Saturday, October 01, 2005
"I've had to call FEMA's director to help get my people food and housing vouchers," Ortiz said. " I mean, come on, I'm in the state of Texas and I can't feed my people."
"It's baffling," said Port Neches' Johnson, who also asked FEMA for generators that never showed up. "They want you to fax requests to them for the things that you need, and it's like faxing it to a black hole.
"I know they are out there doing things, and I don't want to play the blame game, pointing fingers. But obviously there's a breakdown in the system, and it needs to be fixed. I've given up on them."
"I'm encouraged by the increasing size and capability of the Iraqi security forces. Today they have more than 100 battalions operating throughout the country, and our commanders report that the Iraqi forces are serving with increasing effectiveness," Bush said in his weekly radio address.
...During congressional testimony on Thursday, Gen. George Casey, top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Gen. John Abizaid, top U.S. commander in the Middle East, said the number of such battalions had dropped since July to one from three, out of the roughly 100 Iraqi battalions.
The U.S. should withdraw from Iraq, he said, and reposition its military forces along the Afghan-Pakistani border to capture Osama bin Laden and crush al Qaeda cells.
The new rule forces Internet broadband providers and "interconnected" Voice-over-IP (VoIP) providers to build backdoors into their networks to make it easier for law enforcement to listen in on private communications. EFF has argued against this expansion of CALEA in several rounds of comments to the FCC.
"A tech mandate requiring backdoors in the Internet endangers the privacy of innocent people, stifles innovation, and risks the Internet as a forum for free and open expression," said Kurt Opsahl, EFF staff attorney.
That's fair enough. Science rules out the most cartoonish versions of God by debunking specific claims about ancient civilizations in North America or the creatio ex nihilo of human life. But it cannot tell us whether there is a force or entity or idea beyond our ken that deserves to be known as God. What we can say is that the universe is a complex place, that events within it often seem to turn out for the best, and that neither of these facts requires an explanation beyond our own skins.
Boeing and its joint-venture partner Bell Helicopter apologized yesterday for a magazine ad published a month ago — and again this week by mistake — depicting U.S. Special Forces troops rappelling from an Osprey aircraft onto the roof of a mosque.
"It descends from the heavens. Ironically it unleashes hell," reads the ad, which ran this week in the National Journal and earlier in the Armed Forces Journal. The ad also stated: "Consider it a gift from above."
The ad appears at a time when the United States is trying to improve its image in the Muslim world and Boeing seeks to sell its airplanes to Islamic countries.
Boeing and Bell officials agreed that the ad — touting the capabilities of the vertical-lift Osprey aircraft — was ill-conceived and should never have been published.
In a blistering report, the investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, said the administration had disseminated "covert propaganda" in the United States, in violation of a statutory ban.
The contract with Mr. Williams and the general contours of the public relations campaign had been known for months. The report Friday provided the first definitive ruling on the legality of the activities. [thanks, Sharon]
Friday, September 30, 2005
Atelier Van Lieshout proposes collectively organized forms of working and living that circumvent conventional categories. The most radical implementation of this principle was the proclamation of a "free state" in the Rotterdam harbor area in 2001, an experiment which the city council terminated six months later.
Designed to achieve maximum profits through rationalism, their The Disciplinator is a gigantic cage-like construction for 72 inmates.
The sleeping department with 24 beds can be used in three shifts; the food department has 24 places at a table with 24 plates, mugs and spoons; there are 36 places in the labour area where inhabitants perform intensive labour tasks and produce sawdust from four tree trunks using the 36 files; there are 4 toilets, 4 showers, 4 sinks and 8 toothbrushes. Everything is calculated and standardised, and because the AVL refrains from making any kind of moral statement, the Disciplinator communicates an unadulterated vision of the horrors of the principle of exploitation.
At the MAK Exhibition Hall, Vienna, till October 2, 2005.
AVL is currently working on a sinister utopian project that is highly efficient and profitable (2,8 billion euro net profit a year). Call Centre is an up-to-date concentration camp made out of the latest technology and with the newest management insights. The inhabitants (called participants) work 7 hours a day on tele-service and after that they work 7 hours on the fields or workshop in order to keep the Call Centre working. Their efficiency is monitored and appropriate measures are taken if it drops under a set level.
A full joint honor guard and a whole host of distinguished guests will descend upon Summerall Field at 10 a.m. Myer became the 15th chairman of the joint chiefs on Oct. 1, 2001. The country was in the midst of recovering from the terrorist attacks and the new chairman had to oversee worldwide military operations.
"This is absolute highway robbery and it really does show that the agency doesn't have a clue in getting real value of contracts," said Keith Ashdown, vice president for Taxpayers for Common Sense.
This latest development in the AIPAC case makes it clear that the main target of the federal investigation are now the two former lobby staffers – Steve Rosen, who was the policy director, and Keith Weissman, the senior Iran analyst. Both were fired from AIPAC last April and were indicted in August by a grand jury on charges of conspiring to receive and transfer classified information.
Reaching a plea bargain with Franklin will enable the federal prosecutors to strengthen their case against Rosen and Weissman by calling Franklin to the stand and having him testify that he had informed the AIPAC staffers that the information he was giving them is classified. This could weaken the AIPAC staffers defense, which is based on the claim they were not aware of the fact that the information they got was classified and that their contacts with Franklin should be seen as common practice for lobbyists in the US capital.
The objective of this blog is to find an important government job occupied by a person with no apparent qualifications other than strong personal, political, or business ties to a member of the administration.
Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: You will not be credited unless you request it.
You'll find a list of selected military reports about this chemical weapon here. Below, we'll be posting the full reports as they arrive.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
_Cathryn Iline Clasen-Gage, Rockwall, Texas, misprision of a felony, sentenced Aug. 21, 1992, to 18 months in prison and a year of supervised release.
_Thomas Kimble Collinsworth, Buckner, Ark., receipt of a stolen motor vehicle that had been transported in interstate commerce, sentenced Aug. 22, 1989, to three years probation and a $5,000 fine.
_Morris F. Cranmer Jr., Little Rock, Ark., making materially false statements to a federally insured institution, sentenced March 30, 1988, to nine months in jail.
_Rusty Lawrence Elliott, Mount Pleasant, Tenn., making counterfeit money, sentenced April 26, 1991, to a year and a day in prison, two years supervised release and a $500 fine.
_Adam Wade Graham, Salt Lake City, Utah, conspiracy to deliver 10 or more grams of LSD, sentenced Nov. 23, 1992, to 30 months in prison and five years of supervised release, including 250 hours of community service.
_Rufus Edward Harris, Canon, Ga., possession of tax-unpaid whiskey, sentenced June 17, 1963, to two years in prison, possession and sale of tax-unpaid whiskey. He also was sentenced on May 28, 1970, to five years in prison, later reduced to two years probation.
_Larry Paul Lenius, Moorhead, Minn., conspiracy to distribute cocaine, sentenced Sept. 29, 1989, to 36 months probation and payment of $2,500 in restitution.
_Larry Lee Lopez, Bokeelia, Fla., conspiracy to import marijuana, sentenced July 19, 1985 to three years probation.
_Bobbie Archie Maxwell, Lansing, Mich., mailing a threatening letter, sentenced Sept. 6, 1962, to 12 months probation.
_Denise Bitters Mendelkow, Salt Lake City, Utah, embezzlement by a bank employee, sentenced May 21, 1981, to two years probation.
_Mark Lewis Weber, Sherwood, Ark., selling Quaalude tablets, selling, using and possessing marijuana, sentenced Aug. 20, 1981, following Air Force court-martial to 30 months confinement at hard labor, forfeiture of 30 months pay at $334 a month and a dishonorable discharge.
The doctrine assumes, in its extreme form, nearly absolute deference to the Executive branch from Congress and the Judiciary.
According to Dr. Christopher Kelley, a professor in the Department of Political Sciences at Miami University, as of April 2005, President Bush had used the doctrine 95 times when signing legislation into law, issuing an executive order, or responding to a congressional resolution.
Basically, researchers can use this site to answer such questions as "How many Lutherans live in Florida?", "What are the major religions of India?", or "What percentage of the world is Muslim?" We present data from both primary research sources such as government census reports, statistical sampling surveys and organizational reporting, as well as citations from secondary literature which mention adherent statistics.
General Steven Blum has told a House panel it will take as much as seven billion dollars to buy what the Army and Air National Guard need to respond to natural disasters, terrorist attacks and other crises.
He says domestic guard units are being left with second-hand supplies. He identifies one-and-a-third (b) billion dollars in immediate priorities, including trucks, tractors, radios and satellite phones.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said the military has the resources to fight the war in Iraq and respond to domestic disasters.
In March and again in July, Army Gen. George Casey, who commands the 147,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, predicted a "fairly substantial" reduction in American forces next spring and summer if Iraq's political process goes positively and progress is made in developing Iraqi security forces. Pentagon officials said that meant a reduction of perhaps 20,000 to 30,000 troops.
After briefing U.S. lawmakers behind closed doors on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Casey was more cautious when asked whether the troop reduction was still possible.
"I think right now we're in a period of a little greater uncertainty than when I was asked that question back in July and March," Casey told reporters, noting that Iraqis vote on a draft constitution in an October 15 referendum and, if they endorse it, then elect a new government on December 15.
The midday closing of the Houston disaster relief center came as officials in areas hit hardest by Hurricane Rita criticized FEMA's response to the storm, with one calling for a commission to examine the emergency response.
Across southeastern Texas, the Federal Emergency Management Agency delivered ice, water and packaged meals to residents who rode out last week's hurricane, which blew ashore at Sabine Pass in East Texas early Saturday.
But the agency was not ready for the roughly 1,500 people displaced by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina who sought help at the Houston center when it reopened Wednesday.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
American Legislative Exchange Council
War on Nature
Healthy Forest Initiative
Undermining Environmental Law
Coal Mines - Putting the Fox in Charge of the Hen House
Undermining The Montreal Protocol to Protect the Ozone Layer
Wetlands Protection Fades By
Repealing the Clean Water Act
Defunding the Land and Water Conservation Fund
Allowing Raw Sewage
Anti-environment Judicicial Nomination
Christian Coalition Scorecards Compared to Environmental Scorecards
Leadership of the U.S. Congress
Senator James Inhofe: Chair of the Committee on the Environment and Public Works
States Rights and the Environment
Three U.S. army personnel-two sergeants and a captain-describe routine, severe beatings of prisoners and other cruel and inhumane treatment. In one incident, a soldier is alleged to have broken a detainee's leg with a baseball bat. Detainees were also forced to hold five-gallon jugs of water with their arms outstretched and perform other acts until they passed out. Soldiers also applied chemical substances to detainees' skin and eyes, and subjected detainees to forced stress positions, sleep deprivation, and extremes of hot and cold. Detainees were also stacked into human pyramids and denied food and water. The soldiers also described abuses they witnessed or participated in at another base in Iraq and during earlier deployments in Afghanistan.
