Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Baboons In Mourning Seek Comfort Among Friends... Are You Gonna Eat That?


When Sylvia the baboon lost Sierra, her closest grooming partner and daughter, to a lion, she responded in a way that would be considered very human-like: she looked to friends for support. According to researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, baboons physiologically respond to bereavement in ways similar to humans, with an increase in stress hormones called glucocorticoids. Baboons can lower their glucocorticoid levels through friendly social contact, expanding their social network after the loss of specific close companions.
"At the time of Sierra's death, we considered Sylvia to be the queen of mean. She is a very high-ranking, 23 year-old monkey who was, at best, disdainful of females other than Sierra," said Anne Engh, a postdoctoral researcher in Penn's Department of Biology. "With Sierra gone, Sylvia experienced what could only really be described as depression, corresponding with an increase in her glucocorticoid levels."

RESETTING THE PRESIDENCY

Posted by David Gregory, Chief White House Correspondent (01:58 pm ET, 01/31/06)
There used to be a joke around this White House that every speech was the most important of the President's political career. He's given many of them that matter. Tonight's ranks right up there for different reasons.

In a way, President Bush must hit the reset button on his presidency tonight. Last year's speech came on the heels of a strong reelection victory. The President felt he'd amassed political capital and swung for the fences. Well, 2005 ended up being a humbling experience for him. Social Security, last year's big idea, flopped. So did the President's version of immigration reform. A gay marriage ban? Nope. Another big idea - tax reform - has been put off for later, if ever. What about spending restraint, the hallmark of conservative government? Bush's budget will reflect a $400 billion deficit, a number certain to rise as post-Katrina spending spikes and if the President successfully fights to make his tax cuts permanent.
More importantly, the war in Iraq has emerged as a liability. One of NBC's pollsters, Republican Bill McInturff, noted during an interview that when people say they think the country is headed in the wrong direction or when they say they oppose the President, it always comes back to the war. When high profile figures like ABC co-anchor Bob Woodruff and his cameraman Doug Vogt are severely injured in an IED attack while out with Iraqi forces, it's a chilling reminder that the President's goal of Iraqi troops securing the country is a long way off."

Women get half Chile cabinet jobs

BBC NEWS: "The Chilean President-elect, Michelle Bachelet, has unveiled a cabinet made up of an equal number of women and men.
Ms Bachelet, Chile's first female leader, had made a campaign promise to create an equal opportunity government.
Among the roles to go to women are the defence, economy and health ministries. Her chief-of-staff will also be female.
'This cabinet represents a historic step for equality between men and women,' Ms Bachelet said. She and her cabinet will be sworn in on 11 March.
The 54-year-old became Latin America's third directly-elected woman president after a convincing poll win earlier this month.
Ms Bachelet said the 10 men and 10 women picked for her cabinet were 'people with considerable intellectual, professional and political prestige'."

Monday, January 30, 2006

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iranian blogs debate nuclear row

Iranian blogs debate nuclear row

Where there's smoke, there might be food research, too

Chicago Tribune: "America's largest foodmaker and its biggest cigarette company for years have likened themselves to distant siblings, giants that just happened to be owned by the same parent company.
In fact, Kraft Foods Inc. and Philip Morris USA have pooled expertise in search of making more-alluring foods and cigarettes since the dawn of their corporate pairing two decades ago, a Tribune examination of tobacco-lawsuit documents has found.
Documents show Northfield-based Kraft collaborated on flavor issues with some of the same Philip Morris brain researchers who probed what gives cigarettes their kick. None of those scientists was more controversial than Frank Gullotta, a former top Philip Morris researcher whose brain experiments suggested the company knew more than it claimed about cigarettes' addictive nature.
The documents also reveal that Kraft and Philip Morris discussed investing jointly in brain scans to study how the brain processes tastes and smells. Food scientists even helped their tobacco counterparts make experimental cigarettes--working after-hours in a German coffee plant.
A Tribune series on obesity last year detailed Kraft's interest in brain science, including how the brain is rewarded by sweet and fatty foods. This report delves deeper into the collaboration between cigarette researchers and food scientists.
The records, which span a period from the mid-1980s to 2001, were public but buried among more than 3 million documents that Philip Morris turned over in settling tobacco litigation.
Kraft, as a food company, was not compelled to release documents. But available records from Philip Morris, specifically from the files of tobacco employees, provide a tantalizing glimpse into the interplay between food and tobacco scientists.
Their collaboration on brain research 'certainly sounds ominous,' said Lloyd Kolbe, an Indiana University health sciences professor who served on a federal panel that reported last year on the marketing of junk food to children. 'We need to understand the nature of that relationship,' he said.

As America grapples with an epidemic of obesity, some plaintiffs' lawyers would love to prove that junk food-makers manipulate their products to make it harder for customers to stop eating them."

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Domestic Lying: The Question That Journalists Don't Ask Bush

by Norman Solomon
With great fanfare the other day, Oprah Winfrey asked James Frey a question that mainstream journalists refuse to ask George W.
Bush: 'Why would you lie?'
Many pundits and news outlets have chortled at the televised unmasking of Frey as a liar. The reverberations have spanned from schlock media to highbrow outlets. On Friday, the PBS 'NewsHour With Jim Lehrer' devoted an entire segment to what happened. The New York Times supplemented its page-one coverage with an editorial that concluded 'Ms. Winfrey gave the audience, including us, what it was hoping for: a demand to hear the truth.'
A key reality of the National Security Agency spying story is: President Bush lied. But routinely missing from media coverage is a demand to hear the truth.
More than two years after he started the NSA's domestic spying without warrants, Bush was unequivocal. During a speech in Buffalo on April 20, 2004, he said: 'Any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so.'Frey lied about his personal life in a book, and that infuriated Oprah Winfrey. 'It is difficult for me to talk to you, because I really feel duped,' she said, confronting him in the midst of the Jan. 26 telecast. 'I feel duped. But more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers.'
Yet the journalists who interview Bush aren't willing to question him in similar terms.
The president didn't merely betray millions of readers. He betrayed hundreds of millions of citizens.
Bush lied about basic civil liberties in the United States. Instead of relying on euphemisms, the news media should directly confront him with the question: 'Why would you lie?'
During the 'Oprah' show, while lecturing a powerful book-publishing executive who had served as an enabler for the author's mendacity, Winfrey declared: 'That needs to change.' But what about the powerful news-media executives who keep enabling the president's mendacity?
When Frey tried to weasel out of responsibility for concocting a phony story about a root canal without anesthetic, the host interrupted after the words 'I've struggled with the idea of it --'
'No, the lie of it,' Winfrey said. 'That's a lie. It's not an idea, James, that's a lie.'
But high-profile journalists are unwilling to confront President Bush on national television with such clarity: 'That's a lie. It's not an idea, George, that's a lie.'"

Criminals Taking Tips From TV Crime Shows

Criminals Taking Tips From TV Crime Shows - Yahoo! News: "When Tammy Klein began investigating crime scenes eight years ago, it was virtually unheard of for a killer to use bleach to clean up a bloody mess. Today, the use of bleach, which destroys DNA, is not unusual in a planned homicide, said the senior criminalist from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Klein and other experts attribute such sophistication to television crime dramas like 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,' which give criminals helpful tips on how to cover up evidence.
Prosecutors have complained for years about 'the CSI effect' on juries %u2014 an expectation in every trial for the type of high-tech forensic evidence the show's investigators uncover. It also appears the popular show and its two spinoffs could be affecting how some crimes are committed.
'They're actually educating these potential killers even more,' said Capt. Ray Peavy, also of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and head of the homicide division. 'Sometimes I believe it may even encourage them when they see how simple it is to get away with on television.'"

Saturday, January 28, 2006

South Shore Line to test wireless Internet service for commuters

Post-Trib: "CHESTERTON — The South Shore Line will soon become the prototype for commuter wireless service on the rails, officials at the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District announced Friday.
NICTD General Manager Gerry Hanas said the district is working on a contract with Concourse Communications Group, LLC, Chicago, to bring wireless service to commuters through the same technology used for communication in NASCAR racing.
Commuters would be able to access wireless service through their laptop computers, cell phones, PDAs and satellite radios through what is known as a mesh network.
If the test is successful, the South Shore would be the first commuter rail line in the nation to offer the service, NICTD chief information officer Boris Matakovic said.
The service will be tested for 60 days, from April through June, on a 7-mile stretch from Dune Park to Ogden Dunes"

What, You Got a Problem Paying $102.13 for 2 Tomatoes?

NY Times: "For nearly a decade it was Bob Hinde's job to monitor stores in Des Plaines, Ill., to assure that advertised prices agreed with those charged at the register. Now that he is retired, it is a much more personal endeavor.
Three times in the last three months, Mr. Hinde says, he was overcharged at the grocery. In the first instance, it was an extra $1 on an $8.95 bottle of olive oil. In the second, a "buy one, get one free" discount for caramel dip did not show up. And, in the third, he was charged $102.13 for two tomatoes, bringing the bill to $180, well over what he would typically spend on groceries.
"I said to the cashier, Can this be right?" Mr. Hinde recalled, noting that at that point he knew only the total. "She assured us it was."
Mr. Hinde and his wife, Lorraine, isolated the mistake on the way to the car (the tomatoes should have been $2.13), returned to the store and got their money back. But, Mr. Hinde said, it illustrates the need for consumers to check their receipts.
Surveys indicate that consumers lose $1 billion to $2.5 billion each year because of scanner pricing errors. While many states and municipalities have enforcement officers who go to stores to check the accuracy between stated prices and what rings up at the register, it's up to consumers — whether eating in a restaurant, buying groceries or items at drug stores — to reconcile receipts as soon as they get them."

