Friday, August 12, 2005

Press stands up to White House on Abu Ghraib torture photos

A coalition of 14 media organizations and public interest groups organized by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press have filed an amicus brief in federal court in New York urging the release of Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse photos. The coalition, which includes CBS, NBC and the New York Times, supports a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union against the Pentagon, which has been pending since October 2003.
The government argues that the information is protected by Exemption 7(F) of the FOIA, which protects law enforcement records from disclosure when they "could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual." Citing recent riots in Afghanistan following Newsweek's publication of an article about claims of Koran abuse at Guantanamo Bay, the government says the release of Abu Ghraib photos could similarly incite violence against military personnel overseas.
"The government has taken the position in this case that the more outrageously the behavior exhibited by American troops, the less the public has a right to know about it," said Reporters Committee executive director Lucy Dalglish. "Such a stance turns the Freedom of Information Act inside out."

Detainee Files Suit for Torture During South Carolina Imprisonment

A lawsuit filed today against U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld reveals the gratuitous cruelty inflicted on a foreign student held without charges for more than two years as an "enemy combatant" in a South Carolina naval brig, Human Rights Watch said. Although three men have been confined in the United States after being designated "enemy combatants" by President George Bush, the complaint by Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri provides the first look into the treatment of any of them in military custody. Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar who had been studying in Peoria, Illinois, before his arrest, asked the federal district court in South Carolina to declare unconstitutional the severe and unnecessary deprivations and restrictions to which he has been subjected since he was placed in military custody in June 2003. Al-Marri had already initiated habeas proceedings challenging the legality of his detention as an enemy combatant. That case continues.
"It is bad enough that al-Marri has been held indefinitely without charges and incommunicado," said Jamie Fellner, director of Human Rights Watch's U.S. Program. "Now we learn that his life in the brig has also been one of cruelty and petty vindictiveness. Whatever the Bush administration believes he has done or wanted to do, there's no excuse for how they are treating him."

"I wish I had it. It would be nice."

Do you remember back in June there was that really embarassing revelation about terrorism training at the FBI?
In depositions for an employment discrimination lawsuit, the FBI’s top anti-terrorism guy, Gary Bald, said his first terrorism training came "on the job" when he moved to headquarters to oversee anti-terrorism strategy two years ago.
Asked about his grasp of Middle Eastern culture and history, Bald responded: "I wish I had it. It would be nice."
What happens to people like that after they make admissions like that in public?
Well in the Bush Administration, up is down and black is white and guys like that get promoted. That guy, Gary Bald, is the guy they now want to make head of the new FBI National Security Service. (The NSS itself is the big bad idea I ranted about on July 5th -- the elimination of the line between cops and spies).
Even Republicans are shocked at the idea – Senator Charles Grassley of Ohio is asking John Negroponte to not appoint Mr. On the Job Training.

Diplomatic Background on Iran's Nuclear Capability

Lost in the obscure pages of the early coverage of the Iraq war was a moment when, it seemed, the clerical regime in Iran flinched. Soon after Saddam fled and Baghdad became an American town, Iran suddenly entered into negotiations with Great Britain, France and Germany on ending its nuclear program, the most public point of friction with the US. After all, it was Saddam's supposed nuclear program that had been the casus belli for the American invasion, and Bush administration neo-conservatives had been hammering away at the Iranian program in a similar fashion.
Two developments ended this brief moment of seeming triumph for Washington. As a start, American officials [including John Bolton], feeling their oats, balked at the tentative terms negotiated by the Europeans because they did not involve regime change in Iran. This hardline American stance gave the Iranian leadership no room to maneuver and stiffened their negotiating posture.
At the time, in the wake of its successful three-week war in Iraq, the Bush administration seemed ready, even eager, to apply extreme military pressure to Iran. According to Washington Post columnist William Arkin, the official US strategic plan (formally known as CONPLAN 8022-02) completed in November 2003, authorized "a preemptive and offensive strike capability against Iran and North Korea". An administration pre-invasion quip (reported by Newsweek on August 19, 2002) caught perfectly the post-invasion mood ascendant in Washington: "Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran."

CRS: Freedom of Speech and Press - Exceptions to the First Amendment [PDF]

Child Pornography
Content-Based Restrictions
Prior Restraint
Commercial Speech
Speech Harmful to Children
Children’s First Amendment Rights
Time, Place, and Manner Restrictions
Incidental Restrictions
Symbolic Speech
Compelled Speech
Radio and Television
Freedom of Speech and Government Funding
Free Speech Rights of Government Employees and Government Contractors . . 32
Government Employees
Government Contractors

CRS: Data Mining - An Overview [PDF]

While data mining represents a significant advance in the type of analytical tools currently available, there are limitations to its capability. One limitation is that although data mining can help reveal patterns and relationships, it does not tell the user the value or significance of these patterns. These types of determinations must be made by the user. A second limitation is that while data mining can identify connections between behaviors and/or variables, it does not necessarily identify a causal relationship. To be successful, data mining still requires skilled technical and analytical specialists who can structure the analysis and interpret the output that is created.
Data mining is becoming increasingly common in both the private and public sectors. Industries such as banking, insurance, medicine, and retailing commonly use data mining to reduce costs, enhance research, and increase sales. In the public sector, data mining applications initially were used as a means to detect fraud and waste, but have grown to also be used for purposes such as measuring and improving program performance. However, some of the homeland security data mining applications represent a significant expansion in the quantity and scope of data to be analyzed. Two efforts that have attracted a higher level of congressional interest include the Terrorism Information Awareness (TIA) project (now-discontinued) and the Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening System II (CAPPS II) project (now canceled
and replaced by Secure Flight).

FCC Issues Rule Allowing FBI to Dictate Wiretap-Friendly Design for Internet Services

Today the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a release announcing its new rule expanding the reach of the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). The ruling is a reinterpretation of the scope of CALEA and will force Internet broadband providers and certain Voice-over-IP (VoIP) providers to build backdoors into their networks that make it easier for law enforcement to wiretap them. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has argued against this expansion of CALEA in several rounds of comments to the FCC on its proposed rule.
CALEA, a law passed in the early 1990s, mandated that all telephone providers build tappability into their networks, but expressly ruled out information services like broadband. Under the new ruling from the FCC, this tappability now extends to Internet broadband providers as well.

Barcode Art on CD Saves Money for Lucky 80's Music Fans

In 2005, Sony BMG released a 3-CD set entitled Electric 80s The cover art for this compilation of "the greatest Eighties electric hits" featured a reproduction of a UPC bar code, with the title "ELECTRIC 80s" placed in the space at the bottom of the bar code where the human-readable numbers corresponding to that code would usually appear. (The real bar code — the one used for scanning the price of the item at checkout counters — was placed in a corner on the back of the packaging, as it is for nearly every similar item.)
Unfortunately for some retailers (such as Tesco supermarkets), the machine-readable version of the bar code used for the CD compilation's cover art was scannable by their systems, and sales clerks at those outlets who mistakenly passed the CD's cover (rather than its back) over point-of-purchase scanners ended up ringing up sales for £9.77, (US $17.46) considerably less than the set's listed price of £14.97 (US $26.76). Often the mis-scanning resulted in stores' mistakenly recording sales of singer Jack Johnson's new (and significantly less expensive) CD, In Between Dreams, instead.

