Thursday, June 30, 2005

The End of the Rainbow

New York Times: "Here's something you probably didn't know: Ireland today is the richest country in the European Union after Luxembourg.Yes, the country that for hundreds of years was best known for emigration, tragic poets, famines, civil wars and leprechauns today has a per capita G.D.P. higher than that of Germany, France and Britain. How Ireland went from the sick man of Europe to the rich man in less than a generation is an amazing story. It tells you a lot about Europe today: all the innovation is happening on the periphery by those countries embracing globalization in their own ways - Ireland, Britain, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe - while those following the French-German social model are suffering high unemployment and low growth."

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

State Department Propagandizes Again

A State Department release from Monday doctored remarks from U2’s Bono, twisting his quote to mean the very opposite of what he apparently believes. Here’s the State Department paragraph, two graphs below the lede [besides underlining, excerpt appears exactly as published]:

Bono, lead singer of the Irish band U2 and longtime activist for aid to Africa, echoed Geldof’s praise for President Bush as he told an American television interviewer June 26, “[Bush] has already doubled and tripled aid to Africa .… I think he has done an incredible job, his administration, on AIDS. 250,000 Africans are on anti-viral drugs; they literally owe their lives to America.”

In fact, Bono only said the latter half of that quote during his appearance on Meet the Press last Sunday. The first part — “[Bush] has already doubled and tripled aid to Africa” — is deceptively transplanted from an interview Bono did with Time magazine that Tim Russert quoted on the show, and the State Department has taken it entirely out of context. Here’s the full quote:

Question: Which of the G8 leaders do you think remains the toughest nut to crack?

Bono: The most important and toughest nut is still President Bush. He feels he’s already doubled and tripled aid to Africa, which he started from far too low a place. He can stand there and say he paid at the office already. He shouldn’t because he’ll be left out of the history books. But it’s hard for him because of the expense of the war and the debts.

Continue Reading

Nixon Called Indira Gandhi an 'Old Witch'

"While she was a bitch, we got what we wanted too," Kissinger said. "She will not be able to go home and say that the United States didn't give her a warm reception and therefore in despair she's got to go to war."

"The Indians are bastards anyway," Kissinger told the president. "They are starting a war there."

We really slobbered over the old witch," Nixon told Kissinger,

How do such simpletons rule a country? How does it keep happening? Imagine when Reagan's and Bush's tapes get released... oh man...

Freestar Media, LLC

Freestar Media, LLC : "Weare, New Hampshire (PRWEB) Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter's land.
Justice Souter's vote in the 'Kelo vs. City of New London' decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.
On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.
Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.
The proposed development, called 'The Lost Liberty Hotel' will feature the 'Just Desserts Caf�' and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel 'Atlas Shrugged.'
Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.
'This is not a prank' said Clements, 'The Towne of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land from Mr. Souter we can begin our hotel development.'
Clements' plan is to raise investment capital from wealthy pro-liberty investors and draw up architectural plans. These plans would then be used to raise investment capital for the project. Clements hopes that regular customers of the hotel might include supporters of the Institute For Justice and participants in the Free State Project among others."

Eminent Domain Ruling: Justices Uphold Taking Property for Private Development

We turn now to a major ruling by the Supreme Court on property rights. A split court ruled 5-4 Thursday that cities may seize and demolish private homes - even in non-blighted areas -- to make way for shopping malls and other private development.
Writing for the majority Justice John Paul Stevens wrote "Promoting economic development is a traditional and long accepted function of government."

But Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote a scathing dissent saying, "Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner. Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall or any farm with a factory."

Joining O'Connor in opposing the ruling were Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Young Labeled 'Entitlement Generation'

Yahoo! News: "CHICAGO - Evan Wayne thought he was prepared for anything during a recent interview for a job in radio sales. Then the interviewer hit the 24-year-old Chicagoan with this: 'So, we call you guys the 'Entitlement Generation,'' the baby boomer executive said, expressing an oft-heard view of today's young work force. 'You think you're entitled to everything.'
Such labeling is, perhaps, a rite of passage for every crop of twentysomethings. In their day, baby boomers were rabble-rousing hippies, while Gen Xers were apathetic slackers.
Now, deserved or not, this latest generation is being pegged, too %u2014 as one with shockingly high expectations for salary, job flexibility and duties but little willingness to take on grunt work or remain loyal to a company.
'We're seeing an epidemic of people who are having a hard time making the transition to work %u2014 kids who had too much success early in life and who've become accustomed to instant gratification,' says Dr. Mel Levine, a pediatrics professor at the University of North Carolina Medical School and author of a book on the topic called 'Ready or Not, Here Life Comes.'
While Levine also notes that today's twentysomethings are long on idealism and altruism, 'many of the individuals we see are heavily committed to something we call 'fun.''
He partly faults coddling parents and colleges for doing little to prepare students for the realities of adulthood and setting the course for what many disillusioned twentysomethings are increasingly calling their 'quarter-life crisis.'"

Rudy's Rude Awakening?

Radar Online: "Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani’s talk-show cheerleading for George W. Bush may be getting tiresome, but it’s all part of GOP strategist Karl Rove’s master plan to get “America’s mayor” elected in 2008, we hear. But not to the Oval Office.
According to well-placed political sources, Giuliani has been working closely with Rove to build a Presidential platform against presumed Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. “There’s been talk on Capitol Hill for months about Rove’s ‘secret meetings’ in New York with Giuliani,” says one D.C. operative. “[Rudy] is not appearing on Hardball and Larry King for his health.”
But sources say the job Rove has in mind for Giuliani isn’t the one the ever-ambitious ex-mayor is angling for; as usual, the Boy Genius has his own ideas. “Whoever gets the Republican nomination is going to appear so extremist that it will be hard for them to appeal to moderates, the core of winning any national election,” notes our insider. “But you add on an American hero like Rudy Giuliani and you have a likable ticket. Just prepare yourself for constant reels of Giuliani saving New York on September 11th.”
Painfully familiar with Rove’s machinations and mindful that Giuliani is likely too moderate to ever win the GOP’s blessing, Democratic strategists have taken to viewing him as a “secret weapon”—the kind of middle-of-the-road Republican (i.e. pro-choice and not anti-gay) who would look good in the VP slot next to a fire-breather like Bill Frist. Just don’t tell Rudy. Neither representatives for Rove nor Giuliani returned calls seeking comment by press time."

Cheney EKG? Media pulse quickening

New York Daily News : "Did Vice President Cheney receive impromptu medical care Friday in the cardiac unit of a Colorado hospital?
I'm intrigued by the possibility, even though the veep's press secretary, Lea Anne McBride, yesterday told me the report - from liberal blogger Arianna Huffington - was 'unequivocally false.' After Huffington said Friday night on her Web site,, that Cheney received an EKG at the Vail Valley Medical Center, Cheney's office and the hospital fielded a barrage of press calls.
Their responses were confusing, to say the least.
Initially hospital officials denied that Cheney - who'd been attending the American Enterprise Institute World Forum in nearby Beaver Creek - had even visited the the hospital.
Then the veep's office acknowledged to the Associated Press that Cheney indeed visited, but only to see prominent orthopedist Richard Steadman about a knee problem.
The local newspaper, the Vail Daily, characterized Cheney's visit as social, reporting that 'he dropped by to say hi to his favorite knee doctor.' But Huffington - who was in town to speak to the Vail Valley Institute and spotted the veep's Gulfstream at the airport - reported: 'The vice president did see Dr. Steadman. ... But he then proceeded to the cardiac unit of the center to see Dr. Jack Eck ... While there, Cheney had a prophylactic EKG.'
McBride specifically denied to me that Cheney had gotten the EKG or seen Eck (who didn't return my phone call).
But a well-connected Lowdown spy told me that Cheney - whose knees were hurting from climbing stairs - received an EKG after medical personnel noted that his breathing was labored.
'That's pretty common at this high altitude,' said the spy, a Vail resident, noting that the EKG was normal. 'We're at 8,500 feet, and the air is pretty thin, which is hard if you're not used to it.'
The spy told me hospital records indicated that the veep, surrounded by heavy security, was logged in as 'Dr. Hoffman' (the name of his physician in Washington) and stayed for 2 hours and 41 minutes.
Cheney's flack insisted: 'The vice president had an appointment with a renowned orthopedist in Vail to evaluate an old football injury.'
Why do I feel like someone is pulling my leg?"

Monday, June 27, 2005

Durbin Apology: Evualtion of Current American Politics

The issue: U.S. Sen. Durbin's apology for Guantanamo remarks

Our view: Insincere remorse and the generalizations that prompt them are creating a toxic political environment.

Should U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin have apologized for his remarks equating the treatment of prisoners at Gitmo with tactics practiced by the Nazis and other dictators and dictatorial regimes? Should Karl Rove apologize for implying that Democrats empathized with terrorists following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks (despite bipartisan support for the invasion of Afghanistan to corral Osama bin Laden)?

