Saturday, May 21, 2005

Blog from Soldier with PTSD, Awaiting Re-Deployment

i'm a soldier by choice and a writer by necessity. i've been to iraq once already and i'm currently getting ready to deploy for a second time in the fall of 2005. these are my stories, my thoughts, and my fears as i prepare to go to combat and then finally make that long plane trip to the sandbox.

Scientific American: PR vs Science

Uncertainty is an inherent problem of science, but manufactured uncertainty is another matter entirely. Over the past three decades, industry groups have frequently become involved in the investigative process when their interests are threatened. If, for example, studies show that a company is exposing its workers to dangerous levels of a certain chemical, the business typically responds by hiring its own researchers to cast doubt on the studies. Or if a pharmaceutical firm faces questions about the safety of one of its drugs, its executives trumpet company-sponsored trials that show no significant health risks while ignoring or hiding other studies that are much less reassuring. The vilification of threatening research as "junk science" and the corresponding sanctification of industry-commissioned research as "sound science" has become nothing less than standard operating procedure in some parts of corporate America.

Karzai Wants More Control of U.S. Forces After Charges Of Abuse

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday that he was shocked by allegations that U.S. soldiers had abused detainees in Afghanistan. He said his government wanted custody of all Afghan prisoners and greater control over U.S. military operations.
A report in Friday's New York Times, which was based on 2,000 pages of evidence filed by U.S. Army investigators, included details about the deaths of two inmates at a U.S. military detention center in 2002.

"It has shocked me thoroughly and we condemn it," Karzai said at a news conference. "We want the U.S. government to take very, very strong action, to take away people like that."

Karzai, a staunch ally in the U.S.-led war against terrorism, left Saturday for the United States, where he plans to meet President Bush. Karzai wants to forge a long-term partnership with Washington, but he said he would reiterate a request for the return of Afghan prisoners and greater control over U.S. military operations. The United States commands an international force of about 18,300 troops in Afghanistan.

Kos: Censoring torture stories doesn't help the troops

Excerpt from "Doing More Damage than Good":
Maybe it would be best to ask the soldiers. Would they rather labor in harm's way with the rest of the world suspecting the worst of them, or would they rather there be a clear and open prosecution of those who ARE the worst of them? Which do you think they would prefer? Which approach makes their lives more dangerous and more difficult? Whose approach to this problem is going to create more IED's, suicide attacks, and bombings?

Network Viewers Still in the Dark on "Smoking Gun Memo" - Print media continue to downplay story

Following FAIR's call for more mainstream coverage of the "smoking gun memo"—the secret British document containing new evidence that the Bush administration manipulated intelligence to justify its plan to invade Iraq—a steady trickle of news reports have appeared. But that coverage has been downplayed in general and is still completely absent from the nightly news.
The Los Angeles Times published a page 3 story on the memo on May 12, and the Washington Post ran a page 18 story the following day. More than two weeks after the story broke in the Sunday Times of London (5/1/05), it finally made the front page of a major U.S. newspaper, the Chicago Tribune (5/17/05).
After referring to the memo (5/2/05) in a story on the British electoral campaign, the New York Times failed to report on the document's implications about the Bush administration until today (5/20/05); the one-column story didn't mention the manipulation of intelligence until the eighth paragraph. (Times columnist Paul Krugman also discussed the memo on the paper's opinion page on May 16.)

Senate Reviews Patriot Act in Closed Session - ACLU

The Senate Intelligence Committee announced today that it is rushing forward with a markup of Patriot Act reauthorization legislation Thursday, but that the session will be behind closed doors.
Some of the most extreme parts of the Patriot Act are set to sunset, or expire, at the end of this year unless Congress reauthorizes them. When lawmakers passed the Patriot Act just 45 days after 9/11, they included these sunsets because they knew that some provisions shouldn’t be made permanent. The committee will be reviewing legislation involving the sunsets and other key parts of the Patriot Act that impact civil liberties.
Members of Congress have until the end of the year to review and modify the Patriot Act, but some lawmakers hope to steamroll the entire process through Congress in the next few weeks. This closed-door markup is an indication that some in Congress are trying to rush through legislation, and keep the public in the dark.

Draft PATRIOT Bill

On Thursday, May 26, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will consider in closed session a draft bill that would both renew and expand various USA PATRIOT Act powers. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has obtained a copy of the draft bill, along with the committee's summary of it, and has made them available to journalists and interested citizens on its website,
"Even though Congress is still debating whether to renew the broad surveillance authorities granted by the original USA PATRIOT Act, the Justice Department is already lobbying for even more unchecked authority to demand the private records of citizens who are not suspected of any crime," said Kevin Bankston, EFF attorney and Equal Justice Works/Bruce J. Ennis Fellow. "The Senate's intelligence committee should focus on adding checks and balances to protect against abuse of already-existing PATRIOT powers, or repealing them altogether, rather than working to expand them behind closed doors."

Draft of new PATRIOT Act powers.

Senate Select Committee summary.

EFF's Patriot Page.

US Religious Humiliation of Muslim Detainees Widespread

"U.S. interrogators have repeatedly sought to offend the religious beliefs of Muslim detainees as part of their interrogation strategy," Human Rights Watch said today.
Human Rights Watch said that the dispute over the retracted allegations in Newsweek that U.S. interrogators had desecrated a Koran at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has overshadowed the fact that religious humiliation of detainees at Guantanamo and elsewhere has been widespread.

loopcity - The City as a Complex of Cycles

One can often sum up the "Social architecture" - the spatial / temporal organisation of everyday life- to: people do the same things at the same time, living in "loops".

loopcity is a subjective description of the city as a set of repeating actions and events. "A space composed of closed loops, intersecting each other. Each loop is a thematic entity, a story: a stroll through the shelves of a local supermarket. Looking for a free place in a parking lot. A tourists guide round through a district. A hotel maid's morning round.


loopcity’s concept of space is topological and relativistic – the lengths of each strand don't have to correspond to its accurate metric length in real space. They can be scaled by its temporal length or by the amount of information contained within."

Contributions are welcome!

Author: Dietmar Offenhuber. His works are part of Randonnée (A Walk Through 21st Century Landscaping) which analyzes the margins of actual possibility of landscape through new media. June 16-18, Sonar Festival, Barcelona.

Reports on Taser Use Declared Secret

In the wake of Globe requests for reports on the use of force by police officers, the city of Joplin on Friday did an about-face, declaring reports on officer use of Taser guns also off-limits to public scrutiny.
A state press association lawyer termed the city's justification for the move questionable, and an official with a civil-rights organization said more secrecy adds to the risk of eroding public trust.
The Globe earlier this month requested the Police Department's use-of-force reports for Jan. 1, 2003, to Apr. 30, 2005.
Officers file the reports after they hit a person or use a weapon - including Tasers, which are weapons that deliver an electrical shock to their targets.
The city denied the newspaper's request for the overall use-of-force reports on Wednesday, saying that the reports are confidential personnel records.

Army Kept Abuses Quiet

Despite autopsy findings of homicide and statements by soldiers that two prisoners died after being struck by guards at an American military detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, Army investigators initially recommended closing the case without bringing any criminal charges, documents and interviews show.
Within days after the two deaths in December 2002, military coroners determined that both had been caused by "blunt force trauma" to the legs. Soon after, soldiers and others at Bagram told the investigators that military guards had repeatedly struck both men in the thighs while they were shackled and that one had also been mistreated by military interrogators.
Nonetheless, agents of the Army's Criminal Investigation Command reported to their superiors that they could not clearly determine who was responsible for the detainees' injuries, military officials said. Military lawyers at Bagram took the same position, according to confidential documents from the investigation obtained by The New York Times.

Fresh Graves in Uzbekistan

Refugees who fled a crackdown by Uzbek troops said on Friday they dared not return home, and the United Nations turned up the volume on its demands for an inquiry into deaths believed to have run into hundreds.
Reuters correspondents who traveled to a village near the epicenter of last week's violence, the town of Andizhan, saw fresh graves in which, local residents said, victims of the clashes between protesters and troops were buried.
President Islam Karimov has denied ordering troops to fire on civilians in Andizhan, but rejected a United Nations call for an international inquiry.
Asked about Karimov's refusal to allow an inquiry, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said: "As to what consequences there might be, I think Uzbekistan does not want to endure further isolation from the international community."

