Saturday, December 31, 2005
by JONATHAN SCHELL
[from the January 9, 2006 issue]
When the New York Times revealed that George W. Bush had ordered the National Security Agency to wiretap the foreign calls of American citizens without seeking court permission, as is indisputably required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), passed by Congress in 1978, he faced a decision. Would he deny the practice, or would he admit it? He admitted it. But instead of expressing regret, he took full ownership of the deed, stating that his order had been entirely justified, that he had in fact renewed it thirty times, that he would continue to renew it and--going even more boldly on the offensive--that those who had made his law-breaking known had committed a "shameful act." As justification, he offered two arguments, one derisory, the other deeply alarming. The derisory one was that Congress, by authorizing him to use force after September 11, had authorized him to suspend FISA, although that law is unmentioned in the resolution. Thus has Bush informed the members of a supposedly co-equal branch of government of what, unbeknownst to themselves, they were thinking when they cast their vote. The alarming argument is that as Commander in Chief he possesses "inherent" authority to suspend laws in wartime. But if he can suspend FISA at his whim and in secret, then what law can he not suspend? What need is there, for example, to pass or not pass the Patriot Act if any or all of its provisions can be secretly exceeded by the President?
Bush's choice marks a watershed in the evolution of his Administration. Previously when it was caught engaging in disgraceful, illegal or merely mistaken or incompetent behavior, he would simply deny it. "We have found the weapons of mass destruction!" "We do not torture!" However, further developments in the torture matter revealed a shift. Even as he denied the existence of torture, he and his officials began to defend his right to order it. His Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, refused at his confirmation hearings to state that the torture called waterboarding, in which someone is brought to the edge of drowning, was prohibited. Then when Senator John McCain sponsored a bill prohibiting cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners, Bush threatened to veto the legislation to which it was attached. It was only in the face of majority votes in both houses against such treatment that he retreated from his claim. .................
WASHINGTON The Justice Department has opened another investigation into leaks of classified information, this time to determine who divulged the existence of President Bush's secret domestic spying program. The inquiry focuses on disclosures to The New York Times about warrantless surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, officials said. The newspaper recently revealed the existence of the program in a front-page story that also acknowledged that the news had been withheld from publication for a year, partly at the request of the administration and partly because the newspaper wanted more time to confirm various aspects of the program. White House spokesman Trent Duffy said Justice undertook the action on its own, and Bush was informed of it Friday. ``The leaking of classified information is a serious issue. The fact is that al-Qaida's playbook is not printed on Page One and when America's is, it has serious ramifications,'' Duffy told reporters in Crawford, Texas, where Bush was spending the holidays. Catherine Mathis, a spokeswoman for the Times, declined to comment. An article in the Times on Saturday said that Executive Editor Bill Keller also declined comment. ..............
if you have a functioning brain that is. an EVOLVED brain that is: ID is creationism in a lab coat. i simply don't know how this got passed in kansas. a MAJORITY of people CANNOT BELIEVE this myth?
It's no fun being a biology teacher in Kansas
`Popular Science' says the job ranks right up there with human lab rat and manure inspector. What do the teachers think?
By Lisa Anderson Tribune national correspondent
Published December 29, 2005, 8:03 PM CST
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Hours after students merrily departed for the long winter break, lights still blazed in Ken Bingman's biology lab at Blue Valley West High School here.The bright TV lights belonged to the crew from "Nick News with Linda Ellerbee," a children's news magazine show on the Nickelodeon cable channel. Nick News was just the latest in a long line of those seeking the veteran biology teacher's take on the country's most spectacular recurring science squabble: the Kansas State Board of Education's on-again-off-again relationship with Charles Darwin and his theory of biological evolution. For the moment, that tenuous and tempestuous engagement is off again. And Kansas biology teachers like Bingman once more are caught in the middle of a raging culture war. On Nov. 8, the board adopted state science standards containing the harshest criticism of evolution in the nation. The standards pointedly cast doubt on Darwin's theory that all life on Earth shares common ancestry and developed through the mechanisms of random mutation and natural selection. Repugnant to many religious conservatives, modern evolutionary theory is considered by the vast majority of scientists as a cornerstone of modern biology that has withstood rigorous testing over time. In an even bolder step that drew international derision, the board redefined science as a discipline not limited to observations in the natural world and opened the door to supernatural explanations. While unspecified, these might include the biblical account of creation in Genesis and intelligent design, or ID, which presents itself as a scientific theory positing that some complexities of the natural world are best attributed to an unnamed and unseen designer. Most ID proponents believe the designer is God; most scientists believe ID is creationism in a lab coat.The state science standards--which take effect in 2007, unless a more moderate board is elected in 2006 --are not binding on school districts but may be reflected on state assessment tests..............
December 30, 2005
Next month, federal judges who moonlight on the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court will be briefed on why the Bush administration bypassed them in eavesdropping on telephone and e-mail communications of terrorism suspects. Too bad the briefing didn't take place much earlier. One of the 11 FISA judges expressed his disapproval of the extra-judicial conduct by resigning. Others have complained to reporters that evidence gathered from eavesdropping could be tainted and may damage some cases against suspects.
The White House insists that the president has the legal power to authorize wiretaps without warrants in emergencies. If so, why maintain the surveillance court, whose job it is to review applications for classified wiretaps? Those reviews are usually conducted within 24 hours and approved in most cases. Further, the president's agents may start eavesdropping before getting court approval, so long as they seek a warrant from the court within 72 hours...........
Friday, December 30, 2005
Froma Harrop / Syndicated columnist
A bad week for blowhards
The right-wing takeover of this sensible country has been stopped. With this pleasant thought, we enter 2006.
In one golden week, three things happened that bore a common thread. In each case, mainstream positions won out over the bluster of blowhards. People of principle stared down charges that they were unpatriotic, loved Osama or hated religion. The results were gratifying — not only to liberals, but to moderates and a good number of self-described conservatives, who have distanced themselves from their leaders' excesses.
For starters, the Senate said "no" to opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. It has saved the refuge before, but this time the Republican oilmen turned the vote into a game of chicken. The drilling provision was first stuck to the budget bill. When lawmakers balked, it was unstuck and attached to the defense-spending bill. Once there, the gamesters figured they could smear anyone voting against it as uncaring about the troops.
The defenders of the wildlife refuge, which included several Republicans, did not cave. Sen. Maria Cantwell, Democrat from Washington, accurately called the bill "legislative blackmail." Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut announced that the defense bill was not going anywhere with drilling in it. The Democrat had just returned from a grand tour of conservative talk shows, where the hosts covered him with praise for supporting the Iraq war. Any charges of not backing American forces bounced right off his armor.
The pro-environment senators easily ignored the latest tantrum by Sen. Ted Stevens, the Alaska Republican obsessed with developing the refuge. And then they turned the tables on the opposition: Some questioned the patriotism of those who would load the "must-pass" defense bill with extraneous special interests.........
.........Vice President Dick Cheney bared his teeth and warned that politicians who criticize these policies will pay a heavy political price. Sen. Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, coolly responded, "My oath is to the Constitution, not to a vice president, a president or a political party." Expect to hear that kind of thing more often.......................
