[+/-] Today's quote: Heinlein
~ Robert A. Heinlein
The Daily Telegraph has been shown the results of a poll that the British Ministry of Defence recently (and secretly) commissioned in Iraq, which showed that:
• Forty-five per cent of Iraqis believe attacks against British and American troops are justified - rising to 65 per cent in the British-controlled Maysan province;
• 82 per cent are 'strongly opposed' to the presence of coalition troops;
• less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security;
• 67 per cent of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation;
• 43 per cent of Iraqis believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened;
• 72 per cent do not have confidence in the multi-national forces...
Records turned over as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit also indicate that the FBI has investigated hundreds of potential violations related to its use of secret surveillance operations, which have been stepped up dramatically since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks but are largely hidden from public view.
In one case, FBI agents kept an unidentified target under surveillance for at least five years -- including more than 15 months without notifying Justice Department lawyers after the subject had moved from New York to Detroit. An FBI investigation concluded that the delay was a violation of Justice guidelines and prevented the department "from exercising its responsibility for oversight and approval of an ongoing foreign counterintelligence investigation of a U.S. person."
In other cases, agents obtained e-mails after a warrant expired, seized bank records without proper authority and conducted an improper "unconsented physical search," according to the documents.
Although heavily censored, the documents provide a rare glimpse into the world of domestic spying, which is governed by a secret court and overseen by a presidential board that does not publicize its deliberations. The records are also emerging as the House and Senate battle over whether to put new restrictions on the controversial USA Patriot Act, which made it easier for the government to conduct secret searches and surveillance but has come under attack from civil liberties groups.
Number of Pork Projects in Federal Spending Bills
2005 - 13,997
2004 - 10,656
2003 - 9,362
2002 - 8,341
2001 - 6,333
2000 - 4,326
1999 - 2,838
1998 - 2100
1997 - 1,596
1996 - 958
1995 - 1439
It's your money. Kick 'em out in the next election.
The sculpture, designed by Adrian Ocneanu, professor of mathematics at Penn State, presents a three-dimensional "shadow" of a four-dimensional solid object. Ocneanu's research involves mathematical models for quantum field theory based on symmetry. One aspect of his work is modeling regular solids, both mathematically and physically.
In the three-dimensional world, there are five regular solids -- tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron, and icosahedron -- whose faces are composed of triangles, squares or pentagons. In four dimensions, there are six regular solids, which can be built based on the symmetries of the three-dimensional solids. Unfortunately, humans cannot process information in four dimensions directly because we don't see the universe that way. Although mathematicians can work with a fourth dimension abstractly by adding a fourth coordinate to the three that we use to describe a point in space, a fourth spatial dimension is difficult to visualize. For that, models are needed.
"Four-dimensional models are useful for thinking about and finding new relationships and phenomena," said Ocneanu. "The process is actually quite simple -- think in one dimension less." To explain this concept, he points to a map. While the Earth is a three-dimensional object, its surface can be represented on a flat two-dimensional map.
Variables significantly associated with conservatism, we now know, include fear and aggression..., dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity..., uncertainty avoidance..., need for cognitive closure..., personal need for structure..., terror management..., group-based dominance..., and system justification....
These personality traits certainly seem common in the American intelligence community, where I presently work.
Hey conservatives! Criticize the study if you will, just make sure you read it first :)
Oki Electric Industry Co. Ltd. this week began marketing a technology that inexpensively adds face recognition to camera-equipped cellphones. Oki's 'Face Sensing Engine' (FSE) 'middleware' decodes facial images within 280mS on a 100MHz ARM9 processor, and can restrict access to mobile devices by recognizing their owners, the company says.
Oki says its FSE technology can help protect sensitive personal information such as phone numbers and email addresses from unwanted access, in the event of loss or theft of a mobile device. The use of face recognition, based on the mobile device's built-in digital camera, eliminates the need for users to enter passwords to use their devices, and provides a faster and more natural method of authentication.
