Friday, August 26, 2005

US Fatalities in Iraq as of 8/1/05 by Home Record

"Gay Bar" Visedo Mashup Starring Bush and Blair [Flash]

New Medicaid Proposal Would Gut Community Mental Health Services

The Bush Administration has just sent Congress proposed language to amend the definitions of Medicaid rehabilitation and targeted case management services, two core elements of public community mental health systems. The changes, if enacted, could make it impossible for states and localities to bill Medicaid for intensive community-based services for adults with serious mental illness and children with serious mental or emotional disorders.
Congressional committees will consider these proposals from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in September. Members of Congress need to hear from constituents about the catastrophic impact their enactment would have on an already struggling public community mental health system.

Least Church-Going Rich Countries Give Most

Nations where fewer people attend church tend to be more generous in their support for development in poor countries than those where church attendance is much greater, according to the third annual edition of the "Commitment to Development Index (CDI)", published this week in Foreign Policy magazine.

15 Muslims, Cleared of Terrorism Charges, Remain at Guantanamo With Nowhere to Go

In late 2003, the Pentagon quietly decided that 15 Chinese Muslims detained at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could be released. Five were people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, some of them picked up by Pakistani bounty hunters for U.S. payoffs. The other 10 were deemed low-risk detainees whose enemy was China's communist government -- not the United States, according to senior U.S. officials.
More than 20 months later, the 15 still languish at Guantanamo Bay, imprisoned and sometimes shackled, with most of their families unaware whether they are even alive.
They are men without a country. The Bush administration has chosen not to send them home for fear China will imprison, persecute or torture them, as the United States charges has happened to other members of China's Muslim minority. But the State Department has also been unable to find another country to take them in, according to U.S. officials and recently filed court documents.
Other detainees cleared of terrorism charges have also languished for years at Guantanamo Bay, but all have been sent home or are in the process of being transferred. For the Chinese Uighurs (pronounced WEE-gurs ), there is no end in sight. About 20 countries -- including Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Turkey and a Latin American country -- have turned down U.S. overtures to give them asylum, according to U.S. officials.

Tests on returning troops suggest serious health consequences of depleted uranium use in Iraq

The problem is that when DU hits its target, it burns at a high temperature, throwing off clouds of microscopic particles that poison a wide area and remain radioactive for billions of years. If inhaled, these particles can lodge in lungs, other organs or bones, irradiating tissue and causing cancers.
Worse yet, uranium is also a highly toxic heavy metal. Indeed, while there is some debate over the risk posed by the element’s radioactive emissions, there is no debate regarding its chemical toxicity. According to Mt. Sinai pathologist Thomas Fasey, who participated in the New York Guard unit testing, the element has an affinity for bonding with DNA, where even trace amounts can cause cancers and fetal abnormalities.
Dr. Doug Rokke, a health physicist at the University of Illinois who headed up a Pentagon study of depleted uranium weapons in the mid ’90s after concerns were raised during the Gulf War, concluded there was no safe way to use the weapons. Rokke says the Pentagon responded by denouncing him, after earlier commending his work.

Profiling Report Leads to a Demotion

The Bush administration is replacing the director of a small but critical branch of the Justice Department, months after he complained that senior political officials at the department were seeking to play down newly compiled data on the aggressive police treatment of black and Hispanic drivers.
The demotion of the official, Lawrence A. Greenfeld, whom President Bush named in 2001 to lead the Bureau of Justice Statistics, caps more than three years of simmering tensions over charges of political interference at the agency. And it has stirred anger and tumult among many Justice Department statisticians, who say their independence in analyzing important law enforcement data has been compromised.

Cindy Sheehan's Ad Online

U.S. Rejects Media Concerns about Iraq Detentions

The U.S. military rejected on Thursday concerns aired by Reuters and other media organizations in Iraq about its detention of journalists, saying it would not consider the special nature of their work in reporting conflict.
International media rights groups have joined Reuters in seeking an urgent explanation for the arrest of a cameraman working for the news agency, who has been held incommunicado for more than two weeks and is now in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.

Cindy Sheehan Planning Bus Tour

A fallen soldier's mother said Thursday that the anti-war vigil she started nearly three weeks ago near President Bush's ranch won't end when she and other protesters pack up their camp next week.
Cindy Sheehan said the day after she leaves Aug. 31, she will embark on a bus tour ending up in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 24. Then the group will start a 24-hour vigil in the nation's capital.
"I am not alone," she said at a news conference Thursday. "There's the people standing behind me here, but there's thousands of military families ... who want the same answers to the same questions."

