September 30, 2006

News -- September 30, 2006

On Friday, September 29, It's Mourning in America - "Just as it is hard to fully comprehend the grief of a beloved friend or relative killed needlessly in an accident, it is excruciatingly painful to try to come to terms with the pernicious betrayal of our Constitution and liberty that occurred in the Senate on Thursday, September 28. ... With the law passed on September 28th by Congress, we have become the Republic of torture. We not only have lost our claim to be a civilizing force among nations and abandoned our Constitution, we have appeased the terrorists by doing so."

Report says detainee plan would pardon U.S. officials - "A video report from CNN's Jack Cafferty says that buried deep within the pending plan to create military tribunals for those suspected of terrorism is amnesty for present U.S. officials. He said that President Bush "is trying to pardon himself" with the plan, which is in the last stage of congressional endorsement and next will go to the president's desk." -- If you're not pissed off, then you are not paying attention.
Accessories to Torture - "These are grim days for the Constitution. The House and the Senate have passed the catastrophic "compromise" negotiated by senators McCain & Co. to the President's "enemy combatants" bill. The only thing compromised is the rule of law; the bill still strips detainees of the right to appeal, broadens the President's unilateral powers to decide who is an enemy and which interrogation methods violate the Geneva Conventions, and fatally undermines the War Crimes Act. The bill was rushed to passage just days after the Canadian government exonerated Maher Arar, "rendered" by the United States to Syria, imprisoned and tortured for nearly a year."

Sayonara to Checks and Balances? - " You -- citizen or non-citizen, resident of Topeka or Timbuktu -- can become an "unlawful enemy combatant." ... The Military Commissions Act of 2006, of MCA, passed by the House and Senate is a wholesale assault on the idea of a limited government under law. It will be taken by the Bush Administration as a blank check to torture, to detain indefinitely without just cause, and to trample the values that win America respect in the world. From tomorrow, counter-terrorism is the "land of do as you please" for the President and the wise men of the Defense Department -- those savants who brought you Iraq, the gift that keeps on giving (at least if you're a jihadist)."
U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes -- See who voted for the torture bill.
FINAL HOUSE VOTE RESULTS FOR 491 -- See who voted for the torture bill.

STATE OF DENIAL - "There was a vast difference between what the White House and the Pentagon knew about the situation in Iraq and what they were saying publicly. But the discrepancy was not surprising. In memos, reports and internal debates, high-level officials of the Bush administration have voiced their concern about the United States' ability to bring peace and stability to Iraq since early in the occupation."

Legislating Violations of the Constitution - "With little public attention or even notice, the House of Representatives has passed a bill that undermines enforcement of the First Amendment's separation of church and state. The Public Expression of Religion Act - H.R. 2679 - provides that attorneys who successfully challenge government actions as violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment shall not be entitled to recover attorneys fees. The bill has only one purpose: to prevent suits challenging unconstitutional government actions advancing religion."

Not Worth a Camel - "The Republican answer to its own fiasco is to say: "OK, you don't like the way the president is handling it. What's your solution?" The proper answer to that is: "In the first place, bro, I didn't break it. You did, and the only solution is to recognize that there is no solution. Not everything that breaks can be repaired. Our choice is to leave now, with 2,700 dead and 20,000 wounded, or linger on until there are 5,000 dead and 35,000 wounded and then leave." Eventually, after we leave, a new dictatorship will emerge, probably a Shi'ite version. The Shi'ites might keep the trappings of democracy like Egypt, but there will be no question about who runs the show. They will have a strong secret police and an army to shut down the dissidents. ... In the meantime, use your common sense. Ask yourself just what it is that America's young men and women are dying for. To make Iraq a happy place? To make Israel feel safer? To help corporations with insider connections get richer? Not one of those reasons is worth the life of a camel, much less a human being."

War Signals? - "According to Lieut. Mike Kafka, a spokesman at the headquarters of the Second Fleet, based in Norfolk, Virginia, the Eisenhower Strike Group, bristling with Tomahawk cruise missiles, has received orders to depart the United States in a little over a week. Other official sources in the public affairs office of the Navy Department at the Pentagon confirm that this powerful armada is scheduled to arrive off the coast of Iran on or around October 21."

A Scramble for Republicans in Wake of Foley Resignation - "The resignation Friday of GOP Congressman Mark Foley in a sex scandal adds to the woes of Republicans already fearing that voters might knock them out of power in the House in elections less than six weeks away."

I won't say "Republican pedophile ring" but feel free to think it... - "To me, it looks like Denny was protecting Foley. Look at it from Foley’s angle: Surely, he knew that IM transcipts can be captured and forwarded, which is just what the page ended up doing? So, either Foley was crazy, or he felt safe. And the only way Foley could really feel safe would be if he was protected. But why would Foley assume he was protected? In the best case, Foley could assume that any investigation would be buried, because that’s in the Republican Playbook under “Best Practices.”"

Police order curfew in Baghdad - "A curfew is in effect in Baghdad banning virtually all movement in the city, police said."

Ashcroft Is Denied Immunity in Case - "A federal judge in Idaho has ruled that former attorney general John D. Ashcroft can be held personally responsible for the wrongful detention of a U.S. citizen arrested as a "material witness" in a terrorism case."

Senate approves fence for border - "The Senate last night gave final approval for construction of 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border."

Cooling Down The Climate Scare - "The country is drowning in wild alarums warning of impending doom due to global warming. Yet there has risen -- from the U.S. Senate, of all places -- a lone voice of rational dissent. While Al Gore drifts into deeper darkness on the other side of the moon, propelled by such revelations as cigarette smoking is a "significant contributor to global warming," Sen. James Inhofe is becoming a one-man myth-wrecking crew."

Internet gambling ban added to U.S. port security bill - "Congress was pushing on Friday to finish legislation that would boost security at U.S. ports, but at the last minute lawmakers added provisions to prohibit Internet gambling."

A Vaccine Against Narcotics - "Someday, along with jabs against mumps and measles, kids could get vaccinated against nicotine, cocaine and heroin. Vaccines for cocaine and nicotine have already been tested in humans. Nicotine vaccines, in particular, are getting a lot of attention."

China's 'cruelty olympics' causes international outrage - "This is just the latest shocking picture to emerge from the Animal Olympic Games which is being held in China, a country with a shameful animal rights record."

Internet freedom reigns in Amsterdam - "At a time when the neutrality of the Internet is at stake, and Internet service providers (ISPs) are moving to prioritize their premium traffic, the Amsterdam Internet Exchange is a reminder that the Internet was built on the principle of the unrestricted exchange of ideas and information."

Southern California branded US smog capital - "According to the figures, Southern California had 86 days of unhealthy air during the smog season, which runs from May 1 and ends on October 1. It is the third year in a row the region has topped the smog rankings, the AQMD said."

Super-luxury homes hit market for $100M - "The listings represent a monetary milestone in American real estate: the first time U.S. homes have broken into a whopping nine figures, according to real estate experts, and they've done so in quick succession. A May survey of the nation's most expensive homes by put Trump's home at the most expensive and the first to break the $100 million mark. At the time, the next highest listing was a $75 million estate in Bridgehampton, N.Y. Now, the trio has market followers wondering: Will they sell? And what do you really get for $100 million?" -- Just in case you had forgotten that you are a member of the "have-nots".

Study: Students struggling to finish homework - "Even though they get help from their parents, teachers and the Internet, middle school students struggle daily to finish their homework, according to a study released Friday by the National Education Association."

