December 31, 2005

News -- December 31, 2005

2005: The year the US government undermined the internet - "2005 will be forever seen as the year in which the US government managed to keep unilateral control of the internet, despite widespread opposition by the rest of the world. However, while this very public spat went on, everyone failed to notice a related change that will have far greater implications for everyday internet users and for the internet itself. That change will see greater state-controlled censorship on the internet, reduce people's ability to use the internet to communicate freely, and leave expansion of the internet in the hands of the people least capable of doing the job. It is also another example of where the US government's control has - in real, verifiable terms - had a direct, unchecked impact on the internet, despite constant assurances that it takes only a benevolent and passive role. And it has come as a result of the US administration's hugely controversial decision to invade Iraq." Uses Cookies, Bugs - "David Almacy, the White House's internet director, promised an investigation into whether the practice is consistent with a 2003 policy from the White House's Office of Management and Budget banning the use of most such technologies at government sites.",69945-0.html?tw=wn_tophead_3

White House will continue to track Net - "The White House said Friday its Web site will keep using Internet tracking technologies, deciding that they aren't prohibited after all under 2003 federal privacy guidelines."

Snow says don’t let Uncle Sam go broke - "Treasury Secretary John Snow said yesterday the United States could face the prospect of not being able to pay its bills early next year unless Congress raises the government’s borrowing authority, now capped at $8.18 trillion."

Why Our Military Despises Donald Rumsfeld - "Probably the least told story of the Iraq war-quagmire is the extent to which the Pentagon military, especially the U.S. Army brass, disagrees with and despises these civilian superiors. Donald Rumsfeld, one of the most disliked of the Secretaries of Defense, has spent much energy making sure that high level dissent in the military is muzzled and overlayered by his loyalists. Just last week Rumsfeld demoted three military service chiefs in the Pentagon hierarchy and replaced them with three loyalists who previously worked for his buddy Dick Cheney."

How Bush's Sick Joke Became Public Policy - "Once would be a lame joke; twice, a symptom of a seriously impaired sense of humor. Three times, however, is suggestive of seriously malevolent intentions. In our system of government, which remains in form if not in practice a constitutional republic, chief executives simply do not joke about dictatorial ambitions. Here's a useful parallel. It is a serious federal offense even to joke about wanting to kill the President of the United States. Doing so even one time is sufficient to provoke a visit from the Secret Service. Were someone to do so three times, he would almost certainly face prosecution, as well as an invasive psychological evaluation. Shouldn't it be considered just as grave an offense for a president, who swore an oath in God's name to uphold our Constitution, to make jokes about murdering our republic in order to erect a dictatorship?"

Top Ten Tactics to Influence Negative News: The PR Playbook - "Recently, when comparing notes with fellow investigative reporters, I learned I'm not the only one noticing these common strategies. In short, they seem to be operating from the same playbook. If there were such a playbook, it might read something like this."

Pupils Being Given 'Patriotism' Tests in Washington State Schools - "Children in Washington State are being given 'Patriotism tests' which are completely unrelated to their studies. The paper gauges whether or not the student shows fealty to the power of the state and whether the student believes in the right to overthrow a corrupt government."

Online daters sue matchmaking Web sites for fraud - ", a unit of IAC/Interactive Corp., is accused in a federal lawsuit of goading members into renewing their subscriptions through bogus romantic e-mails sent out by company employees. In some instances, the suit contends, people on the Match payroll even went on sham dates with subscribers as a marketing ploy."

Quote of the Day
"I don't really give a crap."
~ Chef, South Park

December 28, 2005

News -- December 28, 2005

Big Brother is Watching - "IT took 21 years longer than expected, but the future has finally arrived. ... War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. George Orwell was right after all. In 1949, Orwell penned "1984," a dark, futuristic satire in which the totalitarian government used indoctrination, propaganda and fear to enforce order and conformity. His "Big Brother" — the face of this all-knowing regime — was never wrong, and to make sure of it, history was constantly being rewritten. ... In America today, Big Brother is watching. He's watching because President Bush told him to. ... When it comes to fighting terror, Bush is totalitarian — remember, you're either with us or against us. Trust me to get it right, he says. Debate on the law is not only not needed, it's evil. ... Remember, too, that we invaded Iraq primarily because we were told Saddam Hussein was an immediate threat with his weapons of mass destruction. Now the Bush administration acknowledges that wasn't so, but insists there were (are?) other reasons to invade. History is malleable. Orwell wrote of war without end; we're told the war on terror will last decades at least. Orwell wrote of a dumbed-down "Newspeak," and who could argue that our national discourse hasn't slumped? Orwell's "Ministry of Love" tortured dissidents real or imagined; our government decries Iraq's secret torture prisons while arguing over whether to ban torture. Meanwhile, we maintain our own secret CIA prisons. ... Turns out the truth is no stranger than fiction.
We think it's time for Congress to heed the warning of George Orwell." -- I hope you pull out your copy of 1984 and reread it.

The I-Word is Gaining Ground - "Fast forward to December 2005. Not one official in the entire Bush Administration has been fired or indicted, not to mention impeached, for the shedding of American blood in Iraq or for the shredding of our Constitution at home. As Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter put it--hours after the New York Times reported that Bush had authorized NSA wiretapping of US citizens without judicial warrants--this President has committed a real transgression that "goes beyond sex, corruption and political intrigue to big issues like security versus liberty and the reasonable bounds of presidential power."" -- Impeach them all.

Bush was denied wiretaps, bypassed them - "U.S. President George Bush decided to skip seeking warrants for international wiretaps because the court was challenging him at an unprecedented rate."

Rice authorized National Security Agency to spy on UN Security Council in run-up to war, former officials say - "President Bush and other top officials in his administration used the National Security Agency to secretly wiretap the home and office telephones and monitor private email accounts of members of the United Nations Security Council in early 2003 to determine how foreign delegates would vote on a U.N. resolution that paved the way for the U.S.-led war in Iraq, NSA documents show."

Most Americans back Bush-ordered wiretaps - "A new survey found nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the National Security Agency should monitor communications between terrorist suspects overseas and contacts inside the U.S."

Tsunami was God's revenge for your wicked ways, women told - "MARLUDDIN JALIL, a Sharia judge who has ordered the punishment of women for not wearing headscarves, was uncompromising: “The tsunami was because of the sins of the people of Aceh.”" -- Idiot.,,25689-1952823,00.html

Revealed: the pill that prevents cancer - "A daily dose of vitamin D could cut the risk of cancers of the breast, colon and ovary by up to a half, a 40-year review of research has found. The evidence for the protective effect of the "sunshine vitamin" is so overwhelming that urgent action must be taken by public health authorities to boost blood levels, say cancer specialists."

Official: Drug Companies Lack Vaccine Incentive - "The federal chief of AIDS research says he believes drug companies don't have an incentive to create a vaccine for the HIV and are likely to wait to profit from it after the government develops one."

Canada blames U.S. for gun violence - "Canadian officials, seeking to make sense of another fatal shooting in what has been a record year for gun-related deaths, said Tuesday that along with a host of social ills, part of the problem stemmed from what they said was the United States exporting its violence."