Pre-War Iraq Intelligence Contradicted Bush's Claims

On Jan. 24, 2003, four days before President Bush delivered his State of the Union address presenting the case for war against Iraq, the National Security Council staff put out a call for new intelligence to bolster claims that Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear, chemical and biological weapons or programs.
The person receiving the request, Robert Walpole, then the national intelligence officer for strategic and nuclear programs, would later tell investigators that "the NSC believed the nuclear case was weak," according to a 500-page report released last year by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

The Weakest Link of the Christian Right

One of the key ingredients in the ideology of the Christian Right is the idea that America was founded as a Christian nation. And somehow this intention of the Founding Fathers has been thwarted by (pick one) -- liberals, judicial tyrants, the ACLU, secular humanists, all of the above.
This idea is tremendously powerful. It asserts that "the Christians," (however one may define Christians), are the intended rulers of the nation, because that's what The Founding Fathers, and by extension, by implication, the Constitution sought to accomplish. In some versions, God intended that America be a Christian nation. Its a powerful piece of political and religious mythology that feeds into another powerful myth -- that Christians are persecuted in the U.S. The effect is to make people feel that something has been unustly, unrighteously taken from them and that that something must be "restored" or "reclaimed."...
But for all of the work that has gone into crafting this narrative, and as popular a notion as it is, there is a problem: the facts of history do not support the myth of Christian nationalism. This is one of many aspects of the Christian Right that has been largely ignored and has gone largely unanswered by the rest of society during its march to power.

"Is This the Way to Amarillo?" The Music Video that Crashed the Military Server

When you're in Iraq and have a bit of free time on your hand there's really only one thing you can do. Shame it crashed the Ministry of Defense computers. [from]

Plan to Let F.B.I. Track Mail in Terrorism Inquiries

The F.B.I. would gain broad authority to track the mail of people in terror investigations under a Bush administration proposal, officials said Friday, but the Postal Service is already raising privacy concerns about the plan.
The proposal, to be considered next week in a closed-door meeting of the Senate Intelligence Committee, would allow the bureau to direct postal inspectors to turn over the names, addresses and all other material appearing on the outside of letters sent to or from people connected to foreign intelligence investigations.

Reagan's Legacy Project

In a manner that recalled Reagan's time in the White House, every move had been carefully choreographed. This was no ordinary funeral. ''This,'' as one former advance man said, ''is a legacy-building event.''
That work goes on, with Reagan's acolytes still building and burnishing. The Reagan Legacy Project, started in 1997 by the conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist, seeks to name something -- a stadium, a stretch of turnpike, anything -- after Reagan in every state in the union.
The chain bookstores, for their part, now feature a virtual Reagan wing, their shelves stuffed full of character studies, coffee-table confections, speech anthologies, hagiographies and mash notes. Beyond a basic hunger for heroes, this great cascade of Reagan lit reflects a mounting effort to retool the Reagan narrative.

"I've Got My Tinfoil Hat On" Sing-Along

Editing for the Gonzo Journalist

I never drank with Hunter, nor did I do drugs with him, but I was his editor on about a dozen pieces over three decades and with three magazines. Some of these were short and pointed, like the obloquy for Richard Nixon on the occasion of his death or his review of Kitty Kelley’s loathsome book on Nancy Reagan. Two were lengthy gonzo creations for Rolling Stone. The first, “Fear and Loathing in Elko,” took the reader on a fanciful night ride through Nevada, where Hunter ran into Clarence Thomas driving two surly hookers through sheep country. “Polo Is My Life, Part I” followed the Aspen polo team to the U.S. Open at the Meadowbrook Club on Long Island, and included a long bar chat with the ghost of Averell Harriman.
In the twenty-three years that we worked together, it was usually from different time zones: he was on the road, in a hotel, or writing in Woody Creek in the dead of night. I was always in New York, as steady as a pyramid, as Hunter liked to say. Our collaboration was by telephone and fax, except for the earliest days, when we relied on the so-called Mojo Wire.

Friday, May 20, 2005

AIDS and STD's Spreading in Southern States

For example, AIDS cases rose 27 percent for six Southern states - Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana - between 2000 and 2002. Whetten said such cases only rose by 11 percent during the same period in the entire Midwest.
A separate study found that North Carolina AIDS rates increased by 36 percent between 2001 and 2003.
"These six states are in a lot of trouble," Whetten said. "You're better off being born in Costa Rica or some South American countries than in Durham, N.C."
In addition, the nation's highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea remain in Southeastern states, many of which are plagued with high poverty levels, poor health care resources and low levels of health insurance coverage.

Thousands of Shiites, Sunnis Protest US Occupation, Clashes Break Out

Thousands of Shiites, many waving Islam's holy book over their heads, protested the U.S. presence in Iraq on Friday after the detention of several supporters of a radical cleric, while Sunnis shut down places of worship elsewhere in a show of anger over alleged sectarian violence against the minority.
The U.S. military also launched what it said would be an aggressive investigation into how a British newspaper got pictures of an imprisoned Saddam Hussein clad only in his underwear, saying the photos violated military guidelines and possibly the Geneva convention on the humane treatment of prisoners.
Iraqis leaving the al-Jumhuriyah mosque walk over U.S. and Israeli flags, heeding a call by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to paint Israeli and American flags on the ground in front of mosques for people to step on, in the southern town of Basra in Iraq Friday, May 20, 2005. Thousands of followers of a radical Shiite cleric staged protests against the U.S.-led occupation Friday. The protests follow Muqtada al-Sadr's call Wednesday to reject the U.S. occupation of Iraq by painting Israeli and American flags on the ground outside mosques to be stepped on in protest raids against holy places. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)
The photos, which appeared on the front pages of the British tabloid Sun and the New York Post and were broadcast across the Middle East by some Arab satellite networks, were expected to fuel anti-American sentiment among supporters of the former dictator who are believed to be the driving force behind the country's insurgency.
...The protests, which drew an estimated total of 6,000 demonstrators in the three cities, followed radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's call Wednesday to reject the U.S. occupation of Iraq by painting Israeli and American flags on the ground outside mosques to be stepped on in protest raids against holy places.

As Climate Shifts, Antarctic Ice Sheet Is Growing

As glaciers from Greenland to Kilimanjaro recede at record rates, the central icecap of Antarctica has been steadily growing for 11 years, partially offsetting the rise in seas from the melt waters of global warming, researchers said Thursday.
The vast East Antarctic Ice Sheet — a 2-mile-thick wasteland larger than Australia, drier than the Sahara and as cold as a Martian spring — increased in mass every year from 1992 to 2003 because of additional annual snowfall, an analysis of satellite radar measurements showed.
"It is an effect that has been predicted as a likely result of climate change," said David Vaughan, an independent expert on the ice sheets at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, England.
In a region known for the lowest temperatures recorded on Earth, it normally is too cold for snow to form across the 2.7 million square miles of the ice sheet. Any additional annual snowfall in East Antarctica, therefore, is almost certainly attributable to warmer temperatures, four experts on Antarctica said.
"As the atmosphere warms, it should hold more moisture," said climatologist Joseph R. McConnell at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, who helped conduct the study. "In East Antarctica, that means there should be more snowfall."

The rape of the rainforest... and the man behind it

It is stark. It is scarcely believable. But the ruthless obliteration of the Amazon rainforest continues at a headlong rate new figures reveal - and today we reveal the man who more than any other represents the forces making it happen.
He is Blairo Maggi, the millionaire farmer and uncompromising politician presiding over the Brazilian boom in soya bean production. He is known in Brazil as O Rei da Soja - the King of Soy.
Brazilian environmentalists are calling him something else - the King of Deforestation. For the soya boom, feeding a seemingly insatiable world market for soya beans as cattle feed, is now the main driver of rainforest destruction.
Figures show that last year the rate of forest clearance in the Amazon was the second highest on record as the soy boom completed its third year. An area of more than 10,000 square miles - nearly the size of Belgium - was cut down, with half the destruction in the state of Mato Grosso, where Mr Maggi, whose Maggi Group farming business is the world's biggest soya bean producer, also happens to be the state governor.
Mr Maggi sheds no tears over lost trees. In 2003, his first year as governor, the rate of deforestation in Mato Grosso more than doubled.
In an interview last year he said: "To me, a 40 per cent increase in deforestation doesn't mean anything at all, and I don't feel the slightest guilt over what we are doing here. We are talking about an area larger than Europe that has barely been touched, so there is nothing at all to get worried about."

