Friday, March 30, 2007

Wango Tango

Appalling insight into army rercruitment via Al Gore's internet TV project, current.tv

Wi-Fi hot spots may deliver user directly to hacker, thief

Chicago Tribune: "As communities push to turn themselves into massive wireless hot spots, unsuspecting Internet users are stumbling directly onto hacker turf, giving computer thieves nearly effortless access to their laptops and private information, authorities and high-tech security experts say.
It's an invasion with a twist: People who think they are signing on to the Internet through a wireless hot spot might actually be connecting to a look-alike network created by a malicious user who can steal sensitive information, said Geoff Bickers, a special agent for the FBI's Los Angeles cyber squad.
It is not clear how many people have been victimized, and few suspects have been charged with Wi-Fi hacking. But Bickers said that over the past couple of years, these hacking techniques have become increasingly common and are often undetectable. The risk is especially high at cafes, hotels and airports, busy places with heavy turnover of laptop users, authorities said.
"Wireless is a convenience, that's why people use it," he said. "There's an axiom in the computer world that convenience is the enemy of security. People don't use wireless because they want to be secure. They use wireless because it's easy."
For Mark Loveless, it was just a letter that separated security from scam. Logging on to his hotel's free wireless Internet in San Francisco recently, Loveless had two networks to choose between on his laptop screen -- same name, one beginning with a lowercase letter, one with a capital. He chose the latter and, as he had done earlier that day, connected. But this time, a screen popped up asking for his logon and password.
Loveless, a 46-year-old security analyst from Texas, immediately disconnected. A former hacker, he knew an attack when he saw one, he said.
Most Internet users do not.
About 14.3 million American households use wireless Internet, and this figure is projected to grow to nearly 49 million households by 2010, according to Jupiter Research, which specializes in business and technology market research.
"There's literally probably millions of laptops in the U.S. that are configured to join networks named Linksys or D-Link when they are available," said Corey O'Donnell, vice president of marketing for Authentium, a security company that provides security software. "So if I'm a hacker, it's as easy as setting up a network with one of those names and waiting for the fish to come.""

What's Your Food Footprint?

As if counting calories weren't enough, now you can calculate the "carbon cost" of your food. Starting next month, Bon Appetit, a food-service company that operates corporate and university cafeterias, will test a "low-carbon diet," designed to reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions that cause global warming. Instead of, say, a tilapia fillet (frozen using electricity from a coal-fired power plant and flown in from China on a carbon-dioxide-emitting jet), customers can choose a dish using locally produced ingredients. And forget bottled water. "We want folks to realize that their food choices can have an effect on climate change," says Helene York, director of the Bon Appetit Foundation. Studies show that the production, processing, packaging and transportation of food may contribute up to one third of the greenhouse-gas emissions each year. Bon Appetit's Maisie Greenawalt says, "This is about asking yourself, 'Do I need a banana even if it's flown in from Ecuador, or can I replace it with an apple grown nearby?' "

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Local Issues

Hey guys,


I just wanted to let you guys know about an important bill that just passed the Illinois House of Representatives that will allow all Illinois residents to get a drivers license and therefore be able to get auto insurance. This will give the right to drive legally and safely to the undocumented immigrants who are encouraged to work for minimum-wage pay here to support our economy but who are often denied basic rights.

I went last week with a busload of people, including some of the middle-school and
high-school kids that come to the after-school program at my work to Springfield to a big rally in support of the bill and to speak with our local legislators. Please check out our local newspaper to see these 3 articles that have been written on the issue. Please also take the time to read the comments to see what kind of intolerance and racism immigrants face here.
http://www.nwherald.com/articles/2007/03/29/
news/state/doc460b7ccd94cbd997096789.txt

http://www.nwherald.com/articles/2007/03/23/news/
local/doc46039b61bbfa1907477017.txt#blogcomments

Since the bill passed the House it will now go to the Senate in the end of April or early May. For those of you who have Senator Pam Althoff as your senator, this
is especially important. Please call her and write to her as much as you can from today until they vote on this law. For those of you who have a different senator,
please find out where they stand and give them a call.

This is just the first step towards much-needed comprehensive immigration reform that will recognize the inhumanity of allowing people to work for little money but not acknowledging their basic human rights.

If you want to know more about my work, please visit our website at
www.gardenquarter.tripod.com/index.html.

If you don't care about this, well I think you should.

Thanks guys!
Meghan Sullivan

An Innocent Misunderstanding

NY Times:"Like me, you may not get much fun out of learning that all your life you’ve misunderstood something important. I think you can have some fun with this. Wanna play?
Cast your mind back about a dozen years to Tonya Harding. For the newly born, she was the young skater who hired a goon acquaintance to lurch out of the shadows and whack rival skater Nancy Kerrigan in the leg. The attack effectively put Nancy out of commission and delivered to sportsmanship a black eye the size of Cleveland.
Despite all this, gritty Tonya’s fanatical admirers remained loyal. On the TV news one of these ardent supporters — in this case an adenoidal female teen — gushed into a newslady’s mike something like, “It’s rilly awful. The papers and like everybody are rilly forgetteen about like Tonya’s Constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty. It’s the, like, cornerstone of our democracy.” (I have omitted a few “likes.”)
In New York’s most recent case of law officers pumping a half gross of lead into an unarmed citizen, a prosecutor, of all people who should know better, urged press and public to remind themselves of the presumption of innocence “that governs us all.”
In the Enron case, a top-flight and expensively-suited lawyer, a goodly, portly fellow looking a bit puffed from having walked a few yards, expressed his anger on the 11 o’clock news about a columnist who wrote something unfavorable about his client. He snorted something like, “Whatever became of the presumption of innocence?”
What do all these good folks have in common? All of them — Tonya’s strident fan, the district attorney, and his tubby eminence the attorney— are all, to put it less strongly than one might, dead wrong. The presumption of innocence has nothing to do with any of the above.
For some years I’ve had a kind of mini-hobby of asking lawyers and others in the legal profession where the famous “presumption of innocence” comes from. The answers are richly varied: “Hmmm, good question,” “the Constitution,” “the Bible,” “It’s a rule of law,” “the Bill of Rights,” “the Magna Carta,” “the Kama Sutra.” (He had been drinking.) All these responders were male, by the way. The two lady lawyers I asked got it right."

Marines Ban Tattoes



"This is something I love to do," said Cpl. David Nadrchal, 20, of Pomona, who made an appointment to get an Iraqi flag and his deployment dates etched onto his lower leg. "The fact I can't put something on my body that I want — it's a big thing to tell me I can't do that."

Nadrchal said he is unsure whether he will re-enlist: "There's all these little things. They are slowly chipping away at us."

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James T. Conway announced the policy change last week.

"Some Marines have taken the liberty of tattooing themselves to a point that is contrary to our professional demeanor and the high standards America has come to expect from us," he said. "I believe tattoos of an excessive nature do not represent our traditional values."

