Saturday, July 09, 2005

New Scientist: Creationism special - A battle for science's soul

ON 10 July 1925, a drama was played out in a small courtroom in a Tennessee town that touched off a far-reaching ideological battle. John Scopes, a schoolteacher, was found guilty of teaching evolution (see "The monkey trial - below"). Despite the verdict, Scopes, and the wider scientific project he sought to promote, seemed at the time to have been vindicated by the backlash in the urban press against his creationist opponents.
Yet 80 years on, creationist ideas have a powerful hold in the US, and science is still under attack. US Supreme Court decisions have made it impossible to teach divine creation as science in state-funded schools. But in response, creationists have invented "intelligent design", which they say is a scientific alternative to Darwinism (see "A sceptic's guide to intelligent design"). ID has already affected the way science is taught and perceived in schools, museums, zoos and national parks across the US.

Harvard project to scan millions of medical files

Harvard scientists are building a powerful computer system that will use artificial intelligence to scan the private medical files of 2.5 million people at local hospitals, as part of a government-funded effort to find the genetic roots of asthma and other diseases.
The $20 million project -- which would probe more deeply and more quickly into medical records than human researchers are capable of -- is designed to find links between patients' DNA and illnesses. Although the effort could raise concerns about privacy, researchers say the new program, called ''I2B2" (for ''Informatics for Integrating Biology and the Bedside") would respect the strict guidelines set out in federal and state laws, and could be a powerful tool for many kinds of research.
Hospitals gather huge amounts of information from patients each day -- from blood tests to chest X-rays and brain scans. For decades, researchers have pored through these records and gleaned insights that have helped millions of Americans. Now, the Harvard team hopes to put far more information at the fingertips of researchers, and to speed the process with sophisticated automation.

Oil: Caveat empty

Without any press conferences, grand announcements, or hyperbolic advertising campaigns, the Exxon Mobil Corporation, one of the world's largest publicly owned petroleum companies, has quietly joined the ranks of those who are predicting an impending plateau in non-OPEC oil production. Their report, The Outlook for Energy: A 2030 View, forecasts a peak in just five years.

Lobbyist for Next Supreme Court Nominee

"Ed Gillespie, who will help promote President Bush's future nominee to a vacancy on the Supreme Court, is a top-tier lobbyist who represents a host of clients with direct and indirect interests in the outcome of Supreme Court decisions." Gillespie's task is "to use the tools and techniques of a presidential campaign to put together a conservative political machine equipped to take on the alliance of groups on the political left." But his firm, Quinn Gillespie & Associates, "represents corporations and trade associations with strong bottom-line interests in court rulings involving corporate liability, tort reform, antitrust and securities issues." Clients include the American Petroleum Institute, Microsoft, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Gillespie refused to discuss "the conflict-of-interest rules that will govern his activities," but others say "he is likely to give up active representation of clients" while he works for the nominee's confirmation.

dKos: Is Al Qaeda a Conspiracy Theory?

London Observer Chief Reporter Jason Burke, author of "Al-Qaeda: the True Story of Radical Islam", believes that the organization known as Al Qaeda was no more than a hard-core of 20-30 militants, largely eliminated after the war in Afghanistan. Burke claims Al Qaeda is a "convenient label applied misleadingly to a diverse, disorganized global movement".
The following quoted materials come from a transcript of the BBC documentary "The Power of Nightmares". I've seen a number of people on dKos recommend this 3-part series... but I haven't seen a thorough diary discussing the implications of it. In the wake of the London bombings, I think it's appropriate to take a fresh look at Al Qaeda.
(These transcripts were contained as part of a BitTorrent download of the video found here) [more]

Cleveland's Plain Dealer: We're Holding Big Stories Because of Miller Jailing

Plain Dealer Editor Doug Clifton says the Cleveland daily is not reporting two major investigative stories of "profound importance" because they are based on illegally leaked documents -- and the paper fears the consequences faced now by jailed New York Times reporter Judith Miller.
Lawyers for the Newhouse Newspapers-owned PD have concluded that the newspaper would almost certainly be found culpable if the leaks were investigated by authorities.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Fox News' Pundits Respond to London Bombings

Brit Hume: I mean, my first thought when I heard -- just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, "Hmmm, time to buy."
Brian Kilmeade: First to the people of London, and now at the G8 summit, where their topic Number 1 --believe it or not-- was global warming, the second was African aid. And that was the first time since 9-11 when they should know, and they do know now, that terrorism should be Number 1. But it's important for them all to be together. I think that works to our advantage, in the Western world's advantage, for people to experience something like this together, just 500 miles from where the attacks have happened.
John Gibson: The bombings in London: This is why I thought the Brits should let the French have the Olympics -- let somebody else be worried about guys with backpack bombs for a while.

Another Statistical Analysis Puts 2004 Election in Doubt

In the 30-plus page report, Ron Baiman, PhD, of UIC's Institute of Government and Public Affairs, along with eleven other colleagues from other prestigious universities, applied quantitative data to explain the discrepancy between exit poll projections and votes actually recorded in the November election and to understand the analysis given by Edison Media Research & Mitofsky International (E/M), the pollster of record for the national election.
E/M's poll projections predicted a win for Democrat John Kerry by 3%, however, when votes were tallied, Republican President George W. Bush was given the win by 2.5%-the largest discrepancy in the poll's history.

Police open fire on protesters in Iraq

In fresh violence, mortar attacks aimed at a police station killed four civilians and wounded up to 46 more after striking surrounding streets in Mosul, the U.S. military said.
Elsewhere, police opened fire on 1,000 demonstrators Thursday at the seat of the provincial government in Tikrit as they were protesting the killing of the local council's head official, authorities said. At least four were wounded.
The protesters demanded the resignation of the deputy governor and police chief because they believe their clan was responsible for Wednesday's killing of Ali Ghalib Ibrahim, who belongs to a rival clan, Mayor Wael Ibrahim Ali said.

G8 leaders announce multi-billion dollar aid commitment to Africa

A statement at the end of a three-day summit said commitments from the Group of Eight and other donors would mean an increase in aid to Africa by 25 billion dollars (21 billion euros) a year by 2010, more than doubling aid to the continent compared with 2004.
The statement, citing an estimate from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, that donor pledges to official development assistance for all developing countries would increase by around 50 billion dollars a year by 2010.

G8 Not to Act on Global Warming

Leaders of the world's wealthy nations appeared to bow to U.S. pressure on climate change, issuing a watered-down declaration Friday that avoids setting targets or timetables for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
But in his final speech at the G-8 summit, Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that the G-8 countries and five of the world's largest emerging economies — China, Brazil, India, Mexico and South Africa — had agreed to work together to counter global warming.
He said they would meet Nov. 1 in Britain to discuss the effort to "slow down and then in time reverse the rise in harmful greenhouse gas emissions."