Foreign militants - mainly from Algeria, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia - account for less than 10% of the estimated 30,000 insurgents, according to the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
The report came as President Bush said a pullout of US forces would embolden America's enemies, allowing the Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Osama bin Laden "to dominate the Middle East and launch more attacks on America and other free nations".
"The word 'dinosaur' was not invented back then, but in Job 38, there's two large creatures, behemoth and leviathan," said Carter, director of the Littleton-based Biblically Correct Tours, as he prepared to give his first tour of the school year.
Either or both creatures were probably dinosaurs, he said.
The spokesperson, Kim Waldron, a civilian who works for the U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort McPherson, Ga., said the active duty deployment of Reservists and National Guard troops who say they are gay, or who are accused of being gay, takes place under a Forces Command or “FORSCOM” regulation issued in 1999.
Waldron said the regulation is aimed at preventing Reservists and National Guard members from using their sexual orientation — or from pretending to be gay — to escape combat.
Campaigners say the Pentagon refuses to take seriously the issue of poisoning from depleted uranium (DU) and offers only the most basic checks, and only when it is specifically asked for. But state legislators across the US are pushing ahead with laws that will provide their National Guard troops access to the most sophisticated tests.
Connecticut and Louisiana have already passed such legislation and another 18 are said to be considering similar steps. Connecticut's new law - pioneered by state legislator Pat Dillon - comes into effect on Saturday.
"What this does is establish a standard," said Mrs Dillon, a Yale-trained epidemiologist. "It means that our Guardsmen will have access to highly sensitive testing that can differentiate between background levels of radiation." DU - a heavy metal waste-product of nuclear power plants - has been used by the US military since the 1991 Gulf War. It is used to tip tank shells and missiles because of its ability to penetrate armour. On impact DU burns at an extremely high temperature and is widely dispersed in micro particles.
The officer, Capt. Ian Fishback, said investigators from the Criminal Investigation Command and the 18th Airborne Corps inspector general had pressed him to divulge the names of two sergeants from his former battalion who also gave accounts of abuse, which were made public in a report last Friday by the group Human Rights Watch.
Captain Fishback, speaking publicly on the matter for first time, said the investigators who have questioned him in the past 10 days seemed to be less interested in individuals he identified in his chain of command who allegedly committed the abuses.
"I'm convinced this is going in a direction that's not consistent with why we came forward," Captain Fishback said in a telephone interview from Fort Bragg, N.C., where he is going through Army Special Forces training. "We came forward because of the larger issue that prisoner abuse is systemic in the Army. I'm concerned this will take a new twist, and they'll try to scapegoat some of the younger soldiers. This is a leadership problem."
The many investigations of Sept. 11, 2001, have turned up a half-dozen instances in which government agencies possessed information that might have led investigators to some part of the terrorist plot, although in most cases not in time to stop it.
In a meeting with USA TODAY's editorial board, Griffin said NASA lost its way in the 1970s, when the agency ended the Apollo moon missions in favor of developing the shuttle and space station, which can only orbit Earth.
"It is now commonly accepted that was not the right path," Griffin said. "We are now trying to change the path while doing as little damage as we can."
The shuttle has cost the lives of 14 astronauts since the first flight in 1982. Roger Pielke Jr., a space policy expert at the University of Colorado, estimates that NASA has spent about $150 billion on the program since its inception in 1971. The total cost of the space station by the time it's finished — in 2010 or later — may exceed $100 billion, though other nations will bear some of that.
``This turns the flame up under the kettle and keeps the water boiling,'' said Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the independent Rothenberg Political Report in Washington. ``It means he's going to continue to be peppered with questions about this stock sale, and no politician wants to be questioned about things like that.''
The numerous graphic pictures posted on the Web site showed men, with their faces visible and wearing what looked like U.S. military uniforms, standing over a charred corpse, mutilated dead bodies and severed body parts.
The porn Web site states the photos were provided by troops in Iraq as well as
Afghanistan in order to get free access to its sexual images. Many of the photos, still posted on the site, are accompanied by captions making light of the corpses; for example one photo of a charred body was dubbed "Cooked Iraqi."
The Army Criminal Investigation Command in Iraq conducted the preliminary inquiry within the past week but closed it after concluding no felony crime had been committed and failing to determine whether U.S. soldiers were responsible for the photos and whether they showed actual war dead, Army officials said.
Col. Joe Curtin, an Army spokesman at the
Pentagon, said there currently was no formal investigation into the matter.
The findings are consistent with recent computer simulations showing that a buildup of smokestack and tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases could lead to a profoundly transformed Arctic later this century in which much of the once ice-locked ocean is routinely open water in summers.
It also appears that the change is becoming self sustaining, with the increased open water absorbing solar energy that would be reflected back into space by bright white ice, said Ted A. Scambos, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., which compiled the data along with NASA.
The indictment was disclosed in Travis County, Tex., on the last day of a grand jury investigating a campaign financing scheme involving allegedly illegal use of corporate funds.
DeLay, 58, attended a meeting in the office of House Speaker Dennis Hastert shortly after receiving word of the indictment and said afterward he notified Hastert that he would "temporarily step aside" as majority leader. GOP House rules require that any member of Congress who is indicted must step down from a leadership position. However, there is no requirement that DeLay leave his congressional seat.
