Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Cruise Slammed for Sonogram Machine Purchase

Movie & TV News @ - WENN: "Tom Cruise has been slammed for buying a sonogram machine for his pregnant fiancee Katie Holmes, with health experts warning that he's putting his unborn child at risk. Officials at the American College of Radiology (ACR) are highly concerned by Cruise's revelation that he purchased the device to track his child's progress, and they're warning him that he could be breaking the law if he's carrying out the scans himself. Dr. Carol M. Rumack, of the ACR Ultrasound Commission, says, 'This is a patient safety issue. Untrained people, even if they have the financial means, should not buy, or be allowed to buy and operate, ultrasound machines which are, in fact, medical devices and should not be used without a medical indication. Images of the fetus are an opportunity to diagnose problems before birth that may require treatment. These images should be obtained by certified technologists under the supervision of physicians properly trained in ultrasound... The ACR is concerned that Tom Cruise has been badly advised regarding the use and potential abuse of ultrasound. There are many abnormalities that may be missed by the untrained eye. Also, if it is not medically necessary, the use of ultrasound raises unnecessary physical risk to the fetus.'"

US Paying Iraqi Media to Publish US-Authored Reports

The US military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish American-written articles favorable to the U.S. presence in Iraq. The Times reports articles written by U.S. military “information operations” are translated into Arabic and then placed in Iraqi newspapers with the help of Washington-based defense contractor the Lincoln Group. The articles are presented to an Iraqi audience as unbiased news accounts written by independent journalists. The Lincoln Group’s contract is worth up to $100 million dollars over five years. A senior Pentagon official commented : “Here we are trying to create the principles of democracy in Iraq. Every speech we give in that country is about democracy. And we’re breaking all the first principles of democracy when we’re doing it.”

Molecule gives passionate lovers just one year - Yahoo! News

ROME (Reuters) - Your heartbeat accelerates, you have
butterflies in the stomach, you feel euphoric and a bit silly.
It's all part of falling passionately in love -- and scientists
now tell us the feeling won't last more than a year.
The powerful emotions that bowl over new lovers are
triggered by a molecule known as nerve growth factor (NGF),
according to Pavia University researchers.
The Italian scientists found far higher levels of NGF in
the blood of 58 people who had recently fallen madly in love
than in that of a group of singles and people in long-term
But after a year with the same lover, the quantity of the
'love molecule' in their blood had fallen to the same level as
that of the other groups.
The Italian researchers, publishing their study in the
journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, said it was not clear how
falling in love triggers higher levels of NGF, but the molecule
clearly has an important role in the "social chemistry"; between
people at the start of a relationship.

Lavish wedding for Onassis heiress

SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) -- She likes watching TV soap operas and shops at the supermarket like ordinary Brazilians. He swears he is marrying her for love, not money.

But any pretense that Athina Roussel Onassis and Alvaro Affonso de Miranda are just a normal couple will be cast aside on Saturday when the 20-year-old sole heiress to the Onassis fortune and the 32-year-old Brazilian equestrian champion marry in a lavish wedding in Sao Paulo.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Miami Police Take New Tack Against Terror

BREITBART.COM: "Miami police announced Monday they will stage random shows of force at hotels, banks and other public places to keep terrorists guessing and remind people to be vigilant. Deputy Police Chief Frank Fernandez said officers might, for example, surround a bank building, check the IDs of everyone going in and out and hand out leaflets about terror threats. 'This is an in-your-face type of strategy. It's letting the terrorists know we are out there,' Fernandez said. The operations will keep terrorists off guard, Fernandez said. He said al-Qaida and other terrorist groups plot attacks by putting places under surveillance and watching for flaws and patterns in security. Police Chief John Timoney said there was no specific, credible threat of an imminent terror attack in Miami. But he said the city has repeatedly been mentioned in intelligence reports as a potential target. Timoney also noted that 14 of the 19 hijackers who took part in the Sept. 11 attacks lived in South Florida at various times and that other alleged terror cells have operated in the area. Both uniformed and plainclothes police will ride buses and trains, while others will conduct longer-term surveillance operations. 'People are definitely going to notice it,' Fernandez said. 'We want that shock. We want that awe. But at the same time, we don't want people to feel their rights are being threatened. We need them to be our eyes and ears.'"

Refusal to present ID sparks test of rights

Rocky Mountain News: Local: "Federal prosecutors are reviewing whether to pursue charges against an Arvada woman who refused to show identification to federal police while riding an RTD bus through the Federal Center in Lakewood.
Deborah Davis, 50, was ticketed for two petty offenses Sept. 26 by officers who commonly board the RTD bus as it passes through the Federal Center and ask passengers for identification.
During the Thanksgiving weekend, an activist who has helped publicize other challenges to government ID requirements posted a Web site about the case, which he said had logged more than 1.5 million visitors by lunchtime Monday.
'The petty offense ticket was issued by police on the scene,' Colorado U.S. attorney's spokesman Jeff Dorschner said Monday. 'The status of the matter is now under review.'
A decision on whether the government will pursue the case is expected in a week or two.
Davis said she commuted daily from her home in Arvada to her job at a small business in Lakewood, taking an RTD bus south on Kipling Street each morning from the recreation center in Wheat Ridge, where she left her car. She said the bus always passed through the Federal Center and some people got off there.
Guards at the Federal Center gate always boarded the bus and asked to see all passengers' identification, she said.
She said the guards just looked at the IDs and did not record them or compare them with any lists.
When she refused to show her ID, she said, officers with the Federal Protective Service removed her from the bus, handcuffed her, put her in the back of a patrol car and took her to a federal police station within the Federal Center, where she waited while officers conferred. She was subsequently given two tickets and released."

Longer needles needed for fatter buttocks

Yahoo! News: "CHICAGO (Reuters) - Fatter rear ends are causing many drug
injections to miss their mark, requiring longer needles to
reach buttock muscle, researchers said on Monday.
Standard-sized needles failed to reach the buttock muscle
in 23 out of 25 women whose rears were examined after what was
supposed to be an intramuscular injection of a drug.
Two-thirds of the 50 patients in the study did not receive
the full dosage of the drug, which instead lodged in the fat
tissue of their buttocks, researchers from The Adelaide and
Meath Hospital in Dublin said in a presentation to the annual
meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.
Besides patients receiving less than the correct drug
dosage, medications that remain lodged in fat can cause
infection or irritation, researchers Victoria Chan said.
'There is no question that obesity is the underlying cause.
We have identified a new problem related, in part, to the
increasing amount of fat in patients' buttocks,' Chan said.
'The amount of fat tissue overlying the muscles exceeds the
length of the needles commonly used for these injections,' she

Monday, November 28, 2005

Girl with peanut allergy dies after kiss

SAGUENAY, Quebec (AP) -- A 15-year-old girl with a peanut allergy died after kissing her boyfriend, who had just eaten a peanut butter snack, hospital officials said Monday.

Christina Desforges died in a Quebec hospital Wednesday after doctors were unable to treat her allergic reaction to the kiss the previous weekend.

Desforges, who lived in Saguenay, about 155 miles north of Quebec City, was almost immediately given a shot of Adrenaline, a standard tool for treating the anaphylactic shock brought on by a peanut allergy, officials said.

An autopsy was being performed. Dr. Nina Verreault, an allergist at the Chicoutimi Hospital in Saguenay, declined to comment on the case.

The symptoms of peanut allergy can include hives, plunging blood pressure and swelling of the face and throat, which can block breathing.

Peanut allergies have been rising in recent decades. The reason remains unclear, but one study found that baby creams or lotions with peanut oil may cause children to develop allergies later in life.

About 1.5 million Americans are severely allergic to even the smallest trace of peanuts and peanut allergies account for 50 to 100 deaths in the United States each year. Canadian figures were not immediately available.

Recording Companies Want to Use Anti-Terror Powers to Catch Downloaders

"Big firms including Sony and EMI want to use new powers designed to track terrorists on the internet to crack down on music and film pirates - including the parents of children who download music - who are estimated to cost the industry £650m a year. Internet companies will have to log all the pages visited by surfers for at least a year so the security services can track terrorists using the web for fund-raising, training or swapping information. But the move has been greeted with alarm by human rights campaigners who say that the step is an example of the 'mission creep' of draconian new anti-terror powers."

Teacher accused of giving 'liberal' quiz

BENNINGTON, Vermont (AP) -- A high school teacher is facing questions from administrators after giving a vocabulary quiz that included digs at President Bush and the extreme right.

Bret Chenkin, a social studies and English teacher at Mount Anthony Union High School, said he gave the quiz to his students several months ago. The quiz asked students to pick the proper words to complete sentences.

One example: "I wish Bush would be (coherent, eschewed) for once during a speech, but there are theories that his everyday diction charms the below-average mind, hence insuring him Republican votes." "Coherent" is the right answer.

Principal Sue Maguire said she hoped to speak to whomever complained about the quiz and any students who might be concerned. She said she also would talk with Chenkin. School Superintendent Wesley Knapp said he was taking the situation seriously.

"It's absolutely unacceptable," Knapp said. "They (teachers) don't have a license to hold forth on a particular standpoint."

Chenkin, 36, a teacher for seven years, said he isn't shy about sharing his liberal views with students as a way of prompting debate, but said the quizzes are being taken out of context.

"The kids know it's hyperbolic, so-to-speak," he said. "They know it's tongue in cheek." But he said he would change his teaching methods if some are concerned.

"I'll put in both sides," he said. "Especially if it's going to cause a lot of grief."

The school is in Bennington, a community of about 16,500 in the southwest corner of the state.

Prosecutors: Teen abducted children for demonic ritual

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- An 18-year-old Chicago man was arrested after allegedly kidnapping two young children to perform a demonic ritual intended to get back his former girlfriend, authorities said.

