Saturday, November 05, 2005

Knowingly Cited False Statements As “Credible” In Selling Iraq/al Qaeda Conenction

A high Qaeda official in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document.
The document, an intelligence report from February 2002, said it was probable that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, "was intentionally misleading the debriefers" in making claims about Iraqi support for Al Qaeda's work with illicit weapons.
The document provides the earliest and strongest indication of doubts voiced by American intelligence agencies about Mr. Libi's credibility. Without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, and other administration officials repeatedly cited Mr. Libi's information as "credible" evidence that Iraq was training Al Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons.
Among the first and most prominent assertions was one by Mr. Bush, who said in a major speech in Cincinnati in October 2002 that "we've learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and gases."
The newly declassified portions of the document were made available by Senator Carl M. Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Mr. Levin said the new evidence of early doubts about Mr. Libi's statements dramatized what he called the Bush administration's misuse of prewar intelligence to try to justify the war in Iraq. That is an issue that Mr. Levin and other Senate Democrats have been seeking to emphasize, in part by calling attention to the fact that the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee has yet to deliver a promised report, first sought more than two years ago, on the use of prewar intelligence.

Bring Thier Buddies Home dot Com

The purpose of this "living art memorial" is to inspire a thoughtful discussion among families celebrating Thanksgiving, on the human cost of war and whether there is any justification for the continued loss of life in the Iraq occupation. The Criscenzo Campaign is organizing this event as a peaceful, respectful way to honor the tragic loss of 2,000 precious lives, not as a mere statistic, but as a powerful visual image of each of the unique human beings who will never again join their families for the holidays.

National Politics Will Get Very Ugly Very Soon

See the next article.

John Dean: A Cheney-Libby Conspiracy, Or Worse? Reading Between the Lines of the Libby Indictment [Must Read for legal wonks]

Having read the indictment against Libby, I am inclined to believe more will be issued. In fact, I will be stunned if no one else is indicted.
Indeed, when one studies the indictment, and carefully reads the transcript of the press conference, it appears Libby's saga may be only Act Two in a three-act play. And in my view, the person who should be tossing and turning at night, in anticipation of the last act, is the Vice President of the United States, Richard B. Cheney.

Ex-public broadcasting chair under investigation by State Department

People involved in the inquiry said that investigators had already interviewed a significant number of officials at the agency and that, if the accusations were substantiated, they could involve criminal violations.
Last July, the inspector general at the State Department opened an inquiry into Mr. Tomlinson's work at the board of governors after Representative Howard L. Berman, Democrat of California, and Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, forwarded accusations of misuse of money.
The lawmakers requested the inquiry after Mr. Berman received complaints about Mr. Tomlinson from at least one employee at the board, officials said. People involved in the inquiry said it involved accusations that Mr. Tomlinson was spending federal money for personal purposes, using board money for corporation activities, using board employees to do corporation work and hiring ghost employees or improperly qualified employees.

Katrina Relief: Scam, Hoax, Joke or Genuine Article? Snopes breaks it down

Snopes: Was a squirrel adopted into a litter of puppies?

isn't at all unusual for an orphaned infant of one species to be accepted by a litter of a completely different species. Dogs, cats, and squirrels are among a variety of mammals whose females will often raise another's offspring when it is introduced into their own litter — nursing, washing, protecting, and playing with the newcomer as if it were one of her own.
Such was the case with Finnegan the squirrel, who was found injured and malnourished in the Seattle area in September 2005, when he was but a few days old. He was brought to Debby Cantlon, an area resident with a reputation for taking in sick and injured animals and nursing them back to health. [link to great pics]

Friday, November 04, 2005

Interview with George Carlin

AVC: Just like you changed your comic style in the late '60s and early '70s, some have contended that you changed again in the '80s, becoming a little bit angrier. Would you agree with that?
GC: No, it's not so much anger. People read it that way, and that's the convenient word to go to. I understand that. Here's why it seems that way. There is a certain amount of righteous indignation I hold for this culture, because to get back to the real root of it, to get broader about it, my opinion that is my species—and my culture in America specifically—have let me down and betrayed me. I think this species had great, great promise, with this great upper brain that we have, and I think we squandered it on God and Mammon. And I think this culture of ours has such promise, with the promise of real, true freedom, and then everyone has been shackled by ownership and possessions and acquisition and status and power.
And perhaps it's just a human weakness and an inevitable human story that these things happen. But there's disillusionment and some discontent in me about it. I don't consider myself a cynic. I think of myself as a skeptic and a realist. But I understand the word "cynic" has more than one meaning, and I see how I could be seen as cynical. "George, you're cynical." Well, you know, they say if you scratch a cynic you find a disappointed idealist. And perhaps the flame still flickers a little, you know?

We Can Do It!

In 1942, 17 year-old Geraldine Doyle spent a week working in a Michigan factory pressing metal as a early replacement worker for men who had gone off to war. During her brief tenure a wire photographer would take a picture of her she'd soon forget. That image -- re-imagined by J. Howard Miller while working for the Westinghouse War Production Co-Ordinating Committee -- would soon become iconic both for the war effort and for the forever changed society it fostered. Interestingly, Doyle was unware that she had been the inspiration for this great American image until 1984. She's still alive and kicking in Lansing, MI.

Panexa. Ask your doctor for a reason to take it.

No matter what you do or where you go, you're always going to be yourself. And Panexa knows this. Your lifestyle is one of the biggest factors in choosing how to live. Why trust it to anything less? Panexa is proven to provide more medication to those who take it than any other comparable solution. Panexa is the right choice, the safe choice. The only choice.

Cheney's Links to Torture

On NPR yesterday, the former chief of staff to the secretary of state said that he had uncovered a "visible audit trail" tracing the practice of prisoner abuse by U.S. soldiers directly back to Vice President Cheney's office.
Here's the audio of Wilkerson's interview with Steve Inskeep. The transcript is not publicly available, but here are the relevant excerpts:

"INSKEEP: While in the government, he says he was assigned to gather documents. He traced just how Americans came to be accused of abusing prisoners. In 2002, a presidential memo had ordered that detainees be treated in a manner consistent with the Geneva Conventions that forbid torture. Wilkerson says the vice president's office pushed for a more expansive policy.

"Mr. WILKERSON: What happened was that the secretary of Defense, under the cover of the vice president's office, began to create an environment -- and this started from the very beginning when David Addington, the vice president's lawyer, was a staunch advocate of allowing the president in his capacity as commander in chief to deviate from the Geneva Conventions. Regardless of the president having put out this memo, they began to authorize procedures within the armed forces that led to, in my view, what we've seen. [more]


Wash Post/ABC Poll: 60% Disapprove Of Bush’s Performance, 55% Admin. Deliberately Mislead Country Over Iraq......