Age of information overload - "Will all this instantly accessible information make us much smarter, or simply more stressed? When can we break to think, absorb and ponder all this data? ... Were books as easily searchable as Web pages, she'd reconsider. Otherwise, they might as well not exist. ... Steve Jones, a professor of communications at the University of Illinois at Chicago, says centralization and easy access could make people smarter: Instead of wasting time finding information, they can focus more on assessing its worth. But there's the danger, he says, that people will simply take information for granted: Assuming that whatever pops up first is the best. Worse, people may simply tune out. Field research by Jennifer Kayahara, a sociology graduate student at the University of Toronto, shows people are overwhelmed as it is."

Prime time for Missouri computing team - " A Central Missouri State University team using more than 700 computers has found the largest prime number so far, a gargantuan 9,152,052-digit numeral."

Quote of the Day
"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."
~ George Orwell

December 25, 2005

News -- December, 25, 2005

Bush's false choices - "SO IT COMES DOWN to September 11, 2001. Again. The president has drawn a great dividing line through the country, separating his supporters from his critics. Again. This time, those who see a presidency run amok are not just labeled ''defeatists." They are considered amnesiacs. This time, those who oppose torture are diagnosed with short-term memory loss. Those who are outraged at domestic snooping are people who have forgotten to be afraid."

What Are We Waiting For? Christmas? - "Today we again face such somber judgment and must be prepared as a nation to confront the reality that these same words apply to George W. Bush and, like Richard Nixon, Bush’s conduct as president “warrants impeachment and trial and removal from office.”"

More Americans growing weary of civil liberties sacrifices - "But more than four years after the attacks, many Americans appear less willing to give up their civil liberties in the search for terrorists. ... But others are sounding a different warning: that the United States, with its fast-paced news cycles and Internet-time attention spans, may be forgetting the trauma of Sept. 11 and the threat that still lurks. "None of your civil liberties matter much,'' Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said last week, "after you're dead.''" -- Stay scared, people!

Shoot the Moon and Forget About the Bell Curve - "In short, Representative Woolsey has, against all odds and the measured opinions of her doubting or dismissive colleagues, persistently focused on reality -- just the facts; and it is reality that most powerfully counteracts the mass anesthetic that the Bush administration has used to keep people from questioning the war. ... The truth is that the closer you get to the reality of the war against Iraq and the lies that brought us there -- and these are quite literally matters of life and death -- the easier it is to know what to do: Shoot the moon and forget about the bell curve."

Report: Spying Broader Than Acknowledged - "The National Security Agency has conducted much broader surveillance of e-mails and phone calls — without court orders — than the Bush administration has acknowledged, The New York Times reported on its Web site."

Meet Osama's niece - "And her pictures in next month's issue of GQ magazine are seemingly calculated to outrage Islamic traditionalists.",4136,99348,00.html

Majority in U.S. believes in God - "Overall, 82 percent of Americans believe in God, according to a recent Harris poll, which also revealed that 73 percent also believe in miracles, 70 percent in life after death, 70 percent in the existence of heaven, and 70 percent that Jesus is the Son of God. In addition, 68 percent believe in angels and 66 percent in the Resurrection of Christ. Six out of 10 believe in the devil and the existence of hell."

Is the US State Department still keeping April Glaspie under wraps? - "It is now more than fifteen years since that fateful meeting on July 25, 1990 between then-US Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie and President Saddam Hussein that the Iraqi leader interpreted as a green light from Washington for his invasion of Kuwait eight days later. The US State Department, which is said to have placed a gag order on Glaspie in August 1990 prohibiting her from talking to the media about what had transpired at that meeting, is apparently still keeping her under wraps despite the fact that she retired from the American Foreign Service in 2002. In all the years since her meeting with Saddam Hussein, Glaspie has never spoken about it to the media, never appeared as a guest on a TV talk show, never written an article or a book about her time as the US’s top diplomat in Baghdad. The question is: why? What has she got to hide?"

E-tracking, coming to a DMV near you - "Trust federal bureaucrats to take a good idea and transform it into a frightening proposal to track Americans wherever they drive. The U.S. Department of Transportation has been handing millions of dollars to state governments for GPS-tracking pilot projects designed to track vehicles wherever they go. So far, Washington state and Oregon have received fat federal checks to figure out how to levy these "mileage-based road user fees." Now electronic tracking and taxing may be coming to a DMV near you. ... The problem, though, is that these "road user fee" systems are being designed and built in a way that strips drivers of their privacy and invites constant surveillance by police, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. ... The problem, though, is that no privacy protections exist. No restrictions prevent police from continually monitoring, without a court order, the whereabouts of every vehicle on the road.",%20coming%20to%20a%20DMV%20near%20you/2010-1071_3-5980979.html

Man mistakenly left in jail for 15 months - "Time in jail nine months longer than maximum penalty for crime."

Electric light thought to spur breast cancer - "The same federally funded study also showed that extended periods of nighttime darkness dramatically slowed the growth of these tumors. Apparently, artificial light depletes levels of the hormone melatonin."

Those in 20s Join Quest to Retain Looks - "Now even twentysomethings are joining the quest for eternal youth by using anti-aging products and wrinkle treatments. Some young adults say they want to reverse the effects the sun has already had on their skin. Others already are feeling social pressure to retain their fresh-faced looks."

Attack on professor is linked to grade - "''A failing grade shouldn't be the end of the world," Prasad said. ''Usually I find the students may argue but they accept it.""

Quote of the Day
"Merry f*cking Christmas, to you!"
~ Mr. Garrison, South Park

December 23, 2005

News -- December 23, 2005

Where’s the Outrage? - "Bush’s defense of his phone-spying program has disturbing echoes of arguments once used by South Africa’s apartheid regime. Why Americans should examine the parallels."

Daschle: Congress Denied Bush War Powers in U.S. - "The Bush administration requested, and Congress rejected, war-making authority "in the United States" in negotiations over the joint resolution passed days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to an opinion article by former Senate majority leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) in today's Washington Post."

Just how extensive is NSA's spy program? - " "The clues are piling up that vacuum-cleaner style dragnets are what's at issue," John Gilmore, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said in a mailing list message on Thursday. "Perhaps they've pointed the NSA vacuum cleaner straight into all U.S.-based international telecommunications.""

Patriot Act Extension Is Reduced To a Month - "The House balked yesterday at a Senate plan to extend the USA Patriot Act by six months to give Congress and President Bush more time to work out their differences, instead forcing the Senate and the administration to accept a one-month extension."

CALIFORNIA ACLU asks state if it is providing data to FBI Group concerned after Iraq meeting at Stanford watched - "The American Civil Liberties Union asked the state Wednesday to reveal whether law enforcement agents were gathering information on California activists, in light of revelations that the federal government monitored a conference on Iraq at Stanford University and an anti-war protest at UC Santa Cruz."

Columnist Says Bush Knows Who Leaked Name - "Syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak, who has repeatedly declined to discuss his role in disclosing the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame, said in a speech this week that he is certain President Bush knows who his mystery administration source is. Novak said Tuesday that the public and press should be asking the president about the official rather than pressing journalists who received the information."

Mushrooming depleted uranium (DU) scandal blamed - "Bernklau continued, “This malady (from uranium munitions), that thousands of our military have suffered and died from, has finally been identified as the cause of this sickness, eliminating the guessing. The terrible truth is now being revealed.” He added, “Out of the 580,400 soldiers who served in GW1 (the first Gulf War), of them, 11,000 are now dead! By the year 2000, there were 325,000 on Permanent Medical Disability. This astounding number of ‘Disabled Vets’ means that a decade later, 56% of those soldiers who served have some form of permanent medical problems!” The disability rate for the wars of the last century was 5 percent; it was higher, 10 percent, in Viet Nam."

