Saturday, July 16, 2005

information aesthetics

Information Aesthetics is a weblog of experiments in visualization: a power cord that glows as one draws power, a crocheted Lorenz manifold, a live display of a computer thinking about chess, a color-changing flower that detects nearby wifi. To be sure, there are lots of old favorites here but probably some new ones as well. [from]

Study: Prayer Doesn't Help Heart Surgery Patients

Amid the debate over the value of prayer and so-called "noetic interventions" to help people heal, a new study finds that prayer and bedside therapy of music, imagery and touch don't improve the outcomes of patients undergoing heart procedures.
However, patients receiving music, imagery and touch (MIT) therapy did have a slightly lower mortality rate at six months.
The findings appear in the July 16 edition of The Lancet.

Prosecutors Zero in on Memo for Clues in CIA Agent Leak

Investigators have been trying to learn whether officials at the White House and elsewhere in the administration learned of the CIA officer's identity from the memorandum. They are seeking to determine if any officials then passed the name along to journalists and if officials were truthful in testifying about whether they had read the memorandum, the people who have been briefed said, asking not to be named because the special prosecutor heading the investigation has requested that no one discuss the case.
The memo was sent to Colin Powell, then the secretary of state, just before or as he traveled with President Bush and other senior officials to Africa starting on July 7, 2003, when the White House was scrambling to defend itself from a blast of criticism a few days earlier from the former diplomat, Joseph Wilson, current and former government officials said.

11 U.S. Troops Charged with Abuse in Iraq

Leaders consider terrorist fatwa

Muslim leaders are discussing the idea of issuing a fatwa against suicide bombers to prevent similar attacks to those in London last week.
Sir Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, yesterday raised the idea when he met with other Muslim community leaders in Leeds to discuss what concrete steps could be taken by the wider Muslim community.

Diebold lobbyist tried to bribe Ohio county with $10,000

A member of the Franklin County election board said Friday that prosecutors are investigating whether a GOP political consultant tried to bribe the board's director to buy voting equipment made by his client, Diebold Inc.
The director, Matthew Damschroder, has told prosecutors that the consultant, Pat Gallina, came to his office in early 2004, offering him $10,000.
"Pat Gallina came into my office at the Board of Elections and said, 'I'm here to give you $10,000. Who should I direct it to?' " Damschroder recalled. "I said, 'Certainly not to me. But I'm sure the Franklin County Republican Party would appreciate a voluntary donation. That was my first mistake."

Friday, July 15, 2005

Outing of Naeem Khan May Have Allowed London Bombings

Are the London bombings a possible long-term result of an Administration undercover operative outing? And, why exactly was this deep mole agent blown by the US Administration in August of 2004, concurrent with raising the DHS Threat Level to Orange for NYC and Washington DC financial services? While the Plame blame game and investigation carries on, we now have another old news story about a rara avis Al Qaeda double-agent undercover operative outing that is suddenly rising from the ashes of dusty newsprint almost like a phoenix seeking it's own special prosecutor. -- Following the thread of the story is a bit of a tangle, so an attempt to unsnarl the imbroglio is provided inside....

DC Circuit Court Upholds Military Trials

A federal appeals court put the Bush administration's military commissions for terrorist suspects back on track Friday, saying a detainee at the Guantanamo Bay prison who once was Osama bin-Laden's driver can stand trial.
A three-judge panel ruled 3-0 against Salim Ahmed Hamdan, whose case was halted by a federal judge on grounds that commission procedures were unlawful.
``Congress authorized the military commission that will try Hamdan,'' said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Warmer Oceans May Be Killing West Coast Marine Life

Scientists suspect that rising ocean temperatures and dwindling plankton populations are behind a growing number of seabird deaths, reports of fewer salmon and other anomalies along the West Coast.
Coastal ocean temperatures are 2 to 5 degrees above normal, apparently caused by a lack of upwelling - a process that brings cold, nutrient-rich water to the surface and jump-starts the marine food chain.
Upwelling fuels algae and shrimplike krill populations that feed small fish, which provide an important food source for a variety of sea life, from salmon to sea birds and marine mammals.
"Something big is going on out there," said Julia Parrish, an associate professor in the School of Aquatic Fisheries and Sciences at the University of Washington. "I'm left with no obvious smoking gun, but birds are a good signal because they feed high up on the food chain."