The Sex Lives and Sexual Frustrations of US troops in Iraq
An Ocean of Ignorance
by Stephen Soldz
Well over a hundred thousand American men and women, most younger than 30, spend a year or more at a time in a foreign country where they are almost totally isolated from the indigenous population. Are all these troops really chaste for those long periods, as called for my military regulations? What is going on sexually among US troops in Iraq is one of the great untold and unknown stories of the Iraqi occupation. As I have followed the course of this war, I have paid careful attention to any glimmers on information available. Having read perhaps 30,000-50,000 articles on Iraq, I've seen at most a couple dozen mentions of anything related to sex, other than the systematic sexual abuse and sometime rape of detainees at Abu Graib and the other US prisons. Of course, military regulations ban sex out of marriage, but these regulation have about as great a chance of being obeyed as the US has of obtaining the “total victory” that the President is always promising. ................
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Cookies Disappear After Privacy Activist Complained
POSTED: 6:51 am EST December 29, 2005
NEW YORK -- The National Security Agency's Internet site has been placing files on visitors' computers that can track their Web surfing activity despite strict federal rules banning most of them.
These files, known as "cookies," disappeared after a privacy activist complained and The Associated Press made inquiries this week, and agency officials acknowledged Wednesday they had made a mistake.
Nonetheless, the issue raises questions about privacy at a spy agency already on the defensive amid reports of a secretive eavesdropping program in the United States.
"Considering the surveillance power the NSA has, cookies are not exactly a major concern," said Ari Schwartz, associate director at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a privacy advocacy group in Washington, D.C. "But it does show a general lack of understanding about privacy rules when they are not even following the government's very basic rules for Web privacy."
Until Tuesday, the NSA site created two cookie files that do not expire until 2035 -- likely beyond the life of any computer in use today. ...................
Facing Servitude, Ethiopian Girls Run for a Better Life
By Emily Wax
Washington Post Foreign Service Thursday, December 29, 2005; Page A01
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- Virtually the only way for Tesdale Mesele, 13, to avoid soon being married into a life of housework and childbearing was to run.
So that's what the spunky girl with matchstick legs and a ponytail did. She ran along the rutted dirt roads of the Ethiopian highlands, barefoot or in torn sneakers, trying to improve her endurance. She ran up the wide, cracked steps to Meskel Square in the capital, while goats wandered by and clouds of pollution turned the air charcoal gray. And once she felt she was fast enough, Tesdale ran around the country's only track, a rough ring of patched and potholed rubber inside Addis Ababa Stadium, hoping to be spotted by a running club and win a tiny sponsorship known as "calorie money."...........................
.................Inspired by these new national heroines, Tesdale and thousands of other girls have left their villages and come to the capital, living with relatives in hardscrabble neighborhoods, training on their own and dreaming of being able to compete.
But there are other, more practical reasons for girls to become fit and fast.
"I run so the boys know I'm strong and don't harass me," said Tesdale, panting from her afternoon run from school to home in a ragged sweatshirt and sneakers. "I also run because I want to give priority to my schooling. If I'm a good runner, the school will want me to stay and not be home washing laundry and preparing injera ," the spongy bread that is the staple of the Ethiopian diet................
i admit it, i'm a star trek junkie. i watched them all. some i loved, some, not so much. it took me quite a while to like deep space, but i grew to LOVE it and it became my favorite.
my favorite scene from any of the series or movies is; the (original) crew was up to their ususal shenanigans and saving-the-universe exploits and somehow or other the enterprise was destroyed (whooops!). at the end of the movie, they were being shuttled to a new ship and had NO idea what she would be or look like. they're tooling around in space and all of a sudden, the BRAND NEW SPANKING ENTERPRISE is waiting for them around a space bend. scotty got wood i think. anyway, i tear up every time i see that scene from the movie. i of course am not doing it justice. speaking of which, deep space had a great many story lines dealing with that theme. then again so did the original. i remember frank gorshen as the half black half white man.
Sci-fi series Star Trek is the show most people want to see returned to their TV screens, a survey has found.
Originally broadcast in the US in 1966, it topped a poll of more than 1,000 viewers commissioned by UK interactive TV firm Home Media Networks.
Fantasy action series Buffy the Vampire Slayer was second, followed by long-running sitcom Friends.
Star Trek's latest spin-off TV series, Enterprise, was axed in February following poor ratings.
MOST MISSED TV SERIES
1. Star Trek
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
4. Fawlty Towers
5. Blake's 7
6. The X-Files
10. The A-Team
Source: Home Media
Some Conservatives Return To Old Argument
Outside Advocacy Group Aims To Rally Support by Backing Bush's Initial Claims on Iraq
By YOCHI J. DREAZEN and JOHN D. MCKINNON Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL December 28, 2005; Page A4
WASHINGTON – The television commercials are attention-grabbing: Newly found Iraqi documents show that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, including anthrax and mustard gas, and had "extensive ties" to al Qaeda. The discoveries are being covered up by those "willing to undermine support for the war on terrorism to selfishly advance their shameless political ambitions."
The hard-hitting spots are part of a recent public-relations barrage aimed at reversing a decline in public support for President Bush's handling of Iraq. But these advertisements aren't paid for by the Republican National Committee or other established White House allies. Instead, they are sponsored by Move America Forward, a media-savvy outside advocacy group that has become one of the loudest -- and most controversial -- voices in the Iraq debate.
While even Mr. Bush now publicly acknowledges the mistakes his administration made in judging the threat posed by Mr. Hussein, the organization is taking to the airwaves to insist that the White House was right all along..........
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
from yesterdays direland blog
BUSHIES REFUSING TO DIAGNOSE RETURNING SOLDIERS WITH POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
The Bush administration is twisting itself into a pretzel trying to find ways not to diagnose soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), including altering the diagnostic criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association-- that's the essence of a first-rate piece of reporting in today's Washington Post. .The article, by staffer Shankar Vedantam, relates the attempt to have politics dictate medicine. "Larry Scott, who runs the clearinghouse http://www.vawatchdog.org/ , said conservative groups are trying to cut VA disability programs by unfairly comparing them to welfare. "Compensating people for disabilities is a cost of war, he said: "Veterans benefits are like workmen's comp. You went to war. You were injured. Either your body or your mind was injured, and that prevents you from doing certain duties and you are compensated for that." Not cited by the WashPost was a New England Journal of Medicine study showing that 1 in 6 Iraq vets are suffering from PTSD -- and less than half of them seek treatment............
they are ranting and raving against a new nbc show (which i've seen previews of and which seems HILARIOUS. plus it stars aidan quinn whom i love) featuring an unconventional (protestant) priest and his unconventional family. BUT WAIT.............according to the american "FAMILY" association, the priest's son (in the show) is GAY and WAIT, according to the american "FAMILY" association the show is written by a (please sit down now) PRACTICING HOMOSEXUAL! oh my goddess please save us from this horror! if our children watch it will corrupt them and immediately turn them queer (but they'll dress a lot smarter).
at the end of their article, it asks you to write letters about this (i'm guessing to nbc). i'd ask you do the same but say you'll SUPPORT THE SHOW (well at least watch the first episode and give it a chance). i am going to write immediately. those groups of closed-minded, bigoted, flaming asswipes write millions of letters (by very few people, they just write tons and tons per person) so please, lets do the same. we ALL have an 'off' knob on our tv and radio. we can use it if we don't like what's on.
