Tag: regulation

So, how difficult is it to own a gun in Japan?

Applicants first must go to their local police station and declare their intent. After a lecture and a written test comes range training, then a background check. Police likely will even talk to the applicant’s neighbors to see if he or she is known to have a temper, financial troubles or an unstable household. A doctor must sign a form saying the applicant has not been institutionalized and is not epileptic, depressed, schizophrenic, alcoholic or addicted to drugs.

Gun owners must tell the police where in the home the gun will be stored. It must be kept under lock and key, must be kept separate from ammunition, and preferably chained down. It’s legal to transport a gun in the trunk of a car to get to one of the country’s few shooting ranges, but if the driver steps away from the vehicle and gets caught, that’s a violation.

There are 120,000 registered gun owners and more than 400,000 registered weapons, yet the most current official statistics from 2011 show that 7 people were killed by guns while 9 were killed by scissors. Obviously Japan needs to enact a Constitutional Amendment outlawing the sale of scissors.

First, anyone who wants to get a gun must demonstrate a valid reason why they should be allowed to do so. Under longstanding Japanese policy, there is no good reason why any civilian should have a handgun, so – aside from a few dozen accomplished competitive shooters – they are completely banned.

Virtually all handgun-related crime is attributable to gangsters, who obtain them on the black market. But such crime is extremely rare and when it does occur, police crack down hard on whatever gang is involved, so even gangsters see it as a last-ditch option.

There is no good reason why a civilian should own a handgun.

Obama’s comprehensive federal regulatory review.

It appears Obama is gearing up for 2012 fundraising in earnest, offering a triple-threat of proposals favored by big business: first by promoting attacks on the social safety net, then by hiring two Wall Street mugs as chief-of-staff and economic adviser, and now by comprehensively reviewing and slashing federal regulatory “burdens” on business.

Please note Obama’s hack-kneed genuflection to the free market’s virtuous fountains of “dazzling ideas,” “path-breaking products,” and “vibrant entrepreneurialism,” as he simultaneously derides “outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive” with “undue interference,” from a “patchwork of over-lapping rules” and legislative “tinkering,” that need to be “rooted out” when they “conflict,” “are not worth the cost, or that are just plain dumb.”   These are standard right-wing talking points.

However, the cognitive friction generated between Obama’s obtuse insistence that “one of the reasons the free market has worked…” and his acknowledgement of the collapse of the financial markets in the next breath, while forgetting about the BP blow-out of the entire Gulf of Mexico, body-checked the entire order of the universe light years to the right and vastly closer to heat death.

Listen to Obama’s disingenuous logic to get a taste of the crap he plans on feeding us in the State of the Union:

For instance, the FDA has long considered saccharin, the artificial sweetener, safe for people to consume. Yet for years, the EPA made companies treat saccharin like other dangerous chemicals. Well, if it goes in your coffee, it is not hazardous waste. The EPA wisely eliminated this rule last month.

Let’s change a few words, while retaining the core, business-friendly “logic:”

The FDA has long considered thimerosal, the mercury-based vaccine preservative, safe for people to consume. Yet for years, the EPA made companies treat mercury like other dangerous chemicals. Well, if it goes in your bloodstream, it is not hazardous waste.

So, yeah, by all means, feed all the mercury you want to your daughters, because if you inject it into your butt-cheeks (under doctor’s orders, no less!), then it cannot be hazardous.  Amirite?  

Similarly, the use of radioactive isotopes in medicine to improve health outcomes, or ionizing radiation used in airports to improve “homeland security,” proves that radiation is not hazardous.  In fact, it is beneficial!  It’s “dumb” to regulate something beneficial.  The president’s argument is simply stupid, if not devious, and indicates how cunning and deceitful the regulatory review will be.

When the president says he wants “a more affordable, less intrusive means to the same [regulatory] ends,” he is simply indicating what neoliberal deregulatory yahoos and cowboys have meant since time immemorial: The federal regulatory environment will become “leaner and meaner,” for businesses and consumers, respectively, until “nothing stands in their way.”  

Of Mice and Men, Chimera, and the Stem Cell Issue

Chimera (genetics)

From Wikipedia

Chimeras in research

In biological research, chimeras are artificially produced by physically mixing cells from two different organisms. Chimeras are not hybrids, […] (like a donkey and a horse) that form a single zygote that will develop as much as it can (in this case into a live mule […]);

in comparison, chimeras are the physical mixing of cells from two independent zygotes:

for example, one from the donkey and one from the horse. “Chimera” is a broad term and is often applied to many different types of mixing of cells from two different species.

Some chimeras can result in the eventual development of an adult animal composed of cells from both donors, which may be of different species – for example, in 1984 a chimeric geep was produced by combining embryos from a goat and a sheep.[8]


Mouse chimeras  …

Reid puts Energy Bill on Ice: with a Chilling Effect on Wind and Solar?

The Energy Bill has been shelved for now — another Price exacted by the Do Nothing Party.

