Saturday, February 25, 2006

BoingBoing now censored in the UAE (and elsewhere)

An anonymous BoingBoing reader in the United Arab Emirates says,

And its finally happened... I knew the day was not far.... :(
The sole ISP in this country, which happens to be owned by the government has blocked Apparently boingboing is disseminating information that is " inconsistent with the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the United Arab Emirates. " See attached/hotlinked screenshot.
Please email me so if you post this on boingboing, so I can VPN to the office back home and read about this on boingboing... Till then I guess am stuck with which am sure is next. :(
PS - Please remove all personally identifiable information from the screenshot, cause I don't want to end up in jail. Yes they do put people in jail for attempting/bypassing their proxy.

Link to full-size screenshot.
They're pretty good at controlling internet ports. As a reminder, they appear destined to control America's physical ports as well.
Earlier this week, many dozens of readers emailed to inform us that BoingBoing had suddenly become no longer viewable at their place of employment -- government sites and corporate sites around the world. We understand that this is due to the fact that the makers of the SmartFilter software, which is used by governments and private sector customers, just added BoingBoing to a category occupied mostly by porn sites. We have contacted Secure Computing, the makers of Smartfilter and are attempting to help them correct their error. We will post an update on BoingBoing soon.

Florida cops threaten people who ask for complaint forms

A CBS undercover reporting team went into 38 police stations in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties in Florida, asking for a set of forms they could use to complain about inappropriate police behavior. In all but three of the stations, the police refused to give them forms. Some of the cops threatened them (on hidden camera, no less) -- one of them even touched his gun.

officer: Where do you live? Where do you live? You have to tell me where you live, what your name is, or anything like that.
tester: For a complaint? I mean, like, if I have --
officer: Are you on medications?
tester: Why would you ask me something like that?
officer: Because you're not answering any of my questions.
tester: Am I on medications?
officer: I asked you. It's a free country. I can ask you that.
tester: Okay, you're right.
officer: So you're not going to tell me who you are, you're not going to tell me what the problem is.You're not going to identify yourself.
tester: All I asked you was, like, how do I contact --
officer: You said you have a complaint. You say my officers are acting in an inappropriate manner.
officer: So leave now. Leave now. Leave now.

Judge Rules Pentagon Must Release Guantanomo Names to AP

A federal judge ordered the Pentagon on Thursday to release the identities of hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo Bay to The Associated Press, a move which would force the government to break its secrecy and reveal the most comprehensive list yet of those who have been imprisoned there.
Some of the hundreds of detainees in the war on terror being held at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been held as long as four years. Only a handful have been officially identified.
U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff in New York ordered the Defense Department to release uncensored transcripts of detainee hearings, which contain the names of detainees in custody and those who have been held and later released. Previously released documents have had identities and other details blacked out.
The judge ordered the government to hand over the documents by March 3 after the Defense Department said Wednesday it would not appeal his earlier ruling in the lawsuit filed by the AP.

US Christian Leaders Apologize For Iraq War

Christian leaders from the United States lamented the war in Iraq and apologized for their government's current foreign policy during the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Porto Alegre, Brazil, which ended Thursday.
"We lament with special anguish the war in Iraq, launched in deception and violating global norms of justice and human rights," the Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, the moderator of the U.S. Conference for the WCC, told fellow delegates from around the world.
Kishkovsky is the rector of Our Lady of Kazan Church in Sea Cliff, New York, and is an officer in the Orthodox Church of America.
Taking an unusual stand among U.S. Christian leaders, the United States Conference for the World Council of Churches (WCC) criticized Pres. George W. Bush's actions in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"We are citizens of a nation that has done much in these years to endanger the human family and to abuse the creation," says the statement endorsed by the most prominent Protestant Christian churches on the Council.


"Information wants to be valuable" - Larry Wall
Slashdoc is the place to put all the documents you have sitting on your computer that you think are useless. Those include old school papers, essays, and research projects. Or once which are valuable but are not getting enough exposure. Those may be your resume, poetry or creative writing. Anything goes! We will accept anything as long as it's not illegal, of adult nature, or blatant spam.
We use the latest technology to make sure your documents are submitted to the major search engines giving you the most exposure possible. Everything is completely free, and you maintain copyright to your work. Next time somebody types in your name into Google, make sure they see your best work.

National Archives Provide Footage for Google Video

The National Archives of the United States and Google have announced a pilot project to digitize historic films and make them available via Google Video for free. The project's initial offering of 101 films include NASA documentaries on the spaceflight program, samples of United Newsreels from World War II, and early films from the Department of the Interior highlighting public works such as the construction of the Hoover Dam and the work of the National Park Service. Also of note is the earliest film in the National Archives holdings, an odd compilation circa 1894 containing Carmencita's Spanish Dance, boats being pulled upstream, people crossing a bridge, and Japanese women playing stringed instruments (on silent film, of course...) last link is direct to video, 2 minutes 46 seconds in duration [from]

250 Emails from Cheney's Office Revealed in Plame Leak

The White House turned over last week 250 pages of emails from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office. Senior aides had sent the emails in the spring of 2003 related to the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald revealed during a federal court hearing Friday.
The emails are said to be explosive, and may prove that Cheney played an active role in the effort to discredit Plame Wilson’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a vocal critic of the Bush administration’s prewar Iraq intelligence, sources close to the investigation said.
Sources close to the probe said the White House “discovered” the emails two weeks ago and turned them over to Fitzgerald last week. The sources added that the emails could prove that Cheney lied to FBI investigators when he was interviewed about the leak in early 2004. Cheney said that he was unaware of any effort to discredit Wilson or unmask his wife’s undercover status to reporters.
Cheney was not under oath when he was interviewed. He told investigators how the White House came to rely on Niger documents that purportedly showed that Iraq had tried to purchase uranium from the African country.
Cheney said he had received an intelligence briefing on the allegations in late December 2003, or early January 2004, and had asked the CIA for more information about the issue.
Cheney said he was unaware that Ambassador Wilson was chosen to travel to Niger to look into the uranium claims, and that he never saw a report Wilson had given a CIA analyst upon his return which stated that the Niger claims were untrue. He said the CIA never told him about Wilson's trip.
However, the emails say otherwise, and will show that the vice president spearheaded an effort in March 2003 to attack Wilson’s credibility and used the CIA to dig up information on the former ambassador that could be used against him, sources said.