Colleges coveting home-schooled students - "Home-schooled students — whose numbers in this country range from an estimated 1.1 million to as high as 2 million — often come to college equipped with the skills necessary to succeed in higher education, said Regina Morin, admissions director of Columbia College. Such assets include intellectual curiosity, independent study habits and critical thinking skills, she said."

Surprise! Moral movies draw 7 times the fans - "A new study is confirming that if you want to make money in the movie business, get out your Bible and read the values it teaches." -- Because anything that is non-Christian is immoral?

Abstinence Rose Pin - "You are like a beautiful rose..." -- Make sure to read the rest. WTF?

Scientists: St. Helens eruption slowing - "Two years after Mount St. Helens began its low-key eruption, a process that has extruded tons of rock into the crater left by the volcano's deadly 1980 blast, scientists say the mountain seems to be slowing down. But they're making no predictions about when the activity will end."

Quote of the Day
"First, they came for the terrorists,
and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a terrorist.
Then they came for the foreigners,
and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a foreigner.
Then they came for the Arab-Americans,
and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't Arab-American.
Then they came for the radical dissenters,
and I didn't speak up, because I was just an ordinary troubled citizen.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me."
~ Adapted from Pastor Niemoller's 1945 quote about the Nazis

September 29, 2006

News -- September 29, 2006

Foley Resigns From Congress Over E-Mails - "Campaign aides had previously acknowledged that the Republican congressman e-mailed the former Capitol page five times, but had said there was nothing inappropriate about the exchange. The page was 16 at the time of the e-mail correspondence."

Exclusive: The Sexually Explicit Internet Messages That Led to Fla. Rep. Foley's Resignation - "He crusaded for tough laws against those who used the Internet for sexual exploitation of children. ... The language gets much more graphic, too graphic to be broadcast, and at one point the congressman appears to be describing Internet sex."

Habeas Corpus, R.I.P. (1215 - 2006) - "This bill is not a national security issue—this is about torturing helpless human beings without any proof they are our enemies. Perhaps this could be considered if we knew the administration would use the power with enormous care and thoughtfulness. But of the over 700 prisoners sent to Gitmo, only 10 have ever been formally charged with anything. Among other things, this bill is a CYA for torture of the innocent that has already taken place."

In Case I Disappear - "I have been told a thousand times at least, in the years I have spent reporting on the astonishing and repugnant abuses, lies and failures of the Bush administration, to watch my back. "Be careful," people always tell me. "These people are capable of anything. Stay off small planes, make sure you aren't being followed." A running joke between my mother and me is that she has a "safe room" set up for me in her cabin in the woods, in the event I have to flee because of something I wrote or said. I always laughed and shook my head whenever I heard this stuff. Extreme paranoia wrapped in the tinfoil of conspiracy, I thought. This is still America, and these Bush fools will soon pass into history, I thought. I am a citizen, and the First Amendment hasn't yet been red-lined, I thought. Matters are different now. It seems, perhaps, that the people who warned me were not so paranoid. It seems, perhaps, that I was not paranoid enough. Legislation passed by the Republican House and Senate, legislation now marching up to the Republican White House for signature, has shattered a number of bedrock legal protections for suspects, prisoners, and pretty much anyone else George W. Bush deems to be an enemy."

Pinochet Also Thought He Could "Legalize" Torture - "There should be a lesson here for Bush and the GOP Congress. While you might believe today that you can legalize torture and other crimes against humanity, some day they will come for you. Power does not trump the law forever. You are naked before the world, and it's only a matter of time."

The day the darkness descended - "In any case, September 28, 2006 will go down as the day that the abolishment of freedom began and the torture descended on what was once a noble experiment."

How did we sink so low in just 6 years? - "How did things get this bad? The “Military Commissions Act” which passed the Republican-led Congress yesterday is a bigger blow to the Constitution and our core values than any piece of legislation in our 200 year history. It is 100 times worse than Bin Laden's crimes on 9-11."

Bush: Critics buy into terrorists' propaganda - ""You do not create terrorism by fighting terrorism," he told a receptive military audience. "If that ever becomes the mind-set of the policymakers in Washington, it means we'll go back to the old days of waiting to be attacked -- and then respond."" -- I fear the future.

ESPN FAKED STADIUM CHEERS FOR BUSH SR. - "It's a very simple rule. If you are a Democrat not named Joe Lieberman, ESPN will play a tape of boos previously recorded and insert them into the audio after the Democrat is announced. If you are a Republican and ESPN is expecting boos, ESPN will play a pre-recorded tape of cheers unrelated to the Republican."

Man forced off plane by fellow passengers - "A Spanish university professor with a long beard and dark complexion said Thursday he was briefly forced off an airliner during a layover on the Spanish island of Mallorca by passengers who feared he was an Islamic terrorist."

I Disapprove - "As you know, the November elections are quickly approaching. We've been in the midst of the advertising onslaught for a while now, and if you're like me, you've had your fill. Some folks don't like the propaganda. I don't mind that so much. Some folks don't like the lies. That doesn't bother me so much either. Some folks don't like the muckraking. Even that doesn't annoy me. What is it that gets to me? Five simple words: "I approve of this message". I can't stand it when someone who's paid for an advertisement tells me that they approve of the message they paid for. No shit, Sherlock."

America's Pathetic Putin-Envy - "Russia wasn't supposed to get stronger, certainly not on its own, without the West's help. It just doesn't make sense. Moreover, it's somehow cosmologically wrong that Russia should become stronger right at the time when American power is in a freefall. That just ain't therefore, the authors offer a solution: cup your ears, close your eyes, and scream, "Russia is really weak! Russia is really weak!" and it'll all go away, like a bad dream..."

Reading the Gas Pump Numbers - "What the hell is going on here? Just six weeks ago, gasoline prices at the pump were hovering at the $3 per gallon mark; today, they're inching down toward $2 -- and some analysts predict even lower numbers before the November elections. The sharp drop in gas prices has been good news for consumers, who now have more money in their pockets to spend on food and other necessities -- and for President Bush, who has witnessed a sudden lift in his approval ratings."

Police blotter: When can cops seize your computer? - "In this week's installment, appeals court rules that police cannot search a home computer when one spouse refuses."

The Public School Nightmare: Why fix a system designed to destroy individual thought? - "Who was it that decided to force your attention onto Japan instead of Sweden? Japan with its long school year and state compulsion, instead of Sweden with its short school year, short school sequence, and free choice where your kid is schooled? Who decided you should know about Japan and not Hong Kong, an Asian neighbour with a short school year that outperforms Japan across the board in math and science? Whose interests are served by hiding that from you?"

A New Battlefront Opens in the Textbook Wars - "The battle over school textbooks spills out of Kansas and into California. At stake are whether gays are part of state history and how Islamic history should be taught."

Film on Christian children's camp has cross to bear - "Christians do believe they are in a cultural war for the lives and souls of people worldwide, and particularly for the minds and hearts of our children and youth."

Religious-Right Voter Guides Facing Challenge From Left - "A new group called Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good said yesterday that it will distribute at least 1 million voter guides before the Nov. 7 elections, emphasizing church teachings on war, poverty and social justice as well as on abortion, contraception and homosexuality."

'One degree and we're done for' - ""Further global warming of 1 °C defines a critical threshold. Beyond that we will likely see changes that make Earth a different planet than the one we know.""

Drug may heal livers of chronic alcoholics - "BRITISH scientists have discovered a drug that could cure liver disease, even in alcoholics who continue drinking. The medicine, found by a team of doctors and scientists at Newcastle University, could become a potential alternative to liver transplants."

Anti-smoking pill gets OK in Europe - "Champix is believed to work by reducing the severity of the smoker's urge to smoke and alleviating many withdrawal symptoms from nicotine. In addition, if a person smokes a cigarette while receiving treatment, the medicine has the potential to diminish the satisfaction associated with smoking."