New NBC Drama Show Mocks Christianity
Email NBC Chairman Bob Wright over
NBC's latest show, "The Book of Daniel."NBC is touting the network's mid-season
replacement series "The Book of Daniel" with language that implies it is a
serious drama about Christian people and Christian faith. The main character is
Daniel Webster, a drug-addicted Episcopal priest whose wife depends heavily on
her mid-day martinis.Webster regularly sees and talks with a very unconventional
white-robed, bearded Jesus. The Webster family is rounded out by a 23-year-old
homosexual Republican son, a 16-year-old daughter who is a drug dealer, and a
16-year-old adopted son who is having sex with the bishop's daughter.At the
office, his lesbian secretary is sleeping with his sister-in-law...............
Halliburton, other lobbyists stall Pentagon ban on human trafficking
Three years after a 2002 Presidential Directive demanding an end to trafficking in humans for forced labor and prostitution by U.S. contractors, the Pentagon is still yet to actually bar the practice, The Chicago Tribune reports. Congress approved a similar ban one year later, which was reauthorized by the Senate just last week.
The President and Congress have demanded that government agencies include anti-trafficking provisions (covering forced labor and prostitution) in all overseas company contracts. It also extended the ban to subcontractors.
According to the Tribune, the concerns of five lobbying groups - including representatives of Halliburton subsidiary KBR and DynCorp - are stalling Pentagon action. These companies are specifically targeting provisions requiring companies to monitor their overseas contractors for violations. Both KBR and DynCorp have been linked to human trafficking cases in the past...................
Rice authorized National Security Agency to spy on UN Security Council in run-up to war, former officials say
12/27/2005 @ 11:06 amFiled by Jason Leopold
President Bush and other top officials in his administration used the National Security Agency to secretly wiretap the home and office telephones and monitor private email accounts of members of the United Nations Security Council in early 2003 to determine how foreign delegates would vote on a U.N. resolution that paved the way for the U.S.-led war in Iraq, NSA documents show Two former NSA officials familiar with the agency's campaign to spy on U.N. members say then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice authorized the plan at the request of President Bush, who wanted to know how delegates were going to vote. Rice did not immediately return a call for comment.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
(and except in a life-saving emergency, i support a doctor's right to NOT perform an abortion based on her/his religious or personal beliefs. what i DON'T support is them being harassed OUT of it)
Abortion clinic faces new hurdle
"We have no intentions of leaving," Women's Health Organization official says
By Julie Goodman mailto:Goodmanjgoodman@clarionledger.com
Mississippi's only abortion clinic is waiting to hear whether it will be granted a new state certification to continue performing its full range of procedures.The requirement to meet higher standards came after an aggressive push by anti-abortion advocates, who are trying to shut down the clinic."We believe that if they comply and the clinic is safer for women ... at the very least, Mississippi has made the back-alley abortion clinic Ã— or the front-alley abortion clinic as we call them Ã— safer for women but not for unborn children," said Pro-Life Mississippi President Terri Herring.
The Jackson Women's Health Organization, which treats more than 3,000 women a year statewide, said a setback would not mean defeat and may only put the issue back in front of a judge. The clinic, which is still operating, risks having to scale back the kinds of abortion it can perform."We have no intention of leaving and we intend to continue to provide the services that we're providing," said Susan Hill, president of the North Carolina-based National Women's Health Organization. "It won't be easy, but we're staying."Earlier this year, a federal judge knocked down a recently enacted state law that would have barred early second-trimester abortions at the clinic...........
and from msnbc Abortions rare in S. Dakota. Will others follow?
StateÂs laws, social mores offer possible glimpse at life after Roe
By Evelyn Nieves
The Washington Post
Updated: 1:25 a.m. ET Dec. 27, 2005
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The waiting room at the Planned Parenthood clinic was packed by the time the doctor arrived Â an hour late because of weather delays in Minneapolis.
It was clinic day, the one day a week when the only facility in South Dakota that provides abortions could take in patients. This time it was a Wednesday. The week before it was a Monday.
The day changes depending on the schedules of four doctors from Minnesota who fly here on a rotating basis to perform abortions, something no doctor in South Dakota will do. The last doctor in South Dakota to perform abortions stopped about eight years ago; the consensus in the medical community is that offering the procedure is not worth the stigma of being branded a baby killer.
South Dakota, those on both sides of the abortion debate agree, has become one of the hardest states in the country in which to obtain an abortion. One of three states in the country to have only one abortion provider -- North Dakota and Mississippi are the others -- South Dakota, largely because of a strong antiabortion lobby, is also becoming a leading national laboratory for testing the limits of state laws restricting abortion, both opponents and advocates of abortion rights say.
Nearly four months after Katrina, hundreds of children still missing
08:54 PM CST on Friday, December 23, 2005
Dave McNamara / WWL
Controversy brewed Friday over FEMA’s reluctance to release information on evacuees, data that some agencies have said could speed up the process of finding children missing since Hurricane Katrina.
It was not until the FBI began requesting information that FEMA this month turned over the records, which are protected by privacy laws.
Thousands of evacuees gathered along the I-10 at Causeway in the days following Hurricane Katrina to be airlifted to safety. In the rush to flee New Orleans, and the chaos that followed Katrina, families were torn apart.
Officials on the front lines of the search have said that those federal privacy rules may have hampered efforts to reunite families.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has a database with close to 500 names, all of them children whose whereabouts are still unknown. .........
Bush Pressed Papers to Kill Scoops on Spying, Prisons
By E&P Staff
Published: December 26, 2005 11:45 AM ET
NEW YORK President George W. Bush and senior administration officials have met with top editors of The New York Times and The Washington Post in recent months to try to dissuade the papers from publishing what the administration considers to be articles harmful to its prosecution of the war on terror.
The administration's efforts ultimately failed, although sensitive details likely were removed from the articles that eventually ran. The latest revelations show just how serious the Bush White House views the media's reporting on its anti-terror tactics, and how it would prefer to conduct much of the war on terror in secret.
In his Media Notes column today, Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz wrote that Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr., met with White House officials on multiple occasions to discuss the paper's Nov. 2 article by Dana Priest disclosing the existence of secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe where terrorism suspects are interrogated............
..............But Alter concluded that because the Bush administration could not point to any specific details in the Times story that would compromise national security, the real reason "Bush was desperate to keep the Times from running this important story" was "because he knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker."..........
and from the new york observer
Why Times Ran Wiretap Story, Defying Bush
By Gabriel Sherman
On the afternoon of Dec. 15, New York Times executives put the paper’s preferred First Amendment lawyer, Floyd Abrams, on standby. In the pipeline for the next day’s paper was a story that President George W. Bush had specifically asked the paper not to run, revealing that the National Security Agency had been wiretapping Americans without using warrants.
The President had made the request in person, nine days before, in an Oval Office meeting with publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., executive editor Bill Keller and Washington bureau chief Phil Taubman, according to Times sources familiar with the meeting.
That Dec. 6 session with Mr. Bush was the culmination of a 14-month struggle between The Times and the White House—and a parallel struggle behind the scenes at The Times—over the wiretapping story. In the end, Mr. Abrams’ services were not needed. The piece made it to press without further incident.........