Baby Bear Looks Happy

Talini, left, a 9-month-old, 160-pound polar bear cub, swims with her mother Barle at the Detroit Zoo's Artic Ring of Life exhibit. Talini's birth was the first polar bear birth at the Detroit Zoo in fifteen years. Her mother Barle was wild born and was rescued by the Detroit Zoo from a circus in Puerto Rico in 2002. She is a first-time mom.

Pentagon Places Gag Order Regarding Base Closings

Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England directed senior Pentagon officials this week not to comment on the recommendations of the Defense Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission, which is currently holding its final hearings.
"It's important that Department of Defense personnel refrain from answering questions or providing comments regarding the Commission's recommendations," England wrote in an August 23, 2005 memo. See:

All inquiries should be referred to DoD spokesman Michael Wynne, Mr. England wrote.
On August 24, Mr. Wynne issued the following statement: "We will begin to carefully review the commission's recommendations, and will have no comment on specific commission actions this week."

Democrats Fumble Iraq Policy

While Republicans voice growing unease over U.S. President George W. Bush's vow to "stay the course" in Iraq, Democrats remain deeply divided about their position on a conflict that most of them privately describe as a major foreign policy disaster.
Despite the plunging popularity of the war -- and of Bush's approval ratings -- leading Democrats, particularly the party's brahmins in the Senate, have so far refused to countenance talk of withdrawal, preferring instead to attack the president over tactical issues rather than the war itself.
But their reticence -- no doubt inspired by their fear of being depicted as "soft on terrorism" and the memory of their disastrous Vietnam War-era splits between hawks and doves in the late 1960s and early 1970s -- is appearing increasingly untenable as the party's grassroots activists enlist in what is becoming, thanks to the mother of one fallen soldier, a serious, new anti-war movement, and as prominent Republicans themselves demonstrate a growing willingness to question the war.

Federal Judge OKs Global Warming Lawsuit

A federal judge here said environmental groups and four U.S. cities can sue federal development agencies on allegations the overseas projects they financially back contribute to global warming.
The decision Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White is the first to say that groups alleging global warming have a right to sue.
"This is the first decision in the country to say that climate change causes sufficient injury to give a plaintiff standing, to open the courthouse door," said Ronald Shems, a Vermont attorney representing Friends of the Earth.
That group, in addition to Greenpeace and the cities of Boulder, Colo., Santa Monica, Oakland and Arcata, Calif., sued Overseas Private Investment Corp. and the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Those government agencies provide loans and insure billions of dollars of U.S. investors' money for development projects overseas. Many of the projects are power plants that emit greenhouses gases that the groups allege cause global warming.

Library sues over Patriot Act

A controversial Patriot Act clause allowing the U.S. government to demand information about library patrons' borrowing habits is being challenged in federal court for the first time by a library.
The lawsuit was filed against U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut by an unnamed library and the American Civil Liberties Union.
The suit -- filed on August 9 and made public by the ACLU on Thursday -- calls the FBI's order to produce library records "unconstitutional on its face" and said a gag order preventing public discussion of the lawsuit is an unlawful restraint on speech.
Critical details of the lawsuit were blacked out on the ACLU's Web site in compliance with the gag order. The library is thought to be based in Connecticut since the lawsuit was filed there with the participation of the Connecticut branch of the ACLU.

See also:
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said during Senate testimony in April that the Justice Department "has no interest in rummaging through the library records or medical records of Americans" but that "libraries should not become safe havens" for terrorists or other criminals.
Gonzales said at the time that the FBI had never asked for records under a provision of the Patriot Act known by critics as the "library provision," which allows the government to demand records from a variety of businesses, including libraries, in intelligence probes.

Conyers calls for racial profiling inquiry

Ranking House Judicary Democrat John Conyers today called for an investigation by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office into allegations that the Bush Justice Department suppressed a study indicating racial profiling, RAW STORY has learned.
"Based on what I have learned about the treatment of Mr. Greenfeld, I am calling for an independent review by the GAO," Conyers said in a statement. "It is totally unacceptable for the Justice Department to politicize statistical releases and demote individuals merely because they were seeking to provide accurate summaries of statistical information regarding racial profiling. We need to review the Department's treatment of Mr. Greenfeld as well as all aspects of the accuracy and completeness of the traffic stops study."
Conyers's demand comes after a New York Times report focusing the director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics Lawrence Greenfield, which said Greenfeld "was ordered to delete references to racial disparities in a news release prepared to announce a study on the treatment of different ethnic groups during police traffic stops," the Washington Post reported today.

