Thursday, January 27, 2005

Media MIA on Iraq Deaths

From The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 27, 2005: In October 2004, "a study was published in The Lancet, a prestigious British medical journal, concluding that about 100,000 civilians had been killed in Iraq since it was invaded" in March 2003. "Public-health professionals have uniformly praised the paper for its correct methods and notable results," but "many American newspapers and television news programs ignored the study or buried reports about it far from the top headlines." The timing of the paper's publication, days before the U.S. election, "opened the study to charges of political propaganda." The study's lead author "blames the American news media for being embedded not only with the military but also with the military point of view," but also faults himself for not managing the media better.

Wikipedia: Propaganda

Propaganda shares many techniques with advertising. In fact, advertising can be thought of as propaganda that promotes a commercial product; however, propaganda usually has political or nationalist themes. Propaganda can take the form of leaflets, posters, TV, and radio broadcasts and can also extend to any other medium.
Propaganda, in a narrower and more common use of the term, refers to deliberately false or misleading information that supports a political cause or the interests of those in power. The propagandist seeks to change the way people understand an issue or situation for the purpose of changing their actions and expectations in ways that are desirable to the interest group. Propaganda, in this sense, serves as a corollary to censorship in which the same purpose is achieved, not by filling people's heads with approved information, but by preventing people from being confronted with opposing points of view. What sets propaganda apart from other forms of advocacy is the willingness of the propagandist to change people's understanding through deception and confusion rather than persuasion and understanding. The leaders of an organization know the information to be one sided or untrue, but this may not be true for the rank and file members who help to disseminate the propaganda.

The Onion: Millions of Children Still Traumatized by Janet's Breast

According to the 500-page report filed by the FCC, more than 90 percent of the children who saw the exposed breast said they were "confused and afraid."
"Mommy has dirty chest bumps," said a 5-year-old boy quoted in one of the thousands of case studies compiled by the FCC. "She's like the bad lady on TV. I'm afraid Mommy will take off her shirt and scare everyone. I hate Mommy."
Girls were traumatized as well, often expressing apprehensions about sexual development. According to Wasserbaum, one 8-year-old girl told her parents that she didn't "want to get evil breasts."

Israeli Official Claims Irans Will Have Nuclear Weapons Within 12 Months

Gen Mofaz, a hawk in the Israeli cabinet, who has said in the past that Israel has operational plans in place for a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, refused to rule out military action.
Mr Blair, speaking in the Commons yesterday, said the Iranian issue was serious. Asked by a former Labour minister, Michael Meacher, to give an "unequivocal and categorical assurance" that Britain would not take part in any attack on Iran, Mr Blair said: "I know of no such contemplation by the United States of America."
In an interview with the Financial Times yesterday, Mr Blair refused to rule out the option of using military force.
The US vice-president, Dick Cheney, said last week that Israel might launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, as it did against Iraq's nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981.
Gen Mofaz indicated yesterday that he thought the US rather than Israel should do it: "It is the strongest power that can stop any nuclear power, especially in the hands of an extreme regime."
US officials have confirmed privately a report by the US reporter Seymour Hersh, in the New Yorker, that US special forces have already been in Iran scouting out its nuclear facilities.

Snopes on Viral Marketing: Volkswagen Polo

The availability of the Internet as a tool to spread information quickly, cheaply, and (mostly) anonymously has enabled the advent of "viral marketing": buzz-generating advertisements whose content is unsuitable for traditional media (such as television), distributed through "unofficial" channels such as web sites and e-mail forwards. Viral ads may not be obvious about what product they're promoting, or even obvious as advertisements at all. (Burger King's "subservient chicken" promotion is a good example of the latter category.)

Companies often try to obscure the connections between themselves and their viral ads, sometimes claiming that promotions were "unauthorized" or "accidentally released." Though this technique may be effective in generating publicity, it can also backfire: If someone does indeed produce an unauthorized viral ad that creates negative publicity for the business it supposedly promotes, how can a company prove they weren't behind it? This is the dilemma currently faced by Volkswagen regarding a viral ad seemingly calculated to offend as many human beings as possible.

'nü-kye-ler pronunciation of "nuclear" now in Merriam-Webster

Click the third audio link.

Da Vinci studio find thrills art lovers, experts

On the walls, there were paintings that researchers suspect were created by the Renaissance master's own hand.
"For the first time in this case we see birds which are absolutely dynamic, animals which are absolutely vivid, and which remind us of the study done by Leonardo on birds in flight," said art historian Robert Manescalchi.
The bird images are similar to drawings found in the Codex Atlanticus, an atlas-size collection of da Vinci's work.
But one theory is that the fading frescoes were painted by a workshop student about 500 years ago. Art historians and scientists are eager to put their theory to the test -- but some are urging caution.