Maryam Namazie has won the first Irwin Prize for Secularist of the Year for her tireless work in opposition to the Iranian theocracy and the rise of political Islam throughout the world. The £5,000 ($8,750) prize, sponsored the National Secular Society (NSS), was presented to Ms. Namazie on Oct. 8 by the well-known British journalist Polly Toynbee.
Namazie has spent two decades campaigning for the rights of women and refugees in Islamic countries. She is host of TV International and is a Central Council member of the Organisation of Women's Liberation in Iran. She is also employed as the community services officer of the British Humanist Association.
A Texas court issued a warrant Wednesday for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to appear for booking, where he is likely to face the fingerprinting and photo mug shot he had hoped to avoid.
Bail was initially set at $10,000 as a routine step before his first court appearance on conspiracy and money laundering charges. Travis County court officials said DeLay was ordered to appear at the Fort Bend County jail for booking....
DeLay is charged with conspiracy to violate state election laws and money laundering, felony counts that triggered House Republican rules that forced him to step aside as majority leader.
UPDATED -- Check out the arrest warrant.
Moderator: We're here today to debate the hot new topic, evolution versus Intelligent Des---
(Scientist pulls out baseball bat.)
Moderator: Hey, what are you doing?
(Scientist breaks Intelligent Design advocate's kneecap.)
Intelligent Design advocate: YEAAARRRRGGGHHHH! YOU BROKE MY KNEECAP!
Scientist: Perhaps it only appears that I broke your kneecap. Certainly, all the evidence points to the hypothesis I broke your kneecap. For example, your kneecap is broken; it appears to be a fresh wound; and I am holding a baseball bat, which is spattered with your blood. However, a mere preponderance of evidence doesn't mean anything. Perhaps your kneecap was designed that way. Certainly, there are some features of the current situation that are inexplicable according to the 'naturalistic' explanation you have just advanced, such as the exact contours of the excruciating pain that you are experiencing right now.
Intelligent Design advocate: AAAAH! THE PAIN!
Scientist: Frankly, I personally find it completely implausible that the random actions of a scientist such as myself could cause pain of this particular kind. I have no precise explanation for why I find this hypothesis implausible --- it just is. Your knee must have been designed that way!
Intelligent Design advocate: YOU BASTARD! YOU KNOW YOU DID IT!
Scientist: I surely do not. How can we know anything for certain? Frankly, I think we should expose people to all points of view. Furthermore, you should really re-examine whether your hypothesis is scientific at all: the breaking of your kneecap happened in the past, so we can't rewind and run it over again, like a laboratory experiment. Even if we could, it wouldn't prove that I broke your kneecap the previous time. Plus, let's not even get into the fact that the entire universe might have just popped into existence right before I said this sentence, with all the evidence of my alleged kneecap-breaking already pre-formed.
Intelligent Design advocate: That's a load of bullshit sophistry! Get me a doctor and a lawyer, not necessarily in that order, and we'll see how that plays in court!
Scientist (turning to audience): And so we see, ladies and gentlemen, when push comes to shove, advocates of Intelligent Design do not actually believe any of the arguments that they profess to believe. When it comes to matters that hit home, they prefer evidence, the scientific method, testable hypotheses, and naturalistic explanations. In fact, they strongly privilege naturalistic explanations over supernatural hocus-pocus or metaphysical wankery. It is only within the reality-distortion field of their ideological crusade that they give credence to the flimsy, ridiculous arguments which we so commonly see on display. I must confess, it kind of felt good, for once, to be the one spouting free-form bullshit; it's so terribly easy and relaxing, compared to marshaling rigorous arguments backed up by empirical evidence. But I fear that if I were to continue, then it would be habit-forming, and bad for my soul. Therefore, I bid you adieu.