Dreadfully Bad NY Times Coverage of the Downing Street Memo

Media Expert Expounds Myths of News Coverage

"Most censorship in our country is corporate," Cohen said.
Other countries see their information and news outlets censored by the government, but in the United States, corporate control is such that corporations and the government are basically one and the same, Cohen said.
"The owners of the media would rather have us be inactive citizens" than informed citizens, Cohen said.
The rise of independent media is possible and is needed now more than ever before, Cohen said.
Cohen outlined three action points citizens can take to try to fight independent journalism's downfall and the rise of corporate control of information.
The first calls for involvement in activist organizations such as FAIR, the second proposes greater activism efforts to produce more independent media outlets and the third asks citizens to actively pursue policy reform at the national level concerning the need for media diversity and less conglomerated mainstream media.

Scientists Warn on Space Weaponization

The Union of Concerned Scientists, a watchdog group that opposes weapons in space, said the United Nations should consider drafting a treaty that would prohibit interfering with unarmed satellites, taking away any justification for putting weapons in space to protect them.
"The United States has a huge lead in the space field — it can afford to try out the multilateral approach," said Jonathan Dean, a former U.S. ambassador and an adviser on global security issues.
The Union's demand comes as the administration of President Bush is reviewing the U.S. space policy doctrine. Some scientists worry that the review will set out a more aggressive policy that could lead to the greater militarization of space.

U.S. faces questions over 'kidnappings' in Europe

Pressure is growing on the United States to respond to allegations that its agents were involved in spiriting terrorist suspects out of three European countries and sending them to nations where they may have been tortured.
In Italy, a judge said this week that foreign intelligence officials "kidnapped" an Egyptian suspect in Milan two years ago and took him to a U.S. base from where he was flown home.
In Germany, a Munich prosecutor is preparing a batch of questions to U.S. authorities on the case of a Lebanese-born German who says he was arrested in Macedonia on New Year's Eve 2003 and flown by U.S. agents to a jail in Afghanistan.
And in Sweden, a parliamentary ombudsman has criticised the security services over the expulsion of two Egyptian terrorism suspects who were handed over to U.S. agents and flown home aboard a U.S. government-leased plane in 2001.
Campaign group Human Rights Watch said there was credible evidence the pair had been tortured while being held incommunicado for five weeks after their return.

Reagan Asst. Treasury secretary: Impeaching Bush would help credibility.

George W. Bush and his gang of neocon warmongers have destroyed America’s reputation. It is likely to stay destroyed, because at this point the only way to restore America’s reputation would be to impeach and convict President Bush for intentionally deceiving Congress and the American people in order to start a war of aggression against a country that posed no threat to the United States.
America can redeem itself only by holding Bush accountable.
As intent as Republicans were to impeach President Bill Clinton for lying about a sexual affair, they have a blind eye for President Bush’s far more serious lies. Bush’s lies have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of people, injured and maimed tens of thousands more, devastated a country, destroyed America’s reputation, caused 1 billion Muslims to hate America, ruined our alliances with Europe, created a police state at home, and squandered $300 billion dollars and counting.

Base Closing Take from Blue States and Add to Red States

In a carefully worded statement, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) questioned why states that supported President Bush's reelection (red states) had a net job gain of 11,000, while states that opposed Bush (blue states) lost nearly 25,000 positions.
"My hope was that [Base Realignment and Closure] decisions were completely removed from politics but the total numbers do raise some questions," Lautenberg said.
The Pentagon denies politics played any role.
"That's not true," said Pentagon spokesman Glenn Flood. "It's based on the law that Congress passed given us the authority. The internal deliberations of the Pentagon are not based on any outside influences."

Cleveland Bloggers Organize Against Wal-Mart

An Architect of Bush Plan on Retirement Urges Retreat on Private Accounts

Robert C. Pozen, the business executive who developed the theory behind President Bush's plan to trim Social Security benefits in the future, urged the president on Thursday to drop his insistence on using part of workers' taxes to pay for individual investment accounts.
This was one of two blows during the day to Mr. Bush's policies on Social Security and retirement saving. In the House, Representative Bill Thomas, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, disregarded the methods favored by the president to encourage workers to save for retirement - mostly tax incentives for the affluent - and offered completely different proposals of his own.
The president's Social Security and retirement measures have faced trouble in Congress all year, and the developments on Thursday raised further doubt about their prospects.

Luis Posada Carriles: The Declassified Record

The National Security Archive today posted additional documents that show that the CIA had concrete advance intelligence, as early as June 1976, on plans by Cuban exile terrorist groups to bomb a Cubana airliner. The Archive also posted another document that shows that the FBI's attache in Caracas had multiple contacts with one of the Venezuelans who placed the bomb on the plane, and provided him with a visa to the U.S. five days before the bombing, despite suspicions that he was engaged in terrorist activities at the direction of Luis Posada Carriles.
Both documents were featured last night on ABC Nightline's program on Luis Posada Carriles, who was detained in Miami yesterday by Homeland Security.
In addition, the Archive posted the first report to Secretary of State Kissinger from the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research on the bombing of Cubana flight 455. The report noted that a CIA source had overheard Posada prior to the bombing in late September 1976 stating that, "We are going to hit a Cuban airliner." This information was apparently not passed to the CIA until after the plane went down.

Libya lobbyist holds seat on top U.S. Energy board

U.S. President Bush rolled back most economic sanctions against Libya more than a year ago, and administration officials say the appointments do not violate any laws or restrictions on former policymakers.
But some outside experts and families of the victims of the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 Lockerbie bombing, blamed on Libya, say the web of connections raises questions about conflicts of interest and undue Libyan influence.
"Do we really want someone advising the U.S. energy secretary on energy policy who has literally signed up to put Libya's interests first?" asked Mary Boyle of the watchdog group Common Cause.
Former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham's chief of staff, Joseph McMonigle, said it was not uncommon for departing government officials -- and lobbyists -- to get seats on the industry-dominated energy advisory board.

Wild Horses to Regain Protection?

The House voted 249-159 last night to revive a 34-year ban on such sales, raising the hopes of critics who contend the horses will not be protected by new safeguards developed by the Bureau of Land Management.

MA legislature votes to repeal 330-year-old ban on Native Americans

The measure will be sent to Governor Mitt Romney; an aide said he will sign it.
The Muhheconnew National Confederacy, a group of Northeastern tribes, has advocated for the law's repeal since 1996, said Gary McCann, the group's policy adviser.
Helped by such Boston city councilors as Felix D. Arroyo of Hyde Park and Chuck Turner of Roxbury, the group stepped up repeal efforts last year before the Democratic National Convention in Boston. But the possibility that Unity: Journalists of Color Inc. might take its convention business elsewhere helped prod the Legislature into action, McCann said.

How Bush Recruits and Screen His Supportive Audiences

"President Bush will be in Rochester, N.Y., for an upcoming event and has called on WIPP for help," said the memo to New York-area members, from one of the group's leaders. "He would like to visit with local workers about their views on Social Security."
The memo went on to solicit several types of people "who he would like to visit with" — including a young worker who "knows that [Social Security] could run out before they retire," a young couple with children who like "the idea of leaving something behind to the family" and a single parent who believes Bush's proposal for individual investment accounts "would provide more retirement options and security" than the current system.
The people solicited appeared to represent various arguments that Bush has been making for why Social Security should be overhauled. The memo requested an immediate response, because "we will need to get names to the White House."

