Thursday, August 31, 2006

Salt Lake Tribune - Salt Lake sounds off in protest and support

A crowd of thousands cheered Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson for calling President Bush a 'dishonest, war-mongering, human-rights violating president' whose time in office would 'rank as the worst presidency our nation has ever had to endure.'
The group - including children and elderly and some hailing from throughout Utah - then marched to the federal building Wednesday to deliver a copy of a symbolic indictment against the president and Congress for abuse of power and failure to uphold the U.S. Constitution.
With their signs labeling Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld the 'axis of evil,' calling the Iraq war a 'mission of lies' or comparing the invasion of Iraq after Sept. 11, 2001, to invading Mexico after Pearl Harbor, the estimated 1,500 to 4,000 protesters hoped their demonstration at the Salt Lake City-County Building sent a message about the reddest state in the country.
If they [the Bush administration] lack support in Utah, my God they're in trouble,' the Rev. Tom Goldsmith of the First Unitarian Church Related ArticlesBeyond Politics: Let them eat cake, only after Bush exitsCheers, jeers for BushFallen Marine buried with dignity, respectHatch will lunch with his pal BushMullen: A display of our freedom in actionTalks to Legionnaires: Secretary says medical system is biggest, bestTranscript of Mayor Rocky Anderson's speechof Salt Lake City told the lively gathering between protest songs and banner waving.
For those who didn't get enough, organizers held a 'Rock Against Rumsfeld' concert at Pioneer Park in the evening. Between songs, Salt Lake City singer Colin Robison challenged Rumsfeld's Tuesday speech to the American Legion.
Critics of the war were equated with Nazi sympathizers. How dare he?' Robison asked the crowd of over 300. 'What about Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay? Who's the Nazi? "

Rumsfeld's Enemy: It's Us - Early Warning

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld delivered a fire-and-brimstone speech at the American Legion's annual convention yesterday -- after acknowledging young soldiers serving in Iraq and giving the boy scouts a shout-out, the secretary wove an elaborate picture of an enemy made up of terrorists, morally misguided Westerners, disagreeable military strategists, and a cynical news media.
Rumsfeld stated there could be no appeasing the enemy and any 'any moral or intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong can weaken the ability of free societies to persevere.'
The 'who' Rumsfeld is talking about is himself.
Rumsfeld is the 'who' that is right, and everyone who disagrees is not only wrong, but a danger to freedom. Within minutes of the conclusion of Rumsfeld's speech yesterday, I received an e-mail from Thayer C. Scott, the secretary's speechwriter, serving up talking points.
The Defense Department then took the unusual step, usually reserved for its broadsides against Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker, of issuing a statement saying that the Associated Press coverage of Rumsfeld's Salt Lake City remarks mischaracterized them.
Either Rumsfeld has delivered one of the most important speeches of the modern era, or he's gone crazy.
I think the latter, not just because I think the secretary is wrong on his intellectual characterization of terrorism, and not just because he is wrong about the media and its intentions, and not because he is so pugnacious, or because he has been wrong so many times before.
Rumsfeld is so wrong about America. His use of World War I history and the specter of fascism and appeasement, and his argument about moral weakness or even treason in any who oppose him, is not only polarizing but ineffective in provoking debate and discussion about the proper course this country must take to "fight" terrorism.
This is not the first time that Rumsfeld has shown himself to be so out of touch, so contemptuous of America. Rumsfeld as secretary of defense has displayed a contempt from long before 9/11 for anyone who disagrees with him, particularly in his initial wars against those in the uniformed military.
Moreover, Rumsfeld's declaration of war yesterday follows from his basic view that the Defense Department has to do it all: He has created an intelligence bureaucracy because he is distrustful and contemptuous of the CIA and all others. He has built up a secret army and covert capabilities in special operations forces because he wants to control and to rely only upon his own warriors. He has created a homeland security apparatus that looks over the shoulder of the Department of Homeland Security and is the ultimate arbiter of security. He has created his own FBI in the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), and fought to ensure that the NSA stays under Pentagon control. He has created his own law and his own human rights policy. He has subverted Congress through unexamined supplemental budgets and super-secret programs.

Keith Olbermann Delivers One Hell Of a Commentary on Rumsfeld

Keith had some very choice words about Rumsfelds 'fascism' comments tonight. Watch it, save it and share it.
Video - WMV� Video - QT
Olbermann delivered this commentary with fire and passion while highlighting how Rumsfelds comments echoes other times in our worlds history when anyone who questioned the administration was coined as a traitor, unpatriotic, communist or any other colorful term. Luckily we pulled out of those times and we will pull out of these times.
Remember - Rumsfeld did not just call the Democrats out yesterday, he called out a majority of this country. This wasnt only a partisan attack, but more so an attack against the majority of Americans."

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The new GOP buzzword: Fascism - Aug 30, 2006

Aug 30, 2006: WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush in recent days has recast the global war on terror into a 'war against Islamic fascism.' Fascism, in fact, seems to be the new buzz word for Republicans in an election season dominated by an unpopular war in Iraq.Bush used the term earlier this month in talking about the arrest of suspected terrorists in Britain, and spoke of 'Islamic fascists' in a later speech in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Spokesman Tony Snow has used variations on the phrase at White House press briefings.Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pennsylvania, in a tough re-election fight, drew parallels on Monday between World War II and the current war against 'Islamic fascism,' saying they both require fighting a common foe in multiple countries. It's a phrase Santorum has been using for months.And Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Tuesday took it a step further in a speech to an American Legion convention in Salt Lake City, accusing critics of the administration's Iraq and anti-terrorism policies of trying to appease 'a new type of fascism.' (Full story)White House aides and outside Republican strategists said the new description is an attempt to more clearly identify the ideology that motivates many organized terrorist groups, representing a shift in emphasis from the general to the specific.'I think it's an appropriate definition of the war that we're in,' said GOP pollster Ed Goeas. 'I think it's effective in that it definitively defines the enemy in a way that we can't because they're not in uniforms.'The right term?But Muslim groups have cried foul. Bush's use of the phrase 'contributes to a rising level of hostility to Islam and the American-Muslim community,' complained Parvez Ahmed, chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.Conservative commentators have long talked about 'Islamo-fascism,' and Bush's phrase was a slightly toned-down variation on that theme.Dennis Ross, a Mideast adviser to both the first Bush and Clinton administrations and now the director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said he would have chosen different words.'The `war on terror' has always been a misnomer, because terrorism is an instrument, it's not an ideology. So I would always have preferred it to be called the `war with radical Islam,' not with Islam but with `radical Islam,'' Ross said.
Why even mention the religion? "Because that's who they are," Ross said. "Fascism had a certain definition. Whether they meet this or not, one thing is clear: They're radical. They represent a completely radical and intolerant interpretation of Islam."
While "fascism" once referred to the rigid nationalistic one-party dictatorship first instituted in Italy, it has "been used very loosely in all kinds of ways for a long time," said Wayne Fields, a specialist in presidential rhetoric at Washington University in St. Louis.
"Typically, the Bush administration finds its vocabulary someplace in the middle ground of popular culture. It seems to me that they're trying to find something that resonates, without any effort to really define what they mean," Fields said.
Memories of World War II
Pollster Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center, said the "fascist" label may evoke comparisons to World War II and remind Americans of the lack of personal freedoms in fundamentalist countries. "But this could only affect public opinion on the margins," he said.
"Having called these people `evildoers,' fascism is just a new wrinkle," he said.
The tactic recalled the first President Bush's 1990 likening of Iraq's Saddam Hussein to Adolf Hitler.
"I caught hell on this comparison of Saddam to Hitler, with critics accusing me of personalizing the crisis, but I still feel it was an appropriate one," the elder Bush later wrote in a memoir.
It was one of the few times the younger Bush has followed his father's path on Iraq.
Charles Black, a longtime GOP consultant with close ties to both the first Bush administration and the current White House, said branding Islamic extremists as fascists is apt.
"It helps dramatize what we're up against. They are not just some ragtag terrorists. They are people with a plan to take over the world and eliminate everybody except them," Black said.
Stephen J. Wayne, a professor of government at Georgetown University, suggested White House strategists "probably had a focus group and they found the word `fascist.'
"Most people are against fascists of whatever form. By definition, fascists are bad. If you're going to demonize, you might as well use the toughest words you can," Wayne said.
After all, the hard-line Iranian newspaper Jomhuri Eskami did just that in an editorial last week blasting Bush's "Islamic fascism" phrase. It called Bush a "21st century Hitler" and British Prime Minister Tony Blair a "21st century Mussolini."

Kill 3000 people, win a new computer

Damn, I was hoping to win the Jeffrey Dahmer iPod.

Fox News' rating tank

Alex Koppelman reports the encouraging news.
Somewhere, Keith Olbermann is sticking pins in a Bill OReilly voodoo doll: Fox News ratings, TVNewser reports, are down since August of last year. Like, way down. Like down 28 percent in primetime among all viewers, down 20 percent in primetime in the 'money demo' (viewers aged 25-54) and down 7 percent in daytime viewership overall. In fact, the only place Fox is up is during the day, when they managed a ratings increase of just 2 percent, and even then only in the money demo.
And lest you think this is an industry-wide trend, consider this: over the same time period, CNN and MSNBC are up. CNNs up 35 percent during the day 46 percent in the money demo and up 21 percent in primetime overall, 25 percent in the money demo. MSNBCs ratings increases arent quite as impressive up 6 percent in primetime overall, 8 percent in the money demo, and up 36 percent in the money demo during the day, 26 percent overall."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mexican Court Rejects Fraud Claims

MEXICO CITY, Aug. 28 -- Mexico's top electoral court announced Monday that a partial recount will not change the outcome of the hotly disputed July 2 presidential election, which sparked a constitutional crisis and massive demonstrations that have shackled the capital for nearly two months.

The Federal Electoral Judicial Tribunal stopped short of officially declaring Felipe Calderón the winner over Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the populist former mayor of Mexico City. But few here expect the court to alter the final outcome of the race, especially after the court announced Monday that it had rejected nearly all of López Obrador's fraud claims.

