Friday, February 18, 2005

Bush Signs Bill to Curb Class-Action Suits

The legislation aims to discourage class action lawsuits by having federal judges take them away from state courts. It was a victory for conservatives who hope it will lead to other lawsuit limits and for businesses that have complained for decades that state judges and juries have been too generous to plaintiffs.

Ecstasy trials for combat stress

American soldiers traumatised by fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are to be offered the drug ecstasy to help free them of flashbacks and recurring nightmares.
The US food and drug administration has given the go-ahead for the soldiers to be included in an experiment to see if MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy, can treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

Scientists behind the trial in South Carolina think the feelings of emotional closeness reported by those taking the drug could help the soldiers talk about their experiences to therapists. Several victims of rape and sexual abuse with post-traumatic stress disorder, for whom existing treatments are ineffective, have been given MDMA since the research began last year.
Pictures of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan posing with hooded and bound detainees during mock executions were destroyed after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq to avoid another public outrage, Army documents released Friday by the American Civil Liberties Union show.
The results of an Army probe of the photographs were among hundreds of pages of documents released after the ACLU
obtained a federal court order in Manhattan to let it see documents about U.S. treatment of detainees around the world.
The ACLU said the probe shows the rippling effect of the Abu Ghraib scandal and that efforts to humiliate the enemy might have been more widespread than thought.

"It's increasingly clear that members of the military were aware of the allegations of torture and that efforts were taken to erase evidence, to shut down investigations and to humiliate the detainees in an effort to silence them," ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said.

New Bill Threatens Wild Horses

Today's fight over wild horses is a strange battle, in which cattlemen and ranchers—the traditional enemies of the wild horse—have inadvertently teamed up with environmental groups, which generally regard wild horses as an invasive, non-native species. Along with the oil and gas lobbies, the ranching industry largely determines BLM [Bureau of Land Management] policy toward public lands, which is where wild horses and burros roam. Many ranchers who lease grazing land from the BLM for meager fees—a situation opponents call "welfare ranching"—see wild horses as pests that destroy the land and take food from cattle, although study after study indicates that cattle do more damage to the range than horses. Moreover, public lands west of the Mississippi, which is where most of the country's remaining wild horses live, supply just 3 percent of our beef.
Under a myriad of management schemes and subsequent legislation, the 1971 law meant to protect the horses has been gradually weakened in order to deal with what the BLM says are "excess" horses.

U.S. will arm militants to rebel against elected Shi'ite leadership in Iraq

Asia Times Online has learned that in a highly clandestine operation, the US has procured Pakistan-manufactured weapons, including rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, ammunition, rockets and other light weaponry. Consignments have been loaded in bulk onto US military cargo aircraft at Chaklala airbase in the past few weeks. The aircraft arrived from and departed for Iraq.
The US-armed and supported militias in the south will comprise former members of the Ba'ath Party, which has already split into three factions, only one of which is pro-Saddam Hussein. They would be expected to receive assistance from pro-US interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's Iraqi National Accord.

Ocean, Arctic Studies Show Global Warming Is Real

A parcel of studies looking at the oceans and melting Arctic ice leave no room for doubt that it is getting warmer, people are to blame, and the weather is going to suffer, climate experts said on Thursday.
New computer models that look at ocean temperatures instead of the atmosphere show the clearest signal yet that global warming is well underway, said Tim Barnett of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Speaking at an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Barnett said climate models based on air temperatures are weak because most of the evidence for global warming is not even there.
"The real place to look is in the ocean," Barnett told a news conference.
His team used millions of temperature readings made by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to calculate steady ocean warming.
"The debate over whether or not there is a global warming signal is now over, at least for rational people," he said.
The report was published one day after the United Nations Kyoto Protocol took effect, a 141-nation environmental pact the United States government has spurned for several reasons, including stated doubts about whether global warming is occurring and is caused by people.
Barnett urged U.S. officials to reconsider.
"Could a climate system simply do this on its own? The answer is clearly no," Barnett said.

Open Government Act to recognise Bloggers as legitimate journalists

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation on Wednesday to achieve meaningful reforms to federal government information laws, most notably the Freedom of Information Act of 1966 (FOIA). The Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government Act of 2005 (OPEN Government Act) is aimed at substantially enhancing and expanding the accessibility, accountability, and openness of the federal government. U.S. Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), the committee’s senior Democrat, is the bill’s co-sponsor.
“This reform legislation was created from the belief that FOIA establishes a presumption of openness,” said Cornyn, who in 2001 was presented with the James Madison Award for his efforts to promote open government by the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. “Open government is one of the most basic requirements of any healthy democracy. It allows for taxpayers to see where their money is going; it permits the honest exchange of information that ensures government accountability; and it upholds the ideal that government never rules without the consent of the governed.”

Iraq Culture Smart Card

[large PDF] This card is provided to US military personnele. Includes helpful words and phrases, dos and don'ts and more.

Titan's Features Emerge From Haze

NASA scientists unraveled more of the mystery shrouding Saturn's largest moon this week when the space agency's Cassini orbiter beamed home some of the clearest photos to date of Titan's surface.
The photos were taken by Cassini's optical camera and radar mapping instrument Tuesday, during the spacecraft's third close flyby of Titan. One of the radar images shows what seems to be a crater or ringed basin bigger than the island of Sri Lanka. Astronomers believe the 273-mile-wide depression could have been formed by a massive comet or asteroid strike.

Competing Ideas for Election Reform

It would give voters the right to register and vote on election day, make the day a federal holiday and require states to reduce waiting times at polling places. (In California, voters must register at least 15 days before an election to be able to cast a ballot; voters who become citizens after the deadline can register up to seven days before the election.)
The Republican bill would require voters to present a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot, illustrating GOP concerns about voting fraud.
Another provision in the GOP bill would establish a pilot program for the use of indelible ink at polling places — an idea growing out of the ink-stained index fingers displayed by Iraqis in their election last month.

Secrets of the Iraq Budget

Something really strange to me is:

"This provision would allow the Department of Defense to provide funding for the establishment of a regional training center in Jordan. The center will provide counter-terrorism, special operations, border control, civil defense, emergency/first responder and other training and preparation for regional security forces. The U.S. Government would provide funding to construct and outfit the training center; it would subsequently be owned and operated by the Government of Jordan."

Why are we building Jordan a base and who will be stationed there? I think that anyone who worked with the Coalition forces realized quickly that they served only on our nickel - I remember eating with Polish Soldiers all in new DCUs, with American weapons and equipment - all provided as incentive to contribute a few people to the effort. I suspect that if you add up all the 'incentives' we have paid to others to assist us in this effort it would exceed the original cost estimates for the entire thing.

British Nuclear Reactor Cannot Account for 30 kilos of Plutonium

A civilian nuclear fuels reprocessing plant in Cumberland cannot account for some 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of plutonium, enough for seven or eight nuclear bombs.
The annual audit of nuclear material at all of Britain's civil nuclear plants is expected to reveal that the quantity of plutonium at Sellafield was classified as "material unaccounted for" last year, The Times newspaper said Thursday.

Figures published by the British Nuclear Group (BNG) each year reveal an audit of nuclear material which is admitted and processed by the various plants nation-wide.

