Friday, February 17, 2006

Amateur video sharing grows online

There's no shortage of sites willing to accept such video, and once issues of revenues, copyright and ease of use get sorted out, the sharing of personal video promises to become as commonplace as photo-sharing is today.
''For the past six months or so, a lot of these sites have been popping up,'' said Jakob Lodwick, Vimeo's founder. ''It went from being none to there being new ones every couple of weeks.''

Kucinich Calls for Docs on Iraq War 'Sell Job'

Source: O'Dwyer's PR Daily (sub req'd), February 17, 2006
Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced a Resolution of Inquiry, demanding from the White House, Defense and State Departments "certain documents ... relating to any entity with which the U.S. has contracted for public relations purposes concerning Iraq." In a statement, the Congressman notes reports about the Rendon Group's and Lincoln Group's Iraq activities. Kucinich affirms the public's "right to know" about attempts "to manipulate the news, falsify intelligence or mislead the public." He adds, "Congress has a Constitutional responsibility to provide oversight." The House international relations committee must vote on the resolution by the end of February. The resolution comes after a Government Accountability Office report on federal media contracts, which lists $1.1 billion in Defense Department spending on PR, advertising and other media firms from fiscal year 2003 through mid-fiscal year 2005.

NPR: American Accent Undergoing Great Vowel Shift

Professor William Labov, a University of Pennsylvania linguist and author of the new book Atlas of North American English Phonetics, Phonology and Sound Change, says there is a shift of vowel sounds in the inland northern cities. He calls it the "northern city shift."

NPR: Dada on Display at the National Gallery of Art

In the midst of World War I, and in reaction against it, avant garde artists organized in beehives of audacious creativity, first in Europe and then the United States.
Marcel Duchamp's version of Mona Lisa is a prime example of the Dada spirit. Beloved as a beautiful painting that is mysterious, intriguing and compelling, Leonardo da Vinci's classic Mona Lisa was hated by some Dadaists because it had become a sacred cow -- no longer appreciated as a painting, but instead, commodified on postcards, posters and coffee mugs. Marcel Duchamp took a reproduction of da Vinci's painting, and drew a moustache and goatee on her face. Duchamp's audacity became a Dada statement. Ironically, Duchamp's daring deviltry itself became a classic -- widely replicated on postcards, posters and mugs.

White House OMB Rates Federal Programs

The White House Office of Management and Budget has published a rundown on all federal programs called, rating them as either "Performing" or "Not Peforming." (See Previous discussion on programs slated for budget cuts , in which some wondered about the analysis behind the cuts -- this is it.) 72% of all programs are rated Performing (of which 15% are Effective, 29% are Moderately Effective, and 28% are Adequate. 28% are rated Not Performing, but of these only 4% are Ineffective -- the other 24% are rated Results Not Demonstrated because of a lack of established goals or lack of collected data. Under each rating you can find all the programs in the category and drill down to details on the assessment For example, leading the "Ineffective" list is Even Start, a DOEducation program that is supposed to "the cycle of poverty and illiteracy for low-income families." But OMB says that three major studies of the program failed to show it was having any impact. Ditto AmeriCorps and the Oil Technology Program (it hasn't led to any new reserves being found). In case you are wondering, both the Dept. of Homeland Security's Domestic Icebreaking Program and its Biological Countemeasures program are considered Effective. [from]