CBS Poll: 57% Disapprove Of Bush’s Job Handling, Only 32% Think Bush Admin. Is Telling What They Knew About WMDs…...

AP-Ipsos Poll: 59% Disapprove Of Bush’s Job Handling…...

Libby Arraigned, Case To Spotlight Bush Admin.’s Pre-War Intelligence…...

Democrats Demand Answers In Closed Senate Meeting On Iraq…...

US Death Toll In Iraq Now At 2,029……

Over 10,000 Protest Against Bush At Summit Of The Americas......

Bush: “The Way You Earn Credibility With The American People Is To Set A Clear Agenda That Everybody Can Understand”...
[from Huffington Post]

In Intelligent Design Case, a Cause in Search of a Lawsuit

For years, a lawyer for the Thomas More Law Center in Michigan visited school boards around the country searching for one willing to challenge evolution by teaching intelligent design, and to face a risky, high-profile trial.
Intelligent design was a departure for a nonprofit law firm founded by two conservative Roman Catholics - one the magnate of Domino's pizza, the other a former prosecutor - who until then had focused on the defense of anti-abortion advocates, gay-rights opponents and the display of Christian symbols like crosses and Nativity scenes on government property.
But Richard Thompson, the former prosecutor who is president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Center, says its role is to use the courts "to change the culture" - and it well could depending on the outcome of the test case it finally found.

Bolton's chief of staff gave information on outed agent to Libby, lawyers involved in leak case say

John Bolton, the former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs who is now the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was contacted by I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby in late May 2003 to find out who sent Ambassador Joseph Wilson on a fact-finding mission to Niger, lawyers involved in the CIA outing investigation told RAW STORY over the weekend. Wilson was sent to Niger to ascertain whether Iraq had sought to purchase uranium from the African country.

EU Accepts Polish, Romanian Denials of Secret Jails

The European Union's executive agency said it is satisfied with Poland's and Romania's denials that the U.S. is running secret terrorist jails on their soil, saying there's no proof of human rights violations.
The Polish and Romanian governments rebutted reports in the Washington Post and Financial Times, citing U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, that the Central Intelligence Agency has operated covert interrogation centers in those countries.
``The statements by both the Romanians and the Polish authorities are crystal clear,'' European Commission spokesman Friso Roscam Abbing said at a news conference in Brussels today. ``At this point in time, we do not have any suspicion of anything else going on.''
Poland, as an EU member since last year, is required to uphold the European convention on human rights. The same standards apply to Romania, which is seeking to join the now 25- nation bloc in 2007.

Governors Chafe at Greater Military Role

Several governors are fuming over a Bush administration suggestion that the active military take a greater role in disaster response, calling it an attempt to usurp state authority over National Guard units.
Governors in Washington, Mississippi, Michigan, Arkansas, West Virginia, Delaware and Alabama are among those who have panned the idea, questioning whether it would even be constitutional.
Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, among the harshest critics, said the issue promises to be a major topic at the Western Governors Association meeting in Phoenix next week.
``I'm going to stand up among a bunch of elected governors and say, 'Are we going to allow the military without a shot being fired to effectively do an end-run coup on civilian government? Are we going to allow that?''' Schweitzer said. ``We're going to have a little civics lesson for some leaders who are apparently out of touch in the military.''

Cheney's Office Implicated in Torture of Prisoners

Vice President Dick Cheney's office was responsible for issuing the directives which led to U.S. soldiers to abuse prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a NPR interview with Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Wilkerson says he traced a trail of memos authorizing the questionable practices through Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's office directly to Cheney's vice presidential staff.
Wilkerson paraphrased the directions given to U.S. soldiers: "We're not getting enough good intelligence and you need to get that evidence, and, oh, by the way, here's some ways you probably can get it. And even some of the ways that they detailed were not in accordance with the spirit of the Geneva Conventions and the law of war."
In recent weeks, Wilkerson has been very critical of the "cabal" run by Rumsfeld and Cheney in planning the Iraq war.

EFF: Stop the MPAA and RIAA's Horror Triple Bill!

On Thursday, November 3rd, the heads of the MPAA and RIAA present to the House Subcommittee on the Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property their plans for the future of digital technology.
For high-definition television (HDTV), the MPAA demands every receiver must have, and obey, the broadcast flag. For new radio technologies, you'll be restricted to recording radio shows for a minimum of 30 minutes, for a maximum of 50 hours. And all analog to digital video conversions will be forced to watch for, and obey, a concealed copy restriction mark.
If any one of these provisions pass, it would be a disaster for you and for innovation.
There'll be no room for open source software here. All of these devices must be "robust" -- welded shut to prevent alteration by their owners.
There'll be no room for innovation without the say-so of Hollywood. And there'll be no fair use copying without breaking the law.
Let Congress know how preposterous the MPAA and RIAA's proposals are, and warn them that your technological future depends on their willingness to stand up for your rights.

The codification of humanity [Quicktime]

Chris Oakley's video The Catalogue deals with the retail environment, surveillance technology, RFID and data brokers, where access to consumers' data has been extended beyond our purchasing habits and lifestyle choices to the predictions of our future health prospects via analysis of the data from our weekly shop.
Utilising footage from a department store manipulated through motion tracking and screen overlays that graphically represent the goods bought, The Catalogue places the viewer into the position of a remote agency, observing humanity as a series of trackable units whose value is defined by their spending capacity and future needs.
Check the video. [from]

Ripples of Global Warming Spread Outward

Human health and the earth's ecosystems are increasingly threatened by climate change, warns a new study jointly released by three leading environmental organisations here this week.
"Climate Change Futures", by the Centre for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Swiss Re, a private health insurance company based in Switzerland, says that adverse health impacts are likely to cause severe economic consequences.
"Global climate change and the ripples of that change will affect every aspect of life, from municipal budgets for snowplowing to the spread of disease," the report says. For example, the effects of hurricanes "can extend far beyond coastal properties to the heartland through their impact on offshore drilling and oil prices".
Human health is affected worldwide by diseases driven by climate change, according to the authors of the report. "Health is the final common pathway of all that we see around us," says Paul Epstein, associate director of the Centre for Health and the Global Environment, who contributed to the report.

Yahoo Maps Pranks Google

Yahoo engineers apparently couldn't help themselves. The beta of the new Yahoo Maps for a short while listed "The Dude's Fish Store" at 1600 Amphiteatre Parkway in Mountain View, CA.
The address is better known as the headquarters for Yahoo's competitor Google.
Yahoo claimed to have further information (broken link here; screenshot on the left) about the store, listing hours of operation (only open in summer) and an assortment of fish, hamsters, gold fish, snakes and spiders. Languages spoken are German and Russian.
The store even has a basic website (screenshot on the right) featuring a picture of a collection of cheeses and claiming that "Our fish NEVER die!". The link page offers a link to the "Bestest page" (Google) and Stanford University.
"Need directions? Go to Google Maps", the site claims, with the link leading to a Yahoo map instead.

