••can ye pass the acid test?••

ye who enter here be afraid, but do what ye must -- to defeat your fear ye must defy it.

& defeat it ye must, for only then can we begin to realize liberty & justice for all.

time bomb tick tock? nervous tic talk? war on war?

or just a blog crying in the wilderness, trying to make sense of it all, terror-fried by hate radio and FOX, the number of whose name is 666??? (coincidence?)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Democracies, rather than dictatorships or oppressive regimes, are more likely to engage in this seemingly stealthy kind of torture because it is easier to hide from journalists and citizens, Rejali said.

"Torture is a sign that a government either does not enjoy the trust of the people it governs or cannot recruit informers for a surveillance system. In both cases, torture to obtain information is a sign of institutional decay and desperation," wrote Rejali, "and torture accelerates this process, destroying the bonds of loyalty, respect and trust that keep information flowing. As any remaining sources of intelligence dry up, governments have to torture even more."

Psychological torture has persisted in theaters such as the Iraq War not because it necessarily works, but because the CIA has such an institutional history of the practice, McCoy said.

"The interrogators themselves tend to believe in its efficacy, and no matter what you do, you can't stop them once they start," he said, noting that the false sense of power one gets from inflicting torture only fuels more advanced brutality.

A new study finds some people under interrogation will confess to crimes they did not commit, either to end the questioning or because they become convinced they did it.

Playing on the imagination, scientists have found it's pretty easy to make people remember things that never happened.

· Ex-PM Bhutto Says She Won't "Surrender" Pakistan to Terrorists

Bhutto warned Pakistan of threats before attack

Military explains nuclear weapon mistake
Pentagon officials

Obama wants voting official fired for comment on minorities

· EU Leaders Finish New Treaty, Face Ratification Efforts

· Pres. Bush Announces New Sanctions Against Myanmar (Burma)

· SF Chronicle: Some Dems Against Job Discrimination Bill

· Wash Post: Democrats to Make Minor Changes to SCHIP Bill

Friday, October 12, 2007

tavis smiley online poll


The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation requires public schools to improve their students’ reading and math skills, give more standardized tests and improve teacher qualifications. But many opponents say the law isn’t working. The act is up for renewal in Congress. How should it be revised?

NCLB doesn’t need revising : 1%

Renew NCLB, but give more freedom to the states and local authorities to reduce bureaucracy and allow for more direct results when it comes to student achievement : 7%

Re-write parts of NCLB, increase its funding and introduce a new strategy for monitoring and implementing it : 14%

NCLB should be abandoned : 77%

Total votes: 1045

Poll results not scientific
c-span capital news (online)

Poll Of The Day

Should Al Gore run for president?

Yes 60%
No 40%

Total Votes: 1584
· Al Gore Says "the Climate Crisis is Not a Political Issue"

· Sen. Clinton (D-NY) Congratulates Al Gore on Nobel Peace Prize

· Ex-Pres. Carter Hopes for Gore Presidential Candidacy

· Newt Gingrich Says He's Considering 2012 Presidential Bid

· Turkey Threatens Repercussions for US Over Resolution

US-Sunni alliance in Iraq shows flaws, benefits of strategy

Thousands of scientists share Nobel Peace Prize

Myanmar monasteries empty after crackdown

Obama, Edwards criticize Clinton on Iran position

Vatican releases secret archives on Knights Templar

Report: Many taxpayers not claiming IRS phone tax refund

Thompson's widow hopes book corrects 'Gonzo' image

Thursday, October 11, 2007

nuclear power plants kill trillions of fish

oyster creek

SHANNON, Ireland - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday accused Iran of "lying" about the aim of its nuclear program, saying there's no doubt Tehran wants the capability to produce nuclear weapons and has deceived the UN's atomic watchdog about its intentions.

"There is an Iranian history of obfuscation and, indeed, lying to the IAEA," she said, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"There is a history of Iran not answering important questions about what is going on and there is Iran pursuing nuclear technologies that can lead to nuclear weapons-grade material," Rice told reporters aboard her plane as she headed to Moscow.
there she goes again!
now, what makes me think these 3 stories go together?

