Friday, March 31, 2006

George W. Bush: The Audit By David Atkins

To: George W. Bush Enterprises, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.From: KPMG Re: Audit of Political Capital AccountsWe identified a number of questions during our review of your account. Although we realize you are eager to 'spend political capital,' with the Enron trial currently under way we think it is important to avoid any issues that might catch the attention of regulators, the media, or short-sellers such as Francis Fukuyama. Also, under our consent decree with the Justice Department, we promised to 'stop violating accounting standards for real this time.' We're having trouble reconciling assets and liabilities (we ran the numbers three times and still couldn't come up with the positive balance you reported). Do you have a single person responsible for managing this account we might talk to? Is it still Mr. Rove?We think you may have overstated earnings in November 2004. While assets may be depressed due to 'market panic,' it seems unlikely they will recover to 2004 levels. And frankly, it's time to write off some, such as Social Security reform, that have been 'under water' for a while now.Anticipated income from specific investments can no longer be reported before it has been fully realized (so called 'mark-to-market' accounting). Can you clarify whether the earnings you claimed in 2003 and 2004 from your Iraq holdings%u2014'Spreading democracy in the Middle East' and 'Restoring U.S. prestige'%u2014actually occurred? If not, can they be reasonably anticipated before 2009? (Please note, after that date they cannot accrue to this account.)We have moved some assets to the liability column (Mr. Claude Allen, Ms. H. Meirs). Others appear highly troubled (e.g., the Medicare Drug Benefit, Donald Rumsfeld) and may need to be revalued or reorganized.The '10,000 slot-machine tokens for the Choctaw Indian Casino' from Jack Abramoff are not sufficiently liquid to claim under 'Assets,' notwithstanding your assertion that 'one of them is bound to hit the Triple Seven Inferno.' You also list 20 million Pounds Sterling attributed to 'T. Blair.' Was this a gift or a loan? We don't see any record of him having received anything in return since his 2003 contribution.2005 losses from Hurricane Katrina appear to have been moved to an off-balance partnership with one 'Michael Brown, Esq.' They need to stay on your own balance sheet, as he no longer seems willing to absorb the full losses.We strongly recommend stronger financial controls to track capital expenditures. Would it be possible to require someone else to co-sign Mr. Cheney's spending from this account?Under 'best and customary accounting practices,' you can no longer credit corporate campaign contributions directly to political capital (please see preliminary filings in State of Texas v. DeLay)."

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Motive, Meet Your Cohorts Opportunity and Intent…

Man, when Murray Waas writes an article, he doesn't kid around, does he? His new article in the National Journal puts the justification for going to war in Iraq under a microscope and asks some pretty damning questions about Presidential lies and how far George Bush's closest advisors were willing to go to keep the public and the Congress from finding out that proof of those lies exists.
Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser, cautioned other White House aides in the summer of 2003 that Bush's 2004 re-election prospects would be severely damaged if it was publicly disclosed that he had been personally warned that a key rationale for going to war had been challenged within the administration. Rove expressed his concerns shortly after an informal review of classified government records by then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley determined that Bush had been specifically advised that claims he later made in his 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq was procuring high-strength aluminum tubes to build a nuclear weapon might not be true, according to government records and interviews.
Hadley was particularly concerned that the public might learn of a classified one-page summary of a National Intelligence Estimate, specifically written for Bush in October 2002. The summary said that although 'most agencies judge' that the aluminum tubes were 'related to a uranium enrichment effort,' the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Energy Department's intelligence branch 'believe that the tubes more likely are intended for conventional weapons.
Oh yeah, this article is a doozy. Not so much for providing information we didn't all suspect this whole time but because Murray Waas, who may very well be the world's best connected human being in Washington, D.C., knows that there is documentation to show that the President and his staff lied their way into the Iraq War. That there are multiple pieces of documentation on this is simply icing on a very deadly cake. (Josh Marshall has some very intriguing tidbits about cover-ups on the Hill on this as well. Very intriguing.) Read the rest of this entry

Godless Morality

Is religion necessary for morality? Many people consider it outrageous, even blasphemous, to deny the divine origin of morality. Either some divine being crafted our moral sense, or we picked it up from the teachings of organized religion. Either way, we need religion to curb nature’s vices. Paraphrasing Katherine Hepburn in the movie The African Queen, religion allows us to rise above wicked old Mother Nature, handing us a moral compass.

Yet problems abound for the view that morality comes from God. One problem is that we cannot, without lapsing into tautology, simultaneously say that God is good, and that he gave us our sense of good and bad. For then we are simply saying that God meets God’s standards.

A second problem is that there are no moral principles that are shared by all religious people, regardless of their specific beliefs, but by no agnostics and atheists. Indeed, atheists and agnostics do not behave less morally than religious believers, even if their virtuous acts rest on different principles. Non-believers often have as strong and sound a sense of right and wrong as anyone, and have worked to abolish slavery and contributed to other efforts to alleviate human suffering.

The opposite is also true. Religion has led people to commit a long litany of horrendous crimes, from God’s command to Moses to slaughter the Midianites – men, women, boys, and non-virginal girls – through the Crusades, the Inquisition, innumerable conflicts between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and suicide bombers convinced that martyrdom will lead them to paradise.

The third difficulty for the view that morality is rooted in religion is that some elements of morality seem to be universal, despite sharp doctrinal differences among the world’s major religions. In fact, these elements extend even to cultures like China, where religion is less significant than philosophical outlooks like Confucianism... read more

Doonesbury@Slate - Daily Dose

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

New Attack Meme: It's Not Just Incompetence, It's a Disease

terminal_boy blog: "What if you had someone like this in your family?
He's a drunk. Doesn't matter what his particular poison is, it's how he lives his life.
He's always broke. He has to borrow money to finance his nights out on the town. He tells the people he borrows from that he'll get them back sometime in the future. He spends money he doesn't have on shit he doesn't need. And then tells his kids that he can't afford to send them to a good school or a good doctor because times are tough. He's been known to get drunk and attack people who haven't done anything to him. Invariably, this gets him in fights that he can't win. He goes off on benders and no one can find him for days. Once, while he was on one of these, part of his house flooded and his family had to go stay with relatives. He hasn't bothered to clean up that part of the house yet. It has been seven months now. When any of his friends question his choices he loudly declares that either they are 'with him or against him' and calls them cowards. When someone in the family questions him, he tells them that they are ungrateful and obviously don't care as much about the family as he does. Ironically, he's the first guy to stand up in church on Sunday. He sings the loudest, even as his breath stinks of booze. So now if you were his wife, would you stay with this guy?
If you were his kid, would you take fatherly advice from him?
If he was your brother-in-law, would you lend him money? If you were his friend, would you even let him drive home? So why would you vote for him and his kind to run this country?
This administration is full of drunks. The Republican party is the party of drunks. And anyone who votes for them is an enabler. It's time to take away the keys before someone really gets hurt."

You say you want a revolution?

"French Leaders Meet as Riots Spread"

Such scenes are becoming familiar in French suburbs
France's prime minister summoned key ministers to his offices on Saturday to determine a political response to the violent night-time clashes which began on the outskirts of Paris more than a week ago.

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin summoned eight ministers to his offices on Saturday to plan a response to the nightly clashes which, now in their second week, have increased in severity and spread to other French cities.

Nearly 900 vehicles were torched and over 250 people arrested on Saturday as French authorities feared those behind the country's worst rioting for decades were becoming organized.

Deprived suburbs with large immigrant populations on the fringes of Paris were again the scene of the worst of the rampages, which largely took the form of hit-and-run arson attacks.

Violence also flared in other cities around the country -- Lille and Rouen in the north, Rennes in the west, and Toulouse, Pau and Marseille in the south.

Lobbyist sentenced

Lobbyist sentenced
Lobbyist Jack Abramoff walks to the Federal Courthouse after his sentencing on March 29 in Miami, Fla. A judge sentenced Abramoff, the former Republican lobbyist at the center of a major Washington political scandal, to five years and 10 months in jail for fraud. Abramoff, 46, had pleaded guilty to defrauding lenders in a Florida gambling boat deal but he will not go immediately to jail as he is cooperating in a corruption investigation in Washington. The judge said Abramoff would not need to surrender for at least three months due to his ongoing cooperation with goverment prosecutors in the Washington case.
(AFP/Getty Images/Roberto Schmidt)
Mar. 29, 2006

Doonesbury@Slate - Daily Dose

Surgeons remove two fetuses from infant - Health -

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Surgeons operated on a 2-month-old Pakistani girl Tuesday to remove two fetuses that had grown inside her while she was still in her mother's womb, a doctor said.The infant, who was identified only as Nazia, was in critical condition following the two-hour operation at The Children's Hospital at Pakistan Institute of Medical Science in the capital, Islamabad, said Zaheer Abbasi, head of pediatric surgery at the hospital.Abbasi, the chief doctor who led the operation, said the case was the first he was aware of in Pakistan of fetus-in-fetu, where a fetus has grown inside another in the womb. It is extremely rare to have two fetuses being discovered inside another,' Abbasi told The Associated Press, adding that he did not know what caused the medical abnormality. 'Basically, it's a case of triplets, but two of the siblings grew in the other.'"


Official ITMFA Buttons and Lapel Pins Now Available! So they're official, Savage-designed, ready-to-order ITMFA buttons and lapel pins! The lapel pins are going to be $5 each and the buttons are going to be $1.50 a piece or three for $2.50 remember, once the expense of having the buttons and lapel pins made is covered, all profits go to the ACLU. The total cost of the merch was just under $1,000 lapel pins are pricey! and I'll post a full accounting once sales begin. Here are pics of the actual buttons and lapel pins..."