Army whistleblower draws fire

Bunnatine "Bunny" Greenhouse is the Principal Assistant Responsible for Contracting ("PARC" in the alphabet soup of military acronyms) in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Lest the title fool, she is responsible for awarding billions upon billions in taxpayers' money to private companies hired to resurrect war-torn Iraq and to feed, clothe, shelter and do the laundry of American troops stationed there.
She has rained a mighty storm upon herself for standing up, before members of Congress and live on C-SPAN to proclaim things are just not right in this staggeringly profitable business.
She has asked many questions: Why is Halliburton -- a giant Texas firm that holds more than 50 percent of all rebuilding efforts in Iraq -- getting billions in contracts without competitive bidding? Do the durations of those contracts make sense? Have there been violations of federal laws regulating how the government can spend its money?

Vast Melting of Siberian Peet Bog Releasing Billions of Tons of Methane

The researchers found that what was until recently a barren expanse of frozen peat is turning into a broken landscape of mud and lakes, some more than a kilometer across.
Dr Kirpotin told the magazine the situation was an "ecological landslide that is probably irreversible and is undoubtedly connected to climatic warming". He added that the thaw had probably begun in the past three or four years.
Climate scientists yesterday reacted with alarm to the finding, and warned that predictions of future global temperatures would have to be revised upwards.
"When you start messing around with these natural systems, you can end up in situations where it's unstoppable. There are no brakes you can apply," said David Viner, a senior scientist at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.
"This is a big deal because you can't put the permafrost back once it's gone. The causal effect is human activity and it will ramp up temperatures even more than our emissions are doing."

Abu Ghraib Images Would Threaten Security -- Pentagon

Gen. Richard Meyers, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said in a statement put forth to support the Pentagon's case that he believed that riots, violence and attacks by insurgents would result if the images were released.
The papers were filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan in a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union to obtain under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) the release of 87 photos and four videotapes taken at Abu Ghraib. The photos were among those turned over to Army investigators last year by Spc. Joseph Darby, a reservist who was posted at Abu Ghraib.
The documents reveal both the high level and the determination of the Pentagon officials engaged in the effort to block the disclosure of the images, and their alarm at the prospect the photos might become public. In his statement, dated July 21, Myers said he had become aware on June 17 that the photos' release might be imminent. He said he had consulted with Gen. John Abizaid, the U.S. central commander, and Gen. George Casey, the commander of the U.S. forces in Iraq. Both officers also opposed the release, Myers said.

Troops as Bloggers

Since the 1850s, when a London Times reporter was sent to chronicle the Crimean War, journalists have generally provided the most immediate first-hand depictions of major conflicts. But in Iraq, service members themselves are delivering real-time dispatches -- in their own words -- often to an audience of thousands through postings to their blogs.
"I was able to jot a few lines in every day, and it just grew from there," Le Bel, 24, of Haverhill, Mass., said in an e-mail. Her Web site has received about 45,000 hits since she started it a year ago.
At least 200 active-duty soldiers currently keep blogs. Only about a dozen blogs were in existence two years ago when the U.S. invaded Iraq, according to "The Mudville Gazette" ( ), a clearinghouse of information on military blogging administered by an Army veteran who goes by the screen name Greyhawk.
Written in the casual, sometimes profane language of the barracks, the entries give readers an unfiltered perspective on combat largely unavailable elsewhere. But they are also drawing new scrutiny and regulation from commanders concerned they could compromise security

21 Administration Officials Involved in Plame Case

The cast of administration characters with known connections to the outing of an undercover CIA agent:

Karl Rove
I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby
Condoleezza Rice
Stephen Hadley
Andrew Card
Alberto Gonzales
Mary Matalin
Ari Fleischer
Susan Ralston
Israel Hernandez John Hannah
Scott McClellan
Dan Bartlett
Claire Buchan
Catherine Martin
Colin Powell
Karen Hughes
Adam Levine
Bob Joseph
Vice President Dick Cheney
President George W. Bush

Thursday, August 11, 2005

State Lawmakers: Feds Draining State Air Guard Resources

A proposed overhaul of more than two dozen Air National Guard units has emerged as the most contentious issue in the Pentagon's larger plan to close, consolidate or realign hundreds of military sites nationwide.
The Air Force wants to retire aging aircraft from many Guard units, close or consolidate some of their bases and give some units new missions, like flying remotely piloted Predator aircraft, that are better suited to today's national security environment, Air Force officials say.
But doing that would leave more than two dozen states without emergency aircraft to fight fires, recover from hurricanes and cope with other natural disasters, lawmakers say.
Officials from New England to the Pacific Northwest argue that the plan would leave them vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Illinois and Pennsylvania have gone so far as to file suit in federal court contending that the Defense Department cannot move Air Guard units without the consent of the state governors, who share authority with the president over use of the units.

"Winter Soldier:" Film Echoes the Present in Atrocities of the Past

Like a live hand grenade brought home from a distant battlefield, the 34-year-old antiwar documentary "Winter Soldier" has been handled for decades as if it could explode at any moment.
Now, the 95-minute film - which has circulated like 16-millimeter samizdat on college campuses for decades but has never been accessible to a wide audience - is about to get its first significant theatrical release in the United States, beginning on Friday at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. (Other bookings, including Chicago, Detroit, Hartford and Minneapolis)...
Its distributors say that the war in Iraq has made the Vietnam-era film as powerful as when it was new, and its filmmakers are calling it eerily prescient of national embarrassments like the torture at Abu Ghraib.
Seldom has a film seen by so few caused so much consternation for so many years.
When it was made at a three-day gathering in 1971 of Vietnam veterans telling of the atrocities they had seen and committed, major news organizations sent reporters but published and broadcast next to nothing of what they filed - prompting the veterans to organize what would be a pivotal antiwar demonstration in Washington a few months later.
When the film was finished a year later, it was shown at the Cannes and Berlin film festivals, at theaters in France and England, and on German television. But in the United States, the television networks would not touch it, the film never found a distributor, and it disappeared for decades after playing a week at a single New York theater and a one-time airing on Channel 13.

Crop King Monsanto Seeks Pig-Breeding Patent Clout

The patent applications, filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization, are broad in scope, and are expected to take several years and numerous rewrites before approval.
"We applied for a patent ... for some specific reproductive processes in swine," said Monsanto spokesman Chris Horner. "Any pigs that would be produced using this reproductive technique would be covered by these patents."
The practices Monsanto wants to patent basically involve identifying genes that result in desirable traits in swine, breeding animals to achieve those traits and using a specialized device to inseminate sows deeply in a way that uses less sperm than is typically required.
"We've come up with a protocol that wraps a lot of these techniques together," said Monsanto swine molecular breeding expert Mike Lohuis.

Bush Order Lets Him Control Roberts' Memos

A little-noticed order issued by President Bush almost four years ago gives White House lawyers the right to block the release of memos written by Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. when he worked for President Reagan.
The order, signed by Bush in November 2001, said the "incumbent president" had the right to approve the release of papers from the presidential libraries of his father, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan.
It set off a furor at the time among historians, archivists and librarians. They said it all but repealed the Presidential Records Act, a 1978 law that decreed a president's records were public property, not the private property of the former president. Under this law, a former president's papers were to be opened to the public 12 years after he left office. Exceptions could be made for national security reasons.
Bush's executive order added a new check. It said the "incumbent president may assert any constitutionally based privilege" after the 12 years had lapsed to block the release of files. Included among these many privileges were "records that reflect … legal advice or legal work."

US Bomb 'Kills Afghan Civilians'

At least four Afghan civilians were killed and many more wounded in a US bombing raid in the southern province of Zabul, locals and officials say.
Governor Ali Khail told the Associated Press US-led forces had made a mistake and villagers were among casualties.
The US said one of its soldiers and "at least 16 enemy forces" were killed in fighting in the area on Monday.
US forces said on Thursday that another US soldier and six militants had died in fighting in Paktika province.
Last month, the US military said it regretted that civilians had been killed in an air strike by US forces in eastern Konar Province.

