Thursday, March 10, 2005

Evangelical Leaders Swing Influence Behind Effort to Combat Global Warming

A core group of influential evangelical leaders has put its considerable political power behind a cause that has barely registered on the evangelical agenda, fighting global warming.
These church leaders, scientists, writers and heads of international aid agencies argue that global warming is an urgent threat, a cause of poverty and a Christian issue because the Bible mandates stewardship of God's creation.

Pentagon Investigation Clears Top Gov't Officials of Prisoner Abuse

The Pentagon essentially cleared itself of abusing prisoners today when it released the results of an investigation into the interrogation of prisoners in the war on terror.
The report concluded, 'We found no link between approved interrogation techniques and detainee abuse.'
The investigation was commenced shortly after the prison scandal at Abu Ghraib prison was discovered after videos and photographs of American soldiers abusing Iraqi detainees were made public.
The review covered prisoner abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. The report did concluded that there was a lack of guidance as to interrogation techniques but did not link that directly to abuse of detainees. Navy Vice Admiral Albert T. Church, the author of the report said, 'We cannot say that there would necessarily have been less detainee abuse had these opportunities been acted upon.'

60th Anniversary of the Forebombing of Tokyo

The Tokyo firebombing has long been overshadowed by the U.S. atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki which preceded the Japanese surrender that ended World War II the following August. But the burning of the capital, which resulted in more immediate deaths than either of the nuclear bombings, stands as a horrifying landmark in the history of warfare on noncombatants.
More than 300 B-29 "Superfortress" bombers dropped nearly a half-million M-69 incendiary cylinders over Tokyo that night and early morning, destroying some 16 square miles of the city. The attack, coming a month after a similar raid on Dresden, Germany, brought the mass incineration of civilians to a new level in a conflict already characterized by unprecedented bloodshed.

The attack is remembered by Rober McNamara in the documentary Fog of War.

ChoicePoint files found riddled with errors

Deborah Pierce held a rare and precious document in her hands. It was the story of her life, as told by ChoicePoint Inc. She wasn't supposed to see it; an anonymous source had smuggled the report to her. But there it was, her "National Comprehensive Report," 20 pages long, a complete dossier of all the digital breadcrumbs she's left behind during her adult life.
At least, that's what it was supposed to be.
Pierce said she felt an uneasy twinge in her stomach as she began to flip the pages. A dozen former addresses were listed, along with neighbors and their phone numbers. Almost 20 people were listed as relatives -- and their neighbors were listed, too. There were cars she supposedly owned, businesses she supposedly worked for.
But the more closely she looked, the more alarmed she became: The report was littered with mistakes.

David Byrne hearts PowerPoint

Monday night, I attended an excellent UC Berkeley lecture by David Byrne about his passion for the PowerPoint presentation software. (Previous posts on Byrne's Powerpoint here and here, including an interview by Xeni! More background at Wired and NPR.) Surprise guests included PowerPoint creators Dennis Austin and Bob Gaskins, both of whom seemed to get a kick out of the presentation. Watching Byrne's twitchy motions from the front-row kinda made me jumpy though. The event was part of BB pal Ken Goldberg's Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium lecture series. My friend Bonnie Powell has a great play-by-play of the evening at the UC Berkeley NewsCenter with photos by the always-amazing Bart Nagel.
"There's a lot of criticism of PowerPoint" — for encouraging users to do things in a particular way and discouraging them from other things, such as putting more than seven bullet points on a slide, he acknowledged. "But if you can't edit it down to seven, maybe you should think about talking about something else." PowerPoint restricts users no more than any other communication platform, he asserted, including a pencil: "When you pick up a pencil you know what you're getting — you don't think, 'I wish this could write in a million colors.'"...

Ultimately, Byrne said, he just enjoyed playing with the program, and continues to do so. "I made a presentation recently that was just colored slides fading in and out, like a rainbow. I put this gospel music to it — it was this wonderful, uplifting celebration," he said. "Who knew? Sometimes you only find out what's in there when you take everything out."

Rumsfeld Ignores Reimbursing Soldiers for Equipment

The Defense Department hasn't developed a plan to reimburse soldiers for equipment they bought to fight in Iraq and Afghan-istan despite requirements in a law passed last year, a senator says.
In a letter sent yesterday to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., sought details on the Pentagon's progress in setting up the reimbursement program and questioned why it was not in place.
"Very simply, this is either negligence on their part because they were not happy with this when it passed, or it's incompetence," Dodd said.
Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke said Rumsfeld will respond to Dodd's letter after he has reviewed it. She had no comment on the progress of reimbursement regulations.
Soldiers serving in Iraq and their families have reported buying everything from higher-quality protective gear to armor for Humvees, medical supplies and global positioning devices.

The War of the Words

When is a terrorist not a terrorist? When is a "reform" a reform? New York Times public editor Daniel Okrent mulls some of the ways that language is used to spin perceptions in modern politics. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, he says, "may yield the most linguistically volatile issues confronting Times editors, but I've encountered a ferocious tug-of-war between advocates of each of the following as well: Genital mutilation vs. genital cutting ('would you call ritual male circumcision "genital mutilation"?'). Liberal vs. moderate ('you're simply trying to make liberalism look reasonable and inoffensive' as in calling Michael Bloomberg a 'moderate Republican'). Abuse vs. torture ('if the Abu Ghraib victims had been American soldiers,' The Times 'would have described it as torture'). Partial birth vs. intact dilation and extraction (the use of the former demonstrates that The Times 'has embraced the terminology of anti-abortion forces'). 'Iraqi forces' vs. 'American-backed forces' ('aren't the Sunni insurgents Iraqis?'). Don't get me started on 'insurgents,' much less homeless vs. vagrant, affirmative action vs. racial preferences, or loophole vs. tax incentive." And, he adds, "Hijacking the language proves especially pernicious when government officials deodorize their programs with near-Orwellian euphemism. (If Orwell were writing 'Politics and the English Language' today, he'd need a telephone book to contain his 'catalog of swindles and perversions.') The Bush administration has been especially good at this; just count the number of times self-anointing phrases like 'Patriot Act,' 'Clear Skies Act' or 'No Child Left Behind Act' appear in The Times, at each appearance sounding as wholesome as a hymn." [from]

Santorum's Competing Min. Wage Bill Would Have Hurt Wages for those Who Work forTips

Santorum’s amendment had garnered little support from either party before the vote. Republican lawmakers are generally against raising the minimum wage because of the pressure it puts on businesses. Democrats were apprehensive of Santorum’s proposal because it was far more complex than a straight wage increase. The Economic Policy Institute has estimated that even though Santorum’s wage increase may have benefited up to 1.8 million workers, the detrimental effects of his plan would have far outweighed the positives. Provisions in the law would have reduced minimum wage eligibility, changed specifics on overtime rights, and overruled state standards for workers who earn tips. In other words, millions of workers would have lost protections they now have under current law.