Scandal Fatigue Helps Bush Avert Another Political Disaster | The Huffington Post

Peter Daou: Scandal Fatigue Helps Bush Avert Another Political Disaster
Maha writes: 'When The Guardian reported last February about another Downing Street memo in which President Bush suggested luring Saddam Hussein into war by 'flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft planes with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours,' there was much scoffing and hoo-hawing from the Right. But today the New York Times reveals that the memo is real.'
The implications are staggering, but the nation's collective response? A big yawn.
Maha quotes the Peking Duck, who explains: 'In ordinary times, it would be a bombshell: A secret memo proves that our president told his people a series of lies leading to wanton and needless death and destruction. He had planned to wage his war no matter what, and was even prepared to create fake evidence to justify the invasion.... In ordinary times, he'd be impeached. But these aren't ordinary times. We are all so used to this sort of thing that it has almost no effect at all. It's just another day in the Age of Bush, where we're always winning the war and we're always right and no mistakes are ever made.'
And here's the kicker from the Agonist: 'CNN - Two teams of government investigators using fake documents were able to enter the United States with enough radioactive sources to make two dirty bombs, according to a federal report made available Monday.'
Getting back to the Triangle metaphor, what would happen if the progressive netroots, the Democratic establishment, and responsible media figures worked together to treat these two stories with the gravity and intensity they deserve? It would be a major political crisis. Sadly, the system is not in place, the coordination of the various components of the progressive message machine is lacking, and as we saw in the NSA fiasco, the trajectory of these stories is all too easy to predict.
So what we end up with is confirmation of the most dire concerns of the anti-war movement (i.e. that Bush was itching for war and was ready to do whatever necessary to provoke it), coupled with evidence that all the national - I hate the word 'Homeland' - security blather on the part of the administration since 9/11 is hot air; we're as vulnerable as ever. Once again, impeachable offenses drifting into an endless stream of impeachable offenses, receding into oblivion...
Part of me wishes I could fast forward twenty years just to get enough distance and perspective to realize how bizarre a time this really is."

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Buffet Sets World Record With 510 Dishes

BREITBART.COM: "It's time to raise a glass of bubbly _ the maker of the Alka-Seltzer antacid tablet has set a record for creating the world's largest buffet. About 850 hungry customers helped Bayer HealthCare LLC, a subsidiary of the German pharmaceutical and chemical firm Bayer AG, celebrate the 75th anniversary of its heartburn relief product _ known for the jingle 'plop, plop, fizz, fizz' _ by partaking in a massive spread at the Las Vegas Hilton. In all, 510 dishes were set in front of the crowd Tuesday. Each one had to be certified distinct by a Guinness World Record adjudicator. They ranged from Mongolian chicken and salmon Wellington to creme brulee and homemade apple pie. 'I didn't taste each one, otherwise I might have needed several Alka- Seltzers in the end,' adjudicator Nadine Causey said. There was no previous record for the stomach-expanding event, so Guinness set the bar high at 500 dishes to qualify. 'It's an amount large enough to make it a feat that will stretch people,' Causey said"

Seattle Police and Partygoers Still Puzzle Over Attack - New York Times

The 28-year-old man who killed six young people at a Seattle house party over the weekend before turning the gun on himself had more than 300 rounds of ammunition and said only one sentence as he carried out the attack, the police said yesterday.
'There's plenty for everyone,' or something to that effect, was what witnesses told the police the gunman said, Deputy Chief Clark Kimerer of the Seattle Police Department told reporters at a news conference that was streamed over the Internet. The police identified the gunman as Aaron Kyle Huff, who moved to Seattle about four years ago from Montana and shared an apartment with his identical twin brother, Kane.The police said Mr. Huff had attended a rave called Better Off Undead on Friday night at the Capitol Hill Arts Center. That event had heavy security, Chief Kimerer said. But some people, including Mr. Huff, continued the party at a home on Capitol Hill.The police said Mr. Huff, who was called Kyle, was not known as a fixture of Seattle's rave scene, where D.J.'s play techno music, often to crowds that include people too young for legitimate bars. They also said they had yet to determine a motive for the killings.'What we are left with at this point in time is a person who for reasons we cannot fathom took innocent life,' Chief Kimerer said. 'I would not characterize what he did as unpremeditated or more spontaneous than not. It seems to me that he had designs to do great damage to innocent people.'Chief Kimerer continued, 'Whenever you encounter a suspect that has 300 rounds or more of ammunition immediately available to him, I think it's safe to surmise that they intend to undertake a campaign.'Some of the partygoers told the police that Mr. Huff left the house party about 7 a.m. Saturday and returned minutes later wearing loaded bandoleers and carrying a 12-gauge pistol-grip shotgun and a handgun. He fired on the 30 young partygoers, and when a police officer arrived and confronted him, he shot himself.Chief Kimerer said that the first officer arrived at the home shortly after hearing the shooting and that had he not responded so quickly, the carnage might have been greater. Yesterday, many people were still asking what had driven Mr. Huff, a pizza deliveryman, to go on his rampage. Regina Gray, the manager of the Town and Country Apartments where the Huff brothers lived, said she knew them as fans of country music"

Media ignored, underreported NY Times disclosure of explosive Bush-Blair memo

Summary: Since a March 27 New York Times article confirmed that a leaked British memo appears to contradict President Bush's repeated claim prior to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq that he wanted to avoid war, media have failed to note the full significance of the document and in some cases ignored the story altogether.
Since a March 27 New York Times article confirmed that a leaked British memo appears to contradict President Bush's repeated claim prior to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq that he wanted to avoid war, media have failed to note the full significance of the document and in some cases ignored the story altogether. For instance, major newspapers have yet to feature articles on the memo, and Fox News has not once mentioned the document. CBS and ABC have limited their coverage to several brief mentions of the story. And numerous other reports have failed to contrast the memo's depiction of Bush with his public statements prior to the war.
In the Times article, headlined 'Bush Was Set on Path to War, British Memo Says,' staff writer Don Van Natta Jr. examined in detail a five-page memo summarizing a January 31, 2003, Oval Office meeting between Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The memo, written by then-chief British foreign policy adviser David Manning, had been previously disclosed in a February 3 Guardian article, as well as in the book Lawless World: America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules (Viking, October 2005) by international law professor Philippe Sands. The document portrays the leaders as skeptical that sectarian violence would follow an Iraq invasion and describes them discussing the possible assassination of Saddam Hussein and considering a proposal to paint a U.S. surveillance aircraft in U.N. colors in the hopes of provoking an Iraqi attack. Moreover, the document proves Bush 'was determined to invade Iraq without the [United Nations] second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons,' as the Times reported:
At their meeting, Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair candidly expressed their doubts that chemical, biological or nuclear weapons would be found in Iraq in the coming weeks, the memo said. The president spoke as if an invasion was unavoidable. The two leaders discussed a timetable for the war, details of the military campaign and plans for the aftermath of the war."

Under Bolten's Leadership, Federal Debt Ballooned By $1.8 Trillion In 34 Months

$6.592 trillion: Federal debt on June 26, 2003, the day Josh Bolten became director of the Office of Management and Budget.
$8.364 trillion: Federal debt today.
In the Bush administration, this is grounds for a promotion."

Woman Gets $100 Ticket For "BUSHIT" Bumper Sticker

Denise Grier is a nurse at Emory University hospital in Georgia.
On March 10, she was driving home from dinner when a Dekalb County police officer pulled her over.
'At least initially, I was just surprised because I hadnt done anything wrong, she says.
'When he approached the car, he had his hand on his weapon, and I was in my nurses uniform with a stethoscope around my neck. He asked for my license, and then said, Any idea why I stopped you.
I said no. You have a lewd decal on your car.
Grier says she immediately thought that one of her kids had put something nasty on her bumper as a joke. 'But then he mentioned the Bush sticker, she says. That one says:Im tired of all the BUSHIT. (This story was first reported by Joe Johnson of the Athens Banner-Herald.) Grier says she told the officer it wasnt lewd, and that it was clearly a political statement. When he insisted it was lewd, she said, Im not going to discuss this any further. Just give me the ticket. Which he did. Under offense, it says: Lewd decals. The ticket is for $100. Grier has no intention of paying it. I am so appalled at the officers attempt to squash my freedom of speech, she told the Banner-Herald. Elaborating to The Progressive, Grier says people are wrong to view this in a partisan way.
Its not just a Democrat/Republican issue, she says. Y'all need to get beyond that. Its my right to speak, and yours. Gerry Weber, the legal director of the ACLU of Georgia, is representing Grier. The indicators are that the officer didnt like her views of President Bush and that was the motivating factor, he says.
Weber says the ticketing was clearly illegal.

All up in MySpace

Chicago Tribune: "Until a few weeks ago, Paul Marszalek's page had photos of him and his friends partying, dancing and drinking alcohol.
Not anymore.
Marszalek, 18, a UIC freshman, deleted his MySpace Web site after becoming nervous that law firms where he was applying for internships might see the photos. 'You never know who's looking at it,' he said.
Marszalek isn't being paranoid. What you post online could catch up with you.
High schools, colleges and businesses have begun to use social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook and Xanga to keep tabs on students and employees.
'Some of these [postings] are incredibly incriminating,' said Steve Jones, a UIC communications professor who studies the Internet. 'I wouldn't be surprised if 20 years from now, somebody who's running for an office has to answer a lot of questions to what they had on MySpace 20 years ago.'
Some consequences are more immediate.
In Maryland, a high school freshman reportedly was suspended when school administrators found photos of him posted on an online image gallery.
At George Washington University, campus police broke up an underage drinking party after invitations showed up on a social networking Web site.
And here in Chicago, a recruiter withdrew a verbal job offer after reading about a drunken-driving conviction posted on a job candidate's blog, according to a Columbia News Service report.
Some colleges and high schools have reprimanded students for conduct displayed online, and some have even forbidden students to use sites like MySpace, which has more than 32 million users as of February, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.
'We are not out trolling online. But if somebody put this information in front of our face, we do have to react,' Richard Justice, an associate dean and director of student conflict resolution at the University of Illinois, told Columbia News Service."