Full Report on Overseas Bases Restored to Web

The full text of the report of the Overseas Basing Commission, which was removed from a government web site after the Department of Defense said it contained classified information, is now available on the FAS web site.
The partial version of the report described in Secrecy News yesterday included only 92 of the report's 262 pages, and lacked several of the detailed appendices. The full 262 page report was obtained from It is available (at the same URL given yesterday) here:

In U.S. Report, Brutal Details of 2 Afghan Inmates' Deaths

The story of Mr. Dilawar's brutal death at the Bagram Collection Point - and that of another detainee, Habibullah, who died there six days earlier in December 2002 - emerge from a nearly 2,000-page confidential file of the Army's criminal investigation into the case, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times.
Like a narrative counterpart to the digital images from Abu Ghraib, the Bagram file depicts young, poorly trained soldiers in repeated incidents of abuse. The harsh treatment, which has resulted in criminal charges against seven soldiers, went well beyond the two deaths.

Crying While Eating

Thursday, May 19, 2005

CT Senate OK's bill to study health effects of depleted uranium, toxins

In a 34-to-zero vote, the Senate approved legislation that also establishes a health registry for Connecticut veterans and military personnel returning from Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.
Depleted uranium is a heavy metal used in armor-piercing weapons. There are concerns that some soldiers have become seriously ill after being exposed to the substance.

Neuromarketing: Peeking Inside the Black Box

The basic fundamental science underlying neuromarketing is neuroscience, which is the study of the how the brain gives rise to the mind. In other words, neuroscience is how the brain enables us to perceive, think, make decisions, feel emotions, communicate (i.e., the neural basis of human experience).
Techniques used by neuroscience are psychophysics (reaction times/detection levels), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), magnetoencephalography (MEG) and electroencephalography (EEG). The most interesting of these to neuromarketing is fMRI scanning. I am sure we all have seen these on ER or other television shows, where the patient is slid inside a machine that hums and makes various other noises.
Neuromarketing is the application of the techniques of neuroscience to marketing stimuli—in layman's terms, to see how the brain "lights up" when exposed to our marketing efforts.

Patriarch denounces U.S. evangelicals in Iraq

The head of Iraq's largest Christian community denounced American evangelical missionaries in his country on Thursday for what he said were attempts to convert poor Muslims by flashing money and smart cars.
Patriarch Emmanuel Delly, head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, told journalists that many Protestant activists had come to Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and set up what he called "boutiques" to attract converts.
Many Muslim countries consider Christian missionaries as part of a Western campaign against Islam and punish both the preacher and the apostate Muslim severely. Violent Iraqi groups killed at least five evangelical missionaries last year.
At least 20 Iraqis were killed in bombings of Christian churches last year as unknown attackers stepped up pressure on non-Muslims there. Christian minorities in Muslim countries usually keep a low profile and do not evangelise.

The most accurate clock of all time

Katori uses six laser beams to create a pattern of standing electromagnetic waves. This creates a series of energy wells, each of which supports one strontium atom, in much the same way as each dimple in an egg box holds an egg. This prevents the electromagnetic fields of individual atoms interfering with those of their neighbours, and allows the oscillating signals of many atoms to be measured at once.
Previous attempts to make clocks this way failed because the trapping lasers themselves interfered with the atoms' oscillation frequency. Katori's group has got round this by tuning the frequencies of the lasers so they alter the upper and lower transition energy levels of strontium by exactly the same amount, so the oscillation frequency remains unaltered. Katori claims that this "optical lattice clock" will keep time with an accuracy of 1 part in 1018.
[An accuracy to 1 second for 30 billion years.]

Chevron CEO blasts U.S. oil debate

"I want to talk about the notion of independence and debunk it," O'Reilly told a conference sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
"Our industry, this business, has not been independent as far as the United States is concerned for a long, long time. We gave up on that notion 50 years ago."
O'Reilly, chief executive of the No. 2 U.S. oil company, dismissed suggestions that the nation could rely fully on domestic resources to satisfy its growing appetite for energy.

Small Indicator at End of NYTimes Article

Republicans are hoping to shame Democrats into a quick vote on Mr. Bolton. They argue that he needs to be in place by June so that the United States will have the latitude it needs to press its concerns about Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program before the Security Council.

Former Chief Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter writes:
The President had reviewed plans being prepared by the Pentagon to have the military capability in place by June 2005 for such an attack, if the President ordered.
But when Secretary of State Condi Rice told America's European allies in February 2005, in response to press reports about a pending June 2005 American attack against Iran, she said that 'the question [of a military strike] is simply not on the agenda at this point -- we have diplomatic means to do this.'
President Bush himself followed up on Rice's statement by stating that 'This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous.' He quickly added, 'Having said that, all options are on the table.' In short, both the President and the Secretary of State were being honest, and disingenuous, at the same time.
Truth to be told, there is no American military strike on the agenda; that is, until June 2005.
It was curious that no one in the American media took it upon themselves to confront the President or his Secretary of State about the June 2005 date, or for that matter the October 2004 review by the President of military plans to attack Iran in June 2005.
The American media today is sleepwalking towards an American war with Iran with all of the incompetence and lack of integrity that it displayed during a similar path trodden during the buildup to our current war with Iraq.

The Sins of Scripture by John Shelby Spong

One of my recent purchases at the Eden Bookstore was John Shelby Spong’s The Sins of Scripture. Spong retired as the Episcopal bishop of Newark in 2000 and has taught at Harvard Divinity School and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. He has previously written the best-selling Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism and several other books. published an interview this week with Spong discussing The Sins of Scripture. Make sure you read the interview. The book itself is well written and accessible to all types of people and Spong offers insightful biblical commentary. A great Sunday school class could be put together around this book.

Red Cross Reports Abuse of Koran -- But Says It Has Since Stopped

The international Red Cross told U.S. authorities about American personnel at the Guantanamo Bay detention center showing disrespect to Islam's holy book, the Koran, a spokesman said Thursday, in the wake of the controversy over a Newsweek retraction earlier this week.
Delegates from the International Committee of the Red Cross informed the relevant U.S. authorities, who took action to stop the abuse, said spokesman Simon Schorno, who declined to specify the nature of the incidents.
"We're basically referring in general terms to disrespect of the Koran, and that's where we leave it," Schorno told The Associated Press. "We believe that since, U.S. authorities have taken the corrective measures that we required in our interventions."
The neutral, Geneva-based ICRC confidentially reported the incidents to U.S. authorities in 2002 and 2003, and has since been able to verify that any disrespect of the Koran has been stopped.

Guild Chief Under Fire for Comments About Attacks on Journalists in Iraq

Linda Foley, national president of The Newspaper Guild, drew strong criticism today from some conservative groups for comments she made last Friday about the killing of journalists in Iraq. Foley said, among other things, that she was angry that there was "not more outrage about the number and the brutality, and the cavalier nature of the U.S. military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq. I think it's just a scandal."
The backlash became so severe Thursday that staffers at Guild headquarters in Washington, D.C., stopped answering the phone because of abusive phone calls and "people screaming at us," Foley said. Instead, callers were required to leave messages on voice mail and await a return call.
"We don't want people to be subjected to that kind of abuse," Foley said, adding that the angry calls began early Thursday. "It is annoying, but it isn't deterring us from doing what we have to do."
The calls were apparently in reaction to comments Foley made during a panel discussion at the National Conference for Media Reform in St. Louis on May 13. There she offered a lengthy commentary on corporate ownership of media, and she refuted certain criticism of journalists. During that session, she also briefly discussed deaths of journalists covering the war.
Foley's comments, which he says have been distorted, have already drawn the ire of several conservative news organizations, including, The Washington Times, and Sinclair Broadcasting, charging that she accused the U.S. forces of deliberately targeting journalists.
Media Ownership and Consolidation Session video of her presentation as zip for download.]

The Top 10 filibuster falsehoods

FCC Rules VOIP Must Carry 911 Service

The FCC unanimously voted to require carriers to provide emergency call centers the location and telephone number of callers who dial 911 from internet phones and ensure that callers reach emergency dispatchers instead of nonemergency lines.
The decision will apply to the more than 1 million customers who use the service, known as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), in a single location or multiple places.