"It looks like the game is over," said Jorge Chabat, a political analyst based in Mexico City.

Rumsfeld: War critics moral confused - Politics -

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Tuesday accused critics of the Bush administration's Iraq and counterterrorism policies of trying to appease a new type of fascism. In unusually explicit terms, Rumsfeld portrayed the administration's critics as suffering from moral or intellectual confusion about what threatens the nation's security and accused them of lacking the courage to fight back.In remarks to several thousand veterans at the American Legions national convention, Rumsfeld recited what he called the lessons of history, including the failed efforts to appease the Adolf Hitler regime in the 1930s.I recount this history because once again we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism, he said.Rumsfeld spoke to the American Legion as part of a coordinated White House strategy, in advance of the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, to take the offensive against administration critics at a time of doubt about the future of Iraq and growing calls to withdraw U.S. troops.Rumsfeld recalled a string of recent terrorist attacks, from 9/11 to bombings in Bali, London and Madrid, and said it should be obvious to anyone that terrorists must be confronted, not appeased. But some seem not to have learned historys lessons, he said, adding that part of the problem is that the American news media have tended to emphasize the negative rather than the positive.He said, for example, that more media attention was given to U.S. soldiers abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib than to the fact that Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith received the Medal of Honor. Can we truly afford to believe somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased? he asked."

The JonBenet Fraud

By Howard KurtzWashington Post Staff WriterTuesday, August 29, 2006; 7:22 AMWill every anchor, correspondent and producer who shamelessly hyped the John Mark Karr story now apologize for taking the country for a ride?Don't hold your breath.This was such a sham, from the opening moments, that it instantly goes down with the greatest media embarrassments in modern history.A strange, creepy character emerges from the shadows of Thailand and says he killed JonBenet Ramsey a decade ago? A guy with no known connection to the family? A yutz whose own relatives, including an ex-wife who hates him, says he wasn't even in Colorado at the time?This is what produces 25-hour-a-day cable coverage, causes the network morning shows to go nuts and even tops the nightly news two days straight? Aren't the TV types who pumped up this empty balloon just a little bit ashamed?Oh, and does the New York Daily News run a retraction for its banner headline 'SOLVED'?Of course, you will now hear that it was all the fault of the Boulder D.A., Mary Lacy, for arresting Karr in the first place. And maybe that was a dumb move. But the last time I checked, she didn't own any television stations. Of course you would report that some wack job had claimed to have killed JonBenet, but the resulting frenzy suggests that many journalists either didn't know or didn't care that strange people sometimes make false confessions in high-profile cases.And yet things got so crazed that reporters jumped on the flight that brought Karr to the U.S., and the morning shows were interviewing fellow passengers about what he ate and so on.The original JonBenet media circus in 1996 and 1997 became the template for all the missing-or-murdered cases involving pretty young women that followed: Chandra Levy, Elizabeth Smart, Laci Peterson, Natalee Holloway. In the wake of O.J., television discovered that a tragedy affecting an unknown family--what once would have been dismissed as a local story--could be turned into a national soap opera through sheer repetition. And there was that steady media drumbeat of Did the parents do it? that, in retrospect, seems terribly unfair to John and Patsy Ramsey. Facts don't matter in frenzies; what matters is camera-ready speculation, where opposing lawyers and ex-prosecutors can argue on one talk show after another."

Monday, August 28, 2006

World's oldest woman dies at 116 - Yahoo! News

QUITO, Ecuador - Maria Esther de Capovilla, considered the world's oldest person, has died in her native Ecuador, her granddaughter said Monday. At 116, she was born the same year as Charlie Chaplin and married the year the U.S. entered World War I.
An American woman, Elizabeth Bolden of Memphis, Tenn., is now the oldest known person alive, according to Guinness World Records. She is also 116 %u2014 but 11 months younger than Capovilla.
'For all practical purposes, the next oldest person is going to be presumed to be Elizabeth Bolden,' said Robert Young, a senior consultant on gerontology for Guinness World Records.
Capovilla died early Sunday, two days after she came down with pneumonia, in a hospital in the coastal city of Guayaquil, said Catherine Capovilla, a property manager and real estate agent in Miami. A funeral was planned for Monday.
She was born on Sept. 14, 1889, the same year as Chaplin and Adolf Hitler. She was married in 1917 and widowed in 1949, the year Berlin split into East and West.
Maria Esther de Capovilla was confirmed as the oldest living person on Dec. 9, 2005, after her family sent details of her birth and marriage certificates to the British-based publisher. Emiliano Mercado Del Toro, of Puerto Rico, retains the title as oldest man. He turned 115 on Aug. 21.
Three of Capovilla's five children are still alive, along with about a dozen grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren, two granddaughters told The Associated Press.
In her youth, Capovilla liked to embroider, paint, play piano and waltz at parties, the family said.
Maria Esther de Capovilla was confirmed as the oldest living person on Dec. 9, 2005, after her family sent details of her birth and marriage certificates to the British-based publisher. Emiliano Mercado Del Toro, of Puerto Rico, retains the title as oldest man. He turned 115 on Aug. 21.
She always ate three meals a day and never smoked or drank hard liquor, partaking only in a small cup of wine at lunch, relatives said.

For the past 20 years, Capovilla had lived with a daughter and son-in-law.

Capovilla was from a well-to-do family that traced its lineage to Spanish nobility, and her father was a colonel in Ecuador's army.

She was married to Antonio Capovilla, an Austrian sailor who came to Ecuador in 1910.

Soon after celebrating her 100th birthday in 1989, Capovilla became bedridden with a stomach ailment. She got so weak a priest administered last rites.

Fervently religious, Capovilla took communion every Friday, and always joined the family for meals, often enjoying lentils and chicken for lunch, which she ate unassisted with fork and knife in small bites.

Capovilla liked to watch television, and read newspaper headlines, with some difficulty, but never with glasses. She had not been able to leave the house for nearly two years before Guinness World Records recognized her as the oldest person.

In recent years, she had become less communicative as her hearing declined and her memory began to fade, her family said. But she seemed healthy enough.

"Her family was expecting to have a 117th birthday party," said Young, speaking from Atlanta. "They had recently said that she was in good shape."

Young said Capovilla's claim to the title as oldest person was particularly significant because of the wealth of documentation proving her age, including baptismal and marriage records.

"Many times people claim to be extreme ages, however, often their age is either not verifiable or is fictitious," he said. "Even in the United States, we had a woman who claimed to be 118, and we investigated. It turned out she was 109."

The oldest person ever whose age was authenticated, according to Guinness, was a woman named Jeanne Louise Calment, who lived to 122 years and 164 days. She was born in France on Feb. 21, 1875, and died at a nursing home in Arles in southern France on Aug. 4, 1997.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Most Trusted Names in News (Really!)

While attacking the pundits is something all too common, and usually well-deserved, it is worth taking out the time to praise those who are the most 'fair and balanced' and those who are really 'the most trusted names in news.'There are people, not institutions or organizations, who I trust and turn to when I need to know the truth or need clarification. Sometimes I simply am comforted by their presence or byline. Just knowing they are out there, that I am not alone, is enough.In no particular order, here is my own list of reporters worthy of praise:Facts are not fair or balanced:

Keith Olbermann -- the anchor for MSNBC's Countdown: If we had today a moral equivalent of Edward R. Murrow, Olbermann would be it. Olbermann respects his audience and speaks to them as peers about complex issues and events. He is eloquent, passionate and probing. He is also someone who takes the time to connect the dots and provide historical context in order to help make sense of the information he is tasked with delivering. There is sarcasm and silliness too, which nicely lightens the load after what are sometimes very emotionally draining reports. Above all else, he is my hero because he stands in front of the schoolyard bully and defends those who cannot defend themselves. A good example of all these traits can be found in his look at the Nexus of Politics and Terror

Lou Dobbs -- the anchor for CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight: While we may philosophically disagree on various issues, such as immigration, and are politically of different backgrounds, his screaming demands for corporate accountability, for government oversight, for the 'damned facts' of it all, is breathtaking. He is the quintessential skeptic, who comes riding in just in time to say, 'What the hell is going on here?
Courage is a prerequisite to be the "most trusted"

Sy Hersh -- investigative journalist for the New Yorker: Sy is the role model on which all investigative journalism should be based. He is meticulous, ethical, defiant, and fearless. He also lets me annoy him periodically. His work does not simply "run" or simply "get published," it arrives like a slap of reality across the befuddled face of complacency. Take a look at a few of my recent favorites, which went kaboom all over the sanitized news rooms of American media: The Stovepipe of Iraq prewar intel, breaking the Abu Ghraib story, and the story of military brass saying "no" to Iran in the Last Stand.

Helen Thomas -- senior White House correspondent for Hearst Newspapers: This smallish woman has single-handedly taken on whole administrations, made grown men nearly cry, and arrogant leaders nearly wet themselves. She is demanding but not arrogant, patient but not willing to sit quietly through doublespeak, respectful but not yielding, and she has managed to outlast most journalists and politicians in her 50 years of service to this nation. She is my hero from beginning to end. In fact, the first time I called her to ask about a story I was writing, I spent the first 10 minutes shivering, crying and generally making an ass out of myself. I spent the next three days telling anyone who would listen that I had spoken to Ms. Thomas.

Michael Smith -- defense and intelligence reporter for the London Sunday Times: While for most reporters and media organizations the revelation of the so-called Downing Street Memos was "old news" before they ever even reported it,
Michael Smith took on the archaic States Secrets laws of the United Kingdom and managed to publish the most damning proof of a cooked motive for the Iraq war. "Fixing the facts around the policy" has since become something that the Bush administration does on all fronts, both foreign and domestic, and at times as a first choice method. Smith has been an investigative journalist for over 20 years and is considered by most to be the Sy Hersh of Britain because of his meticulous reporting, his care in dealing with sensitive subjects and his reputation for decency and humility.