Global Warming "Denial Lobby" Targets UK

The global warming "denial lobby" is targeting Britain, reports the Observer, and it has U.S. connections. "The UK-based Scientific Alliance, which organised the meeting of skeptics in London last month, recently published a joint report with America's George C. Marshall Institute, a think-tank which has received donations from Exxon. ... Exxon has also contributed $50,000 to the International Policy Network, headquartered in London. Key personnel at the IPN have connections with the Institute of Economic Affairs, Britain's leading conservative think-tank, as well as the Competitive Enterprise Institute in the U.S., whose global warming expert is Myron Ebell, President Bush's climate adviser." [from]

Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals

The Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals presents over 1,300 selected English-language books, conference papers (including some digital video presentations), debates, editorials, e-prints, journal and magazine articles, news articles, technical reports, and other printed and electronic sources that are useful in understanding the open access movement's efforts to provide free access to and unfettered use of scholarly literature. Most sources have been published between 1999 and August 31, 2004; however, a limited number of key sources published prior to 1999 are also included. Where possible, links are provided to sources that are freely available on the Internet (approximately 78 percent of the bibliography's references have such links).

Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals

The Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals presents over 1,300 selected English-language books, conference papers (including some digital video presentations), debates, editorials, e-prints, journal and magazine articles, news articles, technical reports, and other printed and electronic sources that are useful in understanding the open access movement's efforts to provide free access to and unfettered use of scholarly literature. Most sources have been published between 1999 and August 31, 2004; however, a limited number of key sources published prior to 1999 are also included. Where possible, links are provided to sources that are freely available on the Internet (approximately 78 percent of the bibliography's references have such links).

Alaskan Ice Sculpture

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

60 Minutes, O'Reilly suggested Clinton approved of Bush administration "renditions"

CBS' 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley and Fox News host Bill O'Reilly both misleadingly suggested that the Bush administration's use of "rendition" -- the practice of transferring suspected terrorists from where they are captured to other countries, including nations known for torturing prisoners, while bypassing formal extradition procedures -- is merely a continuation of Clinton administration policy. The Bush administration has recently endured criticism from human rights advocates and at least one congressman over the practice. While the Clinton administration practiced rendition in rare circumstances, usually to send a suspect to a country to face criminal charges, the Bush administration has vastly increased the practice of transferring suspects solely in order to subject them to interrogation in other countries.
On the March 6 broadcast of 60 Minutes, Pelley quoted Michael Scheuer, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency's special unit on Osama bin Laden, saying that "renditions were authorized by Clinton's National Security Council." Citing 60 Minutes, O'Reilly made passing references to "the rendition policy instituted by President Clinton" on the March 7 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor and on his radio show.
By contrast, The New York Times reported on March 6 that the Clinton administration enforced much greater oversight and tighter restrictions on renditions and generally used the practice to allow suspects to face criminal prosecutions, rather than solely to undergo interrogation.

Aerial Propaganda Leaflet Database

"We can see everything. Do not use nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons."
Operation Iraqi Freedom 2003

Cop Uses Taser Gun On Man Who Refused Urine Sample

The police document said Wheeler was handcuffed to a hospital bed and then secured with leather straps after he refused to urinate in a cup. When medical staff tried to insert a catheter to get the sample, Wheeler refused.
At one point, police officer Peter Linnenkamp noted that he jumped on the bed with his knees on Wheeler's chest to restrain him. Then, when Wheeler still refused to let the catheter be inserted, Linnenkamp said he twice used his Taser gun, which sends 50,000 volts into a target.

University President Resigns at Colorado Amid Turmoil

The president of the University of Colorado, Elizabeth Hoffman, resigned Monday after struggling with a football recruiting scandal and a firestorm over a professor who likened some Sept. 11 victims to Nazis.
But her departure, effective June 30, seems unlikely to quell months of political turmoil in the state over the professor, Ward L. Churchill, who wrote that some people who worked at the World Trade Center were "little Eichmanns," toiling on behalf of American foreign policy just as Adolf Eichmann did on behalf of the Holocaust. [thanks to Tom P.]

USA Next gets sued

A $25 million lawsuit was filed today against right-wing front group USA Next and political consulting firm Mark Montini International for stealing an Oregon couple's wedding photo and using it without permission in a high-profile gay-bashing ad designed to drum up support for social security privatization.

Ex-Marine Says Public Version of Saddam Capture Fiction

A former U.S. Marine who participated in capturing ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said the public version of his capture was fabricated.
Ex-Sgt. Nadim Abou Rabeh, of Lebanese descent, was quoted in the Saudi daily al-Medina Wednesday as saying Saddam was actually captured Friday, Dec. 12, 2003, and not the day after, as announced by the U.S. Army.
"I was among the 20-man unit, including eight of Arab descent, who searched for Saddam for three days in the area of Dour near Tikrit, and we found him in a modest home in a small village and not in a hole as announced," Abou Rabeh said.
"We captured him after fierce resistance during which a Marine of Sudanese origin was killed," he said.
He said Saddam himself fired at them with a gun from the window of a room on the second floor. Then they shouted at him in Arabic: "You have to surrender. ... There is no point in resisting."
"Later on, a military production team fabricated the film of Saddam's capture in a hole, which was in fact a deserted well," Abou Rabeh said.
Abou Rabeh was interviewed in Lebanon.

Polar history shows melting ice-cap may be a natural cycle

Dr Dick said the research did not suggest that global warming was not a reality.
"You couldn’t say, ‘The sea ice is coming back so therefore there’s no global warming’. It’s never going to be that simple," he said. "But the question now is the extent of global warming, how fast it will happen and whether there are any surprises on the way.
"We know there is warming and that it’s caused by humans, but it will be a great relief to many people if the ice comes back as opposed to going away."
He added that some people might be pleased to see less ice in the Arctic as it would finally open up the North-west Passage trade route - sought by many of the explorers whose log-books were used in the study - between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
"If the sea ice continues to disappear it could cut something like 5,000km off the sea route from Europe to Japan and China. There are people who think that’s a good thing," Dr Dick said.
"Humans are great at adapting to change. We might lose polar bears and some species of seal, but most people don’t worry about that, it doesn’t affect them. And if it means their stereo can be shipped from China more quickly, they are happy with that."