Friday, January 27, 2006

American Prospect Online - Dems Don%u2019t Know Jack

A new and extensive analysis of campaign donations from all of Jack Abramoff’s tribal clients, done by a nonpartisan research firm, shows that a great majority of contributions made by those clients went to Republicans. The analysis undercuts the claim that Abramoff directed sums to Democrats at anywhere near the same rate.

The analysis, which was commissioned by The American Prospect and completed on Jan. 25, was done by Dwight L. Morris and Associates, a for-profit firm specializing in campaign finance that has done research for many media outlets.

Big fuss over claims about Little Russ

New York Daily News: "Celebrity blogger Arianna Huffington regularly attacks 'Meet the Press' moderator
Tim Russert as a Washington insider who gets chummy with the powerful. Usually there's no response.
But now Huffington has really gotten under Russert's skin - to the point of drawing blood.
Yesterday the entire NBC News publicity machine went ballistic on the impresario of Huffingtonpost.com, whose Web site is eight months old.
'The last time we heard from Ms. Huffington, she was hiring private eyes to investigate reporters,' NBC News flack
Barbara Levin E-mailed me yesterday, resurrecting an old charge that Huffington has repeatedly denied, including personally to Russert in 1996.
(Full disclosure: I've been friendly with Huffington for years, and Russert has barely spoken to me since I profiled him 17 years ago in The Washington Post.)
Tempers at NBC flared this week when Huffington skewered Russert's ethics for using his prestigious Sunday morning policy-and-politics program to hype his 19-year-old son
Luke's sports-talk radio show - on which the Boston College sophomore will be paired with frequent 'Meet the Press' panelist
James Carville."

Attention, Wal-Mart shoppers

Chicago Tribune: "If you love buying cheap salmon from Wal-Mart, you might not after reading Charles Fishman's new book, 'The Wal-Mart Effect.' Few issues in American life, except perhaps the war in Iraq, are as polarizing these days as how Wal-Mart sits in our landscape, our economy and our consciousness. Fishman, a friend and former editor, tells the Wal-Mart story in such intricate detail that you'll never see your local store the same way again. Wal-Mart isn't just a company. It's a global market force--a nation unto itself. Ponder this: Americans spend $35 million every hour at Wal-Mart, 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Wal-Mart is so huge and so powerful, you'll wonder how you failed to notice that the company affects not just how we shop, but how we think and live--even if we never set foot in a Wal-Mart."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Baby, I'm desperate

BBC NEWS: "Wannabes queued up to conceive a baby with a stranger live on air for a �100,000 prize. The show was a spoof, but what does it say about reality TV?
It started as a challenge - to come up with the ultimate tasteless reality TV show and test the boundaries of the format.
But in just eight weeks, 'Let's Make a Baby' came dangerously close to becoming a real show.
Hundreds of reality TV hopefuls jammed the phone lines when the show advertised for contestants, and TV channels from all over the world offered vast sums of money to buy the rights to the series.
'Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine we would get that far with such little effort,' says the programme's producer and director, Helen Sage."

How the South belatedly won America's civil war

BBC NEWS: "Once a bastion of segregation the American South is transforming, but the Democratic Party which helped sow the roots for this new-found prosperity did so to its own cost, says historian David Cannadine in his weekly column.

Greetings from North Carolina, where I'm spending the next few months as a visiting fellow at something called the National Humanities Center. It's located mid-way between the three cities of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, which together form one of the fastest-growing communities in the United States, along with the region that includes Charlotte, the largest city in the state.
Here's an example of what is known as the 'New' South, which is booming as never before. For some time economic power has been shifting in this country, away from the old, industrialised North East towards states that were once far less prosperous than they have recently become. And over the last three decades this change in the distribution of wealth resources and people has also had major implications for American politics and American government."

Take a Byte : Apple's Tomorrowland

Sure, Pixar can help restore the Magic Kingdom's luster, but it's what Disney can do for Steve Jobs and his outfit that's more intriguing
I wonder if we'll ever see Steve Jobs wearing mouse ears at his next Macworld keynote. The merger of Disney (DIS) and Jobs-led Pixar Animation Studio (PIXR) had to happen, if only to inject some new blood into the flagging entertainment brand that Disney has become.
But now that the Apple Computer (AAPL) CEO has a bigger financial stake in the trials and tribulations of the Mouse House than anyone on the planet, I can't help but wonder what the turn of events means for Apple.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Gravity theory dispenses with dark matter

A modified theory of gravity that incorporates quantum effects can explain a trio of puzzling astronomical observations – including the wayward motion of the Pioneer spacecraft in our solar system, new studies claim.

The work appears to rule out the need to invoke dark matter or another alternative gravity theory called MOND (Modified Newtonian Dynamics). But other experts caution it has yet to pass the most crucial test – how to account for the afterglow of the big bang.

Astronomers realised in the 1970s that the gravity of visible matter alone was not enough to prevent the fast-moving stars and gas in spiral galaxies from flying out into space. They attributed the extra pull to a mysterious substance called dark matter, which is now thought to outweigh normal matter in the universe by 6 to 1.

But researchers still do not know what dark matter actually is, and some have come up with new theories of gravity to explain the galaxy observations. MOND, for example, holds that there are two forms of gravity.

Above a certain acceleration, called a0, objects move according to the conventional form of gravity, whose effects weaken as two bodies move further apart in proportion to the square of distance. But below a0, objects are controlled by another type of gravity that fades more slowly, decreasing linearly with distance.

But critics point out that MOND cannot explain the observed masses of clusters of galaxies without invoking dark matter, in the form of almost massless, known particles called neutrinos.

Last Year Was Warmest on Record

NEW YORK (Jan. 25) - Last year was the warmest in a century, nosing out 1998, a federal analysis concludes.

A heat wave in northern and central India last year brought temperatures as high as 117 degrees, killing dozens of people.
Researchers calculated that 2005 produced the highest annual average surface temperature worldwide since instrument recordings began in the late 1800s, said James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
The result confirms a prediction the institute made in December.
In a telephone interview, Hansen said the analysis estimated temperatures in the Arctic from nearby weather stations because no direct data were available. Because of that, 'we couldn't say with 100 percent certainty that it's the warmest year, but I'm reasonably confident that it was,' Hansen said.
More important, he said, is that 2005 reached the warmth of 1998 without help of the 'El Nino of the century' that pushed temperatures up in 1998.
Over the past 30 years, Earth has warmed a bit more than 1 degree in total, making it about the warmest it's been in 10,000 years, Hansen said. He blamed a buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
The global average surface temperature in 2005 was about 58.3 degrees, he said.
Jay Lawrimore of the federal government's National Climatic Data Center said his own center's current data suggest 2005 came in a close second to 1998, in part because of how the Arctic was factored in. But he said a forthcoming analysis 'will likely show that 2005 is slightly warmer than 1998.'"

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Bedbugs biting their way across the country - More Health News - MSNBC.com


NEW YORK - Legions of tiny bloodsucking bugs are biting their way through the Big Apple, making this the city that never sleeps ... tight.Bedbugs are back, and they're not just rearing their rust-colored heads in New York City. Experts say they're spreading to other states and countries. Exterminators who handled one or two bedbug calls a year are now getting that many in a week, according to the National Pest Management Association. There's an epidemic going on throughout the country, and New York seems to be the hotbed, said Jeffrey Eisenberg, a pest control expert. Bedbugs are turning up in hospitals, schools, movie theaters, health clubs. Recent reports put them in a New Jersey college dorm and a Los Angeles hotel where one guest filed a $5 million lawsuit. Apartment tenants have taken landlords to court over infestations.The current generation of exterminators has been caught unaware by these pests, which were all but forgotten for decades. They blame the comeback on several factors, primarily increased global travel and the banning of potent pesticides like DDT. We feel like we're starting from scratch, said Eisenberg, who returned this weekend from a conference where bedbugs were a top priority. The only thing we know is that we don't know anything. The tiny vermin avoid light and attack in the middle of the night. About the size of a flattened apple seed, they hide in cracks and crevices in furniture and walls.They're efficient and active travelers, often hitching rides on clothing and jumping from host to host when people brush up against each other on the subway, in elevators or on crowded streets.And they invade even the cleanest apartments and swankiest neighborhoods. We've always had pests in New York City we have rats, cockroaches, et cetera but bedbugs are new, said city Councilwoman Gail Brewer, who is calling for a bedbug task force. We're not doing a good job focusing on it."

