Wednesday, May 31, 2006

2468 American Troops Dead (5-29-06)

"Don't just look. Help."



BANTUL, Indonesia -- Medicines, rice, water and tarps were delivered to Indonesia's earthquake disaster zone Wednesday to help about 650,000 displaced people, but many said the international aid was taking too long to get there.

Thousands of women and children lined roads clogged with relief vehicles and curious onlookers, asking motorists for money so they could buy food. Some stood next to a banner that read: "Don't just look. Help."

Saturday's 6.3-magnitude quake on Java island killed 6,234 people and injured more than 30,000, the Social Affairs Ministry said.

Baby with three arms


Doctors in Shanghai are considering surgery options for a two-month old boy born with an unusually well-formed third arm.
Neither of the boy's two left arms is fully functional and tests have so far been unable to determine which was more developed, said Dr. Chen Bochang, head of the orthopedics department at Shanghai Children's Medical Center.
"His case is quite peculiar. We have no record of any child with such a complete third arm," Chen said in a telephone interview. "It's quite difficult to decide how to do the operation on him."
The boy, identified only as "Jie-jie," also was born with just one kidney and may have problems that could lead to curvature of the spine, according to local media reports.
Jie-jie cried when either of his left arms was touched, but smiled and responded normally to other stimuli, the reports said.

Apple G4 converted to roadside mailbox


We HEART Apples!

Prehistoric ecosystem found in Israeli cave



JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli scientists said on Wednesday they had discovered a prehistoric ecosystem dating back millions of years.

The discovery was made in a cave near the central Israeli city of Ramle during rock drilling at a quarry. Scientists were called in and soon found eight previously unknown species of crustaceans and invertebrates similar to scorpions.

"Until now eight species of animals were found in the cave, all of them unknown to science," said Dr Hanan Dimantman, a biologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

He said the cave's ecosystem probably dates back around five million years when the Mediterranean Sea covered parts of Israel.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Study: global warming boosts poison ivy - Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON - Another reason to worry about global warming: more and itchier poison ivy. The noxious vine grows faster and bigger as carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere rise, researchers report Monday.
And a CO2-driven vine also produces more of its rash-causing chemical, urushiol, conclude experiments conducted in a forest at Duke University where scientists increased carbon-dioxide levels to those expected in 2050.
Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas a chemical that traps heat similar to the way a greenhouse does that's considered a major contributor to global warming. Greenhouse gases have been steadily increasing in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution.
Poison ivy is common in woods around the country, making it a bane of hikers, campers, fighters of forest fires, even backyard gardeners. Its itchy, sometimes blistering rash is one of the most widely reported ailments to poison-control centers, with more than 350,000 reported cases a year.
Compared to poison ivy grown in usual atmospheric conditions, those exposed to the extra-high carbon dioxide grew about three times larger %u2014 and produced more allergenic form of urushiol, scientists from Duke and Harvard University reported.
Their study appears in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.






National Academy of Sciences."

Doc gives patient blood during surgery

http://edition.cnn.com/2006/HEALTH/05/29/surgeons.blood.ap/index.html

WHITE PLAINS, New York (AP) -- A heart surgeon had to take a break from a mercy-mission operation in El Salvador so he could donate his own rare-type blood for his 8-year-old patient.

Dr. Samuel Weinstein said he had his blood drawn, ate a Pop-Tart, returned to the operating table and watched as his blood helped the boy survive the complex surgery.

"It was a little bit surreal," Weinstein said by phone from the Children's Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, where he is chief of pediatric cardio-thoracic surgery.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Can Bloggers Get Real? - New York Times

The Thief will be represented here:
Las Vegas, as the ad campaign likes to remind us, is a place people go to untether themselves from reality %u2014 to become, if only for a weekend, anonymous and uncensored. It's odd, then, that Vegas is about to play host to a gathering of ordinary Americans whose objective is precisely the reverse. Next week, 1,000 devotees of the liberal blogging universe %u2014 people who know one another only as pseudonyms on a screen, connected by only their running commentaries %u2014 will descend on the Riviera Hotel in hopes of affixing names and faces to their online personas. The event has been dubbed the YearlyKos convention, and it is the first-ever corporeal assemblage of the bloggers at the Web site Dailykos.com. These are the people who are said to be changing the very nature of American politics, transforming the old smoke-filled room of insiders into an expansive chat room for anyone who wants in. And so it's not surprising that Democratic luminaries like the party's chairman, Howard Dean, and its leaders in Congress, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, have arranged their schedules to address the convention, along with at least a few 2008 presidential contenders. No small contingent of political professionals and journalists will show up as well. (I myself will sit on a panel about political journalism, which is kind of like being the Dunkin' Donuts spokesman at a cardiologists' convention.)
Barely four years after Markos Moulitsas Z�niga, a former American soldier who grew up in El Salvador and Chicago, started Daily Kos from his home in Berkeley, Calif., the site is now less a blog than a civic phenomenon. With some 600,000 visitors a day, Daily Kos reaches more Americans %u2014 albeit like-minded Americans %u2014 than all but a handful of the largest daily newspapers. The Chicago Reader, an alternative weekly, recently profiled a 23-year-old law student who writes on Daily Kos's front page under the pseudonym Georgia10, positing that she may well be the most-read political writer in the city, even though few people know her real name. (For the record, it's Georgia Logothetis, and she lives with her parents.) In this way, Daily Kos and other blogs resemble a political version of those escapist online games where anyone with a modem can disappear into an alternate society, reinventing himself among neighbors and colleagues who exist only in a virtual realm. It is not so much a blog as a travel destination, a place where what you have to say can be more important %u2014 at least for a few hours each day %u2014 than who you are or what you do."

Friday, May 26, 2006

Chicken and egg debate unscrambled

CNN.com : "LONDON, England -- It's a question that has baffled scientists, academics and pub bores through the ages: What came first, the chicken or the egg?Now a team made up of a geneticist, philosopher and chicken farmer claim to have found an answer. It was the egg.Put simply, the reason is down to the fact that genetic material does not change during an animal's life.Therefore the first bird that evolved into what we would call a chicken, probably in prehistoric times, must have first existed as an embryo inside an egg.Professor John Brookfield, a specialist in evolutionary genetics at the University of Nottingham, told the UK Press Association the pecking order was clear.The living organism inside the eggshell would have had the same DNA as the chicken it would develop into, he said.'Therefore, the first living thing which we could say unequivocally was a member of the species would be this first egg,' he added. 'So, I would conclude that the egg came first.'"

Left to die on Mount Everest

Buffalo News: "WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Mount Everest pioneer Sir Edmund Hillary said Wednesday he was shocked that dozens of climbers left a British mountaineer to die during their own attempts on the world's tallest peak. David Sharp, 34, died while descending from the summit during a solo climb last week, apparently of oxygen deficiency. More than 40 climbers are thought to have seen him as he lay dying, and almost all continued to the summit without offering assistance. 'Human life is far more important than just getting to the top of a mountain,' Hillary was quoted as saying in an interview with New Zealand Press Association. New Zealander Mark Inglis, who became the first double amputee to reach the mountain's summit on prosthetic legs, told Television New Zealand that his party stopped during its May 15 summit push and found Sharp close to death. A member of the party tried to give Sharp oxygen and sent out a radio distress call before continuing to the summit, he said. Several parties reported seeing Sharp in varying states of health and working on his oxygen equipment on the day of his death. Inglis said Sharp had no oxygen when he was found. He said there was virtually no hope that Sharp could have been carried to safety from his position about 1,000 feet short of the 29,035-foot summit, inside the low-oxygen 'death zone' of the mountain straddling the Nepal-China border."

'I like to be big'

Guardian: "If there is a 'face of child obesity', it is six-year-old, 15-stone Dzhambulat Khatokhov. Sheer size has made this boy from a poor Russian family a hero in his home town and an object of fascination in the west. Nick Paton Walsh tracks him down"

Study Finds No Cancer-Marijuana Connection

Study Finds No Cancer-Marijuana Connection
By Marc Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 26, 2006; A03

The largest study of its kind has unexpectedly concluded that smoking marijuana, even regularly and heavily, does not lead to lung cancer.

The new findings "were against our expectations," said Donald Tashkin of the University of California at Los Angeles, a pulmonologist who has studied marijuana for 30 years.

"We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use," he said. "What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect."

Federal health and drug enforcement officials have widely used Tashkin's previous work on marijuana to make the case that the drug is dangerous. Tashkin said that while he still believes marijuana is potentially harmful, its cancer-causing effects appear to be of less concern than previously thought.

Earlier work established that marijuana does contain cancer-causing chemicals as potentially harmful as those in tobacco, he said. However, marijuana also contains the chemical THC, which he said may kill aging cells and keep them from becoming cancerous.

Tashkin's study, funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Drug Abuse, involved 1,200 people in Los Angeles who had lung, neck or head cancer and an additional 1,040 people without cancer matched by age, sex and neighborhood.