Florida Hospital to ban photos during childbirth - "One of the region's largest hospital groups will soon forbid photography or videotaping during childbirth, joining a national trend spurred by what some say is concern over medical liability."

Sugar linked with mental problems in Norway study - "Oslo teens who drank the most sugary soft drinks also had more mental health problems such as hyperactivity and distress, Norwegian researchers reported on Thursday."

Study: Hotel rooms have unseen guests - "Hotel guests leave behind more than just socks and old paperbacks: A new study found viruses on TV remotes, light switches and even hotel pens after cold sufferers checked out."

Quote of the Day
"If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities."
~ Voltaire

September 28, 2006

News -- September 28, 2006

Senate OKs Detainee Interrogation Bill - "The bill would create military commissions to prosecute terrorism suspects. It also would prohibit some of the worst abuses of detainees like mutilation and rape, but grant the president leeway to decide which other interrogation techniques are permissible." -- Because one person should have that much power.

House approves warrantless wiretap law - "The House approved a bill Thursday that would grant legal status to President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program with new restrictions. Republicans called it a test before the election of whether Democrats want to fight or coddle terrorists."

Cost of Iraq war nearly $2b a week - "A new congressional analysis shows the Iraq war is now costing taxpayers almost $2 billion a week -- nearly twice as much as in the first year of the conflict three years ago and 20 percent more than last year -- as the Pentagon spends more on establishing regional bases to support the extended deployment and scrambles to fix or replace equipment damaged in combat."

House OKs $70B for Iraq, Afghanistan - "With final passage of the bill, Congress will have approved $507 billion for Iraq, Afghanistan and heightened security at overseas military bases since the Sept. 11 attacks five years ago, according to the Congressional Research Service." -- Remember, at $1 a second (that's $3600 an hour) it would take about 32 years to obtain $1,000,000,000. Now imgaine $507 billion.

New Poll Says Majority of Iraqis Approve of Attacks on U.S. Forces - "Nearly eight in 10 say the U.S. presence in Iraq is provoking more conflict than it's preventing (as opposed to being "a stabilizing force.") ... Thirty-seven percent want U.S. troops to withdraw within six months; an additional 34 percent want them to withdraw within the next year."

Torture Tactics Refined In US Prisons, ACLU Says - "The director of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Prisoner Project Wednesday accused U.S. governments past and present of honing torture tactics in American prisons before they were allegedly implemented in terrorist detention centers in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

Rogue State - " “The United States is committed to the world-wide elimination of torture,” George W. Bush explained in a June 2003 speech, “and we are leading this fight by example.” Oh, the irony!"

Suicide bombers follow Quran, concludes Pentagon briefing - "But internal Pentagon briefings show intelligence analysts have reached a wholly different conclusion after studying Islamic scripture and the backgrounds of suicide terrorists. They've found that most Muslim suicide bombers are in fact students of the Quran who are motivated by its violent commands – making them, as strange as it sounds to the West, "rational actors" on the Islamic stage."

Carter: U.S. in more danger of terrorism - "Former President Jimmy Carter said Wednesday major policy changes are needed because the Iraq war has divided the nation "almost as much as Vietnam.""

A War on Intelligence - "You would think that a consensus report from all 16 U.S. intelligence services concluding that he has blown the war on terror would be a really big deal to the president. But that assumes that George W. Bush values intelligence. Clearly, he does not."

Rumsfeld Comments on Intelligence Report - "But he added that, "the implication that if you stop killing or capturing people who are trying to kill you, then therefore the world would be a better place, is obviously nonsensical."" -- Why does this man have still have a job?

Tony Snow: Previous presidency hurt terrorism fight - "The White House took a swipe at former President Clinton on Wednesday, just days after he accused President Bush of doing “nothing” to catch Osama bin Laden before Sept. 11."

Keith Olbermann Terrorized and Gov Tries to Hide it - "We have serious reason to worry about Olbermann's safety. Last night, he reported that he'd been threatened, apparently with some anthrax-like substance that required him to be subjected to 10 hours of detention in a hospital. He was discharged with a prescription for Cipro." -- Which means he's been hitting a little too close to the truth. Keep up the good work Keith.



Gas Is Down - Go Back to Sleep - "We are used to gas prices going up and down in the short term, but in the last six weeks, we've seen a dip of fifty cents or more in the price of a gallon. We haven't seen anything this precipitous in a long time and it has excited a lot of comment."

Dream world a strange, scary place for liberals - "Among his findings, Kelly Bulkeley discovered that liberals are more restless sleepers and have a higher number of bizarre, surreal dreams -- including fantasy settings and a wide variety of sexual encounters. Conservatives' dreams were, on average, far more mundane and focused on realistic people, situations and settings."

Vatican: Extremists Undermining Religion - "The Vatican's foreign minister said Wednesday that misunderstanding between cultures is breeding a "new barbarism" and expressed hope that reason and dialogue would stop those who use their faith as a pretext for attacks."

Why did Pope Benedict utter these words in public? And why now? - "There is no escape from viewing them against the background of the new Crusade of Bush and his evangelist supporters, with his slogans of "Islamofascism" and the "Global War on Terrorism" - when "terrorism" has become a synonym for Muslims. For Bush's handlers, this is a cynical attempt to justify the domination of the world's oil resources. Not for the first time in history, a religious robe is spread to cover the nakedness of economic interests; not for the first time, a robbers' expedition becomes a Crusade. The speech of the Pope blends into this effort. Who can foretell the dire consequences?"

FOX ON POPE'S ISLAM ATTACKS - "I believe the speaker is correct in his assessment of Cardinal Ratzinger who does indeed represent the dark ages of Christian history and following are the reasons why."

VERMONTERS PROCEED WITH SECESSION TALKS - " Vermont wants to secede from the Union – or at least some are embracing this movement."

Scientists uncover why Spanish Flu was so deadly - "By infecting mice with a reconstructed version of the 1918 virus and monitoring their response, a team of scientists believe they have found some clues to solve the puzzle as well as a possible new way to fight pandemic flu." -- Will a new weapon soon follow?

Morgellons is real, doctor is convinced - "He said his fiber research should also silence critics who say Morgellons is a form of delusions in which patients believe parasites or bugs are attacking their skin."

The Thin Pill - "75 million Americans may have something called metabolic syndrome. How Big Pharma turned obesity into a disease – then invented the drugs to cure it."

World without pain is hell, parent says - "It is only when he rams his head violently into walls or plays a little too roughly with a schoolmate, all the while smiling, that you are reminded that he suffers from an incredibly rare genetic disorder. Roberto is one of 17 people in the United States with "congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis," referred to as CIPA by the few people who know about it."

Boys told no standing to urinate - "The trigger for the explosion of opinion? A decision in the local district that schoolboys must sit on toilet seats when urinating, not stand."

Sickening 'Animal Olympics' forces kangaroos to box humans - "An Australian kangaroo receives a fierce blow to the head by a man dressed in a clown suit (pictured below) in a shameful contest that will further fuel fears over China's barbaric attitude to animals." -- Disgusting.

U.S. homework outsourced as 'e-tutoring' grows - "The outsourcing trend that fueled a boom in Asian call centers staffed by educated, low-paid workers manning phones around the clock for U.S. banks and other industries is moving fast into an area at the heart of U.S. culture: education. It comes at a difficult time for the U.S. education system: only two-thirds of teenagers graduate from high school, a proportion that slides to 50 percent for black Americans and Hispanics, according to government statistics. China and India, meanwhile, are producing the world's largest number of science and engineering graduates -- at least five times as many as in the United States, where the number has fallen since the early 1980s. Parents using schools like Taylor's say they are doing whatever they can to give children an edge that can lead to better grades, better colleges and a better future, even if it comes with an Indian accent about 9,000 miles away."