Scientists Find Dramatic Changes in Southern Ocean, Fear Climate Link

"Ocean circulation is a big influence on global climate, so it is critical that we understand why this is happening and why it is happening so quickly," Rintoul said after he and his team docked at Hobart on the Australian island state of Tasmania.
"The surprise was just how rapidly the deepest parts of the ocean are changing, at depths of four or five kilometers (13,200-16,500 feet) below the sea surface," Rintoul said.
"Whether its a natural cycle that takes place over many decades, or it's climate change, it's an indication that the deep ocean can respond much more rapidly to changes that are happening near the surface than we believed possible," he said.

Iraqi Died While Hung From Wrists

The prisoner died in a position known as "Palestinian hanging," the documents reviewed by The AP show. It is unclear whether that position — which human rights groups condemn as torture — was approved by the Bush administration for use in CIA interrogations.
The spy agency, which faces congressional scrutiny over its detention and interrogation of terror suspects at the Baghdad prison and elsewhere, declined to comment for this story, as did the Justice Department.

Al-Jamadi was one of the CIA's "ghost" detainees at Abu Ghraib — prisoners being held secretly by the agency.

Greenpeace Activists Bring Oil Trading to a Halt

Some 20 Greenpeace protesters led by director Stephen Tindale stormed the trading floor on Wednesday and brought business in Brent crude oil and gas oil futures to a halt before being beaten back by outraged traders.
"It was to send a message to the oil industry on the day Kyoto comes into force that business as usual is no longer an option," Tindale told Reuters by telephone from the central London building on Wednesday.

"The oil industry has been key to preventing progress on climate change which is why it has taken so long for Kyoto to come into force. But scientists are telling us we are getting dangerously close to the point of no return," he added.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Scandal? What Scandal? Bush's Iran-Contra appointees are barely a story

[W]ith a few admirable exceptions, news stories about Elliot Abrams, John Negroponte and Otto Reich have largely relied on past reporting and he-said, she-said soundbites by the usual supporters and critics, rather than in-depth investigations into their complicity in one of the bloodiest scandals of the past 20 years. And their guilt is based not on speculation or gossip, but on hard evidence that they aided torturers and death squads,circumvented Congress and the Constitution, and deceived the American people.
Three nominations that should have raised a noisy clatter from the nation's presses are:
John Negroponte, as ambassador to Honduras from 1981-85, covered up human rights abuses by the CIA-trained Battalion 316. He is Bush's choice for U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and, as Extra! went to press, was expected to clear Senate confirmation hearings.
Elliott Abrams, an assistant secretary of state under Reagan, pleaded guilty in 1991 to two counts of withholding evidence from Congress (i.e., lying) over his role in the Iran-Contra affair. Bush I pardoned him; Bush II has appointed him to the National SecurityCouncil as director of its office for democracy, human rights and international operations. The post requires no Senate approval.
Otto Reich's nomination as assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, the top post for Latin America, was predicted to draw the most congressional fire. Reich was head of the now-defunct Office for Public Diplomacy (OPD), which the House Committee on Foreign Affairs censured for "prohibited, covert propaganda activities" (Washington Post, 10/11/87).

Over 20,000 Punk and New Wave Photos by Philippe Carly

Ultimately, you will find here my entire collection of concert and candid photos of popular and not so popular "rock", "new wave" and "punk" groups from the 70s, 80s and 00s Check back often for new additions as this project will be developing for the next 3 or 4 years.

Interview with an Economic Hit Man

We speak with John Perkins, a former respected member of the international banking community. In his book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man he describes how as a highly paid professional, he helped the U.S. cheat poor countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars by lending them more money than they could possibly repay and then take over their economies. [thanks to Donna]

Robot Ethics

As the first lethal robots head for Iraq, the role of the robot soldier as a killing machine has barely been debated. The history of warfare suggests that every new technological leap - the longbow, the tank, the atomic bomb - outraces the strategy and doctrine to control it.
"The lawyers tell me there are no prohibitions against robots making life-or-death decisions," said Mr. Johnson, who leads robotics efforts at the Joint Forces Command research center in Suffolk, Va. "I have been asked what happens if the robot destroys a school bus rather than a tank parked nearby. We will not entrust a robot with that decision until we are confident they can make it."
Trusting robots with potentially lethal decision-making may require a leap of faith in technology not everyone is ready to make. Bill Joy, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, has worried aloud that 21st-century robotics and nanotechnology may become "so powerful that they can spawn whole new classes of accidents and abuses."

[It's worth noting that one of the most advanced robots in the world, Cog, battled They Might be Giants Drummer Dan Hickey in a drum war (.mov). Aside from ethical decisions, robots are not yet good at drumming.]

Everything '80s Is New Again for Global Musicians

World music is reinventing early 80's new wave. Features great covers of songs from Talking Heads, the Clash and Joy Division.

HOWTO get something posted to Boing Boing

We depend on the suggestions we get from you folks for the raw fodder for Boing Boing. We get a lot of suggested sites. Here's an explanation of the best way to get a link published here

Google Maps: It's Not Just for Chinese Restaurants

While Google Maps is clearly intended to expand revenue with paid placement, creative searches reveal surprisingly accurate results. Try searching for a**hole, d***head or institutionalized economic repression in Washinton D.C. This kind of accuracy is no joke. [from]

IAEA Disputes Iranian Nuclear Weapons Claim

The head of the U.N. agency responsible for investigating Iran's nuclear program said Tuesday that there had been no discoveries in the last six months to substantiate claims that the Islamic state is secretly working toward building a nuclear bomb.
In a wide-ranging interview with four U.S. newspapers, Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency also described White House policies on Iran and North Korea as inconsistent. Without greater U.S. participation in diplomacy, ElBaradei said, confrontation could increase.

House Lawmakers Say No to Farm Subsidy Cuts

Farm-state lawmakers told Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns on Wednesday that growers and ranchers would suffer unduly from the $587 million in farm subsidy cuts sought by the White House.
The cuts include reducing direct crop and dairy payments by 5 percent and lowering the per-person subsidy limit by 31 percent. The Bush administration plan would also make one-third of U.S. cotton, grain and soybean crops eligible only for short-term loans that would have to be repaid.

Halliburton and Iran

Halliburton’s CEO says his company is pulling out of Iran. But a corporate subsidiary is still going ahead with a deal to develop Tehran’s natural gas fields.
...Halliburton’s new Iran contract, moreover, appears to suggest a far closer connection with the country’s hard-line government than the firm has ever acknowledged.
The deal, diplomatic sources tell NEWSWEEK, was signed with an Iranian oil company whose principals include Sirus Naseri, Tehran’s chief international negotiator on matters relating to the country’s hotly-disputed nuclear enrichment program—a project the Bush administration has charged is intended to develop nuclear weapons.

Ethiopia is top choice for cradle of Homo sapiens

Two Ethiopian fossils have been crowned as the oldest known members of our species. An estimated 195,000 years old, the pair were witness to the earliest days of Homo sapiens.
The discovery adds yet more weight to the argument that Africa, and Ethiopia in particular, was the birthplace of humans. The dating sits well with genetic analyses of modern populations, which suggest that H. sapiens first appeared in Africa around 200,000 years ago.
The fossils, called Omo I and Omo II, were found in 1967 at Kibish, near Ethiopia's Omo River, by the famed fossil-hunter Richard Leakey. Although Leakey realized that Omo I, at least, was a H. sapiens, the dating of mollusc shells found with the bones suggested that the specimens were only 130,000 years old.

