Daily Archives: January 20, 2010

Wednesday Weirdness III: GOP’s Scott Brown wins Massachusetts Senate seat

Democrats are stunned at the defeat of Martha Coakley in Massachusetts last night, people have a strange and peculiar way of voting against their own best interests once again.

LA Times- Reporting from Los Angeles and Boston – In a stunning blow to Democrats, Republican Scott Brown on Tuesday seized the Massachusetts Senate seat once held by Edward M. Kennedy, handing the GOP the crucial vote that could thwart President Obama’s far-reaching agenda, beginning with healthcare reform.

More broadly, Brown’s epic upset signals the start of what could be an exceedingly tough year nationwide for Democrats, who are fighting to hang on to their majorities in the House and Senate in a political climate that seems to grow more hostile by the day.

“The effort to pass Obama’s legislative agenda has grown more difficult, a flood of new Democratic congressional retirements may follow, and Republicans will certainly feel emboldened to expand their list of Democratic targets for the fall election,” said Rhodes Cook, an independent campaign analyst.

With 99% of the vote counted, Brown, a state senator, was leading Democratic state Atty. Gen. Martha Coakley 52% to 47% — a lopsidedness that only added to the humiliation for Democrats, who held the seat for well over half a century.

The scene Tuesday night at Brown’s victory party in Boston was exultant. Shouts of “Shock the World” and “Yes, We Can” — Obama’s campaign rallying cry — rang through the packed ballroom at the historic Park Plaza Hotel.

“Tonight, the independent voice of Massachusetts has spoken,” Brown told the cheering crowd. “This will be the beginning of an election year filled with many surprises. When there’s trouble in Massachusetts, rest assured there’s trouble everywhere.”

The most immediate problem for Democrats is keeping alive Obama’s attempt at a healthcare overhaul — something Kennedy called “the cause of my life.”

Read more >>> Here

Leave a comment

Filed under Martha Coakley, Massachusetts, Scott Brown, senate seat, wednesday weirdness

Wednesday Weirdness II: Scientists say dolphins should be treated as ‘non-human persons’

We always knew that dolphines were special – now we know why!

Dolphins have been declared the world’s second most intelligent creatures after humans, with scientists suggesting they are so bright that they should be treated as “non-human persons”.

Studies into dolphin behaviour have highlighted how similar their communications are to those of humans and that they are brighter than chimpanzees. These have been backed up by anatomical research showing that dolphin brains have many key features associated with high intelligence.

The researchers argue that their work shows it is morally unacceptable to keep such intelligent animals in amusement parks or to kill them for food or by accident when fishing. Some 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises die in this way each year.

“Many dolphin brains are larger than our own and second in mass only to the human brain when corrected for body size,” said Lori Marino, a zoologist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, who has used magnetic resonance imaging scans to map the brains of dolphin species and compare them with those of primates.

The neuroanatomy suggests psychological continuity between humans and dolphins and has profound implications for the ethics of human-dolphin interactions,” she added.

Dolphins have long been recognised as among the most intelligent of animals but many researchers had placed them below chimps, which some studies have found can reach the intelligence levels of three-year-old children. Recently, however, a series of behavioural studies has suggested that dolphins, especially species such as the bottlenose, could be the brighter of the two. The studies show how dolphins have distinct personalities, a strong sense of self and can think about the future.

Read more >>>Here

Leave a comment

Filed under Dolphins, Intelligence, non-human persons

Wednesday Weirdness: Haiti’s voodoo priests object to mass burials

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – Haiti’s voodoo priests are objecting to anonymous mass burials as an improper way to handle the tens of thousands of dead from the earthquake — and have taken their complaint to President Rene Preval.

Dumping the dead in hurriedly excavated mass graves without proper rites is seen as desecration in a country where many believe in zombies — dead bodies brought back to life by supernatural forces who could persecute the living.

Haitian officials say so far at least 50,000 bodies have been dumped in mass graves outside the shattered capital, Port-au-Prince, in what they view as the most efficient way to dispose of the fast-rotting corpses from Tuesday’s disaster.

“It is not in our culture to bury people in such a fashion,” Haiti’s main voodoo leader, Max Beauvoir, said in a meeting with Preval.

Local radio is broadcasting messages for Haitians to put bodies recovered from under the rubble of collapsed buildings on the street for collection by garbage and other trucks.

“The conditions in which bodies are being buried is not respecting the dignity of these people,” Beauvoir, who was educated at City College of New York and the Sorbonne in Paris, said in the Preval meeting this weekend.

More than half of Haiti’s 9 million people are believed to practice voodoo, a religion with roots in Africa. Some 80 percent also are Catholic and most Haitians see no conflict between the two.

Five days after the earthquake, scores of untouched corpses, now bloated and stinking, remain on streets. Red Cross officials have repeatedly said no one should fear disease from dead bodies after the earthquake that is believed to have killed up to 200,000 people.

“I don’t understand why everyone is worried about a disease risk,” Haitian Red Cross President Michaelle Amedee Gedeon told Reuters. “Do we have cholera in Haiti? No. Do we have the plague in Haiti? No. Rodents, water will not get contaminated. The only bad effect from the corpses is the smell.”

On Sunday, more bodies appeared overnight, with locals saying they were thieves burned and shot by lynch-mobs, gangs and police. They said about 20 people were killed like that.

Leave a comment

Filed under earthquake, Haiti, Voodoo