Friday, December 10, 2004

Bonobos face extinction

If the survey results represent a more general trend, there may be as few as 10,000 bonobos, also called pygmy chimpanzees, left in the wild, the researchers estimate. Experts had previously thought that there might be around 50,000 remaining.
Poaching is to blame, says Peter Stephenson of the WWF, the conservation organization that supported the survey. Although it is illegal to kill bonobos, park officers have struggled to enforce the law during the long-running Congolese civil war, and armed militia groups still hide out in the wilderness of the Salonga park.

Stars come out for Sudan's Darfur

"The situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate," renowned soprano and long-standing U.N. goodwill ambassador Barbara Hendricks said on Wednesday. "This is a man-made disaster."
Singers ranging from Simply Red's Mick Hucknall to Pretender Chrissie Hynde, baritone Willard White, jazz legend Alison Moyet and disco diva Jocelyn Brown interpreted songs of Cole Porter.
The artists donated their services to help the people of Darfur, a region the size of France.

Some professors take payments to express views

If a professor takes money from a company and then argues in the media for a position the company favors, is he an independent expert -- or a paid shill?
It's not an academic question. Some companies have been paying professors to promote their points of view on TV shows, in newspaper and magazine articles and in letters to the editor. In many cases the arrangement between the professor and the company isn't disclosed.
In one such case, the U.S. steel company Nucor Corp. hired Peter Morici, a business professor at the University of Maryland, to argue in favor of steel tariffs put in place by the Bush administration. As a debate raged in 2003 about whether the steel tariffs should be kept in place, Mr. Morici, a former chief economist at the International Trade Commission, was quoted in scores of newspaper articles and wrote about two dozen letters to editors. He was most active in promoting his research showing that tariffs benefited the domestic steel industry and economy. In the vast majority of cases his role as a paid consultant to Nucor wasn't disclosed.

One Step Closer to Sharks with Frikkin' Lasers Attached

A robotic fish designed for underwater archaeology, mapping, water cultivation and even fishing has been co-developed by the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Automation Research Institute (of the Chinese Academy of Sciences).
The black-bodied robot fish is about four feet long, and resembles a real fish in both shape and movement. The robot is controlled remotely with a palm-sized control pad. It also has automatic navigation controls and swims at about four kilometers per hour for up to three hours.

File Sharing Goes to the Supreme Court

File sharing is "inflicting catastrophic, multibillion-dollar harm on petitioners that cannot be redressed through lawsuits against the millions of direct infringers using those services," the appeal by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and other entertainment companies says.
Grokster and StreamCast, in their filings, disagree: "Once the software has been downloaded by users, (we) have no involvement in, nor ability to control, what it is used for."
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled in August that file-sharing services were not responsible because they don't have central servers pointing users to copyright material.

Lawsuit Says CIA Urged False Reporting on Iraqi Arms

The lawsuit [PDF] marks the first public instance in which a CIA employee has charged directly that agency officials pressured him to produce intelligence to support the administration's prewar position that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were a grave and gathering threat, and to suppress information that ran counter to that view.
[See also: Karen Kwiatkowski, a former Pentagon employee who has been on this topic for a couple years now.]

Sheet Music from Hell

"Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz." Very thoroughly notated.

The Deadly Necklace

The current issue of the New Yorker has a fascinating story about Richard Lancelyn Green, a preeminent Arthur Conan Doyle/Sherlock Holmes scholar who died under mysterious circumstances in March. At the time of his death, Green had been looking into the provinence of an archive of Conan Doyle’s papers [reprint of a NYTimes article], which he believed (perhaps wrongly) had been stolen, and he'd hinted that there had been threats to his life. Soon afterward, he was found garroted by a shoelace in his room. The magazine does not provide the article online, but does offer this Q&A with the author. I cannot recommend it highly enough, but to get you started while you're still at work, here's some more about Green's death from a Holmes message board; a discussion of the curse of Conan Doyle, which holds that Holmes scholars can meet an untimely end; and info on Doyle's belief in the supernatural. [from]

The world's first multinational

In The Wealth of Nations (1776), Adam Smith used the East India Company as a case study to show how monopoly capitalism undermines both liberty and justice, and how the management of shareholder-controlled corporations invariably ends in "negligence, profusion and malversation". Yet nothing of Smith's scepticism of corporations, his criticism of their pursuit of monopoly and of their faulty system of governance, enters the speeches of today's free-market advocates.

