Friday, February 04, 2005
The "Bush blacklist" is "frightening," Tom Athans, chief executive of Democracy Radio, said after learning that a producer for the liberal "Ed Schultz Show" was among those barred. "To blacklist a local citizen because he produces a radio program at odds with the political agenda of the White House is dangerous for democracy."
The 2029 event will be the closest brush by a good-sized asteroid known to occur. The rock will pass Earth inside the orbits of some satellites. No other asteroid has ever been clearly visible to the unaided eye.
The asteroid is roughly estimated to be a little more than 1,000 feet (320 meters) wide.
The rock, catalogued as 2004 MN4, was discovered last June. It was seen again in December, and for a time scientists said it had the highest odds of hitting Earth ever given to a space rock. Subsequent observations refined the future path and eliminated those odds for the 2029 flyby. It won't hit the Moon, either.
Some bloggers recently have been debating what, if any, ethics the Weblog community should follow. Since not all bloggers are journalists and the Weblog form is more casual, they argue they shouldn't be expected to follow the same ethics codes journalists are. But responsible bloggers should recognize that they are publishing words publicly, and therefore have certain ethical obligations to their readers, the people they write about, and society in general.
CyberJournalist.net has created a model Bloggers' Code of Ethics, by modifying the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics for the Weblog world. These are just guidelines -- in the end it is up to individual bloggers to choose their own best practices. CyberJournalist.net follows this code and urges other Weblogs to adopt this one or similar practices.
Some Republicans have even gone so far as to suggest the one approach Mr. Bush did not mention in his speech, raising the ceiling on income subject to payroll taxes, which is now about $90,000 a year. The idea appeals to some politicians because only about 6 percent of Americans earn more than $90,000 a year. Imposing Social Security taxes on incomes of up to $200,000 would come close to eliminating the entire deficit.
Mr. Bush has adamantly opposed any increase in payroll taxes. At least for the moment, that idea is off the table.
[You'll need to scroll to the very end of the article]
...Sometimes he seasons the menus to taste like the main courses. Recently, he used dehydrated squash and sour cream powders to match a soup entree. He also prepares edible photographs flavored to fit a theme: an image of a cow, for example, might taste like filet mignon. [thanks to Michael K]
Tetris is one of the most popular computer games of the last 20 years. Since its invention in 1985 it has found its way on almost any computer system and game console in one form or the other.
With Arcade you can play Tetris with your mobile phone - on a playground 3370 m2 in size.
Whoever stands in front of Bibliothèque nationale de France can connect himself with the building by dialing +33 (1) 44 24 73 50. The current show will be interrupted and the text "TETRIS" announces that the game can begin.
The Reuters news agency's building has a pattern of flowers and Iraqi flags, and next door has some attempts at what seems to be vaguely-remembered Picassos.
A professor of fine art was called in, I was told, and he produced, over many weeks, an elaborate tribute to the ancient history of his people across the fortifications of our building.
Angular, bearded Assyrian heads mingle with Sumerian ziggurats, Babylonian chariots and visions of rulers and wars long past - perhaps an aide-memoire that this country has been through difficult times before. And survived.
The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE) will place priority on easing anti-corporate sentiment this year.
"To boost corporate investment in facilities, we will make efforts to eliminate the public’s hostility toward corporations and bolster confidence in enterprises this year,’’ Commerce-Industry-Energy Minister Lee Hee-beom stressed.
His remark came at a meeting that was organized by the Korea Productivity Center with about 300 domestic business leaders in attendance.
Lee pointed out, "The government has recognized that anti-corporate sentiment of Korean citizens has reached an alarming level, having a negative impact on corporate investment sentiment.’’
...For this end, the ministry will fully support initiatives driven by the Corporate Love Council.
Scientists who have been pushing for more open access to research findings have praised the policy, which comes into effect on 2 May. "This is a significant and positive step and I'm glad we have the policy written down," says Harold Varmus, president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
"A President can be elected without receiving the most popular votes - this is the fundamental flaw of our electoral system," Senator Feinstein said during a press statement on January 6, 2005, the day of the Electoral College certification of George W. Bush.
"It has happened four times in our history and there have been close calls in 22 other presidential elections. It will happen again and again unless we change the system," the Senator continued.
These investors include big names such as ABN Amro Asset Management, BNP Paribas Asset Management, Generation Investment Management, Merrill Lynch Investment Managers and Morley Fund Management.
In total they account for funds worth around $20 trillion.
