Saturday, October 15, 2005

Simpsons Script Excerpt from Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish

The campaign crew plaster the Simpsons house with Burns posters and the advisors prepare the family for the dinner.

We're hoping that one of the children might pop up with a question about the upcoming election. Little girl, do you think you can memorize this by dinnertime tomorrow?

(reading) Mr. Burns: your campaign seems to have the momentum of a runaway freight train. Why are you so popular?

Very good.

Mmm... well, as long as I'm asking something, can I ask him to assuage my fears that he's contaminating the planet in a manner that may one day render it uninhabitable?

No, dear. The card question'll be fine.

Well, I think the non-card question is a valid--

Marge! (to advisor) Don't worry. My daughter's very bright, and I'm sure she'll be able to memorize your question by dinnertime tomorrow.

And finally, Mr. Burns wants you to appear very affectionate towards him. But we must remind you, he hates being touched.

[Later at the dinner table...]

(with his mouth full, reading card) Um, you know, Mr. Burns, my family and I, um (Bart belches) feel that taxes are too high. Where do you stand on this highly controversial issue?

Goodness! I didn't realize this casual dinner was going to turn into a charged political debate.

I was only reading what the card--

Homer, I agree with you and if I'm elected governor, I will lower taxes whether those bureaucrats in the state capital like it or not! Ahem, Lisa do you have a question you would like to ask your uncle Montgomery?

Yes, sir, a very inane one. Mr. Burns, your campaign seems to have the momentum of a runaway freight train. Why are you so popular?

Ooh, a tough question but a fair one. Lisa, there's no single answer. Some voters respond to my integrity, others are more impressed with my incorruptibility. (Lisa leaves the table) Still others buy my determination to lower taxes. And the bureaucrats in the state capital can put that in their pipes and smoke it!

Matthews, Mitchell, and O’Beirne combined for Plame misinformation triple-team

On Hardball, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell wrongly asserted that Valerie Plame’s husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson, claimed that Vice President Cheney "dispatched" him to Niger; Chris Matthews stated as fact the disputed claim that Plame "suggested her husband for the mission" ; and National Review Washington editor Kate O'Beirne confused two statutes that may have been violated when Plame's identity was leaked to the press -- the 1917 Espionage Act and the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act." Read more »

Pat Robertson threatens retaliation against conservative senators who oppose Miers

On today’s “700 Club” broadcast, the Rev. Pat Robertson responded to criticism from the Right regarding the Miers nomination and also offered a stern warning to those conservative senators who might be thinking of voting against her. Rev. Robertson suggested that people should look at who is supporting Miers before they doubt her conservative credentials. He named James Dobson, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, Jay Sekulow of the Robertson-founded American Center for Law and Justice, and himself as proof of support for Miers’ nomination from the Right. Robertson concluded by noting: “These so-called movement conservatives don’t have much of a following, the ones that I’m aware of. And you just marvel, these are the senators, some of them who voted to confirm the general counsel of the ACLU to the Supreme Court, and she was voted in almost unanimously. And you say, ‘now they’re going to turn against a Christian who is a conservative picked by a conservative President and they’re going to vote against her for confirmation?’ Not on your sweet life, if they want to stay in office.”

John McCain v. Bush

If the McCain amendment prevails in the Senate-House conference, the White House has threatened that George W. Bush will veto the $440 billion Defense Appropriations bill, $50 billion of which is for continuing war in Iraq and for the troubles in Afghanistan.
Last summer, at the order of the president, this—and two other corollary McCain amendments to the same appropriations bill—resulted in Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist yanking the entire $440 billion appropriations bill off the Senate floor. The White House was afraid the McCain amendments setting clear standards of prisoner treatment would pass.
Before that happened, Dick Cheney had been sent to muscle McCain to withdraw his amendments. McCain refused. More White House pressure was put on McCain and some of his co-sponsors at the beginning of October, when the appropriations bill came up again. Having refused to crack under North Vietnamese torturers, McCain was not moved.

Bush Told Blair of 'Going Beyond Iraq'

George Bush told Tony Blair shortly before the invasion of Iraq that he intended to target other countries, including Saudi Arabia, which, he implied, planned to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
Mr Bush said he "wanted to go beyond Iraq in dealing with WMD proliferation, mentioning in particular Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan," according to a note of a telephone conversation between the two men on January 30 2003.
The note is quoted in the US edition, published next week, of Lawless World, America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules, by the British international lawyer Philippe Sands. The memo was drawn up by one of the prime minister's foreign policy advisers in Downing Street and passed to the Foreign Office, according to Mr Sands.

UN Official: US Troops 'Starving' Iraqi Civilians

A United Nations human rights investigator on Friday accused U.S. and British forces in Iraq of breaching international law by depriving civilians of food and water in besieged cities as they try to flush out militants.
But the U.S. military denied the charge and said that while supplies were sometimes disrupted by combat, food was never deliberately withheld.
Jean Ziegler, a former Swiss sociology professor who is U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, said the Geneva Conventions banned military forces from using "starvation of civilians as a method of warfare".
But he said that in Falluja, Tal Afar and Samarra, Iraqi and U.S.-led forces had cut off or restricted food and water to encourage residents to flee before assaults on entrenched Sunni insurgents over the past year.
"A drama is taking place in total silence in Iraq, where the coalition's occupying forces are using hunger and deprivation of water as a weapon of war against the civilian population," Ziegler told a news briefing.

R Crumb's "A Short History of America"

This is a 12 panel piece of art which Crumb named "A short history of America". I created this animation for your enjoyment. It might take a minute to load, but please wait. Pay special note to the slope of the land and the tree(s). If you can't stand the wait, or you'd like to view each image without the animation,go here. If you'd like to see the animation again, hit reload or refresh.

Jib Jab: Big Box Mart

G.I.'s and Syrians in Tense Clashes on Iraqi Border

A series of clashes in the last year between American and Syrian troops, including a prolonged firefight this summer that killed several Syrians, has raised the prospect that cross-border military operations may become a dangerous new front in the Iraq war, according to current and former military and government officials.
The firefight, between Army Rangers and Syrian troops along the border with Iraq, was the most serious of the conflicts with President Bashar al-Assad's forces, according to American and Syrian officials.
...But other officials, who say they got their information in the field or by talking to Special Operations commanders, say that as American efforts to cut off the flow of fighters have intensified, the operations have spilled over the border - sometimes by accident, sometimes by design.
Some current and former officials add that the United States military is considering plans to conduct special operations inside Syria, using small covert teams for cross-border intelligence gathering.