US army changes execution rules

BBC NEWS: "New rules covering the death penalty in military courts suggest the US army may be preparing for its first execution since 1961.
The new rules spell out the procedures for carrying out death sentences imposed at courts martial.
There are six men on death row, all held at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

The new rules are acknowledged by senior ranks as a major revision of the existing situation.
The revision also makes it possible for executions to take place at any military prison, not just Fort Leavenworth.
This, according to anti-death penalty protesters, means it would be technically legal for executions to take place at Guantanamo Bay.
Currently 10 detainees there have been charged with various offences, but none of them are capital cases."

Cell - Review

New York Times: "Life is kind to the writers of horror stories these days. All they have to do is sit back and watch.
So Stephen King's 'Cell' invokes the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the kind of disaster in which 'clothes floated out of the sky like big snow.' It echoes the upheaval caused by last year's monstrous tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. It reflects the violent anarchy to be found in Iraq. It shivers at the threat of bioterrorism and the menace of computer technology. And it savages the ubiquitous hand-held telephones of the title. As this novel sees the world of cellphone communications, it's a Tower of Babel made of cobwebs. Here comes Mr. King, ending his nonsabbatical from writing straightforward horror fiction, to blow those cobwebs away. 'Cell' begins with a big, graphic jolt. On a pleasant October afternoon in downtown Boston (beware any scene featuring an innocent ice cream truck), everything suddenly goes crazy. People attack strangers, break things and speak in wild gibberish, all as a consequence of the brain zapping that the book calls The Pulse. It has been delivered via cellphone. Only the Luddites and phone-phobes are safe. So far, so good - although it would have been better had Mr. King not agreed to promote 'Cell' with cellphone ring tones being sold by his publisher. Anyone who uses a cellphone (Mr. King does not) has been zombified: in a book dedicated to two pioneers in this thematic area, Richard Matheson and George Romero, Mr. King creates a 'Night of the Living Dead' scenario with a technological twist. 'Except these people aren't dead,' explains a still-sentient Boston police officer. 'Unless we help them, that is.'"

Monday, January 23, 2006

Poll finds surprising optimists

BBC NEWS: "Iraqis and Afghans are the among most optimistic people in the world when it comes to their economic future, a new survey for the BBC suggests.
Italians join people in Zimbabwe and DR Congo as the most downcast about their future, according to the poll of 37,500 people in 32 nations.
The World Bank gets a clear vote of confidence, with 55% saying it has a positive influence in the world.
Its biggest boosters are in regions where it is most active.
Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Indonesia and Afghanistan showed marked support for the World Bank.
The poll marks a rare boost for the Bank's officials, who often are the focus of criticism both from politicians and anti-poverty campaigners around the world."

Monday, January 23 gloomiest day of the year: academic - Yahoo! News

LONDON (AFP) - Watch out: Monday, January 23 is going to be the unhappiest day of the year, according to a British university researcher.
Cliff Arnall, a health psychologist at the University of Cardiff, specialising in confidence-building and stress management, told AFP the prediction was the result of some gruelling mathematics.
Post-Christmas blues, the return to work after the holidays, mounting bills to pay for the parties, the challenge of keeping New Year's resolutions, the slender prospects of fun in the weeks ahead and chilly winter temperatures for those in the northern hemisphere all add up, he said.
These factors, which he combined in a complex formula, came out showing that the Monday closest to January 24 would be the most dismal of the year.
He quizzed several hundred people for the investigation.
So now we know, would we not have been better off without the bad news?
Not at all, according to Arnall.
Those in the know are in a better position to beat the blues, he insisted.
'You can us it as a springboard to make changes. It can encourage people,' he said.
However, those in misery on Monday at least have something to look forward to.
According to the same mathematical formula, June 23 is the happiest day of the year."

Audience Q&A New Feature of Bush Speeches - Forbes.com

Move over, Oprah. President Bush is making himself into television's newest talk show host by making audience participation a feature of his appearances.
Bush has been taking questions from audience members in recent speeches, and the White House says none has been prescreened. It's a throwback to the folksy style on the campaign trail that helped him win re-election and a departure from the heavily scripted speeches that were the norm last year.
And his answers have resulted in some revelations - both personal and political."

Latest of Halliburton scandals: Water contamination in Iraq -

"Interviews and internal company documents from Houston-based Halliburton, the oil company that was headed by Vice President DICK CHENEY, revealed that both Iraqi civilians and occupation troops at a U.S. military base in IRAQ were exposed to contaminated water last year, according to The Associated Press, which obtained the documents from Senate Democrats which launched a public inquiry into the allegations Monday.
But Halliburton employees couldn't get their company to inform camp residents, AP report adds.
'We exposed a base camp population (military and civilian) to a water source that was not treated,' said a July 15, 2005, memo written by William Granger, the official for Halliburton's KBR subsidiary who was in charge of water quality in IRAQ and Kuwait.
'The level of contamination was roughly 2x the normal contamination of untreated water from the Euphrates River,' Granger says in the documents.
And although the allegations about water problems were made by Halliburton employees, the company rejected the accusations, the company e-mails proved."

Sunday, January 22, 2006

TV's 'sleep' button stands accused

BBC NEWS: "Britons waste the equivalent of around two power stations worth of electricity each year by leaving TV sets and other gadgets on standby.
Last June Environment Minister Elliot Morley, responding to an MP's question, revealed that electrical equipment in sleep mode used roughly 7TWh of power and emitted around 800,000 tonnes of carbon.
The government is currently reviewing the options of how to keep the UK's lights on in the future, at the same time as reducing the amount of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere.
Energy efficiency groups are urging people to carry out their own personal energy review because homes are set to place an ever increasing demand on power supplies.
The number of TVs in the UK is estimated to reach 74 million by 2020, meaning that there will be more televisions than people to watch them."

Sonar threat to world's whales

Independent Online Edition > Environment: "Secret sonar from naval ships is killing thousands of whales around the world and could have disoriented the two-ton mammal that died last night after becoming stranded in the Thames, an investigation by The Independent on Sunday has established.
The northern bottlenose whale died despite dramatic attempts at a rescue witnessed by thousands of people on the banks of the river, and millions on television. The whale was lifted on to a barge and carried down the river, in the hope that it could be taken to the open sea. But its condition deteriorated, it began to suffer muscle spasms, and it died before anything further could be done.
Experts believe that the whale's senses could have been damaged by military sonar. Some 30 strandings and deaths of whales around the world - from Tasmania to North America - have been linked to its use. The United Nations and other international bodies have warned that it is a major threat to the animals."

Scooterworks' Vespa Stereo System with iPod dock - Engadget

Scooterworks' Vespa Stereo System with iPod dock

We're pretty sure that
this won't work with the Engadget Harley, and it's certainly not as cool as the Vespa Puter, but for our
more refined European audience we present the mobile Stereo System with iPod dock by Scooterworks. The system is
actually a do-it-yourself kit for Vespa Stella and P-series models that includes an amp, two 4-inch Alpine speakers,
replacement glovebox door with pre-cut holes, and a cradle/connector for hooking up your 'pod or other DAP. We're
pretty sure that you could piece together your own scooter-mounted stereo for less than the $300 that this costs, but
if you're really trying to save some loot, the not-recommended-by-us, cruising-around-with-headphones-on method still
can't be beat."

New open-source license targets DRM, Hollywood | CNET News.com

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--The new version of the most widely used open-source license takes a "highly aggressive" stance against the digital rights management software that's widely favored in the entertainment industry, said Eben Moglen, general counsel for the Free Software Foundation.

At a two-day event here to launch the General Public License version 3, which governs use of countless free and open-source programs, Moglen said the license includes anti-DRM provisions that could put it in conflict with movie studios and even digital video recorder maker TiVo.

330 MPG Uber Hybrid?

330 MPG Uber Hybrid
The Aptera prototype, which is halfway to completion, will go for up to
330 miles on a gallon of gas thanks to an aerodynamic design and the lightweight
composites that make up the chassis.

The Aptera, by Accelerated Composites, LLC

CARLSBAD, CA, USA -- Imagine driving across the United States on just one
tank of gas. That is what Accelerated Composites, formed by three
San-Diego engineers purport to be developing.


They plan to sell a revolutionary hybrid two-seater car that they say can get up
to 330 miles per gallon, and will sell for under $20,000.

They say that the lightweight composite car will post this fuel efficiency in
normal city and highway driving and demonstrate acceleration and handling
similar to that of a Honda Insight.

Dubbed the Aptera, the vehicle achieves these remarkable numbers through the
use of cutting-edge materials, manufacturing methods, and a maverick design that
resembles a dolphin.

What is mad cow disease?

Japan has halted imports of American beef because it discovered a shipment containing bone that Asian countries consider at risk for mad cow disease.
What is mad cow disease, and why is it a concern?
-Mad cow disease is the common term for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE. It's a degenerative nerve disease in cattle. It's been found in more than two dozen countries, including the United States and Japan."