Personal Cell Phone Info for Sale - $110

Think your mate is cheating? For $110, will provide you with the outgoing calls from his or her cell phone for the last billing cycle, up to 100 calls. All you need to supply is the name, address and the number for the phone you want to trace. Order online, and get results within hours.
Carlos F. Anderson, a licensed private investigator in Florida, offers a similar service for $165, for all major telephone carriers.
"This report provides all the calls with dates, times, and duration on the billing statement," according to Anderson's Web site, which adds, "Incoming Calls and Call Location are provided if available."
Learning who someone talked to on the phone cannot enable the kind of financial fraud made easier when a Social Security or credit card number is purloined. Instead, privacy advocates say, the intrusion is more personal.

Bush Gives Global AIDS Fighters Ultimatum Over Prostitution

U.S. groups fighting AIDS overseas are being given an ultimatum by the government: Pledge your opposition to sex trafficking and prostitution or do without federal funds.
The new rule has created confusion among health groups that wonder how it will affect them, and has drawn criticism from others who say it infringes on free speech rights and could do more harm than good.
It will affect about $2.2 billion in AIDS grants and contracts this year, according to Kent Hill, acting administrator for global health at the U.S. Agency for International Development, which recently issued a policy directive outlining the regulation.

Italy to Start Iraq Troop Pullout in Fall

Berlusconi, who was a strong supporter of President Bush on Iraq, sent 3,000 troops to the country after the ouster of Saddam Hussein to help rebuild the country. He had previously indicated he hoped a pullout could begin in September.
"We will begin withdrawing 300 men in the month of September," Berlusconi said at the G-8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland. But he added that the decision was not final and would depend on the security conditions on the ground.

Who's Watching the Watch List?

Heading for Oakland from Seattle to see my grandkids last week, the Alaska Airlines check-in machine refused to give me a boarding pass. Directed to the ticket counter, I gave the agent my driver's license and watched her punch keys at her computer.
Frowning, she told me that my name was on the national terrorist No Fly Watch List and that I had to be specially cleared to board a plane. Any plane. Then she disappeared with my license for 10 minutes, returning with a boarding pass and a written notice from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) confirming that my name was on a list of persons "who posed, or were suspected of posing, a threat to civil aviation or national security."
No one could tell me more than that. The computer was certain.

Oil Demand Exceeding Supply

Even as oil prices hit record highs, the Saudi’s are now warning that they do not have the oil supply to keep up with future demand. With news like this it’s time to start taking peak oil seriously. Matthew R. Simmons, a former bush advisor, recently wrote a book that examines the future prospects of Saudi oil reserves and the implications for global oil production. He finds that the amount of oil left in the big fields may be much lower than is publicly reported and that there is no where else in the world where we can find the oil to make up for the shortfall. This interview with Simmons (part 2, part 3) was one of the scariest things I’ve read in awhile. I guess it’s time to buy a hybrid… (Peak oil previously talked about here and here and here) [from]

Live 8 Video Downloads

The whole show by artist and song.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Panopticon: Net "Allergic Reaction" to Trivial Misdemeanor

Recently, the woman was on the subway in her native South Korea when her dog decided that this was a good place to do its business.
The woman made no move to clean up the mess, and several fellow travelers got agitated. The woman allegedly grew belligerent in response.
What happened next was a remarkable show of Internet force, and a peek into an unsettling corner of the future.
One of the train riders took pictures of the incident with a camera phone and posted them on a popular Web site.
According to one blog that has covered the story, "within days, her identity and her past were revealed. Requests for information about her parents and relatives started popping up and people started to recognize her by the dog and the bag she was carrying," because her face was partially obscured by her hair.
Online discussion groups crackled with chatter about every shred of the woman's life that could be found, and with debate over whether the Internet mob had gone too far. The incident became national news in South Korea and even was discussed in Sunday sermons in Korean churches in the Washington area.
[The "allergic reaction" line is mine -- McLir]

Melting ice will wreck polar bear populations

The 40 members of the polar bear specialist group of the World Conservation Union warned last week that the population of the Arctic's top predator could crash by 30 percent over the next 35 to 50 years and should now be rated as vulnerable on an international "Red List" of threatened species.
"This is the first time that we've evaluated the plight of polar bears (with) respect to climate change, and we found that they were vulnerable to extinction," said the group's outgoing chairman, biologist Scott Schliebe, who oversees management of polar bears in Alaska for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Polar bears don't have a place to go if they lose the ice."
"I'm impressed to have a detailed, thoughtful evaluation," said Rosa Meehan, chief of marine mammal management for the agency in Alaska. "The outcome makes my heart sink."

Pharma Companies Researching Female Orgasms

The first arousal drugs aimed at women's gray matter are expected to be on the market in the next couple of years. The active ingredient: testosterone, a "male" hormone that is also naturally present in women's bodies in smaller quantities. Procter & Gamble plans to release a testosterone patch, Intrinsa, and Illinois-based BioSante is entering Phase III clinical trials with its testosterone formulation, LibiGel. Even so, most researchers agree that testosterone isn't the end of the story. Testosterone drugs will never have a direct, rapid effect on women the way Viagra does on men, because it's a hormone that fosters an overall sense of strength and well-being rather than specifically catalyzing sexual arousal. More promising is a drug called PT-141, which is being developed by Palatin Technologies in New Jersey. The first in a new class of drugs called melanocortin agonists, PT-141 targets the central nervous system. Early trials show both genital arousal and increased sexual desire in women who take it. But even more precisely targeted drugs are coming - those that won't light up the entire nervous system in the blind hope of hitting pleasure buttons, but actually home in on parts of the brain that are directly connected to arousal and orgasm.

Morgan Freeman & Intel to Launch Online Movie Service

Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman is teaming up with Intel to launch an online movie-download site that aims to pull users away from illegal downloads of first-run films.
ClickStar will focus on making first-run and pre-DVD films available for download. Movie fans will be able both to purchase and rent films from the service.
..."We're going to bypass what the music industry had to come up with, and that's to get ahead of the whole piracy thing," Freeman told reporters at Sun Valley after making his presentation, which was closed to the press.

Crises Strain Cell-Phone Networks

After Thursday's bomb attacks, many Londoners couldn't make calls on clogged mobile networks. Communications experts say the problems could be a wake-up call for U.K. and U.S. regulators to work on securing wireless networks in crises.

The Tiny Victims of Desert Storm

When our soldiers risked their lives in the Gulf, they never imagined that their children might suffer the consequences--or that their country would turn its back on them.

The Science of Behavioral Targeting

Over the past several years, "neuromarketing," which uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans to observe how people evaluate and make decisions, has been quietly gaining awareness. Whether this nascent research will change the fundamental advertising paradigm isn't yet relevant to behavioral targeting. But its implications -- marketers are exploring ways to dive deeper into consumers behavior and psychographics -- is very indicative of current trends. Targeting must be much more sophisticated than just traditional geographic, IP, and demographic filters.
According to "The American Heritage Dictionary," "art" is the "human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature." In many ways, nature is a harmonious numbers game. Sea turtles lay hundreds of eggs at a time because there will only be a realistic 10 percent survival rate due to predators. This is analogous to the other consumer-provider examples that exist in the delicate ecosystem.
We know human actions are complex and behaviors are somewhat specific to their indigenous environments. Yet many studies show that regardless of language barriers and cultural differences, people make most product purchase decisions based on a similar logical progression of benefits, features, feelings, emotions, motives, urges, and needs. This means they also exhibit similar behaviors when they make these decisions.
Online, which has already fundamentally deconstructed the traditional media consumption paradigm, is the most fertile environment to capture these behaviors. It has the advantage of bringing a new level of complexity (or insight) for marketers.