Friday, February 24, 2006

A Code of Ethics for Visual Journalism

SND [Society for News Design] is drafting a code of ethics for visual journalism, and we want to hear from you. Review the draft code below and then send us your comments. If we can publish your comments, please sign your e-mail with your name and e-mail address.
Former SND president Bill Gaspard is coordinating the responses and asks that your comments and feedback be sent to:

The Society for News Design's Proposed Code of Ethical Standards
Preamble: As members of the Society for News Design, we have an obligation to promote the highest ethical standards for visual journalism -- for all journalism -- as they apply to the values of accuracy, fairness, honesty, inclusiveness, and courage.

Coverage at PoynterOnline

Fllow-Up: "Google censoring Iraq videos in US" rumor debunked

Google is not censoring these videos. A spokesperson at Google tells Boing Boing:
Video uploaders, using Google Video's 'Advanced Options' feature, can choose to blacklist countries. In this case the uploader blacklisted the US and only the US. When uploading the video the content owner set a preference not to show this content to users in the US.
Further investigation by BB confirmed that this was the case -- the person who uploaded this video, not Google, chose to block US viewers.

Embed Who Ran Afoul of Military in Iraq This Month Reflects on His Experience, And War Coverage Today

Racism Continues at Polls

Unfair tactics and confusing rules still make it tough for many minorities to cast election ballots, and the barriers are so common that the federal safeguards for voters must be renewed, a detailed new report from a civil rights group said.
"Protecting Minority Voters: The Voting Rights Act, 1982-2005" pulls together research and testimony from voters around the country to urge lawmakers to renew the parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that will expire in August 2007.
"The past and the present look a whole lot alike in the prevalence of racial discrimination in voting," said Barbara Arnwine, director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which spearheaded the project. "It was shocking to . . . not only see the continuing reality of racial discrimination in voting but to see how pervasive these problems are nationwide."

Film Shows Treatment of Gitmo Prisoners

An award-winning film director who reconstructed scenes of torture and abuse at Guantanamo Bay has called for the immediate closure of the US-run camp.
Michael Winterbottom's film shows prisoners in orange jumpsuits beaten, manacled to floors and subjected to defeaning music in solitary confinement. It tells the story of Asif Iqbal, Ruhel Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul, the so-called Tipton Three, who set off for Pakistan in September 2001 and ended up in Camp Delta, in Cuba's Guantanamo Bay. They were released without char-ge after more than two years' imprisonment.
Mr Winterbottom said: "What's most shocking isn't the torture or the shackling, it's that Guantanamo Bay exists at all. I think it should be closed down, and last week the United Nations said it should be closed down."
He criticised the Government's "perverse" refusal to come to the aid of the eight British residents still incarcerated in the camp in Cuba. Mr Winterbottom added: "There are still 500 people in Guantanamo. They are still experiencing all the things that we filmed."

Three journalists face prison for revealing existence of secret CIA prisons in Europe

Reporters Without Borders has appealed to the Swiss justice and defence ministers to drop complaints against three journalists who revealed the existence of secret CIA prisons in Europe.
In letters to the federal councillors, Justice Minister Christoph Blocher and Defence Minister Samuel Schmid, it has pointed out that the journalists only fulfilled their duty to report on a case of public interest.
Zurich-based weekly SonntagsBlick on 8 January this year reproduced a fax from the Egyptian foreign minister to his embassy in London, referring to the existence of secret CIA detention centres in Kosovo, Macedonia, Ukraine, Rumania and Bulgaria.

Bush Pushing Cuts to Veterans' Health Care

The Bush administration wants many military retirees to pay more for health care, a proposal that could force the Republican-run Congress to choose between savvy politics and budget discipline.
Annual health care costs for the military have doubled to nearly $38 billion in the past five years, nearly one dollar of every $12 the Pentagon spends. The price tag is projected to soar to $64 billion by 2015.
To help contain those costs, President Bush's proposal includes higher prescription drug co-payments for all beneficiaries of military health care except those on active duty, and increased annual enrollment fees for military retirees under age 65.
If lawmakers want to follow Bush's lead and control spiraling health care expenditures, they will have to vote to boost costs for some of the nation's military families in a year in which the entire House and one-third of the Senate is up for re-election.

Blogger Bares Rumsfeld's Post 9/11 Orders

Hours after a commercial plane struck the Pentagon on September 11 2001 the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, was issuing rapid orders to his aides to look for evidence of Iraqi involvement, according to notes taken by one of them.
"Hard to get good case. Need to move swiftly," the notes say. "Near term target needs - go massive - sweep it all up, things related and not."

The handwritten notes, with some parts blanked out, were declassified this month in response to a request by a law student and blogger, Thad Anderson, under the US Freedom of Information Act. Anderson has posted them on his blog at

The Pentagon confirmed the notes had been taken by Stephen Cambone, now undersecretary of defence for intelligence and then a senior policy official. "His notes were fulfilling his role as a plans guy," said a spokesman, Greg Hicks.

NY Times Changes Wording on Iraq

The New York Times declared on its website early Friday in a headline that the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, had warned to U.S. was on the "precipice of full-scale civil war." Their headline? "U.S. Envoy in Baghdad Says Iraq Is on Brink of Civil War."
Within an hour and without explanation, the Times yanked the headline in favor of "U.S. Envoy Says Sectarian Violence Threatens Iraq's Future."
Originally, their lead paragraph had read: "The American ambassador to Iraq said Friday that the country was on the precipice of full-scale civil war, and that Iraqi leaders would have to come together and compromise if they wanted to save their homeland."
An hour later: "The American ambassador to Iraq said Friday that sectarian violence this week had endangered the future of Iraq, and that Iraqi leaders would have to come together and compromise if they wanted to save their homeland."
The current version of the story here.

NSA Data-Mining Two Years After Congress Shut TIA Down

A controversial counter-terrorism program, which lawmakers halted more than two years ago amid outcries from privacy advocates, was stopped in name only and has quietly continued within the intelligence agency now fending off charges that it has violated the privacy of U.S. citizens.
Research under the Defense Department's Total Information Awareness program -- which developed technologies to predict terrorist attacks by mining government databases and the personal records of people in the United States -- was moved from the Pentagon's research-and-development agency to another group, which builds technologies primarily for the National Security Agency, according to documents obtained by National Journal and to intelligence sources familiar with the move. The names of key projects were changed, apparently to conceal their identities, but their funding remained intact, often under the same contracts.
It is no secret that some parts of TIA lived on behind the veil of the classified intelligence budget. However, the projects that moved, their new code names, and the agencies that took them over haven't previously been disclosed. Sources aware of the transfers declined to speak on the record for this story because, they said, the identities of the specific programs are classified.

