May 31, 2008

Comcast Is Hiring an Internet Snoop for the Feds

Wanna tap e-mail, voice and Web traffic for the government? Well, here's your chance. Comcast, the country's second-largest Internet provider, is looking for an engineer to handle "reconnaissance" and "analysis" of "subscriber intelligence" for the company's "National Security Operations."

Read more.

Billboards That Look Back

In advertising these days, the brass ring goes to those who can measure everything — how many people see a particular advertisement, when they see it, who they are. All of that is easy on the Internet, and getting easier in television and print.

Billboards are a different story. For the most part, they are still a relic of old-world media, and the best guesses about viewership numbers come from foot traffic counts or highway reports, neither of which guarantees that the people passing by were really looking at the billboard, or that they were the ones sought out.

Now, some entrepreneurs have introduced technology to solve that problem. They are equipping billboards with tiny cameras that gather details about passers-by — their gender, approximate age and how long they looked at the billboard. These details are transmitted to a central database.

Read more.

May 30, 2008

A Kinder, Gentler Torture

In American custody, Al-Ghizzawi was only beaten with chains; bound to chairs in excruciating positions for endless hours; threatened with death and with rape; stripped and subjected to body-cavity searches by non-medical personnel while men — and women — laughed and took pictures.

Among many other brutalities and indignities, Al-Ghizzawi was also posed naked with other prisoners; terrorized with dogs; forced to kneel on stones in the searing heat; left to stand or crouch for extended periods; deprived of sleep; subjected to extreme cold without clothes or covering; denied medical attention; and kept in isolation for years.

Again, as I said: a kinder, gentler torture.

Read more.

Raytheon's Pain Ray: Coming to a Protest Near You?

Coming soon, from the folks who brought you the microwave -- Raytheon! After more than ten years in the making and at a cost of over 40 million dollars, 'Silent Guardian', or Active Denial System, (ADS, in it's formal mood), is almost ready for public release!


Transmitted at the speed of light over a 700 yard distance, the Pain Ray is a millimeter-wave beam that penetrates 1/64th of an inch beneath the skin, causing the water molecules there to bubble, producing an intense burning sensation, said to feel like being burnt by molten lava or a hot iron. Its delivery system attached to a Humvee and aimed right, the Pain Ray makes people run away -- fast.


Testing, conducted on human volunteers and animals by the Air Force Research Laboratory's Human Effectiveness Directorate continues, and although it has not been proved that exposure to the ray can cause cancer, it has been ascertained that the corneas of Rhesus monkeys can be damaged.


"But what happens if the people faced with such a weapon can't just run away? What happens if they're trapped in a crowd, and the crowd can't move? How much pain must that crowd endure? How long can any member of the crowd be exposed to that weapon before his or her skin -- or their eyes -- simply cook off?

What happens if the devices are used deliberately in a manner designed to cause maximum harm -- say, by training the device on prisoners trapped in prison cells until they literally go mad with pain?

What happens if the system operator turns up the power? A little bit works well, why not try a lot?

What happens if the scientists didn't test the devices thoroughly, and they turn out to render anyone touched by them blind, or impotent, or sterile?"

Hmmm. If this is used once against a civilian crowd in America, then it's doubtful crowds would ever gather again for any reason, particularly for political reasons.

Hmmmm. Maybe that's the point.

Read more.

Get used to high food costs, water shortages

Shocked by rising food prices? Get used to it -- and be ready for water shortages, too, says a sweeping new scientific report rounding up likely effects of climate change on the United States' land, water and farms over the next half-century.

Read more.

Computer trained to "read" mind images of words

A computer has been trained to "read" people's minds by looking at scans of their brains as they thought about specific words, researchers said on Thursday.

They hope their study, published in the journal Science, might lead to better understanding of how and where the brain stores information.

Read more.

Isolated tribe spotted in Brazil

The Brazilian government says it took the images to prove the tribe exists and help protect its land.

The pictures, taken from an aeroplane, show red-painted tribe members brandishing bows and arrows.

Check out the pictures here.

Read the rest here.

U.S. Cites Big Gains Against Al-Qaeda

Less than a year after his agency warned of new threats from a resurgent al-Qaeda, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden now portrays the terrorist movement as essentially defeated in Iraq and Saudi Arabia and on the defensive throughout much of the rest of the world, including in its presumed haven along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Read more.

May 29, 2008

Fossil reveals oldest live birth

A fossil fish uncovered in Australia is the oldest-known example of a mother giving birth to live young, scientists have reported in the journal Nature.

The 380 million-year-old specimen has been preserved with an embryo still attached by its umbilical cord.

The find, reported in Nature, pushes back the emergence of this reproductive strategy by some 200 million years.

Until now, scientists thought creatures from these times were only able to develop their young inside eggs.

Read more.

May 28, 2008

Monkeys control a robot arm with their thoughts

Two monkeys with tiny sensors in their brains have learned to control a
mechanical arm with just their thoughts, using it to reach for and grab
food and even to adjust for the size and stickiness of morsels when
necessary, scientists reported on Wednesday.

Read more.

Energy drinks linked to risky behavior among teenagers

Health researchers have identified a surprising new predictor for risky behavior among teenagers and young adults: the energy drink.


The finding doesn't mean the drinks cause bad behavior. But the data suggest that regular consumption of energy drinks may be a red flag for parents that their children are more likely to take risks with their health and safety. "It appears the kids who are heavily into drinking energy drinks are more likely to be the ones who are inclined toward taking risks," Miller said.

Read more.

Ex-Bush spokesman: President used 'propaganda' to push war

The spokesman who defended President Bush's policies through Hurricane Katrina and the early years of the Iraq war is now blasting his former employers, saying the Bush administration became mired in propaganda and political spin and at times played loose with the truth.

Read more.

The coming Electoral College crisis

But few have focused on a much more realistic possibility -- that Obama will get more popular votes than the Republican John McCain, in the fall and still lose in the Electoral College.

I think that would be a catastrophe that engender even more cynicism about our politics and our government than ever -- if that's possible at this point -- and after an uptick in voter interest in the 2000s would drive millions of Americans away from the process for good. Whether they would turn toward apathy or rebellion or something else would be anyone's guess.