The ban is aimed primarily at "sleeve" tattoos, the large and often elaborate designs on the biceps and forearms of many Marines. Similar designs on the lower legs will be forbidden as well. So will very large tattoos on the upper arm, if they are visible when a Marine wears his workout T-shirt. Small, individual tattoos will still be allowed on the arms and legs. (The Marines already ban them on the hands.)

Marines already tattooed are exempt from the ban but cannot add to their designs; anyone caught with fresh ink in the wrong places could be barred from re-enlistment or face disciplinary action. Getting a prohibited tattoo could constitute a violation of a lawful order, punishable by up to two years in prison and a dishonorable discharge, Marine spokesman 1st Lt. Brian Donnelly said.

Unit commanders must photograph and document sleeve tattoos to ensure Marines do not add to their ink.

The Marines and the other branches of the military already ban tattoos that could be offensive or disruptive, such as images that are sexist, vulgar, gang-related or extremist.

The Army, which has been doing most of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and is struggling to fill its ranks, actually relaxed its tattoo restrictions last year. Soldiers can now get ink on the back of their hands and the lower back of the neck.

The Navy last year decreed that tattoos visible while in short-sleeve uniform cannot be larger than the wearer's hand. The Air Force says tattoos should be covered up if they are bigger than one-quarter the size of the exposed body part.

Tattoo artist Jerry Layton at the Body Temple Tattoo Studio in Oceanside said he was booked up with Marines rushing to beat the deadline.

"These are guys that are dying in the war," Layton said. "They can fight, but they can't get a tattoo? It's ridiculous."


(I know Cody went and spent all his money on tattoes before it took effect - I haven't talked to him about it, but there's no doubt in my mind that's what he'd do.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Pope is Full of Shit

Pope says hell and damnation are real and eternal | NEWS.com.au:



A few quotes from the linked story....

"HELL is a place where sinners really do burn in an everlasting fire, and not just a religious symbol designed to galvanise the faithful, Pope Benedict XVI has said."
......

In October, the Pope indicated that limbo, supposed since medieval times to be a "halfway house" between heaven and hell, was "only a theological hypothesis" and not a "definitive truth of the faith".

....
He recalled that Jesus had forgiven the "woman taken in adultery" and prevented her from being stoned to death, observing: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." (Interesting to me, how religious theologian could mistake the fact that this story was added to BIBLES sometime around the 12th and 13th centuries i.e. it is made up, like much of the Bible is anywho)
.....
PS I like to change my name whenever my title changes. It what God wants. He told me. I'm infallible and you're all going to burn in hell. Have a good day, while you still can. Now cover your wife's legs, and stone those fags before they destroy your marriage.

Hotmail users deemed too dumb for employment at firm

A guy, who works in the department of a Human Resources consultancy company, says they made a selection process in which, among other things, they asked for a person with ample experience in using the internet (navigation, searches, formats...).
They received 50 candidacies, from which 30 came from Hotmail-directions, all of them erased as they entered.

The reason: You can't pretend being an internet expert and use a Hotmail account at the same time.

News-digger / Aurora student decides what millions read online

Not even Henry Wang's mother understands what he does.

But he's paid $1,000 a month to do it.

Wang, a 17-year-old from DeKalb, has been called a digger, a seeder, a navigator -- even a filter.

But Wang calls himself "dirtyfratboy" -- his online nickname on Netscape.com and Digg.com, for which he recommends articles to millions of potential readers.

Wang describes what he does simply: "I find interesting things online, post it and share with other people."

"Other people," in this context, could mean upward of 2 millions readers of Netscape.com's home page.

His sign-in name is just "an inside joke that went too far," Wang says, leaving it at that.

The high school senior at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora isn't old enough for fraternity life. But as a "navigator" for Netscape.com, Wang belongs to an exclusive group of 33 tastemakers who, with a few clicks, can direct millions of eyeballs to stories they find, post and vote on. The more votes, the higher the story can be ranked and displayed to attract more readers. The navigators seed Netscape.com with stories from all over the Internet, from established news sites such as Forbes.com and msnbc.msn.com to bloggers, though Wang stays away from blogs.

"They usually have some agenda, and they can get facts wrong," he says.

Navigators, says James Marcus, senior editor and lead anchor for Netscape.com, can come from all walks of life but have one thing in common.

"They're all news junkies," Marcus says. "You have to be someone with enormous curiosity."

Wang seems to fit the profile. He reads, on average, 25 articles a day (750 monthly) and publishes 150 of those each month, under contract with Netscape.com. Most news seeders, or diggers, are unpaid, posting articles on news-aggregate sites such as Digg.com, Reddit.com or Newsvine.com. At one point, Wang was Digg's No. 2 user until a relaunched Netscape.com wooed him away last July when it began recruiting navigators.

Oppose Dick Cheney's BYU Commencement Speech


It has been widely reported that BYU and its board of trustees have accepted the request of Vice President Richard Cheney to address BYU’s graduating class on April 26th. Sign this petition encouraging BYU to identify a more appropriate commencement speaker, and refuse Mr. Cheney’s offer to speak.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
READ THE PETITION
Dear BYU Family,

As alumni, students, faculty, and friends of Brigham Young University and its sister institutions, we were saddened to learn that BYU and its board of trustees accepted the request of Vice President Richard Cheney to address BYU’s graduating class on April 26th. We are concerned that this action represents an unvoiced endorsement of one of our nation’s most controversial partisan figures, and serves to undermine the stated position of political neutrality held by BYU’s sponsoring institution, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We therefore respectfully request that BYU identify a more appropriate commencement speaker, and refuse Mr. Cheney’s offer to speak.

Over the past six years, Vice President Cheney and his office have been the center of great national controversy. During this time, Cheney has made misleading statements about the tragic war which continues in Iraq, levied outrageous partisan accusations against his Democratic opponents, and used vulgarity on the Senate floor. He has been linked to serious scandals involving botched intelligence reports, no-bid contracts awarded to friends and political donors, and perjury convictions handed down to his own staff. Mr. Cheney is simply not the type of role model to whom we wish to bestow the responsibility of addressing our best and brightest as they “go forth to serve”.

Today more than ever, the LDS church and its educational institutions have come under unwarranted criticism for close links to Republican political interests. Recently, faculty members in BYU’s own Marriott School of Business attracted national attention for using their professional positions to endorse and fundraise for Republican Mitt Romney’s bid for the White House. While the individuals involved in the situation were appropriately reprimanded, some spectators have erroneously concluded that the LDS Church privately endorses Republican political candidates, while maintaining an official, public position of political neutrality. Mr. Cheney's visit will do nothing to dispel that misconception. In fact, it will serve only as a troubling and untimely reminder of the dominant political influence that his party has on politics in Utah, and will be viewed by many as a tacit endorsement of the Vice President’s party, and its policies.

For these reasons, we humbly request that Mr. Cheney not be permitted to use the BYU commencement ceremony as a platform for his controversial political agenda. We further request that if the board upholds their decision to allow Mr. Cheney to speak, that a prominent Democrat be invited to speak at a similar university-wide event.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bush's Monica Problem

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Tuesday, March 27, 2007; 11:48 AM

Will another presidency be tripped up by another Monica?