Monday, December 26, 2005
(i believe it was originally made for showtime tv)
a true story about a murder that took place in 1999 in an army barracks somewhere near nashville. pfc barry winchell was murdered because of who he fell in love with. a transgendered mtf named calpernia addams. they met while she was performing at a local club and barry and some army mates went to see a show. their relationship blossomed. from accounts, the relationship was as 'normal' as any other. ups, downs, they ate, they laughed, they cried. all along pfc winchell was being hounded and harassed on base. called faggot and worse. he never told calpernia. on the fourth of july, in a drunken stupor and egged on earlier by pfc winchell's asshole roommate, a 17 year old soldier bludgeoned him to death with a louisville slugger.
the movie was a LOVE STORY - even though this wasn't a political movie (about don't ask, don't tell), the point did come across. their are interviews with the actors on the disk but there are also interviews with the real calpernia and pfc winchell's mother, pat kutteles. she and her husband speak all over the country about prejudices and such. two brave and noble women, ms addams and ms kutteles.
pfc barry winchell
pfc barry winchell
the acting was wonderful. troy garity and lee pace did an outstanding job with pfc winchell and ms addams, making them REAL PEOPLE. nothing over the top. i did wonder if mr pace was indeed transgendered though. lol. he is not. on the disk there is a section where they showed his makeup including prosthetic breasts being applied.
(oh in looking up some info on pfc winchell i came across some horrid sites [which i won't even dignify with a mention] stating, in between the lines of course, he got what he deserved because he was a homosexual and it was out of homosexual JEALOUSY). you know it was never the point if he was gay or not. there is no evidence to say he was. it doesn't matter. HE WAS MURDERED you stupid stinking close minded pea-brained ice-hearted never-getting-into-heaven ass wipes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
illustration: Lady Alexandra Palace
well NO WAY in a manager. a wickedly cool article in the village voice
Searching for Bush's Jesus
Laid in a manger, abridged in the White House
by Sylvia Topp
December 23rd, 2005 5:33 PM
I walked out of my Anglican-church confirmation classes when I was 13, thinking I'd put religion out of my life for good, because the "devout" Christians I was being counseled by couldn't hide the hate in their eyes. Still, because I do admire much of Jesus's teachings, I've been angry at George Bush for a long time for claiming to be a follower of Jesus while doing so many things that He would surely have disapproved of. So recently, blessed with many lazy beach hours on the island of Tortola, I decided the time had come to challenge Bush's version of Christianity. It was a deliciously ironic coincidence that back in the late '70s and early '80s, when Bush was just married and way before Christ had "changed" his heart, he would jog along this very beach on Sundays, heading from his friends' house to the tiny mustard-colored Methodist church, with its simple wooden cross propped at the pinnacle of its gabled roof, way at the other end of town.
I recently talked on the phone with the pastor who served there at the time. He claims no memory of George, though you'd think an exuberant white guy would have been painfully obvious sitting among the local little girls, in the same starched and frilly white dresses I wore at their age, the age when little girls want to go to church. Others in the area do remember his visits to Tortola but they are considerately silent, meaning of course that there's lots to tell. Perhaps Bush attended his first Methodist service there, after switching to Laura's religion, though if he'd taken a little more care he'd have discovered that Methodists are proudly anti-war, and indeed church bishops met with him early in 2003 to try to talk him out of going to Iraq. Maybe Bush told them to check their Bibles more closely. Indeed, since the ruins of Babylon, a biblically wicked city, are in Iraq, and since Bush feels that he's been chosen "to do the Lord's will" and that his election was "another manifestation of divine purpose," we may soon hear yet another justification for this war: the United States is engaging in the final battle between Good and Evil.............
bushwhached lied. we died. bring our troops home NOW
Iraqis want US out as soon as possible: US commander
Monday Dec 26 10:38 AEDT
The top US military commander admitted Sunday that Iraqis wanted US and other foreign troops to leave the country "as soon as possible," and said US troop levels in Iraq were now being re-assessed on a monthly basis.
The admission by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Marine General Peter Pace followed a decision by the Pentagon to reduce the current level of 160,000 soldiers in Iraq by two army brigades, which amounts to about 7,000 soldiers.
"Understandably, Iraqis themselves would prefer to have coalition forces leave their country as soon as possible," Pace said in a Christmas Day interview on Fox News Sunday. "They don't want us to leave tomorrow, but they do want us to leave as soon as possible."
Some US foreign policy experts have expressed concern that a new Iraqi government emerging from the December 15 parliamentary elections could ask American troops to leave, but officials have dismissed that forecast as unrealistic.
However, an opinion survey conducted in Iraq in October and November by ABC News and a pool of other US and foreign media outlets showed that despite some improvements in security and living standards, US military operations in the country were increasingly unpopular.
Two-thirds of those polled said they opposed the presence of US and coalition forces in Iraq, up 14 points from a similar survey taken in February 2004.
Nearly 60 percent disapproved of the way the United States has operated in Iraq since the war began in March 2003, with most of those expressing "strong disapproval," the poll found.............
Bush Administration Refuses to Comply With FOIA Request on Pre-War Intelligence
By David Swanson
By David Swanson
House Judiciary Committee Democratic staff members report that the White House and the Departments of State and Defense have for six months refused to comply with a request filed under the Freedom of Information Act by 52 Congress Members – a request seeking information on the Bush Administration's reasons for going to war.
On June 30th of this year, Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers Jr. (Dem., Mich.) and 51 other Congress Members submitted a FOIA request to the White House, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State seeking documents and materials concerning the Downing Street Minutes and the lead up to the Iraq war.
On August 11th, Conyers wrote to the Office of Counsel to the President as follows:
"On June 30, 2005, I and 51 other Members of Congress requested access to 'all agency records, including but not limited to handwritten notes, formal correspondence, electronic mail messages, intelligence reports and other memoranda,' as described in five enumerated paragraphs. A copy of the request letter is enclosed.
"The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires your office to respond to a FOIA request within twenty business days from the date of receipt of such a request. See 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i). The deadline has now elapsed without any response from your office. Because the leaked memoranda from Great Britain raise serious questions over when important war-related decisions were made, time is of the essence..........
a rather cool story. anyone who helps the forgotten celebrate a holiday is ok in my book!
A Sailor's Lot: Forgotten By All but a Ship of Elves
By ALAN FEUER
There are few souls more deserving of attention than the mariner who works on Christmas Day.
He is almost certain to be lonely, moored at anchor in some dingy channel of the harbor. He is likely to be sleep-deprived and dirty, having just come in from hauling fuel oil through the bay.
There may be ham or a rib roast in the galley, but it may be served by a man who smells of his socks. His holiday is certain to include the upkeep of steering gears or the greasing of a deck-winch. His sole companions are the seabirds and his grouchy, oil-stained mates.
So when the jolly 30-footer, with the pine wreath at its bow, rounds the cut past Erie Basin, off Red Hook in Brooklyn, there is a sudden lift in spirits. Three elves wave from the stern. The seaman's ears can, no doubt, hear the sounds of Christmas carols, sung by Elvis, drifting through a drapery of fog. The discerning nose can detect the scent of rum.
"Ahoy! We have cookies!" one of the elves calls out. So it was yesterday in New York Harbor, where scattered crews of tugboat hands and bargemen were treated to the trappings of an ordinary Christmas. It was a touch of holiday relief for those who have no holiday, called Operation Christmas Cheer.
my personal favorite:
SOON TO BE A BUSINESS SCHOOL CASE STUDY When Japanese business exec Takashi Hashiyama had to choose either Sotheby's or Christie's to sell off his company's art collection, he asked the two auction houses to play rock-paper-scissors to win the privilege. Sotheby's chose paper and lost out on the eventual $2.3 million commission. (A Christie's executive had taken the advice of one of his 11-year-old twin daughters, who said, "Everybody knows you always start with scissors.")
