February 28, 2006

News -- February 28, 2006

This just in: President Bush more popular than Vlad the Impaler! - " Dear Leader is now down to his core following: CEOs, Freepers and unfortunates in persistent vegetative states."

Where Are the Good Americans? - "Anyone who sees the photographs of the victims of the Nazi concentration camps must wonder how human beings could ever have allowed such things to happen. They must wonder how people of good will could have stood by while their government committed atrocities in their name. In the wake of that nightmarish era, people often asked, "Where were the good Germans?" After the publication of the long-suppressed pictures of Abu Ghraib victims and the United Nations finding that torture and abuse are still taking place at the US prison in Guantánamo Bay, America has fashioned its own nightmare. We now must ask ourselves, "Where are the good Americans?""

UN watchdog refuses to give Iran clean bill of health in nuclear row - "A confidential report by Dr ElBaradei, supplied to Vienna diplomats ahead of next week's meeting and obtained by the Guardian, said that the IAEA was still not in a position to assert that Iran's nuclear programme was "entirely peaceful"."

US: Iran has one-week ’opportunity’ to defuse standoff - "The United States said that Iran had a one-week "opportunity," before the March 6 meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog agency, to ease fears that it seeks atomic weapons."

White House Rejects Special Counsel - "The White House on Monday rejected the call by more than a dozen House Democrats for a special counsel to investigate the Bush administration's eavesdropping program."

U.S. Troops in Iraq: 72% Say End War in 2006 - "Almost 90% think war is retaliation for Saddam’s role in 9/11." -- Hello? McFly?

Patriot Act Renewal Clears Final Hurdle - "Months overdue in a midterm election year, the USA Patriot Act renewal cleared a final hurdle in the Senate Tuesday on its way to President Bush's desk. But the bill's sponsor said he is unsatisfied with the measure's privacy protections and far from done tinkering with the centerpiece of Bush's war on terrorism."

Tortured Logic - "In late 2003 and early 2004, both men used their dogs to intimidate Iraqi prisoners during interrogations at Abu Ghraib prison. They maintain that they were following legal orders. Now they both face impending court-martial."

Prisoners without names, cells without number - "Hentoff asks the very pertinent question--apparently a topic of hot debate within the CIA--what will they do with the bodies, with prisoners they do not admit exist, whom they have no legal right to hold and whom they have tortured and dehumanized for years? Will they simply be disappeared? And then there is our own responsibility for letting it happen."

Congress Lives in a Bubble, Bloggers Know More - "During the last several years that I’ve been studying politics intensely, it’s become apparent that Congress is living in a bubble, an information vacuum - they don’t even know what’s really going on."

The World That Dick Built - ""It is a Dick Cheney world out there," Moyers writes, "--a world where politicians and lobbyists hunt together, dine together, drink together, play together, pray together and prey together, all the while carving up the world according to their own interests.""

Draft the Donald! Campaign Effort Begins - "The head of New York's Independence Party has launched a Web site aiming to draft Donald Trump into the 2008 presidential race as a third-party candidate." -- Ugh.

Global credit ocean dries up - "The cash machine that sustained a world boom is about to close, and it's going to get ugly."

Too hot to handle - "Recent efforts to censor Jim Hansen, NASA's top climate scientist, are only the latest. As his message grows more urgent, we ignore him at our peril."

US sees decline in housing sales - "Sales of new homes in the US dropped for the second time in three months in January, putting pressure on the Federal Reserve to ease interest rates."

FDA approves first patch to treat depression - "The first skin patch to treat major depression in adults has won final approval to be sold in the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday."

Warning for Apple users after new security scare - "Users of Apple computers are being warned to stay alert after being hit by the latest in a series of security problems. The most recent flaw, which was discovered by a German student, could expose users to so-called "drive-by downloads"."

We don't know how to teach handwriting, teachers say - ""Many years ago, penmanship had a high value placed on it," Goodwin said. "Cursive is about to be a lost art in terms of beauty. Cursive is a beautiful expression form.""

Quote of the Day
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
~ George Bernard Shaw

February 27, 2006

News (Page 2) -- February 27, 2006

'There is no Iranian 'crisis'' - "The leaders of the former Soviet Union would have been envious of how the U.S. mainstream media fall into line on international issues. In their coverage of the current concocted "crisis" with Iran, the U.S. corporate media have committed two major sins: 1) failure to put events into a historical and political context, and 2) unquestioning parroting of the U.S. government line. The second is particularly egregious given the media's shameful record in the run-up to the attack on Iraq."

Needing to wake up, West just closes its eyes - "Something very remarkable is happening around the globe and, if you want the short version, a Muslim demonstrator in Toronto the other day put it very well: ''We won't stop the protests until the world obeys Islamic law.'' Stated that baldly it sounds ridiculous. But, simply as a matter of fact, every year more and more of the world lives under Islamic law:"

It's the Corporation, Stupid - "The people running this country -- and that includes most of the leaders of both parties -- have proven again and again they are perfectly willing to outsource American jobs, American wage standards, and American health and safety standards all for the sacred, holy grail of free trade. Why would it surprise us that national security is ditto?"

American Government: Heading Toward Disintegration and Collapse - "Many are increasingly beginning to convince themselves that the present United States government could be viewed as the worst in the history of the American nation. Democracy has ceased to exist for all practical purposes and we have a situation today where the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing."

GOP Governors Say Bush Missteps Hurting - "Republican governors are openly worrying that the Bush administration's latest stumbles _ from the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina to those of its own making on prescription drugs and ports security _ are taking an election-year toll on the party back home."

Denial is not a reason for arrest - "Words do not kill. So there is no statement for which it is permissible to send a person to prison. Freedom of speech is absolute, even when that which is spoken is as despicable and ridiculous as Holocaust denial. Those who start to doubt that principle will not know where to stop. Is denial of the Jewish Holocaust deserving of punishment while denial of the Armenian Holocaust, perpetrated by the Turks, is not? And why not? Because "only" a million and a half people were destroyed there? And what about the world's racist indifference to the destruction of a million Tutsi in Rwanda or the mass murder of 4 million people in the Congo? After all, the world ignores those holocausts even if it does not deny their existence explicitly, and nobody thinks about punishing someone for that outrageous apathy and indifference."

In Defense of Free Thought - "Sentencing a Holocaust denier to prison -- and the lack of protests in response -- should raise alarms among everyone who values free speech."

When Americans No Longer Own America - "Then came the flat-worlders, led by misguided true believers and promoted by multinational corporations. Do away with those tariffs, they said, because they "restrain trade." Let everything in, and tax nothing. The result has been an explosion of cheap goods coming into our nation, and the loss of millions of good manufacturing jobs and thousands of manufacturing companies. Entire industry sectors have been wiped out. These policies have kneecapped the American middle class. Our nation's largest employer has gone from being the unionized General Motors to the poverty-wages Wal-Mart. Americans have gone from having a net savings rate around 10 percent in the 1970s to a minus .5 percent in 2005 - meaning that they're going into debt or selling off their assets just to maintain their lifestyle."

Diebold Whistleblower charged with 3 Felonies - "Stephen Heller is alleged to have exposed documents in Jan. & Feb. 2004 which provided smoking gun evidence that Diebold was using illegal, uncertified software in California voting machines. The docs also showed that Diebold's California attorneys (the powerful international law firm Jones Day) had told them they were in breach of the law for using uncertified software, but Diebold continued to use the uncertified software anyway."

Diana Death Investigation Confirms Evidence Of Cover-up - "The investigation into the death of Princess Diana, led by former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens, continues to confirm previously known facts and unearth new evidence proving that the August 31st 1997 crash was no accident. As previously exhaustively documented by this website, the evidence pointing to murder is conclusive."

Atheists get noticed - "There has always been a social stigma attached to being an atheist greater than that of belonging to even the wackiest of religions. Consider George Bush Sr.'s statement: "I don't know that atheists should be considered citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God." How are such statements possible?"

Number of Unsold Homes Hits Record High - "Analysts viewed the new data as further evidence that the nation's red-hot housing market, which hit record sales levels for five straight years, has definitely started to cool."