The Best Simpsons "Couch Gag" Ever

Charles Eames has a saying that's one of my favourites: "Eventually, everything connects", a statement that harkens back to an earlier saying by the Buddhists: "When you slice a blade of grass, you shake the universe".
One of Charles Eames' best-known works is the film he created with his wife Ray, Powers of 10, the classic 1977 film that looks at the relative size of things from microscopic to the edges of the known universe. Your mathematical education is not complete unless you've seen this film.
My friend Chris Turner, author of Planet Simpson, has a philosophy similar to Eames': eventually, everything connects to The Simpsons. More proof for this hypothesis appeared recently when the Simpsons showed its best "couch gag" (the gag at the end of the title sequence where they gather on the couch), in which they pay homage to Powers of 10.
It's brilliant and you must watch it [10.3 MB QuickTime movie, enclosure].



Data Is Lacking on Iran's Arms, U.S. Panel Says

A commission due to report to President Bush this month will describe American intelligence on Iran as inadequate to allow firm judgments about Iran's weapons programs, according to people who have been briefed on the panel's work.
The report comes as intelligence agencies prepare a new formal assessment on Iran, and follows a 14-month review by the panel, which Mr. Bush ordered last year to assess the quality of overall intelligence about the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

Nancy Pelosi and Louise Slaughter Release Report on Republican Rules Abuses

"This report provides devastating details of the profound abuse of power that characterizes House Republicans after 10 years in the majority. It demonstrates how House Republicans have completely abandoned not only the standards they set for themselves 10 years ago, but how they have also abandoned any other principle of fairness and accountability. In fact, many non-partisan analysts said that the 108th Congress not only matched the worst abuses of earlier Congresses, it has set a new standard.
And the report could not have been more timely. While this Republican Administration has spoken strongly about promoting democracy around the world, the House Republican Leadership is working feverishly to undermine democracy here at home.
Every day that this legislative charade continues, millions of Americans, in every state and congressional district, are denied a voice in Congress.
Under the current House leadership, floor debate is muzzled, few amendments are permitted, votes are often cast with fear of retribution, and conference committees too often do not meet. Instead, a handful of Republican leaders dictate the party line. They ram bills through committees without full discussion, permit few if any floor amendments, and if need be, hold open floor votes until enough arms have been twisted to ensure passage."
To read the full report, please visit

Bankrupcy Bill Passes

A Senate bill to overhaul federal bankruptcy laws, a top priority of retailers, auto lenders and banks, cleared a key hurdle Tuesday afternoon. Sixty-nine senators -- nine more than needed -- voted for "cloture," a procedural move that limits debate. Republican leaders hope to push the bill to a final vote by the end of the week. Earlier, the Senate turned back a controversial, abortion-related amendment that has scuttled previous efforts to pass bankruptcy legislation. The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 was first introduced in 1998 as The Consumer Bankruptcy Reform Act. [from]

Teen Convicted Under Internet Piracy Law

An Arizona university student is believed to be the first person in the country to be convicted of a crime under state laws for illegally downloading music and movies from the Internet, prosecutors and activists say.
University of Arizona student Parvin Dhaliwal pleaded guilty to possession of counterfeit marks, or unauthorized copies of intellectual property.
Under an agreement with prosecutors, Dhaliwal was sentenced last month to a three-month deferred jail sentence, three years of probation, 200 hours of community service and a $5,400 fine. The judge in the case also ordered him to take a copyright class at the University of Arizona, which he attends, and to avoid file-sharing computer programs.

Bloggers, chill out already!

Reports of a Federal Election Commission plot to "crack down" on blogging and e-mail are wildly exaggerated.
First of all, we're not the speech police. We don't tell private citizens what they can or cannot say, on the Internet or anywhere else. The FEC regulates campaign finance. There's got to be some money involved, or it's out of our jurisdiction.
Second, let's get the facts straight. Congress, in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, limited how one can pay for communications that are coordinated with political campaigns, including any form of "general public political advertising."

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

'Chicago Tribune' Pulls 'The Boondocks' Again

The Chicago Tribune dropped today's "Boondocks," as the strip once again mentioned President Bush's alleged former drug use. The paper had also dropped yesterday's installment.
Why did the Tribune pull Aaron McGruder's Monday and Tuesday comics? "Even in cartoons, you cannot state as a real-life fact something that is not true in real life," Geoff Brown, the Tribune's associate managing editor/features, told E&P. "This is not to say that cartoonists can't dream up conversations or situations to poke fun at a public figure -- that's satire. But when they inaccurately attribute to a public figure a real-life fact, quote, or action that never happened, then lampoon him or her for a fictional fact, quote, or action, that's unfair. Reports from reputable news sources about the president's taped conversation are careful not to state outright that he admitted drug use."

Bush Administration Used Fake Torture Story to Influence Public

In July 2003, the Washington Post published a harrowing account of the torture of an Assyrian Christian woman in Baghdad. The woman, Jumana Hanna, took Post reporter Peter Finn to the prison where she said she had been jailed, tortured and raped for nothing more than marrying a non-Iraqi. Ms Hanna told the reporter her husband had been killed in a nearby prison and his lifeless body was later passed to her.
...It did not take long for a professional journalist to find out that very few if any details of Jumana Hanna’s account were true. She was not married to a foreigner, but to an Iraqi Arab. Her husband was not killed and was probably never in prison. Ms Hanna may have been jailed for a few months, but most likely for prostitution. One of her key witnesses appears to be a boyfriend to whom she has been sending money from the United States. So what is the true story of Jumana Hanna?
“It’s just a story about a homeless prostitute who single-handedly fooled the Pentagon, the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Washington Post,” says Sara Solovitch. Jumana Hanna also fooled many ordinary Americans who, touched by her story, rushed to deposit charitable contributions into the Iraqi woman’s account.