Russia Claims Right, Capability To Preemptively Strike Anywhere

Russia reserves the right to carry out preventive strikes with conventional weaponry on terror bases anywhere they are found in the world, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov was quoted as saying Friday.
"We do not rule out the possibility of carrying out preventive strikes on terrorist bases at any location in the world," Ivanov was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying in an address to Russian military-diplomatic officials here.
"The only limit is exclusion of strikes with nuclear weapons," he said.
Ivanov referred to UN Security Council resolution 1566 stipulating that any country had the right to protect itself against the threat of terrorism and said that "a legal basis for carrying out such strikes exists today."
"Russia," he said, "is far from being the only country to announce its readiness to carry out preventive strikes on terrorist bases."

Intelligence Bill Expands Police Powers

The intelligence package that Congress approved this week includes a series of little-noticed measures that would broaden the government's power to conduct terrorism investigations, including provisions to loosen standards for FBI surveillance warrants and allow the Justice Department to more easily detain suspects without bail.
Other law-enforcement-related measures in the bill -- expected to be signed by President Bush next week -- include an expansion of the criteria that constitute "material support" to terrorist groups and the ability to share U.S. grand jury information with foreign governments in urgent terrorism cases.

Touchscreen voting supplier experiencing organizational turmoil

The company that manufactures the touchscreen voting devices, as well as other elections equipment, used in Napa County is experiencing some organizational turmoil.Sequoia Voting Systems' parent firm, British-based De La Rue, has indicated it may sell or close Sequoia's operations. Sequoia's headquarters is in Oakland.

Election fraud or just suspicions?

If the United States were a Third World country, our Nov. 2 election would not pass certification by international monitors. As former President Carter has explained on National Public Radio, we lack a central, nonpartisan election commission to guarantee fair and equal treatment of all voters nationwide, our candidates do not receive free and equal access to the media to deliver their message, voting procedures are not uniform throughout the county, and there is not a "paper trail" available in all cases to guarantee an honest recount where called for.

FBI's translation scandal heats up; more whistle-blowers emerge

mong the unanswered questions of 9-11 is the part played by the FBI in handling the various tips and information pouring through its translation section at the Washington, D.C., field office. It is in this division that certified language specialists with top secret security clearances handle the most sensitive information, from wiretaps to face-to-face interview translations between an investigating agent and a suspect. The translators often have inordinate power. Because of their expertise (or rather, the limited number of languages spoken by their bosses), translators often make the decisions on which cases to fully translate and which not to bother with. Errors can creep in: Translators may misunderstand a dialect and thus lose the meaning or context of information. On occasion, some translators' grasp of English is so poor that they cannot convey nuances of the speakers.
This division is already under fire from the Justice Department's inspector general and whistle-blowers, most notably Sibel Edmonds, who was fired from her job as a Farsi translator when she protested the way the work was being handled. Since Edmonds began speaking out, others have come forward.

Fact Checking over Covering Spin

“You go to spin alley, the place called spin alley. Now, don't you think that, for people watching at home, that's kind of a drag, that you're literally walking to a place called deception lane?”
-- Comedian Jon Stewart on CNN's Crossfire with hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala, Oct. 15, 2004.

When Jon Stewart "busted" Spin Alley in his famous confrontation with the Crossfire people (the most downloaded video clip ever, at the time) he was hitting on a practice that had grown more and more disreputable. As a designated spot for the practice of spin, the Alley only fell from legitimacy when an alternative practice rose up and called out to conscience of the press. It was one lesson of Campaign 2004: Forget about spinning the outcome, just fact check the debates.

Budgeting for Privacy Officers Meets Resistance

White said Davis favors repealing the language, but would be satisfied with modifying the provision to say that the chief privacy officer “shall assist the CIO” on privacy issues. D
uring the debate over the Omnibus bill earlier this week, Davis said the privacy provision is redundant in light of existing laws and policy.
“I strenuously oppose section 522 of the Transportation, Treasury Appropriations Act of 2005, requiring that each federal agency have a privacy officer to carry out duties relating to the privacy and protection of personally identifiable information,” Davis said. “These federal information security functions are an intrinsic part of existing federal information policy. They are the responsibility of the agency CIO. Therefore, privacy officers are unnecessary.”