Man registers .345 blood-alcohol level - "His blood-alcohol level was so high that it had the effects that experts say is near surgical anesthesia."

Chocolate Linked to Lower Blood Pressure - "Leave it to the Dutch to help demonstrate the health benefits of chocolate. A study of older men in The Netherlands, known for its luscious chocolate, indicated those who ate the equivalent of one-third of a chocolate bar every day had lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of death. The researchers say, however, it's too early to conclude it was chocolate that led to better health."

News -- February 27, 2006

The Case for Impeachment - "Conyers said: “I don't think enough people know how much damage this administration can do to their civil liberties in a very short time. What would you have me do? Grumble and complain? Make cynical jokes? Throw up my hands and say that under the circumstances nothing can be done? At least I can muster the facts, establish a record, tell the story that ought to be front-page news.”"

Iran Leader: U.S. Should Give Up Nukes - "Iran's president said Monday that his country supports calls for making the Middle East a nuclear arms-free zone, but he also urged the United States and Russia to give up all their atomic weapons as a threat to the region's stability."

Former CIA Analyst: Western Intelligence May Be Behind Mosque Bombing - "Former CIA analyst a and presidential advisor Ray McGovern does not rule out Western involvement in this week's Askariya mosque bombing in light of previous false flag operations that have advanced hidden agendas of the ruling elite."

FBI memos reveal allegations of abusive interrogation techniques - "Military interrogators posing as FBI agents at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, wrapped terrorism suspects in an Israeli flag and forced them to watch homosexual pornography under strobe lights during interrogation sessions that lasted as long as 18 hours, according to one of a batch of FBI memos released Thursday."

US-run jail in Afghanistan 'worse than Guantanamo' - "An American-run prison for terrorist suspects in Afghanistan has grown to rival and even eclipse Guantanamo Bay with hundreds of inmates in legal limbo, it was disclosed yesterday."

Iraq War: Depleted Uranium Contaminates Europe - " The highest levels of depleted uranium ever measured in the atmosphere in Britain, were transported on air currents from the Middle East and Central Asia; of special significance were those from the Tora Bora bombing in Afghanistan in 2001, and the "Shock & Awe" bombing during Gulf War II in Iraq in 2003."

Defeat is victory. Death is life - "Everyone in the Middle East rewrites history, but never before have we had a US administration so wilfully, dishonestly and ruthlessly reinterpreting tragedy as success, defeat as victory, death as life - helped, I have to add, by the compliant American press."

Venezuela Prepared to Stop U.S. Exports - "Venezuela could easily sell oil to markets other than the United States and is prepared to end exports to its No. 1 buyer if needed, the oil minister said in comments published Sunday. President Hugo Chavez's government has recently stepped up threats to cut off oil exports to the United States and sell Venezuelan-owned refineries there amid rising tensions with President George W. Bush's administration."

V FOR VENDETTA IS THE MOST DANGEROUS FILM OF THE YEAR - "Sure, this film is about a fictional fascist state that denies its people basic liberties and makes them live in fear, and sure it’s set in the London of the future, but there’s no hiding the fact that the film’s timeline is one that begins today."

Outcry in Germany as anti-Semitic film sells out - "A virulently anti-Semitic film about the Iraq war has provoked a storm of protest in Germany after it sold out to cheering audiences from the country's 2.5 million-strong Turkish community. Valley of the Wolves, by the Turkish director Serdan Akar, shows crazed American GIs massacring innocent guests at a wedding party and scenes in which a Jewish surgeon removes organs from Iraqi prisoners in a style reminiscent of the Nazi death camp doctor Joseph Mengele."

'Pizza pope' builds a Catholic heaven - "A FORMER marine who was raised by nuns and made a fortune selling pizza has embarked on a £230m plan to build the first town in America to be run according to strict Catholic principles. Abortions, pornography and contraceptives will be banned in the new Florida town of Ave Maria, which has begun to take shape on former vegetable farms 90 miles northwest of Miami."

The march of the Mormons - "The Latter-day Saints are on the rise in the US, and a Republican named Mitt Romney has hopes of becoming the first Mormon president. But the church has one serious image problem: polygamy. Which is why HBO's new drama, about a man with three wives, is stirring up controversy."

What a drag: 'Reefer Madness' of teen sex in Kansas - "In the midst of this, the loudest promises of protection have come from those pushing an abstinence-only education for children which, in effect, is fear-of-sex education. And now we have another product from the protection racketeers: the notion that any and all sexual activity by teenagers should be treated as sexual abuse. Welcome, Auntie Em, to Kansas. ... Kansas is one of 12 states in which underage sex (under 16 in this case) is a crime even when it involves teen peers. In 2003, state Attorney General Phill Kline, a bandstanding pro-lifer, interpreted that law to require educators, counselors and health care workers to report virtually all sexual activity by those under 16 to the state. The Kline Theory goes something like this: If sexual activity between teens is illegal, there's no such thing as consensual sex, and thus every act is harmful. These acts include "any lewd fondling or touching of the person ... with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires." In short, health care workers have to rat on 15-year-old sexual criminals who are lustily and mutually "abusing" each other in the back seat of a Toyota." -- This article saddens me.

Academics fight rise of creationism at universities - "A growing number of science students on British campuses and in sixth form colleges are challenging the theory of evolution and arguing that Darwin was wrong. Some are being failed in university exams because they quote sayings from the Bible or Qur'an as scientific fact and at one sixth form college in London most biology students are now thought to be creationists."

Like a virgin... - "When Jeanette Yarborough decided to give her husband a gift for their seventeenth wedding anniversary she wanted it to be special. Really special. She decided that conventional treats such as Mediterranean cruises, gold watches, cars, a murder-mystery weekend, or even a boob job just weren’t going to cut it. She gave him something much more personal — and painful. Her virginity. Well, sort of. Mrs Yarborough paid $5,000 (£2,860) to a cosmetic surgeon to stitch her hymen back together so she could “lose her virginity” all over again and her husband would have that thrilling conquest at the grand age of 40."

Medical records to go online - "Starting on April 1, the first step toward having all medical records accessible online will begin in Florida."

Alaska Volcano Augustine Webcam -- Just watching.

Most get news from broadcasters - "Seventy-seven percent of U.S. adults watch local broadcast news, while 71 percent watch network news, compared to 18 percent who read a national newspaper."

Is Mac OS as safe as ever? - "Apple Computer fans have long loved to point out the safety of using Mac OS X, which has mostly been left alone by hackers. But the recent arrival of three threats has some asking: Is the software's charmed security life over?"

Quote of the Day
"The problems in the world today are so enormous they cannot be solved with the level of thinking that created them."
~ Albert Einstein

February 26, 2006

News -- February 26, 2006

AP Photo/Rajesh Nirgude

DEATH IN U.S. CUSTODY - " A major human rights advocacy group is charging that of the 98 detainees who have died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since August 2002, 34 are suspected or confirmed homicides, another 11 suggest that death was a result of physical abuse or harsh conditions, but only 12 deaths have resulted in punishment of any kind for any U.S. official. In close to half the deaths surveyed in a new report by Human Rights First, the cause of death remains officially undetermined or unannounced. Overall, eight people in U.S. custody were tortured to death." -- Check out the picture.

"Global War ... For Some Years to Come." - "A U.S. military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would be used to repackage the occupation of Iraq as part of Washington's "long war" on "radical Islam," give Israel a blank check to crush the Palestinians and justify further U.S. imperial aggression in the Middle East. That's the logic of the growing U.S. efforts to force Iran to abandon its plan to enrich uranium--a process that is allowed under international treaties, but portrayed by the U.S. and its European sidekicks as a pretext for a nuclear weapons program."

Setting sail away from America: The world finds it's too hard to do business with the US - "Lucrative opportunities taken away on a political whim; the danger of being locked up by an over-mighty government agency; the brick wall of protectionism - the business community expects to do battle with all these things in an emerging market. Yet this suddenly seems to be a description of doing business in that most developed of all markets, the United States of America. In the UK, in the cash-rich Gulf states and in fast-growing India, different incidents in the past week have made people ask the same question: is it worth doing business with the US?"