Laden References Anti-Bush Book, Sales Boom

A book written with anti-Bush views that has not been known much to date in America is now having skyrocketed sales after al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden made a reference to that book during his latest video appearance.Laden's message broadcast on Al-Jazeera makes references to this book; 'It will be useful for you to read the book named 'Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower'.'
This book by William Blum, an extremist leftist, is ranked 27 on Amazon.com, but was previously ranked 205.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

So You Want to Play Hardball Eh?

by DarkSyde
They are vehemently against abortion, they resist progressive woman's rights. They view homosexuality as a crime against nature and God, some advocate the death penalty as an option for it. Separation of Church and State is despised by these folks; they insist the nation is founded on the principles of their religion, and they work hard to bring that de facto theocracy about. They deplore strong language, gay characters, and sexual content on TV and in the media. And they ignore the Geneva Convention when it suits their ideological purposes, including provisions against torture or due process. They're anti-stem cell research, pro-creationism, and generally distrustful of science. These folks are easily whipped into a state of frenzy with ideological manipulation to the point where they will commit violence, or at least tacitly endorse that violence is acceptable, if it advances their Divine agenda. They then take great pains to justify that violence, including unprovoked attack of civilian areas, under certain conditions, with convoluted theological gymnastics. They are almost to the man pro-death penalty ... Am I railing against the religious right again?
Could be, but my target here is actually Al Qaeda and related fundamentalist Wahhabism; the source of terrorism, the scourge of our planet, the Axis of Evil."

Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald

Posting today
I will be posting several posts at Crooks & Liars today and will post the links here once those posts are up.* * *My first post is now posted here regarding the smear by Chris Matthews in which he said that mass murderer Osama bin Laden, in his new videotape, sounds like Michael Moore. Since then, there has been a slew of commentators making the same point with regard to anyone who opposes Bush's policies on war and terrorism. Newt Gingrich said this last night on Hannity & Colmes:'I think it's quite clear as you point out, Sean [Hannity], that from this tape, that bin Laden and his lieutenants are monitoring the American news media, they're monitoring public opinion polling, and I suspect they take a great deal of comfort when they see people attacking United States policies.'So now it constitutes giving 'comfort' to the enemy simply to be 'attacking United States policies.' And as my C&L post demonstrates, the White House has clearly embarked upon a strategy of expressly equating opposition to Bush's war and terrorism policies to treason.A President burdened by an unpopular war and horrible approval ratings has no choice but to engage in gutter tactics like these. It's one thing for him and his followers to do this, but it's another matter entirely for our 'journalists' to operate from this premise. It was all the rage on the cable shows in the days before the 2004 election to assert that bin Laden had released a new video in order to 'endorse' Kerry, and they also claimed back then that bin Laden had lifted his talking points from the Kerry campaign.There is no doubt that 2006 will be replete with these sorts of attacks. It is imperative that journalists not be permitted to get away with equating anti-Bush criticism with pro-terrorist subversion. That should go without saying, but it clearly doesn't.It is still amazes how the very people who claim so solemnly that terrorism is the overarching problem of our generation play such cynical and self-serving games with it every chance they get."

Friday, January 20, 2006

Thar she blows right through London - Environment - MSNBC.com


LONDON - Britains capital, no stranger to unusual events, was treated to a most unusual sight Friday: a whale swimming along the River Thames, 35 miles from the ocean. Not only that, but reports indicated a second whale was swimming farther south. The 20-foot-long Northern bottlenose whale swam past Parliament and the Big Ben clock tower, drawing plenty of onlookers. I saw it blow. It was a spout of water which sparkled in the air, said Tom Howard-Vyne, a spokesman for London Eye, the large Ferris wheel on the banks of the river. It was an amazing sight. Peter Evans of the Sea Watch foundation said the creature could be so far up the river either because it was sick and had become disorientated or had simply got lost chasing fish. Sighting of things like porpoises in the estuary have become more frequent in the past five years indicating that fish have become more abundant, which in turn shows how much cleaner the river is than it used to be, he told Reuters.Police boats tracked the whale as it cautiously circled, moving gradually upstream, and television cameras carried the images live.Beaching risk Liz Downing of the London Aquarium said experts felt the whale would be alright in freshwater for a few hours but added that it faces the risk of becoming beached if it gets into shallow water.The British Divers Marine Life Rescue group said it would help the whale if it became stranded. At one point the whale appeared to get stuck in shallow water in the River Thames, and officials wearing yellow jackets could be seen running up and down the shoreline at low tide trying to push it back into deeper water.Downing said the hope is the whale will head back to sea once the tide starts to go out."

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Rightwing Group Offers Students $100 to Spy on Professors

It is the sort of invitation any poverty-stricken student would find hard to resist. 'Do you have a professor who just can't stop talking about President Bush, about the war in Iraq, about the Republican party, or any other ideological issue that has nothing to do with the class subject matter? If you help ... expose the professor, we'll pay you for your work.'
For full notes, a tape recording and a copy of all teaching materials, students at the University of California Los Angeles are being offered $100 - the tape recorder is provided free of charge - by an alumni group.
Lecture notes without a tape recording net $50, and even non-attendance at the class while providing copies of the teaching materials is worth $10."

German firm bans office whingers

BBC NEWS: "'Germany is a country of complainers,' says Thomas Kuwatsch.
'Some people complain about everything, the weather, the train is late, the coffee is bad or they whinge about high fuel prices. If you go to India, they're happy if their train arrives at all. We complain about stupid things in Europe.'
Mr Kuwatsch works for an IT company called 'Nutzwerk', which is based in Leipzig.
It is a small firm, which employs 16 people. But there is something that distinguishes Nutzwerk from other companies.
Employees can be fired if they are caught complaining in the office.
It may sound absurd, but employees have a clause in their contracts which states: 'moaning and whinging at Nutzwerk is forbidden... except when accompanied with a constructive suggestion as to how to improve the situation'."

Study: Most College Students Lack Skills

BREITBART.COM: "Nearing a diploma, most college students cannot handle many complex but common tasks, from understanding credit card offers to comparing the cost per ounce of food. Those are the sobering findings of a study of literacy on college campuses, the first to target the skills of students as they approach the start of their careers. More than 50 percent of students at four-year schools and more than 75 percent at two-year colleges lacked the skills to perform complex literacy tasks. That means they could not interpret a table about exercise and blood pressure, understand the arguments of newspaper editorials, compare credit card offers with different interest rates and annual fees or summarize results of a survey about parental involvement in school. The results cut across three types of literacy: analyzing news stories and other prose, understanding documents and having math skills needed for checkbooks or restaurant tips. 'It is kind of disturbing that a lot of folks are graduating with a degree and they're not going to be able to do those things,' said Stephane Baldi, the study's director at the American Institutes for Research, a behavioral and social science research organization. Most students at community colleges and four-year schools showed intermediate skills, meaning they could perform moderately challenging tasks. Examples include identifying a location on a map, calculating the cost of ordering office supplies or consulting a reference guide to figure out which foods contain a particular vitamin."

Human Ears Evolved from Ancient Fish Gills

Yahoo! News: "Your ability to hear relies on a structure that got its start as a gill opening in fish, a new study reveals.
Humans and other land animals have special bones in their ears that are crucial to hearing. Ancient fish used similar structures to breathe underwater.
Scientists had thought the evolutionary change occurred after animals had established themselves on land, but a new look at an old fossil suggests ear development was set into motion before any creatures crawled out of the water."

Laurie and Davis Celebrate Awards Coincidence

IMDb.com: "Hugh Laurie and Geena Davis were struck by Golden Globe coincidence on Monday, when the former Stuart Little co-stars were named Best Actor and Best Actress in a TV Drama respectively. Laurie, who won his award for his role in House, and Davis, who was honored for her performance in Commander In Chief, teamed up backstage and reminisced about their time on the set of the 1999 mouse-mad movie. Davis told Laurie, 'You realize that Mr. and Mrs. Little have won tonight. I'm so pleased for you!' Laurie says, 'It does seem peculiar that Geena and I (won).'"

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

New Animal Species Found in Calif. Caves - Yahoo! News

"SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, Calif. - Twenty-seven previously unknown species of spiders, centipedes, scorpion-like creatures and other animals have been discovered in the dark, damp caves beneath two national parks in the Sierra Nevada, biologists say.

'Not only are these animals new to science, but they're adapted to very specific environments some of them, to a single room in one cave,' said Joel Despain, a cave specialist who helped explore 30 of the 238 known caves in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
The discoveries included a relative of the pill bug so translucent that its internal organs are visible, particularly its long, bright yellow liver. There was also a daddy long legs with jaws bigger than its body, and a tiny fluorescent orange spider.
'Many people will be looking at these trying to find where they fit in the tree of life,' said Darrell Ubick, a cave biologist with the San Francisco-based California Academy of Sciences.
While it is extremely rare to find new mammal or bird species on the surface, caves still hold an abundance of secrets. Like the deep sea, they are often difficult to reach and seldom explored.
Discovering so many species was thrilling, said Jean Krejca, a consulting biologist with Austin, Texas-based Zara Environmental who helped lead the three-year exploration. The findings were released Tuesday.
'You get the feeling you're Lewis and Clark, charting undiscovered territory,' she said. 'Caves are one of the last frontiers.'
Park officials plan to adopt measures to protect the caves, Despain said. Most of them are not accessible to the public, and can be visited only by researchers or experienced explorers with permits.
The species have yet to be named, described scientifically and placed in the continuum of known living organisms.
'We don't know how long they live, what kind of habitat they prefer, how many offspring they have, or how sensitive they are to human disturbance,' Krejca said. 'There's still so much to learn.'"