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Discovery Channel to Launch Military

Discovery Communications International (DCI) is about to launch a cable TV network called "the Military Channel," which will focus on all aspects of the armed forces, military strategies and personnel throughout the ages. (rom
[I thought that's what the History channel did - McLir]

Critics Say Mysterious New U.S. Spy Program Endangers National Security

In an unusual rebuke, Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, complained Wednesday the spy project is "totally unjustified and very, very wasteful and dangerous to the national security." He called the program "stunningly expensive."
Rockefeller and three other Democratic senators - Richard Durbin of Illinois, Carl Levin of Michigan and Ron Wyden of Oregon - refused to sign the congressional compromise negotiated by others in the House of Representatives and Senate that provides for future U.S. intelligence activities.
The compromise noted the four senators believe the mystery program is unnecessary and its cost unjustified and "they believe that the funds for this item should be expended on other intelligence programs that will make a surer and greater contribution to national security."
Each senator - and more than two-dozen current and former U.S. officials - declined to further describe or identify the disputed program, citing its classified nature. Thirteen other senators on the intelligence committee and all their counterparts in the House approved the compromise.
The measure, which authorizes spending for intelligence activities for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, is separate from the intelligence-overhaul legislation that received final congressional approval Wednesday.

Strip Searches in Airport Stairwells Videotaped

TSA Employee: "That really incensed me that someone felt that they could just put on some gloves and they could just violate someone to that degree."
TSA Employee: "They actually had the passenger remove the clothing that covered the sensitive area and perform a duck walk to see if something would fall out."

What's Scarier than Santa? Dozens of Santas Brawling in the Street.

Officers used CS spray and batons to break up trouble amongst up to 30 people, following Newtown's annual charity Santa run.
There were five arrests hours after around 4,000 Santas finished racing.
...Organisers are still waiting to hear if they have broken the world record for having the most number of Santas in the same place.

The Creation Museum

Dinosaurs and giant bugs (and the present lack thereof) are explained by scripture. Be sure to make a stop at the SFX theater to see dinosaurs boarding Noah's Ark. By what Miracle did the person in the wheelchair get up those stairs?

Lego Sculptures of MC Escher Designs

Includes 'Balcony', 'Belvedere', 'Ascending and Descending', 'Relativity' and 'Waterfall'.

Homeless Iraq vets showing up at shelters

Nearly 300,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, and almost half served during the Vietnam era, according to the Homeless Veterans coalition, a consortium of community-based homeless-veteran service providers. While some experts have questioned the degree to which mental trauma from combat causes homelessness, a large number of veterans live with the long-term effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse, according to the coalition.

Moyers Talks on Armageddon Politics

Remember James Watt, President Reagan's first Secretary of the Interior? My favorite online environmental journal, the ever engaging Grist, reminded us recently of how James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, "after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back."
Beltway elites snickered. The press corps didn't know what he was talking about. But James Watt was serious. So were his compatriots out across the country. They are the people who believe the Bible is literally true - one-third of the American electorate, if a recent Gallup poll is accurate. In this past election several million good and decent citizens went to the polls believing in the rapture index. That's right - the rapture index. Google it and you will find that the best-selling books in America today are the twelve volumes of the left-behind series written by the Christian fundamentalist and religious right warrior, Timothy LaHaye. These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative that has captivated the imagination of millions of Americans.

Banning Books that Depict Gay People

What should we do with US classics like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or The Color Purple? "Dig a hole," Gerald Allen recommends, "and dump them in it." Don't laugh. Gerald Allen's book-burying opinions are not a joke.
Earlier this week, Allen got a call from Washington. He will be meeting with President Bush on Monday. I asked him if this was his first invitation to the White House. "Oh no," he laughs. "It's my fifth meeting with Mr Bush."
Bush is interested in Allen's opinions because Allen is an elected Republican representative in the Alabama state legislature. He is Bush's base. Last week, Bush's base introduced a bill that would ban the use of state funds to purchase any books or other materials that "promote homosexuality". Allen does not want taxpayers' money to support "positive depictions of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle". That's why Tennessee Williams and Alice Walker have got to go.