In the indictment, DeLay is accused of conspiring with two associates who have already been indicted: John Colyandro, the former executive director of a political action committee in Texas that was formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, the head of DeLay's national political committee.
"The purpose of this legislation is to open the Supreme Court doors so that more Americans can see the process by which the Court reaches critical decisions of law that affect this country and everyday Americans," said Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"Justice Felix Frankfurter perhaps anticipated the day when Supreme Court arguments would be televised when he said that he longed for a day when the news media would cover the Supreme Court as thoroughly as it did the World Series," Sen. Specter said in his introductory statement.
"Allowing the public greater access to [Supreme Court] proceedings will allow Americans to evaluate for themselves the quality of justice in this country, and deepen their understanding of the work that goes on in the Court," added Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who cosponsored the bill along with Senators Cornyn, Allen, Grassley, Schumer and Feingold.
See the introduction of S.1768, a bill to permit televising of Supreme Court proceedings, September 26: [PDF] http://www.fas.org/sgp/congress/2005/s1768.html
The principle of automatic declassification was also affirmed by President Bush in the 2003 executive order 13292 though he deferred the effective date until the end of next year to permit agencies more time to assess their classified collections and plan
Now the December 2006 deadline is looming and an estimated 155 million pages of textual records await agency review for declassification, authorized exemption, or referral to another agency.
"Any such records not acted upon will be automatically declassified subject to the limitations and conditions set forth in the Order," the ISOO report stated.
See PDF: http://www.fas.org/sgp/isoo/2005declass.pdf
In a letter to Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner, head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Reuters said U.S. forces were limiting the ability of independent journalists to operate.
The letter from Reuters Global Managing Editor David Schlesinger called on Warner to raise widespread media concerns about the conduct of U.S. troops with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who is due to testify to the committee on Thursday.
It’s an important topic, given the tendency in Washington to choose ideology over facts. Unfortunately, Inhofe’s witness list wasn’t available on the committee’s website, so we called today to find out who would be speaking.
We received the following list. As you’ll see, the featured witness isn’t a noted environmental scientist, or an expert in regulatory policy. It’s Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton.
And why would Inhofe invite a fiction author to testify on the role of science in environmental policy making? We think you’ll understand after reading a synopsis of Crichton’s latest book, State of Fear, about a scientist named Nicholas Drake:
Drake is frustrated by the public’s lack of fear about global warming and, hence, lack of enthusiasm for funding NERF [the environmental group Drake runs]. To remedy the situation, he plans a high-profile conference on “abrupt climate change,” a phenomenon that is essentially fabricated. To make sure folks are good and scared about the imaginary threat, he contracts with the Environmental Liberation Front (ELF) — …a sophisticated, highly coordinated, techno-savvy worldwide terrorist network of dreadlocked hippies — to create a series of floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis that will devastate the world on the eve of the conference.
The bad news: the book’s science is apparently even worse than its plot.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children die because of the uncontrolled trade in conventional arms, especially small arms and light weapons. Ruthless arms brokers -- like the Lord of War character -- play a major role in weapons proliferation, including to abusive armed groups and countries under UN arms embargoes.
About 700 people received the letters this month from HNA/Triveras, administrator of a medical plan for W.R. Grace & Co., which operated a vermiculite mine here until 1990. Some health authorities blame the mine for killing 200 people and sickening one of every eight residents.
One letter informed the medical plan's participants that a review by medical experts indicated they had no asbestos-related condition. The other letter acknowledged the presence of a "condition or illness" related to asbestos exposure. Each letter summarized medical benefits available to the recipient.
"I've been cured by Grace. It's a miracle," said Bob Stickney, who had been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease. "I don't know how they can say at first you have asbestos disease, and now you don't." Stickney said he has health insurance, but is unsure it will cover care for asbestos exposure.
The justice, who limited his discussion to art issues, said he wasn't suggesting that government stop funding the arts, but that if it does fund artwork, it is entitled to have a say in the content, just like when it runs a school system.
The high court and Scalia have weighed in on the issue before.
The case, Hosty v. Carter, involves a group of students at Governors State University in Illinois who sued Dean of Student Affairs and Services Patricia Carter for censoring the student paper.
In June, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court decision that ruled against Carter. Because of the confusing precedent on the issue, some legal specialists have speculated that the case has at least a moderate chance of reaching the nation’s highest court.
The public's reluctance to contribute much more than the cost of two iPods to the administration's attempt to offer citizens 'a further stake in building a free and prosperous Iraq' has been seized on by critics as evidence of growing ambivalence over that country.
This coincides with concern over the increasing cost of the war. More than $30 billion has been appropriated for the reconstruction. Initially, America's overseas aid agency, USaid, expected it to cost taxpayers no more than $1.7bn, but it is now asking the public if they want to contribute even more.
CIA secretary claims that she was fired for reporting drug trafficking and espionage to her superiors
But who cares?
CIA drug trafficking is well documented and well known, especially by the DEA, and hardly rates a shrug.
Espionage is a different matter, as homage to patriotism must be paid.
Vivienne R. was a CIA secretary from 1987 to 1999. She served in the US, Venezuela (TDY), Germany, and Thailand. She received two certificates for performance and two cash awards, and was nominated for secretary of the year.
She claims that she was fired for reporting drug trafficking and espionage to her superiors.
Amnesty: Police abuse and misconduct against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the US
The findings of this report indicate that there is a need to take action to deal with widespread discrimination and abuse in the realm of policing, yet there is also the need for other actors in society, including national, state and local governmental entities, to take steps to address the pervasive discrimination that LGBT people in the U.S. continue to face.