Laura Rozen -- intelligence and national security correspondent for American Prospect: If Sy Hersh has a female counterpart, then Rozen is it. She is the muckraker's muckraker: gutsy, demanding, skeptical and aggressive. She drops her bombshells and goes about her day with no pretense or self-hype. She is methodical, careful and trustworthy. If you want to know what the Defense Department is up to, then Laura Rozen is the reporter you read right after you read Hersh. From chasing the Iran Contra II scandal to the 2001 Anthrax attacks, she is one of maybe three women with the balls to take on these stories.

Robert Dreyfuss -- national security freelance reporter and contributing editor for the Nation: Having climbed into Dick Cheney's lair and emerged to tell about it should be enough to land Dreyfuss on both the courage list and the no-fly list. He has demanded to know on our behalf what our government is doing, and he has reported his findings without whitewash, presenting the facts but also providing context and raising serious questions about the world in which we live. From the Neocons and their Lie Factory to the Pentagon's New Spies, Dreyfuss does in fact report so that we can actually decide.

Digging leads to scooping

Mike Wilkinson, James Drew, et al, on Coingate -- Toledo Blade reporters: The sleuths over at Toledo Blade got the paper a Pulitzer for the investigative series that broke open the scandal of money-laundering, bribery and all sorts of hanky panky going on in Ohio with the state's Republican leadership known as Coingate. I suspect that we will see much more national-level investigative work from these reporters.
James Meek, Ken Bazinet and Thomas DeFrank -- New York Daily News: The paper of note, the new "Grey Lady," the now nationally acclaimed New York Daily News is largely the result of Meek, Bazinet and DeFrank's taking on national political stories that one would have expected from the New York Times and doing it without having minders at the White House or sitting on important news for nearly a year. Beyond that, the New York Daily News is a paper that has not abandoned its city and the victims and heroes of 911, doing a tremendously brave series on the toxic air at and around ground zero and calling on the mayor to do his job.
Ken Silverstein -- Washington editor for Harpers: He has taken on Riggs Bank, ExxonMobile and the CIA, and all before breakfast, usually while the mainstream press is busy running after a missing blonde woman. He is gutsy and solid in my book.
Charlie Savage -- Homeland Security and Supreme Court reporter for the Boston Globe: Taking on the unitary executive theory used by the Bush administration to justify its own reading of the Constitution, Savage made waves when he exposed the extent of the Bush signing statements, which number around 750, more than all the other presidents put together. Having not yet been set up by Rove, Savage is a solid bet on future news stories.
These are some of the better known examples, but by all means not all of my personal heroes are listed. Special mention goes out to Walter Pincus and Dana Priest at the Washington Post, Warren Strobel at Knight Ridder, and the expert on NSA dealings, Jim Bamford.

But there are yet more brave, determined, honest muckrakers and opinion makers, some of whom exist in the mainstream, but most in the alternative press:

Dahr Jamail, Robert Fisk, Christopher Delisio, Justin Raimondo, Naomi Klein, Peter Arnett, Andrew Gilligan, Dan Rather, Max Blumenthal, Jim Moore, Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd, Molly Ivins, Bob Scheer, Bob Kohler, Brad Friedman, Rich Sale, Greg Palast, Josh Micah Marshall, Danny Schechter.

The HumanCar puts your passengers to good use: pedaling

The HumanCar puts your passengers to good use: pedaling

Yeah, it's not going to replace your Hummer any time soon, but the HumanCar is a fun new way coast around town and burn off a few calories while your at it. Of course, pedal-powered cars are not a new idea, but the mix of an electric motor and some clever engineering allow this thing a bit more pep than your average Flinstones-mobile. The car is completely symmetrical, so two passengers can pedal while two passengers steer (yes, we said two), and then trade off once the former get tired. The whole contraption can hit speeds in excess of 60 mph on the downhill, and is steered by "body angulation of the two front operators," which sounds entirely unresponsive for speeds like that. HumanCar Company is marketing the vehicle both as a mode of low-speed transportation and as a team builder for corporations, and it's already been implemented by Intel and the US Army. We don't know the price, but we're pretty sure the cost involved in bribing a few close friends to pedal this thing for us would put it well out of our price range.

A (Terror) Fish Story - New York Times

Weve been fascinated by the story of how Jim Bensman of Alton, Ill., went to a hearing about fish and wound up as a potential terrorism suspect.

As Cornelia Dean reported in The Times, the Army Corps of Engineers held a meeting in Mr. Bensmans neighborhood to talk about helping those fish swim around the locks and dams it has constructed on the Mississippi River over the years. There was a PowerPoint presentation on various options. One clearly not the Corps favorite was to eliminate a dam in East Alton. To illustrate that idea, the presentation included a picture of a dam being dynamited.Mr. Bensman rose later to support removing the dam. Big mistake. A local paper reported that Mr. Bensman told the Corps he would like to see the dam blown up. A Corps security officer read the report. He decided that Mr. Bensman was threatening a public facility. He notified the G-men.An F.B.I. agent then contacted Mr. Bensman, who was surprised to learn that federal investigators believed a terrorist might announce his plans at a public hearing of the Army Corps of Engineers. When the agent said he wanted to visit his home, it occurred to Mr. Bensman that he needed a lawyer. At that point, Mr. Bensman said, the agent threatened to put you down as not cooperating. All this started because Mr. Bensman believes the Army Corps builds way too many locks and dams on the Mississippi for the convenience of boating interests. This page has always thought so too.But not in any way, shape or form that involves any kind of sabotage whatsoever.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Morning After Pill Is Cleared for Wider Sales

"The Food and Drug Administration today approved over-the-counter sales of the “morning after” contraceptive pill to those 18 and older, resolving one of the most contentious issues in the agency’s 100-year history.

The drug, an emergency contraceptive called Plan B that is manufactured by Barr Pharmaceuticals, will be sold only in pharmacies and health clinics. Buyers will have to show proof of age. Anyone under the age of 18 will still need a prescription to buy the pills."

Bad day for Pluto: no longer a full-fledged planet

As anticipated last week, textbooks will have to be rewritten, but in an entirely different way than expected: Now, suddenly, there are only eight real, full-fledged planets -- and Pluto has been booted out of the club.
The world's leading astronomers ended a week of scientific controversy by deciding Thursday to demote Pluto to a new -- and soon to be crowded -- category called ``dwarf planets.''
The celestial survivors now are called ''classical planets.'' Starting with the closest to the sun, they are: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
''Think of it as an amicable divorce or as giving up a daughter in marriage,'' Jack Horkheimer, director of the Space Transit Planetarium at the Miami Science Museum, said of Pluto. ``It's still the same partner or daughter, but the name is going to change.''
It's been quite the ride recently for Pluto and its supporters and detractors -- and for innocent bystanders.
Last week, a committee of the International Astronomical Union, which is meeting in Prague and has control over these things, recommended that Pluto retain its planetary status and that three other celestial bodies be added to the list -- for a total of 12 planets.
In response, Horkheimer's planetarium added a new exhibit. Now . . .
''That's going to come back down,'' he said with a deep sigh.
Horkheimer also has a book coming out that instantly became flawed last week because it said we had nine planets instead of the 12 that seemed likely. The book is still wrong this week, but for a different reason. Now we have eight planets.
''I'm not even going to bother to change it,'' Horkheimer said.
On the West Coast, Michael Brown of the California Institute of Technology awakened Thursday as the co-discoverer last year of the likely 10th planet, an icy mass called 2003 UB313 and nicknamed Xena.

He went to bed Thursday night as the co-discoverer of something less than a genuine planet.

Nevertheless, he endorsed the group's decision as it applied to Xena, Pluto and all the rest.

''It's been a fun year having that whole 10-planet thing around, but I have admitted a couple of times that, deep down inside, it never felt right,'' Brown said. ``I never really and truly believed that this thing was a planet.''

Neither did most of the others, though it took awhile and a lot of scientific debate to figure it out.

The astronomers ultimately decided Thursday that last week's recommendation was too broad and accommodating.

''It was basically that anything round was a planet, and that immediately gives us 53 planets in the solar system, with the possibility of hundreds in the future,'' Brown said. ``Planets have the connotation of being special to us and 200 are not special.''

Now, a genuine planet has to be round, has to orbit the sun and ``has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.''

The final part of the definition ruled out Pluto because it is one of 70,000 icy objects in the Kuiper Belt, making for a rather cluttered neighborhood way out there on the fringes of the solar system.

Naturally, the decision disappointed advocates of the plucky little, er, non-planet that was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh on Feb. 18, 1930 -- a favorite of many budding young astronomers.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Dylan says today's recordings sound atrocious - MUSIC -

LOS ANGELES - Bob Dylan says modern recordings sound atrocious, and even the songs on his new album sounded much better in the studio than on disc. I dont know anybody whos made a record that sounds decent in the past 20 years, really, the 65-year-old rocker said in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine.Dylan, who released eight studio albums in that time, returns with his first recording in five years, Modern Times, next Tuesday.
Noting the music industrys complaints that illegal downloading means people are getting their music for free, he said, Well, why not? It aint worth nothing anyway. You listen to these modern records, theyre atrocious, they have sound all over them, he added. Theres no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like ... static. Dylan said he does his best to fight technology, but its a losing battle. Even these songs probably sounded 10 times better in the studio when we recorded em. CDs are small. Theres no stature to it.

Officials say Madonna's liquid plan is all wet - Gossip: The Scoop -

When Madonna isnt busy being crucified in concert or horseback riding in the English countryside, she wants to use the powers of Kabbalah to rid the world of nuclear waste.The singer and her director hubby Guy Ritchie have been lobbying the government and nuclear industry over a scheme to clean up radioactive waste with a supposedly magic Kabbalah fluid, according to Londons Sunday Times.The power couple has approached various British government agencies, urging the detoxing powers of a mystical liquid developed by the mystical offshoot of Judaism, which is currently trendy among some celebs.
It was like a crank call . . . the scientific mechanisms and principles were just bollocks, basically, one official told the Times. She relentlessly pursued people according to a former civil servant. She wanted to get this Russian scientist to explain this to civil servants. I can write the greatest songs and make the most fabulous films and be a fashion icon and conquer the world, but if there isn%u2019t a world to conquer, whats the point? Madonna said, according to the paper. Ive just come to a place in my life where Im trying to really see what the big picture is and where my energy is better spent, and thats one area Im really concerned about. Madonnas rep dismissed the story as old news, saying that the singers efforts occurred a few years back. Better to talk about her current obsession building an orphanage in [the AIDS ravaged African nation of] Malawi, she noted, kind of adopting an entire country.