Alito Argued to Overturn Roe in 1985 Memo - "Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito wrote in a June 1985 memo that the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion should be overturned."

Boy joins a sordid online world through his Webcam - "The 13-year-old boy sat in his California home, eyes fixed on a computer screen. ... So began the secret life of a teenager who was lured into selling images of his body on the Internet over the course of five years. From the seduction that began that day, this soccer-playing honor roll student was drawn into performing in front of the Webcam --undressing, showering, masturbating and even having sex--for an audience of more than 1,500 people who paid him, over the years, hundreds of thousands of dollars. ... The business has created youthful Internet pornography stars--with nicknames like Riotboyy, Miss Honey and Gigglez--whose images are traded online long after their sites have vanished. In this world, adolescents announce schedules of their next masturbation for customers who pay fees for the performance or monthly subscription charges. Eager customers can even buy "private shows," in which teenagers sexually perform while following real-time instructions."

A Firefox for music? - "With their first technical preview expected early next year, the programmers want to create music-playing software that will work naturally with the growing number of music sites and services on the Web, instead of being focused on songs on a computer's hard drive. That's where iTunes, which plugs only into Apple's own music store, falls short, Lord argues. Apple's iTunes is "like Internet Explorer, if Internet Explorer could only browse," Lord said. "We love Apple, and appreciate and thank them for setting the bar in terms of user experience. But it's inevitable that the market architecture changes as it matures.""

Your Right to Be an Idiot - "So, what to do with Wikipedia? And, in a broader sense, what to do with the free flow of information on the internet?
In a word, nothing. Having access to the internet is a little like handing a kid a loaded gun. In the wrong hands it can be intellectually lethal. In terms of being a reliable source, the web is a minefield to be navigated very carefully. There is plenty of useful information to be had, but the place is a nest of vipers, too. ... Still, do you regulate the internet to "protect" us from ingesting information that is wrong, deliberately misleading, whacked out, even harmful? Uh-uh. That's your own responsibility, as an educated participant in a free society. (The "educated" part is a bit tricky these days, I'll grant you, but that's fodder for another column.) There's an old expression in the newspaper business: "If your mother says she loves you, check it out." In other words, make sure your bullshit detector is always on. Be skeptical of what you're told, of what you read. Cross-check your facts with other sources. What applies in the newsroom applies tenfold on the internet, where anybody is free to post any damned thing they want to.",69903-0.html?tw=wn_tophead_7

Quote of the Day
"If you can't convince them, confuse them."
~ Harry S. Truman

December 22, 2005

News -- December 22, 2005

Saddam steals show with claim of U.S. torture - ""I have been hit by the Americans and tortured," he said, speaking purposefully. "I have been beaten on every place of my body, and the signs are all over my body.""

Bush's Gift to America - Endless War - "Bush practices a Manichean variety of Christianity. He divides everything into two categories: good and evil. He used this simplistic thinking throughout his speech. According to the President there are only two positions on terrorists: One is to continue to fight them in Iraq. The other is to “leave them alone.” The choice is between “victory” and “defeat.” This logic is both dangerous and insulting to the intelligence of the American people. ... Bush’s speech contained nothing new. If the President has a plan, he’s holding it close to his chest. In 2006, the U.S. will march deeper into the Iraqi quagmire. No doubt, George will periodically reassure the public that he sees the light at the end of the tunnel. Meanwhile, the Administration will ignore the work needed to protect our country from terrorist attacks. The Bush policies have imperiled the Nation. We are living on borrowed time, but George won’t admit it.";_ylt=A0SOwlIPOqhDuicAewr9wxIF;_ylu=X3oDMTBjMHVqMTQ4BHNlYwN5bnN1YmNhdA

Dick Cheney has put it on the table as bluntly and thuggishly as a mobster setting down a crowbar. - "The Bush dictatorship -- and it has clearly and publicly crossed the threshold now -- is not going to tiptoe away. Dictatorships don't. They hang on until they are displaced from positions of power. If the Democrats don't start yelling fire soon, we'll just be left with the burning hulk of what once was a great democracy. We are on the verge of irreversibly becoming just another dictatorship "ism.""

Iraq Election Spells Total Defeat for US - "Iraq is disintegrating. The first results from the parliamentary election last week show that the country is dividing up between Shia, Sunni and Kurdish regions. The secular and nationalist candidate backed by the US and Britain was humiliatingly defeated."

Bill Would Allow Arrests For No Reason In Public Place - "The Ohio Patriot Act has made it to the Taft's desk, and with the stroke of a pen, it would most likely become the toughest terrorism bill in the country. The lengthy piece of legislation would let police arrest people in public places who will not give their names, address and birth dates, even if they are not doing anything wrong." -- If you're not pissed off, then you're not paying attention.

Britain will be first country to monitor every car journey - "Britain is to become the first country in the world where the movements of all vehicles on the roads are recorded. A new national surveillance system will hold the records for at least two years. Using a network of cameras that can automatically read every passing number plate, the plan is to build a huge database of vehicle movements so that the police and security services can analyse any journey a driver has made over several years."

Canada Legalizes "Sex Clubs" - "14-year-olds will be exploited" - "The age of sexual consent in Canada is 14. Canadian teenagers can now legally participate in group sex offered by clubs (so long as alcohol is not sold on the premises). "The implications are horrendous," said Landolt. "It's an exploitation of human sexuality. 14-year-olds will be exploited.""

Judge rules against 'intelligent design' in class - "Pennsylvania science teachers will not be forced to advocate "intelligent design" after a judge ruled that that the theory is really religion in disguise."

December 21, 2005

News -- December 21, 2005

Analysis: 16,000 Americans wounded in Iraq - "This, therefore, was the week that the figure for U.S. troops wounded in Iraq broke through the 16,000-barrier. Some 7,068 of those troops were wounded so seriously that they were listed as "WIA Not RTD" by the DOD. In other words: Wounded in Action Not Returned to Duty. This meant that their injuries were so severe that in many, if not most, cases they will be crippled or mentally impaired for the rest of their lives or suffer long-term health problems from their wounds."

No President Is Above the Law - "Americans have been stunned at the recent news of the abuses of power by an overzealous President. It has become apparent that this Administration has engaged in a consistent and unrelenting pattern of abuse against our Country’s law-abiding citizens, and against our Constitution. We have been stunned to hear reports about the Pentagon gathering information and creating databases to spy on ordinary Americans whose only sin is choose to exercise their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble. Those Americans who choose to question the Administration’s flawed policy in Iraq are labeled by this Administration as “domestic terrorists.”"

Spying Program Snared U.S. Calls - "A surveillance program approved by President Bush to conduct eavesdropping without warrants has captured what are purely domestic communications in some cases, despite a requirement by the White House that one end of the intercepted conversations take place on foreign soil, officials say."

9/11: Missing Black Boxes in World Trade Center Attacks Found by Firefighters, Analyzed by NTSB, Concealed by FBI - "One of the more puzzling mysteries of 9-11 is what ever happened to the flight recorders of the two planes that hit the World Trade Center towers. Now it appears that they may not be missing at all. Counterpunch has learned that the FBI has them. If the information in those boxes is recoverable, or if, as is likely, it has been recovered already, it could give crucial evidence regarding the skill of the hijacker/pilots, perhaps of their strategy, of whether they were getting outside help in guiding them to their targets, of how fast they were flying and a host of other things. Why would the main intelligence and law enforcement arm of the U.S. government want to hide from the public not just the available information about the two hijacked flights that provided the motivation and justification for the nation's "War on Terror" and for its two wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, but even the fact that it has the devices which could contain that information?"