BAGHDAD - A US attack killed 19 insurgents and 15 civilians, including nine children, northwest of the capital Thursday — one of the heaviest civilian death tolls in an American operation in recent months. The military said it was targeting senior leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq.

American forces have applied fierce and determined pressure on militants, especially al-Qaida in Iraq, since the full contingent of additional US troops arrived June 15. But Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has recently confronted top American commander Gen. David Petraeus about what he sees as overly aggressive US tactics that harm innocent civilians, according to Iraqi officials.

The military statement detailing Thursday's air and ground assault said soldiers were acting on intelligence reports about an al-Qaida meeting in the Lake Tharthar region. The southern reaches of the big, man-made lake are about 50 miles northwest of the capital.

The American account said US surveillance confirmed "activity consistent with the reports and supporting aircraft engaged the time-sensitive target." The first air attack killed "four terrorists," said the statement.

The military said it then tracked some of those who escaped the initial attack to a place south of Lake Tharthar. It said ground forces moved on the site and came under fire. Air support was called in.

"After securing the area, the ground force assessed 15 terrorists, six women and nine children were killed," the statement said. Two suspected al-Qaida members, a woman and three children were wounded, according to the military account.

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon has paid more than $100 million in bonuses to veteran Green Berets and Navy SEALs, reversing the flow of top commandos to the corporate world where security companies such as Blackwater USA are offering big salaries.

The retention effort, started nearly three years ago and overseen by US Special Operations Command in Tampa, FL, has helped preserve a small but elite group of enlisted troops with vast experience fighting the unconventional wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Defense Department statistics.

Overall, more than 1200 of the military's most specialized personnel near or already eligible for retirement have opted for payments of up to $150,000 in return for staying in uniform several more years.

CLEVELAND - Despite 26 security cameras, officials couldn't say Thursday how an armed, suspended 14-year-old student was able to get into his downtown school a day earlier and shoot two students and two teachers before killing himself.

School officials also were investigating how a number of warning signs from the troubled student, including threats made last week, apparently went unheeded.

Police were checking surveillance video Thursday for clues as to how Asa H Coon, armed with two revolvers, was able to enter the SuccessTech Academy alternative school. Police Chief Michael McGrath said a classmate could have let him in a back door.
His older brother, Stephen, was taken into custody at the family home for parole violations, according to prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Lyons. The 19-year-old said his brother did not get any guns from him but wouldn't answer questions about the shooting.
Christina Burns, who volunteered at one of the schools Coon attended, said Coon both received and delivered abuse. She said that in seventh grade, he did nothing after a classmate dropped a book on Coon's head while the teacher wasn't looking.
Burns said she is angry no one reached out to him. "This all could have been prevented if he had the proper intervention," she said.
BAGHDAD - The top US commander in Iraq warned Thursday that Turkey's threatened incursion into Kurdish regions in the north of the country could harm the flow of supplies for US troops and damage the Kurdish economy.

Iraqi Kurdistan, a haven of relative calm, could suddenly become another fault line if Turkey makes good on threats to cross the northern border in pursuit of Turkish Kurdish militants.

"We are concerned about that," Gen. David Petraeus told two US reporters in a dusty courtyard in Jadidah, a Shiite town about 25 miles north of Baghdad.

ANKARA (AFP) - Turkey on Thursday condemned a vote by a US House of Representatives committee branding the World War I massacre of Armenians "genocide" and urged them not to take it to a full House vote.

A government statement said the "irresponsible" resolution, voted by the House foreign affairs commitee, was likely to endanger bilateral relations.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 — A House committee voted on Wednesday to condemn the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey in World War I as an act of genocide, rebuffing an intense campaign by the White House and warnings from Turkey’s government that the vote would gravely strain its relations with the United States.