David Rodriguez was being held on $500,000 bond. Prosecutors said he and a 15-year-old companion snatched the children Friday outside a South Side library and planned to carve a pentagram in the girl's chest.

Rodriguez apparently needed only the girl, so he released her 8-year-old brother, who told people on the street about the kidnapping, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Tracy Senica said.

Police found the girl unharmed at Rodriguez's home, and they arrested Rodriguez when he returned with candles and incense.

Rodriguez was charged with two counts of aggravated kidnapping, police spokesman John Mirabelli said.

His grandfather, Julian Rodriguez, called the accusations "ridiculous." He said his grandson was a "good kid."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

U.S. Farmers Use Pesticide Despite Treaty

Other nations watch as the United States keeps permitting wide use of methyl bromide for tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, Christmas trees and other crops, even though the U.S. signed an international treaty banning all but the most critical uses by 2005.

The chemical depletes the earth's protective ozone layer and can harm the human neurological system, an increasing concern as people settle further into what was once just farm country.

Methyl bromide's survival demonstrates the difficulty of banishing a powerful pesticide that helps deliver what both farmers and consumers want: abundant, pest-free and affordable produce.

The Bush administration, at the urging of agriculture and manufacturing interests, is making plans to ensure that methyl bromide remains available at least through 2008 by seeking and winning treaty exemptions. Also, the administration will not commit to an end date.

The reason is that farmers who each year grow Florida tomatoes, California strawberries, Georgia peppers and North Carolina Christmas trees worth billions of dollars are struggling to find a suitable replacement. Alternative organic techniques are too costly and substitute chemicals are not as effective, growers say.

Workers who inhale enough of the chemical can suffer convulsions, coma and neuromuscular and cognitive problems. In rare cases, they can die.

Pentagon Expanding Its Domestic Surveillance Activity

"Pentagon Expanding Its Domestic Surveillance ActivityFears of Post-9/11 Terrorism Spur Proposals for New PowersBy Walter PincusWashington Post Staff WriterSunday, November 27, 2005; Page A06The Defense Department has expanded its programs aimed at gathering and analyzing intelligence within the United States, creating new agencies, adding personnel and seeking additional legal authority for domestic security activities in the post-9/11 world.The moves have taken place on several fronts. The White House is considering expanding the power of a little-known Pentagon agency called the Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, which was created three years ago. The proposal, made by a presidential commission, would transform CIFA from an office that coordinates Pentagon security efforts -- including protecting military facilities from attack -- to one that also has authority to investigate crimes within the United States such as treason, foreign or terrorist sabotage or even economic espionage....
"We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America. This is a huge leap without even a [congressional] hearing," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a recent interview."

Alito CAPs His Bid

Campus newspapers aren't generally known for making waves inside the
Beltway. Recently, however, the Daily Princetonian published a
story that merits attention from senators gearing up for the
confirmation hearings of Samuel Alito, George W. Bush's nominee to
replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. As Chanakya Sethi
reported in a November 18 article for the paper, in 1985 Princeton
graduate and conservative Republican Alito sought to impress his
colleagues in the Reagan Administration, where he was applying to become
deputy assistant attorney general, by touting his membership in an
organization called Concerned Alumni of Princeton.
Launched in 1972, the year Alito graduated, CAP had an
innocuous-sounding name that disguised a less benign
agenda, which included preventing women and minorities from entering an
institution that had long been a bastion of white male privilege. In a
1973 article in Prospect, a magazine CAP published, Shelby Cullom Davis,
one of its founders, harked back to the days when a gathering of
Princeton alumni consisted of "a body of men, relatively homogeneous in
interests and backgrounds." Lamented Cullom Davis: "I cannot envisage a
similar happening in the future with an undergraduate student population
of approximately 40% women and minorities, such as the Administration
has proposed."

BBC NEWS | UK | Marine 'bullying' video condemned

"Marine 'bullying' video condemned
A film apparently showing a Royal Marine being beaten unconscious has been widely condemned.
The footage obtained by the News of the World appears to show two naked men being forced to fight each other.
One of the men is then kicked in the face, allegedly by one of his superiors in 42 Commando."

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Bear shot by hunter bites back, dies

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (AP) -- A black bear bit and clawed a hunter who had just shot it four times in what game authorities said appeared to be a first for the state.

Samuel H. Beauchamp, 47, said he was approaching the downed 320-pound bear in Rothrock State Forest in central Pennsylvania on Monday, the first day of bear-hunting season, when it came after him.

Beauchamp, of nearby Newville, had just shot the bear with a .444-caliber rifle and was within 15 feet of it. He turned to run, but the bear put a claw around his hip and bit him twice, once in each thigh, before dying.

"The bear wasn't attacking 100 percent. I mean really, it was dead on its feet when it came up. If it would have been 100 percent I wouldn't have been standing there," Beauchamp said Friday.

Other hunters heard a growl and came to Beauchamp's aid.

"It was shock at first. It's like he came alive, like 'boom.' I guess he growled, like the other people heard. That motivated me to turn around and start running away," he said.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

'Ugly dog' Sam dies at 14

"SANTA BARBARA, California (AP) -- Sam, the dog whose ugliness earned him TV appearances, limousine rides and even a meeting with millionaire Donald Trump, has died, the Santa Barbara News-Press reported Tuesday.The pooch with the hairless body, crooked teeth and sparse tuft of hair atop his knobby head died Friday, just short of his 15th birthday, said his owner, Susie Lockheed."

Sam became an international celebrity after winning the ugliest animal contest at the 2003 Sonoma-Marin Fair in California -- a victory he twice repeated. The purebred Chinese crested hairless made appearances on TV in Japan, radio in New Zealand and in Britain's Daily Mirror tabloid, stayed in luxury hotels and met Trump on a talk show set.

Lockheed marketed his visage on T-shirts, a calendar and even a coffee "ugly mug."

At the time of his death, Sam was scheduled to be filmed for a Discovery Channel series on the world's ugliest species.

Lockheed said she was initially terrified of Sam when she agreed to take him in as a rescue six years ago on a 48-hour trial basis. Although she fell in love with him, his appearance repulsed her then-boyfriend and prompted the man to break up with her.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Leak Investigation: For Libby and Rove, Legal Woes

Nov. 28, 2005 issue - As special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald continues his probe into the CIA leak affair, the probe is taking an escalating financial toll. I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the indicted former vice presidential chief of staff, has set up a legal defense fund to pay the bills of his high-priced lawyers. In an effort to raise $5 million, the trust has assembled a board of major Republican fund-raisers, lobbyists and prominent neoconservatives. The chair: Melvin Sembler, a wealthy Florida real-estate developer and ex GOP finance chief who, ironically, was President George W. Bush's ambassador to Italy when the embassy in Rome first got the forged yellowcake documents that helped trigger the affair. Others include ex CIA director (and outspoken Iraq-war supporter) James Woolsey, ex GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes, former senator Fred Thompson, ex U.N. ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick and lobbyists Bill Paxon and Wayne Berman (whose wife is the White House social secretary). During a conference call last week, Libby thanked the participants. 'The money is pouring in,' said Barbara Comstock, a spokeswoman for the group. But because it was set up after Libby left the White House, the fund is private%u2014and donors won't be disclosed."

Smelly 'Corpse Plant' Drawing Crowds

WASHINGTON - Its scent has drawn comparisons to garbage and spoiled meat, but that isn't stopping crowds from flocking to see and smell an unusual plant in bloom at the U.S. Botanic Garden.
The titan arum plant, nicknamed 'corpse plant' for its rank smell, is attracting thousands of visitors during the day or two it remains in bloom.
'It's quite spectacular: the color and the form and the strong odor,' said John Kress, chairman of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History's botany department, which owns the plant. 'I think that's what most people come to see. Or smell.'
The long, conical bloom of the titan arum is believed to be the largest flower that doesn't grow on a tree. It has been known to grow 12 feet high in its native habitat on the island of Sumatra.
The specimen at the botanic garden, which began blooming early Sunday, is about 5 feet high.
Now that it's in bloom, the plant has also started emitting a smell that's drawn comparisons to garbage, spoiled meat, and rotting fish. But the plant's stench is actually the key to its survival: carrion beetles and other pollinators in its native Sumatra are attracted to the smell, Kress said.
'These beetles usually lay their eggs in rotting animals, so this plant pretends to be a dead animal,' he said."

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Travel -- and don't pay as you go

"Travel -- and don't pay as you go
Couch surfers see the world without paying for hotels
By Susan Donaldson James
Nancy Chuang was fresh out of graduate school last summer, tight on funds but ready for adventure. With her 50,000 frequent flier miles, she spent seven weeks on a solo tour through the Middle East. In all that time, the 29-year-old Manhattan fashion designer never paid for a hotel room. Instead she relied on the hospitality of strangers(.....)
Couch surfing, a travel phenomenon that is popular among young Europeans, is beginning to catch on in the United States, particularly among adventurers under 30. Travelers, or surfers, peruse the Internet for free lodgings, often simply a couch. Most Web sites, including, can put surfers in touch with hosts who live within 200 miles of their destinations. Web sites allow surfers to post photos, interests and references. When a host responds with an invitation, the reservation is made."

Justice Dept. may pursue Halliburton probe

"Justice Dept. may pursue Halliburton probe
WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department is deciding whether to pursue an investigation into allegations of wrongdoing over how a division of the Halliburton Co. was awarded a contract in Iraq.
Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., released a letter Friday from Defense Department Assistant Inspector General John R. Crane that said the department's Defense Criminal Investigative Services is investigating the allegations and 'has shared its findings with the Department of Justice.'
The letter also said the Justice Department is in the process of considering whether to pursue the matter.
Last year the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' top procurement official criticized Iraq-related work awarded to Halliburton by the Corps of Engineers. Bunnatine H. Greenhouse said her main objection was the issuance to Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root of a no-bid, five-year contract to restore Iraqi oil fields shortly before the Iraq war began in 2003."