Quote of the Day
"I am free of all prejudices. I hate everyone equally."
~ W.C. Fields

September 27, 2006

News -- September 27, 2006

U.S. gets ‘Sovietized’ - "I recall these past horrors because of what this column has long called the gradual “Sovietization” of the United States. This shameful week, it became clear Canada is also afflicted. We have seen America’s president and vice president, sworn to uphold the Constitution, advocating some of the same interrogation techniques the KGB used at the Lubyanka. They apparently believe beating, freezing, sleep deprivation and near-drowning are necessary to prevent terrorist attacks. So did Stalin. The White House insisted that anyone — including Americans — could be kidnapped and tried in camera using “evidence” obtained by torturing other suspects. Bush & Co. deny the U.S. uses torture but reject the basic law of habeaus corpus and U.S. laws against the evil practice. The UN says Bush’s plans violate international law and the Geneva Conventions. This week’s tentative agreement between Bush and Congress may somewhat limit torture, but exempts U.S. officials from having to observe the Geneva Convention."

Terrorism report's release fuels political fight - "For Republicans, the excerpts of the document -- declassified under orders from President Bush on Tuesday -- are more evidence that Iraq is central to the war on terrorism and can't be abandoned without giving jihadists a crucial victory. For Democrats, the report furthers their argument that the 2003 Iraq invasion has inflamed anti-U.S. sentiments in the Muslim world and left the U.S. less safe."

Sobering Conclusions On Why Jihad Has Spread - "The overall estimate is bleak, with minor notes of optimism. It depicts a movement that is likely to grow more quickly than the West's ability to counter it over the next five years, as the Iraq war continues to breed "deep resentment" throughout the Muslim world, shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and cultivating new supporters for their ideology."

President Hologram - "All tyrannies are similar in one respect; they require a steady flow of propaganda to promote the interests of the state. That same rule applies to dictators, whose “strongman image” is vital to the maintenance of autocratic government and must be supported by a “cult of the personality.” ... This is nothing new; there’s a long tradition of inflating the virtues of the “Dear Leader” while exaggerating his manliness and steely resolve. What is new, however, is selecting a character who is entirely excluded from the policy-making apparatus and then using him as a mere vehicle for ideological extremism. That is new."

Going to War to Save His Own Ass? - "War talk is in the air again, and because of the looming November election, it has to be taken extra seriously."

Tehran denies secret nuke deal - "Iran yesterday said it is not negotiating a secret temporary shutdown of its uranium-enrichment program as part of ongoing talks with the European Union, rebutting Bush administration sources who told The Washington Times that such a deal is being discussed."

Fear the October Surprise - "In any case, the world is in for another six weeks of the greatest danger of nuclear war since the dark days of October of 1962. George 2nd is madder than a hatter. There is a good chance this administration will do anything to prevent the Democrats for taking either the House of Representatives or the Senate. It's entirely possible that Karl Rove will incinerate America before allowing the investigations that would be part and parcel of a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. They are the ones who vote on Impeachment and it's clear to anyone who listens to Americans speak these days, if we lived in a democracy, Bush would be toast."

Democrats defend 'our president' against international criticism - "The pretense that the Democratic Party represents some sort of opposition to the Bush administration was punctured again last week when leading Democrats vociferously condemned the anti-Bush speech given by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to the United Nations General Assembly."

The "Newsweek Cover" Story - "We see four covers of the current issue of Newsweek. There are the covers for Europe, Asia, and South America. And then there is the cover for the United States. The first three are identical. On it there is a most arresting image and a most important headline. The headline says "Losing Afghanistan." The image is a picture of what appears to be an Afghan tribesman with a resolute expression on his face and a menacing-looking mortar-launcher (I believe) in his hands. That's not the cover Newsweek used for the people of the United States, however. For us, the wise and good folks at Newsweek decided that it would be more appropriate to give us a cover with a picture of Annie Liebowitz and her several little kids, along with the headline, "My Life in Pictures." I guess Newsweek operates on a "need to know" basis, right?"

Report’s Startling Conclusion: Bombing People Really Pisses Them Off - "Whew! I’m glad that’s been cleared up."

I Pledge Allegiance to the Corporations... - "A simple summation of a highly complex answer is that powerful reactionary forces are consistently poised to suppress those who dare to challenge the tyranny of the de facto aristocracy and corporatocracy. And they have an extraordinary propaganda machine known as the mainstream media to sustain the myth that the United States is a nation governed by and for “We the People”."

Documents disclose 'shadow government' - ""The documents clearly reveal that SPP, working within the U.S. Department of Commerce, is far advanced in putting together a new regional infrastructure, creating a 'shadow' trilateral bureaucracy with Mexico and Canada that is aggressively rewriting a wide range of U.S. administrative law, all without congressional oversight or public disclosure," Corsi said."

God's boot camp? - "Already, the movie, which opens in L.A. this week, has split the Christian community and horrified those who fear the ascendance of the religious right on the national stage. ... The film's cherub-faced children cheer when asked if they'd be willing to give up their lives for Jesus, pray over a cardboard cutout of President Bush and sob as they plead for an end to abortion. One is home-schooled by a mother who teaches that "science doesn't prove anything.""

New Campaign Ads Have a Theme: Don’t Be Nice - "While Democrats have largely concentrated their efforts on the political records of Republicans, the Republicans have zeroed in more on candidates’ personal backgrounds."

How Progressives Can Win in the Long Run - "Right-wing groups spend ten times more on youth leadership development than progressives do. If we want to win, we need to start investing in the next generation of leaders."

'Border baby' boom strains S. Texas - "Rising numbers of undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America are streaming into Texas to give birth, straining hospitals and costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, health officials say."

White House Said to Bar Hurricane Report - " The Bush administration has blocked release of a report that suggests global warming is contributing to the frequency and strength of hurricanes, the journal Nature reported Tuesday."

Psychos Need a Little Sympathy - "It's difficult to empathize with, let alone have sympathy for, a psychopath. But one scientist believes psychopaths, despite their sometimes terrifying behavior, deserve compassion."

Nanotechnology Risks Unknown - "The United States is the world leader in nanotechnology -- the newly blossoming science of making incredibly small materials and devices -- but is not paying enough attention to the environmental, health and safety risks posed by nanoscale products, says a report released yesterday by the independent National Research Council."

Muslim anger fear halts opera - "A leading opera house called off a production of Mozart's "Idomeneo" that features the severed head of the Prophet Mohammed, setting off a furious debate Tuesday over Islam, freedom of speech and the role of art."

Google Video plays school - "The University of California at Berkeley said Tuesday that it is using Google Video to deliver college courses, including lectures and symposia, free of charge."

Home videos, beauty contests and party stunts: the future of mobiles - "Mobile companies have been watching the rapid growth of networking and video-sharing websites such as MySpace and YouTube. They have realised that content created by users themselves might be just what they need to persuade their customers to do more with their phones than make calls and send text messages."

Mozilla releases Firefox 2 RC1 - "Using Firefox 2 is supposed to mean safer surfing. The browser will reportedly detect when a fraudulent site--like a bogus eBay or PayPal--has been accessed and will alert the user with a dialog box and grayed-out window, according to CNET Reviews' initial take on the browser."