ANKARA (Reuters) - Iraq said it believed the threat of a major Turkish offensive against Kurdish guerrillas in northern Iraq had diminished despite Turkey's vow of a military operation.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had said the army would go ahead with an operation after his talks with US President George W Bush on Monday to push Washington to crack down on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) separatists based in Iraq.

Turkey today ordered its ambassador in Washington to return to Ankara for "consultations" after a US congressional committee approved a resolution that recognises the 1915 massacres of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Thursday expressed hope for the quick return of Turkey's ambassador to the United States, who was recalled for consultations after a US congressional committee voted to brand Ottoman Turk killings of Armenians as genocide.

"We remain opposed to House Resolution 106 because of the grave harm it could bring to the national security of the United States," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

The Bush administration has voiced concern that the resolution, approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, would damage relations with Turkey, a key ally.

The non-binding resolution, which angered Turkey by calling the 1915 massacres of Armenians genocide, now goes to the floor of the US House of Representatives, where Democratic leaders say there will be a vote by mid-November.
In the wake of President Bush’s veto, the explosive debate over children’s health insurance has reached a point of utter gridlock.

And that seems to be exactly what Democrats want at this point. They still say publicly they’re rooting for a dozen or so Republicans to have a change of heart and vote to override the veto.

But both sides admit it’s unlikely, meaning the Oct. 18 veto override vote should be, in theory at least, the starting point for a new round of negotiations.

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration reported Thursday that the federal budget deficit fell to $162.8 billion in the just-completed budget year, the lowest amount of red ink in five years.

The administration credited the president's tax cuts for helping generate record-breaking revenues but warned of an approaching "fiscal train wreck" unless Congress deals with unsustainable growth in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States will ask the World Trade Organization (WTO) to examine restrictions on the sale of US films, music, books, magazines and newspapers in China, an agenda for an upcoming WTO meeting showed on Thursday.

In its complaint, Washington says China unfairly limits who can import and distribute entertainment products, including movies for theatrical release.

"It also appears that foreign individuals and enterprises...are accorded treatment less favorable than that accorded to enterprises in China with respect to the right to trade," the US complaint reads.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

19 shots
BAGHDAD (AFP) - Outraged Iraqi authorities on Wednesday condemned the killing in Baghdad of two women by foreign security guards but the Australian-run firm that hired the contractors said they had opened fire fearing a suicide attack.
CLEVELAND - A 14-year-old suspended student opened fire in a downtown high school Wednesday before killing himself, and five people were taken to hospitals, authorities said. After the shooting, shaken teens called their parents on cell phones, most to reassure but in at least one case with terrifying news: "Mom, I got shot."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former President Jimmy Carter on Wednesday denounced Vice President Dick Cheney as a "disaster" for the country and a "militant" who has had an excessive influence in setting foreign policy.

Cheney has been on the wrong side of the debate on many issues, including an internal White House discussion over Syria in which the vice president is thought to be pushing a tough approach, Carter said.

"He's a militant who avoided any service of his own in the military and he has been most forceful in the last 10 years or more in fulfilling some of his more ancient commitments that the United States has a right to inject its power through military means in other parts of the world," Carter told the BBC in an interview to air later on Wednesday.
"Its passage would do great harm to our relations with a key ally in NATO and in the global war on terror," the president said.

'Key ally'
WASHINGTON - President Bush urged Congress to reject legislation Wednesday that would say it was a genocide when thousands of Armenians were killed around the time of World War I.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee prepared to vote on a measure that Turkey says could damage ties with the United States. Turkey is a NATO ally and a major staging area for US military operations in Iraq and the Middle East.
The White House yesterday updated the nation's homeland security strategy for the first time since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, acknowledging the need to prepare for catastrophic natural disasters as well as the "persistent and evolving" threat of terrorism.

The 53-page National Strategy for Homeland Security comes as the Bush administration, with little more than 15 months left in office, seeks to take account of lessons it painfully learned when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005.