Additional Damage from Plame Outing

STEWART: At the time she was outed, Valerie Plame was working for a CIA front company, and obviously she didn't work there alone. Can you explain the ripple effect of her outing?
RICE: Well, this is potentially huge, because what happens now is, everything that she touched, every person that she touched, every asset that she may have come across, is now potentially exposed. Every intelligence organization in the world will now go back and scour their files to see if she was ever in their country, was ever involved with anybody, and try to wrap up every operation. The potential is huge.

Media repeated false GOP talking point on authorization for Wilson trip to Niger

In fact, both of the claims underpinning the RNC's defense of Rove are false: Wilson never claimed he was sent to Niger at Cheney's request, and it was the CIA's Directorate of Operations, Counterproliferation Division (CPD), that authorized the trip, not Plame.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Church Of England Votes To Permit Women Bishops

The move is expected to further widen the gulf between moderates and conservatives already at odds over the role of gays in the Church.
Meeting in the historic city of York, all three houses of the Church's parliament voted Monday to "remove legal obstacles" blocking women from becoming bishops.
The process is expected to take about four years to complete.
Some in the Church of England's conservative movement are threatening to break away over the issue of women and gay bishops, but the most vocal opposition is coming from Anglicans in the Third World.

Support for bin Laden falls in Muslim countries

Support for Osama bin Laden and suicide bombings have fallen sharply in much of the Muslim world, according to a multicountry poll released on Thursday.
The survey by the Pew Research Center examined public opinion in six predominantly Muslim nations: Morocco, Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia, Jordan and Lebanon. It also examined views in nine North American and European countries as well as in India and China. In all, more than 17,000 people were questioned either by telephone of face-to-face.

Mouse study suggests Alzheimer's damage reversible

Tests on mice suggest the brain damage caused by Alzheimer's disease may be at least partly reversible, researchers reported Thursday.
Their genetically altered mice regained the ability to navigate mazes after the genes that caused their dementia were de-activated.
This suggests that the brain damage caused by Alzheimer's is not permanent, they wrote in their report, published in the journal Science.

"World's Uglists Dog" May Well be World's Ugliest Dog

Ugly dog

Snopes Debunks "7 Hits and You are Insane"

No matter what form the rumor takes, it is bunk. No specific number of LSD trips renders a user insane, in either a legal or psychiatric sense. Insanity (which, by the way, is a legal term, not a psychiatric one) as a finding relates to an individual's overt acts which are of such a nature that society has no difficulty labeling him as crazy, not to his having in a quiet and unobtrusive manner passed an arbitrary benchmark regarding his drug use.

"Karl Rove, Whistleblower" WSJ's Riff on RNC Talking Points

[This is not satire] For Mr. Rove is turning out to be the real "whistleblower" in this whole sorry pseudo-scandal. He's the one who warned Time's Matthew Cooper and other reporters to be wary of Mr. Wilson's credibility. He's the one who told the press the truth that Mr. Wilson had been recommended for the CIA consulting gig by his wife, not by Vice President Dick Cheney as Mr. Wilson was asserting on the airwaves. In short, Mr. Rove provided important background so Americans could understand that Mr. Wilson wasn't a whistleblower but was a partisan trying to discredit the Iraq War in an election campaign. Thank you, Mr. Rove.

Aspartame 'linked' to leukaemias

Dr Morando Soffritti and colleagues at the Cancer Research Centre in Bologna fed eight-week-old rats varying concentrations of aspartame.
Compared with control rats given no sweetener, many of the female rats in the experiment developed lymphomas or leukaemias - the risk increasing with the dose of aspartame.
The researchers say their study raises concerns about the levels of aspartame to which humans can be exposed and, therefore, "urgent re-examination" of aspartame's safety is needed, "especially to protect children".