Fitzgerald: No `sexiest' talk

When you're hot, you'd rather not talk about it.

U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald--speaking in Chicago on Thursday at a news conference about the indictment of Conrad Black--was asked how he felt about being named one of People magazine's "sexiest men alive."

Fitzgerald groaned when the question came up.

"I almost enjoy going back to the leak questions I can't answer," he said. "I played a lot of practical jokes on people for a lot of years, and they all got even at once. OK, new topic."

Friday, November 18, 2005

Image Overload?

"The average person sees tens of thousands of images in the course of a day. One sees images on television, in newspapers and magazines, on websites, and on the sides of buses. Images grace soda cans and t-shirts and billboards. Internet search engines can instantly procure images for practically any word you type. The question is not merely rhetorical. It points to something important about images in our culture: They have, by their sheer number and ease of replication, become less magical and less shocking—a situation unknown until fairly recently in human history."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Cheney to Spend a Month Above Ground - Newsweek Society -

Vice President Dick Cheney said today that in an effort to pump up the White House's anemic approval ratings he would remain above ground for an entire month and would not return to his secure, undisclosed location until November.
....Read the rest...hahahaha

Why You Shouldn't Buy Products From Sony This Season

There had to be balance between the concerns of the media companies and the needs of the consumers or either would simply choose not to play. You would think that, with the success of the iPod and what appeared to be clear with their upcoming Blu-ray optical disk, Sony would have learned its lesson and not tried to destroy the consumer experience ever again.

You would be wrong. This rootkit was designed specifically to address piracy and it does so by trampling the rights of every customer, honest or not, that buys one of the intentionally infected CDs. The downside to this behavior goes far beyond destroying a product line -- it could destroy the company.

Scary!Big Brother To Monitor Every Car In UK

British police have been building a system of cameras and license plate recognition software that will monitor every road in the UK and deploy "what promises to be one the most pervasive surveillance systems on earth." The system will be able to determine the whereabouts of every vehicle in the UK and where it goes. "The control centre is intended to go live in April of next year, and is intended to be processing 50 million number plates a day by year end."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

'Castro has Parkinson's' says CIA

BBC NEWS: "The CIA has concluded that Cuban leader Fidel Castro is suffering from Parkinson's disease.
The US agency is reported to have based its analysis on a variety of evidence, including observations of Mr Castro's public appearances.
Cuban officials declined to comment on the CIA report but insisted Mr Castro was in good condition.
The 79-year-old's health has long been the subject of rumours of illness, after almost half a century in power."

Glowing meat alarms Australians

BBC NEWS: "Australians have been told there is no need to panic after a recent 'glow-in-the-dark pork chop' scare.
A caller to a Sydney radio talk show sparked fears of radioactive contamination in the meat supply.
The New South Wales Food Authority said the glow was caused by the harmless pseudomonas fluorescens bacteria.
Food authority head George Davey said he understood people would be 'shocked' to see their meat glowing in the fridge but said the bacteria were safe.
'It is important to remember that the micro organism responsible for the glow is not known to cause food poisoning,' he said.
The bacteria are naturally present in meat and fish but they multiply quickly if food is not stored at the correct temperature.
So the glowing can be a sign that the food is starting to go off and Mr Davey recommends consumers throw any luminous pork chops - or other cuts of meat - straight into the dustbin.
'Remember this simple advice - if it glows, throw it.'"

Bush Tries To Force Another Country To Convert To Democracy

"We encourage China to continue down the road of reform and openness," he said, while visiting Japan.

He cited Taiwan, considered a renegade province by Beijing, as a model of a society that has successfully moved from "repression to democracy".

Analysts said China would be irritated by Mr Bush's comments, especially his mention of rival Taiwan.

"We have to work hard and not pay attention to those people who talk about this or that, trying to shake our conviction, especially when it comes to our love of the motherland," Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing told reporters on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) meeting in South Korea.

In his speech, made in Japan's ancient former capital of Kyoto, he said China's economic reforms should be followed by increased political and religious freedom.

"As China reforms its economy," said Mr Bush, "its leaders are finding that once the door to freedom is opened even a crack, it cannot be closed.

"As the people of China grow in prosperity, their demands for political freedom will grow as well."

He held up Taiwan as an example of how democracy had "delivered prosperity to its people and created a free and democratic Chinese society."

Former CPB Chairman Repeatedly Broke Law

Investigators at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting have concluded that former CPB chairman Ken Tomlinson repeatedly broke the law in the name of routing out "liberal bias". "A scathing report by the corporation's inspector general described a dysfunctional organization that violated the Public Broadcasting Act, which created the corporation and was written to insulate programming decisions from politics."

"His report documented a series of Tomlinson-led initiatives that were undertaken without the knowledge of CPB's board or that directly violated the agency's statutes and procedures. Tomlinson, the former chairman threatened to withhold federal funds if PBS refused to 'balance' its programming with more conservatives and he hired lobbyists, consultants and two ombudsmen without the board's knowledge or approval, according to a five-month investigation and report by the CPB's inspector general, Kenneth A. Konz."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Halliburton's Frank Rooney crowned Middle East Oil Baron 2005 | Pipeline Magazine

"Frank Rooney, UAE Country & Business Development Manager for US oil service firm Halliburton has been named Middle East Oil Baron 2005 following an industry poll organised by Pipeline Magazine, the region's premier publication for the oil and gas industry.
Rooney, who emerged victorious following the heaviest poll in the honour's three-year history, was crowned Middle East Oil Baron 2005 at last week's glittering Oil Barons' Ball, the main social event for the region's energy industry, in front of a high profile audience of over 1,500 energy decision-makers. "

Slain Palestinian boy's organs donated

NABLUS, West Bank (AP) -- The father of a Palestinian boy shot dead by Israeli soldiers said Monday he believes his son's spirit is alive in "every Israeli" after donating the boy's organs to Israelis waiting for transplants.

Ismail Khatib said he was extremely proud of his decision, even if some corners of Palestinian society might be upset with him.

"No one can tell me what to do," he said. "I feel very good that my son's organs are helping six Israelis. ... I feel that my son has entered the heart of every Israeli."

Chicago Tribune | Desperate for work, lured into danger

The journey of a dozen impoverished men from Nepal to Iraq reveals the exploitation underpinning the American war effort"
This is a very good story if you have the time. It is about how very poor young men are deceived by brokers and agencies working for KBR (aka Halliburton) to work in Iraq on American bases. This particular story follows one family and how their son was murdered by terrorists in Iraq because they were helping Americans. But the point is, it's exploitation, and it's sick.

'Cool mom' gets 30 years for sex parties

GOLDEN, Colorado (AP) -- A woman who authorities said had sex with high school boys during alcohol- and drug-fueled parties has been sentenced to 30 years in prison, officials said.

Silvia Johnson, 41, described herself to investigators as a "cool mom" who "was never popular with classmates in high school" and who was beginning to feel like one of the group.

She pleaded guilty in July to two misdemeanor counts of sexual assault and nine felony counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

She also was sentenced for additional charges of third-degree assault, violation of a restraining order and harassment for unrelated cases involving her husband and children, prosecution spokesman Carl Blesch said.

Authorities said Johnson held parties for the boys almost weekly between October 2003 and October 2004. They said Johnson provided drugs and alcohol to eight boys and had sex with five of them.

Monday, November 14, 2005

GOP memo touts new terror attack as way to reverse party's decline

Capitol Hill Blue: "A confidential memo circulating among senior Republican leaders suggests that a new attack by terrorists on U.S. soil could reverse the sagging fortunes of President George W. Bush as well as the GOP and "restore his image as a leader of the American people."
The closely-guarded memo lays out a list of scenarios to bring the Republican party back from the political brink, including a devastating attack by terrorists that could “validate” the President’s war on terror and allow Bush to “unite the country” in a “time of national shock and sorrow.”

The memo says such a reversal in the President's fortunes could keep the party from losing control of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections.
GOP insiders who have seen the memo admit it’s a risky strategy and point out that such scenarios are “blue sky thinking” that often occurs in political planning sessions.
“The President’s popularity was at an all-time high following the 9/11 attacks,” admits one aide. “Americans band together at a time of crisis.”
Other Republicans, however, worry that such a scenario carries high risk, pointing out that an attack might suggest the President has not done enough to protect the country.
“We also have to face the fact that many Americans no longer trust the President,” says a longtime GOP strategist. “That makes it harder for him to become a rallying point.”
The memo outlines other scenarios, including:
--Capture of Osama bin Laden (or proof that he is dead);
--A drastic turnaround in the economy;
--A "successful resolution" of the Iraq war."

Bertoletti Wins in Knoxville

"The final qualifier of the 2005 Krystal Square Off circuit occured today in Knoxville, TN and was won Patrick Bertoletti who ate 30 Krystals in eight minutes.

Chicago's top-ranked eater, Bertoletti flew into Knoxville from Boston where he competed in the the Verizon Voice Wing Battle. He faced serious competition in the Krystal event from Don Moses Lerman All American, one-time American burger champ. Lerman ate 26 for second place and Shawn Kessler downed 25 Krystals.

With the win Bertoletti advances to the Krystal Square Off World Hamburger Eating Championships, scheduled to occur in Chattanooga on Saturday, November 19th."