GOP Targets National Environmental Policy Act

NEPA is facing strong challenges from the Bush administration, Congress and business interests who say the law has been holding up progress on a number of fronts, among them building highways, preventing forest fires and drilling for oil and gas in the Rocky Mountains.
The House version of the pending energy bill would exempt many oil and gas exploration projects from NEPA review. And a congressional committee is holding public hearings with the stated intention of changing how the law works. To expedite a wide range of projects, the administration and lawmakers have exempted some categories of federal actions from NEPA assessments or limited their scope.
The federal government takes an estimated 50,000 actions each year — including building campgrounds in national forests and plotting the routes of superhighways. And, to varying degrees, every one of those actions involving federal land, funds and permits is subject to scrutiny under NEPA.
The three-page statute, known as the Magna Carta of environmental law, required the government for the first time to involve the public in decisions that could harm natural surroundings or disturb neighborhoods. The law has been imitated by other countries and many states.

Reversal on Creation Display in Tulsa Zoo

Tulsa's Park and Recreation Board voted Thursday morning to drop plans for adding a creationism exhibit at the Tulsa Zoo.
The board voted 3-to-1 to reverse last month's decision to allow the exhibit. Mayor Bill LaFortune was the only dissenting vote.
The board voted 3-to-1 last month to allow an exhibit presenting the biblical account of the world's creation. It was to be put in the zoo's time gallery that has a display on evolution.
A group called Friends of Religion and Science then formed and collected nearly 2,000 signatures on an online petition asking the park board to reverse its decision.

5 Americans Held By U.S. Forces In Iraq Fighting

Five detainees who are believed to be American citizens are being held in U.S. military detention facilities in Iraq after their arrests there over the past few months, the first Americans taken into custody during the war in Iraq on suspicion of aiding the insurgency or for terrorist activity, Pentagon officials said yesterday.
In addition to one detainee with dual U.S.-Jordanian citizenship who was arrested in late October, coalition forces have snared four suspects since April in unrelated cases involving potential insurgent activities throughout Iraq, said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman. Three of those arrested are Iraqi Americans and one is an Iranian American who said he was in Iraq to film footage for a historical documentary.

No letup in unrest over Bush school law

Schools are preparing for their fourth year under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) this fall even as a state-led grassroots rebellion rages against the education law. The revolt is expected to intensify in the 2005-2006 school year as stricter testing requirements and penalties take effect.
Several states have launched legislative and legal attacks against NCLB, or are openly defying provisions of the law, which calls for annual student testing in grades 3 to 8 and penalizes schools that fail to improve test scores in all racial and demographic groups.
Congress passed NCLB, President Bush’s signature education reform law, with strong bipartisan support in 2001 with the intent to raise academic achievement for all students and close the gaps in achievement that separate students of color and low-income students from their peers. However, states have complained since the law went into effect in 2002 that it is too costly and that federal standards usurp state and local control of schools.

Al Qaeda claims to have killed Egypt envoy in Iraq

Al Qaeda group in Iraq said on Thursday it killed Egypt's top envoy to Iraq for representing a "tyrannical" government allied to the "Jews and Crusaders."
"We al Qaeda in Iraq announce that the judgment of God has been implemented against the ambassador of the infidels, the ambassador of Egypt. Oh enemy of God, Ihab el-Sherif, this is your punishment in this life," said the group in an Internet statement posted on an Islamist Web site.
The group, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, posted a video showing the hostage speaking but not the actual killing.

Iraq signs military pact with Iran

Iraq signed a military pact with Iran on Wednesday in a breakthrough with a former foe, but al Qaeda said it would kill Egypt's kidnapped envoy and attack more diplomats to stop the government winning international support.
Defense Minister Saadoun al-Dulaimi signed a pact in Tehran agreeing to accept Iranian military training and other cooperation with the country Iraq fought for a decade under ousted leader Saddam Hussein.
Responding to the suggestion that the thaw in ties with Iran would anger Washington, Dulaimi said: "Nobody can dictate to Iraq its relations with other countries."

Fact Check: Bush's Iraq Speech - Long On Assertion, Short On Facts

Standing before a crowd of uniformed soldiers, President Bush addressed the nation on June 27 to reaffirm America's commitment to the global war on terrorism. But throughout the speech Bush continually stated his opinions and conclusions as though they were facts, and he offered little specific evidence to support his assertions.
Here we provide some additional context, both facts that support Bush's case that "we have made significant progress" in Iraq, as well as some of the negative evidence he omitted.

Chevron Opening Online Discussion of Oil Issues at

New discussion forum initiated by Chevron Corporation, with introductory presentations, discussion papers and moderated forums for subscribed forums (all free).
Below are the texts and references from its 'Issues in brief' and 'Why join us now' sections. There are seperate papers for discussion forums.

Fossil fuels currently supply most of the world’s energy, and are expected to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.1 While supplies are currently abundant, they won’t last forever.2 Oil production is in decline in 33 of the 48 largest oil producing countries,3 yet energy demand is increasing around the globe as economies grow and nations develop.4 Abundant energy drives economic development, which in turn creates demand for still more energy.5 But it also puts pressure on supply and impacts the environment. Where does our fuel come from, how is our energy supply and the sources of energy changing, and what can we expect in the future? [more]

Personal data lost -- again

The latest company to drop the data ball is City National Bank, based in Los Angeles and one of the largest independent financial institutions in California.
City National, which specializes in high-end clients, became a player in Northern California when it acquired San Francisco's Pacific Bank in 2000. It has 52 offices statewide and about $14 billion in assets.

Homeland Security Secrecy Over Local Data

Challenged by a local freedom of information request, a New Jersey utility asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to declare that certain digital records sought by a member of the public were protected from public disclosure.
After a New Jersey resident requested a digital copy of topographic mapping data from the Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority (BTMUA), utility officials turned to DHS and asked that the requested information be designated as "protected critical infrastructure information (PCII)," so that they would be relieved of any obligation to disclose the data.
Last month, DHS approved the designation.

E-Vote Guidelines Need Work

The guidelines, published in late June, call for vendors to follow better programming practices and make some suggestions for addressing problems with vote integrity.
Computer security experts say the guidelines are a step in the right direction, but fall short of making voting systems secure. They also don't require systems to produce a voter-verified paper audit trail, which would allow voters to confirm their vote.
The government is accepting public comment on the guidelines for 90 days, after which it will revise them, if needed, and release them for states to adopt. But there has been some confusion on whether these should be considered final guidelines, or simply a first step toward more permanent guidelines.