Morrissey Questioned by the FBI

The former Smiths lead singer was interviewed and taped. The FBI was apparently trying to determine if he was a threat to the government. [from]

Singer MORRISSEY was quizzed by the FBI and British intelligence after speaking out against the American and British governments.
The Brit is a famous critic of the US-led war in Iraq and has dubbed President GEORGE W BUSH a "terrorist" - but he was baffled to be hauled in by authorities.
Morrissey explains, "The FBI and the Special Branch have investigated me and I've been interviewed and taped and so forth.
"They were trying to determine if I was a threat to the government, and similarly in England. But it didn't take them very long to realise that I'm not.
"I don't belong to any political groups, I don't really say anything unless I'm asked directly and I don't even demonstrate in public. I always assume that so-called authoritarian figures just assume that pop/rock music is slightly insane and an untouchable platform for the working classes to stand up and say something noticeable.
"My view is that neither England or America are democratic societies. You can't really speak your mind and if you do you're investigated."

Odd Light Burst May Anticipate Supernova

Astronomers have detected a new type of cosmic outburst that they can't yet explain. The event was very close to our galaxy, they said.
The eruption might portend an even brighter event to come, a supernova.
It was spotted by NASA's Swift telescope and is being monitored by other telescopes around the world as scientists wait to see what will happen.
Neil Gehrels, principal investigator for the Swift mission at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, called the event "totally new, totally unexpected."
If the eruption indeed precedes a supernova, then it would reach peak brightness in about a week, scientists said.

Black Box Voting Analyzes Nov 2004 Votes in Palm Beach County, FL

The internal logs of at least 40 Sequoia touch-screen voting machines reveal that votes were time and date-stamped as cast two weeks before the election, sometimes in the middle of the night.
Black Box Voting successfully sued former Palm Beach County (FL) Supervisor of Elections Theresa LePore to get the audit records for the 2004 presidential election.
After investing over $7,000 and waiting nine months for the records, Black Box Voting discovered that the voting machine logs contained approximately 100,000 errors. According to voting machine assignment logs, Palm Beach County used 4,313 machines in the Nov. 2004 election. During election day, 1,475 voting system calibrations were performed while the polls were open, providing documentation to substantiate reports from citizens indicating the wrong candidate was selected when they tried to vote.
Another disturbing find was several dozen voting machines with votes for the Nov. 2, 2004 election cast on dates like Oct. 16, 15, 19, 13, 25, 28 2004 and one tape dated in 2010. These machines did not contain any votes date-stamped on Nov. 2, 2004.
You can find the complete set of raw voting machine event logs for Palm Beach County here:
Note that some items were not provided to us and are ommitted from the logs.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ray C. Anderson

Ray Anderson is founder and Chairman for Interface, a multi-billion-dollar carpet maker. In the mid-90's Anderson read a book entitled "The Ecology of Commerce," which changed the course of his life and his company.
I read on and was dumbfounded by how much I did not know about the environment, and the impacts of the industrial system on the environment—the industrial system of which I and my “successful” company were an integral part. A new definition of success burst into my consciousness, and the latent sense of legacy asserted itself. I got it. I was a plunderer of Earth, and that is not the legacy one wants to leave behind.
...For nearly 11 years, now, we have been on this mission; we call it, “climbing Mt. Sustainability”, a mountain higher than Everest, to meet at that point at the top that symbolizes zero footprint—zero environmental impact. Sustainable: taking nothing, doing no harm. I have told that story in far greater detail in the book I published in 1998, entitled “Mid-Course Correction”. Its title is intended to represent my own personal mid-course correction, my company’s, and the one I would wish for humankind. And especially its industrial system. And especially its industrial system, and a component of it that is dear to many of us: the built environment.

Speech delivered at the World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax on June 23, 2005
Ray Anderson is featured heavily in the DVD for "The Corporation."
Some regard him as a hero.

New Documents Provide Further Evidence That Senior Officials Approved Abuse of Prisoners at Guantánamo

The American Civil Liberties Union today released newly obtained documents showing that senior Defense Department officials approved aggressive interrogation techniques that Federal Bureau of Investigation agents deemed abusive, ineffective and unlawful.
“We now possess overwhelming evidence that political and military leaders endorsed interrogation methods that violate both domestic and international law,” said Jameel Jaffer, an attorney with the ACLU. “It is entirely unacceptable that no senior official has been held accountable.”
Included in today’s release is a memorandum prepared by FBI personnel on May 30, 2003, which supplies a detailed discussion of tensions between FBI and Defense Department personnel stationed at Guantánamo in late 2002. According to the memo, Defense Department interrogators were encouraged by their superiors to “use aggressive interrogation tactics” that FBI agents believed were “of questionable effectiveness and subject to uncertain interpretation based on law and regulation.” The May 2003 memo specifically names Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, who was then Commander of Joint Task Force-Guantánamo, as having favored interrogation methods that FBI agents believed “could easily result in the elicitation of unreliable and legally inadmissible information.” The memo states that FBI personnel brought their concerns to the attention of senior Defense Department personnel but that their concerns were brushed aside.

Could this be the end of Roe v Wade?

The South Dakota legislators who have approved a bill all but outlawing abortions in the sparsely populated state have loftier aims - an end to the Supreme Court ruling which made terminations legal across America more than 30 years ago.
They hope to provoke pro-choice groups into launching a series of challenges to the law which will ultimately end in the nation's top court, home to two new conservative Bush appointees.

'Big Brother' Watching E-mail, Computer Data

Modern consumers live in an age when web based e-mails pileup on services like Microsoft's Hotmail and Google's Gmail, and all kinds of files from personal photos to bank, medical and travel records are stored online.
Few computer users realise however, that web based e-mail is subject to much weaker protections than messages stored on home computers.
While the government needs a warrant, issued by a judge, to search someone's home computer, it can access a person's webmail account with only a subpoena, issued without judicial review.
In another example, the ubiquitous cellphone makes communication on the move easy -- but it has a downside, in that it can be used theoretically by government agencies to pinpoint an individual's location.
There are no existing laws laying out explicit standards for government location tracking, so official use of such technology is only controlled by an inadequate patchwork of laws and precedents, the report said.