Orders to U.S. factories for manufactured goods fall by largest amount in 5.5 years - "Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods fell by the largest amount in 5.5 years in January as demand for commercial aircraft suffered the biggest setback in seven years, the government reported today. The Commerce Department said that orders for durable goods, everything from computers to cars, fell by 10.2 percent last month, a much bigger decline than had been expected."

Iran and Russia strike nuclear deal - "Iran has reached a mysterious "basic agreement" with Russia on a joint venture to enrich uranium, according to Iran's nuclear chief, Gholamreza Aghazadeh."

The Perpetual Surveillance Society - "As it is with all such intrusions on our privacy, it won't be easy to put your finger on exactly what's wrong with this technology. It won't really amount to a new form of control, as all the people who accept the implants will already be subject to monitoring or tracking of one kind or another. It will always be voluntary, at least to the extent that anything the state or our employers want us to do is voluntary. But there is something utterly revolting about it. It is another means by which the barriers between ourselves and the state, ourselves and the corporation, ourselves and the machine are broken down. In that tiny capsule we find the paradox of 21st century capitalism: A political system that celebrates choice, autonomy and individualism above all other virtues demands that choice, autonomy and individualism are perpetually suppressed."

TIA Lives On - "It is no secret that some parts of TIA lived on behind the veil of the classified intelligence budget. However, the projects that moved, their new code names, and the agencies that took them over haven't previously been disclosed."

Urgent warning of imminent cataclysm in Northwest United States - "What would you think if you were told that the currently erupting Augustine Volcano in Alaska was experiencing an unusual kind of earthquake every twelve hours to the second? That’s right, a very strange earthquake goes off on Augustine every twelve hours exactly to the second. What would you think if you were told that each of these unusual earthquakes lasted for exactly the same length of time, fifty-seconds for each and every event? What would you think if you were shown a collection of seismic waveforms for these precision earthquakes that were essentially identical? Most people would think those waveforms and the claims that preceded them were a hoax. Unfortunately, what you are about to view is not a hoax. The source for the first set of images is the Alaska Volcano Observatory. These images are of anomalous seismographic events, and they may also be seen individually after you read this at:"

White House asks to call up troops for disaster aid - "The federal government should be able to deploy troops to deal with major disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and, in "extraordinary circumstances," should take over the entire operation from states and localities, the White House said yesterday."

U.S. ceded control of ports - "The furor over a United Arab Emirates company taking over some operations at six U.S. ports underscores the global nature of the shipping industry and the minor role played by American interests."

Bush's 'fine' economy sees millions go hungry - "But the statistic that stood out most was the one that said 36 per cent of people who came seeking food lived in households where at least one person worked. It means increasing numbers of working people in the US don't earn enough for their families to eat properly. In the fine economy of George W. Bush, that is serious food for thought."

Morrissey investigated for criticising Bush - "ROCK star Morrissey has revealed he was quizzed by the FBI and Special Branch over his criticism of the US and Britain. Morrissey, 46, has previously branded George Bush a terrorist and blasted the Iraq war."

Rewriting History - "There is nothing inherently wrong with rewriting history. All of history is the story of who lost, rewritten by who won. The whole thing is arranged to suit the guy at the top with the fancy hat and the massed armies at his beck and holler. Well and good. That's just how it goes. The problem with rewriting history occurs when the apex canine decides to rewrite history as it is occurring, rather than waiting decorously for the mass peristalsis of current events to cease. Stalin was big on rewriting things as they happened, and this habit led to the collapse of the Soviet reality. Another party that favors this approach to history is the man they call president, George W. Bush."

'Truth' of Bible can't be believed with history of additions, deletions - "Just how reliable are common versions or translations of the New Testament? Are they the literal word of God or merely a creation of man? In ancient times, prior to moveable type and the printing press, scribes replicated books by hand, one letter at a time. Not surprisingly, numerous transcription mistakes occurred, and for a variety of reasons, some scribes would intentionally add or delete passages. Third-century church father Origen complained about pervasive scribe mistakes and alterations of the Gospels "… they make additions or deletions as they please." As a result, early New Testament manuscripts are riddled with errors and inconsistencies. What's worse, it's impossible to know with certainty what the original manuscripts said because those first-generation examples no longer exist. ... The popular and influential King James Version of the Bible certainly doesn't escape the consequences of bad source material. Ehrman asserts that it was largely based on "one of the worst manuscripts that we now have available to us" and points out the obvious: "The King James was not given by God but was a translation by a group of scholars … who based their rendition on a faulty Greek text." ... Christians, such as the Wells Hall preachers, who are blind to any dissimilarity between reality and their faith, will likely remain unconcerned with problems of Biblical reliability. Rational people, however, will recognize that the Bible is a demonstrably imperfect, purposely altered and error-ridden collection of texts created by humans, not a mythical supreme being."

Their Own Version of a Big Bang - "Evangelist Ken Ham smiled at the 2,300 elementary students packed into pews, their faces rapt. With dinosaur puppets and silly cartoons, he was training them to reject much of geology, paleontology and evolutionary biology as a sinister tangle of lies. "Boys and girls," Ham said. If a teacher so much as mentions evolution, or the Big Bang, or an era when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, "you put your hand up and you say, 'Excuse me, were you there?' Can you remember that?" The children roared their assent. ... A former high-school biology teacher, Ham travels the nation training children as young as 5 to challenge science orthodoxy. He doesn't engage in the political and legal fights that have erupted over the teaching of evolution. His strategy is more subtle: He aims to give people who trust the biblical account of creation the confidence to defend their views — aggressively. ... With pulpit-thumping passion, Ham insists the Bible be taken literally: God created the universe and all its creatures in six 24-hour days, roughly 6,000 years ago. Hundreds of pastors will preach a different message Sunday, in honor of Charles Darwin's 197th birthday. In a national campaign, they will tell congregations that it's possible to be a Christian and accept evolution."

Authorities: Powder in dorm likely not ricin - "Authorities doubt that the whitish-brown powder found in a roll of quarters at the University of Texas at Austin is ricin because no one has shown symptoms of exposure to the powerful poison, an EMS spokesman said late Saturday afternoon."

China's censored media answers back - ""There is now an unstoppable wave of demands for more freedom of expression and resistance to the old propaganda policies," said Jiao Guobiao, who was forced to resign his post as a journalism professor last year after accusing the government of handling the press in a manner worthy of Nazi Germany. The row over the extent of people's right to know shows that the Communist Party's authority is ebbing away, he said. But without censorship, the party could not maintain its rule for a day, he added."
Future of the Internet Highway Debated - "On the Internet, the traffic cops are blind — they don't look at the data they're directing, and they don't give preferential treatment. That's something operators of the Internet highway, the major U.S. phone companies, want to change by effectively adding a toll lane: They want to be able to give priority treatment to those who pay to get through faster."

World population hits 6.5 billion - "At 7:16 p.m. ET on Saturday, the population here on this good Earth hit 6.5 billion people, according to projections. Along with this forecast, an analysis by the International Programs Center at the U.S. Census Bureau points to another factoid, Robert Bernstein of the Bureau's Public Information Center advised LiveScience. Mark this on your calendar: Some six years from now, on Oct. 18, 2012 at 4:36 p.m. ET, the Earth will be home to 7 billion folks."

Canadian scientists want out of Darwin's 'rut' - "A handful of Canadian scientists are speaking out against evolution as an explanation for all of life as we know it, saying the complexity of living things simply cannot be attributed to biological chance."

Utah: Violent Games: Adults would be punished as felons for providing them to kids - "Rep. David Hogue, R-Riverton, implied such games played a serious role in school shootings such as Columbine. ... Romero also didn't like the fact the bill could land a parent in jail for two weeks, if they buy an extremely violent video game for their child. ... Hogue said he vetted the bill appropriately and is confident it could stand up under a court challenge. "And it will set an example that Utah is a family state," he said." -- Mathematically speaking, millions of kids have played, and are playing now, these video games without committing crimes like Columbine (or any crimes at all). Hogue's use of Columbine is just another way to keep people frightened, but the percentage of violent crime committed because kids play a video game is obviously extremely low.