The Food Industry Empire Strikes Back

Food and restaurant companies, fearing they would be hammered with enormous judgments, as the tobacco industry was, immediately began fighting back, waging an aggressive campaign to make it impossible for anyone to sue them successfully for causing obesity or obesity-related health problems.
Almost three years later, they have had astounding success. Twenty states have enacted versions of a "commonsense consumption" law. They vary slightly in substance, but all prevent lawsuits seeking personal injury damages related to obesity from ever being tried in their courts. Another 11 states have similar legislation pending.
Although plaintiffs' lawyers are confident there are ways around the new state laws, the measures, along with a class-action overhaul bill President Bush signed into law this year, will probably make it harder for lawyers in obesity cases to win the kind of large awards seen in tobacco cases.

So, Mr Bremer, where did all the money go?

When Paul Bremer, the American pro consul in Baghdad until June last year, arrived in Iraq soon after the official end of hostilities, there was $6bn left over from the UN Oil for Food Programme, as well as sequestered and frozen assets, and at least $10bn from resumed Iraqi oil exports. Under Security Council Resolution 1483, passed on May 22 2003, all these funds were transferred into a new account held at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, called the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI), and intended to be spent by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) "in a transparent manner ... for the benefit of the Iraqi people".
The US Congress also voted to spend $18.4bn of US taxpayers' money on the redevelopment of Iraq. By June 28 last year, however, when Bremer left Baghdad two days early to avoid possible attack on the way to the airport, his CPA had spent up to $20bn of Iraqi money, compared with $300m of US funds. The "reconstruction" of Iraq is the largest American-led occupation programme since the Marshall Plan - but the US government funded the Marshall Plan. Defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Bremer have made sure that the reconstruction of Iraq is paid for by the "liberated" country, by the Iraqis themselves.

Return of the GMO Lobby

"Saying their livelihoods are threatened, powerful forces that drive California's $27 billion agricultural economy are mobilizing to defeat a November ballot initiative to ban biotech crops in Sonoma County, and possibly even prohibit such county bans with new legislation in coming days," reports the Sacramento Bee. Sonoma County farm groups have raised $200,000 to fight the proposed "10-year moratorium on growing genetically modified crops." Their recent newspaper ad warned residents of anti-biotech groups' "scare tactics" and "fear and misinformation." Statewide groups "have launched a political organizing effort, campaign Web site and fundraising operation to confront anti-biotech groups." Three California counties have banned genetically engineered seeds. One state senator is trying to stop the Sonoma vote, by "stripping one of his air pollution bills of its language and inserting new language outlawing county bans on biotech seeds."

Negativland interviewed by the Onion

Since 1980, the California-based cultural-collage collective Negativland has built records, videos, and art installations from fragments of popular media, creating work that comments on mass communication while exploiting it for new forms of entertainment. More than once, this has caused trouble: In 1988, Negativland pretended that its song "Christianity Is Stupid" was responsible for inspiring a Minnesota teenager to slaughter his family, and when the hoax was exposed, the band used the subsequent controversy as the foundation for the album Helter Stupid, which itself proved controversial. In 1991, the band put out the single U2, which featured an unauthorized cover of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," peppered with profane outtakes from a Casey Kasem recording session. Kasem and U2's label, Island Records, weren't thrilled, and the resulting string of lawsuits nearly bankrupted SST Records, Negativland's label at the time. But by the end of the '90s, thanks to hip-hop sampling, "culture-jamming" appropriation had become common enough that when Negativland took on the soda corporations on the 1997 album Dispepsi, the lawyers hardly blinked.
Negativland's latest release, from its own Seeland Records, is No Business, a CD of chopped-up audio tracks from the likes of Ethel Merman, The Beatles, and Disney's The Little Mermaid, packaged with a lengthy essay about the changing nature of copyright law in the digital age. No Business comes amid a yearlong celebration of Negativland's 25th anniversary: Earlier this year, Craig Baldwin's Negativland-heavy documentary Sonic Outlaws hit DVD, and a DVD of Negativland videos and short films is expected to be released shortly by Other Cinema. Helter Stupid was reissued this past spring, and in the fall, Gigantic Art Space in New York City' Tribeca neighborhood will be hosting an exhibition of the band's visual art. To mark this "year of Negativland," The A.V. Club spoke with the band's longest-serving members: founder Mark Hosler and 1981 recruit Don Joyce. They were interviewed separately, but their comments have been cut together, Negativland-style. [thanks, Toby]

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Republicans want to speed up death penalty

Republicans in Congress have launched a new effort to speed up executions in the United States by limiting the ability of those sentenced to death to appeal to federal courts.
The "Streamlined Procedures Act of 2005," introduced into the House of Representatives by California Rep. Dan Lungren and in the Senate by Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl (news, bio, voting record), would limit the ability of defendants facing the death sentence to have their cases reviewed by federal courts in what are known as habeas corpus appeals.

Bush Daughter Volunteering in S. Africa

At the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital, children sit on their mothers' laps in waiting rooms, waddle down hallways, and wail inside the burn unit, where nurses carefully wrap gauze around their arms, legs, and heads.
It is here, say some doctors and nurses, that Barbara Bush, one of President Bush's twin daughters, has been working in near anonymity as a volunteer.
While no one disputes that she has been in Cape Town for the last six weeks, nearly everything about her stay is shrouded in mystery. Hospital officials yesterday refused to confirm her presence, and many hospital workers ducked questions about Barbara Bush's role at one of the premier health facilities in Africa for children with AIDS and other ailments.

Ambassador Joseph Wilson on the sentencing of New York Times Reporter Judith Miller

The sentencing of Judith Miller to jail for refusing to disclose her sources is the direct result of the culture of unaccountability that infects the Bush White House from top to bottom. President Bush’s refusal to enforce his own call for full cooperation with the Special Counsel has brought us to this point. Clearly, the conspiracy to cover up the web of lies that underpinned the invasion of Iraq is more important to the White House than coming clean on a serious breach of national security. Thus has Ms Miller joined my wife, Valerie, and her twenty years of service to this nation as collateral damage in the smear campaign launched when I had the temerity to challenge the President on his assertion that Iraq had attempted to purchase uranium yellowcake from Africa.
The real victims of this cover-up, which may have turned criminal, are the Congress, the Constitution and, most tragically, the Americans and Iraqis who have paid the ultimate price for Bush’s folly.

Invention Pioneers of Note

[Flash] Surreal parody of the History Channel

US urged to give bases deadline

An alliance of former Soviet states and China has urged the US-led coalition in Afghanistan to set a timetable for withdrawing troops from member states.
The Shanghai Co-operation Organisation said it continued to support the anti-terror coalition in Afghanistan, which had stabilised the situation.
But in a joint statement the group said the active military phase of the Afghan operation was nearing completion.
Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan host US bases used to back troops in Afghanistan.
About 18,000 coalition forces are in Afghanistan tracking al-Qaeda and Taleban militants.

Army Quietly Pays Halliburton $1B Extra

The Army has ordered nearly $5 billion in work from Halliburton Co. to provide logistics support to U.S. troops in Iraq over the next year, $1 billion above what the Army paid for similar services the previous year.
...The increased bill parallels ballooning overall costs in Iraq. President Bush said in March 2003 that combat in Iraq would cost about $60 billion. But the cost for military operations alone had hit $135.3 billion as of March 2005, according to the Office of Management and Budget. The price tag would be far higher if the costs to fund the Coalition Provisional Authority, reconstruction projects and intelligence operations were included.
Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root has received more money from the U.S. involvement in Iraq than any other contractor. The company has been a lightning rod for criticism by administration foes who think Halliburton's high-level connections -- most notably its former chief executive, Dick Cheney, who is now vice president -- may have given it undue influence in winning sole-source business.