A top Social Security administrator is moonlighting as a partial-privatization lobbyist

If there’s an enterprising congressional Democrat out there looking to make a splash in the fight against partial privatization of Social Security, he or she ought to call up James B. Lockhart III, deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), and ask him to come speak at an anti-private accounts rally.
Lockhart, a political appointee and major donor who has given about $20,000 to GOP causes over the past two election cycles, has been appearing at town-hall meetings across the country for the past week with Republican members of Congress, all of whom are pushing President Bush’s privatization agenda.

An interested citizen attending one of these events might have taken away the idea that, by appearing at an event with a lawmaker aggressively pushing privatization, Lockhart was signaling his -- or even the SSA’s -- support of privatization. But Lockhart insists that in all his appearances with pro-privatization Republicans, his role is strictly educational. And, according to the SSA, Lockhart is offering his services to any Democrats who ask for them.

Soldier Who Reported Abuse Was Sent to Psychiatrist

An Army intelligence sergeant who accused fellow soldiers in Samarra, Iraq, of abusing detainees in 2003 was in turn accused by his commander of being delusional and ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation in Germany, despite a military psychiatrist's initial judgment that the man was stable, according to internal Army records released yesterday.
The soldier had angered his commander by urging the unit's redeployment from the military base to prevent what the soldier feared would be the death of one or more detainees under interrogation, according to the documents. He told his commander three members of the counterintelligence team had hit detainees, pulled their hair, tried to asphyxiate them and staged mock executions with pistols pointed at the detainees' heads.

Traumatic Brain Injury Emerging As The Distinguishing Injury Of The Iraq War

According to a report in The Scotsman, the war in Iraq will be no different in producing a "signature wound" only this time the wound is in the brains of those affected. Medical experts are witnessing an emerging and alarming increase in a disorder known as TBI or Traumatic Brain Injury. In other words, the Iraq war could produce a generation of brain-damaged ex-soldiers.
Soldiers are far better equipped in the 21st century to protect their lives from injuries caused by bullets and bombs but in so doing, the very soldiers who are surviving extreme bomb blasts are now displaying symptoms of brain damage caused by the brain-shaking event that occurs at the time of a nearby blast.

Short Story About High School Zombies Lands Kid in Custody for Terrorist Threat

"My story is based on fiction," said Poole, who faces a second-degree felony terrorist threatening charge. "It's a fake story. I made it up. I've been working on one of my short stories, (and) the short story they found was about zombies. Yes, it did say a high school. It was about a high school over ran by zombies."
Even so, police say the nature of the story makes it a felony. "Anytime you make any threat or possess matter involving a school or function it's a felony in the state of Kentucky," said Winchester Police detective Steven Caudill.
Poole disputes that he was threatening anyone.
"It didn't mention nobody who lives in Clark County, didn't mention (George Rogers Clark High School), didn't mention no principal or cops, nothing,"
said Poole. "Half the people at high school know me. They know I'm not that stupid, that crazy."

More Schools are Saying 'No' to Logos

It's a discomfort that has gained further currency through the popularity of a couple of recent books. Naomi Klein, author of the book "No Logo," shows, step by step, how name brands have become increasingly pervasive, not just in the media and on the street, but increasingly in schools as well. Her sentiments are echoed by economist Juliet Schor, author of "Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture."
At the Portland Waldorf School, Ms. Muir also worries about the connection between electronic media and ads and logos on clothing. As a general policy, the school discourages parents from allowing students - especially younger children - to absorb too much TV or play too many video or computer games at home. Teachers at the school say such activities leave kids with short attention spans and a desire to be constantly entertained.
"The dress code is a similar issue," says Muir. "Often the logos or pictures on kids' clothes refer to media figures."

White House admits first blogger to news briefing

He found the surroundings to be dilapidated and cramped and concluded that his morning at the White House was "remarkably uneventful."
Garrett M. Graff, 23, writes Fishbowl D.C., a Web log about the news media in Washington. He decided to see if he could get a daily pass for a briefing after a recent controversy raised questions about White House access and who is a legitimate reporter.
Graff said he got his pass after a week of asking. "The briefing room ought to be an inclusive place," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.

Forbes: Top Corporate Hate Web Sites

To honor these quixotic champions, we spent hours trawling the Web looking for the very best corporate hate sites. After checking out more than 100 sites with names like and, we rated the best of them on a scale from one to five in six different categories: ease of use, frequency of updates, number of posts, hostility level (angrier is better), relevance, and entertainment value (Hey! Angry and funny!).
The following nine sites--there were ten, but one went unexpectedly dark during the editing of this story--are the crème de la crème of online rage. Note that we substantially cleaned up some of the posts, editing out odd capitulation schemes, iffy grammar and plain incoherence. Apparently blinding anger does not go hand in hand with dotting your i's and crossing your t's.

Interview with Charles Lewis, Founder of the Center for Public Integrity

Today, the center is a muckraking assembly line, winning its investigators 28 major journalism awards along the way to becoming the largest non-profit investigative journalism organization in the world - minus any requirement for on-camera drama. It broke the Lincoln bedroom scandal during the Clinton presidency, published the otherwise secret Patriot II Act, revealed that Enron was George W. Bush's top career patron, and disclosed the no-bid contracts granted to US companies in Iraq. In short, many of the last decade's investigative coups have been conducted by a non-profit, non-news organization. Recently, Charles Lewis stepped down from the center he founded. I asked him how his peers reacted when he first left 60 Minutes.

Bad News: The Decline of Reporting, the Business of News, and the Danger to Us All

In the aftermath of 9/11, many speculated that American news organizations would finally tear off their blinders and dedicate themselves to quality foreign reporting. But the media's newfound interest in the outside world was short-lived, and network news quickly returned to its race-to-the-bottom. That's the assessment of Tom Fenton, veteran CBS newsman and author of the new book "Bad News: The Decline of Reporting, the Business of News, and the Danger to Us All."

Three Lectures by Hans Bethe

IN 1999, legendary theoretical physicist Hans Bethe delivered three lectures on quantum theory to his neighbors at the Kendal of Ithaca retirement community (near Cornell University). Given by Professor Bethe at age 93, the lectures are presented here as QuickTime videos synchronized with slides of his talking points and archival material.
Intended for an audience of Professor Bethe's neighbors at Kendal, the lectures hold appeal for experts and non-experts alike. The presentation makes use of limited mathematics while focusing on the personal and historical perspectives of one of the principal architects of quantum theory whose career in physics spans 75 years.