Versus IV - "I'm fine if an idea dies a natural death due to a preponderance of evidence against it. I'm fine if an idea is not discussed due to a lack of context; you may not want to discuss ID in the middle of Algebra class. But to think that we can label ideas as "taboo" is a bit unsettling. ... But doesn't that argument also work for other "dangerous" ideas? Could we not argue that exposing young kids to ID is inappropriate because they wouldn't understand the science (or lack thereof), but once they hit high school they have reached a level of sophistication that they could discuss the issue intelligently? Moreover, is it not our responsibility to expose and discuss ideas, valid or bogus, with our children so that they could build a solid foundation of knowledge for themselves? Is it not important to not only know what you believe, but also know what you do not believe, and be able to give a real justification for each?"

Our Endangered Moral Values: America’s Moral Crisis - "Jimmy Carter, a devout Christian, dedicated public servant, and former naval officer, was not a successful president. However, he is almost certainly America’s greatest ex-president. But even if his tenure in the Oval Office was not a success Carter’s down to earth character and personal decency were in many ways what America needed in a president in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. After the pathology and mendacity of the Nixon White House, Carter helped restore a sense of honor and dignity to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The country could use a man like Carter again. Thankfully, Carter has much to add to American public affairs as a writer and observer. His latest book, Our Endangered Moral Values: America’s Moral Crisis, is a timely and trenchant diagnosis of everything that has gone wrong in American public affairs over the last five years. In Carter’s view the highest councils of government have been taken over by a cadre of fundamentalists bent on imposing their narrow-minded agenda on America. What makes Carter’s perspective so valuable here is that his humble brand of Christianity contrasts so explicitly -- and favorably -- with the self-righteous style of Christianity exhibited by the Bush Administration."

Stalin's half-man, half-ape super-warriors - "THE Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ordered the creation of Planet of the Apes-style warriors by crossing humans with apes, according to recently uncovered secret documents. Moscow archives show that in the mid-1920s Russia's top animal breeding scientist, Ilya Ivanov, was ordered to turn his skills from horse and animal work to the quest for a super-warrior. According to Moscow newspapers, Stalin told the scientist: "I want a new invincible human being, insensitive to pain, resistant and indifferent about the quality of food they eat.""

Creating first synthetic life form - "Work on the world's first human-made species is well under way at a research complex in Rockville, Md., and scientists in Canada have been quietly conducting experiments to help bring such a creature to life."

Think Away the Pain - "Pain can be mysterious, untreatable and debilitating, and its causes can be unknown. But if you could see the pain -- or, at least, your brain's reaction to it -- you might be able to master it. ... The researchers asked people in pain to try to control a pain-regulating region of the brain by watching activity in that area from inside a real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, machine. Initial results showed subjects could reduce their pain, some quite dramatically.",1367,69887,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_2

Bumper Stickers I'd Love to See - "A bumper sticker, unlike the endless stream of state or corporate propaganda, intends to question, not support the status quo. A bumper sticker may amuse, provoke, bolster, irritate, challenge, annoy, reassure, enlighten or propagandize a reader, but seldom does it attempt to remain neutral or pimp for deceptive ideas. And that is what scares most adults. Especially seeing or hearing any message—especially a bumper sticker--contrary to accepted ideas of the mainstream."

Canadians can have group sex in clubs: top court - "Group sex between consenting adults is neither prostitution nor a threat to society, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Wednesday, dismissing arguments that the sometimes raucous activities of so-called "swingers" clubs were dangerous." -- Good.

Quote of the Day
"The federal government was never meant to be involved in every facet of our lives. That's the urgent lesson we should be teaching our kids. We should be teaching them self-reliance, personal responsibility and vigilance against tyranny."
~ Joseph Farah

December 20, 2005

News -- December 20, 2005

The New Madness of King George - " On the Sunday before Christmas, a fidgety George W. Bush interrupted regular programming on U.S. networks to deliver an address to the nation that painted the Iraq War and the War on Terror in the same black-and-white colors he has always favored."

Did Congress Pass Legislation Allowing Bush to Violate The Law Against Illegal Spying? - "Will they continue to allow him to keep doing it now that he's confessed? If WE THE PEOPLE don't act on this, and demand an end to it and serious, legal repercussions, the USA is lost."

Congressman calls for Bush impeachment - "U.S. Rep. John Lewis said Monday in a radio interview that President Bush should be impeached if he broke the law in authorizing spying on Americans. ... "Its a very serious charge, but he violated the law," said Lewis, a former civil rights leader. "The president should abide by the law. He deliberately, systematically violated the law. He is not King, he is president.""

Saddam's scientists freed as US house of cards starts to tumble - "THE British-educated Iraqi microbiologist known as Dr Germ is among two dozen senior Baathist prisoners who have been freed after more than 2½ years in US detention, it was disclosed yesterday. ... Huda Ammash, the US-trained scientist nicknamed Chemical Sally or Mrs Anthrax, has also been released. She and Dr Taha were both high-ranking members of Saddam Hussein’s party and had been accused of being central figures in his biological weapons programme.
Dr Taha was even named in the dossier on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction that the British Government released in September 2002 to make the case for war.",,7374-1943882,00.html

US Holding Children in Prison Camps as POW's - "Today, I started reading former President Jimmy Carter's new book, "Our Endangered Values". In it, he revealed something that is absolutely horrifying--the US is holding children as young as 8 years of age who have been captured in Afghanistan and Iraq in prison camps--namely, the one in Guantanamo, Cuba. Worse yet, Donald Rumsfeld knew about it. Read a short excerpt below: ... This is an absolute outrage. How could any normal, sane person ever, ever in their lives even think about torturing a child? That our own military could engage in such acts of evil, sadistic brutality--AGAINST CHILDREN--is almost too horrible to even think about. Every single sick SOB who had a part in this needs to be sent to prison for the rest of their lives, including Rumsfeld."

The miscreant dynasty - "Behind George W, there are four generations of Bushes and Walkers devoted first to using political networks to pile up and protect personal fortunes and, latterly, to using absolutely any means to gain office, not because they want to do good, but because they are what passes in American for hereditary aristocrats. In sum, George Bush stands at the apex of a pyramid of privilege whose history and social significance that, given his animosity to scholarly thought, he almost certainly does not understand."

Time for W to answerfor his actions - "You may not know it, but we are living in the Responsibility Era. So said George Bush back in 2000 when he accepted the Republican presidential nomination. He vowed that he would be the Responsibility President and, it seems, repeat the word over and over until it lost all meaning. That one speech, forgettable but retrievable, contained this line: "And to lead this nation to a responsibility era, a President himself must be responsible." Churchill, rest easy. ... This recitation of the obvious is a bit of clumsy rhetorical strutting, but also a way of ducking the ultimate in responsibility: accountability. This is something Bush will not accept or countenance."

Bush’s Snoopgate - "Finally we have a Washington scandal that goes beyond sex, corruption and political intrigue to big issues like security versus liberty and the reasonable bounds of presidential power. President Bush came out swinging on Snoopgate—he made it seem as if those who didn’t agree with him wanted to leave us vulnerable to Al Qaeda—but it will not work. We’re seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator, or in his own mind, no doubt, like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. ... No, Bush was desperate to keep the Times from running this important story—which the paper had already inexplicably held for a year—because he knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker." -- What Bush has done has been far more dangerous to this country than lying about receiving a blow-job in the Oval Office. Lock him, and the rest of his adminstration, behind bars.