New Documentary Takes Aim at US Media's One-Sided Coverage of War in Iraq

"WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception", which cost just 200,000 dollars to produce, points to a wide array of failures in the accuracy of the reporting, as well as an unwillingness to question the George W. Bush administration's claims and actions.
It was produced by Danny Schechter, a self-proclaimed "network refugee" who worked for CNN and as a producer for a prominent television news show.
"This is the central problem of our democracy," he told IPS in an interview. "This isn't a sidebar issue. You can't have a democracy when people aren't being informed."
The film documents the U.S. media's near-unanimous acceptance of the George W. Bush administration's claim that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein possessed nefarious weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and therefore must be removed from power by unilateral U.S. military action.

Sidney Blumenthal on "Gannon"

Thus a phony journalist planted by a Republican operation, used by the White House press secretary to interrupt questions from the press corps, called on by the president for a safe question, protected from FBI vetting by the press office, disseminating innuendo and smears about critics and opponents of the administration, some of them gay-baiting, was unmasked not only as a hireling and fraud but as a gay prostitute, with enormous potential for blackmail.
The Bush White House is the most opaque, allowing the least access for reporters, in living memory. All news organizations have significant economic interests subject to government regulation. Every organization seems to be intimidated, and reporters who have done stories the administration finds discomfiting have received threats about their careers. The administration has its own quasi-official state TV network in Fox News; hundreds of right-wing radio shows, conservative newspapers and journals, and Internet sites coordinate with the Republican apparatus.
Lifting the heavy Puritan curtain draping Bush's Washington reveals enlightening scenes of its decadent anthropology. Even as Guckert's true colors were revealed, the administration issued orders that the words "gay," "lesbian," "bisexual" and "transgender" be removed from the program of a federally funded conference on suicide prevention. But the transparent hypocrisy of conservative "values" hardly deters a ruthless government.

FDA Scientist Censored at Drug Safety Summit

David Graham, the high-profile scientist at America's Food and Drug Administration, has been banned from presenting new information about a controversial type of painkiller at a three-day summit on their safety starting today.
Dr Graham, who works in the FDA's office of drug safety, said yesterday that he had been "threatened with being called insubordinate" by the FDA when he said he wanted to include the findings of an unpublished study he has completed as part of his testimony on Cox-2 inhibitors.

CIA seizes Sen. Jackson papers

Five federal government officials, including three from the CIA, have removed several documents from the archival papers of the late Sen. Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson housed at the University of Washington.
Last week the federal document security team spent three days in the special collections division of the UW Suzzallo-Allen library. The officials, which also included people from the Department of Defense and Department of Energy, combed through 1,200 boxes of material using a five-binder index to find the targeted papers.
Carla Rickerson, head of special collections, said the team removed up to 10 documents.
She would not disclose the exact number or subject matter of the documents because of the university's privacy policies.
Jackson's widow, Helen, donated the collection to the university following the senator's death in 1983.
At that time, a team of UW library staff removed classified information before making the files accessible.

Ralph Nader on Class-action legislation

Listen to this commentary (RealAudio)
Commentator and erstwhile presidential candidate Ralph Nader gives his view on Congress' debate over class action lawsuits.

False Story: Signs of current life on Mars, researchers claim

Original Story: What Stoker and Lemke have found, according to several attendees of the private meeting, which took place Sunday, is not direct proof of life on Mars, but methane signatures and other signs of possible biological activity remarkably similar to those recently discovered in caves here on Earth.
Stoker and other researchers have long theorized that the Martian subsurface could harbor biological organisms that have developed unusual strategies for existing in extreme environments. That suspicion led Stoker and a team of U.S. and Spanish researchers in 2003 to southwestern Spain to search for subsurface life near the Rio Tinto river—so-called because of its reddish tint—the product of iron being dissolved in its highly acidic water.
The Scientists Rebut: This claim is simply wrong and we did not make this claim. The MARTE project has several papers in preparation that describe the work we are doing at Rio Tinto and the first results of that work, but nothing has been submitted yet. Preliminary results have been published in abstract form at various scientific meetings. If you want to see what the MARTE team has actually said about results from Rio Tinto drilling and its relevance to life on Mars, go to and click on publications. All our REAL publications are posted there.

CIA Tells Hill, War Helps Recruit Terrorists

The insurgency in Iraq continues to baffle the U.S. military and intelligence communities, and the U.S. occupation has become a potent recruiting tool for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, top U.S. national security officials told Congress yesterday.
"Islamic extremists are exploiting the Iraqi conflict to recruit new anti-U.S. jihadists," CIA Director Porter J. Goss told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
[Why did no one listen to this obvious possibility before the invasion?]

Stunt Oscars

Do Hollywood stuntmen deserve their own Oscar category? Judge for yourself [qt]. Major stunt organizations have now joined forces to lobby the Academy to finally create an award for Best Stunt Coordinator. Does athleticism, courage and sheer gung-ho physicality deserve the same kind of recognition given to other Oscar categories? Only once has the Academy officially recognized a stuntman, with an Honorary Oscar for pioneering stunt coordinator Yakima Canutt in 1967. [from]

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Is da Vinci's Fingerprint on the painting Adoration Of The Christ Child

Long attributed to a Dominican friar, the painting depicts Joseph and the Virgin Mary gazing at baby Jesus.
But during a recent restoration a fingerprint was uncovered in the upper left-hand sky portion of the painting.
Art scholars say if it matches that of Leonardo da Vinci, it could prove that the mysterious painting is his.

School Drops RFID Tag Program

The California grade school that required students to wear radio frequency identification badges has ended the program because the company that developed the technology pulled out.
The badges, developed by InCom, were introduced less than a month ago at Brittan Elementary School in Sutter. The school board was set to talk about the controversial policy until InCom announced it was terminating its agreement with the institution.

Are Bullies After Our Culture?

As the title suggests, the book is an intense critique of the U.S. copyright and trademark system and the corporations that use it as a weapon against competitors and anyone else who might threaten them. Bollier argues that the court's willingness to let corporations get away with such bullying is increasingly eroding our "cultural commons" -- the collection of images, stories, sounds and other creative expressions that, due to their significance and prevalence, no longer belong to any single person or company.
To prove his point that the commons is under attack, Bollier has filled Bullies with example after example of how corporate lawyers have swooped in on artists and consumers who have tried to use products and logos in ways other than those prescribed by the corporations themselves.

Early Comic Strips 1898-1916

The American Sky-Scraper is a Modern Tower of Babel

The comic strips in the exhibit were carefully reproduced from bound volumes of newspapers in the American Newspaper Repository. Most cartoons were copied from The World and the Chicago Tribune, which are well represented in the ANR. The process required a two-step capture, first photographing the cartoon page with a traditional, medium format camera and digitizing the subsequent color transparency. The digital file of the 17"x23" newspaper page was then reformatted in Adobe Photo Shop to 16"x20". The image quality of the exhibit prints varies dependent on the condition of the original page. Rippled, faded pages produce slightly fuzzy, out-of-focus prints.
Due to the fragility of these early newspapers, the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library encourages researchers to use microfilm copies of the newspapers whenever possible.

