Saturday, March 04, 2006

Dominionism and the Rise of Christian Imperialism

For the past several decades the political Left has focused attention on the Christian Right’s political activism in America. Particularly, the Left has been highly critical of a select group of dominionists called Reconstructionists, whose aggressive verbiage, extreme Calvinist theologies, and religious political agendas have made it an ideal target for outrage. But, as Leftist researcher Sara Diamond has astutely observed, “the Reconstructionists’ religion of Calvinism. . . makes them unlikely to appeal to most evangelicals.”4 Indeed, few Reconstructionists would consider themselves to be evangelicals. Nevertheless, their influence has been considerable over the much larger group of patriotic evangelicals.
There are two other dominionist sects within evangelicalism that have escaped in-depth scrutiny from the Left. These dominionists have been able to function virtually incognito for several reasons: 1) They have been deeply embedded within the evangelical subculture; 2) They cloaked their dominionism with new terminologies and doctrines over a period of thirty years; and 3) They figured out how to package dominionism using sophisticated mass marketing techniques. Also noteworthy: these two other dominionist camps have been operating in a dialectical fashion – while one group appealed to the TBN charismatics with all of its emotional excesses, the other group carefully managed its more intellectual public image to conform to traditional evangelical standards.
This paper is a brief overview of the three main dominionist movements operating inside evangelicaldom and examines how all three of these sects are now converging around a global “kingdom” agenda.

Survey questions politicians on Jesus

Jeff Sharp, county attorney for Barren County, and a church youth group are surveying all Kentucky legislators and legislative candidates with a single question: "Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?"
Fifteen have replied so far -- all answering yes -- but Rep. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, filed a resolution yesterday asking her House colleagues to disregard the survey and all "theocratic tendencies."
Stein, who is Jewish, called the survey an "intimidating, bullying letter."
"This is doing what the constitution prohibits, and that is offering a religious test for public officials," she said. "That's the long and short of it."
Sharp disagreed.
"Anybody can vote for whoever they want to," he said. "You can't restrict us from participating."

US finally names prisoners detained in Cuba

United States defence department has at last released the names and nationalities of hundreds of the inmates detained at its Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.
The names, which are buried within 6,000 pages of documents posted on the Pentagon's website, have been made public after a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Associated Press.
They are revealed in transcripts of tribunals in which the 500 detainees were screened and their combat status assessed.
The documents had been published previously with names blanked out. The US government had argued that releasing the identities would violate the detainees' privacy and could endanger them and their families.
Most of the men were captured during the 2001 US-led war that drove the Taleban from power in Afghanistan.
It is believed it will take days, or even weeks, for the documents to be read and analysed, but the information will allow much more to be learned not only about who the detainees are, but also the circumstances of their capture and detention.
However, last night it was reported that only inmates who underwent Combatant Status Review Tribunals have been named and it was possible there are other prisoners, known as "ghost" detainees, in Guantanamo.
• Yesterday it was reported Fawzi-al-Odah, 29, a Kuwaiti prisoner at Guantanamo, claimed US personnel threatened to use methods that amounted to torture to break his hunger strike.

State bill proposes Christianity be Missouri’s official religion

The resolution would recognize "a Christian god," and it would not protect minority religions, but "protect the majority's right to express their religious beliefs.
The resolution also recognizes that, "a greater power exists," and only Christianity receives what the resolution calls, "justified recognition."
State representative David Sater of Cassville in southwestern Missouri, sponsored the resolution, but he has refused to talk about it on camera or over the phone.

Gitmo: The Worst of the Worst?

On February 16, a British high court judge, Sir Andrew Collins, emphasized: "America's idea of what is torture is not the same as ours and does not appear to coincide with that of most civilized nations."
He was referring to a February 15 report by five independent U.N. special rapporteurs on torture that Guantánamo be closed and its prisoners be tried or released.
What has newly inflamed human rights critics of Guantánamo's treatment of its prisoners—whom Donald Rumsfeld has described as "terrorists" and "the worst of the worst" of the suspected terrorists we have captured—are confirmed reports of the force-feeding of desperate prisoners, held for four years with no end in sight. At one point, 130 had refused food, but that number is now down to four because of the methods used to prevent one or more of the resisters from dying, thereby further shaming the United States.
... There are now about 490 prisoners at Gitmo, and "55 percent of the detainees are not determined to have committed any hostile acts against the United States or coalition allies.
"Only 8 percent of the detainees were characterized as Al Qaeda fighters. Of the remaining detainees, 40 percent have no definitive connection with Al Qaeda at all and 18 percent have no definitive affiliation with either Al Qaeda or the Taliban.
"Only 5 percent of the detainees were captured by United States forces. [A total of] 86 percent of the detainees were arrested by either Pakistan or the Northern Alliance and turned over to United States custody. This 86 percent of the detainees captured by Pakistan or the Northern Alliance were turned over to the United States at a time at which the United States offered large bounties for capture of suspected enemies." (Emphasis added.)
[thanks, Tom P]