DVD + RFID = Fingerprint Please

Researchers in Los Angeles are developing a new form of piracy protection for DVDs that could make common practices like loaning a movie to a friend impossible.
University of California at Los Angeles engineering professor Rajit Gadh is leading research to turn radio frequency identification, or RFID, tags into an extremely restrictive form of digital rights management to protect DVD movies.
At the store, someone buying a new DVD would have to provide a password or some kind of biometric data, like a fingerprint or iris scan, which would be added to the DVD's RFID tag.
Then, when the DVD was popped into a specially equipped DVD player, the viewer would be required to re-enter his or her password or fingerprint. The system would require consumers to buy new DVD players with RFID readers.
Gadh said his research group is trying to address the problem of piracy for the movie industry.

[This reminds of the lines from David Byrne's "In the Future"
In the future everyone's house will be like a little fortress.
In the future everyone's house will be a total entertainment centre.]

Who's Funding Public Health Organizations?

If you are wondering why Americans are losing the wars on cancer, heart disease and diabetes, you might look at the funding sources of the major public health groups.
Big corporations dump big money into these groups. And pretty soon, the groups start taking the line of the big corporations.
Case in point: the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
Earlier this month, the ADA cut a deal with candy and soda pop maker Cadbury Schweppes.
Here's the deal -- Cadbury Schweppes kicks in a couple million dollars to the ADA.
In return, the company gets to use the ADA label on its diet drinks -- plus the positive publicity generated by the deal.

Cigarettes Still Product-Placed in Children's Films

Major tobacco companies agreed to stop pushing for their products to be promoted in the arts from 1998.
Before the deal 15% of films aimed at children showed tobacco brand names, or trademarks, while after it, 12% did.
The study by Hanover's Dartmouth Medical School appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Obfuscation in Defense of Opacity

Mark Tapscott has now posted some amazing facts on the government's "compliance costs" regarding FOIA. At base, the feds say they can't comply with FOIA rules because of "intractable" reasons; they won't be able to do so in the future; and there's nothing that can be done about it. Among their favorite excuses: costs. I posted earlier on Mark's work here.
But they didn't count on Mark taking the time to do a few calculations to determine whether or not that claim is verifiable. What did he find?

Halliburton - An Alternate Annual Report

[PDF] In the introduction to Halliburton’s 2004 annual report, chief executive officer David Lesar reports to Halliburton’s shareholders that despite the extreme adversity of 2004, including asbestos claims, dangerous work in Iraq, and the negative attention that surrounded the company during the U.S. presidential campaign, Halliburton emerged “stronger than ever.” Revenue and operating income have increased, and over a third of that revenue, an estimated $7.1 billion, was from U.S. government contracts in Iraq.
In a photo alongside Lesar’s letter to the shareholders, he smiles from a plush chair in what looks like a comfortable office. He ends the letter, “From my seat, I like what I see.” People sitting in other seats, in Halliburton’s workplaces around the world, lend a different view of the company, which continues to be one of the most controversial corporations in the United States.

Federal Judge Rules Deleware Documents Open to All

Access to public records in Delaware, which is home to thousands of nationwide corporations, cannot be limited to state residents only, a federal judge ruled Friday.
U.S. District Judge Joseph J. Farnan Jr. granted summary judgment in favor of a New York consumer activist who filed a lawsuit after he was denied access to records in Delaware through the state's Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA.
"Thank God for the Constitution," said Matthew Lee, executive director of Inner City Press, a small New York nonprofit publisher and advocacy group. "It's been a long time coming."
Lee's attorney, Richard McKewen of the Georgetown University Law Center Institute for Public Representation, said Delaware's denial of access was "not only unconstitutional, it was unconscionable," given the number of multinational banks and companies incorporated in the state.

U.S. lawmakers seek Wal-Mart pay data

In a letter sent on Thursday afternoon to Wal-Mart Chief Executive Officer Lee Scott, lawmakers said the company pays female hourly workers 40 cents less an hour than men and pays female managers nearly $5,000 less a year than their male counterparts.
Written by Connecticut Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the letter was signed by 50 of her colleagues.
The letter said women comprise 72 percent of the work force at the world's biggest retailer, but only fill one-third of its management positions.

Congress Urged Not to Undermine FOIA

Media witnesses recommended changes embodied in several bills now before Congress, including creating a government office to oversee compliance with FOIA requests and imposing meaningful deadlines for agency responses.
Since the law was enacted in 1966, "there has been a shift away from a presumption of openness which has been at the core of FOIA," Jay Smith, president of Cox Newspapers Inc. and chairman of the Newspaper Association of America, said in prepared testimony.

E-Mails Show Detroit Terror Case Was Weak

The Justice Department originally concluded that prosecuting a separate fraud case against a group of Detroit terrorism defendants would be weak and appear "vindictive," but filed the charges anyway after its terrorism case unraveled, agency e-mails show.
The FBI warned that bringing such a weak case could hurt its ability to develop sources in the fight against terrorism and "may actually encourage extremists," according to the Justice Department memos obtained by The Associated Press.
Those who originally advised against pursuing the fraud case included the federal prosecutor in Detroit who now is overseeing the fraud prosecution. "The feeling here is we should not bring this mail fraud case," Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Gershel in Detroit wrote in May 2003.
[The emails themselves are here. From]

SEC to Make Public its Staff Letters to Firms

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Monday that it will begin to make public this week its staff's comments to companies about their financial reports, stock offerings and other required disclosure documents, a move that will provide investors with new information.
The SEC originally announced the initiative last June, saying it would begin publishing the staff comment letters on its Web site in August. The move was delayed by technical problems, agency officials have said. The letters from SEC staff to companies and mutual funds as well as their responses to the SEC examiners will be made public starting Thursday, for company filings made after Aug. 1, 2004.

Soviets Planned Nuclear First Strike to Preempt West, Documents Show

The Soviet-led Warsaw Pact had a long-standing strategy to attack Western Europe that included being the first to use nuclear weapons, according to a new book of previously Secret Warsaw Pact documents published tomorrow. Although the aim was apparently to preempt NATO "aggression," the Soviets clearly expected that nuclear war was likely and planned specifically to fight and win such a conflict.

CIA Moving Domestic Division to Denver

The CIA has plans to relocate the headquarters of its domestic division, which is responsible for operations and recruitment in the United States, from the CIA's Langley headquarters to Denver, a move designed to promote innovation, according to U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials.
...A U.S. intelligence official said the planned move, confirmed by three other government officials, was being undertaken "for operational reasons."
A CIA spokesman declined to comment. Other current and former intelligence officials said the Denver relocation reflects the desire of CIA Director Porter J. Goss to develop new ways to operate under cover, including setting up more front corporations and working closer with established international firms.
...Other CIA veterans said such a relocation would make no sense, given Denver's relative distance from major corporate centers. "Why would you go so far away?" one asked. "They will get disconnected."

US won't declassify documents for trial: report

Washington has refused to declassify some of its intelligence documents so they can be produced in the German court that is trying Mounir al-Motassadeq, the only man ever convicted of a role in the 9-11 attacks, according to a published report on Friday.
The report in Focus news magazine quoted officials at the Berlin Ministry of Justice as saying US officials informed them of the new position on the release of the documents last week.
The new stance reverses repeated assurances from Washington in recent months that the evidence would be forthcoming. German Interior Minister Otto Schily was told in Washington in February that more documents would be made available.

Bush asked to explain UK war memo

Eighty-nine Democratic members of the U.S. Congress last week sent President George W. Bush a letter asking for explanation of a secret British memo that said "intelligence and facts were being fixed" to support the Iraq war in mid-2002.
The timing of the memo was well before the president brought the issue to Congress for approval.
...The White House has not yet responded to queries about the congressional letter, which was released on May 6.

More Army Documents Reveal Still More Abuse of Detainees

Scans of the newly-released Army documents are here.

From the ACLU's press release:
The latest documents include medical records and several hundred pages relating to Army investigations into abuse of Iraqi and Afghan detainees and civilians by U.S. forces. One investigation into abuses at Rifles Base in Ramadi, Iraq details an incident in July 2003 in which an Army captain took an Iraqi welder into the desert, told him to dig his own grave, verbally threatened to kill him and had other soldiers stage a shooting of the man.
In a separate incident uncovered in the Rifles Base investigation, the driver and passenger of an Iraqi fire truck were detained for failing to turn off the truck’s headlights. Multiple soldiers reported that a captain kicked the detainees, threatened to kill them, and held a pistol to the head of one of the detainees, even though the detainees did not offer resistance of any kind. The detainees were released later that evening.