As suspicions about the White House role in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys last year continue to deepen, one of the people who could shed light on what happened -- Monica Goodling, the Justice Department's White House liaison -- has suddenly decided to clam up, invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Juries in criminal cases are sternly lectured not to assume guilt when a defendant takes the Fifth. It is, after all, a Constitutional right.

But when a fairly minor player in what had heretofore not been considered a criminal investigation suddenly admits that she faces legal jeopardy if she tells the truth to a Congressional panel? Well, in that case, wild speculation is an inevitable and appropriate reaction.

For one, it's not at all clear what she's trying to say. Undeniably, if she chose to lie to the panel, she could face perjury charges. Her recourse, therefore, would appear to be to tell the truth.

So is she saying that if she told the truth, she would have to admit a crime? What crime?

Or is she saying something else: That she'd have to admit someone else's criminal behavior? Well, that's not something you can take the Fifth to avoid. Sorry.

Or is she just afraid of being grilled by an antagonistic bunch of congressmen? Well, that's not something you can take the Fifth to avoid either.

In my column yesterday, I wrote that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is almost certainly still getting his marching orders directly from the West Wing. I speculated about which Justice and/or White House aides were charged with delivering those orders. It's widely known that the White House has in many cases turned over the micromanagement of Cabinet officials to untested youngsters whose paramount qualification is that they follow orders.

Now it looks like the 33-year-old Goodling's terrified, whining refusal to own up to what she did may end up exposing one of the weaknesses of relying on such people. When the going gets tough, they can't necessarily be trusted to either stand up to pressure -- or take the fall. Instead, they panic.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Go Dad!


Mark Barron was navigating the valley known as the Spring Valley curves in his Toyota Prius when the engine suddenly failed.
But the car didn’t stop. The electric propulsion system kicked in and he was able to make it up the mammoth hill and to his home without incident.
“The electric motor was able to get me to my home in Webster Park,” Barron said. “At least I got off the road.”
Barron has been a diehard hybrid owner since 2001 when he purchased his car from a Peru dealer.
Hybrid cars are the latest innovation in battery technology. Electronics continue to shrink and require more power, and battery makers are working to meet those needs and make the world a little greener while they are at it.

The Year Without Toilet Paper

NY Times:
"DINNER was the usual affair on Thursday night in Apartment 9F in an elegant prewar on Lower Fifth Avenue. There was shredded cabbage with fruit-scrap vinegar; mashed parsnips and yellow carrots with local butter and fresh thyme; a terrific frittata; then homemade yogurt with honey and thyme tea, eaten under the greenish flickering light cast by two beeswax candles and a fluorescent bulb.
A sour odor hovered oh-so-slightly in the air, the faint tang, not wholly unpleasant, that is the mark of the home composter. Isabella Beavan, age 2, staggered around the neo-Modern furniture — the Eames chairs, the brown velvet couch, the Lucite lamps and the steel cafe table upon which dinner was set — her silhouette greatly amplified by her organic cotton diapers in their enormous boiled-wool, snap-front cover.
A visitor avoided the bathroom because she knew she would find no toilet paper there.
Meanwhile, Joseph, the liveried elevator man who works nights in the building, drove his wood-paneled, 1920s-era vehicle up and down its chute, unconcerned that the couple in 9F had not used his services in four months. “I’ve noticed,” Joseph said later with a shrug and no further comment. (He declined to give his last name. “I’ve got enough problems,” he said.)
Welcome to Walden Pond, Fifth Avenue style. Isabella’s parents, Colin Beavan, 43, a writer of historical nonfiction, and Michelle Conlin, 39, a senior writer at Business Week, are four months into a yearlong lifestyle experiment they call No Impact. Its rules are evolving, as Mr. Beavan will tell you, but to date include eating only food (organically) grown within a 250-mile radius of Manhattan; (mostly) no shopping for anything except said food; producing no trash (except compost, see above); using no paper; and, most intriguingly, using no carbon-fueled transportation."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Trains (and Patience) Stretched Thin in Chicago

NY Times:
CHICAGO, March 25 — "The century-old elevated train system here is as much a city fixture as the towering skyline and the piercing blue waters of Lake Michigan.
But deteriorating tracks and trains, chronic budget shortfalls and a region ever more dependent on rail service are forcing Chicagoans to confront the possibility that the system, commonly known as the El or the L, may be at a breaking point.
“We’re living on borrowed time,” said Frank Kruesi, the president of the Chicago Transit Authority, which runs the rail service. “The fact is, there’s no magic wand when we’re looking at modernizing a system that’s 100 years old in a very dense urban environment.”
The El, with its 1,190 rail cars and 222 miles of track, is the rail component of the transit authority, the second-largest public transit system in the country after New York’s. The C.T.A.’s trains and buses serve the city and 40 suburbs, logging 1.55 million rides daily. The El alone accounted for more than 195 million rides last year.
Many neighborhoods have thrived in recent years in part because they attracted residents eager to take advantage of the easy access to downtown that the trains afforded, some riders say. But the rail system is splitting at the seams, having carried 31 million more riders in 2005 than in 1985 on a fleet of cars with an average age of 27 years.
“I’ve been riding the El pretty much all my life, and I’ve never seen performance anywhere near this bad,” Alexander Facklis, 37, a rider on the Blue Line, said during a recent morning commute when a stalled train slowed most service. “There are delays every single day.”
For years, the story of the El has been one of too little money and costly patchwork maintenance, transit experts say."

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Ultimate Taboo

Posted on Mar 22, 2007

By Ellen Goodman

BOSTON—He’s not exactly a profile in courage. After all, Pete Stark is 75 and has represented his liberal district near San Francisco for more than 30 years. It’s unlikely that he’ll be tarred and feathered or sent packing for admitting that he’s, well, a godless politician.

Nevertheless, last week Stark broke a political taboo. He became the first member of Congress to say publicly that he doesn’t believe in “a supreme being.” The next most powerful politician to identify himself as a “non-theist” in response to a question by the Secular Coalition for America was a school board president in Berkeley.

Some described Stark’s admission as “coming out of the closet.” Others rued the fact that God was not on his side. A spokesman for the Concerned Women for America unabashedly bashed him, saying that “a Christian worldview is proper for a politician to have.”

Not surprisingly, Stark has no ambitions for the presidency. In one of those endless polls surveying whether we are “ready for” a black, a woman, a Jew or others to be president, only 14 percent of Americans believe we’re ready for an atheist. What Stark has done, however, is open a fresh chapter in this year’s hefty book on presidential politics and religion.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

This is one egg hunt that's not for kids



Dozens of Chicagoans will be hunting for eggs in city parks this spring--and we're not talking about the sweet, candy-covered chocolate ones.

Instead, they'll be looking for big, white goose eggs. And when they find them, park officials will get experts to kill them.For the first time in Chicago, the Park District is enlisting volunteers to search for eggs laid by Canada geese in its ongoing effort to curb the messy population.

Last year, park officials hired geese experts to find nests in four city parks and destroy the eggs by shaking them or coating them with corn oil.