Friday, October 14, 2005

War Photographer [MOV]

Cartoon music video mixes headbanger music and Nelson Riddle-esque jazz with 50's-style animation (with a few "Yellow Submarine" touches) featuring, yes, battling Vikings. Well worth waiting for the download. Spiffy.

Theologians Under Hitler

The documentary film, "Theologians Under Hitler," examines post-war Allied revisionism and the portrait of a German church unified, defiant against Nazism. Historical research uncovers a very different story.
The film, scheduled for PBS nationwide release beginning in November (check local listings), is an effort by producer Steven D. Martin and his company; Vital Visuals, Inc. ( ) to ask what this history teaches us about religious faith, institutions, ourselves and evil.
Based upon the research of Robert Erickson, Ph.D. (Pacific Lutheran University), the film introduces the viewer to three of the greatest Christian scholars of the twentieth century: Paul Althaus, Emanuel Hirsch, and Gerhard Kittel, men who were also outspoken supporters of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.
In 1933 Althaus spoke of Hitler's rise as "a gift and miracle of God." Hirsch saw 1933 as a "sunrise of divine goodness." And Kittel, the editor of the standard reference work on the Jewish Background of the New Testament, began working for the Nazis to find a "moral" rationale for the destruction of European Jewry.

Wikipedia: Made-up words in The Simpsons

Wafer-Thin Color Displays for Packaging

At the Plastics Electronics trade fair in Frankfurt, Siemens developers exhibited extremely thin, miniature color displays that can be printed onto paper or foil. And the displays can be produced at very low cost compared to LCD panels. The first displays will become available on the market in 2007.
The displays show information about products, or even operating instructions for devices, directly on the packaging. A pillbox, for example, could display instructions for how it should be taken and provide this information in several languages with the push of a button. Admission tickets for trade shows could indicate the booths where various exhibitors are located. It’s also conceivable that small computer games will be on packages or that equipment boxes will display animations that give users step-by-step operating instructions when a button is pushed.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Dems Fight Efforts to Cut Food Stamps

Democrats are fighting attempts to make cuts in food stamps and conservation programs at a time when people are coping with hurricanes and drought.
"Right now the difference between life and death for many Americans is the food stamp program," said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. "We should not, we cannot, cut the very nutritional programs that are literally saving lives."
A Republican plan to cut agriculture spending by $3 billion had been scheduled for a vote Thursday in the Senate Agriculture Committee, but the panel's chairman, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., put off the vote indefinitely late Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia blocks access to Blogger, Flickr, LiveJournal

The government of Saudi Arabia has blocked access to Google's Web blogging service Blogger, Yahoo!'s photo sharing website Flickr, and the diary service LiveJournal as well as some other websites through their nationally run Internet Services Unit (ISU) last Tuesday. As a result, English-speaking Saudis were prevented from publishing blogs, reading journals, or viewing pictures on Flickr.
The Saudi Arabian government uses a filtering service provided by the United States-owned company Secure Computing. In September, the popular comedy website The Best Page in the Universe was added to the filter. Similar blocking services have been implemented in other countries, such as The People's Republic of China.

Did a reporter with GOP ties suppress a story that could have cost Bush the White House?

President Bush's reelection may have been made possible by a Toledo Blade reporter with close ties to the Republican Party who reportedly knew about potential campaign violations in early 2004 but suppressed the story.
According to several knowledgeable sources, The Blade's chief political columnist, Fritz Wenzel, was told of potential campaign violations by Tom Noe, chair of the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign for Lucas County, as early as January 2004. But according to Blade editors, Wenzel never gave the paper the all-important tip in early 2004.

Central Pillar of Iraq Policy Crumbling

Senior U.S. officials have begun to question a key presumption of American strategy in Iraq: that establishing democracy there can erode and ultimately eradicate the insurgency gripping the country.
The expectation that political progress would bring stability has been fundamental to the Bush administration's approach to rebuilding Iraq, as well as a central theme of White House rhetoric to convince the American public that its policy in Iraq remains on course.
But within the last two months, U.S. analysts with access to classified intelligence have started to challenge this precept, noting a "significant and disturbing disconnect" between apparent advances on the political front and efforts to reduce insurgent attacks.
Now, with Saturday's constitutional referendum appearing more likely to divide than unify the country, some within the administration have concluded that the quest for democracy in Iraq, at least in its current form, could actually strengthen the insurgency.

Fears mount as US opens new military installation in Paraguay

Controversy is raging in Paraguay, where the US military is conducting secretive operations. Five hundred US troops arrived in the country on Jul. 1, 2005 with planes, weapons and ammunition. Eyewitness reports prove that an airbase exists in Mariscal Estigarribia, Paraguay, which is 200 kilometres from its border with Bolivia and may be utilized by the US military. Officials in Paraguay claim the military operations are routine humanitarian efforts and deny that any plans are underway for a US base. Yet human rights groups in the area are deeply worried. White House officials are using rhetoric about terrorist threats in the tri-border region (where Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina meet) in order to build their case for military operations, which are in many ways reminiscent of the build up to the invasion of Iraq.

Local Christian Coalition Official Did Molest, Family Members Tell 'The Oregonian'

After news broke that local law enforcement officials were investigating complaints that Louis Beres, longtime chairman of the Christian Coalition of Oregon, had molested three female family members when they were pre-teens, The Oregonian in Portland went out and interviewed Beres' family members.
Two told reporters that Beres, indeed, had molested them. All three said they have been interviewed for several hours by detectives.

Increasingly, judges decide what science—if any—a jury hears

Although judges have always been permitted to preview and exclude expert evidence, relatively few exercised this right prior to a trio of U.S. Supreme Court decisions between 1993 and 1999, notes economist Lloyd Dixon of the RAND Institute for Civil Justice in Santa Monica, Calif. Beginning with the first of those decisions, known as Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals or simply Daubert, rulings by the high court formally instructed federal judges to assume a gatekeeping role for the admission of science into trials.
The result has been a radical transformation of the rules of evidence in torts, says Margaret A. Berger of the Brooklyn (N.Y.) Law School. In more than a dozen analyses in a July 20 supplement to the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), she, other legal scholars, academics, and attorneys outline the impacts of these judicial changes.
The reports describe an increase since Daubert in the likelihood that scientific evidence will be challenged and great variability from court to court in what potential testimony gets excluded. One leading contention among these analysts: The increased likelihood that a judge will bar plaintiffs' evidence from court reduces the chance that their case will ever reach trial.