Kansas evolution vote nears, scientists fight back

At the new "Explore Evolution" museum exhibit in Kansas, visitors pass a banner showing the face of a girl next to the face of a chimpanzee for a lesson on how the two are "cousins in life's family tree."
They can also study DNA under a 4-foot-tall double helix model, peruse fossil record research, and examine how advancements in treating modern-day diseases require an understanding of the evolution of cell structures.
Curators of the exhibit, which opened Tuesday at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, hope their work provides a counterweight to the anti-evolution sentiment sweeping their state and the country. Sister exhibits, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, are opening in Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Minnesota and Michigan.

Majority Supports Impeachment if Bush Lied about Iraq

New Poll Shows Majority of Americans Support Impeachment;
ImpeachPAC is Launched to Support Pro-Impeachment Candidates
By a margin of 53% to 42%, Americans want Congress to impeach President Bush if he lied about the war in Iraq, according to a new poll commissioned by, a grassroots coalition that supports a Congressional investigation of President Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003.
The poll was conducted by Zogby International, the highly-regarded non-partisan polling company. The poll interviewed 1,200 U.S. adults from October 29 through November 2.
The poll found that 53% agreed with the statement:
"If President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment."
42% disagreed, and 5% said they didn't know or declined to answer. The poll has a +/- 2.9% margin of error.

Now Kerry knows the election was stolen

"So I spoke briefly with him just as he arrived, and handed him the book, saying, "You were robbed, Senator." He said, "I know!" with a clear gesture of extreme frustration, and then said that he can't get any of his colleagues on the Hill to face the issue. Said that he had lately had an argument about it with Chris Dodd, who didn't want to hear about it. Kerry tried to tell him about all the problems with the electronic touch-screen machines, but Dodd refused to listen, saying that he had looked into it, and that "there's nothing there." (In bringing the subject up with Dodd, Kerry was not influenced by the GAO report, which he didn't even know about until I mentioned it to him. Indeed, he seemed mightily impressed that the GAO had come out with a strong report.)" Link.

Kerry spokesman denies this.

Three years at Guantanamo, for political satire of Clinton

Badr Zaman Badr and his brother Abdurrahim Muslim Dost relish writing a good joke that jabs a corrupt politician or distills the sufferings of fellow Afghans. Badr admires the political satires in "The Canterbury Tales" and "Gulliver's Travels," and Dost wrote some wicked lampoons in the 1990s, accusing Afghan mullahs of growing rich while preaching and organizing jihad. So in 2002, when the U.S. military shackled the writers and flew them to Guantanamo among prisoners whom Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared "the worst of the worst" violent terrorists, the brothers found life imitating farce.
For months, grim interrogators grilled them over a satirical article Dost had written in 1998, when the Clinton administration offered a $5-million reward for Osama bin Laden. Dost responded that Afghans put up 5 million Afghanis -- equivalent to $113 -- for the arrest of President Bill Clinton.
"It was a lampoon ... of the poor Afghan economy" under the Taliban, Badr recalled. The article carefully instructed Afghans how to identify Clinton if they stumbled upon him. "It said he was clean-shaven, had light-colored eyes and he had been seen involved in a scandal with Monica Lewinsky," Badr said.
The interrogators, some flown down from Washington, didn't get the joke, he said. "Again and again, they were asking questions about this article. We had to explain that this was a satire." He paused. "It was really pathetic."
It took the brothers three years to convince the Americans that they posed no threat to Clinton or the United States, and to get released -- a struggle that underscores the enormous odds weighing against innocent foreign Muslims caught in America's military prisons.
In recent months, scores of Afghans interviewed by Newsday -- including a dozen former U.S. prisoners, plus human rights officials and senior Afghan security officials -- said the United States is detaining enough innocent Afghans in its war against the Taliban and al-Qaida that it is seriously undermining popular support for its presence in Afghanistan.

U.S. Military Wants to Own the Weather

The one-two hurricane punch from Katrina and Wilma along with predictions of more severe weather in the future has scientists pondering ways to save lives, protect property and possibly even control the weather.
While efforts to tame storms have so far been clouded by failure, some researchers aren’t willing to give up the fight. And even if changing the weather proves overly challenging, residents and disaster officials can do a better job planning and reacting.
In fact, military officials and weather modification experts could be on the verge of joining forces to better gauge, react to, and possibly nullify future hostile forces churned out by Mother Nature.
While some consider the idea farfetched, some military tacticians have already pondered ways to turn weather into a weapon.

Wal-Mart Seeks Unbiased Research -- and Gets It

The 10 papers are to be presented by economists, urban planners and other experts.
Some of their findings, which a few of the researchers released before the conference, tend to confirm what Wal-Mart critics have been saying for years.
At least two concluded that Wal-Mart stores' pay practices depressed wages beyond the retail sector. Another found that states on average spent $898 for each Wal-Mart worker in Medicaid expenses.
One study concluded that Wal-Mart's giant grocery and general merchandise Supercenters brought little net gain for local communities in property taxes, sales taxes and employment; instead, the stores merely siphoned sales from existing businesses in the area.
Not all the news was bad for Wal-Mart. Several of the studies noted that its stores led to lower prices throughout a region. Two suggested that Wal-Mart increased a county's total employment, with one pegging that long-term gain at 1% to 2%.

Wal-Mart allegedly worked employees without pay, again

Two former Hilo Wal-Mart employees have filed a class action lawsuit against all Hawaii Wal-Marts, alleging the company shaved time from its employees time cards from 1997 to 2004.
The lawsuit states there is a videotaped admission of a Wal-Mart executive and Wal-Mart memoranda, showing that Wal-Mart deleted thousands of hours of time worked from employees' payroll records, resulting in millions of dollars of labor savings.
"They've been doing this across the country from what we understand. There have been other suits filed in other jurisdictions," says Arthur Park, plaintiff's attorney.

Sony uses spyware and virus writers' techniques to prevent unauthorized music copying

Mark Russinovich couldn't understand how the rootkit had sneaked onto his system. An expert on the internals of the Windows operating system, he was careful when it came to computer security and generally had a pretty good idea of what was running on his PC at any given time. And yet the security tool he was using to check his PC was pretty clear: It had found the rootkit cloaking software typically used by virus and spyware writers.
The XCP software prevents users from making more than three backup copies of any CD, and Sony puts an XCP notification on the back of CDs that use the mechanism, according to Mathew Gilliat-Smith, First 4's chief executive officer.
Although the Van Zant CD software came with an end user license agreement (EULA) informing him that he would be installing software that would reside on his PC until removed, Russinovich, who works as chief software architect with systems software company Winternals Software, said he never expected to be installing a product that would then prove to be virtually undetectable and extremely difficult to remove.

