Saturday, August 20, 2005

Lawyers for pope seek immunity in Texas sex abuse lawsuit naming Ratzinger as defendant

The Vatican's embassy in Washington sent a diplomatic memo to the State Department on May 20 requesting the U.S. government grant the pope immunity because he is a head of state, according to a May 26 motion submitted by the pope's lawyers in U.S. District Court for the Southern Division of Texas in Houston.
Joseph Ratzinger is named as a defendant in the civil lawsuit. Now Benedict XVI, he's accused of conspiring with the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston to cover up the abuse during the mid-1990s. The suit is seeking unspecified monetary damages.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Gerry Keener, said Tuesday that the pope already is considered a head of state and automatically has diplomatic immunity. Keener said Benedict doesn't have to ask for immunity and Bush doesn't have to grant it.

Sheehan Adds Focus to Iraq War Debate

In the second of two commentaries about Cindy Sheehan, commentator Desiree Cooper says that Sheehan has focused new attention on the Iraq war. Americans are paying attention to it in a way they have not since the election. Cooper says we should be ashamed that it takes a woman who has lost her son and is willing to camp out in front of President Bush's ranch in order to focus attention on the war.

Former aide: Powell WMD speech 'lowest point in my life'

Powell's speech, delivered on February 5, 2003, made the case for the war by presenting U.S. intelligence that purported to prove that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Wilkerson says the information in Powell's presentation initially came from a document he described as "sort of a Chinese menu" that was provided by the White House.
"(Powell) came through the door ... and he had in his hands a sheaf of papers, and he said, 'This is what I've got to present at the United Nations according to the White House, and you need to look at it,'" Wilkerson says in the program. "It was anything but an intelligence document. It was, as some people characterized it later, sort of a Chinese menu from which you could pick and choose."

Frist Backs 'Intelligent Design' Teaching

"I think today a pluralistic society should have access to a broad range of fact, of science, including faith," Frist said.
Frist, a doctor who graduated from Harvard Medical School, said exposing children to both evolution and intelligent design "doesn't force any particular theory on anyone. I think in a pluralistic society that is the fairest way to go about education and training people for the future."

Photographing Flying Insects

Most of the pages are devoted to a very detailed tutorial, but pages 2, 4, 9 & 10 show the results of the various setups. Some spectacular hi-speed (bee wings frozen in mid buzz) stuff in here.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Court Rules in Favor of Email Privacy

In a long-awaited decision, the full First Circuit Court of Appeals today overturned a First Circuit panel decision that had allowed an email service provider to secretly monitor the content of users' incoming messages without violating federal wiretap law. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and other privacy organizations submitted briefs in the case urging that the earlier decision be reheard by all seven First Circuit judges.
...The full court's new decision makes clear that even though emails are stored in computer memory during transmission, it is still criminal to intercept those messages without the user's permission or a court-issued wiretap order. The Wiretap Act doesn't apply merely to communications that are tapped from the wire, but also covers communications that are in "transient electronic storage that is intrinsic to the communication process," according to the court.

Noe's lawyer says Taft knew about coin fund in 2001

A prominent Republican fundraiser who invested state money in rare coins discussed the arrangement with Gov. Bob Taft in May 2001, contradicting the governor's assertion that he didn't learn of it until this year, the fundraiser's lawyer said.
Taft has claimed that until he read newspaper reports in April, he was unaware of Tom Noe's $50 million investment for the state insurance fund for injured workers.

The Nation: Abstinence-Only Education in Louisiana State Schools

Though by law it is supposed to focus only on promoting abstinence outside marriage, Louisiana's program also connects young people to the broader conservative politics surrounding the abstinence-only movement. The strategy helps turn out the next generation of foot soldiers who can, in turn, provide the grassroots political support necessary to perpetuate such programs in the long term. "The right has done an extremely effective and aggressive job of trying to orient and train young people on their political goals, philosophy and techniques," says Elliot Mincberg, vice president and legal director of People for the American Way. Rather than teach about religious beliefs, which many of the people drawn to Louisiana's abstinence program already have, the governor's program links those ideas to political action. Says Mincberg, "They're suggesting you can't be a good Christian unless you support this particular political point of view."
For the past few years the governor's program has used the $1.6 million in federal funds it receives yearly to teach abstinence to middle schoolers, run a website and create "GPA Clubs," which are now in 285 high schools and fourteen colleges throughout Louisiana. For many, the voluntary clubs' primary function is social. "It gives you friends at your school... [who] will support you in your stand to say no," Lipscomb says of his GPA club. Sometimes members wear their GPA T-shirts so they can be identified, he says. "And you can go hang with them if you don't feel comfortable around another group that might be talking about sex or participating in it."