Rev. Fred Phelps to "Hunt Down" Swedish King

I usually ignore Phelps, but this is too freakin' weird to pass up... -- McLir

The fanatical American Baptist minister, Fred Phelps, is on his way to Sweden.
"We'll hunt down your king," he said ominously to Expressen. "It doesn't make any difference where he tries to hide."
Phelps' hatred of the royal family and all things Swedish is linked directly to his equally virulent hatred of homosexuals. He praises homophobic crimes, including murder. When controversial Swedish minister, Åke Green, was convicted of inciting hatred of homosexuals following an anti-gay sermon, Phelps saw red and turned his attention to Sweden.
"You're doomed to spend eternity in hell," he continued. "All you Swedes and your Swedish king and his family."
The minister and twenty members of his congregation from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, are planning to come to Sweden at the beginning of September. They are bringing plenty of placards in order to spread their message that Sweden is the cradle of all evil and that the king rules a nation of sodomites.

90% Support Right to Protest War

An overwhelming number of people say critics of the Iraq war should be free to voice their objections — a rare example of widespread agreement about a conflict that has divided the nation along partisan lines.
Nearly three weeks after a grieving California mother named Cindy Sheehan started her anti-war protest near President Bush's Texas ranch, nine of 10 people surveyed in an AP-Ipsos poll say it's OK for war opponents to publicly share their concerns about the conflict.

FL Schoool Blocks Students Speaking Out Against Recruitment Tactic

Paul Waters-Smith, 17, said military recruiters call students sissies and say things like "It's time to be a man" to try to get them to enlist.
On top of the harassment, recruiters target the weak and "promise things that will never happen," the Pine View High School senior said.
Waters-Smith was one of nearly 20 people who urged the Manatee County School Board on Monday night to let groups on campus to counter the messages of the recruiters.
"We are targets for our very lives," Waters-Smith said. "This is unacceptable. We will not be lied to anymore."
The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires school districts to allow recruiters on campus and provide them with the names, addresses and telephone numbers of students, or risk losing funding.
...But this month the district blocked the anti-war group Coalition of Concerned Patriots from handing out literature to students, saying doing so would violate a school policy that bars political groups from campuses.

One hundred thousand Shi'ites protest Iraq charter

Supporters of young Shi'ite firebrand Moqtada al-Sadr, who has staged two uprisings against U.S. troops, also protested against poor services during their marches, stepping up the pressure on the government.
A hundred thousand Sadr supporters marched in eight cities, including 30,000 people who gathered for a sermon delivered on his behalf in a Baghdad slum district.

Australian Democrats Pushing for Investigation of DU Exposure in Iraq

The Australian Democrats on Tuesday called for the government to release a defence report into possible exposure of Australian troops in Iraq to depleted uranium (DU) left over from earlier fighting.
Democrats leader Lyn Allison said the government's assurances that no troops were put at risk from DU could not be taken seriously while the government kept the survey report secret.
"There are severe health consequences of depleted uranium inhalation and the government should be obliged to provide details on just what our troops were and are exposed to in Iraq," she said in a statement.
Depleted uranium is a waste product of the nuclear enrichment process which is used to make armour piercing projectiles because of its extreme hardness. In solid form it produces almost no radioactivity.
But on striking a target, it produces fine toxic dust which contains uranium oxide. Some adverse health effects have been attributed to DU exposure although there is vigorous international debate about just how harmful it is.

California couple harassed after Fox News links their home to Islamic radical

After the report aired on Aug.7, people have shouted profanities at Randy and Ronnell Vorick, taken photos of their house, and spray-painted "terrorist" (misspelling it "terrist") on their property.
...John Loftus, a former federal prosecutor who appears on the Fox News segment "Inside Scoop with John Loftus," gave out the Voricks' address during the broadcast.
He said, however, that the home belonged to Iyad Hilal, whose group, Loftus said, has ties to those responsible for the July 7 bombings in London.
But Hilal moved out of the house about three years ago.
...The couple sought a public apology and correction.
"John Loftus has been reprimanded for his careless error, and we sincerely apologize to the family," said Fox spokeswoman Irena Brigante.
Loftus also apologized and told the Los Angeles Times last week that "mistakes happen. ... That was the best information we had at the time."