Forget it - apologizing for inflammatory political assaults these days is a little bit like going to confession with stolen money in your pocket. There's no point to it. And if you don't agree with that, then you must be an unpatriotic, right-wing, tree-hugging,

terrorist-loving, values-voting narrow-minded atheist.

Insincere apologies - forced on politicians by other politicians and radio commentators - are almost as nauseating as the gross generalizations that prompted them in the first place.

Truth be told, if Karl Rove cared so much about respecting military personnel, he wouldn't have allowed the swift boaters to trash a decorated veteran who risked his life in Vietnam. Those Purple Heart Band-Aids mocking John Kerry must have seemed pretty funny to those who earned the real thing in battle.

And by reaching for the tired old Nazi bromide, Durbin cheapened and undercut his cause in the name of landing an easy jab at the majority party. Holocaust survivors know what a real Nazi does to prisoners, and it isn't even close to Gitmo on a bad day...(click title for remainder)

Labor Doesn't Want to Debate

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
Media analysis, critiques and activism

Matthews: Labor Doesn't Want to Debate

June 27, 2005

It's a fact that labor unions are seldom heard from in the mainstream media. But when MSNBC host Chris Matthews brought up the issue on June 10, he blamed the problem on the labor movement.

"I watch Sunday television," Matthews explained during an interview with Bill Moyers. "I never see a really good articulate labor leader on television. What happened to the George Meanys and the Walter Reuthers we grew up with? Where are the strong, articulate voices of the working person, the working family out there? That voice that you're talking about, who worries about trade policy, who worries about tax policy, who worries about being trained for the job, where are those voices on Sunday?"

Matthews is right that labor spokespeople are rarely heard on the Sunday shows. A FAIR study found that in 19 months of coverage (June 1995-May 1996, June-December 1999), only two representatives of organized labor appeared on the networks' Sunday morning talk shows.

Of course, Matthews doesn't just "watch" Sunday television--he hosts a show of his own: The Chris Matthews Show on NBC. And a search of the Nexis database turned up no labor guests on the show since its debut in late 2002.

His daily MSNBC show Hardball hardly does any better. A search of the last 15 months of the show turns up only a handful of appearances by union representatives: AFSCME's Gerald McEntee was briefly interviewed once (7/27/04), Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO made two appearances (7/29/04, 2/20/04) and Teamsters president James Hoffa was on three times (2/17/04, 3/2/04, 10/28/04). (Oddly enough, Matthews asked Hoffa during his latest appearance: "I haven't seen a lot of union leader presence on television the last couple of months. What's that about?")

But Matthews wasn't actually critiquing a problem with the media-- he was blaming labor for not wanting to be on television, or not being good enough to appear:

"They don't have speakers. I'm telling you, I can't think right now of a labor leader that could match wits with a Dick Cheney on television. They don't want to get out there and debate like they used to.... Who are the great spokesmen against this administration's trade policies or this administration's tax policies? Who are they?"

Matthews' invocation of Cheney's debating prowess is peculiar, given Cheney's propensity for exaggerations and misstatements--not to mention the fact that Cheney rarely "debates" anyone at all.

Matthews has criticized labor for its lack of media exposure before (Chris Matthews Show, 8/31/03):

"Where is the voice of labor arguing loud and clear for a better shake? Organized labor needs to crack through its encrusted seniority system and pick a leader it can put on the evening news and Sunday television and wake this country up to what it's doing to the most basic, the most vital of all American institutions: the working family."

When Moyers explained to Matthews during their June 10 interview that there are many articulate grassroots labor activists, and that they deserve a place in the media debate, Matthews quipped: "Well, they should get elected to Congress. Then we will put them on." Matthews' joke provided a more sensible answer to his question than his suggestion that labor leaders lacked the "wits" to debate with the likes of Cheney: There aren't more labor leaders on Sunday shows because the Sunday shows are reserved for powerful politicians--and it's powerful journalists like Matthews that have decided that this should be the case.

Contact Chris Matthews and tell him he's right that labor spokespeople rarely make it into the corporate media--but that's a decision made by the media, not the labor movement. Ask him what he plans to do to address the absence of labor guests on his shows.

Chris Matthews

Missing teen case grips US media

BBC NEWS: "Mark Feldstein, associate professor of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University, told the BBC: 'Of course there has been too much coverage, by my standards, but this is what we have come to expect.'
Mr Feldstein, a former investigative reporter, compared the case to the story earlier this year of the woman who faked her abduction before her wedding, becoming known around the world as the 'Runaway Bride'.
'These are really not national stories but they get national attention,' he said.
'Much of it has to do with the rise of cable networks that have to fill 24/7 schedules, but when such a story reaches a critical mass you find the rest of the media has to cover it.'
Criticism is also being driven from outside the mainstream media, by the army of blog writers whose voices are increasingly being heard.
Columnist and author Arianna Huffington says: 'If you were to get your news only from television, you'd think the top issue facing our country right now is an 18-year-old girl named Natalee who went missing in Aruba.
'Every time one of these stories comes up, like, say, Michael Jackson, when it's finally over I think, what a relief, now we can get back to real news. But we never do.'
Bloggers claimed a recent victory, successfully raising the profile of leaked secret memos from UK meetings in the run-up to the war in Iraq.
Huffington's latest column compares the major US news networks' focus on three stories from 1 May to 20 June: Natalee's disappearance, the Michael Jackson trial and the Downing Street Memo.
Huffington says that on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC combined, there were 56 segments on the memo, 646 on Natalee and 1,490 on Jackson."

Supreme Court Won't Hear CIA Leak Case

Washington Post: "WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court rejected appeals Monday from two journalists who have refused to testify before a grand jury about the leak of an undercover CIA officer's identity.The cases asked the court to revisit an issue that it last dealt with more than 30 years ago _ whether reporters can be jailed or fined for refusing to identify their sources.The justices' intervention had been sought by 34 states and many news groups, all arguing that confidentiality is important in news gathering.'Important information will be lost to the public if journalists cannot reliably promise anonymity to sources,' news organizations including The Associated Press told justices in court papers.Time magazine's Matthew Cooper and The New York Times' Judith Miller, who filed the appeals, face up to 18 months in jail for refusing to reveal sources as part of an investigation into who divulged the name of CIA officer Valerie Plame.Plame's name was first made public in 2003 by columnist Robert Novak, who cited unidentified senior Bush administration officials for the information. The column appeared after Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, wrote a newspaper opinion piece criticizing the Bush administration's claim that Iraq sought uranium in Niger.Disclosure of an undercover intelligence officer's identity can be a federal crime and a government investigation is in its second year. No charges have been brought.U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of Chicago, the special counsel handling the probe, told justices that the only unfinished business is testimony from Cooper and Miller."

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Fight the media consolidation battle!...we need public broadcasting!!

Subject: This time, it's for real: Save NPR and PBS


You know that email petition that keeps circulating about how Congress is slashing funding for NPR and PBS? Well, now it's actually true. (Really. Check at the bottom if you don't believe me.)

Sign the petition telling Congress to save NPR and PBS:

The House of Representatives is about to vote on whether to slash funding for NPR and PBS, starting with "Sesame Street," "Reading Rainbow" and other commercial-free children's shows. If approved, this would be the most severe cut in the history of public broadcasting, threatening to pull the plug on Big Bird, Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch.

The cuts would eliminate more than $200 million for NPR, PBS and local stations immediately, with more cuts likely in the future. The loss could kill beloved children's shows like "Clifford the Big Red Dog," "Arthur," and "Postcards from Buster." Rural stations and those serving low-income communities might not survive. Other stations would have to increase corporate sponsorships.

The House will vote on the cuts as soon as Tuesday. Can you help us reach 1 million signatures calling on Congress to save NPR and PBS?


P.S. Read the New York Times story on the threat to NPR and PBS at:

Friday, June 24, 2005

David Hinckley: They're mostly 'Great' finalists

New York Daily News: "The American public is good at a lot of things, like creating new flavors of ice cream and buying camera cell phones.
We're not so good at history. So when the Discovery Channel decided to let the public vote on 'The Greatest American' of all time, it raised the troubling possibility that the winner might be, say, a contestant from the first 'Survivor.' Happily, that didn't happen. When host Matt Lauer announces the winner Sunday (Discovery, 9 p.m.), there's an 80% chance it will be someone who could legitimately hold the title. Out of 100 original nominees - from a sobering list that included Madonna, Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh and Michael Moore - the five finalists are, in alphabetical order, Benjamin Franklin, Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and George Washington. Now it can't be stressed enough that this is a poll designed to fuel a summer night of television, not a scholarly exercise that will impact the teaching of history to impressionable young minds of the future."