The controversial measure was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week and is supported by the White House, but has not gone to the floor for a vote. It goes beyond current law, which allows federal authorities to collect and record samples of DNA only from those convicted of crimes. The data are stored in an FBI-maintained national registry that law enforcement officials use to aid investigations, by comparing DNA from criminals with evidence found at crime scenes.
Principals of Florida-based VeriChip said RFID tags had already been implanted into 100 corpses on behalf of the Mississippi State Department of Health. (1993-2005 Red Herring Inc.).
Those who lost their lives to Katrina not only suffered in life when rescuers didn't arrive, but suffer the loss of dignity as chipped corpses.
More than 700 souls were claimed on the Gulf Coast during the storm.
Already angling to RFID the rest of the corpses, the company, a subsidiary of publicly traded Applied Digital Solutions, is now negotiating with Louisiana health authorities.
District Judge Jay Zainey issued the restraining order against all parties named in a lawsuit filed Thursday by SAF and NRA. Defendants in the lawsuit include New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Police Chief Edwin Compass III.
"If you have enough policemen to take it from them, take it," Griffith said.
His frustration comes as squabbling continues among federal, state and local over what some characterize as a woeful lack of communication.
To critics, the price is exorbitant. If the ships were at capacity, with 7,116 evacuees, for six months, the price per evacuee would total $1,275 a week, according to calculations by aides to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). A seven-day western Caribbean cruise out of Galveston can be had for $599 a person -- and that would include entertainment and the cost of actually making the ship move.
Lawyers with knowledge of the case said the DeLay defense team was concerned that the Travis County grand jury might consider counts of conspiracy to violate the state election code.
Their concern was triggered when similar charges were handed down two weeks ago in an expanded indictment against two DeLay political associates. The associates were accused of conspiring to violate the state election code by using corporate donations for illegal purposes.
- The government has allowed the industry to merge, consolidate, and restrict refining capacity, thus impacting pricing, supply, and demand.
- The quest for profits has caused the need to run extremely lean supplies (ie. no stockpiles of crude - it arrives when you need it, not before) and has resulted in susceptability to wild volatility in prices, but has allowed refiners to operate at very high efficiency but with no margin of excess capacity for temporary shortages, disasters, etc.
- Oil refiners trimmed back capacity after the Oil Crash of the early 1980s and have been unwilling to reinvest in new technologies unless environmental restrictions and local fuel cleanliness mandates are reduced.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
If Mountweazel is not a household name, even in fountain-designing or mailbox-photography circles, that is because she never existed. “It was an old tradition in encyclopedias to put in a fake entry to protect your copyright,” Richard Steins, who was one of the volume’s editors, said the other day. “If someone copied Lillian, then we’d know they’d stolen from us.”
So when word leaked out that the recently published second edition of the New Oxford American Dictionary contains a made-up word that starts with the letter “e,” an independent investigator set himself the task of sifting through NOAD’s thirty-one hundred and twenty-eight “e” entries in search of the phony. The investigator first removed from contention any word that was easily recognized or that appears in Webster’s Third New International; the remaining three hundred and sixty words were then vetted with a battery of references.
Six potential Mountweazels emerged.
Researchers from Cornell University, in the US, and Tel Aviv University have developed a computer program that can scan text in any of a number of languages, including English and Chinese, and without any previous knowledge infer the underlying rules of grammar. The rules can be used to generate new and meaningful sentences.
According to the researchers, the method also works for such data as sheet music or protein sequences.
The development has implication for speech recognition and for other applications in natural language engineering, as well as for genomics. It also offers insights into language acquisition and psycho-linguistics.
Even the quintessential Good Book abounds in naughty passages like the men in II Kings 18:27 who, as the comparatively tame King James translation puts it, "eat their own dung, and drink their own piss."
In fact, said Guy Deutscher, a linguist at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and the author of "The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention," the earliest writings, which date from 5,000 years ago, include their share of off-color descriptions of the human form and its ever-colorful functions. And the written record is merely a reflection of an oral tradition that Dr. Deutscher and many other psychologists and evolutionary linguists suspect dates from the rise of the human larynx, if not before.
Despite having found the time to cover Kate Moss's purported cocaine use and to put one of its correspondents in a wind tunnel to demonstrate the effects of hurricane-force wind, ABC's World News Tonight has yet to mention the brewing scandal over the sale of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's (R-TN) stock in HCA Inc., the hospital chain founded by Frist's father, just two weeks before a bad earnings report caused the stock price to drop sharply. The nightly news broadcasts of CBS and NBC didn't do much more, both giving the story brief mentions on September 23.
Since September 19, when Congressional Quarterly quoted a Frist aide acknowledging that Frist had ordered the trustee of his blind trust to sell all of his, his wife's, and his children's HCA stock, the Associated Press picked up the story September 20, followed by The New York Times (September 21), The Washington Post (September 22), and the Los Angeles Times (September 24).
In "Selected Titles of FBI Research Reports, 1953-60," we listed several-dozen research reports that the FBI had written for internal use in the mid-1900s. The Memory Hole requested some of them under the Freedom of Information Act. Upon review, the FBI has released the two reports on the Nation of Islam. We've scanned and posted them above. They're based on often obscure public-source documents, internal NOI literature, and confidential material, such as informants and FBI investigative files.
Both reports were originally classified "Confidential" and were declassified in 1977, although they don't seem to have been publicly released until now.