Friday, March 03, 2006

What Bush Was Told About Iraq

Two highly classified intelligence reports delivered directly to President Bush before the Iraq war cast doubt on key public assertions made by the president, Vice President Cheney, and other administration officials as justifications for invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein, according to records and knowledgeable sources.
The first report, delivered to Bush in early October 2002, was a one-page summary of a National Intelligence Estimate that discussed whether Saddam's procurement of high-strength aluminum tubes was for the purpose of developing a nuclear weapon.
Among other things, the report stated that the Energy Department and the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research believed that the tubes were "intended for conventional weapons," a view disagreeing with that of other intelligence agencies, including the CIA, which believed that the tubes were intended for a nuclear bomb.
The disclosure that Bush was informed of the DOE and State dissents is the first evidence that the president himself knew of the sharp debate within the government over the aluminum tubes during the time that he, Cheney, and other members of the Cabinet were citing the tubes as clear evidence of an Iraqi nuclear program. Neither the president nor the vice president told the public about the disagreement among the agencies.
When U.S. inspectors entered Iraq after the fall of Saddam's regime, they determined that Iraq's nuclear program had been dormant for more than a decade and that the aluminum tubes had been used only for artillery shells.
The second classified report, delivered to Bush in early January 2003, was also a summary of a National Intelligence Estimate, this one focusing on whether Saddam would launch an unprovoked attack on the United States, either directly, or indirectly by working with terrorists.
The report stated that U.S. intelligence agencies unanimously agreed that it was unlikely that Saddam would try to attack the United States -- except if "ongoing military operations risked the imminent demise of his regime" or if he intended to "extract revenge" for such an assault, according to records and sources.

National Archives Places Moratorium on Reclassification

Washington, DC. . . Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein announced today several initiatives that he has implemented as part of the ongoing investigation into the withdrawal of previously declassified records at the National Archives. These steps include:
* The imposition of a moratorium on other agency personnel identifying for withdrawal for classification purposes any declassified records currently on the public shelves at the National Archives until the audit, conducted by the National Archives Information Security Oversight Office, is complete.
* A “summit” with national security agencies involved with these withdrawal efforts within the next week. The purpose of this meeting is to ensure the proper balance of agency authority to restore classification controls where appropriate and the Archivist’s obligation to ensure maximum access to archival records consistent with law, regulation and common sense.
* A call upon affected agencies to join the Archivist in committing the necessary resources to restore to the public shelves as quickly as possible the maximum amount of information consistent with the obligation to protect truly sensitive national security information from unauthorized disclosure.
* The initiation of a review of National Archives internal processes for implementing agency classification/declassification decisions and the implementation of improvements to ensure that the National Archives is a catalyst for timely public access.
* Directing the Information Security Oversight Office to develop, in consultation with affected agencies, clear and concise standardized guidance, with an appropriately high threshold, that will govern the withdrawal of records from the open shelves for classification purposes. This guidance will be promulgated prior to allowing future removal of any records from the open shelves for classification purposes and will be publicly available.
* Requesting the recently constituted Public Interest Declassification Board, consistent with their charter, to independently advise the Archivist on this issue.

U.S. signs $38 million deal for depleted uranium tank shells

The U.S. Army quietly placed an order for $38 million in depleted uranium rounds last week, bringing the total order from a West-Virginia based company to $77 million for fiscal year 2006, RAW STORY has learned.
The munition is highly controversial. While the Pentagon has been ambiguous about its health toll, leftover rounds from the first Gulf War are believed to have caused a significant increase in cancer and birth defects in Iraq. According to a detailed article by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2002, "Many researchers outside Iraq, and several U.S. veterans organizations, agree; they also suspect depleted uranium of playing a role in Gulf War Syndrome, the still-unexplained malady that has plagued hundreds of thousands of Gulf War veterans."
The new $38 million order was placed with Alliant Techsystems for 120-mm ammunition. Once the new pact is completed the firm will have produced 35,000 rounds for the U.S. military.
The Pentagon uses depleted uranium in its rounds because they say it is extremely effective in penetrating heavy armor.
Depleted uranium remains radioactive for 4.5 billion years. The byproduct of manufacturing nuclear weapons or reactors, the rounds contaminate water and soil. Along some highways in Iraq where the weapon was used during in the first Gulf War, radiation levels register 1,000 times normal background radiation levels. Cancer levels in Iraq are attributed to the shells.
A destroyed Iraqi tank in Basra destroyed by the U.S. weapon registered 2,500 times normal background radiation.
Read more on depleted uranium in the Guardian here, and from the Post Intelligencer here.
In a release, the firm making the weapon said, "Its state-of-the-art composite sabot, propellant, and penetrator technologies give it outstanding accuracy and lethality." UPI first reported on the deal Feb. 20.

Senate overwhelmingly passes Patriot Act renewal compromise

In a vote of 89 - 10, the United States Senate today overwhelmingly approved reauthorization of 16 controversial Patriot Act provisions. In the deal, 14 will become permanent, with two more requiring reauthorization in another four years.
The deal is aimed at limiting government powers while maintaining programs while keeping in place what proponents argue are important tools for anti-terror investigators. The compromise can be read in its entirety here. Yesterday's amendment, aimed at curbing government power under FISA and safeguarding the privacy of library patrons, can be read in its entirety here.
The law now heads to President Bush to sign.