Krugman: Fixing the Votes

There was at least as much electoral malfeasance in 2004 as there was in 2000, even if it didn't change the outcome. And the next election may be worse.
In his recent book "Steal This Vote" - a very judicious work, despite its title - Andrew Gumbel, a U.S. correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent, provides the best overview I've seen of the 2000 Florida vote. And he documents the simple truth: "Al Gore won the 2000 presidential election."
Two different news media consortiums reviewed Florida's ballots; both found that a full manual recount would have given the election to Mr. Gore. This was true despite a host of efforts by state and local officials to suppress likely Gore votes, most notably Ms. Harris's "felon purge," which disenfranchised large numbers of valid voters.
But few Americans have heard these facts. Perhaps journalists have felt that it would be divisive to cast doubt on the Bush administration's legitimacy. If so, their tender concern for the nation's feelings has gone for naught: Cindy Sheehan's supporters are camped in Crawford, and America is more bitterly divided than ever.

The Public Radio Exchange

a web-based marketplace for public radio pieces. Programmers find and air work from other stations, independent producers and international broadcasters. Producers - station-based or independent - license their work directly to stations.
It's a smart solution to the problem of excellent and innovative productions failing to reach wide audiences.
-- The Boston Globe

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Anthrax Outbreak Killing Cattle

An anthrax outbreak has killed hundreds of cattle in parts of the Great Plains, forcing quarantines and devastating ranchers who worry how they will recover financially.
More than 300 animals in North Dakota have died from anthrax in what officials call the worst outbreak among livestock in state history. In South Dakota, at least 200 cattle have been killed. Two ranches in Texas were quarantined last month after anthrax was found in cattle, horses and deer, officials said.

McCain: "Overwhelming Evidence" for Global Warming

"We are convinced that the overwhelming scientific evidence indicated that climate change is taking place and human activities play a very large role," McCain said.
McCain, accompanied by Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., spoke to villagers in Canada whose spruce trees are being attacked by the northward spread of spruce beetles. On Alaska's northern coast, they met Native Alaskans dealing with melting permafrost and coastal erosion.
"I don't think there is any doubt left for anyone who actually looks at the science," Clinton said. "There are still some holdouts, but they are fighting a losing battle. The science is overwhelming, but what is deeply concerning is that climate change is accelerating."
Graham, who declared himself "on the fence" about climate change legislation, said an academic debate about global warming is different in the North.
"If you can go to the Native people and listen to their stories and walk away with any doubt that something's going on, I just think you're not listening," he said.

BradBlog: Comcast Blocks Emails Linking to Cindy Sheehan Website!

UPDATE: Since the following item was posted, we have had confirmed reports of emails being blocked by other ISPs as well as Comcast. We'll post more when we know more. In the meantime, please try the tests described below, regardless of your e-mail provider, so we can get some sense of the scope of the problem. Thank you very much, as always.
Five weeks ago The BRAD BLOG ran a report indicating that Comcast, the nation's most popular email provider, was automatically deleting emails containing the web address "". Shortly after the report was published, 6 or 7 people made such a commotion that the problem was suddenly fixed. Various explanations were given, none of which cut any ice in the opinion of this lowly and nearly frozen blogger, but at least the problem went away.
Why am I telling you this? Background info. Today we have received a report indicating that something similar is happening again, but this time the address that triggers Comcast's automatic deletion is "".
Personally, I do not have Comcast service, nor do I know anyone who does. So I cannot test this report for myself. I can ask for a bit of help, though.

OPTRUTH: A Message to the Crawford Memorial Vandal

On Monday night, a vandal in a pickup truck ran over hundreds of small white crosses that had been installed in Crawford, Texas as a simple memorial to the Troops killed in Iraq. The vandal, who police say is Waco resident Larry Northern, was soon arrested, and OpTruth's Perry Jefferies managed to find his e-mail address. Here's what he had to say:

Mr. Northern:
I am a Veteran of the Iraq war, having served with the 4th Infantry Division on the initial invasion with Force Package One.
While I was in Iraq,a very good friend of mine, Christopher Cutchall,was killed in an unarmoredHMMWV outside of Baghdad. He was a cavalry scout serving with the 3d ID.Once he had declined the award of a medal because Soldiers assigned to him did not receive similar awards that he had recommended. He left two sons and awonderful wife. On Monday night, August 16, you ran down the memorial cross erected for him by Arlington West.
One of my Soldiers in Iraq was Roger Turner. We gave him a hard time because he always wore all of his protective equipment, including three pairs of glasses or goggles. He did this because he wanted to make sure that he returned home to his family. He rode a bicycle to work every day to make sure that he was able to save enough money on his Army salary to send his son to college. At Camp Anaconda, where the squadron briefly stayed, a rocket landed inside a tent, sending a piece of debris or fragment into him and killed him. On Monday night, August 16, you ran down the memorial cross erected for him by Arlington West.
One of my Soldiers was Henry Bacon. He was one of the finest men I ever met. He was in perfect shape for a man over forty, working hard at night. He told me that he did that because he didn't have much money to buy nice things for his wife, who he loved so much, so he had to be in good shape for her. He was like a father to many young men in his section of maintenance mechanics. They fixed our vehicles with almost no support and fabricated parts and made repairs that kept our squadron rolling on the longest, fastest armor advance ever made under fire. He was so very proud of his son-in-law that married the beautiful daughter so well raised by Henry. His son-in-law was a helicopter pilot with the 1st Cavalry Division, who died last year. Henry stopped to rescue a vehicle belonging to another unit on what was to be his last day in Iraq. He could have kept rolling - he was headed to Kuwait after a year's tour. But he stopped. He could have sent others to do the work, but he was on the ground, leading by example, when he was killed. On Monday night, August 16, you took it upon yourself to go out in the country, where a peaceful group was exercising their constitutional rights, and harming no one, and you ran down the memorial cross erected for Henry and for his son-in-law by Arlington West.
Mr. Northern - I know little about Cindy Sheehan except that she is a grieving mother, a gentle soul, and wants to bring harm to no one. I know little about you except that you found your way to Crawford on Monday night in August with chains and a pipe attached to your truck for the sole purpose of dishonoring a memorial erected for my friends and lost Soldiers and hundreds of others that served this nation when they were called. I find it disheartening that good men like these have died so that people like you can threaten a mother who lost a child with your actions. I hope that you are ashamed of yourself.
Perry Jefferies, First Sergeant, USA (retired)

Library Missing Roberts File

A file folder containing papers from Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr.'s work on affirmative action more than 20 years ago disappeared from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library after its review by two lawyers from the White House and the Justice Department in July, according to officials at the library and the National Archives and Records Administration.
Archivists said the lawyers returned the file but it now cannot be located. No duplicates of the folder's contents were made before the lawyers' review. Although one of the lawyers has assisted in the Archives' attempt to reconstruct its contents from other files, officials have no way of independently verifying their effort was successful.
It is rare for the Archives to lose documents in its care and the agency has requested an investigation by its inspector general, said Sharon Fawcett, the assistant archivist for presidential libraries.

Scotland Yard commissioner tried to stop shooting inquiry

Scotland Yard commissioner Sir Ian Blair attempted to stop an independent external investigation into the shooting of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes, who was mistaken for a suicide bomber and dispatched with seven bullets to the head soon after an official "shoot-to-kill" policy was enacted. CCTV footage that was once available and would help explain this circumstances around this killing was subsequently lost by authorities upon public outcries for this independent investigation.

State Department experts warned CENTCOM before Iraq war about lack of plans for post-war Iraq security

Planning for post-Saddam regime change began as early as October, 2001

Newly declassified State Department documents show that government experts warned the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in early 2003 about "serious planning gaps for post-conflict public security and humanitarian assistance," well before Operation Iraqi Freedom began.

In a February 7, 2003, memo
to Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky, three senior Department officials noted CENTCOM's "focus on its primary military objectives and its reluctance to take on 'policing' roles," but warned that "a failure to address short-term public security and humanitarian assistance concerns could result in serious human rights abuses which would undermine an otherwise successful military campaign, and our reputation internationally." The memo adds "We have raised these issues with top CENTCOM officials."
By contrast, a December 2003 report to Congress, also released by the State Department, offers a relatively rosy picture of the security situation, saying U.S. forces are "increasingly successful in preventing planned hostile attacks; and in capturing former regime loyalists, would-be terrorists and planners; and seizing weapons caches." The document acknowledges that "Challenges remain."
Since then, 1,393 U.S. military fatalities have been recorded in Iraq, including two on the day the report went to Congress.
The new documents, released this month to the National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, also provide more evidence on when the Bush administration began planning for regime change in Iraq -- as early as October 2001.
The declassified records relate mainly to the so-called "Future of Iraq Project," an effort, initially run by the State Department then by the Pentagon, to plan for the transition to a new regime after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. They provide detail on each of the working groups and give the starting date for planning as October 2001.
Entire sections of a Powerpoint presentation the State Department prepared on November 1, 2002 -- including those covering "What We Have Learned So Far" and "Implications for the Real Future of Iraq" -- have been censored as still-classified information.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