Give Bush a Brain Game

Shockwave Flash with timeless audio clips. [thanks to Toby]

Roberto Juan Rodriguez Fuses Jewish, Afro-Cuban Music

What do you get when you combine traditional Jewish music with infectious Afro-Cuban rhythms? The new album by Roberto Juan Rodriguez, Baila! Gitano Baila!, attempts that daring fusion. Tom Moon has a review.

Voice of America Pronunciation Guide

US giants battle for right to advertise to kids

U.S. advertising industry groups and food companies Kraft Foods Inc. , Kellogg Co. and General Mills Inc. have formed an alliance to defend their right to advertise to children, one of the group's members said on Wednesday. The Alliance for American Advertising, as the group is called, aims to deflect government regulation in food advertising, and particularly in ads aimed at children, said American Advertising Federation (AAF) spokeswoman Mary Hilton. "Bans on advertising to children are impractical and illegal and ineffective," Hilton said. "The restriction of advertising is not going to reduce the rate of obesity in the world."

Prostitute used in Habib torture: lawyer

Mamdouh Habib was the victim of atrocities fit for a concentration camp, including being tied to the ground while a prostitute menstruated on him, his lawyer said yesterday.
Interrogators at the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay had also told the Sydney man they had killed his family and superimposed animal heads on photos of his wife and children, Steven Hopper said.

Eyes on the Screen

As was noted here previously, due to issues over clearance rights, 1987's ground-breaking Civil Rights Movement documentary Eyes on the Prize hasn't been available for ten years. Downhill Battle is doing something about it: "On February 8th help us bring this film back to a nationwide audience. Download the film today and organize a screening in your city or town." [from]

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

US to slap tourists with RFID

The US Department of Homeland Security has decided to trial RFID tags in an effort to make sure only the right sort of people get across US borders.
The controversial US-VISIT scheme for those visiting the US from abroad already fingerprints holidaymakers on their way into the country and is now adding RFID to the mix in order to improve border management, the department said.
...RFID chips will be used to track both pedestrians and vehicles entering the US to automatically record when the visitors arrive and leave in the country.

Cancer, Chemicals and History

Twenty of the biggest chemical companies in the United States have launched a campaign to discredit two historians who have studied the industry's efforts to conceal links between their products and cancer. In an unprecedented move, attorneys for Dow, Monsanto, Goodrich, Goodyear, Union Carbide and others have subpoenaed and deposed five academics who recommended that the University of California Press publish the book Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution, by Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner. The companies have also recruited their own historian to argue that Markowitz and Rosner have engaged in unethical conduct.

Torture Treaty Doesn't Bar 'Cruel, Inhuman' Tactics, Gonzales Says

In more than 200 pages of written responses to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who plan to vote Wednesday on his nomination, Gonzales told senators that laws and treaties prohibit torture by any U.S. agent without exception.
But he said the Convention Against Torture treaty, as ratified by the Senate, doesn't prohibit the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading" tactics on non-U.S. citizens who are captured abroad, in Iraq or elsewhere.
Gonzales, White House counsel and a close Bush adviser, described recent reports of prisoner abuse as "shocking and deeply troubling." But he refused to answer questions from senators about whether interrogation tactics witnessed by FBI agents were unlawful.

Challenges to Federal Marriage Act Dropped

Three gay couples Tuesday dropped their lawsuits challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act, saying they do not want to risk having a conservative U.S. Supreme Court set precedent by rejecting their case.
The lawsuits were brought by gay couples who were wedded in Massachusetts and Canada and wanted Florida to recognize their marriages. Florida law recognizes only marriages between a man and a woman, and the Defense of Marriage Act allows states to disregard gay marriages performed in other states and foreign countries.
Their attorney Ellis Rubin said key to their decision was the Supreme Court's recent refusal to hear a challenge to a Florida law that bars gays from adopting children.

Another Pundit On Bush Payroll

Conservative columnist Maggie Gallagher received $21,500 from the Bush administration to push the president's marriage initiative, the Washington Post reports.
The newspaper said Gallagher received a contract from the Department of Health and Human Services in 2002 to promote Mr. Bush's $300 million plan to encourage marriage as a means of strengthening the family.
The Post said while working for the HHS in 2002, Gallagher wrote in her column that arguments against the president's marriage initiative were "nonsense."
The newspaper also said Gallagher had received an additional $20,000 from the administration for writing a report called "Can Government Strengthen Marriage?"
"Did I violate journalistic ethics by not disclosing it?" Gallagher told the Post. "I don't know. You tell me."