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Soldiers for the Truth


Army Orders Soldiers to Shed Dragon Skin or Lose SGLI Death Benefits

By Nathaniel R. Helms
Two deploying soldiers and a concerned mother reported Friday afternoon that the U.S. Army appears to be singling out soldiers who have purchased Pinnacle's Dragon Skin Body Armor for special treatment. The soldiers, who are currently staging for combat operations from a secret location, reported that their commander told them if they were wearing Pinnacle Dragon Skin and were killed their beneficiaries might not receive the death benefits from their $400,000 SGLI life insurance policies. The soldiers were ordered to leave their privately purchased body armor at home or face the possibility of both losing their life insurance benefit and facing disciplinary action.
The soldiers asked for anonymity because they are concerned they will face retaliation for going public with the Army's apparently new directive. At the sources' requests DefenseWatch has also agreed not to reveal the unit at which the incident occured for operational security reasons.
On Saturday morning a soldier affected by the order reported to DefenseWatch that the directive specified that 'all' commercially available body armor was prohibited. The soldier said the order came down Friday morning from Headquarters, United States Special Operations Command (HQ, USSOCOM), located at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. It arrived unexpectedly while his unit was preparing to deploy on combat operations. The soldier said the order was deeply disturbiing to many of the men who had used their own money to purchase Dragon Skin because it will affect both their mobility and ballistic protection.
'We have to be able to move. It (Dragon Skin) is heavy, but it is made so we have mobility and the best ballistic protection out there. This is crazy. And they are threatening us with our benefits if we don't comply.' he said.
The soldier reiterated Friday's reports that any soldier who refused to comply with the order and was subsequently killed in action 'could' be denied the $400,000 death benefit provided by their SGLI life insurance policy as well as face disciplinary action.
As of this report Saturday morning the Army has not yet responded to a DefenseWatch inquiry."

Sunday, January 15, 2006

A Leader Making Peace With Chile's Past

New York Times: "SANTIAGO, Chile, Jan. 15 - Michelle Bachelet, who was elected Sunday as president of this male-dominated, prosperous and deeply religious nation of 16 million, is a woman and an agnostic, a guitar-strumming child of the 60's, a former exile who spent part of her childhood in the United States, and a physician who has never before held elective office.
Running as a Socialist on a platform that promised 'change with continuity' and showcased her warmth and affinity with ordinary people, Ms. Bachelet, a fair-haired, vibrant 54-year-old, won more than 53 percent of the vote, according to the official tally. She made few promises beyond 'social inclusion' - vowing to better meet the needs of women and the poor - and preserving Chile's economy, the most dynamic in Latin America, and the country's close ties with the United States. But Ms. Bachelet has other qualities that explain how, in barely a decade, she has gone from being a pediatrician at a humble, underfinanced clinic here to the first woman to be her country's chief of state, and one of only a handful of women elected to lead any country in the Americas. Some of those qualities are personal, while others stem from her real and symbolic connections to Chile's recent history. She is a toughened survivor of the Pinochet dictatorship, which was responsible for her father's death and her imprisonment, torture and exile, and she embodies for many Chile's painful reconciliation with those dark years. 'Violence ravaged my life,' Ms. Bachelet said Sunday night, in an impassioned victory speech to a jubilant crowd gathered on the main downtown avenue here. 'I was a victim of hatred, and I have dedicated my life to reversing that hatred.'"

Eating Contest Upset! Bertoletti Beats Thomas, Chestnut

International Federation of Competitive Eating - IFOCE: "At first the news coming over the wire was too shocking to be believed. 'It must have been a mistake,' people said. 'There must have been a judging foul-up.'
But no. After several confirmation calls it became clear that one of the greatest upsets in competitive eating history had occurred.
Rookie Patrick Bertoletti ate 11 corned beef sandwiches to beat Sonya Thomas and Joey Chestnut, the number two- and three-ranked eaters in the world, who ended regulation in a tie for second with 10 3/4 sandwiches.
After a two-minute overtime for second place, Thomas and Chestnut were so close that the scales had to be brought to the table. It was a difference of only one tenth of an ounce ... but Chestnut edged her out.
The event that played host to this little piece of history was the Hot Springs International Corned Beef Eating Championship in Arkansas featuring Oaklawn's famous corned beef sandwiches, a Hot Springs staple. It was the first championship of the new year, and if this is any indication, the competitive eating community is in for a roller coaster ride in 06.
The total purse at the event was $5,000 and for his effort Bertoletti took home $3,000."

Florida university discovers misplaced $275,000

TAMPA, Florida (AP) -- Three University of South Florida officials were fired after the school discovered $275,000 in misplaced checks and cash scattered throughout an office.

Nearly half the money at the school's English Language Institute -- $133,647 -- was in checks up to 10 years old and could not be deposited, said university spokeswoman Michelle Carlyon.

The cash and checks were found December 21 inside desks and underneath books and office machines, among other places, Carlyon said.

The discovery came about a month after a state audit of the university found lax financial controls.

The three officials were fired last week.

On Friday, the financial council reviewing the state audit recommended reducing the number of departments that collect money and training workers to keep better financial records.

Funeral protest ban is pushed

Funeral protest ban is pushed
--------------------

Downstate legislator set to introduce bill

By Charles Sheehan
Tribune staff reporter

January 11, 2006

Angered by a religious group's demonstrations at scores of military funerals, a state lawmaker said he will soon introduce a bill to make such protests illegal in Illinois.

Legislation to be sponsored by Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Norris City) would make Illinois the fifth state to introduce such a bill in response to protests by members of Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan.

Members of the church, led by Rev. Fred Phelps, who is not related to Brandon Phelps, have picketed dozens of funerals for soldiers killed overseas.

Followers of the church, mostly family members of Fred Phelps, say the killings of American soldiers by improvised explosive devices are a manifestation of God's wrath over homosexuality in the United States.

Church members have picketed at least six funerals for Illinois soldiers, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn said Tuesday.

The proposed Let Them Rest in Peace Act in Illinois would keep protesters 300 feet away from funerals and memorial services for 30 minutes before and after the ceremony.

The state bills raise sticky constitutional questions that legal experts say could rise into the highest levels of the U.S. judicial system.

A law already exists in Kansas, and on Tuesday a panel in Indiana endorsed legislation that would make disorderly conduct a felony within 500 feet of funerals or memorial services.

In August, church members at the funeral of Army Staff Sgt. Jeremy Doyle, an Indianapolis native killed in Iraq, held signs that read, "Thank God for dead soldiers."

The proposed bill in Illinois does not mention the Westboro Church by name, though Quinn acknowledges it was the catalyst.

Phelps sponsored the bill after attending a funeral in Anna, Ill., for Army Spec. Brian Romines, who was killed by a bomb in Baghdad. Church members arrived in Anna for the June 18 funeral and passed out fliers saying Romines was sent to Iraq "where God killed him with an IED."

On Sunday, the group plans to picket a memorial service for 12 West Virginia miners who died after a mine blast. That explosion, too, was God's retaliation for homosexuality, said Shirley Phelps-Roper, Phelps' daughter and a church attorney.

Soldiers' families remain the primary targets.

Soldiers "have been raised on a big lie that being gay is OK," Phelps-Roper said Tuesday. "This is a nation of idolatry that is run rampant with adultery and fornication."

She has vowed to fight any law barring protests.

Legal battle lines likely will be drawn over whether laws are "content-based" or "content-neutral," said David Hudson Jr., a research attorney for the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University.

If a law is considered to be content-based, meaning it favors one opinion over another, it is subject to the highest form of judicial review, he said.

"Strict scrutiny leaves few survivors, and since these laws seem to be targeting a particular subject matter, they seem to be content-specific," Hudson said. "The kicker is that even if something is content-based, it doesn't necessarily mean it's unconstitutional, it just means the government has to advance a government-based interest in a very narrow way."

Richard Fallon, professor of constitutional law at Harvard University, said it would be very difficult for courts to uphold such laws and said any legislation must be "narrowly tailored to promote a compelling governmental interest."

"The government could have a compelling interest in stopping speech on the basis of content, because these funerals are a particularly raw emotional time for friends and relatives. That may outweigh the value of free speech under normal circumstances," he said. "If this speech was specifically designed to exacerbate wounds, that could be the key."

That is exactly what Quinn says is happening at funerals in Illinois and elsewhere.

"It's an effort by a hate group to heckle, harass and cancel out the right of the mourners, the family, to exercise their 1st Amendment rights of expression, religion and assembly," he said.

Israel Won't Do Business With Robertson

By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI
Associated Press Writer

January 11, 2006, 8:58 AM CST

JERUSALEM -- Israel will not do business with Pat Robertson after the evangelical leader suggested Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's massive stroke was divine punishment for the Gaza withdrawal, a tourism official said Wednesday.

Robertson is leading a group of evangelicals who have pledged to raise $50 million to build a large Christian tourism center in Israel's northern Galilee region, where tradition says Jesus lived and taught.