"Go Canadian" Kit Helps Americans Travel World

For $25 (€18.60), offers the “Go Canadian” package, full of just the kind of things an American traveller needs to leave their country and its politics behind.There’s a Canadian flag t-shirt, a Canadian flag lapel pin and a Canadian patch for luggage or a backpack. There’s also a quick reference guide – How to Speak Canadian, Eh? – on answering questions about Canada.It’s the brainchild of employees at the Mountainair, New Mexico-based company known for novelty T-shirts it sells worldwide on the internet.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Whitewashing Torture

"On June 15, 2003, Sgt. Frank 'Greg' Ford, a counterintelligence agent in the California National Guard's 223rd Military Intelligence (M.I.) Battalion stationed in Samarra, Iraq, told his commanding officer, Capt. Victor Artiga, that he had witnessed five incidents of torture and abuse of Iraqi detainees at his base, and requested a formal investigation. Thirty-six hours later, Ford, a 49-year-old with over 30 years of military service in the Coast Guard, Army and Navy, was ordered by U.S. Army medical personnel to lie down on a gurney, was then strapped down, loaded onto a military plane and medevac'd to a military medical center outside the country." (Salon, day pass req.)

Long-lost soldiers emerge from jungle

When Vietnamese troops overran his village in 1979, Romam Chhung Loeung, a Khmer Rouge guerrilla, had no option but to flee with friends and family into the dense jungle of northeast Cambodia.
Twenty-five years later, the group emerged from the forest in clothes made of bark and leaves, unaware that the war was over, the Vietnamese had gone and Pol Pot was dead.
In an extraordinary tale of human survival, the refugees lived on whatever scraps they could find in the jungle, fearful of any contact with humans, who they believed were the enemy, slugging out the final chapter of the Cold War in Indochina.

Bush sets out plan to dismantle 30 years of environmental laws

In little over a month since his re-election, they have announced that they will comprehensively rewrite three of the country's most important environmental laws, open up vast new areas for oil and gas drilling, and reshape the official Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
They say that the election gave them a mandate for the measures - which, ironically, will overturn a legislative system originally established by the Republican Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford - even though Mr Bush went out of his way to avoid emphasising his environmental plans during his campaign.

Al-Qaeda a Paper Tiger?

Last month, the BBC ran a 3-part documentary arguing that al-Qaeda is not the threat they've been made out to be:
The Power of Nightmares seeks to overturn much of what is widely believed about Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. The latter, it argues, is not an organised international network. It does not have members or a leader. It does not have "sleeper cells". It does not have an overall strategy. In fact, it barely exists at all, except as an idea about cleansing a corrupt world through religious violence.
A couple of weeks later, Eric Umansky spoke with LA Times reporter Terry McDermott, who is writing a book about al-Qaeda and has come to similar conclusions

Reporters Without Borders: Press Freedom in US Ranks 22nd

America is not number one. Nor is it number five. Or even in the top 20. In a new report ranking press freedom around the world, the U.S. comes in at a cool 22, behind Latvia, Lithuania and a slew of Nordic countries. And for a country that tries to lead by example when it comes to democracy, 22 is not the greatest place to be in.
"It's not a good example that we're setting," says Andrew Alexander, chair of the Freedom of Information Committee of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. "When our government clamps down on the press, it gives license to other governments to do same."
Reporters Without Borders, an organization that tracks press freedom across the globe, released the report this month, placing Denmark at number one and North Korea last, at 167. The report used criteria like state censorship and harassment, murders and detentions of journalists. Each nation earns a score ranging from .50 (highest) to 107.5 (lowest). In 2002, the U.S. came in at number 16. This year, 21 nations earned scores higher than the U.S., although there are a lot of ties; the U.S. score puts it in 11th place, along with Belgium

Army Considers "Special K" for Injured Soldiers

The drug – known in the clubs has "Special K" – has been reducing party-goers to gurgling blobs for more than a decade. This year, the Army has been running final, phase III Food and Drug Administration trials on a quarter-dose nasal inhaler of "K," to see if it can substitute for morphine.
"With morphine, the soldier's just gorfed, he can't do anything," Col. Bob Vandre, of the Army's Medical Research and Materiel Command, told me as I stopped by his booth -- a mock MASH tent -- at the Army Science Conference. "With this, he can drive his truck, or shoot his gun."
Col. Vandre said he knew full well that Ketamine "had been snorted by people at rave parties" and that "it makes you kind of weird, sort of like acid."
However, he promised, the military's dose of "K" would not have the same effects.