Sacha Baron Cohen: Guilty of Possession of the Funny

"Sometimes art imitates life, and sometimes life brings a court order against art. The latter of those events may transpire in Kazakhstan, where the Foreign Ministry is threatening legal action against Borat, the drunkenly inappropriate correspondent invented by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, aka Ali G. Seems the ministry hasn’t taken a shine to the way Borat ‘s been reprezentin’ this particular ‘stan as one of its bumbling native sons:

If Ashykbayev is right, HBO’s gotten even more powerful than was previously believed."

Fixing English a sign of the Olympics

"BEIJING, (AFP) - Call it a sign of the times, but China wants to fix the embarrassing English on Beijing's bilingual signs as part of an image make-over before it hosts the 2008 Olympics.
The China Daily reported that a "Use Accurate English to Welcome the Olympics" campaign has drawn more than 300 contributions from people pointing out garbles and giggles from signs across the city.
The Park of Ethnic Minorities is identified as "Racist Park." Emergency exits at Beijing international airport read "No entry on peacetime."
And drivers are warned about the hazards of a wet road with a sign that reads: "The slippery are very crafty."
All signs are to be corrected by 2007, the paper said."

Judith Miller's Survival Guide

New York Post: "ENOUGH already with outed CIA agent Valerie Plame, alleged D.C. snitch 'Scooter' Libby, could be un indicted co-conspirator VP Cheney, enraged anti-Bush husband Joe Wilson, hotshot prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, Smiling Karl Rove and Washington's cast of thousands in Smellgate. I don't anymore care about these human weapons of mass destruction. I have only one interest. What was it like for former Times reporter Judith Miller to be in the can 85 days. And she told me:
'The first day is terrifying. Humiliating. They take everything away. Can't even have an aspirin. Or paper clip because that, they say, can pry a lock. It's about control. Women journalists like us fight for control. Control over stories, control of our days. And the first thing they take away is the ability to control your own life.
'I lost 20 pounds,' said size-2 Judy, sampling seconds on chicken. 'I was never chunky, but now my doctor says I'm too thin. The food was inedible. People liken it to Army food. Please, our soldiers would desert!
'Everything's brown or white. Grits, pasta, potatoes, sauce, Cream of Wheat. One dish was s - - - on a shingle. Sausage with gravy only they forgot the sausage. Brown slop. Once a week, the highlight of my week, we had hot dogs. I never saw so many carbohydrates. I lost weight because I couldn't eat. I had stomach cramps, diarrhea. I kept throwing up.
'Because I had money I could buy from the canteen. I literally lived on trail mix and popcorn.'
Pouncing on a cherry tomato in her salad, Judy exclaimed: 'I'd have killed for one of those.
'And no outside air. The gym, which is empty, has an alcove with one little skylight. You can at least look up and see a bit of sky. In my whole time, I only saw natural light five hours.'
Judith Miller, at my home in jeans, maroon cashmere turtleneck, leather jacket, gold earrings, tortoise necklace, nice makeup, nice manicure, said:
'Makeup's forbidden, but jail develops amazing skills. For instance, M&Ms are sold in the canteen. Water the red ones, crush them, make paste with the dye and you get lipstick. Tweeze your eyebrows with a piece of string twirled around. Coloring pencils allowed in one empowerment program got used as eyeliner. In the laundry, there are styrofoam cups. Wet a color pencil, rub it into the styrofoam, break off a small piece and %u2014 a mascara brush. Or use your toothbrush, but then you must rinse it out well.'
The hair is tinted. I asked what she did about that.
'The worst is not being allowed any dye. It's awful. Although people snuck me in a little stain stick, I developed a very wide gray part. And thanks to my beloved paper, God Bless the Times, the whole world now knows I'm 57.'"

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Purse snatcher takes woman's finger

Chicago Tribune: "Chicago police today are looking for a bald man with gold teeth who robbed two women after sideswiping their cars, taking their purses and - in one case - a woman's finger to steal a ring she was wearing.
'I'd like to pull his little finger off his hand, too, the jerk,' Jackie Mlinarcik, the woman who lost her left little finger, told WGN-Ch. 9.
'I mean, I'm 74 years old,' she said, her left hand wrapped in bandages. 'What the hell kind of man is this that would prey on elderly people?'
Both attacks occurred in the Chicago Lawn District on the Southwest Side.
Mlinarcik was driving home from a local Jewel supermarket on Sunday afternoon when another driver bumped her car at 53rd Street and Mayfield Avenue, police said.
The two stopped, and the man got out of his car and pretended to look for damage. He then allegedly grabbed the woman's purse from the passenger seat of her car and %u2013 seeing a ring on the woman's left pinkie %u2013 grabbed her hand and either ripped or cut off the finger, WGN reported.
Mlinarcik said she passed out. The next thing she remembered, she said, she awakened and saw bleeding from her injured finger."

Ostrich goes on three-hour rampage - Nov 10, 2005 - Ostrich goes on three-hour rampage - Nov 10, 2005: "NICOSIA, Cyprus (Reuters) -- A runaway ostrich that eluded police caused severe damage when it attacked a Mercedes car during a three-hour rampage.'Somehow it got out of its pen. We sent two patrols after it, but in the meantime it caused some damage to the bonnet and bumper of a Mercedes before we caught it,' a police official in Cyprus said.The ostrich caused considerable damage when it pounced on the car, the daily Phileleftheros reported.The ostrich is the largest of birds and can weigh at least 400 pounds (182 kilograms). It is also the fastest creature on two legs and can run up to 43 mph (70 km/h).'It took us more than three hours to catch it,' the police official said."

Study links bedroom TVs to low test scores

"STANFORD, Calif., July 5 (UPI) -- A new U.S. study finds that children with televisions in their bedrooms have lower scores on standardized tests.

Children with television sets in their bedrooms perform significantly more poorly on standardized tests. A new University of Michigan study offers evidence of a link between how children sleep and later behavior problems.

Researchers from Stanford University and Johns Hopkins surveyed 350 third-graders from six Northern California public schools in 2000. They found that children with access to home computers did better than others on tests.

'This study provides even more evidence that parents should either take the television out of their child's room, or not put it there in the first place,' said Dr. Thomas Robinson, director of the Center for Healthy Weight at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford.

Surprisingly, children with bedroom televisions reported spending more time on homework on the average, possibly because they have more trouble with schoolwork. The researchers suggested that their test scores might be related to getting less sleep"

Because Oral Hygiene Is Priority In A Time Of War

US soldiers are set to add a new killing machine to their arsenal: one that wipes out bacteria. Chewing gum could help troops to avoid the frequent dental problems that arise when in the field for days on end without cleaning their teeth.

Oral hygiene may not sound like a serious problem for soldiers on manoeuvres. But US military experts point out that tooth and gum problems can be debilitating. Around 15% of deployed soldiers have experienced 'dental emergencies' such as gum infections, says Kai Leung of the US Army Dental Research Detachment in Great Lakes, Illinois.

The gum, developed by US Army researchers, contains a protein that attacks the bugs that cause plaque, which in turn can lead to gum infections and tooth decay. Soldiers can keep their mouths clean without toothpaste, brush and bathroom sink, its creators say.

Trials of the gum's active ingredient, a protein fragment called KSL, show that it kills harmful mouth bacteria, such as Streptococcus mutans, growing on discs of tooth-like material in the lab. The next step will be to test the gum in the field.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The N.B.A.'s New Age Rule Will Get Old in a Hurry

New York Times: "THEY are certainly a breed of wildlife fitted in custom suits for their harrowing journey to March Madness in search of a perfect end, but this isn't the methodical 'March of the Penguins.' This is Coach K, his arms waving on the sideline with the desperation of a stranded motorist. This is John Calipari, his jaw comically dropping with a 'Zoink!' sound effect on every foul call. This is college coaching.
And these obsessive souls of the business are enough of a whirling dust devil on the job without feeling pressured to try on Don King's dust-bunny wig. And yet, in the leadup to last week's national signing day, some must have felt forced to all but sign one-year promotional deals with talented teenagers who might have been bound for the National Basketball Association if not for the new age-eligibility requirement. It's 19, not 18 anymore. It's one year of college, not a prom-and-done proposition now. It is an ill-conceived piece of phony feel-good legislation on every level. A year to mature, a season to grow, the N.B.A. caretakers will tell you. As if a freshman year is an introduction to adulthood and responsibility instead of beer bongs and campus gals who aspire to be Carolina Panthers cheerleaders."

Macedonia leads world with wi-fi

BBC NEWS: "Formerly part of Yugoslavia and previously better known as a potential ethnic trouble spot, Macedonia is now rapidly becoming a wi-fi hotspot.
While Macedonia was spared the violence that took hold of the region after the break up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, more recently all eyes were on the country when its own ethnic tensions began to boil over.
Luckily it avoided full-blown civil war. It is now on the brink of leading the world in what could be a template for other developing states, becoming the first wireless country.
Macedonia is dotted with villages. The mostly ethnic Albanians who live here are poor and rely for their livelihood on working whatever land they have.
Their day-to-day lives rarely involve computers, let alone the internet.
But a project funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has brought broadband internet access to hundreds of such remote villages in Macedonia by putting the country's 460 primary and secondary schools online.
While the computers for the labs came from China, USAID's side of the project, called Macedonia Connects, was to pay for a local company to provide wireless internet access for the nation's schools, and while doing so roll out a wireless communication network across the country.
Leigh Shamblin, of USAID Macedonia, said: 'We're paying for internet services in schools for two years, and because we did that the local ISP, which was chosen through the competitive process, was able to build out this network.
'That will allow internet access to become affordable and accessible to people in many sectors of society.'
In laying out its own national network, On.Net, the Macedonian company doing the work on the ground, had to go up against the local telecoms giant which enjoyed a comfortable monopoly."