Hangin' Loose

"You’d think Republicans and Democrats would agree on an issue like lynching. You’d be wrong.
On June 13, the U.S. Senate passed Resolution 39, a formal apology for failing to make lynching a federal crime. Between 1882 and 1968 at least 4,742 people—mostly African-Americans—were lynched in the U.S., and 99 percent of the perpetrators escaped punishment, often with the complicity of state and local officials. A federal law would have allowed the government to intervene but Southern senators filibustered the legislation for decades. Even in today’s divided political climate, you’d think that on an issue like lynching, Democrats and Republicans could muster a rare show of unity. You’d be wrong.
In the run-up to the vote, news stories began appearing that indicated some senators had qualms about the resolution. Then, on June 15, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Senate majority leader Bill Frist had threatened to table the resolution indefinitely, unless the vote was held at night without a roll call.
Bloggers like myself wondered why Frist was so worried about such a seemingly innocuous resolution so, naturally, we posted the story and began naming names. We found the list of senators who had already cosponsored it, and identified those who were missing. After their office phone numbers were posted on the Web, calls started pouring in and several senators immediately jumped on board, even though the resolution had already passed. But after a week 11 Republicans—one-fifth of all GOP senators—still refused to cosponsor the resolution.
The members of the GOP Lynch Mob, as the hold-out senators became known in the blogosphere, have a variety of excuses. Senator Lamar Alexander (TN) told Roll Call that he condemns lynching (phew!) but prefers to look ahead rather than rehash the past. Thad Cochran of Mississippi said, “I don’t feel I should apologize for the passage of or the failure to pass any legislation by the U.S. Senate.” Mike Enzi (WY) wanted kudos for not objecting to the resolution’s passage (a saint, he). Gordon Smith (OR) “strongly supports the resolution” but still wouldn’t cosponsor it. Craig Thomas (WY) didn’t “see the news value” in discussing the issue. And Jon Kyl (AZ) and Trent Lott (MS) simply refused to comment at all.
Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX), who added her name to the resolution after being browbeaten by callers for a week, echoed an excuse used by many of the senators: While she abhors lynching, “you don’t have to cosponsor everything that you are in favor of.”
Fair enough. Perhaps Ms. Hutchison and her all-male posse weren’t sucking up to the racist wing of the Republican Party. Maybe they were simply being good small-government conservatives who don’t sign on to every Tom-Dick-and-Harry resolution that crosses their desks. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, Radar thought it might be useful to find out what other important resolutions the Lynch Mob has cosponsored recently.
Senators Hutchison and Cornyn, both of Texas, cosponsored a resolution “commending the Lady Bears of Baylor University for winning the 2005 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Women’s Basketball Championship.” Alexander, Cochran, and Gregg (NH) cosponsored “National Airborne Day.” Thomas and Enzi cosponsored “The National Day of the American Cowboy.” Bennett (UT), Gregg, Lott, Sununu (NH), and Thomas cosponsored a resolution designating March 25, 2005, “Greek Independence Day.” Smith authored a resolution for the “victims of communism.” And just in time for Father’s Day, Alexander, Bennett, Cochran, Cornyn, and Lott took time out to cosponsor a Hallmark-ready resolution “protecting, promoting, and celebrating fatherhood.” Perhaps they would have cosponsored the lynching resolution if the victims had been Greek airborne cowboys or Cuban refugees.
Would things have been different if just one of the 55 Republicans in the Senate or the 231 Republicans in the House of Representatives were, I don’t know, black? Oh, there I go again, channeling Howard Dean. You remember him, don’t you? The Democratic Party chairman who got lynched in the press a few weeks back for saying that the GOP is “pretty much a white Christian party”? As Dr. John Sperling reports in his new book, The Great Divide: Retro vs. Metro America, 99 percent of Republican federal, state, and local legislators are white. In state legislatures alone there are 3,643 Republicans, only 44 of whom (1.2 percent) are minorities.
Call me crazy, but it sure sounds like Dean had it right. Is it too late for the media to cosponsor a resolution?"

16 to 25? Pentagon Has Your Number, and More

NY Times: "The Defense Department and a private contractor have been building an extensive database of 30 million 16-to-25-year-olds, combining names with Social Security numbers, grade-point averages, e-mail addresses and phone numbers.
The department began building the database three years ago, but military officials filed a notice announcing plans for it only last month. That is apparently a violation of the federal Privacy Act, which requires that government agencies accept public comment before new records systems are created.
David S. C. Chu, the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, acknowledged yesterday that the database had been in the works since 2002. Pentagon officials said they discovered in May 2004 that no Privacy Act notice had been filed. The filing last month was an effort to correct that, officials said.
Mr. Chu said the database was just a tool to send out general material from the Pentagon to those most likely to enlist.
"Congress wants to ensure the success of the volunteer force," he said at a reporters' roundtable in Washington. "Congress does not want conscription, the country does not want conscription. If we don't want conscription, you have to give the Department of Defense, the military services, an avenue to contact young people to tell them what is being offered. It would be na├»¿½ve to believe that in any enterprise, that you are going to do well just by waiting for people to call you."
On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that the notification in The Federal Register had drawn criticism from a coalition of eight privacy groups that filed a brief opposing the database's creation. Yesterday, many of those privacy advocates, learning that the database had been under development for three years, called its existence an egregious violation of the Privacy Act's rules and intent.
"It's far more serious if the database had been established prior to Privacy Act notice," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. "It's end-running the act by putting it into private hands and subverting the act by creating a public database without public notice."
The issue of the database has emerged as the Army and, to a lesser extent, the Marines, struggle to meet recruitment goals to replenish the ranks of the all-volunteer services. The Web site for the Pentagon's Joint Advertising Market Research Studies division, which manages recruiting research and marketing for all four branches of the military, describes the database as "arguably the largest repository of 16-to-25-year-old youth data in the country, containing roughly 30 million records." It is managed by BeNOW Inc. of Wakefield, Mass., a marketing company that uses personal data to concentrate on customers.
The database includes the names of more than 3.1 million graduating seniors, a list bought by the Pentagon, as well as the names of 4.7 million college students, Pentagon records show. Drawing information from motor vehicle records, Selective Service registrations and private vendors, it includes a variety of personal information, including grades, height, weight and Social Security numbers."

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Justices Uphold Taking Property for Developing - New York Times

Justices Uphold Taking Property for Developing - New York Times: "WASHINGTON, June 23 - The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, in one of its most closely watched property rights cases in years, that fostering economic development is an appropriate use of the government's power of eminent domain."

Speed Limits May Not Be Saving Lives

"A new article publishing in the latest issue of Review of Policy Research examines the evolution and devolution of speed limit laws and their effects on fatality rates. The author did not find a significant increase in fatalities per miles driven after speed limit laws ceased to be national and states could, and some did, increase their highway limit to more than fifty-five miles per hour. 'Automobile safety features and enforcement emerge as important factors in increasing highway safety; speed limits are far less important,' author Robert O. Yowell explains.

Although speed limits bring to mind the notion of public safety, they were formed in the 1970s to combat a gasoline shortage. In the 1980s the focus shifted to public safety while some speed limit regulation devolved back to states; the maximum speed on rural interstates could be raised to 65 mph. In 1995 and involving some controversy, Congress returned all speed limit authority back to the states. Analysis of the highway deaths per mile driven after the 1974 nationalization of the maximum highway speed indicates an initial greater decline in deaths than had been the trend, but the long-term decreasing trend reemerged following the shock. Dr. Yowell's research finds others reasons besides speed for the long-term trend of increased highway safety. (From 1968 to 1991, the fatality rate per 100 million declined by 63.2%.) Technical progress in car manufacturing, increased use of seat belts by drivers and passengers, an increase in the minimum legal drinking age, and the general maintenance of roads all affect this rate."

Related News Stories The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that airbags installed in automobiles have saved some 10,000 lives as of January 2004.

What Your Face Says About You

Netscape: "Your face speaks volumes about you. More than just being pretty or handsome, it tells others if you are competent, trustworthy and likeable.That's the word from researchers at Princeton University, who determined that we judge people's competence, trustworthiness and likeability based solely on their facial features. Those who had a round face and big eyes--that classic baby face look--were consistently judged to be less competent, report Reuters and The Associated Press.This could have big ramifications for anyone planning on running for public office or aiming for a big promotion in business. Led by Alexander Todorov, the research team showed pairs of photographs to more than 800 students. Both photos in each pairing were of real candidates for the U.S. Congress in 2000 and 2002, including one winner and one loser. They chose only candidates that would be unknown to the students. Looking at the photo pairs for just one second, the students were told to choose the candidate they thought had won or would win the election. Based solely on the facial features, the students chose the winning candidate an astonishing 68.8 percent of the time."

The Political Power of the Midwest

A young native of Ohio offers a long-term plan for transforming politics in the Midwest. First on the agenda -- don't move to San Francisco or New York.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

F1 boss calls Danica, repeats sexist remark - Motor Sports -

F1 boss calls Danica, repeats sexist remark - Motor Sports - "How could Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone top his previous comments about IRL racing sensation Danica Patrick? Well, he did."