"Homeland security both as a policy matter and as a concept didn't exist prior to 9/11 and prior to...President Bush assuming office," said Frances Fragos Townsend, the White House homeland security adviser. "We believe that we had an obligation, regardless of who the next president is, Republican or Democrat, to leave them the benefit of our thinking."

Rep. Bennie G Thompson (D-MS), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said however that the document "provides little guidance for the deficiencies already taxing our homeland security capacity, while at the same time, it attempts to define successes...which have not yet been realized."
MERIMACK, NH (AP) — Presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday called for a national broadband Internet system and permanent research tax credits and took a swipe at the Bush administration quoting comedian Stephen Colbert for the second time in a week.

The Democratic front-runner and New York senator said high-tech jobs can't be sustained without investment in the high-tech fields, and if elected she would chart "a new course to create new jobs, grow the economy and strengthen the middle class."

"The nation that invented the Internet is now ranked about 25th in access to it," Clinton said in her latest speech directed at the middle class appeals.
"To paraphrase Stephen Colbert, that great philosopher, this administration doesn't make decisions based on facts, it makes facts based on decisions," Clinton said to laughter. "By ignoring or manipulating science the Bush administration is letting our economic competitors get an edge in the global economy."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Curious George doll bought at Toys "R" Us was found to be tainted with 10 times the legally-allowed lead level, and vinyl lunch boxes and backpacks also had high amounts of lead, the nonprofit group Center for Environmental Health said on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON - With global warming, the world isn't just getting hotter — it's getting stickier, due to humidity. And people are to blame, according to a study based on computer models published Thursday.

The amount of moisture in the air near Earth's surface rose 2.2 percent in less than three decades, the researchers report in a study appearing in the journal Nature.
ABU DIS, West Bank - The Palestinians are ready to yield parts of the West Bank to Israel if compensated with an equal amount of Israeli territory, the lead Palestinian negotiator told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President George W Bush and his wife will attend a ceremony next week to award a Congress medal to exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama, despite the risk of angering China, the White House said Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

WASHINGTON - A German man who says he was abducted and tortured by the CIA as part of the anti-terrorism rendition program lost his final chance Tuesday to persuade US courts to hear his claims.

The Supreme Court rejected without comment an appeal from Khaled el-Masri, effectively endorsing Bush administration arguments that state secrets would be revealed if courts allowed the case to proceed.

El-Masri, 44, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, says he was mistakenly identified as an associate of the Sept. 11 hijackers and was detained while attempting to enter Macedonia on New Year's Eve 2003.

He claims that CIA agents stripped, beat, shackled, diapered, drugged and chained him to the floor of a plane for a flight to Afghanistan. He says he was held for four months in a CIA-run prison known as the "salt pit" in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

After the CIA determined it had the wrong man, el-Masri says, he was dumped on a hilltop in Albania and told to walk down a path without looking back.
"state secrets would be revealed"? you mean there's more???

Two prominent House Democrats released their update of the foreign surveillance law Tuesday that lapses at the end of this year, marking the next phase in a congressional debate over warrantless wiretapping, both domestically and abroad.

Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr (D-MI) and Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) introduced legislation Tuesday, updating changes Congress made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act over the summer despite broad opposition from Democrats in the House, who were concerned the update could trample of the civil liberties of US citizens.

Facing pressure from the White House and Senate negotiators to move an update before a key deadline lapsed over the summer, Democratic leaders in the House agreed to pass it only after the administration agreed to a sunset that would end the program's authority after five months. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) then tapped Conyers and Reyes to draft an update that House Democrats would accept.

Their legislation would allow intelligence officials to monitor phone calls and e-mails made between foreign nationals outside the United States and would require the special FISA court to issue individual court warrants to target anyone inside the country, both of which are in the current law, according to a summary of the bill released by the Judiciary Committee.

It would also establish protections that were not in the stopgap bill Congress approved over the summer. These include a procedural review by the FISA court to ensure the program only targets people outside the United States, allowing a 45-day window for the court to conduct this review after surveillance begins.

