Thursday, January 12, 2006

Black sergeant was 'loyal Klansman'

About 25 years ago, Ron Stallworth was asked to lead the Ku Klux Klan chapter in Colorado Springs.
Problem was, the outgoing Klan leader didn't know that Stallworth is black.
"He asked me to take over the lead because I was a good, loyal Klansman," said Stallworth, who had been in constant phone contact with the Klan leader while leading a yearlong Colorado Springs police investigation into the Klan.
Stallworth later moved to Utah, where he recently retired after nearly 20 years as an investigator for the Utah Department of Public Safety. He says he's amazed that no one ever caught on to the investigation he led starting in 1979. After he was offered Klan leadership, he quietly disappeared.
As a memento Stallworth still carries his Klan membership card — signed by David Duke.
"It was one of the most fun" investigations, he said. "Everybody said it couldn't be done."

Bush has used signing statements to reject, revise or put his spin on more than 500 legislative provisions

Experts say he has been far more aggressive than any previous president in using the statements to claim sweeping executive power - and not just on national security issues.
"It's nothing short of breath-taking," said Phillip Cooper, a professor of public administration at Portland State University. "In every case, the White House has interpreted presidential authority as broadly as possible, interpreted legislative authority as narrowly as possible, and pre-empted the judiciary."
Signing statements don't have the force of law, but they can influence judicial interpretations of a statute. They also send a powerful signal to executive branch agencies on how the White House wants them to implement new federal laws.
In some cases, Bush bluntly informs Congress that he has no intention of carrying out provisions that he considers an unconstitutional encroachment on his authority.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


retrievr is an experimental service which lets you search and explore in a selection of Flickr images by drawing a rough sketch.

Currently the index contains many of Flickr's most interesting images. If you'd like to have your images (or the images for a specific tag) added, please let me know.

Counter-script to use on telemarketers

The Direct Marketing sector regards the telephone as one of its most successful tools. Consumers experience telemarketing from a completely different point of view: more than 92% perceive commercial telephone calls as a violation of privacy.
Telemarketers make use of a telescript - a guideline for a telephone conversation. This script creates an imbalance in the conversation between the marketer and the consumer. It is this imbalance, most of all, that makes telemarketing successful. The EGBG Counterscript attempts to redress that balance.
Good luck!

President of Military Reporters Group Hits Blackout on Abduction

The president of Military Reporters and Editors (MRE), Sig Christenson, criticized U.S. media outlets late Tuesday for engaging in a two-day blackout to hide news that an American journalist, Jill Carroll, had been abducted in Iraq.
Christenson, military affairs reporter for the San Antonio Express-News and a three-time Iraq embed, said the effort to keep news about a reporter's kidnapping from readers gives the wrong impression.
"Why isn't somebody asking about the ethics of this?" Christenson said in a phone interview late Tuesday. "I question whether it was ethical of them to do what they did--the (abducted reporter's) newspaper and the others that were involved in this."

NSA Whistleblower Alleges Illegal Spying

"I specialized in what's called special access programs," [Russell] Tice said of his job. "We called them 'black world' programs and operations."
But now, Tice tells ABC News that some of those secret "black world" operations run by the NSA were operated in ways that he believes violated the law. He is prepared to tell Congress all he knows about the alleged wrongdoing in these programs run by the Defense Department and the NSA in the post-9/11 efforts to go after terrorists.
"The mentality was we need to get these guys, and we're going to do whatever it takes to get them," he said.
Tice says the technology exists to track and sort through every domestic and international phone call as they are switched through centers, such as one in New York, and to search for key words or phrases that a terrorist might use.
"If you picked the word 'jihad' out of a conversation," Tice said, "the technology exists that you focus in on that conversation, and you pull it out of the system for processing."
According to Tice, intelligence analysts use the information to develop graphs that resemble spiderwebs linking one suspect's phone number to hundreds or even thousands more.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

National Security Agency mounted massive spy op on Baltimore peace group, documents sho

Click here to see NSA documents
The National Security Agency has been spying on a Baltimore anti-war group, according to documents released during litigation, going so far as to document the inflating of protesters' balloons, and intended to deploy units trained to detect weapons of mass destruction, RAW STORY has learned.
According to the documents, the Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore, a Quaker-linked peace group, has been monitored by the NSA working with the Baltimore Intelligence Unit of the Baltimore City Police Department.

North Star is found to be a 3-star system

By stretching the capabilities of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to the limit, astronomers have photographed the close companion of Polaris for the first time. This sequence of images shows that the North Star, Polaris is really a triple star system. These findings were presented today in a press conference at the 207th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington, D.C.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Why Would Bush Pronounce His Name as "Abramamoff"?

In President Bush's first 10 months, GOP fundraiser Jack Abramoff and his lobbying team logged nearly 200 contacts with the new administration as they pressed for friendly hires at federal agencies and sought to keep the Northern Mariana Islands exempt from the minimum wage and other laws, records show.
The meetings between Abramoff's lobbying team and the administration ranged from Attorney General John Ashcroft to policy advisers in Vice President Dick Cheney's office, according to his lobbying firm billing records.
Abramoff, a $100,000-plus fundraiser for Bush, is now under criminal investigation for some of his lobbying work. His firm boasted its lobbying team helped revise a section of the Republican Party's 2000 platform to make it favorable to its island client.