Read more.

Bush Claims More Powers Than King George III

Adler said, Bush has “claimed the authority to suspend the Geneva Convention, to terminate treaties, to seize American citizens from the streets to detain them indefinitely without benefit of legal counseling, without benefit of judicial review. He has ordered a domestic surveillance program which violates the statutory law of the United States as well as the Fourth Amendment.”

Adler said the authors of the U.S. Constitution wrote that the president “shall take care to faithfully execute the laws of the land” because “the king of England possessed a suspending power” to set aside laws with which he disagreed, “the very same kind of power that the Bush Administration has claimed.”

Read more.

Weather warfare

Rarely acknowledged in the debate on global climate change, the world’s weather can now be modified as part of a new generation of sophisticated electromagnetic weapons. Both the US and Russia have developed capabilities to manipulate the climate for military use.


Weather-modification, according to the US Air Force document AF 2025 Final Report, ‘offers the war fighter a wide range of possible options to defeat or coerce an adversary’, capabilities, it says, extend to the triggering of floods, hurricanes, droughts and earthquakes: ‘Weather modification will become a part of domestic and international security and could be done unilaterally… It could have offensive and defensive applications and even be used for deterrence purposes. The ability to generate precipitation, fog and storms on earth or to modify space weather… and the production of artificial weather all are a part of an integrated set of [military] technologies.’

Read more.

May 27, 2008

YouTube suit called threat to online communication

A $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit challenging YouTube's ability to keep copyrighted material off its popular video-sharing site threatens how hundreds of millions of people exchange all kinds of information on the Internet, YouTube owner Google Inc. said.

Read more.

Charity: Aid workers raping, abusing children

Humanitarian aid workers and United Nation peacekeepers are sexually abusing small children in war-ravaged countries, a leading European charity has said.

Children as young as 6 have been forced to have sex with aid workers and peacekeepers in return for food and money, Save the Children UK said in a report released Tuesday.

After interviewing hundreds of children, the charity said it found instances of rape, child prostitution, pornography, indecent sexual assault and trafficking of children for sex.


Save the Children says almost as shocking as the abuse itself, is the "chronic under-reporting" of the abuses. It believes that thousands more children around the world could be suffering in silence.

Read more.

May 26, 2008


"Spin" by Brian Springer

One of the most important films of the last 25 years

Take an hour To watch this film.

May 24, 2008

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Jupiter's recent outbreak of red spots is likely related to large scale climate change as the gas giant planet is getting warmer near the equator.

Check out the picture and read the rest.

Spirit the robot finds signs of Martian life

“What we can say is that this was once a habitable environment where liquid water and the energy needed for life were present.”

Read more.

Shell CEO says record oil not due to shortage

Oil prices at a record high above $135 a barrel are rising due to market sentiment rather than a shortage of supply, Royal Dutch Shell's chief executive said on Thursday.


"This has to do with psychology in the markets and you cannot forecast psychology."

His view that there are no shortages chimes with that of other oil producers, such as members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Others, such as the U.S. government, say supply is tight.

Hmmmm. Who to believe...

Read more.

Frightening food for thought

You may know Monsanto for its role in those old chestnuts PCB, dioxin and Agent Orange, poisons so pervasive and so stubborn they have spread their toxic stain from pole to pole.

But did you know the 100-year-old company is a major player in the GMO revolution? Under the plausible guise of eradicating world hunger with genetically modified seeds resistant to Round-Up, a best-selling herbicide it also developed, Monsanto has launched an insidious campaign to achieve worldwide market supremacy, regardless of the social cost to small farmers and rural economies.

It's all laid out in previously classified documents, and confirmed by scientists, politicians and victims. What the evidence suggests is that Monsanto has long waged a dirty war of pressure campaigns, corruption, collusion with government and prevarication, also known as big fat lies.


It's not scary. It's terrifying. Like a Kurt Vonnegut Ice Nine effect, Monsanto's GMO market penetration looks to turn the world to mono-culture and potential environmental catastrophe. Rather than feed the planet, says Robin in this essential wake-up call, Monsanto is well on the road to ruining it.

Read the rest. And if you know nothing about Monsanto, then do some research and learn a little bit. More than likely, you will not like what you discover.

Most Americans do not even think about getting information from alternative news sources

Fox News, a part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, engaged in one-sided advocacy of the stance of the current US administration, instead of providing all-round objective reports of election campaigns. Economists proved that George Bush would have never won the 2000 election but for the support from Fox News. The TV channel definitely backs up right-wing Republicans, Cuthbert considers. “Fox is rather the advocate of Bush’s government than a news TV channel. Now the political ship is sinking, and so is Fox.”

Read more.

May 23, 2008

Working classes are less intelligent, says evolution expert

Bruce Charlton, an evolutionary psychiatrist at Newcastle University, has written a paper asserting the reason why fewer students from poor families are admitted to Oxford or Cambridge is not because of social prejudice, but lack of ability.

He suggests that low numbers of working-class students at elite universities is the "natural outcome" of "substantial" IQ differences between classes.

He told The Scotsman yesterday, in an interview conducted by e-mail at his insistence: "Poor people have lower average IQ than wealthier people... and this means that a much smaller percentage of working-class people than professional-class people will be able to reach the normal entrance requirements of the most selective universities."

Read more.

Official: Cluster bomb ban could hurt cooperation

A senior U.S. official said Wednesday that a proposed treaty banning cluster bombs would hurt world security and endanger U.S. military cooperation on humanitarian work with countries that sign the accord.

The world we live in.

Read more.

May 21, 2008

Losing just one night's sleep makes brain prone to 'sudden shutdowns'

Being deprived of sleep even for one night makes the brain unstable and prone to sudden shutdowns akin to a power failure - brief lapses that hover between sleep and wakefulness, according to researchers.

"It's as though it is both asleep and awake and they are switching between each other very rapidly," said David Dinges of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, whose study appears in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Read more.

First In Nation 'Pollution Fee' Coming To SF

The group's board of directors voted 15-1 on unprecedented new rules that will impose fees on factories, power plants, oil refineries and other businesses that emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.