Fake News Abounds, but Vigilance on Rise

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, which conducts regular polling on attitudes toward the media, said that in 1985 about 84 percent of Americans said they believed most of what they read in their daily newspaper. By 2004, that had dropped to 54 percent.
What isn't clear is whether fabrications have become more common, or just easier to uncover.
These days, an army of amateur and professional media critics have made a hobby out of attempting to discredit news reports and statements by politicians.
Their work has been aided by powerful Internet tools that have made it easier than ever to detect stolen or false material, confirm identities or troll public records.
"Certainly the tools of verification are better and more readily available than they were in the Janet Cooke era," said Bill Mitchell of the Poynter Institute, a journalism school.

Crawfords "Lonestar Iconoclast" Offers Up-Close Coverage of Sheehan Protest

Although this type of coverage may be typical for larger media outlets, Smith said it’s very unusual, and demanding, for the newspaper with a three-person editorial staff that, under normal circumstances, only updates its Web site weekly. Now it’s server is under constant stress.
“We do what we can. We’re like any other media out there – we try to get the information as soon as we can do it,” he said. “We’re very limited with what we can do on our Web site, the way it’s established,” he added. “We’re going beyond what our capabilities are in some way.
“Here we are just an itty-bitty paper and we beat everybody else. We beat all the big guys as far as getting something out there and I guess that’s kind of satisfying. We’re just trying to make a big effort. We’re following a big story.”

Cindy Sheehan: This is George Bush’s Accountability Moment

This is George Bush’s accountability moment. That’s why I’m here. The mainstream media aren’t holding him accountable. Neither is Congress. So I’m not leaving Crawford until he’s held accountable. It’s ironic, given the attacks leveled at me recently, how some in the media are so quick to scrutinize -- and distort -- the words and actions of a grieving mother but not the words and actions of the president of the United States.
But now it’s time for him to level with me and with the American people. I think that’s why there’s been such an outpouring of support. This is giving the 61 percent of Americans who feel that the war is wrong something to do -- something that allows their voices to be heard. It’s a way for them to stand up and show that they DO want our troops home, and that they know this war IS a mistake… a mistake they want to see corrected. It’s too late to bring back the people who are already dead, but there are tens of thousands of people still in harm’s way.

Iowa: Returning Vets Overwhelming Local Resources

Many central Iowa soldiers have returned from combat in Iraq with health problems that Polk County veterans officials say they are not equipped to address.
"Almost every single Iraq vet who walks into our office has some kind of serious problem, many with mental health problems. So we just have to refer them on," said David DeBolt, director of the Polk County Commission on Veteran Affairs . "We're here to help with basic needs - some rent money, help with the bills, prescriptions, transportation around town."

Bush lawyer argues Flyers passing through U.S. have few rights

A senior lawyer for the U.S. government has told a judge hearing a lawsuit over Maher Arar's deportation to Syria that foreign citizens passing through American airports have almost no rights.

At most, Mary Mason told a hearing in Brooklyn, N.Y., passengers would have the right not to be subjected to "gross physical abuse."
The policy has implications for Canadians who head for international destinations via big American airports in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and other major centres.
Mason said the U.S. government is interpreting its powers in such a way that passengers never intending to enter the U.S. connecting to international flights at U.S. airports must prove they are no threat and could be allowed to enter the country.
If passengers are deemed to be inadmissible, they have no constitutional rights even if later taken to an American prison. Mason told Judge David Trager that's because they are deemed to be still outside the U.S., from a legal point of view.

Abramoff Named In Suncruz Casino Indictment

[T]he indictment focuses on the sale itself and alleges that Kidan and Abramoff agreed to put up $23 million for the deal in order to get a loan of $60 million from a lending company. But investigators said the money from Kidan and Abramoff never existed and constitutes fraud.
Months after the contentious sale was finalized, Gus Boulis was killed, gunned down gang-land style in his car. No arrest was ever made but investigators believe that a series of Suncruz checks to a Miami Beach man named Tony Ferarri financed the hit, Local 10 News reporter Rad Berky said.
Abramoff and Kidan are charged with five counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud. Each count carries a penalty up to five years in prison and a 250-thousand dollar fine.
Kidan's attorney in Florida says his client would surrender voluntarily to federal authorities in Fort Lauderdale tomorrow.

Senate Intelligence chairman quietly 'fixed' intelligence, and diverted blame from White House over Iraq

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush issued an order to the Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Department, and his cabinet members that severely curtailed intelligence oversight by restricting classified information to just eight members of Congress.
"The only Members of Congress whom you or your expressly designated officers may brief regarding classified or sensitive law enforcement information," he writes, "are the Speaker of the House, the House Minority Leader, the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, and the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Intelligence Committees in the House and Senate."
The order is aimed at protecting "military security" and "sensitive law enforcement."
But what was said to be an effort to protect the United States became a tool by which the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Pat Roberts (R-KS) ensured there was no serious investigation into how the administration fixed the intelligence that took the United States to war in Iraq or the fabricated documents used as evidence to do so.
...By the late 1990s, members of the committees and their staffs were seeing more than 2,200 CIA reports and receiving more than 1,200 substantive briefings from agency officials each year to assist them in their role of providing proper oversight.
But the little-reported 2001 Bush directive changed that, ensuring that only two members of each committee received full briefings on intelligence operations, and preventing committee staffs from carrying out meaningful research.

Superman Takes on the KKK

In the 1940s, reporter Stetson Kennedy infiltrated the Klu Klux Klan, gathering information on everything from their membership to their secret code words . Kennedy then gave this information to the producers of the Superman radio show. The resulting episodes, titled “Clan of the Fiery Cross” (listen to them here)incorporated actual Klan terminology and rituals, exposing the nation to the inner workings of this “secret” organization. [from]

AIDS Hitting 1 out of 20 in DC

A study of HIV/AIDS in the District of Columbia concludes the district is the worst of any major metropolitan area of the country in coming to grips with the severity of the problem.
The study, released Wednesday, was undertaken by the Appleseed Center for Law and Justice. It said that one in 20 people in D.C. is infected with the virus and that a coordinated plan in attacking HIV/AIDS issues is lacking.
The study was begun in early 2004 with the support of Mayor Anthony Williams.
It urges top city officials "to speak frequently, strongly and clearly" about the disease and to take "committed and strategic steps" to improve management of surveillance, prevention, funding and treatment.

NYC Pushiing Restaurants to Drop Trans Fats

The request, the first of its kind by any large American city, is the latest salvo in the battle against trans fats, components of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, which three decades ago were promoted as a healthy alternative to saturated fats like butter.
Today, most scientists and nutrition experts agree that trans fat is America's most dangerous fat and recommend the use of alternatives like olive and sunflower oils.
"To help combat heart disease, the No. 1 killer in New York City, we are asking restaurants to voluntarily make an oil change and remove artificial trans fat from their kitchens," said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the city's health commissioner, who compared trans fats to asbestos and lead as public health threats. "We are also urging food suppliers to provide products that are trans-fat free."

GOP Paying Legal Bills of Vote Fraud Defendant

Despite a zero-tolerance policy on tampering with voters, the Republican Party has quietly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide private defense lawyers for a former Bush campaign official charged with conspiring to keep Democrats from voting in New Hampshire.
James Tobin, the president's 2004 campaign chairman for New England, is charged in New Hampshire federal court with four felonies accusing him of conspiring with a state GOP official and a GOP consultant in Virginia to jam Democratic and labor union get-out-the-vote phone banks in November 2002.
...Since charges were first filed in December, the RNC has spent more than $722,000 to provide Tobin, who has pleaded innocent, a team of lawyers from the high-powered Washington law firm of Williams & Connolly. The firm's other clients include Bill and Hillary Clinton and former Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros.

