Daily Archives: January 17, 2012

Italy to Drop Tons of Poison on Montecristo to Kill Rats

Rattus rattus English: Black rat at London Zoo.

Image via Wikipedia

We are all familiar with the island of Montecristo from the famous novel by Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo. If you go to the uninhabited island, however, you are likely to find not the treasure from the book rats. There is one rat for every square yard of island. The problem is so severe that the Italian military is planning to bomb the island to kill the black rat population and save the island.

The black rats on the island off the coast of Tuscany and Corsica were introduced from boats and rapidly bred.

Roughly 1000 tourists visit the four-square mile island every year.

The military will drop twenty-six tons of poison pellets on the island. Putting aside the environmental damage that such poison could cause the sea and island from runoff and contamination, what will happen to tens of thousands of dead rats? What will the effect be on the other animal species on the island?

Via Jonathan Turley.

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Five More Bodies Found in Ship’s Wreck

English: The "Costa Concordia" in Pi...

Image via Wikipedia

Rescue crews have located five more bodies in the wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, bringing to eleven the number of people killed after it ran aground near the island of Giglio, Italy, on Friday, the Giglio mayor said Tuesday. Several people still are missing.

The Costa Concordia hit rocks Friday night just off Italy’s western coast, leading to what passengers described as a chaotic and surreal scene as they rushed to evacuate.

There were roughly 4,200 people on the Costa Concordia when it ran aground: about 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members.

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Wiki Going Dark, Because Nothing Gets Washington’s Attention Like a Downed Website

Image representing Wikipedia as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

Online protests against two Congressional bills that aim to curtail copyright violations on the Internet are gathering momentum.

Wikipedia will shut on Wednesday to protest the bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), which have attracted opposition from the technology industry. Opponents say provisions in the legislation, including those that force search engines and Internet service providers to block access to Web sites that offer or link to copyrighted material, would stifle innovation, enable censorship, and tamper with the livelihood of Internet businesses.

Since December, 800 members of Wikipedia have been debating whether the English-version of the site should take part in a blackout.

On Monday, Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, tweeted: “Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday!”

Mr. Wales said Wikipedia hoped to send a message to lawmakers that people who work on the Internet and use it were not happy about the potential effects of the bills. He said that if passed, the bills could censor what information and links that sites like Wikipedia would be permitted to publish.

Wikipedia will go dark just after midnight on Wednesday. Visitors who try to reach the English-version of Wikipedia will be greeted with information about the bills and details about how to reach their representatives.

Wikipedia’s protest will join several other Web sites, including Reddit and BoingBoing, that plan to black out their sites on Wednesday. Some sites that are not planning to go offline are still finding ways to take part. For example, our friend WordPress is supplying users with a widget that will add a banner to their blogs showing support for the protest.

It is not yet clear whether any of the biggest Internet companies, like Facebook or Google, will take part. Dick Costolo, chief executive at Twitter, responding to inquiries on Twitter, stated that it would not  follow in Wikipedia’s footsteps.

Via The New York Times.

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Filed under Business, Politics, Technology

Washington Considers Same-Sex Marriage Bill

The Seal of Washington, Washington's state seal.

Image via Wikipedia

The bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Washington is notable for its ambition; that it was proposed by Governor Christine Gregoire, whose last remarks on the issue placed her in the not-yet camp; and the fact that it is supported by those in the legislature who have also changed their minds.

The bill would make Washington the seventh state where same-sex couples are allowed to marry. Bill sponsors are just a few votes short.

In 1998, Washington passed a law saying only a man and woman could marry. The State Supreme Court upheld the law in 2006, but that same year, Washington passed a civil rights bill that recognized domestic partnerships. In 2009, it approved what has become known as an “everything but marriage” law.

Opponents challenged that law through a referendum; voters upheld it 53% to 47%. In 2008, while seeking reelection, Gov. Gregoire suggested that churches should decide the issue, but in her State of the State this month, she said, “Let’s tell the children of our same-sex couples that their parents’ relationship is equal to all others in the state.”

In an interview, the governor said, “I’m a lawyer, I’m a wife, I’m a mom, I’m governor. I’m also a Catholic, and I have struggled with this issue for the last seven years.”

This is Ms. Gregoire’s final year in office. People have speculated that she is supporting same-sex marriage now that the political risk of doing so has diminished, but she has said her position had evolved, in part through conversations with her daughters.

The bill is modeled on the law passed by New York, which included language clarifying that religious groups and churches are not required to marry same-sex partners.

Senator Ed Murray, a Seattle Democrat, has been one of the Legislature’s most persistent advocates for same-sex marriage. Sen. Murray said Gov. Gregoire strengthened protections for religious groups beyond what he had proposed.

Some lawmakers say they will organize a coalition to defeat a marriage law, should it pass. On Friday, a group of Roman Catholic bishops issued a statement opposing the new bill.

Sen. Murray, noting that Washington’s petition-friendly system makes any bill passed by the Legislature vulnerable, said he and others had worked since last spring to build support behind the scenes, anticipating a battle in the Legislature and at the polls.

“I’m a little concerned that people are popping the Champagne corks,” he said. “They need to remember it took us years to find one vote on the civil rights bill and we’re several votes short on the marriage bill. We’re very close, but we don’t have the votes yet.”

Via The New York Times.

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On This Day…

In 1893, Hawaii’s monarchy was overthrown as a group of businessmen and sugar planters forced Queen Liliuokalani to abdicate.

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