The modest fee -- 4.4 cents per ton of carbon dioxide -- probably won't be enough to force companies to reduce their emissions, but backers say it sets an important precedent in combating climate change and could serve as a model for regional air districts nationwide.

Read more.

Consumers cut driving but not diets: poll

"People have been saying that once prices hit $4.00, they are going to adjust their lifestyles and cutting back driving is one way they are doing it," he said.

We hit $4.04 here today.

Nearly 33 percent said they are absorbing higher food costs without any changes to their lives, while only about 18 percent said they are absorbing high fuel costs.


More than 5 percent said they have taken on more personal debt to cope with higher energy costs, while a bit less than 5 percent said they are taking on debt to deal with higher food costs.

"Obviously it is of concern," Zogby said. "Because if that continues it simply means people aren't making enough to keep up."

Read more.

Go Green -- Buy a Used Car. It's Better Than a Hybrid

As Matt Power notes in this month's issue of Wired, hybrids get great gas mileage but it takes 113 million BTUs of energy to make a Toyota Prius. Because there are about 113,000 BTUs of energy in a gallon of gasoline, the Prius has consumed the equivalent of 1,000 gallons of gasoline before it reaches the showroom. Think of it as a carbon debt -- one you won't pay off until the Prius has turned over 46,000 miles or so.

Hybrids are not the answer.

Read more.

Newborn Blood-Storage Law Stirs Fears of DNA Warehouse

An obscure bill that sailed through Congress and was signed into law last month is stoking fears of a nationwide DNA warehouse potentially open to abuse by law enforcement agencies or health insurance companies.


The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act of 2007
(S.1858/H.R. 3825),
signed into law on April 24, will provide guidelines to all states on
how -- and for how long -- they should store blood. At present, all
states store blood from all newborns, and some, like California, store
it indefinitely. Critics fear that the samples, which contain
recoverable DNA, might in the future be used to identify the subject or
their medical profile.

Read more.

‘Big Brother’ database for phones and e-mails

A massive government database holding details of every phone call, e-mail and time spent on the internet by the public is being planned as part of the fight against crime and terrorism. Internet service providers (ISPs) and telecoms companies would hand over the records to the Home Office under plans put forward by officials.

Read more.

Don't give Microsoft the remote control

Building such a system is no trivial task. To do this, Microsoft has gone to great lengths to restrict users from saving a television program to their computers, we call this kind of functionality an "antifeature," because it takes more work for Microsoft to prevent the user from saving the program, than if they were to leave just the default behavior alone. So instead of letting you record programs as you normally would, it locks you out and deletes the show before you can save it.

However, Microsoft hasn't just made a little tweak to their software to do this -- they have compiled an entire system built upon antifeatures. This antifeature platform is integrated into their Windows Media software and forms the basis of their Windows Vista operating system, and they are working hard to convince companies like NBC, that Microsoft can be in control of how and when you get to watch television. As creepy and as ridiculous as it may sound, this is their business strategy, and by getting this control, both the television and movie industry and computer users will be tied to Microsoft software.

Don't be fooled into their claims that they are following regulations by the FCC -- the court ruled that the FCC has no power to make such regulations. This is also claimed as a measure just to stop unauthorized file sharing, yet what Microsoft is doing is trying to make sure that they are on every end of the market, from how it is delivered, to how you watch it. As Ars Technica reporter Jacqui Cheng puts it, this is not about Microsoft preventing people from sharing files without permission, "[i]t's about the ability to strictly control how we consume content"[2].

Read more.

Iraq could have largest oil reserves in the world

Iraq dramatically increased the official size of its oil reserves yesterday after new data suggested that they could exceed Saudi Arabia’s and be the largest in the world.

The Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister told The Times that new exploration showed that his country has the world’s largest proven oil reserves, with as much as 350 billion barrels. The figure is triple the country’s present proven reserves and exceeds that of Saudi Arabia’s estimated 264 billion barrels of oil. Barham Salih said that the new estimate had been based on recent geological surveys and seismic data compiled by “reputable, international oil companies . . . This is a serious figure from credible sources.”

Read more.

Report: U.S. Will Attack Iran

The Army Radio, a network operated by the Israeli Defense Forces, quoted a government source in Jerusalem. The source disclosed that a senior official close to Bush said in a closed meeting that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney believed military action against Iran was now called for.


The White House on Tuesday denied the Army Radio report, saying in a statement: “As the president has said, no president of the United States should ever take options off the table, but our preference and our actions for dealing with this matter remain through peaceful diplomatic means. Nothing has changed in that regard.”

However, numerous signs point to a U.S. strike on Iran in the near future:

Read more.

Shortage fears push oil futures near $140

Fears of a shortage within five years propelled long-term oil futures prices to almost $140 a barrel, further stoking inflationary pressures in the global economy.

Read more.

May 20, 2008

Older Brain Really May Be a Wiser Brain

Instead, the research finds, the aging brain is simply taking in more data and trying to sift through a clutter of information, often to its long-term benefit.

Read more.

Women win right to children without fathers

It will stop fertility clinics turning away lesbians and single women because their children will not have a father or male role model. While the current law does not block such therapy, it is sometimes used to justify refusals.

Read more.

May 19, 2008

Refitting the Presidency to the Constitution

The 44th president will assume office with powers greatly enlarged by his or her predecessor. Drawing on recent precedents, the next president could launch preemptive wars with only minor interference from Congress, ignore the ancient right of habeas corpus and imprison political enemies, spy on American citizens without serious legal restraint, use practically any federal agency for political purposes, manipulate the press in ways inconceivable prior to 2000, corrupt the federal justice system for political gain, destroy evidence in criminal cases, use the Justice Department to prosecute members of the opposing party, offer lucrative no-bid government contracts to friends, expand the creation of private security armies, use torture, create secret prisons, assassinate inconvenient foreign leaders, circumvent laws with signing statements, and a great deal more. Such things are now possible because the system of checks and balances carefully written into the Constitution and explained in great detail in the Federalist Papers were weakened as a result of historical circumstances of the 20th century, but systematically and with great forethought by the administration of George W. Bush.