The program proved so successful that this year seven other parks have been added, and the city needs volunteers to search for the eggs, which are four times the size of a large chicken egg.

"I can't stress enough, this is not an Easter egg hunt," said Susan Hagberg, president of Wild Goose Chase, which performs goose and seagull control for the Chicago Park District. "This is very regulated. If people think they can do this on their own, they can't."

Hagberg stressed that the volunteers won't handle the eggs.

"These volunteers will be extra eyes for the professionals," said Ellen Sargent, the district's deputy director of natural resources.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Protests Mark Iraq War'a 4th Year



A peaceful crowd of around 4,000, by Chicago Police estimates, makes its way down Michigan Avenue in Chicago on Tuesday night. By 8:10 p.m., they filled the southbound lanes of the street.

What People Really Need

In nasty and bumbling comments made at the White House yesterday, President Bush declared that “people just need to hear the truth” about the firing of eight United States attorneys. That’s right. Unfortunately, the deal Mr. Bush offered Congress to make White House officials available for “interviews” did not come close to meeting that standard.

Mr. Bush’s proposal was a formula for hiding the truth, and for protecting the president and his staff from a legitimate inquiry by Congress. Mr. Bush’s idea of openness involved sending White House officials to Congress to answer questions in private, without taking any oath, making a transcript or allowing any follow-up appearances. The people, in other words, would be kept in the dark.

The Democratic leaders were right to reject the offer, despite Mr. Bush’s threat to turn this dispute into a full-blown constitutional confrontation.

Congress has the right and the duty to fully investigate the firings, which may have been illegal, and Justice Department officials’ statements to Congress, which may have been untrue. It needs to question Karl Rove, Mr. Bush’s chief political adviser, Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, and other top officials.

It is hard to imagine what, besides evading responsibility, the White House had in mind. Why would anyone refuse to take an oath on a matter like this, unless he were not fully committed to telling the truth? And why would Congress accept that idea, especially in an investigation that has already been marked by repeated false and misleading statements from administration officials?

The White House notes that making misrepresentations to Congress is illegal, even if no oath is taken. But that seems to be where the lack of a transcript comes in. It would be hard to prove what Mr. Rove and others said if no official record existed.

The White House also put an unacceptable condition on the documents it would make available, by excluding e-mail messages within the White House. Mr. Bush’s overall strategy seems clear: to stop Congress from learning what went on within the White House, which may well be where the key decisions to fire the attorneys were made.

The White House argued that presidential advisers rarely testify before Congress, but that is simply not true. Many of President Clinton’s high-ranking advisers, including his White House counsels and deputy chief of staff, testified about Whitewater, allegations of campaign finance abuses and other matters.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Cambridge Dictionary's Top 40 words

This list shows the 40 entries that were clicked on most frequently in January 2007.

1 advice (1)
2 regard (2)
3 comply (4)
4 assess (8)
5 effect (5)
6 commit (7)
7 appreciate (6)
8 analyse (13)
9 liaise (18)
10 intend (9)
11 endeavour (10)
12 acquire (12)
13 prosper (20)
14 emphasize (11)
15 provide (15)
16 respond (17)
17 inform (19)
18 affect (26)
19 compete (14)
20 benefit (23)

Monday, March 19, 2007

File under: Innovative Entertainment



From NYTimes: "How could you have missed it when, say, Rosie O’Donnell returned to television, doing whatever that thing is she’s doing now?
But when Tom Green gets back into the business, and launches a talk show, the only way to know about it is to sort of stumble on it. That’s because his talk show’s all online, and its promotion — as someone imagines it — is no doubt meant to be “stealth” or “viral.”
In any case, tomgreen.com, the guy’s one-man web channel, now shows a LIVE talkshow Monday to Friday from 8PM PT. It’s broadcast from his house."

Bertoletti takes St. Pat's Chowdown

3/19/2007

Patrick Bertoletti won the St. Patrick's Day Chowndown on Spike TV, edging out eating phenom Joey Chestnut and setting three new records in the process. The three-tiered elimination tournament, which took place as part of the St. Patrick's Day celebration in Savannah, GA, featured $15,000 in prizes.

Bertoletti consumed 10.63 pounds of corned beef and cabbage in the first round (a record he now shares with Joey Chestnut, who tied this round with Pat), 47 cream-filled donuts in five minutes and 98 jalapeno peppers in five minutes.

Chestnut placed second in the eight-person event, beating out Chip Simpson and Sonya Thomas, who made it to the second four-person round. Approximately 4,000 fans were on hand for the event, which is the first in a series of live events on Spike TV, the new home of competitive eating.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Corned beef confidential


About six weeks before St. Patrick's Day each year,

Steve "Schmitty" Schmidt starts wear ing his green leprechaun hat and blinking shamrock bowtie to work. Not that he cares that much about St. Patrick's Day - he's not even Irish.

Schmidt does, however, care about corned beef - a lot. Never mind that corned beef isn't necessarily Irish, either. The hat and tie are a purely benevolent gesture on his part, meant to foster enthusiasm among his colleagues. "I'm kind of a nut," he says.

He has been making the brine-cured brisket at Vienna Beef since he was 16, having joined the company in the corned beef curing room, to help support his family while going part time to high school.

That was 36 years ago, and all that time on the job is one reason he's the resident expert and manager of corned beef production for the company, whose first store was at 417 S. Halsted St. It was opened in 1894 by two Austro-Hungarian immigrants who had had success with their wieners at the World's Columbian Expo.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

You Call Yourself a Progressive -- But You Still Eat Meat?

AlterNet
Eating a plant-based diet is an easy, cheap way to end animal cruelty and clean up the environment. Why, then, are so many progressives still clinging to their chicken nuggets?
"The report released this week by the world's leading climate scientists made no bones about it: Global warming is happening in a big way and it is very likely manmade. The U.N. report that came out soon after made a critical point: "The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." And yet, so many environmentalists continue to eat meat. Why?
Being part of the solution can be a whole lot simpler -- and cheaper -- than going out and buying a new hybrid. We can make a huge difference in the environment simply by eating a plant-based diet instead of an animal-based one. Factory farming pollutes our air and water, reduces the rainforests, and goes a long way to create global warming. Yet for some environmentalists, the idea of giving up those chicken nuggets is still hard to swallow.
So, I thought I might discuss a few of the key concerns that my meat-eating friends offer in defense of their continued meat consumption. Here we go:"

Friday, March 16, 2007

Plame Speaks



Watch another clip of the hearing here

Fox News along with many other have continually, day after day after day, made the case that no law was broken, that Plame was not even undercover. This is their version of news, it is a false version. Will they come clean? Or will they continue to re-write history in the most Orwellian of ways? Abso-fuckin-lutely not. "Sean (no "fact" ever got in my way) Hannity on the radio this afternoon pulled no punches and claimed Plame told lies in her testimony."
Fox News also said "The leak lead to a special prosecutor's investigation which "concluded that the leak broke no law because there was no proof any Bush administration official actually knew of Plame's covert status, something Plame seemed to agree with under questioning" today. In fact, no such conclusion was reached under the testimony.