Tucked away inside the U.S. EPA’s docket on PFOA, a chemical manufactured by DuPont, is a 5-page letter written in April 2003 by the Weinberg Group, an international scientific consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. The letter is addressed to DuPont’s vice president of special initiatives, Jane Brooks, and lays out a proposal for how the Weinberg Group can help the company deal with a growing regulatory and legal crisis over PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid). PFOA is a common building block of the perfluorocarbon family of chemicals, which are renowned for their water and stain resistance. PFOA is the compound used to make Teflon and was once used in other products such as Stainmaster and Gore-Tex.
“The constant theme which permeates our recommendations on the issues faced by DuPont is that DUPONT MUST SHAPE THE DEBATE AT ALL LEVELS,” states the letter (emphasis in original). For 23 years, the letter continues, the Weinberg Group “has helped numerous companies manage issues allegedly related to environmental exposures. Beginning with Agent Orange in 1983, we have successfully guided clients through myriad regulatory, litigation and public relations challenges posed by those whose agenda is to grossly over regulate, extract settlements from, or otherwise damage the chemical manufacturing industry.”

Obscure US intelligence agency assessed ports deal

A deal that allows an Arab-owned company in Dubai to manage six major U.S. ports was scrutinized for security risks by an obscure intelligence agency that has existed for only four months, American officials said on Wednesday.
The Intelligence Community Acquisition Risk Centre, or CARC, overseen by the office of intelligence chief John Negroponte, was asked by the government committee that vets foreign investments in the United States to look into the ports deal soon after it came to its attention in early November.

Christian Movement Moving Into S. Carolina

With a decisive majority, Burnell says, his group would be able to pass laws that line up with their biblical principles and their interpretation of the U.S. Constitution - laws that include outlawing abortion and homosexual relations, allowing governmental displays of Christian symbols and ending state-funded education.
Considering the size of the exodus so far - only about 20 people have moved to the Palmetto State, most of them in the past year - Burnell's optimism might seem quixotic.

Quantum Computers that Work when Turned Off

The idea behind the feat, first proposed in 1998, is to put a quantum computer into a “superposition”, a state in which it is both running and not running. It is as if you asked Schrödinger's cat to hit "Run".
With the right set-up, the theory suggested, the computer would sometimes get an answer out of the computer even though the program did not run. And now researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have improved on the original design and built a non-running quantum computer that really works.
They send a photon into a system of mirrors and other optical devices, which included a set of components that run a simple database search by changing the properties of the photon.
The new design includes a quantum trick called the Zeno effect. Repeated measurements stop the photon from entering the actual program, but allow its quantum nature to flirt with the program's components - so it can become gradually altered even though it never actually passes through.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

CREW Files Ethics Complaint Against Sen. Santorum

Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee alleging that Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) violated the Senate Gift Rule by accepting a mortgage from The Philadelphia Trust Company, a bank that serves affluent clients.
CREW based its complaint on a story by Will Bunch that first appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News on February 21, 2006. According to the article, in 2002, Sen. Santorum and his wife received a $500,000 five-year mortgage for their Leesburg, VA home from Philadelphia Trust. The bank’s web site states that “banking services are available only to investment advisory clients whose portfolios we manage, oversee or administer.” The Daily News reporter called the bank, which confirmed that it offers mortgages only to investors and not to the general public.
Sen. Santorum’s financial disclosure forms for 2001 and 2002 show no investment portfolio with Philadelphia Trust. Moreover, in 2002, the year Sen. Santorum obtained the mortgage, his financial disclosure forms indicate that his investments did not exceed $145,000.

AOL, Yahoo and Goodmail: Taxing Your Email for Fun and Profit

RightMarch and MoveOn agree: Don't charge for email!
From EFF:

Remember the famous email rumor that made the rounds in the 1990s: "Congress is trying to tax your Internet connection, write in now!"
Well what wasn't true in the 1990s is apparently coming true in 2006, only the beneficiaries won't be Uncle Sam -- it will be Yahoo, AOL, and a company ironically called Goodmail. Yahoo and AOL have announced that they will guarantee access to your email inbox for email senders who pay $.0025 per message. They will override their own spam filters and webbug-strippers, and deliver the mail directly with a "certified" notice. In the process, they will treat more of your email as spam, and email you're expecting won't be delivered.
The justification is that if people have to pay to send email, they won't send junk email. Apparently AOL and Yahoo believe that if we "tax" speech then only desirable speech happens. We all know how well that works for postal mail -- that's why no one gets any "free" AOL starter disks, right?
More seriously, as we discuss below, this isn't really an anti-spam measure as much as a "pay to speak" email measure, and it won't end spam or phishing. Prominent anti-spammer Richard Cox of Spamhaus agrees: "an e-mail charge will destroy the spirit of the Internet."

Schopenhauer and Unconscious Thought

"Contrary to conventional wisdom, it is not always advantageous to engage in thorough conscious deliberation before choosing," according to a paper published in the latest issue of Science magazine.
Unconscious thought, defined as "thought or deliberation in the absence of conscious attention directed at the problem," can sometimes yield superior results, University of Amsterdam psychologists found. And they suggest that the same effect can be "generalize[d] to other types of choices -- political, managerial, or otherwise."
See "On Making the Right Choice: The Deliberation-Without-Attention Effect" by Ap Dijksterhuis, et al, Science, vol. 311, 17 February 2006 (free abstract).
So does that mean that the processes of political deliberation should be restructured to place greater emphasis on intuition and "hunches"? Not exactly.
The strengths and limits of "unconscious thought" were considered by author Sue Halpern in a review of Malcolm Gladwell's book "Blink" in the New York Review of Books (April 28, 2005).
..."Schopenhauer argued at length, and with a psychological insight which was altogether unprecedented, that empirical evidence points to the conclusion not only that most of our thoughts and feelings are unknown to us but that the reason for this is a process of repression which is itself unconscious," wrote Bryan Magee in his magnificent "The Philosophy of Schopenhauer" (Oxford, rev. 1997).

Metropolis on Internet Archive

First M, now Metropolis, one of Fritz Lang's other masterpieces, is available for download on Internet Archive.
As Bibi says, other formats are available at the Public Domain Movies. Related: Metropolis poster fetches record.

Another Inexplicable Silence on Guantanamo

When the UN Human Rights Commission last Thursday released its report on the conditions at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, alleging that "torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" was taking place and that the camp should be shut down, the news was met with a chorus of yawns.

The Onion: White House Had Prior Knowledge Of Cheney Threat

Aug. 2005 Briefing Warned, 'Cheney Determined To Shoot Old Man In Face'
Government documents declassified today reveal that President Bush was briefed last summer of "a substantial risk" that Vice President Dick Cheney would shoot an elderly male in the face sometime in the next several months.