Kansas Board moves to stem role of evolution in teaching

After months of debate over science and religion, the Kansas Board of Education has tentatively approved new state science standards that weaken the role evolution plays in teaching about the origin of life.
The 10-member board must still take a final vote, expected in either September or October, but a 6-4 vote on Tuesday that approved a draft of the standards essentially cemented a victory for conservative Christian board members who say evolution is largely unproven and can undermine religious teachings about the origins of life on earth.
"We think this is a great development ... for the academic freedom of students," said John West, senior fellow of the Discovery Institute, which supports intelligent design theory.

Early Pullout Unlikely In Iraq

Both Americans and Iraqis need "to start thinking about and talking about what it's really going to be like in Iraq after elections," said the military official, who spoke in an interview on the condition he not be named. "I think the important point is there's not going to be a fundamental change."
The official stressed that it was "important to calibrate expectations post-elections. I've been saying to folks: You're still going to have an insurgency, you're still going to have a dilapidated infrastructure, you're still going to have decades of developmental problems both on the economic and the political side."

Hundreds Of Truckers Protest High Gas Prices

The trucks, which included tractor-trailers, dump trucks and box trucks, gathered at the intersection of Okeechobee Road and the Florida Turnpike in Miami-Dade County.
Truckers Protest Fuel Prices
Traffic in the area was at a standstill as the trucks started a caravan headed toward Miami City Hall.The trucks traveled 20 miles to present a petition requesting a fuel surcharge break for independently owned trucks.The truckers claim that the high cost of gas has made it impossible for them to earn a living.

Pentagon Planning Concert for 9/11 Anniversary

You can't make this stuff up: Rumsfeld announces that the Bush administration is planning to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks with an "America Supports You freedom walk" from the Pentagon saluting the troops deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom, followed by a show by "country music superstar" Clint Black at the National Mall. (Not to imply that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11 or anything...) [from]

Distinctive Collectives

English names for groups various creatures are often bizarre. Many of the stranger collective nouns came from the Boke of St. Albans. Most lists don't include a "parliament of rooks" any longer. Lists of collective animal names are available for children and adults. Though, oddly there doesn't seem to be a collective name for humans as a species, numerous names (mostly silly) exist for types of human groups. Dispute does exist in the world of collective nouns. Officially monkeys are grouped in "troops", but most people would agree that the proper term for a group of monkeys is barrel . However debate seems to have been closed on the subject of the proper term for a group of tentacle monsters (NSFW). Of course, you have to know how the proper grammar when using collective nouns. [from]

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Britain’s Galloway hails ‘heroic’ Iraqi insurgents

“I think the decision the Iraqis have made to resist foreign occupation is a heroic decision,” he told Scotland’s Sunday Herald newspaper. “The individual acts carried out by people in the name of resistance may or may not be heroic. Some are undoubtedly heroic.
“The storming of a military barracks of a more powerful adversary in a classic guerrilla warfare operation is undoubtedly heroic. The bombing of children taking sweeties from an American soldier is clearly not heroic.”
Critics accused the 50-year-old of endangering British troops last week after he went on television in the Middle East to hail the Iraqi “resistance” for “defending all the people of the world against American hegemony”.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Excellent Bill Maher Interview on Fresh Air

Bill Maher is an adult who chooses his words dearly.
Listen to Terry Gross interview the man and hear Maher at his eloquent best.

Soldier Talks Oil

"I think my beliefs had changed once we were on the ground. Within days we had seized all of the oil fields in northern Iraq and our primary mission was to protect them. Bush had said this war wasn't about oil, but there I was defending oil fields at all costs in the middle of Iraq. A lot of the piping and workings of the fields had been destroyed by the fleeing army and before we even started to help the people by fixing the power or water supplies, they had construction crews trying to get everything up and running on the oil fields."
An interview with Zechariah, 25, of Lynnwood, Washington. He enlisted in the Army when he was 21, and was deployed to Iraq from March 2003 to January 2004 with the 173rd Airborne Brigade as a medic. [from]

The Scourge of Ariel

It has spread like a virus through the typographic landscape and illustrates the pervasiveness of Microsoft's influence in the world. Arial, however, has a rather dubious history and not much character. In fact, Arial is little more than a shameless impostor...

Yahoo Audio Search

Injust a few minutes, I was able to find the Flying Lizards' cover of "Sex Machine," Tony Bennet's cover of "Just Because We're Kids" (a song by Dr. Seuss), Ella Fitzgerald's cover of "Savoy Truffle"[pay sites] and Nixon's Checkers speech.

Judge Rebukes EPA on Rat Poison Reversal

The Environmental Protection Agency has failed to protect children from rat poison exposure, a federal judge ruled yesterday, suggesting chemical manufacturers should add a bittering agent to keep children from ingesting their products.
Ruling in favor of two advocacy groups -- West Harlem Environmental Action and the Natural Resources Defense Council -- U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff wrote that the agency failed to justify its 2001 agreement with pest control companies, which dropped two provisions from a 1998 rule requiring them to include a bittering agent and an indicator dye.
"In short, the EPA lacked even the proverbial 'scintilla of evidence' justifying its reversal of the requirement it had imposed, after extensive study, only a few years before," Rakoff wrote.
The battle over how to regulate rat poison started in August 1998 when the Clinton administration approved its use as long as manufacturers added a bittering agent and a dye that made it more obvious if a child ingested the poison. Three years later, Bush administration officials rescinded the requirements, on the grounds that they would make the poison less attractive to rats and could damage household property.

Japan's Hologram Artist to Recreate Buddhas Destroyed by Taliban

The statues, Bamiyan Buddhas, were destroyed in 2001 by the former Taliban regime. This caused great local and international outcry, drawing the attention of Yamagata.
He plans to recreate the Buddhas by projecting 140 neon pink, green, orange, white and blue laser “statue” images onto the cliffsides where the figures once stood. Each image will be up to 175 feet tall, just like the original statues, and the display width will be four miles.

Quantum information can be negative

Know less than nothing!? What could negative knowledge possibly mean? In short, after I tell you negative information, you will know less... "In this week's issue of Nature, however, Michal Horodecki and colleagues present a fresh approach to understanding quantum phenomena that cannot be grasped simply by considering their classical counterparts." [from]

Four in 9/11 Plot Are Called Tied to Qaeda in '00

More than a year before the Sept. 11 attacks, a small, highly classified military intelligence unit identified Mohammed Atta and three other future hijackers as likely members of a cell of Al Qaeda operating in the United States, according to a former defense intelligence official and a Republican member of Congress.
In the summer of 2000, the military team, known as Able Danger, prepared a chart that included visa photographs of the four men and recommended to the military's Special Operations Command that the information be shared with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the congressman, Representative Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, and the former intelligence official said Monday.