EU Votes Down Software Patents

The European Parliament has voted by a massive majority to reject the software patents directive, formally known as the Directive on the Patentability of Computer Implemented Inventions. The vote to scrap the bill was passed by a margin of 648 votes to 14, with 18 abstentions.
The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) says the rejection is a logical response to the Commission and Council's refusal to take parliament's will into consideration.

94% of US citizens back action to curb greenhouse emissions

The poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (Pipa), the Washington-based research group, found that 94 per cent of respondents said the US should make efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions, in line with other developed nations.
Three-quarters of respondents said that global warming was a problem that should be addressed by world governments.

Military Concentrates on US Soil

A new Pentagon strategy for securing the U.S. homeland calls for expanded U.S. military activity not only in the air and sea -- where the armed forces have historically guarded approaches to the country -- but also on the ground and in other less traditional, potentially more problematic areas such as intelligence sharing with civilian law enforcement.
The strategy is outlined in a 40-page document, approved last month, that marks the Pentagon's first attempt since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to present a comprehensive plan for defending the U.S. homeland.
The document argues that a more "active, layered" defense is needed and says that U.S. forces must be ready to deal not just with a single terrorist strike but also with "multiple, simultaneous" attacks involving mass casualties.
The document does not ask for new legal authority to use military forces on U.S. soil, but it raises the likelihood that U.S. combat troops will take action in the event that civilian and National Guard forces are overwhelmed. At the same time, the document stresses that primary responsibility for domestic security continues to rest with civilian agencies.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

New Synaptic Junction Weekly is Now Posted

A Very Good Argument in Favor of Time's Decision to Release Plame Notes - from OTM

GEOFFREY STONE: ...When we talk about the attorney-client privilege or the doctor-patient privilege, or the reporter-source privilege, the reason for the privilege is not to protect the lawyer or the doctor or the reporter. It's to protect the person who's disclosing the information from the fear that if he makes that disclosure, it will later get him in trouble. And that's the entire reason for the privilege. The distinctive feature about this situation is that the individuals who made the disclosure were committing a criminal offense in doing so, and there's no public policy in protecting their identities. In the doctor-patient privilege, when a patient seeks advice from the doctor not to treat a medical ailment but in order to commit a fraud on an insurance company, the privilege does not apply. All I'm saying is the exact same thing should apply in the journalist-source situation. I believe there should be a very broad journalist-source privilege that should cover 99 percent of the situations. I believe in a much more aggressive privilege than even most people who want a privilege. But I don't believe it covers this particular situation.

More from Liza Featherstone's Series on Wal-Mart

Lee Scott's Shiny Green Lexus

Clinton bombing of Iraq far exceeded Bush's in run-up to war

Between 1999 and 2001, the U.S. and British-led air forces in Iraq dropped 1.3 million pounds of bombs in response to purported violations of the no-fly zones and anti-aircraft fire from Saddam Hussein.
The details of the bombings, provided by the British ministry of defense to parliament in February 2002, markedly revise a picture painted by critics of Bush’s airstrikes...
The nature of the strikes differed; Clinton’s bombings were part of what some dubbed a “war of attrition,” an attempt to degrade Hussein’s hold on power without resorting to full-scale war, whereas Bush’s bombings appear to have been part of a concerted effort to clear the way for a ground invasion.
A sweeping attack, conducted in January of 1999, rained down 25 missiles on Iraqi soil, killing civilians. Clinton said the attack was in response to four planes violating the no-fly zones.
Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair authorized air strikes on more than 100 days in 1999, sometimes several times per day.

Indymedia Bristol Server Seized by Police Before G8

Last week, police demanded access to the server to gain the IP details of a posting. The alternative media outlet is receiving advice from civil liberties organisations and the NUJ. Before being legally forced to hand over the server, Indymedia Bristol stated: "We do not intend to voluntarily hand over information to the police as they have requested". Bristol Indymedia see the seizure of their server and the arrest of one of their volunteers as an attack on the freedom of speech.
This is the second time that law enforcement authorities have attacked Indymedia servers in the UK in the run up to a major event. Last October, just prior to the European Social Forum, Indymedia servers in London were seized in an international law enforcement operation - prompting a wave of protests and solidarity statements from a wide range of organisations [report]. This time, events are unfolding one week before the G8 Summit begins in Scotland.

Bush refuses to support UN over anti-torture pact

America last night refused to back a United Nations protocol against torture because of fears that it could allow international monitors to visit terrorist suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
...European Union officials, who support the protocol, said it appeared that Washington would climb down from this position and abstain from the protocol, which would then be adopted by other countries.
A European diplomat said that rejecting the protocol outright would have placed America in the company of "the torturing countries" such as Cuba, Iran, China and Nigeria and the Bush administration was reluctant to do that. "It is another US-EU difference, but I don't think the Americans are going to go and push this one to a head," he said.

Tens of Thousands of Anti-Poverty Demonstrators March Through Edinburgh

The marchers want to send a peaceful but powerful message to politicians gathering for the summit of the G-8 group of rich countries at the nearby Gleneagles resort next week.
"We're not here to march for charity; we are here to march for justice," said Walden Bello, of the advocacy group Focus on the Global South.

Fire at Abortion Clinic May be Arson

FDA Continues to Confirm Antidepressant Risks I First Identified More Than a Decade Ago

In 2004 the FDA issued a black box warning about the increased risk of suicidality in children taking the newer antidepressants, including the SSRIs (Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Celexa, and Lexapro) and also Effexor and Wellbutrin (also marketed as Zyban). On June 30, 2005 the FDA published a Public Health Advisory warning of the possibility of increased suicidality in adults treated with antidepressants. The FDA followed this on July 1, 2005 with a Talk Paper elaborating on the potential risk and the agency’s plans to study the problem further. All of these FDA documents are available on
The FDA should have issued these warnings at least a decade ago. I first began writing about antidepressant-induced suicidality in 1991. At that time I identified drug-induced suicidality as part of a much larger problem -- antidepressant-induced activation or stimulation similar to that caused by amphetamine, methamphetamine and cocaine. Antidepressant stimulation can lead to violence as well as suicide and a wide variety of abnormal and even psychotic behaviors.

China Tells Congress To Back Off Businesses

The Chinese government on Monday sharply criticized the United States for threatening to erect barriers aimed at preventing the attempted takeover of the American oil company Unocal Corp. by one of China's three largest energy firms, CNOOC Ltd.
Four days after the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a resolution urging the Bush administration to block the proposed transaction as a threat to national security, China's Foreign Ministry excoriated Congress for injecting politics into what it characterized as a standard business matter.
"We demand that the U.S. Congress correct its mistaken ways of politicizing economic and trade issues and stop interfering in the normal commercial exchanges between enterprises of the two countries," the Foreign Ministry said in a written statement. "CNOOC's bid to take over the U.S. Unocal company is a normal commercial activity between enterprises and should not fall victim to political interference. The development of economic and trade cooperation between China and the United States conforms to the interests of both sides."