In the monographs, the FBI refers to the NOI as a "fanatical, all-Negro cult in the United States which is based on a distorted interpretation of the religious principles of Islam and is motivated by hatred of the white race."
The 1960 report, "The Nation of Islam (Antiwhite, All-Negro Cult In United States)," contains the sections: "Background and Origin," "Organization," "Conventions, Bazaars, and 'Feasts'," "Finances and Building Program," "Publicity and Recruitment of Members," "Security Measures and Discipline," "Incidents with Law Enforcement Officials," and "NOI Doctrines, Attitudes, and Dogma." The appendices reproduce three lessons that are taught to members.
The table of contents for the 1965 report, "The Nation of Islam: Cult of the Black Muslims," is similar, although the report of course contains newer information. Of particular interest: The excessively redacted section "Exploitation of Negro Athletes" (pages 70-72) looks at Muhammad Ali's (né Cassius Clay) relationship with the NOI. (After being crowned heavyweight champion of the world, Ali became a vocal member of the NOI, although he later converted to Sunni Islam and left the group.)
In its annual report filed Monday, MediaNews reveals for the first time that its share of the new limited partnership is just 5%, and that it will not be sharing in profits of the jointly produced Detroit Free Press and Detroit News until 2009 at the earliest. Instead, it will receive fixed monthly payments, MediaNews said.
The MediaNews share is far less than the 30% cut that most industry observers guessed the Denver-based company would receive.
But now, a month after the chaos subsided, police are re-examining the reports and finding that many of them have little or no basis in fact.
They have no official reports of rape and no eyewitnesses to sexual assault. The state Department of Health and Hospitals counted 10 dead at the Superdome and four at the convention center. Only two of those are believed to have been murdered.
One of those victims -- found at the Superdome -- appears to have been killed elsewhere before being brought to the stadium, said Bob Johannessen, the agency spokesman.
"It was a chaotic time for the city. Now that we've had a chance to reflect back on that situation, we're able to say right now that things were not the way they appeared," said police Capt. Marlon Defillo.
Beyond DeLay documents the unethical activities of thirteen Members of Congress: 10 House Members and three Senators. This is the first time all the infractions by these various members have been compiled in one place. Corruption demands accountability and action.
from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
The storm slammed into the Gulf Coast on Monday, Aug. 29.
Brown's defense drew a scathing response from Rep. William Jefferson D-La.
"I find it absolutely stunning that this hearing would start out with you, Mr. Brown, laying the blame for FEMA's failings at the feet of the governor of Louisiana and the Mayor of New Orleans."
Eleven parents in the small town of Dover, just south of here, are suing their school board for introducing intelligent design in the ninth-grade biology curriculum. The parents accuse the board of injecting religious creationism into science classes in the guise of intelligent design. Professor Miller, their main expert witness, was the only person to take the stand on Monday.
CBS News is running this blog from one of their guys down in New Orleans, which includes, in part:
The teams working in St. Bernard Parish, which is now an enormous toxic waste dump, are waking up with sore throats and other respiratory ailments. Privately, the EPA testers have told them that all the pollutants and environmental toxins are way off the scale. No one is looking to stay there long.
If this is true, there must be an immediate stop to any plans to repopulate and an immediate fullscale investigation into the EPA and what they are holding back.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press is reporting in this story that the sludge and everything else was stirred up by new flooding in New Orleans due to Rita, and they have no idea if there were any breaches at any hazardous sites. Just more reason to slow everything down.
“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.
“The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”
Gregory Paul, the author of the study and a social scientist, used data from the International Social Survey Programme, Gallup and other research bodies to reach his conclusions.
He compared social indicators such as murder rates, abortion, suicide and teenage pregnancy.
FEMA officials said it would mark the first time that the government has made large-scale payments to religious groups for helping to cope with a domestic natural disaster.
Civil liberties groups called the decision a violation of the traditional boundary between church and state, accusing FEMA of trying to restore its battered reputation by playing to religious conservatives.
Frustrated Jefferson County leaders said they are not getting much-needed help from the feds, and "complained that resources were not making it into their communities to get much-needed services such as water and sewer operating again," the newspaper revealed.
Jefferson County Judge Carl Griffith called the bureaucracy "ridiculous" and said the federal government has failed the people of East Texas.
Voting machine sales will be $10 million less in the third quarter because of delayed deliveries to the hurricane-swept Gulf Coast, Diebold said.
Cox's campaign committee donated $1,000 to Frist's 2000 re-election campaign, according to
Federal Election Commission records made available by PoliticalMoneyLine, a non-partisan group that tracks money in politics.
Cox's statement did not mention the 2000 donation. Legal experts said a donation of that size to a multimillion-dollar campaign like Frist's probably would not require recusal.
Peace activists acquitted of conspiracy for spilling own blood at recruiting center; Still face jail
“You really feel for these people. They just could not get out of the way.”
...Inside a portable morgue, the team fingerprinted the bodies, took DNA samples, checked for signs of foul play and moved the bodies into refrigerated trailers. Later, hearses would take the bodies to funeral homes designated by the victims’ families.
The government said it welcomed the release on Monday of a feasibility study about the subject by the Senlis Council, a drug policy research organization based in Europe. But Afghanistan's counternarcotics minister, Habibullah Qaderi, ruled out adopting such a program until security conditions in the country improved.
The idea of licensing poppy cultivation completely goes against current Afghan counternarcotics policy, devised with Britain's help, which calls for eradicating poppy fields and persuading farmers to adopt alternative crops through assistance programs, much of them financed by the United States Agency for International Development.