Teens' T-Shirts Make Educators Squirm - "They're blatantly sexual, occasionally clever and often loaded with double meanings, forcing school administrators and other students to read provocations stripped across the chest, such as "yes, but not with u!," "Your Boyfriend Is a Good Kisser" and "two boys for every girl." Such T-shirts also are emblematic of the kind of sleazy-chic culture some teenagers now inhabit, in which status can be defined by images of sexual promiscuity that previous generations might have considered unhip."

Quote of the Day
"So we have politicians allowing the brave men and women in the United States armed services to make sacrifice after sacrifice in Iraq to preserve their political reputation. Not to preserve the security of the United States."
~ Scott Ritter

September 26, 2006

News -- September 26, 2006

A textbook definition of cowardice - "After five years of skirting even the most inarguable of facts — that he was President on 9/11 and he must bear some responsibility for his, and our, unreadiness, Mr. Bush has now moved, unmistakably and without conscience or shame, towards re-writing history, and attempting to make the responsibility, entirely Mr. Clinton’s."

The United States of Barbarism - "Thus, the “commander-in-chief” label automatically swallows up the rest of the Constitution. Yet, as Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh observed, “If the president has commander-in-chief power to commit torture, he has the power to commit genocide, to sanction slavery, to promote apartheid, to license summary execution.” This is the doctrine that the Senate-White House deal largely codifies. It will be up to the president to declare which interrogation methods U.S. agents can use — almost regardless of the Geneva Conventions. It will be up to the president to decree who will face “rough” interrogation. ... The torture scandal shows what happens when politicians and political appointees are permitted to redefine barbarism out of existence. If the government can effectively claim a right to torture, then all other limits on government power are practically irrelevant. What would it take to make the public acquiesce to the torture of Americans? Would simply applying an “odious” label (such as “cult member” at Waco, or “Muslim” with John Walker Lindh) to the victims be sufficient?" -- It is simply amazing that this is happening and the American people allow it.

White House admits Iraq fuels extremism - "The White House acknowledged that Iraq was among several factors that "fuel the spread of jihadism," but said that winning the war would dishearten potential terrorists." -- Unfortunately, it is a war that can not be won.

Iraq is 'cause celebre' for extremists - "In the bleak report, declassified and released Tuesday on Bush's orders, the nation's most veteran analysts conclude that despite serious damage to the leadership of al-Qaida, the threat from Islamic extremists has spread both in numbers and in geographic reach. Bush and his top advisers have said the formerly classified assessment of global terrorism supported their arguments that the world is safer because of the war. But more than three pages of stark judgments warning about the spread of terrorism contrasted with the administration's glass-half-full declarations."

US troop presence keeps neighbors from invading Iraq: Talabani - ""That's one of the main reasons why we think that we need an American presence, even symbolical, in the country to prevent our neighbors attacking us," he said at a forum at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington think thank."

Olmert says Israel will not accept a nuclear Iran - ""Israel can't accept the possibility of Iranians having nuclear weapons and we will act together with the international forces, starting with the Americans, in order to prevent it," Olmert told The Jerusalem Post daily in an interview. Olmert said he thought U.S. President George W. Bush was "absolutely determined" to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Israel, he added, won't accept a situation in which Iran possesses such arms."

Iran close to nuclear suspension - "Iran is close to an agreement that would include a suspension of uranium enrichment but wants the deal to include a provision that the temporary halt be kept secret, according to Bush administration officials."

Taliban says bin Laden alive: Al Arabiya TV - "Dubai-based Al Arabiya television on Tuesday quoted a Taliban official as saying al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was alive and in good health." -- Of course the Emmanuel Goldstein of our time is still alive.

Bin Laden Rumors Again Come to Nothing - "He was blown up in the caves of Tora Bora. He was on dialysis and dying of kidney disease. He was in the hands of Pakistani intelligence and about to be turned over to the United States. Rumors of Osama bin Laden's death or capture go back years, and they have always proved greatly exaggerated."

American morality scam - "These two examples, and countless others like them, confirm an unfortunate and often dangerous reality: The human mind possesses the capability to rationalize anything, even when the foundations for these rationalizations are built upon specious arguments. ... This is why Bill Clinton’s lying about a sexual affair with a White House intern resulted in impeachment proceedings, while George W. Bush’s lying about the motivations for the war against Iraq has not. This is why concerns over possible price gouging by oil companies, ruthless war profiteering, corrupt elections, or the millions of Americans without health insurance are incessantly diverted by distractions like “gay marriage,” or “wars” against sexually oriented materials."

Detainee Measure to Have Fewer Restrictions - "Republican lawmakers and the White House agreed over the weekend to alter new legislation on military commissions to allow the United States to detain and try a wider range of foreign nationals than an earlier version of the bill permitted, according to government sources."

Vermont Congress candidate calls on Pentagon to arrest Bush, Cheney - "Former Army Lieutenant and candidate for Congress in Vermont, Dennis Morrisseau, today called for the arrest of President Bush and Vice President Cheney by the American military "if necessary" to prevent an unauthorized attack upon the nation of Iran."

Americans Skeptical About Gas Price Drop - "Almost half of all Americans believe the November elections have more influence than market forces. For them, the plunge at the pump is about politics, not economics."

GOP's uptick just in time for Election Day - "There has been a palpable shift in the mood in Washington in recent weeks. No longer are insiders in both parties sharing predictions of a Democratic rout of Republicans."

NYC Mulls Ban on Trans Fats in Eateries - "Three years after the city banned smoking in restaurants, health officials are talking about prohibiting something they say is almost as bad: artificial trans fatty acids. The city health department unveiled a proposal Tuesday that would bar cooks at any of the city's 24,600 food service establishments from using ingredients that contain the artery-clogging substance, commonly listed on food labels as partially hydrogenated oil."

Health insurance is twice inflation rate - "Altman said the rising gap between premium growth and wages is particularly startling when one takes a longer look back. Since 2000, health insurance premiums have gone up 78 percent; wages 20 percent."

Global Temperature Highest in Millennia - "The planet's temperature has climbed to levels not seen in thousands of years, warming that has begun to affect plants and animals, researchers report in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."

Moving Beyond String Theory - "Strings are far from the only game in town. There are other, potentially equally promising approaches to unifying physics' two seemingly incompatible visions of the cosmos: general relativity and quantum mechanics."

Computers taught to sort opinion from fact - "The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is funding a research project designed to teach computers to scan text and then sort opinion from fact."

Researchers Make Embryonic Stem Cells From Dead Human Embryo - "Scientists say they have made an embryonic stem cell line from a human embryo who died naturally. If so, they claim to have found another possibility for obtaining embryonic stem cells without purposefully destroying human life -- which prompts pro-life advocates to object to the research."

Tall Women More Likely to Have Twins - "A researcher who specializes in multiple-birth pregnancies has confirmed that taller women are more likely to have twins."

Teacher: Reprisals began after field trip - "A veteran Frisco art teacher says school administrators have retaliated against her because a student reportedly saw a nude sculpture during a field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art. ... Ms. McGee told the board that the principal of Fisher Elementary School criticized her performance and threatened her job after a parent complained about the April field trip." -- I hate the fact that this country is so fucking afraid of nudity.

How To Land A Rich Man - "Apparently the entire feminist movement was some sort of hoax. Or so the recent rash of dating gurus and their controversial guidebooks on landing a rich guy would have you believe. Never mind equality, these women want money--and lots of it."

Women 'climax' more during lesbian sex - "While women often complain of their spouses’ inability to help them experience orgasm on a frequent basis, a recent survey reveals that females are more likely to ‘climax’ during lesbian sex than straight sex."

Vaccine aims to wipeout ear, sinus infections - "U.S. researchers said Tuesday that they are starting trials of a new vaccine aimed at wiping out childhood ear and sinus infections and many cases of bronchitis in adults."