The Wiki History of the Universe in 200 Words or Less

The Wiki History of the Universe in 200Words or Less

Quantum fluctuation. Inflation. Expansion. Strong nuclear interaction. Particle-antiparticle annihilation. Deuterium and helium production. Density perturbations. Recombination. Blackbody radiation. Local contraction. Cluster formation. Reionization? Violent relaxation. Virialization. Biased galaxy formation? Turbulent fragmentation. Contraction. Ionization. Compression. Opaque hydrogen. Massive star formation. Deuterium ignition. Hydrogen fusion. Hydrogen depletion. Core contraction. Envelope expansion. Helium fusion. Carbon, oxygen, and silicon fusion. Iron production. Implosion. Supernova explosion. Metals injection. Star formation. Supernova explosions. Star formation. Condensation. Planetesimal accretion. Planetary differentiation. Crust solidification. Volatile gas expulsion. Water condensation. Water dissociation. Ozone production. Ultraviolet absorption. Photosynthetic unicellular organisms. Oxidation. Mutation. Natural selection and evolution. Respiration. Cell differentiation. Sexual reproduction. Fossilization. Land exploration. Dinosaur extinction. Mammal expansion. Glaciation. Homo sapiens manifestation. Animal domestication. Food surplus production. Civilization! Innovation. Exploration. Religion. Warring nations. Empire creation and destruction. Exploration. Colonization. Taxation without representation. Revolution. Constitution. Election. Expansion. Industrialization. Rebellion. Emancipation Proclamation. Invention. Mass production. Urbanization. Immigration. World conflagration. League of Nations. Suffrage extension. Depression. World conflagration. Fission explosions. United Nations. Space exploration. Assassinations. Lunar excursions. Resignation. Computerization. World Trade Organization. Terrorism. Internet expansion. Reunification. Dissolution. World-Wide Web creation. Composition. Extrapolation?

Copyright 1996-1997 by Eric Schulman.

EPA Set to Close Library Network and Electronic Catalog

Under President Bush’s proposed budget, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is slated to shut down its network of libraries that serve its own scientists as well as the public, according to internal agency documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In addition to the libraries, the agency will pull the plug on its electronic catalog which tracks tens of thousands of unique documents and research studies that are available nowhere else.
Under Bush’s plan, $2 million of a total agency library budget of $2.5 million will be lost, including the entire $500,000 budget for the EPA Headquarters library and its electronic catalog that makes it possible to search for documents through the entire EPA library network. These reductions are just a small portion of the $300 million in cuts the administration has proposed for EPA operations.
At the same time, President Bush is proposing to significantly increase EPA research funding for topics such as nanotechnology, air pollution and drinking water system security as part of his “American Competitive Initiative.”
“How are EPA scientists supposed to engage in cutting edge research when they cannot find what the agency has already done?” asked PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson is moving to implement the proposed cuts as soon as possible. “The President’s plan will not make us more competitive if we have to spend half our time re-inventing the wheel.”

Judge Orders White House Spying Documents Released

A federal judge ordered the Bush administration on Thursday to release documents about its warrantless surveillance program or spell out what it is withholding, a setback to efforts to keep the program under wraps.
At the same time, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said he had worked out an agreement with the White House to consider legislation and provide more information to Congress on the eavesdropping program. The panel's top Democrat, who has requested a full-scale investigation, immediately objected to what he called an abdication of the committee's responsibilities.

Senate Panel Decides Against Eavesdropping Inquiry, for Now

The Senate Intelligence Committee decided today not to investigate President Bush's domestic surveillance program, at least for the time being.
"I believe that such an investigation is currently unwarranted and would be detrimental to this highly classified program," Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas and chairman of the panel, said this afternoon following a closed session.
While Mr. Roberts's announcement signaled that the administration's eavesdropping program would not be subject to Senate scrutiny, at least for the time being, there was no guarantee that the House would not go ahead with an inquiry of its own.

Niger Uranium Rumors Wouldn't Die

Experienced intelligence officers repeatedly knocked down those reports, sometimes after painstaking inquiry.
But like the carnival game "Whack-a-Mole," similar reports kept popping back up in different places. The unconfirmed reports were embraced by the White House, which began to repeatedly warn that Iraq was trying to build nuclear weapons.
Those warnings in turn played a crucial role in sending America to war. They also sparked a political and intelligence scandal that still roils the Bush administration.
A review by the Los Angeles Times of those seemingly independent intelligence reports leads to the conclusion that they were based on information contained in forged documents that an Italian ex-spy was trying to sell to Western intelligence agencies in 2001 and 2002.
The story refused to die for several reasons, including a strong appetite in the Pentagon and the White House for information that supported a case for war, and a widely recognized phenomenon in the intelligence field in which bad information, when repeated by multiple sources, appears to be corroborated.
"This became a classic case of circular reporting," said a U.S. intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to reporters. "It seemed like we were hearing it from lots of places. People didn't realize it was the same bad information coming in different doors."