Some Politics May Be Etched in the Genes

"Political scientists have long held that people's upbringing and experience determine their political views. A child raised on peace protests and Bush-loathing generally tracks left as an adult, unless derailed by some powerful life experience. One reared on tax protests and a hatred of Kennedys usually lists to the right.
Inheriting Attitudes
But on the basis of a new study, a team of political scientists is arguing that people's gut-level reaction to issues like the death penalty, taxes and abortion is strongly influenced by genetic inheritance. The new research builds on a series of studies that indicate that people's general approach to social issues - more conservative or more progressive - is influenced by genes.
Environmental influences like upbringing, the study suggests, play a more central role in party affiliation as a Democrat or Republican, much as they do in affiliation with a sports team." - Royals cost each Briton $1 a year - Jun 22, 2005 - Royals cost each Briton $1 a year - Jun 22, 2005: "LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Britain's royal family, often criticized for excessive spending, costs each taxpayer 61 pence ($1.12) a year, about the same as a loaf of bread, according to Buckingham Palace.The Royal Public Finances annual report, which details public spending on the monarchy's property and travel, said Queen Elizabeth's household cost the taxpayer �36.7 million ($67 million) in 2004-5, a �100,000 saving from the previous year.'We believe this represents a value-for-money monarchy,' said Alan Reid, the 'Keeper of the Privy Purse' who looks after the queen's finances.'We're not looking to provide the cheapest monarchy. We're looking at one of good value and good quality,' he added."

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Free enterprise

"The temptation to buy buy buy is hard to resist, be it a new outfit, gadget or item of furniture. Now guilty shoppers keen to offload a no-longer-needed purchase have a radical new option... simply giving it away.
As second-hand technology goes, who'd have thought that my sluggish, ageing, Korean-made computer would generate much interest when I put it up for offer online. I was wrong.
A bidding war quickly begins for the five-year-old Daewoo machine which is "past its best" and a printer which probably works.
Surprising that there are any takers at all? It would be on a conventional auction site, such as eBay. But I'm advertising on its philanthropic cousin,
Elsewhere on the site, someone is trying to shift a manual for a 1980s Ford Escort, and another has two bin bags full of "loud" men's clothes, suitable for "dressing up, pimpin', hip hop, etc".
As the name suggests, everything advertised on Freecycle must be free - whether it's an old sofa, unwanted CDs, or even a few hours' help in the garden. Anyone interested simply replies by e-mail: deal done. "

Libraries Say Yes, Officials Do Quiz Them About Users

New York Times: "WASHINGTON, June 19 - Law enforcement officials have made at least 200 formal and informal inquiries to libraries for information on reading material and other internal matters since October 2001, according to a new study that adds grist to the growing debate in Congress over the government's counterterrorism powers.
In some cases, agents used subpoenas or other formal demands to obtain information like lists of users checking out a book on Osama bin Laden. Other requests were informal - and were sometimes turned down by librarians who chafed at the notion of turning over such material, said the American Library Association, which commissioned the study. The association, which is pushing to scale back the government's powers to gain information from libraries, said its $300,000 study was the first to examine a question that was central to a House vote last week on the USA Patriot Act: how frequently federal, state and local agents are demanding records from libraries."

Monday, June 20, 2005

Security is an Illusion

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Sixteen foreign-born construction workers with phony immigration documents were able to enter a nuclear weapons plant in eastern Tennessee because of lax security controls, a federal report said Monday.

Controls at the Y-12 weapons plant have since been tightened and there was no evidence the workers had access to any sensitive documents, said the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees nuclear weapons facilities for the Department of Energy.

However, the DOE inspector general's office said in the report issued Monday that its field agents found "official use only" documents "lying unprotected in a construction trailer which was accessed by the foreign construction workers" at the plant.

--meanwhile the 'defense' budget approaches 1/2 a trillion dollars... and homeland security passes out duct tape and plastic sheets--

Sunday, June 19, 2005

A Web Hoax, Transformed

New York Times: "'SAVE NPR and PBS,' reads an e-mail petition being circulated by, a liberal advocacy group. 'Really. Check the footnotes if you don't believe us.'
The group was one of dozens to solicit signatures after a House committee voted to cut federal support of National Public Radio and television shows like 'Sesame Street.' But many found they had to first persuade a jaded Internet citizenry that their petitions were authentic.That was necessary because, according to folklorists of the online world, two students at the University of Northern Colorado had sent out a similar 'Save NPR/PBS' petition way back in 1995, shortly after Republican legislators began a push to eliminate public broadcasting. What happened next was in some ways characteristic of what happens to information on the Internet: the students' e-mail campaign soon got out of hand. The petition kept circulating, this time as a hoax, long after the threat to public radio and television had disappeared.Then, in a reminder of the slippery distinction between digital fact and fiction, current events turned the e-mail's oft-debunked but never killed message into reality. In a classically surreal Internet moment, the new e-mail was taken for the bogus old one, and the old one, for many years a hoax, suddenly became true."

Crucified nun dies in 'exorcism'

BBC NEWS: "A Romanian nun has died after being bound to a cross, gagged and left alone for three days in a cold room in a convent, Romanian police have said.
Members of the convent in north-west Romania claim Maricica Irina Cornici was possessed and that the crucifixion had been part of an exorcism ritual.
Cornici was found dead on the cross on Wednesday after fellow nuns called an ambulance, according to police.
On Saturday a priest and four nuns were charged in connection with her death."

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Welcome to!

Democrats urge inquiry on Bush/Iraq
"Conyers and a half-dozen other members of Congress were stopped at the White House gate later Thursday when they hand-delivered petitions signed by 560,000 Americans who want Bush to provide a detailed response to the Downing Street memo. When Conyers couldn't get in, an anti-war demonstrator shouted, 'Send Bush out!' Eventually, White House aides retrieved the petitions at the gate and took them into the West Wing.
'Quite frankly, evidence that appears to be building up points to whether or not the president has deliberately misled Congress to make the most important decision a president has to make, going to war,' Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said earlier at the event on Capitol Hill.
Misleading Congress is an impeachable offense, a point that Rangel underscored by saying he's already been through two impeachments. He referred to the impeachment of President Clinton for an affair with a White House intern and of President Nixon for Watergate, even though Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment."

Up to 40m credit cards 'hacked'

BBC NEWS: "A computer hacker may have broken into more than 40 million credit card accounts, US company officials say.
MasterCard International said the breach was traced to a company in Atlanta which processes transactions for banks and merchants.
All brands of credit cards could be affected, it warned.
The company, CardSystems Solutions, said it identified the breach last month and immediately contacted the FBI, which was investigating.
MasterCard announced the breach in a news release on Friday, saying security 'vulnerabilities' had allowed an unauthorised individual to infiltrate the network of CardSystems and access the cardholder data.
It said 14 million of its customers may have been exposed to fraud. Another 22 million were Visa cards, said a spokeswoman for the Visa company."

Housework looms for Spanish men

BBC NEWS: "Spanish men who refuse to lift a finger around the house are facing new legal sanctions.
MPs in Spain have drawn up a marriage contract for use in civil ceremonies which obliges men to share household chores and the care of children and elderly family members.
The new law, which will be introduced this summer in Spain, promises a revolution in a country where nearly half of all men admit to doing no housework at all."

MEDIA ADVISORY: Justifying the Silence on Downing Street Memos

June 17, 2005

One of the features of the newfound media interest in the Downing Street Memo is a profound defensiveness, as reporters scramble to explain why it received so little attention in the U.S. press. But the most familiar line--the memo wasn't news because it contained no "new" information--only raises troubling questions about what journalists were doing when they should have been reporting on the gulf between official White House pronouncements and actual White House intentions.

There are two important points in the Downing Street Memo, and media apologists have marshaled slightly different--though equally unconvincing--arguments as to why each did not deserve coverage. The first point is that the White House was intent on going to war long before it announced the decision to invade Iraq; "It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action," the memo states, citing British Foreign Secretary Jack more

Friday, June 17, 2005

Those Radical, Rogue Medical Examiners

The Huffington Post | The Blog: "I have had enough of those radical medical examiners and their lefty autopsy reports. What gives them the right to set the agenda? On Wednesday, Pinellas County medical examiner Jon Thogmartin decided completely and separate from the will of the people, to dispute a videotaped diagnosis from Dr. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist that Terry Schiavo was able to see.
Rogue Examiners like Thogmartin are a danger to true democracy in our country. And their fancypants and elitist medical science wonk talk threatens to bring us all down. As a Doctor and an elected official Ph.D. Bill Frist has double the right to make his VHS aided medical pronouncements. He is a ruler and a healer. What the hell is Thogmartin? A geek and a liberal.
Now I'm no scientist but from what I understand the head has a lot of gunk in it and some of that gunk makes the eyes see good. Once again, I have no medical background whatsoever but I think this gunk is radioactive. Dr. Frist, due to his Doctor skills was able to see on the video tape that this gunk was not broken. "

The Apology Epidemic

The Wire : Radar Online: "Yesterday, apology fever hit KPMG, one of the Big Four accounting firms. KPMG conceded that it set up illegal tax shelters for its rolling-in-dough clients between 1996 and 2002. The Feds are close to indicting them, so rather than endure the ignominy and potential business catastrophe that could result, KPMG publicly declared its sorrow, trotting out the exhausted-by-now phrase %u201Cdeeply regret.%u201D
There are 690 hits on Google News for %u201Cdeeply regrets.%u201D By comparison, there were 61 hits for %u201CAfrican-American unemployment%u201D and 20 for %u201Cchildhood poverty.%u201D The deep regrets are irresistible reads:

Kansas University %u201Cdeeply regretted%u201D sending an email that identified
119 students who failed their classes and were about to have their
financial aid revoked.
The lawyer for a Texas prisoner who ripped out the eye of a guard said his client deeply regretted what happened.
A Baptist congregation in Charlotte deeply regretted that its pastor advocated that the Koran be %u201Cflushed.%u201D A New Haven embalmer deeply regretted cremating the wrong body.