Surgeons to Operate in Zero-Gravity - "Without gravity, things could float around." -- He's brilliant.

Quote of the Day
"History, as we know it, is a lie."
~ John Loengard, Dark Skies

September 25, 2006

News -- September 25, 2006

Newsweek International Covers -- Check out the left column: both the covers and the headlines.

Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat - "A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks." -- Duh.

Democrats: Leaked intel shows U.S. needs new leadership - "Democrats seized on leaks from an intelligence assessment that said the Iraq war has increased the terrorist threat, saying it provided further evidence that Americans should choose new leadership in the November elections."

Cheney says Democrats soft on national security - "Vice President Dick Cheney on Monday accused Democrats of being soft in the war on terrorism with a strategy of "resignation and defeatism in the face of determined enemies.""

Torture in Iraq 'worse than under Saddam' - "Torture in Iraq is worse now than it was under the regime of Saddam Hussein and "is totally out of hand", according to a United Nations investigator. "The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it has been in the times of Saddam Hussein," said Manfred Nowak, a UN special investigator on torture, at a press conference in Geneva."

Take Your Torture and Go, George - "For God's sake, take your torture program and go. Take your secret prisons, your attack dogs, your electrodes, your water boards, your feeding tubes, your ceiling restraints, your whipping wires, your excruciating music, your sleep deprivation, your hobbles and cuffs. Take all such instruments and go. They're making things much worse, as I will show you."

BOYS GONE WILD - "Right-wing Republicans are weird. When gays and lesbians want to marry and raise kids in the suburbs, the right-wingers freak out. "Perverts!" they scream at these bland strivers. But when supposedly straight soldiers in the army, marines and CIA engage in male-on-male rape and other acts of homosexual sadism so bizarre and extreme they turn off the average, gay-marriage-craving civilian, Republican legislators think it's the best thing ever. ... Of course, America's state media censored the most disturbing images. Hundreds of photos showed sex acts between and among soldiers and detainees. Male prisoners were videotaped while being forced to masturbate and have sex with one another. They were forced to wear women's underwear. U.S. soldiers, CIA torturers and private mercenaries hired by the Bush Defense Department sodomized them with flashlights and possibly broomsticks. They were kept naked for days at a time. Some were smeared with feces."

Crisis Is Upon Us - "How can Bush administration war plans be reconciled with expert opinion that the consequences would be too dire for the U.S.? Perhaps the answer is that what appears as irrationality to experts is rationality to neoconservatives. Neocons seek maximum chaos and instability in the Middle East in order to justify long-term U.S. occupation of the region. Following this line of thought, neocons would regard the loss of a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf as a way to solidify public support for the war. American anger at the Iranians could even result in support for a military draft in order to win "the war on terror.""

US forces in Iraq to exceed 140,000 - "US officials said on Monday that American troop levels in Iraq were likely to remain well above 140,000 for the next few months, although they would not confirm reports that the 3,500-strong First Armoured Division had been ordered to remain in Iraq beyond its official tour of duty."

Egypt to begin nuclear programme - "On Thursday, Francis J. Ricciardone, the US ambassador to Egypt, said that the United States would have no objection to Egypt's peaceful use of nuclear energy."

Opec considers drop in output - "Oil exporting countries may consider a cut in output after crude prices fell below $60 a barrel on Monday for the first time in six months."

Will Democrats Ever Fight for What's Right? - "Thus, the election campaign of the next eight weeks will be very predictable. George Bush and the Republicans will raise security threats to orange and red, accuse the Democrats of wanting to "cut and run" from Iraq, and preach the old-time religion of tax cuts. The Democrats will complain that Bush isn't enacting enough Homeland Security measures (guarding our ports, bus stations, etc.) and that he bungled the war in Iraq. They will accuse Bush of giving away the farm to his wealthy pals, but they won't propose transferring much more than pocket change from rich to poor. And on Election Day, more than half of those eligible won't vote."

U.S. to Relax Air Travel Restrictions - "The government is relaxing its ban against carrying liquids and gels onto airliners, instituted after a plot to bomb jets flying into the United States was foiled, an administration official said Monday." -- Which means it was originally all bullshit.

Crude Awakening - "When the Taliban, the most anti-woman militia in Afghanistan's civil war, took over the country in 1996, they immediately forced women to leave their jobs, banned work outside the home, prohibited females from attending school and put women under house arrest, unable to go out in public unless accompanied by a close male relative and wearing a head-to-toe burqa. Women who violated Taliban decrees were beatened, imprisoned, even killed. Despite this, the U.S. government was on the fast track to recognize this unelected, oppressive regime as Afghanistan’s official government, and to prop up the militia with millions of taxpayer dollars. Why? In a word: oil."

The real reasons to hate the Pope - "The tragedy is that when there are so many good reasons to hate Joseph Ratzinger, this week’s rioters have chosen one of the few bogus ones. For over a decade now, he has been one of the primary defenders of priests who go to the poorest, most vulnerable people in the world and tell them condoms are the cause of AIDS. In the past year, I have sat in two Catholic churches thousands of miles apart and listened while a Catholic priest told illiterate people with no alternative sources of information that condoms come pre-infected with AIDS and are the reason people die of it. In Bukavu, a crater-city in Congo, and in the slums ringing Caracas, Venezuela, people believed it. They told me they “would not go to Heaven” if they used condoms, and that condoms contain tiny invisible holes through which the virus passes – the advice their priest had doled out. ... However much he swears it is not, this argument is deeply anti-Enlightenment. The central insight of the Enlightenment is that there are two fundamentally different ways to understand the world. One is divine revelation, where a being contacts you from another realm and discloses some truth. (Another word for this is ‘hallucination’). The second method is reason – observing the world empirically, and drawing conclusions from the things we observe. The ultimate expression of reason is the scientific method. These approaches are fundamentally contrasting, and you cannot simply weld them together with contorted theological trickery."

Enough With the 'One God' Stuff - "In the world today, one ancient religious ideology, monotheism, stands out as especially dangerous, repressive and loony. ... But monotheism posits one omnipotent, lonely sucker all by himself -- "the sky god" as Gore Vidal once called him. The first five books of the Hebrews' Bible reveal, not surprisingly, that the sky god is often angry, jealous, vengeful, and even murderous -- regularly toying with, manipulating and punishing the puny beings he creates to worship and amuse him. Not surprisingly, he's a self-absorbed ascetic who invents for his "children" bizarre, impossible-to-comply-with rules governing a multitude of tiny details of daily life. Sometimes he goes berserk about minor infractions; frequently he ignores major violations of his own rules. He's the original bad father, threatening awful punishments, with no wife, lover, siblings, friends, co-workers, neighbors or relatives to reign him in. Early Christians and then Muslims added to monotheism the great creative innovation of the promise of eternal life. A person gets to live forever if, and only if, that person closely follows the sky god's rules. This made monotheism much easier to sell, especially when coupled with the offer of extra credit toward salvation for converting others. It also made monotheism fantastically effective in motivating, inspiring, controlling and ruling people. Fueled by the monotheists' inexhaustible missionary zeal, in nearly 2,000 years this peculiar ideology has spread throughout much of the globe."

Global warming fear lights fire under Congress - "But the mounting scientific evidence that human activity is causing global temperatures to rise coupled with a growing public alarm -- fueled by former Vice President Gore's climate change documentary, "Inconvenient Truth," this summer -- has forced lawmakers to take up the issue."

Messages that go `poof' after sending them - "A hallmark of "Mission: Impossible" was the message that would self-destruct after a spy played it. Now a startup communications company promises that same level of secrecy with a Web-based messaging system designed to leave no traces."