Toward Supremacy in Space

Over the years, space essentially has been a militarily benign environment. For that reason, operators had come to assume that failures were the result of equipment malfunctions—not the deliberate and malicious acts of enemies.
Space Command is trying to break the operators of that thinking. The first response when something goes wrong, said Maj. Gen. (sel.) Daniel J. Darnell, commander of AFSPC’s Space Warfare Center, should be “think possible attack.” responds:

Major General Daniel Darnell, head of the Air Force's Space Warfare Center, has some advice for satellite companies. If there's trouble with your orbiter, your first response should be “think possible attack.”

SSA.jpgNever mind the fact that "no country, not even the United States, currently has a working anti-satellite system in its arsenal... outside of the remote chance of someone launching a nuke into space," as the Center for Defense Information's Theresa Hitchens points out. (Although the U.S. is putting some jammers in place.) And never mind the fact that "the Air Force does not have the capability at this time to ascertain on the spot whether any disruption of satellite operations is due to a malfunction, such as faulty software or space weather, or the result of some sort of deliberate interference or attack."

Nope, satelitte operators should go ahead and assume their machines have been sabotaged by evildoers. And that's a serious problem, Hitchens reminds us. Because under current U.S. military doctrine, a strike against a satellite "would be considered an act of war subject to military response. In other words, we will shoot back." [more]

"Sorry Everybody" now in print

Twenty-year-old University of Southern California college student James Zetlen launched on November 4, as an outlet for Americans to express their disappointment (and, sometimes, outrage) about the political situation in our country and how it will affect people around the world for the next four years. To date, more than 26,000 people have uploaded their thoughts, images,and opinions onto the site. has become a phenomenon, receiving more than 75 million hits each day from people around the world. After announcing the book project on the site, Zetlen reported receiving more than 700 comments in just a few hours.
The $14.95, 256-page sorry everybody: an apology to the world for the re-election of George W. Bush book will be in stores in time for the inauguration and will feature images that reflect the apologetic and frustrated feelings of many Americans after the election.



US plans 'robot troops' for Iraq

Eighteen of the 1m-high robots, equipped with cameras and operated by remote control, are going to Iraq this spring, the Associated Press reports.
The machine is based on a robot already used by the military to disable bombs.
Officials say the robot warrior is fast, accurate and will track and attack the enemy with relatively little risk to the lives of US soldiers.

Brain in Bubbling Jar

Ever wish you had an extra brain?
Of course you do!! But how? Oz is a hell of a hike. Wait, two brains are better than one, you could simply get Dr. Karlosis’ THINK TANK™
This glowing life-like brain in a bubbling self contained unit, is much like the ones from the 1950’s horror films.
It’s great as an office oddity, or Halloween effect. The constant bubbling can even be relaxing.
The workmanship and detail are akin to that of Hollywood special effects departments. The tanks come fully assembled – (just add water!)
It stands 47” tall and operates on standard 110 house current. [from]

Hackers May Have Stolen Californians' Data

A company that collects consumer data warned thousands of Californians that hackers penetrated the company's computer network and may have stolen credit reports, Social Security numbers and other sensitive information.
ChoicePoint Inc., which sells such data to government agencies and a variety of companies, acknowledged Tuesday that several hackers broke into its computer database and purloined data from as many as 35,000 Californians.

Air Pollution Can Affect Fetal Development, Scientists Say

Exposure to urban air pollution can affect the chromosomes of a developing fetus, a new study suggests. Babies born to mothers exposed to high levels of urban air pollution appear to have a greater chance of chromosomal abnormalities than those whose mothers breathed cleaner air.

Momentum Builds for Emissions Bills

With most of the world about to leave the United States in the dust on climate change policy, the fray is shifting from global summits to Washington's Capitol Hill, where a growing coalition of Democrats and Republicans is lobbying for a national cap on carbon dioxide emissions.

Study Predicts Boston Flood Threat Due to Warming

By the end of this century, global warming threatens to raise the sea level enough that a heavy storm would send flood waters into Boston's downtown waterfront, the Financial District, and much of the Back Bay, based on projections in a federally funded report to be released today.
The five-year study, commissioned by the US Environmental Protection Agency and completed by university researchers, indicates that the mildest impact of global warming would leave local landmarks such as Massachusetts General Hospital, the Public Garden, the Esplanade, and MIT in a pool of water after a strong storm surge in the harbor.

Big Bush Donor Was Promised Ambassadorship

A big Republican donor goes to his governor and senator, saying he was told by President Bush's chief fund-raiser he'd be getting a plum ambassadorial appointment but it wasn't delivered. The senator takes his case right to the top of the White House.
Nothing happens for two years.
The donor then helps stage a fund-raiser for Bush. A week later, the donor lands an appointment as the chairman of the federal board overseeing billions of dollars of student loans.
The aggressive job campaign of businessman Duane Acklie -- detailed in the Nebraska gubernatorial files of new Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns -- provides a rare window into donors, their access and their rewards.
And there's a twist.
Acklie named names -- including chief fund-raiser Jack Oliver -- and committed to writing one of the unwritten rules of politics: Presidents for years have rewarded big donors with plum ambassadorships.

Deflecting Criticism against the School of the Americas

At the trespassing trial of activists protesting the School of the Americas combat training base, "new information surfaced about a comprehensive plan devised by the U.S. Army to deflect criticism of the school, now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation." Defendant Aaron Shuman introduced as evidence WHINSEC's "Strategic Communications Campaign Plan," which he obtained from an Army public affairs officer. The $246,000 plan includes media monitoring, letters to the editor to counter negative coverage, and tracking Father Roy Bourgeois, the founder of the anti-WHINSEC group SOA Watch. For Bourgeois speaking events, the plan suggests "efforts to get an Army representative on the bill with the priest or in the same venue at a later date to present an opposing point of view."

Ohio: Bill could limit open debate at colleges

"80 percent or so of them (professors) are Democrats, liberals or socialists or card-carrying Communists." So says Ohio Senator Larry A. Mumper, who has introduced an "academic bill of rights for higher education," which would prohibit professors from "persistently discussing controversial issues in class or from using their classes to push political, ideological, religious or anti-religious views." The text of the bill is adapted from an organization founded by Marxist-turned-conservative activist David Horowitz. Similar bills have been introduced in other states. Is this a genuine attempt to foster "intellectual diversity", or a "trojan horse" to force universities to adopt a quota system for conservative professors? [from]

White House vs Former POW's

The Bush administration is fighting the former prisoners of war in court, trying to prevent them from collecting nearly $1 billion from Iraq that a federal judge awarded them as compensation for their torture at the hands of Saddam Hussein's regime.
The rationale: Today's Iraqis are good guys, and they need the money.
The case abounds with ironies. It pits the U.S. government squarely against its own war heroes and the Geneva Convention.