London Zoo Seeks Humans for Display

People with a desire to show off are being invited to take part in a display of human nature at London Zoo.
Volunteers will make up a flock of homo sapiens and spend four days on Bear Mountain at the zoo with only fig leaves to protect their modesty.
From Friday the humans will be cared for by the keepers and kept entertained with various forms of enrichment.
The Human Zoo will demonstrate the basic nature of man and examine the impact they have on the animal Kingdom.
A spokeswoman said it depended on the calibre of the applicants as to how many people they took on.
Anyone wanting to take part has until the end of Monday to apply and must explain in 50 words why they should be chosen.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Disturbing 'Christian' Website Mixes Killing & Evangelism

The website is FORCEMINISTRIES - and sports a flashy animated intro featuring men with automatic weapons ready, willing and able to kill... apparently for Christ! "Imparting" faith in Christ with an M4??

Maggots and Leaches Under FDA Consideration as Medical Devices

Flesh-eating maggots and bloodsucking leeches, long thought of as the tools of bygone medicine, have experienced a quiet renaissance among high-tech surgeons, and for two days beginning Thursday a federal board of medical advisers will discuss how to regulate them.
Leeches, it turns out, are particularly good at draining excess blood from surgically reattached or transplanted appendages. As microsurgeons tackle feats like reattaching hands, scalps and even faces, leeches have become indispensable.
And maggots clean festering wounds that fail to heal, as among diabetics, better than almost anything else, although their use in the United States has been slight, in part because of squeamishness.
But neither leeches nor maggots have ever been subject to thorough regulation by the Food and Drug Administration. So the medical advisers are being asked to create general guidelines about how they should be safely grown, transported and sold.

Top Powell Aide: Admin. Officials Tried To Put Intelligence Claims Into UN Speech Not “Backed Up By Anything But Hearsay”

Wilkerson was told that Libby had said the 48-page document was designed to offer Powell "a Chinese menu" of intelligence highlights to draw from for his speech. Powell and his team were skeptical of most of it. Rice, Tenet and Hadley were trying to reinsert bits of intelligence they personally favored but that could not be corroborated. Hadley offered an unsubstantiated report of alleged meetings between Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague shortly before the attacks.
"The whole time, people were trying to reinsert their favorite … pet rocks back into the presentation, when their pet rocks weren't backed up by anything but hearsay, or Chalabi or the INC or both," Wilkerson said.
In the end, Powell agreed with Tenet to rely mainly on the national intelligence estimate on Iraq, which had been vetted by the CIA. Wilkerson came to believe that the Pentagon officials, and their allies in the White House, doubted what the intelligence community said because "it didn't fit their script" for going to war.
The day of Powell's speech, U.S. officials provided the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog arm, the International Atomic Energy Agency, with documents supporting the assertion that Iraq had tried to acquire uranium ore from Niger. Within weeks, the agency determined the documents were clumsy fakes. The episode has never been explained.
"It was very clear from our analysis that they were forgeries," Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the atomic energy agency, said in an interview. "We found 20 to 30 anomalies within a day."

U.S. Wants Changes In U.N. Agreement

Less than a month before world leaders arrive in New York for a world summit on poverty and U.N. reform, the Bush administration has thrown the proceedings in turmoil with a call for drastic renegotiation of a draft agreement to be signed by presidents and prime ministers attending the event.
The United States has only recently introduced more than 750 amendments that would eliminate new pledges of foreign aid to impoverished nations, scrap provisions that call for action to halt climate change and urge nuclear powers to make greater progress in dismantling their nuclear arms. At the same time, the administration is urging members of the United Nations to strengthen language in the 29-page document that would underscore the importance of taking tougher action against terrorism, promoting human rights and democracy, and halting the spread of the world's deadliest weapons.
Next month's summit, an unusual meeting at the United Nations of heads of state, was called by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to reinvigorate efforts to fight poverty and to take stronger steps in the battles against terrorism and genocide. The leaders of 175 nations are expected to attend and sign the agreement, which has been under negotiation for six months.