Glacier Melt Could Signal Faster Rise in Ocean Levels

Greenland's glaciers are melting into the sea twice as fast as previously believed, the result of a warming trend that renders obsolete predictions of how quickly Earth's oceans will rise over the next century, scientists said yesterday.
The new data come from satellite imagery and give fresh urgency to worries about the role of human activity in global warming. The Greenland data are mirrored by findings from Bolivia to the Himalayas, scientists said, noting that rising sea levels threaten widespread flooding and severe storm damage in low-lying areas worldwide.
The scientists said they do not yet understand the precise mechanism causing glaciers to flow and melt more rapidly, but they said the changes in Greenland were unambiguous -- and accelerating: In 1996, the amount of water produced by melting ice in Greenland was about 90 times the amount consumed by Los Angeles in a year. Last year, the melted ice amounted to 225 times the volume of water that city uses annually.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

SEC Votes to Propose Changes to Disclosure Requirements Concerning Executive Compensation and Related Matters

The Securities and Exchange Commission today voted to publish for comment proposed rules that would amend disclosure requirements for executive and director compensation, related party transactions, director independence and other corporate governance matters, and security ownership of officers and directors. The proposed rules would affect disclosure in proxy statements, annual reports and registration statements. The proposals would require most of this disclosure to be provided in plain English. The proposals also would modify the current reporting requirements of Form 8-K regarding compensation arrangements.

The Lincoln Group in Iraq

"They appear very professional on the surface, then you dig a little deeper and you find that they are pretty amateurish," said Jason Santamaria, a former Marine officer whom the company once described as a "strategic adviser."
The company's work in Iraq, where Mr. Bailey and Mr. Craig visit from time to time to direct operations, is facing growing scrutiny.
The Pentagon's inspector general last month opened an audit of Lincoln Group's contracts there, according to two Defense Department officials. A separate inquiry ordered by Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top American commander in Iraq, after disclosures late last year that Lincoln Group paid Iraqi publications to run one-sided stories by American soldiers, has been completed but not made public, military officials said.
A spokesman for General Casey, Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, declined to comment on Lincoln Group, citing the ongoing investigation.
In interviews, Mr. Bailey, 30, and Mr. Craig, 31, said they had succeeded by anticipating the military's need for help communicating with and influencing the Iraqi public, just as the insurgency was building. "We saw that it was very hard for the U.S. to do that work," Mr. Bailey said. "They didn't do media and outreach very well. We had local offices in a tough environment where traditional U.S. contractors would not operate."

via CitizenBrand:
I think this presents an interesting juxtaposition of communications around the world. The world's leading democracy paying millions of dollars to an unqualified group interested only in the money to propagandize in the Muslim world versus influentials in the world's largest and one of the most closed societies decrying government censorship. I doubt that either represents the majority thinking in the US or in China yet but I do think both are indicators of the direction each of us could be heading. In the case of the United States, that is why we need to make sure the light shines bright on the Lincoln Group. And we can hope that those voices against censorship in China gain strength.

Senior center sings praises of music therapy program

Music therapists — which these students may become — typically work with patients as a traditional therapist would. In clinics and specialized centers, music therapists use tunes to help organize the motor center of the brain that makes walking and talking possible.
...The seniors sing along, play instruments and enjoy the music of their youth, with students trained chiefly in classical music leading the way. And regardless of students’ experience level, this, Clair said, is what music therapy is about.
“The music helps them reach a nonmusical goal,” she said.