New Data Shows Widespread Vote Manipulations in 2004

New research compiled by Dr. Dennis Loo with the University of Cal Poly Pomona now shows that extensive manipulation of non-paper-trail voting machines occurred in several states during the 2004 election.
The facts are as follows:
In 2004 Bush far exceeded the 85% of registered Florida Republican votes that he got in 2000, receiving more than 100% of the registered Republican votes in 47 out of 67 Florida counties, 200% of registered Republicans in 15 counties, and over 300% of registered Republicans in 4 counties. Bush managed these remarkable outcomes despite the fact that his share of the crossover votes by registered Democrats in Florida did not increase over 2000, and he lost ground among registered Independents, dropping 15 points. We also know that Bush "won" Ohio by 51-48%, but statewide results were not matched by the court-supervised hand count of the 147,400 absentee and provisional ballots in which Kerry received 54.46% of the vote. In Cuyahoga County, Ohio the number of recorded votes was more than 93,000 greater than the number of registered voters.
More importantly national exit polls showed Kerry winning in 2004. However, It was only in precincts where there were no paper trails on the voting machines that the exit polls ended up being different from the final count. According to Dr. Steve Freeman, a statistician at the University of Pennsylvania, the odds are 250 million to one that the exit polls were wrong by chance. In fact, where the exit polls disagreed with the computerized outcomes the results always favored Bush - another statistical impossibility.

Ashes of Hunter S. Thompson to Be Shot from Cannon This Weekend with Fireworks

Hunter S. Thompson has been granted his final wish and will go out with a bang.
A very big bang.
On Saturday, the self-styled king of gonzo journalism will have a final send-off when his ashes will be dispersed in a fireworks display above his estate in Woody Creek, Colo.
And Zambelli Fireworks Internationale, based in New Castle, has been tapped to be the late author's pyrotechnic pallbearers.
"We have never had a request such as this one in our company's history," said Marcy Zambelli, chief executive officer of Zambelli Fireworks. "But we respect the request of the family and have actually custom engineered an aerial shell specifically designed to carry out his final wish."

Video from Camp Casey

Hiroshima bomb may have carried hidden agenda

The US decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 was meant to kick-start the Cold War rather than end the Second World War, according to two nuclear historians who say they have new evidence backing the controversial theory.
Causing a fission reaction in several kilograms of uranium and plutonium and killing over 200,000 people 60 years ago was done more to impress the Soviet Union than to cow Japan, they say. And the US President who took the decision, Harry Truman, was culpable, they add.

Bangladesh Hit By 300 Bombs; 1 Dead, 125 Injured, Official Says

More that 300 bombs exploded in towns and cities across Bangladesh today, killing at least one person and wounding 125 others, a senior government official said.
Blasts occurred in 62 of the country's 64 districts between 10:45 a.m and 11:30 a.m. local time today, Zahirul Haque, director general external publicity at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said.
Forty-five people have been arrested in connection with the attack, Haque said. He said he had no further information.

Lyrics to "Sweet Neo Con"

[Thanks to The Blackwood Blog]

“You ride around your white castle,
On your little white horse
You lie to your people,
and blame it on your war of course

You call yourself a Christian,
I call you a hypocrite
You call yourself a patriot,
well I think you’re full of shit

Oh, sweet Neo Con,
What path have you led them on?
Oh, sweet Neo Con,
Is it time for the atom bomb?

You parade around in costume,
Expecting to be believed
But as the body bags stack up,
We believe we’ve been deceived

The horror you’ve unleased,
Will backfire with more grief
When will you ever learn,
Sweet Neo Con, as the world burns?

Oh, sweet Neo Con,
What path have you led them on?
Oh, sweet Neo Con,
Is it time for the atom bomb?
Oh, sweet Neo Con,
What path have you led them on?
Oh, sweet Neo Con,
Is it time to drop the bomb?”