New Law in Iraq Makes it Illegal for Farmers to Replant Seeds, Enforcing Dependence on Patented GM Seeds

For generations, small farmers in Iraq operated in an essentially unregulated, informal seed supply system. Farm-saved seed and the free innovation with and exchange of planting materials among farming communities has long been the basis of agricultural practice. This has been made illegal under the new law. The seeds farmers are now allowed to plant - "protected" crop varieties brought into Iraq by transnational corporations in the name of agricultural reconstruction - will be the property of the corporations. While historically the Iraqi constitution prohibited private ownership of biological resources, the new US-imposed patent law introduces a system of monopoly rights over seeds. Inserted into Iraq's previous patent law is a whole new chapter on Plant Variety Protection (PVP) that provides for the "protection of new varieties of plants." PVP is an intellectual property right (IPR) or a kind of patent for plant varieties which gives an exclusive monopoly right on planting material to a plant breeder who claims to have discovered or developed a new variety. So the "protection" in PVP has nothing to do with conservation, but refers to safeguarding of the commercial interests of private breeders (usually large corporations) claiming to have created the new plants.

Jesse Jackson: Something's fishy in Ohio

In the Ukraine, citizens are in the streets protesting what they charge is a fixed election. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell expresses this nation's concern about apparent voting irregularities. The media give the dispute around-the-clock coverage. But in the United States, massive and systemic voter irregularities go unreported and unnoticed.
Ohio is this election year's Florida. The vote in Ohio decided the presidential race, but it was marred by intolerable, and often partisan, irregularities and discrepancies. U.S. citizens have as much reason as those in Kiev to be concerned that the fix was in.

Voting errors tallied nationwide

In the month since the election, serious instances of voting machine problems or human errors in ballot counts have been documented in at least a dozen states, each involving from scores of ballots to as many as 12,000 votes, as in a North Carolina county. On Election Day, or in later reconciling tallies of ballots and voters, local officials discovered problems and corrected final counts. In some cases, the changes altered the outcomes of local races. But in North Carolina, the problems were so serious that the state may hold a rare second vote, redoing a contest for state agriculture commissioner decided by fewer votes than the number of ballots lost.

News Editors and Election Fraud Rumors

While most of the top dailies there say they are following, if not probing, each accusation, many coming from liberal blogs, none of the editors who spoke to E&P this week find the allegations highly convincing or plan to devote major resources to them.

Evidence of Fraud in the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election: A Reader

This Reading List, a substantially expanded version of previous lists published on 11 and 15 November, has been prepared with the aim of making a wide range of readings on the subject of the integrity—or the lack of integrity—of the recent U.S. presidential election readily available. It is being published as a companion-piece to my article "The Stolen U.S. Presidential Election: A Comparative Analysis."

"The Bigger the Prize, the Bigger the Discrepancy" Evidence Dramatically Raises Suspicion of Election Tampering

This Excel workbook contains my independent and original analysis of 2004 presidential election results gathered from exit polls and from the New York Times tabulated results site. I have found what, on the face of it, appears to be dramatic evidence of election tampering. The paragraphs below explain my rationale, method, and results.

String Theory, at 20, Explains It All (or Not)

By uniting all the forces, string theory had the potential of achieving the goal that Einstein sought without success for half his life and that has embodied the dreams of every physicist since then. If true, it could be used like a searchlight to illuminate some of the deepest mysteries physicists can imagine, like the origin of space and time in the Big Bang and the putative death of space and time at the infinitely dense centers of black holes.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

"World Trade Center Cough" plagues 9/11 rescue workers

Inhaling toxic dust from the World Trade Center disaster on 11 September 2001 has damaged some rescue workers’ lungs more than years of smoking, US scientists reveal. Using an unconventional chest scan for the circumstances, researchers were able to capture visual signs of the severe respiratory problems that doctors could not otherwise have diagnosed.

U.S. military lied about Abu Ghraib torture

A confidential report to Army generals in Iraq in December 2003 warned that members of an elite military and CIA task force were abusing detainees, a finding delivered more than a month before Army investigators received the photographs from Abu Ghraib prison that touched off investigations into prisoner mistreatment.
The report, which was not released publicly and was recently obtained by The Washington Post, concluded that some U.S. arrest and detention practices at the time could "technically" be illegal. It also said coalition fighters could be feeding the Iraqi insurgency by "making gratuitous enemies" as they conducted sweeps netting hundreds of detainees who probably did not belong in prison and holding them for months at a time.