A Conversation With Deborah Tannen: Author Applies Tools of Linguistics to Mend Mother-Daughter Divide

Q. Many of the women you've interviewed for your new book complain of mothers who criticize their appearance. Are they right to be annoyed?
A. "Right" and "wrong" aren't words a linguist uses. My job is to analyze conversations and discover why communications fail. The biggest complaint I hear from daughters is: "My mother's always criticizing me." And the mother counters, "I can't open my mouth; my daughter takes everything as criticism."
But sometimes caring and criticism are found in the same words. When mothers talk about their daughters' appearance, they are often doing it because they feel obligated to tell their daughter something that no one else will.
The mother feels she's caring. The daughter feels criticized. They are both right.
What I try to do is point out each side to each other. So, the mother needs to acknowledge the criticism part, and the daughter needs to acknowledge the caring part. It's tough because each sees only one.

Rabbi Yehuda Chitrik, a Legend in Lubavitcher Circles, Is Dead at 106

Yehuda Chitrik was born on Aug. 28, 1899, in Krasnolok, a Hasidic town in Russia. In 1913, his father sent him to study at the central Chabad-Lubavitch Yeshiva near Smolensk, where he frequently met with the fifth Lubavitcher rebbe, Shalom DovBer Schneerson. He also began to commit stories and historical facts to his remarkable memory.
...Rabbi Chitrik retired in the 1970's and moved to New York City in 1983 after the death of his wife. He is survived by two sons, two daughters and, according to Rabbi Shmotkin, 20 grandchildren and hundreds of great- and great-great-grandchildren. [thanks, Sharon]

Bush Plans Huge Propaganda Campaign in Iran

The Bush administration made an emergency request to Congress yesterday for a seven-fold increase in funding to mount the biggest ever propaganda campaign against the Tehran government, in a further sign of the worsening crisis between Iran and the west.
Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, said the $75m (£43m) in extra funds, on top of $10m already allocated for later this year, would be used to broadcast US radio and television programmes into Iran, help pay for Iranians to study in America and support pro-democracy groups inside the country.
Although US officials acknowledge the limitations of such a campaign, the state department is determined to press ahead with measures that include extending the government-run Voice of America's Farsi service from a few hours a day to round-the-clock coverage.

Cheney Goes Ahead with Folsom Prison Concert (Audio)

K Street keeps growing

Lobbyists had a banner 2005, the year before simmering controversies involving Jack Abramoff and former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.) boiled over outside the Beltway and brought new pressures on Capitol Hill to keep lobbyists at arm’s length.
Early returns on end-of-year revenues show strong growth all along Washington’s lobbying corridor.
Several well-known firms reported a revenue jump greater than 20 percent, including Barbour Griffith & Rogers, Quinn Gillespie & Associates, the Federalist Group and the Livingston Group, as a series of policy and legislative efforts brought new business to K Street, from Social Security reform to a national energy plan to the budget bill.
Reigning number one, Patton Boggs, reported an even better 2005. It made $37 million last year, up from roughly $31 million it took in in 2004.

Jury Urges Millions in Penalties for Nuclear Contamination

A federal jury has determined that cold war military contractors building nuclear bomb components near Denver contaminated lands owned by 12,000 neighbors with plutonium waste, and has recommended $554 million in payments and penalties.
Lawyers for the companies, Dow Chemical and Rockwell International, said they would appeal the decision, which was read late Tuesday.
People living near the site said the decision, after a 16-year legal battle over the environmental consequences of the plant, Rocky Flats, had vindicated their claims.

Five Anti-War ‘Raging Grannies’ Arrested at Enlistment Office

Five women age 50 and older claiming they wished to enlist in the military were arrested Tuesday outside a recruiting office during an anti-war demonstration.
Saying that “if someone must die in Iraq, let it be the old,” members of Raging Grannies, Code Pink and other peace groups were taken to the Montgomery County Police Department. The county is a Washington suburb.