Sexual affairs between pupils and teachers 'can be beneficial'

Independent Online Edition: "Britain should drop its moral outrage over sexual relationships between pupils and teachers and accept that an 'erotic charge' in the classroom can be an aid to teaching, a Sheffield University academic says.
Pat Sikes, an education lecturer, has written a paper in defence of pupil-teacher affairs, arguing that it is wrong always to cast students as victims when they are often the instigators of genuine relationships and suggesting that about 1,500 pupil-teacher affairs develop every year, the Times Educational Supplement reports today.
Dr Sikes said she had always been curious about relationships that began in the classroom because she had married her history teacher after falling for him at the age of 14. She met her husband, David, in 1970 on her first day at upper school, aged 14, and his first day as a teacher, aged 22. 'It wasn't until two years later, on the evening that he left the school to take up a post elsewhere that we declared our feelings for and to each other ... I returned to school, after the summer vacation as [his] girlfriend,' she said.
Dr Sikes claims such teacher-pupil affairs were not uncommon at her liberal comprehensive school in Leicestershire, and were not seen as exploitative.
Her paper angered children's charities, which labelled it 'bizarre at best'. Natasha Finlayson, of ChildLine, said: 'For Dr Sikes to praise the 'seductive nature and erotic charge' of good teaching is misguided and bizarre at best.
'The Sexual Offences Act was designed with a welcome emphasis on protecting children and young people, rather than on the rights of the small number of pupils over the age of consent who choose to engage in sexual relationships on equal terms with a teacher.'
Phillip Noyes, the NSPCC's director of public policy, added: 'Children spend the majority of their day at school and teachers have a unique relationship with their pupils which should never be abused.'"

Mr. Mayor... And High School Senior

The Wire : Radar Online: "And people claim that kids today don’t care about politics. While many teenage boys spent this past Tuesday night playing videogames and popping zits, at least one 18-year-old was celebrating his successful mayoral campaign. Michael Sessions was elected mayor of Hillsdale, Mich., squeaking out a 732-668 victory over the incumbent, Douglas Ingles. Sessions wasn’t even old enough to vote for himself in his own primary — his birthday is in September — but that didn’t stop him from going door-to-door in a town with a population of 8,500. The high school senior covered the costs of his campaign by devoting $700 from his summer job earnings — only a few bucks shy of what Michael Bloomberg spent on his mayoral re-election campaign in New York City. (Jonathan Ages)

BIG CHANGE IN A SMALL TOWN: Still in high school, teen is Hillsdale’s new mayor [Detroit Free Press]"

Friday, November 11, 2005

NCAA Won't Allow Illinois Mascot

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The University of Illinois' use of Chief Illiniwek remains a "hostile and abusive" image of American Indians and will keep the university on its list of schools that will be prohibited from hosting NCAA postseason events after February, the NCAA declared Friday.

"The NCAA staff review committee found no new information relative to the mascot known as Chief Illiniwek or the logo mark used by some athletics teams that depicts a Native American in feathered headdress, to remove the university from the list," said Bernard Franklin, the NCAA's senior vice president for governance and membership.

Bush Forcefully Attacks Iraq Critics

TOBYHANNA, Pa. - President Bush, in the most forceful defense yet of his Iraq war policy, accused critics Friday of trying to rewrite history and charged that they're undercutting America's forces on the front lines.

"The stakes in the global war on terror are too high and the national interest is too important for politicians to throw out false charges," the president said in his combative Veterans Day speech.

"While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began," the president said.

Bush's defense of his policy came at a time of growing doubts and criticism about a war that has claimed the lives of more than 2,050 members of the U.S. military. As casualties have climbed, Bush's popularity has dropped. His approval rating now is at 37 percent in the latest AP-Ipsos poll, an all time low point of his presidency.

(Isn't it funny how he can accuse everyone else of lying, but is in complete denial of his own and his administration's fallicies.)

Please watch this speech on, it's on the home page under video/audio.

Television More Oversexed Than Ever, Study Finds

Teenagers watching television are bombarded with nearly twice as many sex scenes as seven years ago, according to a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Sex, lots of sex. Sex, sex, sex. Casual sex, dirty sex. Hot, sweaty, recreational sex with desperate housewives on expensive, carved, imported-from-Italy dining tables. Adolescent girls performing oral sex on middle-aged managers of expensive clothing stores in backrooms jammed with nekkid mannequins in exchange for some of that expensive clothing -- plus accessories!

In the slightly more than 1,000 shows scrutinized in the study, nearly 4,000 scenes had sexual content, compared with fewer than 2,000 in 1998, when the foundation started studying TV sex.

And yet the rate of teen pregnancy in this country has plunged by about one-third during approximately the same time.
Clearly, the television networks are doing something wrong.

Especially since, of the TV programs pregnant with sexual content (70 percent of all shows, averaging about five sex scenes per hour), only a very small percentage included a message about the risks and responsibilities of sex.

Only about 14 percent discussed contraception, abstinence or other "safe sex" messages, the study found, though Kaiser veep Vicky Rideout, who oversaw the study, admitted during its unveiling yesterday that a first good-night kiss at the door between two television characters probably does not call for an on-screen discussion between the guy and chick as to whether they should use a condom.

U.S. accuses SIU of anti-white bias

President Bush's administration has threatened to sue Southern Illinois University, alleging its fellowship programs for minority and female students violate federal civil rights laws by discriminating against whites, men and others.

In a move Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said "just doesn't make sense," the U.S. Justice Department charged that three SIU programs that aim to increase minority enrollment in graduate school exclude whites, other minorities and males, in violation of Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act.

"The University has engaged in a pattern or practice of intentional discrimination against whites, non-preferred minorities and males,'' says a Justice Department letter sent to the university last week and obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

The letter demands the university cease the fellowship programs, or the department's civil rights division will sue SIU by Nov. 18.

Rove Is More His Old Self at the White House

New York Times: "WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 - The architect, it seems, is back.
Hunkered down for almost all of October while a grand jury considered his fate, Karl Rove has rebounded as a visible presence at the White House over the last two weeks, according to administration officials and Republican colleagues. He is running meetings and pursuing candidates for the 2006 elections - and, associates say, devising long-term political plans that suggest he does not believe he will face future legal trouble despite the C.I.A. leak investigation in which he has been involved.
On Thursday night, Mr. Rove made his first major public appearance in several weeks, speaking at the Federalist Society in Washington. The remarks on judicial restraint were hardly newsworthy in themselves, but his presence was. Just three weeks ago, at the height of the administration's worst troubles over the Supreme Court and as anxiety in the leak inquiry consumed the White House, Mr. Rove canceled a speech for the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia.
Since then, Mr. Rove has remained in legal limbo, neither cleared nor charged. But the frenzy surrounding his role has subsided since the Oct. 28 indictment of I. Lewis Libby Jr., and associates say there has been an elevation of Mr. Rove's persona inside and outside the West Wing - a shift that has the added benefit of assuring conservatives that the White House is trying to regain its footing after a spate of recent disasters.
'I've noticed a big difference,' said one Republican in regular contact with Mr. Rove who declined to speak for attribution because the White House did not authorize it. 'There's a spring in his step, more focus, more - something. Some sort of weight off his shoulders.'"

Robbing Four Banks, on the Phone All the While

WaPo: "When it comes to multitasking, it's hard to beat the woman who can rob a bank and never interrupt her cell phone conversation.In an act of either incredible cool or something much more sinister, a young woman has robbed four Wachovia bank branches in Northern Virginia in recent weeks, all while seemingly immersed in cell phone chats, police say. In the most recent holdup, on Nov. 4 in Ashburn, video footage shows the woman to be almost uninterested as a teller hands her a stack of cash, and she continues talking on her phone as she turns and walks out of the bank.'This is the first time that I can recall where we've had a crime committed while the person was using a cell phone,' said Loudoun County sheriff's spokesman Kraig Troxell, echoing comments by officials from other law enforcement agencies. 'The question would be whether anyone is on the other end of the line or not.'The cell phone bandit first struck in Vienna on Oct. 12. A woman in her twenties with dark hair, about 5 feet 2 to 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighing 120 to 130 pounds, walked in carrying a box and talking on a cell phone. She moved directly to the teller counter and displayed the shoebox-size box, which had a note taped on it demanding cash. Police would not disclose the wording of the note.As in the other cases, the robber exchanged few or no words with the teller, because she apparently was busy talking to someone else. She scooped up the cash, started walking and kept talking."

For One Student, a College Career Becomes a Career

New York Times: "WHITEWATER, Wis. - Nearly every college has some screwball who never seems to graduate, lingering year after year as classmates move on. And then there is Johnny Lechner.
In his 12th year of college here, Mr. Lechner has parlayed life as perpetual student into a lucrative personal brand. His genius for self-promotion might have earned him Phi Beta Kappa - if only it had been applied to his studies.He has appeared on 'Late Show' with David Letterman, 'Good Morning America' and other shows, describing a roisterous campus lifestyle of beer and merrymaking. National Lampoon is promising to pay his tuition, and the makers of Monster Energy Drink deliver 30 cases a week, along with advertising posters and condoms, to the house where Mr. Lechner lives and parties, in exchange for his endorsement of Monster as 'the official energy drink' of his 12th college year. He has signed with the William Morris Agency, which is marketing a reality television series based on his life at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater. And in recent days he has referred to interviews with The New York Times on his personal Web site, anticipating new publicity from this article. The dizzying whirl of sudden celebrity has not been easy, Mr. Lechner said. 'I'm really stressed out,' he said. 'All the money, the book deals, the agents. It's just crazy.' The marketing hoopla whipping up around Mr. Lechner, 29, is making it difficult to separate fact from fable about his college career. He has compiled a 2.9 grade-point average and in one semester got straight A's. But in the topsy-turvy logic of the entertainment world, a record of debauchery has become central to his success, and friends say he has taken to exaggerating his Animal House credentials."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Laurie David Curbs Her Environmentalism

Radar Online: "Global warming crusader Laurie David may be an expert when it comes to lecturing others about the evils of SUVS and the redemptive power of energy saving light bulbs. But when it comes to conserving her own backyard, it seems she’s still a little green. Sources say David—a Martha’s Vineyard summer resident and the wife of Seinfeld creator Larry David—recently found herself on the receiving end of an indignant eco-critique after angry locals on the tony island accused her and her husband of endangering protected wetlands.
According to a “notice of apparent violations” issued by the Vineyard’s Chilmark Conservation Commission, the Davids were reprimanded last August for building a 26-foot-long barbecue station, stone-and-concrete bonfire pit, and outdoor theater on an environmentally sensitive patch of their 14-acre North Road property without the proper permits. They were also cited for tearing up protected vegetation to make way for a lush, sodded lawn, among other, pettier crimes against nature. The commission has since ordered the couple to remove the offending structures and restore the area to its previous state."