Roberts Voted In Favor of "Rigged Trials" Same Day as Supreme Court Interview

Roberts met with Gonzales on April 1, six days before hearing oral arguments in the case, which resulted in a unanimous decision in favor of the administration. Assistant Attorney General Peter D. Keisler, a top Gonzales deputy, argued the case on behalf of the administration.
One month later, with the case in progress, Roberts was summoned to the White House for a meeting with Vice President Cheney, White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, among others. Bush conducted the final face-to-face interview on July 15 -- the same day Roberts and two other judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued the ruling in the case, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld .
With Roberts facing Senate confirmation to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court, a top Democratic aide said Senate Democrats are likely to ask him if his involvement in the case creates the impression of a conflict of interest. Legal experts questioned about the matter were divided over the issue, underscoring the nebulous nature of conflict-of-interest standards for federal judges.

Leak disputes Menezes death story

Leaked documents appear to contradict the official account of how police mistook a Brazilian man for a suicide bomber and shot him.
The papers, from the probe into Jean Charles de Menezes' death, and leaked to ITV, suggest he was restrained before being shot eight times.
Mr de Menezes, 27, was killed at Stockwell Tube station on 22 July.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has said it will not comment on its investigation.

'State Secrets' Privilege Not So Rare

In fact, it has been used over 60 ¬times since its creation in the 1950s.
The state secrets privilege is a series of U.S. legal precedents allowing the federal government to dismiss legal cases that it claims would threaten foreign policy, military intelligence or national security.
A relic of the Cold War with the then-Soviet Union, it has been invoked several times since the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Judges have denied the privilege on only five occasions.
It was used against Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI translator, who was fired in retaliation for reporting security breaches and possible espionage within the Bureau. Lower courts dismissed the case when former Attorney-General John Ashcroft invoked the state secrets privilege.

Roberts Wrote in 1985 That Memorial for Fetuses Was Good Way to Draw Attention to "Abortion Tragedy"

Bush administration opposing .xxx TLD

Back in June, ICANN approved an application for a .xxx TLD extension. The application was a result of research conducted by the ICM Registry and the International Foundation for Online Responsibility to develop a strategy for identifying a TLD string for the responsible online adult-entertainment community that would transcend geographic regions and languages while having high recognition and lasting value for both registrants and Internet users. Based on this research, ICM and IFFOR selected .xxx as the sole string for this application based upon its high ranking in the aforementioned criteria. In testimony to COPA Commission, Sen. Joe Lieberman endorsed the idea of an Internet "redlight district" (pdf) holding Internet sites to the same standard as X-rated movie theatres. Bowing to pressure from the Family Research Council and other "conservative" groups, Michael Gallagher, assistant secretary at the Commerce Department, has asked for a hold to be placed on the contract to run the new top-level domain until the .xxx suffix can receive further scrutiny. The Bush administration has hinted it may unilaterally to block .xxx from being added to the Internet's master database of domains. [from]

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Roberts scoffed at equal-pay theory

In his memo to White House counsel Fred Fielding, Roberts said the women's letter "contends that more is required because women still earn only $0.60 for every $1 earned by men, ignoring the factors that explain that apparent disparity, such as seniority, the fact that many women frequently leave the work force for extended periods of time. ... I honestly find it troubling that three Republican representatives are so quick to embrace such a radical redistributive concept. Their slogan may as well be, 'From each according to his ability, to each according to her gender.' "
The Feb. 20, 1984, memo from Roberts was among 5,393 pages of records released Monday by the National Archives that were from Roberts' work during the Reagan administration in the early 1980s.

Johns Hopkins to Study Electronic Voting

The project's goal is to design the most foolproof, transparent voting system possible, officials said Monday.
"I don't think with today's technology we can have a voting system that is fully electronic that can be trusted," said Avi Rubin, a computer science professor. He will head a new Hopkins center called ACCURATE, short for A Center for Correct, Usable, Reliable, Auditable and Transparent Elections.
Rubin told The (Baltimore) Sun he hopes the center will provide information in time for the 2008 presidential contest, but that its research will take longer.
Rubin has been an outspoken critic of computerized voting. In 2003, he co-authored a report that found voting machines from Diebold Elections Systems were vulnerable to hackers, multiple votes and vote-switching.

Worm strikes down Windows 2000 systems

Among those hit were offices on Capitol Hill and media organizations, including CNN, ABC and The New York Times. The Caterpillar Co. in Peoria, Illinois, reportedly also had problems.
While the worm primarily affects Windows 2000, it also can affect some early versions of Microsoft XP, said Johannes Ullrich, director of the Sans Institute, a network security firm based in Jacksonville, Florida.
Symptoms include the repeated shutdown and rebooting of a computer.