--Wall Street Journal, New York Times, April 29
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Watchdog says FBI violated surveillance rulesFrom Terry Frieden
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A government watchdog is calling on the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate at least 13 occasions of alleged improper use of FBI surveillance, including searches and seizures of e-mail and bank records.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) released 93 pages of internal FBI documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The documents previously were classified, The Associated Press reported.
The center told Senate Judiciary Committee members there may have been hundreds of such cases.
"We believe there is particular urgency for the committee to pursue this matter," the group said in a letter to Sens. Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, and Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont. Specter heads the Judiciary Committee, and Leahy is the ranking minority member.
"Over the last several years the FBI has been granted significantly expanded authority to undertake intelligence investigations in the United States," the center said in its letter.
The alleged violations centered largely on FBI failures to renew surveillance orders before they expired, or to inform the Justice Department lawyers of significant changes in the surveillance.
Many of the alleged violations involved failure to file required annual updates on the continued surveillance. The requirement allows Justice Department lawyers to monitor the progress of long-running clandestine spying operations..............
Friday, December 23, 2005
this story is JUST ridiculous. american girl does NOT PROMOTE ABORTIONS OR HOMOSEXUALITY any more than i do. they, like i, feel it is a RIGHT we have to CHOOSE to have an abortion (or not) and it is a fact that homosexuals are JUST LIKE HETEROSEXUALS. there are good ones and bad ones and moral ones and corrupt ones and chaste ones and slutty ones and ones from asia and ones with blonde hair and ones that are good dancers and ones that do NOT like show tunes and ones that go to church or synagog or mosque and worship their god(s) and goddess(es) and ones that are atheist and ones that know which shirt goes best with which pair of pants and ones that don't dress in anything but jeans and flannels and ones that are color blind and ones that are the picture of heath and ones that are good drives and ones who get a lot of tickets, ones who get motion sickness and ones who are pilots and janitors and on and on
Dolls Draw Conservatives' Ire
CHICAGO, Dec. 21, 2005
(CBS) With $379 million in sales last year, the American Girl dolls are just like the girls who adore them — wholesome and sweet and rooted in American history. They were a huge hit in the Wiesner household. Claire Wiesner says, "They are so much fun to play with and they seem so real." Her sister Elena adds, "And they're really pretty." Renee Wiesner, Claire's mom tells CBS News correspondent Mika Brzezinski, "Everything that they sold to us seemed very consistent with our values." That was until the Wiesners found out that the American Girl company donates money to an organization called Girls Incorporated, which offers support to underprivileged girls. Girls Inc. also endorses Roe v. Wade — the right to abortion and it promotes acceptance of homosexuality. It's an association that families like the Wiesners are protesting with their wallets. "This year, we're not going to buy any of the products for Christmas," Wiesner says bluntly. And some are taking it a step further. The Pro-Life Action League is calling for a boycott of the dolls. Some Catholic schools have cancelled American Girl events. ..........
Joe Wilson Rips the Bush-Cheney Administration During Lecture in Baltimore
by William Hughes
Only a stone’s throw from fabled Penn Station in this historic port city stands the University of Baltimore. It is best known nationally for its School of Law. On Nov. 14, 2005, ex-U.S. Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson spoke in the Lansdale Library there, at a “citizenship forum.” His lecture was cosponsored by the school’s public affairs department and the Randolph B. Rosencrantz Memorial Fund. Wilson was in top form and held little back in his remarks. He was also enthusiastic in his praise of the Iraqi war-related exposé--“The Downing Street Memos.”
In a wide-ranging talk entitled “Speaking the Truth to Power and its Consequences,” Wilson reviewed for the record how his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, was “outed” by members of the Bush-Cheney administration. This, he said, came only after he had revealed, in a July, 2003, New York Times Op Ed piece, how President George W. Bush misled the nation in his “State of the Union” address in January 2003, about Iraq’s supposedly attempting to secure “yellowcake uranium” from an African country in order to build a nuclear bomb. The yarn about the alleged Niger uranium, Wilson, emphasized, was needed by manipulators in the administration in order to wrongly mesmerize the American people with the frightening image of a phony smoking gun in the form of “a mushroom cloud.”...........
if we just lay around and keep our mouths shut and don't challenge this administration on their LIES, well, we deserve what we get (i WILL NOT be silent)
Santa's Chinese elves
By Pallavi Ayar BEIJING - While Santa Claus lives it up with Rudolph at the North Pole, his elves have relocated to southern China's towns and villages. Some 70% of the world's Christmas ornaments and other paraphernalia now originate in officially atheist mainland China. Tinsel, Santas, mistletoe and artificial trees of every shape and hue are churned out at a relentless pace by thousands of factory workers in Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces. According to the China General Administration of customs, Guangdong on its own exported more than US$620 million worth of Christmas products in 2004. For the country as a whole, the figure was over $1 billion. Even the White House now celebrates a "Made in China" Christmas. In 2003, seven of the trees adorning the US president's residence were manufactured in China. In fact more than two-thirds of the world's artificial Christmas trees are made in the single city of Shenzhen. As winter's icy tentacles lead into Christmas, Santa's Chinese elves are enjoying a bit of a quiet period after having toiled for the majority of the year. "Our busy period is really February to October," says He Li, assistant sales manager of Yiwu Festival Gifts Company. The company has annual sales of over $12 million and employs between 800-1,000 workers. It exports 90% of its products to the US, Russia and Chile and specializes in manufacturing hanging toys, trees and Christmas gifts..................
(i collect christmas ornaments and most of mine are handblown glass out of eastern europe and/or italy)
Thursday, December 22, 2005
get a load of the size of the bruiser on the left!
Newborn Twins Found Abandoned In Chicago Church
Babies Listed In Good Condition
UPDATED: 6:39 am EST December 22, 2005
CHICAGO -- Two newborn babies were found inside a Chicago church Wednesday, prompting those involved to call it a Christmas miracle.
Officials said the boy and girl were found in a single child car seat on an inside stairway at North Austin Lutheran Church at about 8:30 a.m. by church custodian Kenneth Green, reported Chicago TV station WMAQ. The infants were just hours old, police said, and still had their umbilical cords attached...........
By E&P Staff Published: December 21, 2005 4:19 PM ET
NEW YORK "Media Beat" columnist Norman Solomon of Creators Syndicate has announced his 2005 "P.U.-litzer Prizes" -- and several newspaper writers are among the recipients.In a Tuesday piece, Solomon cited Charles Krauthammer, Bill O'Reilly, Judith Miller, and Bob Woodward -- among others -- for the year's "foulest media performances."Krauthammer shared a "Self-Praise Stealth Prize" for praising President Bush's Jan. 20 inaugural address on Fox News without mentioning that he (Krauthammer) had attended a Jan. 10 White House meeting that might have been used to help draft the speech (E&P Online, Jan. 26). Krauthammer is syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group.O'Reilly, the Fox News host who also writes a Creators column, won Solomon's "Put Them in Chains Award" for saying that Air America Radio hosts should be jailed for "undermining" the "war on terror" and the Iraq War. "Send over the FBI and just put them in chains," O'Reilly stated...................
we, as americans SHOULD NOT AND CAN NOT put up with these actions.