Slate's Today's Papers went the extra op-ed mile today to discuss an NYT front page story that alleges that DOD intelligence pegged 3 of the 9/11 hijackers as al-Qaeda agents in the U.S. back in 2000. Remember, this is the same DOD that, under Rumsfeld, wants to establish its own intelligence agency outside of the CIA, having bumbled an earlier incarnation. The problem? The article is primarily sourced to Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) and the ubiquitous "unnamed defense official". Weldon's primary source is an associat of Manucher Gorbanifar, "a well-known Iranian exile whom the CIA branded as a fabricator during the 1980s but who was used by the Reagan White House as a middleman for the arms-for-hostages deal with Iran." Oh, and he's got a new book out. The NYT has apparently learned nothing. [from]

Suit: Residents harassed into Bible study

Residents of a Westmont public housing complex for seniors said in a federal lawsuit filed Monday that they were coerced and harassed by management into practicing Christianity and pressured to attend Bible study classes.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Goodbye Peter Jennings

I stopped watching broacast news years ago*. But of the big three broadcast networks, ABC was by far the best and -- now that the eulogies show his editorial style -- he largely responsible for the higher bar ABC held. What's more, I felt Peter Jennings to be a very decent, thoughtful, sharp-minded and compassionate person. And he was brilliant communicator.
His most outstanding moment, to my mind, was his marathon coverage of the 9/11 attacks.
I recall his rewording phrases off the teleprompter as he read aloud. He would stop and say, "We actually don't know that yet. A better way to put it is..." He brought a rigor to that terrible day that we all wanted. He did not give air time to assumptions and speculations. He held to what he knew as verified.
But there was one moment that evening when me and my family (gathered around the TV) just took a gasp of human aknowledgement. Peter Jennings turned over his desk to a guest expert. Jennings did this without flourish. It was a small moment where a man whose nerves were as raw as the rest of ours. He got out of his chair and turned his back to the camera without a thought. You could see the wires and casing of the sound equipment on his back. And he just walked away from the desk to let the guest speak. Nothing slick about it. It was just a man who had seen and faithfully reported what was known and got out of his chair as if he was in our livingroom -- or just some guy in a studio.
I thought he deserved some kind of award for his coverage that day.
Peter Jennings also stood out because of his lack of strange affectations that Brokaw and Rather embraced. Granted, he would emphasize words that did not always jibe with the meaning of the story. But this is a small infraction compared to others.
Robert MacNeil (of MacNeil/Leherer fame) wrote a poignant and cutting novel about broadcast new anchoring, "Breaking News." Reading the book I could not help but wonder how much Peter Jennings informed the story.
He had a minimalist style, which is very respectable for a journalist. But he also spoke of a kind of poetry to bring to the news. I honestly see very little abuse of artistic license in his delivery. He rewrote most of the copy himself (as he did, on the fly, during 9/11) and delivered it with a precision and accuracy that made ABC News simply better than the others.
I'm surprised how sad I am to see his passing. I know that I don't know him personally. His fellow journalists can say more.
For some great audio, listen to The Beloved Voice of Peter Jennings
and Terry Gross' interview with hm on Fresh Air.

*I have a lot of respect for journalists. My gripe is with some of the sytemic and marketing aspects of news. But this is not the time/place.

Alaskan People Tell of Climate Change

Barrow whaling captain Percy Nusunginya has particular reason to be alert to change. Each autumn and spring his crew ventures out on the ice to fish at air holes. He says that working out on the Arctic Sea has become very dangerous.
"Nowadays ice conditions are thinner than in the 1970s and 80s. The ice used to be 20 to 30 feet thick but now it is more like 10 feet thick. But what can we do? Sometimes I feel sad but we just have to go with what we have got.
"Up here in the Arctic we are definitely warming up, the polar pack ice has all but gone."
Percy says Western nations need to have scientific proof that the climate is warming rather than believing the word of the native people but he adds: "The white man, the climatologists are just learning what we knew was going on."

Animals Migrate North as Globe Warms

Salmon swim north into Arctic seas, locusts plague northern Italy and two heat-loving bee-eater birds nest in a hedge in Britain.
Signs of global warming fed by greenhouse gases produced by human activity, or just summertime oddities?
In the United States, some warblers are flying north to Canada. In Costa Rica, toucans are moving higher up into the mountains, apparently because of rising temperatures.
In July, a Norwegian man fishing in a fjord had a shock when he landed a John Dory, a fish more usually found in temperate waters off southern Europe or Africa.
"There's a long list of migratory species ending up further north. It's certainly a sign of warmer temperatures," said Steve Sawyer, climate policy director at the Greenpeace environmental group.
He said salmon had been swimming through the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia into the Chukchi Sea, apparently because the frigid water had warmed up.
Such shifts could have vast long-term implications for farmers and fishing fleets.

More GM Contamination Found in Australian Crops

Environmentalists say Australia is facing "the most serious genetic contamination event" in its history, after the West Australian government confirmed low levels of genetically modified canola had been found in non-GM canola.
A spokeswoman for WA Agriculture Minister Kim Chance said that tests had shown positive results of GM material but samples had been sent overseas for further testing and until more detailed results were confirmed no further details could be released.
The latest test results come after GM material was found during routine testing by the Australian Barley Board in June of an export consignment of Victorian canola seeds bound for Japan. About 0.01 per cent of the consignment contained the GM material.
It is believed the modification found in Victoria, known as Topas 19/2 and developed by Bayer CropScience, was also found in the WA sample tested.

Groups Urge Iraq to Join International Criminal Court

”International law represents the highest values of honor, human justice, and safeguarding humanity,” the Baghdad-based Human Rights and Democracy Organization said in a letter to the Iraqi Constitution Committee Thursday.
The letter, signed by nearly 100 prominent lawyers, professors, physicians and intellectuals, urged the authors of the new constitution to insist that the text ”clearly affirms international law in its totality, primarily the Rome Statute of the ICC, as well as the international agreements, conventions, and declarations.”

OMBWatch: Organizations Urge Senate to Save the Estate Tax and Reject Dangerous "Compromise" Proposals

So-called "compromise" proposals on the estate tax offered by Senate Republicans would be just as damaging to the economy and the charitable sector as full repeal, according to a letter sent today to members of the U.S. Senate by a coalition representing 20,000 organizations with roughly 20 million members across the country.
Realizing they lack the 60 votes necessary to avoid a filibuster in the Senate, some in the pro-repeal camp are now calling for compromises that would be tantamount to repeal. The coalition urged senators to reject any "compromise" that would gut the estate tax and strip the essential revenue and incentives to charitable giving it provides.

Gmaps Pedometer

What is this?
This is a little hack that uses Google's superb mapping application to help record distances traveled during a running or walking workout.

The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II: A Collection of Primary Sources

Sixty years ago this month, the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan, and the Japanese government surrendered to the United States and its allies. The nuclear age had truly begun with the first military use of atomic weapons. With the material that follows, the National Security Archive publishes the most comprehensive on-line collection to date of declassified U.S. government documents on the atomic bomb and the end of the war in the Pacific. Besides material from the files of the Manhattan Project, this collection includes formerly "Top Secret Ultra" summaries and translations of Japanese diplomatic cable traffic intercepted under the "Magic" program. Moreover, the collection includes for the first time translations from Japanese sources of high level meetings and discussions in Tokyo, including the conferences when Emperor Hirohito authorized the final decision to surrender.[1]
Ever since the atomic bombs were exploded over Japanese cities, historians, social scientists, journalists, World War II veterans, and ordinary citizens have engaged in intense controversy about the events of August 1945. John Hersey’s Hiroshima, first published in the New Yorker in 1946 made some unsettled readers question the bombings while church groups and a few commentators, most prominently Norman Cousins, explicitly criticized them. Former Secretary of War Henry Stimson found the criticisms troubling and published an influential justification for the attacks in Harper’s.[2] During the 1960s the availability of primary sources made historical research and writing possible and the debate became more vigorous. Historians Herbert Feis and Gar Alperovitz raised searching questions about the first use of nuclear weapons and their broader political and diplomatic implications. The controversy, especially the arguments made by Alperovitz and others about "atomic diplomacy" quickly became caught up in heated debates about Cold War "revisionism." The controversy simmered over the years with major contributions by Martin Sherwin and Barton J. Bernstein but it became explosive during the mid-1990s when curators at the National Air and Space Museum met the wrath of the Air Force Association over a proposed historical exhibit on the Enola Gay.[3] The NASM exhibit was drastically scaled down but historians and journalists continued to engage in the debate. Alperovitz, Bernstein, and Sherwin made new contributions to the debate as did historians, social scientists, and journalists such as Richard B. Frank, Herbert Bix, Sadao Asada, Kai Bird, Robert James Maddox, Robert P. Newman, Robert S. Norris, Tsuyoshi Hagesawa, and J. Samuel Walker.[4]