Federal Wildlife Monitors Oversee a Boom in Drilling

The Bureau of Land Management, caretaker of more land and wildlife than any federal agency, routinely restricts the ability of its own biologists to monitor wildlife damage caused by surging energy drilling on federal land, according to BLM officials and bureau documents.
The officials and documents say that by keeping many wildlife biologists out of the field doing paperwork on new drilling permits and that by diverting agency money intended for wildlife conservation to energy programs, the BLM has compromised its ability to deal with the environmental consequences of the drilling boom it is encouraging on public lands.

Earth Population to Hit 6.5 Billion on Saturday

The planet's population is projected to reach 6.5 billion at 7:16 p.m. EST Saturday, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and its World Population Clock.
The clock, which operates continuously, estimates that each second 4.1 people are born and 1.8 people die. The clock figures are estimates, subject to error, given the difficulties of maintaining an accurate global population count.

98 Detainee Deaths

Of the 98 deaths, at least 34 were suspected or confirmed homicides, the programme said.
The Pentagon told Newsnight it had not seen the report but took allegations of maltreatment "very seriously" and would prosecute if necessary.
The report, which is to be published on Wednesday, draws on information from Pentagon and other official US sources.
...It says another 11 cases have been deemed suspicious and that between eight and 12 prisoners were tortured to death.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Polk Award Winning Article: U.S. cash fuels human trade

American tax dollars and the wartime needs of the U.S. military are fueling an illicit pipeline of cheap foreign labor, mainly impoverished Asians who often are deceived, exploited and put in harm's way in Iraq with little protection.
The U.S. has long condemned the practices that characterize this human trade as it operates elsewhere in the Middle East. Yet this very system is now part of the privatization of the American war effort and is central to the operations of Halliburton subsidiary KBR, the U.S. military's biggest private contractor in Iraq.
To document this system, the Tribune retraced the journey of 12 Nepalese men kidnapped last year from an unprotected convoy en route to an American military base in Iraq. The Tribune's reporting found that:
  • To maintain the flow of low-paid workers key to military support and reconstruction in Iraq, the U.S. military has allowed KBR to partner with subcontractors that hire laborers from Nepal and other countries that prohibit citizens from being deployed in Iraq. That means brokers recruiting such workers operate illicitly.
  • The U.S. military and KBR assume no responsibility for the recruitment, transportation or protection of foreign workers brought to the country. KBR leaves every aspect of hiring and deployment in the hands of its subcontractors. Those subcontractors often turn to job brokers dealing in menial laborers.
  • Working in tandem with counterparts in the Middle East, the brokers in South and Southeast Asia recruit workers from some of the world's most remote areas. They lure laborers to Iraq with false promises of lucrative, safe jobs in nations such as Jordan and Kuwait, even falsifying documents to complete the deception.
  • Even after foreign workers discover they have been lured under false pretenses, many say they have little choice but to continue into Iraq or stay longer than planned. They feel trapped because they must repay brokers' huge fees.
  • Some U.S. subcontractors in Iraq--and the brokers feeding them--employ practices condemned by the U.S. elsewhere, including fraud, coercion and seizure of workers' passports.
The State Department has long expressed concerns about the treatment of foreign workers in the same Middle Eastern nations the U.S. relies on to supply labor for bases in Iraq. In June, the department added four of these nations--Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates--to the top tier of its human trafficking watch list for not undertaking "significant efforts to combat forced labor trafficking." [more]

Rumsfeld Calls for Global Propaganda Network

In a speech to the Council of Foreign Relations, Mr Rumsfeld said some of the US' most critical battles were now in the "newsrooms".
"Our enemies have skilfully adapted to fighting wars in today's media age, but... our country has not," he said.
Mr Rumsfeld said al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremists were bombarding Muslims with negative images of the West, which had poisoned the public view of the US.
The US must fight back by operating a more effective, 24-hour propaganda machine, or risk a "dangerous deficiency," he said.

A Scanner Darkly

Here is the new trailer for A Scanner Darkly, Richard Linklater's adaptation of the surreal SF novel by Philip K. Dick. Coming July 7. Seen here, Bob Arctor removes the scramble suit that hides his identity by constantly flickering through visual characteristics of other people. Very trippy. Link to Quicktime file. [from]
Animation technique from "Waking Life." Cast: Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., Winona Ryder, Woody Harrelson

Cato Institute: Comments on NSA domestic surveillance program

Robert Levy, senior fellow in constitutional studies:
"President Bush has authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop, without obtaining a warrant, on telephone calls, emails, and certain other communications between Americans in the United States and persons outside of the United States. He argues that, but for his ability to order such surveillance, he would be severely handicapped in the war on terror. That's plainly an overstatement. First, the president has expansive power outside the United States. Second, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the PATRIOT Act, and other statutes have given him broad leeway within the United States. Third, he has considerable, although not plenary, inherent authority under his power as commander-in-chief. But if Congress has exercised its own authority and expressly prohibited what the president has undertaken, the president’s is bound by the duly enacted statute.
"Attorney General Alberto Gonzales asserts that the president's authority rests on the post-911 Authorization for Use of Military Force and the Commander-in-Chief Clause in Article II of the Constitution. But nothing in the AUMF even mentions wiretaps; it covers the use of force. And the administration’s reliance on the AUMF is contrary to an explicit ban in the FISA statute. Congress, in passing the AUMF, surely did not intend to make compliance with FISA optional. Nor did the 98 senators who authorized force against al Qaeda believe that they were also voting for warrantless domestic surveillance.
"Intercepting enemy communications on the battlefield is clearly an incident of the president’s commander-in-chief power. But warrantless wiretapping of Americans inside the United States who may have nothing to do with Al Qaeda does not qualify as incidental wartime authority. The president’s war powers are broad, but not boundless. The executive branch cannot unilaterally set the rules, execute the rules, and eliminate court review."

Jim Harper, director of information policy studies:
"Dozens and dozens of dangers to Americans' life and health come before terrorism. For the average American, the chance of dying in a terrorist attack is essentially nil. Yet many Americans speak of 'the terrorists' as if they are among us in every mall and on every plane. Some blame for the ongoing fear goes to the unfortunate rhetoric the Bush Administration uses to defend the NSA's domestic surveillance program.
"There is no doubt that the Bush Administration is committed to fighting terrorists. And fair-minded people do not doubt the good faith or intentions of the White House. But domestically, at least, terrorism is not so much the locus of a 'war' as a challenging, but soluble, security dilemma.
"The scope of the Executive power, the meaning of the Authorization for Use of Military Force, and the Fourth Amendment reasonableness of surveillance without a warrant all turn on the Administration's premise that we are in a war on terror. Releasing information about the risk of terrorist attack would allow the Congress and the American people to weigh these arguments intelligently, and perhaps even participate in the protection of their country.
"Yet the Administration holds out secrecy as the cardinal virtue in anti-terrorism efforts. The Administration can not maintain credible arguments in favor of its power while withholding information about the current risk of a domestic terrorist attack."