Interview with Janis Karpinski MUST READ

The people who were working in Cellblock 1-A at the time that I went out to Abu Ghraib didn't know anything about it. They were completely in the dark about anything. I said, "What's this about photographs?" And the sergeant said to me, "Ma'am, we've heard something about photographs, but I have no idea. Nobody has any details, and Ma'am, if anybody knows, nobody is talking." I said, "Okay, let me see the logs. Let me see the books." He said, "They took everything. The Criminal Investigation division took everything." I said, "Well, what do you have?" and he pointed to this pole right outside the little office that they were using, and he said, "Well, they left this."
It was a memorandum signed by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, authorizing a short list, maybe 6 or 8 techniques: use of dogs; stress positions; loud music; deprivation of food; keeping the lights on, those kinds of things. And then a handwritten message over to the side that appeared to be the same handwriting as the signature, and that signature was Secretary Rumsfeld's. And it said, "Make sure this happens," with two exclamation points. And that was the only thing that they had. Everything else had been confiscated.
So I tried to get information. I talked to Colonel Pappas. I talked to the Battalion Commander. I talked to the chain of command, the Military Police chain of command. Nobody knew anything, nobody - at least, that's what they were claiming. The Company Commander, Captain Reese, was tearful in my office and repeatedly told me he knew nothing about it, knew nothing about it.
But in a plea bargain, later on, after Taguba, Captain Reese said that not only did he know about it, but he was told not to report it to his chain of command, and he was told that by Colonel Pappas. And he claimed that he saw General Sanchez out there on several occasions witnessing the torture of some of the security detainees.
...MC: Do you think the investigations that have taken place so far have uncovered the truth about this torture and who is responsible?
JK: Absolutely not. The truth has been uncovered, but it's been suffocated and it has not been released with the results of the investigation. You know, they can say that, McClellan and Rumsfeld can get up on their high horse and say that there've been no fewer than 15 investigations that were conducted. But every one of those investigations is under the control of the Secretary of Defense. And every one of those investigations is run and led by a person who can lose their job under Rumsfeld's fist.
We're never going to know the truth until they do an independent commission or look into this independently. I don't know if this has to be a commission. I don't know what the term is. But I do know that we never would have known the truth about 9/11 if they didn't appoint an independent commission. And this thing, this thing is not about what happened in Cellblock 1-A on a night shift. And it is certainly not about seven reservists who went crazy one night. This is about instructions delivered with full authority and knowledge of the Secretary of Defense and probably Cheney. I don't know if the President was involved or not. I don't care. All I know is, those instructions were communicated from the Secretary of Defense's office, from the Pentagon, through Cambone, through Miller, to Abu Ghraib.
And those civilian contractors who were imported were not subjected to the same Uniform Code of Military Justice discipline as the soldiers. They were cleared, removed from the face of the earth, and seven soldiers are being held responsible. It was grossly unfair.
...And in my little corner of the world and my exposure down at the Coalition Provisional Authority, I saw corruption like I've never seen before - millions of dollars just being pocketed by contractors. Everything was on a cash basis at the time. You take a request down - literally, you take a request to the Finance Office. If the Pay Officer recognized your face and you were asking for $450,000 to pay a contractor for work, they would pay you in cash: $450,000. Out of control.
[Much more]

Evolving opinion of one man

Bob Davidson is a scientist — a doctor, and for 28 years a nephrology professor at the University of Washington medical school.
He's also a devout Christian who believes we're here because of God. It was these twin devotions to science and religion that first attracted him to Seattle's Discovery Institute. That's the think tank that this summer has pushed "intelligent design" — a replacement theory for evolution — all the way to the lips of President Bush and into the national conversation.
Davidson says he was seeking a place where people "believe in a Creator and also believe in science.
"I thought it was refreshing," he says.
Not anymore. He's concluded the institute is an affront to both science and religion.
"When I joined I didn't think they were about bashing evolution. It's pseudo-science, at best ... What they're doing is instigating a conflict between science and religion."
I got Davidson's name off a list of 400 people with scientific degrees, provided by the Discovery Institute, who are said to doubt the "central tenets of Darwin's theory of evolution." Davidson, at 78 a UW professor emeritus, says he shouldn't be on the list because he believes "the scientific evidence for evolution is overwhelming."

Non-Religious Americans Now Have a Lobbyist

"The Clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man." -- Thomas Jefferson

That engine of which Jefferson wrote is more formidable now than it has ever been in the United States. The fundamentalist religious lobbies are perhaps the most influential in the country. It is a problem we can all see. Finally, something is being done to counter it.
After a nationwide search, The Secular Coalition for America (SCA) has hired their own lobbyist to fight against the religious right's efforts to turn the U.S. into a theocracy and the denigration of the non-religious in America. Her name is Lori Lipman Brown, and she is a former Nevada State Senator. She will be D.C.s first lobbyist focused exclusively on the rights and issues of non-religious Americans.

American Legion Declares War on Protestors -- Media Next?

