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Friday, March 31, 2006

Those Were The Days

"Boy the way Glenn Miller played. Songs that made the hit parade.

Guys like us, we had it made.  Those Were The Days"

AmericaBlog An email making the rounds

you displayed your flag on the front porch on the 4th of July, and you didn't have to worry about whether it would be misinterpreted as support for a corrupt president and his administration?

REMEMBER WHEN 'Support the Troops' meant equipping our military with everything necessary for battle, instead of just being a catchy phrase that looked good on a bumper-sticker?

REMEMBER WHEN your tax dollars paid for things like improved education and social programs, instead of making Halliburton shareholders millionaires?

REMEMBER WHEN you watched movies about WWII, and it was the enemy who tortured captured American soldiers, instead of American soldiers torturing the people they'd allegedly 'liberated'?

REMEMBER WHEN you heard something on the TV news or read something in a newspaper, and you didn't have to go to the internet to find out just how much of it was fact, and how much of it was 'spin'?

REMEMBER WHEN a politician was caught with his hand in the cookie jar and he resigned in disgrace, instead of excusing his own behaviour by claiming that his political opponents were equally as guilty of wrongdoing?

REMEMBER WHEN 'Made in the USA' labels on products were the norm, and not a total oddity?

REMEMBER WHEN you hitchhiked through Europe as a teenager, and you DIDN'T have to replace the American flag on your knapsack with a Canadian flag in order to be a welcomed guest in a foreign country?

REMEMBER WHEN organized crime figures had to make phone calls from the corner phone booth, because they were the only people who had to worry about wire-taps?

REMEMBER WHEN telling a fellow politician on the floor of the Senate to 'go f*ck himself' was considered behaviour unbecoming an elected official, instead of being accepted as the way a Vice President behaves himself?

REMEMBER WHEN you could pretty well count on the fact that if the president said it, it was based on sound intelligence and was probably true?

REMEMBER WHEN you could rely on your elected representatives to put your interests ahead of the corporations that filled their campaign coffers, or the lobbyists who gave them great basketball tickets?

REMEMBER WHEN you didn't even KNOW what religion the people you voted for were, because it didn't really matter? Remember when you didn't know what party your neighbour belonged to, because that didn't really matter either?

REMEMBER WHEN the pension you’d worked for your whole life wasn’t in danger of being wiped out by corrupt CEOs, assisted by respected accounting firms that made that corruption almost impossible to detect?

REMEMBER WHEN you could brag that as an American, you were guaranteed things like free speech and due process of law, without checking the nightly news to see whether those rights were still in effect?

REMEMBER WHEN the president upheld the law of the land, instead of coming up with 'legal loopholes' to support the idea that he's above the law?

REMEMBER WHEN you could say, "I'm a proud American," without qualifying it with a list of all of the things your government is doing that you’re not exactly proud of?

REMEMBER WHEN you actually thought that the people in charge of running your country were smarter than you were?

REMEMBER WHEN your parents worked all their lives to ensure you a better life, instead of worrying about how bad the life they'd be leaving their children might be?

REMEMBER WHEN 'patriotism' was judged by your words and actions, and not by whether you were a member of the party currently in power?

REMEMBER WHEN the 'American Dream' was attainable through diligence and hard work, and not the luck of the 'outsourcing' draw?

REMEMBER WHEN the election of a president was considered the result of democracy in action, and not the result of Diebold executives doing the job they were expected to do?

REMEMBER WHEN you sang 'God Bless America' as a kid, and never thought you'd grow up to wonder if, in view of your country's actions, asking God's blessing was asking a bit too much?

I REMEMBER WHEN … and I wonder if these ideas will become ancient history by the time those of us old enough to recall them are dead and gone.

JFK's death changed everything. The beginning of the end.  The sad thing about that post is that it could go on and on.

categories: Outrages
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10:59:13 PM    

Friday Cat Blogging

categories: Humor
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12:20:28 AM    

Thursday, March 30, 2006

'Snakes on a Plane' Sure Box-Office Gold

This movie needs a cameo from Harrison Ford. Just a quick shot of a man in an airplane seat shaking his head and saying, "Snakes. Why does it always have to be snakes?"

Who needs advertising when you've got a really dumb title for your movie? Snakes on a Plane is still five months from takeoff but has already been declared the "worst film of 2006" by Wired magazine, according to a Wikipedia entry, anyway. Think that will hurt its opening-weekend box office? Not a chance.

As the hot topic in online movie circles, Snakes (or SOAP) is inspiring the blogosphere to create freelance movie trailers, posters and story lines. In online vernacular, it's one of the hotest memes since The Blair Witch Project. Star Samuel L. Jackson, who threatened to quit when someone proposed changing the name of the movie to Pacific Air Flight 121, signed up for the project based on the name alone.

I just hope no snakes were harmed in the making of this film. And maybe a William Castle touch would be nice: "In Viper-Vision with Cobra-Rama!!" People can read comments and blogs all over the internet about this fabulous movie and they will make you laugh SOOO much . Anyone know what rating it will be? You need to see this movie.

Plot Outline: On board a flight over the Pacific Ocean, an assassin, bent on killing a passenger who's a witness in protective custody, lets loose a crate full of deadly snakes.

For the posters to come, may we suggest this headline: "You've read the title. Why see the movie?"

categories: Mind
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9:32:03 PM    

Jill Carroll Released in Iraq, Unharmed

BAGHDAD Kidnapped U.S. reporter Jill Carroll has been released after nearly three months in captivity, Iraq police and the leader of the Islamic Party said Thursday. She was reported in good condition.

She told a Washington Post reporter: "I was never hurt, ever hit...I was kept in a safe place and treated very well."

Carroll, a freelance reporter for The Christian Science Monitor, was kidnapped on Jan. 7, in Baghdad's western Adil neighborhood while going to interview Sunni Arab politician Adnan al-Dulaimi. Her translator was killed in the attack about 300 yards from al-Dulaimi's office.

"She was released this morning, she's talked to her father and she's fine," said David Cook, Washington bureau chief of The Christian Science Monitor.

[The news came shortly before 7 a.m., Eastern Time. The Monitor at 7:03 a.m. posted this on its Web site: "After being held hostage for nearly three months, Jill Carroll is free. More details shortly."]

Police Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammedawi said was handed over to the Iraqi Islamic Party office in Amiriya, western Baghdad, by an unknown group. She was later turned over to the Americans and was believed to be in the heavily fortified Green Zone, he said.

Her captors, calling themselves the Revenge Brigades, had demanded the release of all women detainees in Iraq by Feb. 26 and said Carroll would be killed if that didn't happen. The date came and went with no word about her welfare.

The United States Embassy in Baghdad said it could not confirm Carroll's release.

On Feb. 28, Iraq's Interior Minister Bayan Jabr said Carroll was being held by the Islamic Army in Iraq, the insurgent group that freed two French journalists in 2004 after four months in captivity.

Jabr said then that he believed the 28-year-old was still alive, although the deadline set by her captors for the U.S. to meet their demands had expired.

She was last seen in a videotape broadcast Feb. 9 by the private Kuwaiti television station Al-Rai. Her twin sister Katie issued a plea for her release on Al-Arabiya television late Wednesday night.

Carroll went to the Middle East in 2002 after being laid off from a newspaper job. She had long dreamed of covering a war.

Podhoretz, according to Judd Legum, wrote:

It's wonderful that she's free, but after watching someone who was a hostage for three months say on television she was well-treated because she wasn't beaten or killed "while being dressed in the garb of a modest Muslim woman rather than the non-Muslim woman she actually is"  I expect there will be some Stockholm Syndrome talk in the coming days.
I guess he would have been happier if she had allowed herself to be martyred for the cause. What a moron! Mr. Podhoretz, she was on Iraqi TV after having been released near an office of the Islamic Party. Could it be that she was respecting someone's culture and not necessarily pulling a Patty Hearst? Or is this just the muddled thinking of a numbskull who can't separate the entire religion of Islam from terrorism from resistance...

Regardless of John Podhoretz's insensitivity, naivete and ignorance, there is photographic proof that she has been treated better than civilians (or civilians) who were taken captive by the United States.

categories: Soul
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12:04:15 PM    

Dogone Dog Fart Neutralizing Thong

You can stop squinting now, your eyes aren’t deceiving you—we really did post a photo of a dog wearing a thong. But not just any dog thong! No, the Dogone thong is the "comfortable and least intrusive means for deodorizing gassy discharges", and you know you can trust it because it comes from the #1 name in flatulence odor control products.

Uses our famous activated charcoal cloth (washable and reusable)! A starter hole is placed in the cloth in order to help you locate the suggested tail hole. Carefully measure tail and cut-out hole to proper size. Elastic straps are used for flexibility. Suspender clips are used to make the garment totally adjustable. They also provide quick release for allowing the dog out to do his business.

You can get the Dogone in any of three sizes and they’re each $19.99, but if you buy them you’ll need very expensive headphones to keep from hearing the neighbors making fun of you and your poor pooch.

categories: Humor
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12:36:23 AM    

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Urinal Mirrors  "Deliver The Truth"


Bild is a (tabloid) newspaper in germany. They have come up with an interesting guerilla campaign in men’s bathrooms. The line says: “Nothing is harder than the truth”.
Now we see that the newspaper Bild has installed tilted mirrors above urinals in Germany, more or less forcing men to contemplate their masculinity while taking a leak.

The headline on the mirrors delivers the newspaper’s brand message while at the same time insulting the viewer (or at least the less-endowed viewer): “Nothing is harder than the truth.”
“Nothing is harder than the truth” In german hard doesnt have anything to do with an erection, to clear the misunderstandings.

I don’t think that it’s such a bad idea. the advertising aspect is a little bizarre, but I’ve seen wierder. In a texas “steak hous styled” resturant, there are pictures of suggestive women in “cowboy” gear above the urinals. That’s a little too much. it’s a tough enough challenge to “go” with somone else standing next to you, do you need the added pressure of sexy images while you are holding your stuff?