Monday, August 21, 2006

An Inconveniently Smelly Truth

A Nobel laureate has proposed shooting sulfur into the atmosphere as an emergency measure to curb global warming. The short-term fix would not solve the problem, but buy some time by temporarily reflecting some of the suns energy away from the planet.
Crutzen published his proposal in the August issue of Climatic Change. He won the 1995 Nobel prize in chemistry for his work on the ozone layer.
When sulfur particles are released into the Earths atmosphere, they reflect solar radiation back into space much as large ice sheets in the Arctic do. Crutzen envisions lofting sulfur into the stratosphere on small balloon crafts, which will use artillery guns to release their smelly payload.
Its a response, Crutzen writes, to the failure of international political efforts to establish carbon emission limits. The preferred way to resolve this dilemma is to lower the emissions of greenhouse gases, he said in the Climatic Change editorial. However, so far, attempts in that direction have been grossly unsuccessful."

Five Years After 9/11, Fear Finally Strikes Out - New York Times

THE results are in for the White House%u2019s latest effort to exploit terrorism for political gain: the era of Americans%u2019 fearing fear itself is over.
In each poll released since the foiling of the trans-Atlantic terror plot Gallup, Newsweek, CBS, Zogby, Pew George W. Bushs approval rating remains stuck in the 30s, just as it has been with little letup in the year since Katrina stripped the last remaining fig leaf of credibility from his presidency. While the new Middle East promised by Condi Rice remains a delusion, the death rattle of the domestic political order weve lived with since 9/11 can be found everywhere: in Americans unhysterical reaction to the terror plot, in politicians and pundits hysterical overreaction to Joe Liebermans defeat in Connecticut, even in the ho-hum box-office reaction to Oliver Stones World Trade Center.
Its not as if the White House didnt pull out all the stops to milk the terror plot to further its politics of fear. One self-congratulatory presidential photo op was held at the National Counterterrorism Center, a dead ringer for the set in 24. But Mr. Bushs Jack Bauer is no more persuasive than his Tom Cruise of Top Gun. By crying wolf about terrorism way too often, usually when a distraction is needed from bad news in Iraq, he and his administration have long since become comedy fodder, and not just on The Daily Show. Junes scenario was particularly choice: as Baghdad imploded, Alberto Gonzales breathlessly unmasked a Miami terror cell plotting a full ground war and the destruction of the Sears Tower, even though the alleged cell had no concrete plans, no contacts with terrorist networks and no equipment, including boots."
What makes the foiled London-Pakistan plot seem more of a serious threat — though not so serious it disrupted Tony Blair’s vacation — is that the British vouched for it, not Attorney General Gonzales and his Keystone Kops. This didn’t stop Michael Chertoff from grabbing credit in his promotional sprint through last Sunday’s talk shows. “It was as if we had an opportunity to stop 9/11 before it actually was carried out,” he said, insinuating himself into that royal we. But no matter how persistent his invocation of 9/11, our secretary of homeland security is too discredited to impress a public that has been plenty disillusioned since Karl Rove first exhibited the flag-draped remains of a World Trade Center victim in a 2004 campaign commercial. We look at Mr. Chertoff and still see the man who couldn’t figure out what was happening in New Orleans when the catastrophe was being broadcast in real time on television.

No matter what the threat at hand, he can’t get his story straight. When he said last weekend that the foiling of the London plot revealed a Qaeda in disarray because “it’s been five years since they’ve been capable of putting together something of this sort,” he didn’t seem to realize that he was flatly contradicting the Ashcroft-Gonzales claims for the gravity of all the Qaeda plots they’ve boasted of stopping in those five years. As recently as last October, Mr. Bush himself announced a list of 10 grisly foiled plots, including one he later described as a Qaeda plan “already set in motion” to fly a hijacked plane “into the tallest building on the West Coast.”

Dick Cheney’s credibility is also nil: he will always be the man who told us that Iraqis would greet our troops as liberators and that the insurgency was in its last throes in May 2005. His latest and predictable effort to exploit terrorism for election-year fear-mongering — arguing that Ned Lamont’s dissent on Iraq gave comfort to “Al Qaeda types” — has no traction because the public has long since untangled the administration’s bogus linkage between the Iraq war and Al Qaeda. That’s why, of all the poll findings last week, the most revealing was one in the CBS survey: While the percentage of Americans who chose terrorism as our “most important problem” increased in the immediate aftermath of the London plot, terrorism still came in second, at only 17 percent, to Iraq, at 28 percent.

The administration’s constant refrain that Iraq is the “central front” in the war on terror is not only false but has now also backfired politically: only 9 percent in the CBS poll felt that our involvement in Iraq was helping decrease terrorism. As its fifth anniversary arrives, 9/11 itself has been dwarfed by the mayhem in Iraq, where more civilians are now killed per month than died in the attack on America. The box-office returns of “World Trade Center” are a cultural sign of just how much America has moved on. For all the debate about whether it was “too soon” for such a Hollywood movie, it did better in the Northeast, where such concerns were most prevalent, than in the rest of the country, where, like “United 93,” it may have arrived too late. Despite wild acclaim from conservatives and an accompanying e-mail campaign, “World Trade Center” couldn’t outdraw “Step Up,” a teen romance starring a former Abercrombie & Fitch model and playing on 500 fewer screens.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Man rescued from vat of chocolate

It might sound like a chocoholic's dream, but stepping into a vat of bubbling chocolate became a two-hour nightmare for a 21-year-old Wisconsin man Friday morning.

Donovan Garcia, an employee of a Kenosha company that supplies chocolate ingredients, said he was pushing the chocolate down into the vat at Debelis Corp. because it was stuck. But it became loose and he slid into the hopper.

"It was in my hair, in my ears, my mouth, everywhere," said Garcia, who has worked at the company for two years. "I felt like I weighed 900 pounds. I couldn't move."

The chocolate was 110 degrees, hotter than a hot tub, said Capt. Greg Sinnen of the Kenosha Fire Department.

Co-workers, police and firefighters tried to free the man but couldn't get him loose until the chocolate was thinned out with cocoa butter.

"It was pretty thick. It was virtually like quicksand," said police Capt. Randy Berner.

Garcia was treated for minor injuries at a nearby medical center and released.

Here's the front page of the British newspaper the Independent this morning. Banner headline: "Labour agrees: Bush is crap."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

'Hybrid Mutant' Found Dead in Maine

AOL News: "TURNER, Maine (Aug. 17) - Residents are wondering if an animal found
dead over the weekend may be the mysterious creature that has
mauled dogs, frightened residents and been the subject of local
legend for half a generation.
A man who saw the animal described it as 'something out of a Stephen King story.'
The animal was found near power lines along Route 4 on Saturday,
apparently struck by a car while chasing a cat. The carcass was
photographed and inspected by several people who live in the area,
but nobody is sure exactly what it is.
Michelle O'Donnell of Turner spotted the animal near her yard
about a week before it was killed. She called it a 'hybrid mutant
of something.'
'It was evil, evil looking. And it had a horrible stench I will
never forget,' she told the Sun Journal of Lewiston. 'We locked
eyes for a few seconds and then it took off. I've lived in Maine my
whole life and I've never seen anything like it.'
For the past 15 years, residents across Androscoggin County have
reported seeing and hearing a mysterious animal with chilling
monstrous cries and eyes that glow in the night. The animal has
been blamed for attacking and killing a Doberman pinscher and a
Rottweiler the past couple of years.
People from Litchfield, Sabattus, Greene, Turner, Lewiston and
Auburn have come forward to speak of a mystery monster that roams
the woods. Nobody knows for sure what it is, and theories have
ranged from a hyena or dingo to a fisher or coydog, an offspring of
a coyote and a wild dog.
Now, people are asking if the mystery beast and the animal
killed over the weekend are one and the same.
Wildlife officials and animal control officers declined to go to
Turner to examine the remains. By Tuesday, the carcass had been
picked clean by vultures and there was not much left of the dead
Loren Coleman, a Portland author and cryptozoologist, said it's
unlikely that the animal was anybody's pet.
After reviewing photos of the carcass, Coleman said he was
bothered by the animal's ears and snout. It reminded him of a case
years ago in northern Maine in which an animal shot by a hunter
could not be identified. In the end, wildlife officials got a DNA
analysis that showed the animal was a rare wolf-dog hybrid, he
Mike O'Donnell, who is married to Michelle O'Donnell, said the
animal looked 'half-rodent, half-dog' to him.
It was charcoal gray, weighed between 40 and 50 pounds and had a
bushy tail, a short snout, short ears and curled fangs hanging over
its lips, he said. It looked like 'something out of a Stephen King
'This is something I've never seen before. It's an evil-looking
thing,' he said."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Is Bush an Idiot?

By Jamie Holly @ 8:49 PM - PDT
Joe Scarborough started his program tonight asking the question 'is Bush an idiot?' (Is that really debatable?). Not only did he do a great run down of clips involving some of the most famous 'Bushisms', but he did have an interesting conversation about this question with Lawrence O%u2019Donnell and John Fund
Video-WMP Video-QT ( temporary servers. Will be a little slow to load)
(Go to the link and watch Youtube version)
Lawrence ODonnell made an interesting statement that Bush is an easy target and probably 'the easiest ever at this point'. Fund worked his hardest to defend Bush and even resorted to saying it was the left who made these claims because 'they can not argue with his policies'.
Scarborough probably had the most interesting observation when he brought up talked about old clips of when Bush was Governor of Texas and did not make anywhere near the number of mistakes that he does now and said it 'seems like he is losing confidence by the day'.
This segment is a definite keeper. That way when we see 'how history judges' Bush, we have video evidence for the jury.
Update: transcript vis MSNBC
Scarborough: We have those stories and a lot more, but first former pop star Linda Ronstadt, you remember, Youre no good, youre no good, baby, youre no good. Well, Linda has joined the long list of celebrities and other public figures who berated President Bush for his lack of intelligence. But it is not just singers and movie stars who are suggesting that George Bushs mental weakness is damaging Americas credibility at home and abroad."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Bush, Camus, and 'The Stranger'

For some reason, the president's reading habits every president's reading habits seem to generate considerable media interest. Apparently, it's a peek into the president's personality, coupled with insight into what might help influence his perspective.
But in order for these reading lists to be valuable, we have to believe the books are actually being read. In Bush's case, I'm not so sure.
President George W. Bush faced major security challenges on three fronts on Sunday as he prepared to return to Washington after a 10-day working vacation at his ranch.
Bush puts down his summer reading including Albert Camus' 'The Stranger,' and two books on Civil War President Abraham Lincoln in favor of presidential briefing books.
Reading about Lincoln isn't much of a stretch. Bush very well may consider himself something of a Lincoln-esque figure, fighting a costly war while enduring intense political criticism.
But Camus? I'm having a much tougher time buying this one.