Cavegirls were first blondes to have fun - "THE modern gentleman may prefer blondes. But new research has found that it was cavemen who were the first to be lured by flaxen locks. According to the study, north European women evolved blonde hair and blue eyes at the end of the Ice Age to make them stand out from their rivals at a time of fierce competition for scarce males."

Quote of the Day
"The world outside looks so unkind."
~ Dobie Gray

February 25, 2006

News -- February 25, 2006

Torture in the Name of Freedom - "The new pictures from Abu Ghraib provide the most recent evidence: America's moral bank account is empty -- and it has lost the image wars. The entire Muslim world no longer trusts the world's most powerful nation. They are photos that make your blood run cold. They take your breath away. They turn your stomach. They are photos that make you wonder what kinds of human beings would do these things to other human beings. They trigger anger, disgust and shame."

Iranian advisor: We'll strike Dimona in response to U.S. attack - "If the United States launches an attack on Iran, the Islamic republic will retaliate with a military strike on Israel's main nuclear facility."

Ricin discovered in University of Texas dorm - "A substance discovered by a student in a University of Texas dormitory has tested positive for ricin, a potentially deadly poison, officials said."

Homeland Security Objected to Ports Deal - "The Homeland Security Department objected at first to a United Arab Emirates company's taking over significant operations at six U.S. ports. It was the lone protest among members of the government committee that eventually approved the deal without dissent."

Adviser Says White House Set on Ports Deal - "The Bush administration said Friday it won't reconsider its approval for a United Arab Emirates company to take over significant operations at six U.S. ports. The former head of the Sept. 11 commission said the deal "never should have happened.""

White House 'Discovers' 250 Emails Related to Plame Leak - "The emails are said to be explosive, and may prove that Cheney played an active role in the effort to discredit Plame Wilson’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a vocal critic of the Bush administration’s prewar Iraq intelligence, sources close to the investigation said."

It Didn’t Work - "I can tell you the main reason behind all our woes — it is America." The New York Times reporter is quoting the complaint of a clothing merchant in a Sunni stronghold in Iraq. "Everything that is going on between Sunni and Shiites, the troublemaker in the middle is America.""

Cheney's vice-like grip - "On March 25 2003 President Bush signed executive order 13292, a hitherto little-known document that grants the greatest expansion of the power of the vice-president in US history. It gives the vice-president the same ability to classify intelligence as the president. By controlling classification, the vice-president can control intelligence and, through that, foreign policy. Bush operates on the radical notion of the "unitary executive", that the presidency has inherent and limitless powers in his role as commander in chief, above the system of checks and balances. Never before has any president diminished and divided his power."

Blogger bares Rumsfeld's post 9/11 orders - "Hours after a commercial plane struck the Pentagon on September 11 2001 the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, was issuing rapid orders to his aides to look for evidence of Iraqi involvement, according to notes taken by one of them. ... The handwritten notes, with some parts blanked out, were declassified this month in response to a request by a law student and blogger, Thad Anderson, under the US Freedom of Information Act. Anderson has posted them on his blog at outragedmoderates.org."

Rumsfeld Zeros in on the Internet - " What gibberish. It’s foolish to mention “intimidating and breaking the collective will of free people” without entering Abu Ghraib, Guantanomo and Falluja into the discussion. Rumsfeld is just griping about the disgrace he’s heaped on America’s reputation by his refusal to conform to even minimal standards of decency. Instead, he insists that America’s declining stature in the world is the result of a hostile media and “skillful enemies”; in other words, anyone with a computer keyboard and a rudimentary sense of moral judgment. ... If the Pentagon is really so worried about “bad press coverage” why not close down the torture-chambers and withdrawal from Iraq? Instead, Rumsfeld is making the case for a preemptive-assault on free speech." -- Make sure to read the rest.

NO, YES, NO: Alaska Now Refuses Release of 2004 Election Data Citing Security Concerns! - "A long-standing public records request for the release of Election 2004 database files created by Diebold's voting system had been long delayed after several odd twists and turns, including the revelation of a contract with the state claiming the information to be a "company secret." But while it finally appeared as though the state had agreed to release the information (after reserving the right to "manipulate the data" in consultation with Diebold before releasing it), the state's top Security Official has now -- at the last minute -- stepped in to deny the request. The grounds for the denial: the release of the information poses a "security risk" to the state of Alaska." -- Huh?

Is the U.S. Government Making Anthrax Bombs in Utah? - "But something else was going on that March in the west desert that has some questioning the United States’ dedication to nonproliferation. Over at the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Grounds—the chemical depot’s Tooele County neighbor—procurement officers quietly placed orders for a system of bacteria-growing fermentors that would have made Saddam salivate."

Scotland: Every school pupil to get ID number - "Every child at a state school in Scotland is to be issued with a unique identity number to help authorities trace them if they go missing."

Group challenges science on 'biblically correct' tours - ""Did man and dinosaurs live together?" Carter asks. A timid yes comes from the students. "How do we know that to be true?" Carter says. There's a long pause. "What day did God create dinosaurs on?" he continues. "Six," says a chorus of voices. "What day did God create man on?" "Six." "Did man and dinosaurs live together?" "Yes," the students say. Mission accomplished for Carter, who has been leading such tours since 1988. He and the other guides counter secular interpretations of history, nature and the origin of life with their own literal reading of the Bible. And they do so right at the point where they feel they feel science indoctrinates young people - museums."

Science comes to the masses - "A scientist walks into a bar. More than 100 people are there, eager to hear all that she has to say and ask a lot of questions. No joke. That's what happens at the Wynkoop Brewing Company here every month when Cafe Scientifique is held. Science is not cold and remote in this setting. It's live, interactive, free and informal, with a drink or two. And other Cafe Scientifique meetings are popping up throughout the country and around the globe on campuses, in coffee shops, bars and even a church. The purpose is to make science accessible and even fun to anyone with the time to stop by."

Tollbooths on the Internet Highway - "If access tiering takes hold, the Internet providers, rather than consumers, could become the driving force in how the Internet evolves. Those corporations’ profit-driven choices, rather than users’ choices, would determine which sites and methodologies succeed and fail. They also might be able to stifle promising innovations, like Internet telephony, that compete with their own business interests."

Blogs are vital alternative media sources - "No human can possibly absorb all the informational and disinformational material available to us now. There is a huge advantage in having many eyeballs patrolling the sources of information, many minds with many varieties of experience free to express their thoughts in an open forum - discussion that is not chosen and/or edited by people whose living may depend on not offending the powerful."

Late motherhood could hold the secret to longevity - "Older motherhood may bring with it exhaustion - and the innate fear of being mistaken for your child's grandmother - but it also brings longevity. Research suggests women who raise a family late in life tend to die later."

NASA orbiter to arrive at Red Planet March 10 - "If it manages to reach its planned orbit, a process that will take another seven months, the spacecraft could collect unprecedented data about Earth's next-door planetary neighbor, which could help scientists determine where to land the next Mars rovers and even to make preliminary plans for a human landing site." -- Provided it doesn't crash into the surface.

Quote of the Day
"I'm on the highway to hell."

February 24, 2006

News -- February 24, 2006

9/11 Revisited - Were Explosives Used? (Yes, it is a rhetorical question) - "A brand new video including media footage from around the time of the attacks, as well as clips from academic, scientific lectures on the impossibility of the 'official' story." -- Check out the video.

Among experts, optimism about Iraq is in short supply - "Already frayed U.S. hopes for Iraq are in danger of unraveling, analysts across the political spectrum agree. They outlined potential pitfalls just ahead:" -- I recall this mess getting started because Iraq was a threat to my way of life.

Chertoff unaware of ports deal until after OK - "Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was not aware a Dubai-owned company was seeking to operate terminals in six U.S. ports and that his agency was leading the review until after the deal's approval, an administration official said yesterday. ... But Mr. Chertoff's exclusion is more noteworthy because his department headed the CFIUS review and is in charge of security at all U.S. ports." -- So everyone claims ignorance. Hmmmm.

Congress: Spilling Secrets - "Controversies over press disclosures about NSA domestic spying and CIA antiterror operations have led to renewed talk about the need for an American version of Britain's Official Secrets Act. House intelligence committee chairman Pete Hoekstra has spoken publicly about the need for a "comprehensive law" to make it easier to prosecute leakers, and last week his Senate counterpart, Pat Roberts, said he, too, thinks new measures may be considered."