The American Legion, which has 2.7 million members, has declared war on antiwar protestors, and the media could be next. Speaking at its national convention in Honolulu, the group's national commander called for an end to all “public protests” and “media events” against the war.
"The American Legion will stand against anyone and any group that would demoralize our troops, or worse, endanger their lives by encouraging terrorists to continue their cowardly attacks against freedom-loving peoples," Thomas Cadmus, national commander, told delegates at the group's national convention in Honolulu.
The delegates voted to use whatever means necessary to "ensure the united backing of the American people to support our troops and the global war on terrorism."

Downing Street reporter dissects pre-war Iraq intelligence

"The [U.S. WMD] Commission found no evidence of political pressure to influence the Intelligence Community's pre-war assessment of Iraq's weapons programs."
That is only one of a number of strange conclusions by those charged with investigating the way flaky intelligence was used to justify the 2003 Iraq War.
The most vociferous advocates of an attack on Iraq were Dick Cheney, the vice-president, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Rumsfeld deputy Paul Wolfowitz. They needed Congressional support and set about obtaining it in an aggressive fashion, insisting that not only did Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction threaten America and its allies but that the dictator was closely linked to al-Qa'eda.
This was a bit of a problem for the CIA, and in particular CIA director George Tenet. The CIA's 2001 annual assessment of 'worldwide threats' had played down any immediate threat from Iraq while the Agency had repeatedly dismissed the ludicrous idea that Saddam was in league with Osama bin Laden, a claim that was also strenuously denied in private by British intelligence officials.
By early 2002, US media reported the CIA had come under intense political pressure to back up the neo-cons' claims on Iraq with Rumsfeld's Pentagon even setting up an office of special plans which looked back through all the previous intelligence, hyping up any reports linking al-Qa'eda with Iraq in order to prove the CIA wrong.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

CPI: An ongoing investigation into the state of federal lobbying in the U.S.

Weird Science on the Religious Right

"God said it. I believe it. That settles it." This familiar bumper sticker slogan appears to sum up the Religious Right's decision-making process on matters of heated public debate.
But when policies involving human biology and behavior are being hammered out, faith alone isn't always sufficient to win over voters and decision-makers. At such times, a bit of scientific evidence comes in handy, and some of the Religious Right's operatives aren't too choosy about where they get it.
Consider the following seven claims, the quality of the scientific evidence that supports them and the potential consequences, were they to be widely accepted...

Grooming Politicians for Christ

Through seminars taught by conservative college professors and devout members of Congress, the students learn that serving country means first and always serving Christ.
They learn to view every vote as a religious duty, and to consider compromise a sin.
That puts them at the vanguard of a bold effort by evangelical conservatives to mold a new generation of leaders who will answer not to voters, but to God.
"We help them understand God's purpose for society," said Bouma, who coordinates the program, known as the Statesmanship Institute, for the Rev. D. James Kennedy.
At least 3.5 million Americans tune in to Kennedy's sermons, broadcast from Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Since 1995, the unabashedly political televangelist has also reached out to the Beltway elite with his Center for Christian Statesmanship in Washington.

McCain Parrots Bush on Sheehan and Intelligent Design

On Tuesday, though, he sided with the president on two issues that have made headlines recently: teaching intelligent design in schools and Cindy Sheehan, the grieving mother who has come to personify the anti-war movement.
McCain told the Star that, like Bush, he believes "all points of view" should be available to students studying the origins of mankind.
The theory of intelligent design says life is too complex to have developed through evolution, and that a higher power must have had a hand in guiding it.
At a breakfast meeting Tuesday with the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, McCain said Sheehan is probably being used by organizations opposed to the U.S. mission in Iraq. But, he added, she is "a symptom, not a cause" of growing public discontent with the war.

Conyers Calls For Investigation Into Ashcroft's Role In CIA Leak Case

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) is calling for an investigation into the role of former Attorney General John Ashcroft in the outing of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. Conyers' call comes after a new report by investigative journalist Murray Waas that a special prosecutor was appointed in the case in large part because FBI investigators had begun to specifically question the veracity of accounts provided to them by Karl Rove. We speak with Conyers and Waas. [includes rush transcript]

China and Russia in joint military maneuvers, and AP doesn't want you to know why

The Scotsman
Aug. 18, 2005
Russia and China today launched unprecedented joint military exercises involving air, sea and land forces, aimed at sending a message to the United States about their growing influence.

Associated Press
Aug. 19, 2005
Russia and China kicked off their first-ever joint military exercises Thursday as top commanders from both countries issued repeated assurances that the war games were not intended as a threat to anyone.