"One of them," al-Habashi’s statement says, "took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts. He did it once, and they stood still for maybe a minute, watching my reaction. I was in agony, crying, trying desperately to suppress myself, but I was screaming ... They must have done this 20 or 30 times in maybe two hours. There was blood all over ... They cut all over my private parts. One of them said it would be better to just cut it off as I would only breed terrorists … there were even worse things. Too horrible to remember, let alone talk about."
In total, al-Habashi spent 18 months in Moroccan detention. He was tortured with the scalpel once a month. He once asked a guard why they were doing this to him and was told: "It’s just to degrade you, so when you leave here you’ll have these scars and you’ll never forget. So you’ll always fear doing anything but what the US wants."
What was it good for? Nothing. It was useless:
It didn’t take long for al-Habashi to start confessing to anything his torturers accused him of: that he’d met Osama bin Laden six times; that he’d suggested targets to bin Laden; that he was close to 25 leading al-Qaeda figures; that he was the al-Qaeda "ideas man".
I am absolutely ashamed to be an American. This is not my America.
It didn’t matter that I was an army captain, a graduate of West Point, the elite US military academy. It didn’t matter that my religious beliefs prohibited me from being fully naked in front of strangers. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t been charged with a crime. It didn’t matter that my wife and daughter had no idea where I was. And it certainly didn’t matter that I was a loyal American citizen and, above all, innocent.
I was accused of mutiny and sedition, aiding the enemy and espionage, all of which carried the death penalty. I was regarded as a traitor to the army and my country. This was all blatantly untrue — as would be proved when, after a long fight, all the charges against me were dropped and I won an honourable discharge from the army.
I knew why I had been arrested: it was because I am a Muslim.
We at the American Humanist Association have found a way for individuals like you to give as Humanists to the South Asia earthquake relief efforts. You will find two options below to provide essential relief.
The AHA has aligned with Pakistani's leading Humanist, Pervez Hoodbhoy, who is personally involved. A physics professor at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, Hoodbhoy tells us that the earthquake situation is desperate. Rawalakot, about 100 miles from Islamabad, is in ruins, "bodies under rubble, no supplies, almost no houses standing, and no aid has reached Rawalakot yet."
Along with Quaid-e-Azam University students and faculty, he is directly involved in relief efforts and has formed an earthquake relief fund. Foodstuff, blankets, and medicines are being gathered for the devastated areas of Balakot, Mansehra, and Abbotabad. A university in Muzzafarabad contacted Quaid-e-Azam University and was pleading for help "to dig out some 300 university girls still buried under the rubble."
To offer your support as a Humanist to relief workers on the scene, and to avoid delays in getting assistance to the victims, the AHA urges you to send a check directly to the Eqbal Ahmad Foundation. The Foundation is named after a prominent Pakistani Humanist of the recent past. It will transfer contributions to the Quaid-e-Azam University Earthquake Relief Fund, jointly operated by Pervez Hoodbhoy, the university treasurer, and the president of the academic staff association.
To support the Eqbal Ahmad Foundation Earthquake Relief Fund visit http://www.americanhumanist.org/EqbalAhmadFoundation.Form.php.
Reports from the devastated region in Pakistan estimate a death toll of over 35,000 with thousands more fatalities expected in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Over 2 million people are homeless, with winter weeks away.
As Humanists concerned for the well being of all, we wish to express Humanism's compassion for the survivors who have experienced such loss and our commitment to rebuild their shattered lives.
So, you may also offer your support for the victims of the South Asia earthquake by using your credit card to contribute online now at http://www.americanhumanist.org/secure/earthquake.php. Funds collected will be batched by the AHA and sent to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, a well-known, active relief agency.
Thank you for joining the AHA in doing what you can to make a difference. As Hoodbhoy stated, "Your solidarity in these desperate moments is appreciated even more. It reinforces hope in our shared humanity."
By a margin of 50% to 44%, Americans say that President Bush should be impeached if he lied about the war in Iraq....
The poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, the highly-regarded non-partisan polling company. The poll interviewed 1,001 U.S. adults on October 8-9.
The poll found that 50% agreed with the statement:
'If President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should consider holding him accountable by impeaching him.'
44% disagreed, and 6% said they didn't know or declined to answer. The poll has a /- 3.1% margin of error.
The suit was filed in federal court by Mikey Weinstein, an academy graduate and outspoken critic of the school's handling of religion.
Over the past decade or more, the suit claims, academy leaders have fostered an environment of religious intolerance at the Colorado school, in violation of the First Amendment.
Weinstein claims that evangelical Christians at the school have coerced attendance at religious services and prayers at official events, among other things.
"It's a shocking disgrace that I had to file this thing," Weinstein told The Associated Press.
This bullshit has been going on for a while. I guess all the promises and sensitivity training didn't do much.
The Vatican will allow gay men into the priesthood if they can show they have been celibate for at least three years, leading Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported on Friday.
But it said the Vatican will ban men who "publicly manifest their homosexuality" or show an "overwhelming attraction" to homosexual culture "even if it is only intellectually."
They should call the policy, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Fuck."
The Vatican views on gay priests are contained in a secret 16-page document which is expected to be released next month....
Corriere and the weekly Panorama magazine both reported on Friday that Pope
BenedictPalpatine had approved the document this summer.
Panorama said its release would be accompanied by a written explanation by "an internationally known psychologist."
President Bush's overall job approval rating has reached the lowest ever measured in this poll, and evaluations of his handling of Iraq, the economy and even his signature issue, terrorism, are also at all-time lows. More Americans than at any time since he took office think he does not share their priorities.
The public's concerns affect their view of the state of the country. Sixty-nine percent of Americans say things in the United States are pretty seriously off on the wrong track — the highest number since CBS News started asking the question in 1983. Today, just 26 percent say things are going in the right direction....
President Bush's job approval rating has fallen to his lowest rating ever. 37 percent now approve of the job he is doing as president, while 58 percent disapprove. Those in his own party are still overwhelmingly positive about his performance (nearly 80 percent approve), but the president receives little support from either Democrats or Independents. And while views of President Bush have lately not changed much among Republicans or Democrats, his approval rating among Independents has dropped 11 points since just last month, from 40 percent to 29 percent now.
Is that a good move, George? Seeing as how the fundies may still be the only ones in your camp, you might reconsider and go completely Holy Roller on this just to shore them up.
But it's rather pathetic that yesterday Scott McClellan had to come out and deny the former Palestinian foreign minister's claim that Bush said God told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. Nonetheless, these claims will be aired in a BBC documentary next week.
And the cheeky folks over at AFP, in their report on this story, have helpfully added the following photo:
That's right--if God's talking, George ain't hearing so well.
But the fact this is airing in a BBC documentary and is taken seriously enough to cause an official denial reminds me of something else. Ron Suskind famously reported in the NY Times Magazine a year ago that a White House aide said in this administration, 'we create our own reality.' Well, it appears reality has a way of biting you back in the ass. Because whether the story is true or not, that's the 'reality' of George Bush in most people's mind, and that's one he himself created but can't control.
"President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …" And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.'"
Okay, now this is frightening shit. I knew that Bush was religious, but this isn't religion: at best it is megalomania; at worst schizophrenia.
The admission is made in Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs:
... a major three-part series on BBC TWO (at 9.00pm on Monday 10, Monday 17 and Monday 24 October), Abu Mazen, Palestinian Prime Minister, and Nabil Shaath, his Foreign Minister, describe their first meeting with President Bush in June 2003.
The series charts the attempts to bring peace to the Middle East, from Bill Clinton's peace talks in 1999/2000 to Israel's withdrawal from Gaza last August.
As examples of passages not to be taken literally, the bishops cite the early chapters of Genesis, comparing them with early creation legends from other cultures, especially from the ancient East. The bishops say it is clear that the primary purpose of these chapters was to provide religious teaching and that they could not be described as historical writing.