Enough already. In a world of debased linguistic currency, apologies are among the most valueless coin of all. KPMG should
volunteer to use its considerable tax-saving skills for the broader public good. Tens of millions of tax overpayment because people don%u2019t understand the tax code. Wouldn%u2019t it be great if they offered to complete 100,000 tax returns for low and middle-income taxpayers, for free? Now that%u2019s functional contrition." - Tube raises stink about commuters - Jun 15, 2005 - Tube raises stink about commuters - Jun 15, 2005: "LONDON, England -- It's not unusual for commuters to raise a stink about London's Underground subway system. But now they're being told to 'take a shower' to avoid unpleasant odors on the Tube.Tim O'Toole, managing director of London Underground, is asking passengers to be considerate of others stuck in the same sweltering carriages during summer months, without the benefit of air conditioning. 'I want to assure people that I only travel by the Tube and I always take a shower,' O'Toole told a London radio station.'But other than that I would certainly hope that during these summer months when it is very, very, warm and we are pressed very close together that to the extent people can practice personal hygiene it would help us.'"

Boys 'used for human sacrifice'

BBC NEWS : "Children are being trafficked into the UK from Africa and used for human sacrifices, a confidential report for the Metropolitan Police suggests.
Children are being beaten and even murdered after being labelled as witches by pastors, the report leaked to BBC Radio 4's Today programme said.
Police face a 'wall of silence' in investigations because of fear and mistrust among the groups involved.
It follows the case of a girl tortured by her guardians for being a witch.
Three people, including the girl's aunt, were convicted of trying to 'beat the devil out of' the un-named 10-year-old - originally from Angola.
The report was commissioned by the Met after the death of Victoria Climbie in February 2000 and because of concerns over so-called faith crimes."

'Adopted' grandpa skips town, leaves debt - Peculiar Postings -

'Adopted' grandpa skips town, leaves debt - Peculiar Postings - "Updated: 7:49 a.m. ET June 17, 2005ROME - A lonely Italian retiree who was %u201Cadopted%u201D by a family last year after his pleas for company in classified ads, has fled, leaving behind a big dentist%u2019s bill and bounced checks.advertisementGiorgio Angelozzi, 80, skipped out on the family in Bergamo, northern Italy, before a dentist%u2019s bill for $2,860 arrived. Two checks Angelozzi sent to cover the costs turned out to have been stolen from another family that took him in."

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Fresh Intelligence : Radar Online

Fresh Intelligence : Radar Online: "Former first lady-in-waiting Teresa Heinz Kerry is devoting her considerable wealth and resources to
routing paleo-con Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum in the
2006 election, sources say. Last time she dipped into her political war chest,
it was for second husband John Kerry. This time, it%u2019s to avenge the memory
of her first husband, Republican Senator John Heinz. The sassy ketchup
queen has made it a %u201Creal priority%u201D to see challenger Robert
P. Casey, Jr. unseat Santorum because %u201Cshe believes Rick has
ruined her late husband%u2019s legacy,%u201D says one highly-placed Democratic insider.
Despite their differing agendas, Heinz Kerry has been hosting fundraisers and
campaigning around the clock for Casey, the pro-life state treasurer, a solid she once
did for Santorum."

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Vatican Dispatches "Mother Earth" to Antarctica

ROME (AMP) – Even as the world focuses on the war on terrorism in the Middle East, Vatican sources today confirmed that the Pope has dispatched Sister Serena Serghetti to Antarctica to investigate alleged American violations of the international Antarctic Treaty.
Dubbed "Mother Earth" by the media for her environmental extremism and supermodel looks, Dr. Serghetti, 27, is a representative of the Australia-Antarctica Preservation Society and an advisor to the environmental committee of the United Nations Antarctica Commission (UNACOM).

"All military activities are banned from Antarctica," she is quoted as saying before departing Sunday, noting that the Madrid Protocol of 1991 established Antarctica as a zone of peace reserved exclusively for scientific research purposes. "If the Americans are violating the treaty, they’ll have to answer to me, the United Nations and God."

A glacier the size of Delaware was sliced off East Antarctica after a recent temblor. Another chunk of ice the size of Rhode Island broke away some months before that. Serghetti will help UNACOM determine whether the seismic activity in the interior that is causing the breakup of the ice pack is a natural phenomenon or whether the American military is behind it.

Serghetti has already made a lifetime’s worth of enemies in the petroleum, timber and biomedical industries — anyone whom she says "puts profits ahead of people, animals or the environment." But her humanitarian efforts have often had unintended consequences.

Such was the case in the 1990s when she helped locals in East Timor break the grip of Denok Coffee, a cartel controlled by the Indonesian military. Emboldened by their newfound freedom to sell their goods at market prices, the East Timorese eventually voted for independence, sparking a conflict that cost tens of thousands of lives.

But Serghetti is no stranger to controversy. In his unauthorized biography The Nike Nun: She Just Does It, former Vanity Fair contributor Jay Peckman says Serghetti was born of an illicit affair between a Catholic priest and a housemaid outside Sydney, Australia.

"As a result, her early years were filled with shame," Peckman claims. "She grew up among sordid whispers and hated her father, who denied his patrimony to the end and died a drunkard. She silenced the whispers by pledging sexual purity at age 12, excelling in her study of linguistics, and joining a convent at 15. In short, she became a supersaint."

Her stellar rise within the Catholic Church came to an abrupt end two years ago when she renounced her vows after the Vatican refused to pay its water bills. She accused the Vatican of hiding behind its status as a "sovereign state" and the obscure Lateran Treaty of 1929, which established that Italy must provide water for the 107-acre enclave for free but made no provision for sewage fees.

"We neither render unto Caesar the taxes due Caesar, nor render unto God the honor due God as his stewards of Creation," she said at the time.

Her actions prompted the late Pope John Paul II, her longtime patron and protector within the Church, to chide her publicly by saying: "Sister Serghetti is simply doing what God would do if only He knew the facts."

All of which makes her sudden reinstatement by the current Pontiff and her mission to Antarctica the source of feverish speculation within the international community.

"The Vatican must want her out of the equation in the Middle East, just in case she pulls another damn fool humanitarian mission," said one observer. "The only other explanation is that there’s something really going on in Antarctica."

The Interactive Truth

New York Times: "It used to be that the longest unprotected border in the world was that between the United States and Canada. Today it's the one between fact and fiction. If the two cozy up any closer together The National Enquirer will be out of business.
More than 60 percent of the American people don't trust the press. Why should they? They've been reading 'The Da Vinci Code' and marveling at its historical insights. I have nothing against a fine thriller, especially one that claims the highest of literary honors: it's a movie on the page. But 'The Da Vinci Code' is not a work of nonfiction. If one more person talks to me about Dan Brown's crackerjack research I'm shooting on sight. The novel's success does point up something critical. We're happier to swallow a half-baked Renaissance religious conspiracy theory than to examine the historical fiction we're living (and dying for) today. And not only is it remarkably easy to believe what we want to believe. It's remarkably easy to find someone who will back us up. Twenty-five years ago George W. S. Trow meditated on this in 'Within the Context of No Context.' Then it indeed appeared that authority and orthodoxy were wilting in the glare of television. Have we exterminated reason in the meantime? If you are 6 years old and both your parents read one online, you can be forgiven for not knowing what a newspaper is. You would also be on to something. The news has slipped its moorings. It is no longer held captive by two-inch columns of type or a sonorous 6 p.m. baritone. It has gone on the lam. Anyone can be a reporter - or a book reviewer, TV star, museum guide, podcaster or pundit."

Inside the Real West Wing

( "Here's the floorplan of the real West Wing of the White House, where everyone is just a few steps away from the Oval Office.
The two greatest indicators of status are the offices' proximity to the president and the quality of their view. Exterior offices with windows, especially on corners, are considered the most desirable. But here in the West Wing, even an office on the ground floor means you're at the pinnacle of power. Not shown on the map, but listed below, are offices in the ground floor and 'lower press' areas."