We all like to joke about Bush's limited intellectual prowess, but I think it's safe to say even staunch Bush allies would concede that the president is not exactly 'book smart.' According to his own carefully-crafted narrative, Bush is driven by instinct. By the president's own admission, he doesn't read newspapers and he won't pore over briefing books; Bush will instead hire a loyal team he can rely on to distill information and offer him choices, which he will make based on his gut.
He is not, in other words, the kind of guy who reads Camus on vacation, in between brush-clearing and bike-rides in which he'll shout 'air assault!' to his companions.
Moreover, 'The Stranger' is not how do I put this gently an easy read. It's a novel steeped in philosophy, most notably Camus' existentialism, and delves into a not-so-subtle atheism (Meursault rejects any suggestion of embracing religion and believes there are no supernatural influences on humanity).
If Bush has decided to branch out and challenge himself, considering a worldview that is clearly at odds with his own, I'll be the first to congratulate him. But based on everything I've seen of the president, I simply find it hard to believe. I'm not suggesting the president offer us a book report, but if he wanted to take a moment, perhaps at his next press conference, to share his reaction to the book, I'd be anxious to hear his perspective.
Post Script: By the way, just an aside, if Bush did read the book, what will the GOP base think about the president picking up an existentialist novel with atheistic themes written by a Frenchman?"

Monday, August 14, 2006

Did Cheney Go Too Far?

By Dan Froomkin
By insinuating that the sizeable majority of American voters who oppose the war in Iraq are aiding and abetting the enemy, Vice President Cheney on Wednesday may have crossed the line that separates legitimate political discourse from hysteria.Cheney's comments came in a highly unusual conference call with reporters, part of an extensively orchestrated and largely successful Republican effort to spin the obviously anti-Bush message of Ned Lamont's victory over presidential enabler Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary.In making the case that Lieberman's defeat was actually an enormous boost for Republicans, the customarily furtive vice president let loose not with compelling argument, but unsupported invective.Voters who supported Lamont's antiwar campaign in the Democratic primary were giving 'the Al Qaeda types' exactly what they wanted, Cheney said. And as a result the Democratic Party, he asserted, now stands for a wholesale retreat in the broader campaign against terror.Liz Sidoti writes for the Associated Press: 'Senate Democratic leaders on Friday accused Vice President Dick Cheney of playing politics with terrorism and contended that voters won't buy Republican arguments that the GOP is stronger on national security.' 'They've run this play one too many times,' Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a conference call with reporters. 'The American people simply do not recognize any validity in what they're saying.' 'Olivier Knox writes for AFP: 'While some Democrats have opposed some steps in the war on terrorism, and more and more are calling for a withdrawal from Iraq, no major figures in the party have called for a wholesale retreat in the broader conflict touched off by the September 11, 2001 attacks.'Ken Herman points out in his blog for Cox News Service: 'The White House's Wednesday attack on Democrats as weaklings in the war on terror came as administration officials knew of the pending British arrests of terror suspects who allegedly planned to down several planes. . . .'The White House and the GOP, in a coordinated effort, had moved quickly on Wednesday to portray Democrats as weak on national defense. Cheney, in an extraordinary procedure, took questions from wire service reporters during a conference call as he was in Wyoming. Cheney rarely, if ever, takes questions from groups of reporters.
Evan Thomas writes in Newsweek: "White House aides insisted that Cheney was not trying to exploit the latest terror plot for political advantage."

Cheney had been briefed on the plot, but the aides "claimed that at the time he spoke, he was unaware that arrests were imminent. Even so, these officials were somewhat hard put to explain why the normally press-shy Cheney volunteered to talk to wire reporters and offer his analysis on the national-security implications of a Lamont victory."

E.J. Dionne Jr. writes in his Washington Post opinion column: "In a telephone call with journalists, Vice President Cheney came close to suggesting that there is a new political blog out there called 'al-Qaeda for Ned.' His words have not received nearly the attention they deserve."

Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy writes in a Hartford Courant op-ed: "Vice presidents are notorious for serving as an administration's chief attack dog, and time and again Dick Cheney has been unleashed to accuse anyone who is opposed to the Bush administration of aiding the terrorists. But this time he has gone too far.

"The comments he made on the result of the Connecticut Democratic primary -- that it might encourage 'the al-Qaida types' who want to 'break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task' -- are an attack not just on Democrats, but on democracy itself.

"What happened in Connecticut is in fact a model for democracies everywhere. The people of the state heard a vigorous debate between two competing visions of how to protect this country. Young citizens became deeply involved, and turnout was high. The primary reminded us of the miracle of our democracy, in which the nation is ruled by its people -- not by any entrenched set of leaders. There are few better messages we could send the world in these troubled times."

Arianna Huffington writes on her blog that "to hear Dick Cheney and company using illogical, over-the-top, fear-mongering rhetoric conflating Ned Lamont's victory with the war on terror is as deeply offensive as it is jaw-droppingly outrageous. . . .

"It would help if the MSM reacted to the GOP drivel by treating it with the contempt it deserves instead of dutifully reporting it as if it contained even an ounce of logic or sanity."

On the Editorial Pages
The Philadelphia Daily News writes: "For Cheney -- and other Republicans like GOP National Chairman Ken Mehlman -- to suggest that those Americans are encouraging terrorism is reprehensible. . . .

"To exploit a very real terror threat that could have led to major casualties, and to even indirectly implicate Americans who were exercising their democratic right by going to the polls and making a choice borders on the criminal, to say nothing of the insane.

"Has Cheney completely lost it?"

The Trenton Times writes: "Leave it to Vice President Dick Cheney to turn the results of a fair and honest election into some kind of sinister scenario. . . .

"Actually, comments such as the above are more of a sad reflection on the state of the Bush-Cheney administration, which just doesn't get it. Americans are fed up with the war in Iraq, from the false pretense for going to war to the tragically inept handling of the effort after the fall of Baghdad. Meantime, terrorist groups continue to prowl and plot, as evidenced by last week's arrest of 24 terror suspects in London, while this country spends enormous resources and sheds the blood of so many brave Americans in a war that has no end in sight."

The Minneapolis Star Tribune writes: "It's bizarre enough that a sitting vice president would decide to meddle in the politics of the opposition party and try to tell Democrats how to choose their own candidate for U.S. Senate. But it's downright outrageous that Cheney would yet again try to draw misleading parallels between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaida. Time and again White House officials have backed off that assertion when challenged frontally -- only to find some new way to insinuate it again a day or a week later."

The Berkshire (Mass.) Eagle writes: "Six years into the Bush-Cheney era, no one should be surprised at the levels the vice president can reduce himself to in his unending efforts to smear his political foes. Yet, he continually comes up with new approaches. . . .

"The shameful smears of patriotic American voters by Mr. Cheney and White House apologists like Mr. Lieberman can't disguise how utterly they and their ilk have failed America. Their unspoken fear is that America is finally on to them."

Saturday, August 12, 2006

B.O.S.S. shopping cart follows you around

B.O.S.S. shopping cart follows you around
Posted Aug 11th 2006 10:15PM by Darren Murph
Filed under: Robots

If you're scouting out colleges to showcase your robot crafting skills, make sure the University of Florida is given some very strong consideration. Fresh off of a second straight victory at the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Competition, the kids in Gainesville are flaunting another robotic creation that can make shopping a lot easier (and a lot safer). Gregory Garcia, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, developed a shopping cart that not only follows you around the store, but keeps a steady pace while cruising and throws on the brakes before clipping someone's heels. Garcia got the inspiration for the B.O.S.S. (Battery Operated Smart Servant) from his (presumably mischievous) little sister, who enjoyed ramming into his legs as a child while manning the buggy. A number of sensors aid the cart's maneuvering techniques, including a color sensor which allows the shopper to hold a piece of fabric behind them for the B.O.S.S. to keep track of -- it apparently accelerates and decelerates based on the speed and distance of the fabric ahead, and Garcia made quite certain that the shopping cart could stop on a dime in order to prevent those awkward heel injuries. While we're not sure how the cart would perform during the madness of holiday shopping, especially if it tried to follow every white (or green, or red) article of clothing around, but we're sure Gregory had a grand 'ole time finally showing that heel-biting cart who's boss.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Evidence that this Red Alert is a wee bit suspect

Check out the photo below.