Similarly, they refute the apocalyptic prophecies of Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible, in which the writer describes the work of the risen Jesus, the death of the Beast and the wedding feast of Christ the Lamb.
The bishops say: "Such symbolic language must be respected for what it is, and is not to be interpreted literally. We should not expect to discover in this book details about the end of the world, about how many will be saved and about when the end will come."
Perhaps two millennia more and the Church will have caught up with ideas of rational thought, discarding the virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus, and the resurrection.
Scientists have taught dolphins to combine both rhythm and vocalisations to produce music, resulting in an extremely high-pitched, short version of the Batman theme song.
The findings, outlined in two studies, are the first time that nonhuman mammals have demonstrated they can recognise rhythms and reproduce them vocally.
"Humans are sensitive to rhythms embedded in sequences of sounds, but we typically consider this skill to be part of processing for language and music, cognitive domains that we consider to be uniquely human," says Professor Heidi Harley, lead author of both studies.
"Clearly, aspects of those domains are available to other species."
In the middle of the 57th month of his presidency, George W. Bush is like a Texas rancher who is trapped in the middle of his own pasture, but doesn't know it. He keeps insisting that he'll just put his best foot forward -- never noticing that he is surrounded by nothing but upturned rakes.
Time after time, he steps out firmly and boldly. Time after time, each rake's nameplate ends up imprinted on his forehead: Iraq. Afghanistan. Iran. Osama. Katrina. Rita. DeLay. Frist. Terrorists. Deficit. Abu Ghraib. Rummy. Cheney. FEMA. Jobs. Outsourcing. Pensions. Abortion. Enron. Halliburton. Social Security. Loose Nukes. Health Costs. Bio-terror. "Dirty" Bombs. Stem Cells. Global Warming. Troops Without Armor. Arab Oil. Record Oil Prices. Record Oil Company Profits. Rich Get Richer. Middle-Class Gets Poorer....
[A]t this date, George W. Bush's presidency looms so sadly as the worst of the modern era -- worse by far than Lyndon Johnson's presidency. He gave America a legacy of civil-rights legislation that ended our national shame, even as he gave us the escalation of the Vietnam War that became a national tragedy. Worse, too, than Richard Nixon's presidency _ he said he wasn't a crook, but was a proven criminal. Yet, Nixon was still a leader with global vision and domestic environmental accomplishment.
Go further back. Americans have had corrupt and inept presidencies such as Warren Harding's and Chester Arthur's. Yet they did little damage to the planet or its people. That cannot be said for today's incumbent.
The sad trajectory of this presidency is that George W. Bush could wind up as the worst president in U.S. history.
Arch-conservative Moscow pundits perceive the Bush administration as guided by an idealistic notion of leading a global democratic revolution. Such aggressive idealism reminds the analysts of the Bolsheviks, who, shortly after staging their coup in 1917, vigorously pursued their fantasy of engineering a global communist revolution. Though polar opposites ideologically, the Bush administration and the Bolsheviks seem to share a zealously held belief in the righteousness of their cause, the Moscow analysts contend.
"The leader of the biggest world power [Bush] has actually turned himself into a champion of the world revolution," political scientist Boris Mezhuyev wrote....
The nationalist-minded analyst Aleksandr Tsipko – writing in an article tellingly titled "The Color Revolutions or The Revival of Bolshevism," and published in the newspaper Tribuna – explored the idealistic qualities shared by the Bush administration and Lenin’s Bolsheviks, especially concerning the "export of revolution."... [I]n practice the United States has operated in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere, including Iraq, by relying on the quintessentially Bolshevist principle that holds "the ends justifies the means." Behind it "is the same [Bolshevist-type] system of ethics that deems moral everything that serves U.S. interests and the same Bolshevist indifference to the value of human life," Tsipko said.
Thanks to Alina Stefanescu for the link.
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