Actually, coming up with urinal advertising that doesn’t have an element of grossness might be harder, but there you go. Link via Advertising/Design Goodness.

categories: Body
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6:19:39 PM    

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The President's Special Powers That Aren't

"[President Bush's] claim that during wartime he possesses special powers really gets me. Special powers? He can't even ride a bicycle without falling off. How come reason isn't one of his special powers? If he's got special powers, what's his Kryptonite: logic?"

As a child, Chimpy was put into the "special" classes, so why shouldn't he have "special" powers?

Mr. Bush has made several interesting assertions. First, he claims that the executive of the U.S. is granted special and exceptional powers at wartime under the constitution. Second, he asserts executive right to detain and deny due process to a special category of citizen, a citizen "enemy combatant", who has taken up arms against the people of his own nation, or otherwise provides "aid and comfort" to "terrorists" and "enemies of the U.S." during "a time of war" and to engage in warentless searches (eavesdropping) of U.S. citizens, further bypassing due process "during a time of war". He further claims that the conditions of and threats we face in these times were never considered when the constitution was drafted.

I decided it was time to see for myself what the constitution might say or not say on these topics, and therefore directly test Mr. Bush's assertions.I did not need to go further than article III before I got a rather clear and unambiguous answer to all of the questions Mr. Bush poses. In the few short sentences of section 3, Article III, I think we find all of these questions answered. We can read it together if you like.

The first thing I found in this rather remarkable and I suspect seldom read article is that indeed our forefather's certainly did consider the question of what to do about a citizen "enemy combatant", as in a citizen who chooses to take up arms against the military forces of our nation or otherwise provides aid and comfort to an enemy power at a time of war. The charge is called "treason", and this is how the constitution describes it:
"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."

While the supreme court had chosen to limit the definition of "enemy combatant" only to someone "carrying a weapon against American troops on a foreign battlefield" in the Hamdi case, according to the Defense Department, and as argued in the Padilla case, an enemy combatant includes anyone "part of or supporting Taliban or Al Qaeda forces or associated forces." Both the narrow definition of the Supreme Court, and even the broader definition of the executive branch, fall well within the circumstances and definition offered in Article 3 Section 3 for "Treason". I think even a strict constructionist cannot ignore this rather inescapable conclusion. But, there is more:

"No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."

This I think says two important things. First, those "enemy combatants" must have a trial, and the due process and full involvement of the judicial branch that this directly implies. Further, it suggests, given the gravity of the crime and possibility for it's misapplication, the burden of proof required to sustain, and rights granted to a potential defendant, of a charge of treason may well be greater than those offered other classes of defendants. Finally, section 3/3 concludes with

"The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attained."

What is entirely absent in 3/3 is any mention whatsoever of the executive. This is clearly because the executive branch has no special role or special powers whatsoever in the handling of "enemy combatants" as envisioned by our forefathers and as written in the constitution, and this is rather logical, for they understood that the greatest danger to the U.S. constitution was not a foreign enemy, but rather an executive asserting arbitrary dictatorial powers. This especially clear in reading the federalist papers, though it's conclusion is found in 3/3 as well as in many other parts of the constitution.

If the president has no special role whatsoever for the handling of enemy combatants, then clearly he has no special powers to discard their legal rights or remove their 4th amendment protections. Ergo, there are no special powers for wiretapping. Indeed, I think 3/3 makes it very clear, that even at a time of war, due process must exist and cannot be suspended.

Interesting enough, while the president can claim to be the commander-in-chief of the U.S. armed forces, these same forces swear no oath of loyalty to him. Rather every commissioned officer in the U.S. military swears an oath to "defend and protect the United States Constitution, against ALL enemies, foreign and DOMESTIC", much like the president himself. To this we can add the "Nuremburg Principle", which introduces the idea that a commisioned officer or soldier can and should be able to disregard an "unlawful" order.

A little further we find Article II, Section 2, "The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment."

Here we find something of executive war powers. Clearly, the president has the power to "pardon" Pedilla, but lacking is any statement whatsoever of special "war powers" or the ability to set aside due process in any form. Nor, incidentally, does congress seem to have these magical powers either, so certainly they cannot grant them to the president even if they wish to. But let's go a little further, where did the specific idea of executive war powers come from anyway?

"The President is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. In this respect his authority would be nominally the same with that of the king of Great Britain, but in substance much inferior to it. It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first General and admiral of the Confederacy."

Clearly, what war powers that may exist in the executive branch and offered to the president were meant to be rather nominal, and only those minimum powers needed to direct and command the armed forces of the United States. To this mix we add the war powers act of 1973.

These powers and this act in fact further diminishes the authority of the executive. Certainly it deals with the mechanics of when and where the executive may introduce the U.S. military and hence is directly related to his role of commander-in-chief as well as being consistent with what the federalist papers further clarify in regard to this very limited role, being limited solely to the mechanics and use of the U.S. military.

Next, we can go to case law, to see how past cases involving war powers were decided. Most relevant, I think, is Ex Parte Milligan;

In 1866, the supreme court found unconstitutional Lincoln's order authorizing trial by a military tribunal of Lambdin P. Milligan, an Indiana Lawyer accused of supporting the Confederacy. The court ruled clearly that citizens must be tried in civilian courts, even during war. The sole exception they recognized was if civilian courts are neither open or operating. The same court, incidently, also found that Lincoln lacked authority to declare martial law in Indiana. I guess that kills the idea of staging martial law to then round up and shoot your dissenters in military tribunals because the courts would be effectivily "closed."

Again, in all these things, I fail to find anything that supports any of the assertions of Mr. Bush, and many that clearly and directly refutes all of them. Is there some part of the constitution I had missed, or did Mr. Bush simply make it all up as he went along?

In public appearances this week, Bush defended his program of domestic spying without court approval, citing the inherent war powers of the presidency under the U.S. Constitution. The president points to his status as commander-in-chief and the resolution "approved by Congress three days after the 9/11 attacks" authorizing him to use "all necessary and appropriate force" against the terrorists.

It all smacks of France's Louis XIV's famous dictum: "L'etat, c'est moi" - "I am the state." We are now learning what President Bush considers to be the limits of his power - NOTHING.

categories: Outrages
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9:27:38 PM    

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Porn Star's Rated X-cellent - So Is Her Wine

At 40 bucks a bottle, I'm sure I'll be stocking up by the case.

It seemed like the perfect gimmick: a celebrity porn star would launch her own wine, with her alluring picture on the label.

Savanna Samson did just that. But when the wine received a score of 90 to 91 out of 100 from guru Robert Parker, the project became serious. It turns out Samson, the star of "The New Devil in Miss Jones," has produced an exceptional wine, becoming the toast of two industries: wine-making and pornography.

The seriousness of the idea was lining up a respected wine maker. So she convinced Italy's Robert Cipresso -- also a vintner to the Vatican -- to join the project.

Samson went to Tuscany and tasted dozens of Cipresso's Italian-grown varieties, then she selected a mix of 70 percent Cesanese, 20 percent Sangiovese and 10 percent Montepulciano. She ordered over 400 cases.

"I knew I wanted Roberto to make my wine -- I just love his passion for wine," said Samson.

The result is Sogno Uno, a 2004 vintage of an Italian red wine packaged under the Savanna name with a label of Samson in a see-through gown. It was launched last month.

Parker has been called the most influential wine critic in the world, and a score of 90 to 95 denotes "an outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character."

"Trust me, I didn't add any points for Ms. Samson's personal presentation," Parker wrote in his review.

Samson is one of the biggest names in pornography, having won best actress in the Adult Video News Awards, the pornographic equivalent of the Oscars, and another AVN Award for a scene she shared with Jenna Jameson in last year's "The Masseuse." She has made two dozen porn flicks.

The wine "really represents who I am," said Samson.

"There's spiciness -- the Cesanese has the naughty side of me. And yet it's an elegant wine. I love the opera, and I'm a classically trained ballet dancer. And there is some chocolate undertone, which I just love. There's a little bit of sweetness. Like, 10 percent of the time I'm sweet," she said.

She is working on a white wine -- Sogno Due -- that could be out later this year, and also has ideas of expanding into champagne, ice wine and grappa.

Samson, who was raised Catholic in upstate New York, said it was pure coincidence that Cipresso also sells wines to the Vatican. She met him through her husband, a wine merchant.

"My priest said in Mass once, 'Violence or pleasures of the flesh. What is the greater of two evils?' I think we all know the answer. I felt like he was saying that toward me," she said.

Still, she never had her parent's blessing for her career choice as an adult movie star. "They were so devastated. They were terribly, terribly upset."

But while she will continue her film career, wine-making may offer some redemption. "I wanted to do something that my parents could be proud of," she said.

categories: Soul
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10:12:39 PM    

Friday, March 24, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging

categories: Humor
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12:06:50 AM    

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The IRS Wants To Help Make Your Tax Returns Public

The government that wants no transparency in its governing wants complete transparency in the private affairs of its citizens.
The America we once knew is soon to be no more.

Consumer groups and privacy advocates are attacking proposed Internal Revenue Service rules that would spell out how tax-return preparers may legally sell financial information and other data from their clients' returns.

The IRS is quietly moving to loosen the once-inviolable privacy of federal income-tax returns. If it succeeds, accountants and other tax-return preparers will be able to sell information from individual returns — or even entire returns — to marketers and data brokers.

....Critics call the changes a dangerous breach in personal and financial privacy. They say the requirement for signed consent would prove meaningless for many taxpayers, especially those hurriedly reviewing stacks of documents before a filing deadline.

"The normal interaction is that the taxpayer just signs what the tax preparer puts in front of them," said Jean Ann Fox of the Consumer Federation of America, one of several groups fighting the changes. "They think, 'This person is a tax professional, and I'm going to rely on them.' "

The IRS was unable to explain why this regulation had suddenly been proposed. Their spokesman just shrugged and suggested it was routine housekeeping to keep up with the electronic revolution. Sure it was. H&R Block, unsurprisingly, "did not respond to requests for comment."

Fine that you do your own taxes. But if you send them electronically. They go through H&R Block, with TaxCut or Intuit with TurboTax. That gives them the right to sell my info. Or yours. This will also give Intuit a new revenue stream.