In addition, the Conyers-Reyes bill would clarify "ambiguous language" that could open the door for physical searches of homes, offices, computers and medical records in the United States, according to a summary of the legislation by House Democrats.

The Conyers-Reyes bill would also prohibit US intelligence officials from using the law to target any US citizens abroad and require quarterly audits by the Justice Department. The administration would have to deliver those audits, in both classified and unclassified sections, to Congress.

It would also mandate that the executive branch record every instance in which a US citizen is caught up in one of these probes and deliver an annual record of those instances to Congress.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Current US efforts to help resettle Iraqi refugees are slow, poorly funded and ignore Syria which hosts the largest number of displaced people, refugee and human rights advocates said on Tuesday.

Around 2.4 million Iraqis have been forced to flee their country since the US-led invasion in 2003, creating massive crises in neighboring Syria, which has 1.4 million refugees, and Jordan which hosts up to 750,000.

WASHINGTON - The US government should replace more than 1000 irradiation machines used in hospitals and research facilities because terrorists could use the radioactive materials inside to make a "dirty" bomb, a government advisory panel has concluded.

"Any one of these 1000-plus sources could shut down 25 square kilometers, anywhere in the United States, for 40-plus years," according to panel documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The machines are in relatively unprotected locations such as hospitals and research facilities all over the country, and may be a tempting source of radioactive materials for terrorists who want bombs that explode and disperse radioactive debris over a large area, rendering it uninhabitable, the board found.
scare us again and let the terrorists know where to find weapon material at the same time! kill 2 birds with one stone!

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The US ambassador to the United Nations said on Tuesday it was time to prepare for a government transition in Myanmar but conceded that the ruling military would continue to play a role in the country's future.

Zalmay Khalilzad was speaking as officials of the 15 UN Security Council member states tried to thrash out an agreed statement that would for the first time focus pressure on the junta from all the world's major countries, including China.

"We believe it's very important ... that there be negotiations for a transition and that we need to start preparing ourselves with regard to a transition in Burma," Khalilzad told reporters, using Myanmar's former name.

"The military, as a national institution, has its role to play in the transition and post-transition but it's very important that a serious dialogue on transition begins and that the international community, regional players, play their roles."

Following pro-democracy demonstrations that were bloodily suppressed by authorities, the junta has named an official to act as go-between in possible talks with detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Khalilzad called for her conditions to be improved so that she could prepare for negotiations and also urged that UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari, who ended a four-day visit to Myanmar last week, return as soon as possible to assist a dialogue.

The United States, Britain and France circulated a draft statement on Myanmar to the UN Security Council on Friday condemning repression by the junta and demanding it free political detainees and start a dialogue with the opposition.

'08 election
DEARBORN, MI - Republican presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani quarreled over tax and spending cuts Tuesday, each claiming greater commitment than the other in a debate in the nation's struggling manufacturing heartland.

The government "is spending money of future generations and those yet to be born," added Fred Thompson, making his debut on a debate stage after a late entry into the race. He said future retirees should receive smaller Social Security benefits than they have been promised.
gee, i thought thompson sounded like a democrat till that last sentence. but he wants to make the young pay bush's debts when they get old!

As the torrent of money flowing into the presidential campaigns is itself turning into an issue in the race, the revival of an unsuccessful attempt at a Constitutional amendment allowing more stringent campaign finance rules may put some of the candidates on the spot.
Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, and Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, have sent their colleagues a letter asking for co-sponsors of a bill that would in effect overturn the 1976 Supreme Court decision Buckley v. Valeo, which ruled that campaign spending was a protected form of free speech. It has bedeviled all subsequent attempts to limit the influence of political money.

DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. 8 -- For Debbie Dingell and Sen. Carl M. Levin, the standoff has been brewing for years. The Michigan Democrats have long worked, mostly behind the scenes, to change an electoral calendar that places vast importance on results in Iowa and New Hampshire, states that bear little resemblance to the industrial heartland.