Antarctic Ice Sheet Is Melting Rapidly

The Antarctic ice sheet is losing as much as 36 cubic miles of ice a year in a trend that scientists link to global warming, according to a new paper that provides the first evidence that the sheet's total mass is shrinking significantly.
The new findings, which are being published today in the journal Science, suggest that global sea level could rise substantially over the next several centuries.
It is one of a slew of scientific papers in recent weeks that have sought to gauge the impact of climate change on the world's oceans and lakes. Just last month two researchers reported that Greenland's glaciers are melting into the sea twice as fast as previously believed, and a separate paper in Science today predicts that by the end of this century lakes and streams on one-fourth of the African continent could be drying up because of higher temperatures.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Prisons Often Shackle Pregnant Inmates in Labor

Sometimes human rights abuses are committed right in our backyard [the U.S.]. Shackling females to beds while they give birth is a practice that has been investigated by Amnesty International. A woman in labor writhes in pain on a hospital bed, and as she does, a shackle secures one of her ankles to the bed rail. It sounds like something out of a medieval chamber of horrors. But believe it or not, that's what happens when a female prisoner in California -- and in 20 other states -- gives birth. More here, and on prisoners' rights in general. [from]

Ground-based telescopes 'worthless' by 2050?

Ground-based astronomy could be impossible in 40 years because of pollution from aircraft exhaust trails and climate change, an expert says.
Aircraft condensation trails - known as contrails - can dissipate, becoming indistinguishable from other clouds.
If trends in cheap air travel continue, says Professor Gerry Gilmore, the era of ground astronomy may come to an end much earlier than most had predicted.
Aircraft along with climate change will contribute to increased cloud cover.

Online FOIA Request Form

Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), anyone has the right to request information from the government. Last strengthened by Congress in response to the Watergate scandal, FOIA gives citizens a way to demand transparency from the Administration -- and take the government to court if necessary.
Many Americans -- especially those with family and friends abroad -- are wondering whether government agents have been listening to their phone conversations or reading their email. If you're worried this has happened to you, you can use this site to help you find out.
We can't guarantee that the Bush administration will disclose all this information in compliance with the law, but we can help you through the process. By filing a FOIA request, you will send a strong signal that American citizens believe in the rule of law and aren't afraid to stand up to the President when he violates the Constitution!
[from via]]

Baptist Leader Calls for System of Christian-Run Schools

A "Kingdom Education" leader in the Southern Baptist Convention says America needs a new Christian-run "public" school system committed to turning out followers of Jesus Christ.
"We have allowed Satan to run his strategy … 'own the schools, and I will own the culture,'" Ed Gamble, director of Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools in Orlando, Fla., wrote in an opinion article in the Florida Baptist Witness.
Gamble said Christian children are "actively discipled" by the people who spend the most time teaching them. "So it is no wonder then that Christian students are involved in binge drinking, drug use, sexual experimentation and dishonesty with nearly the same frequency as unchurched youth," he said.
"What is needed," Gamble continued, "is a new 'public' school system, one that is open to the public but owned and operated by the Body of Christ."
Gamble asked readers to imagine "what if" the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination, opened its largely empty church buildings during the week to start thousands of Christian schools to replace America's public-education system.
"Funding is not the problem, faith is," Gamble said. "Would God honor such a grand vision for making disciples by providing every needed resource? He will!"
"Ask God to give us America's children," Gamble said. "When Jesus owns the schools, He will own the culture and the hearts of the children!"
The Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools is a professional organization for K-12 Christian schools.

Scott Ritter: Iraq - A Solution to Nothing

America continues to pretend that we are building something of value in Iraq. And yet, common sense dictates that when one seeks to build on a corrupt foundation, whatever it is that is being constructed is doomed eventually to collapse. Our nation's involvement in Iraq is based on as corrupt a foundation as imaginable. We didn't go to war for sound national-security reasons (i.e., a threat that manifested itself in a form solvable only through military intervention), but rather for domestic political reasons based on ideology that exploited the fear and ignorance of the American people in the post-Sept. 11, 2001, world.
In the topsy-turvy world of domestic American politics, this reality continues to fail to resonate. Those who opposed the invasion of Iraq continue to be demonized and marginalized, while those who supported it are embraced and applauded.
This "through the looking glass" quality in the American body politic not only hamstrings the nation collectively on the issue of solving the Iraq problem, but also continues to distort reality when dealing with other emerging problems confronting our country and the world, such as the looming crisis with Iran over its nuclear programs.
Even as we fail to grasp the lessons of our unraveling failure in Iraq, we seem to be moving full steam ahead into a similar catastrophe in Iran, making the same mistakes by embracing a threat model (nuclear weapons) void of any hard evidence, and promoting a solution (democracy) that is undefined.