Air Force Plan: Hack Your Nervous System - "The brain has always been a battlefield. New weapons might be able to hack directly into your nervous system. "Controlled Effects" is one of the Air Force’s ambitious long-term challenges. It starts with better and more accurate bombs, but moves on to discuss devices that "make selected adversaries think or act according to our needs... By studying and modeling the human brain and nervous system, the ability to mentally influence or confuse personnel is also possible.""

Should the Number One Candidate Criteria be Ability to Buy TV Ads? - "So, what we have is a bizarre, obscene reality-- the number one criteria for a candidate for public office is his or her ability to buy TV advertising. This is not bizarre. It is insane. But it's the exact model that the DCCC, it's head Rahm Emanuel and the leaders of the both parties in Washington embrace. One problem. It's not what the majority of Americans want." -- Since when did what we want matter?

Study Proves that a Single Cell Can Generate a Complete Solid Organ - "A new study describes the enumeration, phenotypic characterization and some of the functional properties of the mouse mammary gland stem cell. This study also shows that a single cell can generate the entire glandular component of the mammary gland, the first time a single cell has been shown to completely generate a solid organ."

Survey: One Out of Five Americans Holy - "The survey's director, Christian researcher George Barna, said that "the results portray a body of Christians who attend church but do not understand the concept or significance of holiness. ... The challenge to the nation's Christian ministries is to foster a genuine hunger for holiness among the masses who claim they love God but who are ignorant about biblical teachings regarding holiness.''"

Colombia man 'jailed over grope' - "A bicycle courier in Colombia has been given a four-year jail sentence for grabbing a woman pedestrian's bottom, a TV station has reported."

Tech makes working harder, not easier - "Most U.S. workers say they feel rushed on the job, but they are getting less accomplished than a decade ago, according to newly released research."

'Jurassic beaver' turns theory on its tail - "For years the mammals living in the era of dinosaurs have been thought of as tiny shrew-like creatures scurrying through the underbrush. Now the discovery of a furry aquatic creature with seal-like teeth and a flat tail like a beaver has demolished that image."

New kind of space blast seen not far from Earth - "The blast seemed a lot like a gamma ray burst, the most distant and powerful type of explosion known to astronomers. But when scientists first detected it with NASA's Swift satellite on Feb. 18, the explosion was about 25 times closer and lasted 100 times longer than a typical gamma ray burst."

Quote of the Day
"I have always kept an open mind, which is necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth."
~ Malcolm X

February 23, 2006

News -- February 23, 2006

Victims of War Are Not To Be Seen Or Heard Or Mentioned - "In war soldiers and civilians die gruesome deaths and suffer horrific wounds. This is reality. Pictures that capture this miserable fact are not meant to be gratuitously violent. They are merely the unvarnished truth."

Unseen Pictures, Untold Stories - "U.S. newspapers and magazines print few photos of American dead and wounded, a Times review finds. The reasons are many -- access, logistics, ethics -- but the result is an obscured view of the cost of war."

Mosque Attack Pushes Iraq Toward Civil War - "With the gleaming dome of the 1,200-year-old Askariya shrine reduced to rubble, some Shiites lashed out at the United States as partly to blame."

O'Reilly: U.S. should leave Iraq "as fast as humanly possible" because "there are so many nuts in the country" - "Bill O'Reilly suggested that the United States "hand over everything to the Iraqis as fast as humanly possible" because "[t]here are so many nuts in the country -- so many crazies -- that we can't control them." O'Reilly has previously called those advocating immediate withdrawal from Iraq "pinheads" and compared them to Hitler appeasers." -- I know, I know. But this site has the audio clip of O'Reilly saying it. It seems to me that those who were so opposed to getting out of Iraq now may be coming to their senses but to save face they need to paint the Iraqi's as "nuts" and "crazies".

Deja Vu All Over Again - " In a comprehensive and frightening article, Heather Wokusch tells us that the neocons are at it again, this time getting ready for military action against Iran in the name of -- what else? -- the threat of WMD. While even France and Germany seem to be jumping on the "stop Iran" bandwagon this time, the evidence against Iran is murky at best, and, according to Wokusch, the consensus among U.S. intelligence experts is that Iran is still ten years away from having a nuclear weapon."

Time to Impeach Bush - "Well, there's no "if" about it anymore. The president approved warrantless wiretaps in 2002. Two years later, during a campaign appearance in Buffalo, N.Y. he volunteered he'd done nothing of the kind. That's called breaking the law and lying about it."

U.S. terror fears, stoked by Bush, now bite him - "For almost five years U.S. President George W. Bush has warned Americans to fear terrorism, but now those words may come back to bite him. The president, who has cast himself as America's protector against terrorism and Islamic militancy, has been thrown on the defensive by a bipartisan revolt over his administration's approval of a state-owned company from the United Arab Emirates assuming operation of six major U.S. seaports. Bush and his aides have argued that the United Arab Emirates is an anti-terrorist ally and that the company would have no security role. But even Bush allies, like South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham, have called the deal "politically tone deaf." With Republican and Democratic lawmakers drafting legislation to block the port deal, Bush vowed on Tuesday to use his veto for the first time should any such law reach his desk, drawing the lines for a high-stakes political battle." -- He must really want this deal to go through if he's threatening to use his veto power for the first time. Hmmm.

Officials: Al-Qaeda to strike this year - "Security officials estimate international terror network aims to carry out mega-terror attack in Israel in 2006; authorities concerned about strike that would eclipse September 11 attacks."

Bush Unaware of Ports Deal Before Approval - "President Bush was unaware of the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates until the deal already had been approved by his administration, the White House said Wednesday."

A Radical Idea, Control Your Own Ports - "Folks, the fundamental question: why is any foreign company ever allowed to own and manage operations so crucial as port facilities to begin with? Of course there is a material difference when a government owns a firm as opposed to an equity company. But where was the outrage when the Chinese positioned themselves at both ends of the Panama Canal? Is Long Beach any different from East Coast ports?"

UAE Deal A Distraction - "While America was in an uproar over Bush's plan to sell Eastern seaboard ports to UAE, Congress voted 404 to 4 in favor of condemning the government of Iran for violating it's international nuclear non-proliferation obligations and expressing support for efforts to report Iran to the UN Security Council. Of course, Iran has never been in violation of the NPT, since building a nuclear power plant is perfectly legal. And any hippie worth their weight in Crosby Stlls and Nash records knows that while nuclear power is not safe, it certainly isn't worth dropping nuclear weapons on a country over."

ACLU: New documents show senior officials approved Gitmo abuse - "The American Civil Liberties Union released newly obtained documents Thursday showing that senior Defense Department officials approved aggressive interrogation techniques that FBI agents deemed abusive, ineffective and unlawful, Raw Story has learned. “We now possess overwhelming evidence that political and military leaders endorsed interrogation methods that violate both domestic and international law,” Jameel Jaffer, an attorney with the ACLU said in a release. “It is entirely unacceptable that no senior official has been held accountable.” The ACLU's release follows."

Declassification in Reverse - "The CIA and other federal agencies have secretly reclassified over 55,000 pages of records taken from the open shelves at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), according to a report published today on the World Wide Web by the National Security Archive at George Washington University. Matthew Aid, author of the report and a visiting fellow at the Archive, discovered this secret program through his wide-ranging research in intelligence, military, and diplomatic records at NARA and found that the CIA and military agencies have reviewed millions of pages at an unknown cost to taxpayers in order to sequester documents from collections that had been open for years."

South Dakota passes abortion ban - "South Dakota's state senate voted on Wednesday for an abortion ban aimed at giving the conservative-tilting Supreme Court an opening to overturn rulings granting women the right to the procedure."

Peace groups under watch - "In the post-9/11 world, some unlikely figures have attracted the attention of local police and federal agents: the Raging Grannies, known for musical satire, and Quaker peace activists, known for non-violence."