Ohio Exit Poll Data Provides Virtually Irrefutable Evidence of Vote Miscount

Summary: New analysis of the precinct-level Ohio exit poll data provides virtually irrefutable evidence of large scale vote miscounts in Ohio during the 2004 presidential election. 6% of Ohio's exit-polled precincts had impossible vote counts and 57% had significant discrepancies (a less than 5% chance of occurring in any one precinct).
The pattern of Ohio's exit poll results is not consistent with any exit poll error hypothesis. However, it is consistent with pro-Bush vote miscounts.
The full paper "The Gun is Smoking: Ohio Precinct-level Exit Poll Data Show Virtually Irrefutable Evidence of Vote Miscount" [PDF] is available at
In two Ohio precincts, even if all voters who did not complete exit polls had voted for Bush, the total Bush vote count would have been less than the official count. In a third precinct, all voters who did not complete exit polls would have had to vote for Bush to equal the official count. Unless Bush voters lied much more than Kerry voters on exit polls, or massive exit poll error occurred that was not detected by the pollsters, the results are mathematically impossible.

Top al Qaeda operative escapes from U.S. custody just before he was going to testify about being tortured

A man once considered a top al Qaeda operative escaped from a U.S.-run detention facility in Afghanistan and cannot testify against the soldier who allegedly mistreated him, a defense lawyer involved in a prison abuse case said Tuesday.
Omar al-Farouq was one of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants in Southeast Asia until Indonesian authorities captured him in the summer of 2002 and turned him over to the United States.
A Pentagon official in Washington confirmed Tuesday evening that al-Farouq escaped from a U.S. detention facility in Bagram, Afghanistan, on July 10. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

Names of the Detained in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

The Pentagon has declined to identify the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, most of whom were captured in Afghanistan during and after the 2001 war there. Below is the largest list of names made public thus far, encompassing: 434 men whose identities have appeared in media reports, on Arabic Web sites and in legal documents.
Some names came from family members of detainees who have sent letters home through the International Committee of the Red Cross. One hundred and seventeen people on the list have been sent back to their home countries for further detention or for release. They are marked with an "R." Several of those have been interviewed by reporters.

Alito Ruled Favorably for His Company

Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. ruled in a 2002 case in favor of the Vanguard mutual fund company at a time when he owned more than $390,000 in Vanguard funds and later complained about an effort to remove him from the case, court records show -- despite an earlier promise to recuse himself from cases involving the company.
The case involved a Massachusetts woman, Shantee Maharaj, who has spent nearly a decade fighting to win back the assets of her late husband's individual retirement accounts, which had been frozen by Vanguard after a court judgment in favor of a former business partner of her husband.
Her lawyer, John G. S. Flym, a retired Northeastern law professor, said in an interview yesterday that Alito's ''lack of integrity is so flagrant" in the case that he should be disqualified as a Supreme Court nominee.

Flooding blamed on levee cheats

Experts examining the cause of the flooding have received at least a dozen allegations of serious cheating by builders and possibly others involved in levee construction, two investigators said in testimony before a Senate panel. They said these were potentially criminal acts that may well have contributed to the collapse of the city's flood control system on August 29.

Bush’s policies trigger noisy demos across US

Amid a strong police presence, angry demonstrators on Wednesday chanted and waved banners and placards denouncing issues as diverse as the war in Iraq, Bush’s economic polices and his administration’s response to the deadly Hurricane Katrina.
The protests in cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago were organised by a coalition of opponents to the administration called "The World Can’t Wait — Drive Out the Bush Regime" that urged employees to skip work and children to abandon classes to protest.
In the liberal West coast city of San Francisco, up to 4 000 marching protesters clogged the city’s streets in a protest during which a firebomb was thrown at police.
No one was injured in the incident.

GOP mulls ending birthright citizenship

House Republicans are looking closely at ending birthright citizenship and building a barrier along the entire U.S.-Mexico border as they search for solutions to illegal immigration.
A task force of party leaders and members active on immigration has met since the summer to try to figure out where consensus exists, and several participants said those two ideas have floated to the top of the list of possibilities to be included either in an immigration-enforcement bill later this year or in a later comprehensive immigration overhaul.

AARP: Drug Prices Increased At Twice Inflation Rate

Manufacturer prices on 193 medicines most commonly prescribed to seniors climbed 0.9 percent from March 31 to June 30, the U.S. lobbying group for the elderly said. The general inflation rate was 0.5 percent during the same period.
That second quarter increase in the price of drugs frequently used by the elderly slowed sharply from the 3.3 percent increase seen in the first quarter of the year.
"Average price increases for the second quarter of any given year tend to be lower than first quarter increases, and this trend continued in 2005," AARP said in a statement.
Prices on 75 widely used generic drugs were flat in the second quarter, the group said.

Source of Forged Niger-Iraq Uranium Documents Identified

Italy's spymaster identified an Italian occasional spy named Rocco Martino on Thursday as the disseminator of forged documents that described efforts by Iraq to buy uranium ore from Niger for a nuclear weapons program, three lawmakers said Thursday.
The spymaster, Gen. Nicolò Pollari, director of the Italian military intelligence agency known as Sismi, disclosed that Mr. Martino was the source of the forged documents in closed-door testimony to a parliamentary committee that oversees secret services, the lawmakers said.

U.S. Patients Pay More, Get Less Than Those in Other Western Nations

The survey of nearly 7,000 sick adults in the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Britain and Germany found Americans were the most likely to pay at least $1,000 in out-of-pocket expenses. More than half went without needed care because of cost and more than one-third endured mistakes and disorganized care when they did get treated.
Although patients in every nation sometimes run into obstacles to getting care and deficiencies when they do get treated, the United States stood out for having the highest error rates, most disorganized care and highest costs, the survey found.

CIA Disappearing People into Secret International Prison System

The hidden global internment network is a central element in the CIA's unconventional war on terrorism. It depends on the cooperation of foreign intelligence services, and on keeping even basic information about the system secret from the public, foreign officials and nearly all members of Congress charged with overseeing the CIA's covert actions.
The existence and locations of the facilities -- referred to as "black sites" in classified White House, CIA, Justice Department and congressional documents -- are known to only a handful of officials in the United States and, usually, only to the president and a few top intelligence officers in each host country.