Read more.

Robert Fisk: So just where does the madness end?

But being from the wrong religion is suddenly crucial again. Who your driver is, what is the religion of your landlord, is suddenly a matter of immense importance.


Where does the madness end? Where do words lose their meaning? Al-Qa'ida is not being defeated. Hizbollah has just won a domestic war in Lebanon, as total as Hamas's war in Gaza. Afghanistan and Iraq and Lebanon and Gaza are hell disasters – I need no apology to quote Churchill's description of 1948 Palestine yet again – and this foolish, stupid, vicious man [Bush] is lying to the world yet again.

Read more.

May 18, 2008

MRSA: UK scientists 'close to a treatment'

The new compound, codenamed XF-73, is currently being trialled with a view to developing a product for use in hospitals within three years.

Unlike most anti-MRSA drugs which just prevent the bacterium growing and breeding, XF-73 is intended actually to kill the microbes.

And as studies suggest that MRSA does not develop resistance to the drug, even after repeated exposures, researchers are optimistic that it could hold the key to stamping out the disease.

Read more.

Warning: Using a mobile phone while pregnant can seriously damage your baby

A giant study, which surveyed more than 13,000 children, found that using the handsets just two or three times a day was enough to raise the risk of their babies developing hyperactivity and difficulties with conduct, emotions and relationships by the time they reached school age. And it adds that the likelihood is even greater if the children themselves used the phones before the age of seven.

Read more.

An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton From a Wellesly College Alumna

Your claim to care about food safety is terrifying double-speak given what Bill did and who you take donations from. Your idea of a Department of Food Safety would centralize control of food - in whose corporate connected hands? You talk tough about labeling food - ah, but “foreign” food - a sleight of hand tricking a public desperate for safe US food. You talk about food safety but Bill degraded food in every imaginable way and prevented minimally sane labeling.

Read more.

Scientists, Theologians Debate Whether God Exists

"Science does not make belief in God obsolete, but it may make obsolete the reality of God, depending on how far we are able to push the science," Shermer writes in the booklet.


In other words, he suggests that we can get around the divide between science and God if we come up with a new concept for God that focuses on the wonders of nature, among other things.

This new concept is a global cultural imperative, Kauffman writes, if we are to overcome fundamentalist fears and reunite reason with humanity and the mysteries of life.

Just like always: change the concept of "god" to fit the times. Man, God reinvents herself more frequently than Madonna.

Read more.

Video games cause violence, most children admit to Ofcom

Two thirds of those aged between 12 and 15 said that violence in games had more of an impact on behaviour than violence in television or films, the study by Ofcom found.


But despite concerns over children accessing the web unsupervised, a rising number of parents said they had not installed blocking software to stop their sons and daughters watching unsuitable content.


Parents said they did not feel the need to instal blocking software because they trusted their children to “self-regulate” their internet behaviour.

Read more.

Astronomers Baffled by Bizarre Star

Astronomers are baffled after finding an exotic type of star called a pulsar apparently locked in an elongated orbit around a star much like the sun -- an arrangement defying what had been known about such objects.

Read more.

Despite high school algebra focus, more students need remedial college math

In a pattern that has area math professors scratching their heads, some community colleges are seeing an increase in the numbers and proportions of entering students who can't do algebra, or even basic arithmetic.

Read more. Learn more math.

May 16, 2008

What the Gay Marriage Ruling Won't Do

Gay couples in California will now be able to wed under state law, as those in Massachusetts can, but their marriages will still be something less than what straight Californians enjoy.

I am hoping for invitations to some lavish gay beach weddings in the next few months, but at the end of the year, the gays who stage those weddings will still be filing separate 1040s. That's not going to change any time soon, since both John McCain and Barack Obama (and, for that matter, Hillary Rodham Clinton) share the same position on equality for gay couples: they oppose it. Neither candidate would end federal discrimination against gays who want to marry.

Read more.

The Top 50 Most Stupid Bush Quotes

"To the C students, I say you too can be president of the United States."

We deserve what we accept.

Really, read the rest. There are some gems.

McCain Adviser: Christian Right a "Serious Problem"

Clinton adviser Ann Lewis tacked to the right, criticizing Obama for saying he'd meet with the President of Iran and for suggesting that a US President needn't have to echo the policies of the Likud Party in order to be "pro-Israel." "The role of the president of the United States is to support the decisions that are made by the people of Israel," Lewis said. "It is not up to us to pick and choose from among the political parties."


"The role of the president of the United States is to support the decisions that are made by the people of Israel."

No, really, What The Fuck?

Read more.

May 15, 2008

Galaxy's youngest known supernova is 140 years old

Astronomers have discovered the youngest known supernova in the Milky Way galaxy, still just a baby at 140 years old.

Read more.

Cops with rifles to hit streets this summer

Metropolitan Police Department officials said yesterday patrol officers will be issued assault rifles by the summer, after policies on their use are released this month.

The Washington Times reported Wednesday that the department is arming the officers with the rifles as part of a national trend to protect them from criminals with increasingly powerful weapons.

Read more.

Genetically Modified Human Embryo Stirs Criticism

"None of us wants to make designer babies," said Dr. Zev Rosenwaks, director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

You may not "want to make designer babies", but someone, somewhere does and will. It's only a matter of time.

Read more.

The Less the Education, the Higher the Risk of Dying Early

For Americans with less than a high school education, the risk of dying prematurely is on the increase -- rising most quickly for white women in that category. In contrast, the risk of premature death among college graduates is falling -- fastest of all for black men.

Read more.

Portion Size, Then and Now

Over the past few decades, portion sizes of everything from muffins to sandwiches have grown considerably. Unfortunately, America’s waistbands have reacted accordingly.


These portion comparisons, adapted from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s (NHLBI) Portion Distortion Quiz, give a visual representation of what sizes used to be compared to what they are today.

Check out the pics.

Read more.

Air Force Aims for 'Full Control' of 'Any and All' Computers

The Air Force wants a suite of hacker tools, to give it "access" to -- and "full control" of -- any kind of computer there is. And once the info warriors are in, the Air Force wants them to keep tabs on their "adversaries' information infrastructure completely undetected."