Drinking Withers Thinking

"WEDNESDAY, June 15 (HealthDay News) -- Heavy drinking doesn't damage just your liver; it can also do serious harm to your brain, a new study of mice suggests.While past studies have shown that alcohol can impair memory and learning ability, the new research finds that such damage can occur in a shorter period of time than was previously thought.Reporting in the June issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, researchers found that after as few as eight weeks of heavy drinking, mice showed significant, and apparently permanent, deficits in memory and learning.'Heavy drinking causes lasting effects, even when you stop,' said study co-author Susan Farr, an associate professor of medicine at St. Louis University School of Medicine.Mice that were exposed to alcohol daily for eight weeks were 'twice as impaired' as normal mice when it came to tasks requiring learning or memory, said Farr. And those changes appeared to affect all types of learning and memory.'We did a series of tests and found global impaired learning and memory. We found deficits in every type of task we tested the mice in,' said Farr. After 12 weeks with no alcohol, the mice still showed impairment.For the study, Farr and her colleagues fed 8-week-old male mice a diet of either 20 percent alcohol or sugar water for a period of four weeks or eight weeks, followed by a three-week period of withdrawal from alcohol before testing. Each group had an average of 10 mice.The amount of alcohol given to the mice would equal about six to eight beers or one bottle of wine daily for a human. The eight-week time period for mice is equivalent to about six years for a human, said Farr."

UPI Hears... - (United Press International)

UPI Hears... - (United Press International): "A former Bush team member during his first administration is now voicing serious doubts about the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9-11. Former chief economist for the Department of Labor during President George W. Bush's first term Morgan Reynolds comments that the official story about the collapse of the WTC is 'bogus' and that it is more likely that a controlled demolition destroyed the Twin Towers and adjacent Building No. 7. Reynolds, who also served as director of the Criminal Justice Center at the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas and is now professor emeritus at Texas A&M University said, 'If demolition destroyed three steel skyscrapers at the World Trade Center on 9/11, then the case for an 'inside job' and a government attack on America would be compelling.' Reynolds commented from his Texas A&M office, 'It is hard to exaggerate the importance of a scientific debate over the cause of the collapse of the twin towers and building 7. If the official wisdom on the collapses is wrong, as I believe it is, then policy based on such erroneous engineering analysis is not likely to be correct either. The government's collapse theory is highly vulnerable on its own terms. Only professional demolition appears to account for the full range of facts associated with the collapse of the three buildings.'"

Comedian for Senator? Don't Laugh - New York Times

Comedian for Senator? Don't Laugh - New York Times: "MINNEAPOLIS, June 13 - The swells who showed up before Al Franken's speech at a Democratic fund-raiser to down finger food and punch were thrilled to see him, all the more so because he continues to make threatening noises about running for the Senate here in 2008."

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

4-year-old dies after riding Disney attraction - U.S. News -

4-year-old dies after riding Disney attraction - U.S. News -

Smoking and obesity 'age people'

BBC NEWS: "Being overweight and a smoker makes a person biologically older than slim non-smokers of the same birth age, UK and US researchers have found.
Smoking accelerated the ageing of key pieces of a person's DNA by about 4.6 years. For obesity it was nine years.
These genetic codes are important for regulating cell division and have been linked to age-related diseases.
The study in the Lancet was based on 1,122 twins from a database held by St Thomas' Hospital in London." - Archaeologists%uFFFDbid to%uFFFDID Jamestown skeleton - Jun 13, 2005 - Archaeologists%uFFFDbid to%uFFFDID Jamestown skeleton - Jun 13, 2005: "SHELLEY, England (AP) -- Archaeologists hoping to determine whether an unearthed skeleton belongs to one of the founders of the first permanent English settlement in North America began work Monday to excavate his sister's 360-year-old remains in eastern England.Capt. Bartholomew Gosnold oversaw an expedition that led to the founding of Jamestown in 1607 in what is now Virginia. Other evidence already suggests that a nearly intact skeleton found outside the site of the Jamestown Fort is Gosnold's, but a DNA match would be confirmation.British and American researchers on Monday began work to remove a small part of Elizabeth Gosnold Tilney's skeleton from beneath the floor of All Saints Church in the English village of Shelley, 60 miles northeast of London. Scientists working with skeletal remains can only trace DNA through maternal relatives.Based on records, archaeologists believe Elizabeth Gosnold is buried underneath the church floor, said Nick Clarke, a spokesman for the Diocese of St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Church of England diocese responsible for All Saints.The inscription in brass on a ledger stone believed to mark the grave of Tilney's husband in the church has worn off. Archaeologists plan to raise the stone, then look for the outline of a burial shaft and excavate down to the graves of the husband and wife who would be side by side. But the gravestone could be out of place.Monday's excavation work involved raising the brickwork surrounding the ledger stone, Clarke said. If experts find a female skeleton that matches Elizabeth Gosnold's profile, they will extract a small portion -- either a tooth or a piece of thigh bone for DNA analysis, he added.A second excavation is planned to recover a DNA sample from Gosnold's niece, Katherine Blackerby, whose remains are thought to be in a vault at St. Peter and St. Mary Church in nearby Stowmarket.Gosnold, though largely unrecognized historically, is considered a primary organizer and head of the expedition that led to Jamestown's founding. Capt. John Smith's role received most of the attention because Gosnold became ill and died at age 36 -- three months after arriving in Virginia. His sister, Elizabeth, died in 1646."

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Don't Follow the Money - New York Times

Don't Follow the Money - New York Times: " Vanity Fair may have taken the trouble to remind us that Watergate was a web of crime yielding the convictions and guilty pleas of more than 30 White House and Nixon campaign officials, but few others did. Watergate has gone back to being the 'third-rate burglary' of Nixon administration spin. It is once again being covered up. Not without reason. Had the scandal been vividly resuscitated as the long national nightmare it actually was, it would dampen all the Felt fun by casting harsh light on our own present nightmare. 'The fundamental right of Americans, through our free press, to penetrate and criticize the workings of our government is under attack as never before' was how the former Nixon speech writer William Safire put it on this page almost nine months ago. The current administration, a second-term imperial presidency that outstrips Nixon's in hubris by the day, leads the attack, trying to intimidate and snuff out any Woodwards or Bernsteins that might challenge it, any media proprietor like Katharine Graham or editor like Ben Bradlee who might support them and any anonymous source like Deep Throat who might enable them to find what Carl Bernstein calls 'the best obtainable version of the truth.'The attacks continue to be so successful that even now, long after many news organizations, including The Times, have been found guilty of failing to puncture the administration's prewar W.M.D. hype, new details on that same story are still being ignored or left uninvestigated. The July 2002 'Downing Street memo,' the minutes of a meeting in which Tony Blair and his advisers learned of a White House effort to fix 'the intelligence and facts' to justify the war in Iraq, was published by The London Sunday Times on May 1. Yet in the 19 daily Scott McClellan briefings that followed, the memo was the subject of only 2 out of the approximately 940 questions asked by the White House press corps, according to Eric Boehlert of Salon.This is the kind of lapdog news media the Nixon White House cherished"

G-8 Finance Ministers Make Progress on Debt Plan

June 11 (Bloomberg) -- Finance ministers from the world's richest nations are nearing an agreement on how to wipe out $18 billion owed by Africa's poorest nations, as officials overcame concerns voiced by Germany and France.

Germany's deputy finance minister Caio Koch-Weser said earlier today that he was ``a little more optimistic'' that a deal can be done. An official from the Group of Eight nations, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said French resistance to plans to wipe out debts had been overcome... read more

*Bono teams up with Blair & Bush*


Eliot Spitzer's fast-track ride into the governor's mansion hit a se rious speed bump last week.

The acquittal Thursday of ex-Bank of America broker Ted Sihpol may have shattered illusions about Spitzer's invincibility, while casting doubt on his tactics — and his motives.

For better or for worse, Spitzer's success in winning changes in various industry practices was based on a strategy of charging executives, denouncing them publicly, squeezing a settlement and then announcing "reforms" more

Sensenbrenner to Dean: Your attacks are contrary to the passionate - but respectful - political debate the public deserves

sensen2, originally uploaded by ReidAnderes.

Sensenbrenner's Letter to Dean

Sensenbrenner has recently attacked Dean's rhetoric, calling him 'not very dignified' and accusing Dean of being a detriment to public debate and constructive argument.

Meanwhile, in the Republican Universe, where right is wrong, and blue is orange, the Earth is flat, and God talks to the President, Sensenbrenner, as the head of the Judiciary Committee, shut down a hearing on the PATRIOT act in under 4 and a half minutes. There was no debate here, none. Where is the real detriment to the public.
A video is available here

If the link does not work, you can find it on in the Saturday June 10 postings.