White House Demands Power to Restructure Government

The White House finally released last week its proposal for legislation granting the Bush administration wide-ranging powers to restructure government programs and force them to plead for their lives every 10 years.

Called the Government Reorganization and Program Performance Improvement Act, the proposal is only the latest effort to give the White House sweeping powers to reshape federal government programs. Two bills are already pending in Congress that, like part of the White House proposal, would establish a commission charged with developing government restructuring proposals, and earlier reports suggested that Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KA) and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) could be collaborating on a proposal to fuse their interests in restructuring authority and programmatic sunsets. Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) has been on record that giving the White House fast-track reorganization authority would be a priority this term, and current speculation is that he will be a backer of the White House proposal.
There are three working parts of the proposal:

  1. results commissions, for restructuring government;
  2. sunset commissions, forcing agencies to plead for their lives every 10 years; and
  3. fast-tracking commission decisions in Congress.

Plain Dealer Writer Explains Dropping of Story

Doug Clifton has been a reporter at the Miami Herald, deputy chief of Knight Ridder's Washington bureau, editor of the Miami Herald and currently serves as the editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He recently raised a fuss in journalistic circles by revealing that he was withholding from publication two "profoundly important" stories based on secret documents that the paper had obtained, for fear of subpoenas from a prosecutor seeking the newspaper's sources.

NY Times repeated bogus GOP talking point

In a July 13 New York Times article, staff writer David Sanger advanced the White House spin that President Bush could decline to fire White House senior adviser Karl Rove over Rove's apparent outing of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame and still comply with his pledge to take "appropriate action" against leakers in the Plame case.
In advancing this spin, Sanger selectively quoted from a press conference in which Bush responded to a question about whether he stood "by his pledge to fire anyone found" to have "leaked the agent's name." Sanger then quoted unnamed White House officials saying that if Rove merely identified Plame -- which Rove reportedly did when he told Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper that former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV's wife worked at the CIA -- rather than "named" her, and Bush took no action, he would not be violating his pledge to fire the leaker.
But in repeating the White House officials' assertion without challenge, Sanger ignored several instances in which Bush and White House press secretary Scott McClellan made a broader pledge that anyone leaking classified information -- and not just the actual name of a CIA agent -- would be fired.

Planet Discovered in 3-Star System

The triple-star system, HD 188753, is located 149 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. The primary star is like our Sun, weighing 1.06 solar masses. The other two stars form a tightly bound pair, which is separated from the primary by approximately the Sun-Saturn distance.

Cooper to Disclose Grand Jury Testimony in 'Time'

Time's magazine's Matt Cooper today testified to a grand jury that White House aide Karl Rove was a source for a story about a CIA operative that has investigators deciding whether any laws were broken by the leak of the agent's identity.
Cooper told E&P late today, "I'm allowed to talk about what happened in the Grand Jury and plan to write about it." When asked when it might appear, he said, "soon, but I don't know when."

Toledo Blade Wins Access to Coingate Documents

The Ohio Supreme Court, in a 5-2 ruling Wednesday, ordered the state's Workers Compensation Bureau to release all transaction records related to the agency's controversial rare coin investments to The Blade of Toledo.
"Given the unique circumstances of this case, it appears beyond doubt that the requested records are public records subject to disclosure," the court wrote in its opinion.

Scott vs the Press, Day 3

House Panel OKs Patriot Act Provisions

The Republican-led House Intelligence Committee approved Democratic provisions Wednesday that would place modest controls over the ways the FBI can monitor terror suspects under the Patriot Act.
Committee chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., opened the session to the public in a limited way by allowing one news organization — The Associated Press — to attend, in a move that aides said was unprecedented.
Three other amendments that Democrats proposed failed, including one that would have blocked investigators from getting records from libraries or bookstores.