High Tea at Tenny Street

second Sunday of each month
High Tea
Sunday, March 13 - from 2 - 7 pm
jam & open mic
all performers welcome or just come enjoy the excellent music,
delicious food, great room and stage
hosted by Leo Papa & Bill McGettigan
Tenny Street Roadhouse
22361 West Village Drive
(It's the former post office, one block south of Michigan
one block east of Military)
(313) 278-3677
map and directions

U.S. to Fund Chinese Agency Aiding Iranian and Pakistani Nukes

There is an arm of the Chinese government that has repeatedly aided the nuclear weapons programs of Pakistan and Iran. Now that arm is in line for a $5-billion loan deal from the U.S. government--for the benefit of two major U.S. corporations.
The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im), an independent federal agency that finances exports, has granted a preliminary commitment for the largest deal in it is history: $5 billion in loans and loan guarantees to the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to build nuclear power plants.
According to U.S. government reports, CNNC has been tied to at least three instances of nuclear weapons proliferation involving Pakistan and Iran. Yet, the Chinese-government agency is still eligible for Ex-Im financing because of a Clinton-Administration decision--made at the behest of U.S. businesses--not to punish CNNC for its actions.

Millionaire challenges secret U.S. travel restrictions

The gate agent asked for his ID.
Gilmore asked her why.
It is the law, she said.
Gilmore asked to see the law.
Nobody could produce a copy. To date, nobody has. The regulation that mandates ID at airports is "Sensitive Security Information." The law, as it turns out, is unavailable for inspection.
What started out as a weekend trip to Washington became a crawl through the courts in search of an answer to Gilmore's question: Why?
In post 9/11 America, asking "Why?" when someone from an airline asks for identification can start some interesting arguments. Gilmore, who learned to argue on the debate team in his hometown of Bradford, McKean County, has started an argument that, should it reach its intended target, the U.S. Supreme Court, would turn the rules of national security on end, reach deep into the tug-of-war between private rights and public safety, and play havoc with the Department of Homeland Security. [from]

Utility to Spend $500 Million on Cleanup

The Justice Department said on Monday that it had reached a settlement with Illinois Power over Clean Air Act violations that would require the utility to spend $500 million on new pollution controls and to pay $9 million in fines, the largest penalty imposed on a power company for excessive emissions.

State Taxpayers Providing Relief to Military Families

The money is intended to help cover property taxes, car repairs, rent, equipment not supplied by the armed forces, or anything that might be a reach for the families of National Guard members and reservists struggling with the domestic hazards of wartime, including loss of income, long separations, disability or sudden death.
The measures are part of a movement by states to fill what they perceive as a void in federal support for military families. Several states have created tax breaks, increased death benefits, added tuition assistance - even provided discounts on hunting licenses and free admission to state parks. The relief funds rely mostly on citizen largess, though contributions to charity are tax deductible and reduce federal and state revenues.

UN Inspectors: 90 Dangerous Sites Looted in Iraq

The U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), created to track Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, based its conclusion in a Friday report on satellite imagery from sites with material that had weapons potential.
Repairs and new construction have begun at 10 of the 90 sites, said the report to the U.N. Security Council from Demetrius Perricos, the chief weapons inspector.

The Next Big Thing in Online Type

Beginning in 2006, Microsoft says it will ship with its operating system and other software products six brand new typefaces created especially for extended on-screen reading.
The new ClearType Font Collection incorporates improved ClearType and OpenType technologies, and a boatload of research, to improve the structure and the clarity of the letter forms. Basically, that means a story will be easier to read because the letters and words won't be as soft and mushy looking.

Combining Forces for a Converged Investigation

PBS' "FRONTLINE," working with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, The New York Times and a U.C. Berkeley graduate class on investigative reporting, has produced an investigation that explores what the producers call the new front in the war on terror: Europe.
The project, now posted online points out how Western Europe is becoming home to a rapidly increasing number of radical Muslims who have, in the past, brought terror with them.
The entire documentary will be streamed online beginning Friday.
The "FRONTLINE" Web site features extensive interview transcripts that go beyond what made air. This is one in a series of award-winning "FRONTLINE" documentaries that have been the product of cooperation between print, online and television journalists. It is a prime example of what many who touted "convergence journalism" hoped might happen -- journalism that leverages the strengths of each media to tell a more complete story than any one media could tell on its own.
Longtime investigative reporter and Adjunct Professor Lowell Bergman helped write and report. I interviewed Bergman by e-mail to find out how these remarkable projects evolve between media outlets and, in this case, a college classroom. Below is an edited version of our e-mail interview.

Bush Accused of 'Fiddling While World Burns' by Ignoring Climate Change

One of Britain's most eminent scientists has attacked President Bush for acting like a latter-day Nero who fiddles while the world burns because of global warming.
Lord May of Oxford, the president of the Royal Society and former chief scientific adviser to the Government, said the Bush administration must accept the case has been made about the link between man-made pollution and climate change. Continuing to deny the impact of human activities on the environment may ultimately have catastrophic consequences for everyone on the planet, he said.
The Royal Society has calculated that the 13 per cent rise in greenhouse gas emissions from the United States since 1990 will dwarf the cuts resulting from all other countries that will follow the Kyoto protocol. In a speech to policy-makers in Berlin today, Lord May will also castigate elements within the British media who promote "misleading" opinions about the true nature of the scientific uncertainties surrounding climate change.

Luntz playbook and Media Silence

I find it odd that we leak the Luntz playbook -- which (among other things) tells Republicans to deflect every tough question with an appeal to 9/11 -- has garnered complete media silence. Nothing.
It's a cynical document, no doubt, but an extremely newsworthy one. Heck, it's the GOP speech code, in all its glory, laid bare to the world.
Perhaps no one wanted to deal with a clumsy PDF document. So luckily, the blogosphere has delivered, and now the document is available in a virtual smogasboard of formats.
You can read the Luntz platbook in HTML here and in a bunch of different formats here.