US Army War College document: Deception 101

[PDF] This monograph reviews the basic concepts related to “deception.” The author, Dr. Joseph Caddell, defines terms, provides historical examples, and discusses problems associated with
deception. His monograph provides a general overview, a “primer,” and is not directed at those who already possess a working knowledge of deception operations. Nevertheless, given the complex and ever changing nature of deception in the political-military environment, it may serve as a useful reminder of the basic assumptions and methods concerning the subject.
The Strategic Studies Institute is pleased to publish this work as part of our External Research Associates Program.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Origami as the Shape of Things to Come

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Dr. Demaine, an assistant professor of computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the leading theoretician in the emerging field of origami mathematics, the formal study of what can be done with a folded sheet of paper. He believes the form he is holding is a hyperbolic parabaloid, a shape well known to mathematicians - or something very close to that - but he wants to be able to prove this conjecture. "It's not easy to do," he says.
Dr. Demaine is not a man to be easily defeated by a piece of paper. Over the past few years he has published a series of landmark results about the theory of folded structures, including solutions to the longstanding "single-cut" problem and the "carpenter's rule" problem. These days he is applying insights he has gleaned from his studies of wrinkling and crinkling and hinging to questions in architecture, robotics and molecular biology. [thanks to Sharon]

Walk on the Moon

[thanks to Michael K.]

Detroit's Indie Film Cafe

Hello Filmmakers and Film lovers alike. The Indie Film Cafe, is a brand new TV show appearing soon on UPN 20 dedicated to art of independant film making. Locally produced but with a national feel the Indie Film Cafe is dedicated to the TRUE spirit of independant films. Each week will feature interviews and portraits of local actors, producer, directors and technicians
discussing their craft, and providing insight on the best ways to get your movie made and which pitfalls to avoid. There will also be segments featuring more mainstream hollywood stars, and directors who will discuss the difficulty and joys of creating art on an extremely limited, sometimes non-existant budget.
If you would like to be a part of the show, If your a screenwriter with knowledge to dispense or an actor who knows how to get the gigs. Maybe a director or producer with a feature trailer you'd like to show or a short you would like to exibit, contact Kathryn at or call her at 313 590-7309 to set up a time for an interview. We can't wait to hear from you! [thanks to Christopher]

Scott McClellan Tells 'Editor & Publisher' He Didn't Know Guckert Used Fake Name for Nearly Two Years

Asked if he had discussed the Guckert/Gannon episode with President Bush, McClellan said, "We've only talked about it briefly," but declined to be more specific. "He's got a lot of other priorities," McClellan added.
McClellan also said he was unaware of Talon News' ties to the Texas Republican Party until recently, when scrutiny of Guckert, also known as Jeff Gannon, increased after he asked President Bush a question at a press conference last month.

On The Media on "Gannon"

JEFF GANNON: [on tape] What's wrong with that? Just because I'm not hostile to the president of the United States in a press conference that somehow I'm not doing my job?
BOB GARFIELD: Well, here's the answer: Yes, James or Jeff or whatever your name is - you're doing your job, but not journalism's job. Sure, the press corps is occasionally rough on the Bush administration, albeit not nearly enough to suit our tastes. But they are equally rough on Democratic administrations, as Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton can more than attest. The press's job calls for harsh questioning - a job in no way balanced by blowing kisses to those in power. On the contrary, every question is precious. Squandering the ever-shrinking opportunity to confront the commander in chief for accountability is not only anti-journalistic; it's an affront to democracy.

Low Power FM Radio

Five years ago the Federal Communications Commission authorized low-power FM, opening up the FM airwaves to thousands more community broadcasters. But the National Association of Broadcasters and NPR both testified to Congress that low-power FM would interfere with existing signals. The FCC had done its own tests proving otherwise but Congress put on the brakes, stalling LPFM …until this week. Seen as an antidote to media consolidation, LPFM has been exhumed in a bill co-sponsored by John McCain that seems likely to put Low Power back on the fast track. Or will it? Media Maven Rick Karr joins Brooke to survey the state of the spectrum.

Leading with Bleeding (Don't Mind the Elections)

Source: New York Times, February 14, 2005
A study analyzing 4,000 local newscasts in 11 major markets found that, "in the month leading up to last year's presidential election, local television stations in big cities devoted eight times as much air time to car crashes and other accidents than to campaigns for the House of Representatives, state senate, city hall and other local offices." Eight percent of news shows reported on local races, while more than half reported on the presidential race. Such local / national disparities are fueling "the debate over how many television stations a company may own." One type of airtime did focus on local races: "Advertising by House candidates eclipsed actual coverage of those races by a ratio of 5 to 1."

McLibel II

You may have heard of the "McLibel Two", the pair of Brits who, as part of a group called London Greenpeace (not affiliated with Greenpeace International, by the by), published a flier decrying the nutritional and corporate values of McDonalds, and who subsequently lost a libel action brought against them by the corporation. It took a few years, but The European Court of Human Rights has overturned the decision, based on the fact that the two did not receive legal aid assistance during the trial (where they represented themselves). [from]

Black holes bend light the 'wrong' way

Astronomers could be misinterpreting their observations of distant stars, suggest mathematicians.
Starlight may be bent in odd directions when it passes close to a rotating black hole, the researchers say, unexpectedly shifting its source's apparent position in the sky. The cause is a recently discovered phenomenon called negative refraction, which physicists are still struggling to understand.

Bill Moyers: Blind Faith

For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. The offspring of ideology and theology are not always bad but they are always blind. And that is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.
One-third of the American electorate, if a recent Gallup Poll is accurate, believes the Bible is literally true. This past November, several million good and decent citizens went to the polls believing in what is known as the "rapture index."
These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative that has captivated the imagination of millions of Americans.

Arthur Miller: Why I Wrote "The Crucible"

In those years, our thought processes were becoming so magical, so paranoid, that to imagine writing a play about this environment was like trying to pick one's teeth with a ball of wool: I lacked the tools to illuminate miasma. Yet I kept being drawn back to it.
I had read about the witchcraft trials in college, but it was not until I read a book published in 1867—a two-volume, thousand-page study by Charles W. Upham, who was then the mayor of Salem—that I knew I had to write about the period. Upham had not only written a broad and thorough investigation of what was even then an almost lost chapter of Salem's past but opened up to me the details of personal relationships among many participants in the tragedy. [from]

Senator Says F.D.A. Asked Canada Not to Suspend Drug

A day after Canadian officials suspended the use of a hyperactivity drug amid reports of deaths associated with its use, Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa contended that United States health officials had asked the Canadian regulators not to do so.
Senator Grassley, a Republican, said on Thursday that the Food and Drug Administration had made the request of Canadian health officials because the F.D.A. could not handle another "drug safety crisis." Mr. Grassley said he was basing his contentions on reports from whistle-blowers within the agency.

A federal judge in Fresno, Calif., has ordered the entire 80-lawyer firm of Lozano Smith back to school for a refresher course in ethics as a sanction

Ten years after nearly 300 refugees arrived in the United States, fleeing a volcano that destroyed homes and poisoned the air on the West Indies island of Montserrat, federal authorities are telling them it's time to go home.
"That doesn't make any sense to me," said Montserrat native John Lee of Mattapan, whose sister, Bernice, must return to the devastated island at the end of the month or face deportation.