They were all asked about their lifetime use of marijuana, tobacco and alcohol. The heaviest marijuana smokers had lighted up more than 22,000 times, while moderately heavy usage was defined as smoking 11,000 to 22,000 marijuana cigarettes. Tashkin found that even the very heavy marijuana smokers showed no increased incidence of the three cancers stud

Happy Birthday Daily Kos

It started---as most revolutions do---quietly, on May 26, 2002:
I am progressive. I am liberal. I make no apologies. I believe government has an obligation to create an even playing field for all of this country's citizens and immigrants alike. I am not a socialist. I do not seek enforced equality. However, there has to be equality of opportunity, and the private sector, left to its own devices, will never achieve this goal.
Markos's second entry was funny (and the link still works):
Bush and Putin on nickname terms
Pootie-Poot? Is our 'president' in second grade? I dream of once again having a grownup running the country. Sigh...
But this entry from later that evening was unfortunately a bit off the mark. Nobody's perfect...
Iraq invasion losing steam
The Bush Administration is backpedaling from plans to attack Iraq. No surprise. Bush was eager to keep the nation on a war footing, probably surmizing his high poll numbers depended on it. However, the recent 9-11 disclosures have brought the Bush administration's competence into question. I believe that a few months of investigation leaks will further erode Bush's war glow.
The blog percolated for several months before I discovered it and signed up in mid-2003.
After that, all hell broke loose and it's been a sprint for world domination ever since. Today politicians ignore us at their peril. Newspapers write about us. The right-wing propaganda hurlers hate us---oh they really hate us---for our superior bullshit-detection powers. I hear we're having a little block party in two weeks. And yesterday Lichtenstein surrendered to us without a shot being fired (not so smug now are ya, Belgium?).
Seriously, this is the most amazing place. We play defense and offense simultaneously without breaking a sweat. As we chew up Republican lies and spit out the truth, we're also advancing our own agenda for achieving Kos's 'equality of opportunity' in America. Where all people are treated fairly, where we all feel safer because we really are safer, and where transparency and accountability are hallmarks of a bipartisan government that listens to its citizens as much as it does to lobbyists. A crazy goal, I know. But it's better than beating the shit out of a pillow with a tennis racquet while screaming 'Mom! Mom! WHY...did you DO that...to ME!!? Or so I hear."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

All of a Sudden Bush Shows Concern for the Constitution?

Bush Orders FBI-Congress Documents Sealed

Coincedent? I think not. I think a lot of us saw it coming, I sure as hell did.




President Bush, right, shakes hands with Speaker of the House Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., before delivering his speech at the Arie Crown Theatre in McCormick Place, in a Monday, May 22, 2006 photo in Chicago. House Speaker Dennis Hastert demanded Wednesday, May 24, 2006, that the FBI surrender documents it seized and remove agents involved in the weekend raid of Rep. William Jefferson's office, under what lawmakers of both parties said were unconstitutional circumstances. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Justice Department Says House Speaker Dennis Hastert Not Under Investigation

Like ClockWork!


By MARK SHERMAN

WASHINGTON May 24, 2006 (AP)— The Justice Department denied a news report Wednesday that it was investigating House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

The statement by department spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos came in response to a report by ABC News that Hastert was under investigation by the FBI to determine his role in a public corruption probe centered around convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Amid a furor surrounding the weekend FBI raid on the offices of Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., ABC quoted federal officials as saying information implicating Hastert was developed from convicted lobbyists now cooperating with the government.

Hastert, R-Ill., sharply criticized the raid and, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., demanded that Justice Department officials return all the documents seized from Jefferson's office.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A lot to swallow

Chicago Tribune
: "One of the nice things about having dinner with Pat Bertoletti: You never have to feel as if you've overeaten, even if you make a complete pig of yourself. He's the nation's fourth-ranked competitive eater according to -- who else? -- the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE.com), which regulates and promotes the growing sport with self-mocking seriousness, and last year doled out about $247,000 in prize money nationwide to top 'gorgers,' 'masticators' and 'gurgitators,' to use eating circuit lingo. But Bertoletti is completely serious about competitive eating. He has downed 37 Krystal hamburgers in a period of 8 minutes in Chattanooga, Tenn., 24.5 grilled cheese sandwiches in 10 minutes in New York, 10.8 pounds of Key lime pie in 8 in Panama City Beach, Fla. (first place), 5 3/4 pounds of corned beef and cabbage in 10 in Boston (first place), 1 pound, 15 ounces of heart-shaped chocolates in 7 minutes in Chicago (first place), 105 jalapeno poppers in 10 minutes in Tucson, Ariz., and a lot more. After he ate the jalapenos, he rode a roller coaster. 'You let the food settle, and then you're fine,' he said. Although he travels around the country eating a lot of junk, Bertoletti, 20, a Morgan Park Academy grad, has elevated tastes. He's a culinary student at Kendall College, who idolizes the French culinary legend Auguste Escoffier, is particularly fond of the elegant-rustic cuisine at Blackbird restaurant in Chicago, has a recent obsession with sweetbreads and considers consomme 'an art form.'"

"Dennis!!!!!"




Like a puzzle, the pieces make an unmistakeable picture.
Democrats attack Republicans for a culture of corruption. In turn, Democrat William Jefferson's office is raided by the FBI, papers are taken, money is found, and he goes down on corruption charges. Ironically, Republicans are implicated in these documents. Hastert's name is mentioned. He is in Chicago with Bush at the Restaurant Convention. Hastert tells reporters the raid was unconstitutional, Alberto Gonzalez expresses concern for the legality of the raid..... this story will surely continue.

May 24, 2006 6:24 PM

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, is under investigation by the FBI, which is seeking to determine his role in an ongoing public corruption probe into members of Congress, ABC News has learned from senior U.S. law enforcement officials.

Federal officials say the information implicating Hastert was developed from convicted lobbyists who are now cooperating with the government.

Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago, urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with other tribes.. . . . .


In a related story Dennis Hastert says, " I'm Guilty"
"Hey Mr. Bush, I'm about to go down, real bad. I mean fire and brimstone. Can you call the FBI hounddogs off my back? It seems our plan to take down a Democrat on corruption charges has seriously back-fired."

I LOVE IT!

Finally Feeling the Heat - New York Times

TODAY 'An Inconvenient Truth,' Al Gore's movie about the greenhouse effect, opens in New York and California. Many who already believe global warming is a menace will flock to the film; many who scoff at the notion will opt for Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks. But has anything happened in recent years that should cause a reasonable person to switch sides in the global-warming debate? Yes: the science has changed from ambiguous to near-unanimous. As an environmental commentator, I have a long record of opposing alarmism. But based on the data I'm now switching sides regarding global warming, from skeptic to convert. Once global-warming science was too uncertain to form the basis of policy decisions %u2014 and this was hardly just the contention of oil executives. 'There is no evidence yet' of dangerous climate change, a National Academy of Sciences report said in 1991. A 1992 survey of the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society found that only 17 percent of members believed there was sufficient grounds to declare an artificial greenhouse effect in progress. In 1993 Thomas Karl, director of the National Climatic Data Center, said there existed 'a great range of uncertainty' regarding whether the world is warming. Clearly, the question called for more research.That research is now in, and it shows a strong scientific consensus that an artificially warming world is a real phenomenon posing real danger: The American Geophysical Union and American Meteorological Society in 2003 both declared that signs of global warming had become compelling. In 2004 the American Association for the Advancement of Science said that there was no longer any 'substantive disagreement in the scientific community' that artificial global warming is happening."

Student faces expulsion over blog

Student faces expulsion over blog

By Lolly Bowean
Tribune staff reporter
Published May 24, 2006


A 17-year-old high school student who posted comments online about Plainfield School District 202 is facing expulsion because of his blog, his attorney said.

After serving a 10-day suspension over his posting on Xanga.com, the teen is scheduled for a hearing Thursday on the matter, attorney Carl Buck said. The student is back in school but could be expelled and sent to an alternative school, Buck said.

"They are trying to terminate his educational rights," he said. "Neither the parents, student or I believe this warrants expulsion. This seems pretty aggressive for the kind of [posting] we are talking about here."

The student was suspended from school earlier this month after posting a letter online criticizing the discipline of another student, Buck said. He also posted a letter to school administrators saying his opinions were being stifled and that he was being bullied into removing information on his blog.

Update: State secrets privilege slams door on civil suits

WASHINGTON -- A suit filed this week in Chicago by author Studs Terkel and others accusing AT&T of invading its customers' privacy by sharing phone records with the National Security Agency could provide the next test of whether the Bush administration employs a once-rare tactic that essentially gives the government a blank check to kill civil suits.

Earlier this month, Justice Department lawyers intervened in an invasion-of-privacy suit in San Francisco against AT&T and asserted what is known as the state secrets privilege by asking a judge to dismiss the case because they said allowing it to go forward would compromise national security.

The government has repeatedly invoked the state secrets privilege to head off challenges to two of the most sensitive aspects of the administration's war on terror--domestic electronic surveillance and so-called extraordinary renditions. In the latter instance, suspected terrorists are secretly picked up overseas and sent to foreign countries for interrogations under harsh conditions.

All told, the administration has asserted the privilege at least six times since 2001.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

SNL - Funhouse with Bush


In case you missed this:
On Saturday Night Live, Fun with Real Audio 'kicked out the jams' last night.
Video-WMP Video-QT
Every time Bush, Cheney or Rummy say something that has ultimately turned out wrong, someone, animal or thing spits water or soup on them. Karl Rove scurries into the frame each time and makes them do another take. All the audio is of course the real thing. Another excellent job by Robert Smigel and Matt O'Brien."