As part of this request, companies have been asked to fill in questionnaires on a range on issues such as carbon dioxide emissions, energy costs, use of energy-efficient technology and supply chain management.
It is clear that the risks of climate change are more serious than was thought a few years ago, the scientists say.
Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change, a meeting organized by the UK government and the Exeter-based Met Office, attempted to assess the current and future state of climate change, and how to avert it.
Poles have flooded websites to view a list of names taken from communist-era files made public for the first time since the fall of Communism, searching for mentions of family members.
Amid warnings that the record of a certain name on the files may not mean the person was an informer or a spy, the list - first distributed by a journalist to colleagues at the weekend - became the most searched item on the Web.
However, a correspondent who works for a Slovak news agency informed us that not only has the avalanche story (or any news story about an avalanche) not appeared in the news media there, but the very same tale (of Czech origin, told about an unnamed man caught in the Austrian Alps) was circulating in that country as an e-mail joke even before the heavy snows described in the article occurred.
I like big Bibles I can not lie,
You Christian brothers can't deny,
When a girl walks in with a KJV
And a bookmark in proverbs, You get stoked.
It got a name engraved,
you know this girl has been saved
It looks like one of those large ones,
With plenty of space in the margins,
Oh baby, I want to read it with you,
Because your Bible has got pictures,
My minister tried to console me,
But the book you've got makes me so Holy.
It is clear that the risks of climate change are more serious than was thought a few years ago, the scientists say.
Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change, a meeting organized by the UK government and the Exeter-based Met Office, attempted to assess the current and future state of climate change, and how to avert it.
Many concluded that it is impossible to define "dangerous" climate change, as impacts vary wildly from place to place. Regardless, others hoped that one message would be clear.
The oil trade with countries such as Turkey and Jordan appears to have been an open secret inside the U.S. government and the United Nations for years.
The unclassified State Department documents sent to congressional committees with oversight of U.S. foreign policy divulge that the United States deemed such sales to be in the "national interest," even though they generated billions of dollars in unmonitored revenue for Saddam's regime.
- Unveiling and test driving of sporty, safe and super-efficient vehicles of tomorrow.
- A live performance by the Chicago Car Alarm Symphony.
- Levitation and exorcism of McCormick Place by a pastor from Church of Christ Without Cars.
- Oversized Puppet Parade depicting auto industry titans. [thanks to Michael B.]
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Environmental officials from Minnesota to Pennsylvania are advising senior citizens and people with respiratory ailments to limit their outdoor activities because rising levels of soot can trigger a variety of complications. Even healthy adults and children are cautioned against heavy physical activity outdoors.
Though sunny skies and light winds promise a relatively balmy day Thursday, the same weather conditions are preventing microscopic forms of air pollution from dispersing in the atmosphere.
Soot alerts are a recent addition to a nationwide warning system for dirty air. Smog warnings have become routine in summer, when ozone hovers over Chicago and other urban areas.
branch agencies have provoked controversy. Some salient examples follow below.
• The Department of Education hired Armstrong Williams, a television commentator and syndicated columnist, to promote the No Child Left Behind Act on his television program.
• The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched a high profile public relations campaign (DTV — Get It!) to encourage consumers to purchase digital television sets. As part of this effort, former Chairman Michael K. Powell appeared on Monday Night Football, and the FCC created a website [http://www.dtv.gov] that promotes digital television (DTV) and includes hyperlinks to the websites of a number of large corporations with significant financial
interests in DTV.
• As part of a $1 million public education campaign, the Environmental Protection Agency hired a public relations firm to produce a public service announcement (PSA) urging home owners
to help reduce pollution. The PSA, which came in video format, spoofed one man’s effort to reduce pollution by decreasing the quantity of gasoline required to run his automobile. The video told viewers that a home “can cause twice the green house gases of a car,” and directed consumers to a webpage, available online at [http://www.energystar.gov/] that listed energy-efficient household appliances; it did not provide information on the varying levels of emissions produced by different automobiles.
• In early April 2004, the Internal Revenue Service issued four press releases to remind taxpayers of the looming filing deadline. The press releases also included a policy assertion — “America has a choice: It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as
the president’s policies are doing, or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation.”
• The Forest Service hired a public relations firm to produce a brochure which promoted increased logging in the Sierra Nevada forest. The brochure argued that the forest had grown too dense and that tree removal was a tool in the “campaign against catastrophic
wildfires” that would be beneficial to the forest and its fauna. The brochure included photographs that purported to show that the forest had become overgrown in the past century. However, the photograph showing low forest density in 1909 was taken after the
forest had been logged.