Send a Letter of Support to Karl Rove

ATTENTION TRUE PATRIOTS: Once again, the hateful Democratic attack machine has shifted into high gear, intent on abusing facts and iron-clad evidence to turn Americans against beloved Presidential pal and ├╝ber-patriot, Karl Rove...

-----Original Message-----
From: [YOU]
Sent: [NOW]
To: Karl C. Rove []

Dear Karl Rove:

I just wanted to tell you that no matter how much indisputable evidence those fact-obsessed intellectual reporters release about you betraying America, I join the President in not caring diddly-squat about so-called national security when the only war that matters is the one we're waging against Democrats. So that makes you TOPS in my book!


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Internet Archive Sued Over Use in Suits

Beyond its utility for Internet historians, the Web page database, searchable with a form called the Wayback Machine, is also routinely used by intellectual property lawyers to help learn, for example, when and how a trademark might have been historically used or violated.
That is what brought the Philadelphia law firm of Harding Earley Follmer & Frailey to the Wayback Machine two years ago. The firm was defending Health Advocate, a company in suburban Philadelphia that helps patients resolve health care and insurance disputes, against a trademark action brought by a similarly named competitor.
In preparing the case, representatives of Earley Follmer used the Wayback Machine to turn up old Web pages - some dating to 1999 - originally posted by the plaintiff, Healthcare Advocates of Philadelphia.
Last week Healthcare Advocates sued both the Harding Earley firm and the Internet Archive, saying the access to its old Web pages, stored in the Internet Archive's database, was unauthorized and illegal.

Memo says US, UK readying Iraqi withdrawal

A leaked document from Britain's Defense Ministry says the British and U.S. governments are planning to reduce their troop levels in Iraq by more than half by mid-2006, the Mail on Sunday newspaper reported.

Ambassador Joe Wilson -- Still Fighting the Bush Administration's "Culture of Unaccountability"

In my judgment, a smear campaign operated out of the White House is unethical, to say the least. The First Amendment specifically says that nothing should be done to abridge a citizen's right to petition his government to redress a grievance. The attack on me, through the compromise of Valerie's identity, is an assault on not just my petition to redress a grievance, but it is also a deterrent to other citizens who might step forward. That is why I have always argued that Rove should be fired, even if no indictments are forthcoming. It goes without saying that I found his comment to Chris Matthews, that Valerie was fair game, to be repugnant.

CNN video censored at Guantanamo prison

Taking up U.S. President George Bush's challenge for reporters to visit the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba, CNN did, but its video was censored.
In response to allegations of prisoner abuse at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba, Bush made the challenge in June, and again Wednesday while in Denmark.
However, a CNN crew that toured the facility was not allowed to see the worst-behaved inmates, who are kept in a block behind a mesh fence.
The prison holds about 520 prisoners from 44 countries, most of them captured during the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.
CNN employees were not allowed to speak to the prisoners, and military censors demanded the crew erase video footage they said would allow viewers to identify a prisoner.

Top Hussein Lawyer Quits, Chides U.S.

``I told her I was resigning because some American lawyers in the defense team want to take control of it and isolate their Arab counterparts,'' said al-Khasawneh, an Arab nationalist who has often expressed support for Iraqi resistance. Among the Americans on the team are former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark.

Iraqi leaders demand Exit Strategy

"103 members of the [275-member] National Assembly (the Parliament) have demanded the adoption of a resolution cancelling the request made by the Government to the UN Security Council to extend the presence of multinational forces, and urging the Government to put 'a clear plan for army building and a timetable for the withdrawal of occupation troops' from Iraq," reports Juan Cole.
"Falah Hassan Shneishel MP (of the ‘Independent National Bloc’) [the INB is the parliamentary bloc of Muqtada al-Sadr's Current, which plays a prominent role in the organization of the political fight against the occupation] ... threatened to call for popular demonstrations in case 'the authorities were not serious about the implementation of the demands of the Iraqis for an end to occupation.'" (Informed Comment)

Fighting for the future of food

Deborah Koons Garcia knows most people don't realize that genetically engineered foods have quietly slipped into much of the American food supply, mostly from corn and canola. They're in an estimated 60 percent of all processed foods.
She wants people to understand the risks, in her view, while there's still time.