Senate Halts Effort to Cap CO2 Emissions

Democrats Forgo Centerpiece of President Obama’s Energy Plan, as Cap-and-Trade Fails to Lure Broad Support in Congress

By Stephen Power, Wall Street Journal — July 23, 2010

Mr. Reid refused to declare the idea dead. But Thursday’s decision called into question when or whether any legislated cap on greenhouse-gas emissions would reach Mr. Obama’s desk.

Now, businesses, such as wind-turbine makers, that had bet on a greenhouse-gas provision to make alternatives to coal and oil more cost-competitive must recalculate how long it might take for that to happen.

[…] the solar industry is growing at the rate of about 40% a year in terms of electrical power installed and is likely to continue to grow, said Ron Kenedi, vice president of Sharp Corp.’s Sharp Solar Energy Solutions Group in Huntington Beach, Calif.

We need some new Senators (at least 60), who actually care about Energy Independence — enough to act.

$$$ 10 MILLION DOLLAR REWARD $$$ for Sarah Palin to eat a ‘Drill here, drill now’ Shrimp Cocktail

Full title:  $$$ 10 MILLION DOLLAR REWARD $$$ for Sarah Palin to eat a ‘Drill here, drill now’ Shrimp Cocktail announced! (With a nod to Chris Hedges)

(A ‘Drill here, drill now’ Shrimp Cocktail is one made from a delightful blend of authentic, freshly killed Gulf of Mexico shrimp, Gulf Crude, and BP-approved dispersants. All served in a decorative shrimp cocktail glass, with an anti-corrosive long spoon.)

I’m pleased to announce a $$$ 10 MILLION DOLLAR REWARD $$$ for Sarah Palin to demonstrate her faith in her “Drill here, drill now” religion! For a woman like Sarah Palin, who would never recommend such a course of action unless her it was also a rational belief, based on knowledge of the state of regulation of the oil industry, and knowledge of their true liability, it’s important to demonstrate that all her deeds are consistent with those beliefs. After all, she might be a candidate for POTUS, and we certainly wouldn’t want a hypocrite for POTUS, would we?

We want Sarah Palin to eat a Drill Here, Drill Now shrimp cocktail, so as to inspire the residents of the US and Mexico with her deeply held faith; you know, that she really was right, after all. Yes, in spite of the spin that the liberal media is giving that silly Gull spill. After all, some folks in the liberal media think that the livelihoods of people in the Gulf – fishermen, tourist trade, etc., are going to be RUINED. And in an economy which is dipping back into recession, at that. (For which we can thank Obama more than Palin, but that’s off topic, here.) And others actually think that dumping toxic dispersants might kill humans who eat fish which absorb chemicals.

What is wrong with these people? Don’t they know about the wonders of the free market? Don’t they have faith in America, and in the free enterprise system? When they read “The Jungle” in high school (probably inserted into the curiculum by America-hating liberals, BTW), didn’t they realize that this book is complete fiction, and the Meat Inspection Act that it inspired was just because of the hysteria created by the liberal, America-hating media?

Because of the dangers of socialized first aid squads, when Sarah is richly rewarded for demonstrating her failth in America’s greatness, we can promise not to call any socialized first aid squad if she has any adverse reaction to our special shrimp cocktail. No!, we’ll let Sarah’s private healthcare plan deal with any tummy ache she may develop, so Sarah, please bring your health insurance contact info with you, along with your deeply held faith.

So, to Sarah Palin I say: eat our special ‘Drill here, drill now’ shrimp cocktail, and claim your $10 million dollars!!! Inspire us with your deeds, not just your words!!!

BP, the government, or Phillippe Cousteau, Jr.? Who would you believe?

Phillippe Cousteau, Jr., the grandson of French explorer and ecologist Jacques-Yves Cousteau:

BP’s oil spill is humanity’s latest strike against against the World’s oceans, according to Phillippe Cousteau Jr., an explorer and host for Animal Planet and Planet Green.

Phillipe Cousteau, Jr., actually dove into the oil, dispersants of this BP soup mix.

Phillippe Cousteau, Jr. was on “Real Time with Bill Maher” this past Friday and spoke of what the country’s worst in oil spill in history will mean for oceans that are already suffering from pollution and overfishing.

This video is not embeddable — see it here.

Philippe Cousteau, Jr., the ecologist grandson of Jacques, joined Bill Maher on Real Time last night to give his assessment of the Gulf of Mexico, where he has been working to help clean up the oil washing ashore from the the open offshore oil well. While he seemed confident that there was a way to fix the problem, he stressed that the ocean ecosystem will not fix itself. . . . .

Maher asked about the situation in Louisiana, where Cousteau had been working for the past weeks- his answer was not incredibly optimistic. He did have a direct answer for people who believe the ocean is strong and healthy enough to fix itself:

“I could cut my leg off, I could cut my arm off, I could gouge my eye out, I’d still probably survive, but not very well, and that’s what we’re doing to the ocean. It’s the life support system of this planet. We’ve been dumping in it, we’ve been polluting it, we’ve been destroying it for decades, and we’re essentially maiming ourselves… ”

Speaking about massive annual dead zones just off the U.S. Coast, Cousteau lets us know that we have exceeded the tipping point:

It’s basically a giant Experiment: Corexit 9500, Oil, just Add Water Column

Cool, being a life-long Science fan, I have always liked Experiments …

But I generally prefer those of the ‘Controlled Experiment’ variety.  Those fly-by-night Variety, like combining a jet of Hair Spray with a tiny Lighter flame, always left me a little frightened.