Bush Compares Challenges in Iraq to First Independence Day

UK Plans to Scale Back Iraq Troops - Move to Afghanistan

The Ministry of Defence has drafted plans for a significant withdrawal of British troops from Iraq over the next 18 months and a big deployment to Afghanistan, the Financial Times has learnt.
In what would represent the biggest operational shake-up involving the armed forces since the Iraq war, the first stage of a run-down in military operations is likely to take place this autumn with a handover of security to Iraqis in at least two southern provinces.
Defence officials emphasised that all plans for Iraqi deployments were contingent on the ability of domestic security forces to assume peacekeeping duties from UK troops. Iraqi forces have so far proven unable to take over such roles in areas where the insurgency is most intense, and progress has disappointed coalition officials.

Bloggers Fight for Journo 'Shield' Law

Hair-splitting over the definition of "journalist" fomented by internet media and bloggers is reaching new heights as a group of influential senators rallies to pass the nation's first federal reporter's shield law.
If enacted, the measure could protect journalists from jail terms for refusing to give prosecutors the names of anonymous sources. But, depending on the wording of the final bill, it may not apply to online reporters, including legions of unaccredited bloggers.

Rove 'Knowingly' Refusing Interviews on Plame Leak

Two days after his lawyer confirmed that his name turned up as a source in Matthew Cooper's notes on the Valerie Plame/CIA case, top White House adviser Karl Rove refused to answer questions about the development today.
Rove traveled with President Bush when he spoke at a July 4 event in West Virginia today, but refused all requests for interviews about his role in the controversy that threatens to send Cooper, of Time magazine, and Judith Miller of The New York Times to jail this week for refusing to reveal sources.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had called on Rove to clear the air on Sunday. "We've heard it from his lawyer, but it would be nice to hear it directly from Mr. Rove that he didn't leak the identity of Valerie Plame, and that he didn't direct anyone else to do such a dastardly thing," said Schumer.

The Damage Done By the Plame Leak

Clandestine service officers working under such "nonofficial cover" - rather than the traditional guise of diplomat - are considered to hold the most sensitive and vulnerable jobs in intelligence, lacking the protection of diplomatic immunity if they are unmasked overseas. Disclosing the C.I.A. employment of officers under cover can endanger the officers, their operations and their agents, as well as violate the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, the law that prompted the current leak investigation.
"This situation has been very hard on her, professionally and personally," said Melissa Boyle Mahle, a former C.I.A. case officer and a friend of Ms. Wilson. "Not only have you removed from the playing field a very knowledgeable counterproliferation officer at a time when we really need her services. But before this she was on a fast track as a candidate for senior management at the agency. With something like this, her career will never recover." [via]

Big settlements lead to tamer airwaves

After a record 2004, the Federal Communications Commission has yet to issue a fine for indecent broadcasting this year, the longest pause in activity since 2001, according to records gathered by the Center for Public Integrity.

Pharma Group Setting US Trade Policy

Intellectual property protections and removing price controls on pharmaceuticals imposed by foreign governments have topped the industry's agenda. Its heavy lobbying appears to have paid off.
Recent trade negotiations, such as the proposed Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement involving the United States, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, have incorporated the pharmaceutical companies' primary demands.
For example, a CAFTA-Dominican Republic draft document stipulates that "export and import price requirements" are prohibited "except as permitted in enforcement of countervailing and antidumping duty orders and undertakings." In other words, under the agreement, countries would be barred from capping the price of pharmaceuticals except as a retaliatory measure against another CAFTA signatory's unfair trading practices.
Though CAFTA has yet to be adopted, the USTR has been enforcing its provisions. Last year, when the Guatemalan legislature passed a law that permitted lower priced generic drugs to be marketed alongside their brand-name counterparts—a practice that would cut into the profits of American pharmaceutical companies—the USTR responded by threatening to keep Guatemala out of CAFTA. The legislature repealed the measure.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Deep Impact smashes all expectations

One reason for the spectacular burst could be that puncturing the comet's crust released subsurface pressure (NASA/JPL)
"Geez, and we thought it was going to be subtle," exulted JPL scientist Don Yeomans, one of the Deep Impact science team. "That was considerably brighter, and had considerably more material coming out, than I had expected," he said.
"We are just ecstatic," said JPL director Charles Elachi of the success of the $330 million mission. "It was worth every penny we spent on it."
The aim of the cosmic collision was to punch a hole in the comet's crusty surface to release material from below, revealing details about the interior of comets. These bodies of ice and dust a few kilometres across are believed to contain primordial material, preserved since the formation of the solar system in the deep-freeze of space.

The Invisible Hand of DuPont

In March 2002 the then West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection spokesman, Andy Gallagher, drafted a media release to inform residents in Wood County, West Virginia, that the toxic chemical C8 was in air emissions from DuPont's Parkersburg plant. In a deposition as part of a class action suit by residents Gallagher stated that Dee Ann Staats, a toxicologist working as the departments' science adviser, insisted that all statements relating to C8 emissions were to be vetted by DuPont. Gallagher's testimony, obtained from the federal Environment Protection Agency under the Freedom of Information Act, reveals that when Gallagher issued the statement without the approval of Staats or the company, DuPont went all out to kill the release. A DuPont PR official, Dawn Jackson, contacted Ann Bradley, a lawyer with Spilman Thomas & Battle who represent DuPont. After lobbying from the company, Gallagher withdrew the media release.

Man recites pi from memory to 83,431 places

Very few people will ever need to learn the value of pi beyond a handful of digits, but some people are more obsessed than others. They call themselves Piphilologists, and all the pi-memorization writings you could ever possibly want have been compiled into one massive Piphilogical text file. And today, Piphilologists the world over must surely bow in tribute to Akira Haraguchi, who has just recited pi from memory to 83,431 places. [from]

UK Interview with President Bush

TONIGHT: But Mr President, if I may, the predictions about global warming - and I hear what you say - are very dire. The UK's chief scientist says that it probably poses a bigger threat than global terrorism. Isn't it, therefore, irresponsible for you to say, as you've done, that you walked away from Kyoto and you won't order cuts in carbon dioxide emissions because it would damage America's economy?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I walked away from Kyoto because it would damage America's economy, you bet. It would have destroyed our economy. It was a lousy deal for the American economy. I felt there was a better way. And that's why --
TONIGHT [interrupting]: But is that putting American industrial economic interests above the global interests of the environment?
PRESIDENT BUSH: No, I think you can do both. See, I think you can grow your economy and at the same time do a better job of harnessing greenhouse gases. That's exactly what I intend to talk to our partners about. I don't think you can expect any American leader to wreck the economy, nor as an ally and a friend of America and a trading partner of America should you want us to wreck our economy.

Poll: China Image Scores Better Than U.S.