Protect Your Cell Phone from Sales Calls

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Enter up to three phone numbers and your email address. Click Submit.
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Check your email for a message from Open the email and click on the link to complete your registration.

Computers are a drag on learning

From a sample of 175,000 15-year-old students in 31 countries, researchers at the University of Munich announced in November that performance in math and reading had suffered significantly among students who have more than one computer at home. And while students seemed to benefit from limited use of computers at school, those who used them several times per week at school saw their academic performance decline significantly as well.

Site Bars Black Box Voting Head

Democratic Underground, a political discussion site that has been a popular forum for debate on the reliability of computerized voting machines, has barred one of its most prominent and outspoken contributors on the topic from further posting.
In a written statement, site administrators said Friday that they barred Bev Harris, founder of Black Box Voting, because her postings on the site "have made positive discussion of verified voting increasingly difficult."

Florida Vote Statistics

This study says there were statistical anomolies in the Florida vote.
This analysis says the study is bunk.
Any statisticians out there who can give us the straight dope on this one?

In sworn affidavit, programmer says he developed vote-rigging prototype for Florida congressman; Congressman’s office silent

While working for Yang Enterprises in Florida, the 46-year-old programmer says he was instructed by then-Republican state representative Tom Feeney to “develop a prototype of a voting program that could alter the vote tabulation in the election and be undetectable.”
Feeney, a former failed running mate of Gov. Jeb Bush, now represents Florida’s 24th district in the House of Representatives. At the time, he was serving both as general counsel and lobbyist for Yang Enterprises and the Florida state congressman.

Virtually All Content Complaints to FCC Come from One Group

The number of indecency complaints had soared dramatically to more than 240,000 in the previous year, Powell said. The figure was up from roughly 14,000 in 2002, and from fewer than 350 in each of the two previous years. There was, Powell said, “a dramatic rise in public concern and outrage about what is being broadcast into their homes.”
What Powell did not reveal—apparently because he was unaware—was the source of the complaints. According to a new FCC estimate obtained by Mediaweek, nearly all indecency complaints in 2003—99.8 percent—were filed by the Parents Television Council, an activist group.

Rochester protesters: Election fraud ignored

A few members of the group said they witnessed election problems first-hand and have tried to convey their stories to the media, to little or no avail. Vicki Lewin Ryder of Rochester was in Palm Beach County, Fla., on Election Day as a volunteer with the nonpartisan Election Protection Program — a group that tried to ensure that proper voting procedures were followed — and said she saw "voter suppression and voter intimidation."

The Yes Men Pose as Dow and Take Responsibility for Bhopal Disaster

"I was speaking on behalf of Dow in a certain way. I was expressing what they should express," he said. "
I have enough connection with Dow as everybody else on the planet. I use many of their products."
Finisterra, who said the group would strike again, said he had heard Bhopal residents broke down in tears when they learned of the report, and that he felt bad about it.
"This is an unfortunate result that we did anticipate might happen," he said. He could face civil and criminal legal action if tracked down, legal experts say.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission has in the past filed charges against individuals who have issued fraudulent statements about companies.

See also:
Since we can't possibly afford to go to London with our pathetic American dollars, we ask to be booked in a studio in Paris, where Andy is living. No problem. Mr. Jude (patron saint of the impossible) Finisterra (earth's end) becomes Dow's official spokesperson.
What to do? We briefly consider embodying the psychopathic monster that is Dow by explaining in frank terms how they (a) don't give a rat's ass about the people of Bhopal and (b) wouldn't do anything to help them even if they did. Which they don't. This would be familiar territory for Andy: he did something similar representing the WTO on CNBC's Marketwrap.

First-of-its kind study shows US lags many other nations in real-life math skills.

Of the 41 nations participating in PISA 2003, 25 ranked higher than the US average, including Korea, Japan, the Czech Republic, as well as Hong Kong and Macao in China. Only eight ranked measurably below the US: Greece, Turkey, Mexico, Thailand, Serbia and Montenegro, Uruguay, Indonesia, and Tunisia.