FEMA keeps evacuee data secret, hinders search for survivors

FEMA officials have started prohibiting workers at a large shelter here from sharing information about evacuees even with family members unless the evacuees had signed release forms. In many cases, relief workers said, such forms were lost or never presented in the chaos of the exodus. FEMA authorities made similar restrictions last week when they took over management of shelters in Beaumont, Tex.
"If we find someone, we've been instructed to tell family members, 'He or she is alive and well in San Antonio,' and that's it," said Rene Gauna, a San Antonio city employee working at a FEMA-managed shelter at the old Kelly Air Force Base. "We're no longer allowed to release new addresses or telephone numbers or tell people where their loved ones have moved."

Dermot Purgavie: America's sense of itself - its pride in its power - has been profoundly damaged

With TV providing a ceaseless backdrop of the country's failings - a crippled and tone-deaf president, a negligent government, corruption, military atrocities, soaring debt, racial conflict, poverty, bloated bodies in floodwater, people dying on camera for want of food, water and medicine - it seemed things were falling apart in the land where happiness is promoted in the constitution.
Disillusioning news was everywhere. In the flight from Hurricane Rita, evacuees fought knife fights over cans of petrol. In storm-hit Louisiana there were long queues at gun stores as people armed themselves against looters.
America, which has the world's costliest health care, had, it turned out, higher infant mortality rates than the broke and despised Cuba.
Tom De Lay, Republican enforcer in the House of Representatives, was indicted for conspiracy and money laundering. The leader of the Republicans in the Senate was under investigation for his stock dealings. And Osama bin Laden was still on the loose.
Americans are the planet's biggest flag wavers. They are reared on the conceit that theirs is the world's best and most enviable country, born only the day before yesterday but a model society with freedom, opportunity and prosperity not found, they think, in older cultures.
They rejoice that "We are No.1", and in many ways they are.
But events have revealed a creeping mildew of pain and privation, graft and injustice and much incompetence lurking beneath the glow of star-spangled superiority.
Many here feel the country is breaking down and losing its moral and political authority.

Property grabs and the Gulf (we all saw this one heading down Canal Street)

The concern is that developers will seize property and put up housing developments that may not be affordable to the disadvantaged public or build large department stores, such as a Wal-Mart or Target on land that was taken.
Eminent domain is a legal principle that allows the government to take private property for a "public use," such as a school or roads and bridges, in exchange for just compensation based on fair market value.
In June, the Supreme Court's ruling in Kelo v. New London maintained that a city has the right to transfer property from homeowners to private developers to build properties such as residences or businesses. Advocates of the ruling say that these developments will ultimately translate into public benefit by raising the city's tax base, creating jobs and generating revenue that enables cities to provide essential services.

EPA Attempting to Change Radiation Standards for Residents Near Yucca Waste Site

Loux said EPA representatives told Nevada officials that the reason for proposing a less protective standard over 1 million years than for the first 10,000 years is because a tougher standard "would disqualify Yucca Mountain, and EPA has been directed to assure that doesn't happen."
"EPA has manufactured a standard tailored to fit the site, not to protect public health and safety," he told a panel that included Elizabeth Cotsworth, director of the EPA's Office of Radiation and Indoor Air.

Report Says White House Ignored C.I.A. on Iraq Chaos

A review by former intelligence officers has concluded that the Bush administration "apparently paid little or no attention" to prewar assessments by the Central Intelligence Agency that warned of major cultural and political obstacles to stability in postwar Iraq.
The unclassified report was completed in July 2004. It appeared publicly for the first time this week in Studies in Intelligence, a quarterly journal, and was first reported Wednesday in USA Today. The journal is published by the Center for the Study of Intelligence, which is part of the C.I.A. but operates independently.
The review was conducted by a team led by Richard J. Kerr, a former deputy director of central intelligence, working under contract for the C.I.A. It acknowledged the deep failures in the agency's prewar assessments of Iraq's weapons programs but said "the analysis was right" on cultural and political issues related to postwar Iraq.

GAO Says FDA Plan B Rejection Political, Not Medical

A long-awaited report on the 2004 Food and Drug Administration decision to reject an application to allow easier access to the "morning after pill" concludes that the decision was highly unusual, was made with atypical involvement from top agency officials, and may well have been made months before it was formally announced.
The draft report by the Government Accountability Office, requested by Congress in the summer of 2004, is to be finalized and made public by the end of the month. But some congressional staffers have been briefed on its conclusions in recent weeks, and some were allowed yesterday to read the findings.

Dutch Court Refuses Extradition Saying U.S. Cannot Guarantee Rights

The man, who is of Egyptian descent and was identified only by his initials M. A., is wanted on charges of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud, apparently to help the al-Qaida terrorist network. He has been in custody in the Netherlands for around eight months.
The ruling by the Hague District Court said the suspect's "fundamental right" of unlimited access to a defense lawyer and immediate access to a judge may be compromised in the United States.
Last month, the court sought guarantees from U.S. prosecutors that the detainee would be afforded those basic rights if he were extradited. In Wednesday's ruling, it rejected a U.S. submission that "the United States views such a request as unwarranted and unnecessary."

Report Says U.S. Reduces Protection of Waters, Wetlands

In the past four years, the United States has drastically cut back on its protection of waterways and wetlands, whose erosion was cited as a factor in the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina, according to a report issued Wednesday.
The report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, examined how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency assert jurisdiction over many of the nation's waterways and wetlands.

Halliburton awarded another $33 million contract for Katrina work

The latest $33.6 million contract was awarded after considering 59 bids, and brings KBR's total Katrina deals to $66.1 million. KBR's contracts were awarded under an existing $500 million umbrella deal which was also tapped to build prison facilities at Guantanamo Bay.
President Bush's former FEMA director Joe Allbaugh, who ran the agency from 2001-2003, is now lobbying for Halliburton in Washington.
In a news article Sept. 12, the Wall Street Journal asserted: "The Bush administration is importing many of the contracting practices blamed for spending abuses in Iraq as it begins the largest and costliest rebuilding effort in U.S. history."

World Temperatures Keep Rising With a Hot 2005

New international climate data show that 2005 is on track to be the hottest year on record, continuing a 25-year trend of rising global temperatures.
Climatologists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies calculated the record-breaking global average temperature, which now surpasses 1998's record by a tenth of a degree Fahrenheit, from readings taken at 7,200 weather stations scattered around the world.