This probably applies to all the methods offered by the IRS, since those use contractors.
Which makes a good protest to be mailing in paper tax returns. That is a lot less efficient for the IRS. All electronic tax returns go through civilian contractors who will get revenue from this rule proposal.

Only the taxpayers (required by law to file) will lose here.

Welcome to George Bush's IRS. Your whole life is now for sale as long as it benefits someone who's a Republican campaign contributor.

categories: Outrages
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2:06:18 AM    

Dixie Chicked

Just a reminder of the climate we lived in. The Dixie Chicks "controversy" was caused by this comment made at a London concert:
Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.
That was it. That was all it took.

GREAT new song. You can hear it for free on their home page, just turn up your speakers, it plays automatically - lyrics are there too.

From the band that Christopher Hitchens called "fucking fat slags." Hitch must have thought the band was called "The Delirium Tremens". No wonder he hated them!

It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Sayin’ that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over

We are all Dixie Chicks now.

categories: Outrages
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1:37:05 AM    

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

How To Steal an Election

It's easier to rig an electronic voting machine than a Las Vegas slot machine, says University of Pennsylvania visiting professor Steve Freeman. That's because Vegas slots are better monitored and regulated than America's voting machines, Freeman writes in a book out in July that argues, among other things, that President Bush may owe his 2004 win to an unfair vote count. We'll wait to read his book before making a judgment about that. But Freeman has assembled comparisons that suggest Americans protect their vices more than they guard their rights, according to data he presented at an October meeting of the American Statistical Association in Philadelphia.

Graphic: The Washington Post - March 16, 2006


Pointing to a little-noticed "Cyber Security Alert" issued by the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the source inside Diebold -- who "for the time being" is requesting anonymity due to a continuing sensitive relationship with the company -- is charging that Diebold's technicians, including at least one of its lead programmers, knew about the security flaw and that the company instructed them to keep quiet about it.

"Diebold threatened violators with immediate dismissal," the insider, who we'll call DIEB-THROAT, explained recently to The BRAD BLOG via email. "In 2005, after one newly hired member of Diebold's technical staff pointed out the security flaw, he was criticized and isolated."

In phone interviews, DIEB-THROAT confirmed that the matters were well known within the company, but that a "culture of fear" had been developed to assure that employees, including technicians, vendors and programmers kept those issues to themselves.

The "Cyber Security Alert" from US-CERT was issued in late August of 2004 and is still available online via the US-CERT website. The alert warns that "A vulnerability exists due to an undocumented backdoor account, which could [sic: allow] a local or remote authenticated malicious user [sic: to] modify votes."

The alert, assessed to be of "MEDIUM" risk on the US-CERT security bulletin, goes on to add that there is "No workaround or patch available at time of publishing."

Right after the November 2003 elections I saw some stories on voting results compared to exit polls. Exit polls were everywhere reliable, except for three(?) big states where the actual outcome of the elections differed approximately 5% from the exit polls and this was every time favorable for Bush. In all of the three states voting machines without paper trail from Diebold were used.

There hasn't been any follow up on this story. Now, I don't know if it wasn't a hoax, but it makes one suspicious. Might the back door have been used already?

Diebold's Toilet Paper Democracy -- a Photographic Essay

You've heard the reports of the new Diebold touch-screen voting machines which have recently been updated to include a so-called "voter-verified paper trail."

You may also have heard how the printers they've added to produce these "paper trails" on their previously-paperless touch-screen voting machines are reported to jam up in test after test -- like the one last summer in California [PDF] where some 33% of such machines failed due to screen freezes, software failures and paper jams.

These "afterthought" printer modules, and the "paper trails" they produce -- which are largely uncountable and uncounted by election officials not to mention unreadable by mere human mortals -- have failed in all sorts of test situations.

Most states require no actual counting or meaningful audit or even cursory review of these toilet-paper "paper trails" (distinct from a countable paper ballot.) Some states (hello, Florida!) even disallow the hand-counting of such "paper trails" by law! So how well the printing modules actually work, is almost beside the point. Their main purpose seems largely to be instilling a false sense of security in the voter that their vote will actually be counted and counted accurately.

To be clear: These devices provide no assurance that ones votes will actually be counted accurately -- or even at all.
You may have heard that Diebold actually includes a magnifying glass with each machine to help voters see these tiny, virtually unreadable "paper trails."

There's an opaque brown door that can be swung down over the "Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail" rendering it completely invisible!

As March wrote, "If the county elections people want to cheat, just swing this door down and most voters won't know to swing it up!!!"

Could that little brown door be the reason why all of those "voter-verified paper trail" rolls on the busiest Diebold Accu-Vote machines in Toledo, OH in November 2005 turned up completely blank at the end of the day? Is that why nobody even noticed that voters weren't voter-verifying their "paper trails" throughout the entire Election Day there? Just a guess.

RememberYOU don't count because Diebold doesn't count!

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: How They Could Steal the Election This Time | How They Could Steal the Election This Time | Solar Bus | Election Justice Center | Solar Bus | Election Justice Center | AlterNet: Excerpt: How to Steal an Election | How They Could Steal the Election This Time by Ronnie Dugger | Boston.com / News / Boston Globe / Opinion / Op-ed / How to steal | Amazon.com: Stealing Elections : How Voter Fraud Threatens Our | Michael Donnelly: How to Steal an Election , the Green Version, 2004 | Townhall.com :: Columns :: How to steal an election by Jeff Jacoby

12:51:07 AM    

Monday, March 20, 2006

Bush & Cheney Have (FIB) Trouble With Early Iraq Statements

Time for another AA meeting. Subject: lost memory.

I know it's hard to believe Mr. President, but they have these things know that actually record what you say and are able to play back what they record. Even after a long period of time. Keith Olbermann and Countdown supply the evidence.

Today in his speech in Cleveland:

Bush: "First-just if I might correct a misperception, I don't think we ever said, at least I know I didn't say that there was a direct connection between September 11th and Saddam Hussein."

In days gone by-SOTU-three years ago:

Bush: "Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda."

Now-anyone listening and watching his speech back then would make that connection easily enough since al-Qaeda was responsible for 9/11-don't you think? Keith analyzes it very nicely.

Olbermann: "Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda in the same sentence separated by seven words. Sept. 11th and Saddam Hussein -two sentences later, separated by six words. In a moment Craig Crawford joins me to discuss the fundamental remaining question. Who does the President think he's F'n kidding?

Now let see how many other times he connected Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda..

"The regime has longstanding and continuing ties to terrorist groups, and there are Al Qaida terrorists inside Iraq." - George W. Bush Delivers Weekly Radio Address, White House (9/28/2002) - BushOnIraq.com

"We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. Some al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks. We've learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases." - President Bush Outlines Iraqi Threat; Remarks by the President on Iraq, White House (10/7/2002) - Whitehouse.gov

"I think they're both equally important, and they're both dangerous. And as I said in my speech in Cincinnati, we will fight if need be the war on terror on two fronts. We've got plenty of capacity to do so. And I also mentioned the fact that there is a connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. The war on terror, Iraq is a part on the war on terror. And he must disarm." - President Condems Attack in Bali, White House (10/14/2002) - Whitehouse.gov

"This is a man who has got connections with Al Qaida. Imagine a terrorist network with Iraq as an arsenal and as a training ground, so that a Saddam Hussein could use this shadowy group of people to attack his enemy and leave no fingerprint behind. He's a threat." - Remarks by the President in Texas Welcome, White House (11/4/2002) - Whitehouse.gov

"He's a threat because he is dealing with Al Qaida. In my Cincinnati speech I reminded the American people, a true threat facing our country is that an Al Qaida-type network trained and armed by Saddam could attack America and leave not one fingerprint." - President Outlines Priorities, White House (11/7/2002) - BushOnIraq.gov

"He's had contacts with Al Qaida. Imagine the scenario where an Al Qaida-type organization uses Iraq as an arsenal, a place to get weapons, a place to be trained to use the weapons. Saddam Hussein could use surrogates to come and attack people he hates." - Remarks by the President at Arkansas Welcome, White House (11/4/2002) - BushOnIraq.com

FACT: According to documents, "Saddam Hussein warned his Iraqi supporters to be wary of joining forces with foreign Arab fighters entering Iraq to battle U.S. troops. The document provides another piece of evidence challenging the Bush administration contention of close cooperation between Saddam's regime and al Qaeda terrorists." [NY Times, 1/15/04]

FACT: "CIA interrogators have already elicited from the top Qaeda officials in custody that, before the American-led invasion, Osama bin Laden had rejected entreaties from some of his lieutenants to work jointly with Saddam." [NY Times, 1/15/04]

FACT: "Three former Bush Administration officials who worked on intelligence and national security issues said the prewar evidence tying Al Qaeda was tenuous, exaggerated and often at odds with the conclusions of key intelligence agencies." [National Journal, 8/9/03]

On Face the Nation Sunday, Dick Cheney had a few very interesting things to say. Using a phrase borrowed from a formerly disgraced WH press reporter-they might even be characterized as being "divorced from reality."

SCHIEFFER: Mr. Vice President, all along the government has been very optimistic. You remain optimistic. But I remember when you were saying we'd be greeted as liberators, you played down the insurgency ten months ago. You said it was in its last throes. Do you believe that these optimistic statements may be one of the reasons that people seem to be more skeptical in this country about whether we ought to be in Iraq?

CHENEY: No, I think it has less to do with the statements we've made, which I think were basically accurate and reflect reality, than it does the fact that there is a constant sort of perception if you will that's created because what is newsworthy is the carbomb in Baghdad, it’s not all the work that went on that day in 15 other provinces in terms of making progress in rebuilding Iraq. (transcript via TP)

OK, which part of his early ruminations on MTP in the run up to the war have ever proven correct? Have a field day.

NOTHING he has stated about this war has turned out to be true. NOTHING!