Judge Orders Law Firm to Take Ethics Classes

A federal judge in Fresno, Calif., has ordered the entire 80-lawyer firm of Lozano Smith back to school for a refresher course in ethics as a sanction for repeated misrepresentation of facts and the law in a dispute over aid for a learning-disabled student.
...U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger sanctioned the firm recently for "misguided advocacy" over four years of opposing services for a special-education student in the Bret Harte Union School District, southeast of Sacramento.

'Jeff Gannon' and L'Affaire Plame: Summary of CIA leak

This diary condenses the huge and detailed timeline laid out in the previous diary "Plame leak timeline II".
It lays the case for the leak of the classified 2002 CIA memo to Gannon.
For all interested, please read the original diary as it contains facts, sources, etc.

Canadian government blocks consideration of legality of Iraq war

Canada’s federal government intervened in a refugee hearing for a US Army deserter late last year to block discussion of the legality of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.
A lawyer representing Solicitor-General Irwin Cotler argued that the legality of the war is beyond the purview of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). He claimed that the International Court of Justice in The Hague is the only body with the authority and competence to hear arguments concerning the war’s legality.

CIA prisoners 'tortured' in Arab jails

Mr Scheuer said the operation was authorised at the highest levels of the CIA and the White House and was approved by their lawyers.
"The practice of capturing people and taking them to second or third countries arose because the Executive assigned the job of dismantling terrorist cells to the CIA.
"When the agency came back and said 'Where do you want to take them?' the message was 'That's your job'."

He added: "The idea that this is a rogue operation that someone has dreamt up is just absurd. I personally have no problem with doing any operation as long as it's justified legal by my superiors."

Lawyer convicted of aiding terrorist for providing legal counsel

The eavesdropping on attorney-client communications that led to this prosecution would have been unimaginable before September 11. I will argue that this eavesdropping has a serious cost in inhibiting defense attorney's ability to zealously represent their clients. This cost is of a constitutional dimension: The Sixth Amendment's right to counsel cannot be served while the government is a third party present at attorney-client meetings.
Another problematic aspect of the Stewart prosecution is how far the definition of support for terrorism was stretched. Stewart never provided any financial support, weaponry -- or any other concrete aid -- for any act of terrorism. No act of terrorism is alleged to have resulted from her actions.
Stewart's supposed support for terrorism instead consisted of aiding her client in 2000 by giving a press release to Reuters News Service in Cairo, Egypt, and of being present when her co-defendants allegedly aided her client in writing a series of letters. [from]

Taser said to target home use

"It's a huge potential market," Smith told the paper. "I just can't get my arms around how big this can get."
While the company maintains its product is safe, the article said 80 deaths have been reported among people shot with police Tasers since 1999, 12 of them proven to be either directly or indirectly linked to the gun. The report also said access to Tasers has led to an increase in use of either lethal or nonlethal force in some police departments.

Former Faith-Based Initiative Director Casts Doubts on the Program

David Kuo, who was deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives for much of Bush’s first term, said in published remarks that the White House reaped political benefits from the president’s promise to help religious organizations win taxpayer funding to care for “the least, the last and the lost” in the United States.
But he wrote: “There was minimal senior White House commitment to the faith-based agenda.”
Analyzing Bush’s failure to secure $8 billion in promised funding for the faith-based initiative during his first term, Kuo said there was “snoring indifference” among Republicans and “knee-jerk opposition” among Democrats in Congress.
“Capitol Hill gridlock could have been smashed by minimal West Wing effort,” Kuo wrote on, a Web site on religion. “No administration since (Lyndon B. Johnson’s) has had a more successful legislative record than this one. From tax cuts to Medicare, the White House gets what the White House really wants. It never really wanted the ‘poor people stuff.’ ”
Kuo’s remarks were a rare breach of discipline for an administration that places a high premium on unity among current and former officials, and they mark the second time a former high-ranking official has criticized Bush’s approach to the faith-based issue.
From the original article:
Sadly, four years later these promises remain unfulfilled in spirit and in fact. In June 2001, the promised tax incentives for charitable giving were stripped at the last minute from the $1.6 trillion tax cut legislation to make room for the estate-tax repeal that overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy. The Compassion Capital Fund has received a cumulative total of $100 million during the past four years. And new programs including those for children of prisoners, at-risk youth, and prisoners reentering society have received a little more than $500 million over four years--or approximately $6.3 billion less than the promised $6.8 billion.
Unfortunately, sometimes even the grandly-announced "new" programs aren't what they appear. Nowhere is this clearer than in the recently-announced "gang prevention initiative" totaling $50 million a year for three years. The obvious inference is that the money is new spending on an important initiative. Not quite. The money is being taken out of the already meager $100 million request for the Compassion Capital Fund. If granted, it would actually mean a $5 million reduction in the Fund from last year.

Better insurance becomes vet's mission

The idea of allowing those in the military to buy a new kind of disability insurance for a low monthly fee is supported by Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Arizona. He said he plans to introduce legislation that would make that happen.
"I don't know how you could say no to this," Renzi said in an interview. "There's these burgeoning costs that go with the families of these wounded guys that many times aren't covered."

'Rendition' Case Takes a New Twist

The citizen is Ahmed Abu Ali, a 23-year-old student who was arrested in Saudi Arabia in June 2003 while taking an exam at the University of Medina, and has since been held in a Saudi prison without charge or access to legal counsel.
Saudi authorities claim they have no case against Ali, and that his detention is at the behest of the U.S. government. The U.S. government responds it had nothing to do with his arrest or imprisonment, but has declined to publicly produce any evidence to document this claim.
Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation visited Ali during his detention, and the U.S. has reportedly asked Saudi authorities to indict Ali or return him to U.S. custody.
Ali's family charges that their son is a victim of ”rendition” -- a process in which suspects are taken to other countries and interrogated without the protection of U.S. laws. The practice is known to be used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other agencies. Frequently, the targets of ”rendition” are sent to or detained by countries known to torture prisoners.

World Tribunal on Iraq: Media Held Guilty of Deception

The World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI), an international peoples initiative seeking the truth about the war and occupation in Iraq made its pronouncement Sunday after a three- day meeting. The tribunal heard testimony from independent journalists, media professors, activists, and member of the European Parliament Michele Santoro.
...The informal panel of WTI judges accused the United States and the British governments of impeding journalists in performing their task, and intentionally producing lies and misinformation.

The panel accused western corporate media of filtering and suppressing information, and of marginalising and endangering independent journalists. More journalists were killed in a 14-month period in Iraq than in the entire Vietnam war.

30,000 missing performers owed webcasting royalties

Last night's CBS news contained a piece about the royalty society that collects money owed to performers for the webcasting of their work. The society is currently holding money for some 30,000 performers who cannot be located. Good thing we extended copyright terms -- otherwise those missing performers would never have had the motivation to record their songs 50 years ago. 4MB Quicktime Link

Elliot Abrams and Sun Myung Moon

Elliot Abrams, former Reagan official and ex-convict, took to the road in 1998 to appear at events attacking "deprogrammers," kidnappers hired by parents to retrieve young people from Reverend Moon's movement. As you may know, a convicted -- but pardoned! -- Iran-Contra criminal, Mr. Elliot Abrams, was recently appointed Mr. Democracy by the White House.
As you may know, a convicted -- but pardoned! -- Iran-Contra criminal, Mr. Elliot Abrams, was recently appointed Mr. Democracy by the White House.