Read the op-ed that started it all here

Thursday, March 15, 2007

New species of leopard with largest fangs in cat world discovered | the Daily Mail



It is a modern-day sabre-tooth tiger with fearsome fangs capable of killing its prey in a single bite.
This clouded leopard which feasts on monkeys, deer and pigs has been discovered living deep in the Borneo rain forest.

"300"



Isn't it sad the Iranians think a movie like 300 would affect our judgement of their character? It's like they think we get up and say "those persians were pretty cowardly back in 480 AD, they probably still are," and in reality we're just saying "popcorn was stale did you leave the lights on?" What a massive disconnect. Seriously. They think we care about our wars.
--GB

Girl Finds Missing Dog's Head on Doorstep

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (AP) -- A 17-year-old girl who spent weeks looking for her missing dog unwrapped a box left on her doorstep and found the pet's severed head inside, authorities said.

Homicide investigators were looking into the case because of the "implied" terroristic threat, St. Paul Police Sgt. Jim Gray said. The Humane Society of the United States said Wednesday it was offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

"This was extraordinarily heinous," said Dale Bartlett, the Humane Society's deputy manager for animal cruelty issues. "I deal with hundreds and hundreds of cruelty cases each year. When I read about this case, it took my breath away. It's horrible."

After Crystal Brown's 4-year-old Australian shepherd mix, Chevy, wandered away last month, she put up "missing" posters in her neighborhood and went door to door looking for him. She called the St. Paul animal shelter and rode the bus there several times.

"I felt empty," Crystal told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis. "I couldn't talk to anyone. He was my dog. It was just me and him. ... I told him everything and he never shared any of my secrets."

The Mark of Rove

Tom Toles March 14, 2007

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Body overlooked in bustle of hurricane rebuilding

BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) -- As his family and neighbors focused on rebuilding homes and lives battered by Hurricane Rita, few gave much thought to Larry Euglon's long absence.

"All the neighbors asked where Mr. Larry was," said Osborne Johnson, who lived across the street from Euglon for more than 20 years. "We decided he had evacuated with other people and didn't have the chance to come back."

In fact, he never left. The skeletal, mummified remains of the 51-year-old recluse were recently discovered lying on his bed inside his home, which had no major storm damage but was still enveloped by thick branches from two splintered oak trees.

Now people wonder why it took nearly 18 months for Euglon to be found in this southeast Texas city.

"I walked away with more questions than answers. You keep thinking why didn't someone notice this," said Jefferson County Justice of the Peace Vi McGinnis. "It has been the talk of the town."

Investigators believe Euglon died of natural causes, but can't tell if it happened before or after Rita. He apparently had been ill for some time before his death and lost considerable weight, but the exact nature of his illness is not known.

Some neighbors remember him turning down an offer of evacuation in the days before the storm made landfall at nearby Sabine Pass on September 24, 2005.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Times They Are A Changin'

The Times They Are A Changin'

Stocks fell 240 points today. Blue chip stocks are down 5 percent from their closing high on February 20th. Now, bare with me, this will get more interesting.

Why such a drop in such a short time? I'm glad you asked Reid, because the experts are attributing it to a very interesting cause. A cause with many implications: subprime lenders. Subprime, just another word for our poor, our hungy, and our tired.

Subprime lenders such as the Accredited Home Lenders Holding Co. and General Motors Acceptance Corp's residential unit are facing changing times, tough times. They give loans to people with poor credit ratings, poor credit ratings because they have been turned into collection agencies or have defaulted on loans in the past, even filed bankruptcy.

As it turns out, these 'subprime' loanees have foreclosed on real-estate at an alltime high in the last months of 2006.

Big deal, they are only a small part of the economy. These people don't matter? They do..They raise concerns about the stability of the economy and specifically certain markets. As the lowest rung on the credit rating system, they are the base of the food chain. They are the plankton that are fed upon by the krill, fed upon by the tuna and the albatross, fed upon by the orca. When the base goes they all go.



On a not so side not.
Recent reports indicate that violent crime is up by double digits. For example, the violent crime rate in St. Louis rose 10.3 perecent in the first half of last year.

"After years of driving crime rates down, we're now in reverse gear. It's no coincidence that the violent crime rate has gone up during the same period this Administration has shortchanged law enforcement," said Sen. Biden. Sen. Biden recently introduced legislation to hire 50,000 new cops nationwide.

"On Friday, the Police Executive Research Forum released a study on Violent Crime in the United States. The statistics are alarming. With 56 jurisdictions reporting, "Violent Crime in America: 24 Months of Alarming Trends" covers the percentage change in violent crime from the years 2004 to 2006. Homicide increased 10.21 percent, and robbery increased 12.27 percent. Aggravated assault increased 3.12 percent, and aggravated assault with a firearm increased 9.98 percent."

These changes are attributable to the executive branch of our government, you know, that branch that is supposed to enforce the law. Their leader: President Bush. His policies are harming America. We should all be worried, rich and poor alike. While certain classes of our society can be cordoned off to separate areas of town, we can not cordon them to certain sections of our economy. The stock market has shown us just that, time and time again, this is not a new phenomenon.

Their hopelessness causes crime. And as their financial predicament gets worse, so does ours. Our economy and our society are on the verge of very tough times. But hopelessness for us all has yet to come, and it may never come, so long as our political will is strong enough to push through the reforms needed to change the status quo. The 2008 elections will be just a stop along the way to bringing this country back where it rightfully deserves to be. We must recognize these warning signs now and act to pull ourselves away from the desert of despair. Speaking of deserts, I'm thirsty, my sink is trickling, I think I'll fill a glass. Trickling? Reminds of some much touted economic theory? Oh well, I forget, must be some crazy liberal thing.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Can this fake missionary's position on corporate greed save the world?