"Vice President Cheney has been consistently wrong about the war in Iraq. He's called the shots on a dangerously incompetent strategy," said Kennedy. "He was wrong about the link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. He was wrong about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. He was wrong about America being greeted as liberators. He was wrong about the insurgency being in its last throes. Now he rejects the idea of civil war."...
read on"

The picture has visual proof: even a lightbulb is brighter than Bush and with Cheney you have the deranged ravings of a guy who shot a MAN because he thought the guy was a BIRD? One of things everyone needs to consider is that when they say progress is being made rebuilding Iraq, it is simply progress to get it back to what it was before we bombed it.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: New Democracy Project -- Today's controversy is tomorrow's consensus. | Amazon.com: Hoodwinked: The Documents That Reveal How Bush Sold Us | Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: October 17, 2004 | Think Progress » Bush Blames Carter, Reagan, Clinton for 9/11 | CNN.com - Transcripts | Dr. Sanity: July 2004 | On Lisa Rein's Radar: Bye-Bye Cheney Archives | The Mahablog | uBlog Archives | The Blog | Arianna Huffington: Poetry as a Tool of Foreign Policy

10:58:52 PM    

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Diebold Whistleblower Criminally Charged, Pleads Not Guilty

The Law is strange. A woman in Kansas City was once prosecuted for practicing "random acts of kindness," by putting money in parking machines about to run out of time. Apparently it's a crime to do that for other people and of course the city loses out on the revenue for all those parking tickets. It's the same sort of twisted logic. They make an example, in this case, squeal and you will be prosecuted.

From Huffpost via Democratic Underground.

Two Years ago Stephen Heller, an actor in LA who worked part time for the law firm of Jones Day, discovered that one of the firm's clients, Diebold, was possibly going to disenfranchise thousands of voters in the next election.

Heller did the honorable thing, and provided this information to the California Attorney General and then Secretary of State Kevin Shelley - which ultimately resulted in the decertication of Diebold in California.

But last year Kevin Shelley was forced to resign as Secretary of State due to a fundraising scandal. Ah-nald promptly appointed a new Republican Secretary of State who has proceeded to Temporarily certify Diebold despite the information provided by Stephen Heller, and Heller himself is now facing criminal charges.

Vyan's diary :: ::

Stephen Heller is alleged to have exposed documents in Jan. & Feb. 2004 which provided smoking gun evidence that Diebold was using illegal, uncertified software in California voting machines. The docs also showed that Diebold's California attorneys (the powerful international law firm Jones Day) had told them they were in breach of the law for using uncertified software, but Diebold continued to use the uncertified software anyway.

Heller is alleged to have come across these docs while temping as a word processor at Jones Day, and he is further alleged to have taken the docs and exposed them to the bright light of day. Now, after sitting on this for 2 years, the Los Angeles District Attorney, under pressure from Jones Day, is going after this whistleblower with 3 felony charges, each of which carries the potential of time in state prison.

So tell me is it a crime to report the commission of crime now? Apparently it is if the criminals include a large and powerful law firm like Jones Day.

Let's make this clear, folks. The docs Heller is accused of exposing were important evidence. First, they show that Diebold and their attorneys, Jones Day, conspired to mislead the California secretary of state, and that the lie they told was material, and resulted directly in the disenfranchisement of voters. Second, another document demonstrates that Diebold lied to the secretary of state when it represented that certain problems with its software were "fixed." This document, the release notes for the new software, showed that the problems were not fixed. Third, the documents showed that Diebold had been advised by Jones Day that what it had been doing with its uncertified software was illegal. Fourth, the documents show that Jones Day advised Diebold that it was subject to criminal prosecution. So in a nutshell, Diebold was defrauding the state government and taxpayers of California, and disenfranchising the voters of California. And the documents PROVE it.
And I think this is the precisely point. This prosecution is a scare tactic. My feeling is that sometimes it just may in fact be neccesary to risk legal punishment in order to accomplish a far greater good. This is doctrine behind all acts of Civil Disobedience from sit-ins to marches. Those people who abuse the law, and the color of authority to accomplish their ends frequently exploit the of the law to intimidate and silence dissenters.

If CBS and Dr. Jeffrey Wigand hadn't taken the legal risks facing them, we probably still wouldn't know that nicotine is addictive.

If people like Russell Tice hadn't spoken out about the NSA domestic spying program, we still wouldn't know a thing about it.

I'm not saying the "ends justify the means", I'm simply saying there's a reason we have whistle-blower laws, there are reasons these people need to be protected from retalitation. IMO The fact that someone can be a witness and source for the California Attorney General only to be trashed by the LA District Attorney is a loophole that needs to be closed to protect all future efforts by people to speak Truth to Power.

If Linda Tripp can get immunity from Ken Starr, Steve Heller deserves a decent and robust defense.

Naturally, reasonable minds may disagree.

By the way, while looking about a bit on this... I find some interesting speculation on InfraRed abilities of Diebold machines at thebradblog. In fact, I get the feeling the Diebold story is SO BAD, it's hard to tell the fact from the fiction.

The electronic voting technology in the field is utterly broken, susceptible to the most puerile attacks. In fact, their only real defense is attacking whistleblowers and threatening or intimidating others with legal action if they make "unsubstantiated" claims about vulnerabilities. Do we really believe that the likes of Tom Delay, Randy Cunningham, Abramoff etc., aren't going to resort to exploiting these vulnerabilities. Gimme a break. Don't forget, "Dieb" is the German word for "Thief".

And the irony is, if Heller is convicted of a felony for exposing Diebold's crimes against the California voters, he'll lose his right to vote. Diebold will win. We can't let that happen!

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Man Pleads Not Guilty in Voting Device Case - Los Angeles Times | Man Pleads Not Guilty in Voting Device Case - Los Angeles Times | Man Pleads Not Guilty in Voting Device Case - Los Angeles Times | Man Pleads Not Guilty in Voting Device Case - Los Angeles Times | My Left Wing :: Diebold Whistleblower Charged , Pleads Not Guilty | DIEBOLD WHISTLE-BLOWER CHARGED IN CALIFORNIA | Oregon Voter Rights | Whistleblower charged w/ 3 felonies for exposing Diebold's crimes | Conspiracy Planet - Vote Fraud - USA - Diebold VoteFraud | Open letter on behalf of Steven Heller, Diebold Whistleblower | Black Box Voting : (CA) Man Pleads Not Guilty in Voting Device Case

2:22:45 PM    

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Iraq IEDs Come From Iran? Bush-Yes , Gen. Pace-No

It is a pity that Powell wasn't quite so honest about the "proofs" leading the US into the bloody mess in the first place. Bush is so certain of what he wants to believe, and so wrong in his facts.

Our half-million dollar vehicles and the priceless young soldiers are dying to baling-wire and brown-paper devices.

From GWB's speech on Monday at GWU:

Some of the most powerful IEDs we are seeing in Iraq today includes components that came from Iran. Our director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, told the Congress Tehran has been responsible for at least some of the increasing lethality of anti- coalition attacks by providing Shi'a militia with the capabilities to build improvised explosive devices in Iraq. Coalition forces have seized IEDs and components that were clearly produced in Iran.

From Reuters article from Tuesday: "US General Says No Proof Iran Behind Iraq Arms" (Via AmericaBlog.)

President George W. Bush said on Monday components from Iran were being used in powerful roadside bombs used in Iraq, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said last week that Iranian Revolutionary Guard personnel had been inside Iraq.

Asked whether the United States has proof that Iran's government was behind these developments, Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon briefing, "I do not, sir."

How many times did they/he say Weapons of Mass Destruction before Iraq? Why should anyone trust them/him now? They could say the world is flat and 35% of Americans would believe them without question.

So if a soldier detects an IED I would think they would blow it up from a safe distance instead of taking it apart and figuring out how it works. And even if they took it apart and found an Irananian mortor inside that wouldn't really prove that Iran was involved... It could be that they found one IED from Iran. Really the thing is that Bush isn't a believable person. He exagerates and misrepresents and sometimes he doesn't even understand the issues clearly to begin with. He may want to stir up a conflict with Iran before the mid-term elections.

"John Negroponte, told the Congress Tehran has been responsible for at least some of the increasing lethality of anti- coalition attacks"

"Today nearly half the IEDs in Iraq are found and disabled before they can be detonated. In the past 18 months, we've cut the casualty rate per IED attack in half."

So either the attacks are more lethal or half as lethal depend on which parts of the speech you want to believe...

"A few nuclear bombs in Iranian hands hardly add up to a strategic threat to the United States," said Tarpley. "But the new Iranian euro-based oil market or oil bourse as it is called has the potential to oust the dollar as the world's reserve currency, causing central banks to shift a trillion dollars or more in reserves into the euro and other destinations. That would spell immediate doom for the US stock price bubble and real estate bubble as hot money streamed out of this country. It would cut Wall Street and London out of a myriad of lucrative transactions, and deprive the US-UK combine of their ability to interfere in access to other people's oil," he added.

The Iranian oil bourse would be the first euro-based oil market in the recent history of the world where sellers and buyers of oil could come together for spot and futures transactions independent of the dollar, thus outside US control and without Wall Street skimming off a hefty part of the profits. Today's privileged position for the dollar is "obsolete and removed from reality," Tarpley asserted.

"The 213-point drop in the Dow last Friday on reports that Iran was shifting funds out of Europe is the merest hint of what may be coming," Tarpley noted. "If the Iranian oil bourse opens, the colossal instability to the dollar, the stock market, and the US banking system will very likely be revealed rather quickly."

The current system allows the US to export unlimited supplies of dollar bills to buy goods abroad, resulting in a yearly trade deficit of $700 billion and counting. Americans should not feel threatened by the inevitable crisis of this system, Tarpley pointed out, since the unique US privilege of importing without producing, as world dumping ground and buyer of last resort, has cut the US standard of living in half since 1970, creating a low-wage economy. It is time for the US once again to earn foreign exchange by producing exports which will mean jobs and prosperity here.

"A rational way out would be to rebuild the world monetary system around fixed parities among the dollar, the euro, and the yen as equal participants, with gold settlement and a credit mechanism to expand exports of capital goods. This would avoid a new general war."