This is pretty interesting, I urge you to watch.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Taking The Piss

Radar Online: "Newsweek was right, the president lies, and the White House is full of bullies. Anyone else feel like they're getting soaked?
by John Aravosis
Democrats on Capitol Hill say the media is biased; but not, of course, in the
way most people think. When Dan Rather broadcast the now infamous item about
Bush%u2019s missing National Guard service, the fact that the story might have
been wrong was bigger news than the story itself (and it probably cost Rather
his job). But when President Bush lied his way into a war that%u2019s going
from bad to worse, the media and the public emitted a collective yawn. In a
panel organized recently by anti-Bush gadfly Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), a
collection of liberal pundits (including this writer) blamed this skewed view on
everyone from the Republican propagandists at Fox News to the cowering
%u201Cliberal%u201D New York Times.
And surely the dearth of aggressive press coverage of the Bush
administration%u2019s ever growing travails is partly due to Fox%u2019s role
in the vast right-wing conspiracy, and to the anemic investigative prowess of
journalistic standard-bearers like the Times and the Washington
Post. But the problem has moved far beyond the media and into the body
politic. Americans simply refuse to openly criticize this president, despite the
ample proof in the polls that they are increasingly unhappy with just about
everything his administration is doing."

11-Year-Old Driver Loses Control Of Van At School

CBS 2 Chicago WBBM-TV: "
Many young people drive to school. No big deal, right? Well, it is when you're 11 years old! Incredibly, mom was in the van while the child was behind the wheel! CBS 2's Suzanne Le Mignot reports on the fallout.'I was stunned. Stunned,' Sister Jean McGrath said of learning that 11-year-old student Sam Sarandah was allegedly behind the wheel of a van when a 20-mile-per-hour in a school zone sign was plowed down. 'We heard a noise and the teacher went to the window and said, %u2018someone took out the sign.%u2019'Police say the 5th grader's mother was sitting in the passenger seat when he lost control of the van near Washtenaw and 102nd Street. The incident happened before the bell rang for the start of classes at St. John Fisher School. Students were standing across the street, waiting to go inside."

White House Calls Editing Climate Files Part of Usual Review

"Part of the Usual Review" indeed. Lie, cheat, steal, corrupt, and manipulate.

Published: June 9, 2005
Bush administration officials said yesterday that revisions to reports on climate change made by Philip A. Cooney, a former oil-industry lobbyist now working at the White House, were part of the normal review before publishing projects that involved many agencies.

At his morning briefing for reporters, the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, defended Mr. Cooney's participation and said the reports were "scientifically sound."

"There are policy people and scientists who are involved in this process, in the interagency review process, and he's one of the policy people involved in that process," Mr. McClellan said, according to a transcript by Federal News Service Inc. "And he's someone who's very familiar with the issues relating to climate change and the environment."

The revisions, many of which cast doubt on findings that climate scientists say are robust, prompted strong criticisms of the administration from scientists and environmental groups after they were reported yesterday in The New York Times.

Mr. Cooney, 45, is chief of staff to the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which helps shape and carry out the president's environmental policies. A lawyer with no scientific training, he moved to the White House in 2001 after having worked for more than 10 years for the American Petroleum Institute, the oil-industry lobby. His last title there was climate team leader, and his focus was defeating plans to restrict heat-trapping gases.

Climate scientists in and out of government said it was wrong for a person with no scientific background, and a history of fighting actions to limit warming, to change the characterizations of scientific findings on climate in government reports.

In response to questions, Mr. McClellan said the documents were all approved by government scientists and by an independent panel set up by the National Academies, the leading independent scientific body. President Bush's science adviser, Dr. John H. Marburger III, also approved the reports.

When Nanopants Attack

Wired News: "On a chilly Chicago afternoon in early May, environmental activists sauntered into the Eddie Bauer store on Michigan Avenue, headed to the broad storefront windows opening out on the Magnificent Mile and proceeded to take off their clothes.
The strip show aimed to expose more than skin: Activists hoped to lay bare growing allegations of the toxic dangers of nanotechnology. The demonstrators bore the message in slogans painted on their bodies, proclaiming 'Eddie Bauer hazard' and 'Expose the truth about nanotech,' among other things, in light of the clothing company's embrace of nanotech in its recent line of stain-resistant 'nanopants.'
The Eddie Bauer protest highlights a growing movement aimed at probing the potential health risks of nanotechnology, which is finding its way into commercial products despite scant research into its long-term effects. While still nascent, the backlash recalls other environmental challenges to new technologies, notably genetically modified foods, which have spawned grass-roots opposition movements amid fierce denials from companies that their products are harmful.
Nanotechnology broadly refers to engineering at microscopic scales. By manipulating materials at the molecular level, scientists can enhance them with new properties that go beyond those available in ordinary substances.
Examples of nanomaterials already on the market include nanoscale titanium dioxide used in some cosmetics and sunscreens, nanoscale silica being used as dental fillers, and nanowhiskers used in stain-resistant fabrics like Eddie Bauer's nanopants. Plus, nanoclays and coatings are being used in a range of products from tennis balls to bikes to cars to improve bounce, strengthen high-impact parts or render material scratch-proof. Nanotechnology could one day give rise to microscopic machines, some theorize."

Thursday, June 09, 2005 - NCB - Brown breaks foot; out of draft? - NCB - Brown breaks foot; out of draft?: "CHICAGO %u2013 Illinois guard Dee Brown broke his right foot during a game at the NBA pre-draft camp at the Moody Bible Institute on Wednesday, likely forcing the junior to withdraw from the NBA draft, Brown told
The Big Ten player of the year and the Sporting News' national player of the year will have surgery later this week in Chicago and be out for at least two months."

BBC NEWS | Americas | Guatemala's epidemic of killing

BBC NEWS | Americas | Guatemala's epidemic of killing: "In Guatemala, a small country not long emerged from three decades of civil war, women and girls are being murdered faster than anyone in authority can cope.
Deborah Tomas Vineda, aged 16, was kidnapped, raped, and cut to pieces with a chainsaw, allegedly because she refused to become the girlfriend of a local gang member.
Her sister Olga, just 11 years old, died alongside her.
The raped and mutilated body of Andrea Contreras Bacaro, 17, was found wrapped in a plastic bag and thrown into a ditch, her throat cut, her face and hands slashed, with a gunshot wound to the head.
The word 'vengeance' had been gouged into her thigh.
Sandra Palma Godoy, 17, said to have witnessed a killing in her home town, was missing for a week before her decomposing body was found next to a local football pitch."

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Monkey Business

New York Times: "Keith Chen's Monkey Research
Adam Smith, the founder of classical economics, was certain that humankind's knack for monetary exchange belonged to humankind alone. ''Nobody ever saw a dog make a fair and deliberate exchange of one bone for another with another dog,'' he wrote. ''Nobody ever saw one animal by its gestures and natural cries signify to another, this is mine, that yours; I am willing to give this for that.'' But in a clean and spacious laboratory at Yale-New Haven Hospital, seven capuchin monkeys have been taught to use money, and a comparison of capuchin behavior and human behavior will either surprise you very much or not at all, depending on your view of humans.
The capuchin is a New World monkey, brown and cute, the size of a scrawny year-old human baby plus a long tail. ''The capuchin has a small brain, and it's pretty much focused on food and sex,'' says Keith Chen, a Yale economist who, along with Laurie Santos, a psychologist, is exploiting these natural desires -- well, the desire for food at least -- to teach the capuchins to buy grapes, apples and Jell-O. ''You should really think of a capuchin as a bottomless stomach of want,'' Chen says. ''You can feed them marshmallows all day, they'll throw up and then come back for more.''
When most people think of economics, they probably conjure images of inflation charts or currency rates rather than monkeys and marshmallows. But economics is increasingly being recognized as a science whose statistical tools can be put to work on nearly any aspect of modern life. That's because economics is in essence the study of incentives, and how people -- perhaps even monkeys -- respond to those incentives. A quick scan of the current literature reveals that top economists are studying subjects like prostitution, rock 'n' roll, baseball cards and media bias."

Official Played Down Emissions' Links to Global Warming

New York Times: "A White House official who once led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents.
In handwritten notes on drafts of several reports issued in 2002 and 2003, the official, Philip A. Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved. Mr. Cooney is chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the office that helps devise and promote administration policies on environmental issues. Before coming to the White House in 2001, he was the 'climate team leader' and a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade group representing the interests of the oil industry. A lawyer with a bachelor's degree in economics, he has no scientific training."

Teen Gets Life Sentence For Helping Girlfriend End Pregnancy

LUFKIN, Texas -- A 19-year-old East Texas man faces a life prison sentence for causing his teenage girlfriend to miscarry twins, even though she wanted to end the pregnancy.

Gerardo Flores was accused of causing the miscarriage by stepping on his girlfriend's stomach. He was prosecuted under the state's new fetal protection law.

Erica Basoria acknowledged asking Flores to help end her pregnancy. But the 17-year-old can't be prosecuted because of her legal right to abortion.

The defense contended that Basoria punched herself while Flores was stepping on her, making it impossible to tell who killed the twins.

The jury reached a verdict after deliberating four hours. Because prosecutors declined to seek the death penalty in the case, Flores received the automatic life sentence.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Invention Allows Humans to Breathe Like Fish

Invention Allows Humans to Breathe Like Fish

Any Crowd Will Do

"Laura Reznick weaved in and out of the crowd at a Democratic rally last summer so she could share a photo op with her political hero, Howard Dean.
Little did the South Jersey native know that the photo would reappear a year later - but this time with her cheering on conservative Republican Bret Schundler, who's running for governor in New Jersey."