Funny, I’m starting to feel that way again …

As the oil gushes from the broken well head at the sea floor, Rader says it has the potential to contaminate each layer of the water column that, “directly exposes those animals to toxicity, at the surface including the very sensitive surface zones where not only sea turtles and marine mammals and sea birds can be oiled, but also where the highways for fish larvae exist. And then as it rains back into the abyss over a much wider area carrying toxicants back into the deep sea where ancient corals and other sensitive ecosystems exist.”

One response strategy has been to use dispersants or anti-freeze-like chemicals to break the oil up into smaller globules.


It is a choice, he says, between two bad options. While the chemicals may protect birds and other wildlife by dissipating the slick before it reaches shore, their toxicity in the Gulf could harm fish and other marine life.

Where does the Buck Stop, when it comes to BP Oil?

There used to be a day when the ‘Blame Game’ was just NOT an option. There used to be a time, WHEN Action was called for, Action was taken.  

My oh my, how times have changed.

“The buck stops here” is a phrase that was popularized by U.S. President Harry S. Truman, who kept a sign with that phrase on his desk in the Oval Office. (Footage from Jimmy Carter’sAddress to the Nation on Energy” shows the sign still on the desk during Carter’s administration.) The phrase refers to the fact that the President has to make the decisions and accept the ultimate responsibility for those decisions.


MMS rubber-stamped BP’s drilling plan & Assurance of No Eco Risk

US oil regulator ‘gave in to BP’ over rig safety

Firm allowed to drill without devising plan to cope with blow-out

By David Usborne, independent.uk, US Editor — Friday, 7 May 2010

As crude oil continued to pour out of control into the Gulf of Mexico yesterday, questions were being asked over the relationship between BP and regulators in Washington amid allegations that the company was allowed to drill the deepwater well without filing plans for how it would cope with a blow-out like the one now in hand.

Futures Exchange warns: That $100 Oil = $4 a gallon Gasoline

Crude Oil Futures: Crude Oil Tops $100 for 2018 on Threat From BP Spill

Energy Markets

Margot Habiby, Bloomberg – May 5, 2010

Crude oil futures for delivery in 2018 surged above $100 a barrel this week as the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico led the government to consider a halt in future drilling.

The crude oil futures contract dated furthest into the future jumped after President Barack Obama said no new offshore drilling leases should be issued until a “thorough review” of the April 20 rig explosion. […]

Crude oil futures for delivery in December 2018 rose to $100.38 a barrel May 3 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest settlement since Jan. 20. […]

You may not pay today, but we will pay tomorrow,” Phil Flynn, vice president of research at PFGBest in Chicago, said in a report.


That $100 oil equates to pretty close to $4 a gallon gasoline” in the U.S., said Bruce Bullock, director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “We know when it hit $3 a gallon two years ago drivers started to get concerned, and at $4 a gallon demand evaporated.”

BP’s containment problems, may go further than Oil.

BP’s containment problem is unprecedented

The company must stop a relentless gush of oil nearly a mile below the surface, in a situation that hasn’t been dealt with before.

By Jill Leovy, LATimes — April 30, 2010

The problem with the April 20 spill is that it isn’t really a spill: It’s a gush, like an underwater oil volcano. A hot column of oil and gas is spurting into freezing, black waters nearly a mile down, where the pressure nears a ton per inch, impossible for divers to endure. Experts call it a continuous, round-the-clock calamity, unlike a leaking tanker, which might empty in hours or days.


And “everything is bigger and more difficult the deeper you go,” said Andy Bowen, a research specialist who works with undersea robotics at the Woods Hole center. “Fighting gravity is tough. It increases loads. You need bigger winches, bigger cables, bigger ships.”

An analogy, he said, is the difference between construction work on the ground versus at the top of a mile-high skyscraper.

Gee … sounds kind of Dangerous …

Derivatives: An Investment on Nothing!

Warren Buffet gave a prophetic pronouncement back in 2003 about the Derivatives market, seeing the exponential dangers of this “paper-thin” type of investment.

Buffet did not mince words. He called them “financial weapons of mass destruction“:

Buffett warns on investment ‘time bomb’

BBC – 4 March, 2003

The derivatives market has exploded in recent years, with investment banks selling billions of dollars worth of these investments to clients as a way to off-load or manage market risk.

But Mr Buffett argues that such highly complex financial instruments are time bombs and “financial weapons of mass destruction” that could harm not only their buyers and sellers, but the whole economic system.


Some derivatives contracts, Mr Buffett says, appear to have been devised by “madmen”.  […]


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