Ailing Ill. congressman to retire

Chicago Tribune: "WASHINGTON --
Rep. Lane Evans, who has battled Parkinson's disease for more than a decade, announced today he won't seek re-election.
Evans, who was hospitalized for a brief period in February, had not cast a vote in the House since Feb. 14 and had not reported to work in his Washington office for more than a month.
``This is a tough day for me,'' the 12-term lawmaker said in a statement announcing his coming retirement. He said he had 'come to recognize that the time needed to address my health makes it difficult to wage a campaign and carry out my work as representative.''
He began informing members of the Illinois delegation today of his intention.
After he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1995, Evans did not reveal his condition for several years, fearful that it would be used against him in politics. He has held a congressional seat in western Illinois since 1982 and is the ranking Democrat on the Veterans' Affairs Committee.
An open seat in the district, which includes Moline and Rock Island, could set off a competitive battle among Democrats. Andrea Zinga, a Republican who challenged Evans two years ago for his seat, won a three-way primary last week."

Oops. A Few End Up Afloat in the Pool.

New York Times: "Know anyone who has the Final Four intact in the office pool? No way.
After all, not one top-seeded team made it. The last time that happened was 1980. Who could have picked the Patriots - not Tom Brady & Company, but the ones from George Mason?
Was there a secret to making sense of possibly the most unpredictable N.C.A.A. tournament? For Russell Pleasant, a 46-year-old software engineer from Omaha, it took a lucky mistake.
When he filled out his bracket earlier this month, he thought George Washington would reach this weekend's Final Four. Instead, he ended up picking George Mason, round after round after round, all the way to Indianapolis.
Now, he finds himself a rare survivor among millions of broken hearts with busted brackets across the nation. In's 2006 Men's College Basketball Tournament Challenge, Pleasant had one of the four entries among three million with U.C.L.A., Louisiana State, Florida and George Mason in the Final Four"

The War Memo

Olbermann goes over the newest released memo from The U.K on this segment. Keith blasts the Bush line of 'no president wants to go to war, ' after it reveals the war plans were already drawn up five days before Colin Powell went to the UN.
Video-WMP Video-QT
Andrea Mitchell actually brings up the Downing Street memo (she doesn't call it that) and says war was inevitable from the start while she hits up on the 'painting of a spy plane' to trick Saddam into firing at it so they could then justify invading Iraq.
Mitchell: It was very clear that George Bush was set on going to war..."

Monday, March 27, 2006

NYC sinkhole swallows up SUV - U.S. Life -

NEW YORK - A city street collapsed under a sport utility vehicle early Monday, leaving the vehicle nose down into a deep sinkhole that officials said was caused by a water main break.The driver of the SUV escaped without serious injures but was taken to a hospital for treatment of shock, said Fire Department spokesman Brian Conlon.The vehicle was barely visible from street level inside the 12-foot-wide hole, partially in a pedestrian crosswalk in Brooklyn. It was resting atop a gas main and crews had to wait for the gas to be turned off before removing it, said Ian Michaels, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection."

Sunday, March 26, 2006

How low can you go? Try 00 on for size

Chicago Tribune: "While many of their peers are fatter than ever, some American women must be on the verge of simply vanishing into thin air.
At least, it would seem so based on the Lilliputian new sizes that are appearing in specialty stores. Banana Republic recently debuted a 00 on its Web site for spring. That's not a typo, that's two zeros. J. Jill and Old Navy now offer XXS, as in extra, extra small.
What are we to make of this? Are women losing their physical stature? And do these strange new sizes plunge women into a Sartre-esque existential quandary? If I am a double zero, do I exist? Are sizes in negative integers far behind?
OK, we know women aren't really shrinking. The bizarre numbers are partly the fallout from a wily retail twisting of reality called 'vanity sizing.' That's the recasting of sizes in smaller numbers to make women feel thinner and more willing to shell out for a pair of pants. (This, we might note, is the opposite of olives and lattes, where a small olive or coffee magically becomes large or grande.)
A woman who wore a size 10 in the past today might fit into a 6, all without losing a pound. But with vanity sizing, the women on the smaller end of the scale--the original size 4s--got shoved into nothingness, er, 0.
'Our fuzzy math has caught up with us,' said fashion guru Clinton Kelly, co-host of TLC's 'What Not to Wear' and co-author of 'Dress Your Best' (Three Rivers Press, $18.95 paper). 'If you count backwards, you need a math degree to figure out what size you are at this point. It's a little bit ridiculous that a woman could even be a zero.'"

Saturday, March 25, 2006

MySpace used to track down rape and robbery suspects - Mar 25, 2006 "BOULDER, Colorado (AP) -- Detectives used profiles posted on the MySpace social networking Web site to identify six suspects in a rape and robbery that began when a party turned violent, leaving blood 'in almost every room of the house,' officials said.Six men were arrested in connection with the February 23 rampage, and a seventh suspect was being sought, Detective Ali Bartley said Friday.The victim, whose name was withheld, became acquainted with the suspects through MySpace, authorities said.The group met for a party. 'At some point, the victim was no longer aware of what was happening, and she was sexually assaulted,' Bartley said.She knew only their first names but their pictures were posted on MySpace.'Primarily, we pulled up her friends list. It helped us identify some of the players,' said Bartley.The men face charges ranging from sexual assault to felony theft. Some $40,000 in electronics, jewelry, clothing and other items were taken, authorities said. About $13,000 worth of stolen goods have been recovered.'There was blood in almost every room of the house,' she said. 'There were broken pictures and statues. They stole stereo equipment. The media center was bare.'Nicolas Brison, 18, was charged with rape. The five other men ranged in age from 18 to 20. They were charged on March 7 and hearings are set for April 6."

Barbara Bush: Un-compassionate Conservative

On the heels of her highly compassionate message to Katrina victims:
And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this (she chuckled)--this is working very well for them.'.
comes this from the TaxProf:
'Former first lady Barbara Bush gave relief money to a hurricane relief fund on the condition that it be spent to buy educational software from her son Neil's company.---'It's strange that the former first lady would want to do this. If her son's having a rough time of it, couldn't she write him a check?' said Daniel Borochoff, founder of the American Institute of Philanthropy, a Chicago-based charity watchdog group. 'Maybe she isn't aware that people could frown upon this.'"


The United Auto Workers Union has issued a strong condemnation of the Administration%u2019s policy of outsourcing torture to third-world countries, especially in light of the massive layoffs recently announced by Ford and General Motors.
A spokesman for the UAW complained that their rank-and-file were really getting the shaft, since these highly skilled workers are just as capable of administering torture as any of their foreign competitors.
The UAW official explained that sheetmetal cutters and welders with blow torches could easily be retrained, to inflict the type of punishment that the Bush-Cheney crowd is using to spread American ideals around the globe. Pipefitters and electricians, he hastened to add, also bring the precise type of skill-sets that can help win hearts and minds in the Muslim world.
In an extremely rare show of labor-management unity, senior executives at both Ford and GM echoed the sentiments of the auto union, emphasizing that their entire assembly lines could quickly be converted to accomodate mass-produced torture, much as they changed over to building jeeps and tanks during World War II.
However, re-tooling their production lines to manufacture body armor for the troops in Iraq, they maintained, was clearly not cost-effective.
Japanese auto makers, determined to grab a share of this lucrative market, immediately asserted that they could do the job better, and at lower cost, since they've already developed torture robots, that do not require wages, health insurance, or lunch or coffee breaks.
Television executives indicated that they were also willing to do their part to pave the way for public acceptance of mass torture. Most notably, Rupert Murdoch's FOX Network, which owns the rights to I Love Lucy reruns, announced that through the miracle of digital remastering, it would're-shoot the hilarious conveyor belt episode, to show Lucy and Ethel struggling to keep up their torture on an ever-faster line of Al Qaeda detainees.

Oglala Sioux Tribe on the South Dakota Abortion Ban : SF Bay Area Indymedia

" When Governor Mike Rounds signed HB 1215 into law it effectively banned all abortions in the state with the exception that it did allow saving the mother's life. There were, however, no exceptions for victims of rape or incest. His actions, and the comments of State Senators like Bill Napoli of Rapid City, SD, set of a maelstrom of protests within the state. Napoli suggested that if it was a case of 'simple rape,' there should be no thoughts of ending a pregnancy. Letters by the hundreds appeared in local newspapers, mostly written by women, challenging Napoli's description of rape as 'simple.' He has yet to explain satisfactorily what he meant by 'simple rape.' The President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Cecilia Fire Thunder, was incensed. A former nurse and healthcare giver she was very angry that a state body made up mostly of white males, would make such a stupid law against women. 'To me, it is now a question of sovereignty,' she said to me last week. 'I will personally establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on my own land which is within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation where the State of South Dakota has absolutely no jurisdiction.' Strong words from a very strong lady. I hope Ms. Fire Thunder challenges Gov. Rounds and the state legislators on this law that is an affront to all independent women. "

Man severs own penis, throws it at officers

Before cops threw the book at him, Jakub Fik threw something unusual at them -- his penis.
Fik, 33, cut off his own penis during a Northwest Side rampage Wednesday morning. When confronted by police, Fik hurled several knives and his severed organ at the officers, police said. Officers stunned him with a Taser and took him into custody.
'We took him out without any serious injury, with the exception of his own,' said Chicago Police Sgt. Edward Dolan of the 16th District.
Doctors at Northwestern Memorial Hospital reattached Fik's penis Wednesday, sources said. He was listed in good condition Thursday, according to hospital spokesman Andrew Buchanan, who declined to comment further."

Armless man caught speeding in NZ

BBC NEWS: "A man with no arms has been caught speeding at 121 km/h (75 mph), according to police in New Zealand.
The driver, who used one foot to steer and another to operate the pedals, told officers he was born with no arms but had been driving for years.
The 32-year-old had passengers in the car when he was stopped on a highway near Papamoa in the Bay of Plenty area.
Police fined the unemployed man NZ$170 (�60) and banned him from driving, local media reported."

March against the war on Michigan Avenue.