*Fact Checking Bush's Statements on Social Security

Nutting is Washington bureau chief for CBS Marketwatch, and he seems to be the only reporter in that city with the nerve to tell the American people that their president is baldly dissembling. Here’s the opening of his report:
NUTTING (1/11/05): President Bush made several factual errors Tuesday about Social Security's long-term financing problems at a photo op event designed to educate the public about the retirement system.
Yes, that paragraph is quite polite–but Nutting actually saw that it was news when Bush made his wild misstatements! And, after laying out a few background facts, Nutting did get down to brass tacks. Here’s the first entry; the fact-checks appeared beneath a tangy sub-headline:

Bush vs. facts

Bush: “As a matter of fact, by the time today's workers who are in their mid-20s begin to retire, the system will be bankrupt. So if you're 20 years old, in your mid-20s, and you're beginning to work, I want you to think about a Social Security system that will be flat bust, bankrupt, unless the United States Congress has got the willingness to act now.”

The facts: The Social Security system cannot go "bankrupt," for it has no creditors. By law, the trustees will continue to pay reduced benefits even if the trust fund is exhausted. Payroll taxes will continue to come in and benefits will continue to be paid.

According to the trustees' intermediate economic forecast (neither doom nor boom), the trust fund will be able to pay about 73 percent of scheduled benefits in 2042 and about 68 percent of scheduled benefits in 2078.

Future presidents and Congresses could also choose to fully fund scheduled retirement benefits from general tax revenue.

At this point, we were upset because Nutting hadn’t explained how large those “73 percent” payments would be. But wouldn’t you know it? Making it look amazingly easy, he laid that out in his next entry:

Bush: "Most younger people in America think they'll never see a dime."

The facts: Social Security says younger people will see a lot more than a dime. Their retirement benefits–even under a "flat-bust" system–will be significantly higher than today's benefits in real terms.

For low-income Americans, currently scheduled benefits for those who retire in 2080 are $19,906 per year in 2004 dollars. If Social Security can pay only 68 percent of those benefits, that would be $13,536 per year, compared with benefits of $8,804 for low-income retirees who retired last year.

For the highest earners, Social Security is currently promising $53,411 per year for those who retire in 2080 (or $36,319 per year if Social Security can pay only 68 percent). Current maximum benefits are $21,891 per year for those who retired last year.

50 Greatest Movie Deaths

White House: Deficit will hit $427 billion

The White House will project that this year's federal deficit will hit $427 billion, a senior administration official said Tuesday, a record partly driven by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The official, among three who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, said the estimate was a conservative one that assumed some higher spending than other analysts use. Last February, the White House projected that the 2004 shortfall would hit $521 billion, only to see it come in at $412 billion.

Verizon faces lawsuit over email blocking

Aggrieved Verizon customers are invited to join a class action that seeks damages arising from the US ISP's enthusiastic email filtering policies. Philadelphia law firm Kohn, Swift & Graf, P.C. filed suit this week against Verizon on behalf of a DSL subscriber in a civil case that seeks class action status.
Since 22 December, mail servers at have been configured to reject connections from Europe and other parts of the world including China and New Zealand by default, according to Reg readers and industry sources such as MessageLabs. Verizon says the move is designed to reduce spam and says it is following industry best practice and applying blacklists as "narrowly" as possible.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

5th Circuit Rules in Rappers' Battle Over Phrase 'Back That Ass Up'

Chief Judge Carolyn Dineen King, who wrote the opinion, boiled the case down to a dispute between Louisiana rappers Juvenile and D.J. Jubilee over who owned the rights to a song "that included the poetic four-word phrase 'back that ass up.'"
In its Jan. 13 opinion, the 5th Circuit sets out the following facts: In 1997, both rappers recorded songs with similar titles -- D.J. Jubilee, also known as Jerome Temple, recorded "Back That Ass Up," while Juvenile, also known as Terius Gray, recorded "Back That Azz Up."

Career Reporter Turns to Trucking

After 30 years as a reporter, 29 of them at the Portland Press Herald, Ted Cohen six months ago embraced a new profession: trucking.

''It's all about the open road, right?" Cohen queried a trucker colleague that night. ''The freedom of the open road?"
...Cohen, who is 53, was the reporter who during the 2000 presidential campaign learned of George W. Bush's arrest for drunken driving in Kennebunkport 24 years earlier. He told an editor at the newspaper of his find, he said, but the paper never published the story.

When the arrest was uncovered by a Portland television station and a barrage of news reports followed three months later, the Portland paper's decision to ignore the story became a story unto itself. Cohen said the Press Herald made him the scapegoat in the matter.

Supreme Court OKs drug-sniffing dogs in traffic stops

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that in making a routine traffic stop, the police can permit a trained dog to sniff the car for drugs without the need for any particular reason to suspect the driver of a narcotics violation.
The 6-to-2 decision set aside a ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court, which held in 2003 that a state trooper who had stopped a man for speeding had broadened the scope of the encounter beyond constitutional limits by having the dog sniff the car. The dog alerted the police to the trunk, which contained $250,000 worth of marijuana. The addition of the dog impermissibly turned a traffic stop into a drug investigation, the Illinois court said.