Ex-Agent's Complaint Against CIA's Block of Bin Laden Book [PDF]

Plaintiff Gary Bernsen brings this action against Defendant Central Intelligence Agency for injunctive and declaratory relief pursuant to the Federal Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 701 et seq., the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651, the Central Intelligence Agency 's internal regulations and the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The Central Intelligence Agency has unlawfully imposed a prior restraint upon Plaintiff by infringing on his right to publish his memoirs.

Secrecy News: Wash Post's Uncritical Account of Terrorist Web Sites

"Terrorists Turn to the Web as Base of Operations," a Washington Post headline declared in a front-page, above-the-fold story on August 7.
"Among other things, al Qaeda and its offshoots are building a massive and dynamic online library of training materials," the Post reported, and offered sample documents from this library on its own web site.
But contrary to the Post story line, the cited library materials suggest a startling lack of technical competence. Unfortunately, the Post did not critically examine the materials that it presented.
The Post story's uncertain grasp of the underlying science was signalled early on when it twice mistakenly referred to a virus as the cause of pneumonic plague. Pneumonic plague is caused by a bacterium, Yersinia pestis, not by a virus.
A page excerpted by the Post online from "The Mujahideen Poisons Handbook" purported to explain how to manufacture "betaluminium poison."
But there is no such thing as betaluminium poison. (The word appears to be a corruption of "botulinum"). Nor would the proffered production method -- combining fresh horse manure, meat, grain and water in a sealed jar -- yield much more than a stinky mess.
"The first time I saw [the Mujahideen Poisons Handbook]," said chemist George Smith of, "I thought it must be a hoax."
"Careful examination of the document shows that it is crammed with errors, seemingly the work of someone with little discernible sense, profoundly ignorant of the nature of simple compounds and incompetent in even minor [laboratory] procedures," Dr. Smith wrote in National Security Notes in March 2004:

In short, the Mujahideen Poisons Handbook that was excerpted on the Washington Post web site indicates something nearly the opposite of what the Post article on terrorist use of the internet claimed to show.

Iran Resumes Uranium Conversion Efforts

The move came a day before the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, is to hold an emergency meeting at which it could consider referring Tehran to the U.N. Security Council, which could impose sanctions. Germany, France and the U.S. have said they would likely recommend doing so if work at Isfahan resumes.

Iraq Troop Levels Likely To Rise

Before the Pentagon begins reducing troop levels in Iraq next year it probably will increase them this fall to provide extra security for a planned October referendum and a December election, a Pentagon official said Monday.
Lawrence Di Rita, spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, noted that troop levels were raised last January during Iraq's first elections, and then returned to the current level of about 138,000 several weeks later.

The Onion: White House Denies Existence of Karl Rove

"To my knowledge, no one by the name of Karl Rove works for this president, his staff, or for that matter, anyone on earth, since he is not a real person," White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters Monday.
Despite White House denials, allegations have surfaced in recent weeks that Karl Rove is the man who leaked covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to the press. He is rumored to be President Bush's senior advisor, chief political strategist, architect of the president's 2000 and 2004 election victories, and the current deputy White House chief of staff, as well as a frequent guest on televised political talk shows.
"None of these allegations are supported by the facts," McClellan said. "The opponents of this administration have created a mythical figure in order to discredit the president. All they have done is divert attention from the important work at hand—the war in Iraq and the war on terror. In doing so, they have dishonored the sacrifices of our brave men and women in uniform."

Stevens Cites 'Serious Flaws' In Use of the Death Penalty

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens issued an unusually stinging criticism of capital punishment Saturday evening, telling the American Bar Association that he is disturbed by "serious flaws."
Stevens stopped short of calling for an end to the death penalty, but he said there are many problems in the way it is used.
Stevens said DNA evidence has shown "that a substantial number of death sentences have been imposed erroneously. . . . It indicates that there must be serious flaws in our administration of criminal justice," he said.

US scientists find flexible stem cells in placenta

Scientists looking for easier and less-controversial alternatives to stem cells from human embryos said on Friday they found a potential source in placentas saved during childbirth.
They described primitive cells found in a part of the placenta called the amnion, which they coaxed into forming a variety of cell types and which look very similar to sought-after embryonic stem cells.
With 4 million children born in the United States each year, placentas could provide a ready source of the cells, the team at the University of Pittsburgh said.

Da Vinci plot may get new twist to placate Catholics

Sony Pictures, the studio behind the film starring Tom Hanks and Sir Ian McKellen, is reported to have been so concerned that it has consulted Catholic and other Christian specialists on how it might alter the plot of the novel to avoid offending the devout.
Film officials have held talks with Catholic groups and other organisations despite Dan Brown, the author, insisting that “it’s only a novel and therefore a work of fiction”, The New York Times reported yesterday.
The Catholic League is calling for Ron Howard, the film’s Oscar-winning director, to include a disclaimer acknowledging that the movie is fiction.

N. Korean Demand Torpedoed Arms Talk

North Korea's unexpected insistence that it still has the right to build light-water reactors to generate electricity became the main deal breaker during 13 days of sometimes acrimonious and ultimately unsuccessful discussions on eliminating nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula, the chief U.S. negotiator said Sunday.
The goal during a three-week recess called by China will be to encourage senior North Korean leaders to make a strategic decision to forgo and dismantle all nuclear capacity in return for recognition and economic aid, said the diplomat, Christopher Hill, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.

For First Time, Military Draws Up Plans in Case of US Terror Attack

The U.S. military has devised its first-ever war plans for guarding against and responding to terrorist attacks in the United States, envisioning 15 potential crisis scenarios and anticipating several simultaneous strikes around the country, according to officers who drafted the plans.
The classified plans, developed here at Northern Command headquarters, outline a variety of possible roles for quick-reaction forces estimated at as many as 3,000 ground troops per attack, a number that could easily grow depending on the extent of the damage and the abilities of civilian response teams.
The possible scenarios range from "low end," relatively modest crowd-control missions to "high-end," full-scale disaster management after catastrophic attacks such as the release of a deadly biological agent or the explosion of a radiological device, several officers said.
Some of the worst-case scenarios involve three attacks at the same time, in keeping with a Pentagon directive earlier this year ordering Northcom, as the command is called, to plan for multiple simultaneous attacks.