March against the war on Michigan Avenue. (Zbigniew Bzdak, Chicago Tribune) March 18, 2006

Friday, March 24, 2006

U. of I. gets record number of applications

"CHAMPAIGN -- It's harder than ever to get into top colleges at the state's flagship university.
The University of Illinois in Champaign received a record number of applications this year at 22,300. That's 12 percent more than last year.
As a result, U. of I. rejected more students this year than last, including some who in other years would have gotten in.
And officials put a record number of students—1,100—on the school's wait list.
The school attributes the increase to a jump in the number of high school students and to recruiting trips to high schools around the state.
For the first time, U. of I. recruiters visited schools in Peoria, East St. Louis and Rockford. "

Wal-Mart's Organics Could Shake Up Retail

"BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is throwing its weight behind organic products, a move that experts say could have the same lasting effect on environmental practices that Wal-Mart has had on prices by forcing suppliers and competitors to keep up.
Putting new items on the shelf this year, from organic cotton baby clothes to ocean fish caught in ways that don't harm the environment, is part of a broader green policy launched last year to meet consumer demand, cut costs for things like energy and packaging and burnish a battered reputation.
Organic products are one lure for the more affluent shoppers Wal-Mart is trying to woo away from rivals like Target Corp., said Alice Peterson, president of Chicago-based consultancy Syrus Global.
A new Supercenter that opened this week in the Dallas suburb of Plano features over 400 organic foods as part of an experiment to see what kinds of products and interior decor can grab the interest of upscale shoppers.
"Like many big companies, they have figured out it is just good marketing and good reputation building to be in favor of things that Americans are increasingly interested in," Peterson said.
Wal-Mart's Lee Scott is not the first chief executive to advocate sustainability, a term for the corporate ethos of doing business in a way that benefits the environment. Industrial giant General Electric Co., for example, last year launched a program called "Ecomagination" to bring green technologies like wind power to market. "

Slow going! Tortoise dies after 250 years - South and Central Asia -

This photo of Aldabra was taken at the Alipore Zoological Garden in Kolkata in April, 2005.
KOLKATA, India - A giant aldabra tortoise thought to be around 250 years old has died in the Kolkata zoo of liver failure, Indian authorities said on Thursday.The tortoise had been the pet of Robert Clive, the famous British military officer in colonial India around the middle of the 18th century, a local minister in West Bengal state said.Local authorities say the tortoise, named %Addwaitya meaning the The One and Only in Bengali, was the oldest tortoise in the world but they have not presented scientific proof to back up their claim.
Historical records show he was a pet of British general Robert Clive of the East India Company and had spent several years in his sprawling estate before he was brought to the zoo about 130 years ago, West Bengal Forest Minister Jogesh Barman said. We have documents to prove that he was more than 150 years old, but we have pieced together other evidence like statements from authentic sources and it seems that he is more than 250 years old, he said.'Sad day'The minister said details about Addwaitya's early life showed that British sailors had brought him from the Seychelles islands and presented him to Clive, who was rising fast in the East India Company's military hierarchy.On Thursday, the tortoise's enclosure wore a deserted look. This is a sad day for us. We will miss him very much, a zoo keeper said.Wild Aldabra tortoises are found in the Aldabra island in the Indian Ocean Seychelles islands. They average about 265 pounds (120 kg). It is believed that tortoises are the longest lived of all animals, with life spans often surpassing 100 years."

Soldier, wife accused of staging kids fight - Crime & Punishment -

KILLEEN, Texas - A Fort Hood soldier and his wife have been accused of injury to a child for allegedly forcing their 3-year-old daughter to beat up an older boy as they videotaped it, Killeen police said.Dennis Michael Bittinger, 22, was arrested Wednesday and his wife, Rhonda Nicole Bittinger, 23, was taken into custody Thursday, police said.The fight allegedly occurred Saturday while the couple babysat for the 5-year-old son of a friend, police said. When the boy's mother arrived to pick him up, she turned on the couple's video camera, which had previously been used to tape the children playing.
Police said the tape shows the soldier commanding his daughter to knock the victim down, kick him and hit him in the face. The girl follows her father's instructions as the boy cries and pleads for her to stop, police said.The tape also shows the man declaring his daughter the 'winner,' and he shoves the boy and demands to know why he didn't defend himself, police said.The incident left the boy with bruises.Bond has been set at $100,000 each for the husband and wife, who were being held in the Bell County Jail Thursday night. It wasn't immediately clear if they had a lawyer."

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Top Ten Reasons Dick Cheney Won't Resign...


10. Trying to fix up Condi Rice with his daughter
9. Turns out when you shoot somebody, if you're not vice president, you gotta do time
8. Bush leaves at two every day and then it's margaritas and Fritos
7. Set the solitare high score on his office computer
6. Wants to see if he can help Bush get his approval rating under ten
5. Too hard to give up Vice Presidential Discount at D.C. area Sam Goody stores
4. Wants to stay on the job until every country in the world hates us
3. Extra-zappy White House defibrillators
2. Undisclosed location has foosball and whores
1. Why quit when things are going so well?
---Late Show with David Letterman"

Foster wins deal for a vertical city - World - Times Online

MOSCOWs mayor has endorsed plans to build a tower, 600 metres high, designed by the British architect Lord Foster of Thames Bank. It is expected to be the tallest in Europe when it is completed in 2010.
Yuri Luzhkov, the mayor, approved the plan for the 118-storey Moscow City Tower after meeting Lord Foster in the Russian capital last week.
He was very enthusiastic about it, Lord Foster told The Times. It was very well received. I think everyone wants this to happen very quickly.
NI_MPU('middle');A spokesman for Moscow city hall said the city government would make its final decision after the plans were reviewed by the construction commission early next month. But Lord Foster said that he expected construction to begin within 18 months.
The tower will be part of Moscow City a huge development on the banks of the Moscow river, three miles from the Kremlin which the authorities hope will become the countrys main financial district.
It will be naturally ventilated and use the latest heat exchange technologies to minimise energy use. The building will also collect snow and rainwater to reduce by 30 per cent the volume of fresh water used by lavatories.
City authorities are understood to have wanted a distinctive skyscraper that could become a landmark similar to Lord Fosters Gherkin the headquarters of Swiss Re in the City of London. The development includes the 430m high Federation Tower, due to be completed in 2008.
The Moscow City Tower plan was proposed by Shalva Chigirinsky, a Russian property tycoon who has close links to Mr Luzhkov and was ranked 59 on a Russian rich list this year.
He told a property conference in Cannes last week that it would cost $1.5 billion (�830 million) to build the tower, of which his company would provide between
$150 million and $200 million. Were not poor people. We will invest as much as it takes, he said."

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Bertoletti Takes Key Lime Pie-Eating Contest

Bertoletti Takes Key Lime Pie-Eating Contest
Patrick Bertoletti continues his amazing eating juggernaut, downing 10.8 pounds of Key Lime Pie in eight minutes to win the World Key Lime Pie-Eating Championship, which falls under the World Series of Competitive Eating.

The event, which took place at the Spinnaker Beach Club in Panama City, FL, served as a platform for Bertoletti, a rising young star who has emerged (along with Joey Chesnut) as a serious threat to Sonya Thomas' eating hegemony.

Bertoletti earned $1,500 for his effort while Tim Janus consumed 10.2 lbs of pie to earn $750. Eric Broe ate 7.8 lbs to earn $250. Broe won the collegiate key lime pie challenge yesterday earning $600.

Hall Hunt came in 4th and Crazy Legs Conti 5th, both out of the money."

Will Today's Video Games Change the World?

"An entire generation has grown up with a different set of games than any before it. Just watch a kid with a new videogame. The last thing they do is read the manual. Instead, they pick up the controller and start mashing buttons to see what happens. This isn't a random process; it's the essence of the scientific method. Through trial and error, players build a model of the underlying game based on empirical evidence collected through play. As the players refine this model, they begin to master the game world. It's a rapid cycle of hypothesis, experiment, and analysis. And it's a fundamentally different take on problem-solving than the linear, read-the-manual-first approach of their parents." - How to spot a baby conservative

Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative.At least, he did if he was one of 95 kids from the Berkeley area that social scientists have been tracking for the last 20 years. The confident, resilient, self-reliant kids mostly grew up to be liberals.The study from the Journal of Research Into Personality isn't going to make the UC Berkeley professor who published it any friends on the right. Similar conclusions a few years ago from another academic saw him excoriated on right-wing blogs, and even led to a Congressional investigation into his research funding.But the new results are worth a look. In the 1960s Jack Block and his wife and fellow professor Jeanne Block (now deceased) began tracking more than 100 nursery school kids as part of a general study of personality. The kids' personalities were rated at the time by teachers and assistants who had known them for months. There's no reason to think political bias skewed the ratings %u2014 the investigators were not looking at political orientation back then. Even if they had been, it's unlikely that 3- and 4-year-olds would have had much idea about their political leanings.A few decades later, Block followed up with more surveys, looking again at personality, and this time at politics, too. The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity.The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests. The girls were still outgoing, but the young men tended to turn a little introspective.Block admits in his paper that liberal Berkeley is not representative of the whole country. But within his sample, he says, the results hold. He reasons that insecure kids look for the reassurance provided by tradition and authority, and find it in conservative politics. The more confident kids are eager to explore alternatives to the way things are, and find liberal politics more congenial.In a society that values self-confidence and out-goingness, it's a mostly flattering picture for liberals. It also runs contrary to the American stereotype of wimpy liberals and strong conservatives."

Monday, March 20, 2006

Sweet Victory: The Resolutions Roll In

No matter how many polls show that the majority
of American citizens (and even
troops) want a speedy withdrawal from Iraq, the stay-the-course consensus continues to suffocate DC.
Yet, while politicians may be able to ignore polls, it's harder for them to ignore concerted, collective action in the form of official resolutions. On the eve of the third anniversary of the Iraq war, resolutions from America's largest cities, labor organizations, and religious groups are calling for our troops to come home.
The nationwide push for local resolutions is being led by Cities for Progress, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies, which also works towards passing local bills on extending health care benefits, establishing living wages and opposing the Patriot Act. The
movement has grown considerably since its inception last March, when dozens of towns and cities in Vermont first called for withdrawal.
Currently, 76 municipalities including Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Baltimore, and Sacramento, have joined in.
And some of the smaller towns that have passed resolutions are making a big impact as well. In December, the town of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania passed a resolution in support of Rep. Jack Murtha's plan for US troops to come home from Iraq in six months. That month, Wikinsburg's Rep. Mike Doyle announced that he was co-sponsoring Murtha's bill.
'These resolutions are an expression of the will of the people that is simply not being heard on Capitol Hill,' said Karen Dolan, director of Cities for Progress. 'This is direct democracy, and it gives average Americans a microphone to say 'I am frustrated, I want my tax dollars spent in my own town, I want our children back home.' It's a unique and exciting new avenue for regular people to make their voices heard.'"