DNA 'could predict your surname' - "Forensic scientists could use DNA retrieved from a crime scene to predict the surname of the suspect, according to a new British study. ... The technique is based on work comparing the Y chromosomes of men with the same surname. The Y chromosome is a package of genetic material found normally only in males. It is passed down from father to son, just like a surname."

Teens Plead Not Guilty in Homeless Attacks - "Three teenagers accused in a series of brutal beatings that killed a homeless man and seriously injured two others the same night pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of murder and attempted murder. In one of the attacks, captured on a university surveillance tape, two young men with baseball bats repeatedly hit the victim as he lay on a sidewalk and tried to block the blows with his hands. In the other attacks, authorities said the assailants used a paintball gun, bats and a golf club. The videotaped attack sparked public outrage and helped lead authorities to the teens. ... In court, the teens' attorneys described each youth as contrite and upset about what had happened. "He's got the weight of the world on his shoulders," said Daugherty's attorney, Michael Gottlieb. "He definitely feels bad."" -- Hogwash.

Google Censors Revisionist Videos - "Hoffman's videos passed Google's review process and were approved for broadcast by Google last January. The finding of a "violation" almost a month later, can only be due to behind-the-scenes pressure that was exerted on Google."

Copyright violation for images of fornication! - "It was already determined in Kelly v. Ariba Soft that thumb nail images of this sort are sufficiently transformative, so as to constitute fair use (and not be infringing). With decisions like this recent one decided yesterday, I fear for the already tenuous "fair use" law. This is a 9th circuit district court that is not following a 9th circuit opinion. Will Google's picture search technology be long for this world?"

Students selling sex to pay off study debt - ""My girls don't walk out of here with less than $500 a day." ... He said students were notoriously popular with clients. "Especially the 18 to 25s ... they are pretty much the prime market," said the man, who also refused to be identified. "We could actually do with some students, to be honest. It's a great way for the girls to pay off their loan and live and party and juggle all of these things.""

Study: Men's Sex Lives Better at 50 Than 30 - "In short, men reported sexual satisfaction long after the heyday of their youth had passed."

Average American Family Income Declines - "The average income of American families, after adjusting for inflation, declined by 2.3 percent in 2004 compared to 2001 while their net worth rose but at a slower pace."

Food Bank Network Served Over 25M in '05 - "More than 25 million Americans turned to the nation's largest network of food banks, soup kitchens and shelters for meals last year, up 9 percent from 2001. Those seeking food included 9 million children and nearly 3 million senior citizens, says a report from America's Second Harvest."

Man sues drug company, casinos after losing $14 million - "When the retired doctor from Austin suddenly began spending big money in Las Vegas, the casinos assigned him a "host" and gave him first-class airfare, hotel suites, meals and shopping trips for his wife, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Austin. The casinos even gave him an Alaskan cruise, the lawsuit says. The retired doctor, Max Wells, kept coming back, the lawsuit says — and kept losing money. By the fall of 2005, Wells had lost $7 million, the lawsuit says. By January, another $7 million. Now Wells is suing the casinos and a major drug company, claiming that the prescription drugs he was taking for Parkinson's disease set off a compulsive gambling spree. Wells, 55, wants his money back. He declined to comment Tuesday."

Net video explosion triggers traffic jam worries - "The amount of video online is skyrocketing, whether it's "Lost" episodes or movie trailer mash-ups. The phenomenon is putting new stress on ISP networks, which are seeing the demands on their bandwidth burgeon. Now a new wave of companies--some newcomers, some with familiar faces--are stepping up to play the role of traffic cop, arguing that they have ways to manage this surge in video traffic and keep networks healthy."

A Solid That's Light As Air - "Faced with exactly this problem, scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory focused on aerogel -- an extremely lightweight, porous material that is chemically identical to glass, but weighs only a little more than air. Aerogel is the lightest solid known to science. It's also one of the most insulating materials on Earth, the most porous, and it's nearly transparent."

Quote of the Day
"Just don't try to show me nothing I don't want to see."
~ James McMurtry, (Soda and Salt)

February 22, 2006

News -- February 22, 2006

A Music Video I Doubt You Will See on MTV - "America do ya realize, That the taxes that u pay, Feed the forces that traumatize, My every living day."

A TALE OF TWO GITMOS: WHERE WAS THE MSM? - " Last June 17, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters, "If you think of the people down there (at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba), these are people, all of whom were captured on a battlefield. They're terrorists, trainers, bomb makers, recruiters, financiers, (Osama bin Laden's) bodyguards, would-be suicide bombers, probably the 20th 9/11 hijacker." Yet two recent reports, based on the Defense Department’s own documentation, reach conclusions that are dramatically different than Mr. Rumsfeld’s. And, despite the millions of words journalists have written about GITMO during the past few years, the mainstream press has largely ignored these new reports. One report, prepared by a team headed by Mark Denbeaux, a law professor at Seton Hall University in New Jersey – who is a lawyer for two of the Guantanamo detainees – found that more than half of the terror suspects being held have not been accused of committing hostile acts against the United States or its allies."

US threatens to cut aid to Iraq if new government is sectarian - "The US and Britain are pressuring Iraq's dominant Shia community to relinquish two key ministries in negotiations for a new government, as the country was hit by a wave of bombings that killed at least 24 people." -- So much for "democracy."

Bush Shrugs Off Objections to Port Deal - "Brushing aside objections from Republicans and Democrats alike, President Bush endorsed the takeover of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports by a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates. He pledged to veto any bill Congress might approve to block the agreement." -- He really wants this company to take over the ports.

Bush vs. Constitution - "Repeatedly through our history, the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution have been threatened in war by an overreacting government and then reaffirmed in peace by calmer leadership. The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, the suppression of free speech during and after World War I, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, McCarthyism, and the wiretapping of Vietnam-era dissenters -- all of these came to be seen, once fears subsided, as violations of our freedoms and embarrassments to our heritage. George W. Bush’s presidency is another era of overreaction at the expense of constitutional rights, but the prospects for a quick correction are not auspicious. Nothing has helped end earlier bouts of repression so much as the fact that the wars themselves came to a close, and nothing has so exposed our liberties to indefinite jeopardy as the conception of a “war on terrorism” with no end. The president claims an inherent power to imprison American citizens whom he has determined to be this country’s enemies without obtaining a warrant, letting them hear the charges against them, or following other safeguards against wrongful punishment guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Under his administration, the government has engaged in inhumane treatment of prisoners that amounts to torture, and when Congress passed legislation to ban such treatment, he declared he would simply interpret the law his own way. Although the Constitution says treaties are the “supreme law of the land,” the president has abrogated them on his own. And, we now know, he ordered a secret program of electronic surveillance of Americans without court warrants. But there is something more dangerous than any of these specific abuses and usurpations, and that is the theory of inherent powers that Bush invokes to justify most of these actions and the possibility of its being effectively institutionalized by a meek Congress and, worst of all, by a deferential Supreme Court."

How George Bush fabricated the Iraqi WMD myth - "Maybe we’ve forgotten. Or perhaps we just weren’t paying attention in the first place. But, before 9/11, the Bush administration itself denied the existence of WMD in Iraq:"

Bush's Mysterious 'New Programs' - "But recent developments suggest that the Bush administration may already be contemplating what to do with Americans who are deemed insufficiently loyal or who disseminate information that may be considered helpful to the enemy. Top U.S. officials have cited the need to challenge news that undercuts Bush’s actions as a key front in defeating the terrorists, who are aided by “news informers” in the words of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. ... In such extraordinary circumstances, the American people might legitimately ask exactly what the Bush administration means by the “rapid development of new programs,” which might require the construction of a new network of detention camps." -- Interesting read.

Guess who the big loser is under Bush health plan - "Heads up, Americans. The Bush administration is now greasing the skids for employers to drop your health coverage. This is a biggie. ... Demonically, the Bush proposal gives employers new reasons not to offer traditional health coverage, or any medical benefits at all. Indeed, the new health savings accounts could do to the traditional health plan what the 401(k) plan did to the traditional pension: Kill it off."