Why is Google News carrying Power Line and not Daily Kos?

The excellent left-wing blogger Kos was dropped from Google News's list of sources last month, on the grounds that Google seeks out non-partisan news sources. However, Google News is including sites that are just as partisan, but for the other side, like Power Line. Kos is calling for a write-in campaign to Google News to address this.

How The Bush Team Controls the Message through Staged Events

Careful staging of events and control of message are tactics that have been on the upswing since President Reagan made it something of an art, according to Martha Kumar, a Towson University professor who studies presidential communication.
In addition to orchestrating the on-stage portion of the events, there is evidence that the White House works to control the live audience. Presidential appearances are "ticketed events," with ticket distribution controlled by local officials and organizations.

The locals operate under marching orders from the White House "advance" staff.

America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism

Lieven contrasts the high idealism of American civic nationalism, the "American Creed"—liberty, constitutionalism, law, democracy, individualism, and the separation of church and state—with current hypernationalistic attitudes that influence both domestic and foreign affairs. His book, Lieven writes,

should in no sense be read as an attack either on a reasonable American nationalism or on the war on terrorism in its original form of a struggle against al Qaeda and its allies. As I shall argue throughout this book, American civic nationalism is a central support of American power and influence in the world, and has tremendously positive lessons to offer to humanity.

Lieven maintains that because American-style free-market liberal democracy has now become ideologically acceptable in most of the world, logically the United States should be "behaving as a conservative hegemon, defending the existing international order and spreading its values by example."
Instead, the George W. Bush administration has attempted to go in the opposite direction. "American power," Lieven writes, "in the service of narrow American...nationalism is an extremely unstable basis for hegemony." Particularly after September 11, when there was a chance to "create a concert of all the world's major states—including Muslim ones—against Islamist revolutionary terrorism," the Bush administration "chose instead to pursue policies which divided the West, further alienated the Muslim world, and exposed America itself to greatly increased danger."

Monday, February 14, 2005

Bush Urges Renewal of Patriot Act

President Bush on Monday urged Congress to reauthorize the USA Patriot Act, the Justice Department's widely criticized anti-terrorism law.
"We must not allow the passage of time or the illusion of safety to weaken our resolve in this new war" on terrorism, Bush said at a swearing-in ceremony for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at the Justice Department.

Tsunami Unearths Ancient Artifacts

Archaeologists say they have discovered some stone remains from the coast close to India's famous beachfront Mahabalipuram temple in Tamil Nadu state following the 26 December tsunami.
They believe that the "structures" could be the remains of an ancient and once-flourishing port city in the area housing the famous 1200-year-old rock-hewn temple.

Our Godless Constitution

The Founding Fathers were not religious men, and they fought hard to erect, in Thomas Jefferson's words, "a wall of separation between church and state." John Adams opined that if they were not restrained by legal measures, Puritans--the fundamentalists of their day--would "whip and crop, and pillory and roast." The historical epoch had afforded these men ample opportunity to observe the corruption to which established priesthoods were liable, as well as "the impious presumption of legislators and rulers," as Jefferson wrote, "civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time."

Communicating with unconscious minds

This week, Neurology published an unsettling study of two brain-damaged men who are "minimally conscious"—able to breathe on their own but otherwise generally unresponsive. When neuroscientists scanned the patients' brains as they played audiotapes of loved ones, the activity was strikingly normal. The visual cortex of one of the men even lit up in a way that suggested he was visualizing the stories that his relatives told. One of the researchers told the New York Times that they've repeated the experiment on seven more patients and found the same results.
If the study holds water, we may need to rethink how we treat the estimated 300,000 Americans who are regarded as unreachable. The good news is that there are ways to communicate with some patients who seem completely unconscious. Spying into the brains of the unresponsive—as well as the "locked in," patients who are fully conscious but paralyzed by diseases such as ALS—can create a vehicle for them to talk. This conceit is at the heart of brain-computer interfacing, a booming field in which scientists are crafting tools that translate mental activity into keystrokes, mouse movements, and even robotic control.

CNN's Nuke Plant Photos Identical for Both Iran and N. Korea

Two stories posted in the last week on the CNN website, one on nukes in Iran last Wednesday, and another on nukes in North Korea on Saturday, both use the same aerial photograph of the same purported nuclear power plant!
But one is supposed to be in Iran and the other is supposed to be in North Korea!
A story posted Saturday to CNN's website suggesting that North Korea is rallying behind their leader Kim Jong Il in his latest nuclear saber-rattling makes use of a satellite photo described in the caption as "An aerial photo of North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear plant outside of Pyongyang".

New Brew: Caffeinated Beer

Anheuser-Busch has been releasing a caffeinated beer with ginseng and guarana called B(E) (about $6 for four 10-ounce cans) in Boston and other national test markets since November. It hit the shelves in the rest of New England last week. But even before A-B brought its product to town, Massachusetts beer lovers could get a caffeine kick from their brew.
In September, New Century Brewing in Randolph released MoonShot (about $7 for six 12-ounce bottles), a Pilsner with 45 milligrams of caffeine. New Century founder Rhonda Kallman was inspired to create the beer while dancing at a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert. She was drinking light beer, then switched to caffeinated cola. The sensation she got from the combination made her think, "Wow. How can I bottle this feeling?"

Veterans for Peace Call for a Ban on Depleted Uranium Munitions

Veterans For Peace, an UN-recognized non-governmental organization and veterans’ advocacy group, calls for Dr. Howard Dean to use his professional responsibility as a physician, and his influence in the Democratic National Committee to end the use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions.
It is urgent that people of conscience in this country act now. An increasing number of studies has linked DU with Gulf War syndrome, and DU is strongly implicated in birth defects among veterans’ children. Disturbing reports of suspected radiation-related problems among Iraq war veterans are surfacing.
Children in Afghanistan and Iraq are exposed to radiation from DU munitions in walls, in soil, and, in one study in which Dr. Rokke participated, from spent projectiles scattered in city streets. Babies have been born in these countries having no eyes and lacking crowns on their skulls. Anemia, cancers, liver and kidney dysfunctions, and infections due to immune system deficiences occur more frequently than before the wars.
Depleted uranium, a by-product of uranium enrichment, is used in the manufacture of weapons having kinetic penetrator properties. Such munitions were developed for heavy armor scenarios. It is has been very widely used, even when no armor is used by opponents. It ranges in caliber from 7.62mm (M-60 machine gun round) to 120mm, so is delivered by artillery, tanks, small arms, and aircraft. Fragments, fine oxide dust, and the remains of the rounds themselves pose considerable health hazards to indigenous populations, and to our own military people. The armor on vehicles has DU components.

Altered HIV Attacks Mice Tumors

The UCLA AIDS Institute scientists genetically altered HIV and folded it into an envelope made of another virus called sindbis, which typically infects insects and birds. That turned the altered HIV into a missile that hunted down metastasized melanoma cells in the lungs of living mice.
"People might wonder if it's scary to use HIV as a therapy," said Irving Chen, who led the UCLA team. "But in actuality we have completely removed 80 percent of the virus. So really it's just a carrier."