"As for 'Helicopter Ben' Bernanke, the incoming Federal Reserve boss, he is clearly getting ready to gin up the printing presses to print an avalanche of paper dollars if the Chinese and Japanese demand cash for their plummeting US Treasury bonds in the near future -- what economists call monetization of the debt. The Fed will soon stop publishing the M3 data series on the money supply, which is the one that would reveal a monetization of debt. Bernanke seems to have Weimar-style hyperinflation written all over him," Tarpley commented.

"The lunatic neocon war plan for Iran is doomed to failure, just as their Iraq adventure was," Tarpley concluded. "If attacked, there is every indication Iran would cut the world oil aorta at the Straits of Hormuz, fire off missiles at Israel and other targets, and unleash Iraqi Shiites and Iranian volunteers around Basra. The position of the US and especially the UK forces there would soon become extraordinarily critical. If Russians and Chinese were killed in the raids, the stage would be set for larger confrontation. All of this would guarantee endless war and economic ruin for the US and the dollar. Why not avoid this incalculable folly by calling right now for a new Bretton Woods international monetary conference, which would be welcomed by the world community as a whole?"

The US war with Iran was actually started by the US in the 1950s when it overthrew a popularily elected and democratic governement in Iran, and installing the brutal and repessive Shah. When the Iranian popular revolution happened, the US took the Shah in and refused to hand him over. Its a bit as if Russia had offered Hitler refuge at the end of WWI. Only then did the Iranians take hostages. The war by the US on Iran was continued throughout the Iran-Iraq war when it supported Saddam Hussein, supplying him with cluster bombs, chemical weapons, and satelite photography.

Iran was one of the cradles of civilisation, and thousands of years before the first verstiges of european civilation, King Cyrus of Persia was declaring that "all men are created equal". Every nation choses or makes its enemies. If there is enimnity, one has to ask where it comes from, and to take some measure of responsibility for it.

categories: Outrages
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7:37:23 PM    

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Democrats Fuming Over Finegold's Censure Motion

In my life, liberals have been kept under control by what Dave Emory once called the three B's: bribes, bedrooms and bullets. If you can't bribe 'em, you blackmail 'em. If that doesn't work, you shoot 'em. The cowardice of the Dems on such an obvious thing suggests numbers one or two.

If someone sends out another mailing of anthrax to the Senate building maybe we're back to the third option.

Update:The censure resolution is now headed for the Judiciary Committee and Sen. Harkin has become a co-sponser.  Sen. Boxer and Menendez say they support the censure.  Only 3 senators say they won't support censure, Sen. Dodd, Dayton and Holy Joe.

While mainstream media outlets have pounced on the fact that Democrats blocked an effort by one of their own to censure President Bush over his warrantless wiretapping program, RAW STORY has found that Senate Democratic offices are fuming. The proposal to censure the President was introduced on a Sunday talk show by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI).

Though all say they believe the program warrants "more investigation," several Senate aides rebuked Feingold for proposing censure. They say that his move had the potential to derail Democratic efforts to strengthen the party's image on homeland security issues, noting that a large part of the country believes the eavesdropping program should continue. Bush has defended the program, calling it a "terrorist surveillance" program, and has used aides to defend its legality.
Strikingly, some of the criticism came from liberal Senate offices.

One longtime Senate aide was particularly scathing.

"Feingold's grandstanding screwed the pooch and played into Bill Frist's hands," the aide said. "Thank God Dems punted this down the field. Frist was going to force Democrats to vote on a resolution Feingold had kept a big secret and he would've split the caucus on an issue that needed time to get the whole caucus to support. Russ Feingold had only one persons' interests in mind with his Sunday bombshell, and those were his own. He practically handed a victory to a Bush White House that desperately needs a win."

Feingold, defending his censure plan today on Fox News, said: "I'm amazed at Democrats, cowering with this president's numbers so low. The administration just has to raise the specter of the war and the Democrats run and hide…too many Democrats are going to do the same thing they did in 2000 and 2004. In the face of this, they'll say we’d better just focus on domestic issues…[Democrats shouldn't] cower to the argument, that whatever you do, if you question administration, you're helping the terrorists."

There are several points that make censure, better yet, impeachment, an imperative.
1. Bush spied on innocent Americans without a warrant.
2. He admitted it.
3. He had an easy legal mechanism to do what he wanted to do, ignored it openly, claiming absolute executive power during this manufactured war, destroying our constitutional checks and balances.
4. He (by means of the NSA) has passed information to the FBI to spy on citizen organizations that oppose him, but otherwise are completely peaceful and legitimate - i.e he has used his power towards partisan ends.

So many people are saying that the American people agree with what he is doing, but they just believe that he should be able to spy on al-Qaida. It is another failure of Democratic leadership that they have allowed this spin to survive. It would be very easy to destroy it with a few more people just repeating what Feingold said on TV yesterday. The Democratic leadership are trying to force us into a new party. The scoundrels.

Who are these pansy-ass little staffers and why are they spouting shit like: "The majority of the American people agree with what the president’s doing. A lot of people outside the beltway see this as a tool that’s keeping Americans safe."  WTF! I thought only around 35% approved of his bullshit. And since when are the publics' approval or disapproval ratings the basis of action for protecting the people from politicians violating the laws they swore to uphold? Any idiot that believes wiretapping will keep us all safe deserves no liberty whatsoever and should have his/her citizenship stripped immediately.

Feingold seems to be the ONLY person in the senate or the house that is not BOUGHT. Think of the double-think bullshit in the story: "Feingold's only in it for himself", but "what a stupid move by the Dems"! If it was such a stupid move for "the dems", why would it be such a great grand-standing move for Feingold?

Absolutely,f@#$king pathetic...

The point is not whether Finegold is a team player — it’s whether the Democratic team is willing to play.

I'm with Digby on this one, and the motion only drives home the point:
It is past time for elected Democrats to begin laying out the case that the leader of the Republican party, the man to whom the congress has blindly followed at every turn for the past five years, is dishonorable. They must begin to create a low hum that reverberates throughout the body politic that says "the Republican party is unethical, untrustworthy, inept and dishonorable." Make people hear it in their heads before they go to sleep each night.

Russ Feingold has just taken the first step to doing this. His censure motion will not pass, of course. But he's started the hum. The press is listening. They are shocked, it can't be, how can he say that? But Feingold is saying outloud, for the whole nation to hear, that the president defied the law and broke his oath to defend the constition.

As the magnificent helmeted Cokie Roberts once said, "it doesn't matter if it's true or not, it's out there." In this case, it's true. And now it's out there.

Finegold's motion is "out there" because Bush and the Repubs are so bloodied by now. It's a measure of how far and fast Bush has fallen that Repubs are forced to burn prime time capital fending off such an otherwise quixotic attack.

categories: Outrages
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9:26:53 PM    

Rapist Rights Supported By Joe Lieberman

In Connecticut, rape counseling activists say a recent study concludes that about 20% of state hospitals routinely refuse to offer emergency contraceptives to rape victims who are determined to be ovulating at the time they're attacked. A proposed bill would require them to do so.

And what sayith Holy Joe about this? According to The New Haven Register:

This fight isn't exclusively being drawn along party lines.

U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, who often takes a conservative line on social issues, is facing a liberal Democratic primary challenge from wealthy Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont. But that hasn't stopped Lieberman from supporting the approach of the Catholic hospitals when it comes to contraceptives for rape victims.

Lieberman said he believes hospitals that refuse to give contraceptives to rape victims for "principled reasons" shouldn't be forced to do so. "In Connecticut, it shouldn't take more than a short ride to get to another hospital," he said.

If Catholics want rape victims to be forced to carry the fetuses of their attackers that's great, let them move to South Dakota.

It is outrageous and yet quite predictable that Lieberman once again provides "bi-partisan" cover to this especially ugly brand of religious extremist bullshit. His cloture vote put Alito on the Supreme Court and paved the way for what is happening today in South Dakota, Mississippi and Missouri. That he continues to be considered a "friend of choice" by both NARAL and Planned Parenthood is an absolutely contempt worthy. They should both be denouncing him loud and long and calling bullshit on his claim to be "pro-choice" rather than rubber stamping his nonsense.

Where does Joe say about censure. And Holy Joe doesn't let us down:
But Sen. Joe Lieberman, D- Conn., voiced some misgivings and hinted that he’d vote no on the Feingold resolution.

“Frankly I’d prefer to spend our time on figuring out ways to bring this very important program of surveillance of potential terrorists here in the United States under the law…. I disagree with the Bush administration’s legal judgment on this one…. But this is a critically important program to the prevention of terrorist acts here in the United States.”
I have two words for the people of Connecticut: Ned Lamont.

Crooks & Liars has a great clip up of Ken Mehlman saying just how much he loves Holy Joe.

Personally I think they’re made for each other. Nobody tell Hannity.

categories: Outrages
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2:26:06 AM    

Monday, March 13, 2006

IED's #1 Threat To Iraq's Future - Bush Says

We spend 6.1 Billion to combat bombs people can make in their kitchens for dollars.  This is a perfect example of how guerilla wars destroy empires.

Right, according to George Bush, the problem with the war in Iraq is NOT:

1. It was based on a lie.
2. It was unwise to begin with.
3. It was unnecessary.
4. We didn't send enough troops.
5. The majority of Iraqis now want us out.
6. We had no plan for victory after the fall of Baghdad.
7. We have no plan for exit.
8. The only reason Bush is keeping us there is his ego.

No, the number one threat to Iraq's future isn't everything Bush has done wrong conducting this war. The number one threat to Iraq's future are IEDs, "improvised explosive devices," those handmade explosive devices the opposition are putting alongside the roads to blow up our troops.

Out on those risky roads, and back at the  Pentagon, few believe that even the most advanced technology will eliminate the threat.

"As we've improved our armor, the enemy's improved his IEDs. They're bigger, and with better detonating mechanisms," said Maj. Randall Simmons, whose Georgia National Guard unit escorts convoys in western Iraq that are regularly rocked, damaged and delayed by roadside blasts.