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Golden Retriever Gives Birth To Green Puppy "A dog breeder in Alhambra, Calif., is mystified after his golden retriever gave born to a green puppy, according to a Local 6 News report.The green puppy, named Wasabi, was one of four puppies born five days ago.
The dog is healthy and green, according to the report.Local 6 News showed video of the puppy rolling around with its normal-looking newborn brothers and sisters. Skeptics said the dog had to be dyed green but the owner said the puppy was born green.Veterinarians said it is possible for a newborn puppy's fur to be green because the placenta, which is green, rubs off at birth."

An Organic Cash Cow

New York Times: "Alexis Gersten, a Long Island dentist, never thought about what she poured over her cereal until her son turned 1.'Having a new milk drinker, I sort of wanted to start him off on the right foot,' she said.
Ms. Gersten worried about what synthetic growth hormones, pesticides and antibiotics might do to her child and to the environment. She was concerned about the health of the cows and the survival of local farmers. So she became one of the new mothers who are making milk the fastest growing slice of the organic market. 'Some of my friends who don't really think about feeding their children organic food will feed them organic milk,' she said.Milk represents all that is wholesome. Add the word organic, and the purity of milk's image only increases. But a carton of organic milk does not come without complications. It is expensive. Some brands are processed so that an unopened carton can last for months. And an organic seal does not necessarily mean the cows are grazing on pasture or that the milk is local.Organic milk accounts for more than 3 percent of all milk sold in the United States. But with an annual growth rate of 23 percent in an era when overall milk consumption is dropping by 8 percent a year, organic milk has made the nation's $10.2 billion-a-year dairy industry take notice"

How Can He Still Deny Evolution?

Maradona on the political pitch

Argentine football hero Diego Maradona made a significant move from one pitch to another last week.

As his popular television show was coming to an end - at least for this season - he was raising his profile in the political arena.

Just last year, a bloated Maradona disappeared not only from the limelight but nearly from life, as he battled against drug addiction.

But a few months ago, he returned very much alive, slimmer and more intelligible.

This remarkable turnaround began in 2004, when he went to a rehabilitation clinic in Cuba. A stomach-stapling operation in Colombia earlier this year put the final touches to his renewed image.
During the weekend, the "Number Ten" became one of the most vocal opponents of free trade at the Summit of the Americas in Argentina.

When Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez spoke before 40,000 anti-globalisation and anti-Bush demonstrators at a stadium, Maradona was at his side.

The former football star angered the Mexican President, Vicente Fox, who criticised him for having "a head full of smoke and ideology".
Maradona and Mr Castro have been friends for over a decade

"He has a good foot for kicking, but he does not have a good brain for talking," Mr Fox added.

In the end, Maradona became a conversation issue for the presidents attending the summit. He was again in the limelight.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Halliburton Threatens Army Officials Who Point Out Contract Abuse

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 ( -- A former contracting officer with the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) told a congressional committee today that Halliburton regularly threatens government officials who complain about contracting abuse.
Christy Watts, who was Chief of Contracting at USACE in Louisville, Kentucky, said Halliburton and USACE 'habitually' violate contracting regulations and demand employees conceal it from the public. She described a culture of fear and intimidation designed to protect Halliburton's bottom line. (Halliburton was formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney before he was elected to his current position.)
'One point I need to make very clear: in my 18 years in contracting, I had never, with any other company except Halliburton, been treated in such a demeaning and intimidating manner,' Watts told the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. 'When pointing out to Halliburton personnel their contractual non-compliances, I was threatened verbally and physically intimidated for performing my job,' she said.
Watts told the committee about frightening examples of Halliburton officials throwing temper tantrums or telephoning her home after midnight to scream at her for awarding contracts to competitors. In one instance, she was verbally accosted after informing the company that it violated regulations by failing to award 20 percent of subcontracts in Alaska to small businesses."

President Bush's Walkabout - New York Times

Published: November 8, 2005
After President Bush's disastrous visit to Latin America, it's unnerving to realize that his presidency still has more than three years to run. An administration with no agenda and no competence would be hard enough to live with on the domestic front. But the rest of the world simply can't afford an American government this bad for that long.

In Argentina, Mr. Bush, who prides himself on his ability to relate to world leaders face to face, could barely summon the energy to chat with the 33 other leaders there, almost all of whom would be considered friendly to the United States under normal circumstances. He and his delegation failed to get even a minimally face-saving outcome at the collapsed trade talks and allowed a loudmouthed opportunist like the president of Venezuela to steal the show. It's amazing to remember that when Mr. Bush first ran for president, he bragged about his understanding of Latin America, his ability to speak Spanish and his friendship with Mexico. But he also made fun of Al Gore for believing that nation-building was a job for the United States military.The White House is in an uproar over the future of Karl Rove, the president's political adviser, and spinning off rumors that some top cabinet members may be asked to walk the plank. Mr. Bush could certainly afford to replace some of his top advisers. But the central problem is not Karl Rove or Treasury Secretary John Snow or even Donald Rumsfeld, the defense secretary. It is President Bush himself."

Monday, November 07, 2005

Adventures of Jack Abramoff -- An Ugly Story

Carl Hiassen: "The glistening slime trail left by lobbyist Jack Abramoff leads to an infamous homicide scene in South Florida.
And while the indicted bosom buddy of indicted Rep. Tom DeLay says he had nothing to do with the mob-style execution of casino fleet founder Gus Boulis, Abramoff probably wasn't turning cartwheels when three men were recently charged with murdering Boulis back in February 2001.
One of the defendants is Anthony ''Big Tony'' Moscatiello, identified by police as an associate of the Gambino crime family. Moscatiello is a longtime pal with lawyer Adam Kidan, who was Abramoff's partner in what prosecutors say was a fraudulent purchase of Fort Lauderdale-based SunCruz casinos from Boulis.
Kidan and Abramoff go way back. At the Georgetown Law Center they were both members of the College Republicans.
Abramoff grew up to be a big-time GOP operative whose friendship with House Speaker DeLay opened doors to all sorts of wondrous opportunities. For example, his lobby firm received $66 million in fees from Indian tribes that either wanted to set up casino operations, or block rival tribes from doing the same.
Sen. John McCain, the tenacious Arizona Republican, is currently holding hearings about Abramoff's unorthodox lobby tactics and the favors he seems have bought at the Interior Department, which oversees Indian matters.
It's an ugly story, but not the worst of Abramoff's legal problems. That would be his partnership with Kidan, whose keen business acumen and sterling ethics had already led to multiple bankruptcies and the loss of his New York law license."

Revision Thing "A history of the Iraq war, told entirely in lies

Posted on Monday, November 7, 2005.
All text is verbatim from senior Bush Administration officials and advisers. In places, tenses have been changed for clarity. Originally from Harper's Magazine, October 2003. By Sam Smith.

Once again, we were defending both ourselves and the safety and survival of civilization itself. September 11 signaled the arrival of an entirely different era. We faced perils we had never thought about, perils we had never seen before. For decades, terrorists had waged war against this country. Now, under the leadership of President Bush, America would wage war against them. It was a struggle between good and it was a struggle between evil.
It was absolutely clear that the number-one threat facing America was from Saddam Hussein. We know that Iraq and Al Qaeda had high-level contacts that went back a decade. We learned that Iraq had trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and deadly gases. The regime had long-standing and continuing ties to terrorist organizations. Iraq and Al Qaeda had discussed safe-haven opportunities in Iraq. Iraqi officials denied accusations of ties with Al Qaeda. These denials simply were not credible. You couldn't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talked about the war on terror."

Italian Satellite TV to Broadcast Evidence of US Use of Chemical Weapons on Civilians

Translated by Daily Kos from an article here

"Shocking revelation RAI News 24. Use of chemical weapons by the US military in Iraq. Veteran admits: Bodies melted away before us.

White phosphorous used on the civilian populace: This is how the US "took" Fallujah.

New napalm formula also used.