The United States' popularity in many countries -- including longtime allies in Europe -- is lagging behind even communist China.
The image of the U.S. slipped sharply in 2003, after its invasion of Iraq, and two years later has shown few signs of rebounding either in Western Europe or the Muslim world, an international poll found.
''The U.S. image has improved slightly, but is still broadly negative,'' said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. ''It's amazing when you see the European public rating the United States so poorly, especially in comparison with China.''
In Britain, which prides itself on its ''special relationship'' with Washington, almost two-thirds of Britons, 65 percent, saw China favorably, compared with 55 percent who held a positive view of the United States. In France, 58 percent had an upbeat view of China, compared with 43 percent who felt that way about the U.S. The results were nearly the same in Spain and the Netherlands, the Pew poll found.

"Martyrdom" May Fast-Track John Paul II to Sainthood

"In a technical, theological, juridical and canonical sense, the martyr gives his life for the faith," Saraiva Martins said in response to questions at a news conference, according to the Apcom news agency.
"We have to verify the motive for the attempt on the life of (Karol) Woytyla. And this will be the work of theologians."
Ever since Pope Benedict XVI announced May 13 that he was putting John Paul on the fast track to be beatified, questions have swirled about whether he could be declared a martyr. Doing so would remove the need for the Vatican to confirm that a miracle attributed to his intercession had occurred after his April 2 death — a necessary step for beatification.

Federal Infighting Over AIDS Research

The government's AIDS research agency "is a troubled organization" and its managers have engaged in unnecessary feuding, sexually explicit language and other inappropriate conduct that hampers its global fight against the disease, an internal review found.
The review, for the National Institutes of Health director's office, substantiates many of the concerns that whistle-blower Jonathan Fishbein raised about the agency's AIDS research division and its senior managers.
The division suffers from "turf battles and rivalries between physicians and Ph.D scientists" and the situation has been "rife for too long," the report concluded.
NIH formally fired Fishbein on Friday, over the objections of several members of Congress. The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee are protesting, saying the firing is an example of whistle-blower punishment.

FEMA Asks Hurricane Victims to Repay Millions

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has asked thousands of Floridians whose homes suffered hurricane damage last summer to give back $27 million in aid overpayments.
The agency began mailing letters to residents this year to recoup overpayments from people who received federal aid after Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne hit Florida last August and September.
According to data supplied to The News-Press of Fort Myers, the agency found 6,579 cases in which they say people owe a total of $27.2 million.
Many of the problems stem from the agency's providing money for items that were later covered by property insurance policies, more than one person from the same household applying for benefits or processing errors.

BBC: Earthlings Agree on Google Mars - "This is Boring"

"Perhaps I'm a bit of an Earth-snob," says student Terry Walcott at Strawson University, "but rocks and dust are not very photogenic. The only significant points of interest are the bits of litter we've sent there."
NASA's [Public Relations Officer Clara] Wilms bristles at such talk. "President Bush has made the exploration of Mars a national priority. There is even the chance that microscopic life once existed on the planet. Over the coming years, we may see new human structures on the planet like vast colonies and oil refineries which will surely make the landscape more interesting. Just imagine."
Indeed, many in the Bush Administration had hoped Google Mars would enhance public support for Bush's Mars objectives. To the disappointment of one senior official, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, the search tool seems to be creating "the reverse effect."
Google responded only to say, "We are waiting for it to catch on."

Toyota Favors Ontario to US South - Better Education and Health Care

The factory will cost $800 million to build, with the federal and provincial governments kicking in $125 million of that to help cover research, training and infrastructure costs.
Several U.S. states were reportedly prepared to offer more than double that amount of subsidy. But Fedchun said much of that extra money would have been eaten away by higher training costs than are necessary for the Woodstock project.
He said Nissan and Honda have encountered difficulties getting new plants up to full production in recent years in Mississippi and Alabama due to an untrained - and often illiterate - workforce. In Alabama, trainers had to use "pictorials" to teach some illiterate workers how to use high-tech plant equipment.
"The educational level and the skill level of the people down there is so much lower than it is in Ontario," Fedchun said.
In addition to lower training costs, Canadian workers are also $4 to $5 cheaper to employ partly thanks to the taxpayer-funded health-care system in Canada, said federal Industry Minister David Emmerson.

Exxon Chief Openly Disputes Global Warming

Openly and unapologetically, the world's No. 1 oil company disputes the notion that fossil fuels are the main cause of global warming. Along with the Bush administration, Exxon opposes the Kyoto accord and the very idea of capping global-warming emissions. Congress is debating an energy bill that may be amended to include a cap, but the administration and Exxon say the costs would be huge and the benefits uncertain. Exxon also contributes money to think tanks and other groups that agree with its stance.
..."We're not playing the issue. I'm not sure I can say that about others," Lee Raymond, Exxon's chairman and chief executive, said in a recent interview at Exxon headquarters in Irving, Texas. "I get this question a lot of times: 'Why don't you just go spend $50 million on solar cells? Charge it off to the public-affairs budget and just say it's like another dry hole?' The answer is: That's not the way we do things."

"Since when was God pro-war, and pro-rich?"

Christians opposed to Bush, the most overtly religious president of modern times, say his war in Iraq, and tax cuts which they claim favor the rich, do not square with a faith which teaches followers to love their neighbor.
"We can no longer stand by and watch people speak hatred, division, war and greed in the name of our faith," said Patrick Mrotek, founder of the new Christian Alliance for Progress. "We must reclaim our faith."
Left-leaning Christians shudder at the prominence of conservative televangelists like Reverend Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, who preside over vast political empires.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Tenn. opens new probe of ‘ex-gay’ facility

The state of Tennessee continues to probe Love in Action, the Memphis facility that has drawn protests since a 16-year-old known as “Zach” blogged that his parents were sending him there for treatment intended to change his sexual orientation.

Iraq Veterans Discuss Depleted Uranium

About 40 people gathered last night at the Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center to see the documentary "The Invisible War: Depleted Uranium and the Politics of Radiation."
They listened to Army National Guard Spc. Gerard Matthew and Sgt. Herbert Reed. The two Bronx men were among those from the National Guard's Orangeburg-based 442nd Military Police Company who were tested for depleted uranium exposure. They spoke about numerous health problems that they said were caused by exposure to the metal while serving in the Middle East.
The film profiled several military personnel who served during the Gulf War in 1991. Among the conditions they reported were loss of muscle function, headaches and impaired bowel and urinary function. The program also discussed birth defects in exposed Iraqi children and American children of exposed parents. Several times, when Pentagon and other military officials appeared and discounted claims linking depleted uranium with health problems, many in the audience audibly scoffed.
All appeared horrified — some moaned — when they were confronted with the video images of Iraqi children and infants, their young faces wizened, some with severely bloated bellies and others plagued by grotesque protruding tumors, ulcerated faces and misshapen or missing limbs.

When journalists embrace 'reform' propaganda

Reviewing the language used by journalists used to describe legislative changes designed to marginalise Australian unions, Deirdre Macken writes that stories in Rupert Murdoch's News Limited publications and by the publicly funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation often use the term "workplace reform." A dictionary definition of "reform", she notes, is making something "better by removal of faults or errors." "Governments will always use the word reform in conjunction with legislative changes - think taxation reform, education reform, welfare reform - because it immediately gives them the moral high ground ... But the media should be more discerning. The first time they use the word 'reform', the debate is over," she writes.