Mr. Qaderi said the government could not consider a program for legalizing cultivation for the time being because Afghanistan had experienced such a rapid increase in poppy cultivation in the past few years.
About 300 moved away after after police warned that arrests would follow. Police later said they had arrested 370 of the protesters.
Now we have four people who are being charged with conspiracy. They are being charged with a conspiracy to impede the actions of a federal officer. That officer was a military recruiter in Lansing.
The idea that they are being tried for conspiracy is replete with irony. Deeply, deeply ironic.
Because what they were protesting was the conspiracy of the Administration of George W. Bush to bring about an attack and then an occupation of the country of Iraq, and as a result making the world a much more dangerous and difficult place than it was prior to those actions.
But it is that conspiracy, that conspiracy which has now been documented by among other things official British documents called the Downing Street Memo which are communications between the highest ranking officials of the British government -- the head of the British Intelligence, the foreign officer, the prime minister himself.
We know that this Administration conspired to deceive the Congress of the United States and the American people to bring this country at war and to cost the lives of all those people that I mentioned just a few moments ago.
We as Americans cannot tolerate that and the four that are being tried today understood that. They understood it very early on and so they engaged in their protest.
Monday, September 26, 2005
That day, Oct. 3, 1993, became known as the Battle of Mogadishu, when an American mission against Somali warlord Mohammed Farrah Aidid went terribly wrong.
The Somalis shot down not one but two Black Hawks that day -- one of them, call sign Super Six One, would change Maria Osman's life forever.
"I hate the Americans," she says, her eyes maintaining their empty sadness rather than shifting to anger. "I hate them for what happened to my daughter. If I saw one I would cut them up into so many pieces."
The crowd that has gathered around us laughs, but some begin to eye me suspiciously.
Most of those who live here are part of the Habr Gedir clan -- connected by blood to Aidid.
Maria and her husband have three more children, she says, but both parents are jobless so they can't always afford to feed them.
"I have no hope," she says, eyes downcast. "No hope for Somalia."
Robert Walter Funk, who died September 3, was the founder of the Jesus Seminar and one of the most influential New Testament scholars of his generation. The Jesus of Nazareth discovered by the Jesus Seminar was a wisdom teacher whose parables proclaimed the arrival of God's kingdom. He was not, in the judgment of the Seminar, the messiah of the end-times (.pdf file, go to page 5 and 6). [from MetaFilter.com]
On this day 22 years ago, Stanislav Petrov saved the world.
Brown was on the Hill today to speak with staff at a special House committee in preparation for his testimony at a Tuesday hearing on Katrina. In the session, Brown said that he was working as a consultant "to provide a review" of Katrina preparations and immediate aftermath, according to two congressional sources.
Oops. [from MetaFilter.com]
Sheehan and several dozen other protesters sat down on the sidewalk after marching along the pedestrian walkway on Pennsylvania Avenue. Police warned them three times that they were breaking the law by failing to move along, then began making arrests.
Sheehan, 48, was the first taken into custody. She stood up and was led to a police vehicle while protesters chanted, "The whole world is watching."
Spacewar.com informs us:
Pentagon Pulls Draft That Discusses Pre-Emptive Use Of Nukes From Website
An unclassified draft of a US nuclear doctrine review that spells out conditions under which US commanders might seek approval to use nuclear weapons has been removed from a Pentagon website, a spokesman said Monday.
Lawrence DiRita, the Pentagon spokesman, said the document was taken down "because even in an unclassified world this is not the kind of thing you want flying around the Internet." [read article]
Well, it's a little late for that. Even before the document, dated 15 March 2005, was pulled, it was being mirrored at several sites. You can find copies at the Nuclear Information Project, GlobalSecurity.org, SourceWatch, zFacts, and The Memory Hole.
Articles about the document: "Draft US Defense Paper Outlines Preventive Nuclear Strikes" [AFP] and "Pentagon Revises Nuclear Strike Plan" [Washington Post]
The decision in Herring v. United States announces an extremely difficult test for proving a "fraud upon the court."
Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, Senior 3rd Circuit Judge Ruggero J. Aldisert found that "the concept of fraud upon the court challenges the very principle upon which our judicial system is based: the finality of a judgment."
"Clearly, in the case of a terrorist attack, that would be the case, but is there a natural disaster -- of a certain size -- that would then enable the Defense Department to become the lead agency in coordinating and leading the response effort?" Bush said after a briefing from military leaders at Randolph Air Force Base here. "That's going to be a very important consideration for Congress to think about."
More than 80 percent of the $1.5 billion in contracts signed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency alone were awarded without bidding or with limited competition, government records show, provoking concerns among auditors and government officials about the potential for favoritism or abuse.
Norman Wildberger from the University of New South Wales says his theory of "rational trigonometry" is more like algebra, as you can plug numbers into an equation and get an accurate result.
...Instead of distance, Wildberger's trigonometry uses a concept called "quandrance", the square of distance.
Instead of angle, he uses the concept of "spread", calculated by dividing one quadrance by another.
The spread between two lines is a number between zero (representing parallel lines) and one (representing lines at right angles).
Associate Professor Wildberger says it would be possible to make a new protractor that measures spread instead of angle.
You would then plug the values for the quadrance and spread into his set of equations.
An explanation is available at Wikipedia.
The document being drawn up by the British government and the US will be presented to the Iraqi parliament in October and will spark fresh controversy over how long British troops will stay in the country. Tony Blair hopes that, despite continuing and widespread violence in Iraq, the move will show that there is progress following the conflict of 2003.