Bush shows he believes he is above the law - " Who needs the Patriot Act? Not President Run-amok. The president has now admitted to secretly authorizing what amounts to an end-run around the law that is meant, specifically and determinedly, to keep intelligence agencies from snooping on Americans at home. In asking the super-secret National Security Agency to monitor - without any court oversight whatsoever - the international phone calls and e-mails of hundreds of Americans, President George W. Bush has gone far beyond what even the Patriot Act allows. So why make a fuss over the Senate's refusal to extend it? Even if lawmakers passed it, Bush would ignore it. This is a president who believes no law applies to him.",0,3978167.column?coll=ny-news-columnists

Number of electoral democracies reaches 122 as freedom spreads - "The number of electoral democracies around the world rose from 119 to 122 this year, setting a new record as freedom made inroads in the Middle East and Africa, an independent monitoring group said." -- I am beginning to believe that freedom, like truth and beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Federal Agents Visit College Student Over Interlibrary Loan Book Request - "Federal agents visited a college senior two months ago because he requested a book written by Mao Tse-Tung. The UMass Dartmouth student was working on a research paper on Communism for a class on fascism and totalitarianism. When he requested Mao Tse-Tung’s book on communism called “The Little Red Book” through an interlibrary loan, he filled out a form with his name, address, phone number, and Social Security number. Later, agents from the Department of Homeland Security visited the student at his parents’ home, according to news reports. The student’s professors say that the student was told by the agents that the book was on a federal watch list, and that his background, which includes time spent abroad, triggered a further investigation. The student said that the agents brought the book with them, but did not leave it with the student. The student is not alone. Reports have surfaced that the National Security Agency was authorized to spy on at least 500 American citizens at any time since 2002. All this surveillance is done without warrants due to provisions in the U.S. Patriot Act." -- Freedom reigns.

Buying a President - "America's business leaders supplied more than $75 million to return Bush to the White House last year _ and he has paid dividends. Bush administration policies, grand and obscure, have financially benefited companies or lobbying clients tied to at least 200 of the president's largest campaign fund-raisers, a Toledo Blade investigation has found. Dozens more stand to gain from Bush-backed initiatives that recently passed or await congressional approval. The investigation included targeted tax breaks, regulatory changes, pro-business legislation, high-profile salaried appointments, and federal contracts."

Teens Say Marijuana "Easy to Get" Despite Record Arrests - "For the 31st year in a row, approximately 85% of high school seniors have told government survey-takers that marijuana is "easy to get," according to the 2005 Monitoring the Future survey released today. The report comes less than two months after the FBI reported an all-time record number of marijuana arrests in 2004. In today's survey, 85.6% of high school seniors described marijuana as being either "fairly easy" or "very easy" to get. This "easy to get" figure has remained virtually unchanged since the survey began in 1975, having never dropped lower than 82.7% (in 1992) or higher than 90.4% (in 1998). Over the same 31-year period, the number of U.S. marijuana arrests has varied dramatically, dropping to a low of 282,800 in 1991 and then beginning an almost unbroken rise to a record high of 771,605 last year."

Decoding of Mammoth Genome Might Lead to Resurrection - "Scientists have mapped part of the genome of the wooly mammoth, a huge mammal that's been extinct for about 10,000 years. The breakthrough could lead to recreating the creatures. ... “More importantly our discovery means that recreating extinct hybrid animals is theoretically possible," Poinar said."

This is the Google side of your brain - "Up until now, "society's intelligentsia has been the most intellectual. In the next generation, it will be those best at search-engine optimization," says Fern Reiss, the chief executive of a Newton, Mass.-based media company."

Researchers Find Barbie Is Often Mutilated - "Barbie, beware. The iconic plastic doll is often mutilated at the hands of young girls, according to research published Monday by British academics. "The girls we spoke to see Barbie torture as a legitimate play activity, and see the torture as a 'cool' activity," said Agnes Nairn, one of the University of Bath researchers. "The types of mutilation are varied and creative, and range from removing the hair to decapitation, burning, breaking and even microwaving.""

Quote of the Day
"Democracy is a form of government that substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few."
~ George Bernard Shaw

December 18, 2005

News -- December 18, 2005

Goodbye to Baghdad - "Caroline Hawley has been the BBC correspondent in Iraq since before the fall of Saddam Hussein, but is packing her bags to move to Jerusalem to take up a new role as Middle East correspondent. As she leaves Baghdad, she reflects on the memories she will be taking away with her. ... But how quickly the resentment of the coalition crept in. And no wonder. ... But on the streets outside, American soldiers were increasingly being targeted and when they hit back, Iraqi civilians were often killed. They still are. Go to the main emergency hospital in Baghdad at any time, and you are likely to find Iraqis injured by mistake by US troops. ... But American soldiers have been dying here, too, and been horribly maimed. At a field hospital north of Baghdad I saw a 19-year-old brought in with half his face blown off - the day after his birthday."

Pushing the Limits Of Wartime Powers - "In his four-year campaign against al Qaeda, President Bush has turned the U.S. national security apparatus inward to secretly collect information on American citizens on a scale unmatched since the intelligence reforms of the 1970s. The president's emphatic defense yesterday of warrantless eavesdropping on U.S. citizens and residents marked the third time in as many months that the White House has been obliged to defend a departure from previous restraints on domestic surveillance. In each case, the Bush administration concealed the program's dimensions or existence from the public and from most members of Congress."

Bush says he signed NSA wiretap order - "After The New York Times reported, and CNN confirmed, a claim that Bush gave the National Security Agency license to eavesdrop on Americans communicating with people overseas, the president said that his actions were permissible, but that leaking the revelation to the media was illegal."

White House keeps dossiers on more than 10,000 'political enemies' - "Spurred by paranoia and aided by the USA Patriot Act, the Bush Administration has compiled dossiers on more than 10,000 Americans it considers political enemies and uses those files to wage war on those who disagree with its policies. The “enemies list” dates back to Bush’s days as governor of Texas and can be accessed by senior administration officials in an instant for use in campaigns to discredit those who speak out against administration policies or acts of the President."

New Patriot Act Amendments would Create Secret Police - "The Patriot Act Amendments to HR3199 include a portion for creating a Secret Service Uniformed Devision. This "Secret Police" will have rights to warrantless arrest. They can be called upon by the president at special events of national significance, as determined by the President."

Identity Theft of America! - "Look around. If you look really closely, you’ll see that something is very wrong. If you look in every direction and into every possible hiding place, you’ll become aware of the awful truth: The United States of America, the proud nation that existed just a few years ago, is no more. Only five years ago, the US had a clear identity. Only five years ago the US had a definable nature and a credible reputation. Only five years ago we knew pretty much who we were as Americans. But that time, that safe and comfortable time is no more. As 2005 comes to an end, there is nothing to be gained by denial. At this moment in our history, our identity as a nation and as a people has disappeared. It did not go willingly, and it did not go peacefully. Instead, our identity as Americans was destroyed by design and by stealth."

Stunning Silence and Belated Apologies - "Just about 3 years ago, in March 2003, the United States, a nation which likes to refer to itself as "peace-loving," "democratic," "civilized," and standing for "liberty and justice," lied to the world and attacked the sovereign nation of Iraq without provocation."