Paul Reickhoff of OPTRUTH on the News Hour

Well, you're right. I spent roughly a year in Baghdad and manned countless checkpoints just like the one that's described in this incident.
I think the thing I want people to really understand is the enormous pressure that these soldiers are under and the enormity of the task that they're faced with.
They're asked to make really split second decisions that could mean the difference between their own lives and obviously Iraqi civilian lives as well. It's a tremendous amount of pressure and soldiers are forced to make these types of decisions in Iraq every single day.
...And then warning shots are probably the last resort before actually firing. And once you do fire, they're firing at the engine block because they want to disable the vehicle.
Your intent is not to kill the drivers but to stop the vehicle from approaching you any closer and having the ability to blow up your unit, your squad or the entire checkpoint. [OPTRUTH website]

George Bush set to nominate John Bolton as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

Known as the treaty killer by his friends and critics, as well as the anti-Ambassador, John Bolton may well change the course of American Democracy. He hints at recognizing Taiwan, and in the past has rejected the idea of a Palestinian state. He is the man Jesse Helms would most like to stand with at Armageddon. [from]

Bolton, who once said that the UN does not exist" and that "it would not make a bit of difference" if the UN building in New York lost 10 of its 38 stories, would succeed John Danforth, a soft-spoken former senator from Missouri.

*Justice Department Siding with Religious Litmus Test

When employees complained that they were being required to embrace Jesus Christ to keep their jobs, the Justice Department's civil rights division took the side of the Salvation Army.
Defending the right of an employer using public funds to discriminate is one of the more provocative steps taken by a little-known arm of the civil rights division and its special counsel for religious discrimination.
The Justice Department's religious-rights unit, established three years ago, has launched a quiet but ambitious effort aimed at rectifying what the Bush administration views as years of illegal discrimination against religious groups and their followers.
Many court decisions have affirmed the rights of individuals in the public sector not to have religious beliefs imposed on them — the Supreme Court ruling banning school-sponsored prayer in public schools among them. And courts have ruled that the rights of religious groups sometimes need protection too — upholding, for example, their right to have access to public buildings for meetings.
But the argument that a religious institution spending public funds has the right to require employees to embrace its beliefs — and that it will be backed by the Justice Department in doing so — has changed the debate. It is an argument the Bush administration is making in Congress as well as in the courts.
Central to the competing points of view are the protections afforded by the 1st Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

CBC Archives from the 60's

John and Yoko: Montreal Bed-in
Leonard Cohen, on the road to singing sensation
Marshall McLuhan: The global village
More here. [from]

Congressman Plagiarizes Speech from Other Lefty-Basher

Fifteen of the 21 paragraphs in Chapman's speech made their way into Gibbons' prepared remarks either verbatim or in nearly identical fashion.
For example, The Elko Daily Free Press quoted Gibbons in a rant against Hollywood liberals in which he told the crowd: "I say we take those liberal, tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, hippie, tie-dyed liberals to go make their movies and music and whine somewhere else."
Chapman's speech stated: "Tonight, I say we should support the president of the United States and the U.S. military and tell the liberal, tree-hugging, hippie, Birkenstock-wearing, tie-dyed liberals to go make their movies and music and whine somewhere else."
The other paragraphs are nearly identical, based on a comparison of the initial press account of Gibbons' speech and a copy of Chapman's address.
Gibbons was unavailable for comment Thursday afternoon, but he issued a statement saying he got the speech in an e-mail "sometime back." "I don't remember who sent me the e-mail or when I received it exactly ... only that I found the words to be reflective of my deep concern about the morale of our troops."

RightMarch Puches to Allow Clergy to Campaign

"Over the past 50 years, our religious leaders have all but relinquished their free speech rights. Afraid to take a moral stand on civil matters, they instead sit in silence -- fearing IRS retribution. Many believe this silence could be one of the chief reasons why our nation's moral and spiritual health is in precipitous decline.
"Thankfully, legislation has been introduced in Congress to finally correct that. Rep. Walter Jones' (R-NC) has introduced H.R. 235, the "Houses of Worship Freedom of Speech Restoration Act." H.R. 235 amends the Internal Revenue Code to protect churches from losing their tax-exempt status because of the content, preparation, or presentation of any homily, sermon, teaching, dialectic, or other presentation made during religious services or gatherings. Rep. Jones' bill will permit church leaders to express personal views on political matters or elections during regular religious services without violating campaign finance laws, as long as such views are not disseminated beyond the members and guests assembled at such services."

'When I was four, I knew I was weird' - R. Crumb

From 60s hippies to 90s film-makers and 21st-century art galleries, each generation has rediscovered the misanthropic, sex-obsessed cartoonist Robert Crumb. Now it is to happen again: in coming days he will be the subject of two retrospectives, a film season and a new biography. To celebrate, the Guardian this week will publish a selection of new and little-known Crumbs, along with some more familiar works. Today, Simon Hattenstone introduces the series by interviewing him at his home in the south of France.

More - Animated Short

Despair, Inc. proudly introduces the Special-Edition DVD of one of the greatest short-films ever made, "More".
Over two-years in the making, this feature-rich and critically acclaimed two-DVD set was created in close collaboration between Despair, Inc. and filmmaker Mark Osborne, and is the definitive master edition release of his Academy-Award® nominated short-film.

MORE goggles
You can watch MORE by simply clicking the icon of your favorite streaming software. (Mac users, we recommend Quicktime)

Quicktime Format (23 MB)
Windows Media Format (7.6 MB)

Hans Bethe, Father of Nuclear Astrophysics, Dies at 98

For nearly eight decades, Dr. Bethe (pronounced BAY-tah) pioneered some of the most esoteric realms of physics and astrophysics, politics and armaments, long advising the federal government and in time emerging as the science community's liberal conscience.
During the war, he led the theoreticians who devised the atom bomb and for decades afterwards fought against many new arms proposals. His wife, Rose, often discussed moral questions with him and, by all accounts, helped him decide what was right and wrong.
Dr. Bethe fled Europe for the United States in the 1930's and quickly became a star of science. As a physicist, he made discoveries in the world of tiny particles described by quantum mechanics and the whorls of time and space envisioned by relativity theory. He did so into his mid-90's, astonishing colleagues with his continuing vigor and insight.
In a 1938 paper, Dr. Bethe explained how stars like the Sun fuse hydrogen into helium, releasing energy and ultimately light. That work helped establish his reputation as the father of nuclear astrophysics, and nearly 30 years later, in 1967, earned him the Nobel Prize in physics. In all, he published more than 300 scientific and technical papers, many of them originally classified secret.
Politically, Dr. Bethe was the liberal counterpoint (and proud of it) to Edward Teller, the physicist and conservative who played a dominant role in developing the hydrogen bomb. That weapon brought to earth a more furious kind of solar fusion, and Dr. Bethe opposed its development as immoral. [thanks to Sharon]

Monday, March 07, 2005

WIPO Shutting Out Public Interest Organizations

Last week, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) announced that it will shut out most public interest organizations at two important meetings devoted to intellectual property and development. As a result, WIPO delegates from 182 nations will discuss these issues without hearing from many of the world's best-qualified experts.