Bush's High Crimes
[from the January 9, 2006 issue]
Choosing his words carefully, George W. Bush all but accused critics of his extralegal warrantless wiretaps of giving aid and comfort to Al Qaeda: "It was a shameful act, for someone to disclose this very important program in time of war. The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy." If so, the ranks of the treasonous now include leaders of the President's own party, and the New York Times's revelations of illegal wiretaps foretell an earthquake. Senator Lindsey Graham, last seen carrying gallons of water for the White House on the status of Guantánamo prisoners, will have nothing of Bush's end run around the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act: "Even in a time of war, you have to follow the process," he said flatly. An infuriated Arlen Specter, Senate Judiciary chairman, whose good will the White House depends on in the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation of Samuel Alito, declared the President's domestic spying "inexcusable...clearly and categorically wrong" and plans hearings.
For the generations who came of age after the mid-1970s, it is worth recalling why warrantless domestic surveillance so shocks the political system. It needs to be repeated that the same arguments cited by Bush--inherent presidential power and national security--sustained the wiretapping of Martin Luther King Jr., unleashed illegal CIA domestic spying and generated FBI files on thousands of American dissidents. It needs to be repeated that in 1974, the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon included abuse of presidential power based on warrantless wiretaps and illegal surveillance. It needs to be repeated that a few months later, presidential aides named Cheney and Rumsfeld labored mightily to secure President Ford's veto of the Freedom of Information Act, in an unsuccessful attempt to turn back post-Watergate restrictions on homegrown spying and government secrecy. .......................
oh my goddess you just have to hold your head in your hand and weep. i ran into a friend yesterday and we were high-fiving. he was all excited about being on 'the list' (as a catholic worker) and i was all excited because i was vegan and THEY are on 'the list' too.
Yukon school group found on U.S. threat list
Last updated Dec 20 2005 09:57 AM MSTCBC News
A group of Yukon high school students who attended a peace demonstration in Alaska last year have been labelled a threat by U.S. Homeland Security.
The students and their teachers from Vanier Catholic Secondary School in Whitehorse were singled out when they crossed the border on their way to Fort Greely to protest the proliferation of missiles.
FROM SEPT. 27, 2004: Anti-missile peace camp hailed as success A document leaked from the U.S. defense department shows the Whitehorse school group is among a list of more than 1,500 anti-war groups considered a risk to American security. They have been lumped in with other organizations such as the Florida Quakers and student unions from major American universities.
Teacher Mark Connell says he was surprised the Grade 11 and 12 students were included on the list...........
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Spy Court Judge Quits In ProtestJurist Concerned Bush Order Tainted Work of Secret Panel
By Carol D. Leonnig and Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writers Wednesday, December 21, 2005; A01
A federal judge has resigned from the court that oversees government surveillance in intelligence cases in protest of President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program, according to two sources.
U.S. District Judge James Robertson, one of 11 members of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, sent a letter to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. late Monday notifying him of his resignation without providing an explanation.
Two associates familiar with his decision said yesterday that Robertson privately expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 was legally questionable and may have tainted the FISA court's work.
Robertson, who was appointed to the federal bench in Washington by President Bill Clinton in 1994 and was later selected by then-Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist to serve on the FISA court, declined to comment when reached at his office late yesterday.
Word of Robertson's resignation came as two Senate Republicans joined the call for congressional investigations into the National Security Agency's warrantless interception of telephone calls and e-mails to overseas locations by U.S. citizens suspected of links to terrorist groups. They questioned the legality of the operation and the extent to which the White House kept Congress informed.
Sens. Chuck Hagel (Neb.) and Olympia J. Snowe (Maine) echoed concerns raised by Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has promised hearings in the new year............
Spying Program Snared U.S. Calls
By JAMES RISEN and ERIC LICHTBLAU
WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 - A surveillance program approved by President Bush to conduct eavesdropping without warrants has captured what are purely domestic communications in some cases, despite a requirement by the White House that one end of the intercepted conversations take place on foreign soil, officials say.
The officials say the National Security Agency's interception of a small number of communications between people within the United States was apparently accidental, and was caused by technical glitches at the National Security Agency in determining whether a communication was in fact "international."
Telecommunications experts say the issue points up troubling logistical questions about the program. At a time when communications networks are increasingly globalized, it is sometimes difficult even for the N.S.A. to determine whether someone is inside or outside the United States when making a cellphone call or sending an e-mail message. As a result, people that the security agency may think are outside the United States are actually on American soil.
Vice President Dick Cheney entered the debate over the legality of the program on Tuesday, casting the program as part of the administration's efforts to assert broader presidential powers...............
.........The Supreme Court ruled that government spying on citizens as practiced by the Nixon administration was unconstitutional. The 2001 law authorized the president to use military force against terrorist enemies, not strip away the civil liberties of citizens. If there is a loophole that permits warrantless searches, it should be closed by Congress..................
thanks think progress
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Judge bars school district from mentioning 'intelligent design'MARTHA RAFFAELEAssociated Press
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A federal judge has ruled "intelligent design" cannot be mentioned in biology classes in a Pennsylvania public school district, concluding that several school board members lied about their motives for introducing the concept to students.
The Dover Area School Board violated the Constitution when it ordered that its biology curriculum must include "intelligent design," the notion that life on Earth was produced by an unidentified intelligent cause, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III ruled Tuesday.
The school board policy, adopted in October 2004, was believed to have been the first of its kind in the nation.
"The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy," Jones wrote. "It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy."
The board's attorneys said members sought to improve science education by exposing students to alternatives to Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection causing gradual changes over time; intelligent-design proponents argue that it cannot fully explain the existence of complex life forms.
The plaintiffs argued that intelligent design amounts to a secular repackaging of creationism, which the courts have already ruled cannot be taught in public schools.
The Dover policy required students to hear a statement about intelligent design before ninth-grade biology lessons on evolution. The statement said Charles Darwin's theory is "not a fact," has inexplicable "gaps," and refers students to an intelligent-design textbook, "Of Pandas and People," for more information..............
Live Vodka Shot Bloggin' of the President's Press Conference:Back in the day, the Rude Pundit used to muse that Bill Clinton would have held a press conference in 1997 or so where he said, "Yeah, I fucked her. And then I turned her over and I fucked her again. And then I called my old friend, Vernon Jordan, and I said, 'Vern, I got the finest piece of intern ass bobbin' on my crank right now.' And then Vernon came over and he fucked her. Then we both fucked her at the same time, high-fivin' each other over her back. And I said, 'You know, Vern, you're gonna have to give her a job when we're all done.' Then we had a big ol' laugh as we sprayed jizz all over her pretty blue dress. Good times. Good times." At least then, you know, we could have just had it out, threw down for our culture war, and clogged the Potomac with the dead, instead of the aching, eternal investigations that degraded us all.So, hey, man, props to George W. Bush for steppin' out on Saturday to say, "Fuck you. I spied. I'm gonna keep spyin' on ya. And you can't stop me." And now we have the post-Sunday Iraq lookee-here-at-my-big-honest-face talk end o' the year press conference.The Rude Pundit broke out the morning vodka, turned on his CNN, put his trusty laptop on his lap, took a bracin' shot, and wrote along to the President's halting screeches of agony:10:32 - Here he comes, walkin' like he just finished a really awesome shit where he wiped his ass with the Constit- Wait - is that powder on the corner of his nose? No - probably toothpaste. Or reflections from the Rude Pundit's Christmas tree of doom............