• The Social Security Administration (SSA) has reportedly drawn up a “strategic communications plan” that urges SSA employees to disseminate the message that “Social Security’s long-term financing problems are serious and need to be addressed soon” through
speeches, public events, and mass media, and by other means. emissions produced by different automobiles.
The researchers' device, dubbed the quantized conductance atomic switch, could one day be used to form electronic circuits and memory devices, and could be manufactured on silicon computer chips, said Hasegawa.
... Because the switches are so tiny, they operate in the realm of quantum physics, which opens the possibility of using the switch to make a multi-bit memory device, according to Hasegawa. In the realm of atoms and subatomic particles, the rules of physics are different from the everyday world. Unlike that of larger switches, the electrical conductance through the researchers' tiny switch is quantized, meaning it increases or decreases by discrete amounts. A pair of the switches can represent as many as 16 values, or 4 bits, according to Hasegawa.
Union testimony exposed ways in which SSA employees were instructed to promote the idea that Social Security is in a crisis and that private investment accounts are the solution to this financial situation. The testimony suggests that SSA may have violated federal law prohibiting agencies from using funds for propaganda purposes unless those funds are specifically designated for such use by act of Congress. Additionally, the testimony refuted recent White House assertions and a statement that SSA employees are now required to read, on behalf of Social Security Commissioner Jo Anne B. Barnhart, in the event that they are questioned about the recent media reports.
"Previously, our employees had shared information with the public about Social Security's financial condition, but had never been encouraged to support any particular 'reform' proposal. In fact, they were always expected to remain neutral on political and legislative matters," testified Steve Kofahl, regional vice president of the Council and president of AFGE Local 3937.
"If you put approximately 10 or 15 kilovolts per meter on a target for a few seconds, you should be able to bring it to a halt," Tatoian said.
Most cars built in the United States since 1982 have some type of on-board microprocessor. Today, the processors are advanced enough to control functions such as fuel injection and GPS equipment.
Eureka Aerospace's High Power Electromagnetic System consists of a series of wires arranged in a 5-foot-by-4-foot rectangular array. The interference is emitted in a conical shape outward from the device.
Mr. McCain and others sponsoring the legislation say they are determined to stop such spending before the 2006 Congressional elections get under way. While the bill contains numerous regulations, some quite complex, its overriding goal is to stop donations like the $24 million that the financier George Soros contributed last year to defeat President Bush.
Without such regulations, supporters of the new bill argue, the groups will have a corrosive effect on the system by becoming a permanent channel for unlimited contributions.
"It could make a mockery of campaign finance reform," Mr. McCain, an Arizona Republican, said in an interview. "I think it would be incredibly damaging."
The legislation is part of a series of measures that the proponents say will protect the integrity of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which got its first test in last year's races. There is also a federal court case brought by lawmakers that seeks to regulate 527 groups.
Though the bill's prospects are uncertain, it has drawn early backing in unusual places.
In a shake-up of the bipartisan panel that critics called part of a purge and a "shutdown" of ethics enforcement, Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican, also replaced the ethics chairman, Joel Hefley, a Colorado Republican, with Washington state Republican Doc Hastings, who was already on the panel.
In response to FOIA request 05-0378-F from me (Russ Kick), the Drug Enforcement Administration has said it can find no records on the late investigative reporter Gary Webb. Specifically, their response letter stated: "A review of DEA indices indicates that the DEA has located no records which are responsive to your request."
DEA response letter [JPG format]
The privilege was invoked ”in order to protect the intelligence, foreign policy and national security interests of the United States,” wrote Acting Attorney-General James B. Comey in legal papers filed in the Eastern District of New York.
”Litigating... plaintiff's complaint would necessitate disclosure of classified information,” according to Comey, including disclosure of the basis for detaining him in the first place, the basis for refusing to deport him to Canada as he had requested, and the basis for sending him to Syria. He was never charged with any crime.
British scientists have discovered a new threat to the world which may be a result of global warming. Researchers from the Cambridge-based British Antarctic Survey (BAS) have discovered that a massive Antarctic ice sheet previously assumed to be stable may be starting to disintegrate, a conference on climate change heard yesterday. Its collapse would raise sea levels around the earth by more than 16 feet.
BAS staff are carrying out urgent measurements of the remote points in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) where they have found ice to be flowing into the sea at the enormous rate of 250 cubic kilometers a year, a discharge alone that is raising global sea levels by a fifth of a millimeter a year.