Bush Teleconference With Soldiers Staged

It was billed as a conversation with U.S. troops, but the questions President Bush asked on a teleconference call Thursday were choreographed to match his goals for the war in Iraq and Saturday's vote on a new Iraqi constitution.
"This is an important time," Allison Barber, deputy assistant defense secretary, said, coaching the soldiers before Bush arrived. "The president is looking forward to having just a conversation with you."
Barber said the president was interested in three topics: the overall security situation in Iraq, security preparations for the weekend vote and efforts to train Iraqi troops.

Vice President's role in outing of CIA agent under examination, sources close to prosecutor say

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is trying to determine whether Vice President Dick Cheney had a role in the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame-Wilson, individuals close to Fitzgerald say. Plame’s husband was a vocal critic of prewar intelligence used by President George W. Bush to build support for the Iraq war.
The investigation into who leaked the officer's name to reporters has now turned toward a little known cabal of administration hawks known as the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), which came together in August 2002 to publicize the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. WHIG was founded by Bush chief of staff Andrew Card and operated out of the Vice President’s office.

Prosecutor Subpoenas DeLay Phone Records

Silicon Zoo

Where's Waldo? Hiding in the silicon patterns of a computer chip. Michael Davidson has found a collection of microscopic art hidden by chip designers. This practice has been going on for decades, and the hidden images range from the iconic to the commemorative to the bizarre. Be sure to read the fine print. [From See also this CNET story] (via)

lacitedesmortes - documentary on women murdered in ciudad juarez is not in English, but through its flash presentation and navigation, it should explain enough about the brutality of the unfortunate events that took place in Ciudad Juarez. Since 1993, almost 400 women and girls have been murdered and more than 70 remain missing in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua, Mexico. While the region's law enforcement as well as state's attorney general were either incompetent or corrupt, more than a dozen women's rights groups were created to solve the murder as well as to stop the violence in the region. Thanks to international organizations such as Amnesty, UNIFEM, and IACHR, the number of violent murder on women in the region has degreased for a while, however, the battle still continues. More resources here. [from]

Harriet's Gaga Lettern to W. Now Available Online

Reality Marketing

Since 1989, The Hartman Group has advised companies such as Whole Foods Market, PepsiCo and Campbell Soup Co. on issues about health and wellness and how to get close enough to the consumer to figure out what they want.
...Their study kicks off what Chairman and Chief Executive Harvey Hartman and his team hope will be a research series that will be tailored to specific companies in future iterations. For now, the pilot studies are exploratory and focused only on the family's attitudes and actions around food.
..."How they use the product, how they share the product, how they interact with the product, what are the emotional connections to the product -- all these are things that intimately intertwine with what happens in the home," said Barry. "It is such an enormous void in the intellectual capital of the entire industry."
Enter the ethnographers. The study of people in their natural environment is, The Hartman Group believes, the future of marketing.

Advisory Committee on Cultural Diplomacy Report on US Diplomatic Status

An advisory committee to the U.S. State Department has issued a new report which frankly admits that the war in Iraq, combined with prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib, has deeply damaged America's image in the rest of the world. "There is deep and abiding anger toward U.S. policies and actions," states the report, titled Cultural Diplomacy: The Linchpin of Public Diplomacy. Committee members reviewed several academic studies and conducted interviews in various countries with artists, cultural activists, educators, filmmakers, writers, foreign officials and journalists. "A sense of crisis was everywhere apparent," it states, "first in the growing perception of the United States as a hostile force, then in the scale of the diplomatic problem that must be solved: bridges rebuilt and new links forged. Put simply, we have lost the goodwill of the world, without which it becomes ever more difficult to execute foreign policy." [from]

Amtrak Breakup Advances

The Amtrak board has approved an essential step in the Bush administration plan to break up the railroad, voting to carve out the Northeast Corridor, the tracks between Boston and Washington, as a separate division.
The board, made up entirely of Mr. Bush's appointees, voted in a meeting on Sept. 22 to create a new subsidiary to own and manage the corridor, which includes nearly all the track that Amtrak owns.
The vote was not announced. It was reported on Wednesday in the newsletter of the United Rail Passenger Alliance of Jacksonville, Fla., an organization that has been highly critical of Amtrak management.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Visual Vocabulary for Quantum Particles

Designer Jan-Henrik Andersen, in conjunction with particle physicists, developed a visual language that describes the interrelationships between the elementary particles, both known and hypothesized.

William M. Arkin: South Korea's Response to CONPLAN 8022-02 for Pre-Emptive Nuclear Strike Against North Korea

South Korean government officials are all in a dither about disclosures of a U.S. contingency plan to undertake preemptive attacks on North Korea despite the fact that preemption is the official U.S. national security policy and North Korea is a charter member of the evil club. Secretary of State Condi Rice denies -- while in Kyrgyzstan speaking to U.S. troops at a U.S. military base -- that the U.S. has any plans to have military bases in central Asia.
First Korea, where opposition legislator Kwon Young-kil of the Democratic Labor Party in South Korea claims to have been leaked a copy of OPLAN 5027-04, the core operations plan for war on the Korean peninsula.
On Monday, Kwon told the National Assembly that the plan envisages getting rid of the North's communist regime in a pre-emptive strike and destroying North Korean military.
..."The United States is babbling that it has no intention to attack North Korea and that the nuclear issue should be resolved peacefully," Pyongyang said.
Pyongyang said the new plan, CONPLAN 8022-02, shows that the US has "concretized" its plan for a nuclear strike into an actual operations plan. I was the first to reveal the details of this global strike plan in the Washington Post.

Bush Team Recommends Tax Hike on Mortgages and Health Insurance

The panel also is leaning toward limiting the deduction employers can take for paying the premiums for their workers' health insurance. Currently, there is no limit to that deduction, and workers pay no income tax on that compensation.
The panel discussed capping tax breaks for health insurance to the roughly $11,000 benefit provided to members of Congress and federal workers, but reached no consensus. The panel also debated whether to allow employers to continue taking a write-off but force workers to pay tax on the employee benefit.
The irony is that such measures are intended to offset possible reductions in the alternative minimum tax (AMT), which is projected to raise $1.2 trillion in revenue from 2005 to 2015 if left as it is.
Created in 1969 as a tax on about 200 rich Americans who paid no income tax, the AMT is increasingly hitting middle-class Americans.