US aviation received 52 al-Qaeda warnings before 9/11

America's aviation authority received numerous warnings about al-Qaeda attacks in the six months before 9/11, including five that mentioned hijackings and two that mentioned suicide operations, it has emerged.
A previously published report by the commission set up to investigate the September 11 attacks on the United States reveals that the US Federal Aviation Authority received 52 intelligence reports on al-Qaeda between April and September 2001.
The 911 Commission report criticises the FAA for failing to strengthen security measures in light of the reports, and accuses it of allowing a false sense of security to prevail.
The aviation industry was more concerned with hijacking threats overseas and did not appear to give serious credit to the idea of hijackings at home, the report added.

State Dept. Relaxes Visa Rules for Some Scientists and Students

Responding to concerns that onerous visa requirements are discouraging foreign students and scientists from coming to the United States, the State Department has extended the time many of them can remain before renewing security clearances.
The clearance is required for foreigners working in areas the government deems "sensitive." Fields like chemistry, engineering and pharmacology can be in that category.

FBI Says DNA Analysis in Hoffa Case Complete

The FBI said Friday it had completed a DNA analysis of evidence that could help solve the 30-year-old mystery of the disappearance of Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa and submitted a report to police.
But Bloomfield Township police and Oakland County prosecutors, who are investigating the case, said they were not even aware the analysis was finished.
"I've never seen it," Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca told The Associated Press, adding that Bloomfield Township Police Chief Jeff Werner also had not seen a report.
The FBI would not release details of the analysis.

Jeff Gannon's alma mater: The Leadership Institute

The only journalism-related credential listed on former Talon News Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent Jeff Gannon's Talon News bio -- which was removed from Talon's website after Media Matters for America drew attention to Gannon and Talon News -- was The Leadership Institute Broadcast School of Journalism. While Talon News appears to be more of a Republican political advocacy group than a media outlet, The Leadership Institute Broadcast School of Journalism appears to be more of a training ground for Republican advocacy in the media than a school of journalism.
...The Leadership Institute is classified a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan educational foundation (view its 2003 form 990 here). It works "to increase the number and effectiveness of conservative public policy leaders" by offering a number of seminars on journalism and public policy nationwide and at its F.M. Kirby National Training Center in Arlington, Virginia. The Institute claims to have graduated more than 40,000 students.
According to its website, The Leadership Institute Broadcast School of Journalism is "[a]n intense two-day seminar ... designed to give aspiring journalists the skills necessary to bring balance to the media and succeed in this highly competitive field." It costs $50, for which attendees receive "two days of instruction, meals on Saturday and Sunday and all course materials," as well as free housing "on a first-come, first-served basis."

Wal-Mart to Settle Child Labor Charges

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, will pay $135,540 to settle federal charges that it broke child labor laws, the Labor Department said Saturday.
The 24 violations, which occurred at stores in Arkansas, Connecticut and New Hampshire, had to do with teenage workers who used hazardous equipment such as a chain saw, paper balers and fork lifts.
Wal-Mart denied the allegations but agreed to pay the penalty. A spokeswoman for the Bentonville, Ark., company said Wal-Mart was preparing a statement Saturday.
Child labor laws prohibit anyone under 18 from operating hazardous equipment.

Pentagon Covers Up Failure to Train and Recruit Local Security Forces

Training of Iraq's security forces, crucial to any exit strategy for Britain and the US, is going so badly that the Pentagon has stopped giving figures for the number of combat-ready indigenous troops, The Independent on Sunday has learned.
Instead, only figures for troops "on hand" are issued. The small number of soldiers, national guardsmen and police capable of operating against the country's bloody insurgency is concealed in an overall total of Iraqis in uniform, which includes raw recruits and police who have gone on duty after as little as three weeks' training. In some cases they have no weapons, body armor or even documents to show they are in the police.

The Onion: Love Coupons

Chicago: Protesters celebrate `the joy of the bicycle' outside auto show

The friendly and sometimes humorous protest focused on alternative transportation and respect for bicyclists on the road.
"We are taking our bikes to the car show to introduce people to the joy of the bicycle," said Michael Burton, one of the protest's organizers. "If we can convert just one person from a car to a bike-centered lifestyle, we are successful."
The protests, begun six years ago, are aimed not only at raising environmental concerns, but also at raising safety issues, which Burton said is downplayed by the industry. [thanks to Michael B.]

Hello Kitty Crop Circles Near Stonehenge


CNN News Executive Eason Jordan Quits After Alleging Targeting of Journalists

CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan quit Friday amid a furor over remarks he made in Switzerland last month about journalists killed by the U.S. military in Iraq. Jordan said he was quitting to avoid CNN being "unfairly tarnished" by the controversy.
During a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum last month, Jordan said he believed that several journalists who were killed by coalition forces in Iraq had been targeted.

He quickly backed off the remarks, explaining that he meant to distinguish between journalists killed because they were in the wrong place when a bomb fell, for example, and those killed because they were shot at by American forces who mistook them for the enemy.

"I never meant to imply U.S. forces acted with ill intent when U.S. forces accidentally killed journalists, and I apologize to anyone who thought I said or believed otherwise," Jordan said in a memo to fellow staff members at CNN.

Google Print

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Since a lot of the world's information isn't yet online, we're helping to get it there. Google Print puts the content of books where you can find it most easily – right in Google search results.
To use Google Print, just do an ordinary Google search. For example, when you search on "Books about Ecuador Trekking" or "Romeo and Juliet," and we find a book that contains content that matches your search terms, we'll show links to that book at the top of your search results. Click on the book title and you'll see the page of the book that contains your search terms, as well as other information about the book. You can also search for other topics within the book. Click "Buy this Book" and you'll go straight to an online bookstore selling it. If the book was scanned from a library, click the library link to find a local library that has it.

Right now we're just testing this program, so you may not see books in your results for every search. But you can expect to see more and more books popping up in your search results in the coming months.

U.S. Denies Patent for a Too-Human Hybrid

A New York scientist's seven-year effort to win a patent on a laboratory-conceived creature that is part human and part animal ended in failure Friday, closing a historic and somewhat ghoulish chapter in American intellectual-property law.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected the claim, saying the hybrid -- designed for use in medical research but not yet created -- would be too closely related to a human to be patentable.
Paradoxically, the rejection was a victory of sorts for the inventor, Stuart Newman of New York Medical College in Valhalla, N.Y. An opponent of patents on living things, he had no intention of making the creatures. His goal was to set a legal precedent that would keep others from profiting from any similar "inventions."

Autistic Savant Explains How He Does Math

Daniel Tammet is an autistic savant. He can perform mind-boggling mathematical calculations at breakneck speeds. But unlike other savants, who can perform similar feats, Tammet can describe how he does it. He speaks seven languages and is even devising his own language. Now scientists are asking whether his exceptional abilities are the key to unlock the secrets of autism.
Tammet is calculating 377 multiplied by 795. Actually, he isn't "calculating": there is nothing conscious about what he is doing. He arrives at the answer instantly. Since his epileptic fit, he has been able to see numbers as shapes, colours and textures. The number two, for instance, is a motion, and five is a clap of thunder. "When I multiply numbers together, I see two shapes. The image starts to change and evolve, and a third shape emerges. That's the answer. It's mental imagery. It's like maths without having to think."