U.S. military 'shuts down' soldiers' blogs

Nowadays, milbloggers "get shut down almost as fast as they're set up," said New York Army National Guard Spc. Jason Christopher Hartley, 31, of upstate New Paltz, who believes something is lost as the grunt's-eye take on Tikrit or Kabul is silenced or sanitized.
Hartley last January was among the first active-duty combat troops demoted and fined for security violations on his blog,
Throughout last year, the Army, Marines, Air Force and Navy tightened control on bloggers by requiring them to register through the chain of command and by creating special security squads to monitor milblogs.

Russell Tice, NSA Whistleblower, Warns Domestic Spying Program Is Sign the U.S. is Decaying Into a “Police State”

AMY GOODMAN: What made you decide to come forward? You worked for the top-secret agency of this government, one that is far larger and even more secret than the C.I.A.
RUSSELL TICE: Well, the main reason is, you know, I'm involved with some certain aspects of the intelligence community, which are very closely held, and I believe I have seen some things that are illegal. Ultimately it's Congress's responsibility to conduct oversight in these things. I don't see it happening. Another reason is there was a certain roadblock that was sort of lifted that allowed me to do this, and I can't explain, but I will to Congress if allowed to.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the letter you have written to Congress, your request to testify?
RUSSELL TICE: Well, it’s just a simple request under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, which is a legal means to contact Congress and tell them that you believe that something has gone wrong in the intelligence community.

Dozens of federal agencies are tracking visits to U.S. government Web sites

Some departments changed their practices this week after being contacted by CNET The Pentagon said it wasn't aware that its popular portal tracked visitors--in violation of a privacy notice--and said it would fix the problem. So did the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.
"We were not aware of the cookies set to expire in 2016," a Pentagon representative said Wednesday. "All of the cookies we had set with WebTrends were to be strictly (temporary) cookies, and we are taking immediate action." WebTrends is a commercial Web-monitoring service.
The practice of tracking Web visitors came under fire last week when the National Security Agency was found to use permanent cookies to monitor visitors, a practice it halted after inquiries from the Associated Press. The White House also was criticized last week for employing WebTrends' tracking mechanism that used a tiny GIF image.

Grandiloquent Dictionary

abacinate -( )
To blind by putting a hot copper basin near someone's eyes
abderian -( )
given to incessant or idiotic laughter
abecedarian -( )
A person who is learning the alphabet
abligurition -( )
Excessive spending on food and drink
ablutophobia -( )
A fear of bathing
acarophobia -( )
1.A fear of insects
acarophobia -( )
2.A fear of mites
acarophobia -( )
3. A fear of small things, especially bugs
accipitrine -( )
having a nose like a hawk's beak

Anonymous E-Mails That Are Annoying, Now a Federal Offense

It's no joke. Last Thursday, President Bush signed into law a prohibition on posting annoying Web messages or sending annoying e-mail messages without disclosing your true identity.
In other words, it's OK to flame someone on a mailing list or in a blog as long as you do it under your real name. Thank Congress for small favors, I guess.
This ridiculous prohibition, which would likely imperil much of Usenet, is buried in the so-called Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act. Criminal penalties include stiff fines and two years in prison.
"The use of the word 'annoy' is particularly problematic," says Marv Johnson, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. "What's annoying to one person may not be annoying to someone else."

NASA Climate Observatory Quietly Killed

NASA has quietly terminated what may have been its most important science mission. Critics of programs to limit emissions argue that climate change is caused by solar variation, not by atmospheric changes. There is one unambiguous way to tell: locate an observatory at L-1, the neutral-gravity point between Earth and Sun. It would have a continuous view of the sunlit face of Earth in one direction, and the Sun in the other, thus constantly monitoring Earth's albedo.

The Economic Costs of the War in Iraq

Many aspects of the Iraq venture have turned out differently from what was purported before the war: there were no weapons of mass destruction, no clear link between Al Qaeda and Iraq, no imminent danger that would warrant a pre-emptive war. Whether Americans were greeted as liberators or not, there is evidence that they are now viewed as occupiers. Stability has not been established. Clearly, the benefits of the War have been markedly different from those claimed.
So too for the costs. It now appears that Lindsey was indeed wrong—by grossly underestimating the costs. Congress has already appropriated approximately $357 billion for military operations, reconstruction, embassy costs, enhanced security at US bases and foreign aid programs in Iraq and Afghanistan. This total, which covers costs through the end of November 2005, includes $251bn for military operations in Iraq, $82bn for Afghanistan and $24bn for related foreign operations, such as reconstruction, embassy safety and base security. [4] These costs have been rising throughout the war. Since FY 2003, the monthly average cost of operations has risen from $4.4bn to $7.1 bn – the costs of operations in Iraq have grown by nearly 20% since last year (whereas Afghanistan was 8% lower than last year).[5] The Congressional Budget Office has now estimated that in their central, mid-range scenario, the Iraq war will cost over $266 billion more in the next decade, putting the direct costs of the war in the range of $500 billion[6].
These estimates, however, underestimate the War’s true costs to America by a wide margin. In this paper, we attempt to provide a range of estimates for what those costs have been, and are likely to be. Even taking a conservative approach, we have been surprised at how large they are. We can state, with some degree of confidence, that they exceed a trillion dollars.

The Economist: What Makes for a Great Prank?

The best pranks have always blurred the lines between legality and illegality, good and bad taste, right and wrong conduct. Festivals like Saturnalia appeared to undermine the social order, but paradoxically helped to reaffirm it, by allowing people to act out their frustrations in a harmless way. The nearest thing to this today is April Fool's Day—“the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year,” as Mark Twain gently put it—though the best April 1st jokes tend to be media hoaxes, rather than traditional pranks. A classic of the genre is a 1957 BBC “documentary” on Swiss spaghetti farmers. Many British viewers asked where they could buy pasta trees.