Focus of CIA Leak Probe Appears to Widen

There are signs that prosecutors now are looking into contacts between administration officials and journalists that took place much earlier than previously thought. Earlier conversations are potentially significant, because that suggests the special prosecutor leading the investigation is exploring whether there was an effort within the administration at an early stage to develop and disseminate confidential information to the press that could undercut former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife, Central Intelligence Agency official Valerie Plame.
...Mr. Fitzgerald's pursuit now suggests he might be investigating not a narrow case on the leaking of the agent's name, but perhaps a broader conspiracy.
...Until now, Mr. Fitzgerald appeared to be focusing on conversations between White House officials such as Mr. Libby and Karl Rove, President Bush's senior political adviser, after Mr. Wilson wrote his op-ed. The defense by Republican operatives has been that White House officials didn't name Ms. Plame, and that any discussion of her was in response to reporters' questions about Mr. Wilson, the kind of casual banter that occurs between sources and reporters.

Mr. Rove, who has already testified three times before the grand jury and was identified by a Time magazine reporter as a source for his story on Mr. Wilson, is expected to go back to the grand jury, potentially as early as today, to clarify earlier answers.
Lawyers familiar with the investigation believe that at least part of the outcome likely hangs on the inner workings of what has been dubbed the White House Iraq Group. Formed in August 2002, the group, which included Messrs. Rove and Libby, worked on setting strategy for selling the war in Iraq to the public in the months leading up to the March 2003 invasion. The group likely would have played a significant role in responding to Mr. Wilson's claims.
Given that the grand jury is set to expire on Oct. 28, it is possible charges in this case could come as early as next week. Former federal prosecutors say it is traditional not to wait for the last minute and run the risk of not having enough jurors to reach a quorum. There are 23 members of a grand jury, and 16 are needed for a quorum before any indictments could be voted on. This grand jury has traditionally met on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

MIT Students Confirm Possible Validity of Archimedes's Solar Reflector Weapon

Ancient Greek and Roman historians recorded that during the siege of Syracuse in 212 BC, Archimedes (a notably smart person) constructed a burning glass to set the Roman warships, anchored within bow and arrow range, afire. The story has been much debated and oft dismissed as myth.
TV's MythBusters were not able to replicate the feat and “busted” the myth.
Intrigued by the idea and an intuitive belief that it could work, MIT's 2.009ers decided to apply the early product development ‘sketch or soft modeling’ process to the problem.
Our goal was not to make a decision on the myth—we just wanted to assess if it was at least possible, and have some fun in the process. Jumping ahead, you can see the result… but let’s start at the beginning of the process.

Foreign laborers face threat in Iraq

Labor practices in Iraq are being called into question as contractors hire poor non-Iraqis to work low wage jobs in a deadly environment.
The Los Angeles Times reports 255 contractors have been killed in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. One third are from developing countries.
U.S. military rules require the contractors to hire foreign workers for fear that local labor would increase the risk of insurgent attacks.
The Philippines and Nepal have banned citizens from working in Iraq, but with little regulation labor brokers are finding loopholes and getting workers into Iraq.
Poor workers pay brokers a fee to get them a job in Iraq. Once there, they are left with little protections.
Last year, 19-year-old Nepalese worker Ramesh Khadka was executed by insurgents on his way to a job for a subcontractor to U.S. based KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton Corp.
He should be covered by death benefits payable to his family, but family members say they have received no money.
KBR said it will review the case.

Olberman: The Seemingly Political Timing of Terror Threats

OLBERMANN: Well, I'm—yes, and I'm going to raise this question as skeptically and bluntly as I can. It's not a question that doubts the existence of terror, nor the threat of terrorism. But we've cobbled together in the last couple of hours a list of at least 13 occasions that - on which — whenever there has been news that significantly impacted the White House negatively, there has been some sudden credible terror threat somewhere in this country. How could the coincidence be so consistent?
CRAWFORD: It's, it is a pattern. One of the most memorable was just after the Democratic Convention in the 2004 election, when they talked about the threat to New York and even the World Trade—World Bank, and it turned out that was based on intelligence that was three years old, (INAUDIBLE) even before 9/11.
There is a pattern here. And I think it's difficult sometimes to take it at face value. But in these moments, when it looks like a crisis, it's (INAUDIBLE), those of us who bring it up get accused of treason. That's what Howard Dean was accused of when he raised that after the Democratic Convention scare alert.
OLBERMANN: About, that was, I think, by the way, number 12 on the list. About the speech, and again, not to question the existence of terrorism, but if a prominent politician takes any issue and seems to be using it as a last line of personal political defense, does history, does our history not teach us, and supposedly the politician, that he risks trivializing the issue, that he risks sounding like Joe McCarthy on communist infiltration?

Special Forces Suicides Raise Questions

Chief Warrant Officer William Howell was a 15-year Army Special Forces veteran who had seen combat duty all over the world. Sgt. 1st Class Andre McDaniel was a military accountant. Spc. Jeremy Wilson repaired electronics.
They had little in common, other than having served in Iraq with the 10th Special Forces Group based at Fort Carson, Colo. They did not know each other, and they had vastly different duties.
Each, however, committed suicide shortly after returning home, all within about a 17-month period.

Wiccan Priestess Loses Supreme Court Appeal

Lawyers for Cynthia Simpson had told justices in a filing that most of the invocations are led by Christians. Simpson said she wanted to offer a generalized prayer to the "creator of the universe."
Wiccans consider themselves witches, pagans or neo-pagans, and say their religion is based on respect for the Earth, nature and the cycle of the seasons.
Simpson sued and initially won before a federal judge who said the county's policy was unconstitutional because it stated a preference for a set of religious beliefs.
Simpson lost at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that the county had changed its policy and directed clerics to avoid invoking the name of Jesus.

Libby Did Not Tell Grand Jury About Key Conversation

In two appearances before the federal grand jury investigating the leak of a covert CIA operative's name, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, did not disclose a crucial conversation that he had with New York Times reporter Judith Miller in June 2003 about the operative, Valerie Plame, according to sources with firsthand knowledge of his sworn testimony.
Libby also did not disclose the June 23 conversation when he was twice interviewed by FBI agents working on the Plame leak investigation, the sources said.
Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald apparently learned about the June 23 conversation for the first time just days ago, after attorneys for Miller and The New York Times informed prosecutors that Miller had discovered a set of notes on the conversation.