Eminem Music Allegedly Used As U.S. Torture Device
POSTED: 9:04 am PST December 19, 2005
KABUL, Afghanistan -- A human rights group is alleging the United States operated a secret prison near Afghanistan's capital as recently as last year.
The group claims that music by Eminem and Dr. Dre were used as instruments of torture.
New York-based Human Rights Watch has issued a report saying the United States operated a secret prison in Afghanistan and tortured detainees. The report quoted an Ethiopian-born detainee as saying he was kept in a pitch-black prison and forced to listen to Eminem and Dr. Dre’s rap music for 20 days before the music was replaced by "horrible ghost laughter and Halloween sounds."
The report said detainees at the facility -- known as "Dark Prison" -- were deprived of sleep, chained to walls and forced to listen to loud music in total darkness for days.
The group said its report is based on the accounts of several detainees at the U.S. prison for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. Human Rights Watch hasn't been allowed to speak with the detainees directly, but said it obtained the detainees' accounts from their lawyers...........
and light a candle to the great goddess that WE win this
Evolution ruling expected
The federal lawsuit on intelligent design will likely chart the future of science education.
By Amy Worden Inquirer Staff Writer
HARRISBURG - A decision is expected today in the first-ever federal trial on the teaching of intelligent design - a ruling that will likely have far-reaching impact on the future of science education in the United States.
Judge John E. Jones 3d will issue his ruling in Kitzmiller v. Dover today, said Gary Hollinger, chief deputy clerk of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
Eleven parents sued the Dover Area School District in York County last year, saying the board violated the constitutional separation of church and state when it approved a policy introducing intelligent design into the high school biology curriculum.
Intelligent design holds that life is so complex that there must have been a higher intelligence involved.
Over the course of the six-week trial, which ended Nov. 4, a parade of scientists and other academicians took the witness stand, some to defend Darwin's theory of evolution and others to raise doubts about the 19th-century theory upon which modern biology is based.
Lawyers for the Thomas More Law Center, a Christian law firm in Michigan that represented the school board, said intelligent design is a valid scientific theory. They argued that the board did not have a religious intent when it voted to require students be read a statement that noted "gaps" in Darwin's theory and directed students to a book on intelligent design available in the school library.
The plaintiffs' legal team, assembled by the American Civil Liberties Union, said the board's decision was in fact driven by a religious agenda and presented witnesses who testified that intelligent design is Bible-based creationism in disguise...................
holy shite, spying on vegan groups and catholic workers. what next, the play room at macdonalds? there are legitimate wire taps, there is legit surveillance. all of that must be done ACCORDING TO OUR CONSTITUTION AND OUR LAWS. NO CITIZEN IS ABOVE THE LAW. NONE. when are we going to get off of our asses and make people accountable for these UNLAWFUL actions?
F.B.I. Watched Activist Groups, New Files Show
By ERIC LICHTBLAU
WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 - Counterterrorism agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have conducted numerous surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations that involved, at least indirectly, groups active in causes as diverse as the environment, animal cruelty and poverty relief, newly disclosed agency records show.
F.B.I. officials said Monday that their investigators had no interest in monitoring political or social activities and that any investigations that touched on advocacy groups were driven by evidence of criminal or violent activity at public protests and in other settings.
After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, John Ashcroft, who was then attorney general, loosened restrictions on the F.B.I.'s investigative powers, giving the bureau greater ability to visit and monitor Web sites, mosques and other public entities in developing terrorism leads. The bureau has used that authority to investigate not only groups with suspected ties to foreign terrorists, but also protest groups suspected of having links to violent or disruptive activities.
But the documents, coming after the Bush administration's confirmation that President Bush had authorized some spying without warrants in fighting terrorism, prompted charges from civil rights advocates that the government had improperly blurred the line between terrorism and acts of civil disobedience and lawful protest.
One F.B.I. document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct surveillance as part of a "Vegan Community Project." Another document talks of the Catholic Workers group's "semi-communistic ideology." A third indicates the bureau's interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals...............
Monday, December 19, 2005
By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer Sun Dec 18, 4:46 PM ET
WASHINGTON - Democrats and Republicans called separately Sunday for congressional investigations into President Bush's decision after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to allow domestic eavesdropping without court approval.
"The president has, I think, made up a law that we never passed," said Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis.
Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record), R-Penn., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he intends to hold hearings.
"They talk about constitutional authority," Specter said. "There are limits as to what the president can do."
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada also called for an investigation, and House Democratic leaders asked Speaker
Dennis Hastert' name=c1> SEARCHNews News Photos Images Web' name=c3> Dennis Hastert to create a bipartisan panel to do the same.
Bush acknowledged Saturday that since October 2001 he has authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on international phone calls and e-mails of people within the United States without seeking warrants from courts..........
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leaves the NBC studio in Washington Sunday, Dec. 18, 2005, after being interviewed on 'Meet the Press'. Rice spoke about President Bush's authorization of the National Security Agency to eavesdropping on international phone calls and e-mails of people within the United States, and said Sunday that public disclosure of surveillance programs used to wage the war on terror damages those efforts. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)
hey condo-lie-za, what about the public disclosure of the name of a COVERT cia operative? huh?
Vermont governor wants troops home
Amid serious casualties, he urges pullout plan
By Scott Helman, Globe Staff December 19, 2005
Governor James H. Douglas of Vermont, a Republican whose state has lost more soldiers per capita in Iraq and Afghanistan than any other in the United States, said last week that the Bush administration and Congress should prepare a withdrawal plan to bring troops home from Iraq.
''I certainly hope and pray that the Congress and the administration will work together to design an exit strategy and bring our troops home as soon as possible," Douglas said in a telephone interview on Friday.
Douglas spoke as he welcomed 600 Vermont National Guard soldiers home from Kuwait, where they served for a year in support of the war. Several planes of soldiers landed in Burlington, where they were greeted by family, friends, and Christmas carols and patriotic songs played by a National Guard band.............
i am only going to print the last paragraph. go to the link above for the whole letter
......We all agree that the President must have the best possible intelligence to protect the American people. That intelligence, however, must be produced in a manner consistent with our Constitution and our laws, and in a manner that reflects our values as a nation to protect the American people and our freedoms. Our suggestion for hearings and the appointment of an independent panel of experts is fully in keeping with that belief.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
is a little italian confection called pignoli (pine nut cookies). they are made with almond paste, egg whites (unfortunately NOT vegan), sugar and pine nuts. for some reason or another they taste ESPECIALLY good at christmastime.