Tehran gives world leaders a history lesson they’d rather forget - "Here’s Prime Minister Paul Martin’s diatribe: “These statements are irresponsible, contrary to Canadian values…To cast doubt on the Holocaust and to suggest that Israel be ‘moved’ to Europe, the United States or Canada is completely unacceptable to the Canadian people.” This is the same Paul Martin, by the way, who last month asserted: “Israel’s values are Canada’s values.” Good Gawd! What better proof is there that Canada’s Foreign Ministry is under Zionist occupation?"

Britain ran torture camp after WWII: report - "Britain ran a secret prison in Germany for two years after the end of World War II where inmates including Nazi party members were tortured and starved to death, the Guardian says."

US, Europe step up planning on Iran - "Faced with an increasingly hard line from Iran, the United States and Europe have stepped up planning for tougher diplomatic action should Tehran follow through on threats to resume critical nuclear activities, according to U.S. officials and European diplomats."

Petrodollar Warfare: Dollars, Euros and the Upcoming Iranian Oil Bourse - "Concerning Iran, recent articles have revealed active Pentagon planning for operations against its suspected nuclear facilities. While the publicly stated reasons for any such overt action will be premised as a consequence of Iran's nuclear ambitions, there are again unspoken macroeconomic drivers underlying the second stage of petrodollar warfare – Iran's upcoming oil bourse. (The word bourse refers to a stock exchange for securities trading, and is derived from the French stock exchange in Paris, the Federation Internationale des Bourses de Valeurs.) In essence, Iran is about to commit a far greater “offense” than Saddam Hussein's conversion to the euro for Iraq’s oil exports in the fall of 2000. Beginning in March 2006, the Tehran government has plans to begin competing with New York's NYMEX and London's IPE with respect to international oil trades – using a euro-based international oil-trading mechanism.[7] The proposed Iranian oil bourse signifies that without some sort of US intervention, the euro is going to establish a firm foothold in the international oil trade. Given U.S. debt levels and the stated neoconservative project of U.S. global domination, Tehran’s objective constitutes an obvious encroachment on dollar supremacy in the crucial international oil market."

Sen. Reid calls US Congress 'most corrupt in history' - "U.S. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid called the Republican-led Congress "the most corrupt in history" on Sunday, and distanced himself from lobbyist Jack Abramoff, at the center of an escalating probe."

Media Bias Is Real, Finds UCLA Political Scientist - "While the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal is conservative, the newspaper's news pages are liberal, even more liberal than The New York Times. The Drudge Report may have a right-wing reputation, but it leans left. Coverage by public television and radio is conservative compared to the rest of the mainstream media. Meanwhile, almost all major media outlets tilt to the left. These are just a few of the surprising findings from a UCLA-led study, which is believed to be the first successful attempt at objectively quantifying bias in a range of media outlets and ranking them accordingly."

How Spy Chips Are Quietly Reshaping Privacy - "Not only that, but one day in the near future, you could have a little microchip implanted in your body. Like something out of "Blade Runner" or "The Matrix," you could be electronically "tagged" and identified in order to build a record of your medical information, accessible anywhere in the world -- and for other purposes you may not know about. Sound like cyberpunk at its most cliché? Far from it. Radio frequency identifiers (RFID) -- more commonly known as "spy chips" -- are a reality in everything from retail business to medical records. And that's just the beginning. In the words of Alex Eckelberry, president of Florida-based Sunbelt Software, "The problem with RFID…[is that] we are headed toward a state where privacy will be a thing of the past.""

A 5,500-year-old mystery emerges - "An ancient big city found in modern-day Syria has prompted archeologists to rethink notions of how urban society began, even as they try to figure out who destroyed Hamoukar. ... The discovery sheds light on an early stage of human history in a time and place when cities were first emerging, and it suggests a massive battle waged at its walls. It also poses a mystery: Who destroyed the city, and why? ... "This is the root of all the civilizations. It's not only Syrian heritage. This is also yours," said Abdal-Razzaq Moaz, Syria's deputy minister of culture in charge of archaeology and cultural heritage. "It's heritage belonging to all humanity."",0,3957360.story?coll=sfla-news-science

Quote of the Day
"No matter how far you have gone on the wrong road, turn back."
~ Turkish proverb

December 17, 2005

News: Page 2 -- December 17, 2005

Bush: Eavesdropping Helps Save U.S. Lives - "Facing angry criticism and challenges to his authority in Congress, President Bush on Saturday unapologetically defended his administration's right to conduct secret post-Sept. 11 spying in the United States as "critical to saving American lives."" -- The words any dictator would use.

NSA uses ECHELON against US citizens - "The White House claims that a September, 2001 Congressional resolution authorizing the so-called war on terror gives the President authority to conduct domestic surveillance without a warrant, even though it is forbidden by federal law. Interestingly, the Times says that the spy program was curtailed when it became clear to the Administration that the story was about to come out, which implies something a bit shy of full confidence that the order really was legal."

A Half-Century of Spying on U.S. Citizens - "But there are other examples of intelligence agencies breaking the law to spy on Americans inside the U.S.:",ridgeway,71106,2.html

The Terrorists Don't Need to Destroy Democracy. Bush is Doing Their Work for Them. - "It's ironic that the Berlin Wall fell when Bush is trying to create another iron curtain. Only we're on the Soviet side of it now."

Pelosi Hails Democrats' Diverse War Stances - "Pelosi said Democrats will produce an issue agenda for the 2006 elections but it will not include a position on Iraq." -- There is no oposition party.

HOMOSEXUAL CHILD PROSTITUTION RING INVOLVING GEORGE BUSH SR. - "In the high stakes world of global politics, it is common practice to procure sexual favors in the hopes to gain leverage or to gain power through blackmail. It's done all the time. The Soviets did it. The Americans do it, and many other countries as well. This following is the bizarre and very real child sexual prostitution ring involving the Republican elite of Washington. And the trail leads right up to George H. W. Bush. ... THE ARTICLES BELOW CHRONICLE THE VERY REAL BEHAVIOR OF THE POWER ELITE IN AMERICA"

Bush least popular US president: survey - "President George W Bush ranks as the least popular and most bellicose of the last 10 US presidents, according to a new survey."

Poll: Was President Bush right to authorize NSA eavesdropping on Americans?

NIH Uses Live Viruses for Bird Flu Vaccine - "In an isolation ward of a Baltimore hospital, up to 30 volunteers will participate in a bold experiment: A vaccine made with a live version of the most notorious bird flu will be sprayed into their noses.",0,92518,print.story?coll=sns-ap-politics-headlines

News -- December 17, 2005

An Incredible Day in America - "Today, for two separate reasons, has been an incredible day in America. First, the United States has legitimized torture and secondly, the President has admitted to an impeachable offense."

Bush Approved Eavesdropping, Official Says - "President Bush has personally authorized a secretive eavesdropping program in the United States more than three dozen times since October 2001, a senior intelligence official said Friday night. The disclosure follows angry demands by lawmakers earlier in the day for congressional inquiries into whether the monitoring by the highly secretive National Security Agency violated civil liberties."

New York Times admits it held domestic spying story for a full year - "On the second page of a report which reveals the White House engaged in warrantless domestic spying, the New York Times reveals that it held the story for a full year at the request of the Bush Administration. The Times also reveals that senior members of Congress from both parties knew about Bush's decision to spy on Americans who were making international calls or emails, without warrants. Further, the Times notes that they have omitted information in the article they did write, agreeing with the Bush Administration that the information could be useful for terrorists." -- Am I the only one pissed off about this?