Timothy Lynch, director of the Project on Criminal Justice:
"The legality of the NSA surveillance program is an important question, but an even more important matter is whether President Bush has made still other decisions, in secret, that will allow the police and military to bypass other laws enacted by the Congress. It is noteworthy that Attorney General Gonzales has declined to answer that fundamental question. The Attorney General's silence is troubling because the White House seems to want to revise or ignore certain laws and then avoid congressional oversight and judicial review of its actions."

W aides' biz ties to Arab firm

The Dubai firm that won Bush administration backing to run six U.S. ports has at least two ties to the White House.
One is Treasury Secretary John Snow, whose agency heads the federal panel that signed off on the $6.8 billion sale of an English company to government-owned Dubai Ports World - giving it control of Manhattan's cruise ship terminal and Newark's container port.
Snow was chairman of the CSX rail firm that sold its own international port operations to DP World for $1.15 billion in 2004, the year after Snow left for President Bush's cabinet.
The other connection is David Sanborn, who runs DP World's European and Latin American operations and was tapped by Bush last month to head the U.S. Maritime Administration.
The ties raised more concerns about the decision to give port control to a company owned by a nation linked to the 9/11 hijackers.

U.S. Still Planting Stories in Iraq Media

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was mistaken when he said last week that the U.S. military had stopped the controversial practice of paying to plant stories in the Iraqi news media, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday.
Bryan Whitman, a senior spokesman, said Rumsfeld had been incorrect in saying during an TV interview Friday that the practice had been halted in the wake of negative publicity in the United States. Rumsfeld made a similar assertion during a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations that same day.
Whitman noted that Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, has said he saw no reason to stop the practice.

Emergency war supplemental hides millions marked for military bases

Buried in last week's $72.4 billion emergency supplemental appropriation bill for the war on terror is nearly half a billion dollars worth of military construction.
The bulk of the $485 million requested will go "to fund various military construction projects to support U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan," according to the supplemental. "The requested funds," the document goes on, "will provide force protection measures, enhanced airfield operations and safety, power distribution, water treatment and distribution infrastructure, operational facilities and improved logistics, and associated planning and design efforts."

Calculating Poverty in U.S. Fuels Debate

Every year, the Census Bureau uses a 40-year-old formula to determine how many poor people there are in America, a method that many experts think was outdated years ago.
The Census Bureau acknowledges the issue by also announcing alternative poverty rates based on different measurements of income and poverty. This approach has fueled an academic and political debate, but has yet to produce policy changes.
In August, the bureau announced that 12.7 percent of Americans lived in poverty in 2004, making it the official poverty rate. Last week, the bureau said the rate might be as high as 19.4 percent, or as low as 8.3 percent, depending on how income and basic living costs were defined.
One outside analyst said he could cut the poverty rate in half using census data and a pocket calculator. But his exercise would change only the definition of poverty. It wouldn't make anyone richer.
"I know virtually no one who thinks the current poverty line is an accurate measure of poverty," said Rebecca Blank, co-director of the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan.

Drives to Ban Gay Adoption Heat Up for Election

Efforts to ban gays and lesbians from adopting children are emerging across the USA as a second front in the culture wars that began during the 2004 elections over same-sex marriage.
Steps to pass laws or secure November ballot initiatives are underway in at least 16 states, adoption, gay rights and conservative groups say. Some — such as Ohio, Georgia and Kentucky — approved constitutional amendments in 2004 banning gay marriage.
“Now that we've defined what marriage is, we need to take that further and say children deserve to be in that relationship,” says Greg Quinlan of Ohio's Pro-Family Network, a conservative Christian group.

US Quietly Classifying Historical Documents

In a seven-year-old secret program at the National Archives, intelligence agencies have been removing from public access thousands of historical documents that were available for years, including some already published by the State Department and others photocopied years ago by private historians.
The restoration of classified status to more than 55,000 previously declassified pages began in 1999, when the Central Intelligence Agency and five other agencies objected to what they saw as a hasty release of sensitive information after a 1995 declassification order signed by President Bill Clinton. It accelerated after the Bush administration took office and especially after the 2001 terrorist attacks, according to archives records.
But because the reclassification program is itself shrouded in secrecy — governed by a still-classified memorandum that prohibits the National Archives even from saying which agencies are involved — it continued virtually without outside notice until December. That was when an intelligence historian, Matthew M. Aid, noticed that dozens of documents he had copied years ago had been withdrawn from the archives' open shelves.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The #1 Song in the US on any Date (from 1940 on)

Billboard magazine has been publishing the most authoritative pop chart each and every week since 1940. It started out as a list of the best-selling records in the country. In 1958, the "Hot 100" chart was born, incorporating sales and radio airplay data into a single chart.
What was the #1 song in the U.S.A. the day you were born? The day you graduated from high school? The day you were married? Oh, don't be shy ... how about the approximate date you were conceived? Select a month to continue.

US military planes criss-cross Europe using bogus call sign

The American military have been operating flights across Europe using a call sign assigned to a civilian airline that they have no legal right to use.
Not only is the call sign bogus — according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) — so, it appears, are some of the aircraft details the Americans have filed with the air traffic control authorities.
In at least one case, a plane identified with the CIA practice of “extraordinary rendition” — transporting terrorist suspects — left a US air base just after the arrival of an aircraft using the bogus call sign.
The call sign Juliet Golf Oscar (JGO) followed by a flight number belongs, says the ICAO, to a now bankrupt Canadian low-cost airline called Jetsgo of Montreal.

New Kind of Star Found

An international team of astronomers has discovered a new class of stars--massively compressed old neutron stars that seem inactive but for intermittent bursts of radio waves. Dubbing them rotating radio transients (RRATs), the researchers note that their isolated outbursts last for as few as two milliseconds and are separated by gaps as long as three hours.