'Us am living in Bizarro World' - "For those of you who don't remember Bizarro, he was the distorted, dim-bulb opposite of Superman, the result of a twisted duplicating ray. He and other Bizarros lived on a square planet called Htrea (Earth spelled backwards), and swore allegiance to the Bizarro Code: "Us do opposite of all Earthly things! Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World!" Yeah, that about sums up America circa 2006."

Secret Service agents say Cheney was drunk when he shot lawyer - "A written report from Secret Service agents guarding Vice President Dick Cheney when he shot Texas lawyer Harry Whittington on a hunting outing two weeks ago says Cheney was "clearly inebriated" at the time of the shooting."

Rumsfeld calls for US-controlled worldwide propaganda networks - "Correspondents say that in recent months victory in the battle for public opinion has become a new front for the Bush administration."

US Congress Votes to Provoke Iran - "In other words, they don't mind starting another needless war, sacrificing more young Americans, killing more innocents and creating even more hatred of US worldwide, sinking us all into more debt, just to cover their asses. Or maybe they really are trying to destroy America."

Why I Published Those Cartoons - "I acknowledge that some people have been offended by the publication of the cartoons, and Jyllands-Posten has apologized for that. But we cannot apologize for our right to publish material, even offensive material. You cannot edit a newspaper if you are paralyzed by worries about every possible insult." -- Thank you Luis for pointing us to this story.

Skype a nightmare for wiretappers - "Even as the U.S. government is embroiled in a debate over the legality of wiretapping, the fastest-growing technology for Internet calls appears to have the potential to make eavesdropping a thing of the past. Skype, the Internet calling service recently acquired by eBay Inc., provides free voice calls and instant messaging between users. Unlike other Internet voice services, Skype calls are encrypted — encoded using complex mathematical operations. That apparently makes them impossible to snoop on, though the firm leaves the issue somewhat open to question."

'A Scanner Darkly' Reveals Near Future Police State - "A new movie set to hit the big screen this summer depicts a near future America that has lost the war on drugs and capitulated into the tentacles of a pervasive control grid. A Scanner Darkly represents the latest example of a refreshing and burgeoning trend in Hollywood that seeks to enlighten the viewer into recognizing the real world prison barriers being erected around society today."

Vote Due on South Dakota Bill Banning Nearly All Abortions - "Lawmakers here are preparing to vote on a bill that would outlaw nearly all abortions in South Dakota, a measure that could become the most sweeping ban approved by any state in more than a decade, those on both sides of the abortion debate say."

Poll: Youths Back N. Korea if Attacked - "Nearly half of South Korean youths who will be old enough to vote in the country's next elections say Seoul should side with North Korea if the United States attacks the communist nation, according to a poll released Wednesday."

US Judge: Google infringed copyright by posting thumbnail porn - " The judge ruled that because Google receives advertising money from offering search functions, it is not entitled to the same level of free use of the images as other entities would be."

Biometrics, ID cards, tagging, DNA kits being pushed on kids - "The rational behind the program according to KidsafeID is that "A child is reported missing every 40 seconds in the United States alone." Right, so carrying a biometric ID card will prevent that?"

A Satellite Baby-Sitting Service - "Two companies have announced plans to launch personal GPS "location devices" this year, which will act as a kind of LoJack for everyone from meandering children to nervous executives in kidnap-prone countries. One is a bracelet, which parents can lock on their kids' wrists to track their location and movements over the Internet, that is made by Wherify.Another -- and the most sci-fi application by far -- an implantable GPS device that Applied Digital Solutions of Florida plans to develop within the next eight months.

Yahoo!Mail bans Allah and Dirty Harry handles - "Yahoo! is banning the use of allah in email names - even if the letters are included within another name. ... Nor will Yahoo! accept yahoo, osama or binladen. But it will accept god, messiah, jesus, jehova, buddah, satan and both priest and pedophile."

Minister Buys Lap Dances To Tell Strippers About God - "Veitch used to be a stripper herself in Las Vegas, but then she embraced Christianity and decided to start sharing her faith with her former colleagues."

University rocked by marking fiasco - "A UNIVERSITY graduate student abandoned the institution in frustration after a marking fiasco during which a lecturer told him to produce "more smarter writing"." -- I can't make this up.

Quote of the Day
"My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total. And I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution."
~ Barbara Jordan

February 21, 2006

News -- February 21, 2006

One Thousand A Month Tortured To Death In Iraq - "Proving that Abu Ghraib and Gitmo are the tip of the iceberg, the outgoing UN human rights chief dropped a bombshell when he told an obscure Maltese newspaper that as many as a thousand detainees a month are being tortured to death in Iraq. ... Pace echoed previous estimates in stating that 80 to 90 per cent of those rounded up and taken to prison camps were completely innocent."

Abu Ghraib leaked report reveals full extent of abuse - "1,325 images of suspected detainee abuse; 93 video files of suspected detainee abuse; 660 images of adult pornography; 546 images of suspected dead Iraqi detainees; 29 images of soldiers in simulated sexual acts."

Ron Paul: Silence the War Drums - "Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this very dangerous legislation. My colleagues would do well to understand that this legislation is leading us toward war against Iran. Those reading this bill may find themselves feeling a sense of déjà vu. In many cases one can just substitute "Iraq" for "Iran" in this bill and we could be back in the pre-2003 run up to war with Iraq. And the logic of this current push for war is much the same as was the logic used in the argument for war on Iraq. As earlier with Iraq, this resolution demands that Iran perform the impossible task of proving a negative – in this case that Iran does not have plans to build a nuclear weapon. There are a few things we need to remember when thinking about Iran and this legislation. First, Iran has never been ruled in violation of its international nuclear non-proliferation obligations. Second, Iran concluded a Safeguards Agreement more than 30 years ago that provides for the verification of Iran's fulfillment of its obligation to not divert nuclear energy programs to nuclear weapons development. Since this agreement was reached, the International Atomic Energy Agency has never found any indication that Iran has diverted or attempted to divert source or special nuclear materials from a peaceful purpose to a military purpose. But, this does not stop those eager for conflict with Iran from stating otherwise."

Holocaust denier Irving is jailed - "British historian David Irving has been found guilty in Vienna of denying the Holocaust of European Jewry and sentenced to three years in prison."

Less Butter, More Guns - "The budget is an annual statement of national priorities and in even-numbered years also serves as a campaign platform for the party in power. This President's new spending priorities are grotesque--a cruel distortion of what matters to Americans--and riddled with deceptions. For the campaign, however, Bush's slogan is surprisingly frank: "Cut the butter, give us more guns." Terror is his theme, as usual. But instead of pretending, as he has in the past, that the war will be painless on the home front, Bush now asks people to choose between their fears and their hopes. That's a far riskier gamble, and one he just might lose."

A Half-Dozen Questions About 9/11 They Don't Want You to Ask - "Who Is Osama? Where Did He Come From? How Did He Escape? What About Those Anthrax Attacks?"

Oppose Cyber Storm - "They came for the bloggers – and took the right of Free Speech from all Americans. ... The existence of those cantankerous bloggers whose on line discourse, diatribes, and insights annoy so many have become the last, best line of defense for the much tattered First Amendment. The rapidity with which bloggers change opinion has made them a force with which to be reckoned. Therefore this government under the speciously constructed argument of 'terrorist threat' is going after the Blogsphere."

Bush: U.S. on Verge of Energy Breakthrough - ""Our nation is on the threshold of new energy technology that I think will startle the American people," Bush said. "We're on the edge of some amazing breakthroughs - breakthroughs all aimed at enhancing our national security and our economic security and the quality of life of the folks who live here in the United States.""

The Educational System Was Designed to Keep Us Uneducated and Docile - "How can I make such a bold statement? How do I know why America's public school system was designed the way it was (age-segregated, six to eight 50-minute classes in a row announced by Pavlovian bells, emphasis on rote memorization, lorded over by unquestionable authority figures, etc.)? Because the men who designed, funded, and implemented America's formal educational system in the late 1800s and early 1900s wrote about what they were doing."

Earth Hurtles Toward 6.5 Billion - "The planet's population is projected to reach 6.5 billion at 7:16 p.m. EST Saturday, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and its World Population Clock. Thomas Malthus, the 18th-century thinker who famously predicted the human population would outrun its food supply, would be astounded."