Yes, Ma'am, we think you might have highly explosive liquids in your possession that could kill thousands of Americans and blow up an entire airplane. So please pour the liquid out in front of these hundreds of passengers, including that small baby just three feet behind you, and into this large bucket mixed with all sorts of other unknown and possibly explosive (and reactive) liquids, including alcohol, peroxide, acids, and more. Yeah, that would be the smart way to dispose of suspected terrorist explosives. These guys are either lying to us, or criminally negligent morons. But this is coming off as bad as the duct tape fiasco.More here.Another point about this 'liquid explosive.' It was liquid explosives that were suspected in the plot back in 1995 that Clinton foiled, the one to blow up numerous US airlines over the Pacific. Why is it that since that time it's been okay to bring liquids on board planes, but now suddenly it's not? Why was it safe on Monday, but not safe on Friday? Bush knew at the start of his administration that terrorists had tried to use explosive liquids to blow up American planes, so did he or didn't he prepare for that possibility, and if he did, then why are they now banning all liquids (since, in principle, they should have already had a way to monitor the liquids they've been letting us bring on over the past ten years)? Something isn't quite right."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

'Baby, Give Me a Kiss'

Los Angeles Times: "
The man behind the 'Girls Gone Wild' soft-porn empire lets Claire Hoffman into his world, for better or worse

By Claire Hoffman, Times Staff Writer
August 6, 2006

Joe Francis, the founder of the 'Girls Gone Wild' empire, is humiliating me. He has my face pressed against the hood of a car, my arms twisted hard behind my back. He's pushing himself against me, shouting: 'This is what they did to me in Panama City!'
It's after 3 a.m. and we're in a parking lot on the outskirts of Chicago. Electronic music is buzzing from the nightclub across the street, mixing easily with the laughter of the guys who are watching this, this me-pinned-and-helpless thing.
Francis isn't laughing.
He has turned on me, and I don't know why. He's going on and on about Panama City Beach, the spring break spot in northern Florida where Bay County sheriff's deputies arrested him three years ago on charges of racketeering, drug trafficking and promoting the sexual performance of a child. As he yells, I wonder if this is a flashback, or if he's punishing me for being the only blond in sight who's not wearing a thong. This much is certain: He's got at least 80 pounds on me and I'm thinking he's about to break my left arm. My eyes start to stream tears"

Classical Quote by Dick Cheney

Cheney said that to “purge a man like Joe Lieberman” was “of concern, especially over the issue of Joe’s support with respect to national efforts in the global war on terror.” He explained: The thing that’s partly disturbing about it is the fact that, the standpoint of our adversaries, if you will, in this conflict, and the al Qaeda types, they clearly are betting on the proposition that ultimately they can break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task.

.... Readers Comment....
"Cheney describes an election as a purge? No a purge is when fascists and authoritarians Hitler, Stalin Pinochet and Pol Pot send adversaries into a field to be machine-gunned. An election is when two opposing political parties debate and put the decision in the hands of the people.
No wonder the nation is in such a mess. Cheney thinks Iraq is a model of democracy and that Connecticut is totalitarian state.
Hey Dick, have a drink and a steak you callous ghoul."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Iranian Leader Speaks To Mike Wallace, Exclusive Interview Will Air On '60 Minutes' Sunday At 7 P.M. ET/PT - CBS News

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sat down with Mike Wallace in Tehran on Tuesday in a rare, exclusive interview with a Western reporter.

In the wide-ranging interview, the Iranian leader comments on President Bush's foreign policy, the lack of relations between Iran and the United States, Hezbollah, Lebanon and Iraq.

Speaking about President Bush's failure to answer his 18-page letter that criticized U.S. foreign policy, Ahmadinejad said, 'Well, (with the letter) I wanted to open a window towards the light for the president so that he can see that one can look on the world through a different perspective. %u2026 We are all free to choose. But please give him this message, sir: Those who refuse to accept an invitation will not have a good ending or fate. You see that his approval rating is dropping every day. Hatred vis-�-vis the president is increasing every day around the world. For a ruler, this is the worst message that he could receive. Rulers and heads of government at the end of their office must leave the office holding their heads high.'

On what the 'conducive conditions' would be for Iran to establish relations with the U.S., the president said, 'Well, please look at the makeup of the American administration, the behavior of the American administration. See how they talk down to my nation. And this recent resolution passed about the nuclear issue, look at the wording. They have given us %u2014 presented us with a package which we are studying right now. We even gave them a date for our response. Ignoring that, they passed a resolution. They want to build an empire. And they don't want to live side-by-side in peace with other nations. The American government, sir, it is very clear to me they have to change their behavior and everything will be resolved. (George W. Bush) believes that his power emanates from his nuclear warhead arsenals. The time of the bomb is in the past, it's behind us. Today is the era of thoughts, dialogue and cultural exchanges.'

Portions of the interview will appear on the CBS Evening News on Thursday, Aug. 10 at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT. The entire report will be broadcast on 60 Minutes this Sunday at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

15,282 Friends On Bob Dylan's MySpace Page | Th

Not so much like a rolling stone on his own and a complete unknown, Bob Dylan has gathered some online moss at MySpace, with a complete user profile inviting fans and visitors to join his mailing list, listen to a few classic clips, and pre-order his new album. Dylan is one of many artists or books, movies, TV shows to start up a MySpace page, though query whether he has any actual involvement given that the content is completely corporate (see above - it's kind of hilarious that the first real quote on the site is from a suit). Dylan's new album drops on Aug. 29th, with ten new songs, and, as Columbia Records Chairman Steve Barnett points out on the MySpace page, 'A new Bob Dylan record is an event.' (No Luddite he, Dylan has also teamed up with iTunes for the album presale.)

Unlike some scary people on MySpace, Dylan doesn't claim to be some 16-year-old, but cops to being 66 and from Hibbing, Minnesota, so he hasn't forgotten his roots, man (weirdly, the WTC movie self-IDs as a 19-year-old male). The page, which dates to November 2005, loads to the strains of 'Mr. Tambourine Man' which is kind of ironic since it was actually popularized (and more popular in its time) by The Byrds. To everything, turn, turn, turn.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, Dylan's MySpace tagline is 'Like a rolling stone....' which presumably means that he can still answer the question 'how does it feel?' He can at least answer the question 'How does it feel to be friends with Journey, Simon & Garfunkel and Jefferson Airplane?' who are all featured in his network. Creepily, he's also 'friends' with John Denver and Stevie Ray Vaughn
(and it's really kind of unseemly that the pages offer a link to their 'latest blog entry'). Coincidentally, Dylan's 'friends' all link back to an outfit by the name of Legacy Recordings. Probably less coincidentally, Journey's tagline is 'Don't stop believin''. Oh, Legacy Recordings, we never will.

Not at all ironically, Dylan's new album is called 'Modern Times.'"

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Designer creates floating bed - Yahoo! News

A floating bed created by Dutch architect Janjaap Ruijssenaars in an illustration released August 5,...
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A young Dutch architect has created a
floating bed which hovers above the ground through magnetic
force and comes with a price tag of 1.2 million euros ($1.54
Janjaap Ruijssenaars took inspiration for the bed -- a
sleek black platform, which took six years to develop and can
double as a dining table or a plinth -- from the mysterious
monolith in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 cult film '2001: A Space
'No matter where you live all architecture is dictated by
gravity. I wondered whether you could make an object, a
building or a piece of furniture where this is not the case --
where another power actually dictates the image,' Ruijssenaars
Magnets built into the floor and into the bed itself repel
each other, pushing the bed up into the air. Thin steel cables
tether the bed in place.
'It is not comfortable at the moment,' admits Ruijssenaars,
adding it needs cushions and bedclothes before use.
Although people with piercings should have no problem
sleeping on the bed, Ruijssenaars advises them against entering
the magnetic field between the bed and the floor.
They could find their piercing suddenly tugged toward one
of the magnets."

Iraq Report 109th Congress

*Click on the link to download the report
There's roughly 200 pages of text, and an introduction that throws a shot out to the blogosphere (yay us ! ) Need a good book? This one has it all: suspense, thrills, deception, cover-up, murder, and pictures of strawberries, painted by the president of course.

From C & L
By: Steve @ 1:08 PM - PDT
It’s been about 48 hours since Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee issued a sweeping indictment of the Bush administration’s casual approach to law-breaking in a report called, "The Constitution in Crisis." How’s the media reaction been?

Using Lexis-Nexis and Google News, it appears that the only mainstream media outlet — literally, the only one — to even mention the release of the report was CNN, when Jack Cafferty devoted 200 words to the subject late last week.

To be fair, the timing of the release wasn’t ideal. A Friday afternoon in August was probably not the way to maximize exposure for the report.

Regardless, this is a well-documented, thoroughly-researched report from congressional Democrats about the Bush administration possibly violating over two dozen federal laws and regulations — some of them multiple times. And yet, nothing in the AP; nothing in any of the major dailies; nothing on ABC, CBS, or NBC. Not one word.

First, many of us frequently feel like congressional Democrats need to be aggressive and go on the offensive more, but let’s not forget, even when they do, much the media blows off what Dems have to say.

And second, if Dems accuse the administration of criminal activity, and it’s widely ignored, does it really make a sound?

Monday, August 07, 2006

A barbaric kind of beauty ? The Daily Mail

"Clutching her Hermes holiday bag under her arm, Susan Barrington, a 52-year-old housewife from Buckinghamshire, can't help smiling as she leaves the exclusive clinic in London's Wimpole Street.
She has been given the final go-ahead to travel abroad for a cutting edge nonsurgical treatment that promises to make her look ten years younger.
She doesn't care if the treatment is expensive, involves babies and is so controversial that it is not allowed to be performed in this country - among her well-heeled friends, this is the ultimate new elixir of youth.
The attractive brunette has opted for a controversial stem- cell therapy where umbilical cord tissue from new-born babies will be injected into her body.
It may seem distasteful, but thousands of women have already done it and it is organised by a seemingly respectable British clinic then carried out in Rotterdam, Holland, where rules regarding stemcell therapies are not so strict."

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Connecticut Senate race stirs strong feelings

Column by Gene Lyons: "Herd the livestock inside the gates, raise the drawbridge and man the parapets: There's a populist rebellion gathering force in Connecticut. Armed with pitchforks and flaming torches, the rebellious peasants of the nation's wealthiest state are reported to be marching on Sen. Joe Lieberman's castle.

Or perhaps we should call him Lord Lieberman. Judging by their shocked tone, Josh Marshall observes, that's how most Washington courtier/pundits view Ned Lamont's Aug. 8 primary challenge to Connecticut's three-term Democratic senator: as a revolutionary insurrection against a hereditary peer of the realm. Who does Lamont think he is?