As present world temperatures are already 0.7C above the pre-industrial level, the process is well under way. In the near future - the next 25 years - as the temperature climbs to the 1C mark, some specialized ecosystems will start to feel stress, such as the tropical highland forests of Queensland, which contain a large number of Australia's endemic plant species, and the succulent karoo plant region of South Africa. In some developing countries, food production will start to decline, water shortage problems will worsen and there will be net losses in GDP.
It is when the temperature moves up to 2C above the pre-industrial level, expected in the middle of this century - within the lifetime of many people alive today - that serious effects start to come thick and fast, studies suggest.
Substantial losses of Arctic sea ice will threaten species such as polar bears and walruses, while in tropical regions "bleaching" of coral reefs will become more frequent - when the animals that live in the coral are forced out by high temperatures and the reef may die. Mediterranean regions will be hit by more forest fires and insect pests, while in regions of the US such as the Rockies, rivers may become too warm for trout and salmon.
In South Africa, the Fynbos, the world's most remarkable floral kingdom which has more than 8,000 endemic wild flowers, will start to lose its species, as will alpine areas from Europe to Australia; the broad-leaved forests of China will start to die. The numbers at risk from hunger will increase and another billion and a half people will face water shortages, and GDP losses in some developing countries will become significant.
But when the temperature moves up to the 3C level, expected in the early part of the second half of the century, these effects will become critical. There is likely to be irreversible damage to the Amazon rainforest, leading to its collapse, and the complete destruction of coral reefs is likely to be widespread.
The alpine flora of Europe, Australia and New Zealand will probably disappear completely, with increasing numbers of extinctions of other plant species. There will be severe losses of China's broadleaved forests, and in South Africa the flora of the Succulent Karoo will be destroyed, and the flora of the Fynbos will be hugely damaged.
There will be a rapid increase in populations exposed to hunger, with up to 5.5 billion people living in regions with large losses in crop production, while another 3 billion people will have increased risk of water shortages.
Above the 3C raised level, which may be after 2070, the effects will be catastrophic: the Arctic sea ice will disappear, and species such as polar bears and walruses may disappear with it, while the main prey species of Arctic carnivores, such as wolves, Arctic foxes and the collared lemming, will have gone from 80 per cent of their range, critically endangering predators.
In human terms there is likely to be catastrophe too, with water stress becoming even worse, and whole regions becoming unsuitable for producing food, while there will be substantial impacts on global GDP.
New findings are helping to bridge this gap between prediction and observation. In a paper published today in the journal Nature, scientists report having identified the probable source of the rest of this missing matter. Data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory, it appears, indicate that the lost baryons may be swimming in diffuse rivers of gas in the intergalactic medium too hot to see with an optical telescope.
The move represents a victory for the parents and supporters of Ahmed Abu Ali, 23, of Falls Church, who has been held without charges in Saudi Arabia since June 2003.
Elliott Abrams, a graduate of Harvard (69; 73), is considered to be a "neo-con". He was appointed to the National Security Council by George Walker Bush. He served as Assistant Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan.
Abrams is a signatory of the January 26, 1998, Project for the New American Century (PNAC Letter (http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraqclintonletter.htm)) sent to President William Jefferson Clinton. (http://www.channel4.com/news/2003/special_reports/pnacletter.html)
He is associated with the Committee on U.S. Interests in the Middle East and has ties to the Hudson Institute and the Center for Security Policy (CSP). Abrams was heavily involved in the Iran-Contra scandal.
In 1991, Abrams was indicted by the Iran-Contra special prosecutor for giving false testimony before Congress in 1987 about his role in illicitly raising money for the Nicaraguan Contras. He pleaded guilty to two lesser offenses of withholding information to Congress in order to avoid a trial and a possible jail term.
He was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush along with a number of other Iran-Contra defendants on Christmas night 1992.
"Congress has set the laws, and it is the duty of executive agencies to comply with them," U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein wrote.
It was the second time in six months that the judge suggested the government was impeding the American Civil Liberties Union's quest to monitor government actions in the war on terrorism.
The United States military is too small for the responsibilities we are asking it to assume. Those responsibilities are real and important. They are not going away. The United States will not and should not become less engaged in the world in the years to come. But our national security, global peace and stability, and the defense and promotion of freedom in the post-9/11 world require a larger military force than we have today. The administration has unfortunately resisted increasing our ground forces to the size needed to meet today's (and tomorrow's) missions and challenges.