Lies, all lies

From an amazing diary on DailyKos by Dave V. I had to copy the entire list to give you the full effect - read these (the names towards the end are the readers who contributed the 'lie.')Stephen Colbert was not funny.Helen Thomas is old and batty.Mexicans are taking our jobs.Iraq sent its WMDs to Syria.Democrats don't want to wiretap terrorists.Joe Wilson admitted that Valerie Plame wasn't covert.Karl Rove has a faulty memory.Scooter Libby has a faulty memory.Tom DeLay is like Jesus Christ.No one could have anticipated that the levees would be breached.We do not torture.There is no global warming.There is global warming, but humans didn't cause it.Howard Dean can't raise money.John F. Kerry is a flip-flopper.George W. Bush is a decider.John McCain is a straight-shooter.Dick Cheney is a sober shooter.Nobody at the White House knows Jack Abramoff.Democrats do.The economy is great.Evolution isn't supported by the facts.Diebold voting machines are secure.Fox News is fair and balanced.Mission accomplished.Bill Clinton did it too.No one could have anticipated the Iraqi insurgency.The budget deficit will be cut in half in four years.Anyone who thinks Dubai shouldn't control our ports is racist.No one who thinks we should build a wall along the Mexican border is racist.George Allen isn't a racist... anymore.Terry Schiavo wants to live.Andrea Clark wants to die.We've turned a corner in Iraq.There's a war on Christmas.There's a war on Easter.There's no civil war in Iraq."

Andrew Sullivan | The Daily Dish: How Stupid Is Karl Rove?

I was just wondering what your thoughts were about the now-failing Rove strategy. The
guy's supposed to be a genius, but if he were so smart wouldn't he have foreseen that embracing divisivess and extremism would come back to bite him and his party in the ass?For that matter, what about the intelligence (or lack thereof) involved in the prosecution of the war and its aftermath? If I had wanted to assure a 'permanent Republican majority' I would have done everything possible to assure that the war was a complete and unquestionable success. But clearly they planned it on the cheap and with lack of forethought.Is this just stupidity? Hubris? Once again, if Rove was such a genius, wouldn't he have done his part to make sure that the President and his policies were as certain as possible of success? Imagine, if you will, what a lock on power the GOP would now have if the war had been done right.My money is on stupid. The right has long sought to portray Karl Rove as a genius; and the paranoid left has been only too happy to go along. My own view is that he's always been a dreadful political strategist. We don't have to wait for a GOP bloodbath this fall to see it. We had a president after 9/11 who could have asked anything of the American public and been supported. He chose a policy of brutal partisan division in war-time, and as commander-in-chief with a strong economy, he turned a 50 percent victory into ... 51 percent. If he'd risen above petty partisanship, asked for real sacrifice, listened to the military leadership on the war, and included Democrats in a war-cabinet, he could have won in a landslide.

The domestic policy record is also terrible. By allowing the staggering splurge of spending, especially on the Medicare entitlement, Rove has destroyed the Republicans' advantage on fiscal issues for a generation. By harnessing the GOP to religious fundamentalism, he has all but lost the center and independents; and by relying exclusively on that base, he is also alienating Hispanics on the immigration issue. His decision to ignore Iraq and go for an incoherent social security reform last year was another massive miscalculation. Yes, he can whip up hysteria against already-disliked minorities for short-term gain. But anyone with no scruples or conscience can do that. As for communicating the Bush message: Rove's tenure has been marked by some of the worst p.r. I've yet seen from a White House. So, yeah. Rove is a terrible political guru. To sell your soul - and your party's soul - for a permanent majority is one thing. To sell it for 51 percent is just pathetic."

Monday, May 22, 2006

Illinois ACLU sues AT&T over phone records

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois filed suit against AT&T today alleging the company invaded the privacy of its customers in the state by providing phone records to the federal government without a court order.

Several prominent local residents, including author Studs Terkel, agreed to serve as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which targets controversial domestic surveillance practices. The ACLU seeks no money damages, only a court order to block AT&T from providing phone records to the National Security Agency without a judge's approval.

"When government uses the telephone companies to create massive databases of all our phone calls, it has gone too far," Terkel said in a prepared statement provided by the ACLU.

James Montgomery, a lawyer and former corporation counsel for the City of Chicago, said attorneys were among those who should be concerned. "Obviously, there will be a chilling effect on people calling lawyers," he said. Other plaintiffs include House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) and Dr. Quentin Young, a physician and health-care advocate.

********************************************************************************
THE 4TH AMENDMENT OF THE U.S CONSTITUTION:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Get up, stand up. Stand up for your rights.

The Champion Gorger

courant.com
: "At 5 feet, 10 inches and 170 pounds, he doesn't look like a big chow hound, but Tim 'Eater X' Janus has shoveled more grub into his gut in 10 minutes than a typical family of four would eat at a Sunday dinner.
A New York City day trader who grew up in Simsbury, Janus has gorged on everything from corned beef and cabbage to matzo balls in 45 eating contests in the last two years. He's called 'Eater X' for the face paint he wears to the competition tables, but he's more than just another pretty face.
Janus, 29 and single, is the world tiramisu-eating champion, consuming 4 pounds of the dessert in six minutes last year. He also holds the international title for scarfing shoo-fly pie (6 pounds in eight minutes) and grilled-cheese sandwiches (361/2 in 10 minutes).
In his book, 'Horsemen of the Esophagus,' Jason Fagone describes Janus' indeterminate stock-trader life and why Eater X 'so appreciated competitive eating.'
'Eating was so literally material. Instead of computer screens and trend lines, it was calories and scales and barbells and belches and big, messy dumps,' Fagone wrote. 'Honest bodily feedback. A virtuous cycle, not a vicious one.'
On Saturday, Janus plans to attend another gut-stretcher at Nathan's Famous in East Hartford, where a qualifying round for the worldwide hot-dog eating contest is slated for 1 p.m. He took time last week to answer a few questions about his gustatory pursuits:"

Truthout.org, A Little Too Liberal? Or Poor Journalistic Quality? Maybe Both.

Rove "Scoop" Remains Exclusive

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 22, 2006; 7:42 AM

Robert Luskin, Karl Rove's lawyer, says he spent most of the day on May 12 taking his cat to the veterinarian and having a technician fix his computer at home.

He was stunned, therefore, when journalists started calling to ask about an online report that he had spent half the day at his law office, negotiating with Patrick Fitzgerald -- and that the special prosecutor had secretly obtained an indictment of Rove.

The cat's medical tests, Luskin says, found that "the stools were free of harmful parasites, which is more than I can say for this case."

The claim that President Bush's top political strategist had been indicted in the CIA leak investigation was written by a journalist who has battled drug addiction and mental illness and been convicted of grand larceny. That didn't stop more than 35 reporters -- from all the major newspapers, networks and newsmagazines -- from calling Luskin or Rove's spokesman, Mark Corallo, to check it out.

he reports appeared on the liberal Web site Truthout.org, run by Marc Ash, a former advertising man and fashion photographer in California. Jason Leopold, the author of the stories, directed inquiries to Ash, who says that "we stand by the story. We have multiple points of independent confirmation of what we originally reported. Our problem is, the prosecutor's office is under no obligation to go public."

Leopold acknowledges in a new book, "News Junkie," that he is a past liar, convicted felon and former alcoholic and cocaine addict. An earlier version of the book was canceled by publisher Rowman & Littlefield last year.

Salon retracted a 2002 piece by Leopold involving then-Army Secretary Thomas White. Salon apologized, saying it had been unable to confirm the authenticity of an e-mail that Leopold attributed to White. Leopold, a onetime reporter for the Los Angeles Times and Dow Jones, accused the online magazine of being "wimpy" and caving to pressure..........

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Despite Pledge, Taxes Increase for Teenagers - New York Times

The $69 billion tax cut bill that President Bush signed this week tripled tax rates for teenagers with college savings funds, despite Mr. Bush's 1999 pledge to veto any tax increase.

Under the new law, teenagers age 14 to 17 with investment income will now be taxed at the same rate as their parents, not at their own rates. Long-term capital gains and dividends that had been taxed at 5 percent will now be taxed at 15 percent. Interest that had been taxed at 10 percent will now be taxed at as much as 35 percent. The increases, which are retroactive to the first day of the year, are expected to generate nearly $2.2 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, which issues the official estimates.Over all, the tax bill that Mr. Bush signed Wednesday reduces taxes by $69 billion. Mr. Bush pledged in 1999 to veto any bill that raised taxes. In response to a question about the tax increase on teenagers in the new legislation, the White House issued a statement Friday that made no reference to the tax increase, but recounted the tax cuts the administration has sponsored and stated that President Bush had 'reduced taxes on all people who pay income taxes.' Challenged on that point, the White House modified its statement 21 minutes later to say that Mr. Bush had 'reduced taxes on virtually all people who pay income taxes.' The deputy White House press secretary, Kenneth A. Lisaius, declined to discuss the reasons Mr. Bush broke his pledge or anything else beyond the modified statement, which emphasized the $880 billion in tax reductions from tax laws Mr. Bush signed in 2001 and 2003.Americans for Tax Reform, an influential lobbying group that seeks to reduce taxes, had led the drive to press politicians to pledge no new taxes. The pledge has been signed by 256 members of the House and the Senate, nearly all of them Republicans, and by thousands of candidates for state and local office."

The Debate Heats Up : Scientists Scuttle Claims That 'Hobbit' Fossil From Flores, Indonesia, Is A New Hominid



From May 19, 2006

When scientists found 18,000-year-old bones of a small, humanlike creature on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003, they concluded that the bones represented a new species in the human family tree that they named Homo floresiensis. Their interpretation was widely accepted by the scientific community and heralded by the popular press around the world. Because of its very short stature, H. floresiensis was soon dubbed the "Hobbit."
Increasingly, however, this controversial conclusion is being questioned. In a Technical Comment to be published in the May 19, 2006, issue of Science magazine, scientists led by Robert D. Martin, PhD, Field Museum Provost and world-class primatologist, say that the bones in question do not represent a new species at all. A far more likely explanation is that the bones belonged to a modern human who suffered from microcephaly, a pathological condition that causes small brain size, often associated with short stature.
The proposed new hominid species is based primarily on a specimen known as LB1 consisting of a diminutive adult skull and partial skeleton about three feet tall. Initially, H. floresiensis was claimed to be a dwarf derived from Homo erectus ("upright man"), a human ancestor that lived as far back as 1.8 million years ago. This seemed like an appealing explanation because islands are known to play tricks on the evolution of animals, sometimes causing them to shrink due to limited food supplies and the reduced presence of predators.
Continue Reading . . .