ACLU says civilians in Iraq being abused

The American Civil Liberties Union released documents yesterday describing complaints of serious abuse of Iraqi civilians, including reports of electric shocks and forced sodomy, and accused the military of not thoroughly investigating the cases.
In Britain, Human Rights Watch released a report today that said Iraqi security forces are arbitrarily arresting people and systematically abusing detainees.
With few exceptions, Iraqi authorities have not acted to stop such mistreatment, the report said.
"The Iraqi interim government ... appears to be actively taking part, or is at least complicit, in these grave violations of fundamental human rights. Nor has the United States, the United Kingdom or other involved governments publicly taken up these issues as a matter of concern," the report said.

Central banks shift reserves away from US

Central banks are shifting reserves away from the US and towards the eurozone in a move that looks set to deepen the Bush administration's difficulties in financing its ballooning current account deficit.
In actions likely to undermine the dollar's value on currency markets, 70 per cent of central bank reserve managers said they had increased their exposure to the euro over the past two years. The majority thought eurozone money and debt markets were as attractive a destination for investment as the US.

AARP 'dead set against' Bush's Social Security plan

The nation's largest seniors' lobby will oppose any proposal that takes tax money out of Social Security to create private investment accounts for today's workers, the head of AARP said Monday. That puts the group on a collision course with President Bush and Republicans in Congress.
AARP has already unleashed an advertising campaign against Bush's expected proposal. The comments by William Novelli appear to slam the door on overtures from GOP congressional leaders, who hoped the seniors' group might support a compromise plan that includes private accounts. Just last week, Rep. Jim McCrery, R-La., chairman of a House subcommittee on Social Security, said he wants to include AARP in talks when his panel begins work on legislation.

Army now equipping GIs with gear many had been buying for themselves

To keep troops from spending what the Army found was an average of $300 per year on equipment, the service is now issuing troops everything from improved helmets to seasonal boots. The service plans to issue the gear to every soldier headed to Afghanistan, and to as many troops as possible serving in Iraq.

The Economist: Games in Biology and Economics

When discussing the outcomes of these games, animal behaviourists speak of “evolutionarily stable strategies”, with the implication that the way they are played has been hard-wired into the participants by the processes of natural selection. Economists prefer to talk of Nash equilibria and, since economics is founded on the idea of rational human choice, the implication is that people will adjust their behaviour (whether consciously or unconsciously is slightly ambiguous) in order to maximise their gains. But a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, by Robert Kurzban of the University of Pennsylvania and Daniel Houser of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, calls the economists' underlying assumption into question. This study suggests that it may be fruitful to work with the idea that human behaviour, too, can sometimes be governed by evolutionarily stable strategies.

Endangered Gizmos List

FCC Chairman Michael Powell calls TiVo "God's machine," and its devotees have been known to declare, "You can take my TiVo when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers!" But suppose none of us had ever been given the opportunity to use or own a TiVo -- or, for that matter, an iPod? Suppose instead that Hollywood and the record companies hunted down, hobbled, or killed these innovative gizmos in infancy or adolescence, to ensure that they wouldn't grow up to threaten the status quo?
That's the strategy the entertainment industry is using to control the next generation of TiVos and iPods. Its arsenal includes government-backed technology mandates, lawsuits, international treaties, and behind-the-scenes negotiations in seemingly obscure technology standards groups. The result is a world in which, increasingly, only industry-approved devices and technologies are "allowed" to survive in the marketplace.
This is bad news for innovation and free competition, but it also threatens a wide range of activities the entertainment conglomerates have no use for -- everything from making educational "fair" use of TV or movie clips for a classroom presentation, to creating your own "Daily Show"-style video to make a political statement, to simply copying an MP3 file to a second device so you can take your music with you.Rather than sit back and watch as promising new technologies are picked off one-by-one, EFF has created the Endangered Gizmos List to help you defend fair use and preserve the environment for innovation.

*White House Scraps 'Coalition of the Willing' List

The senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the White House replaced the coalition list with a smaller roster of 28 countries with troops in Iraq sometime after the June transfer of power to an interim Iraqi government.
The official could not say when or why the administration did away with the list of the coalition of the willing.

US Invokes State Secrets Privilege Against Arar Case

The United States government is attempting to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Syrian-Canadian Maher Arar, claiming the litigation would jeopardize national security.
Invoking the rarely used "state secrets privilege," U.S. Department of Justice lawyers filed a motion with the New York eastern district court this week, stating that the release of any information concerning the U.S.'s involvement in Arar's deportation to Syria could jeopardize "intelligence, foreign policy and national security interests of the United States."
...Arar was detained by immigration officials at New York's JFK airport on Sept. 26, 2002, and subsequently held as a terrorism suspect in a Brooklyn jail, where he says he repeatedly asked to be sent back to Canada. On Oct. 8 he was flown on a private jet to Syria, via Jordan. Arar says he was tortured and held without charges for a year before returning to Canada.