So we [the Project for the New American Century] write to ask you and your colleagues in the legislative branch to take the steps necessary to increase substantially the size of the active duty Army and Marine Corps. While estimates vary about just how large an increase is required, and Congress will make its own determination as to size and structure, it is our judgment that we should aim for an increase in the active duty Army and Marine Corps, together, of at least 25,000 troops each year over the next several years.
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
It’s rare to hear good news about AIDS. This week, however,
In each of the last few years, the Bush administration's budget for Amtrak has been smaller than what the railroad said it needed to survive, and Congress then raised the amount.
US chain Thriftway introduced the PayByTouch system in its shop in the Seattle area in 2002 and now sees thousands of transactions a month using the payment method.
The report marks the first time the CIA officially has disavowed its prewar judgments, and is one in a "series" of updated assessments the agency is producing as part of a belated effort to correct its record on Iraq's alleged weapons programs, officials said.
Evidence is growing that global warming is already starting to disrupt the world's delicately-balanced climate system, and the damage will reverberate for generations, a top science conference was told.
"There is no longer any doubt that the Earth's climate is changing," conference chairman Dennis Tirpak said Tuesday.
"Globally, nine of the past 10 years have been the warmest since records began in 1861," he said. "Rising greenhouse gases are affecting rainfall patterns and the global water cycle."
Tirpak singled out the heatwave that gripped western Europe in 2003 as an example. Europe's worst natural disaster in 50 years killed as many as 30,000 people and inflicted an estimated 30 billion dollars (23 billion euros) in damage.
Sher Bahadur Deuba, the deposed Prime Minister, denounced the King’s actions as a coup, accusing him of exploiting the intensifying Maoist insurgency to snatch power in a violation of the constitution.
It is the second time in three years that King Gyanendra has dismissed his Government. “It is an anti-democratic step and we strongly denounce this act,” Mr Deuba said in a statement to journalists who gathered outside his house after soldiers surrounded it and prevented anyone from entering. “This step has thrown the country into a grave crisis.” KING Gyanendra threw Nepal into political crisis yesterday when he sacked the Government, declared a state of emergency and took over control of the country.
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
A model that assumes stock market traders have zero intelligence has been found to mimic the behaviour of the London Stock Exchange very closely.
However, the surprising result does not mean traders are actually just buying and selling at random, say researchers. Instead, it suggests that the movement of markets depend less on the strategic behaviour of traders and more on the structure and constraints of the trading system itself.
The research, led by J Doyne Farmer and his colleagues at the Santa Fe Institute, New Mexico, US, say the finding could be used to identify ways to lower volatility in the stock markets and reduce transaction costs, both of which would benefit small investors and perhaps bigger investors too.
A spokesperson for the London Stock Exchange says: "It's an interesting bit of work that mirrors things we're looking at ourselves."
Texas Instruments executive Tony Sabetti denies that cracking the vehicles is possible, saying that they “have been fraud-free and are likely to remain fraud-free."
However the researchers disagree. In a demonstration, the researchers were able to stand next to someone holding a valid key for just 1-2 seconds, about an hour of number crunching and then the car was completely theirs for the taking.
The implications of the Hopkins finding go beyond stealing cars.
The security technology is widely used for everything from highway tools to credit cards and inventory tracking.
The auction, for 242 licenses in big and small markets across the country, is scheduled to continue this morning, with 31 of the 35 bidders that were initially eligible still participating, according to the Federal Communications Commission, the regulatory agency that is overseeing the auction.
...Male monkeys will 'pay' in fruit juice to look at a picture of a socially dominant monkey or a female's hindquarters. In the wild, the animals help their fitness by monitoring what their leaders are doing, and which females are sexually receptive.
Early data for 2003 suggests that this trend may not be continuing, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).
Researchers, however, said more studies are needed to understand why so many more tiny babies are being born but not living long.
[Before this, the US ranked 41st, ahead of Taiwan and Croatia; and behind the Faroe Islands and Guam.]
In a setback for the Bush administration, U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens Green also ruled the prisoners at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have constitutional protections under the law.
"The court concludes that the petitioners have stated valid claims under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and that the procedures implemented by the government to confirm that the petitioners are 'enemy combatants' subject to indefinite detention violate the petitioners' rights to due process of law," Green wrote.
More than 540 suspects are being held at Guantanamo after being detained during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and in other operations in the U.S. "war against terrorism." They are al Qaeda suspects and accused Taliban fighters.