ROME. In soldier slang they call it Willy Pete. The technical name is white phosphorus. In theory its purpose is to illumine enemy positions in the dark. In practice, it was used as a chemical weapon in the rebel stronghold of Fallujah. And it was used not only against enemy combatants and guerrillas, but again innocent civilians. The Americans are responsible for a massacre using unconventional weapons, the identical charge for which Saddam Hussein stands accused. An investigation by RAI News 24, the all-news Italian satellite television channel, has pulled the veil from one of the most carefully concealed mysteries from the front in the entire US military campaign in Iraq.
A US veteran of the Iraq war told RAI New correspondent Sigfrido Ranucci this: I received the order use caution because we had used white phosphorus on Fallujah. In military slag it is called 'Willy Pete'. Phosphorus burns the human body on contact--it even melts it right down to the bone.
RAI News 24's investigative story, Fallujah, The Concealed Massacre, will be broadcast tomorrow on RAI-3 and will contain not only eye-witness accounts by US military personnel but those from Fallujah residents. A rain of fire descended on the city. People who were exposed to those multicolored substance began to burn. We found people with bizarre wounds-their bodies burned but their clothes intact, relates Mohamad Tareq al-Deraji, a biologist and Fallujah resident.
I gathered accounts of the use of phosphorus and napalm from a few Fallujah refugees whom I met before being kidnapped, says Manifesto reporter Giuliana Sgrena, who was kidnapped in Fallujah last February, in a recorded interview. I wanted to get the story out, but my kidnappers would not permit it.
RAI News 24 will broadcast video and photographs taken in the Iraqi city during and after the November 2004 bombardment which prove that the US military, contrary to statements in a December 9 communiqué from the US Department of State, did not use phosphorus to illuminate enemy positions (which would have been legitimate) but instend dropped white phosphorus indiscriminately and in massive quantities on the city's neighborhoods."


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And For the Second Offense, They Cut Off Your Mouse Clicking Finger

"A Hong Kong man has been jailed for three months for film piracy after he shared movie files over the internet. The authorities say he is the first person in the world to be prosecuted for passing on files using a popular file-sharing program called BitTorrent."

Japan developing remote control for humans

ATSUGI, Japan (AP) -- We wield remote controls to turn things on and off, make them advance, make them halt. Ground-bound pilots use remotes to fly drone airplanes, soldiers to maneuver battlefield robots.

But manipulating humans?

Prepare to be remotely controlled.

Just imagine being rendered the rough equivalent of a radio-controlled toy car.

Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp., Japans top telephone company, says it is developing the technology to perhaps make video games more realistic.

A special headset was placed on my cranium by my hosts during a recent demonstration at an NTT research center. It sent a very low voltage electric current from the back of my ears through my head -- either from left to right or right to left, depending on which way the joystick on a remote-control was moved.


Sunday, November 06, 2005

Cruise liner outruns armed pirate boats

CNN) -- A luxury cruise line will re-evaluate whether to offer future cruises off the coast of Somalia after pirates attempted to attack one of its ships early Saturday.

The pirates were in two small boats and were carrying machine guns and a rocket-propelled grenade when they attempted the attack on Seabourn Cruise Lines' "Spirit" about 5:35 a.m. local time Saturday, Deborah Natansohn, president of the cruise line, told CNNRadio.

The ship was carrying 150 passengers and a crew of about 160.

The ship, she said, immediately instituted its emergency response system. "The occupants of those boats did not succeed in boarding the ship and eventually turned away ... our captain and crew did a terrific job taking responsive action."

Passenger Mike Rogers of Vancouver, Canada, said the pirates were shooting and sending rockets at the boat. (Watch how cruise ship outran pirates -- 1:28)

"The captain tried to run one of the boats over, but they were small boats, about 25 feet long," he told CNNRadio affiliate CKNW in Vancouver.

Why Vote?

New York Times: Freakonomics: "A Swiss Turnout-Boosting Experiment
Within the economics departments at certain universities, there is a famous but probably apocryphal story about two world-class economists who run into each other at the voting booth.
'What are you doing here?' one asks. 'My wife made me come,' the other says.The first economist gives a confirming nod. 'The same.' After a mutually sheepish moment, one of them hatches a plan: 'If you promise never to tell anyone you saw me here, I'll never tell anyone I saw you.' They shake hands, finish their polling business and scurry off.Why would an economist be embarrassed to be seen at the voting booth? Because voting exacts a cost - in time, effort, lost productivity - with no discernible payoff except perhaps some vague sense of having done your 'civic duty.' As the economist Patricia Funk wrote in a recent paper, 'A rational individual should abstain from voting.' The odds that your vote will actually affect the outcome of a given election are very, very, very slim. This was documented by the economists Casey Mulligan and Charles Hunter, who analyzed more than 56,000 Congressional and state-legislative elections since 1898. For all the attention paid in the media to close elections, it turns out that they are exceedingly rare. The median margin of victory in the Congressional elections was 22 percent; in the state-legislature elections, it was 25 percent. Even in the closest elections, it is almost never the case that a single vote is pivotal. Of the more than 40,000 elections for state legislator that Mulligan and Hunter analyzed, comprising nearly 1 billion votes, only 7 elections were decided by a single vote, with 2 others tied. Of the more than 16,000 Congressional elections, in which many more people vote, only one election in the past 100 years - a 1910 race in Buffalo - was decided by a single vote. But there is a more important point: the closer an election is, the more likely that its outcome will be taken out of the voters' hands - most vividly exemplified, of course, by the 2000 presidential race. It is true that the outcome of that election came down to a handful of voters; but their names were Kennedy, O'Connor, Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas. And it was only the votes they cast while wearing their robes that mattered, not the ones they may have cast in their home precincts. Still, people do continue to vote, in the millions. Why? Here are three possibilities:
1. Perhaps we are just not very bright and therefore wrongly believe that our votes will affect the outcome.
2. Perhaps we vote in the same spirit in which we buy lottery tickets. After all, your chances of winning a lottery and of affecting an election are pretty similar. From a financial perspective, playing the lottery is a bad investment. But it's fun and relatively cheap: for the price of a ticket, you buy the right to fantasize how you'd spend the winnings - much as you get to fantasize that your vote will have some impact on policy.
3. Perhaps we have been socialized into the voting-as-civic-duty idea, believing that it's a good thing for society if people vote, even if it's not particularly good for the individual. And thus we feel guilty for not voting."

Ousted CPB Boss May Face Criminal Charges (More Conservative Corruption?)

Details are beginning to emerge of the soon to be released internal report that led to controversial Corporation for Public Broadcasting chairman Kenneth Tomlinson's ouster from the CPB board on Thursday. Tomlinson, who was already under fire for his unapologetic efforts to force PBS to air conservative opinion programs, is accused in the report of a serious misuse of corporation funds and the invention of phantom employees when it served his purposes. The inquiry crosses over into Tomlinson's work as a member of the largely unknown but highly influential Broadcasting Board of Governors, and insiders believe that he could face criminal charges before all is said and done. And then, there's the inevitable Karl Rove connection...

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Unsecured Wi-Fi would be outlawed by N.Y. county

"According to a new proposal being considered by a suburb of New York City, any business or home office with an open wireless connection but no separate server to fend off Internet attacks would be violating the law."

Bush Orders Staff to Review Ethics Rules

WASHINGTON - President Bush, reacting to the indictment of a high-level White House aide in the CIA leak case, has ordered his staff to get a refresher on ethics rules.

In a memo sent to all White House aides on Friday, the counsel's office said it will hold briefings next week on ethics, with a particular focus on the rules governing the handling of classified information. Attendance is mandatory for anyone holding any level of security clearance.

"There will be no exceptions," the memo said.
The week after, the counsel's office is holding sessions on general ethical conduct for the rest of the staff.

"The president has made clear his expectation that each member of his Executive Office of the President (EOP) Staff adhere to the spirit as well as the letter of all rules governing ethical conduct for EOP Staff," the memo said.

U.S. Should Repay Millions to Iraq, a U.N. Audit Finds

An auditing board sponsored by the United Nations recommended yesterday that the United States repay as much as $208 million to the Iraqi government for contracting work in 2003 and 2004 assigned to Kellogg, Brown & Root, the Halliburton subsidiary.
The work was paid for with Iraqi oil proceeds, but the board said it was either carried out at inflated prices or done poorly. The board did not, however, give examples of poor work. Some of the work involved postwar fuel imports carried out by K.B.R. that previous audits had criticized as grossly overpriced. But this is the first time that an international auditing group has suggested that the United States repay some of that money to Iraq. The group, known as the International Advisory and Monitoring Board of the Development Fund for Iraq, compiled reports from an array of Pentagon, United States government and private auditors to carry out its analysis.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Bush's Troubles Follow Him to Summit in Argentina

MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina, Nov. 4 - President Bush's foreign and domestic troubles trailed him to the opening day of an international summit here as tens of thousands protested in the streets and Mr. Bush deflected questions about his chief political aide, Karl Rove, who remains under investigation in the C.I.A. leak inquiry.

At the same time, Venezuela's populist president, Hugo Chávez, rallied some 25,000 protesters in this beach resort's main soccer stadium. He declared a free trade accord backed by Mr. Bush as dead and accused the Pentagon of having a secret plan to invade his oil-rich country.

"If it occurs to U.S. imperialism, in its desperation, to invade Venezuela, a 100-years' war will begin," Mr. Chávez declared to cheers. President Bush arrived here on Thursday night after one of the worst weeks of his presidency, only to be greeted by strong anti-American sentiment and taunts from Mr. Chávez.

Sleep Peacefully America, We Are Here To Protect You

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Secrets To Good Journalism, Courtesy of K-Mart

You may laugh, but we don't recall ever meeting a journalist who didn't carry a mini glitter gel pen.

1,100 rally, march to protest Bush administration policies

Shouting calls to action like "Impeach Bush" and "Down with war and theocracy," about 1,100 people marched through downtown Chicago on Wednesday as part of coordinated, nationwide protests asking for the removal or resignation of President Bush.
"The World Can't Wait. Drive Out the Bush Regime!" rally in Federal Plaza at West Adams and South Dearborn Streets began with an opening statement from author Studs Terkel who was followed by other speakers and performing artists who said they were united for change. The gathering addressed a host of issues--including abortion rights, Hurricane Katrina and the war in Iraq--and criticized the president's handling of all of them.