2005 Razzie Nominations

In addition to CATWOMAN with 7 nominations and ALEXANDER with 6, this year’s Worst Picture list also includes the inexplicable, astoundingly unfunny sequel SUPERBABIES: BABY GENIUSES 2, Ben Affleck’s snowball-from-Hell yuletide “comedy” SURVIVING CHRISTMAS and the Wayans Brothers’ creepy, cross-dressing reverse-blackface farce WHITE CHICKS. Vying alongside Halle Berry for Worst Actress are Hilary Duff for CINDERELLA STORY and RAISE YOUR VOICE, Angelina Jolie for both ALEXANDER and TAKING LIVES and two pairs of risible siblings, Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen for NEW YORK MINUTE and The Wayans “Sisters” for WHITE CHICKS. Besides Colin Farrell’s comically intense portrayal of ALEXANDER, the Worst Actor field also features last year’s “winner” Affleck for both SURVIVING and JERSEY GIRL, Vin Diesel in CHRONICLES of RIDDICK, Ben Stiller (setting a new record with FIVE titles) and one of several political figures garnering RAZZIE nods this year, President George W. Bush as himself in FAHRENHEIT 9/11, for which performance he is also nominating as Worst Screen Couple paired with either Condoleeza Rice and/or His Pet Goat. For their appearances in FAHRENHEIT, both Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld got Supporting nominations. And California’s current governor Ah-Nuld Schwarzenegger is also nominated as Worst Supporting Actor for his cameo as “Prince Hapi” in Worst Remake contender AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS. “The Uber-Nator” is also one of the contenders for a Special Commemorative RAZZIE as one of five Worst RAZZIE “Losers” of The First 25 Years – eligibility for which was determined by having amassed the most nominations over the years without ever actually “winning” a statuette. There are also categories dis-honoring The Worst Comedy, Drama and Musical of the First 25 Years. A complete list of nominations is included in this press release.

White House to scrap Hubble?

Officials revealed on Friday 21 January that NASA's budget for 2006 contains no cash to save the ageing telescope. Instead, it earmarks funds to decommission the instrument. President George W. Bush will present the budget proposal on 7 February, and the US Congress will then consider it.
The telescope could yet win a reprieve. Congress could insist on boosting NASA's budget to include the costs of a servicing mission, as they did last year. And NASA has enough flexibility in how it spends its US$16.2 billion budget for 2005 to devote some resources to a rescue mission.

NGOs win greater trust than media and businesses

Pressure groups and charities have overtaken governments, media and big businesses to become the world's most trusted institutions, according to an international poll to be presented this week to the World Economic Forum in Davos.
An annual survey of attitudes in eight countries suggests public trust has been eroded by scandals such as corporate malfeasance and discredited journalism. The survey, conducted in December for Edelman, a US public relations firm, found that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Amnesty International and Greenpeace now scored the highest for trustworthiness in the US and Europe.

Google Video

Our mission is to organize the world's information, and that includes the thousands of programs that play on our TVs every day. Google Video enables you to search a growing archive of televised content – everything from sports to dinosaur documentaries to news shows.
Just type in your search term (for instance, ipod or Napa Valley) or do a more advanced search (for instance, title:nightline) and Google Video will search the closed captioning text of all the programs in our archive for relevant results. Click on a program title on your results page and you can look through short snippets of the text along with still images from the show. Visit the "About this show" side panel to learn when this show will air next.
Right now we're just testing this product, so you'll find programs only from a limited number of channels, which we've been indexing since late December 2004. You can expect to see more and more content as we continue to add new channels.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Goodbye Johnny Carson

Over the three decades, Carson impaled the foibles of seven presidents and their aides as well as the doings of assorted nabobs and stuffed shirts from the private sector: corporate footpads and secret polluters, tax evaders, preening lawyers, idiosyncratic doctors, oily accountants, defendants who got off too easily and celebrities who talked too much.
All these oddments were sliced and diced so neatly, so politely, so unmaliciously, with so much alacrity, that even the stuffiest conservative Republicans found themselves almost smiling at Carson's Nixon-Agnew jokes and uptight doctrinaire liberal Democrats savored his pokes at Lyndon B. Johnson and the Kennedys. The public couldn't say whether they were on Johnny Carson's side or he was on theirs. All they knew was that they liked him and felt they knew him -- a claim most of those who were close to him in his life, including his wives, family and "Tonight" staff members, would not make with much confidence. They knew Carson was intensely private, a self-described loner who shunned the spotlight when off camera.

Stem Cell Lines Compromised?