Sunday, March 19, 2006

This Essay Breaks the Law - New York Times

The speed of light is a constant. Apples fall to earth because of gravity. Elevated blood sugar is linked to diabetes. Elevated uric acid is linked to gout.Elevated homocysteine is linked to heart disease. Elevated homocysteine is linked to B-12 deficiency, so doctors should test homocysteine levels to see whether the patient needs vitamins.ACTUALLY, I can't make that last statement. A corporation has patented that fact, and demands a royalty for its use. Anyone who makes the fact public and encourages doctors to test for the condition and treat it can be sued for royalty fees. Any doctor who reads a patient's test results and even thinks of vitamin deficiency infringes the patent. A federal circuit court held that mere thinking violates the patent. All this may sound absurd, but it is the heart of a case that will be argued before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. In 1986 researchers filed a patent application for a method of testing the levels of homocysteine, an amino acid, in the blood. They went one step further and asked for a patent on the basic biological relationship between homocysteine and vitamin deficiency. A patent was granted that covered both the test and the scientific fact. Eventually, a company called Metabolite took over the license for the patent.Although Metabolite does not have a monopoly on test methods %u2014 other companies make homocysteine tests, too %u2014 they assert licensing rights on the correlation of elevated homocysteine with vitamin deficiency. A company called LabCorp used a different test but published an article mentioning the patented fact. Metabolite sued on a number of grounds, and has won in court so far. But what the Supreme Court will focus on is the nature of the claimed correlation. On the one hand, courts have repeatedly held that basic bodily processes and 'products of nature' are not patentable. That's why no one owns gravity, or the speed of light. But at the same time, courts have granted so-called correlation patents for many years. Powerful forces are arrayed on both sides of the issue.In addition, there is the rather bizarre question of whether simply thinking about a patented fact infringes the patent. The idea smacks of thought control, to say nothing of unenforceability. It seems like something out of a novel by Philip K. Dick %u2014 or Kafka. But it highlights the uncomfortable truth that the Patent Office and the courts have in recent decades ruled themselves into a corner from which they must somehow extricate themselves."

Friday, March 17, 2006

Say What?

"'So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun! Termporarioly anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!'

-- South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, responding to Viacom/Comedy Central's bowing to Scientology/Tom Cruise pressure to not re-show 'Trapped in the Closet' episode"

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Upstart Bertoletti Takes Corned Beef Match

International Federation of Competitive Eating - IFOCE: "Chicago eater Patrick Bertoletti today won the Corned Beef and Cabbage Eating Championship at Ned Devine's Irish Pub in Boston, consuming 5.75 pounds of corned beef and cabbage in 10 minutes.

Along with the coveted title of Corned Beef and Cabbage Eating Champion, Bertoletti won $2,500 out of a total purse of $5,000 provided by The International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE) sanctioned the event.

'It should be noted that citizens of Ireland view this contest in the same way citizens of Boston view the Super Bowl,' said Richard Shea, president of the IFOCE. 'Bertoletti will be a hero throughout Ireland and the Celtic world.'"

Senate Votes to Raise Debt Limit - Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON - Congress agreed to let the government borrow another $781 billion Thursday, allowing lawmakers and President Bush to pay for the war in Iraq and combat terrorism without raising taxes or cutting popular domestic programs.
The Senate, on a 52-48 vote, sent to President Bush a bill raising the ceiling on the national debt to nearly $9 trillion and preventing a first-ever default on U.S. Treasury notes. When the government reaches the new ceiling, expected sometime next year, the debt will represent $30,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States.
The House avoided an election-year vote on raising the debt limit by automatically sending the bill to the Senate when it passed a budget last year.
The bill passed the Senate just hours before the House was expected to approve another $91 billion to fund the war in Iraq and provide more aid to hurricane victims.
The partisan vote also came as the Senate continued debate on a $2.8 trillion budget blueprint for the upcoming fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1, that would produce a $359 billion deficit.
In twin setbacks for GOP leaders, the Senate voted 51-49 to add $3 billion to the budget for heating subsidies for the poor and 73-27 to add $7 billion for education, health and worker safety accounts. The moves broke through President Bush's overall 'cap' on agency budgets to be funded later in the year through appropriations bills.
Congress has now increased the debt ceiling four times by a total of $3 trillion since Bush took office five years ago."

Late night snark

Been a little intense around here lately. Anyone in the mood for some late-night snark? Okay then...
'Everybody excited about March Madness...the big NCAA tournament? Here's how it works: It starts at 65, then 64, then 32, then 16. It's just like Bush's approval rating.'
---David Letterman:
'The Sopranos are a lot like the Bush administration. There are wiretaps, people going to jail, and the second-in-command accidentally shoots his best friend.'
---Jay Leno
'Pentagon records show that at least 8,000 members of the all-volunteer U.S. military have deserted since the Iraq war began. Hey, at least somebody has an exit strategy.'
---Tina Fey
'More people, particularly Republicans, disapprove of President Bush's performance. They're questioning his character now and they no longer consider him a strong leader on terrorism. Apparently there's a little more to this whole presidency thing than just not getting blown.'
---Bill Maher
'The other day new-age musician Yanni was arrested for fighting with his girlfriend. Not to be outdone, John Tesh and Kenny G have gone on a killing spree.'
---Conan O'Brien"

Dutch immigrants must watch racy film

Seattle PI: "AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- The camera focuses on two gay men kissing in a park. Later, a topless woman emerges from the sea and walks onto a crowded beach. For would-be immigrants to the Netherlands, this film is a test of their readiness to participate in the liberal Dutch culture.
If they can't stomach it, no need to apply.
Despite whether they find the film offensive, applicants must buy a copy and watch it if they hope to pass the Netherlands' new entrance examination.
The test - the first of its kind in the world - became compulsory Wednesday, and was made available at 138 Dutch embassies.
Taking the exam costs $420. The price for a preparation package that includes the film, a CD ROM and a picture album of famous Dutch people is $75.
'As of today, immigrants wishing to settle in the Netherlands for, in particular, the purposes of marrying or forming a relationship will be required to take the civic integration examination abroad,' the Immigration Ministry said in a statement.
The test is part of a broader crackdown on immigration that has been gathering momentum in the Netherlands since 2001.
Anti-immigration sentiment peaked with filmmaker Theo van Gogh's murder by a Dutch national of Moroccan descent in November 2004."

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Six taken ill after drug trials

BBC NEWS: "Six men are fighting for their lives after falling ill during a clinical drugs trial in north-west London.
They suffered a bad reaction to an anti-inflammatory drug being tested at a research unit and were rushed to Northwick Park Hospital on Monday.
Relatives are with the patients, who suffered multiple organ failure. Some cases are said to be life-threatening.
An investigation has begun at the unit, run by Parexel, which said it followed recommended guidelines in its trial.
The men were volunteers in the early stages of a trial for the drug to treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and leukaemia, and were taken ill within hours of taking it.
Eight men had taken part, but two were given a placebo at the unit, which is on Northwick Park Hospital's grounds, but is run independently."

How to Stop Time

Einstein demonstrated that time is relative.

But the rabbit-hole goes much deeper. Quantum physics discovered that consciousness is entangled in matter in some inexplicable ways; but other than the very fast, or very small, or very large, we tend to assume our “ordinary” reality conforms more to the laws of Newton. Simple cause and effect unfolding with clockwork constancy —well, it’s time to shatter this assumption. Let’s stop time.

Find a clock with a smooth sweeping second hand. The one on this page might work, but depending on how much is running on your computer, it may or may not be completely smooth. If it appears relatively smooth, it will still work, you’ll be able to factor out what you are controlling.

After watching the second hand for a bit, look off to the side of the clock, outside of the box, and about 15 to 20 minutes ahead of the second hand. You should still be able to see the second hand, but you won’t be looking directly at it. Now just relax and see if you can stop the second hand. If it starts catching up to the point you are looking at, jump ahead to another spot about 20 minutes ahead. With very little practice you are extremely likely to make a most remarkable discovery. You can stop time. Perhaps at first for only a second or two, but with practice, you’ll be able to freeze it for longer. If you can’t get it right away, try playing with your focus point, move it further away or closer to the frame of the clock. Or look at one of the hour markers on the clock about 20 to 30 minutes ahead. After you get it, try counting internally. The count you reach is the number of discrete thought processes you performed in zero clock time.

It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Political corruption, the world's second oldest profession, just isn't as easy as it used to be.

Take defense contractor Mitchell Wade, for example. He had a good thing going with Representative Randy 'Duke' Cunningham, until the Congressman's taste for bling got them both busted.

Mr. Wade now claims he funneled $50,000 in illegal campaign contributions to Katherine Harris for some military largesse, but the Congresswoman failed to secure the pay-off. After what she pulled off for George W., Mr. Wade must wonder if Katherine was holding out on him.

Or take John Goodman, president and founder of a Dallas-based think tank. He thought he had bought himself another reliable intellectual to shill for George W., but what he ended up with in Bruce Bartlett, the author of Imposter: How George Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy, was a pundit with a guilty conscious and a leaky mouth.

At first Mr. Goodman's money did the trick, however. Or to quote Mr. Bartlett directly, 'Being supportive of Mr. Bush was definitely more rewarding to me than being critical.' But what is an obscure 'fellowship' at a third-rate think tank compared to a major book deal, a New York Times blog, and a guest appearance on the Daily Show?

With Iraq on the brink of Civil War and the president's poll numbers in the tank, it will be interesting to see who will join Sullivan, Buckley, Fukuyama, and now Bartlett as the next convert to the anti-Bush camp."