From March 4, 2005

A fossil of a diminutive human nicknamed "the Hobbit" likely represents a previously unrecognized species of early humans, according to the results of a detailed comparison of the fossil's brain case with those of humans, apes and other human ancestors.
Skeptics had argued that the Hobbit, discovered in Indonesia and first announced last fall, could have been an individual who suffered from a disorder that limited brain growth known as microcephaly. The fossils' discoverers had suggested that the Hobbit was either a pygmy form of a known species or a previously undiscovered species of early humans.
The new data on the Hobbit reveal little similarity to microcephalics and pygmies and support the theory that the fossil is a member of a unique ancestral species, according to researchers who publish their results online this week in Science. Scientists at Florida State University; Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis; the University of New England, Australia; and the Indonesian Centre for Archaeology, Jakarta authored the new paper.
Continue Reading. . .

Attorney Gen.: Reporters Can Be Prosecuted

Attorney Gen.: Reporters Can Be Prosecuted
May 21 10:43 AM US/Eastern
Associated Press
WASHINGTON

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Sunday he believes journalists can be prosecuted for publishing classified information, citing an obligation to national security.

The nation's top law enforcer also said the government will not hesitate to track telephone calls made by reporters as part of a criminal leak investigation, but officials would not do so routinely and randomly.

"There are some statutes on the book which, if you read the language carefully, would seem to indicate that that is a possibility," Gonzales said, referring to prosecutions. "We have an obligation to enforce those laws. We have an obligation to ensure that our national security is protected."

In recent months, journalists have been called into court to testify as part of investigations into leaks, including the unauthorized disclosure of a CIA operative's name as well as the National Security Agency's warrantless eavesdropping program.

Gonzales said he would not comment specifically on whether The New York Times should be prosecuted for disclosing the NSA program last year based on classified information.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Eyeballing the new 24/7 Apple store in NY


It's just an empty glass box now, but this site will become the world's most powerful nerd magnet tomorrow. Expect to see geeks flying through the air towards it, whoosh! over Manhattan, like steel dust drawn to a neodymium disc.

Do We Need Protection by Bush, or From Him?

Margaret Carlson May 18 (Bloomberg) -- I didn't worry when word leaked out
that George W. Bush had authorized the National Security Agency
to tap phones without a warrant. I haven't phoned Kabul or West
London.
I was a bit concerned about the First, Fourth and Fifth
Amendments to the Constitution, and I did wonder why the
administration would bypass the court set up to fast-track
wiretap approvals on international calls.
But Congress seemed upset about it. Surely, our lawmakers
would rein in the White House. But then Bush named the wiretaps
the Terrorist Surveillance Program, the public bought it, and
suddenly Congress wasn't upset enough to do anything.
Then came USA Today on May 11 with the story that the NSA
secretly collected a massive database of phone records of
millions of domestic calls by ordinary Americas with the help of
Verizon Communications Inc., AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp. That's
your call to your broker and mine to my internist and lots of
other people's calls to former and present boyfriends,
astrologists and bookies.
`Not Trolling'
``We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of
millions of innocent Americans,'' the president was quick to say,
as if anyone pictured him and Karl Rove personally listening in
to see which Republican county chairmen were on Senator John
McCain's friends and family list. Bush often denies the thing
he's not accused of.
But something like the wholesale collection of phone records
was what the Constitution -- not to mention any number of Federal
Communications Commission regulations -- supposedly safeguards
against. Had Bush asked, he could have probably gotten permission
to tap Senator Ted Kennedy's line without showing much cause at
all. Sept. 11, after all, changed everything, especially the
importance of the other two branches of government to Bush.
Still, he couldn't be bothered."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Rump States

Whiskey Bar: "President Bush . . . has a positive job approval in just three of the 50 United States. This according to 50 separate but concurrent statewide public opinion polls conducted by SurveyUSA for its media clients across the country. Only residents of Utah, Wyoming and Idaho view the president favorably."

Former Bush campaign official sentenced to prison� | �Reuters

....."Democrats want an investigation into 22 telephone calls made by Tobin and New Hampshire Republican Party officials to the White House on November 5 and 6, 2002, and say they believe national Republican officials may be involved in the scheme.".......

Suspicion and skepticism can deduce a lot from the linked article. Why is a man being sentenced to jail, for disturbing free and fair elections, calling the White House during or around the time of the said election? We have seated a crooked administration to lead us into the future. It's that simple. I am done pondering that the Bush administration has good intentions.

Republicans Sought IRS Probe of NAACP

BREITBART.COM - Republicans Sought IRS Probe of NAACP

Republicans Sought IRS Probe of NAACP
May 18 2:46 PM US/Eastern

BALTIMORE: From the AP

Several Republican members of Congress sent letters to the Internal Revenue Service questioning whether the NAACP had veered into political advocacy and asked for an investigation into its tax-exempt status, according to documents released by the civil rights organization.

The IRS began looking into the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People about a month before the 2004 presidential election after a speech by NAACP Chairman Julian Bond that was largely critical of President Bush's policies.

Political campaigning is prohibited under the NAACP's tax-exempt status. The IRS said its inquiry would focus on whether Bond's speech was too political, and that the investigation is among dozens into the activities of tax-exempt groups during the 2004 election season.

The NAACP received more than 500 pages of documents the IRS has gathered to begin its inquiry. The group had made requests under the Freedom of Information Act and provided the documents to The (Baltimore) Sun.

The documents include letters that members of Congress sent to the IRS on behalf of their constituents. The lawmakers include Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Susan M. Collins of Maine, Rep. Jo Ann Davis of Virginia, the late Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and former Reps. Larry Combest of Texas and Joe Scarborough of Florida. All are Republicans.

The NAACP has called the IRS audit a political smear campaign. Marcus Owens, an attorney for the NAACP, said the letters from Republican politicians raised questions about the motivation of the IRS probe.

"It's clear that the NAACP drew a lot of criticism and complaints from the Republican Party and many of the complaints don't have a lot of substance to them," he said. "The circumstances of the audit came just weeks before the election


Yep, Republican Party Member, KKK member, and, Yep, sought probes to retract NAACP's tax exempt status. Let me.....oh, forget it, he's dead. And so with him may go his uncultured earth-centric model of the universe.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Federal Source to ABC News: We Know Who You're Calling

A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

'It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick,' the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation."

AND IN A RELATED STORY....
German Agency Accused of Spying on Journalists

BERLIN — Germany's foreign intelligence service has been accused of keeping files on journalists and paying reporters to spy on their colleagues, in a widening scandal that echoes the days of Cold War secret dossiers.

The charges, contained in a confidential government report, have unnerved media organizations and further damaged the reputation of the foreign intelligence agency, which is also under investigation by Parliament for its role in the Iraq war. Parts of the report were leaked to newspapers over the weekend, and lawmakers quickly blamed the agency for violating press freedoms. ....(IT HAS) ROUSED MEMORIES OF THE STASI, THE FEARED EAST GERMAN SECRET POLICE, WHICH INFILTRATED ALL LAYERS OF COMMUNIST-ERA LIFE.
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-spy16may16,1,7697926.story?coll=la-headlines-world&track=crosspromo

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tony Snow's Debut


Did anyone see Tony Snow's first briefing? Check it out on CSPAN.com. He is not as confidently aggressive as Scott McClellan.

Subject's Challenge Derails Reporter's Book Project (washingtonpost.com)

Jason Leopold got a journalistic black eye three years ago when Salon retracted a story the freelancer had written about a Bush administration official, saying it could not authenticate the piece.
Now the former Los Angeles Times and Dow Jones reporter has written a book, 'Off the Record,' that criticizes journalists as lazy. Oh, and by the way, Leopold says he engaged in 'lying, cheating and backstabbing,' is a former cocaine addict, served time for grand larceny, repeatedly tried to kill himself and has battled mental illness his whole life.
But the book's publisher, Rowman & Littlefield, has canceled 'Off the Record' days before it was to go to press, despite having sent out news releases and listed the book on Amazon.com. The publisher acted after receiving a warning letter from one subject's lawyer.




'I'm devastated,' Leopold said yesterday. 'I worked really hard these past two years to restore my credibility after the Salon fiasco. . . . I have a checkered past, and I was hoping that by coming clean about my own past, it would allow me to move forward.'




According to a lengthy press release on the book's publication from Rowman & Littlefield, a small publisher based in Lanham, Leopold says Steven Maviglio, a former spokesman for then-California Gov. Gray Davis, 'confided in me that he might have broken the law by investing in energy companies using inside information.'




Maviglio, who now works for the California legislature, says that Leopold 'just got it completely wrong' and that he never 'confided' in Leopold. He says his lawyer sent the publisher a letter demanding that the material Maviglio deems defamatory be removed."