GOP Senator: Base Closures 'Rigged'

Virginia Sen. John W. Warner (R) said that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and a senior aide improperly manipulated the national base realignment plan announced earlier this year to compel the movement of more than 20,000 defense jobs away from the Washington area.
Two years before the Pentagon revealed its base closing plan May 13, in a stream of memos and internal records, top department officials were saying that "thinning of headquarters in the National Capital Region remains a[n] objective," according to Warner.

Public Faults Media on Military Issues, Poll Finds

The American public may be more interested in national security than ever, but they feel that the media and the U.S. military keep them poorly informed about what they need to know.
At least that's what a new poll shows, which finds that 60% of Americans believe they do not get enough information about military matters to make educated decisions.
A McCormick Tribune Foundation/Gallup poll to be released today finds that only 54% of Americans say they feel the military keeps them well informed, down from 77% percent in 1999. The media fare only slight better, with 61% saying they keep them informed on national security and military issues, down from 79% in 1999.

Google Talk

They say talk is cheap. Google thinks it should be free. Google Talk enables you to call or send instant messages to your friends for free–anytime, anywhere in the world. Google Talk offers you:
* Choice: Get in touch how and when you want to–over email, IM or a call
* Quality: Talk through your computer but hear your friends as if they were in the same room
* Convenience: Your Gmail contacts are pre-loaded into Google Talk so inviting or talking to your friends is just a click away
Google Talk is in beta and requires a Gmail username and password.

Jon Stewart Interview in Wired

WIRED: There's a lot of chatter out there about how the old model of television - the big box in the living room - is becoming a relic.
Stewart: You mean getting up with your pliers to change the channel? That's outdated?
WIRED: Yup, it is. And you made this argument yourself in an interview with The New Yorker's Ken Auletta. You said there was an emerging recognition that television was just a delivery system, just a box to be filled with content. "The quality of what you do is not diminished by how far you are up on the dial," you said. "It's all just airtime."
Stewart: I agree. I agree with me.

Grasping the Depth of Time as a First Step in Understanding Evolution

One of the most powerful limits to the human imagination is our inability to grasp, in a truly intuitive way, the depths of terrestrial and cosmological time. That inability is hardly surprising because our own lives are so very short in comparison. It's hard enough to come to terms with the brief scale of human history. But the difficulty of comprehending what time is on an evolutionary scale, I think, is a major impediment to understanding evolution.
It's been approximately 3.5 billion years since primeval life first originated on this planet. That is not an unimaginable number in itself, if you're thinking of simple, discrete units like dollars or grains of sand. But 3.5 billion years of biological history is different. All those years have really passed, moment by moment, one by one. They encompass an actual, already lived reality, encompassing all the lives of all the organisms that have come and gone in that time. That expanse of time defines the realm of biological possibility in which life in its extraordinary diversity has evolved. It is time that has allowed the making of us. [Thanks, Tom P]

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Republican Anti-War Quotes

"No goal, no objective, not until we have those things and a compelling case is made, then I say, back out of it, because innocent people are going to die for nothing. That's why I'm against it."
-Sean Hannity, Fox News

"American foreign policy is now one huge big mystery. Simply put, the administration is trying to lead the world with a feel-good foreign policy."
-Representative Tom Delay (R-TX)

"I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our overextended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today"
-Representative Tom Delay (R-TX)

"Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?"
-Sean Hannity, Fox News

Many more

Secret Documents About Indymedia Server Disappearance Unsealed

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) last week won a motion allowing it to access sealed court documents about the mysterious disappearance of two web servers used to host news websites for Indymedia, a global collective of Independent Media Centers (IMCs) and thousands of journalists. After six months of secret litigation, EFF obtained a copy of the federal court order that resulted in the October 2004 handover of copies of Indymedia servers to the government by Indymedia's web host. That handover resulted in the silencing of more than 20 news websites and radio feeds for nearly a week.
However, the unsealed documents reveal that the government never officially demanded the computer servers -- the subpoena to Rackspace only requested server log files. This contradicts previous statements by the web host that it took the servers offline because the government had demanded the hardware. The documents also contradict Rackspace's claim that it had been ordered by the court not to discuss publicly the government's demand. It cannot be determined from the unsealed documents whether or not the government informally pressured Rackspace to turn over the servers. By giving the government more data than it requested, the company not only violated the privacy of Indymedia journalists whose information was housed on the servers, but also undermined the free flow of information by taking Indymedia's websites offline. Moreover, the logs that the government requested didn't exist, so Rackspace should never have given the government anything at all.