Snow warns Congress: US government's cash running out - Yahoo! News

Treasury Secretary John Snow urged Congress to set aside partisan bickering and raise the US national debt ceiling this week, or face a disastrous cash crunch for the federal government.
In a speech here to a conference of regional bankers, Snow said it would be inconceivable for Congress not to pass legislation on the debt limit before it heads into a recess at the end of this week.
'I am urging members of Congress in the strongest possible terms to resist coupling an increase in the debt ceiling with other issues,' Snow said.
'Rather, they should vote to raise the ceiling this week. It would be unthinkable for them not to take action,' he said, warning that the 'full faith and credit' of the US government was too precious to be compromised.
Snow has issued increasingly urgent warnings to Congress that the statutory debt limit of 8.184 trillion dollars will be hit this week, and that the government will then lose its borrowing power.
Once the US government reaches the ceiling, it comes under threat of defaulting on its debts and can lose the ability to raise future credit on the capital markets.
Last week, Snow said new issues of federal debt instruments would only raise enough cash to keep government operations financed until mid-March.
But Democratic members of Congress are said to be balking at increasing the debt limit unless the administration of
President George W. Bush, which has overseen a huge rise in the US budget deficit, curbs its appetite for funds.
'We have to remember that current federal borrowing needs today are simply the product of past decisions,' Snow said in his speech.
'While we always welcome a debate on budget priorities, swift action on the debt limit must still be taken this week.
'There should be no doubt over whether the government will be able to pay its bills on time, this time next week.'"

Far Out, Man. But Is It Quantum Physics?

New York Times:
"Can physics save your soul?
Two years ago, a movie with the unpronounceable title 'What the #$!%* Do We Know!?' became an underground new-age phenomenon, raking in $11 million out of midnight screenings and word of mouth, spawning an industry of books, tote bags, clothing, DVD's and 'biofield' jewelry.It purported to argue, based on the insights of modern quantum physics, that reality is just a mental construct that we can rearrange and improve, if we are enlightened or determined enough. Science and spirituality have tied the knot, and the world is your infinitely deformable apple.This winter an expanded version, 'What the Bleep, Down the Rabbit Hole,' began to play to audiences who say that the movie confirms what they already thought about the cosmos, some vibe they had that it is a slippery, woo-woo-woo kind of place. The movie just finished a two-month run in New York and is to be shown in May at the Quest for Global Healing Conference, in Ubud, Bali, with luminaries like Walter Cronkite and Desmond Tutu attending.Like its predecessor, this film features a coterie of talking heads: physicists with real Ph.D.'s, biologists, philosophers and a woman who claims to be channeling a 35,000-year-old spirit warrior from Atlantis. It tells the story of a sourpuss photographer played by Marlee Matlin who learns to love herself and take a chance on life.Like its predecessor, the film touts the alleged power of meditation to affect the crystalline structure of water, as revealed in photographs by Masaru Emoto, a doctor of alternative medicine in Japan. Love and gratitude make for symmetrical and intricate crystals, according to the film, while hatred produces an ugly mess. If thoughts can do this to water, imagine what they can do to humans, who are, after all, mostly water %u2014 at least so runs the mantra repeated several times in the film.When I first heard that Marlee Matlin had made a movie about quantum theory, I was excited. (Total disclosure: Ms. Matlin once bought an option on the film rights to an essay of mine about Albert Einstein and his wife.) What could be more deserving of wide-screen cinematic treatment than the weirdness and mystery of the laws that sculpture our space-time adventures?But hours and hours spent watching the two films and navigating their splashy Web site have tempered my enthusiasm. These films and the quantum mysticism industry behind them raise a disturbing question about the muddled intersection between science and culture.
Do we have to indulge in bad physics to feel good?"

Monday, March 13, 2006

'Creative plumbing' delivers beer

BBC NEWS: "A woman said she thought she was in heaven when she turned on the kitchen tap to find a plentiful supply of beer.
Haldis Gundersen was planning to do the washing up when she made the unusual discovery at her apartment in Kristiansund, west Norway.
But two flights below, workers in a bar faced the more disappointing realisation that water was flowing from their beer taps.
A worker had connected a beer barrel to the apartment water pipe by mistake.
'I turned on the tap to clean some knives and forks, and beer came out,' Ms Gundersen told Reuters news agency. 'We thought we were in heaven.'"

George Clooney: I Am a Liberal. There, I Said It!

Huff Po: "I am a liberal. And I make no apologies for it. Hell, I'm proud of it.
Too many people run away from the label. They whisper it like you'd whisper 'I'm a Nazi.' Like it's dirty word. But turn away from saying 'I'm a liberal' and it's like you're turning away from saying that blacks should be allowed to sit in the front of the bus, that women should be able to vote and get paid the same as a man, that McCarthy was wrong, that Vietnam was a mistake. And that Saddam Hussein had no ties to al-Qaeda and had nothing to do with 9/11.
This is an incredibly polarized time (wonder how that happened?). But I find that, more and more, people are trying to find things we can agree on. And, for me, one of the things we absolutely need to agree on is the idea that we're all allowed to question authority. We have to agree that it's not unpatriotic to hold our leaders accountable and to speak out.
That's one of the things that drew me to making a film about Murrow. When you hear Murrow say, 'We mustn't confuse dissent with disloyalty' and 'We can't defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home,' it's like he's commenting on today's headlines.
The fear of been criticized can be paralyzing. Just look at the way so many Democrats caved in the run up to the war. In 2003, a lot of us were saying, where is the link between Saddam and bin Laden? What does Iraq have to do with 9/11? We knew it was bullshit. Which is why it drives me crazy to hear all these Democrats saying, 'We were misled.' It makes me want to shout, 'Fuck you, you weren't misled. You were afraid of being called unpatriotic.'
Bottom line: it's not merely our right to question our government, it's our duty. Whatever the consequences. We can't demand freedom of speech then turn around and say, But please don't say bad things about us. You gotta be a grown up and take your hits.
I am a liberal. Fire away."

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Committee to Protect Bloggers :: Bloggers Campaign for Jill Carroll

Jill Carroll, a freelance reporter working for the Christian Science Monitor newspaper, was kidnapped in Baghdad over two months ago. All indications are that she is still alive. The Monitor has started a campaign, using Iraqi television, to distribute a video asking for Iraqis to help find and free Jill.
Jill is not a blogger but she's got that spirit. She's an independent intellect who is fascinated by the world and has a desire to speak what she sees. So let's not leave it up to the newspapers and television stations. She's ours as much as theirs.
So, I would like to ask every blogger who gives a damn about individual human life and the individual human voice, to post a link to this video on their blog, to blog about Jill and to pass along our concern to friends, family and other bloggers. Of greatest import are Iraqi blogs and blogs in the Arabic and Muslim worlds that may be read by people in a position to do good for Jill. "

Chicago Tribune | Clinton Quiet About Past Wal-Mart Ties

With retail giant Wal-Mart under fire to improve its labor and health care policies, one Democrat with deep ties to the company -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton -- has started feeling her share of the political heat. Clinton served on Wal-Mart's board of directors for six years when her husband was governor of Arkansas. And the Rose Law Firm, where she was a partner, handled many of the Arkansas-based company's legal affairs. Hillary Clinton had kind words for Wal-Mart as recently as 2004, when she told an audience at the convention of the National Retail Federation that her time on the board 'was a great experience in every respect.' But in recent months, as the company has become a target for Democratic activists, she has largely steered clear of any mention of Wal-Mart. And late last year, Clinton's re-election campaign returned a $5,000 contribution from Wal-Mart, citing 'serious differences with current company practices.' "

Chicago Tribune: Ethnic groups rally for immigrant rights

In a show of strength that surprised even organizers, tens of thousand of immigrants poured into the Loop Friday, bringing their calls for immigration reform to the heart of the city's economic and political power.

What started as a word-of-mouth campaign, then spread through the foreign language media, grabbed the attention of the entire city by midday, as a throng 2 miles long marched from Union Park on the Near West Side to Federal Plaza.

Police estimated the crowd as large as 100,000, making it one of the biggest pro-immigrant rallies in U.S. history, according to national advocates.

Observers said the turnout could galvanize both sides in the immigration debate, launching a grass-roots pro-immigrant movement while provoking a backlash among those who want stricter controls."

ABC News: Feingold Calls for Bush's Censure

In an exclusive interview on 'This Week with George Stephanopoulos,' Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold called on the Senate to publicly admonish President Bush for approving domestic wiretaps on American citizens without first seeking a legally required court order.
'This conduct is right in the strike zone of the concept of high crimes and misdemeanors,' said Feingold, D-Wis., a three-term senator and potential presidential contender.
He said President Bush had, 'openly and almost thumbing his nose at the American people,' continued the NSA domestic wiretap program.
President Bush has long asserted that the so-called 'warrantless wiretaps' are an essential tool in the war on terror.
But in a copy of the censure resolution obtained by ABC News, Feingold asserts the president, 'repeatedly misled the public prior to the public disclosure of the National Security Agency surveillance program by indicating his administration was relying on court orders to wiretap suspected terrorists inside the United States.'
Feingold cites three instances over a year-long period in which Bush outlined the necessity of a court order or a judge's permission prior to a domestic wiretap of a U.S. citizen.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., also appearing exclusively on 'This Week,' defended Bush.
'Russ is just wrong, he is flat wrong, he is dead wrong,' Frist said.
The most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll put the president's approval rating at 41 percent, nearly a career low. But that not necessarily mean Feingold's censure resolution will succeed.
Censure, essentially a public disapproval by the Senate as a whole, has only been applied to one president, Andrew Jackson, in a politically-charged move the Senate historian's office describes as 'unprecedented and never-repeated tactic.'
Frist called the censure attempt 'political' and a 'terrible, terrible signal' to enemies of the U.S. abroad. He assured Stephanopoulos that the resolution would never gain traction in the Republican-controlled Senate."

Saturday, March 11, 2006

New Scientist News - Three cosmic enigmas, one audacious answer

New Scientist News - Three cosmic enigmas, one audacious answer

DARK energy and dark matter, two of the greatest mysteries confronting physicists, may be two sides of the same coin. A new and as yet undiscovered kind of star could explain both phenomena and, in turn, remove black holes from the lexicon of cosmology.