Judge Rules Some Arguments in Abu Ghraib Prison Photo Case Must Be Divulged

A judge said he generally ruled in favor of public disclosure when he ordered the government on Monday to reveal some redacted parts of its argument for blocking the release of pictures and videotapes of detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.
U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein made the statement in open court after meeting in a closed session with lawyers for the government and the American Civil Liberties Union, which is seeking release of the pictures and tapes.
Hellerstein said his rulings pertained to arguments by Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and Ronald Schlicher, deputy assistant secretary and coordinator for Iraq in the Department of State's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.
"By and large, I ruled in favor of public disclosure," he said.
He gave U.S. Attorney David Kelley, who argued the case, time to appeal the rulings.
Myers and Schlicher had submitted declarations describing why they thought releasing the photographs would threaten national security. Myers wrote that releasing the photographs would aid al-Qaida recruitment, weaken the Afghan and Iraqi governments, and incite riots against U.S. troops.

Not My Type

Brilliant animations built from typographical characters.

Japanese WWII Propaganda

Feyneman and Hillis Have Their Questions Answered on Broken Spaghetti

It was one of the great riddles of the cosmos. Along with black holes, the structure of space-time and the origins of the Big Bang, some of the greatest scientific minds have struggled with the dry spaghetti question. Why does uncooked spaghetti snap into more than two pieces when bent?

What Makes People Gay?

Long, informative article from Boston Globe on recent scientific developments regarding nature or nurture. Studies on twins, brothers, CGN, the "big brother" effect, fetal development, genetics, hormones, etc. and don't miss the Evangelical Preacher who converted to the belief that homosexuality is not a choice but rather a predisposition, something "deeply rooted" in people. [from]

Have You Heard? Gossip Turns Out to Serve a Purpose

Who knew? Both gossip and promiscuity serve the larger social good. [with thanks to Tom P]

My Dad Has Been Found

He is in a hospital right now. Won't know the details for a couple hours.

Ira Glass on Working in Television, Public Radio's Struggle For Innovation, and Hanging Up On People

Ira Glass is the host and creator of "This American Life," a weekly public radio show produced by WBEZ-Chicago and distributed by Public Radio International that draws 1.7 million listeners per week. David Mamet wrote in Time magazine that Glass "seems to have reinvented radio," and the show helped launch the careers of writers David Sedaris, David Rakoff and Sarah Vowell. Glass just finished putting together a "pilot presentation," a shorter and cheaper version of a pilot, for Showtime, which is interested in turning "This American Life" into a TV series.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Ken McComb Missing

Kenneth William McComb (72) of Mesquite, Nevada was last heard from on Sunday, August 7, 2005 when he spoke to his friend George White on the phone.
"We had an agreement," said White. "We would take turns month by month calling to check on each other daily. Just to make sure everything was okay. He told me, he'd talk to me the next day. He seemed in good spirits and perfectly normal."
White initially had Mesquite Police do a welfare check on McComb on Thursday, August 11, when he hadn't been able to reach him. The police found his apartment empty with no evidence of foul play. McComb was listed as a "missing person" on Saturday, August 13.
According to his daughter, Kathy McComb of Michigan, "He is older and not in the greatest of health. It is very unlike him to just disappear without notifying anyone."
He is know to frequent the sports book and Keno areas at the Casa Blanca and the Oasis and attends church in Bunkerville on Sundays. He drives a dark green 1998 Chevy Malibu with chipped paint on the front bumper. Nevada handicap license plate,number unknown at this time. His car is also missing.
According to White his medications were left in his apartment and he may be ill and in need of them.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Mesquite Police Department at (702) 346-5262 immediately.

Hacker Selling Explorer Flaw

The Russian hacker known as "Bit" had something valuable to sell. He had spotted a defect in Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT ) Internet Explorer Web browser that makes it vulnerable to attack -- and figured out how to exploit it. In an underground chat room frequented by virus writers, Bit made his pitch. "I'm selling a zero-day exploit for Internet Explorer," read the ad posted at on July 16. The price? $300.

Satire: President Defends Intelligent Design Theory

Now just so we're clear, I want folks to understand that when I say "Intelligent Design," I don't mean it in the same way that some faggy creative director type wearing Woody Allen glasses does when he's talking about how some crappy website or electro-gizmo is easy to use. No, I'm referring to the FACT that humanity was invented, manufactured and distributed exclusively by God from his state-of-the-art mega-factory in the clouds. And while, yes, God Himself did engage in a certain amount of "design," that hardly means He's the kind of Nancy Boy who would subscribe to Architectural Digest or cream His jeans over the latest iMac.
Anyway, today, after having consulted at length with America's most intelligentest Creation Scientists, I am proud to present the evidence that both DISPROVES Darwin's absurd theory of evolution AND will make up the foundation of Intelligent Design Public Education for generations to come! (Applause.)