But Avi Hartuv, a spokesman for Tourism Minister Avraham Hirschson, said Israeli officials were furious with Robertson, a Christian broadcaster. A day after Sharon's Jan. 4 stroke, Robertson said the prime minister was being punished for "dividing God's land," -- a reference to last summer's pullout from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements.

"We can't accept this kind of statement," Hartuv said.

He said the Christian Heritage Center project was now in question, though he left the door open to develop it with others.

"We will not do business with him, only with other evangelicals who don't back these comments," Hartuv said. "We will do business with other evangelical leaders, friends of Israel, but not with him."

"Those that publicly support Ariel Sharon's recovery ... are welcome to do business with us."

Robertson's comments drew condemnation from other Christian leaders and even President Bush.

Under a tentative agreement, Robertson's group was to put up the funding, while Israel would provide land and infrastructure for the center. Israeli officials had hoped the project would generate tens of millions of tourism dollars.

The ministry's decision was first reported on Wednesday's in The Jerusalem Post newspaper.

Robertson's Christian Heritage Center was to be tucked away in 35 acres of rolling Galilee hills, near key Christian sites such as Capernaum, the Mount of the Beatitudes, where tradition says Jesus delivered the Sermon of the Mount, and Tabgha -- on the shores of the Sea of Galilee -- where Christians believe Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fish.

The project was a sign of strengthened ties in recent years between Israel and evangelical Christian groups that support the Jewish state.

Israel was considering leasing the land to the Christians for free. Hirschson predicted it would draw up to 1 million pilgrims annually who would spend $1.5 billion in Israel and support about 40,000 jobs.

Hirschson, however, is one of Sharon's biggest supporters, and a member of the centrist Kadima party recently founded by the prime minister.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Newly awake more groggy than sleep-deprived: study - Yahoo! News

Newly awake more groggy than sleep-deprived: study - Yahoo! News: "CHICAGO (Reuters) - If it takes a while to clear the
cobwebs after waking up, that's understandable -- 'sleep
inertia' leaves some people so groggy they might as well be
drunk, researchers said on Tuesday.
'For a short period, at least, the effects of sleep inertia
may be as bad as or worse than being legally drunk,' said
researcher Kenneth Wright of the University of Colorado at
Boulder.
That befuddled feeling usually lasts for at least a few
minutes but may be detectable for up to two hours, Wright wrote
in a report published in this week's issue of the
Journal of
the American Medical Association.
The findings are relevant to emergency workers such as
firefighters, or for truck drivers and resident doctors who
must spring into action after awakening from naps. A groggy
driver is accident-prone, and a hazy doctor might make a
mistake calculating a drug dosage, the report said.
Wright's study of 16 subjects found the most severe
impairments were evident on performance tests taken during the
first three minutes after awakening from an eight-hour sleep.
'We found the cognitive skills of test subjects were worse
upon awakening than after extended sleep deprivation,' he said.
There is evidence that the cortical areas of the brain
thought to be responsible for problem-solving, complex thought
and emotions take longer to wake up than other parts of the
brain, Wright wrote."

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Bread Is Famously Good, but It Killed McDonald's

New York Times: "ALTAMURA, Italy, Jan. 10 - First, an inconvenient truth: This is not a new story. But somehow the tale of how the city with the best bread in Italy forced its McDonald's out of business never really got told, and is spilling out now.
All the elements of a McDonald's morality play remain relevant today: perceived corporate arrogance; traditional food triumphing over food product; a David in the form of a humble and graying baker against an expansionist American Goliath.And, inevitably, it includes the French.It was the leftist and Amero-skeptic French newspaper Liberation that last week wrote the fullest account of what happened in Altamura, in southern Italy, where the road signs rightly welcome visitors to 'The City of Bread.' 'The long red mat was taken away secretly during the night,' it reported, noting too that the 'enormous M' over Piazza Zanardelli was 'also packed up surreptitiously.' The windows were covered 'like a shroud on the victim of a culinary battlefield.''Today,' the newspaper said, 'there are no longer Big Macs, Chicken McNuggets or industrial fries in Altamura.'What Liberation neglected to say, as have most of the other articles in an irresistible landslide of coverage in print and on the Web, is that the McDonald's closed in December 2002. The paper spoke vaguely of events a 'number' of months ago. But no matter. The protagonists here in Altamura as well as many others are thrilled with the belated attention, and the distinction as the city whose food was so good that it closed down a McDonald's without really trying."

Situation in Iraq Is Civil War

by Rep. John P. Murtha

According to the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition, the definition of a civil war is a 'war between political factions or regions within the same country.' That is exactly what is going on in Iraq, not a global war on terrorism, as the President continues to portray it.

93 percent of those fighting in Iraq are Iraqis. A very small percentage of the fighting is being done by foreign fighters. Our troops are caught in between the fighting. 80 percent of Iraqis want us out of there and 45 percent think it is justified to kill American troops.

Iraqis went to the polls in droves on December 15th and rejected the secular, pro-democracy candidates and those who the Administration in Washington propped up. Preliminary vote results indicate that Iyad Allawi, the pro-American Prime Minister, received about 8 percent of the vote and Ahmad Chalabi, Iraq's current Oil Minister and close associate of the U.S. Iraq war planners, received less than 1 percent. According to General Vines, the top operational commander in Iraq, 'the vote is reported to be primarily along sectarian lines, which is not particularly heartening.' The new government he said 'must be a government by and for Iraqis, not sects.'

The ethnic and religious strife in Iraq has been going on, not for decades or centuries, but for millennia. These particular explosive hatreds and tensions will be there if our troops leave in six months, six years or six decades. It is time to re-deploy our troops and to re-focus our attention on the real threats posed by global terrorism.
U.S. Representative John Murtha has dedicated his life to serving his country both in the military and in the halls of Congress. He had a long and distinguished 37-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps, retiring from the Marine Corps Reserve as a colonel in 1990; and he has been serving the people of the 12th Congressional District since 1974, one of only 131 people in the nation's history to have served more than 30 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and one of only 224 Members of Congress who have served 30 or more years."

AOL News - Stephen Colbert Fights Back About 'Truthiness'

NEW YORK (Jan. 12) - Stung by a recent Associated Press article that
didn't credit him for coining the word 'truthiness,' Comedy
Central's Stephen Colbert has struck back.
On 'The Colbert Report,' comedian Stephen Colbert defined 'truthiness' as truth that wouldn't stand to be held back by facts. The word caught on. The American Dialect Society named 'truthiness' the word of the year.
The world's oldest news organization, Colbert says, is the 'No.
1 threat facing America.'
On Wednesday evening, Colbert placed the AP atop the Threat Down
segment of 'The Colbert Report' show. What was No. 2?
Bears.
In October, on Colbert's debut episode of the 'Daily Show'
spinoff, the comedian defined 'truthiness' as truth that wouldn't
stand to be held back by facts. The word caught on, and last week
the American Dialect Society named 'truthiness' the word of the
year.
When an AP story about the designation sent coast to coast
failed to mention Colbert, he began a tongue-in-cheek crusade, not
unlike the kind his muse Bill O'Reilly might lead in all
seriousness.
'It's a sin of omission, is what it is,' Colbert told The AP
on Thursday. 'You're not giving people the whole story about
truthiness.'
'It's like Shakespeare still being alive and not asking him
what `Hamlet' is about,' he said.
The Oxford English Dictionary has a definition for 'truthy'
dating back to the 1800s. It's defined as 'characterized by
truth' and includes the derivation 'truthiness.'
Michael Adams, a visiting associate professor at North Carolina
State University who specializes in lexicology, pointed to that
definition and has said Colbert's claim to inventing the word is
'untrue.' (Adams served as the expert opinion in the initial AP
story.)
'The fact that they looked it up in a book just shows that they
don't get the idea of truthiness at all,' Colbert said Thursday.
'You don't look up truthiness in a book, you look it up in your
gut.'"

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

106-year-old, caretaker die in apparent suicide pact

SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- A 106-year-old widow and her much younger caretaker died together in an apparent suicide pact at the home they shared, police said.

The bodies of Helen Godet and her friend and caretaker of nine years, David Lund, were found Friday along with suicide notes indicating that Lund strangled the woman after she decided she could not take her own life, Inspector Dennis Maffei said Tuesday.

Lund, who was in his early 30s, then swallowed a fatal dose of antifreeze, authorities said. The notes were dated December 27.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Cheney Hospitalized, Power Not Transferred to Bush | MediaChannel.org

When Vice President Dick Cheney was hospitalized this morning complaining of shortness of breath due to a reaction to medication, the White House said there was no transfer of executive authority to President George Bush.
"The vice president remained conscious the whole time," said spokesman Scott McClellan. "So, even if a big decision had to be made, he would have been fully able to direct the president what to do."
In the event the vice president had fallen unconscious, or worse, the line of succession would hand executive power to Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove, then to Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson, followed by former First Lady Barbara Bush.
"Our allies and enemies can rest assured that no matter what happens to Vice President Cheney, the executive branch of government remains rock solid," Mr. McClellan said.