Britain has already privately informed Japan - which also has troops in Iraq - of its plans to begin withdrawing from southern Iraq in May, a move that officials in Tokyo say would make it impossible for their own 550 soldiers to remain.
The increasingly rapid pace of planning for British military disengagement has been revealed on the eve of the Labour Party conference, which will see renewed demands for a deadline for withdrawal. It is hoped that a clearer strategy on Iraq will quieten critics who say that the government will not be able to 'move on' until Blair quits. Yesterday, about 10,000 people demonstrated against the army's continued presence in the country.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
Most major American cities have made preparations for localized emergencies like fires, floods or large toxic spills that might involve the relocation of a few thousand or tens of thousands of people. Since Sept. 11, 2001, cities have received billions of dollars from the newly formed Department of Homeland Security to prepare for a major terrorist attack.
But few have prepared in detail for a doomsday possibility like Hurricane Katrina, the storm that engulfed New Orleans and left much of the city a wasteland. Nor have they prepared workable plans to evacuate millions of people with little or no notice, as the residents of the Gulf Coast of Texas learned to their dismay late this week. Officials in Texas are now struggling with how to manage the return of residents.
Prime Minister Paul Martin described immigration in a speech this week as key to Canada's economic success in an era defined by low birth rates, an aging population and an ever-deepening shortage of skilled workers.
His immigration minister will address that challenge by announcing the target by Nov. 1 after consulting cabinet colleagues.
The journalist has been in the prison without charge for three-and-a-half years after being accused by the US of being a terrorist, allegations he denies. He claims that he has been interrogated more than 100 times but not asked about alleged terrorist offences. Instead, Sami Muhyideen al-Hajj says US military personnel have alleged during interrogation that al-Jazeera has been infiltrated by al-Qaida and that one of its presenters is linked to Islamists.
Some of the interviews have been carried out by British interrogators, who also wanted the cameraman to spy for them. Mr Hajj was arrested in December 2001 on the Afghan-Pakistani border while on assignment. His allegations are contained in notes of visits he received in Guantánamo in June this year from his lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith. The notes have been declassified by the US military.
The documents appear to show that the American military views the broadcaster, which is popular in the Arab world and is about to launch an English language channel, as an al-Qaida front.
It may be the oddest tale to emerge from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Armed dolphins, trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico.
Experts who have studied the US navy's cetacean training exercises claim the 36 mammals could be carrying 'toxic dart' guns. Divers and surfers risk attack, they claim, from a species considered to be among the planet's smartest. The US navy admits it has been training dolphins for military purposes, but has refused to confirm that any are missing.
Picture, thanks to the mighty Rachel Maddow.
Being of lower density than cool air, warm air is buoyant and rises like a hot-air balloon. If it's a humid day, the rising warm air hoists large amounts of water vapor into the heavens. As a moist, warm air parcel ascends, the moisture condenses and cools into large water droplets and clouds -- e.g. the fluffy, sheep-like little cumulus clouds that meander innocently across the sky.
But on exceptionally warm, humid days, that process goes into overdrive, sometimes with scary results. On such days, the intense heat and humidity continually pump parcels of warm, moist air skyward.
As the air parcels rise, they continually release latent heat that propels the rising warm air even higher -- as if the warm air were pulling itself up by its own bootstraps, as the saying goes.
Exceptionally warm, moist air can rise so high that it forms extremely tall thunderstorms or hurricanes. The taller they are, the more violent they tend to be.
"It can be alleged that they can leverage their contact base and knowledge base to help out clients," Bertram J. Levine, co-author of a book about lobbyists, told the Center. Most lobbying can be beneficial, he added, even though it may involve inherent conflicts of interest. "If there is any problem in the way that this is done," Levine said, "the problem would reside with the policymakers and how they do their jobs."
On Tuesday, the New York Times Company said it will cut 500 jobs from its payroll, including 45 in the New York Times newsroom, and another 35 in the newsroom of the Boston Globe.
On the same day, the Philadelphia Inquirer announced a buy-out intended to shrink its newsroom by 75 reporters and editors and the Philadelphia Daily News said it would cut its already-decimated newsroom staff by 25. Both are Knight Ridder newspapers. Inquirer editor Amanda Bennett told her staff she had "lost sleep" and "vomited" as she tried to deal with the news.
One former top editor at the Inquirer e-mailed another: "Pretty soon there will be nothing left."
Late Friday, the bloodbath continued, with the news that Knight Ridder, a company whose only apparent management tool is cutbacks, was eliminating another 60 jobs at the San Jose Mercury News -- 52 of them in the newsroom.
And all of that came against a backdrop of the San Francisco Chronicle's efforts to rid its payroll of 120 employees, and persistent rumors of more lay-offs and buy-outs at the Los Angeles Times, whose beleaguered editor John Carroll left in August after one too many budget battles with corporate accountants in Chicago, home to Tribune Co., the Times' parent. In addition, Newsday, also a Tribune Co. newspaper, announced 45 buyouts in its newsroom. That followed a buyout of 55 employees last December and another 25 the previous June.
Almost lost in the news was the discouraging fact that the Baltimore Sun, another Tribune Co. property, announced an over-the-top redesign that left it looking like a comic book and left legions of its readers outraged.
For his part, Friedman has a special concern:
"If the publishers use their financial woes as an excuse to cut back on the coverage of disenfranchised people in America, it's going to be a very bad time to be poor.