Pentagon Develops Brain Implants to Turn Sharks into Military Spies

Military scientists in the United States are developing a way of manipulating sharks by remote control to turn them into underwater spies or weapons.
Engineers funded by the Pentagon have created electronic brain implants for fish that they hope will be able to influence the movements of sharks and perhaps even decode what they are sensing.
Although both Cold War superpowers have trained sea mammals such as dolphins and killer whales to carry out quasi-military duties, this is probably the first time the military have seriously considered using fish.
The Pentagon hopes to exploit the ability of sharks to glide quietly through the water, sense delicate electrical gradients and follow chemical trails, according to New Scientist magazine.

U.S. Plan to Eliminate Survey of Needy Families Draws Fire

Researchers and legislators are rallying to block a Bush administration plan to scupper a U.S. survey widely used to improve federal and state programs for millions of low-income and retired Americans.
President George W. Bush's proposed budget for fiscal 2007, which begins this October, includes a Commerce Department plan to eliminate the Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP).
The proposal marks at least the third White House attempt in as many years to do away with federal data collection on politically prickly economic issues ranging from mass layoffs to employment discrimination.

Cronkite: Telling the Truth About the War on Drugs

Today, our nation is fighting two wars: one abroad and one at home. While the war in Iraq is in the headlines, the other war is still being fought on our own streets. Its casualties are the wasted lives of our own citizens.
I am speaking of the war on drugs.
And I cannot help but wonder how many more lives, and how much more money, will be wasted before another Robert McNamara admits what is plain for all to see: the war on drugs is a failure.

Lawmaker: Port deal never probed for terror ties

A review of a United Arab Emirates-owned company's plan to take over a portion of operations at key U.S. ports never looked into whether the company had ties to al Qaeda or other terrorists, a key Republican lawmaker told CNN on Wednesday.
Rep. Peter King of New York, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said officials from the Homeland Security and Treasury departments told him weeks ago that their 30-day review of the deal did not look into the question of links between DP World and al Qaeda.
King said the officials told him after he asked about investigation into possible terrorist ties: "Congressman, you don't understand, we don't conduct a thorough investigation. We just ask the intel director if there is anything on file, and he said no."
"There was no real investigation conducted during the 30-day period," King, who has been a vocal critic of the deal, told CNN. "I can't emphasize this enough,"

One in three US veterans of Iraq war seek mental help

More than one in three soldiers and Marines who have served in Iraq later sought help for mental health problems, according to a comprehensive snapshot by Army experts of the psyches of men and women returning from the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places.
The accounts of more than 300,000 soldiers and Marines returning from several theaters paint an unusually detailed picture of the psychological impact of the various conflicts. Those returning from Iraq consistently reported more psychic distress than those returning from Afghanistan and other conflicts, such as those in Bosnia or Kosovo.
Iraq veterans are far more likely to have witnessed people getting wounded or killed, to have experienced combat, and to have had aggressive or suicidal thoughts, the Army report said. Nearly twice as many of those returning from Iraq reported having a mental health problem -- or were hospitalized for a psychiatric disorder -- compared with troops returning from Afghanistan.
In questionnaires filled out after their deployment, more than half of all soldiers and Marines returning from Iraq reported that they had "felt in great danger of being killed" there, and 2,411 reported having thoughts of killing themselves, the report said. It did not have comparable data from earlier conflicts.

Bush, Warned Before Katrina - the AP has it on Tape

In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans' Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage.
Bush didn't ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."
The footage — along with seven days of transcripts of briefings obtained by The Associated Press — show in excruciating detail that while federal officials anticipated the tragedy that unfolded in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, they were fatally slow to realize they had not mustered enough resources to deal with the unprecedented disaster.
Linked by secure video, Bush's confidence on Aug. 28 starkly contrasts with the dire warnings his disaster chief and a cacophony of federal, state and local officials provided during the four days before the storm.
AP video coverage.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

English Wikipedia Publishes Millionth Article

The Wikimedia Foundation announced today the creation of the 1,000,000th article in the English language edition of Wikipedia. The article is about the Jordanhill railway station in Scotland, and it was started by Wikipedia contributor Ewan Macdonald. Wikipedia is a free, multilingual, online encyclopedia with 3.3 million articles under development in more than 125 languages.
The full text of the English Wikipedia is located at In addition to articles, the English Wikipedia offers dozens of graphical timelines and subject-specific portals. Its media repository includes four hundred thousand images and hundreds of full-length songs, videos, and animations, many of which are available for free distribution.
Although its method of editing is new and controversial, Wikipedia has already won acclaim and awards for its detailed coverage of current events, popular culture, and scientific topics; its usability; and its international community of contributors. BBC News has called Wikipedia "One of the most reliably useful sources of information around, on or off-line." Daniel Pink, author and WIRED Magazine columnist, has described Wikipedia as "the self-organizing, self-repairing, hyperaddictive library of the future," and Tim Berners-Lee, father of the Web, has called it "The Font of All Knowledge."
Wikipedia is among the world's most popular websites, receiving tens of millions of visitors every day. It is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation, and has spawned sister projects, including a dictionary, a library of textbooks, a compendium of quotations, a news site, and a media repository. These projects are all run using the open source MediaWiki software.
Other articles created within the same minute included an overview of the Tennessee Commissioner of Financial Institutions, a biography of baseball player Aaron Ledesma, and a look at cellular architecture.