An advocacy group, USAction, said on Monday that four television networks had turned down its request to run an advertisement opposing President Bush's effort to clamp down on medical malpractice lawsuits.
The group wanted to run the spots just before Mr. Bush's State of the Union address on Wednesday. But networks said the advertisement violated their standards for advertising on controversial issues.
The NBC Universal Television Network, owned by General Electric, told the group, "We are sorry that we cannot accept your ad based on our network policy regarding controversial issue advertising."
As a general rule, the policy says, "time will not be sold on NBC Network facilities for the presentation of views on controversial issues." The policy does not apply to candidates for public office in election years.
ABC, CBS and the Fox Broadcasting Company said they had also turned down the advertisement.
In a novel agreement, Marsh & McLennan agreed to changes its business practices and to set aside money to compensate clients that had been charged excessive premiums.
"The court rightly rejected Texas' policy of shutting the public out of the processes for selecting voting technologies. The need for public trust in our election systems cannot be overstated, and this is a terrific step forward for the voters of Texas," said EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sent a memo last month to then-Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham saying next year's budget should include funds to resume study of building an earth-penetrating nuclear weapon designed to destroy hardened underground targets.
An Energy Department official said Monday that $10.3 million to restart that study is expected to be included in the Bush administration's budget, which is to be released next week.
...The program has been restricted each year by Senate and House members who have argued that even studying the potential for such a new nuclear weapon undermines Washington's attempts to limit other countries from developing their own nuclear arsenals.
The company says it took its system 10 seconds to assess the situation and sound an alert. In another image, someone can be seen lifting the man off the floor of the pool. He was resuscitated and, according to Vision IQ, has recovered completely.
United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.
According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.
....A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam. The election was the culmination of a constitutional development that began in January, 1966, to which President Johnson gave his personal commitment when he met Premier Ky and General Thieu, the chief of state, in Honolulu in February.
The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to the Saigon Government, which has been founded only on coups and power plays since November, 1963, when President Ngo Dinh Deim was overthrown by a military junta.
I know, I know, this doesn't mean Iraq is Vietnam. But you have to admit, this story is pretty spooky.—Kevin Drum
Full article posted here.
People for the American Way Foundation has been told it must pay nearly $400,000 before the Department of Justice will process its Freedom of Information Act request. The general counsel for the group, which hopes to publish a public report about government secrecy efforts against hundreds of unidentified detainees, called the unusually large fee requirement "outrageous."
"The government should not be able to levy that kind of fee as a precondition for getting information," said Elliot Mincberg. "We regularly file these requests against not only the Department of Justice but other federal agencies, and we've never had a situation like this before. It's hard to reach any other conclusion than they're stonewalling."
Under the law, the C.I.A. has already provided more than 1.2 million pages of documents, the vast majority of them from the archives of its World War II predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services. Many documents have been declassified, and some made public last year showed a closer relationship between the United States government and Nazi war criminals than had previously been understood, including the C.I.A.'s recruitment of war criminal suspects or Nazi collaborators.
For nearly three years, the C.I.A. has interpreted the 1998 law narrowly and rebuffed requests for additional records, say Congressional officials and some members of the working group, who also contend that that stance seems to violate the law.
The document is filled with suggestions for communicating with constituents such as, "Talk in simple language: Your audience doesn't understand financial jargon," and "Offer an alternate reality." The first several pages of the 103-page document are posted here.
The playbook, first reported on by Raw Story, has been subsequently reproduced by various liberal weblogs. View the entire document in PDF format here (2mb).
Monday, January 31, 2005
Writing in the Preventive Psychiatry E-Newsletter # 169, Arthur N. Bernklau, Executive Director of the Veterans For Constitutional Law Center in New York, stated that "The real reason for Mr. Principi’s departure was really never given, however a special report published by eminent scientist Leuren Moret’s naming depleted uranium as the definitive cause of the ‘Gulf War Syndrome’ has fed a growing scandal about the continued use of uranium munitions by the US Military.”
Bernklau continued "This malady [from uranium munitions], that thousands of our military have suffered and died from, has finally been identified as the cause of this sickness, eliminating the guessing. The terrible truth is now being revealed."
The administration spent at least $88 million in fiscal 2004 on contracts with major public relations firms, the analysis found, compared with $37 million in 2001, Bush's first year in office. In all, the administration spent $250 million on public relations contracts during its first term, compared with $128 million spent for President Clinton between 1997 and 2000. The analysis did not examine what the Clinton administration spent during its first term.