To New York Times columnist David Brooks, 'what's happening to Lieberman can only be described as a liberal inquisition.' He sees Lieberman as the victim of 'a vituperation campaign that only experts in moral manias and mob psychology are really fit to explain.' Coming from a fellow who's hardly said boo as prominent Republicans have called the editors of his own newspaper traitors, urging their imprisonment and execution, this seems a bit melodramatic. Especially since he cites no examples.

Writing in Roll Call, Mort Kondracke depicted the Connecticut contest as a struggle for 'the soul of the Democratic Party -- and possibly the future of civility in American politics.' And we all know Kondracke's great concern for the souls of Democrats. Tragically, an 'emergent new left that's using savage, Internet-based attacks to push moderation out of politics' has targeted poor Holy Joe, as some who find Lieberman more sanctimonious than principled call him.

The New Republic, an allegedly liberal magazine, dubbed 'The Joe Lieberman Weekly' by his political foes, has coined a term for Internet Web sites trying to help Lamont win. They are 'blogofascists' filled with 'intolerance and rage.'

Granted, it's possible to find most of the major bad words on certain liberal Web sites if you hunt for them. Nothing quite as shocking as the average 'Sopranos' episode, or the many 'conservative' sites which routinely whoop it up over the deaths of Arab children, and call for the assassination of Supreme Court justices. But definitely impolite."

We answer your Mel Gibson questions

Mel Gibson was recently arrested for driving while blotto. During the process of his arrest, he asked one of the officers Are you a Jew?, opined that The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,%u201D and complained that a bunch of Jewy old Jews tied him down and poured alcohol down his throat, and that these were likely the same Jews who wrote, produced, directed and starred in The Patriot. Naturally, readers have questions about this incident. We endeavor to answer them.
Q: Is Mel Gibson anti-Semitic?
A: Of course not - Gibson never even mentioned neoconservatives! This was all an innocent misunderstanding, which is now being blown completely out of proportion by the liberal Jew media.
Q: Gibson apparently blew a 0.12 on a breathalizer, which is only 150% the legal limit. What is that, like 3 beers? I barely even mention the Jews until Ive put away a 20-pack. Is Gibson a wuss?
A: No. Alcohol affects different people differently, and different people metabolize alcohol in different ways. A volume of alcohol which would impair one persons judgement would leave another person entirely unaffected. One person could tolerate a blood alcohol level of 0.10, while this same concentration would make another person violently ill. It is entirely dependent on the individual. Additionally, breathalizers are notoriously inaccurate.
However, it is possible to determine a persons blood alcohol level very precisely by noting who they believe to be the source of all the worlds problems:

blood alcohol levelpresumed source of all worlds problems
0.00-0.08 people who dont listen to each other
0.09that guy over there who keeps looking at you sideways like hes got some kind of a fucking problem and wants his teeth kicked out
0.10your so-called friends who act like theyre your friends to your face but really they arent really your real friends
0.11the government
0.12the Jews < ----- Mel was here
0.13the Belgians
0.14the English monarchy
0.15the media
0.16the Jew media
0.17the Belgian government Jew media police
0.18the International Society of Ham Radio Enthusiasts
0.19the DMV
0.20the KGB
0.21the KLF
0.23Emerson, Lake & Palmer
0.24Emerson and Lake, but not Palmer. Palmers all right, man. Those other guys, they think its all about that fucking woo-woo stuff, and they think theyre so great, but its not about that bullshit, you know? Palmer, man, youre all right. Youre all right. And you know what? I dont care how gay it sounds: I fucking love you, man!
0.25Emerson, Lake & The Jews
0.26Geddy Lee*
0.27 Canada
* This is actually true."

NSA risking electrical overload: Baltimore Sun

NSA risking electrical overload
Officials say outage could leave Md.-based spy agency paralyzed
By Siobhan Gorman
Sun reporter
Originally published August 6, 2006
WASHINGTON // The National Security Agency is running out of juice.

The demand for electricity to operate its expanding intelligence systems has left the high-tech eavesdropping agency on the verge of exceeding its power supply, the lifeblood of its sprawling 350-acre Fort Meade headquarters, according to current and former intelligence officials.
Agency officials anticipated the problem nearly a decade ago as they looked ahead at the technology needs of the agency, sources said, but it was never made a priority, and now the agency's ability to keep its operations going is threatened. The NSA is already unable to install some costly and sophisticated new equipment, including two new supercomputers, for fear of blowing out the electrical infrastructure, they said.

At minimum, the problem could produce disruptions leading to outages and power surges at the Fort Meade headquarters, hampering the work of intelligence analysts and damaging equipment, they said. At worst, it could force a virtual shutdown of the agency, paralyzing the intelligence operation, erasing crucial intelligence data and causing irreparable ....

Tom Friedman Throws in the Towel on Iraq

Tom Friedman Throws in the Towel on Iraq
by Matthew Rothschild

Finally, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has thrown in the towel on the Iraq War.

“It is now obvious that we are not midwifing democracy in Iraq. We are baby-sitting a civil war,” he wrote in his Times column on August 4.

Long the war’s leading liberal defender, Friedman came late and reluctantly to the realization that the jig is up.

“We can’t throw more good lives after good lives,” he wrote.

Beyond the human costs of the quagmire, which the peace movement has long tallied, Friedman also recognized what we in the peace movement have been saying about the security ramifications: “The longer we maintain a unilateral failing strategy in Iraq . . . the stronger the enemies of freedom will become,” Friedman concluded.

This marks quite a journey for Friedman.

In his columns leading up to the war, Friedman supported the effort to take Saddam out, though not in the unilateralist fashion favored by the Bush Administration.

Nevertheless, in his final column on March 21, just as Bush was launching the war, Friedman wrote: “Bush’s view is that in the absence of a UN endorsement, this war will become ‘self-legitimating’ when the world sees most Iraqis greet U.S. troops as liberators. I think there is a good chance that will play out.”

He also said that defeating Saddam was necessary but not sufficient to achieve “a more progressive Iraq and a world with fewer terrorists and terrorist suppliers dedicated to destroying the U.S.”

Even at that moment, he understood that the Bush team’s bullying approach had to change. “It needs to get off its high horse and start engaging people on the World Street, listening to what’s bothering them,” he wrote, saying that the Bush folks need an “attitude lobotomy.”

But that was wishful thinking. And he should have known better.

Was 9/11 an 'inside job'?

Seattle PI: "More than a third of the American public suspects that federal officials assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could go to war in the Middle East, according to a new Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll.
The national survey of 1,010 adults also found that anger against the federal government is at record levels, with 54 percent saying they 'personally are more angry' at the government than they used to be.
Widespread resentment and alienation toward the national government appear to be fueling a growing acceptance of conspiracy theories about the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Suspicions that the 9/11 attacks were 'an inside job' -- the common phrase used by conspiracy theorists on the Internet -- quickly have become nearly as popular as decades-old conspiracy theories that the federal government was responsible for President John F. Kennedy's assassination and that it has covered up proof of space aliens.
Seventy percent of people who give credence to these theories also say they've become angrier with the federal government than they used to be.
Thirty-six percent of respondents overall said it is 'very likely' or 'somewhat likely' that federal officials either participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them 'because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East.'"

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Why we snooze after Sunday lunch

BBC NEWS: "Stretching out for a snooze after a Sunday roast is hard to resist - and now scientists have explained why.
University of Manchester researchers have discovered how the nerve cells in the brain that keep us alert become turned off after we eat.
Glucose - the sugar found in foods - stops these cells from producing signals to keep people awake.
The study, in Neuron, could help treat obesity and eating disorders and aid understanding levels of consciousness.
The human body has an in-built mechanism which means that when the body needs fuel, the brain chemistry creates alertness.
But when that hunger is sated, the chemistry swings the other way."

Friday, August 04, 2006

Passion of Rob Schneider

Whoa! Something tells me that Rob Schneider is really upset with Mel Gibson and his anti-Semitic remarks. Actually, this full page ad in today's Variety from Rob Schneider that plainly states that he will never, ever work with Mel Gibson under any circumstances is what tells me that he is really upset with Mel Gibson. Check out the ad in today's Variety sent in by Pink reader Rhett:

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Cop snares college pals in own Web | Chicago Tribune

On a typical summer night out, a group of college friends went bar-hopping at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Then one of them committed a fairly typical college crime, urinating in a bush in front of a fraternity house. That's when things started to get strange. Marc Chiles, 22, who couldn't wait until he got to the next bar, got away before a police officer could catch him. Adam Gartner, 22, told the officer he didn't know the name of the guy who had zipped up and zipped away. Just then, Gartner's cell phone rang. The officer got on the phone, began talking to the person who called, and got Chiles' name from the caller, according to the friends. Then the officer went to, a Web site where students can post profiles and leave messages for one another. Not only did Facebook help him identify Chiles, it also showed that Chiles and Gartner listed each other as friends, suggesting Gartner had lied to police. Chiles' ticket for public urination: $145. Gartner's ticket for obstructing justice: $195."