What if Bionics Were Better - ""I would be inclined to go through with some pretty radical conceptual self-improvement procedures," Garner said. "I think of cosmetic surgery as collaborative art.... And when I next have disposable income, I'll be back in the O.R." ... Such desire for radical body transformation remains very much on the fringe, and represents behavior that many if not most people would consider taboo. But the distance between denial and acceptance could turn as much on what current machines can and can't do, as it does body image."

Grow Your Own Limbs - "In response to the hundreds of soldiers coming home from war with missing arms or legs, Darpa is spending millions of dollars to help scientists learn how people might one day regenerate their own limbs."

Is there anybody out there? How the men from the ministry hid the hunt for UFOs - "The Ministry of Defence went to extraordinary lengths to cover up its true involvement in investigating UFOs, according to secret documents revealed under the Freedom of Information Act."

Quote of the Day
"It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government."
~ Thomas Paine

September 23, 2006

News -- September 23, 2006

America legalizes torture - "This could not possibly have worked out any worse …"

Our Torturer-in-Chief - "If in doubt, take any of the "alternative" methods that Bush wants to use on U.S. detainees and imagine someone using those methods on your son or daughter. If the bad guys captured your son and tossed him, naked, into a cell kept at a temperature just slightly higher than an average refrigerator, then repeatedly doused him with ice water to induce hypothermia, would that be OK? What if they shackled him to a wall for days so he couldn't sit or lie down without hanging his whole body weight on his arms? What if they threatened to rape and kill his wife, or pretended they were burying him alive? What if they did all these things by turns? Would you have any problem deciding that these methods are cruel? Behind the antiseptic talk of "alternatives," "dietary modification" and "stress positions" lie methods designed to break human bodies and human minds. Legally and morally, many of the alternative interrogation methods championed by our president are torture, plain and simple. And there is no doubt at all that they're cruel, inhuman and degrading. ... After all, Common Article 3 is not exactly a recent innovation in international law. It's been around, with the very same language, since 1949, and the U.S. has never seen any problem with it before. We signed and ratified the Geneva Convention in 1949; in fact, American diplomats helped draft the language. And the War Crimes Act was passed overwhelmingly by a Republican-controlled Congress in 1996. There's nothing unexpected or vague about any of this. We know the article prohibits torture and the "torture lite" favored by the White House."

Backroom Deals in the Corridors of Power. Torturers Now Shielded from Prosecution - "On FOX & Friends First hosts Steve Doocy, Alisyn Camerota and Brian Kilmeade reported that the Bush administration and four recalcitrant Republican Sentators - John McCain, John Warner, Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham - have reached an agreement on the wording of a Senate bill that seeks to "clarify" the Geneva Convention's Article 3. After an all-day confab yesterday at the White House, a compromise was worked out that whitewashes what has been done to other human beings in our name and protects government-paid torturers from prosecution. Torquemada - the Spanish "hammer" against heresy - is cackling in the bowels of hell!"

Bushfraud Diversion - "Yesterday’s story leaked by U.S. Media that Bush threatened to bomb Pakistan after 9-11 is a diversion from the real story. The real story is that Musharraf, Pakistani President, knows that Bin Laden is dead and knows where he is buried. And knows that the bogeyman has gone to his maker aka kidney failure, Jan. 2002. It can now be reported that Bushfraud threatened to bomb Pakistan just one week ago when Musharraf threatened to tell the world that Bin Laden has been dead for three years."

France Looks Into bin Laden Death Report - "The French defense ministry on Saturday called for an internal investigation of the leak of an intelligence document that raises the possibility that Osama bin Laden may have died of typhoid in Pakistan a month ago but said the report of the death remained unverified."

As Crazy as It Sounds - "As crazy as it sounds, President George Bush might be planning to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. ... The scariest part of this scenario is that Bush and his war hawks seem to believe that the Iranian people will blame their own government for the American attack, overthrow it and install a new government that will be eager to jump into bed with the U.S and Israel. That's really nuts."

The Global Community is Threatened with Endless Conflicts and Wars - "In a world scarred by violent conflicts and ideological confrontations, made worse by religious misinterpretations and cultural extremism and bigotry, the global community is threatened with endless conflicts and wars. The United Nations, set up to prevent wars and to achieve peaceful solutions to world conflicts has been denigrated by the very nations which founded it. Now peace is getting even further from becoming a reality. We are still primitive beacuse we believe in killing people to solve our problems."

'Egypt will pursue nuclear energy' - "President Hosni Mubarak on Thursday called for Egypt to pursue nuclear energy, as the US ambassador said Washington would be willing to help its Mideast ally develop a peaceful program."

One in Three in Poll Still Think Saddam Was Involved in 9/11 - "Who could guess, for example, amid pundit claims that most Americans favor harsh treatment of detainees abroad to help the war on terror, that 56% in the poll say that torture is always wrong and only 35% say it might "sometimes" be acceptable? By 63% to 32% they favor following international agreements on torture and not our own rules. And 49% want public criminal charges for terrorists as opposed to 46% favoring secret military proceedings. One of the more amazing results, though much in line with other surveys, is that almost one in three still say that Saddam Hussein "was personally involved" in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S."

Will The Next Election Be Hacked? - "Fresh disasters at the polls -- and new evidence from an industry insider -- prove that electronic voting machines can't be trusted."

Senator concerned about who will cut his grass - "Frist's main concern in the debate about the illegal immigration workers is who will cut his grass and maintain the landscape on his 5 billion dollar estate nestled in the country side of Tennessee (Pictured above). Senator Frist has noted that his entire landscaping crew is Hispanic in origin and that they are instrumental in maintaining the lawns on his estate."

Poll: Only 7 percent want Olmert as PM - "However, if one would like to believe the public opinion polls published in the newspapers ahead of Rosh Hashana, Olmert has good reasons to be concerned: The public, it appears, does not see him as the most suitable person anymore."

Villains of the Vatican - "Popes have only officially been infallible since 1870. The tradition, however, stretches back much further, and is part of Catholicism's eternal efforts to depict its leader as a holy man with a hotline to heaven; someone who is head and shoulders - in matters of faith and morals - above the rest of us, as we fall prey to secular whims, sexual urges and the blandishments of the devil. So each new incumbent is, in theory, as good as hand-picked by God. Which, unfortunately, means that even God himself is not infallible. For some of the men he has anointed have, like Benedict XVI, a habit of saying or doing the wrong thing, especially when it comes to their relationships with other faiths."

An Evolving Faith - "One might get the impression from such debate that if Darwin was right about biology, then God doesn't exist. Yet a broad and formidable intellectual tradition militates against such a conclusion. Some see evolution and religion as complementary in that they involve different types of knowledge and aspects of existence; the late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould argued for this position, which he called "nonoverlapping magisteria." Others make arguments that evolution and religion are not just compatible but interrelated; one such view, stated by Anglican theologian and biochemist Arthur Peacocke, is that God operates "in, with and under" the evolutionary process."

Rewriting our religious history - "Why are many religious conservatives obsessed with invoking the Founding Fathers? That is, why is there such a brisk book trade in re-examining the founders’ lives? For the religious conservatives, the fight is about proving that America was set up as a Christian nation. And their efforts to rewrite American history are paying off, since a recent Pew Forum survey found that 67 percent of Americans believe this falsehood."

Believers say atheism no longer a 'dirty word' - "Horrified by escalating religious violence and alarmed by the Bush administration's "faith-based initiatives," which make government money available to religious organizations, atheists are coming out of the closet -- and organizing."