Live Aid II

Stars including Joss Stone, Oasis and Robbie Williams are set to be confirmed for a massive new Live Aid concert in Hyde Park this summer. The 16-hour gig, 20 years since the original Live Aid at Wembley, is being arranged to pressurise world leaders into addressing the problem of Third World debt.
Bob Geldof is understood to be behind the project and is in talks with dozens of other A-List stars to convince them to perform free.
The event comes despite his public protestations that a sequel to Live Aid would take place "over my f****** dead body".

Former GOP official says grand jury included Democrats

former Republican official charged with helping orchestrate political dirty tricks wants to know whether prospective jurors at his trial consider themselves aggressive or laid back, naive or perceptive.
James Tobin also wants to know whether they´re Democrats, Republicans or independents and whether they watch TV shows such as "West Wing," CNN´s "Crossfire," MSNBC´s "Hardball," or "The McLaughlin Group," which mostly runs on public television stations.
Those questions are part of a proposed jury pool questionnaire for Tobin´s trial on charges he conspired to jam Democrats´ get-out-the-vote phones on Election Day 2002, as well as a ride-to-the-polls line run by the Manchester firefighters union.

Save the Republic!

I usually don't post MoveOn's links, but this one got me laughing. -- McLir

Iraq veterans' unspoken epidemic

[I]t is the injuries you cannot see that are beginning to worry the Pentagon.
"My nightmares are so intense I woke up one night with my hands round my fiancee's throat," says Lt Julian Goodrum.
"Another night she woke me up. I was really kicking and really getting violent in my sleep.
"So now I sleep on the couch until I can get my sleep, my nightmares, more under control."
Lt Goodrum is a veteran of two Gulf wars. He returned from the first a hero, from the second a suicidal wreck.
He suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD) and he is not alone.
More than 10,000 returnees from the Iraq war have sought help for a condition in which the mundane becomes a menace.
"The smell of diesel takes me back to Iraq," Lt Goodrum says.
"I am getting better with crowds, but still if it is a very confined space and I am totally surrounded I have issues with that.
"When I am in crowds I tend to watch people's hands."

Generals Offer a Sober Outlook on Iraqi War

American military commanders in Baghdad and Washington gave a sobering new assessment on Wednesday of the war in Iraq, adding to the mood of anxiety that prompted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to come to Baghdad last weekend to consult with the new government.
In interviews and briefings this week, some of the generals pulled back from recent suggestions, some by the same officers, that positive trends in Iraq could allow a major drawdown in the 138,000 American troops late this year or early in 2006. One officer suggested Wednesday that American military involvement could last "many years."

'Operation Matador' - US Claims Over Challenged

Iraqi civilians and doctors in the area say no foreign fighters were present in the town. Al Qa'im and surrounding areas have suffered great destruction, and many in the town population of 110,000 were killed, they say.
Abu Ahmed, a resident of Al-Qa'im, told IPS on telephone that ”all the fighters here are Iraqis from this area.”
He said continuing violations by U.S. soldiers had provoked people into confronting the occupying forces. He said troops had been raiding homes, sending women into the streets without their hijabs and entering areas where women sleep.
”The fighters are just local people who refuse to be treated like dogs,” he said. ”Nobody wants the Americans here.”

In Georgia, Principal Moves to Eliminate High-School Journalism

This school year's final edition of a high school student newspaper was killed and the school's journalism class was eliminated after the principal said the paper highlighted negative stories and a lack of thorough reporting.
Randolph Bynum, principal of Pebblebrook High School in Cobb County, Ga., cut the class, citing a teacher shortage and the need to keep more popular courses like cosmetology. But he also criticized the paper for negative stories at the expense of articles more favorable to the school's image and for a lack of thoroughness in its reporting of stories on teen pregnancy and vandalism in the school parking lot.

'USA Today' Drastically Reduces Its Use of Anonymous Sources

One year after instituting tighter controls on confidential sourcing, USA Today has reduced the use of anonymous sources in its pages by 75%, according to Editor Ken Paulson, who implemented the tougher rules shortly after becoming editor.

Fresh Air: Reclaiming America for Christ

The stated purpose of D. James Kennedy's religious network is to reclaim America for Christ, closing the gap between church and state that is written into the Constitution. The evangelist minister, who preaches from the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Coral Ridge, Fla., has radio and TV shows that are heard around the world.
Coral Ridge is considered to be a mega-church, with 10,000 members. Kennedy is also the founder and president of Evangelism Explosion International. He runs the Statesmanship Institute, designed to give holders of public office tools for integrating biblical principles into lawmaking. He holds nine degrees from schools including Columbia Theological Seminary and Southwest Baptist University.

Amazon destruction accelerating

The Amazon rainforest is being destroyed at near record levels, according to new figures released by the Brazilian government.
The environment ministry said 26,000 sq km of forest were chopped down in the 12 months prior to August 2004.
The figure is the second highest on record, 6% higher than the previous 12 months.
Deforestation was worst in the state of Mato Grosso where vast swathes of land have been cleared to grow crops.
The loss of 26,000 sq km means almost a fifth of the entire Amazon has now been chopped down.

War Costing $5 Billion per Month

Congress gave final passage to a 2005 supplemental defense bill just last week. Of the $82 billion contained in the bill, all but $76 billion will pay for Defense Department operations costs. The cost of the US military in Iraq is running about $5 billion a month, estimated the former Pentagon comptroller earlier this year.
Fighting in Iraq "is lasting longer, and is more intense, and the cost to keep troops in the theater of operations is proving to be much greater than anyone anticipated," wrote Rep. John Spratt (D) of South Carolina, ranking minority member of the House Budget Committee, in a recent Democratic report on war costs.
Overall, Congress has approved about $192 billion for the Iraq war itself, according to an analysis by the Congressional Research Service. Another $58 billion has been allocated for Afghanistan, and some $20 billion has gone for enhanced air security and other Pentagon preparedness measures in the US.

White House Associate Caught Editing Social Security Testimony

In e-mailing his testimony to the Democratic panel, the organization's chief, Derrick A. Max, inadvertently included editing comments made by an associate commissioner of Social Security on loan to the White House.
Democrats, crying foul, have asked for an investigation. Max has responded that the Social Security official, Andrew G. Biggs, is one of his closest friends and that the changes he made were largely grammatical and technical.
"The real scandal here is that after 15 years of using Microsoft Word, I don't know how to turn off 'track changes,' " Max said.
Max is executive director of two business-oriented groups working to build support for Bush's proposed overhaul of Social Security. One, the Alliance for Worker Retirement Security, is housed at the National Assn. of Manufacturers. The other, the Coalition for the Modernization and Protection of America's Social Security, is affiliated with the Business Roundtable. Both groups describe themselves as nonpartisan.
But Democrats and their allies in organized labor said they were outraged to see White House fingerprints on congressional testimony presented by an ostensibly independent group.

Aljazeera: U.S. and Iraqi military forces detain journalists

The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is demanding an explanation from U.S. and Iraqi military forces regarding the whereabouts of least eight Iraqi journalists who have been detained since March 2005.
CPJ called on U.S. and Iraqi officials to publicly explain the basis for the journalists' continued detention.
According to CPJ, U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Steve Boylan said that the journalists pose a "security risk to the Iraqi people and coalition forces."
No further details were given.
All eight of the journalists work for Western news organisations and though none of the journalists have been formally charged Boylan gave no indication that they would be.