(Quicktime) (Real)

Monday, December 06, 2004

Granholm removes domestic partner benefits for gay state workers

Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm will remove domestic-partner benefits from contracts negotiated with state workers, said an aide, citing a voter-approved amendment to the state constitution that bans same-sex marriage "and similar unions." Michigan voters approved the amendment November 2.
On Wednesday, Granholm aide David Fink said that negotiated contracts scheduled for adoption by the state Civil Service Commission on December 15 will be stripped of the domestic-partner benefits for same-sex partners of state workers.
Fink said the Granholm administration decided to eliminate the benefits because of the passage of Proposal 2, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman and bans same-sex marriage and "similar unions for any purpose."

Protesters gather in Ohio to support US presidential recount

About 400 protesters gathered outside the Ohio Statehouse yesterday to support a recount of the presidential election in the state and call for an investigation into election-day irregularities. Speakers addressing the crowd alleged that many voters were the victims of a fraud in which votes intended for Senator John Kerry were given to President Bush. "I would like to welcome you to the Ukraine," said Susan Truitt, referring to the election difficulties in that country. A federal judge in Columbus ruled that a recount might proceed if two minority party candidates who sued can pay for it. Green and Libertarian party officials say they can.

Conyers to Hold Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud

The term ‘hearing’ is technically not accurate in this matter, as Conyers and his fellow Representatives will be holding this forum without the blessing of the Republican Majority leader of the Judiciary Committee. Staffers from the Minority office at the Judiciary Committee describe the event as a ‘Members Briefing.’ That having been said, this event will be a hearing by every meaningful definition of the word. Expert testimony will be offered, and a good deal of data on potential fraud previously unreported to the public will be discussed and examined at length.

Dems Launch Probe of Ohio Voting Problems

McAuliffe said the party is not seeking to overturn the result but to ensure that every vote is counted. He said the study will be conducted by nonpartisan experts to be announced later, with a report issued in the spring that recommends reforms to prevent such problems in the future.
Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell was expected to certify Bush's winning margin of about 119,000 votes on Monday, a margin closer than election night totals but not close enough to trigger an automatic recount.
The Green and Libertarian parties are raising money to pay for a recount that would be conducted once the results are certified.

Effective newspaper circulation losses are 50 percent worse than we have been told.

Just how deep is the newspaper circulation scandal of 2004? Combined with other substantial circulation losses, how damaging will it be to the bread and butter of advertising revenues for 2004, for 2005 and by extension in years to come? Is it yet another sign of the gradual but inexorable decline of the industry and the medium in which many of us practice journalism?

Who's Recycling Techno Trash?

No current figures exist for how much e-junk is recycled, but people in the industry believe it's a sliver of the total. People simply don't know where to take their e-trash, so much of it sits in drawers. The toxic materials many electronics contain, such as lead and mercury, present more obstacles.
A National Safety Council study done four years ago found that less than 10 percent of techno trash was recycled.
In part because the gadget industry is relatively young, recycling efforts tend to be scattershot: All Staples stores and some Whole Foods Market stores will take old cell phones, but few people think to take recyclables to the mall. Many cities will only pick up e-trash on scheduled hazardous waste collection days, which are often months apart.

Spyware on My Machine? So What?

Not all web surfers think spyware is a problem. Some say the snoopy software is a fair trade-off for free applications, even with the intrusion into their computers and lives.
"Typically the assumption has been that spyware sneaks onto computers, or users are unaware of what they have agreed to install," said Gregg Mastoras, a senior security analyst at antivirus vendor Sophos. "But some people actually do knowingly install adware because they want to use a particular application that comes bundled with it. Some just aren't particularly concerned by adware's presence on their computers."

Cell-Tower Emission Risks Probed

"At the moment, there are too few properly controlled scientific studies to draw any strong conclusions," said Elaine Fox, a professor in the psychology department at the University of Essex who is studying whether the electromagnetic fields emitted from mobile-phone base stations have a direct effect on human health.

DNA Makes Nanotube Transistors

The researchers attached DNA strands to carbon nanotubes and complementary strands to gold electrodes that were anchored to a silicon surface. The electrodes were prepared using standard chip-making techniques. They mixed a liquid containing the DNA-coated nanotubes with the silicon, and the complementary DNA strands combined, placing the nanotubes across pairs of electrodes.
The transistors could eventually be used in small, fast computer circuits. The researchers' method promises to scale up to suit mass-production requirements. The method could allow for real-time modifications of the electrical behavior of the devices by introducing biological molecules capable of interacting with the DNA, according to the researchers.