Police still using controversial database

Florida, Ohio, Connecticut and Pennsylvania still use software that lets investigators quickly cull through much of the data about people that reside in cyberspace. However, without the federal grant for the Matrix data-sharing system, they won't be routinely searching through digital files from other states — at least for now.

California to Stop Issuing ID Cards for Medical Marijuana Use

Because the court affirmed that possessing marijuana is a federal crime, the health department is concerned its medical marijuana ID card program "potentially aids and abets individuals in committing a federal crime," and that staff could face prosecution, state Health Director Sandra Shewry said in a statement.

Republican Targeting Global Warming Scientists

As chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, [Joe Barton has] sent letters demanding financial records and other information from the National Science Foundation and the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose reports on global warming have shaped policies and treaties.
Three climatologists who authored a seminal 1998 analysis of ancient tree rings, ocean sediment and polar ice have been asked to provide details on funding sources, methods, computer code and data.
Their paper in the journal Nature depicted an alarming warming spike and was a turning point in the debate over climate change. But as Mr. Barton points out, some of their data and methods – though not their central conclusions – have been attacked in other peer-reviewed journals.

Saddam's old guard in new torture

In their haste to put police on the streets to counter the brutal insurgency, Iraqi and US authorities had enlisted men trained under Saddam Hussein's regime and versed in torture and abuse, the officials told The Times.
They said recruits were also being drawn from the ranks of outlawed Shia militias.
Counter-insurgencies are rarely clean fights, but Iraq's dirty war is being waged under the noses of US and British troops, whose mission is to end the abuses of the former dictatorship.
Instead, they appear to have turned a blind eye to the constant reports of torture from Iraq's prisons.

Allegations of Fake Research Hit New High

Allegations of misconduct by U.S. researchers reached record highs last year as the Department of Health and Human Services received 274 complaints - 50 percent higher than 2003 and the most since 1989 when the federal government established a program to deal with scientific misconduct.
Chris Pascal, director of the federal Office of Research Integrity, said its 28 staffers and $7 million annual budget haven't kept pace with the allegations. The result: Only 23 cases were closed last year. Of those, eight individuals were found guilty of research misconduct. In the past 15 years, the office has confirmed about 185 cases of scientific misconduct.

Getting Off Scott Free: AP Presents McClellan's Past Quotes on Rove and Plame

Ohio chief justice disqualifies entire Cuyahoga County court

All 34 judges on the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court have been disqualified by Ohio's chief justice from hearing a lawsuit alleging corruption by the Republican party.
Chief Justice Thomas Moyer said on Tuesday the unusual move was necessary to eliminate any perception of bias by the court system that's dominated by Democrats. Moyer is a Republican.
Moyer said he will appoint a retired visiting judge from outside Cuyahoga County to the case

Leaked GOP Talking Points for Spinning Wilson and Rove

The document, emblazoned with the words "Special Edition" and dated Tuesday, seeks to discredit claims put forth by Ambassador Joseph Wilson, whose wife was 'outed' as a covert operative by a conservative columnist. After obtaining copies of emails sent from a Time reporter to his editor, Newsweek fingered Rove as a source for the leak which disclosed the agent's identity.
The talking points mirror a release by Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman earlier Tuesday, in which he declared the attacks on Rove were spawned by the 'MoveOn' wing of the Democratic Party. MoveOn later accused the White House of a 'cover up.'

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Thousands of Concert Posters

American Conservative: Suicide bombers - It’s the occupation, not the fundamentalism

The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide-terrorist campaign—over 95 percent of all the incidents—has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw.