Report on Overseas Bases Removed from Web

A report to Congress from the Overseas Basing Commission was removed from the Commission's web site last week after the Department of Defense complained that its publication involved "unauthorized disclosure of classified information."
But "The commission is confident that everything in our report was obtained from unclassified sources or settings," Commission chairman Al Cornella told the Washington Post. Along with forthright criticism of current Pentagon planning, the suppressed Commission report concluded ironically that "The nation would benefit from a more inclusive discussion on how best to ensure the greater security of the United States." (p. C&R 3). The main body of the May 9 report of the Overseas Basing Commission, not including several appendices, was preserved on the web site of Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-TX). A copy is posted here (5.4 MB PDF file):

FEMA: Nuclear Attack Planning Base - 1990

The Nuclear Attack Planning Base 1990 was an official estimate of the potential physical effects of a Soviet nuclear attack on the population of the United States, including detailed county-by-county assessments of damage due to blast overpressure, fire and radiation.
A copy of the approximately 800 page publication, originally marked Limited Distribution and Not for Public Release, was released in April 2005 with the following caveat: "This publication was provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security, for its academic and historical value only."

Tim Robbin's "Embedded" Coming to DVD

GOP Pushes Patriot Act II - Expanding Provisions

he chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee is working on a bill that would renew the Patriot Act and expand government powers in the name of fighting terrorism, letting the FBI subpoena records without permission from a judge or grand jury.
Much of the debate in Congress has concerned possibly limiting some of the powers in the anti-terrorism law passed 45 days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
But the measure being written by Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., would give the FBI new power to issue administrative subpoenas, which are not reviewed by a judge or grand jury, for quickly obtaining records, electronic data or other evidence in terrorism investigations, according to aides for the GOP majority on the committee who briefed reporters Wednesday.

U.S. Backs Down on AIDS Stipulation

The U.S. has backed down on a plan requiring overseas AIDS groups that are partly funded by this country to publicly declare their opposition to prostitution and sex trafficking.
Overseas AIDS organizations that receive money directly from the U.S., or through a federally funded U.S. charity, are already required to state their opposition to prostitution.
...Many AIDS groups have protested what they term the anti-prostitution "loyalty oath," saying it would make it harder to reach a crucial risk group - prostitutes - with prevention messages, the Washington Post reports.

Morgan Stanley adds clause to pull ads

Morgan Stanley , whose battle with unhappy shareholders has played out on the business pages, has added a clause to its advertising contracts so it can pull adverts placed near negative articles about the investment bank.
Under the policy, Morgan Stanley wants publishers to tell it about any objectionable stories that will be run in their newspaper or magazine, according to sources close to the situation. Morgan Stanley would then have the right to change or even pull its advertising to place it in a later issue.
Morgan Stanley's request to Dow Jones & Co.'s Wall Street Journal, Gannett Co. Inc.'s USA Today and other top publications comes at a time when the securities firm is facing public criticism from dissident shareholders and former executives.
But a spokeswoman for Publicis Groupe's Starcom USA, the bank's advertising agency, said this was standard practice.
"The majority of our clients, as is the industry standard across nearly every medium, has content-driven clauses in their media contracts. It is just smart business," she said.

Blowing Up an Assumption

Understanding that suicide terrorism is mainly a response to foreign occupation rather than a product of Islamic fundamentalism has important implications for how the United States and its allies should conduct the war on terrorism. Spreading democracy across the Persian Gulf is not likely to be a panacea so long as foreign combat troops remain on the Arabian Peninsula. If not for the world's interest in Persian Gulf oil, the obvious solution might well be simply to abandon the region altogether. Isolationism, however, is not possible; America needs a new strategy that pursues our vital interest in oil but does not stimulate the rise of a new generation of suicide terrorists.


A photo blog

Bill in Congress to Stop EPA from Dumping Sewage into Rivers & Lakes

Two great tastes that taste great together. Are you a scat fan? Well, Congress will soon vote on a bipartisan measure that would block the EPA from allowing sewage blending. Scientists & environmentalists gave BushCo some flak on this, but notice how bipartisan the bill is: it's sponsored by Bart Stupak (D-MI) as well as Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) The whitehouse site yielded inconclusive results (searched for sewage blending) This issue first caught my attention on another site (rhymes with 'bark') and I discovered it matters, at least to me, because people crap in my drinking water all the time and apparently the municipal waste treatment systems aren't handling it. [from]

Animal rights groups biggest U.S. threat, FBI says

Environmental and animal rights activists who have turned to arson and explosives are the nation's top domestic terrorism threat, an FBI official told a U.S. Senate committee on Wednesday.
Groups such as the Animal Liberation Front, the Earth Liberation Front and Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty are “way out in front” in terms of damage and number of crimes, said John Lewis, the FBI's deputy assistant director for counterterrorism.


Yahoo offers a new graphical user interface for search. Definitely worth a look.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Journalism Links via Poynter Online


  • American Editor
  • American Journalism Review
  • Broadcasting and Cable
  • Columbia Journalism Review
  • Current
  • Digital Journalist
  • Editor and Publisher
  • IRE Periodicals
  • Journal of Mass Media Ethics
  • Lost Remote
  • Media Watch
  • News Photographer
  • Nieman Reports
  • On the Media
  • Online Journalism Review
  • Presstime
  • Quill
  • RTNDA Communicator
  • St. Louis Journalism Review
  • Rundown
  • Stop the Presses
  • Television Week
  • Women's Enews
  • World Press Review


  • ABC News
  • Associated Press
  • BBC News
  • CNN
  • CBS News
  • DowJones
  • Fox News
  • PBS Online NewsHour
  • Reuters
  • UPI
    (Collections of News Site Links)
  • Front Pages (Newseum)
  • NAA's NewsVoyager
  • (Newspapers)(TV)(AJR)
  • (TV)(Radio)(Gebbie Press)
  • US Newspapers
  • World Press (WPR)
  • NewsLink


  • ACEJMC: Accrediting Council
  • AASFE: American Association
    of Sunday and Feature Editors
  • ACES: American
    Copy Editors Society
  • AJHA: American Journalism
    Historians Association
  • ASJA: American Society
    of Journalists and Authors
  • ASBPE: American Society
    of Business Publication Editors
  • ASNE: American Society
    of Newspaper Editors
  • AWRT: American Women
    in Radio and Television
  • AAJA: Asian American
    Journalists Association
  • APME: Associated Press
    Managing Editors
  • APSE: Associated Press
    Sports Editors
  • AAEC: Association of American Editorial Cartoonists
  • AAN: Association of
    Alternative Newsweeklies
  • AEJMC: Association for
    Education in Journalism
    and Mass Communication
  • AFJ: Association
    of Food Journalists
  • AHCJ: Association
    of Health Care Journalists
  • AOPE: Association
    of Opinion Page Editors
  • AWC: Association
    for Women in Communications
  • BEA: The Broadcast
    Education Association
  • CAJ: The Canadian
    Association of Journalists
  • CSPA: Columbia
    Scholastic Press Association
  • Committee of Concerned Journalists and the Project for Excellence in Journalism
  • CPJ: Committee
    to Protect Journalists
  • CJJ: Criminal Justice Journalists
  • Education Writer's Association
  • Garden Writers Association
  • Independent Press Councils
  • IFJ: The International
    Federation of Journalists
  • IFJ African Bureau
  • Inland Press Association
  • INMA: International Newspaper Marketing Association
  • IPI: International Press Institute
  • IRE: Investigative
    Reporters and Editors
  • JEA: Journalism
    Education Association
  • JAWS: Journalism and
    Women Symposium
  • NAAJA: National Arab American
    Journalists Association
  • NABJ: National Association
    of Black Journalists
  • NAB: National Association
    of Broadcasters
  • NAHJ: National Association
    of Hispanic Journalists
  • NAMIC: National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications
  • NAMME: National Association
    of Minority Media Executives
  • NASW: National Association
    of Science Writers
  • NCEW: National Conference
    of Editorial Writers
  • NFPW: National Federation
    of Press Women
  • National Freedom
    of Information Coalition
  • NLGJA: National Lesbian
    and Gay Journalists Association
  • NNA: National Newspaper Association
  • NNPA: National Newspaper Publishers Association
  • National Press Club
  • NPPA: National Press
    Photographers Association
  • NSNC: National Society
    of Newspaper Columnists
  • NAJA: Native American
    Journalists Association
  • NAA: Newspaper
    Association of America
  • Newspaper Guild
  • Newswomen's Club of New York
  • Online News Association
  • Online Publishers Association
  • ONO: Organization
    of News Ombudsmen
  • PressWise Trust
  • Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Committee of Concerned Journalists
  • PJNET: Public Journalism Network
  • PRNDI: Public Radio News Directors
  • RTNDA: Radio and Television
    News Directors Association
  • Religion Newswriters Association
  • Reporters Committee
    for Freedom of the Press
  • Society of American Business
    Editors and Writers
  • Society of American Travel Writers
  • Society of Environmental Journalists
  • SND: Society for News Design
  • SPJ: The Society
    of Professional Journalists
  • SNPA: Southern Newspaper
    Publishers Association
  • White House News
    Photographers' Association
  • World Association of Newspapers
  • World Editors Forum