Justice Dept. probes own spy program role

The Justice Department has begun an internal inquiry into its role in the Bush administration's domestic eavesdropping program, a lawmaker disclosed on Wednesday.
The investigation is being conducted by the Office of Professional Responsibility, or OPR, which reviews allegations of misconduct within the law enforcement agency.
Marshall Jarrett, the office's counsel, acknowledged the investigation in a letter to Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y. Jarrett's letter did not specify which of the agency's actions or employees are being examined.
"You asked this office to investigate the Department of Justice's role in authorizing, approving and auditing certain surveillance activities of the National Security Agency, and whether such activities are permissible under existing law. For your information, we have initiated an investigation," Jarrett wrote.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Democratic Leadership Pushes Iraq War Vet Out of Senatorial Race

"For me, this is a second betrayal." Hackett told the NYT. "First, my government misused and mismanaged the military in Iraq, and now my own party is afraid to support candidates like me."
"It is an outrage that the Democratic Party has forced Hackett out of the race," adds Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America PAC director Jon Smoltz. "Hackett brought credibility on the number one issue facing the nation -- the war in Iraq. The Democratic Party loses credibility on that issue because he is no longer running, and because they had a hand in his decision."
See also NY Times: Popular Ohio Democrat Drops Out of Race, and Perhaps Politics

325,000 Names on Terrorism List

The National Counterterrorism Center maintains a central repository of 325,000 names of international terrorism suspects or people who allegedly aid them, a number that has more than quadrupled since the fall of 2003, according to counterterrorism officials.
The list kept by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) -- created in 2004 to be the primary U.S. terrorism intelligence agency -- contains a far greater number of international terrorism suspects and associated names in a single government database than has previously been disclosed. Because the same person may appear under different spellings or aliases, the true number of people is estimated to be more than 200,000, according to NCTC officials.

New Abu Ghraib Photos Released

Several of the pictures have now been released. They are shown below the fold AND ARE DISTURBING - PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
The US continues to withhold most of the images.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

New Whistleblower Protections Called for

Five government whistleblowers said Tuesday they had faced retaliation for calling attention to alleged government wrongs, such as prisoner abuse in Iraq and illegal surveillance at the National Security Agency.
They told their stories to the House Government Reform Committee's national security subcommittee, whose chairman, Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn., indicated an interest in altering the law to better protect national-security whistleblowers.
Shays said they are vulnerable to unique forms of retaliation, including suspension or revocation of security clearance, which can have the same "chilling effect" as demotion or firing.

The Long War

The Long War is the most recent Bush administration official rebranding of its permanent Global War on Terror (GWOT), which was briefly rebranded as the global struggle against violent extremism (G-SAVE) in May 2005 and quickly reversed to the global war on terror by President George W. Bush in August 2005.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, speaking on February 2, 2006, before the National Press Club, delivered a speech "which aides said was titled 'The Long War'." Rumsfeld's speech came "on the eve of the Pentagon's release of its 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which sets out plans for how the U.S. military will address major security challenges 20 years into the future," Josh White and Ann Scott Tyson wrote in the February 3, 2006, Washington Post.
Rumsfeld said that the United States is "engaged in what could be a generational conflict akin to the Cold War, the kind of struggle that might last decades as allies work to root out terrorists across the globe and battle extremists who want to rule the world," they wrote. "Rumsfeld, who laid out broad strategies for what the military and the Bush administration are now calling the 'long war,' likened al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin while urging Americans not to give in on the battle of wills that could stretch for years. He said there is a tendency to underestimate the threats that terrorists pose to global security, and said liberty is at stake."

How to Survive a Robot Uprising

NY Times Profile:
"If popular culture has taught us anything," Daniel H. Wilson says, "it is that someday mankind must face and destroy the growing robot menace." Luckily, Dr. Wilson is just the guy to help us do it.
In his new book, "How to Survive a Robot Uprising," Dr. Wilson offers detailed — and hilariously deadpan — advice on evading hostile swarms of robot insects (don't try to fight — "loss of an individual robot is inconsequential to the swarm"); outsmarting your "smart" house (be suspicious if the house suggests you test the microwave by putting your head in it); escaping unmanned ground vehicles (drive in circles — they'll have a harder time tracking you); and surviving hand-to-hand combat with a humanoid (smear yourself with mud to disguise your distinctive human thermal signature and go for the "eyes" — its cameras).