FULL TEXT: July 12 White House Press Briefing

The Onion: Bush Regales Guests with Oratory on Virgil

"Ah, W. was in top form tonight," Spanish foreign minister Josep Pique Camps said. "We were all held captive by his erudition and charm. First, a brief history of the opium trade, then a bit of Brahms on the piano, then a rousing discussion of Virgil. That boy is a wonder, isn't he?"
According to guests, the subject of Virgil arose serendipitously, when a servant opened a window in the Red Room, to which the group had retired for after-dinner drinks. Noticing the breeze, Bush raised his glass and delivered a toast to the changing of the seasons. He then apologized to "lovely Winter," explaining that he "meant no slight against her."
"The first blush of Spring always reminds me of Virgil's words," Bush said. "In early spring-tide, when the icy drip / Melts from the mountains hoar, and Zephyr's breath / Unbinds the crumbling clod, even then 'tis time / Press deep your plough behind the groaning ox / And teach the furrow-burnished share to shine."
"Book One of The Georgics, of course," Bush added.

Big jump in S African HIV cases

South Africa's health department has released figures suggesting that HIV infection rates in the country may be greater than previously thought.
A study of women in antenatal clinics suggests that more than six million of South Africa's 40 million people are infected with HIV.

Foreign Policy: Low Odds for Terrorism

For the vast majority of Americans, the chances of dying in a terrorist attack are close to zero. There’s a higher probability that you’ll die by falling off a ladder than getting mixed up in some terrorist plot. So why is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security constantly telling every American to be afraid? That’s a strategy that creates widespread fear without making America any safer. U.S. homeland security efforts should focus less on what is possible and more on what is probable.

Media Marketing Giant to Buy Into Health Marketing

VNU's dominance of the U.S. marketplace, the Dutch-based marketing and media research conglomerate Monday announced a deal to acquire health industry researcher IMS Health in for $7 billion in cash and stock.
... VNU's acquisition of IMS, meanwhile, increases its presence in both the market research field, as well as the U.S. marketplace, where it already derived more than half of its overall revenues, including research sales from ACNielsen and Nielsen Media Research, as well as trade publications like Adweek, Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter.

Scientists plan giant telescope

European scientists want to build an optical telescope the size of a sports field to solve some of the universe's biggest mysteries and watch the seasons change on a small, possibly habitable planet orbiting a star far away in the galaxy.
The case for what astronomers call the ELT, or extremely large telescope, was formally put at a meeting of scientists at Dwingeloo in the Netherlands. It could measure 50 or even 100 metres across, cost £1bn and test the ingenuity of engineers and scientists for the next decade. The most ambitious telescope so far made is just 10 metres across.

Ted Nugent Considering Running for MI Governor

The self-described "Rosa Parks with a guitar and a raised middle finger" might be bringing his right-wing politics-on-steroids to the Michigan Governor's Mansion.
He's considering a "high-percentage maybe" run for the office. He yells at me his platform, which includes something about "cops that have their legs blown off and soldiers who are in wheelchairs and children with leukemia, who don't get the money because some fat pig welfare brat is sitting on his worthless (expletive.)"
The NRA board member, Fox News talking head and author of books such as "Gods, Guns, and Rock 'N' Roll," "Blood Trails 2" and "Kill It & Grill It: A Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish" recently moved his family — his wife, Shemane, and the four kids — to Crawford, Texas because he liked the school system there. Nugent divides his time between Crawford and a home near Jackson, Mich., and maintains Michigan residency. The staunch guns advocate taught his children to shoot with BB and cork guns before they even entered elementary school.

Others May Follow 'LA Times' and Keep Names of Sources Off Computers

A sampling of newspaper editors nationwide shows most agree with the new Los Angeles Times directive to staffers to avoid identifying anonymous sources in computer files or e-mails -- a clear reaction to last week's jailing of reporter Judith Miller and the recent legal wrangling that led Time Inc. to reveal Matt Cooper's source in the same case. Cooper had argued against that.
When asked, most editors told E&P that they would consider a similar policy, noting that reporters notes, e-mails, and computer files are more likely to come under subpoena by prosecutors seeking source material following the Miller/Cooper case.