See also: White House Pressured Over Allegations of Torture, Secret Prisons
Mounting criticism of US maltreatment of hundreds of "war on terror" detainees, and new evidence that the CIA runs secret prisons around the world, have put the White House on the defensive over an alleged policy of permitting torture.
On Thursday the two houses of Congress began discussions to finalize a bill that would ban any torture by US forces. President George W. Bush has threatened to veto it, even as he has denied sanctioning torture.
The same day, a former top state department official told a radio program that the office of Vice President Dick Cheney was behind directives which encouraged US forces's torture of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Blogger Says GAO Election Report Not Covered Enough's Brad Friedman says major wire services and American newspapers have given little or no coverage to last month's Government Accountability Office (GAO) report confirming election irregularities.
Friedman made his criticism in an article titled "Mainstream Media to American Democracy: Drop Dead!" It appeared Friday on, which is named after syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington of Tribune Media Services.
The GAO report -- released two weeks ago by the nonpartisan federal agency -- said "concerns about electronic voting machines have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes."
Some observers, such as author Mark Crispin Miller, have said these problems may have swung the 2004 election to George W. Bush.
"The release of the report was accompanied by a bipartisan news release which lauded its findings," wrote Friedman. "That's right. Six high-ranking U.S. Congressmen -- three Democrats and three Republicans -- issued the incredibly rare joint news release together. Two of those Congressmen were Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), chairman and ranking minority member, respectively, of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee."
Friedman also wrote: "The electronic voting machines which are proliferating in counties and states across America...are not secure, not accountable, not recountable, not transparent, not accurate, and not adequately monitored or certified by anybody."

Ken Tomlinson Unexpectedly Resigns

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting Board of Directors said Thursday that embattled former board chairman Ken Tomlinson has resigned.
The board has been reviewing a CPB Inspector General's report--called for by a pair of congressmen--on Tomlinson's relationship with the board stemming from Tomlinson's attempts to add more conservative programming.
The board said in a statement: "[F]ormer chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson has resigned from the CPB board. The board does not believe that Mr. Tomlinson acted maliciously or with any intent to harm CPB or public broadcasting, and the board recognizes that Mr. Tomlinson strongly disputes the findings in the soon-to-be-released Inspector General’s report.

Moral Disaster of Monumental Proportions Reconciliation Act [PDF]

DeLay Asked Lobbyist to Raise Money Through Charity

Representative Tom DeLay asked the lobbyist Jack Abramoff to raise money for him through a private charity controlled by Mr. Abramoff, an unusual request that led the lobbyist to try to gather at least $150,000 from his Indian tribe clients and their gambling operations, according to newly disclosed e-mail from the lobbyist's files.
The electronic messages from 2002, which refer to "Tom" and "Tom's requests," appear to be the clearest evidence to date of an effort by Mr. DeLay, a Texas Republican, to pressure Mr. Abramoff and his lobbying partners to raise money for him. The e-mail messages do not specify why Mr. DeLay wanted the money, how it was to be used or why he would want money raised through the auspices of a private charity.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Goodbye Morning Sedition

The best show on the dial is either changing or going away. Marc Maron's contract has not been renewed yet and it looks like the show may go.

In the past 18 months, Morning Sedition and Marc Maron created VOLUMES of the the best radio comedy I've ever heard. Archives of entire shows here.

Air America seems pretty tight-lipped about the show's future but the omens bode ill.

Fans of this great show can sign this petition to keep Marc on the air.

2005 Yoyo Champion Takayasu Tanaka

Google Print Online

Can you patent a plot?

On Tuesday, the USPTO published an application for patent that is certain to test the limits of the USPTO's authority to grant or deny a patent. It is also an interesting exercise in self-promotion. U.S. Patent Application 20050244804 entitled "Process of relaying a story having a unique plot" is the brainchild of Andrew Knight, a registered U.S. Patent Agent. Mr. Knight is a principle in Knight and Associates a patent attorney firm who bill themselves as "[...] the first patent prosecution firm to attempt to obtain utility patent protection on fictional plots." Forbes Magazine described them as box office patents. It is part serious attempt, part parody on the wobbly state of the patent system and the entertainment industry, and part shameless act of self promotion. Very rock and roll. [from]

Basic Story:
The fictitious story, which Knight dubs “The Zombie Stare,” tells of an ambitious high school senior, consumed by anticipation of college admission, who prays one night to remain unconscious until receiving his MIT admissions letter. He consciously awakes 30 years later when he finally receives the letter, lost in the mail for so many years, and discovers that, to all external observers, he has lived an apparently normal life. He desperately seeks to regain 30 years’ worth of memories lost as an unconscious philosophical zombie.

Sells Like Teen Spirit

"There's something truly creepy about the notion of marketers manipulating what ordinary people say to one another," writes Jeff Gelles. "As a parent, I'm especially concerned when the targets are teenagers like my daughters - which is why I decided to take a look inside Tremor," a Procter & Gamble Web site that has enlisted a quarter-million teenagers as "word-of-mouth" marketers. Tremor uses coupons, discounts, free downloads and product samples combined with "the usual online smarminess" to hook kids into spreading the word about their clients' products. [from]

GOP Memos on Wooing the Christian Right

"The wackos get their information through the Christian right, Christian radio, mail, the internet and telephone trees," Scanlon wrote in the memo, which was read into the public record at a hearing of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. "Simply put, we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them."

IBM slows light, readies it for networking

The chip, called a photonic silicon waveguide, is a piece of silicon dotted with arrays of tiny holes. Scattered systematically by the holes, light shown on the chip slows down to 1/300th of its ordinary speed of 186,000 miles per second. In a computer system, slower light pulses could carry data rapidly, but in an orderly fashion. The light can be further slowed by applying an electric field to the waveguide.

U.S. Senate backs oil drilling in Alaskan refuge

Drilling supporters said developing the refuge's 10.4 billion barrels of crude would raise $2.4 billion in leasing fees for the government, reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil imports and create thousands of American jobs.
However, opponents said there was not enough oil in the refuge to lower gasoline prices significantly, and what crude is there would not get to the market for at least a decade. They also warned drilling would threaten ANWR's wildlife, which incudes migratory birds, polar bears and caribou.
The Senate voted 48 (yes) to 51 (no) on an amendment to remove the ANWR provision from the budget bill.

More Emails from that Michael Brown Who is STILL on the Public Payroll

As Michael "Brownie" Brown was botching the federal emergency response to Hurricane Katrina, the ousted FEMA director sent a series of embarrassing e-mails to colleagues discussing his appearance, the care of his dog, and, as the storm was making landfall, his desire to "quit" and "go home." Copies of Brown's e-mails were just provided by Department of Homeland Security officials to a congressional panel examining the government's disaster response (a sampling of that correspondence can be found below). On August 29, as Katrina was striking the Gulf Coast, Brown responded to a compliment on a TV appearance by stating, "I got it at Nordsstroms...Are you proud of me? Can I quit now? Can I go home?" An hour later, Brown wrote about his government-issued wardrobe: "If you'll look at my lovely FEMA attire you'll really vomit. I am a fashion god." Other messages dealt with Brown's need for a dog sitter, how the hurricane had "trapped" him in his job, and his press secretary's suggestion that he should roll up his shirtsleeves because "on TV you just need to look more hard-working." And on September 6, as the Army Corps of Engineers began pumping water from New Orleans, Brown offered his press flack helpful advice on ordering at Sonic: "Order a #2, tater tots, large diet cherry limeade."