"I know how I'm feeling, and I know how you would feel if your son died," said Juan Torres, who was wearing a sign featuring a picture of his son, Army Spc. John M. Torres, who died in Afghanistan in July 2004.
Torres blamed Bush's policies for his son's death.
After an hour and a half of speakers, the group marched 18 blocks through downtown under the watchful eye of more than 200 police officers.
Police officials, who estimated the crowd at between 1,000 and 1,200 people, said that there were no arrests associated with the event.

Quarry yields homes older than Stonehenge

Archaeologists have for the first time unearthed the homes of Neolithic henge builders, in a set of dwellings, some older than Stonehenge, excavated from a Northumberland quarry.
The two settlement sites, each about the size of a football pitch and probably inhabited by a few related families, are dated to between 4,000BC and 3,000BC. The remains of the modest buildings are among the most extensive Neolithic dwellings ever found in Britain. The site is near the village of Milfield, in an area with a rich archaeological history, dominated by the enormous Yeavering Bell hill fort, built 1,000 years after the huts and henges on the plain below. The dwellings are The Neolithic Britons left some of the most spectacular prehistoric monuments in the world, but there have been only scraps of evidence showing where and how they lived. House sites are so rare that some archaeologists believe most people lived a semi-nomadic existence.
"Neolithic habitation sites are as rare as hens' teeth anyway, but this is the first time we have found them in association with henge sites," David Miles, chief archaeologist at English Heritage, said yesterday. by timber and earth bank henges so close in date it is assumed they must have been built by the same people.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

CIA Conducting Interrogations in Soviet-Era Secret Prisons

The Washington Post is reporting the CIA has been hiding and interrogating important al Qaeda detainees at a Soviet-era secret prison in Eastern Europe. The prison is part of a small global network of secret CIA and military compounds used in the so-called war on terror, including the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. At the request of U.S. officials, the Post did not publish the names of the Eastern European countries involved in the secret program. Intelligence officials and legal experts told the Post the prisons “would be considered illegal under the laws of several host countries, where detainees have rights to have a lawyer or to mount a defense against allegations of wrongdoing.

Supreme Court takes up hallucinogenic-tea case

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court debated Tuesday whether to let a small congregation in New Mexico worship with hallucinogenic tea, the first religious-freedom dispute under Chief Justice John Roberts.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor seemed skeptical of the Bush administration's claim that the tea can be banned, but she may not be around to vote in the case.

About 130 members of a Brazil-based church have been in a long-running dispute with federal agents who seized their tea in 1999. The hoasca tea, which contains an illegal drug known as DMT, is considered sacred to members of O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal.

The Supreme Court has dealt with religious drug cases before. Justices ruled 15 years ago that states could criminalize the use of peyote by American Indians. But Congress changed the law to allow the sacramental use in tribal services of peyote, a bitter-tasting cactus that includes the hallucinogen mescaline.

Michael Moore owns Halliburton!

Michael Moore owns Halliburton!
New book debunks claims of celebrity activists
Michael Moore
"I don't own a single share of stock!"; filmmaker Michael Moore proudly proclaimed.
He's right. He doesn't own a single share. He owns tens of thousands of shares including nearly 2,000 shares of Boeing, nearly 1,000 of Sonoco, more than 4,000 of Best Foods, more than 3,000 of Eli Lilly, more than 8,000 of Bank One and more than 2,000 of Halliburton, the company most vilified by Moore in "Fahrenheit 9/11";
If you want to see Moore's own signed Schedule D declaring his capital gains and losses where his stock ownership is listed, it's emblazoned on the cover of Peter Schweizer's new book, "Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy."

Arab League scuttled secret exile offer for Saddam: U.A.E. officials

Deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein accepted an 11th-hour offer to flee into exile weeks ahead of the U.S.-led 2003 invasion but Arab League officials scuttled the proposal, officials in Dubai said.

The exile initiative was spearheaded by the late president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, at an emergency Arab summit held in Egypt in February 2003, Sheik Zayed's son said in an interview aired by Al-Arabiya TV during a documentary. The U.S.-led coalition invaded March 19 that year.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Jessica Simpson Saw Therapist Over Rumors

Jessica Simpson says the relentless gossip about her marriage to Nick Lachey' drove her to visit a therapist

"Yes I have," the singer-actress tells Teen People in its December-January issue, on newsstands Friday. "I respect knowledge of the psyche. I would be a therapist if I weren't an entertainer."

Jessica, 25, posed for the cover of the magazine with her sister, Ashlee. Both talk about the difficult challenges of the past year.

Jessica, who had a starring role in "The Dukes of Hazzard" movie this summer, has been the queen of the tabloids this year — much of the coverage dissecting the marriage of the "Newlyweds" couple. The pair have denied persistent rumors of a split.

"Hopefully mine and Nick's story will continue for the rest of our lives, like what we vowed, through sickness and in health."

AMERICAblog: Because a great nation deserves the truth

by John in DC - 11/01/2005 03:00:00 PM
UPDATE: Call Harry Reid's DC office and tell them their boss rocks. It's high time a Democrat showed some cojones. We need to support them when they do the right thing (and you know the Republicans are going to try to destroy Reid over this). Reid's phone number:(202) 224-3542The Democrats have forced the Senate into a closed session, to shut down the Senate and go behind closed doors for national security reasons, in order to discuss what the hell happened with Rove and ScooterGate.Holy shit. CNN just said that by invoking Rule 21, Reid just shut down the Senate, all 100 Senators are called to the Senate floor, they have to turn over their cell phones, blackberries, etc.And Frist is PISSED. I have never been slapped in the face to this degree. Boo hoo hoo. Frist wants to talk about stunts? His entire leadership is a stunt. There has been no congressional oversight of the Bush administration for five years while the Republicans controlled the White House and the Congress.And the real big news. This just knocked Judge Alito off his game. The story is now the Democrats showing balls on national security. Reid just changed the subject from Judge Alito to the White House's scandals on Iraq and the RoveGate CIA leaks. Absolutely brilliant.CNN's Bill Schneider: 'This is a revolt, Wolf.' Now a paraphrase: 't's a signal to the Republican majority, if the Republicans even think of trying to take away the filibuster, the Democrats are saying 'look what we can do.''CNN's Jack Cafferty: 'The Democrats got that bird flu new conference out of the news in about four hours. They smelled blood... first White House staffer indicted in 135 years... was there a nuclear weapons program? Were there chemical and biological weapons?... the 9/11 commission made a whole list of recommendations, many of which have been ignored by the administration, the senate intelligence committee has promised an investigation, which is hasn't done.'HARRY REID FRIGGIN' ROCKS"

GOP furious at closed Senate session

"WASHINGTON - Democrats forced the Republican-controlled Senate into an unusual closed session Tuesday, questioning intelligence that President Bush used in the run-up to the war in Iraq and accusing Republicans of ignoring the issue. %u201CThey have repeatedly chosen to protect the Republican administration rather than get to the bottom of what happened and why,%u201D Democratic leader Harry Reid said. Taken by surprise, Republicans derided the move as a political stunt."

Wonder Womb-an

Two babies were born from two separate wombs, but weirdly the infants are twins and share the same mother. Briton Claire Miles, 35, was born with a pair of half-size wombs, which makes a successful birth nigh impossible. After defeating incredible odds and giving birth to healthy twins in June, she's one of about 70 women in the world known to have been pregnant in two wombs since 1905. Miles learned of her condition at age 20, and doctors then discovered she also had two cervixes and two vaginas. They were able to combine her two vaginas into one, but decided it was too risky to mess with the wombs. Said Miles, "Now I have two miracles. I am full of every possible emotion. Life isn't about my two wombs now -- it's about my two babies."

Pants on Fire

So Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, is shocked, just shocked that reporters are beginning to call out his credibility. It's "Crude" and "disrespectful" McClellan told the Washington Post yesterday, presumably with a straight face.

This is the man who has made it his job to tell Americans that President George W. Bush is working hard for the country. He is the bloated holiday ham who routinely describes Iraq as on the brink of Jeffersonian democracy. He even described Harriet Miers as the best qualified candidate for the high court. Ron Ziegler must be spinning in his fiery grave.

It ain't cool being a jive turkey so close to Thanksgiving, Scott. But we're not playa haters here, so we've decided to offer up some handy go-to answers for when the questions in the Brady press briefing room get too hot to handle: (AM)

1) "CLook out behind you!"
2) "USA! USA! USA!"
3) "I am not a crook."

Purvis Acquited (Ew)

PRINCETON - A high school teacher accused of having sex with a 15-year-old student was found not guilty of sexual assault Monday in Bureau County.
After sitting stoically at the defense table during the six-day trial, an emotional Gina Purvis, 29, sobbed as she embraced her husband, Shannon, after the verdict was announced before about 40 people who gathered in the courtroom.

Purvis, a former biology teacher at Hall High School in Spring Valley, was charged with four counts of criminal sexual assault after the boy, now 17, said he and Purvis had a sexual relationship in the spring of 2004.

Circuit Court Judge Chris H. Ryan, who presided at the bench trial, said he did not think the boy was a truthful witness, ultimately unraveling the prosecution's case, which relied heavily on the boy's testimony.

Ryan said he had suspicions after the boy repeatedly said he couldn't remember or recall details to answer many of the defense's questions.

"The truth is very easy to remember," Ryan said. "Believe me, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. It's obvious someone didn't want to get caught up in details."

State's Attorney Pat Herrmann said that in his 24 years of trying criminal sex cases, he has never had more corroboration of witnesses' testimony.

During closing arguments, Herrmann mentioned evidence of a romantic relationship, including gifts and telephone records indicating Purvis and the boy talked for more than 2,000 minutes in February and March of 2004.