U.S. Intelligence Reforms Seen Posing New Dangers

As the Senate prepares for confirmation of a new director of national intelligence, former officials said the broad U.S. intelligence and law enforcement establishment has likely been penetrated by foreign intelligence services, both through human agents and high-tech information-gathering devices.
"It's an absolute certainty that there are spies now in the national intelligence establishment," former CIA agent Paul Redmond told a counterintelligence conference at Texas A&M University that ended this weekend.

Battle for Choice Rages Through States

As state legislatures face a deluge of anti-abortion proposals, pro-choice activists are hustling to stem further losses to reproductive health rights.
In Michigan, the legislative session had only been open a matter of hours on Jan. 12 before Rebekah Warren, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Michigan, was wrangling with the first anti-choice bill, a proposal to ban embryonic stem cell research.
"Michigan has one of the most active and best funded right-to-life movements," said Warren. "Things start here. We see bills introduced in Michigan popping up later around the country."
One law enacted in Michigan last year, despite a veto by the governor, redefines the time of "legal birth" – formerly considered to be when a healthy infant is brought into the world – to a fetal stage. As a result, abortions in the first eight weeks of pregnancy could be prosecuted as homicide, legal experts have told Women's eNews.

Many Missteps Tied to Delay in Armor for Troops in Iraq

[T]he Pentagon's difficulties in shielding troops and their vehicles with armor have been far more extensive and intractable than officials have acknowledged, according to government officials, contractors and Defense Department records.
In the case of body armor, the Pentagon gave a contract for thousands of the ceramic plate inserts that make the vests bulletproof to a former Army researcher who had never mass-produced anything. He struggled for a year, then gave up entirely. At the same time, in shipping plates from other companies, the Army's equipment manager effectively reduced the armor's priority to the status of socks, a confidential report by the Army's inspector general shows. Some 10,000 plates were lost along the way, and the rest arrived late.
In all, with additional paperwork delays, the Defense Department took 167 days just to start getting the bulletproof vests to soldiers in Iraq once General Cody placed the order. But for thousands of soldiers, it took weeks and even months more, records show, at a time when the Iraqi insurgency was intensifying and American casualties were mounting.

Topeka retains anti-bias law

Voters on Tuesday upheld an ordinance that prohibits discrimination against homosexuals in municipal hiring, turning back a repeal movement led by a minister known for picketing the funerals of AIDS victims.
One of the minister's granddaughters, meanwhile, fell far short in her efforts to unseat an openly gay member of the City Council.
The Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. was seeking to remove from the books a city ordinance that prohibits discrimination against gays in municipal hiring. The repeal measure would also bar Topeka from reinstating such protections for 10 years.
In final, unofficial results, 53 percent opposed the repeal, with 14,285 voting "no," and 12,795 voting "yes."

ChoicePoint to Stop Some Personal Data Sales

The company decided to stop selling sensitive data, such as Social Security numbers and driver's license numbers, after being tricked into divulging personal information on about 145,000 people to identity thieves who posed as customers, according to a statement attributed to ChoicePoint Chairman and CEO Derek V. Smith.
"These changes are a direct result of the recent fraud activity, our review ... of our experience and products, and the response of consumers who have made it clear to us that they do not approve of sensitive personal data being used without direct benefit to them," Smith says in the statement, which was posted on ChoicePoint's Web site.

CREW Files Letter with FCC Requesting Review of Network Policies on Airing “Controversial” Advertisements

In light of four national networks refusing to air an advertisement opposed to President George Bush’s medical malpractice proposal, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) today sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asking for a review of each networks’ advocacy advertising policy.
The advertisement was sponsored by USAction, one of the nation’s largest consumer advocacy organizations, and was scheduled by one network, NBC, to run in prime time just before the President’s State of the Union address. NBC later reversed its decision to run the ad.
The ad features Dylan Malone, whose son Ian died on May 4, 2004 from injuries sustained at his birth. The message of the ad is that President Bush’s medical malpractice proposals would deny justice to millions of innocent victims, such as Ian, who suffered injuries as a result of medical negligence.
This television advertisement was ultimately rejected by NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX, all four of which have policies regarding advocacy advertising.

A Lebanese journalist discusses the potential for democracy in the Middle East

I really think that's what's happening in Lebanon and the wider region provides a really unprecedented opportunity to do something which we've never done, certainly in my lifetime, and maybe in most of this century, or the last century, which is for Americans and Arabs to work together on the basis of a shared objective and common values and to work politically together to achieve goals that we articulate together. This has never been done before. Arabs and Americans are most of the time criticizing each other or attacking each other or fighting each other.
The reality is that there is a moment of change in the Middle East, and it's not as the White House says — due to the American war in Iraq. The American war in Iraq may have some influences here and there, and we can't rule it out. Mostly, the war in Iraq has created problems and generated instabilities and violence and tensions and fears throughout the Middle East. But it's possible that Bush's idea that the Iraq war, overthrowing this tyranny might then start promoting democracy in the Middle East. That may happen; you can't rule it out. I think the chances of it happening in that kind of linear order are slim.
More likely is what I think has started to happen already, which is that indigenous movements for democracy and human rights and freedom and accountability in the Arab world are starting to pick up steam, and you're starting to get rare examples, but important examples, of a convergence between Arabs working at the grassroots level for democracy, freedom and human rights converging with American and European pressure from overseas.

Renewal of Voting Rights Act Part of March

On Sunday, 40 years after the historic Selma-to-Montgomery march, ...thousands of people [gathered] in a re-enactment of the march that brought national attention to brutal repression in the South and helped lead to passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
...Throughout the yearlong observance of the Voting Rights Act anniversary, leaders will talk about the need for prison reform, the restoration of ex-felons' voting rights, apathy among the young about voting, and the splintering of the black voting bloc. On Sunday they urged President Bush to reauthorize the enforcement provision of the Voting Rights Act this year in recognition of the anniversary rather than waiting until 2007 when it expires.