Flush With Cash, States Make Pricey Plans - "Tax cuts, new cash to health care programs, blueprints for new roads and schools — states have jumped into 2006 with ambitious plans to spend the money pouring into their coffers, a windfall that's just in time for governors and legislators as they start re-election campaigns. The spending spree is the clearest proof yet that the gloomy days of cuts and budget-tightening that dominated the first half of the decade are over, even as some urge caution and others say states have yet to fully recover from the downturn." -- Huh? Now where did all this money come from?

Privacy Guardian Is Still a Paper Tiger - "For Americans troubled by the prospect of federal agents eavesdropping on their phone conversations or combing through their Internet records, there is good news: A little-known board exists in the White House whose purpose is to ensure that privacy and civil liberties are protected in the fight against terrorism. Someday, it might actually meet. Initially proposed by the bipartisan commission that investigated the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board was created by the intelligence overhaul that President Bush signed into law in December 2004. More than a year later, it exists only on paper."

Trumpet ushering in the Apocalypse - "What does that mean? It means that the prophecy in Zechariah is now in the early stages of being fulfilled, even though the world doesn’t know it! ... If you were thinking some of the stuff I post is a bit "over the top," all I can say is: Well, some of the people out there in the world are. I just report on their doings."

Quote of the Day
"If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all."
~ Noam Chomsky

February 20, 2006

News -- February 20, 2006

Navy Counsel Issued Warning On Torture - "The Navy's general counsel warned Pentagon officials two years before the Abu Ghraib prison scandal that circumventing international agreements on torture and detainees' treatment would invite abuse, according to a published report." -- Just a few bad apples, my ass.

What it Means to be a Republican - "Alberto Gonzales helped come up with the program that rejected the Geneva Conventions, that permits torture, that says that the president is above the law and that “I was only following orders” should be a defense against a charge of war crimes. Ah, if only the Nazi war criminals who were hung at Nuremberg had Gonzales there to defend them. The president nominates Gonzales to be his new Attorney General. He is confirmed with little debate and no outrage. That’s what it means to be a Republican. This needs to be understood. What it implies is that Republicans can’t be dealt with as if reason and facts will sway them. Because it wont. It’s hard for reality based people, regular Democrats and Liberals to understand that. What it let’s us know is that reality based people, Democrats, Liberals, real Conservatives, old-fashioned Republicans and non-profit Christians have to take more vigorous and rigorous stands. Or reality and real American values and the American landscape will disappear, not just temporarily, but forever."

Bin Laden Vows Never to Be Captured Alive - "Osama bin Laden promised never to be captured alive and declared the U.S. had resorted to the same "repressive" tactics used by Saddam Hussein, according to an audiotape purportedly by the al-Qaida leader that was posted Monday on a militant Web site."

AP Recycles Old Bin Laden Tape For New Propaganda - "Using the justification that it was 'complete' - the Associated Press reported on a month old alleged bin Laden audio tape as if it was a new story. Either it was a quiet weekend or this is another branch of Rumsfeld's black propaganda campaign."

Iran clerics back nuclear weapons - "One senior mullah has now said it is "only natural" to have nuclear bombs as a "countermeasure" against other nuclear powers, a reference considered to be the United States and Europe."

We Must Defend Our Nation's Principles - "What is troubling is not merely the spying or the torture. Rather, by claiming to be above the law, President Bush is undermining the very thing that distinguishes us from our terrorist enemies."

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots - "Bush dropped this bombshell: "The enemy has not lost the desire or capability to attack us." Well excuse me, Mr. War President, but what exactly have you been doing since 9/11? You've had four and a half years, countless billions of dollars, and sacrificed the lives of more than 2,200 of our soldiers, and you haven't managed to degrade the enemy's desire or capability to attack us? What the hell?"

Chavez threatens to cut off oil to US if it ‘crosses the line’ - "Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez warned late Friday he was taking potential steps to cut off oil shipments to the United States, in the event Washington “crosses the line.”"

Dependence on Foreign Oil Has Increased Under Bush - "Sixty-six percent of oil consumed in the United States comes from foreign sources, up from 58 percent in 2000. Americans now spend $200,000 a minute on foreign oil and more than $25 billion annually goes to Persian Gulf states for oil imports."

Military plots a 'long war' on terror - "Joint Chiefs of Staff planners have produced a 27-page briefing on the war on terror that seeks to explain how to win the "long war" and says Islamic extremists may be supported by 12 million Muslims worldwide."

Daley wants security cameras at bars - "Surveillance cameras — aimed at government buildings, train platforms and intersections here — might soon be required at corner taverns and swanky nightclubs. ... The proliferation of security cameras — especially if the government requires them in private businesses — troubles some civil liberties advocates. ... "We require shopping centers to put railings on stairs and install sprinkler systems for public safety. This is a proper next step," says Baltimore County Councilman Kevin Kamenetz, who sponsored the ordinance. ... "The safer we make the city, the better it is for everyone," says Chicago Alderman Ray Suarez, who first proposed mandatory cameras in some businesses. "If you're not doing anything wrong, what do you have to worry about?"" -- The short-sightedness of this last comment is disgusting.

This dog don't hunt - "Cheney refused. He claimed the story was too complicated to tell the press until he and his team got all their ducks (or in this case quail) in a row."I've been in the business for a long time and never seen a situation quite like this," Cheney said. "We've had experiences where the president has been shot. We've never had a situation where the vice president shot somebody." Actually, that's not true. Aaron Burr was vice president when he shot and killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804 but Cheney has never let facts get in the way of his revisionist history."

Historian Pleads Guilty in Holocaust Trial - " A verdict was expected later Monday, with a conviction almost certain because of Irving's guilty plea. He faces up to 10 years in prison under the 1992 law, which applies to "whoever denies, grossly plays down, approves or tries to excuse the National Socialist genocide or other National Socialist crimes against humanity in a print publication, in broadcast or other media.""

Congressmen threaten probe of U.S. seaports deal - "Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle yesterday threatened a congressional investigation of a deal to give control of six U.S. seaports to an Arab company, while one key Republican said the Bush administration's security reassurances were not adequate."

Sounding the alarm on U.S. trade deficit - "A Miami economist shares his thoughts on what impact the growing gap between U.S. imports and exports will have on the economy."

Rice rises, Clinton slips in poll - "Growing numbers of Americans oppose a presidential bid by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., in 2008 -- and favor a run by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- amid broad public willingness to elect a woman president, according to a nationwide poll released Sunday." -- Neither are worthy of having the presidency.

Industries Get Quiet Protection From Lawsuits - "The surprise move seeking legal protection for automakers is one in a series of recent steps by federal agencies to shield leading industries from state regulation and civil lawsuits on the grounds that they conflict with federal authority."

TV reporter to seek God in real-life crucifixion - "THE Scottish TV presenter and journalist Dominik Diamond is considering undergoing physical crucifixion as part of a controversial television documentary about Christianity."

Has bias pendulum swung against men? - "While some social scientists may see these facts as harmless – or possibly even necessary reconditioning of society to correct past injustices against women – others are beginning to conclude that men are the real victims of discrimination so virulent it is shortening their life spans, causing them to be self-destructive and suicidal, crippling their educational opportunities and destroying a generation of fatherless children. Here are some sobering facts:"

Science invents invisible buildings - "EVER since Superman wowed the world by using x-ray vision to fight crime, the ability to see through walls has been a dream. Now scientists believe they may have discovered the first steps towards making it happen. Research involving microscopic crystals has prompted the theory that walls could be built using materials which homeowners could render transparent at will."

Wildlife group claims proof of Bigfoot colony - "Sasquatch fever has struck Malaysia, where an animal-protection group now claims to have "scientific evidence" to prove the existence of the legendary creature known as "Bigfoot." ... "We will make public the evidence soon," the society's secretary Tay Teng Hwa told Bernama, the Malaysian National News Agency."

Quote of the Day
"In joining battle, seek the quick victory . . . in war, I have heard of foolish haste, but I have yet to see a case of cleverly dragging on the hostilities. There has never been a state that has benefited from an extended war."
~ Sun Tzu – The Art of War - Chapter 2