"In his thrift-store white suit, priest's collar, and blond pompadour, Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping looks more like Elvis than Billy Graham. He stands on the sidewalk in New York's Astor Place, where one Starbucks stands across the street from another, with a third branch down the block. It's what he calls "the Devil's Triangle."
Behind him, the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, a 38-member crew dressed in red robes, holds signs above their heads—the Starbucks logo with a red line through it. "Take us to church, Reverend!" screams one.
Reverend Billy begins his sermon. "A number of us just returned from Kenya. The birthplace of civilization—the birthplace of coffee," he intones, playing his voice like a trombone. "We had the privilege of talking to Ethiopian coffee farmers. See, they preside over very special soil which makes the best coffee in the world."
The choir explodes in approval. "Amen, hallelujah!"
He doesn't necessarily want you to grow your own food, hand-sew your clothes, or smell like a hippie. He just wants you to support local businesses over huge corporations"The coffee farmers are starving," he continues, brow furrowing as he paces methodically back and forth on the sidewalk. "When they applied for the copyright to the names of their ancient coffees so they could lift themselves out of poverty, they were blocked by the devil." Steam rushes out of his mouth; he looks up theatrically at the sky. "The devil, in the form of a mermaid with no nipples."
"Lord help us," yells a blond choir member, appearing to faint.
Passersby by aren't sure what to think, but they stop and watch. A line of photographers and video cameras lends the spectacle an air of legitimacy. And within minutes a crowd of 100 people has gathered.
With tactics like these, Reverend Billy's crusade has slowly gained momentum over the span of a decade. But this year, progress seems to be coming much faster: Victoria's Secret announced in December that they will bow to the church's demand to cease using pulp from endangered rainforests in their catalogues. And Stop Shopping is the subject of What Would Jesus Buy? a new documentary by Morgan Spurlock, the man who sacrificed his body in Super Size Me. The film premieres at South By Southwest on March 11, and its production company is hoping for a nationwide release next December.
When I meet Reverend Billy, aka Bill Talen, before the Starbucks rally, he is at a farmers' market with his wife, Savitri D., the church's second-in-command. He reaches into his pocket and takes out a brown leather wallet to pay for a carton of eggs, a transaction I note with mild suspicion.
"We want to make a distinction between 'shopping' and buying things of value from someone you can talk to," Reverend Billy explains. He doesn't necessarily want you to grow your own food, hand-sew your clothes, or smell like a hippie. He just wants you to support local businesses over huge corporations.
"Multinationals dominate our neighborhoods, our lives, our government, the way we think, our ideas of happiness," says Reverend Billy. "We're trying to get people to stop running their lives by commodified behavior. Prosperity isn't what we've been told it is—it's laughing, singing, and dancing.""

Friday, March 09, 2007

Priests to Purify Site After Bush Visit

By JUAN CARLOS LLORCA
The Associated Press
Friday, March 9, 2007; 12:20 AM


GUATEMALA CITY -- Mayan priests will purify a sacred archaeological site to eliminate "bad spirits" after President Bush visits next week, an official with close ties to the group said Thursday.

"That a person like (Bush), with the persecution of our migrant brothers in the United States, with the wars he has provoked, is going to walk in our sacred lands, is an offense for the Mayan people and their culture," Juan Tiney, the director of a Mayan nongovernmental organization with close ties to Mayan religious and political leaders, said Thursday.
Bush's seven-day tour of Latin America includes a stopover beginning late Sunday in Guatemala. On Monday morning he is scheduled to visit the archaeological site Iximche on the high western plateau in a region of the Central American country populated mostly by Mayans.

Tiney said the "spirit guides of the Mayan community" decided it would be necessary to cleanse the sacred site of "bad spirits" after Bush's visit so that their ancestors could rest in peace. He also said the rites _ which entail chanting and burning incense, herbs and candles _ would prepare the site for the third summit of Latin American Indians March 26-30.

Bush's trip has already has sparked protests elsewhere in Latin America, including protests and clashes with police in Brazil hours before his arrival. In Bogota, Colombia, which Bush will visit on Sunday, 200 masked students battled 300 riot police with rocks and small homemade explosives.

The tour is aimed at challenging a widespread perception that the United States has neglected the region and at combatting the rising influence of Venezuelan leftist President Hugo Chavez, who has called Bush "history's greatest killer" and "the devil."

Iximche, 30 miles west of the capital of Guatemala City, was founded as the capital of the Kaqchiqueles kingdom before the Spanish conquest in 1524.

Hagel Suggests Possibility Of Bush Impeachment: ‘He’s Not Accountable Anymore’

According to a new report in Esquire magazine, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) has suggested that Congress may consider the impeachment of President Bush before his term ends:

“The president says, ‘I don’t care.’ He’s not accountable anymore,” Hagel says, measuring his words by the syllable and his syllables almost by the letter. “He’s not accountable anymore, which isn’t totally true. You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don’t know. It depends how this goes.”

The conversation beaches itself for a moment on that word — impeachment — spoken by a conservative Republican from a safe Senate seat in a reddish state. It’s barely even whispered among the serious set in Washington, and it rings like a gong in the middle of the sentence, even though it flowed quite naturally out of the conversation he was having about how everybody had abandoned their responsibility to the country, and now there was a war going bad because of it.

Hagel isn’t the only one frustrated. The desire for more accountability over Bush has led to increasing calls for impeachment from the Washington State legislature, the mayor of Salt Lake City, and town hall meetings in Vermont.

Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) said pushing for impeachment would be counterproductive because it would break off efforts to recruit conservative support for changing the course of the war in Iraq. “We’re trying to get [conservatives] to vote against the war. They’re coming around. You don’t hear them singing the virtues of George Bush like they used to. But nothing will turn this into a partisan lockdown faster than impeachment.” Inslee added, “Ending the war is what’s important now.”

Thursday, March 08, 2007

International Women's Day: Struggle For Equality and Freedom In Developing Countries



Rosa Franca wants justice for her daughter. Five years ago, 15-year old Maria Isabel left home in Guatemala City for work and never returned. Her rape and murder was not an isolated case: in the past five years, 2,700 women and girls have been the victims of targeted killings in Guatemala, with the number rising each year.


Activists of Workers Women's Association chant slogans during a rally to mark International Women's Day, Thursday, March 8, 2007 in Lahore, Pakistan. Thousands of women demonstrated in nation-wide rallies on International Women's Day, demanding freedom, equal rights and an end to discriminatory laws in this Muslim nation. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
But Rosa Franca is still campaigning for a police investigation, something which would have been taken for granted if she had lived in London or Paris.

When governments and women's rights campaigners mark International Women's Day today, spare a thought for the plight of women in impoverished developing countries where campaigners are taking huge personal risks to work for equality and freedom. Across Guatemala, women will be demonstrating to demand that their government takes action to halt the slaughter of women which has reached such levels that it has been named a "femicide."

The statistics are stark: everywhere you look in the developing world, women's rights are under threat, be it from sex trafficking, denial of education or job discrimination.
Figures compiled by the British government, development agencies and human rights groups resemble a roll call of shame:

* Two-thirds of the world's 800 million illiterate adults are women as girls are not seen as worth the investment, or are busy collecting water or firewood or doing other domestic chores.
* Two million girls aged from five to 15 join the commercial sex market every year.
* Domestic violence kills and injures more people in the developing world than war, cancer or traffic accidents.
* Seventy per cent of the world's poorest people are women.
* Violence against women causes more deaths and disabilities among women aged 15 to 44 than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents or war.
* Women produce half the world's food, but own less than two per cent of the land.
* Of the more than one billion people living in extreme poverty, 70 per cent are women.
* Almost a third of the world's women are homeless or live in inadequate housing.
* Half of all murdered women are killed by their current or former husbands or partners.
* Every minute a woman dies as a result of pregnancy complications.
* Women work two-thirds of the world's working hours, yet earn only a tenth of its income.
* One woman in three will be raped, beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime.
* 43 million girls are not able to go to school.
*Last year, one million HIV-positive women died of AIDS-related illnesses because they could not get the drugs they needed.
* Human Rights Watch, in reports on 15 countries including Afghanistan, Brazil, Morocco, Papua New Guinea, Togo and South Africa, has identified violence against schoolgirls, child domestic workers and those in conflict with the law as on the rise.
* Women across the developing world are the victims of systematic abuse.