The human embryonic stem cells available for research are contaminated with nonhuman molecules from the culture medium used to grow the cells, researchers report.
The nonhuman cell-surface sialic acid can compromise the potential uses of the stem cells in humans, say scientists at the University of California, San Diego. Their study was published Sunday in the online edition of Nature Medicine.

Fresh Air: A Fake Newsman's Fake Newsman - Stephen Colbert

Comic and journalist Stephen Colbert is the fake senior correspondent on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. We talk with Colbert about his reports, from "Rathergate" to "This Week in God."
Colbert started his comic career with Second City in Chicago. He helped create the HBO sketch comedy series Exit 57 which won five Cable ACE awards in 1995. He also wrote and performed sketches on The Dana Carvey Show. On Comedy Central, Colbert was also a main part of the three-season series Strangers with Candy, featuring Amy Sedaris. A film version of that show is now at the Sundance Film Festival.
In addition, Colbert is the voice of Ace for Saturday Night Live's animated short features, "Ace and Gary: The Ambiguously Gay Duo".

Only One Election Observer to Witness Iraq Elections

When 1 million Palestinians voted for a successor to Yasser Arafat, 800 international observers poured into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to monitor the polling. Former president Jimmy Carter and former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt led one team. A former French prime minister led another, and there were two U.S. congressional delegations.
When 8 million Afghans voted in October, at least 122 international observers from across Europe and Asia monitored the presidential election -- and declared it an "orderly and transparent process."
But in Iraq, where 14 million people are eligible to vote, the elections next week may have only one outsider from the hastily organized International Mission for Iraqi Elections to evaluate the balloting. If reluctant governments change their minds at the last minute about letting their officials go to Iraq, a handful of others may show up. But, even then, none is likely to tour polling stations or to be publicly identified, mission and U.S. officials said.

Bio Willie: Willie Nelson Bets on Biodiesel

Nelson and three business partners recently formed a company called Willie Nelson's Biodiesel that is marketing the fuel to truck stops. The fuel is made from vegetable oils, mainly soybeans, and can be burned without modification to diesel engines.
..."There is really no need going around starting wars over oil. We have it here at home. We have the necessary product, the farmers can grow it," said Nelson, who organized Farm Aid two decades ago to draw attention to the plight of American agriculture.
Nelson told The Associated Press in an interview last week that he began learning about the product a few years ago after his wife purchased a biodiesel-burning car in Hawaii, where the star has a home.

Googie Architecture

architecture was born of the post-WWII car-culture and thrived in the 1950s and 1960s. Bold angles, colorful signs, plate glass, sweeping cantilevered roofs and pop-culture imagery captured the attention of drivers on adjacent streets. Bowling alleys looked like Tomorrowland. Coffee shops looked like something in a Jetsons cartoon.
For decades, many "serious" architects decried Googie as frivolous or crass. But today we recognize how perfectly its form followed its function.
Even as the best historic examples are bulldozed, architects are rediscovering the importance and utility of Googie and are adopting it for their own designs.

Pope urges media to use power for good

"Modern technology places at our disposal unprecedented possibilities for good, for spreading the truth of our salvation in Jesus Christ and for fostering harmony and reconciliation," the pope said in the written message for the church's World Communications Day.
"Yet its misuse can do untold harm, giving rise to misunderstanding, prejudice and even conflict. When others are portrayed in hostile terms, seeds of conflict are sown which can all too easily escalate into violence, war or even genocide."
The pope said the international community's response to the Dec. 26 Indian Ocean tsunami disaster "was heartening." The earthquake-generated waves killed at least 160,000 people in 11 countries across Asia and Africa.

Media Training Now Required for Iraq-Bound Soldiers

"Talking point" cards for military personnel, meanwhile, are being updated regularly as the war progresses -- often as much as once a week -- to keep up with the conflict's changing issues and the proximity of embedded reporters. Among the current talking points: "We are a values-based, people-focused team that strives to uphold the dignity and respect of all."
Soldiers preparing for deployment in hostile or critical areas have received some kind of media training in handling press inquiries since as far back as the first Persian Gulf War, according to several military press officers. Such training has also included pocket cards with suggested talking points for the combatants, which advise them how best to promote the military operation and avoid awkward or confrontational interviews.

China halts megaprojects, citing environment

Twenty-six of the projects are power plants being planned in 12 different provinces, part of a rush to boost the nation’s generating capacity amid severe electricity shortages, many of them expansions of existing coal-fired plants.

Sibel Edmonds' Web Site

Exercise your Constitutional rights by signing the petiton to require the immediate release of the entire report completed by the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General (DOJ-IG) of its investigation into confirmed reports by FBI Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds on the cover-up of information and leads pre and post 9/11.