  • Behind the News
  • Facts about Newspapers
  • Gallery of Best Practices & Innovations
  • International Journalists' Network
  • I Want Media
  • Internews
  • J-Blog List (
  • JournalismNet
  • Journalism and Media Resources
  • Journalist's Guide to the Internet
  • The Journalist's Toolbox
  • Media Channel
  • Media Info Center
  • Megasources
  • Navigator
  • No Train, No Gain
  • Power Reporting Resources
  • Reporter's Desktop
  • ResourceShelf
  • Richard Prince's Journal-isms
  • Romenesko
  • ShopTalk
  • Sources and Experts
  • SLA News Division
  • State of the News Media Report
  • Tech:knowledge


  • American Press Institute
  • Boston University
    Washington Journalism Center
  • Brechner Center
  • Casey Journalism Center
    for Children
    and Families
  • Center for Communication
  • Center for Community Journalism
  • Center for Integration and
    Improvement of Journalism
  • Center for Investigative Reporting
  • Center for Media and Public Affairs
  • Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma
  • European Journalism Centre
  • First Amendment Center
  • Freedom of Information Center
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  • Trump attacks Ground Zero plans

    New York billionaire Donald Trump has attacked the plans for a new skyscraper on the Ground Zero site, describing the Freedom Tower design as "disgusting".
    The businessman says he is giving his support to a rival design based closely on that of the destroyed Twin Towers.
    The rebuilding of the World Trade Center site is of crucial financial and emotional importance to New York.
    Mr Trump's intervention comes as the entire project has fallen into chaos. It is at least a year behind schedule.
    The entire future of Daniel Libeskind's Freedom Tower design is also facing the axe because of concerns about security.

    UN calls for Uzbek deaths inquiry

    The UN's top human rights official has called for an independent investigation into reports that Uzbek troops shot dead hundreds of protesters.
    Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said she was "deeply concerned" about last week's violence.
    The Uzbek government said 169 people died in the shootings, but a local army source told the BBC 500 were killed.

    'Ginormous' the Top Non-Dictionary Word

    The editors of Merriam-Webster dictionaries got more than 3,000 entries when, in a lighthearted moment, they asked visitors to their Web site to submit their favorite words that aren't in the dictionary.
    "It was a lot of fun," Arthur Bicknell, a spokesman for the Springfield-based dictionary publisher, said Monday. "We weren't expecting so many. They only had two weeks. But it shows how much people love words. It was very, very gratifying."
    Some of the proposed words even gained multiple submissions so the editors came up with an admittedly unscientific Top 10 list.

    Mafia boss evaded capture by dressing as bishop

    It's no wonder Bernardo Provenzano, the Sicilian Mafia's "boss of bosses", has eluded capture for more than four decades.
    According to a Mafia godmother-turned-supergrass, the 72-year-old mobster turned up to a summit of Cosa Nostra leaders in 1992 disguised in a bishop's purple vestments.
    "At first I didn't recognise him. It seemed strange that someone would show up at a meeting dressed as a bishop," Giuseppina Vitale told a court on Monday, according to Ansa news agency.
    "He was even wearing a violet hat."
    Provenzano has been on the run for 42 years. The most recent photograph police have of him was taken nearly three decades ago.

    Wal-Mart Nation: Series by Liza Featherstone

    This Week: Time To Hold Wal-Mart Accountable
    A full-page ad in the (Flagstaff) Arizona Daily Sun outraged Jewish groups with a 1933 photo showing Nazis burning books, outrageously implying that Wal-Mart critics were fascists, and trivializing the Holocaust. The ad, paid for by Wal-Mart and bearing the name of one of the many Wal-Mart-sponsored fake "community" groups, urged readers to vote "no" on a proposition that would limit the size of future Wal-Mart stores in the area. The text read, "Should we let government tell us what we can read? Of course not. So why should we allow local government to limit where we can shop?" A Wal-Mart spokeswoman told Bloomberg News that the company reviewed the ad but didn't realize the photo depicted Nazis. (Doh!) Wal-Mart has publicly apologized.
    Is Union-busting Bad for Business?
    The Political Costs of Wal-Mart

    Librarian's brush with FBI shapes her view of the USA Patriot Act

    It was a moment that librarians had been dreading.
    On June 8, 2004, an FBI agent stopped at the Deming branch of the Whatcom County Library System in northwest Washington and requested a list of the people who had borrowed a biography of Osama bin Laden. We said no.
    We did not take this step lightly. First, our attorney called the local FBI office and asked why the information was important. She was told that one of our patrons had sent the FBI the book after discovering these words written in the margin: "If the things I'm doing is considered a crime, then let history be a witness that I am a criminal. Hostility toward America is a religious duty and we hope to be rewarded by God."
    We told the FBI that it would have to follow legal channels before our board of trustees would address releasing the names of the borrowers. We also informed the FBI that, through a Google search, our attorney had discovered that the words in the margin were almost identical to a statement by bin Laden in a 1998 interview.
    Undeterred, the FBI served a subpoena on the library a week later demanding a list of everyone who had borrowed the book since November 2001.

    Chairman of coalition aimed at killing filibuster pirated Dem, GOP memos on judicial nominees

    The chairman of a massive coalition of groups working to kill the filibuster was forced to resign from the Senate Judiciary Committee last year after admitting to raiding thousands of private Democratic and GOP strategy memos relating to judicial nominees without permission—a fact that continues to go unnoticed in media reports, RAW STORY has found.
    Chairman of the National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters Manuel Miranda admitted to accessing thousands of private Democratic and Republican memos without permission in 2004, which he likened to “to finding documents left on his desk.”
    He was a formerly counsel to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) on judicial nominations.
    A probe in early 2004 concluded “that more than 4,500 files of committee Democrats were accessed by former Hatch aides Manuel Miranda and Jason Lundell.” His tapping of strategy memos on judicial nominees went on for months; their contents appeared in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times.
    Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, Former Chairman of the Judiciary Committee also complained in a Deseret Morning News article in 2004 that Miranda accessed about 100 of his own files “without his knowledge or permission.”

    Bogus mariachi bands rob music-lovers

    In the latest crime ruse to hit Mexico City, thieves are dressing up as mariachi musicians in embroidered suits with wide-brimmed somberros to rob unsuspecting music-lovers.
    Mingling among the roughly 1,700 licensed mariachi who serenade people with raucous folk songs in a central city square are hundreds of "pirate" mariachi more adept at picking pockets than strumming guitars, city officials say.
    In a city where organized crime gangs make an easy living from armed assault and kidnapping, police fear the bogus musicians could trick people into taking them home to play at family parties, where mariachi are a popular treat.

    Personal Data for the Taking

    Senator Ted Stevens wanted to know just how much the Internet had turned private lives into open books. So the senator, a Republican from Alaska and the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, instructed his staff to steal his identity.
    "I regret to say they were successful," the senator reported at a hearing he held last week on data theft.
    His staff, Mr. Stevens reported, had come back not just with digital breadcrumbs on the senator, but also with insights on his daughter's rental property and some of the comings and goings of his son, a student in California. "For $65 they were told they could get my Social Security number," he said.
    That would not surprise 41 graduate students in a computer security course at Johns Hopkins University. With less money than that, they became mini-data-brokers themselves over the last semester.
    They proved what privacy advocates have been saying for years and what Senator Stevens recently learned: all it takes to obtain reams of personal data is Internet access, a few dollars and some spare time.