals were served at 280
schools in one province during the program’s first three months,
and education chiefs are considering nationalizing the program.
Although the Japanese government maintains that its annual kill
of 440 whales is primarily for research purposes, the school program
encourages students to make whale a regular part of their diet.
Whale was once a regular fixture on school lunches
throughout Japan until the International Whaling Commission banned
commercial whaling in 1982, in response to massive worldwide pressure.
Now that Japan has reintroduced whale, Japanese officials said the
government may abandon the IWC.
At Naga high school, most students had never
eaten whale meat until its inclusion on the school menu. Fried whale
has proved the most popular so far, but schools are also serving
whale schnitzel, whale meat on spaghetti, whale meatball soup, sweet
and sour whale and whale hamburger.
“Pupils taught to eat whales,”
Sunday Herald, June 26, 2005.
Report: Homeland Security
A federal audit has found that as much as $303
million of the $741 million spent to assess and hire airport passenger
screeners after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was instead
spent on CEO salaries, shady business dealings and Starbucks coffee,
the Washington Post reported June 30.
The audit paints a rare portrait of how officials
at a newly created agency lost control of spending in the pell-mell
rush to hire 60,000 screeners to meet a one-year congressional deadline.
In addition to hiring more screeners, airports across the country
also spent the funds on:
$526.95 for one phone call from the Hyatt Regency
O’Hare in Chicago to Iowa City.
$1,180 for 20 gallons of Starbucks Coffee at
the Santa Clara Marriott in California.
$8,100 for elevator operators at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan.
$5.4 million claimed for nine months’ salary
for the chief executive of an “event logistics” firm
that received a contract before it was incorporated and went out
of business after the contract ended.
“The High Cost of a Rush to Security,”
Washington Post, June 30, 2005.
Americans getting shorter as inequality increases
Height is a good measure of nutrition—and,
some anthropologists say, a culture’s democracy. Historians
and archeologists usually find ruling elites of any society to be
taller and healthier than regular people, and some conclude that
a more egalitarian nation will tend to produce taller masses.
“If you take a dollar from the richest
and give it to the poor,” anthropologist Richard Steckel said
in a recent article in MacLean’s magazine, “heights
Early Americans, with their freshly farmed topsoil
and ample game, averaged two inches taller than Europeans, a fact
remarked upon by Thomas Jefferson and others.
As average Americans’ standard of living
has declined, however, so has our height relative to other industrialized
nations. Nations with universal health coverage, protein-rich diets
and relatively low income inequality—like Canada, Australia
and European nations—are continuing to grow as Americans shrink.
The tallest people in the world are now the Dutch, which Steckel
attributes to their having one of the most egalitarian societies
in the world.
“A short history of height,” Maclean’s,
March 31, 2005.