White House Described Darfur as 'Genocide' to Please Christian Right

The Bush administration described the Darfur atrocities as genocide in order to please the Christian right ahead of the American presidential elections, according to a senior US official.
America's former ambassador to the United Nations, John Danforth, made the admission in an interview in which he confirmed that the Bush administration's stance was dictated by domestic considerations.
The Bush administration aligned its position last year with that of the US Congress, which urged President Bush in a vote in July to call the mass killings and ethnic cleansing in western Sudan "by their rightful name: genocide".

Daniel Ellsberg: I Wrote Bush's War Words -- in 1965

Drafting a speech on the Vietnam War for Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara in July 1965, I had the same task as Bush's speechwriters in June 2005: how to rationalize and motivate continued public support for a hopelessly stalemated, unnecessary war our president had lied us into.
Looking back on my draft, I find I used the word "terrorist" about our adversaries to the same effect Bush did.
Like Bush's advisors, I felt the need for a global threat to explain the scale of effort we faced. For that role, I felt China was better suited as our "real" adversary than North Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh, just as Bush prefers to focus on Al Qaeda rather than Iraqi nationalists. "They are trying to shake our will in Iraq — just as they [sic] tried to shake our will on Sept. 11, 2001," he said.

Blair Pressed to Isolate US Over Climate Change

Jacques Chirac, the French President, and Gerhard Schröder, the German Chancellor, have joined forces to press Tony Blair to isolate the Americans over climate change at next week's G8 summit.
The French and Germans would prefer a 7-1 split over the final communiqué on the issue, which is being negotiated this weekend by officials in London, rather than bow to pressure by the US for it to be watered down.
A leaked draft of the communiqué yesterday showed that the Americans are still resisting a tough wording on the scientific evidence that human activity is causing climate change. British negotiators are seeking a compromise to keep the US on board, but France and Germany are insisting on an explicit reference to the scientific evidence, with wording on the urgency of the threat from global warming.

Jonathan S. Adelstein, FCC Commissioner, Needs Your Help In the Fight Against Media Consolidation

The ’96 Telecom Act, even according to the courts, only required that we review the rules, not that we necessarily gut them. The decision to severely roll them back was not mandated by the courts. In fact, we now know, from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which has been today [June 13, 2005] upheld by the Supreme Court, that in fact the rules provided us much greater latitude. We would have been better served by working to promote the public interest more fully and being much more careful about our deregulating these media conglomerates.

Arlington Cemetery Undergoes Expansion

An excavator uproots trees. Rakes scrape the ground. A grinder turns limbs into mulch. Deer scramble for cover. For the first time in a decade, expansion is coming to the pre-eminent military burial ground in the United States. It means a major upheaval.
As a fawn dashes away, worker Scott Mills says, "I feel bad for them. And I hate tearing trees down. But this is for a good cause."
Arlington National Cemetery is adding 26,000 graves to the roughly 215,000 already in place on the sweeping lawns across the Potomac River from the nation's capital. An additional 77,000 remains are in columbariums, tombs for urns with cremated remains.

Watch Deep Impact's Comet Collision Via Webcast

NASA has arranged to webcast a series of press briefings leading up to Deep Impact's crash day, and will provide live mission coverage between July 3 and 4 on NASA TV. Click here to access's feed of NASA TV. A schedule of NASA TV broadcasts can be found here.

Increase in the Number of Documents Classified by the Government

The increasing secrecy - and its rising cost to taxpayers, estimated by the office at $7.2 billion last year - is drawing protests from a growing array of politicians and activists, including Republican members of Congress, leaders of the independent commission that studied the Sept. 11 attacks and even the top federal official who oversees classification.

Iraq tallies $11.4 billion in lost oil revenue

Iraq has lost about $11.4 billion due to damage to oil sector infrastructure and lost revenue since petroleum exports resumed after the U.S.-led invasion two years ago, an Iraqi oil ministry spokesman said Sunday.
Assem Jihad told Dow Jones Newswires that there had been 300 acts of sabotage against Iraqi oil installations between June 2003 when Iraq resumed exports and May 31. He said 70 acts of sabotage took place in the first five months of 2005.

Aid to Iraq Diverted to Torture Units

British and American aid intended for Iraq's hard-pressed police service is being diverted to paramilitary commando units accused of widespread human rights abuses, including torture and extra-judicial killings, The Observer can reveal.
Iraqi Police Service officers said that ammunition, weapons and vehicles earmarked for the IPS are being taken by shock troops at the forefront of Iraq's new dirty counter-insurgency war.
The allegations follow a wide-ranging investigation by this paper into serious human rights abuses being conducted by anti-insurgency forces in Iraq. The Observer has seen photographic evidence of post-mortem and hospital examinations of alleged terror suspects from Baghdad and the Sunni Triangle which demonstrate serious abuse of suspects including burnings, strangulation, the breaking of limbs and - in one case - the apparent use of an electric drill to perform a knee-capping.
The investigation revealed:
· A 'ghost' network of secret detention centres across the country, inaccessible to human rights organisations, where torture is taking place.
· Compelling evidence of widespread use of violent interrogation methods including hanging by the arms, burnings, beatings, the use of electric shocks and sexual abuse.
· Claims that serious abuse has taken place within the walls of the Iraqi government's own Ministry of the Interior.
· Apparent co-operation between unofficial and official detention facilities, and evidence of extra-judicial executions by the police.

Rove's Lawyer Responds, Journalist Doesn't Buy It

The attorney, Robert Luskin said that Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the Plame case, assured him in October and again last week that Rove is not a target of his investigation.
"Karl did nothing wrong. Karl didn't disclose Valerie Plame's identity to Mr. Cooper or anybody else," Luskin told the Post's Carol D. Leonnig. Luskin said the question remains unanswered: "Who outed this woman? ... It wasn't Karl."
...O'Donnell responded Sunday with a post at the Huffington Post web site: "Luskin claimed that the prosecutor 'asked us not to talk about what Karl has had to say.' This is highly unlikely. Prosecutors have absolutely no control over what witnesses say when they leave the grand jury room. Rove can tell us word-for-word what he said to the grand jury and would if he thought it would help him....
"If what I have reported is not true, if Karl Rove is not Matt Cooper’s source, Rove could prove that instantly by telling us what he told the grand jury. Nothing prevents him from doing that, except a good lawyer who is trying to keep him out of jail."

Film Festival Promotes Firber Optics for Lafayette, LA

Ambassador Arms Canadian-Americans with Facts

Canada's ambassador to the United States marked Canada Day by embarking on an ambitious new goal — mobilizing more than a million Canadians in the U.S. to take their country's message to Americans.
Frank McKenna wants the "Canadian diaspora'' to be armed with facts, to debate Americans, to lobby when Washington makes decisions that can hurt Canadians and to try to counter the "Fox factor," referring to the U.S. television network, which often spreads disinformation and feeds a negative perception of its neighbour to the north.
McKenna is enlisting Florida snowbirds, northern exiles in Arizona, Hollywood comedians and actors, investment bankers in New York and professors and students at universities across the United States.