Bush's fundamentalism seen as a decisive, negative factor in his policies

Former White House reporter Saul Friedman says that, for the first time in modern American history, a presidents religion is determining policies, and the press should do a better job reporting it.
By Saul
There is an alien influence, mostly unpublicized, running like an undercurrent beneath the Bush administration's Middle East policies. It may help explain George W. Bush's single-mindedness, his oblivious inability to face reality as his war in Iraq, his war against terror and his policies towards Arabs and Israeli have collapsed.
I say 'alien,' because I believe this to be the first time in modern American history that a president's religion, in this case his Christian fundamentalism, has become a decisive factor in his foreign and domestic policies. It%u2019s a factor that has been under-reported, to say the least, and that begs for press attention.
Bush, who says he reads the Bible daily, acknowledges his fundamentalist beliefs. Biblical and Middle East scholar Karen Armstrong writes in The Guardian, 'Whatever Bush's personal beliefs, the ideology of the Christian right is both familiar and congenial to him. This strange amalgam of ideas can perhaps throw light on the behavior of a president who, it is said, believes God chose him to lead the world toward Rapture, who has little interest in social reform, and whose selective concern for life issues has now inspired him to veto important scientific research.
'It explains his unconditional support for Israel, his willingness to use 'Jewish End-Time warriors' to fulfill a vision of his own, arguably against Israel's best interest, and to see Syria and entirely responsible for the unfolding tragedy.'
Noting that 'the same time as Bush decided to veto the stem cell bill, Israeli bombs were taking the lives of hundreds of innocent Lebanese civilians, many of them children, with the tacit approval of the U.S. ' And she suggested there is 'a connection between a religiously motivated mistrust of science...and a war in the Middle East.'
As she notes, Bush and his administration not only rely on Christian fundamentalists, he espouses many of their ideals, including their belief that "the second coming of Christ is at hand" but Christ cannot return unless, "in fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, the Jews are in possession of the Holy Land."
Bush's hard-line support of Israel in the face of cries of protest from the rest of the world, and his refusal to put pressure on Israel, as his father and Ronald Reagan have done, has stopped a simmering rebellion of discontent among the ranks of the Christian right. But that does not mean Bush's views are catering to the right. Rather, Bush believes they're right.
Political scientist Kevin Phillips, in his book "American Theocracy," says the Republican Party has become the "vehicle for religious policymaking and eventual erosion" of the separation of church and state. He estimates that 55 percent of Bush voters in 2004 believed in the coming of Armageddon and cheered American involvement in Iraq, one of the world's "evils," in Bush's apocalyptic view.
Writing for the Nation in May, Phillips said, "The last arena of theological influence, almost as important as sex, birth and mortality, involves American foreign policy, bringing us to the
connections among the 'war on terror,' the Rapture, the end of times, Armageddon and the thinly disguised U.S. crusade against radical Islam...In the months before George W. Bush sent U.S. troops into Iraq, his inspirational reading each morning was a book of sermons by a Scottish preacher accompanying troops about to march on Jerusalem."
The belief that Bush is a modern crusader is sharper among thinking Muslims. An essay in the May issue of The American Muslim, is entitled, "The Faith of George W. Bush: Christian Supremacy, American Imperialism, and Global Disaster." The writer, Yoginder Sikand, cites Stephen Mansfield's "The Faith of George W. Bush," which says that the president "incorporates his faith and belief into every detail of life," and that faith is rooted in Christian fundamentalism.
Sikand condemns religious fundamentalism, "but as a Christian fundamentalist," he writes, “Bush sees the most complex questions in the most simplistic terms, as a battle between good and evil...Bush is convinced that Islamic militants and many other Muslims are opposed to America because, America is ‘freedom's home and defender’ and Islamist militancy stems from a congenital Muslim/non-white/non-Christian barbarity that can only be cured through military bombardment."
Finally, writing in the Australian "on-line e-journal of social and political debate," churchman and teacher Peter Sellick commented on a U.S. television documentary in 2004 that described the Christian fundamentalism of the president and the most ardent supporters of the war in Iraq. "In the president's mind, America stands for the good and the terrorists, or any associated with them, are evil. I do not quibble with labeling acts of terrorism evil...It is the assumption that the world can be divided between good and evil that disturbs me...This is a simplistic and dangerous view of the world that pits military might not only against the planners and perpetrators but against whole peoples...
"An emphasis on the Bible as being true in all its facts, rather than in spirit, leads to displaced knowledge about the world and about culture. This is why Bush was not able to understand the complex history of the Middle East. This ignorance allowed him to rush in where wiser men would have feared to tread."
Armstrong concluded, "Fundamentalists do not want a humanely constructed peace; many, indeed, regard the UN as the abode of the Antichrist. The willingness of the U.S. to turn a blind eye to the suffering of innocent people in Lebanon will certainly fuel the rage of the extremists and lead to further acts of terror. We can only hope that it does not take us all the way to Armageddon."
While I have your attention, let me recall the White House press made no protest at the regular briefing when Press Secretary Tony Snow, who was a flack for Bush when he worked for Fox News, casually tossed a gratuitous insult at Helen Thomas, who was pressing him on why the administration didn't favor a cease fire to save lives.
She pointed out, correctly, that the U.S. was perceived to have endorsed "collective punishment," against Lebanon and Palestine. His reply: "Well thank you for the Hezbollah view." Then he misinformed reporters by claiming the G8 meeting had endorsed the American position.
Not since the Vietnam war when an American official asked the press, "Which side are you on," have I heard a presidential flack insult an impugn a reporter's integrity for asking a legitimate question. Never in my dozen or so years asking tough questions of Larry Speakes, Marlin Fitzwater, Mike McCurry and even Ron Ziegler during Watergate, did I hear such a snide insult.
Helen Thomas could teach Snow about integrity and manners. Helen's roots are Lebanese, but as the longtime White House reporter for UPI, she would grit her teeth as she listened to the likes of Menachim Begin and Itzakh Shamir ask a couple of provocative questions, then write a clean, straight account of what they had to say.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Signing Statements Strike a Nerve

An editorial view from acrros the country:
The Appleton (Wisc.) Post-Crescent : 'A Republican senator challenging the president's power is striking a blow for our way of government. . . .'Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, introduced a bill last week that would allow Congress to sue the president for an unconstitutional use of signing statements. . . .'His bill would give Congress -- representing our interests -- the chance to challenge any president who tries to subvert legislation on specious grounds.'This is protection that our government needs.

The Yakima (Wash.) Herald : 'Too many times during this administration, we have been concerned about what appears to be an attitude that, 'We'll decide what the rules are; otherwise, they don't apply to us.''That's unacceptable.

The Huntsville (Ala.) Times : 'There's nothing in the Constitution -- and there shouldn't be -- that says the president gets to pick and choose which laws to obey. When he took his oath, Bush swore to enforce all of them.'If, during a time of national peril, Bush wants extraordinary powers to meet threats, the Constitution says he must go to Congress to try to get them.

Melbourne-based Florida Today : 'Suing a president is a grave recourse, but the option has been made necessary by one who believes he's impervious to the law.

The Loveland (Colo.) Reporter-Herald : "The push and pull of the powers of the presidency versus the powers of Congress has gone on through much of our history and will continue in the future. Still, it appears that Specter's proposed legislation is worthy of significant debate. Among other things, it will give students of American government a lot to think about. And if Specter's bill passes, the signing statement from the president that goes along with it could be a doozy."

The Reading (Pa.) Eagle : "Under the pretext of protecting the country against terrorism, Bush has tried to set himself above Congress and the courts. "Yes, the threat of terrorism is real, but the country is not even remotely in a state of panic that would warrant placing that kind of power in the president. "Whether Bush wants to admit it or not, this is still a representative democracy, and the policy of the separation of powers is still intact."

The Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader : "Congress has allowed Bush to get out of hand. After the 9/11 tragedies, lawmakers from both parties gave the executive branch too much authority and too little scrutiny. . . . "Specter's bill is one step in restoring the balance of powers that is the foundation of our democracy."

The Buffalo News : "President Bush has some peculiar ideas about what it means to be the chief executive of a democracy built upon the concept of checks and balances. . . . "There is no practical way other than political pressure to force Bush to abide fully by the laws he is signing. Americans can apply that pressure as mid-term elections approach. So can an increasingly frustrated Congress. Here's hoping they do."

The Battle Creek (Mich.) Enquirer : "We find Bush's proclivity for signing statements particularly ironic in light of his oft-declared disdain for 'activist judges' who he says go beyond their constitutional duties by reinterpreting laws written by Congress."

The Lebanon (Pa.) Daily News : "The president's constitutional duty is to enforce laws he has signed into being,' said the report. "That simple truth would seem to be self-evident. That an ABA report had to be written to remind the White House of that truth is a shameful commentary on the administration. "

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls (Iowa) Courier : "The sheer numbers of signing statements give the impression of a well thought-out strategy within the administration in its quest to extend executive power. "This president should not be allowed to set that precedent. Nor should any that follow."

And the Berkshire (Mass.) Eagle : "Like a kid who makes a deal and holds his fingers crossed behind his back to signify he doesn't really mean it, President Bush seems to believe that if he issues a statement upon signing a law then the law doesn't apply as it was written. . . .
It may be that he only way for Congress to reassert its power is by playing the game the way the president does. From here on all bills heading to the president's desk should have be accompanied by a 'no backsies' amendment, which nullify all presidential 'crossies.' Or perhaps an even better check on the president would be a 'jinx, doublejinx' clause in which he can't speak until after he signs a bill. Let's just hope the president doesn't resort to cupping his ears, shutting his eyes and implementing the 'I can't hear you, I can't hear you, la-la-la-la' tactic.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Monkey Bites

Wired: "The satirical current events show The Colbert Report, which airs Monday through Thursday nights on Comedy Central, has a history of messing with the mainstream media to comedic ends. But last night, host Stephen Colbert went after Wikipedia. The results, as always, were hilarious.Check out the video for the Wikiality segment on YouTube. Colbert encourages his viewers to change the Wikipedia entry for elephant so that it says the number of African elephants has tripled in the last six months. The result? Various Wikipedia articles referring to elephants, African elephants, African Bush elephants, African Forest elephants and the like were immediately moved to semi-protected status by the site's administrators. Pages with the semi-protected designation can only be edited by registered and trusted users. Colbert's Wikipedia user account was also blocked from making edits."

More security woes for Diebold

It's no secret that Diebold's electronic voting gear is, um, a little lax in the security department, and now a non-profit group known as the Open Voting Foundation has found "what may be the worst security flaw we have [ever] seen in touch screen voting machines" in the company's older TS model. Apparently these devices -- which produce no paper record of voters' choices -- contain a switch on the internal motherboard that would allow nefarious hackers to toggle between the two pre-installed boot profiles and "change literally everything regarding how the machine works and counts votes." Even worse, the board also sports a slot for external flash memory from which a third profile could be "field-added in minutes," allowing unsavory characters to overwrite certified files with their own data before switching the machine back to its unaltered state -- with no one the wiser. It looks like Diebold has two options for addressing this nagging problem: either they can open up their machines and source code to a thorough external audit and adopt the resulting suggestions (unlikely), or they can take the simpler route and just get their friends in Washington make it illegal for rabble-rousers like the Open Voting Foundation to play with their toys.