Toothpick & the Microwave - Google Video

Toothpick & the Microwave - Google Video

Roaming Hack

There is a little known secret about your cell phone contract that your wireless service provider doesn't want you to know.You can cancel whenever you want without paying a termination fee. Plenty of people have tried arguing with a customer service rep. Some have tried threatening legal action. Others just flat out refuse to pay and several months later find that they are being pursued by a collection agency. But there actually is a way to terminate your contract early AND avoid the early termination fee. All you have to do is get them to cancel you. There is a very simple way to do this. Become unprofitable. If you're paying them $50 a month but costing them a few hundred - They most definitely will cancel you. So how is it done? A couple of years ago you might of noticed that everyone stopped paying roaming fees. One wireless giant started the 'no more roaming charges' program, and the rest followed like the sheep that they are. But just because you are no longer paying the $0.69/min doesn't mean your provider gets off scott free.

Even though you stopped paying for roaming charges years ago, your wireless service provider has been eating the costs. This is done to keep complaints to a minimum, and of course, you as their customer.
So let's do the math.
At $0.69 a minute, a 2 hour long call in a roaming spot just cost your carrier almost $83.00
Even with some of the higher end plans, this would still be quite a hit. But would it be enough to cancel you?

Want your Free Nights and weekends to start early? get a phone with an East Coast billing address...

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Conservative Epiphany - New York Times

Bruce Bartlett, the author of 'Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy,' is an angry man. At a recent book forum at the Cato Institute, he declared that the Bush administration is 'unconscionable,' 'irresponsible,' 'vindictive' and 'inept.'
It's no wonder, then, that one commentator wrote of Mr. Bartlett that 'if he were a cartoon character, he would probably look like Donald Duck during one of his famous tirades, with steam pouring out of his ears.'
Oh, wait. That's not what somebody wrote about Mr. Bartlett. It's what Mr. Bartlett wrote about me in September 2003, when I was saying pretty much what he's saying now.
Human nature being what it is, I don't expect Mr. Bartlett to acknowledge his about-face. Nor do I expect any expressions of remorse from Andrew Sullivan, the conservative blogger who also spoke at the Cato forum. Mr. Sullivan used to specialize in denouncing the patriotism and character of anyone who dared to criticize President Bush, whom he lionized. Now he himself has become a critic, not just of Mr. Bush's policies, but of his personal qualities, too.
Never mind; better late than never. We should welcome the recent epiphanies by conservative commentators who have finally realized that the Bush administration isn't trustworthy. But we should guard against a conventional wisdom that seems to be taking hold in some quarters, which says there's something praiseworthy about having initially been taken in by Mr. Bush's deceptions, even though the administration's mendacity was obvious from the beginning.
According to this view, if you're a former Bush supporter who now says, as Mr. Bartlett did at the Cato event, that 'the administration lies about budget numbers,' you're a brave truth-teller. But if you've been saying that since the early days of the Bush administration, you were unpleasantly shrill.
Similarly, if you're a former worshipful admirer of George W. Bush who now says, as Mr. Sullivan did at Cato, that 'the people in this administration have no principles,' you're taking a courageous stand. If you said the same thing back when Mr. Bush had an 80 percent approval rating, you were blinded by Bush-hatred.
And if you're a former hawk who now concedes that the administration exaggerated the threat from Iraq, you're to be applauded for your open-mindedness. But if you warned three years ago that the administration was hyping the case for war, you were a conspiracy theorist.
The truth is that everything the new wave of Bush critics has to say was obvious long ago to any commentator who was willing to look at the facts."

The Full Port Press of Unimaginable Hypocrisy

Bush: Dubai ports storm hurts war on terror
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON - President Bush said Friday he was troubled by the political storm that forced the reversal of a deal allowing a company in the United Arab Emirates to take over take over operations of six American ports, saying it sent a bad message to U.S. allies in the Middle East.
Bush said the United States needs moderate allies in the Arab world, like the United Arab Emirates, to win the global war on terrorism.
Yet from ABC we learn:
White House Asked Dubai Ports to Pull Out
March 10, 2006 -- - The White House asked Dubai Ports World, a company owned by the United Arab Emirates, to give up its management stake in U.S. ports, to save President Bush from the politically difficult position of vetoing a key piece of legislation to protect America's ports, ABC News has learned.
Color me officially confused. By their own misguided logic then, doesn't that mean Bush just made the call to expose us to more risk in the war on terror? I thought he was the 'stay the course' guy, determined to protect as at any political cost, no matter what the polls say.
Wait ... hold it. It wasn't Bush after all, CBS tells us:
CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante reports the announcement came about after the company's consultations with White House political strategist Karl Rove.
I'm so relieved that we've finally openly acknowledged that the national security apparatus is being run in this country by an unelected political strategist who faces indictment on possible espionage charges.
Aren't you?"

Thursday, March 09, 2006

"BBC: Turkish family may provide clue to evolution

A documentary about a Turkish family who walk on all fours will be shown on the BBC March 17. A UK expert has said that the family may give researchers some clues as to how we evolved into an upright walking species. However, Professor Nicholas Humphrey disagrees with this sentiment and rejects that there is a gene for bipedalism or upright walking.
Humphrey of the London School of Economics (LSE) believes that our own species' transition to walking on two feet must have been a more complex process that involved many changes to the skeleton and the human genetic make-up, according to the BBC report.

The BBC report states that two of the sisters and one brother have only ever walked on two hands and two feet, but another sister and brother can occasionally walk on two feet for a short time.

From the report:

The five siblings live with their parents and 13 other brothers and sisters and were born with what looks like a form of brain damage. MRI scans seem to show that they have a form of cerebellar ataxia, which affects balance and coordination.

However, scientists are divided on what caused them to revert to quadrupedalism (walking on all fours).

The method of locomotion used by the Turkish children and by our closest relatives chimpanzees and gorillas, differs in a crucial way, said Professor Humphrey.
While gorillas and chimpanzees walk on their knuckles, the Turkish siblings put their weight on the wrists, lifting their fingers off the ground. "

EXTRA! Bush's Nickname For Abramoff Revealed! | The Huffington Post

I was right! As soon as Bush said that he barely knew Jack Abramoff and couldn't remember having his picture taken with him, I knew he had a pet name for him! That's why I ran my HuffPo contest: Guess Bush's Nickname for Abramoff. Do we have a winner?

My brilliant deduction was elementary, dear Watsons. It was based on two simple rules. Rule #1 was, if anyone's committed a white-collar crime in certain parts of the country Bush probably knows him. And Rule #2 was that if Bush says he doesn't know somebody, he not only knows them but has a pet name for him.

And to quote Judy Miller: I was proved f!#@*(ing right! (Although she, of course, was spectacularly and scandalously wrong, but what's that get you these days except a book deal?)

Vanity Fair's new article on Abramoff (warning: PDF) documents the extensive contacts between Bush, Abramoff and their families. It also includes the following quote from Bush, who was joking around with his pal Abramoff about his weight lifting habit (gee, how'd he know that about someone he can barely recall?):

'What are you benching, buff guy?'

And there's your answer: It's 'buff guy.'

We had lots of fun entries in our contest (and lots that were just plain rude!) 'Chief' was a reasonable guess, actually, as were 'Trader Jack,' 'Snake Eyes,' and 'Jackpot.' But all the contestants overlooked the President's fascination with sports, which has a vaguely Will-Ferrell-in-the-locker-room feel to it. (And Will Ferrell played a cheerleader, which was the Bush's athletic activity of choice! Hmmm ...)

Sadly, no contestant walked off with the prize. But at least we have an answer. Our intellectual curiosity has been sated.

Weightlifting? 'Buff guy'? It's all very promising for Mr. Abramoff's future life - in prison."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Chicago Tribune | Halliburton strikes again

Halliburton's latest outrageous withdrawal from its ATM (American Taxpayer Machine) cries out for the Great Communicator. Back in 1976 when Ronald Reagan first ran for president, he stoked the anger of largely white audiences with brutal exaggerations of the undeserving black and brown poor. He talked of a 'welfare queen' in Chicago who collected $150,000 under 80 different names. It turned out that she collected only $8,000 under four names. In a Florida campaign stop, Reagan bemoaned how hardworking people wait in line at grocery stores while a 'strapping black buck' purchased T-bone steaks with food stamps. Reagan said of a housing development in East Harlem, 'If you are a slum dweller, you can get an apartment with 11-foot ceilings, with a 20-foot balcony, a swimming pool and gymnasium, laundry room and play room, and the rent begins at $113.20 and that includes utilities.' Less than one-sixth of the 656 units had a kitchen or living room with a high ceiling, the rent would have been four times more, and the pool and gym were a community center for 200,000 area residents, mostly Latino and African-American. Reagan won the presidency in 1980 partially on that attack on the poor. His lasting imagery led to sweeping cutbacks in welfare under President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, and in the current budget cuts to the poor by Republican President Bush. But Halliburton, one of our greatest cheats of the last quarter-century, continues to skip to the head of the grocery line for tax bones as the poor continue to be axed to bare bones." -- Research Warps into Hyperdrive

Research Warps into Hyperdrive By Leonard DavidSenior Space Writerposted: 08 March 200606:53 am ET

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico %u2013 Take one part high-frequency gravitational wave generation, then add in a quantum vacuum field.
Now whip wildly via a gravitomagnetic force in a rotating superconductor while standing by for Alcubierre warp drive in higher dimensional space-time.
So you're looking for the latest in faster-than-light interstellar travel via traversable wormholes? That's one theme among many discussed at Space Technology & Applications International Forum (STAIF), a meeting held here Feb. 12-16 that brought together more than 600 experts to thrash out a range of space exploration issues.
Along with the run-of-the-mill space debates of the day, STAIF has also become a respected venue for researchers that dabble in the exotic, the thought-provoking novel, or the downright weird anomaly."

Technical Problems Cause Errors in SAT Test Scores - New York Times

About 4,000 students who took the SAT last October received test scores that were lower than they should have been %u2014 some by as much as 100 points because of technical problems in the scoring process, the College Board said yesterday.