EPIC Reveals Connection Between FBI and ISPs

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) recently obtained Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) documents that show the agency failed to use its DCS-1000 Internet monitoring system effectively during 2002 and 2003. EPIC reports that the agency only used DCS-1000 a mere thirteen times in both years combined.
According to the reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the FBI opted instead to use commercially available software to carryout court ordered surveillance. The documents alluded that the agency found Carnivore and similar tools to be inadequate and almost unnecessary, since most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) willingly give out customer information as requested by the FBI and the United States government.

Hacker penetrates T-Mobile systems

A sophisticated computer hacker had access to servers at wireless giant T-Mobile for at least a year, which he used to monitor U.S. Secret Service e-mail, obtain customers' passwords and Social Security numbers, and download candid photos taken by Sidekick users, including Hollywood celebrities, SecurityFocus has learned.
Twenty-one year-old Nicolas Jacobsen was quietly charged with the intrusions last October, after a Secret Service informant helped investigators link him to sensitive agency documents that were circulating in underground IRC chat rooms. The informant also produced evidence that Jacobsen was behind an offer to provide T-Mobile customers' personal information to identity thieves through an Internet bulletin board, according to court records.

NY Times takes Activists' Ad Money, Does Not Run Ad

We had planned for the new Not In Our Name statement of conscience to run on Friday, January 21, in the New York Times. We had a contract and a confirmation number. This ad was to be our answer to the inauguration, and it was timed to appear in the middle of the inauguration news coverage.
The ad did not run. The advertising department were themselves deeply surprised by this, and have not been able to explain what happened. In fact, we were told that to their knowledge this had never happened before.
At the same time, the Times lead editorial said that this should be a time of legitimacy and acceptance for the President -- and that this was especially something that the opposition has to come to terms with.

Sergeant Refuses to Return to Iraq

Witnessing the brutal reality of war, Benderman says, made him choose conscience over his commitment to fellow troops. That's why, after 10 years in the Army, he can bear the insults.
An officer called him a coward. His battalion chaplain shamed him in an e-mail from Kuwait. That's because Benderman, whose unit just deployed for a second combat tour in Iraq, refused to return to war.
"Some people may be born a conscientious objector, but sometimes people realize through certain events in their lives that the path they're on is the wrong one," Benderman says. "The idea was: do I really want to stay in an organization where the sole purpose is to kill?"
The 40-year-old sergeant stunned his commanders at Fort Stewart when he filed notice Dec. 28 that he was seeking a discharge as a conscientious objector.

Rumsfeld cancels trip after war crimes accusations

Rumsfeld has informed the German government via the US embassy that he will not take part in the Munich Security Conference in February, conference head Horst Teltschik told dpa on Thursday.
The New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights filed acomplaint in December with the Federal German Prosecutor's Office against Rumsfeld accusing him of war crimes and torture in connection with detainee abuses at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.
Rumsfeld made it known immediately after the complaint was filed that he would not attend the Munich conference unless Germany quashed the legal action.

Lax testing standards for North American cattle could be masking a wider contagion

Most Canadians and Americans believe that their governments have taken the necessary measures to stop the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the scientific name for mad cow disease. For a decade the official line of both governments and the corporate meat and livestock industry has been that the disease could not occur in either country because of extensive safeguards such as the “1997 firewall feed ban” that officials claimed prevented the feeding of cattle protein to cattle, the means of infection for the deadly brain disease.
However, the regulations adopted by the United States and Canada in 1997 were too little and too late. For example, it is still legal in both countries to wean calves on formula containing cattle blood as a protein source.
Why have only three mad cows been discovered to date in North America? Both Canada and the United States have increased the number of cattle tested by each government for the disease, but the testing remains woefully inadequate by the standards of the European Union nations and Japan.

Echoes of Biblical Phrases in Bush's Inauguration Speech

When Bush talked of the “ideals of justice and conduct that are the same yesterday, today, and forever,” he was echoing Hebrews 13:8, which says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
When Bush talked about the “untamed fire of freedom” in a passage that included the phrase “hope kindles hope,” he was echoing passages from Jeremiah. For instance, Jeremiah 17:27 says: “I will kindle an unquenchable fire in the gates of Jerusalem.” And Jeremiah 50:32 says: “I will kindle a fire in her towns that will consume all who are around her.”