from the washington post
a pignoli article including recipe
and yet another recipe
pignoli made with a bit of flour
1)i drink WAY too much coffee
2)i smoke WAY too many butts
3)i am far nicer than i usually act, (it's just a defense mechanism)
4)i am an (minor) agoraphobic
5)i decided long ago NOT to be afraid of people. i feared my (paternal) grandfather but he is long gone. i fear no one else (as a person that is. i am AFRAID of the dentist even though mine is a dear AND he has a wonderful sense of humor even if he did put some crap in my mouth with a jennings retractor to keep my mouth pried open, left me in a darkened room for 20 minutes then brought someone in that i knew to say hello to me that just happened to come in for an appointment)
6)i love the winter and snow but PANIC driving in it
7)i have given up a friendship with someone i loved and i never even told him the real reason why
8)i love judge judy (i love tv in general and i am NOT embarrassed to admit it)
9)i have pack-rat issues bordering on needing therapy (and no i’m NOT kidding)
10)i have never forgiven my mother, even though she is no longer living. oh, i love(d) her, but i am still VERY angry with her
now, i am going to tag: jean and roxy
Agents' visit chills UMass Dartmouth senior By AARON NICODEMUS, Standard-Times staff writer NEW BEDFORD -- A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's tome on Communism called "The Little Red Book." Two history professors at UMass Dartmouth, Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand, said the student told them he requested the book through the UMass Dartmouth library's interlibrary loan program. The student, who was completing a research paper on Communism for Professor Pontbriand's class on fascism and totalitarianism, filled out a form for the request, leaving his name, address, phone number and Social Security number. He was later visited at his parents' home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, the professors said. The professors said the student was told by the agents that the book is on a "watch list," and that his background, which included significant time abroad, triggered them to investigate the student further. "I tell my students to go to the direct source, and so he asked for the official Peking version of the book," Professor Pontbriand said. "Apparently, the Department of Homeland Security is monitoring inter-library loans, because that's what triggered the visit, as I understand it." Although The Standard-Times knows the name of the student, he is not coming forward because he fears repercussions should his name become public. He has not spoken to The Standard-Times..............
Bush's Fumbles Spur New Talk of Oversight on Hill
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 18, 2005; A07
After a series of embarrassing disclosures, Congress is reconsidering its relatively lenient oversight of the Bush administration.
Lawmakers have been caught by surprise by several recent reports, including the existence of secret U.S. prisons abroad, the CIA's detention overseas of innocent foreign nationals, and, last week, the discovery that the military has been engaged in domestic spying. After five years in which the GOP-controlled House and Senate undertook few investigations into the administration's activities, the legislative branch has begun to complain about being in the dark.
On Friday, after learning that the National Security Agency was eavesdropping on conversations in the United States, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said that the activity was "wrong and it can't be condoned at all," and that his committee "can undertake oversight on it."
That same day, the House approved a resolution that would direct the administration to provide House and Senate intelligence committees with classified reports on the secret U.S. prisons overseas.
Democrats have long complained about a dearth of congressional investigations into Bush administration activities, but their criticism has been gaining validation from others after the botched response to Hurricane Katrina, problems in Iraq and ethical lapses.
Lawrence B. Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, said this fall that "the people's representatives over on the Hill in that other branch of government have truly abandoned their oversight responsibilities [on national security] and have let things atrophy to the point that if we don't do something about it, it's going to get even more dangerous than it already is."
In an interview last week, Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, said "it's a fair comment" that the GOP-controlled Congress has done insufficient oversight and "ought to be" doing more.
"Republican Congresses tend to overinvestigate Democratic administrations and underinvestigate their own," said Davis, who added that he has tried to pick up some of the slack with his committee. "I get concerned we lose our separation of powers when one party controls both branches."
Democrats on the committee said the panel issued 1,052 subpoenas to probe alleged misconduct by the Clinton administration and the Democratic Party between 1997 and 2002, at a cost of more than $35 million. By contrast, the committee under Davis has issued three subpoenas to the Bush administration, two to the Energy Department over nuclear waste disposal at Yucca Mountain, and one last week to the Defense Department over Katrina documents.
Some experts on Congress say that the legislative branch has shed much of its oversight authority because of a combination of aggressive actions by the Bush administration, acquiescence by congressional leaders, and political demands that keep lawmakers out of Washington more than before.................
Saturday, December 17, 2005
(a jimmycliff song by the way)
i was raised catholic and i NEVER understood the concept of limbo. why would an INNOCENT baby have to be 'sent' to limbo if she or he wasn't baptized? it certainly wasn't THEIR fault. i never bought it, even then. now it seems i don't really HAVE to buy it, but it's too late. i left all of that behind me long ago.
Limbo to Close: Mass Evictions Expected
by NICHOLAS VON HOFFMAN
[posted online on December 13, 2005]
After 700 years of occupancy, a landlord is entitled to ask the tenants to move. Apparently something like that is happening at the Vatican, where, the Guardian reports, the decision has been made to evict the occupants and close limbo.
You might think anything that's been around for seven centuries would have an established and uncontested place in organized religion, but the newspaper writes, a tad elliptically, that "John Paul II was deeply troubled by limbo and had it dropped from the church's 1992 catechism." Why limbo, a quiet place where nothing was going on as far as we know, a place without misbehaving members of the clergy, should trouble the Pope is not explained. Didn't the Pope have enough to worry him without taking on the consequences of a limbo ouster?
Whether he did or didn't, his successor, Benedict XVI, is also an anti-limboterian, as are some thirty Roman Catholic theologians from around the world who have been meeting in secret and have, if the report is correct, decided to put the kibosh on the place. Limbo, you might say, is on its way to limbo.
Limbo, it must be explained to any unchurched pagans who may be casting an eye on this piece, is where innocent babies who have not been baptized and are, therefore, ineligible for residence in heaven, were thought to reside in a semi-blissful eternity. There was no other place to put the poor blameless things, hence limbo was built and seemed to be going along well enough, paying its taxes and keeping its streets clean before this thunderbolt of an announcement.
All of a sudden the firmament is to be inundated by millions--nay, perhaps billions--of unbaptized babies bumping into angels, clogging up celestial trumpets and interfering with the plucking of harps. The music of the spheres is about to take an awesome drop in quality.............
Friday, December 16, 2005
By Alex Johnson
Updated: 12:22 p.m. ET Dec. 15, 2005
The paper carries the daunting title “Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies.” The writing is appropriately dry, but it is dry like tinder is dry, and when it was discovered, the tinder was set alight. Now it is burning hot under the skin of Christian believers and thinkers.
This is what it finds:
“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies. ... The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developed democracies, sometimes spectacularly so, and almost always scores poorly.”
And with that, its author, paleontologist Gregory Paul of Baltimore, joined the Antichrist of the Month Club...............
Clue To White Skin: One Gene Mutation Found Among Europeans
By WILLIAM HATHAWAY
Courant Staff WriterDecember 16 2005
The skin color of Europeans may have turned white after their ancestors migrated from Africa because of a single mutation among the 3 billion genetic "letters" that make up the human genome, scientists reported Thursday.The mutation explains part of the lingering mystery of how human skin colors evolved during the last 50,000 years as modern humans migrated across the world after leaving Africa, according to research published today in the journal Science."This really calls into question our ideas about race," said Mark Shriver, professor of anthropology and genetics at Penn State University and an author of the paper. Cancer researchers discovered the mutation in zebra fish while investigating a gene they suspected might play a role in malignant melanoma, a skin cancer. Researchers found that a mutation of a gene called SLC24A5 seemed to explain why golden zebra fish had lighter pigmentation in their stripes than other zebra fish.In humans as well as fish, variations in skin color are caused by melanin, or specifically the size and number of pigmentation granules called melanosomes within cells. People of European descent - and the golden zebra fish - have few, smaller and lighter granules within skin cells.While scores of genes have been identified in development of skin pigmentation, there is still confusion about which ones are most important in humans. So scientists at the Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa., wondered whether the mutation of a single specific gene might account for lighter pigmentation in humans as well as in the zebra fish. "When you run into something incredibly interesting, you have an obligation to do the best science you can do," said Dr. Keith Cheng, a cancer researcher at the Penn State Cancer Institute and senior author of the Science paper...........