The College Board, which administers the SAT, said it had begun to notify college admissions offices, high school counselors and affected students this week in letters and in e-mail messages, and expected to complete the process by Thursday. It also said that it planned to return registration fees and charges for sending test scores to colleges to the students whose scores were in error. The disclosure came at the height of the college admissions season, at a time when many colleges have already made many of their decisions about which students to accept, reject or defer. 'We ask that you do everything you can to ensure that students are in no way penalized for a matter that was beyond their control,' Jim Montoya, a vice president of the College Board, wrote in a letter to deans and admissions directors dated March 6. One college brought the error to the attention of The New York Times, and the College Board subsequently confirmed it. Although SAT scores are intended to show only one aspect of a student's qualifications for admissions, Robert A. Schaeffer, public education director for FairTest, a group that opposes much of standardized testing, said the problem 'could have undermined students' chances of admission, and changed where they applied to college.' 'It appears to be one of the biggest test score errors in terms of the number of students who were affected,' Mr. Schaeffer added. 'Why did it take so long to notify colleges and test takers?' Chiara Coletti, vice president for public affairs at the College Board, said last night that the board first learned that it might have a problem in late December when two students questioned the scores they had received. She said it had taken time to investigate the extent of the problem.Ms. Coletti said that as the organization reviewed the tests, it realized the errors were not limited to a few students but were 'a systemic problem.' She said the College Board has had 'things like this before, but not of this magnitude.'"

At Conservative Forum on Bush, Everybody's a Critic

If the ancient political wisdom is correct that a charge unanswered is a charge agreed to, the Bush White House pleaded guilty yesterday at the Cato Institute to some extraordinary allegations.'We did ask a few members of the Bush economic team to come,' explained David Boaz, the think tank's executive vice president, as he moderated a discussion between two prominent conservatives about President Bush. 'We didn't get that.'Now why would the administration pass up such an invitation?Well, it could have been because of the first speaker, former Reagan aide Bruce Bartlett. Author of the new book 'Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy,' Bartlett called the administration 'unconscionable,' 'irresponsible,' 'vindictive' and 'inept.'It might also have had something to do with speaker No. 2, conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan. Author of the forthcoming 'The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It; How to Get It Back,' Sullivan called Bush 'reckless' and 'a socialist,' and accused him of betraying 'almost every principle conservatism has ever stood for.'Nor was moderator Boaz a voice of moderation. He blamed Bush for 'a 48 percent increase in spending in just six years,' a 'federalization of public schools' and 'the biggest entitlement since LBJ.'True, the small-government libertarians represented by Cato have always been the odd men out of the Bush coalition. But the standing-room-only forum yesterday, where just a single questioner offered even a tepid defense of the president, underscored some deep disillusionment among conservatives over Bush's big-spending answer to Medicare and Hurricane Katrina, his vast claims of executive power, and his handling of postwar Iraq.Bartlett, who lost his job at the free-market National Center for Policy Analysis because of his book, said that if conservatives were honest, more would join his complaint. 'They're reticent to address the issues that I've raised for fear that they might have to agree with them,' he told the group. 'And a lot of Washington think tanks and groups of that sort, they know that this White House is very vindictive.'"

Deja Vu All Over Again

The administration's drumbeat on Iran is rapidly picking up tempo.
Condi Rice, today:
We will see what is necessary to do in the Security Council. . . . The United States has been very clear: the enrichment and reprocessing on Iranian soil is not acceptable.
Scott McClellan, today:
Iran 'has shown it cannot be trusted. It hid its nuclear activities for two decades from the international community. It has refused to comply with its international obligations. This is about the regime and its behavior.'
Rummy, today:
[The Iranian Revolutionary Guard] are currently putting people into Iraq to do things that are harmful to the future of Iraq, and we know it, and it is something that they will look back on as having been an error in judgment. Of course [Tehran is behind this]. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard doesn't go milling around willy-nilly.
Dick Cheney, yesterday:
The regime in Tehran continues to defy the world with its nuclear ambitions. Of course, this matter may soon go before the U.N. Security Council. The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose meaningful consequences. For our part, the United States is keeping all options on the table in addressing the irresponsible conduct of the regime. And we join other nations in sending that regime a clear message: We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. . . . Iranians desire and deserve to be free from tyranny and oppression in their own homeland. Freedom in the Middle East requires freedom for the Iranian people.
John Bolton, Sunday:
The longer we wait to confront the threat Iran poses, the harder and more intractable it will become to solve. . . . The Iran regime must be made aware that if it continues down the path of international isolation, there will be tangible and painful consequences."

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

This is your life (if you are a woman)

Independent Online Edition: "
1% of the titled land in the world is owned by women

A baby girl born in the UK is likely to live to 81 - but if she is born in
Swaziland, she is likely to die at 39

70% of the 1.2 bn people living in poverty are women and children

21% of the world's managers are female

62% of unpaid family workers are female

9% of judges, 10% of company directors and 10% of top police officers
in the UK are women

Women comprise 55% of the world's population aged over 60 years old and 65%
of those aged over 80

�970,000 is the difference between lifetime earnings of men and
women in the UK finance sector

85m girls worldwide are unable to attend school, compared with 45m
boys. In Chad, just 4% of girls go to school.

700,000,000 women are without adequate food, water, sanitation,
health care or education (compared with 400,000,000 men)

Women in full-time jobs earn an average 17% less than British men

Women in part-time jobs earn an average 42% less than British men

67% of all illiterate adults are women

1,440 women die each day during childbirth (a rate of one death every

1 in 7 women in Ethiopia die in pregnancy or childbirth (it is one in
19,000 in Britain)

In the US, 35% of lawyers are women but just 5% are partners in law

In the EU, women comprise 3% of chief execs of major companies

12 is the number of world leaders who are women (out of 191 members
of the United Nations)

Men directed 9 out of every 10 films made in 2004"

CCTV video of 3/2006 Kenya media crackdown

"KENYA CORRUPTION SCANDAL: Security video footage of Kenyan police raiding the offices of a newspaper. CCTV video via the East African Standard.

Blogger mentalacrobatics explains, 'This rapid response unit is code-named the Kanga Squad, detectives from Nairobi provincial CID headquarters and officers from the General Service Unit. They are wearing bright orange reflective vests with 'QRU' for Quick Rescue Unit/Quick Response Unit which indicates their day job of fight hardcore criminals like carjackers, bank robbers and murder hit squads.

These pictures are very disturbing. In some of them they have an employee spread eagled on the floor with a gun pressed against his/her head and a boot in his/her face. Remember these are NOT criminals being man handled like this. These are Kenyan men and women who went to work only to be pistol whipped and roughed up by an elite police squad.'"

"Abortion now a crime in South Dakota

From the BBC news item:

Under the law signed by South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds, doctors could get up to five years in prison and a $5,000 (�2,800) fine for performing an illegal abortion. (...)
The organisation Planned Parenthood, which runs South Dakota's only abortion clinic, immediately said it would challenge the new law.

The abortion ban would take effect on 1 July but it is likely that a federal judge would suspend it during any legal challenge.

The law would therefore not take effect unless South Dakota state gets the case to the US Supreme Court and wins."

Is this what its going to have to come to?!! ----

"Investigated by Homeland Security for paying a credit card bill

Retired Texas schoolteacher is 'madder than a panther with kerosene on his tail' because the Department of Homeland Security opened an investigation on him. The reason? He had the gall to pay down his credit card, which apparently marks you as a potential terrorist in Bushworld.
They just paid a hefty chunk of their credit card balance [$6,522]. And they learned how frighteningly wide the net of suspicion has been cast.
After sending in the check, they checked online to see if their account had been duly credited. They learned that the check had arrived, but the amount available for credit on their account hadn't changed.
They were told, as they moved up the managerial ladder at the call center, that the amount they had sent in was much larger than their normal monthly payment. And if the increase hits a certain percentage higher than that normal payment, Homeland Security has to be notified. And the money doesn't move until the threat alert is lifted.
'The more I'm on, the scarier it gets,' he said. 'It's scary how easily someone in Homeland Security can get permission to spy.'"

Monday, March 06, 2006

Torture and Death of Jew Deepen Fears in France

NYTimes: "BAGNEUX, France, March 3 - Two strips of red-and-white police tape bar the entrance to the low-ceilinged pump room where a young Jewish man, Ilan Halimi, spent the last weeks of his life, tormented and tortured by his captors and eventually splashed with acid in an attempt to erase any traces of their DNA.
The floor of the concrete room, in the cellar of 4, rue Serge-Prokofiev, is bare except for a few packets of rat poison, a slowly drying wet mark and a dozen small circles drawn and numbered in white chalk, presumably marking the spots where the police retrieved evidence of Mr. Halimi's ordeal.Mr. Halimi, 23, died Feb. 13, shortly after he was found near a train station 15 miles away by passers-by, after crawling out of the wooded area where he was dumped. He was naked and bleeding from at least four stab wounds to his throat, his hands bound and adhesive tape covering his mouth and eyes. According to the initial autopsy report, burns, apparently from the acid, covered 60 percent of his body.'I knew they had someone down there,' said a young French-Arab man, loitering in the doorway of a building adjacent to the one where Mr. Halimi was held. He claimed to live upstairs from the makeshift dungeon but would not give his name or say whether he knew then that the man was a Jew. 'I didn't know they were torturing him,' he said. 'Otherwise, I would have called the police.'But it is clear that plenty of people did know, both that Mr. Halimi was being tortured and that he was Jewish. The police, according to lawyers with access to the investigation files, think at least 20 people participated in his abduction and the subsequent, amateurish negotiations for ransom. His captors told his family that if they did not have the money, they should 'go and get it from your synagogue,' and later contacted a rabbi, telling him, 'We have a Jew.' The horrifying death has stunned France, which has Europe's largest Muslim and largest Jewish populations. Last weekend, tens of thousands of people marched against racism and anti-Semitism in Paris, joined by the interior minister, Nicholas Sarkozy, and smaller marches took place in several other French cities, including Marseille."