Read more.

More Americans are taking prescription medications

For the first time, it appears that more than half of all insured Americans are taking prescription medicines regularly for chronic health problems, a study shows.

The most widely used drugs are those to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol - problems often linked to heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Read more.

May 14, 2008

House Approves New Property Seizure Law

If you boil it down to brass tax, this legislation allows the U.S. government to lawfully seize your computer if it has one unauthorized mp3 file on its hard drive. It also provides the authorization for the creation of offices within the executive branch to enforce a law that is impossible to enforce.

Read more.

US confession: Weapons were not made in Iran after all

In a sharp reversal of its longstanding accusations against Iran arming militants in Iraq , the US military has made an unprecedented albeit quiet confession: the weapons they had recently found in Iraq were not made in Iran at all.

Read more.

Feds to Collect Millions of DNA Profiles Yearly, Stay Out if You Can

The feds will soon be collecting about one million DNA samples a year under a new program that lets federal agents collect cheek swabs from citizens merely arrested for any federal crime or from any non-citizen detained by federal agents -- including visitors to the country who have visas.

Read more.

Patenting the "Climate Genes" ...and Capturing the Climate Agenda

BASF, Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, Dupont and biotech partners have filed 532 patent documents (a total of 55 patent families) on so-called “climate ready” genes at patent offices around the world. In the face of climate chaos and a deepening world food crisis, the Gene Giants are gearing up for a PR offensive to re-brand themselves as climate saviours. The focus on so-called climate-ready genes is a golden opportunity to push genetically engineered crops as a silver bullet solution to climate change.

Whatever, it's all about greed.

Read more.

May 12, 2008

Government in secret

The Bush administration recently announced it will allow select members of Congress to read Justice Department legal opinions about the CIA's controversial detainee interrogation program that have been hidden from Congress until now. But as the administration allows a glimpse of this secret law -- and it is law -- we are left wondering what other laws it is still keeping under lock and key.

Read more.

Man Jailed After Daughter Fails To Get GED


Butler County Juvenile Court Judge David Niehaus ordered Gegner to jail for contributing to the delinquency of a minor by not following a court order which required Gegner to be sure his daughter got her GED.

Um, because one person can "make sure" that another person gets an education. Yeah, that's reality.

"I'm about to be 19 and my Dad's being punished for something I did when I was 16," she said.


Court administrators say that even though Brittany is an adult now, the case remains active in their court because she was a juvenile when the problems started.

They say this type of punishment is rare and reserved for extreme cases when court orders aren't met.

Read more and remember, you can "make" someone become educated. Wow, I learn something every day.

Scientist team creates first GM human embryo

A team from Cornell University in New York produced the GM embryo to study how early cells and diseases develop. It was destroyed after five days.


The effects of changing an embryo would be permanent. Genes added to embryos or reproductive cells, such as sperm, will affect all cells in the body and will be passed on to future generations.

Read more.

'Hundreds buried' by China quake

Almost 900 students are buried after an earthquake measuring 7.8 caused a building to collapse in south-western China, state media reports.

Read more.

May 9, 2008

Happy Mother's Day: Woman pregnant with 18th child

Michelle Duggar, 41, is due on New Year's Day, and the latest addition will join seven sisters and 10 brothers. There are two sets of twins.

Stop breeding.



Stop fucking breeding.

Read more.

Motion-Capture Suits Will Spice Up Virtual Sex

How soon will we be slipping gracefully into motion-capture suits or using 3-D cameras to capture those uniquely natural moves and engage our entire bodies in online sexual adventures, rather than limping along with keyboard and mouse? Sooner than you might think.

Read more.

McCain embraces Bush's radical views of executive power

According to John McCain, then, executive power in the U.S. now is exactly what it should be, perfectly in line with what the Founders envisioned -- except that it is too constrained by a judiciary which "show[s] little regard for the authority of the president." To McCain, the only real problem with our system of checks and balances is that the judiciary has too much power, and the President not enough.


Not only is McCain's view of presidential powers identical to Bush's, his speech yesterday -- in terms of structure, arguments and even some wording -- was almost an exact replica of the one Bush delivered to the Federalist Society.

Virtually every abuse of the last eight years has its roots in the Bush/Cheney view of the President as Monarch, and John McCain clearly endorses its fundamentals. Indeed, when responding to a questionnaire on executive power circulated to all the candidates by The Boston Globe's Charlie Savage earlier this year, McCain (while paying lip service to nice principles and even taking the extreme position that he would never issue a signing statement) refused to say that there was even a single aspect of Bush's use of executive power that he found unconstitutional or otherwise objectionable:

Know that McCain is not the answer.

Read more.

Obama open to Clinton as possible running mate

Democrat Barack Obama on Thursday did not rule out selecting rival Hillary Clinton as his vice presidential running mate if he ultimately defeats her in a race in which he has an almost insurmountable lead.

Ugh. And if he does, then we know he is not capable of making good decisions.

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Cell Phone Spying: Is Your Life Being Monitored?

The same technology that lets you stay in touch on-the-go can now let others tap into your private world — without you ever even suspecting something is awry.


Eavesdropping is easy. All it takes is a two-minute software install and someone can record your calls and monitor your text messages. They can even set up systems to be automatically alerted when you dial a certain number, then instantly patched into your conversation. Anyone who can perform a basic internet search can find the tools and figure out how to do it in no time.

But the scarier stuff is what your phone can do when you aren’t even using it. Let’s start with your location.


So you’ve figured out where someone is, but now you want to know what they’re actually doing. Turns out you can listen in, even if they aren’t talking on their phone.


You might be asking how this could possibly be legal. Turns out, it isn’t - at least, not in the ways we just described. Much like those fancy smoking devices designed “for tobacco use only,” the software itself gets by because of a disclaimer saying it doesn’t endorse any illegal use.

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May 8, 2008

Too much, too little sleep tied to ill health in CDC study

People who sleep fewer than six hours a night — or more than nine — are more likely to be obese, according to a new government study that is one of the largest to show a link between irregular sleep and big bellies.