"There's just no possible justification for one or two states that are not particularly representative to have a dominant role in this process. It's not fair to other states," Levin said in a telephone interview. "Why the hell do New Hampshire and Iowa have a claim to the attention to their issues?"

Monday, October 08, 2007

BAGHDAD - A suicide bomber drove his truck into a police station north of Baghdad on Monday, crumbling the squat concrete building and damaging a nearby school in the deadliest in a series of blasts that killed at least 24 people across Iraq.

Nobody claimed responsibility for the attacks in the capital and two northern areas. But they bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida in Iraq, which has promised an offensive to coincide with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The blast in Dijlah, a village in the Sunni heartland 60 miles north of the capital, tore through a nearby empty school and several stores. At least 13 people — three officers and 10 civilians — were killed, and 22 were wounded, police said.

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Worsening violence in Darfur risks spreading the conflict further in Sudan and shows the need for advanced equipment a planned UN peacekeeping force does not yet have, a senior UN official said on Monday.

UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Marie Guehenno said the situation had deteriorated in the western Sudanese region with an attack late last month by armed men on an African Union base and reports of a government attack on another town on Monday.

Oregon teacher says she has right to take gun to school

MEDFORD, Ore. - High school English teacher Shirley Katz insists she needs to take her pistol with her to work because she fears her ex-husband could show up and try to harm her. She's also worried about a Columbine-style attack.

But Katz's district has barred teachers from bringing guns to school, so she is challenging the ban as unlawful, since Oregon is among states that allow people with a permit to carry concealed weapons into public buildings.

Investigator: Russian journalist's killer is known

MOSCOW - After a year and nearly a dozen arrests, the main mystery in the slaying of a Russian journalist strongly critical of the Kremlin remains unsolved — who ordered her killed, the chief investigator said in an interview published Monday.

Investigators know who pulled the trigger in the fatal shooting of Anna Politikovskaya at her Moscow apartment building, Petros Garibyan, a senior investigator in the Prosecutor General's Office, told the newspaper she worked for, Novaya Gazeta.

"As for those who ordered it, we have interesting suggestions, let's put it this way," he was quoted as saying. But he would not reveal what, if anything, investigators know about who might have ordered the slaying.

Politkovskaya's persistent reporting of atrocities by security forces against civilians in the restive Chechnya region angered the Kremlin, but won her international acclaim.
TEHRAN, Iran - About 100 students staged a rare protest Monday against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, calling him a "dictator" as he gave a speech at Tehran University marking the beginning of the academic year.

While the demonstrators and hard-line students loyal to Ahmadinejad scuffled in the auditorium, the president ignored chants of "Death to the dictator" and gave his speech on the merits of science and the pitfalls of Western-style democracy, witnesses said.

· Myanmar Junta Names Liaison to Detained Opposition Leader

RANGOON, Burma (AP) — The ruling junta of Burma appointed a Cabinet official Monday to coordinate contacts with detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a move that comes with the nation under intense international pressure to enter talks with the democracy movement.

Student activists, meanwhile, claimed residents of Rangoon are still showing opposition to the regime by harassing soldiers following last month's bloody crackdown on the biggest anti-government demonstrations in nearly two decades.

· Audit Faults IRS for Spending Rush at End of Fiscal Year

The Internal Revenue Service is under scrutiny for rushing to spend tens of millions of dollars in the weeks before the end of the fiscal year, when the agency's ability to use money expires or comes with more strings.

Government auditors worry that with the last-minute purchasing comes an increased risk of wasteful spending.

· Costa Rica Approves CAFTA Free-Trade Pact With US

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration on Monday welcomed Costa Rica's narrow approval of a free trade agreement with the United States, after a national debate that split the tiny Central American democracy.

Costa Rican voters backed the US-Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA, by the slim margin of 51.58 percent in favor to 48.42 percent against -- in an echo of the bitter debate in the US Congress over the agreement two years ago.

· Mexican Pres. Felipe Calderon Criticizes US Border Fence

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Mexican President Felipe Calderon criticized the planned US border fence designed to stem illegal immigration, saying countries should be "building bridges, not fences" in an interview broadcast on Monday.