How an internal effort to ban the abuse and torture of detainees was thwarted

The memo is a chronological account, submitted on July 7, 2004, to Vice Admiral Albert Church, who led a Pentagon investigation into abuses at the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. It reveals that Mora’s criticisms of Administration policy were unequivocal, wide-ranging, and persistent. Well before the exposure of prisoner abuse in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, in April, 2004, Mora warned his superiors at the Pentagon about the consequences of President Bush’s decision, in February, 2002, to circumvent the Geneva conventions, which prohibit both torture and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.” He argued that a refusal to outlaw cruelty toward U.S.-held terrorist suspects was an implicit invitation to abuse. Mora also challenged the legal framework that the Bush Administration has constructed to justify an expansion of executive power, in matters ranging from interrogations to wiretapping. He described as “unlawful,” “dangerous,” and “erroneous” novel legal theories granting the President the right to authorize abuse. Mora warned that these precepts could leave U.S. personnel open to criminal prosecution.

Randy "Duke" Cunningham's Confession

Excerpt: In this "bribe menu," the left column represented the millions in government contracts that could be "ordered" from Cunningham. The right column was the amount of the bribes that the contractor giving up his title to a boat ("BY) for which Coconspirator No. 2 had initially paid $140,000 ("140"). The next four rows indicate that an additional million dollars in funding was "for sale" in exchange for every additional $50,000 that Coconspirator No. 2 was willing to pay Cunningham. Once Coconspirator No. 2 had paid Cunningham $340,000 in bribes, the rates dropped; and, as the final five rows reflect, Cunningham would charge only $25,000 for each additional million dollars that was awarded in Congressman was demanding in exchange for the contracts.

US Church Alliance: Washington is 'Raining Down Terror' with Iraq War, Other Policies

A coalition of American churches sharply denounced the U.S.-led war in Iraq on Saturday, accusing Washington of "raining down terror" and apologizing to other countries for "the violence, degradation and poverty our nation has sown."
The statement, issued at the largest gathering of Christian churches in nearly a decade, also warned the United States was pushing the world toward environmental catastrophe with a "culture of consumption" and its refusal to back international accords seeking to battle global warming.
...The World Council of Churches includes more than 350 mainstream Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox churches; the Roman Catholic Church is not a member. The U.S. groups in the WCC include the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church, several Orthodox churches and Baptist denominations, among others.

At a Scientific Gathering, US Policies Are Lamented

David Baltimore, the Nobel Prize-winning biologist and president of the California Institute of Technology, is used to the Bush administration misrepresenting scientific findings to support its policy aims, he told an audience of fellow researchers Saturday. Each time it happens, he said, "I shrug and say, 'What do you expect?' "
But then, Dr. Baltimore went on, he began to read about the administration's embrace of the theory of the unitary executive, the idea that the executive branch has the power or even the obligation to act without restraint from Congress. And he began to see in a new light widely reported episodes of government scientists being restricted in what they could say in public.
"It's no accident that we are seeing such an extensive suppression of scientific freedom," he said. "It's part of the theory of government now, and it's a theory we need to vociferously oppose." Far from twisting science to suit its own goals, he said, the government should be "the guardian of intellectual freedom."
Dr. Baltimore spoke at a session here at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Though it was organized too late for inclusion in the overall meeting catalogue, the session drew hundreds of scientists who crowded a large meeting room and applauded enthusiastically as speakers denounced administration policies they said threatened not just sound science but also the nation's research pre-eminence.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Bullshit: The Patriot Act

Penn & Teller take on the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act

Kidnapped and tortured Canadian's lawsuit against U.S. dismissed by Federal Court

A U.S. federal court has dismissed a lawsuit against the Bush administration brought by Ottawa engineer Maher Arar, essentially giving Washington the green light to continue its practice of sending terrorist suspects to third countries where they could be tortured.
Brooklyn District Court Judge David Trager cited the need for national security and secrecy in making his decision, but also raised the possibility of Canadian complicity in the decision to send Arar, now 35, to Syria in 2002, where he was tortured for almost a year.

Woman Faces Charges for Saying "No" at Politcal Rally

"The word 'no' just came out of my mouth," Patterson recounted later. "I was at that moment visualizing women in different war scenes around the world screaming out for mercy. And I actually felt like my voice didn't come out, because nobody around me was reacting. That's when the men in black came up behind me and took me by the elbows."
A year and a half later, Patterson faces a charge of second-degree criminal trespass, which could carry a penalty of $500 and 30 days in jail. Municipal Court Judge Alan Leiman had moved to dismiss the charge in September 2005, but city prosecutor Mark Haight appealed the ruling. The county circuit court judge will hear the case on Feb. 16 and decide whether to send Patterson to trial.

Censorship-Free Internet for China?

Anonymizer® Inc., the leader in online identity protection technology and software solutions, today announced that the company is developing a new anti-censorship solution that will enable Chinese citizens to safely access the entire Internet filter-free, and also free from oppression and fear of persecution or retribution. This new program expands upon Anonymizer's history of human rights efforts which provide a censor-free Internet experience for those in oppressed nations.
Anonymizer's new anti-censorship solution for Chinese citizens will be available before quarter's end. The solution will provide a regularly changing URL that users can access to open the doors to unfettered access of the World Wide Web. In addition, users' identities will be protected from online tracking and monitoring by the Chinese government.

The Land of 10,770 Empty FEMA Trailers

After the Aug. 29 storm left thousands homeless on the Gulf Coast, officials in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama began calling for trailers to provide temporary shelter. More than 100,000 were requested, and somebody decided to create holding areas for the trailers outside the hurricane zone.
Today, legions of wide-bodied mobile homes sit empty at Hope's Municipal Airport, a sprawling former military base. After all these months, storm victims can't seem to get the trailers, which are proving a mixed blessing to Hope and Arkansas.
"It just boggles the mind in this day and time," said Mark Keith, director of the Hope-Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce. "There are 10,770 trailers at Hope Airport. That's one for every man, woman and child in Hope, with a few left over to send to Emmet, down the road."
On the plus side, new jobs have been created for security guards, maintenance workers and others for trailers that cover all but one of the airport's runways and spill onto adjacent land.

Syria switches to euro amid confrontation with US

Syria has switched all of the state's foreign currency transactions to euros from dollars amid a political confrontation with the United States, the head of state-owned Commercial Bank of Syria said on Monday.
"This is a precaution. We are talking about billions of dollars," Duraid Durgham told Reuters.
The bank, which still dominates the Syrian market although private banks have been allowed to set up in the last few years, has also stopped dealing with dollars in the international foreign exchange flows of private clients.