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Airline Emissions: Even Worse Than You Think

A recently disclosed report finds that airlines are spewing 20 percent more carbon dioxide into the environment than previously estimated and the amount could hit 1.5 billion tons a year by 2025. That's far more than even the worst-case predictions laid out by the International Panel on Climate Change.

If you're looking to put that number in perspective, the European Union currently emits 3.1 billion tons of CO2 annually. Yup, that's the entire 27-nation, 457 million person EU.

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Duck-billed platypus is dismissed by Oxford scientists as daffy

When the first duck-billed platypus specimens were sent from Australia to Europe at the end of the 18th century, the bizarre combination of mammal, bird and reptile features led many zoologists to consider them a hoax.

The reason for that first impression has now been revealed: the first analysis of its DNA code has shown that at a genetic level the platypus is indeed a unique amalgam of mammal, reptile and bird.


“This is our ticket back in time, to when all mammals laid eggs while suckling their young on milk,” said Chris Ponting, of the University of Oxford, one of the leaders of the international research team.

“The platyus genome is extremely important, because it is the missing link in our understanding of how we and other mammals first evolved.”

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ABC News Shielding Cheney after DC Madam Hanging?

Among Palfrey's known clients were current Louisiana Senator Vitter, former AIDS Czar Randall Tobias, Dick Morris and military-industrial wonk Harlan Ullman, but Dick Cheney's McLean, VA phone number, reported earlier was summarily un-reported after a turnaround by ABC News.

ABC anchor Sam Donaldson has also been a rumored client, along with a law partner of Rudy Giuliani, associates of Jack Abramoff and many more Pentagon, DC and corporate insiders on a list of over 10,000 numbers.

According to early accounts, ABC News correspondent Brian Ross had the exclusive scoop because Palfrey turned over years-long call lists for his staff to verify. After Cheney turned up on the list, the story, already on the ABC website and poised to run on 20/20, suddenly went away.


Read more.

May 7, 2008

New wi-fi devices warn doctors of heart attacks

If the “in-body network” recorded that the person had suddenly collapsed, it
would send an alert, via a nearby base station at their home, to a surgery
or hospital.

However, Ofcom also gave warning in its report, Tomorrow’s Wireless World,
that the impact of such technology on personal privacy would require more

Read more.

Blu-Ray sales tank for good reasons

That brings us to the next down side, there is no up, DRM. Every Blu-ray disc is DRM infected even if the producer doesn't want it to be, in order to get a company to manufacture it, it must be infected. Sony gets an infection kickback fee as well, so don't think it is purely for protection unless you mean it in the -racket sense.

Blu-ray DRM infections do not protect anything, Slysoft has cracked it with their excellent AnyDVD HD product, something I can't recommend enough. Basically, new DRM schemes are broken before you can buy discs with them on it, protecting nothing. It will however prevent legitimate users from using legally purchased media on legally purchased hardware. If you pirate though, no more compatibility issues, once again making Piracy the Better Choice (TM)(C)(R).

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Is the earth getting warmer, or cooler?

One clue we can see is that NASA has been reworking recent temperatures upwards and older temperatures downwards - which creates a greater slope and the appearance of warming. Canadian statistician Steve McIntyre has been tracking the changes closely on his Climate Audit site, and reports that NASA is Rewriting History, Time and Time Again.


Particularly troubling are the years from 1986-1998. In the 2007 version of the graph, the 1986 data was adjusted upwards by 0.4 degrees relative to the 1999 graph. In fact, every year except one from 1986-1998 was adjusted upwards, by an average of 0.2 degrees. If someone wanted to present a case for a lot of recent warming, adjusting data upwards would be an excellent way to do it.

Looking at the NASA website, we can see that the person in charge of the temperature data is the eminent Dr. James Hansen - Al Gore's science advisor and the world's leading long-term advocate of global warming.

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In Next-Gen Bullets and Bombs, Even the Casing Explodes

In development for more than 30 years, the research is beginning to bear fruit, and may soon spawn more powerful bombs, warheads that tear apart stone and concrete, mines that can be set to stun or kill, and grenades that can swat rockets or mortar rounds out of the sky like flies.

It's the thing humans are best at.

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Ban 'Second Life' in schools and libraries, Republican congressman says

"Sites like Second Life offer no protections to keep kids from virtual "rape rooms," brothels, and drug stores," Kirk said, according to a press release. "If sites like Second Life won't protect kids from obviously inappropriate content, the Congress will."

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Birds can 'see' the Earth's magnetic field

It has been debated for nearly four decades but no one has yet been able to prove it is chemically possible. Now good evidence suggests that birds can actually "see" the lines of the Earth's magnetic field.

Klaus Schulten of the University of Illinois, proposed forty years ago that some animals – including migratory birds – must have molecules in their eyes or brains which respond to magnetism. The problem has been that no one has been able to find a chemical sensitive enough to be influenced by Earth's weak geomagnetic field.

Now Peter Hore and colleagues at the University of Oxford have found one.

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$160 Billion Robotic Army Network Passes First Big Test. Kinda.

The theory behind the FCS is that dispersed, intelligent robotic systems plugged into a universal communications network can help small numbers of U.S. troops riding in new vehicles to control huge swaths of terrain. Any ship, airplane or tank fitted with the FCS network devices will be able to see everything the others see.

The SkyNet-like network and dynamic coordination “is the most important thing,” Brigadier General James Terry says.

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May 6, 2008


FEW DEATHS could cause as much relief in Washington as did the alleged suicide of DC Madam Deborah Jean Palfrey.


Palfrey estimated her business involved some 10,000 clients - most in and around the most powerful city in America.


ou add up the little pieces and it is clear that something much bigger than prostitution was involved. Was Palfrey being threatened because she had, in effect, decided to leave the mob taking along her many tales? Was she a bit player in some much larger blackmail operation? And did she end her life or did someone do it for her?

Our approach to such matters is to treat them as open cases. We do not presume a conspiracy, but neither do we accept the establishment's approach of rushing to the conclusion most comfortable to itself. In this case, for example, there are some 10,000 members of the establishment with a vested interest in not examining the evidence too much.