Karl Rove Indicted on Charges of Perjury, Lying to Investigators

Saturday 13 May 2006
by Jason Leopold
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent more than half a day Friday at the offices of Patton Boggs, the law firm representing Karl Rove.
During the course of that meeting, Fitzgerald served attorneys for former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove with an indictment charging the embattled White House official with perjury and lying to investigators related to his role in the CIA leak case, and instructed one of the attorneys to tell Rove that he has 24 business hours to get his affairs in order, high level sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said Saturday morning.
Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney, did not return a call for comment. Sources said Fitzgerald was in Washington, DC, Friday and met with Luskin for about 15 hours to go over the charges against Rove, which include perjury and lying to investigators about how and when Rove discovered that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert CIA operative and whether he shared that information with reporters, sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said.
It was still unknown Saturday whether Fitzgerald charged Rove with a more serious obstruction of justice charge. Sources close to the case said Friday that it appeared very likely that an obstruction charge against Rove would be included with charges of perjury and lying to investigators.
An announcement by Fitzgerald is expected to come this week, sources close to the case said. However, the day and time is unknown. Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the special prosecutor was unavailable for comment. In the past, Samborn said he could not comment on the case.
The grand jury hearing evidence in the Plame Wilson case met Friday on other matters while Fitzgerald spent the entire day at Luskin's office. The meeting was a closely guarded secret and seems to have taken place without the knowledge of the media.
As TruthOut reported Friday evening, Rove told President Bush and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, as well as a few other high level administration officials, that he will be indicted in the CIA leak case and will immediately resign his White House job when the special counsel publicly announces the charges against him, according to sources."

The Great eBay Publishing Experiment


A first-time author has bypassed the traditional route of getting an agent, and is publishing a collaborative thriller on eBay. The novel is being written one page at a time, one writer to a page. As each installment is finished, the chance to create the next is offered for auction on eBay. So far, 17 pages have been completed, with 234 to go, and while the quality of the writing might charitably be described as variable, there is no shortage of plot

Money quote from the speech:

We cannot build a unified country by inciting people to anger, or playing on anyone's fears, or exploiting the issue of immigration for political gain.

Perish the thought.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Two more killed by gators in Florida - U.S. News - MSNBC.com

ALT SPRINGS, Fla. - The bodies of two women, both apparently killed by alligators, were found less than a week after a similar death in a state that had seen just 17 confirmed fatal attacks by the animals in the past 57 years.A 23-year-old woman staying at a secluded cabin near a spring that feeds into the Lake George was attacked at a recreation area, Marion County Fire-Rescue Capt. Joe Amigliore said Sunday. The lake is about 50 miles southeast of Gainesville. The people she was staying with came around and found her inside the gator's mouth, Amigliore said. They jumped into the water and somehow pulled her out of the gator's mouth.
The woman, whose name was not released, was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities were searching for the alligator Sunday night.The death of another woman whose body was found early Sunday in a canal 20 miles north of St. Petersburg also was blamed on an alligator, Pinellas County authorities said.She suffered animal bites that were consistent with an alligator, which did play some part in the victim's death, according to a preliminary autopsy. The cause of death was pending and the medical examiner's final report will not be released for at least four weeks, the sheriff's office said.It was not immediately known why Judy W. Cooper, 43, of Dunedin, was in the area where wildlife officials said alligators are frequently spotted. Human arms found in belly of alligatorOn Wednesday, construction workers found the dismembered body of a Florida Atlantic University student in a canal near Fort Lauderdale. Authorities captured a nine-foot alligator Saturday and found two human arms inside its stomach. A medical examiner concluded that the 28-year-old woman was attacked near the canal bank and dragged into the water."

Laura Bush doesn't believe bad polls�|�Reuters.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - First lady Laura Bush said on Sunday she does not believe opinion polls showing her husband's approval ratings at record low levels.

Interviewed on Fox News Sunday, Laura Bush said she did not think people were losing confidence in President George W. Bush, despite a series of polls showing support for him at its lowest point in his five-year presidency and among the lowest for any president in the past 50 years.

"I don't really believe those polls. I travel around the country. I see people, I see their responses to my husband. I see their response to me," she said.

"As I travel around the United States, I see a lot of appreciation for him. A lot of people come up to me and say, 'Stay the course'."

--- is it ironic that during Colbert's roast he mocks the Bush's when he says something like the following... People like us, we don't believe in polls, science, factoids, books, we go with our gut. It is beyond the pale!!!!

Cheney

Hand-written notes by the Vice President surface in the Fitzgerald Probe
By Michael Isikoff / Newsweek
May 13, 2006 - The role of Vice President Dick Cheney in the criminal case stemming from the outing of White House critic Joseph Wilson's CIA wife is likely to get fresh attention as a result of newly disclosed notes showing that Cheney personally asked whether Wilson had been sent by his wife on a 'junket' to Africa.
Cheney's notes, written on the margins of a July 6, 2003 New York Times op-ed column by former ambassador Joseph Wilson, were included as part of a filing Friday night by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the perjury and obstruction case against ex-Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby.


The notes, Fitzgerald said in his filing, show that Cheney and Libby were 'acutely focused' on the Wilson column and on rebutting his criticisms of the White House's handling of pre-Iraq war intelligence. In the column, which created a firestorm after its publication, Wilson wrote that he had been dispatched by the CIA without pay to Niger in February, 2002 to investigate an intelligence report that Iraq was seeking uranium from the African country for a nuclear bomb. Wilson said he was told Cheney had asked about the intelligence,but the White House subsequently ignored his findings debunking the Niger claims.


In the margins of the op-ed, Cheney jotted out a series of questions that seemed to challenge many of Wilson's assertions as well as the legitimacy of his CIA sponsored trip to Africa: 'Have they done this sort of thing before? Send an Amb. [sic] to answer a question? Do we ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us? Or did his wife send him on a junket?'


It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for Cheney's own notes to be made public. The notes%u2014apparently obtained as a result of a grand jury subpoena%u2014would appear to make Cheney an even more central witness than had been previously thought in the criminal probe. Fitzgerald's prosecution has created continued problems for the White House. Karl Rove, the President Bush's chief political advisor, recently made his fifth grand jury appearance in the case and remains under scrutiny while Fitzgerald weighs whether to file criminal charges against him. For now, Libby is the only figure charged in the case."

Frank Rich: Any 'witch hunt' for traitors should begin in the White House

Defending journalists who have been castigated as traitors for exposing government blunders, New York Times columnist Frank Rich writes that any 'witch hunt' for traitors should begin in the White House, RAW STORY has found.

'What really angers the White House and its defenders about both the Post and Times scoops are not the legal questions the stories raise about unregulated gulags and unconstitutional domestic snooping, but the unmasking of yet more administration failures in a war effort riddled with ineptitude,' Rich writes.

'It's the recklessness at the top of our government, not the press' exposure of it, that has truly aided the enemy, put American lives at risk and potentially sabotaged national security,' Rich continues. 'That's where the buck stops, and if there's to be a witch hunt for traitors, that's where it should begin.'

Ex-CIA Director Porter Goss should not be allowed to 'escape into retirement unexamined,' Rich argues, calling him 'so inept that an overzealous witch hunter might mistake him for a Qaida double agent.'

'His mission was not to protect our country but to prevent the airing of administration dirty laundry, including leaks detailing how the White House ignored accurate CIA intelligence on Iraq before the war,' Rich writes.

Rich ends his column by suggesting that if Air Force General Michael Hayden is confirmed by the Senate to replace Goss then 'someone should charge those senators with treason, too.'

Excerpts from Rich's 'Will The Real Traitors Please Stand Up?' set for Sunday's edition of the New York Times"

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Mars Meteorite Similar To Bacteria-etched Earth Rocks

A new study of a meteorite that originated from Mars has revealed a series of microscopic tunnels that are similar in size, shape and distribution to tracks left on Earth rocks by feeding bacteria.

Friday, May 12, 2006

An Apology from a Bush Voter

By Doug McIntyre / Host, McIntyre in the Morning
Talk Radio 790 KABC
Theres nothing harder in public life than admitting youre wrong. By the way, admitting youre wrong can be even tougher in private life. If you dont believe me, just ask Bill Clinton or Charlie Sheen. But when you go out on the limb in public, its out there where everyone can see it, or in my case, hear it.
So, Im saying today, I was wrong to have voted for George W. Bush. In historic terms, I believe George W. Bush is the worst two-term President in the history of the country. Worse than Grant. I also believe a case can be made that hes the worst President, period.
In 2000, I was a McCain guy. I wasnt sure about the Texas Governor. He had name recognition and a lot of money behind him, but other than that? What? Still, I was sick of all the Clinton shenanigans and the thought of President Gore was unthinkable. So, GWB became my guy.
For the first few months he was just flubbing along like most new Presidents, no great shakes, but no disasters either. He cut taxes and I like tax cuts.
Then September 11th happened. September 11th changed everything for me, like it did for so many of you. After September 11th, all the intramural idiocy of American politics stopped being funny. We had been attacked by a vicious and determined enemy and it was time for all of us to row in the same direction.
And we did for the blink of an eye. I believed the President when he said we were going to hunt down Bin Laden and all those responsible for the 9-11 murders. I believed President Bush when he said we would go after the terrorists and the nations that harbored them.
I supported the President when he sent our troops into Afghanistan, after all, thats where the Taliban was, thats where al-Qaida trained the killers, thats where Bin Laden was.
And I cheered when we quickly toppled the Taliban government, but winced when we let Bin Laden escape from Tora-Bora.
Then, the talk turned to Iraq and I winced again.
I thought the connection to 9-11 was sketchy at best. But Colin Powell impressed me at the UN, and Tony Blair was in, and after all, he was a Clinton guy, not a Bush guy, so I thought the case had to be strong. I was worried though, because I had read the Wolfowitz paper, The Project for the New American Century. Its been around since, and it raised alarm bells because it was based on a theory, Democratizing the Middle East and I prefer pragmatism over theory. I was worried because Iraq was being justified on a radical new basis, pre-emptive war. Any time we do something without historical precedent I get nervous. keep reading...