Lt. Col. Bill Adamson, operations chief for the anti-IED campaign, was realistic about the challenge in a Pentagon interview. "They adapt more quickly than we procure technology," he said of the insurgents.

Casualty charts show a growing problem.

Better armor and tactics lowered the casualty rate per IED attack last year. But attacks almost doubled from 2004, to 10,593, meaning the U.S. death toll from IEDs still rose. Since mid-2005, an average of about 40 Americans a month have been killed by improvised explosives, twice the rate of the previous 12 months, according to icasualties.org, an independent Web site that tracks casualties in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the overall U.S. death rate held steady from 2004 to 2005, making IED fatalities comparatively more significant. Last month, for example, 36 of 55 American military personnel killed in Iraq were IED victims.

The bomb makers have the White House's attention. In a radio address on Saturday, Bush said roadside bombs "are now the principal threat to our troops and to the future of a free Iraq."

Bush said in a speech Monday that  Iran had supplied IED components to Iraqi groups, but U.S. officials have presented no evidence to support that, nor did Bush explain why Shiite Muslim Iran would aid Iraq's Sunni-dominated insurgency.

Well give the poor man some credit he finally figured out after 3 years and over 2300 american deaths.  They've been a problem from almost the beginning of the insurgency. And now Bush affects to have just discovered their role as the most effective tactic of violent opposition, even beyond suicide bombings.

Now, sure, those devices are doing their damage. But we're to believe that if we found the "cure" for the IEDs the opposition wouldn't find some other way of fomenting civil war (oh, I don't know, how about blowing up mosques?).

Isn't this speech telling the insurgents that we have a secret new process for tracking down the manufacturers of the bombs alerting those manufacturers to change their production process so they can evade detection? I mean, if disclosing secret prisons and illegal wiretaps is giving away important information to our enemies, then isn't Bush telling the IED makers that we are on to them at least as bad?

Then again, I have my own theory as to why Bush is now calling IEDs the number one threat to Iraq's future.  He meant to say IUDs.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: The Washington Monthly | Testosterone Nation - Good News From Iraq | What Now in Iraq ? | TPMCafe | Winds of Change.NET: Lessons Learned: IEDs in Iraq | Americans Against World Empire, Americans Against Bombing | Broadcast Nets, Especially ABC and NBC, Deliver Upbeat View of | Healing Iraq | Ezra Klein: Iraq | Daniel W. Drezner: Comment on Should Rummy resign? | The Fourth Rail: Training the Iraqi Army - Revisited, Again

11:45:43 PM    

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Porn Star Invited Back To Another Bush Dinner

Truth is stranger than fiction; first the male whore and now the porn star rubbing elbows or what have you with Rove and Bush. I wonder if Pickles will find a lot to talk about with her?

PRWire, a very reliable source of mainstream and sometimes alternative news is reporting that adult starlet Mary Carey is scheduled to attend the United to Victory dinner with President George W. Bush in Washington D.C on March 15th - 16th.

Carey, who was also a Republican candidate for governor of California, is going to Washington at the invitation of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).  She will meet and interact with key Congressional leaders and Administration officials to discuss advancing powerful pro-business, pro-family agendas and meeting positive legislative goals.

She will join Karl Rove, senior advisor to the President, for lunch on Wednesday the 15th, and President Bush for dinner on Thursday the 16th.

Now wait a minute.

Mary Carey star of "R" rated "Sapphire Girls" (2003): whose production company Mary Carey Productions in 2004 produced the X rated "Run Mary Run" in which she played the lead role. "Run" described by leading movie database web site Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB.com) as "Hardcore Sex" is going to meet the President of the United States, George W. Bush?

On returning to Washington, Ms. Carey said, "I'm really excited to be going back to Washington D.C. to see the president again. Everyone thinks that politicians are stuffy, but we all had a great time last year."

"I'm always excited to learn more about what's going on in our nation's capital, since most people in the porn industry think an Iraqi pullout is a form of safe sex," Carey quipped.

"Since I'm seriously considering running for governor of California again, I'm going to need a lot of support from Republican lawmakers nationwide - however I can get it."

Carey made national headlines in June of 2005, when she attended a similar dinner with President George W. Bush, also at the invitation of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Ms. Carey, added, Wait till they see that I have lost 20 pounds since the last time they saw me. Watch out Mr. President!"

She's the only thing that makes Mehlman, Rove, George the horse milker, Lamar Alexander, Bill Frist, Lindsey Graham and the rest of the GOP Fancy Lads look evenly remotely heterosexual.

I would be more surprised if they didn't invite her back, she is such a good beard.

"Since I'm seriously considering running for governor of California again, I'm going to need a lot of support from Republican lawmakers nationwide - however I can get it."

So, she can be Ken Mehlmen's beard, and the RNC can be her bra. What Boobs!.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Joshua Frank: Bush to Dine with Porn Star | News Hounds: Porn Star For Bush | WorldNetDaily: The president & the porn star | WorldNetDaily: The president & the porn star | Jon Stewart's Oscar Zingers Political Humor Blog Archives | Sadly, No!: Round-Up of Today's WorldNetDaily Commentary | What Have You Done With My Office? - NBC body-snatches the BBC | MORE THAN BUSH AND KERRY: A LOOK AT THE ALTERNATIVES. | AOL News - Naked Came the Vintner | Daily Kos: [UPDATE] Bush's Date with a Porn Star : Countdown to Ecstacy

9:31:16 PM    

Friday, March 10, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging

categories: Humor
Other Stories according to Google: Watermark: Friday Cat Blogging | Watermark: Friday Cat Blogging | Watermark: Friday Cat Blogging | Carnival of the Cats | Friday Cat Blogging | Bibi's box: Friday Cat Blogging | The Countess: Friday Cat Blogging | The Countess: Friday Cat Blogging | The Countess: Friday Cat Blogging | Schussman.com: Friday cat blogging

1:19:35 AM    

Bush Thinks We're Idiots: That's Why He Talks To Us That Way

Avedon Carol snares a great quote that finally cleared something up for me: why does Bush always sound like he's talking to five year olds?

"He speaks to the audience as if they're idiots. I think the reason he does that is because that's the way these issues were explained to him." - Graydon Carter

The funny thing is that he sounds irritated too.   I think his tendency to sound irritated, as Digby noted, is because he is a spoiled little shit who doesn't think he should have to explain himself.  Though that doesn't explain away his ignorance, willful or not. But I agree that when he speaks on issues in that painful, half-stammer, half-swagger stutter-step of his, you know that all he can muster is to regurgitate the Gerber baby spoonfuls his advisors feed him.

It has always puzzled me why he seems so inappropriately impatient in his town meetings, as if his rapt audience needs some sort of time-wasting remedial education before he can get to the subject, which he never does.

This is why people who dislike W. do so intensely.

He talks down to people, like he thinks they're stupid.

When he said the other day that we had to sign over our ports to the UAE to send the right kind of message to Arabs, he got a negative reaction because more people than usual picked up on the fact that he thinks they're stupid.

But I think the resentful tone comes from having to say anything at all. Royalty doesn't explain, it just orders.

So he resents having to explain it at all, and he resents even more having to go to the trouble of getting the Etch-a-Sketch briefing when he could be riding his bike, and he's afraid somebody'll ask him something that was already erased.

categories: Outrages
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12:59:43 AM    

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Stroll Down Memory Lane

Make sure to check out the latest from cartoonist extraordinaire Mikhaela Reid, Year - Style

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: El Oso, El Moreno, and El Abogado » Blog Archive » Stroll down | A Stroll Down Memory Lane | Wired News: Stroll Down Memory Lane , With PDA | take a stroll down memory lane - Idioms - by the Free Dictionary | take a stroll /trip down memory lane - Idioms - by the Free | Stroll down memory lane - UsingEnglish.com | Amazon.com: So You'd Like to stroll down memory lane of your | MAYC - Take a stroll down memory lane with MAYC | BBC SPORT | Football | FA Cup | Cobblers stroll down memory lane | Digital Spy Forums - Aled! A stroll down memory lane

12:15:01 AM    

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Good To The Last Drop - UMR Team Wins Mug Drop

Advancing the science of Ceramic's engineering - 6-inches/drop!

With a tape measure, a stepladder and an anxious crowd of ceramic students looking on, the official Mug Drop Contest recently shattered the dreams of indestructible chalices.

Meanwhile the winning cup, made of a tough ceramic composite by students from the University of Missouri-Rolla, left a dent in the pavement.

The long-established team crushed the competition—nearly 20 other undergraduate schools. Newcomers New Mexico Tech placed second with their clay cup.

The competition

Keramos, a fraternity of students studying ceramics, has sponsored the Mug Drop for more than two decades. This year’s competition was held at the American Ceramic Society’s annual meeting in Cocoa Beach, FL in January.

Entrants abide by a slew of rules. The mug must be made solely of ceramics, have a handle, and be fired to a minimum temperature of 572 degrees Fahrenheit.

To prove the materials aren't toxic, students have to drink out of their mug in front of a judge before the drop.

"A winning mug takes ingenuity, creativity and a really strong material," said Keramos president Matt Dejneka, a materials scientist at Corning Incorporated.

Similar to a high-jump competition, contestants can pass on dropping their mug at shorter heights and enter at their chosen elevation. The contest starts with a dead-drop at 6 inches above ground, and increases in 6-inch increments to a maximum height of 12 feet.

To move on to the next drop, the mug mustn't leak.

Brimming with strategy

New Mexico Tech took second place with a cup made of New Mexican stoneware clay and full of strategy. They designed a sacrificial bulbous bottom that broke on their first attempt, safely moving the protected inner-mug on to its next and final round.

But without the cushioning of the double bottom, New Mexico Tech couldn't match the 12-foot drop of the University of Missouri-Rolla (UMR) mug. Jeff Rodelas and his UMR teammates entered the blue-ribbon mug that dropped unscathed. They depended on the tried-and-true mug design of their predecessors.

"Simplicity is the key. Every year we can rely on this design that can perform pretty well," Rodelas told LiveScience. "We're trying to come up with a way to make the mug better with new materials."