USA Today Not Coverinng Plame Investigation

USA Today hasn't run a news story about the controversy involving White House senior adviser Karl Rove and outed CIA operative Valerie Plame since July 19. A July 25 guest column and some letters to the editor have contained the only mentions of Rove and Plame in the paper during that time. As we noted last week, USA Today has mentioned Rove in other contexts -- for example, when he was lampooned in the comic strip Doonesbury. But not a single mention of the fact that two Rove aides recently appeared before the grand jury investigating Plame's outing. Not a single mention of the recently revealed fact that Bush chief of staff Andrew Card was given 12 hours advance notice of the beginning of the Justice Department's investigation into the matter. And, predictably, no mention of the nondisclosure form Rove would have had to sign in order to gain access to classified information.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

More Background On John Roberts

Roberts argued that Congress should strip the Supreme Court of the authority to rule on cases regarding school prayer, abortion, busing for school desegregation, and other issues, a position even more extreme that that advanced by Theodore Olson and adopted by the Reagan Administration.

Why we all need pornography

The "adult entertainment" industry embraced video cassettes, DVDs and the web more quickly than its mainstream counterparts because these media are tailor-made for private viewing. Consumers eager for a glimpse of skin, but afraid of being found out or of being spotted in a seedy blue-movie cinema, helped drive the demand for more of these technologies.

Planes go greener by shifting altitude

The streams of water vapour and ice particles that form behind an aircraft, called contrails, are known to create cirrus clouds. These clouds can trap heat radiating from the Earth's surface and thus add to global warming.
Until now the only strategy to avoid contrails was for planes to reduce their altitudes from about 33,000 feet to as low as 24,000 feet. At this height the air is not supersaturated with ice, so contrails cannot form. But it is not ideal. "If you lower the altitude substantially you place a heavy load on air traffic control, and the engines don't operate as efficiently," says Hermann Mannstein at the German Aerospace Center in Oberpfaffenhofen. This is because aircraft engines are optimised to fly at higher altitudes.

When We Have To Rely on Jessica Simpson for News from Iraq, Something is VERY WRONG

Simpson says, "It was unbelievable. They didn't show a lot of what really went on with the enemy attacks and the shelling. There was so much stuff that went on and somehow the tapes got mysteriously misplaced.
"It put everything in perspective for me. It really did teach me the definition of sacrifice. I can't even fathom being out there right now. I was ready to come home."

US Army Deserter Fled Iraq for New Life in Canada

Joshua Key grew to hate his army's chaotic brutality. In BC, he seeks legal refuge and a home.

White House To Withhold Nominee's Tax Returns

Former Bush aide exposes massive fraud, malfeasance in Iraq reconstruction

During a routine audit last summer of an American office in charge of doling out reconstruction funding in Hillah, Iraq, U.S. government investigators made a series of startling discoveries.
The office had paid a contractor twice for the same work. A U.S. official was allowed to handle millions of dollars in cash weeks after he was fired for incompetence. Of the $119.9 million allocated for regional projects, $89.4 million was disbursed without contracts or other documentation. An additional $7.2 million couldn't be found at all.
To many officials in both Baghdad and Washington, the only thing more surprising than the problems was the identity of the man who had uncovered them: Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.

Study: When Masculinity Challenged, Men Prefer War and SUVs and Homophobia

"I found that if you made men more insecure about their masculinity, they displayed more homophobic attitudes, tended to support the Iraq war more and would be more willing to purchase an SUV over another type of vehicle," said Willer said. "There were no increases [in desire] for other types of cars."
Those who had their masculinity threatened also said they felt more ashamed, guilty, upset and hostile than those whose masculinity was confirmed, he said.

US Pushing Extradition of Canadian Pot Seed Seller

For a crime to be extraditable, it must be an offense in both nations. Both Canada and the United States consider it a crime to sell marijuana. However, Canadian police have long turned a blind eye to seed sellers like Emery.
Ottawa University law professor Craig Forcese said the case is technically extraditable, even if it flies in the face of Canadian legal norms.
"As far as I can tell this case looks like a fairly straight, plain vanilla extradition. Where the sensitivities arise is just the differential views on the merits of prosecuting for marijuana."

'Thoughts read' via brain scans

Scientists say they have been able to monitor people's thoughts via scans of their brains.
Teams at University College London and University of California in LA could tell what images people were looking at or what sounds they were listening to.
The US team say their study proves brain scans do relate to brain cell electrical activity.
The UK team say such research might help paralysed people communicate, using a "thought-reading" computer.

New Zealand Pizza Ad Calls Bush an "Evil Bastard"

The Hell Pizza billboards have been erected around Auckland and Wellington. Half of the poster is taken up with a photo of the president and the other half has the phrase 'Hell: Too Good For Some Evil Bastards.'
Outdoor Advertising New Zealand is reviewing who is behind the boards and whether the Advertising Standards Authority needs to become involved.

Ohio League of Women Voters Sue State for 30 Years of Dysfunctional Election Administration

“We simply concluded that a lawsuit is the most effective means of bringing about reform to Ohio’s voting process,” Co-President Carol Gibson said. “Election problems have surfaced continually, and the legislature has failed to take comprehensive action with its recent election-reform bill, HB 3. We felt that the courts presented us with a last resort for addressing the shortfalls of our election system.”
The suit was filed against the office of the secretary of state and governor, not the individuals holding the offices at this time. “The suit does not allege fraud,” Co-President Linda D. Lalley said. “Rather, the suit alleges that Ohio has a long history of serious problems with the way elections are conducted, spanning many administrations and violating fundamental Constitutional rights of Ohioans who are eligible to vote.”
The remedy sought is to bring about meaningful reform to Ohio’s election process. The suit does not seek a monetary award for any of the plaintiffs.

Zach Posts to His Blog After Release from "Love in Action"

Prison Abuse Decisions Came from the Top

The prison torture decisions "came from the top," asserts Robert Weiner, a former Clinton White House senior public affairs official. "No matter where these prisons are, so long as our policy is the same, torture will take place - closing Guantánamo or Abu Ghraib will not stop the outbreak of abuses and torture."
In an op-ed in today's Cleveland Plain Dealer, Weiner, now president of a public affairs issues strategies company, contends, "The orders to torture came from the top down. In the pyramid of power, first and foremost was President Bush's Jan. 25, 2002 executive order disavowing the Geneva Conventions for the 'new' kind of war we are fighting. Moreover, then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez (now Attorney General) assisted in writing the 2002 memo, which also asserted that the Geneva Conventions - respected worldwide - were 'quaint' and 'obsolete.' Last May, before all our eyes in televised hearings, Department of Defense Under Secretary for Intelligence Dr. Stephen Cambone, who coordinates DOD intelligence policy, visibly waived off and interrupted key parts of Major General Antonio Taguba's testimony before the U.S. Senate on the depths of abuses."
In the piece, Weiner and co-author Emma Dick, a human rights analyst for Weiner's issue strategies company, contend that "calls to close the U.S. prison at Guantánamo Bay have diverted attention from the policies that have made both Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib infamous." They call it "astounding" that "the White House is claiming it would 'restrict the president's authority' to pass bipartisan legislation prohibiting the 'cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment' of detainees, and that Vice President Cheney is meeting with Congress saying the president will veto any such bill." Cheney has even stated that "if we didn't have that facility at Guantánamo to undertake this activity, we'd have to have it someplace else," words which Weiner and Dick say "send a chill to the human rights community".

Claims of Media Bias in Iraq

Andrew Marshall, Reuters' bureau chief in Baghdad for two years, came to the United States in July, having survived the war, unlike more than 48 other journalists in the past three years, including four from his own news service. Even before arriving in Iraq in 2003, Marshall, 34, who has worked for Reuters since 1994, had seen plenty of bloodshed in East Timor, Afghanistan, and other hot spots. Now he's en route to what he probably once thought was a peaceful posting--in London.
What does he think about his Baghdad years, now that he has made it out of there in one piece?
"I don't agree with those who say it is inappropriate to criticize the work of journalists in Iraq -- just because we were working in very dangerous conditions does not mean that we should be immune from criticism," he told me in mid-July. "But I regard the charge that journalists in Iraq are skewing their reporting and focusing 'too much on bad news' as ill-informed, and a great insult to the Iraqi people. Many of those who criticize Iraq coverage seem to be suggesting that the media should somehow play down or ignore the fact that so many Iraqi civilians are being killed. It's an attitude that implies that Iraqis are not entitled to the level of safety and security enjoyed by people elsewhere in the world.