Mummified body left in home for two plus years - Peculiar Postings - MSNBC.com

"CINCINNATI - The mummified body of a woman who didn%u2019t want to be buried was found in a chair in front of her television set 2 1/2 years after her death, authorities said.Johannas Pope had told her live-in caregiver that she didn%u2019t want to be buried and planned on returning after she died, Hamilton County Coroner O%u2019Dell Owens said Monday.Pope died in August 2003 at age 61. Her body was found last week in the upstairs of her home on a quiet street. Some family members continued to live downstairs, authorities said. No one answered the doorbell at Pope%u2019s home Monday afternoon.
It could take weeks to determine Pope%u2019s cause of death because little organ tissue was available for testing, Owens said.An air conditioner had been left running upstairs, and that allowed the body to slowly mummify, he said. The machine apparently stopped working about a month ago, and the body began to smell.%u201CStanding outside, one could smell death,%u201D Owens said.Police went to the house last Wednesday after receiving a call from a relative who hadn%u2019t seen Pope in years. They found a staircase behind a door blocked by a basket and climbed to the second floor, where they found the body.It was not clear if any crimes were committed, Owens said.Authorities did not identify the caregiver, a women in her 40s who apparently lived in the home with Pope, Pope%u2019s daughter and her 3-year-old granddaughter.%u201CThe caregiver is not someone you%u2019d think was from another planet or really seems off the wall %u2014 (she%u2019s) a pretty normal kind of person,%u201D he said. %u201CBut I think out of loyalty, friendship and love of her friend, (she) decided to keep the body at home.%u201D"

After 3 Billion Miles, Craft Returns Sunday Bearing Cosmic Dust Older Than the Sun - New York Times

New York Times: "In a blaze across the night sky, it should be a spectacular homecoming at the end of a very, very long journey.
After covering 2.88 billion miles over seven years, the Stardust spacecraft is nearing home with its minute but precious cargo: samples of what are believed to be the oldest materials in the solar system.Tucked away in what looks like a giant fly swatter of a collector is dust swooped up from a close encounter with the comet Wild 2 and an accumulation of particles picked up in three circuits of the Sun.'This has been a fantastic opportunity to collect the most primitive material in the solar system,' said Donald Brownlee of the University of Washington, the principal investigator for the mission. 'We fully expect some of the comet particles to be older than the Sun.' Comets, icy bodies that normally inhabit a region near Pluto's orbit, are made of material many scientists believe is virtually unchanged since the Sun and the planets formed about 4.6 billion years ago. Studying comets not only provides clues to how the solar system was created but could also help explain how certain materials and conditions combined to form life, researchers said. 'Comets are a library of our history,' said Thomas Duxbury, project manager at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which is supervising the mission.After its launching in 1999, the Stardust circled the Sun and flew by Earth for a gravity boost to rendezvous with Wild 2 (pronounced vilt 2) near Jupiter. On Jan. 2, 2004, the Stardust came within 149 miles of the comet, deploying shields to protect itself from cometary dust while extending a 160-square-inch collector filled with a material called aerogel. This low-density silicon material, composed of 99.8 percent air, gently slowed and trapped particles without significantly altering or damaging them. Stardust also spent 195 days collecting interstellar particles that flow through the solar system.The challenge now is to bring them home safely. If all goes as planned, a capsule bearing the space dust will dive into the atmosphere early Sunday morning and gently parachute the samples to the Utah desert."

Monday, January 09, 2006

Mouse Thrown Into Fire Sets Home Ablaze

FORT SUMNER, N.M. -- A mouse got its revenge against a homeowner who tried to dispose of it in a pile of burning leaves. The blazing creature ran back to the man's house and set it on fire.

Mouse Thrown Into Fire Sets Home Ablaze

Yahoo! News Photo

Yahoo! News Photo: "Cy, short for Cyclopes, a kitten born with only one eye and no nose, is shown in this photo provided by its owner in Redmond, Oregon, on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2005. The kitten, a ragdoll breed, which died after living for one day, was one of two in the litter. Its sibling was born normal and healthy. (AP Photo/Traci Allen) "

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Media Photoshop Retouching

"The media world is becoming increasingly fixated on appearances. And the number of tricks used to achieve the increasingly exaggerated ideals is growing. Many models have plastic surgery and even more are retouched so they appear to have bigger breasts, smaller stomachs or fuller lips.
We wanted to show how easy it is to change someone’s appearance in this campaign. "

Friday, January 06, 2006

Collectors Go Bananas for Flawed $20 Bill

AOL News: "DALLAS (Jan. 6) - An ordinary fruit sticker that mysteriously ended up on a $20 bill could spur collectors to bid up to 1,000 times the bill's face value at an auction Friday.
'I've collected for probably seven years now, and nothing comes close to the way people react to it -- their eyes pop out,' said Daniel Wishnatsky of the 'banana note.' He is auctioning the bill Friday."

Bush and Former Cabinet Members Discuss Topic No. 1: Iraq - New York Times


Bush and Former Cabinet Members Discuss Topic No. 1: Iraq - New York Times: "By DAVID E. SANGER
Published: January 5, 2006
WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 - Colin Powell said nothing - a silence that spoke volumes to many in the White House today.
His predecessor, Madeleine Albright, was a bit riled after hearing an exceedingly upbeat 40-minute briefing to 13 living former secretaries of state and defense about how well things are going in Iraq. Saying the war in Iraq was 'taking up all the energy' of President Bush's foreign policy team, she asked Mr. t Bush whether he had let nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea spin out of control, and Latin America and China policy suffer by benign neglect. 'I can't let this comment stand,' Mr. Bush shot back, telling Ms. Albright and the rare assembly of her colleagues, who reached back to the Kennedy White House, that his administration 'can do more than one thing at a time.' The Bush administration, the president insisted, had 'the best relations of any country with Japan, China and Korea,' and active programs to win alliances around the world.That was, according to some of the participants, one of the few moments of heat during an unusual White House effort to bring some of its critics into the fold and give a patina of bipartisan common ground to the strategy that Mr. Bush has laid out in recent weeks for Iraq.But if it was a bipartisan consultation, as advertised by the White House, it was a brief one. Mr. Bush allowed 5 to 10 minutes this morning for interchange with the group - which included three veterans of another difficult war, the one in Vietnam: Robert S. McNamara, Melvin R. Laird and James R. Schlesinger. Then the entire group was herded the Oval Office for what he called a 'family picture.'Those who wanted to impart more wisdom to the current occupants of the White House were sent back across the hall to meet again with Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, and Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. But, as several of the participants noted, by that time Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had gone on to other meetings. When cameras were in the room, though, Mr. Bush was appreciative. 'I'm most grateful for the suggestions that have been given,' he said. 'We take the advice, we appreciate your experience and we appreciate you taking the time out of your day.'"

Chicago Tribune | Bush's visit to focus on economy

By Rick Pearson
Tribune political reporter
Published January 6, 2006, 9:15 AM CST
President Bush arrives in Chicago today, hoping to turn the public's attention to a domestic agenda of making permanent his tax cuts to continue an improving economy.

The visit is part of a full-court press to shape a White House agenda for the new year.

A mid-day address on the economy at the Chicago Hilton and Towers Hotel, following a tour of the Chicago Board of Trade, will cap a day of intensive White House outreach throughout the country aimed at promoting job growth and entrepreneurship.

Besides Bush's speech, the administration scheduled nearly 30 events involving Vice President Dick Cheney and Cabinet members today to tout the White House record on the economy.

Events range from a Cheney speech at a Harley-Davidson plant in Kansas City to an assistant labor secretary's address before a Green Bay, Wis., employment group at the Brett Favre Steakhouse.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said in advance of the president's trip that Bush would focus on three points%u2014job growth, job training and work to cut the deficit.

Bush touched on similar themes over the weekend during his national radio address.

'During 2005, thanks to our tax relief, spending restraint and the hard work of the American people, our economy remained the envy of the world,' the president said.

'Our economy has been growing strongly for more than two years and has added nearly 4.5 million jobs since May of 2003. More Americans own their homes than at any time in our nation's history. Inflation is low, productivity is high and small businesses are flourishing,' he said.

In a congressional election year, Democrats were challenging the record of Bush and Republicans who control the Senate and House even before the president's speech.

'For too many Americans, this past year was another year of stagnant wages, higher costs and continued failure by the Bush White House and the Republican Congress to address the priorities of working Americans,' Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said in a statement.

Meanwhile, members of various protest groups plan an 11 a.m. rally in Grant Park across from the Hilton, at 720 S. Michigan Ave.
"

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Thriving under our noses, but stealthily: coyotes

World Science:"
Scientists have long thought coyotes intently avoid cities, but a new study has found the opposite.
Groups of the historically maligned dog relatives are thriving in some large U.S. cities: they lurk in darkness and come out at night, probably helping the human inhabitants by eating vermin, the study found.
This animal’s amazing ability to thrive in cities has surprised scientists, said Stanley Gehrt of Ohio State University, who is studying coyotes in urban Chicago.
Since the study began six years ago, Gehrt and his colleagues say they have found that urban coyote populations are much larger than expected; that they live longer than their rural cousins in these environments; and that they are more active at night than coyotes living in rural areas.
Coyotes also do some good: they help control rapidly growing populations of Canada geese throughout North America, Gehrt said. And while his coyote research is concentrated in Chicago, he said, the results likely apply to most major metropolitan areas in North America."