Harpers: The Case for Impeachment

We have before us in the White House a thief who steals the country's good name and reputation for his private interest and personal use; a liar who seeks to instill in the American people a state of fear; a televangelist who engages the United States in a never-ending crusade against all the world's evil, a wastrel who squanders a vast sum of the nation's wealth on what turns out to be a recruiting drive certain to multiply the host of our enemies. In a word, a criminal—known to be armed and shown to be dangerous. Under the three-strike rule available to the courts in California, judges sentence people to life in jail for having stolen from Wal-Mart a set of golf clubs or a child's tricycle. Who then calls strikes on President Bush, and how many more does he get before being sent down on waivers to one of the Texas Prison Leagues?

Parade Magazine: Are They Taking Away Our Freedoms?

Excerpt: Right now, as you read this, a CIA station chief, an ambassador or a defense official is deciding to classify a document. With a single stroke, he or she will mark it Confidential, Secret, Top Secret or another restrictive phrase, and it will vanish from public view until it is declassified—or leaked.
There are more than 4,000 people scattered across the federal government with the authority to classify documents, from those in the Pentagon and CIA to the Agriculture Department and Environmental Protection Agency. In 2004 alone, 15.6 million documents were classified—about 125 documents a minute—costing more than $7 billion of your tax dollars.
At the same time, information itself, both classified and unclassified, is increasing exponentially, notes Bill Leonard, director of the Information Security Oversight Office at the National Archives. This has been accompanied by a proliferation of entirely new forms of withholding, with titles like “law enforcement sensitive” or “homeland security sensitive,” which restrict documents without formally classifying them. No one even knows how much classified material the federal government has, notes Rep. Christopher Shays (R., Conn.): “Some estimate that 10% of current secrets should never have been classified.” Others, he adds, put it as high as 90%. [via Secrecy News]

AIPAC Court Denies Amicus Standing to Reporters Committee

The judge who presides over the prosecution of two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for allegedly mishandling classified information has rejected a request from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to present an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief on the profound constitutional concerns raised by the case.
"Defendants are ably and energetically represented by counsel experienced in all facets of the case, including the constitutional challenge," wrote Judge T.S. Ellis, III.
"This prosecution is not the appropriate procedural context in which various elements of society should debate the constitutional validity or wisdom of [the Espionage Act]," the Judge wrote.
See his February 27, 2006 order.
More information on the Reporters Committee view of the case may be found here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Marc Maron Show debuts tonight 10:00pm Pacific Time

Fans of Marc Maron, Jim Earl and their posse of geniuses and working class heroes can finally hear the unique and cutting-edge political comedy that has been missing since the cancellation of Morning Sedition. (This great fan site is archiving some of the best comedy bits from the old show.)
What will the new Marc Maron Show sound like? Tune in between 10pm and Midnight, Pacific Time to find out. If you miss it tonight, catch it another weeknight.
From the (well designed) Marc Maron Show site:
"Yes, friends. This is the inaugural broadcast of The Marc Maron Show, live from Burbank, California. We know you're all thrilled that the day is finally here. But heed this warning: We can not be held responsible for our actions over the next two hours. Marc and Jim Earl have been festering in their enclaves for two long months, and the world may not be ready to hear what they've got to say once the microphones are turned on. Why else do you think we're broadcasting during "safe harbor" hours, at bay from the indecency regulations of the FCC?"

The American Association of Petroleum Geologists Give Journalism Award to Crichton

We know that many people take straight newspaper reporting with a grain of salt, but what about treating avowed fiction as journalism? The American Association of Petroleum Geologists has presented its annual journalism award to Michael Crichton for his two novels, "State of Fear" and "Jurassic Park."
The first, a current bestseller, profiles global warming as a puffed-up threat imagined by a conspiracy of evil scientists. Climate experts have dismissed the novel as off-based and, well, a work of fiction, much like Crichton's dinosaur epic, "Jurassic Park."

Katherine Harris Implicated in Illegal Donations

A defense contractor who pleaded guilty Friday to bribing a California congressman told federal authorities he also funneled illegal campaign contributions to U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris of Longboat Key, who's running for the U.S. Senate.
The contractor, Mitchell Wade, former chief executive of MZM Inc. in California, pleaded guilty to paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to Republican Randy "Duke" Cunningham of California and receiving more than $150 million in Defense Department contracts in return.
He also pleaded guilty to making about $80,000 in illegal campaign contributions to two other Congress members - identifiable from court papers and election records as Harris and Rep. Virgil Goode of Virginia, both Republicans - in hopes of receiving federal appropriations.

NY Times sues Pentagon over domestic spying

The Times wants a list of documents including all internal memos and e-mails about the program of monitoring phone calls without court approval. It also seeks the names of the people or groups identified by it.