Senate votes to extend tax cuts

WASHINGTON -- The Senate voted Thursday to extend $70 billion in tax cuts but heatedly clashed over whether the plan would continue to boost the economy and create jobs or would penalize middle-income families in favor of the wealthy and big oil conglomerates.

The 54-44 vote, largely along party lines, clears the measure for President Bush's signature. The bill would extend dividend and capital gains cuts for another two years through 2010, and it would protect about 15 million taxpayers from paying the alternative minimum tax for one more year.
"Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) noted that someone earning more than $1 million a year would get a tax break worth $41,977.

"Well, you might say, `What does someone who earns $41,000 get back?' $46. Not even enough to fill up your gas tank in some cases," she said."
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, noted that Republicans dropped a provision allowing Americans to deduct up to $4,000 in college tuition costs worth $4.5 billion.

Schumer: Oil gets $4.3 billion

Instead, he said, Republicans included a tax break for oil companies worth $4.3 billion despite the industry's record profits.

"The choice is stark and clear--big oil or middle-class families," Schumer said. "The Republican Congress chose big oil."
Democrats also criticized the legislation for adding to the national debt despite GOP claims that tax cuts generate revenue and propel the economy.

Durbin cites national debt

"This is the height of irresponsibility to drive this nation so deeply into debt, particularly from a party that used to pride itself on being fiscally conservative," said Sen. Dick Durbin, the assistant Democratic leader from Illinois.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Lindsay Lohan's Record Company Fined $12M



Lindsay Lohan's Record Company Fined $12M

The New York state attorney general has levied a $12 million fine against Universal Music Group for payola.

This is the largest fine so far in the war between Eliot Spitzer and the music industry, surpassing the $10 million that Sony had to pay and the $5 million for Warner Music Group.

= TIME FOR A BOYCOTT = Please support real artist's. Thank you.

'Darko' Director Investigated Over 'Terrorism Links'

SFGate: "'Donnie Darko' director Richard Kelly could be forced to miss the Cannes Film
Festival because his passport is being reviewed by the U.S. government.
Homeland Security is investigating 31-year-old Kelly, reportedly because
there is a James Kelly on the terrorist watch list.
Fearing he will be unable to attend the premiere of his new movie, 'Southland Tales,' at Cannes later this month, Kelly has contacted a U.S. senator and
has recruited his mother to hunt out documents to help him prove his American
citizenship.
The Virginia-born writer/director fears the issue could be connected to the
plot of his new movie, which is in part about security measures taken by the U.S.
government following Sept. 11.
He says, 'The paranoid conspiracy freak inside me is starting to think this
has something to do with the film.'"

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

President Says Jeb Would "Make a Great President"



ORLANDO - President Bush would like to see his brother Jeb run for office again and says he would make "a great president."

In an interview with Florida reporters, Bush said his brother had been an excellent governor and is well-suited for another office. "I would like to see Jeb run at some point in time, but I have no idea if that's his intention or not."

Bush said he had "pushed him fairly hard about what he intends to do," but Jeb has not said.

"I have no idea what he's going to do. I've asked him that question myself. I truly don't think he knows," Bush said.

The president said his brother's "political future is very bright - if he chooses to have a political future. But he is an independent-minded guy. His priority is his family."

Asked if Jeb should run for president, Bush said, "I think Jeb would be a great president. But it's up to Jeb to make a decision to run."

Network Neutrality as Dr Seuss might have explained it

David Isenberg's got the text/podcast of his Dr Seussian poem explaining Net Neutrality, the idea that telcos who sell preferential Internet service to Internet sites break the network. :


When Ed Whitacre, the head of AT&T, says,
“They’re not going to use my pipes for free”
he’s not talking about Them, he’s talking about Me.
He’s talking about Us, it should be plain to see.

When Whitaker says “free” he’s not talking about beer.
It’s our Freedom of Speech that’s at stake here.
Whitaker wants to privatize our right to express.
And he’s even got some laws in front of the US Congress,
Bad laws.
Laws that would make everybody with a public hotspot register with the FCC.
Laws that would let the telephone companies discriminate
Information that is dangerous from info that is safe
But who are they to decide?
The Free Internet gives *us* that right.

Now the law has a flaw, or so they say
So the telcos send our data to NSA
As if we’re all Osama and we might get away

Monday, May 08, 2006

Conan O'Brien speaks: 'Chicago is in our DNA'

This was a pretty long interview, with some funny things, great compliments to Chicago and the Midwest, as well as some insight into how Conan and the show operate. Here's one excerpt:"
Well, as far as your visit, I’ve by far gotten more e-mail about this than anything else I’ve ever written about.


“We came to Chicago to do a few remotes [recently]. I’d be walking down the street, me and my writers, and people are shouting out of their cars and stopping their cars, getting out and saying they want tickets. They know when we’re coming. And I don’t think we talked to one person who hadn’t tried to get tickets online.

“We finished a remote and I said I wanted to go to Potbellies, across from my old stomping grounds, the Victory Gardens Theater. I used to eat at Potbellies and I’m having a trip down memory lane. This was when I was 24 and could eat anything. I could eat a cinderblock and I’d still be 155 lbs.

“So I went to Potbellies and all these young people were coming in and they all said the same thing, we went on the Web site, but I don’t know [if we got tickets]. They were all so nice, we would say ‘OK, come here, we’ll take care of you here, but don’t tell anyone.’ And then we got back and our ticket person is really mad at us. But it’s hard for Conan O’Brien to say, ‘I’m sorry, I have no pull at “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”’ What am I supposed to say? They’re all so incredibly polite, and so knowledgeable about the show, really excited.

“I can’t tell you how many people in their 20s were coming up to us and saying, ‘I’m so sorry to bother you, we hate to intrude, but we’re big fans of the show.’ Whenever someone approaches me like that, I start giving them whatever I’m wearing. I’m so grateful when people are polite [and into the show]. The next thing you know, we’re saying, ‘Pull up a chair, and tell us about you.’ We were getting into all these long conversations.

“But my favorite moment in Chicago was actually my birthday, [April 18]. I shot two remotes and it was a very long day and then when we were done, and I said to my people, they said, ‘What do you want to do for your birthday?’ And I said, ‘I don’t want to go to some fancy restaurant. I want to go and eat some great ribs and be in a great, fun environment.’ So Brian McCann said, we’ve got to go to Twin Anchors.

“So we decided to walk, it was really nice weather, so we’re walking past Second City, we’re walking along, and this bus pulls up. And the bus driver opens the door and shouts, ‘Conan! Conan!’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, hey, hi.’ And he’s like, ‘Come on, get on the bus!’ So I just jumped on the bus and the whole bus goes, ‘Yay, Conan!’”

Electronic Smog

Independent: "
The curse of the mobile phone age: around your home there are countless gadgets whose electrical fields, scientists now warn, are linked to depression, miscarriage and cancer
Invisible 'smog', created by the electricity that powers our civilisation, is giving children cancer, causing miscarriages and suicides and making some people allergic to modern life, new scientific evidence reveals.
The evidence - which is being taken seriously by national and international bodies and authorities - suggests that almost everyone is being exposed to a new form of pollution with countless sources in daily use in every home.
Two official Department of Health reports on the smog are to be presented to ministers next month, and the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has recently held the first meeting of an expert group charged with developing advice to the public on the threat.
The UN's World Health Organisation (WHO) calls the electronic smog 'one of the most common and fastest growing environmental influences' and stresses that it 'takes seriously' concerns about the health effects. It adds that 'everyone in the world' is exposed to it and that 'levels will continue to increase as technology advances'.
Wiring creates electrical fields, one component of the smog, even when nothing is turned on. And all electrical equipment - from TVs to toasters - give off another one, magnetic fields. The fields rapidly decrease with distance but appliances such as hair dryers and electric shavers, used close to the head, can give high exposures. Electric blankets and clock radios near to beds produce even higher doses because people are exposed to them for many hours while sleeping.
Radio frequency fields - yet another component - are emitted by microwave ovens, TV and radio transmitters, mobile phone masts and phones themselves, also used close to the head.
The WHO says that the smog could interfere with the tiny natural electrical currents that help to drive the human body. Nerves relay signals by transmitting electric impulses, for example, while the use of electrocardiograms testify to the electrical activity of the heart.
Campaigners have long been worried about exposure to fields from lines carried by electric pylons but, until recently, their concerns were dismissed, even ridiculed, by the authorities.
But last year a study by the official National Radiological Protection Board concluded that children living close to the lines are more likely to get leukaemia, and ministers are considering whether to stop any more homes being built near them. The discovery is causing a large-scale reappraisal of the hazards of the smog."