PA: Leaflets Banned for Heritage Day

Police told anti-war protesters they could not hand out leaflets Sunday at Heritage Day denouncing the Iraq war, members of the Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern said.
"It's ironic and it's sad that this is organized to celebrate the Declaration of Independence and at the same time they want to suppress freedom of speech," said Mike Lawton, of Bethlehem.
The Declaration was read for the first time publicly on July 8, 1776, in Easton, Trenton and Philadelphia. Heritage Day celebrates the reading in Easton.

Lost Medical Benefits in Widening Ohio Scandal

The bureau - wracked with about $300 million in investment losses and at the center of a widening political scandal - has decided to cut drug benefits to save an estimated $4 million or more a year.
Starting yesterday, injured workers no longer had automatic access to a number of drugs deemed to have cheaper alternatives - including OxyContin and Celebrex, among others.
This isn't about switching to generic brands - some of the drugs do not have that cheaper equivalent, and such a program is already in effect.
The new "preferred drug" program is focused on pushing injured workers to try cheaper alternatives, meaning different medications.
Under the new program, a doctor must justify the need for the more expensive medication by filling out a form and gaining approval from a bureau pharmacist.

dKos on Peak Oil Campaign

I am not trying to promote Chevron or anything, but I find this campaign to be something of a tipping point: if anyone else said these things, we on this site would find them unobjectionable, and possibly "progressive". Now, this being BigOil, we are understandably suspicious. That does not mean that we should discount this, quite to the contrary:
* it is of fundamental importance that peak oil be talked about by the very companies that are the least susceptible to be dismissed as loonies on the topic, as they have the most interest in the short and medium term to keep it under wraps and make the corresponding windfall profits;
* by acknowledging publicly, visibly the concept that oil is now scarce and that something must be done about it before it's too late, they make themselves accountable for their actions. Any promises to act in favor of a new energy balance that are not kept, and conversely, any behavior that is not compatible with that new perspective should be criticised ruthlessly, simply by holding them to their own publicly professed beliefs.

A Hawk Questions Himself as His Son Goes to War

As I watched President Bush give his speech at Fort Bragg to rally support for the war the other week, I contemplated this question from a different vantage than my usual professorial perch. Our oldest son now dresses like the impassive soldiers who served as stage props for that event; he too wears crossed rifles, jump wings and a Ranger tab. Before long he will fight in the war that I advocated, and that the president was defending.
So it is not an academic matter when I say that what I took to be the basic rationale for the war still strikes me as sound. Iraq was a policy problem that we could evade in words but not escape in reality. But what I did not know then that I do know now is just how incompetent we would be at carrying out that task. And that's what prevents me from answering this question with an unhesitating yes.

This Godless Communism

So BoingBoing recently linked to this fantastic comic book serial from the 60s entitled "This Godless Communism," a surprisingly in-depth (and hilariously slanted) history of the rise of the USSR, its leaders, and their philosophies. It's great, but it is far from the only thing on the site, the Authentic History Center. Just looking at the other comics and cartoons they have, there is a huge amount of ancient political cartoons, fantastic WWII-military-themed comic strips(surprisingly good!), and generally awesome period-relevant comic book covers, some of which link to full comics (Donald Duck's Atom Bomb?!). There is a collection of embarassing shows of race-sploitation in comics in the 70s, and the racist toys and artifacts section would make Archie Bunker blush (Chop Suey Specs!). Guaranteed to make you wince and chin-stroke simultaneously. [from]

Directed Energy Weapons

For years, the U.S. military has explored a new kind of firepower that is instantaneous, precise and almost inexhaustible: beams of electromagnetic energy. "Directed-energy" pulses can be throttled up or down depending on the situation, much like the phasers on Star Trek could be set to kill or merely stun.
Such weapons are now nearing fruition. But logistical issues have delayed their battlefield debut -- even as soldiers in Iraq encounter tense urban situations in which the nonlethal capabilities of directed energy could be put to the test.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Press Batters McClellan on Rove/Plame Link

Q: Scott, this is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us, after having commented with that level of detail, and tell people watching this that somehow you've decided not to talk. You've got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium or not?
MCCLELLAN: I'm well aware, like you, of what was previously said. And I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation...
Q: (inaudible) when it's appropriate and when it's inappropriate?
MCCLELLAN: If you'll let me finish.
Q: No, you're not finishing. You're not saying anything.
You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved. And now we find out that he spoke about Joseph Wilson's wife. So don't you owe the American public a fuller explanation. Was he involved or was he not? Because contrary to what you told the American people, he did indeed talk about his wife, didn't he?