The team made the hardy winning mugs out of aluminum oxide and zirconium oxide. Zirconium in another form, cubic zirconia, looks a lot like diamonds and is used in jewelry. Aluminum oxide makes a sturdy artificial hip. The zirconium oxide in the mug makes the aluminum oxide tougher to crack.

Now the group is looking at silicon dioxide fiber used on space shuttles for possible inclusion in future mugs.

The society holds the mug drop competition and a ceramic golf ball and golf club competition each year at its annual meeting, said Hammetter, who also is a manager at Sandia National Laboratories.

"That is a tradition that has been going on at least the 20 years that I have been involved" with the society, Hammetter said. "It's kind of neat."

The competitions typically draw big crowds and give students a chance to show their ingenuity in front of ceramics manufacturers and other future employers — such as national laboratories, Hammetter said.

"Ceramics are a class of materials that have been around since ancient times," he said. "People usually think of them in terms of pots or whitewear like porcelain. But they're also used in structural things: automotives, space shuttle tiles and electronics."

Contestants generally try to design mugs out of high-tech materials so they won't break.

Only one member of a team was required to successfully drop his or her mug from each height, so some of the UMR students were able to minimize damage to their personal mugs until the later rounds.

Sheena Foster of UMR says she got the "most-dropped mug" award.

"My mug was kind of a sacrificial mug in the team effort," says Foster, a junior in ceramic engineering from Camdenton, Mo. "I dropped it from every height. I think it eventually broke at about nine feet and was eliminated."

Contestants were allowed to continue, as long as their mugs could still hold liquid.

Jeffrey Rodelas, also from Camdenton, says his mug never even chipped and, in fact, "it actually dented the asphalt a few times."

After designing and strategy meetings, it took the UMR students about two weeks to create their mugs in anticipation of the contest. The mugs were made in a slip-cast mold and heated to 1,550 degrees Celsius.

Rodelas, a senior in ceramic engineering, says the keys to making a strong ceramic mug are to keep the handle small and make sure all of the surface edges are rounded.

Winning teams don't get any big prizes, but they do get recognition, Hammetter said.

"They'll probably get their pictures in the Ceramic Society magazine," he said. "That's good advertising for the school."

categories: Mind
Other Stories according to Google: UMR News and Research: Good to the last drop : UMR team wins coffee | UMR News and Research | University of Missouri - Rolla, Materials Science Engineering | Chair’s Message | SurfWax: News, Reviews and Articles On ESPN The Magazine | St. Joseph wins bid for Elite 8 | Life in the fast lane | STD tests important | We are back!! For the first time in the history of Hostel 3, well | Jalopnik

10:24:57 PM    

Many Couples Live A 'Brokeback' Marriage

One hour into
"Brokeback Mountain," Amy Jo Remmele began to cry, and not just for the woman on-screen, standing in a doorway in Riverton, Wyo., watching her husband embrace a man.

"When I saw that look in her eyes, I thought, 'Oh, yeah.' Even though I never saw my husband with another man, I knew exactly how that woman would have felt," said Mrs. Remmele, a respiratory therapist in rural Minnesota.

On June 1, 2000, Mrs. Remmele, then 31, discovered her husband's profile on the Web site gay.com. The couple stayed up all that night weeping and talking. Soon afterward, 10 days before she gave birth to her second child, Mrs. Remmele's husband went off to spend a couple of nights with his new boyfriend. "I tried to talk him out of it, and he left anyway," Mrs. Remmele said. "I was devastated." Three months later the couple divorced.

Mrs. Remmele — now married to a farmer who raises cattle, corn and soybeans — is one of an estimated 1.7 million to 3.4 million American women who once were or are now married to men who have sex with men.

The estimate derives from "The Social Organization of Sexuality," a 1990 study, that found that 3.9 percent of American men who had ever been married had had sex with men in the previous five years. The lead author, Edward O. Laumann, a sociologist at the University of Chicago, estimated that 2 to 4 percent of ever-married American women had knowingly or unknowingly been in what are now called mixed-orientation marriages.

Such marriages are not just artifacts of the closeted 1950's. In the 16th century, Queen Anne of Denmark had eight children with King James I of England, known not only for the King James Bible, but also for his devotion to male favorites, one of whom he called "my sweet child and wife."

Other women include Constance Wilde, Phyllis Gates, Linda Porter, Renata Blauel and Dina Matos McGreevey, wed respectively to Oscar Wilde, Rock Hudson, Cole Porter, Elton John and James E. McGreevey, the former governor of New Jersey.

Despite their shock and their anger, many women, especially those criticized by gay husbands for being too sexually demanding, are relieved to understand what was wrong.

The remaining third of those she has studied try to preserve their marriages, Dr. Buxton said. Half of those stay married for three years or more. More than 600 such couples belong to online support groups.

In a 2001 study, published in The Journal of Bisexuality, of 137 still-married gay and bisexual men and their wives, Dr. Buxton found that most lived in suburbs and medium-size cities and had been married for 11 to 30 years. Only tiny percentages lived in rural areas, where family privacy may be harder to maintain.

The survival of even a small minority of these marriages calls into question the conceptual shoe boxes into which human partnerships, affection, attraction, commitment and sexuality are often jammed. Describing their permutations and combinations turns out to be much more complicated than checking a box on a form labeled "gay," "bisexual" or "straight."

"Brokeback Mountain" should prompt social conservatives to ponder whether it is good family policy to encourage gay men to live lives that are traditional yet untrue. Would honest gay marriages be less destructive than deceitful straight ones? I think so. Many disagree. Even if they oppose it, however, seeing this film may give heterosexual marriage proponents a better insight into why so many Americans advocate homosexual marriage.

"Brokeback" also concerns homophobic violence. The October 1998 beating death of gay college student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyo., the July 1999 fatal baseball-bat attack on gay Army Pvt. Barry Winchell, and the non-lethal assault on gay soldier Kyle Lawson last October, among other incidents, should remind filmgoers that this grave matter was not buried on the Great Plains decades ago.

categories: Heart
Other Stories according to Google: CNN.com - Transcripts | Marriage & Wedding Information - Marriage -Wedding | Random Signs of Life: Brokeback Marriage | Sudden Nothing: Brokeback Mountain -- my movie of the year | the Pulse - Out Takes: Speak now, or forever hold your peace | Beyond Gay Marriage | Marriage - THE starting place for exploring marriage | Freedom To Marry | KQED Arts Blog: Scene and Unseen: Film Review: Brokeback Mountain | Amazon.com: Together Forever : Gay and Lesbian Marriage : Books

1:34:20 PM    

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Wal-Mart New Undercover Blogs

I sometimes like to pretend that we live in a world where Walmarts don't exist. 
The High Cost of Low Prices   It would be such a nicer world to share with all the mom and pop Small-Boxes that they have put out of business.
Wal-Mart Enlists Bloggers In It's P.R. Campaign

Brian Pickrell of Iowa Voice, a blogger, recently posted a note on his Web site attacking state legislation that would force Wal-Mart Stores to spend more on employee health insurance. "All across the country, newspaper editorial boards — no great friends of business — are ripping the bills," he wrote.

It was the kind of pro-Wal-Mart comment the giant retailer might write itself. And, in fact, it did.

Several sentences in Mr. Pickrell's Jan. 20 posting — and others from different days — are identical to those written by an employee at one of Wal-Mart's public relations firms and distributed by e-mail to bloggers.

Under assault as never before, Wal-Mart is increasingly looking beyond the mainstream media and working directly with bloggers, feeding them exclusive nuggets of news, suggesting topics for postings and even inviting them to visit its corporate headquarters.

But the strategy raises questions about what bloggers, who pride themselves on independence, should disclose to readers. Wal-Mart, the nation's largest private employer, has been forthright with bloggers about the origins of its communications, and the company and its public relations firm, Edelman, say they do not compensate the bloggers.


Wal-Mart's blogging initiative is part of a ballooning public relations campaign developed in consultation with Edelman to help Wal-Mart as two groups, Wal-Mart Watch and Wake Up Wal-Mart, aggressively prod it to change. The groups operate blogs that receive posts from current and former Wal-Mart employees, elected leaders and consumers.

Edelman also helped Wal-Mart develop a political-style war room, staffed by former political operatives, which monitors and responds to the retailer's critics, and helped create Working Families for Wal-Mart, a new group that is trying to build support for the company in cities across the country.

At Edelman, Mr. Manson, who sends many of the e-mail messages to bloggers, works closely on the Wal-Mart account with Mike Krempasky, a co-founder of RedState.org, a conservative blog. Both are regular bloggers, which in Mr. Manson's case means he has written critically of individuals and groups Wal-Mart may eventually call on for support.

In a sign of how eager Wal-Mart is to develop ties to bloggers, the company has invited them to a media conference to be held at its headquarters in April. In e-mail messages, Wal-Mart has polled several bloggers about whether they would make the trip, which the bloggers would have to pay for themselves.

It is important to learn what Wally World is doing to the employees they hire and to the communities they invade, and how they communicate their business practices to the public.

The average worker would have to pay one fifth of his paycheck for health care coverage at Wal-Mart. 

On a wage of about $8 an hour and 29-32 hours of work a week, many workers must rely on state programs or family members or simply live without health insurance.

Employees must pay $218 per month for family health care coverage from Wal-Mart.

In Wal-Mart's employee health plan, deductibles range from $350 to as high as $3,000 for family coverage.

More than 60 percent of Wal-Mart employees--600,000 people--are forced to get health insurance coverage from the government or through spouses’ plans—or live without any health insurance. Wal-Mart shifts the cost of health insurance to taxpayers and other employers, driving up the health costs for all of us.  Because of all this cost paid by taxpayers, state legislation is being written that would force Wal-Mart Stores to spend more on employee health insurance. 

This billion-dollar business is fighting back using canned blog posts and phony letters to newspapers to influence public opinion.  Failure to provide adequate employees-health insurance seems to mean that the company doesn't care very much about it's employee's health and the company wants to free-load on it's customers.  How SWEET!