Colleges see cocktail hour as cure for boozing

Washington Times: "The remedy for rampant drinking at American colleges? It could be a crash course in the art of sensible social drinking, reminiscent of the old-fashioned, formal cocktail hour -- often a showcase for decorum.
'My belief is that we have to face the fact that a certain percentage of college students will drink. So, what can we do to reduce the likelihood of them getting into trouble?' asked Steve Benton, a psychology professor at Kansas State University who has studied the negative patterns of collegiate boozing.
'Students who tend to have attitudes that make them greater risk takers are more likely to get into trouble when drinking,' Mr. Benton said. 'Even when controlling the amount of alcohol, it's not how much you drink that affects the amount of trouble, but how risky you are.'
Indeed, social drinking has devolved into a full-contact sport among party-hearty students, even on campuses that have banned alcohol. The students simply go off-campus to imbibe, often resorting to coarse drinking games such as 'bar golf,' which sends them to different establishments, brandishing a scorecard to record how many gulps it took to polish off a beer.
The statistics resulting from such behaviors are sobering.
A 2005 study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that 1,700 college students from age 18 to 24 die every year, either from alcohol poisoning or alcohol-related injuries. Another 599,000 students are unintentionally injured while intoxicated and another 696,000 are assaulted -- by fellow students who were also drinking. More than two million students have driven drunk -- and 88 percent of the nation's entire collegiate population have tried alcohol."

My Favorite Moment as President…


Gee, this Presidential-ating is hard work. Especially when youre a record-breaking President (record-breaking for number of vacation days in while being President, that is).
But this one just made me shake my head this morning. Lets call it What I Did on My Bazillionth Vacation Day in Office:
U.S. President George W. Bush told a German newspaper his best moment in more than five years in office was catching a big perch in his own lake.
'You know, Ive experienced many great moments and its hard to name the best,' Bush told weekly Bild am Sonntag when asked about his high point since becoming president in January 2001.
'I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound (3.402 kilos) perch in my lake,' he told the newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.

So, let me get this straight. The man has been President for five freaking years. And the thing that he thinks is his best moment in office as President of the US of A is catching a big fish in his lake."

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Cheney speech spurs new Cold War: Russian press

By Oliver Bullough

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A speech by Vice President Dick Cheney strongly critical of the Kremlin marks the start of a new Cold War that could drive Moscow away from its new-found Western allies, the Russian press said on Friday.

In shocked reaction to the harshest U.S. criticism of Moscow for years, commentators said Washington had created an anti-Russian cordon of Western-aligned states stretching from the Baltic almost to the Caspian Sea.

The Kremlin, in a reaction within hours of Cheney's delivery in Vilnius, said the speech, which was full of accusations that Moscow was limiting human rights and using its energy riches to blackmail the world, was "completely incomprehensible."

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declined to comment directly on Friday when asked about Cheney, but said the meeting of former communist satellites that the vice president had addressed appeared to be "united against someone."

The Russian press agreed, comparing Cheney's words to a 1946 speech by British statesman Winston Churchill in Fulton, Missouri, when he said Europe was divided by an "Iron Curtain."

"Enemy at the Gates. Dick Cheney made a Fulton speech in Vilnius," said business daily Kommersant's front page headline.

"Vice President Dick Cheney made a keynote speech on relations between the West and Russia in which he practically established the start of the second Cold War ... The Cold War has restarted, only now the front lines have shifted," it said.

Washington and Moscow have largely ignored differences since the hijacked airliner attacks on U.S. buildings in September 11, 2001 and concentrated on joint interests in the fight against international militant groups.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Join The Campaign

"If you believe that good should triumph over evil...

If you believe in the power of the people, democracy, free speech and popping pills...

Then join the campaign!

Concerned Americans are mobilizing and several groups are urging us all to boycott Mission Impossible 3. But, that is not enough!

Not only must we all avoid the TomKat film, but in order to have more of an effect and be heard much louder, we should throw our support to Hoot, instead, which also opens this weekend.

It's the perfect movie to go watch with your stoner friends or on a date - just make out the whole time.

Plus, Luke Wilson is in it. And, how could you not love that nose?

Join the campaign. Give it to Tom where it hurts. And, have a Hoot!"

Al Neuharth Bashes Bush, Says His Supporters are 'In Denial'

E&P Staff
Published: May 04, 2006 11:30 PM ET
NEW YORK USA Today founder Al Neuharth, once known for his generally Republican views, appears to have seen enough of President Bush. In his column today for USA Today, he once again hits the Iraq war (he is one of the few mainstream journalists to favor a quick withdrawal), then notes the presient's approval rating having plunged from 71% to 34% in the Gallup poll since 2003.
'How low can Bush's approval rating go? My hunch is it's at or near the bottom,' he suggests. 'That 34% represents mostly unshakeable far-right wingers. Like Bush, Vice President Cheney and company, they are in denial. As were the 24% in the polls who still approved of President Richard Nixon before he resigned in disgrace.
'What happened to the 37% who have switched from pro-Bush to anti-Bush? They finally realized they were suckered by Bush and his buddies back then about Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction, his tie to terrorists and his threat to the USA.'
Neuharth, a decorated war veteran, concludes: 'President Abraham Lincoln was right when he said: 'You may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.''"

Bob Dylan makes disc jockey debut


Music legend Bob Dylan has embarked on a new career, by becoming a regular DJ on US satellite radio service XM.
The 64-year-old singer is presenting Theme Time Radio Hour, an hour-long mix of songs based around a central theme.
The first show featured songs inspired by the weather and performed by Jimi Hendrix, Judy Garland and Muddy Waters.
Listeners found the icon in uncommonly chatty mood, commenting on Dean Martin, the weather in 'windy city' Chicago and Hendrix's 'gentle side'.
'Into each life some rain must fall,' he remarked at one stage. 'Trouble may be waiting along the way.'
He signed off with the words: 'Until next week, you are all my sunshine.
'If you think the sun is too hot, just remember - you don't have to shovel it.'
'According to Lee Abrams, chief creative officer at XM, Dylan has 'complete creative freedom, both musically and in terms of what he says'.
The first show premiered on Wednesday on XM's Deep Tracks Channel.
'A lot of my own songs have been played on the radio, but this is the first time I've ever been on the other side of the mic,' said Dylan last year.
According to the station, Dylan will not play his own material on the show but 'music hand-selected from his personal collection'.
"

David Blaine's hand

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Kent State, May 4, 1970: America Kills Its Children

Thirty-six years ago this month today, students came out on the Kent
State campus and scores of others to protest the bombing of Cambodia--
a decision of President Nixon's that appeared to expand the Vietnam
War. Some rocks were thrown, some windows were broken, and an
attempt was made to burn the ROTC building.
Governor James Rhodes sent in the National Guard.
The units that responded were ill-trained and came right from riot duty
elsewhere; they hadn't had much sleep. The first day, there was some brutality;
the Guard bayonetted two men, one a disabled veteran, who had cursed
or yelled at them from cars. The following day, May 4th, the Guard,
commanded with an amazing lack of military judgment,
marched down a hill, to a field in the middle of angry demonstrators,
then back up again. Seconds before they would have passed around the corner
of a large building, and out of sight of the crowd, many of the
Guardsmen wheeled and fired directly into the students, hitting thirteen,
killing four of them, pulling the trigger over and over, for thirteen seconds.
(Count out loud--one Mississippi, two Mississippi, to see how long this is.)
Guardsmen--none of whom were later punished, civilly, administratively,
or criminally--admitted firing at specific unarmed targets; one man shot
a demonstrator who was giving him the finger. The closest student shot
was fully sixty feet away; all but one were more than 100 feet away;
all but two were more than 200 feet away. One of the dead was
255 feet away; the rest were 300 to 400 feet away. The most distant student
shot was more than 700 feet from the Guardsmen."

A day without Republicans

I've got an idea.
On the heels of Monday's successful 'day without immigrants,' which helped demonstrate the collective impact a politically motivated group of people can have when they decide to exercise their power, I would like to suggest something: A day without Republicans.
Think about it. How better could the Republican Party show America how much it matters than staging a massive, nationwide walkout? How better could Republicans prove that they, in fact, are the party of ideas than not offering any for 24 hours? How better could the party make us appreciate all that they've given us than not lending their usual helping hand?"

You are invited

by DarkSyde

Thu May 04, 2006 at 08:11:46 AM PDT
We the front-page staff cordially invite you to Yearly Kos. There are a lot of good reasons to go of course. We can meet each other in person; some stellar names will be speaking, including Sen. Harry Reid and Ambassador Joe Wilson. Many of your favorite bloggers will be there. There will be live broadcasts from nationally recognized radio show hosts and name brand celebrities. You'll get expert tips on how to really make your upcoming vote and participation in the midterms count. And it'll be, well how do I say this, a huge rollicking party? And of course last but certainly not least, you can flame Armando in person (See poll below).
But here's the best reason: In Crashing the Gate, Markos and Jerome shed light on something I had almost no inkling of, but which is critical to the future of America. One reason social conservatives and neocons have done so well as of late--despite the very real fact that much of their agenda is repugnant to the average American-- is because they have an enormous infrastructure of think tanks, wonk nurseries, marketing gurus, career paths, and media outlets.
Some call this a vast right-wing conspiracy, but it's not a conspiracy, it's completely above board, it's carried out openly all across the nation. They invest in, nurture, and organize their next generation of talent while supporting their existing staff generously. The analogy used in CtG was to baseball: We see the major league players, but few of us casual baseball fans are fully aware of the vast network of coaches, managers, and players stretching from little league through high school and into the minors.
We progressives are like a new baseball team made from scratch, without the benefit of similar underpinnings or expertise, going up against the Yankees. There is almost nothing in the way of a progressive equivalent to these conservative organizations. At least there wasn't before now.
This may surprise some of you, but just a few years ago I was a defender of the powers that be. What turned me into a nonpartisan Independent was the Blogs. It was you. I long for the day when I can engage in debate over worthy conservative policies with my liberal peers. But that's never going to happen until the current paradigm is altered."