Rolling Stone: The New Web Slingers

Clearly, it was the wrong moment to declare war on the blogosphere. Barely a week before The New York Times went public with its baffling account of ex-star reporter Judith Miller's unholy entanglement with vice-presidential aide "Scooter" Libby, the paper's executive editor, Bill Keller, proclaimed that Weblogs do nothing more than "recycle and chew on the news." Pride, as ever, goeth before the fall.
Caught flat-footed on the CIA-leak story, the Times saw its lunch handed to it by the new blogging elite. Leading the charge were the upstart gumshoes of, the pundits of the Huffington Post and a rear guard of Internet editorialists, all taking the Gray Lady to task for failing to practice the very "journalism of verification" that Keller claimed set the Times apart.

Jimmy Carter on Fresh Air: A Former President Warns of 'Endangered Values

Blurring the line between church and state threatens civil liberties and privacy, says former President Jimmy Carter. That's the case he makes in his new book, Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis, which draws on Carter's experiences as a president and a Christian.
Carter was the 39th president of the United States. In addition to his work to help ensure the fairness of elections around the world, he founded the Carter Center, a conflict resolution organization. In 2002, Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end violence and spread human rights.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

House to Vote on Political Blogging Rules

The U.S. House of Representatives delayed until at least Thursday a vote on whether the Internet and, in particular, political bloggers should be exempt from campaign finance laws.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) introduced his Online Freedom of Speech Act shortly after 3 p.m. After a brief debate, the House put off voting on the measure. A spokesman for Hensarling's office said the bill is likely to be considered again Thursday afternoon.
Hensarling's bill would relieve political bloggers from any provisions of campaign finance laws, no matter the blogger's financial connection to a campaign. Nevada Democrat Harry Reid is sponsoring identical legislation in the U.S. Senate.

Forbes special report on communication

A truckload of excellent articles and interview excerpts! Noam Chomsky on the spontaneous invention of language. Carl Zimmer on talking chimps. Jane Goodall on why words hurt. Arthur C. Clarke on the planetary conversation. Kurt Vonnegut on telling a story. Desmond Morris on symbolic gestures. Sid Meier on communicating with video games. David Copperfield on keeping secrets. Stan Lee on the superpower of comics. Steven Pinker on why we have language. Walter Cronkite on the language of news. Daniel Libeskind on the language of design. And much more! [from]

Cheney-Staffer-Turned-Reporter Now Covering Libby Indictment for NBC News

Over at the Huffington Post, Dan Carol asks a great question: how can NBC's Pete Williams be allowed to cover the Scooter Libby story for the network, considering Williams was a longtime former staffer for Dick Cheney?

US Had 'No Policy in Place' to Manage Iraq

The US government had “no comprehensive policy or regulatory guidelines” in place for staffing the management of postwar Iraq, according to the top government watchdog overseeing the country’s reconstruction.
The lack of planning had plagued reconstruction since the US-led invasion, and been exacerbated by a “general lack of co-ordination” between US government agencies charged with the rebuilding of Iraq, said Stuart Bowen, the special inspector-general for Iraq reconstruction, in a report released on Sunday.
His 110-page quarterly report, delivered to Congress at the weekend, has underscored how a “reconstruction gap” is emerging that threatens to leave many projects planned by the US on the drawing board.
“Nearly two years ago, the US developed a reconstruction plan that specified a target number of projects that would be executed using the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund
“That number was revised downward [last year]. Now it appears that the actual number of projects completed will be even lower,” Mr Bowen says in his report.
Increasing security costs were “the most salient” reason behind the shortfall, he concluded.
While 93 per cent of the nearly $30bn (€25bn, £17bn) the US has appropriated for reconstruction has been committed to programmes and projects, more than 25 per cent of the funds have been spent on security costs related to the insurgency.

More conservatives falsely claimed that Plame leak investigation found that the leak itself wasn't illegal

Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh, and Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund mischaracterized the October 28 indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby to claim that special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald's investigation determined that no underlying crime had been committed in the outing of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. In fact, neither the indictment nor Fitzgerald indicated that any conclusion has been reached as to whether a crime was committed in leaking Plame's identity.

Images from the Lower 9th Ward by Trent Reznor

"Elements of Style" the Musical

Although lyrics like "Revise and rewrite" and "Do not use a hyphen between two words that can better be written as one word" suggest the didactic thrust of "Schoolhouse Rock," Muhly's work is more in the minimalist-modernist mold of Philip Glass and Steve Reich but with an absurdist dash of Spike Jones. At just 33½ minutes long, the work was impressively executed by soprano Abigail Fischer, tenor Matthew Hensrud, violist Nadia Sirota and banjo player Sam Amidon, all under the direction of Muhly and augmented by the Omit Needless Words Orchestra, which included noise-making amateur performers such as fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi and cartoonist Rick Meyerowitz (Kalman's "Newyorkistan" collaborator), as well as Kalman herself. Their brief mandated the making of sounds incorporating duck calls, meat grinders, bells, Slinkys, mallets, pillows, eggbeaters, megaphones, "chattering" cups and saucers, a typewriter and the slamming closed of a large book.

Detainee Policy Sharply Divides Bush Officials

The Bush administration is embroiled in a sharp internal debate over whether a new set of Defense Department standards for handling terror suspects should adopt language from the Geneva Conventions prohibiting "cruel," "humiliating" and "degrading" treatment, administration officials say.
Advocates of that approach, who include some Defense and State Department officials and senior military lawyers, contend that moving the military's detention policies closer to international law would prevent further abuses and build support overseas for the fight against Islamic extremists, officials said
Their opponents, who include aides to Vice President Dick Cheney and some senior Pentagon officials, have argued strongly that the proposed language is vague, would tie the government's hands in combating terrorists and still would not satisfy America's critics, officials said.
The debate has delayed the publication of a second major Pentagon directive on interrogations, along with a new Army interrogations manual that was largely completed months ago, military officials said. It also underscores a broader struggle among senior officials over whether to scale back detention policies that have drawn strong opposition even from close American allies.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Most of the provisions of the USA Patriot Act, including access to library records, were supposed to "sunset" this year, five years after the law's passing. Instead, both the House and the Senate have already voted to renew the entire act, with only minor revisions. While they're at it, they'd like to add some decidedly unpatriotic amendments to expand the death penalty.
These new amendments would let prosecutors shop around for another jury if the one they have is deadlocked on the death penalty; triple the number of terrorism-related crimes eligible for the death penalty; and authorize the death penalty for a person who gives money to an organization whose members kill someone, even if the contributor did not know that the organization or its members were planning to kill.
The Patriot Act was enacted during what President Bush called "a state of emergency." It wasn't even read by most of the members who voted for it. But the whole point of the sunset clause was to allow Congresspeople to actually read the bill and debate it in calmer times. Now, the Act is effectively being made permanent with little or no debate or discussion.