Whistleblower: NSA Illegally Surveilling Millions of Americans

A former NSA employee said Tuesday there is another ongoing top-secret surveillance program that might have violated millions of Americans' Constitutional rights.
Russell D. Tice told the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations he has concerns about a "special access" electronic surveillance program that he characterized as far more wide-ranging than the warrentless wiretapping recently exposed by the New York Times but he is forbidden from discussing the program with Congress.
Tice said he believes it violates the Constitution's protection against unlawful search and seizures but has no way of sharing the information without breaking classification laws. He is not even allowed to tell the congressional intelligence committees - members or their staff - because they lack high enough clearance.
Neither could he brief the inspector general of the NSA because that office is not cleared to hear the information, he said.
Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, said they believe a few members of the Armed Services Committee are cleared for the information, but they said believe their committee and the intelligence committees have jurisdiction to hear the allegations.

Scott Ritter: Still Cherry-Picking the Facts on Iraq

The revelations made by retired CIA officer Paul Pillar in an article published in the March-April issue of the journal Foreign Affairs should come as a surprise to no one who has been following the disturbing case of Iraq and the missing weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
...Nowhere does Mr. Pillar mention the issue of regime change and the role played by the CIA in carrying out covert action at the instruction of the White House (both Democratic and Republican) to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Because he was the former national intelligence officer for Near East/Middle East affairs, I find this absence both disconcerting and disingenuous. By failing to give due credence to the impact and influence of the CIA's mission of regime change in Iraq on its analysis of Iraqi WMDs, Mr. Pillar continues to promulgate the myth that the CIA was honestly engaged in the business of trying to disarm Iraq. I may not have been the national intelligence officer, but I was plugged into the system well enough to know "Steve," who headed the CIA's Near East Division inside the Directorate of Operations, and helped plan and implement several abortive coup attempts in Iraq. I also knew "Don," who helped run the CIA's Counter Proliferation Center and was well aware of how the CIA interfered with and undermined several investigations and operations run by U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq. If these operations had reached fruition, the myth of a noncompliant Iraq might have been undone, thereby putting at risk the CIA's primary tasking vis-a-vis Iraq: regime change.

Monday, February 13, 2006

New Bush-Abramoff Photo Released

GAO: Bush Administration Spent $1.62 Billion on Media [PDF]

The departments reported a total of 343 media contracts, for which they incurred obligations of $1.62 billion during the period of GAO’s review. Specifically, the departments reported 137 contracts (40 percent of the total contracts) with advertising agencies, 131 contracts (38 percent) with media organizations, 54 contracts (16 percent) with public relations firms, and 8 contracts (2 percent) with individual members of the media. For 13 contracts (4 percent), departments did not report on type of media firm. The departments incurred obligations of $1.4 billion with advertising agencies (87 percent of the obligations), $197 million with public relations firms (12 percent), $15 million (1 percent) with media organizations, and $90,000 (less than 1 percent) with individual members of the media.

Coingate's Noe: 53 felony counts, possible 175 years in prison

Thomas W. Noe, the coin dealer and prominent Republican contributor whose $50 million state coin investment sparked one of the biggest scandals in Ohio state government history, was indicted today on 53 felonies, including theft of more than $1 million.
The charges include engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, 11 counts of theft, 11 of money laundering, 8 of tampering with records and 22 of forgery. He could be sentenced to a maximum 175 years in prison, although such a sentence is considered unlikely.
However, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said Noe faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years behind bars if he is convicted of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony patterned after the federal racketeering law often used against suspected mobsters.
Also indicted in the scheme was Timothy H. LaPointe, Noe's partner in the coin business, who was named in seven counts. He was charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt acitivity and six counts of tampering with records, said the indictment filed in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

Outed CIA officer was working on Iran, intelligence sources say

The unmasking of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson by White House officials in 2003 caused significant damage to U.S. national security and its ability to counter nuclear proliferation abroad, RAW STORY has learned.
According to current and former intelligence officials, Plame Wilson, who worked on the clandestine side of the CIA in the Directorate of Operations as a non-official cover (NOC) officer, was part of an operation tracking distribution and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction technology to and from Iran.
Speaking under strict confidentiality, intelligence officials revealed heretofore unreported elements of Plame's work. Their accounts suggest that Plame's outing was more serious than has previously been reported and carries grave implications for U.S. national security and its ability to monitor Iran's burgeoning nuclear program.