New Lenox mayor apologizes over spending at strip club

After revelations that he racked up $1,462 in Chicago strip club charges on his government credit card, one of Will County's most prominent municipal leaders found himself on the defensive Tuesday. Though Mike Smith, the president of New Lenox, reimbursed the village for the charges with a personal check, he conceded he made 'a very, very bad mistake. I can't say anything else about that; just very poor judgment. 'I'm very apologetic to the community for it,' said Smith, president of the Will County Governmental League, a member of the Metra commuter rail agency board and past president of the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission. 'I'm hopeful that this has not tarnished the community in any way.' Village Trustee Nancy Dye, a member of the Finance Committee, expressed a similar sentiment. 'It's very unfortunate, but the mayor has done a lot of good things for New Lenox, so I don't want to judge him solely on this issue,' she said. Trustee Annette Bowden, chair of the Finance Committee, called the charges 'totally inexcusable. Using the card for personal expenses, let alone that kind of expense, is something I think he deeply regrets at this point,' she said of Smith. Though she said it was common sense not to use a government charge card for personal expenses, an explicit ban on such behavior is likely to soon become village policy. According to his village American Express card statement, Smith accumulated four charges on March 10 and 11 at VIP's, a strip club on the Near Northwest Side. The establishment's Web site, which one must be 18 to enter, bills the club as 'Chicago's premiere adult cabaret.'"

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

President Not Amused, But I Was

WASHINGTON A blistering comedy “tribute” to President Bush by Comedy Central’s faux talk-show host Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondent Dinner Saturday night left George and Laura Bush unsmiling at its close.

Earlier, the president had delivered his talk to the 2,700 attendees, including many celebrities and top officials, with the help of a Bush impersonator.

Colbert, who spoke in the guise of his talk-show character, who ostensibly supports the president strongly, urged Bush to ignore his low approval ratings, saying they were based on reality, “and reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

The Straw of Life

A new straw that purifies water as it is drunk is hoped to be part of a solution to water-borne disease killing thousands in developing countries.
The makers of the product, called the LifeStraw, say that water from most sources can be drunk if done so through the straw.

The straw, the creation of Danish innovator Torben Vestergaard Frandsen, is made of plastic and resembles a flute. Inside are filters and a chamber impregnated with iodine. These remove the bacteria from the water as it is drunk.

"You basically just suck the water through it," said Alan Mortensen, business director of the Public Health Water-Bourne Disease Control - which produces the LifeStraw - told BBC World Service's Culture Shock programme.

"You just need to suck a few times to get the water through all the filters."

--- Instead of a war on terror, how bout a war on thirst, or no thirsties left behind. If I were G W. I'd really begin thinking about my legacy, before it goes from shit to diarrhea.

Sleepwalking into disaster

Column by Gene Lyons: We hear a lot about 'madmen' taking power in far-off lands -- most often lands with large oil reserves. A few pertinent questions: Has the White House lost its collective mind? Do the president and his minions believe that Americans can be stampeded into another needless war to save his party from the consequences of the catastrophe in Iraq? Is the Bush administration seriously thinking of bombing -- possibly nuking -- Iran for political purposes? Is it actually possible, as has been reported, that Bush believes himself to be on a divine, messianic mission?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then our democracy may be sleepwalking into its worst crisis since the Civil War. A 'pre-emptive' strike on Iran, because it might hypothetically develop nuclear weapons five or 10 years hence, would be a naked act of aggression. Not to mention an offense against the U.S. Constitution. On what authority would Bush make war on a nation that played no role in Sept. 11, bears enmity toward Al Qaeda and has never seriously threatened to attack the United States? His own? God's?

So far, Iran hasn't even violated the nonproliferation treaty giving signatories the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful use. It boasts of purifying a small amount of uranium ore to the standard needed to generate electricity. Experts say Iran would need roughly 100 times its present refining capacity over several years to accumulate enough weapons-grade uranium to make a bomb. Despite the absurd and offensive posturing of its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- a demagogic politician playing to his own 'base' -- no immediate danger exists.

Yet, many of the same keyboard commandos who orchestrated the propaganda campaign that drove the U.S. into Iraq are beating war drums. Scary 'intelligence' claims again proliferate. The same geniuses that claimed to know the precise location of Iraq's nonexistent WMDs now warn us of Iran's double-secret arms programs. Full-page ads have appeared in newspapers in the United States and Europe conjuring the prospect of Iranian nuclear attacks against Israel and the West -- an entirely imaginary scenario.

The other day, President Bush, sounding like a Valley Girl, told a California audience he'd tried to avoid war with Iraq 'diplomatically to the max' -- a falsehood so brazen it's almost tempting to fear he believes it. Given that British government documents portray Bush discussing with Prime Minister Tony Blair how to trick up a phony incident justifying an attack against Saddam Hussein in early 2003, it's reasonable to wonder what schemes he's conjuring now. He also credited 'the Almighty' as the inspiration for his foreign policy."

Poll: 1/3 of Youths Can't Find La. on Map

"Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON - Despite the wall-to-wall coverage of the damage from Hurricane Katrina, nearly one-third of young Americans recently polled couldn't locate Louisiana on a map and nearly half were unable to identify Mississippi.
Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 fared even worse with foreign locations: six in 10 couldn't find Iraq, according to a Roper poll conducted for
National Geographic.
'Geographic illiteracy impacts our economic well-being, our relationships with other nations and the environment, and isolates us from the world,' National Geographic president John Fahey said in announcing a program to help remedy the problem. It's hoping to enlist businesses, nonprofit groups and educators in a bid to improve geographic literacy.
Planned is a five-year, multimedia campaign called My Wonderful World that will target children 8 to 17. The goal is to motivate parents and educators to expand geographic offerings in school, at home and in their communities.
They will have their task cut out for them, judging by the results of the survey of 510 people interviewed in December and January.
Among the findings:
- One-third of respondents couldn't pinpoint Louisiana on a map and 48 percent were unable to locate Mississippi.
- Fewer than three in 10 think it important to know the locations of countries in the news and just 14 percent believe speaking another language is a necessary skill.
- Two-thirds didn't know that the earthquake that killed 70,000 people in October 2005 occurred in Pakistan.
- Six in 10 could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle East.
- While the outsourcing of jobs to India has been a major U.S. business story, 47 percent could not find the Indian subcontinent on a map of Asia.
- While Israeli-Palestinian strife has been in the news for the entire lives of the respondents, 75 percent were unable to locate Israel on a map of the Middle East.
- Nearly three-quarters incorrectly named English as the most widely spoken native language.
- Six in 10 did not know the border between North and South Korea is the most heavily fortified in the world. Thirty percent thought the most heavily fortified border was between the United States and Mexico.""

Mr. Blaine “drown himself alive” at Lincoln Center


Mr. Blaine ocked himself, nearly naked, in an eight-foot transparent acrylic sphere filled with a finely calibrated partial-saltwater solution. He plans to remain there for a week, by the grace of tubes for breathing, eating and waste removal, communicating with passers-by through an advanced walkie-talkie system. On the last day, he intends to hold his breath for nine minutes, breaking a world record. I'm a little rundown from overtraining, Mr. Blaine said in a brief phone call on April 28. I just need to get relaxed and focused. Two days later, the day before he went in the tank, a relaxed and focused Mr. Blaine called Ms. Ross and told her he was giving her an early birthday present, she said. The master endurance artist, who has previously buried himself alive and frozen himself in ice at other prominent locations around Manhattan, would up the zazz-factor of her TV special a few notches by padlocking himself to the inside of the tank and spending those nine breathless minutes escaping from the chains."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Thank You Stephen Colbert.

"A president runs criminally amok, dismantling the American democracy.
The press, cowering, forgets its obligation to the citizenry.
A comedian emerges as the Edward R. Murrow of our day.
This site is a Thank You to Mr. Colbert."

Sign the list! I did. 31,712 other people did by the time I found this site. Colbert Nation!

At One With Dual Devotion - Los Angeles Times

JuBus' blend the communal rituals of Judaism with the quiet solitude of Buddhism. Most adherents are at peace with the paradox.
The altar in Becca Topol's living room carries a statue of Buddha and a garden stone painted with the Hebrew word for peace, shalom.In April she celebrated Passover with a 'Zen Seder' feast that opened with a modified Haggada narrative comparing Israel's exodus from Egypt to Buddha's liberation from suffering.
'I'm a Jewish Buddhist 'a JuBu,' said Topol, 37. 'My Buddhist practice has actually made me a stronger Jew.' While Buddhism has enriched Topol's Judaism giving her a deeper sense of spirituality it has produced confusion in fellow JuBu David Grotell. Grotell, 41, is so worried about breaking Judaism's ban against idol worship that 'although I have a meditation spot in my home, as a Jew, I just can't allow myself to put a statue of Buddha there.'Grotell's conundrum and Topol's confidence show how diverse the JuBu experience can be even inside one Zen Buddhist center in Santa Monica. They also underline how a new, American hybrid of Buddhism is blossoming, fed by a large representation of Jewish practitioners.No one knows for certain how many JuBus there are; the last surveys were conducted in the 1970s. A large majority of the 3 million Buddhists in the United States are Asian, but by some estimates, at least 30% of all newcomers to Buddhism are Jewish. (By comparison, U.S. Jews number 6 million.)Alan Lew, who studied Buddhism for a decade before changing course to become a rabbi, calls the paradoxical blend of Judaism, which bows to one God, and Buddhism, which has no supreme being, 'a fruitful and beautifully creative meeting of two religious streams that came together in the United States.'"