The top-spending agency during the past four years, at $94 million, was the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The biggest federal public relations contractor in that period was Ketchum, with $97 million.
"While not all public relations spending is illegal or inappropriate, this rapid rise in public relations contracts at a time of growing budget deficits raises questions about the priorities of the administration," said the report by the Democratic staff of the House Government Reform Committee.
The bureau in December launched discussions with top CIA officials to rewrite the two-decade-old ground rules covering how the agencies conduct their intelligence efforts in the U.S. and abroad. That effort reflects an acceleration of the FBI's foreign-intelligence collection efforts in the U.S. in recent months, as well as the desire of top bureau officials to assert what they view as their legal duty to track CIA activities in the U.S. and coordinate with the agency's operations.
Bremer complained the report "assumes that Western-style budgeting and accounting procedures could be immediately and fully implemented in the midst of a war."
The inspector general said the occupying agency disbursed $8.8 billion to Iraqi ministries "without assurance the moneys were properly accounted for."
Serious new election tampering allegations have emerged from an Ohio county, where witnesses allege that stickers were placed on presidential election ballots, RAW STORY has learned.
Several volunteer workers in the Ohio recount in Clermont County, Ohio have prepared affidavits alleging serious tampering, violations of state and federal law and possible fraud. They name the Republican chief of Clermont’s Board of Elections Daniel Bare and the head of the Clermont Democratic Party Priscilla O’Donnell as complicit in these acts.
These volunteers, observing the recount on behalf of the Greens, Libertarians and Democrats, assert that during the Dec. 14, 2004 hand recount they noticed stickers covering the Kerry/Edwards oval, whereas the Bush/Cheney oval seemed to be “colored in.”
A Slovak man trapped in his car under an avalanche freed himself by drinking 60 bottles of beer and urinating on the snow to melt it.
Rescue teams found Richard Kral drunk and staggering along a mountain path four days after his Audi car was buried in the Slovak Tatra mountains.
Department of Edumacation Clarifies Position on Gay Cartoon Characters
and introduces new edumacational initiative
January 31, 2005
Recent controversies over gay cartoon characters require us to clarify our position. In response to these events, we are also introducing a new program, the “La-La-La!” program, designed to promote new edumacational values to our nation’s children.
As you may have heard, a cartoon on Public Television is attempting to depict a family of bunnies where both parents are female. Clearly, they are using public money in a non-inflammatory representation of homosexuality. This can only serve to confuse children.
Some of you might ask, “Wait a minute, government officials talk about gays all the time. Aren’t my tax dollars already going into talking about gays?”
Well, yes. But there is a difference. That cartoon had the audacity to show gays as healthy, happy and caring parents. We have determined that gays must only exist as objects of controversy.
We can only imagine that they have chosen the gay lifestyle in order to frighten us and to destroy Western Civilization with their gayness.
We are now attempting to cut funding for Public Television because
1) they did not show gays in their proper role as targets of persecution, and
2) Public Television is a form of socialism started by Lyndon Johnson, who was a left-wing communist sympathizer.
We are also launching a new initiative, the “La-La-La!” program.
The proper role of edumacation is not to expose children to ideas that are unfamiliar and scary. We are in the business of reinforcing what they already think, in keeping with the teachings of Jesus and Santy Claus.
Teachers are now required to instruct students in the following technique:
Whenever you hear something strange or odd or in conflict with your world view, cover your ears, close your eyes and chant “La-La-La-La-La…” until the offending message goes away.
Teachers who fail to instruct students in this technique will endanger Federal funding for their schools. Strict enforcement will be necessary because
1) Public education is a form of socialism and
2) It was started by Horace Mann, who was an anarchist.
To be clear, the Department of Edumacation is not promoting an ideology. We are only one part of a larger public relations effort to divide the country culturally. When governmental power becomes highly centralized, scapegoats are necessary in order to control the public discourse and divert the anxieties of the masses away from the powerful and toward the weak.
We do not officially hate gays. They have merely made themselves convenient targets with their gay pride parades and their flamboyant dancing. After gays are sufficiently demonized, we will move on the college professors and other members of the intellectual elite.
The Department of Edumacation will not hate anyone. However, other participants in this PR effort (email groups, talk radio, pundits) will amplify the messages as they see fit.
The Department of Edumacation is only helping reinforce a network of beliefs and values in the minds of consumers.
Isn’t that, after all, what edumacation really is?