Bush Hints att Use of Force Against Iran on Israeli TV

THE PRESIDENT: Well, all options are on the table.
Q Including use of force?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, as I say, all options are on the table. The use of force is the last option for any President. You know, we've used force in the recent past to secure our country. It's a difficult -- it's difficult for the Commander-in-Chief to put kids in harm's way. Nevertheless, I have been willing to do so as a last resort in order to secure the country and to provide the opportunity for people to live in free societies.

How Congress' Sole Independent Influences Legislation

As he waits for his chance to address the Rules Committee, Sanders is actually armed with not one but two amendments. The measures are essentially the same, both using identical language to prohibit warrantless searches of libraries and bookstores. The only difference is, the amendment Sanders is trying to get past the committee would permanently outlaw such searches under the Patriot Act. The second amendment takes a more temporary approach, denying the Justice Department funding in next year's budget to conduct those types of searches.
This kind of creative measure -- so-called limitation amendments -- are often the best chance for a minority member like Sanders to influence legislation. For one thing, it's easier to offer such amendments to appropriations bills than it is to amend bills like the Patriot Act. Therefore, Sanders often brings issues to a vote by attempting to limit the funds for certain government programs -- targeting a federal loan here, a bloated contract there. "It's just another way of getting at an issue," says Sanders.
In this case, the tactic worked. A month earlier, on June 15th, the House passed Sanders' amendment to limit funding for library and bookstore searches by a vote of 238-187, with thirty-eight Republicans joining 199 Democrats.

KCNA Random Insult Generator

You psychopathological lackey, you would be well advised to behave with discretion!

Bush Official on Iraq: We are "shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning"

The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq, recognizing that the United States will have to settle for far less progress than originally envisioned during the transition due to end in four months, according to U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad.
The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society where the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.
"What we expected to achieve was never realistic, given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning."

New Door!

Cleanliness, efficiency, compactness, cool-factor… for a variety of reasons, automatic doors have become a standard feature of Japanese shops. While the typical sliding star-trek style design has proven itself, the tanaka auto door aims to improve upon a good concept. This new design entails strips equipped with infrared sensors that open to the approximate shape of the person or object passing through, minimizing entry of dust, pollen, and bugs while keeping precious air-conditioning in.

The Sliming Of Iraq Mom Cindy Sheehan

On Thursday, Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard, called Sheehan a “crackpot” on Fox News.
John Podhoretz called her protest “political theater” National Review’s blog, The Corner.
This morning, the Drudge Report posted a banner headline, “BUSH PROTESTING MOM CALLS FOR 'ISRAEL OUT OF PALESTINE'; VOWS NOT TO PAY TAXES.”
And conservative columnist and blogger Michelle Malkin put up an “unconfirmed report” that Sheehan’s husband, Patrick, had filed for a divorce.
Sheehan’s son Casey was killed April 4, 2004, while fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Cindy Sheehan has refused to leave the president’s ranch until he meets with her.

Bush: "important for me to go on with my life"

Bush blithely bikes away from Cindy Sheehan.

Cindy Sheehan "changed her story on Bush"? Tracking a lie through the conservative media

Media Matters for America, the liberal watchdog group, says conservative media are spreading "a lie" about Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq who has become a vocal anti-war protester. Beginning with the Drudge Report and continuing with pundits including Michelle Malkin and Bill O'Reilly, the right-wing echo chamber has been claiming that Sheehan "dramatically changed her account" of a meeting she had with Bush in June 2004. In fact, their claim is based on selective omissions and quotations out of context from the original report about their meeting that appeared in Sheehan's hometown paper. Specifically, Drudge left out the parts from the original story in which the Sheehans criticized Bush and the war. "We don't think there has been a dramatic turnaround," states the hometown paper in its response to Drudge's charges. "Clearly, Cindy Sheehan's outrage was festering even then. ... In ensuing months, she has grown more focused, more determined, more aggressive. ... We invite readers to revisit the story - in context - on our Web site and decide for themselves." [from]