Baby teeth provide life-giving stem cells

Rather than being rewarded with a coin, stem cells within the tooth will be stored to cure them of some of the deadliest afflictions they might suffer half a century later. "Parents will want to store the stem cells found in the pulp inside these juvenile teeth in liquid nitrogen" says Dr Stan Gronthos, a haematologist at the Hanson Institute in Adelaide, South Australia. "That way they could be used to grow new teeth and perhaps even cure neurological disorders like Parkinson's disease."

Toddlers targeted for video games

It’s the latest trend to help parents make their kids smarter — interactive video games, designed and marketed for toddlers. They're selling fast in toy stores and online. But are they truly "educational," as their name implies, or is that phrase nothing more than a mass-marketing tool?

Why Holograms Look So Lame

Real-life holographic gadgets are always getting our hopes up—and then letting us down—for a good reason. Unlike the teleporter and the faster-than-light spaceship, hologram technology is grounded in real science—it's just taking longer to bloom than anyone expected. Holographic photography was invented in 1947. Stephen Benton, one of the format's pioneers, started working on a holographic television for Polaroid in the 1960s. But it wasn't until MasterCard started putting holograms on credit cards in 1983—to deter counterfeiters and because they looked really cool—that the rainbow-tinged pictures crossed over from scientific marvel to cheesy pop-culture fad. Remember the special hologram covers on National Geographic and Sports Illustrated? What about that store in the mall that sold pricey holographic photos of animal heads and jutting faucets?

U.S. lawyers file complaint over abuses in Abu Ghraib

A group of American civil rights attorneys filed a criminal complaint in German court yesterday against top U.S. authorities, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, for acts of torture committed at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
The complaint also names former CIA Director George Tenet; the former commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez; and seven other military leaders.
Attorneys from the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights said they filed the complaint because they were disappointed in U.S. investigations into the Abu Ghraib abuses and hoped the filing would prompt an investigation by German authorities.

Does shampoo pose risk to pregnant women?

A preservative commonly found in cosmetics such as shampoo and moisturizers harms developing nerve cells, according to a controversial study.
But claims that the compound may therefore pose a risk to unborn babies have provoked concern from other scientists, who are worried that such assertions may create unnecessary panic.
Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) is widely used in hand creams, shampoos and other cosmetics. It kills bacteria, making it easier to store the lotions for longer periods of time without colonies of microbes developing.
Safety tests have previously found that the chemical may cause slight skin irritation in susceptible people1. But Elias Aizenman, a neurobiologist at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, says that he could not find any information about the chemical's impact on developing nerve cells.

Brain Asymmetries in Chimps Resemble Those of Humans

Findings published in the December issue of Behavioral Neuroscience indicate that the animals have differences between the right and left sides of their brains in much the same way that humans do. In addition, it appears that the neurological basis for handedness is not unique to our species.

That BBC article about AIDS and NYC? Debunked.

This one's for schroedinger, who posted the original BBC story about the documentary accusing the NYC Association for Children’s Services of using children in foster care for drug testing experiments without parental consent on MeFi here. Here's an intelligent and well thought out rebuttal from blogger respectfulofotters to the points made (and sources used by,) the documentary. [from]

Poll reveals cheesiest film lines

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio's declaration "I'm the king of the world!" in the film Titanic has been voted the cheesiest line in movie history.
Patrick Swayze's famous line in Dirty Dancing - "Nobody puts Baby in the corner" - came second in the survey. [thanks to Sharon]

Despite What You May Have Heard, Canada Did Not Arrest Bush for War Crimes

When the White House announced that President George W. Bush would be paying a visit to Canada in early December 2004, a variety of critics opposed to the U.S. President's foreign policy began musing about whether — while he was on Canadian soil — he could be arrested and prosecuted under Canada's Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act.
This musing was merely an exercise in political philosophy, but several pundits ran with the idea, going so far as to fabricate articles describing President Bush's arrest at the hands of Canadian authorities. One such article, despite being clearly satirical in nature, was actually listed (after it was republished on another site) as the top story on Google News.
Another site, tricked up to look like the official CNN web site (and using a misleadingly similar domain name,, ran a faux Associated Press story with the same premise, this one reported straightforwardly with no trace of humor. It too was fictional, although its serious tone fooled more than a few unsuspecting web surfers.