Nowhere to run - "The professor's puzzlement is understandable. More than two years after the war began, and despite the huge financial and human cost, it is difficult to see any real benefits. The weapons of mass destruction that provided the excuse for the invasion turned out not to exist and the idea that Iraq could become a beacon of democracy for the Middle East has proved equally far-fetched. True, there is now a multi-party electoral system, but it has institutionalised and consolidated the country's ethnic, sectarian and tribal divisions - exactly the sort of thing that should be avoided when attempting to democratise. In the absence of anything more positive, Tony Blair has fallen back on the claim that at least we're better off now without Saddam Hussein. That, too, sounds increasingly hollow.",2763,1653454,00.html

Is Bush On Drugs? Denies Ever Claiming 9-11/Saddam Link Now - ""There was no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the attack of 9/11," Bush said. "I've never said that and never made that case prior to going into Iraq."" -- WTF?

Distinguished University of Minnesota Philosophy Professor Joins 9/11 Fight, Saying the Truth Must Be Uncovered - "Professor Fetzer now becomes another in a long list of academicians, including Jones and Griffin, who have cast severe doubt on the credibility of the government’s official 9/11 story, calling for a renewed debate and independent investigation to get at the truth."

19 Arrests In National Crackdown On Child Prostitution - "Prostitution rings from New York to Hawaii forced more than 30 children as young as 12 to have sex at truck stops, hotels and brothels, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Friday, announcing a government crackdown. ... "The abhorrent acts alleged in these charges include children being herded around the country as sex slaves, forced to work as prostitutes in brothels and at truck stops, and beaten at the hands of pimps and peddlers," Gonzales said at a Justice Department news conference."

Smoking foes try to stop parents from lighting up - "Anti-smoking activists who are driving cigarettes from public places across the country are now targeting private homes -- especially those with children."

No advances made in adult literacy, study says - "About one in 20 adults in the U.S. is not literate in English, meaning 11 million people lack the skills to handle many everyday tasks, a federal study shows."

Scottish DNA expert could identify infamous Ripper - "He left clues as well as bodies but now it is hoped a breakthrough in DNA technology will lead to the true identity of Jack the Ripper being revealed, more than 100 years after he committed his crimes."

World's Scientists Predict What's Next in Coming 25 Years - "Besides consciousness, the small number of human genes and what the universe is made of, the other big questions on Science's list of 25 are:"

Quote of the Day
"Privacy is the right to be alone - the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by civilized man."
~ Louis D. Brandeis

December 15, 2005

News -- December 15, 2005

Bush Secretly Lifted Some Limits on Spying in U.S. After 9/11, Officials Say - "Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials." -- And this administration continues to stay in office.

Is the Pentagon spying on Americans? - "The Defense Department document is the first inside look at how the U.S. military has stepped up intelligence collection inside this country since 9/11, which now includes the monitoring of peaceful anti-war and counter-military recruitment groups. “I think Americans should be concerned that the military, in fact, has reached too far,” says NBC News military analyst Bill Arkin."

Muslim Conspiracy to Rule World Just Nonsense - "Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld et al have been raising the spectre of a worldwide Islamic rule by a caliph, as envisaged by Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab Zarqawi and other terrorists. The chances of a caliphate coming are zero. But raising its spectre helps keep Americans scared. Never mind that, just as the reasons given for the Iraq war proved false, the explanations offered for terrorism have not met the test of time either. ... Exaggerating the power of the enemy is a standard war tactic (used against Saddam Hussein by both George H.W. Bush in the 1991 Gulf War and by George W. Bush in 2003). But this caliphate business takes the cake. One can laugh it off but for its possible long-term consequences."

Enemies of the state? Police fail even to question men held as a terror threat - "Suspected of plotting terror, a group of men have been held for four years but never charged. Now, in their first testimonies, they reveal the authorities have not even questioned them since their arrests."

For Hillary Clinton, Six Years Make a Difference - "In 1999, Hillary Rodham Clinton was skewered as a carpetbagger from Illinois and Arkansas who would get her comeuppance at the hands of the mayor of New York City. Today, she appears to be coasting to a 2006 Senate re-election victory that could set her up for a White House run two years later." -- The news gets worse each day.

Pentagon rolls out stealth PR - "A $300 million Pentagon psychological warfare operation includes plans for placing pro-American messages in foreign media outlets without disclosing the U.S. government as the source, one of the military officials in charge of the program says." -- Now, why do you think the Pentagon thinks this is necessary?

US among top 10 nations jailing scribes - "China, Cuba, Eritrea, and Ethiopia were the world's leading jailers of journalists in 2005, together accounting for two-thirds of the 125 editors, writers, and photo journalists imprisoned around the world, while US was for the first time listed among the top 10, the Committee to Protect Journalists has said. The United States, which is holding journalists in detention centers in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, rose to sixth among countries jailing journalists, just behind Uzbekistan and tied with Myanmar, it said." -- Nice list to be on, huh?

You've Got Mail, and ... - "In an age when many search for sex on the Internet, Los Angeles County health officials on Wednesday unveiled a controversial tool to fight the spread of HIV and other diseases: a website that helps send anonymous e-mail warning people that they might be infected." -- This is a horrible idea.,0,1140423.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Remember Gay Marriage? - "That kind of rhetoric had its desired effect, driving conservative voters to the polls in large numbers, helping to re-elect President Bush and increasing Republican representation in Congress and state legislatures. But a year later, it seems pertinent to ask: Have you heard or read a single word about a federal gay-marriage amendment since the election?
No, you have not, because this supposedly all-important issue has vanished from the political landscape. Judging from the available evidence, this dire threat to marriage and family, this looming peril to the very core of American society, has simply disappeared as a concern. Certainly, nobody's talking about it or trying to do anything about it any longer. ... A cynical person might look at that evidence and suggest that maybe the gay-marriage controversy was never real in the first place. Maybe it was just a product, like soap or toilet paper, that was manufactured by politicians and then sold by certain media outlets and interest groups. Maybe those politicians never had any intention of trying to pass such an amendment and were merely playing their supporters for fools."

Sex Survey 'Eye-Opening' For Local Parents - "In a districtwide survey, nearly half of high school students and one in five middle school students said they have had sexual intercourse, and a higher percentage of high school boys than girls reported being physically hurt by their "significant others." "We really do not understand what's going on with kids today," Lloyd Zimet, who oversees prevention and wellness programs for Hillsborough schools, told a small group of Parent-Teacher Association parents and grandparents last week." -- Hey, guess what? Teenagers have been having sex all along, it just wasn't so out in the open before.

Congress Expects Up to $100B Wartime Request - "The Pentagon is in the early stages of drafting a wartime request for up to $100 billion more for Iraq and Afghanistan, lawmakers say, a figure that would push spending related to the wars toward a staggering half-trillion dollars." -- Read that last number again. That's like spending $3600 an hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for about 16,000 years.

Police look for answers in text messages - "TEXT messages and emails urging gangs to muster for rampages in and around Sydney continued to be widely circulated yesterday, as police announced a taskforce would investigate the use of phones to incite violence. ... "You are getting text messages from people you don't even know," he said. "The next day I would ring the number and it was disconnected. [I have] no idea where it came from. I don't know where they're getting my number."" -- Now, who do the riots help?