Krystal's Taping Friday

We are taping two new shows on Friday, January 28 - 6:30 - 10 pm.
On the first show we are very pleased to present multi-talented performer, Robert Grossman - singer/songwriter, musician, actor.
On the second show, we bring you "3 Guys Named Joe" - improvisational songs with a strong musical base and great harmonies. The excellent comedic lyrics are made up on the spot with input from the audience - local improv guys: Topher Owen, Dustin Gardner and Pat Loos. Hosted by the gregarious (though occasionally flappable), Tony Berci.
Maddog continues to torment Lucky. E
ach show opens with a short sketch presented by local improv performers. Two great shows that you won't want to miss!
Comcast Studio 2800 Gulley Rd. Dearborn Hts. [thanks to Kathy]

Krystal's Taping Friday

We are taping two new shows on Friday, January 28 - 6:30 - 10 pm.
On the first show we are very pleased to present multi-talented performer, Robert Grossman - singer/songwriter, musician, actor.
On the second show, we bring you "3 Guys Named Joe" - improvisational songs with a strong musical base and great harmonies. The excellent comedic lyrics are made up on the spot with input from the audience - local improv guys: Topher Owen, Dustin Gardner and Pat Loos. Hosted by the gregarious (though occasionally flappable), Tony Berci.
Maddog continues to torment Lucky. E
ach show opens with a short sketch presented by local improv performers. Two great shows that you won't want to miss!
Comcast Studio 2800 Gulley Rd. Dearborn Hts. [thanks to Kathy]

On The Media 1/21/05

The whole hour of the show is great. A couple highlights:

Media Misbehavin'
The inauguration provided the media with a peg for evaluating the last four years of presidential rule, and for speculating on the four to come. We at OTM seized the opportunity to evaluate the media's performance over the course of Bush's first term. Brooke reflects on the highlights, and far more numerous lowlights, from voter disenfranchisement in 2000 to the lead up to war in Iraq and Campaign '04.

Analog in Winter
For many decades, reel-to-reel analog tape has defined the experience of recorded sound. It became the standard after World War II, but has gradually been overtaken by cheaper digital technology. And so this month, the last tape manufacturer, Quantegy, abruptly closed its doors and filed for bankruptcy. As far as anyone knows, it represents the end of a medium. Culture maven Rick Karr joins Bob to recount the slow demise of analog tape.

Museum Looking for Lost TV and Radio Programs

Part of Our Heritage Is MissingThe Museum has more than 100,000 hours of television and radio programming in the permanent collection. However, there are many significant broadcasts for which no copies are known to exist. ...
Submit a "Lost" Program:If you are an independent collector or know the whereabouts of any of the programs on the pages for "Radio" or "Television," e-mail us your information.
Lost TV broadcasts include the first televised address from the White House, the first Super Bowl, 3 of Gore Vidal's early plays, and 14 appearances by James Dean. [from]

Pentagon runs clandestine intelligence-gathering infrastructure

The official said the role of the Strategic Support Branch -- described first in Sunday's Washington Post -- "is to provide an intelligence capability for field operation units" including the U.S. military's secretive special forces unit.
The Strategic Support Branch (SSB) got its name in 2004 after operating under a different, undisclosed name before then, said the official, who confirmed the unit's existence and mission to CNN.
See also:
The Pentagon acknowledged Sunday that it is trying to improve its network of spies abroad but denied a published report that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had reinterpreted U.S. law to create an espionage unit under his control.
Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita said it was "accurate and should not be surprising" that the Pentagon would try to improve its human spying capability, an area that the 9/11 Commission concluded was inadequate.

Global Warming Approaching Point of No Return, Warns Leading Climate Expert

[Bush appointee] Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the official Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told an international conference attended by 114 governments in Mauritius this month that he personally believes that the world has "already reached the level of dangerous concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere" and called for immediate and "very deep" cuts in the pollution if humanity is to "survive".
His comments rocked the Bush administration - which immediately tried to slap him down - not least because it put him in his post after Exxon, the major oil company most opposed to international action on global warming, complained that his predecessor was too "aggressive" on the issue

*Why Can't Liberals and Conservatives Get Along? Because They Fundamentally Misunderstand Each Other

Truth About Liberals #1: They're Just As Moral As ConservativesTruth About Conservatives #1: They're Just As Smart As LiberalsAn interesting article on the role of faith by Steven Waldman that exposes 'moral values' as not being the sole domain of either side while pointing out that the media continues to polarize by playing tempest. Via Speaking of Faith on NPR. [from - the NPR interview is excellent]

Wikipedia: Heavy metal umlaut

A heavy metal umlaut is an umlaut over letters in the name of a heavy metal band. Umlauts and other diacritics with a blackletter style typeface are a form of foreign branding intended to give a band's logo a tough Germanic feel. They are also called röckdöts. The heavy metal umlaut is never referred to by the term diaeresis in this usage, nor does it affect the pronunciation of the band's name. [thanks to Michael K]

Snopes: Bill Gates in Teen Beat Magazine?

Many readers have asked us about these pictures of Microsoft co-founder and Chairman Bill Gates since they were posted on a blog with a caption identifying them as photos taken for a 'Teen Beat Photospread' (i.e., a layout in a magazine featuring stories and pictures of 'teen idol'-type celebrities, marketed primarily to prepubescent girls). These images are actually publicity photos taken of the then 30-year-old Bill Gates coincident with the initial release of Microsoft Windows in 1985.