UN Rejects Guidelines for Gitmo Visit

UN human rights monitors say they will not accept a US offer to visit the Guantanamo Bay prison camp unless they are given free access to the prisoners.
The monitors said they could accept some limitations, but not a ban on private interviews with detainees.
The Pentagon, which received the UN request for a visit more than three years ago, said the invitation showed it had "nothing to hide".

Scooter's Replacements

The White House announced on Monday the elevation of John Hannah to replace Libby as Cheney's national security adviser. Earlier in the day it announced that Libby would be arraigned Thursday in federal court on charges of perjury, making false statements and obstruction of justice. He was expected to plead innocent.
The White House also announced that David S. Addington, who's been Cheney's legal counsel, would assume Libby's duties as chief of staff. Like Hannah, Addington has played a quiet, though influential, role in the vice president's office. The Washington director of Human Rights Watch accused Addington of helping draft policies that led to the abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The vice president's office has previously denied that Hannah received INC information. Cheney's office didn't respond immediately to questions Monday about Hannah and Addington.
The INC's leader, Ahmad Chalabi, now a deputy prime minister in Iraq, was close to Cheney and other senior administration architects of the invasion. The INC supplied Iraqi defectors whose information turned out to be false. It has insisted that it tried its best to verify defectors' claims before passing them to the United States.

Minimum Wage Increase Defeated - Helen Thomas

U.S. senators -- who draw salaries of $162,100 a year and enjoy a raft of perks -- have rejected a minimum wage hike from $5.15 an hour to $6.25 for blue-collar workers.

Troop Cuts Planned for ...wait for it... Okinawa

The United States and Japan have agreed to strengthen military cooperation, reduce the number of U.S. Marines from Okinawa and give Tokyo greater responsibility for security in the Pacific.
Calling the alliance the anchor of regional stability, the agreement gives Japan more responsibility for its own defense and an enhanced security role in the region. The decisions were part of an American effort to streamline its military overseas and create a leaner, more flexible fighting force.

A bold book argues that thousands of American towns were deliberately kept whites-only

Loewen, a sociologist, argues in his powerful and important new book, Sundown Towns... Loewen reports that -- beginning in roughly 1890 with the end of Reconstruction and continuing until the fair-housing legislation of the late 1960s -- whites in America created thousands of whites-only towns, commonly known as "sundown towns" owing to the signs often posted at their city limits that warned, as one did in Hawthorne, Calif., in the 1930s: "Nigger, Don't Let The Sun Set On YOU In Hawthorne." In fact, Loewen claims that, during that 70-year period, outside the traditional South, "probably a majority of all incorporated places [in the United States] kept out African Americans."
Such a bold claim would seem to require an exact count of sundown towns to back it up. But Loewen admits that the challenges of uncovering and confirming the existence of each sundown town -- when everything from census figures to local histories proved misleading -- limited his ability to nail down an exact figure. Instead, he writes, "I believe at least 3,000 and perhaps as many as 15,000 independent towns went sundown in the United States, mostly between 1890 and about 1930."

Debate rages on use of cervical cancer vaccine - While almost 100% effective, some contend use condones teen sex

A new vaccine that protects against cervical cancer has set up a clash between health advocates who want to use the shots aggressively to prevent thousands of malignancies and social conservatives who say immunizing teen-agers could encourage sexual activity.
Although the vaccine will not become available until next year at the earliest, activists on both sides have begun maneuvering to influence how widely the immunizations will be employed.
Groups working to reduce the toll of the cancer are eagerly awaiting the vaccine and want it to become part of the standard roster of shots that children, especially girls, receive just before puberty.
Because the vaccine protects against a sexually transmitted virus, many conservatives oppose making it mandatory, citing fears that it could send a subtle message condoning sexual activity before marriage. Several leading groups that promote abstinence are meeting this week to formulate official policies on the vaccine.

Reid's Full Statement Taking Senate into Closed Session

Given this Administration’s pattern of squashing those who challenge its misstatements, what has been the response of this Republican-controlled Congress? Again, absolutely nothing. And with their inactions, they provide political cover for this Administration at the same time they keep the truth from our troops who continue to make large sacrifices in Iraq.
This behavior is unacceptable. The toll in Iraq is as staggering as it is solemn. More than 2,000 Americans have lost their lives. Over 90 Americans have paid the ultimate sacrifice this month alone – the fourth deadliest month since the war began. More than 15,000 have been wounded. More than 150,000 remain in harm’s way. Enormous sacrifices have been and continue to be made.
The troops and the American people have a right to expect answers and accountability worthy of that sacrifice. For example, 40 Senate Democrats wrote a substantive and detailed letter to the President asking four basic questions about the Administration’s Iraq policy and received a four sentence answer in response. These Senators and the American people deserve better.

Oil Execs to Be Asked to Justify Profits

Top executives of three major oil companies will be asked by senators next week why some of their industry's estimated $96 billion in record profits this year shouldn't be used to help people having trouble paying their energy bills.
Lee Raymond, chairman of Exxon Mobil Corp., Jim Mulva, chief executive of ConocoPhillips, and John Hofmeister, president of the U.S. unit of Royal Dutch Shell PLC, will be among the industry executives to be questioned at a Senate hearing, according to congressional and industry officials.

Democrats detail times their efforts to examine intel were blocked

For more than two years, Senate Democrats have pressed Republicans to address the misuse of intelligence. At every turn, Republicans have blocked efforts to investigate how intelligence was used in the run-up to the war in Iraq. Below details the long record established by Democrats to investigate this matter.

Wal-Mart Launched PR War Room

Wal-Mart is taking a page from the modern political playbook. Under fire from well-organized opponents who have hammered the retailer with criticisms of its wages, health insurance and treatment of workers, Wal-Mart has quietly recruited former presidential advisers, including Michael K. Deaver, who was Ronald Reagan's image-meister, and Leslie Dach, one of Bill Clinton's media consultants, to set up a rapid-response public relations team in Arkansas.
When small-business owners or union officials - also employing political operatives from past campaigns - criticize the company, the war room swings into action with press releases, phone calls to reporters and instant Web postings.
One target of the effort are "swing voters," or consumers who have not soured on Wal-Mart. The new approach appears to reflect a fear that Wal-Mart's critics are alienating the very consumers it needs to keep growing, especially middle-income Americans motivated not just by price, but by image.