Gov. Bush touts Christian-based program for schools

ust before Father's Day, Gov. Jeb Bush announced that he wanted every public school in Florida to host a Christian-based program designed to increase fathers' participation in their children's lives.
The program, All Pro Dad, combines a biblical foundation with the draw of popular professional athletes to promote the belief that "the father is the head of the household" and that men should rely on God to help them be better parents and keep their marriages intact. It also encourages Bible reading.

Mom, Who Lost Son In Iraq, Talks About 'Disgusting' White House Private Meeting With Bush

Instead of a kind gesture or a warm handshake, Sheehan said she immediately got a taste of Bush arrogance when he entered the room and "in a condescending tone and with a disgusting loud Texas accent," said: "Who we’all honorin’ here today?"
"His mouth kept moving, but there was nothing in his eyes or anything else about him that showed me he really cared or had any real compassion at all. This is a human being totally disconnected from humanity and reality. His eyes were empty, hollow shells and he was acting like I should be proud to just be in his presence when it was my son who died for his illegal war! It was one of the most disgusting experiences I ever had and it took me almost a year to even talk about it," said Sheehan in a telephone conversation from Washington D.C. where she was attending a July 4th anti-war rally.

Iraq War Deserters Speak Out From Canada

I was faced with arbitrary military justice and the possibility of going to Iraq to take part in acts of human rights violations. In a series of long, painful discussion, my wife and I decided to seek refugee status in Canada, a country that has a history of welcoming war resisters. It was a momentous decision that may mean that we will never be able again to go back to America.

Stop This Bill

Congress has a novel response to the rash of prisoners over the past few years who have been exonerated of capital crimes after being tried and convicted: Keep similar cases out of court. Both chambers of the national legislature are quietly moving a particularly ugly piece of legislation designed to gut the legal means by which prisoners prove their innocence.
Habeas corpus is the age-old legal process by which federal courts review the legality of detentions. In the modern era, it has been the pivotal vehicle through which those on death row or serving long sentences in prison can challenge their state-court convictions. Congress in 1996 rolled back habeas review considerably; federal courts have similarly shown greater deference -- often too much deference -- to flawed state proceedings. But the so-called Streamlined Procedures Act of 2005 takes the evisceration of habeas review, particularly in capital cases, to a whole new level. It should not become law.
...It gets worse. The bill, pushed by Rep. Daniel E. Lungren (R-Calif.) in the House and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) in the Senate, would impose onerous new procedural hurdles on inmates seeking federal review -- those, that is, whom it doesn't bar from court altogether. It would bar the courts from considering key issues raised by those cases and insulate most capital sentencing from federal scrutiny. It also would dictate arbitrary timetables for federal appeals courts to resolve habeas cases. This would be a dramatic change in federal law -- and entirely for the worse.

Kos Bans Conspiracists

I made a mass banning of people perpetuating a series of bizarre, off-the-wall, unsupported and frankly embarassing conspiracy theories.
I have a high tolerance level for material I deem appropriate for this site, but one thing I REFUSE to allow is bullshit conspiracy theories. You know the ones -- Bush and Blair conspired to bomb London in order to take the heat off their respective political problems. I can't imagine what fucking world these people live in, but it sure ain't the Reality Based Community.
So I banned these people, and those that have been recommending diaries like it. And I will continue to do so until the purge is complete, and make no mistake -- this is a purge.
This is a reality-based community. Those who wish to live outside it should find a new home. This isn't it.