Terror Expert: London Bombings Suspect is MI6 Asset

The July 29 edition of FOX News Channel's Day Side programme revealed that the so called mastermind of the 7/7 London Bombings, Haroon Rashid Aswat, is a British Intelligence Asset. Former Justice Dept. prosecutor and Terror expert John Loftus revealed that the so called Al-Muhajiroun group, based in London had formed during the Kosovo crisis, during which Fundamentalist Muslim Leaders (Or what is now referred to as Al Qaeda) were recruited by MI6 to fight in Kosovo.

The Art and Science of High Speed Photography

During this test I wanted to shoot with an air rifle straight through a card. The bullet ought to be stuck halfway the card. First everything was calculated, put into place and then the shot was fired. The first shot was pretty good but the bullet didn’t go halfway as intended. So there had to be more time between the firing of the riffle and using the flash.
The result of it all you can see here. The interval times can be measured precisely. The bullet leaves the barrel with a certain speed. So let’s measure that speed.

Jack Handey: What I'd Say to the Martians

Excerpt: I came here in peace, seeking gold and slaves. But you have treated me like an intruder. Maybe it is not me who is the intruder but you.
No, not me. You, stupid.
You keep my body imprisoned in this cage. But I am able to transport my mind to a place far away, a happier place, where I use Martian heads for batting practice.
I admit that sometimes I think we are not so different after all. When you see one of your old ones trip and fall down, do you not point and laugh, just as we on Earth do? And I think we can agree that nothing is more admired by the people of Earth and Mars alike than a fine, high-quality cigarette. For fun, we humans like to ski down mountains covered with snow; you like to “milk” bacteria off of scum hills and pack them into your gill slits. Are we so different? Of course we are, and you will be even more different if I ever finish my homemade flamethrower.

Protesters at Crawford Ranch

Unwanted guests in Crawford? Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son in Iraq, and is now very active as a founder of Gold Star Families for Peace, is at Bush's ranch as he starts his 5-week vacation. "I want to ask George Bush: Why did my son die?" She's not leaving until she gets to meet with him personally, altho it won't be the first time she met the President. Former Senator Max Cleland-- who lost both legs and an arm during the Vietnam War, didn't have any luck when he tried to get through to Bush at Crawford last year. Will this grieving mother do any better? [from]

Fractal Animations

Most are accompanied by fractal music

Philippe Petit and Two Towers

On this day in 1974 French stuntman Philippe Petit walked a tightrope strung between the still-unfinished (and largely unrented) towers of New York's World Trade Center. In the course of a single morning, the unexpected -- and illegal -- actions of a daring young Frenchman and a few of his confederates would change public opinion about the troubled towers, which were courting financial disaster and facing a barrage of architectural and social criticism (pdf). [from]

Special prosecutor's boss likely to be replaced with Bush classmate; 'Skull and Bones'

Newsweek's Michael Isikoff will splash a story in tomorrow's Newsweek which reveals that the boss of CIA leak probe prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is likely to be replaced by a former Bush classmate at Yale.
What's more, Newsweek has found that the new boss is a fellow initiate of the Yale secret society, Skull and Bones. Details will appear on the magazine's website early Sunday and on newsstands Monday.

Dallas law cracks down on feeding the homeless

Under a new ordinance, charities, churches and individuals will be allowed to serve food only at approved locations. Violations will be punishable by fines of $200 to $2,000.
Some, including Hunger Busters, say they plan to ignore the new rules.

9/11 Commission Says White House Has Not Provided Files

The White House has failed to turn over any of the information requested by the 10 members of the disbanded Sept. 11 commission in their renewed, unofficial investigation into whether the government is doing enough to prevent terrorist attacks on American soil, commission members said.
The members said that the Bush administration's lack of cooperation was hindering a project that was otherwise nearly complete.
Thomas H. Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey who led the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission, said he was surprised and disappointed that the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and several other executive branch agencies had failed to respond to requests made two months ago for updated information on the government's antiterrorism programs.

CIA Commander: We Let bin Laden Slip Away

In his book—titled "Jawbreaker"—the decorated career CIA officer criticizes Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Department for not providing enough support to the CIA and the Pentagon's own Special Forces teams in the final hours of Tora Bora, says Berntsen's lawyer, Roy Krieger. (Berntsen would not divulge the book's specifics, saying he's awaiting CIA clearance.) That backs up other recent accounts, including that of military author Sean Naylor, who calls Tora Bora a "strategic disaster" because the Pentagon refused to deploy a cordon of conventional forces to cut off escaping Qaeda and Taliban members. Maj. Todd Vician, a Defense Department spokesman, says the problem at Tora Bora "was not necessarily just the number of troops."
Berntsen's book gives, by contrast, a heroic portrayal of CIA activities at Tora Bora and in the war on terror. Ironically, he has sued the agency over what he calls unacceptable delays in approving his book—a standard process for ex-agency employees describing classified matters. "They're just holding the book," which is scheduled for October release, he says. "CIA officers, Special Forces and U.S. air power drove the Taliban out in 70 days. The CIA has taken roughly 80 days to clear my book."

Neocons Supposedly Shocked at Bush Backing Intelligent Design

This is a very silly article.

Bush Effectively Ended Ambramoff Investigation in 2002

A U.S. grand jury in Guam opened an investigation of controversial lobbyist Jack Abramoff more than two years ago, but President Bush removed the supervising federal prosecutor and the inquiry ended soon after.
The previously undisclosed Guam inquiry is separate from a federal grand jury in Washington that is investigating allegations that Abramoff bilked Indian tribes out of millions of dollars.
In Guam, an American territory in the Pacific, investigators were looking into Abramoff's secret arrangement with Superior Court officials to lobby against a court revision bill then pending in the U.S. Congress. The legislation, since approved, gave the Guam Supreme Court authority over the Superior Court.

Rich Liberals Vow to Fund Think Tanks

At least 80 wealthy liberals have pledged to contribute $1 million or more apiece to fund a network of think tanks and advocacy groups to compete with the potent conservative infrastructure built up over the past three decades.
The money will be channeled through a new partnership called the Democracy Alliance, which was founded last spring -- the latest in a series of liberal initiatives as the Democratic Party and its allies continue to struggle with the loss of the House and the Senate in 1994 and the presidency in 2000. Many influential Democratic contributors were left angry and despairing over the party's poor showing in last year's elections, and are looking for what they hope will be more effective ways to invest their support.

FBI Tracking Right Wing American Terrorists

In the decade since the 1995 bombing of Oklahoma City's Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, local police and federal agents have foiled roughly 60 right-wing extremist terrorist plots, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project. While homeland security and intelligence officials understandably focus today on terrorism threats from abroad, hate-group experts say the danger from homegrown extremists like Krar, now in federal prison, shouldn't be ignored. "The fact that the only chemical weapon incident in the United States involved a domestic extremist suggests that domestic terrorism is still a serious threat," says Mark Pitcavage, director of fact finding at the Anti-Defamation League. The Southern Poverty Law Center's estimates that 762 extremist right-wing hate groups were active in the United States last year, up slightly from the 751 groups tallied the year before.