Did Libby Make a Deal?

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Thursday, March 8, 2007; 1:20 PM
One of the abiding mysteries of the Scooter Libby case has been why his defense so dramatically changed tactics in mid-trial.

The former vice presidential chief of staff was found guilty on Monday of obstruction of justice and perjury in a case related to the outing of a CIA operative's identity to discredit her husband, an administration critic.

In pretrial hearing, Libby's defense team had indicated that they would call Vice President Cheney as a witness and that Libby himself would take the stand as well. Testimony from either of them, but in particular from Cheney, could very well have opened up an enormous can of worms for the White House. And the spectacle alone -- that of a vice president being cross-examined in a criminal case -- was something the administration wanted devoutly to avoid.

Then, in his opening statement, Libby defense lawyer Theodore V. Wells Jr. shocked pretty much everybody by promising jurors that he would show them evidence that his client felt scapegoated in favor of White House golden boy Karl Rove.

All of a sudden, it appeared Libby had declared war against the White House. It looked, at that point, like he had thrown any idea of getting a presidential pardon to the wind. (See my Jan. 24 column, A Lurid Look Behind the Curtain.)

But then on Feb. 13, after barely two days of defense testimony, Libby's team abruptly announced that neither Cheney nor Libby would take the stand. (See my Feb. 14 column, The Libby-Cheney Bummer.)

What happened in between? Why did Team Libby suddenly decide not to call such essential witnesses? Why would Wells put forth such a dramatic narrative -- Libby as scapegoat -- without offering one word of testimony to back it up? And what led some of the finest defense lawyers in the country to rest so quickly, having left the prosecution's meticulous case substantively unrefuted?

A possible hint comes today in the 14th paragraph of Peter Baker's and Carol D. Leonnig's Washington Post story about the fevered speculation regarding the prospect of Libby pardon:

"Despite the defense's trial argument that Libby was made a scapegoat by the White House, aides and advisers said there is no anger toward him in the West Wing. Libby's defense team reached out to an intermediary after its opening statement to reassure the White House about its strategy, according to a source close to the situation."

Wow!

In what form did this reaching out take place? Was it two-way? Was Team Libby's threat to attack Rove, call Cheney to the stand and potentially spill plenty of White House secrets just a bargaining chip in some sort of negotiation? Was their decision to rest their case in any way related to any promises from the White House?

Could Libby have made some sort of a deal with the White House to ensure a presidential pardon?

Bush was asked about the Libby case in an interview with Univision yesterday before leaving today on a week-long trip to Latin America.

Asked whether he might pardon Libby, Bush replied: "I'm pretty much going to stay out of it until the course -- the case has finally run its final -- the course it's going to take."

Was Bush just talking about his weak and transparent excuse for not commenting on the case as a whole? Or was he hinting that he might well get involved, only later? In either case, he certainly appeared to leave the door to a pardon wide open. White House spokesmen have also not ruled anything out.

Bush, of course, can pardon anyone he wants to under any circumstance. The Constitution gives him that power -- although, as a Newsweek story below indicates, pardoning Libby would violate his own personal policy.

But agreeing to a pardon as a quid pro quo? That wouldn't meet anyone's moral standards.

If there was some sort of agreement between the Libby team and the White House, you can be sure neither of the parties will ever admit it. But if further evidence emerges that something along these lines may have taken place, it seems to me that the only way Bush could fully assure the public that it didn't happen would be for him to pledge that no such pardon will be issued.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Lies about crimes

Leader
Wednesday March 7, 2007
The Guardian

Even most Americans probably gave up trying to follow the threads of the trial of I Lewis "Scooter" Libby long ago. So it is asking a lot to expect non-Americans to grasp the full significance of the former White House official's conviction on four counts of perjury and obstruction of justice yesterday. After all, the leak to the press of the name of a CIA agent who played a cameo role in the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction debacle in 2002 was itself a recondite enough affair. The role of Mr Libby, the vice-president's chief of staff, in efforts to frustrate a special prosecutor appointed to investigate the leak made an already complex story more labyrinthine still. The investigation was then diverted for many months into an introspective media debate about whether journalists should be required to testify about their conversations with Mr Libby. The eventual trial may have fascinated the Washington Beltway crowd, to whom Mr Libby, the former CIA analyst Valerie Plame, and her husband Ambassador Joseph Wilson are seasoned and familiar figures. But why should outsiders have to take it seriously too?

For two main reasons. The first concerns the ethics of the administration of which Mr Libby, as top aide to Dick Cheney, was such a senior member. George Bush came to the White House in January 2001 pledging to "change the atmosphere in Washington DC". By this he apparently meant two things: one, that he would govern in a dignified and rule-respecting way that supposedly contrasted with that of Bill Clinton; and, two, that he would try to end the intense partisan bitterness that had marked the Washington of the Clinton era. The Libby case is prosecution exhibit number one in support of the charge that Mr Bush never attempted to do any such thing. On the contrary. The Bush administration has been ruthlessly partisan, fuelled by enmities worthy of the Nixon era. The outing of Ms Plame was a criminal act against the wife of an administration critic. Mr Libby lied about it. He presumably did it to protect Mr Cheney, who wanted to punish the Wilsons. Mr Libby's conviction therefore raises very direct questions about Mr Cheney's own position.
The second reason is because, at bottom, Mr Libby's lies concerned Iraq. The administration wanted to invade Iraq. Mr Cheney, and through him Mr Libby, was not particular about how to do it. When Mr Wilson publicly questioned the weapons of mass destruction case for war he therefore made himself a Cheney enemy. As a consequence, the White House took its revenge on him through his wife. Mr Libby lied to protect not just his boss but his boss's unjust war. That's why yesterday's verdict matters. This affair is not over yet - not by a long chalk.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The ominous disappearance of not birds but bees


The ominous disappearance of not birds but bees

When Hollywood filmmakers want to heighten the tension of an insect fear film, they just arrange for millions of killer bees to appear out of nowhere to threaten a vulnerable group of people .

But people from all demographic groups across the country are facing a much more frightening real-life situation: the disappearance of millions of bees.

This winter, in more than 20 states, beekeepers have noticed that their honeybees have mysteriously vanished, leaving behind no clues as to their whereabouts. There are no telltale dead bodies either inside colonies or out in front of hives, where bees typically deposit corpses of dead nestmates.

What's more, the afflicted colonies tend to be full of honey, pollen and larvae, as if all of the workers in the nest precipitously decamped on some prearranged signal.