Liza Featherstone in CJR: Watching Wal-Mart

Until a couple years ago, press coverage of Wal-Mart — the nation’s largest private employer, and its most powerful retailer — was fawning and sycophantic, and largely limited to the financial pages. Often, the company was presented as an icon of business success: how wal-mart keeps getting it right was a typical headline. All that has changed. Thousands of lawsuits against the company allege serious workers’ rights violations, ranging from child labor to sex discrimination. Labor unions, church leaders, economists, state governments, and many other players have been raising questions about Wal-Mart’s low wages and light benefits: Are they a helpful efficiency passed on to the consumer; inhumane and exploitive to the worker; burdensome to the taxpayer, who must foot the bill when the company’s workers need supplemental Food Stamps and Medicaid? Now, the press is far more vigilant in covering the retailer’s flaws and its economic impact. Stories potentially embarrassing to Wal-Mart appear just about every day. In this climate, over the past year, a flurry of documentary films have appeared, two in 2004 and two more just recently, representing some of the best and worst coverage of the retailer.

Climate Scientists Issue Dire Warning

The Earth's temperature could rise under the impact of global warming to levels far higher than previously predicted, according to the United Nations' team of climate experts.
A draft of the next influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report will tell politicians that scientists are now unable to place a reliable upper limit on how quickly the atmosphere will warm as carbon dioxide levels increase. The report draws together research over the past five years and will be presented to national governments in April and made public next year. It raises the possibility of the Earth's temperature rising well above the ceiling quoted in earlier accounts.
Such an outcome would have severe consequences, such as the collapse of the Greenland ice sheet and disruption of the Gulf Stream ocean current.

Mayor of Lawrence, Kansas Declares International Dadaism Month

WHEREAS: Dadaism is an international tendency in art that seeks to change conventional attitudes and practices in aesthetics, society, and morality; and

WHEREAS: Dadaism may or may not have come into being in the summer of 1916 at the Cabaret Voltaire at 1 Spiegelgasse in Zürich, Switzerland, with the participation of Hugo Ball, Tristan Tzara, Emmy Hennings, Marcel and Georges Janco, Jean Arp, and Richard Heulsenbeck; and

WHEREAS: The central message of Dada is the realization that reason and anti-reason, sense and nonsense, design and chance, consciousness and unconsciousness, belong together as necessary parts of a whole; and

WHEREAS: Dada is a virgin microbe which penetrates with the insistence of air into all those spaces that reason has failed to fill with words and conventions; and

WHEREAS: zimzim urallala zimzim urallala zimzim zanzibar zimzalla zam;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Dennis “Boog” Highberger, Mayor of the City of Lawrence, Kansas, do hereby proclaim the days of February 4, April 1, March 28, July 15, August 2, August 7, August 16, August 26, September 18, September 22, October 1, October 17, and October 26, 2006 as


Covered on NPR.

Minnesota GOP Survey CD Sends Personal Info to GOP

So if you run the CD in your personal computer, by the end of it, the Minnesota GOP will not only know what you think on particular issues, but also who you are. --a cd being sent out to home by the Minnesota GOP is polling people who use the cd, sending their personal info, including name, address, and phone, among other info, back to party headquarters. No privacy policy or statement identifying what the cd does is visible anywhere: ...As far as I could tell, nothing tells you that the answers are about to be e-mailed or otherwise transmitted to the Minnesota GOP. So you finish, and then the phone rings. "Hello, Mr/Mrs. Voters, it's Joe and I notice you support gun control and the marriage amendment, would you like to donate some money to us?" That might startle the person who may have thought he/she was viewing the presentation in the privacy of the computer room. [from]

Hubble Takes Most Detailed Picture Yet of Pinwheel Galaxy

The most detailed image ever made of a spiral galaxy has been compiled from 51 Hubble Space Telescope images. It may shed light on the cause of mysteriously bright X-ray emissions in the galaxy and has already revealed a stellar nursery where no stars were expected to form.
About 10 years of observations with Hubble, as well as images from powerful ground-based telescopes such as the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii, US, were superimposed to create this image of the Pinwheel Galaxy, or M101.
The galaxy is 170,000 light years across – nearly twice the size of the Milky Way – and takes up an area of the sky equivalent to one-fifth the size of a full Moon. It lies about 25 million light years from Earth – about 10 times as far as our nearest large neighbour, the Andromeda galaxy.
At that distance, Hubble can still resolve individual stars. "But if you get much further away than M101, it can't," says Kip Kuntz, an astronomer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and Johns Hopkins University, both in Maryland, US.

'Detroit News' : Never on Sunday, Starting in May

The Detroit Free Press will become the city's only Sunday newspaper on May 6 after it stops publishing combined weekend editions (as it has done since 1989) with the Detroit News.
Each paper will publish separate Saturday editions, and the Free Press will come out on Sundays. The Free Press will also begin publishing local editions that it will include in Sunday papers.