Cheney's Halliburton stock options rose 3,281% last year, senator finds

An analysis released by a Democratic senator found that Vice President Dick Cheney's Halliburton stock options have risen 3,281 percent in the last year, RAW STORY can reveal.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) asserts that Cheney's options -- worth $241,498 a year ago -- are now valued at more than $8 million. The former CEO of the oil and gas services juggernaut, Cheney has pledged to give proceeds to charity.
Cheney continues to hold 433,333 Halliburton stock options. The company has been criticized by auditors for its handling of a no-bid contact in Iraq. Auditors found the firm marked up meal prices for troops and inflated gas prices in a deal with a Kuwaiti supplier. The company built the American prison at Guantanamo Bay.
The Vice President has sought to stem criticism by signing an agreement to donate the after-tax profits from these stock options to charities of his choice, and his lawyer has said he will not take any tax deduction for the donations.
However, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) concluded in Sept. 2003 that holding stock options while in elective office does constitute a “financial interest” regardless of whether the holder of the options will donate proceeds to charities. CRS also found that receiving deferred compensation is a financial interest.

Miers's Gushy Letters to Bush Revealed

Indeed, Miers oozes with deference and awe in her letters to Bush. In a 1995 note, she thanked Bush for a visit and called a ride in a plane with him "Cool!" When she wrote Bush a thank-you note for meeting with a lottery job applicant in 1997, she wrote, "You are the best!"
Likewise, in a 1996 letter thanking Bush and his wife, Laura, for serving as chairs of a Dallas luncheon honoring Miers, the future Supreme Court nominee spoke of a little girl who'd raved about getting Bush's autograph.
"I truly believe if the governor told her she should be an Astronaut, she would do her best to become one," Miers wrote. "I was struck by the tremendous impact you have on the children whose lives you touch."

Monday, October 10, 2005

New Republic: Welcome to the Hackocracy

The Bush era has taken government out of the hands of the hyper-qualified and given it back to the common man. This new breed may not have what the credentialists sneeringly call "relevant experience." Their alma maters may not always be "accredited." But they have something the intellectual snobs of yore never had: loyalty. If not loyalty to country, then at least loyalty to party and to the guy who got them the job. And their loyalty has been rewarded: Even if they fail, they know they can move up the chain until they find a job they can succeed in or until a major American city is destroyed, whichever comes first.

Profile of James Dobson of Focus on the Family

"My son talks so ugly. Today he said, 'stupid mommy.' It breaks my heart, and I don't know what to do." A sob escapes the young mother on the line.
"I know he's a busy man, but I was wondering, would it be possible for me to ask Dr. Dobson a few questions?" she asks. "I want to apply the Bible in how I raise my boys. But I'm really struggling."
It is calls like these — by the thousands each week — that have transformed plain-talking child psychologist James C. Dobson into a formidable political force.
The founder of the evangelical ministry Focus on the Family, Dobson, 69, is known in Washington as a warrior for the religious right — relentless, ruthless and dangerous to cross. He's so influential that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove rushed to line up his support for the nomination of Harriet E. Miers to the Supreme Court by personally reassuring him of her conservatism.
But if the political world treats Dobson as a powerbroker, to millions of Americans he is simply a friend.

Understanding The Media's 'Patriotic' Narcolepsy

The release of Andrea Mitchell's new book Talking Tough to Presidents, Dictators, and Other Scoundrels has brought with it the admission by Mitchell and some of her colleagues that they -- the press and your Fourth Estate -- gave President Bush and his administration a free pass from 9/11 through Hurricane Katrina.
This stands repeating. Members of the media have confirmed they made a conscious effort not to challenge the Bush administration for exactly four years, through and including the 2004 presidential election, until just this past month when it temporarily grew a vestigial spinal column.
“I think there has been self-censorship since 9/11 or after 9/11 -- there was sort of a rallying around -- an understandably patriotic effect and I think that reporters were less challenging, and it’s been very interesting to see my colleagues . . . all of these correspondents and anchors . . . and they have been taking on local and state and federal officials in a way – an impassioned way that we have not seen in many years.” NBC News' Andrea Mitchell on “Real Time with Bill Maher” -- 9/23/05

Former FOX Reporter: "...Just Make Things Up"

Former FOX reporter David Shuster sat down with his local hometown newspaper, The Herald Times, and gave a very critical review of his former employer. Shuster, who is now with MSNBC, put it very bluntly that FOX News had some integrity issues.

"Editorially, I had issues with story selection," Shuster went on. "But the bigger issue was that there wasn't a tradition or track record of honoring journalistic integrity. I found some reporters at Fox would cut corners or steal information from other sources or in some cases, just make things up. Management would either look the other way or just wouldn't care to take a closer look. I had serious issues with that."

As Polar Ice Turns to Water, Dreams of Treasure Abound

It seems harsh to say that bad news for polar bears is good for Pat Broe. Mr. Broe, a Denver entrepreneur, is no more to blame than anyone else for a meltdown at the top of the world that threatens Arctic mammals and ancient traditions and lends credibility to dark visions of global warming.
Still, the newest study of the Arctic ice cap - finding that it faded this summer to its smallest size ever recorded - is beginning to make Mr. Broe look like a visionary for buying this derelict Hudson Bay port from the Canadian government in 1997. Especially at the price he paid: about $7.
By Mr. Broe's calculations, Churchill could bring in as much as $100 million a year as a port on Arctic shipping lanes shorter by thousands of miles than routes to the south, and traffic would only increase as the retreat of ice in the region clears the way for a longer shipping season.
With major companies and nations large and small adopting similar logic, the Arctic is undergoing nothing less than a great rush for virgin territory and natural resources worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Even before the polar ice began shrinking more each summer, countries were pushing into the frigid Barents Sea, lured by undersea oil and gas fields and emboldened by advances in technology. But now, as thinning ice stands to simplify construction of drilling rigs, exploration is likely to move even farther north.

Mystery of Reporter Killed in Basra Deepens

Steve Vincent, a New Yorker and a freelance reporter, remains the only American journalist slain in Iraq since the fall of Baghdad more than two years ago. It happened on Aug. 2, but more than two months later, no one has been caught or charged with his murder.
Just before his death, after being kidnapped in Basra, he had written an op-ed for The New York Times. That newspaper re-visited his killing today, revealing or speculating on several fascinating angles, including the role that his very close relationship with his Iraqi interpreter may have played in the mystery.
Vincent's death was followed on Sept. 19 by the slaying of Fakher Haider, 38, an Iraqi journalist working for the Times, with the circumstances similar and his killers also still at large. The paper's Kirk Semple wrote today, "Radical Shiite militias, who have infiltrated the government and police force in Basra, are widely suspected of committing the crimes, though it is not known whether the killings are linked in any way."