Rule Change Lets C.I.A. Freely Send Suspects Abroad to Jails

Before Sept. 11, the C.I.A. had been authorized by presidential directives to carry out renditions, but under much more restrictive rules. In most instances in the past, the transfers of individual prisoners required review and approval by interagency groups led by the White House, and were usually authorized to bring prisoners to the United States or to other countries to face criminal charges.
As part of its broad new latitude, current and former government officials say, the C.I.A. has been authorized to transfer prisoners to other countries solely for the purpose of detention and interrogation.

The covert transfers by the C.I.A. have faced sharp criticism, in part because of the accounts provided by former prisoners who say they were beaten, shackled, humiliated, subjected to electric shocks, and otherwise mistreated during their long detention in foreign prisons before being released without being charged.

US Attack Against Italians in Baghdad was Deliberate: Companion

The companion of freed Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena on Saturday leveled serious accusations at US troops who fired at her convoy as it was nearing Baghdad airport, saying the shooting had been deliberate.
"They were 700 meters (yards) from the airport, which means that they had passed all checkpoints."

The shooting late Friday was witnessed by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's office which was on the phone with one of the secret service agents, said Scolari. "Then the US military silenced the cellphones," he charged.

"Giuliana had information, and the US military did not want her to survive," he added.

Shooting of Italian Intelligence Officer Sparks Protests in Italy

Angry reactions from some Italians following the shooting death of an Italian intelligence agent at a US checkpoint in Baghdad.
About 100 demonstrators gathered at the US Embassy in Rome, blocking traffic. One protester carried a banner that read "USA, war criminals."
...The agent died when US forces fired on the car taking him, several other agents and newly freed Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena to the Baghdad airport.
Sgrena and two others were wounded. The agent reportedly died as he threw his body across hers in what she said was an attempt to shield her from the bullets.
Today, Italy's president awarded him the gold medal of valor for his heroism.
President Bush has promised a full investigation into the shooting. The press watchdog group Reporters Without Borders is calling for a UN investigation.

Environmental Protesters Targeted

The FBI said Connole was their man. His lanky frame resembled one of the videotaped suspects, and an anonymous source had reported suspicious activity at the co-op. This proved to be "there's young people with environmental bumper stickers on their cars and it doesn't look like they have jobs", says William Paparian, Connole's lawyer. It seemed a flimsy basis for round-the-clock surveillance.
Indeed, the FBI was mistaken. Last November, William Cottrell, a 24-year-old California Institute of Techonology physics student, was found guilty of the arson attacks. He faces up to five years in jail. Two alleged accomplices remain at large.
Connole, who is suing the FBI, believes the raid on the co-op was a fishing expedition. "They weren't looking for bombs or explosives [the activists used Molotov cocktails]. They didn't even search the garage. They went for everyone's computers and phone address books. A couple of days later, they started calling people from the phone books." He believes the FBI wanted to infiltrate the environmental and anti-war protest movements.

U.S. May Aid Iran Activists

The Bush administration is considering a more aggressive effort to foster opposition inside Iran and seeking ways to use a new $3-million fund to support activists without exposing them to the risk of arrest.
The approach would represent a change since President Bush's first term, when the administration was more wary of such potentially dangerous moves, officials said.
...Among the proposals being floated by some inside and outside government is one to fund activists in Iran who want to start opposition parties and labor unions, or people who are able to travel in and out of the country. Also under consideration is increasing funding for pro-democracy broadcasts.

Scientists Research Ants for Collective Intelligence

In the Intelligent Autonomous Systems Laboratory at the University of the West of England, Dr Chris Melhuish presides over a fleet of "U-bots".
A U-bot is a foot-high robot which glides around an arena on castors, carrying a U-shaped scoop in front of it. It is a very stupid robot, because it carries only three instructions:

  • If nothing is happening, keep moving.
  • If you hit a large obstacle, take a turn and keep moving.
  • If you've got a little something in your scoop, and you hit another little something, drop what you've got, take a turn and keep moving.
Following only those instructions, Dr Melhuish's robots, given enough time, can gather together a randomly distributed collection of frisbees and assemble them in a pile in the centre of their arena.

Napalm, Chemical Weapons Used at Fallujah – Iraqi Official

Two days after the US State Department released its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Dr. Khalid ash-Shaykhli, an official at Iraq’s health ministry, told a Baghdad press conference that the U.S. military used internationally banned weapons during its deadly November 2004 offensive in the city of Fallujah.
During the attack on the city, eyewitnesses described horrific scenes that analysts have attributed to attacks with napalm, a poisonous cocktail of polystyrene and jet fuel that has the capacity of melting human flesh and bones.
Dr. ash-Shaykhli stated that his medical teams, assigned the responsibility of investigating the health situation in Fallujah by Iraq's health ministry, had done research that proved U.S. occupation forces used substances, including mustard gas, nerve gas, and other burning chemicals there.
In fact Al-Jazeerah quoted Dr. ash-Shaykhli as stating, "I absolutely do not exclude their use of nuclear and chemical substances, since all forms of nature were wiped out in that city. I can even say that we found dozens, if not hundreds, of stray dogs, cats, and birds that had perished as a result of those gasses."
By April of 2004, Pentagon spokesperson Michael Kilpatrick admitted that the US Army alone had used at least 127 tons (over one quarter of a million pounds) of depleted uranium materials in the Iraq war to that point. Depleted uranium is a substance commonly found in all types of U.S.-made munitions including machine gun bullets, tank rounds, and cluster bombs.

A History of the Bush Administration in One Sentence

[thanks to Donna]

Brazil Passes Law Allowing Crops With Modified Genes

In a significant victory for large biotechnology companies like Monsanto, Brazil's lower house of Congress has overwhelmingly approved legislation paving the way for the legalization of genetically modified crops.
After months of delays and heated debate, legislators passed a biotechnology law late Wednesday night by a vote of 352 to 60. The bill had pitted farmers and scientists against environmental and religious groups. Besides lifting a longstanding ban on the sale and planting of gene-altered seeds, the legislation also clears the way for research involving human embryonic stem cells that have been frozen for at least three years.
...Until now, Brazil was one of the last of the world's major agricultural producers not to have granted blanket permanent approval to the planting of genetically modified crops. Even so, farmers have been flouting the ban for years, sowing modified soybean seeds that have been smuggled across the border from neighboring Argentina.