We do know that the Palfrey case was one of the strangest prosecutions the capital has ever seen. Judges, prosecutors, the media and the political elite all seemed extraordinarily determined to put a cap on how much information the case revealed. So far, they have been quite successful.

Suicide, my ass.

You'll need to scroll down a bit to finish reading the article, but there's a lot of interesting stuff to read.

Read it here.

CCTV boom has failed to slash crime, say police

Massive investment in CCTV cameras to prevent crime in the UK has failed to have a significant impact, despite billions of pounds spent on the new technology, a senior police officer piloting a new database has warned. Only 3% of street robberies in London were solved using CCTV images, despite the fact that Britain has more security cameras than any other country in Europe.

Read more.

May 5, 2008

Who should MDs let die in a pandemic? Report offers answers

Doctors know some patients needing lifesaving care won't get it in a flu pandemic or other disaster. The gut-wrenching dilemma will be deciding who to let die.

Now, an influential group of physicians has drafted a grimly specific list of recommendations for which patients wouldn't be treated. They include the very elderly, seriously hurt trauma victims, severely burned patients and those with severe dementia.

Read more.

Neanderthals were separate species, new study finds

A new, simplified family tree of humanity has dealt a blow to those who contend that the enigmatic hominids known as Neanderthals intermingled with our forebears.

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The Rise of the Rest

American anxiety springs from something much deeper, a sense that large and disruptive forces are coursing through the world. In almost every industry, in every aspect of life, it feels like the patterns of the past are being scrambled.


These factoids reflect a seismic shift in power and attitudes. It is one that I sense when I travel around the world. In America, we are still debating the nature and extent of anti-Americanism. One side says that the problem is real and worrying and that we must woo the world back. The other says this is the inevitable price of power and that many of these countries are envious—and vaguely French—so we can safely ignore their griping. But while we argue over why they hate us, "they" have moved on, and are now far more interested in other, more dynamic parts of the globe. The world has shifted from anti-Americanism to post-Americanism.


Well, consider this fact. In 2006 and 2007, 124 countries grew their economies at over 4 percent a year. That includes more than 30 countries in Africa. Over the last two decades, lands outside the industrialized West have been growing at rates that were once unthinkable. While there have been booms and busts, the overall trend has been unambiguously upward. Antoine van Agtmael, the fund manager who coined the term "emerging markets," has identified the 25 companies most likely to be the world's next great multinationals. His list includes four companies each from Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, and Taiwan; three from India, two from China, and one each from Argentina, Chile, Malaysia, and South Africa. This is something much broader than the much-ballyhooed rise of China or even Asia. It is the rise of the rest—the rest of the world.


At the military and political level, we still live in a unipolar world. But along every other dimension—industrial, financial, social, cultural—the distribution of power is shifting, moving away from American dominance. In terms of war and peace, economics and business, ideas and art, this will produce a landscape that is quite different from the one we have lived in until now—one defined and directed from many places and by many peoples.


A team of scholars at the University of Maryland has been tracking deaths caused by organized violence. Their data show that wars of all kinds have been declining since the mid-1980s and that we are now at the lowest levels of global violence since the 1950s. Deaths from terrorism are reported to have risen in recent years. But on closer examination, 80 percent of those casualties come from Afghanistan and Iraq, which are really war zones with ongoing insurgencies—and the overall numbers remain small. Looking at the evidence, Harvard's polymath professor Steven Pinker has ventured to speculate that we are probably living "in the most peaceful time of our species' existence."


American society can adapt to this new world. But can the American government? Washington has gotten used to a world in which all roads led to its doorstep. America has rarely had to worry about benchmarking to the rest of the world—it was always so far ahead. But the natives have gotten good at capitalism and the gap is narrowing. Look at the rise of London. It's now the world's leading financial center—less because of things that the United States did badly than those London did well, like improving regulation and becoming friendlier to foreign capital. Or take the U.S. health care system, which has become a huge liability for American companies. U.S. carmakers now employ more people in Ontario, Canada, than Michigan because in Canada their health care costs are lower. Twenty years ago, the United States had the lowest corporate taxes in the world. Today they are the second-highest. It's not that ours went up. Those of others went down.


If China, India, Russia, Brazil all feel that they have a stake in the existing global order, there will be less danger of war, depression, panics, and breakdowns. There will be lots of problems, crisis, and tensions, but they will occur against a backdrop of systemic stability. This benefits them but also us. It's the ultimate win-win.


To bring others into this world, the United States needs to make its own commitment to the system clear. So far, America has been able to have it both ways. It is the global rule-maker but doesn't always play by the rules. And forget about standards created by others. Only three countries in the world don't use the metric system—Liberia, Myanmar, and the United States. For America to continue to lead the world, we will have to first join it.

Americans—particularly the American government—have not really understood the rise of the rest. This is one of the most thrilling stories in history. Billions of people are escaping from abject poverty. The world will be enriched and ennobled as they become consumers, producers, inventors, thinkers, dreamers, and doers. This is all happening because of American ideas and actions. For 60 years, the United States has pushed countries to open their markets, free up their politics, and embrace trade and technology. American diplomats, businessmen, and intellectuals have urged people in distant lands to be unafraid of change, to join the advanced world, to learn the secrets of our success. Yet just as they are beginning to do so, we are losing faith in such ideas. We have become suspicious of trade, openness, immigration, and investment because now it's not Americans going abroad but foreigners coming to America. Just as the world is opening up, we are closing down.

Read the rest.

May 4, 2008

Green tax revolt: Britons 'will not foot bill to save planet'

More than seven in 10 voters insist that they would not be willing to pay higher taxes in order to fund projects to combat climate change, according to a new poll.

The survey also reveals that most Britons believe "green" taxes on 4x4s, plastic bags and other consumer goods have been imposed to raise cash rather than change our behaviour, while two-thirds of Britons think the entire green agenda has been hijacked as a ploy to increase taxes.

Looks like the Britons have this thing figured out.

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Ape Genius reveals depth of animal intelligence

Anthropologist Jill Pruetz believes she has made a landmark discovery - a species other than humans learning - and passing on - the skills to make a lethal weapon.