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Artist Binds Feet in Desert, Loses Key

BREITBART.COM: "An artist who chained his legs together to draw a picture of the image hopped 12 hours through the desert after realizing he lost the key and couldn't unlock the restraints, authorities said Wednesday. Trevor Corneliusien, 26, tightly wrapped and locked a long, thick chain around his bare ankles Tuesday while camping in an abandoned mine shaft about five miles north of Baker, San Bernardino County sheriff's Deputy Ryan Ford said. 'It took him over 12 hours because he had to hop through boulders and sand,' Ford said. 'He did put on his shoes before hopping.' The artist, who is from the area, often sketched images inside mines in the Southwest. He had finished his drawing Tuesday when he realized he didn't have the key. Corneliusien finally made it to a gas station and called the sheriff's department, which sent paramedics and deputies with bolt cutters. His legs were bruised but he was otherwise in good health, Ford said."

NBC changes official transcript of Andrea Mitchell interview, deletes reference to Bush possibly wiretapping CNN's Christane Amanpour

AMERICAblog: Because a great nation deserves the truth: "NBC changes official transcript of Andrea Mitchell interview, deletes reference to Bush possibly wiretapping CNN's Christane Amanpour
by John in DC - 1/04/2006 04:29:00 PM
Well this is getting interesting. NBC just delete two paragraphs from its Andrea Mitchell interview, the paragraphs that talked about whether Bush was wiretapping ace CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour (kudos to Atrios for spotting this).
Here's what the NBC 'official' transcript used to say (I copied this text from NBC's own page only 2 hours ago):

Mitchell: Do you have any information about reporters being swept up in this net?
Risen: No, I don't. It's not clear to me. That's one of the questions we'll have to look into the future. Were there abuses of this program or not? I don't know the answer to that
Mitchell: You don't have any information, for instance, that a very prominent journalist, Christiane Amanpour, might have been eavesdropped upon?
Risen: No, no I hadn't heard that.

Here's what it says now:
Mitchell: Do you have any information about reporters being swept up in this net?
Risen: No, I don't. It's not clear to me. That's one of the questions we'll have to look into the future. Were there abuses of this program or not? I don't know the answer to that
Mitchell: You are very, very tough on the CIA and the administration in general in both the war on terror and the run up to the war and the war itself, the post-war operation. Let's talk about the war on terror. Why do you think they missed so many signals and what do you think caused the CIA to have this sort of break down as you describe it?"

Six degrees of Osama bin Laden

Are government agencies trying to connect you to al-Qaida?
By Molly Ivins AUSTIN, Texas -- My theory is that they don't tell him anything,
that's why the president keeps sounding like he doesn't know what he's
talking about.

There he was at Brooke Army Medical Center over the weekend, once
again getting it wrong: 'I can say that if somebody from al-Qaida's calling
you, we'd like to know why. In the meantime, this program is conscious
of people's civil liberties, as am I. This is a limited program ... I
repeat, limited. And it's limited to calls from outside the United
States, to calls within the United States.'

So then the White House had to go back and explain that, well, no,
actually, the National Security Agency's domestic spying program is not
limited to calls from outside the United States, or to calls from people
known or even suspected of being with al-Qaida. Turns out thousands of
Americans and resident foreigners have been or are being monitored and
recorded by the NSA. It's more like information-mining, which is what,
you may recall, the administration said it would not do. But now Bush
has to investigate The New York Times because Bush has been breaking the
law, you see?

I really don't think he'd sound like an idiot if they kept him
informed. He would, however, still sound like a kid trying to get out of
trouble by tattling on something Billy did: 'My personal opinion is it was a
shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program (the
NSA surveillance program) in a time of war. The fact that we're
discussing this program is helping the enemy.'

There he goes again. He is being deceitful and insincere. Bush and Co.
have broken the law, and furthermore, it was completely unnecessary to
do so. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is not a hindrance to
tracking down al-Qaida -- every objection to its requirements is easily
refuted.

So Bush breaks a law he didn't remotely need to and then denounces
anyone who discusses this as helping the enemy. Come on. It's so stupid.
The choice is not between a police state and another al-Qaida attack.
(Speaking of disingenuous, if you wanted to make this country safer from
terrorist attack, you'd do a lot better to trade in the NSA spy program
for some sensible precautions at chemical plants, or making the
Department of Homeland Security into something resembling an effective
agency.)"

McCain got screwed. Bush says he can ignore new anti-torture ban and any other law at will

Well, so much for our hero John McCain. And we now have a pattern of the White House saying they can ignore federal law at will because Bush is commander in chief.When President Bush last week signed the bill outlawing the torture of detainees, he quietly reserved the right to bypass the law under his powers as commander in chief.After approving the bill last Friday, Bush issued a ''signing statement' -- an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law -- declaring that he will view the interrogation limits in the context of his broader powers to protect national security. This means Bush believes he can waive the restrictions, the White House and legal specialists said.''The executive branch shall construe [the law] in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President . . . as Commander in Chief,' Bush wrote, adding that this approach ''will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President . . . of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks.'Some legal specialists said yesterday that the president's signing statement, which was posted on the White House website but had gone unnoticed over the New Year's weekend, raises serious questions about whether he intends to follow the law.A senior administration official, who spoke to a Globe reporter about the statement on condition of anonymity because he is not an official spokesman, said the president intended to reserve the right to use harsher methods in special situations involving national security....''Of course the president has the obligation to follow this law, [but] he also has the obligation to defend and protect the country as the commander in chief, and he will have to square those two responsibilities in each case,' the official added. ''We are not expecting that those two responsibilities will come into conflict, but it's possible that they will.'Excuse me? He has to balance the law of the land with his responsibility to defend the country? The two are mutually exclusive?He just made a blanket statement that he is above the law, any and all laws in our country."

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

AOL News - Is 50 the New 30?


AOL News - Is 50 the New 30?: "(Jan. 3) Madonna, Oprah Winfrey, Nicolette Sheridan, Christie Brinkley and Mojo are no spring chickens -- but they are some of entertainment's most sought after stars, perhaps suggesting that 50 is starting to become the new 30."

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Republicans are Stupid.

A few quotables from 2005. Click on the link for a chart linking I.Q. and voting preference. Happy New Years.

“You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war.” – Pat Robertson
Robertson, in a move well-adopted by other republicans, not limited to Jean Schmidt, re-canted his statement when public outrage flooded his gates.

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."—Barbara Bush

"For the last 10 years or 11 years, I have no idea, no earthly idea, at any point in time how much stock of anything, not just that particular stock, but all of the stocks that I've owned in the past.”--Bill Frist
Documents filed with the Senate show that Frist was often updated by trustees about changes to his trusts, including the addition and sale of HCA stock. The sales were completed by July 1, near the stock's 52-week peak and two weeks before share prices fell 9 percent. Frist, who is considering a run for the White House in 2008, said he ordered the sales to avoid the appearance of a conflict on interest.

“A few minutes ago, I received a call from Colonel Danny Bubp (marine), Ohio representative from the 88th District in the House of Representatives. He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha (marined) a message: that cowards cut and run, Marines never do. Danny and the rest of America and the world want the assurance --from this body that we will --see this through.”-- Jean Schmidt
Bubp now denies ever having asked Schmidt "to send Congressman Murtha a message." Following Limbaugh and Carlson's false claims, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Bubp said "that he never mentioned Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., by name when talking with Schmidt, and he would never call a fellow Marine a coward." According to the Enquirer, Bubp "said he called Schmidt on Friday afternoon to discuss the resolution that called for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq -- not to talk about Murtha."

“I mean, my first thought when I heard -- just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures (stocks) this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, "Hmmm, time to buy."—Brit Hume
Conversation between Brit Hume and Shepard Smith the day of the London bombings, in which dozens were killed and hundreds injured.

"Any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order.”
George Bush 2004 April 20, Buffalo, New York

"[Y]ou could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down."--Bill Bennet, former Secretary of Education to Ronald Reagan

"Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds. Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead,
"And if al-Qaida comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead," --Bill O’Reilly

"We've got a lot of rebuilding to do ... The good news is — and it's hard for some to see it now — that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house — he's lost his entire house — there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." (Laughter) —President Bush,

“Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." –President Bush, to FEMA director Michael Brown, while touring hurricane-ravaged Mississippi, Sept. 2, 2005

"I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency." – Dickhead Cheney on the Iraq insurgency, June 20, 2005
Following Cheney’s statement: A weekend of violence in Iraq continued into Monday as a suicide bomber struck in the northern city of Irbil, killing 16 police officers and wounding more than 100 people, including police and civilians. The Irbil bombing coincided with a number of other attacks across Iraq on Sunday and Monday, which killed some 70 people, including an American soldier. On Sunday, a suicide bomber killed 23 Iraqis at a kebab restaurant just outside Baghdad's heavily fortified green zone.