Troops' Gravestones Have Pentagon Slogans

Unlike earlier wars, nearly all Arlington National Cemetery gravestones for troops killed in Iraq or Afghanistan are inscribed with the slogan-like operation names the Pentagon selected to promote public support for the conflicts.
Families of fallen soldiers and Marines are being told they have the option to have the government-furnished headstones engraved with "Operation Enduring Freedom" or "Operation Iraqi Freedom" at no extra charge, whether they are buried in Arlington or elsewhere. A mock-up shown to many families includes the operation names.
The vast majority of military gravestones from other eras are inscribed with just the basic, required information: name, rank, military branch, date of death and, if applicable, the war and foreign country in which the person served.

Feds: FEMA records of no public interest

"FEMA acknowledges spending $5.5 billion taxpayer dollars after the hurricanes yet doesn't seem to understand why the public is entitled to know where and how that money was spent," said Jim Lake of the Holland & Knight law firm in Tampa, the newspapers' attorney. "The public interest in this information is enormous, and we hope the court will order its release."

Montana governor: USDA 'bunch of stooges'

"A few years ago, the four big meat companies, they expanded their role in this country. They bought a U.S. company called the United States Department of Agriculture," Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer said in an interview. "They are a bunch of stooges."
"The USDA crawled right into bed with them (the meat companies) and they run our internal policy and our international (beef) policy," Schweitzer said.
Schweitzer, a Democrat in a majority Republican state, has led a state fight against imports of Canadian cattle under 30 months of age after a federal appeals court lifted a two-year ban on Canadian cattle in July.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a Montana court's ruling and said U.S. imports of young Canadian cattle posed a negligible risk of spreading mad cow disease two years after Canada found its first domestic case.

No Proof Found of Iran Arms Program

"The biggest smoking gun that everyone was waving is now eliminated with these conclusions," said a senior official who discussed the still-confidential findings on the condition of anonymity.
Scientists from the United States, France, Japan, Britain and Russia met in secret during the past nine months to pore over data collected by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to U.S. and foreign officials. Recently, the group, whose existence had not been previously reported, definitively matched samples of the highly enriched uranium -- a key ingredient for a nuclear weapon -- with centrifuge equipment turned over by the government of Pakistan.
Iran has long contended that the uranium traces were the result of contaminated equipment bought years ago from Pakistan. But the Bush administration had pointed to the material as evidence that Iran was making bomb-grade ingredients.
The conclusions will be shared with IAEA board members in a report due out the first week in September, according to U.S. and European officials who agreed to discuss details of the investigation on the condition of anonymity. The report "will say the contamination issue is resolved," a Western diplomat said.
U.S. officials have privately acknowledged for months that they were losing confidence that the uranium traces would turn out to be evidence of a nuclear weapons program. A recent U.S. intelligence estimate found that Iran is further away from making bomb-grade uranium than previously thought, according to U.S. officials.

Google 'set to launch' voice messaging

The Los Angeles Times said the new service would be called Google Talk and could be launched as soon as tomorrow.
Google Talk would allow users to hold voice conversations with other computer users, the newspaper quoted a source as saying. The New York Times had hinted yesterday that Google could launch a news "communications tool" this week.
If the reports are accurate, the new service could be similar to Skype, the free VoIP (voice over internet protocol) software that allows users to make voice calls through their computers and over the internet at a fraction of the cost of traditional services.

Bush Believes Those Who Protest Iraq War Don't Want U.S. to Win 'War on Terror,' Spokesman Says

Meeting briefly with reporters Monday aboard Air Force One, Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman subbing for Scott McClellan, said that President Bush believes that those who want the U.S. to begin to change course in Iraq do not want America to win the overall "war on terror."
Duffy spoke on a day when a surprisingly large antiwar protest met the president during his stay in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he addressed a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention.

The scammer gets scammed

In this tale of an ebay auction gone hilarious as well as many other fine pranks. Favorites include the credit card prank and the Chinese tattoo prank. What is also hilarious is when the Nigerian E-mail Scammers target Pro Poker Player Paul Phillips, and get schooled themselves. [from]

U.S. Held Meetings With Taliban in 2000

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan William B. Milam held a secret meeting with an unidentified senior Taliban official in September 2000 and assured him that international sanctions on the Taliban would end if bin Laden were expelled from Afghanistan, newly declassified documents show.
``The ambassador added that the U.S. was not against the Taliban, per se,'' and ``was not out to destroy the Taliban,'' Milam wrote in a secret cable to Washington, recounting his meeting.
A declassified version of the cable was released Thursday, obtained by George Washington University's National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act.