Beekeepers are up in arms last month, leaders in the business met with research scientists and government officials in Florida to figure out why the bees are disappearing and how to stop the losses. Nobody had any answers.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Evolution and Religion - Darwin's God

NYTimes:"God has always been a puzzle for Scott Atran. When he was 10 years old, he scrawled a plaintive message on the wall of his bedroom in Baltimore. “God exists,” he wrote in black and orange paint, “or if he doesn’t, we’re in trouble.” Atran has been struggling with questions about religion ever since — why he himself no longer believes in God and why so many other people, everywhere in the world, apparently do.
Call it God; call it superstition; call it, as Atran does, “belief in hope beyond reason” — whatever you call it, there seems an inherent human drive to believe in something transcendent, unfathomable and otherworldly, something beyond the reach or understanding of science. “Why do we cross our fingers during turbulence, even the most atheistic among us?” asked Atran when we spoke at his Upper West Side pied-√†-terre in January. Atran, who is 55, is an anthropologist at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, with joint appointments at the University of Michigan and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. His research interests include cognitive science and evolutionary biology, and sometimes he presents students with a wooden box that he pretends is an African relic. “If you have negative sentiments toward religion,” he tells them, “the box will destroy whatever you put inside it.” Many of his students say they doubt the existence of God, but in this demonstration they act as if they believe in something. Put your pencil into the magic box, he tells them, and the nonbelievers do so blithely. Put in your driver’s license, he says, and most do, but only after significant hesitation. And when he tells them to put in their hands, few will.
If they don’t believe in God, what exactly are they afraid of?"

Republicans are Flummoxed When It Comes to Senator Clinton

by RALPH NADER

Just as the Democrats could never seem to get a handle on Ronald Reagan in his sixteen years as Governor of California and President, the Republicans cannot get a handle on Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

No matter what they tried-and they were admittedly timid-the Democrats could neither upset, mire, or throw Ronald Reagan on the defensive. He smiled, shrugged his shoulders and tefloned his way to victory after victory.

The Republicans are flummoxed when it comes to Senator Clinton. They could not even mount a hardy campaign against her in 2006, leaving a nominal Yonkers mayor the hapless task to take up the space on the ballot opposite her. She walked to victory, spending over $35 million in the process.

The reasons why Republicans cannot score points against Clinton is that she is so much like them on the key corporate power issues. Although she is on the Armed Services Committee, she took President Eisenhower's description of the "military-industrial complex" and repeatedly rubber stamped the massive, bloated, wasteful and corrupt expenditures.

It was not for her to question any redundant weapons systems, no longer strategically needed in the post-Soviet Union era. It was not for her to act on the scores of investigative findings by the Government Accountability Office of the Congress documenting corporate waste, fraud and abuse and do something about them. Let a thousand weapon systems bloom was and is her mantra.

The corporate crime wave of the past seven years, draining and looting trillions of dollars from workers, investors and pension-holders did not catch her industrious attention either. Notwithstanding the publicized enforcement efforts of her state's attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, whose popularity took him to a landslide win for the Governorship, she refused to extend his efforts in the U.S. Senate by pushing the regulatory agencies for a necessary crackdown on corporate crime. He gave her the ultimate political cover, by showing the great public support for his "law and order" drives, but she lacked the political fortitude and opted instead for the political cash for her campaigns.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Must-Do List

NY Times: "The Bush administration’s assault on some of the founding principles of American democracy marches onward despite the Democratic victory in the 2006 elections. The new Democratic majorities in Congress can block the sort of noxious measures that the Republican majority rubber-stamped. But preventing new assaults on civil liberties is not nearly enough.
Five years of presidential overreaching and Congressional collaboration continue to exact a high toll in human lives, America’s global reputation and the architecture of democracy. Brutality toward prisoners, and the denial of their human rights, have been institutionalized; unlawful spying on Americans continues; and the courts are being closed to legal challenges of these practices.
It will require forceful steps by this Congress to undo the damage. A few lawmakers are offering bills intended to do just that, but they are only a start. Taking on this task is a moral imperative that will show the world the United States can be tough on terrorism without sacrificing its humanity and the rule of law.
Today we’re offering a list — which, sadly, is hardly exhaustive — of things that need to be done to reverse the unwise and lawless policies of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Many will require a rewrite of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, an atrocious measure pushed through Congress with the help of three Republican senators, Arlen Specter, Lindsey Graham and John McCain; Senator McCain lent his moral authority to improving one part of the bill and thus obscured its many other problems."

Baby comes as shock

OC Registerk: "ORANGE – April Branum went to her local emergency room Monday night complaining of stomach pain and emerged with the biggest shock of her life. She was pregnant with a full-term fetus.
Doctors, who discovered the baby when they took X-rays of her abdominal area, immediately sent Branum to UCI Medical Center in Orange for prenatal testing.
The fetus's lungs were fully developed, the heartbeat was strong, and no defects were detected. The baby was ready to be delivered.
Two days later, the first-time mother gave birth by C-section to a healthy, 7-pound, 7-ounce boy named Walter Scott Edwards III.
"Usually you can tell if you're pregnant, but with me, I couldn't tell," the 39-year-old Garden Grove resident said Thursday, pointing to her belly and explaining that, at about 420 pounds, she was so large that no one – including herself – could tell she had carried a baby to term.
Branum says she never had morning sickness and did not feel the baby kick, at least not until after doctors told her what was inside her womb. "If he kicked, I didn't feel him kicking," she said.
The layers of fat padding her belly likely insulated the baby's movements, said her physician, Dr. Afshan Hameed.
"When she moved or laid down, she had so much weight of her own that the tiny movements of the baby didn't register as well," said Hameed, a UCI obstetrician-gynecologist and cardiologist.
Branum, who lives with her fiancé Walter Edwards II in the Garden Grove house where she grew up, gave up hope years ago of having any children with him. She stopped having a menstrual cycle about two years ago Рlikely a complication of her obesity Рand had grown accustomed to her lifestyle working as a baby sitter of six children."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Wow - shouldn't this have happened a YEAR AGO? (at least)

On Feb. 13, the Associated Press declared its plans to boldly go where few wire services would dare to go in this day and age: the no–Paris Hilton zone.

“Next week,” entertainment editor Jesse Washington wrote in an e-mail memo obtained by The Transom, “the print team is planning an unconventional experiment: We are NOT going to cover Paris Hilton.

“Barring any major, major news, we are not going to put a single word about Paris on the wire,” the memo continued. “If something does come up, big or small, we encourage discussions on whether we should write about it.”

The results of the experiment, naturally, will be fodder for a future A.P. story. “Hopefully we will be able to discuss what ‘news’ we missed,” read the memo, which could have used some stern copy-editing, “the repercussions of our blackout for AP both editorially and business-wise, and most importantly the force that cause the world to be fixated on this person who, despite her shallow frivolity, represents an epochal development in our culture.”

Grenade found in sack of potatoes

BBC NEWS: "A 74-year-old Italian woman was shocked to find a live grenade in a sack of potatoes she had bought at a market.
Olga Mauriello, from a small town near Naples, had put the potatoes into water to peel them when she discovered the mud-covered, pine cone-shaped grenade.
She alerted the neighbours, who in turn called the police.
Officers detonated the grenade on Wednesday in a park in the town of San Giorgio Cremano. It is thought to have come from a farm in France.
The grenade had no safety pin and was still active. It is believed to be a type used by the US Army in Europe during World War II.
"If I hadn't felt its weight, I wouldn't even have realised that it was a bomb," she told Reuters news agency. "