Republicans Deciding Against Running in 06

Republican politicians in multiple states have recently decided not to run for Senate next year, stirring anxiety among Washington operatives about the effectiveness of the party's recruiting efforts and whether this signals a broader decline in GOP congressional prospects.
Prominent Republicans have passed up races in North Dakota and West Virginia, both GOP-leaning states with potentially vulnerable Democratic incumbents. Earlier, Republican recruiters on Capitol Hill and at the White House failed to lure their first choices to run in Florida, Michigan and Vermont.
These setbacks have prompted grumbling. Some Republican operatives, including some who work closely with the White House, privately point to what they regard as a lackluster performance by Sen. Elizabeth Dole (N.C.) as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the group that heads fundraising and candidate recruitment for GOP senators.

CIA Leak: Karl Rove and the Case of the Missing E-mail

In Cooper's account, Rove told him the wife of White House critic Joseph Wilson worked at the "agency" on WMD issues and was responsible for sending Wilson on a trip to Niger to check out claims that Iraq was trying to buy uranium. But Rove did not disclose this conversation to the FBI when he was first interviewed by agents in the fall of 2003—nor did he mention it during his first grand jury appearance, says one of the lawyers familiar with Rove's account. (He did not tell President George W. Bush about it either, assuring him that fall only that he was not part of any "scheme" to discredit Wilson by outing his wife, the lawyer says.) But after he testified, Luskin discovered an e-mail Rove had sent that same day—July 11—alerting deputy national-security adviser Stephen Hadley that he had just talked to Cooper, the lawyer says. In the e-mail, Rove said Cooper pushed him on whether the president was being hurt by the Niger controversy. "I didn't take the bait," Rove wrote Hadley, adding that he warned Cooper not to get "far out in front on this." After reviewing the e-mail, Rove then returned to the grand jury last year and reported the Cooper conversation. He testified that the talk was initially about "welfare reform"—a topic mentioned in the e-mail—and that Cooper then changed the subject. Cooper has written that he doesn't recall a discussion of welfare reform.

Energy bill OKd in raucous vote GOP measure scrapes by after hard lobbying on House floor

The House of Representatives descended into bedlam Friday as Republican leaders kept a five-minute vote open for more than 40 minutes -- and arm-twisted two of their members to switch their votes -- to pass a new energy bill.
The bill, which would offer incentives for oil companies to build new refineries, sparked angry accusations by Democrats that GOP leaders were abusing House rules to squeeze through the controversial measure.
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, asked at one point: "Doesn't this make the House a banana republic?"
Democrats chanted "shame! shame!" as the presiding speaker announced that the measure, in response to the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, had passed on a 212-210 vote.
The scene was reminiscent of the House's vote on a Medicare prescription drug benefit in November 2003, when GOP leaders kept the vote open for nearly three hours while trying to persuade reluctant members of their own party to back the measure.

IBM to promise today not to use genetic data for hiring, benefits

As concerns grow that genetic information could become a tool of discrimination, IBM plans to announce a new workforce privacy policy today.
IBM, the world's largest technology company by revenue, is promising not to use genetic information in hiring or in determining eligibility for its health care or benefits plans. Genetics policy specialists and privacy rights groups say that the IBM pledge to its more than 300,000 employees worldwide appears to be the first such move by a major corporation.
The new policy, which comes as Congress is considering legislation on genetic privacy, is a response to the trend in medical research to focus on a person's genetic propensity for disease in hopes of tailoring treatments to specific medical needs.
Gene tests are not yet widespread, but start-up companies are intent on developing a market for genetic testing and counseling. IBM has a business stake in promoting genetic data gathering and processing, as a leading information technology company with a growing presence in the medical industry.

US weighed military strikes in Syria

The United States recently debated launching military strikes inside Syria against camps used by insurgents operating in neighboring Iraq, a US magazine reported.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice successfully opposed the idea at a meeting of senior American officials held on October 1, Newsweek reported, citing unnamed US government sources.
Rice reportedly argued that diplomatic isolation was a more effective approach, with a UN report pending that may blame Syria for the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri.

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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Susan Bell Looks Back on a Shameful Secret History

In 1996, the award-winning journalist Gary Webb uncovered CIA links to Los Angeles drug dealers. It was an amazing scoop - but one that would ruin his career and drive him to suicide. His widow, Susan Bell, looks back on a shameful secret history.

Zbigniew Brzezinski: American Debacle

Some 60 years ago Arnold Toynbee concluded, in his monumental "Study of History," that the ultimate cause of imperial collapse was "suicidal statecraft." Sadly for George W. Bush's place in history and — much more important — ominously for America's future, that adroit phrase increasingly seems applicable to the policies pursued by the United States since the cataclysm of 9/11.
Though there have been some hints that the Bush administration may be beginning to reassess the goals, so far defined largely by slogans, of its unsuccessful military intervention in Iraq, President Bush's speech Thursday was a throwback to the demagogic formulations he employed during the 2004 presidential campaign to justify a war that he himself started.
That war, advocated by a narrow circle of decision-makers for motives still not fully exposed, propagated publicly by rhetoric reliant on false assertions, has turned out to be much more costly in blood and money than anticipated. It has precipitated worldwide criticism. In the Middle East it has stamped the United States as the imperialistic successor to Britain and as a partner of Israel in the military repression of the Arabs. Fair or not, that perception has become widespread throughout the world of Islam.

Ira Glass at the Michigan Theater December 10th

For One Night Only! The acclaimed host of NPR’s “This American Life” visits the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor for an evening of engaging recollections.