Toll in Iraq's Deadly Surge: 1,300

Grisly attacks and other sectarian violence unleashed by last week's bombing of a Shiite Muslim shrine have killed more than 1,300 Iraqis, making the past few days the deadliest of the war outside of major U.S. offensives, according to Baghdad's main morgue. The toll was more than three times higher than the figure previously reported by the U.S. military and the news media.
Hundreds of unclaimed dead lay at the morgue at midday Monday -- blood-caked men who had been shot, knifed, garroted or apparently suffocated by the plastic bags still over their heads. Many of the bodies were sprawled with their hands still bound -- and many of them had wound up at the morgue after what their families said was their abduction by the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Using Depleted Uranium to Turn Carbon Monoxide into Feedstocks

Cloke’s metal-based discovery has opened up a neglected area of research, ‘Nobody found the right system so they stopped doing it,’ he said. He is keen to stress that only depleted uranium is used, ‘radioactivity has nothing to do with it.’
Andrea Sella at University College London said Cloke’s data were ‘astonishing’. Such blue skies research has become rather unfashionable, said Sella. Reactivity like this wouldn’t be predicted from conventional chemistry models and most researchers wouldn’t even attempt it, he added.
Cloke’s work could have a substantial impact on organic chemistry, ‘and it’s happened by accident,’ Sella told Chemistry World. He is impressed that Cloke’s system uses CO to make much more complex molecules, and is carried out under mild conditions.

Robert Fisk: Something serious is happening to our planet which we are not being told about

A British scientist, Chris Busby, has been digging through statistics from the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment which measures uranium in high-volume air samples. His suspicion was that depleted uranium particles from the two Gulf wars - DU is used in the anti-armour warheads of the ordnance of American and British tanks and planes - may have spread across Europe. I'm not a conspiracy theorist but here's something very odd.
When Busby applied for the information from Aldermaston in 2004, they told him to get lost. When he demanded the information under the 2005 Freedom of Information Act, Aldermaston coughed up the figures. But wait.
The only statistic missing from the data they gave him was for the early months of 2003. Remember what was happening then? A little dust-up in Iraq, a massive American-British invasion of Saddam's dictatorship in which tons of DU shells were used by American troops. Eventually Busby, who worked out all the high-altitude wind movements over Europe, received the data from the Defence Procurement Agency in Bristol - which showed an increase in uranium in high-volume air sampling over Britain during this period.

Ten Things Evolutionists can Do to Improve Communication

Diebold Whistleblower Arraigned on 3 Felony Counts

Stephen Heller was charged in Los Angeles Superior Court with felony access to computer data, commercial burglary and receiving stolen property. He pleaded not guilty.
"It's a devastating allegation for a whistle-blower," said Blair Berk, Heller's attorney. "Certainly, someone who saw those documents could have reasonably believed that thousands of voters were going to be potentially disenfranchised in upcoming elections."
The charges arise from Heller's alleged disclosure two years ago of legal papers from the Los Angeles office of international law firm Jones Day, which represented Diebold at the time. Heller was under contract as a word processor at Jones Day.
The documents included legal memos from one Jones Day attorney to another regarding allegations by activists that Diebold had used uncertified voting systems in Alameda County elections beginning in 2002.

If Microsoft Designed the iPod Packaging

Alabama paper publishes civil rights photos.

Dozens of never before released photos from the civil rights era came to light this weekend after an intern discovered them buried in an equipment closet at the Birmingham News. The photos had been in a box marked: "Keep. Do Not Sell." But at the time they were taken, the newspaper didn't want to draw attention to the racial discord of the 1950s and 1960s, news photographers from the period said.
...Unseen. Unforgotten. The Birmingham News recently discovered previously-unpublished photos of the civil rights movement in Birmingham, Alabama, during the late 1950s and early 1960s. The site includes audio interviews with some of the photographers and a PDF of how the photos appeared in the newspaper. [from]
"Cities are what man make them," reads the lettering on this courthouse...while KKK supporters cover their faces in the courtroom. [from]

In N.C., GOP Requests Church Directories

The North Carolina Republican Party asked its members this week to send their church directories to the party, drawing furious protests from local and national religious leaders.
"Such a request is completely beyond the pale of what is acceptable," said the Rev. Richard Land, head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
During the 2004 presidential race, the Bush-Cheney campaign sent a similar request to Republican activists across the country. It asked churchgoers not only to furnish church directories to the campaign, but also to use their churches as a base for political organizing.
The tactic was roundly condemned by religious leaders across the political spectrum, including conservative evangelical Christians. Ten professors of ethics at major seminaries and universities wrote a letter to President Bush in August 2004 asking him to "repudiate the actions of your re-election campaign," and calling on both parties to "respect the integrity of all houses of worship."
Officials of the Republican National Committee maintained that the tactic did not violate federal tax laws that prohibit churches from endorsing or opposing candidates for office, and they never formally renounced it. But Land said he thought the GOP had backed down.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

All 50 Governers to Bush: No Further Weakening of National Guard

Governors of both parties said Sunday that Bush administration policies were stripping the National Guard of equipment and personnel needed to respond to hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, forest fires and other emergencies.
Tens of thousands of National Guard members have been sent to Iraq, along with much of the equipment needed to deal with natural disasters and terrorist threats in the United States, the governors said here at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.
The National Guard, which traces its roots to the colonial militia, has a dual federal-state role. Governors normally command the Guard in their states, but Guard members deployed overseas in support of a federal mission are under the control of the president.
The governors said they would present their concerns to President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Monday. In a preview of their message, all 50 governors signed a letter to the president opposing any cuts in the size of the National Guard.