US group implants electronic tags in workers

An Ohio company has embedded silicon chips in two of its employees - the first known case in which US workers have been “tagged” electronically as a way of identifying them., a private video surveillance company, said it was testing the technology as a way of controlling access to a room where it holds security video footage for government agencies and the police.
Embedding slivers of silicon in workers is likely to add to the controversy over RFID technology, widely seen as one of the next big growth industries.

Plans Drawn Up for Military Strike on Iran

Strategists at the Pentagon are drawing up plans for devastating bombing raids backed by submarine-launched ballistic missile attacks against Iran's nuclear sites as a "last resort" to block Teheran's efforts to develop an atomic bomb.
Central Command and Strategic Command planners are identifying targets, assessing weapon-loads and working on logistics for an operation, the Sunday Telegraph has learnt.
They are reporting to the office of Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, as America updates plans for action if the diplomatic offensive fails to thwart the Islamic republic's nuclear bomb ambitions. Teheran claims that it is developing only a civilian energy programme.

"War on Terror" now rebranded as "The Long War"

Deep in the bowels of the Pentagon, some of the country's finest military minds met recently, synthesizing ideas, debating proposals and trading strategies.

Their goal — a rebranding for the history books.
When they emerged, they had completed their semantic sleight-of-hand.

They had simply changed wars, consigning the "War on Terror" to the recycling bin and launching "The Long War."
In a George W. Bush White House well-schooled in the art of propaganda, an administration re-elected for its steely determination to stay on message, renaming a war is a new triumph of marketing.
"The War on Terror brand had gone sour," says Christopher Simpson, an expert on political communications at Washington's American University.
"It connoted abuse of power, an indiscriminate use of violence as much by the U.S. as its opponents; it barely had the support of 50 per cent of Americans and was opposed by a large percentage of the international population.
"So you rebrand. You rename to try to get rid of the past perceptions. You find a new bumper sticker."
U.S. analysts and government officials this week point to the rebranding as another attempt to gird a skeptical public for an ongoing, generational commitment of troops at war, a bid to try to revive and augment international co-operation with Washington and a way of justifying ever-expanding presidential powers under Bush.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

CIA chief fired for opposing torture

The CIA’s top counter-terrorism official was fired last week because he opposed detaining Al-Qaeda suspects in secret prisons abroad, sending them to other countries for interrogation and using forms of torture such as “water boarding”, intelligence sources have claimed.
Robert Grenier, head of the CIA counter-terrorism centre, was relieved of his post after a year in the job. One intelligence official said he was “not quite as aggressive as he might have been” in pursuing Al-Qaeda leaders and networks.
Vincent Cannistraro, a former head of counter-terrorism at the agency, said: “It is not that Grenier wasn’t aggressive enough, it is that he wasn’t ‘with the programme’. He expressed misgivings about the secret prisons in Europe and the rendition of terrorists.”

Senators: Cheney Should Be Probed in Leak

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald should investigate Vice President Dick Cheney and others in the CIA leak probe if they authorized an aide to give secret information to reporters, Democratic and Republican senators said Sunday.
Sen. Jack Reed (news, bio, voting record), D-R.I., called the leak of intelligence information "inappropriate" if it is true that unnamed "superiors" instructed Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, to divulge the material on Iraq.
Sen. George Allen (news, bio, voting record), R-Va., said a full investigation is necessary.
"I don't think anybody should be releasing classified information, period, whether in the Congress, executive branch or some underling in some bureaucracy," said Allen, who appeared with Reed on "Fox News Sunday."

Noam Chomsky - BBC Interview

A fragmentary, but clear, summary of Chomsky's thoughts.
Personally, there is only so much Chomsky I can take.
This, though, is a very good intro to some of the vital things he has to say.

Multi-Touch Interaction Experiments