CJR: Protecting Sources in the Corporate Age

Consider what happened in the weeks since: the Cleveland Plain Dealer held articles based on leaked documents because, as editor Doug Clifton wrote, “talking isn’t an option and jail is too high a price to pay.” The judge in the civil suit filed by the former Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee (accused in the press of spying) ordered four reporters to give up their sources or be held in contempt. And the judges in the libel suit against Sports Illustrated by Mike Price, the former Alabama head football coach, ruled that magazines aren’t specifically protected by the state’s shield law. Then, Phil Currie, Gannett’s senior vice president for news, told employees through an internal newsletter that not all sources are created equal, and that promises of anonymity should be made on a sliding scale.
If the fallout from the Plame case brings more discipline to our use of anonymous sources, we’re all for it. But let’s be clear: confidential sources will always be essential to certain types of important stories. To ban them — or to make reporters afraid to use them — is shortsighted. And to rely on them means standing behind the principle of protecting their confidentiality, come what may.
Of course, this issue of divergent values is about more than anonymous sources, and it promises to get worse as media conglomerates grow ever larger and more diversified. Something of a case study is unfolding in Los Angeles, where Dean Baquet, the Times’s new editor, has said he wants to make it the best newspaper in America. Of the papers that could realistically compete for that title, only the Tribune-owned Times is run by a purely public company. So Tribune shareholders are not unlike Time Warner shareholders. What will Tribune bosses say to Baquet if he finds himself facing the kind of decision Norman Pearlstine faced?

An American in chains

My cell was 8ft by 6ft, the same size as the detainees’ cages at Guantanamo. Barely a week ago I had received a glowing evaluation for my work as the US army’s Muslim chaplain among the “Gitmo” prisoners. Now I was the one in chains.
It was my turn to be humiliated every time I was taken to have a shower. Naked, I had to run my hands through my hair to show that I was not concealing a weapon in it. Then mouth open, tongue up, down, nothing inside. Right arm up, nothing in my armpit. Left arm up. Lift the right testicle, nothing hidden. Lift the left. Turn around, bend over, spread your buttocks, knowing a camera was displaying my naked image as male and female guards watched.
It didn’t matter that I was an army captain, a graduate of West Point, the elite US military academy. It didn’t matter that my religious beliefs prohibited me from being fully naked in front of strangers. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t been charged with a crime. It didn’t matter that my wife and daughter had no idea where I was. And it certainly didn’t matter that I was a loyal American citizen and, above all, innocent.
I was accused of mutiny and sedition, aiding the enemy and espionage, all of which carried the death penalty. I was regarded as a traitor to the army and my country. This was all blatantly untrue — as would be proved when, after a long fight, all the charges against me were dropped and I won an honourable discharge from the army.
I knew why I had been arrested: it was because I am a Muslim. I was just the latest victim of the hostility born the moment when the planes flew into the twin towers and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

UNICEF bombs the Smurfs

UNICEF recently launched a campaign to teach schoolchildren about the horrors of war. Among the efforts are a mini-cartoon, where, yes, the Smurfs are bombed (Warning: Video file, strong images, Smurfs don't kick in for 40 seconds, most of which are dedicated to limbless children. NSFW or small children). I couldn't understand the language the movie is in (Dutch?), but the Smurfs say it all. [from]

Bush's Nominee for No. 2 Justice Post, Torture Advocate, Withdraws

President Bush's pick for the second-ranking position at the Justice Department abruptly withdrew his nomination Friday after facing weeks of questions over his ties to the lobbyist Jack Abramoff as well as his role in formulating policies for the treatment of suspected terrorists.
Of chief concern to Democrats and some Republicans was Mr. Flanigan's role at Tyco, where as its general counsel he oversaw Mr. Abramoff's work lobbying for the company, which is based in Bermuda, to retain its tax-exempt status. Critics of the nomination said they were also troubled by the fact that Mr. Flanigan had no experience as a criminal prosecutor and that he helped shape administration policy on the treatment of suspected terrorists in American custody, as deputy White House counsel under Mr. Gonzales.

Notes on Peak Oil Conference

More than 350 people from 39 states and five countries gathered here in late September with about 100 area residents to learn how to prepare at the local level for the coming steep decline in global oil production.
This permanent decline will follow an all-time high in production, known as peak oil, which will require developing local and sustainable economies, local food systems, and "eco-village" communities, participants at the Second U.S. Conference on Peak Oil and Community Solutions were told.
Presentations on peak oil, alternative fuels and the geopolitics of oil were also given at this three-day conference held at Antioch College and sponsored by Yellow Springs-based Community Service Inc. which through its Community Solution program seeks the resurgence of small local communities in an era of increasingly scarce and expensive oil.

Web Site Operator Who Posted Iraq War Images - Arrested on Obscenity Charges

A Polk County man who operates a pornographic Web site that also displays disturbing images of Iraqi and Afghan war dead sent in by U.S. troops has been arrested on 300 obscenity-related charges.
Polk authorities arrested Chris Wilson, 27, of Edgewood Drive in Lakeland, said his attorney, Larry Walters. Sheriff's officials said Wilson was being held at the Polk County Jail with bail set at $151,000.
Wilson is charged with one count of wholesale distribution of obscene material and 300 misdemeanor counts related to 20 online films and 80 photographs obtained from his Web site.
For each film and photograph there are three counts -- distribution of obscene material, offering to distribute obscene material and possession of obscene material with intent to distribute.

Evangelicals Get a Piece of the Promised Land

In a move geared toward solving northern Israel's unemployment crisis, increasing tourism to the country, and solidifying relations with U.S. evangelical Christians, the Israeli government has offered 35 acres of land on the shore of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) for development by Christian evangelicals.
The Israeli government is hopeful that Christian evangelicals will build a large conference centre, complete with the requisite amenities, to attract hundreds of thousands of evangelical tourists from the U.S. and other countries.

Bill Moyers: Caring for Creation [Must Read]

This piece is adapted from the keynote address Moyers presented to the annual convention of the Society of Environmental Journalists in Austin, Texas, on October 1, 2005.

Rove Told Bush He Did Not Leak to Reporters in Plame Case

Waas, who has been researching and writing about the Plame case for months, continued: “During the same conversation in the White House two years ago--occurring just days after the Justice Department launched a criminal probe into the unmasking of Plame as a covert agency operative--Rove also assured the president that he had not leaked any information to the media in an effort to discredit Plame's husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson. Rove also did not tell the president about his July 2003 a phone call with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper, a conversation that touched on the issue of Wilson and Plame.”
According to Waas, Rove also did not disclose the Cooper chat to FBI agents in his first interview with. He subsequently changed his account.
“Sources close to the leak investigation being run by Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald say it was the discovery of one of Rove's White House e-mails--in which the senior Bush adviser referred to his July 2003 conversation with Cooper--that prompted Rove to contact prosecutors and to revise his account to include the Cooper conversation,” Waas writes.