Violent Crime Rate Goes Up for First Time in 15 Years Following Massive GOP Cuts for Law Enforcement - "In addition to the jump in violent crime overall, the rates also increased last year for murder, robbery, and aggravated assault. The rates for every category dropped steadily under President Clinton and his massive funding boosts for law enforcement."

Proposed Ordinance asks Each Household to Have a Firearm - "The proposed ordinance is modeled after a similar plan that went into place in 1982 in Kennesaw, Ga. In that instance there was a dramatic decrease in criminal activity. Although crime isn't a huge problem for residents of Greenleaf, the growth in neighboring counties leads them to believe they too are in for some changes."

CDC Backs HIV Test for All Between 13-64 - "All Americans between the ages of 13 and 64 should be routinely tested for HIV to help catch infections earlier and stop the spread of the deadly virus, federal health recommendations announced Thursday say."

More TVs Than People in Average Home - " That threshold was crossed within the past two years, according to Nielsen Media Research. There are 2.73 TV sets in the typical home and 2.55 people, the researchers said." -- My family is bringing the average down.

High school's dances grind to a halt - ""It's feigning a sex act," Connolly said. But some students and parents don't see it that way. They say that like the jitterbug and disco before it, grinding is just a sign of the times."

Quote of the Day
"Democracies have certain things in common. They have a rule of law, and protection of minorities, a free press, and a viable political opposition."
~ President George W. Bush

September 21, 2006

Before You Enlist!

News -- September 21, 2006

Bush vows to hunt down bin Laden -- even in Pakistan - " "Osama bin Laden is in hiding and we're still spending a lot of time trying to find him," he said." -- Orwell rolls in his grave.

Mr Bush's mirage - "Anyone who seriously wanted to establish a model democracy in the Middle East would look first at Egypt. Nobody in their right mind would ever have considered Iraq as a possible model. Egypt is not only the most populous Arab country but it has the building blocks: a long-established parliamentary and electoral system (rigged, of course, but that could be changed), political parties that are not based on tribe, ethnicity or (for the most part) religion, numerous civil society institutions (albeit, many of them currently monopolised by the government) and, above all, genuine home-grown movements pressing for democracy. There are certainly many obstacles, such as the institutionalised corruption, but - more than any other Arab country - Egypt has the basic materials to work with. Instead of providing real support and encouragement for Egyptian activists and cracking the whip over Mubarak, the Bush administration chose to pursue its democratic fantasies elsewhere, in all the least promising places." -- The Iraq war is not about bringing democracy to the Middle East.

U.S. public takes dim view of job Congress is doing - "With less than seven weeks to go until the midterm elections, Americans have a distinctly negative view of the Republican-controlled Congress, with overwhelming majorities saying they disapprove of the job it is doing and that its members do not deserve re-election this fall, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll."

House acts to require voters to prove citizenship - "In a move to crack down against illegal immigrants voting in U.S. elections, the House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to require Americans to provide proof of U.S. citizenship to vote in federal elections."

War Is Horrible, but . . . - "Anyone who has done even a little reading about the theory and practice of war, whether in political theory, international relations, theology, history, or common journalistic commentary, has encountered a sentence of the form “war is horrible, but . . . .” In this construction, the phrase that follows the conjunction explains why a certain war was (or now is or someday will be) an action that ought to have been (or ought to be) undertaken notwithstanding its admitted horrors. The frequent, virtually formulaic use of this expression attests that nobody cares to argue, say, that war is a beautiful, humane, uplifting, or altogether splendid course of action and therefore the more often people fight, the better."

Goodbye Pill. Hello Sterilization. - "They're not alone. Dr. P.J. Mitchell, an obstetric surgeon in Nanaimo B.C., sees "maybe seven or eight women a week" who are considering tubal ligation: women both with and without children. "As many as 90 per cent of them go ahead with the surgery after receiving all the facts," he says. "Little seems to challenge their decisions.""

Many U.S. Couples Seek Embryo Screening - "Boy or girl? Almost half of U.S. fertility clinics that offer embryo screening say they allow couples to choose the sex of their child, the most extensive survey of the practice suggests. ... "There are thousands of babies born now that we know are going to be free of lethal and/or devastating genetic diseases. That's a good thing," he said. However, the survey findings also confirm many ethicists' fears that Americans increasingly are seeking "designer babies" not just free of medical defects but also possessing certain desirable traits."

What's Really Propping Up The Economy - "Since 2001, the health-care industry has added 1.7 million jobs. The rest of the private sector? None"

Woman jailed for months over $700 fine - "A U.S. woman held in jail for seven months longer than her original sentence because she was too poor to pay a $705 fine was freed on Wednesday, her attorney said."

Tweaked Firefox Lets You Surf Internet Without a Trace - "A tweaked version of Firefox that makes Web browsing anonymous has been released by a group of privacy-minded coders."

Royal Society tells Exxon: stop funding climate change denial - "In an unprecedented step, the Royal Society, Britain's premier scientific academy, has written to the oil giant to demand that the company withdraws support for dozens of groups that have "misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence"."

DeVos wants schools to be able to teach intelligent design - "Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos says he thinks Michigan's science curriculum should include a discussion about intelligent design, although he wouldn't require that it be taught in science classes. He says he'd like to see local school districts continue to be able to teach intelligent design if they choose to. He says teaching intelligent design along with evolution would help students discern the facts among different theories."

Skeleton Sheds Light on Ape-Man Species - "In a discovery sure to fuel an old debate about our evolutionary history, scientists have found a remarkably complete skeleton of a 3-year-old female from the ape-man species represented by "Lucy." The remains found in Africa are 3.3 million years old, making this the oldest known skeleton of such a youthful human ancestor."

Beliefwatch: 12/21/12 - "Followers of New Age spirituality have long turned to indigenous religions for wisdom and inspiration, so it has not escaped their notice that something big happens in 2012: the ancient and complex Mayan calendar—studied by astrology, spirituality and history buffs alike—has chugged along for 1,872,000 days, and its cycle stops (and restarts) on Dec. 21, 2012."

Cousteau: Irwin's tactics 'misleading' - "But, he added, Irwin would "interfere with nature, jump on animals, grab them, hold them, and have this very, very spectacular, dramatic way of presenting things. Of course, it goes very well on television. It sells, it appeals to a lot people, but I think it's very misleading. You don't touch nature, you just look at it. And that's why I'm still alive. I've been diving over 61 years - a lot many more years that he's been alive - and I don't mess with nature.""

One in 5 Americans wants cosmetic surgery someday - ""People are becoming more aware of cosmetic surgery and its benefits," Knezovich said, noting that an individual's change in appearance may make them feel better, which can consequently lead to their increased performance."

Second-hand smoke exposure boosts miscarriage risk - "Pregnant women who are exposed to second-hand smoke may be at heightened risk for suffering miscarriages, according to research from Sweden."

Kindergarten rhyming book stirs controversy - "A book of old-time playground rhymes recently distributed to the state’s kindergarten classes as part of an annual literacy program has created a stir because of its "rough-around-the-edges" verses that some parents and educators are calling inappropriate and rude. ... Girls go to Mars to get candy bars. Boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider."

Motorola unveils phone vending machines - "The vending machinelike stores unveiled Wednesday will carry about 30 products, initially including 12 phones and 18 accessories, said Bob Many, Motorola's director of automated retailing."

Man gets home confinement for groping - "A man accused of fondling home health care nurses while posing as a mentally retarded person who needed diapers changed has been sentenced to a year on home confinement."

Quote of the Day
"I don't hate America. In fact, think it's one of the best countries anyone ever stole."
~ Mikey Z.