This is not actually a Dept. of Ed. Press release. It is satire. Get it? Also, I’m a straight guy (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I do, however, have family members and friends who are gay. Their gayness does not hurt me. What’s more, they are kind, decent, require love like anyone else and are being treated like second-class citizens for political reasons.
And that ticks me off.
©© 2005 McLir
The Turin Shroud, believed by some to be Christ's burial cloth, is much older than previously thought, a new study has found.
Research published in the scientific journal, Thermochimica Acta, has reignited the debate over the Shroud's origins, suggesting it is between 1,300 and 3,000 years old.
This is no video game, nor is it a training device. Rizzo and colleagues are developing a psychological tool to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, by bringing soldiers back to the scenes that still haunt them. A similar simulation is in the works for victims of the World Trade Center attacks.
PTSD treatment, the newest frontier in the intersection between virtual reality and mental health, is one of the hot topics this week at the 13th annual Medicine Meets Virtual Reality conference, which began Wednesday in Long Beach, California. Rizzo and others will explore plans to expand virtual reality's role in mental health by adding more elements like touch and the ability to interact with simulations. "The driving vision is a holodeck," Rizzo said. "If you look at the holodeck, and all the things people do in Star Trek, that's what we'd like to be able to do."
Open source software includes programs that are not controlled by a single company. The software can be developed by anyone, with few restrictions. The best known such software is the Linux operating system, which can be downloaded free from the Internet.
Some of the most significant changes in intellectual property law took place in the Copyright Act of 1976, after which it was no longer required to register one's work in order to protect it. Anything "fixed in a tangible medium"—e-mail messages, those doodles in the margins of this magazine—automatically became copyrighted. Recent laws—like the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which increased protection of copyrighted material on the Internet, and the Sonny Bono Act—have elevated intellectual property's status to such a degree that many courts and corporations often treat it in virtually the same way as they do physical property.
This is a category mistake, and one explicitly forbidden according to Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which gives Congress the authority to "promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.'' Unlike Europe, whose laws center on the "moral rights" of the author to control his creation, American copyright law has always had the strictly utilitarian goal of providing just enough incentive for someone to create. Copyright is a bargain: The government grants a limited right to profit from your intellectual property in exchange for your agreement to give the public limited access to it during that period (such as the "fair use" right of a teacher to make class copies of an essay), and, eventually, for it to lapse into the public domain.
Sunday, January 30, 2005
In Minnesota last year researchers at the Mayo Clinic created pigs with human blood flowing through their bodies.
And at Stanford University in California an experiment might be done later this year to create mice with human brains.
Scientists feel that, the more humanlike the animal, the better research model it makes for testing drugs or possibly growing "spare parts," such as livers, to transplant into humans.
..."These Iranian air defense positions are not just being observed, they're being 'templated,'" an administration official said, explaining that the flights are part of a U.S. effort to develop "an electronic order of battle for Iran" in case of actual conflict.
A lawyer for Feroz Abbasi made the allegations as he and three other Muslim men arrived in Britain aboard an RAF plane, only to be arrested by anti-terrorism officers who took them to a top security police station for questioning.
Mr Abbasi is alleged to have been kept in isolation for 18 months and was left so traumatised that he suffered hallucinations and panic attacks.
It's not lack of integrity, it's more profound than that. Because there is individual integrity. It's a system that's completely been taken over -- by cultists.
Anyway, what's going to happen, I think, as the casualties mount and these stories get around, and the mothers see the cost and the fathers see the cost, as the kids come home. And the wounded ones come back, and there's wards that you will never hear about. That's wards -- you know about the terrible catastrophic injuries, but you don't know about the vegetables. There's ward after ward of vegetables because the brain injuries are so enormous. As you maybe read last week, there was a new study in one of the medical journals that the number of survivors are greater with catastrophic injuries because of their better medical treatment and the better armor they have. So you get more extreme injuries to extremities. [from UnknownNews.net]
Lawyer Henri-Philippe Sambuc said that the court had rejected an appeal by IBM, which had its European headquarters in Geneva during the war, against an earlier decision by a lower court that the case could go ahead in the Swiss city. [from UnknownNews.net]
The U.S. effort to create a new court modeled after tribunals in Rwanda and Yugoslavia will be a ``tough sell,'' according to Ambassador Lauro Baja of the Philippines, a Security Council member. Envoys from council members Algeria, Argentina, Greece and Russia said they thought the ICC should handle any cases involving the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.