Wow! - Police say granny, 80, ran prostitution ring - Jun 6, 2005 - Police say granny, 80, ran prostitution ring - Jun 6, 2005: "LINDENWOLD, New Jersey (AP) -- Police made a surprising discovery when they busted the alleged madam of a prostitution ring called 'August Playmates': The woman running the show was an 80-year-old grandmother.Authorities arrested Vera Tursi last month during a sting operation to crack down on prostitution rings posing as legal escort services. Police say Tursi ran the business from her two-bedroom apartment, taking $60 of every $160 she charged clients for one hour with a call girl.Law enforcement officials say Tursi admitted her role in the business, saying she took it over a few years ago from her daughter, who had died. Police say Tursi told them she needed money to subsidize her Social Security checks.Undercover police first began to wonder about the age of their suspect when they called the escort service as part of their sting operation. They said she seemed to have difficulty breathing.'You get a feel for how old someone is when you talk to them,' State Police Detective Sgt. Thomas Cornely told The Sunday Star-Ledger of Newark. 'She sounded like an 80-year-old woman.'Although police arrested Tursi when they came to her apartment May 2, they decided not to bring her to the police barracks because of her poor health.Tursi has been charged with a a single count of promoting prostitution. If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison. But because of her age and lack of a criminal record, she's more likely to receive probation, Cornely said."

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Mayors Sign 'Urban Environmental Accords'

SAN FRANCISCO -- Mayors from around the world on Sunday signed an international treaty calling for increased use of public transportation and drastic cuts to the amount of trash sent to landfills.

The signing of the "Urban Environmental Accords" capped the United Nations World Environment Day Conference in San Francisco. The nonbinding accords list 21 specific actions that can make cities greener.

San Francisco was the first U.S. city to host the annual conference. Much of the conference focused on global warming and what mayors can do to curb emissions of "greenhouse gases" such as carbon dioxide that trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere.

Echoes of Abu Ghraib in Chicken Slaughterhouse

Last week, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released an undercover videotape made at the Pilgrim's Pride slaughterhouse, which supplies KFC restaurants. It shows workers kicking and stomping chickens and smashing them against walls. PETA also supplied eyewitness testimony: We were told of employees "ripping birds' beaks off, spray-painting their faces, twisting their heads off, spitting tobacco into their mouths and eyes and breaking them in half -- all while the birds are still alive."
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Friday, June 03, 2005

yet another reason we hate Bush

The UK's proposals to write off the debts owed by African countries are facing opposition from the US. - North Korea demands U.S. apology - Jun 2, 2005 - North Korea demands U.S. apology - Jun 2, 2005: "(CNN) -- North Korea has vowed not to return to the nuclear bargaining table unless it receives an apology from the United States for making hostile remarks about its leadership. U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney called North Korean leader Kim Jong Il 'one of the world's most irresponsible leaders' in an interview with CNN on Monday.In reponse, North Korea said Cheney 'is hated as the most cruel monster and blood-thirsty beast,' according to a report carried in the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Thursday.The two countries have long been engaged in a war of words, and the tone of Cheney's latest comments was not unusual for the Bush administration. John Bolton, now Bush's nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, as undersecretary of state in 2003 labeled Kim as a 'tyrannical dictator,' while U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has labeled the communist country 'an outpost of tyranny' and Kim a 'dangerous person.'In the KCNA report, North Korea said it was willing to rejoin nuclear disarmament talks if U.S. officials retracted their remarks and apologized.Rice has previously refused to apologize for her remarks about North Korea, stating she was just telling the 'truth.'"

Thursday, June 02, 2005

C.D.C. Team Investigates an Outbreak of Obesity - New York Times

C.D.C. Team Investigates an Outbreak of Obesity - New York Times: "For the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has sent a team of specialists into a state, West Virginia, to study an outbreak of obesity in the same way it studies an outbreak of an infectious disease.

Kerri Kennedy, the program manager at the West Virginia Physical Activity and Nutrition Program, said the state had requested the agency's investigation. 'We were looking at our data,' Ms. Kennedy said, and saw that 'we are facing a severe health crisis.'The state ranked third in the nation for obesity - 27.6 percent of its adults were obese, compared with 20.4 percent in the country as a whole. And, Ms. Kennedy said, 'our rate of obesity appears to be increasing faster than the rest of the nation.'" - Mass whale stranding in Australia - Jun 2, 2005 - Mass whale stranding in Australia - Jun 2, 2005: "SYDNEY, Australia (Reuters) -- Up to 160 whales became stranded on two beaches on Australia's southwest coast on Thursday after two pods beached themselves.The false killer whales, most between four and five meters (13 to 16 feet) long, beached themselves near the coastal town of Busselton, 200km (125 miles) south of the western city of Perth.'They are very large animals and are hard to move,' said veterinarian Phil Rapton, as hundreds of rescuers tried desperately to push the whales back into the ocean.'We are just waiting for heavy machinery to arrive to try and move them,' Rapton told local media.The Western Australian state Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) said none of the whales had died, but some were 'copping a battering.''It's not uncommon for this species to strand,' said CALM marine liaison officer Neil Taylor.Scientists have no idea why whales beach. Some think if one or two whales become disoriented are stranded on a beach the others simply follow or try and rescue the stranded whales."

Student tackles 'appoggiatura,' wins spelling bee - Education -

Student tackles 'appoggiatura,' wins spelling bee - Education -
Didn't even know this word existed....

Do you have 'blogebrity' status? | | CNET

Two weeks ago, if you 'Googled' the term 'blogebrity,' you would have received zero results. Today you'll get more than 80,000.

No one is more surprised by this phenomenon than Southern California-based Kyle Bunch and Jeremy Hermanns, who entered their idea for Web site celebrating the growing cache (and ego) of bloggers--into Eyebeam's 'Contagious Media Showdown' competition. Eyebeam, a New York-based nonprofit studying new technologies and media arts, launched the competing sites on May 19., which was a sort of trial balloon for a future Blogebrity print magazine, features an A-list of blogging celebrities as well as B- and C-lists of rising stars. The two founders were immediately inundated with feedback, particularly after the site appeared on Slashdot. Many wrote Blogebrity to offer suggestions and complaints about the various lists and the overall site. Some bloggers have proudly posted their list rankings, while others ridiculed the site and asked what's next, 'Bloggywood Squares?'"

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Couple's 80 years of wedded bliss

BBC NEWS: "A couple from Hereford have made it into the Guinness Book of Records for having the world's longest marriage.
Percy and Florence Arrowsmith, who are 105 and 100 respectively, celebrate their 80th anniversary on 1 June."

MSN Money - Hosed at the gas pump -- by your debit card

MSN Money - Hosed at the gas pump -- by your debit card: "You may have topped off with just $20 worth of unleaded, but the debit-card transaction could freeze as much as $75 in your account, sometimes for days."

Editorial: Memorial Day/Praise bravery, seek forgiveness

Editorial: Memorial Day/Praise bravery, seek forgiveness
: " In the case of Iraq, the American public has failed them; we did not prevent the Bush administration from spending their blood in an unnecessary war based on contrived concerns about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. President Bush and those around him lied, and the rest of us let them. Harsh? Yes. True? Also yes. Perhaps it happened because Americans, understandably, don't expect untruths from those in power. But that works better as an explanation than as an excuse.
The 'smoking gun,' as some call it, surfaced on May 1 in the London Times. It is a highly classified document containing the minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting at 10 Downing Street in which Sir Richard Dearlove, head of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, reported to Prime Minister Tony Blair on talks he'd just held in Washington. His mission was to determine the Bush administration's intentions toward Iraq." - 'Mermaid' baby's surgery successful - Jun 1, 2005

LIMA, Peru (AP) -- Doctors fully separated the fused legs of a Peruvian baby girl with 'mermaid syndrome' during a nationally televised operation Wednesday, and they called the delicate procedure a 'true success.'Surgeons originally planned to repair Milagros Cerron's birth defect only up to her knees during the procedure, which took 4 1/2 hours.'This is the final result that we have come to in this extraordinary surgical intervention,' said Dr. Luis Rubio, holding up 13-month-old Milagros's legs in a V-shape, displaying a line of stitches extending from her heels to her inner thighs. 'We have mobility of the independent knee joints.'Milagros' legs had been fused from her thighs to her ankles when she was born."

Bush Hints He Will Withhold Other Papers on Bolton - New York Times

Bush Hints He Will Withhold Other Papers on Bolton - New York Times: "'Now in terms of the requests for the documents, I view that as just another stall tactic,' Mr. Bush said, 'another way to delay, another way not to allow Bolton to get an up or down vote.'Democrats gave no indication they would back down. 'Mr. Bolton's fate lies with the president,' said Jim Manley, the spokesman for Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader. 'If he agrees to turn over the requested information about his nominee, then Mr. Bolton will get his up or down vote. The Senate is entitled to the information. It's really that simple.'"