So THESE trolls don't even have to make up their own crap. Nice.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Going undercover at Wal-Mart | Untied: Wal-Mart : Good or bad for America? - The Situation with | Resistance - Journal | Wake-Up Wal-Mart Blog : Guest Bloggers Archives | Wake-Up Wal-Mart Blog : June 2005 Archives | Wake-Up Wal-Mart Blog : Wal-Mart's Internal Public Relations Crisis | Wake-Up Wal-Mart Blog : Once-loyal Wal-Mart advocate turns into a | 800-CEO-READ PODCASTS | Brave New Blogs | Vy Blog : Wal-Mart's War Room

12:49:05 AM    

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Making A Life And A Living In Second Life

Jennifer Grinnell, Michigan furniture delivery dispatcher turned fashion designer in cyber space, never imagined that she could make a living in a video game.

Grinnell's shop, Mischief, is in Second Life, a virtual world whose users are responsible for creating all content. Grinnell's digital clothing and "skins" allow users to change the appearance of their avatars -- their online representations -- beyond their wildest Barbie dress-up dreams.

Within a month, Grinnell was making more in Second Life than in her real-world job as a dispatcher. And after three months she realized she could quit her day job altogether.

Now Second Life is her primary source of income, and Grinnell, whose avatar answers to the name Janie Marlowe, claims she earns more than four times her previous salary.

Grinnell isn't alone. Artists and designers, landowners and currency speculators, are turning the virtual environment of Second Life into a real-world profit center.

"It's not just a game anymore," said online artisan Kimberly Rufer-Bach. "There are businesses, nonprofits and universities" taking advantage of the online world.

With users now numbering over 130,000, game-maker Linden Lab estimates that nearly $5 million dollars, or about $38 per person, was exchanged between players in January 2006 alone. Working in Second Life is "the same as working in London and sending money home to pay the rent for your spouse," said company CEO Philip Rosedale.

Just ask Rufer-Bach, known in Second Life as Kim Anubus, who works full time making virtual objects for real-life organizations. In a recent contract with the UC Davis Medical Center, Rufer-Bach created virtual clinics in Second Life to train emergency workers who might be called upon to rapidly set up medical facilities in a national crisis. The work is funded by the Centers for Disease Control. "In the event of a biological attack ? the CDC have to set up emergency 12-hour push sites, to distribute antibiotics," said Rufer-Bach.

To create the most realistic simulation possible, Rufer-Bach crafted about 80 distinct objects, "from chairs (to) a forklift, plumbing, wiring," she said. The end result is a training environment that's not only lifelike, but relatively inexpensive. "There are substantial advantages to doing this training in the virtual world," said UC Davis professor Peter Yellowlees. For one thing, it's "incredibly cheaper."

Of course, most of the business opportunities in Second Life don't involve anything as weighty as medical training. The game has a significant market in specialized avatars: People pay as much as 2,200 in-game "Linden dollars," or just over $8, for stock avatars -- with custom work commanding prices that can go much higher. Rufer-Bach ordered a special avatar for her mother, "a knee-high lavender warthog, with a tiara and wings and a big fat spleef with smoke effects."

The game world's mixture of fancy and serious business can lead to some incongruous scenes. "We joke that you just don't show up at a business meeting as a mermaid," said Rufer-Bach. "One guy is a furry, with an animal head. Another's a ball of glowing fuzz. There's a giant two-story robot transformer."

Wharton professor Dan Hunter, an expert on law and virtual worlds, said Second Life's relatively small size makes its economic future hard to predict. But virtual worlds are becoming spaces where "globalization of services can occur," he said. "In SL, services are valued. 'Hey, I can provide something that someone else wants! And I can make money from it!' The expansion of the economy is almost certainly going to be dependent on expanding the service opportunities."

With more and more people cashing in on Second Life, the most pressing question may be, how many can benefit before the boom times end?

categories: Internet
Other Stories according to Google: Wired News: | Wired News: Making a Living in Second Life | Wired News: Making a Living in Second Life | Wired News: | Second Life : Your World. Your Imagination. | Second Life : Your World. Your Imagination. | Slashdot | Making A Living In Second Life | News.com Extra | CNET News.com | News.com Extra | CNET News.com | Linden Lab | Makers of Second Life

11:44:10 PM    

Friday Cat Blogging

categories: Humor
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10:57:09 PM    

Women Making The World Worse

categories: Humor
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10:53:54 PM    

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

CorruptoCo Blogfest: HRT Horses, What Happens When The Market Disappears

From "Black Beauty" to "Seabiscuit," horses have long had a special place in the human heart, and Hollywood. Now a coalition of animal lovers, and movie stars, are fighting to save thousands of horses who could soon be facing death. It has all the makings of a Hollywood movie -- except a happy ending.  (This post is dedicated to Missouri Mule, who I'm wishing for a quick recovery and soon to be back in her saddle)

A horse called Missy is part of a giant secret. Or, if not exactly a secret, then an uncomfortable fact. Thousands upon thousands of Missy's, used to make a drug for humans, are suddenly in danger of becoming horse meat. Why? One phrase: Hormone replacement therapy, or HRT.

For a half century the pharmaceutical giant, Wyeth, has been marketing HRT under the name Premarin, which, since it was FDA approved back in 1942, has been considered almost a miracle drug. It has also been incredibly profitable.

As recently as 2001 annual revenue from Premarin was more than $2 billion. Nine million women relied on it to relieve the symptoms of menopause. And where did this wonder drug come from? The urine of pregnant horses. Wyeth signed contracts with hundreds of farmers, most of them in western Canada, to breed tens of thousands of horses annually. And the result of all those pregnancies? Lots and lots and lots of foals, baby horses.

For years the way the mothers of these animals were used, in the production of Premarin, has infuriated animal activists. Pregnant mares were confined to narrow stalls for more than 20 hours a day, for five months at a stretch, all the while strapped to cumbersome urine collection devices.

The USDA called the industry a model of self regulation, but opponents say it's cruel, inhumane.

"That to me is nothing short of torture," says Dr. Ray Kellosalmi, a gynecologist and horse advocate. "It's subtle torture, but it is still torture... Horses evolved through millennia in wide open spaces. They're not animals that should be subject to factory farming conditions."

And what of the foals, the by-product of these Premarin farms? They are usually sent to auction, along with those mothers whose production has waned. They can be bought for recreational use, or as often happens, purchased by what are called "killer buyers," who send them to feedlots to be fattened up for slaughter. Horse meat sells well in Europe and Japan. That is how it has been for half a century, with perhaps a million horses giving their lives for Premarin. Then, in July 2002, a completely unexpected announcement changed everything. A portion of the women's health initiative study tested the effectiveness and safety of hormone replacement therapy. That portion of the study was halted when the women taking the Premarin-type medication were found to be suffering from higher rates of heart attack, blood clots, breast cancer and dementia.

Independent of that, Wyeth began marketing a lower dose version of Premarin-type drugs. The demand for premarin products dropped dramatically. By the end of 2003, Wyeth canceled the contracts of more than half of the premarin farmers. "The amount of horses needed went from 40,000 to 20,000 overnight," says Dr. Kellosalmi.

Canada The Winnipeg Free Press carried an editorial on September 14, 2001 by Frances Russell. Boasting 18,267 mares harnessed six months a year to the "pee line" and the world's only pregnant mares' urine factory, Manitoba is proud to be known as the PMU capital. But the $44-million industry has once again been getting a big, black eye in the news.

Amy Allina, program director for the National Women's Health Network, a nonprofit education and advocacy group based in Washington, told The Post: "Unfortunately, Premarin has been promoted for many, many years for a wide variety of indications for which there isn't any evidence to prove it's effective, such as the prevention of heart disease, prevention of memory loss, making your skin look younger. "Premarin is not simply a harmless aid for getting through menopause. It can increase other health problems and women need to know that." Even the drug's manufacturer advises Premarin may increase the risk of uterine cancer and blood clots. And other studies suggest it may pose an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

Nor are Premarin's difficulties the only problem for Manitoba's urine business. No matter how hard they try, neither Wyeth-Ayerst nor Manitoba can do much to stop the black eye the national and international media keeps giving them for the inherent cruelty of the industry and, especially, the cruelty of the fall foal auction. The biggest auction occurred here last week and TV and print journalists from Canada and the U.S. converged. The stories and pictures from Winnipeg Livestock Sales have been graphic. Most of Manitoba's PMU foals and used-up mares -- 16,200 last year alone -- are destined for the feed lot and slaughterhouse.

Ellen Buck, an equine veterinarian with the Humane Society of the U.S. who had come to Winnipeg, told the paper that while foals should be at least six months' old before they are taken from their mothers, most of the ones here looked to be between two and three months. The story reported that the separated mares and foals kept up a continuous plaintive whinnying for each other and also that many were sick, hardly able to walk, and only skin and bone. The writer noted that the auction ring's large iron door slammed on the head of one of the foals and a still-lactating mare's udder was pai
nfully swollen.

And Missy, what of her? There is a girl, 10 years old, named Beth Lowetz, who worked at 4H fairs to save money. And just in time, she had enough to adopt, and Missy won't have to know what she missed.

What can You Do. PMURescue.org

Visit UAN's online sanctuary for PMU horses needing homes. More than 50 equine rescue organizations post adoptable horses, and there are currently more than 240 horses listed. So far, approximately 600 horses have found permanent and loving homes through PMURescue.org. [visit the Web site]

At the Premarin Foal Auctions

A UAN rescuer gives her first-person account of a trip to the Canadian auctions to rescue the Premarin [read]

Send a Gift to the Premarin Mares and Foals

Make a gift that will help us continue to spread the word about this bitter pill and save the desperate horses. [donate]

There are several alternatives making the cruelty completely unnecessary. The demand for Premarin is coming down and so are the number of suffering mares. Mares will normally live for twenty to thirty years. Most Premarin mares will last about five years. Every year one-quarter of the mares are sent to slaughter and replaced.

The good news is that Premarin is the only menopause drug made with animal-derived oestrogen. Alternatives include Estratab, Estraderm, Estrace, Ortho-Est and Remifemin.

categories: Outrages
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Last update: 3/31/2006; 10:59:41 PM.

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