The fiefdom of Vernon, CA

In most cities, elections happen at least every four years. In Vernon, officeholders haven't faced opposition in a generation.
Twenty-five years after its elected officials last had a contested ballot, eight strangers took up residence in the tiny city four miles south of downtown Los Angeles. Last month, after just a few days in town, three of the newcomers filed petitions to run for City Council in the April 11 election.
Within days, city utility trucks had turned off their power. The building they shared was slapped with red tags by inspectors who said the property was "unsafe and dangerous" as a residence. Strobe lights flashed through their windows. They and some of their relatives were placed under surveillance. Shortly, city police and other officials drilled holes in the locks and evicted the would-be office-seekers.
Having deprived the interlopers of city residence, Vernon officials on Jan. 27 disqualified them from the ballot.
... Then the city fathers did the one thing that they almost always do every four years: They voted to cancel the election.
..."It's kind of a fiefdom," said Philip Reavis, 65, a former Vernon Chamber of Commerce president who ran for office in the city's last contested election — in 1980. "This place is a little anomaly that exists, kind of by accident. In the whole state of California, there's nothing like it."
In the 1980 election, as in this year's, Vernon officials sought to disqualify a candidate by evicting him.
By strictly limiting who can live in the city, Vernon officials handpick their constituents, said Roy Ulrich, a lawyer and former Vernon property owner who has clashed with city officials. "They only allow people who are city employees. Anything that smells like residential property, they disallow.

"The Confederate States of America"

"CSA: The Confederate States of America" opened this week. The film imagines an America in which the South won the Civil War. Under the Confederate States of America, Abraham Lincoln is captured – in blackface – trying to escape to Canada and slavery is the law of the land. It all plays out in what looks like a Ken Burns documentary, complete with slow pans of still photos, and talking head historians. Bob speaks with filmmaker Kevin Wilmott about this weirdly plausible version of American history. [From On The Media MP3]

England Detects Higher Levels of Uranium in Atmosphere since Iraq War

Radiation detectors in Britain recorded a fourfold increase in uranium levels in the atmosphere after the “shock and awe” bombing campaign against Iraq, according to a report.
Environmental scientists who uncovered the figures through freedom of information laws say it is evidence that depleted uranium from the shells was carried by wind currents to Britain.

"Confessions of an Economic Hit Man."

In the book, Mr. Perkins recounts the nine years in which he worked for Main in the 1970's. From Ecuador to Panama, Iran to Saudi Arabia, the mission was the same: working in league with government agencies, Mr. Perkins claimed that he inflated the economic growth forecasts of these countries and smoothed the way for the billions in loans that they took on. Ultimately, he said, the funds were recycled to the United States as these countries became clients of big American engineering, construction and manufacturing companies, including Bechtel, Halliburton, Boeing and others.
But in his telling, Mr. Perkins was constantly haunted by the feeling that he was in effect a hit man — paid officially by his employer, Main Inc., but under the more oblique sway of the government and intelligence agencies. The son of a conservative New England family, he whips himself for having succumbed to pleasures of the flesh as well as the lure of money, influence and power.
In 1980, Mr. Perkins quit his job at Main. For much of the next two decades, he worked as a consultant, entrepreneur and specialist on the culture and practices of indigenous people of Latin America. After the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he said, he felt that it was time to tell his story. After being turned down by bigger publishers, Berrett-Koehler took a chance and published the book in 2004. A best seller in hardcover, despite few mainstream book reviews, the book has sold as many as 5,500 copies a week in paperback.

AP: Discrepancies in Account of Cheney Shooting

Vice President Dick Cheney said he didn't immediately disclose his hunting accident because he wanted the confusing details to come out right. Instead, authorized accounts came out slowly — and often still wrong.
The result: a week of shifting blame, belatedly acknowledged beer consumption (not "zero" drinking after all) and evolving discrepancies in how the shooting happened, its aftermath and the way it was told to the nation.

This video is not playable in your country.

Not for American Consumption? We've heard the stories of Google censoring results in China, but is America being "protected" from a few pieces of undesirable content? They've bowed to pressure before, could they be doing such things again? (First link results differ for American visitors) [from]

"You will be naked within 20 minutes of the kids being in bed…

This country, as you know, is filled with the deranged. And then there's Travis Frey, a 33-year-old Iowa man who is facing charges that he tried to kidnap his own wife (not to mention a separate child pornography rap). Frey, prosecutors contend, apparently is a rather demanding guy. In fact, he actually drew up a bizarre four-page marriage document--a "Contract of Wifely Expectations"--that sought to establish guidelines for his spouse in terms of hygiene, clothing, and sexual activities. In return for fulfilling certain requirements, Frey (pictured right) offered "Good Behavior Days," or GBDs. Each GBD, Frey wrote, could be redeemed by his wife to "get out of doing the things" he requested daily. A copy of the proposed contract, which Frey's wife never signed and later provided to cops, can be found below. While we normally point out the highlights of most documents, there are so many in this demented, and very graphic, contract, we really can't do it justice.

Fukuyama: A Lapsed Neoconservative Speaks Out

The Bush administration and its neoconservative supporters did not simply underestimate the difficulty of bringing about congenial political outcomes in places like Iraq; they also misunderstood the way the world would react to the use of American power. Of course, the cold war was replete with instances of what the foreign policy analyst Stephen Sestanovich calls American maximalism, wherein Washington acted first and sought legitimacy and support from its allies only after the fact. But in the post-cold-war period, the structural situation of world politics changed in ways that made this kind of exercise of power much more problematic in the eyes of even close allies. After the fall of the Soviet Union, various neoconservative authors like Charles Krauthammer, William Kristol and Robert Kagan suggested that the United States would use its margin of power to exert a kind of "benevolent hegemony" over the rest of the world, fixing problems like rogue states with W.M.D., human rights abuses and terrorist threats as they came up. Writing before the Iraq war, Kristol and Kagan considered whether this posture would provoke resistance from the rest of the world, and concluded, "It is precisely because American foreign policy is infused with an unusually high degree of morality that other nations find they have less to fear from its otherwise daunting power."

37 million poor hidden in the land of plenty

A shocking 37 million Americans live in poverty. That is 12.7 per cent of the population - the highest percentage in the developed world. They are found from the hills of Kentucky to Detroit's streets, from the Deep South of Louisiana to the heartland of Oklahoma. Each year since 2001 their number has grown.
Under President George W Bush an extra 5.4 million have slipped below the poverty line. Yet they are not a story of the unemployed or the destitute. Most have jobs. Many have two.