Propaganda, treason and plot

"After the London bombings," reports Bob Chaundy, the British government "is looking at whether so-called 'preachers of hate' can be charged with treason. The last person to be executed for high treason, nearly 60 years ago, was the infamous Nazi propagandist Lord Haw-Haw." Chaundy profiles Lord Haw-Haw (real name William Joyce), whose program, "Germany Calling," was listened to by "an estimated third of the British nation during World War II. "Listeners would be treated to such absurd doses of Nazi propaganda that it became a huge joke and, therefore, compulsive listening." [from]

'Wash Post' Hit For Sponsorship Of 'Freedom' March

The Washington Post has no plans to withdraw its co-sponsorship of a controversial Sept. 11 memorial walk being organized by the Department of Defense, according to Publisher Bo Jones. But, he said the paper would pull out if the event turns out to be some kind of pro-war or political march.
"This was part of the memorial of the 9/11 victims and an effort for veterans past and present and that is it," Jones said about the "Freedom Walk" slated for Sept. 11. "This has nothing to do with politics or the war or support of any political position."

'NY Times' Suit Finally Produces 9/11 Oral Histories

In thousands of pages of oral histories released Friday, firefighters describe in vivid, intimate detail how they rushed to save fleeing civilians from churning smoke and fire before the World Trade Center collapsed in a monstrous cloud of debris and choking dust.
The histories, recorded in the weeks after the Sept. 11 attack, offer some of the most detailed descriptions of the day's horror as seen through the eyes of firefighters who lost 343 of their brethren.
Trapped in the mall below the trade center after the collapse of the south tower, firefighter James Murphy and a group of firefighters started hunting for the exits. Frightened civilians began grabbing onto them, he said.

Robots and Ads to Defeat Roadside Bombs

The Pentagon, looking for innovative ways to thwart deadly roadside bombs in Iraq, has launched an $11 million program using robots, body armor and a "first-ever advertising campaign aimed at the Iraqi" people, the weekly Inside the Army reports.
An Army-led joint task force, called the Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Task Force, will spend $7.7 million to have an Iraqi ad agency produce "a series of media products . . . designed to influence Iraqi target audiences to support efforts to eliminate the IED threat," the Pentagon said last month.

U.S. Struggling to Get Soldiers Updated Armor

The ceramic plates in vests worn by most personnel cannot withstand certain munitions the insurgents use. But more than a year after military officials initiated an effort to replace the armor with thicker, more resistant plates, tens of thousands of soldiers are still without the stronger protection because of a string of delays in the Pentagon's procurement system.
The effort to replace the armor began in May 2004, just months after the Pentagon finished supplying troops with the original plates - a process also plagued by delays. The officials disclosed the new armor effort Wednesday after questioning by The New York Times, and acknowledged that it would take several more months or longer to complete.

The Value of Fun and Recreation Downgraded 90% by Bush Administration

Joel Holtrop, deputy chief of the National Forest System, said the revised numbers may spur the administration to shift some of its recreation dollars within the system but will not prompt it to downgrade activities such as hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching.
"It's just as valuable to us today as it was 10 years ago; we just have a better way of calculating it," Holtrop said in an interview. "We recognize recreation activity is an important program to the American people."
But critics of the administration said they fear that the new numbers, which were obtained from the nonprofit Natural Resources News Service, will be used to justify more logging and mining on national forests. Under the old estimates, recreation accounted for 85 percent of the system's contribution to the GDP, compared with extraction's 11 percent; under the new formula, recreation represents 59 percent.

Christopher Walken For President!

"Our great country is in a terrible downward spiral. We're outsourcing jobs, bankrupting social security, and losing lives at war. We need to focus on what's important-- paying attention to our children, our citizens, our future. We need to think about improving our failing educational system, making better use of our resources, and helping to promote a stable, safe, and tolerant global society. It's time to be smart about our politics. It's time to get America back on track."

Whether this is a hoax, I don't know. Snopes hasn't jumped on this one yet.

Evidences of gender confusion or doubt in boys ages 5 to 11

From the morons at Focus on the Family

Savings from Base Closings Overstated

A majority of the members of the independent commission assessing the Pentagon's proposed list of domestic base closings say that the Defense Department probably overstated the nearly $50 billion in savings projected over 20 years, perhaps by nearly 50 percent.
In interviews this week, eight of the nine members expressed varying degrees of concern about the accuracy of the Pentagon figures, and said they had directed the commission's staff to conduct a separate savings analysis before the commission's final votes on the military's recommendations later this month.
After scores of base visits and public hearings, most of the commission members interviewed said they now agreed with a report issued this summer by federal investigators that concluded that nearly half of the Pentagon's projected savings came from cuts in military jobs that, in many cases, would simply be reassigned to other installations.