Scientists in Spain link additive to obesity - "Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a food additive (E-621) used as a flavor enhancer in a variety of foods. Until now it has been generally considered as one of the least offensive additives used by the food industry. But Spanish scientists have concluded that aswell as enhancing flavour, MSG also enhances hunger and as such could be one of the key factors behind the problem of obesity, especially among children."

Go-ahead for first full face transplants - "British surgeons are preparing to carry out an unprecedented full face transplant operation next year after being granted ethical approval to actively seek patients.",3605,1668774,00.html

Mice Created With Human Brain Cells - "Add another creation to the strange scientific menagerie where animal species are being mixed together in ever more exotic combinations. Scientists announced Monday that they had created mice with small amounts of human brain cells in an effort to make realistic models of neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease."

Bumblebees Recognize People - "Don't be too proud of never forgetting a face: It turns out even a humble bumblebee can distinguish and recall different human faces, say researchers who have conducted experiments on the surprisingly canny insects."

Archaeologist finds 2,000-year-old Maya mural - "A photo released by the National Geographic Society shows a detail from a Maya mural found at San Bartolo in Guatemala. The mural depicts the birth of the cosmos and the divine right of a king." -- Check out the picture.

Study: Wikipedia as accurate as Britannica - "Wikipedia is about as good a source of accurate information as Britannica, the venerable standard-bearer of facts about the world around us, according to a study published this week in the journal Nature."

Quote of the Day
"Liberties are not given; they are taken."
~ Aldous Huxley

December 12, 2005

News -- December 12, 2005

Word of more secret prisons swirls in Iraq - "Iraqi officials and surviving prisoners have named four additional prisons run by the Interior Ministry at which prisoners were held incognito and subjected to torture."

TORTURE IS AN INSTRUMENT OF TERROR, SAYS ANNAN - "Torture can never be an instrument to fight terror because it is an instrument of terror, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said, in his annual Human Rights Day message. He decried the recent trend of countries claiming exceptions to the international prohibition against the practice and called for all states to honour the legally established ban on torture and to vigorously combat the impunity of those who perpetrate it."

Pentagon devising scenarios for martial law in US - " According to a report published Monday by the Washington Post, the Pentagon has developed its first ever war plans for operations within the continental United States, in which terrorist attacks would be used as the justification for imposing martial law on cities, regions or the entire country." -- That would be a Bush Administration's wet dream.

Secret ID Law to Get Hearing - "On Thursday, Gilmore will argue that the government's secret identification rules -- no federal law compels travelers to show ID -- and no-fly list infringe on his First Amendment rights, but don't make the country safer. In addition, government lawyers long denied the existence of the rule -- which predates the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks -- even though there are signs in airports cautioning passengers that they are required to show identification. The government recently switched tactics, acknowledging the rule exists but arguing that the identification requirement is a law-enforcement technique." -- You WILL show your papers, citizen!,1283,69774,00.html

White House Liars on the Defensive - "These are people, the official elaborated, who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." The bullying Bush insider warned against such belief, dismissing it as naïve: "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he declared. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality, we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."" -- They will do what they want to do until the people decide to stop them.

French Told CIA of Bogus Intelligence - "More than a year before President Bush declared in his 2003 State of the Union speech that Iraq had tried to buy nuclear weapons material in Africa, the French spy service began repeatedly warning the CIA in secret communications that there was no evidence to support the allegation.",0,3678379.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Poll: Broad Optimism in Iraq, But Also Deep Divisions Among Groups - "An ABC News poll in Iraq, conducted with Time magazine and other media partners, includes some remarkable results: Despite the daily violence there, most living conditions are rated positively, seven in 10 Iraqis say their own lives are going well, and nearly two-thirds expect things to improve in the year ahead."

Two countries, one booming, one struggling: which one followed the free-trade route? - "So which of the two has the better recent economic record? The question should be a no-brainer if all the free-trade theories are right - Mexico should be streets ahead of Vietnam. In fact, the opposite is true. Since Mexico signed the Nafta (North American Free Trade Agreement) deal with the US and Canada in 1992, its annual per capita growth rate has barely been above 1%. Vietnam has grown by around 5% a year for the past two decades. Poverty in Vietnam has come down dramatically: real wages in Mexico have fallen.",16781,1664984,00.html

The Age of Autism: 'A pretty big secret' - "It's a far piece from the horse-and-buggies of Lancaster County, Pa., to the cars and freeways of Cook County, Ill. But thousands of children cared for by Homefirst Health Services in metropolitan Chicago have at least two things in common with thousands of Amish children in rural Lancaster: They have never been vaccinated. And they don't have autism."

Anti-creationism professor: Resignation was forced - "A college professor who drew sharp criticism for comments deriding Christian fundamentalists over "intelligent design" said he was forced out as chairman of the university's religious studies department."

Why December 25? - "To us, Christmas and December are inseparable. But for the first three centuries of Christianity, Christmas wasn't in December—or on the calendar anywhere. If observed at all, the celebration of Christ's birth was usually lumped in with Epiphany (January 6), one of the church's earliest established feasts. Some church leaders even opposed the idea of a birth celebration. Origen (c.185-c.254) preached that it would be wrong to honor Christ in the same way Pharaoh and Herod were honored. Birthdays were for pagan gods."

The marriage of many - ""Polygamy rights is the next civil rights battle." So goes the motto of a Christian pro-polygamy organization that has been watching the battle over homosexual "marriage" rights with keen interest. "We're coming. We are next. There's no doubt about it, we are next," says Mark Henkel, founder of"

Scientists: Greenland glaciers rapidly melting - "One of the glaciers, Kangerdlugssuaq, is currently moving about 9 miles a year compared to 3 miles a year in 2001, said Gordon Hamilton of the University of Maine's Climate Change Institute. The other glacier, Helheim, is retreating at about 7 miles a year -- up from 4 miles a year during the same period. "It's quite a staggering rate of increase," Hamilton said at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting."

THE SKELETON OF JEBAL-BAREZ - "I believe the skeleton was partially unveiled following the earthquake, otherwise it would have been discovered previously. You can see in the photograph the immense size of the creature's ribs and vertebrae in comparison with my small figure, and this is just a small section of the fossil, which stretches a great distance in either direction (possibly hundreds of feet long total). ... I am simply unaware of any creature that has ever looked quite like this, nor was ever this large. ... this animal is massive, a biological impossibility - and yet there it is, buried in the rock for untold centuries, apparently over 200 feet long. The cavity structure of the fossilized remains suggests it was most certainly reptilian, possibly amphibious or even avian - but none of it makes any sense. As for the apparent wing anatomy, that debate continues. This is a creature that stands outside the known animal kingdom, and will perhaps require years of study to fully understand."

Maryland Begins Taxing Residents for Flushing - "The arrival of bills for the state's new "flush tax" is taking some property owners by surprise in Charles County.",2933,178380,00.html

More Wikipedia Inaccuracy - ""There is a problem with the structure of Wikipedia. The basic problem is that no one, neither the Trustees of Wikimedia Foundation, nor the volunteers who are connected with Wikipedia, consider themselves responsible for the content," said Daniel Brandt."

Long-Lost Time Capsule Found in Hawaii - "Using radar equipment along a wall of a landmark Hawaiian building, military specialists Saturday quickly located a time capsule buried more than a century ago by King Kamehameha V.";_ylt=AhX8LkK_2xTXP2Yo7tIVDjCs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3b2NibDltBHNlYwM3MTY

Quote of the day
"Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal."
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.