How pathetic that our definition of "intelligence" revolves around having the skills to make a lethal weapon.

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Common drugs hasten decline in elderly: study

Elderly people who took commonly prescribed drugs for incontinence, allergy or high blood pressure walked more slowly and were less able to take care of themselves than others not taking the drugs, U.S. researchers said on Saturday.

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Obama says Clinton's tough talk on Iran too much like Bush's

Barack Obama likened Hillary Rodham Clinton to President Bush for threatening to "totally obliterate" Iran if it attacks Israel and called her gas-tax holiday a gimmick as he tried to fend off her challenge ahead of two pivotal Democratic primaries.

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AT&T Mobile TV -- Media Flows Like Greased Lightning

Do we really need another way to rot our brains? Yes, yes we do -- and live TV on our phones is just the ticket. The latest effort to get the boob tube on a mobile device is AT&T's Mobile TV with FLO (Forward Link Only), and it's surprisingly good. Coupled with the LG Vu phone, it's a match made in couch-potato heaven.

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LA Real Estate Mogul Plans to Light Up Blade Runner-Style Billboards

Wasn't Blade Runner supposed to depict a bleak, dystopian future? Someone really should tell Sonny Astani. The 55-year-old real estate mogul is planning to bring 2019 Los Angeles to life in the form of two 14-story animated billboards modeled on Ridley Scott's opening sequence.

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Senators ask God to deflect hurricanes

“Let’s ask God that he spare us again this year from any more hurricanes,” said Sen. Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden. He noted that last year the Senate also asked for God to rein in El Nino and atmospheric patterns that had created a horrendous prediction of a terrible hurricane season.

Webster said that the state was spared last year, boggling the minds of scientists.

Christ in a basket, these people.

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Pregnant Woman Sees Jesus Image in Ultrasound

When an Ohio woman looked at an ultrasound she expected to see a developing fetus.

Instead, she saw what she believes to be an image of Jesus Christ, MyFox Cleveland reported on its Web site.

Christ on a cross.

Read the rest and check out the pic.

More who need major surgery are leaving U.S.

No official statistics are kept on how many Americans travel overseas for medical care, but one estimate places the number at 150,000 in 2006.

Other trends are more clear-cut. Many Americans are uninsured - nearly 47 million at last count - and others have health insurance that does not adequately cover procedures they desperately want or need.

Read more.

Multinationals make billions in profit out of growing global food crisis

Giant agribusinesses are enjoying soaring earnings and profits out of the world food crisis which is driving millions of people towards starvation, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. And speculation is helping to drive the prices of basic foodstuffs out of the reach of the hungry.

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Since Pope Benedict gave cover to the church's pedophiles, does that mean all Catholics are pedophiles?

Now hold on a second, before you find a rope and drag me to the nearest tree. I am just asking a question using the same framing methods used by the American MSM when they started their tarring and feathering of Obama and his association with Reverend Wright.


And what does "God's Rottweiller" have to say about the Church's pedophila scandal?


This is the face of JC's Vicar on Earth?

Read the rest.

Robobug goes to war: Troops to use electronic insects to spot enemy 'by end of the year'

British defence giant BAE Systems is creating a series of tiny electronic spiders, insects and snakes that could become the eyes and ears of soldiers on the battlefield, helping to save thousands of lives.

Prototypes could be on the front line by the end of the year, scuttling into potential danger areas such as booby-trapped buildings or enemy hideouts to relay images back to troops safely positioned nearby.

And undoubtedly in the near future they will be "scuttling" about in non-danger areas from the workplaces, to the shopping places, to the private lives of everyday citizens. It's only a matter of time.

Read more.

May 2, 2008

Proposals to slash gas prices abound in White House race

Get rid of the federal gas tax — at least for the summer. Tax Big Oil to help the rest of us out. Get drilling in that Alaska refuge. Soaring gasoline prices are suddenly the nation's No. 1 crisis, and all the presidential candidates are offering cures.


"These are almost identical to proposals that were made in 1973 and 1974 when I was working for Hubert Humphrey on energy. There's nothing new there and there's no free lunch," said James Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University.

"Unless people running for office are willing to have a fundamental change in the way we produce energy and use it, we'll continue to have these problems. And they'll only get worse in the future. And none of these proposals will do anything to stop the current problem," Thurber said.

Read more.

Universities Baffled By Massive Surge In RIAA Copyright Notices

But many of the recent notices don't correspond to entries in traffic logs, which also don't show any overall increase in file sharing, Bruhn said.

"We are not sure now what we have is an allegation of copyright infringement or an allegation of possible future illegal behavior," Bruhn said."The whole thing is very concerning, to be frank. We don't know why they are doing this and I'm not sure they know what they are doing."

"They in fact can't know if the files being offered are actually the protected works of their clients -- how would they know if they didn't download and open them?" Bruhn said.

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The new fame: Internet celebrity

The Internet is setting a new standard for celebrity. Fame is no longer about getting "15 minutes"; it's about becoming famous to 15 people.

Read more. Make me famous.

May 1, 2008

Just Between Us

Telecoms and the Bush administration talked about how to keep their surveillance program under wraps.

The Bush administration is refusing to disclose internal e-mails, letters and notes showing contacts with major telecommunications companies over how to persuade Congress to back a controversial surveillance bill, according to recently disclosed court documents.

Read more.

Judge Deals Blow to RIAA in Music Piracy Case

The Recording Industry Association of America suffered a legal setback this week in a music piracy case where a judge ruled that the sole act of making a music file available in a "shared folder" does not violate copyright laws.

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Police: Woman believed to be 'D.C. madam' kills herself

Palfrey was convicted April 15 by a federal jury of running a prostitution service that catered to members of Washington's political elite.

Things that make you go "hmmmm".

Read more.

Iran Ends Oil Transactions In U.S. Dollars

Iran, OPEC's second-largest producer, has completely stopped conducting oil transactions in U.S. dollars, a top Oil Ministry official said Wednesday, a concerted attempt to reduce reliance on Washington at a time of tension over Tehran's nuclear program and suspected involvement in Iraq.

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