Linklater's Challenges for "A Scanner Darkly"

Linklater first entered the geek world of animators five years ago when he made the film Waking Life. For Scanner, he's employing the same animation technique he used then. It's a process known as rotoscoping: Artists digitally trace over some frames of live-action footage by hand with a Wacom pen and tablet. Custom software fills in the rest. But Waking Life, a wispy collection of vignettes defined by its lack of visual uniformity, was a less ambitious production. It was a mild success - it generated $3 million (twice its cost) at the box office and found a loyal audience in the DVD aftermarket - but Linklater was disappointed with the movie's impact. Scanner is a dramatic narrative with a consistent look, starring seasoned actors like Reeves, Winona Ryder, Robert Downey Jr., and Woody Harrelson. And then there's the complicated rotoscoping software, Rotoshop. Originally developed for Waking Life by MIT grad Bob Sabiston, the program was updated for Scanner: It has a few hundred thousand lines of new code and a couple of dozen new commands. It's proprietary and few people know how to use it.

Taking Spying to Higher Level, Agencies Look for More Ways to Mine Data

A small group of National Security Agency officials slipped into Silicon Valley on one of the agency's periodic technology shopping expeditions this month.
On the wish list, according to several venture capitalists who met with the officials, were an array of technologies that underlie the fierce debate over the Bush administration's anti-terrorist eavesdropping program: computerized systems that reveal connections between seemingly innocuous and unrelated pieces of information.
The tools they were looking for are new, but their application would fall under the well-established practice of data mining: using mathematical and statistical techniques to scan for hidden relationships in streams of digital data or large databases.
Supercomputer companies looking for commercial markets have used the practice for decades. Now intelligence agencies, hardly newcomers to data mining, are using new technologies to take the practice to another level.
But by fundamentally changing the nature of surveillance, high-tech data mining raises privacy concerns that are only beginning to be debated widely. That is because to find illicit activities it is necessary to turn loose software sentinels to examine all digital behavior whether it is innocent or not.

Justice Dept. Rejects Google's Privacy Concerns

The 18-page brief filed Friday argues that because the information provided would not identify or be traceable to specific users, privacy rights would not be violated.
The brief was the Justice Department's reply to strident arguments filed by Google last week as a rebuff the government's demand to review its search requests during a random week.

2000 Inmates Riot in Kabul

An uprising at Afghanistan's main high-security jail has spread to a second block, and now involves nearly 2,000 prisoners, the BBC has learned.
Inmates took control of a wing of the jail, Kabul's Pul-e-Charkhi, overnight.
Sources have told the BBC seven people have been killed, although top Afghan officials have denied any deaths.

EPA OK’d plan to dump nerve agent runoff into Delaware

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency won't oppose the U.S. Department of Defense and DuPont Co.'s plan to dump a wastewater byproduct of a deadly nerve agent into the Delaware River.
The agency said it's assured of a safe treatment for up to 4 million gallons of caustic wastewater created in the treatment for VX, a chemical weapon with a pinhead-size potency to kill a human. DuPont is treating VX for disposal at its Newport Chemical Depot in Indiana.
The agent, once neutralized, would be shipped to DuPont's Chambers Works plant in Deepwater, N.J., for discharge into the river.

Sex Pistols Turn Down Rock Hall of Fame Award

The groundbreaking English punk rock group officially declined the honor -- to be handed out March 13 at a dinner and performance at the Waldorf Astoria in New York -- in a crudely scrawled, mispunctuated handwritten message posted on the band's Web site Friday.
"Next to the SEX PISTOLS rock and roll and that hall of fame is a piss stain," the statement read. "Your museum. Urine in wine. Were (sic) not coming. Were (sic) not your monkey and so what?"
The statement slammed Hall of Fame voters as "music industry people," and excoriated the high price of attending the exclusive event -- $25,000 for a table, "or $15,000 to squeak up in the gallery."
It concluded, "Your (sic) not paying attention. Outside the shit-stem is a real SEX PISTOL."
[And that's why we love you, you punky rascals. How boring it would have been if Sartre accepted his Nobel Prize. --McLir]

UAE Deal Extended from 6 to 21 Ports

A United Arab Emirates government-owned company is poised to take over port terminal operations in 21 American ports, far more than the six widely reported.
The Bush administration has approved the takeover of British-owned Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. to DP World, a deal set to go forward March 2 unless Congress intervenes.
P&O is the parent company of P&O Ports North America, which leases terminals for the import and export and loading and unloading and security of cargo in 21 ports, 11 on the East Coast, ranging from Portland, Maine to Miami, Florida, and 10 on the Gulf Coast, from Gulfport, Miss., to Corpus Christi, Texas, according to the company's Web site.