Hurricane Victims

Apparently, hurricane victims are being denied aid if they have any sort of drug conviction – even if it was 10 years and a stint in rehab ago. As if these people haven’t been through enough… If you’re interested, there’s a link to send a letter to your representative on this page:
[thanks, Mary]

Monday, October 31, 2005

House panel votes $844 mln cut in food stamps

On a party-line vote, a Republican-run U.S. House of Representatives committee voted to cut food stamps by $844 million on Friday, just hours after a new U.S. Agriculture Department report showed more Americans are struggling to put food on the table.
About 300,000 Americans would lose benefits due to tighter eligibility rules for food stamps, the major U.S. antihunger program, under the House plan. The cuts would be part of $3.7 billion pared from Agriculture Department programs over five years as part of government-wide spending reductions.

Vietnam Study, Casting Doubts, Remains Secret

The National Security Agency has kept secret since 2001 a finding by an agency historian that during the Tonkin Gulf episode, which helped precipitate the Vietnam War, N.S.A. officers deliberately distorted critical intelligence to cover up their mistakes, two people familiar with the historian's work say.
The historian's conclusion is the first serious accusation that communications intercepted by the N.S.A., the secretive eavesdropping and code-breaking agency, were falsified so that they made it look as if North Vietnam had attacked American destroyers on Aug. 4, 1964, two days after a previous clash. President Lyndon B. Johnson cited the supposed attack to persuade Congress to authorize broad military action in Vietnam, but most historians have concluded in recent years that there was no second attack.
The N.S.A. historian, Robert J. Hanyok, found a pattern of translation mistakes that went uncorrected, altered intercept times and selective citation of intelligence that persuaded him that midlevel agency officers had deliberately skewed the evidence.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

CJR: White-Collar Blues

[Barbara] Ehrenreich’s new book, Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream, is also about class. Once again, she reports on her experiences going incognito. But this time she has infiltrated a world that, one imagines, will be far more familiar to her readers: the world of the white-collar middle class, the middle managers of corporate America. The premise of Bait and Switch is that there is as much outrage to expose in cubicles of major corporations as in the service sector. While things don’t turn out exactly as Ehrenreich had expected, her book still reveals the strength of long-form reporting for showing how social forces bear down to shape an individual’s life.
...But there was a hitch. After almost a year on the market, Ehrenreich wasn’t offered a single corporate job. It wasn’t for lack of trying. She hired several career coaches and attended networking sessions; still, she was unable to find gainful employment. Lest we think her difficulties were unique to her situation — why would someone with no connections or experience think she could get a decent middle-manager job right off the bat? — Ehrenreich contacts all the job-seekers whose cards she collected along the way. None of the eleven people who responded to her have found a decent corporate job; they are all still searching, or else they have taken low-wage jobs in the service sector, working at retail chains or grooming dogs or driving a limousine.

George Dyson: Turing's Carhedral - Touring Google

My visit to Google? Despite the whimsical furniture and other toys, I felt I was entering a 14th-century cathedral — not in the 14th century but in the 12th century, while it was being built. Everyone was busy carving one stone here and another stone there, with some invisible architect getting everything to fit. The mood was playful, yet there was a palpable reverence in the air. "We are not scanning all those books to be read by people," explained one of my hosts after my talk. "We are scanning them to be read by an AI."
When I returned to highway 101, I found myself recollecting the words of Alan Turing, in his seminal paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence, a founding document in the quest for true AI. "In attempting to construct such machines we should not be irreverently usurping His power of creating souls, any more than we are in the procreation of children," Turing had advised. "Rather we are, in either case, instruments of His will providing mansions for the souls that He creates."

Sandra Day O´Connor Speech at West Point

[M]ilitary personnel from the front lines in Iraq have reported that they do not know what rules apply, and that they have not received clear guidelines from their superior officers.1 Some of their superior officers are saying that they were not able to get clear guidelines from people higher up in the chain of command.2 This is clearly not a good situation. When soldiers are being told to go out and get intelligence, but not told the limits on how they may do so, they may overstep the bounds. That in turn may lead to both legal and diplomatic difficulties. And if our military is not treating prisoners of war "properly," that may also increase the dangers to US soldiers if they are captured by the enemy. Often it is the low–ranking soldiers that are blamed for the abuses. They, of course, have to take responsibility for their own actions, but those that would lead them also need to take responsibility. Finally, it seems to me we need a clear set of rules to reaffirm our values as a nation. This is crucial in the ongoing war of ideas. We have to demonstrate two things in particular: First, this country believes in protecting the basic humanity of all people, and that includes even our adversaries. Second, we will not stoop to the atrocities and inhumane tactics of some of our adversaries.

U.S. Ranks 44th in Worldwide Press Freedom Index

The annual worldwide press freedom index from Reporters Without Borders shows the United States, which is supposedly spreading freedom and liberty throughout the world, is in a fast decline regarding the freedom of its own press.
The report ranked the United States in 44th place, an atomic drop from a favorable position of 22nd held last year, and from a handsome 17th place in 2002.
The organization mentioned that several journalists were expelled from the country since the terrorist attacks of 2001.

Kucinich Uses House Procedure To Demand Documents From White House Iraq Group

Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) today introduced a Resolution of Inquiry to demand the White House turn over all white papers, minutes, notes, emails or other communications kept by the White House Iraq Group (WHIG).
“This group, comprised of the President and Vice President’s top aides, was critical in selling the Administration’s case for war,” stated Kucinich. “We now know that the Administration hyped intelligence and misled the American public and Congress in their effort to ‘sell’ the war. After over 1,900 American troops have been killed in Iraq, it is long past time for this Congress to ask serious questions about WHIG and its role in the lead up to the war.”
A Resolution of Inquiry is a rare House procedure used to obtain documents from the Executive Branch. Under House rules, Kucinich’s resolution is referred to committee, and action must be taken in committee within 14 legislative days.
“For two-and-a-half years Congress has sat on the sidelines neglecting its oversight responsibility when it has come to Iraq,” continued Kucinich. “We owe it to the American people to hold this Administration accountable and to find out the truth.”

FEMA extends Brownie's contract 30 days

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Wednesday defended FEMA’s decision to extend former director Michael Brown’s post-resignation employment by another 30 days.
“It’s important to allow the new people who have the responsibility ... to have access to the information we need to do better,” Chertoff told The Associated Press as he flew to view Hurricane Wilma’s damage in Florida.

Army secret surfaces: Deadly chemicals at sea

Millions of pounds of unused weapons of mass destruction were dumped in oceans before Congress banned the practice in 1972. The threat is still out there, and may be growing.
...These weapons of mass destruction virtually ring the country, concealed off the coasts of at least 11 states: six on the East Coast, including New Jersey and Maryland, two on the Gulf Coast, and in California, Hawaii and Alaska. Few, if any, state officials have been informed of their existence.
The chemical agents could pose a hazard for generations. The Army has examined only a few of its 26 dump zones, and none in 30 years.
The Army can't say exactly where all the weapons were dumped from World War II to 1970. Army records are sketchy, missing or were destroyed.
More dump sites probably exist. The Army hasn't reviewed records from the World War I era, when ocean dumping of chemical weapons was common.