On ABC television's "Good Morning America," Calderon lauded President George W Bush's failed attempt to get the US Congress to approve comprehensive immigration reform, and said the way to stop illegal immigration is to build economic growth and opportunities in Mexico, not fences.

Stored blood may lose ability to deliver oxygen to tissues

WASHINGTON - Much of the stored blood given to millions of people every year may lack a component vital for it to deliver oxygen to the tissues. Nitric oxide, which helps keep blood vessels open, begins breaking down as soon as blood goes into storage, two research teams report in separate studies in this week's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In recent years, doctors have become increasingly concerned about levels of heart attack and stroke in patients receiving transfusions and the new findings may help explain that.

Friday, October 05, 2007

WASHINGTON - President Bush defended his administration's methods of detaining and questioning terrorism suspects on Friday, saying both are successful and lawful.

"When we find somebody who may have information regarding a potential attack on America, you bet we're going to detain them, and you bet we're going to question them," he said during a hastily called Oval Office appearance. "The American people expect us to find out information, actionable intelligence so we can help protect them. That's our job."

Bush volunteered his thoughts on a report on two secret 2005 memos that authorized extreme interrogation tactics against terror suspects. "This government does not torture people," the president said.

Meanwhile, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-MI, demanded a copy of a third Justice Department memo justifying military interrogations of terror suspects held outside the United States.

In a letter to Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey, Levin wrote that two years ago he requested — and was denied — the March 14, 2003, legal opinion. Levin asked if Mukasey would agree to release the opinion if the Senate confirms him as attorney general, and cited what he described as a history of the Justice Department stonewalling Congress.

"Such failures and the repeated refusal of DoJ to provide Congress with such documents has prevented the Congress from fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities to conduct oversight," Levin wrote.

The White House said Mukasey has not been cleared to read the classified documents Levin requested.

The two Justice Department legal opinions from 2005 were disclosed in Thursday's editions of The New York Times, which reported that the first opinion authorized the use of painful methods, such as head slaps, freezing temperatures and simulated drownings known as waterboarding, in combination.

That secret opinion came months after a December 2004 opinion in which the Justice Department publicly declared torture "abhorrent" and the administration seemed to back away from claiming authority for such practices, and after the withdrawal of a 2002 classified Justice opinion that had allowed certain aggressive interrogation practices so long as they stopped short of producing pain equivalent to experiencing organ failure or death.
king georgie says it's lawful, so it can't be torture or cruelty. they must be covering it up for some other reason. just trust them, senator. just trust them.

LONDON - Chinese medical officials agreed Friday not to transplant organs from prisoners or others in custody, except into members of their immediate families.

The agreement was reached at a meeting of the World Medical Association in Copenhagen.

China has previously acknowledged that kidneys, livers, corneas and other organs are routinely removed from prisoners sentenced to death row. But officials insist that this only happens when consent is provided.

Critics argue that death-row prisoners are not truly free to consent and may feel compelled to become donors, violating personal, religious or cultural beliefs.

UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 5 — Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Friday that the use of force to put down peaceful protests in Myanmar was “abhorrent and unacceptable,” and that the country’s government must release those it had arrested and start a dialogue with political opponents.

BAGHDAD -- Here they were, hardened combat soldiers, grounded on a military base far from the palm groves, canals and marshes where they once prowled.

But at least for a moment this week, they were still the Painted Demons, the elite sniper unit that struck fear in the so-called triangle of death south of Baghdad. That couldn't be taken away: not by breaking them up, as the Army had done, and not even by the murder trials of three of their members at Camp Victory.

WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday ordered federal agents to ride with Blackwater USA escorts of US diplomatic convoys in Baghdad to tighten oversight after a shooting in which private guards are accused of killing 13 Iraqi civilians.
WASHINGTON - The Army brigade that has served the most time on the battlefield since 2001 is coming home. But as they return, troops may have to leave two of their own behind in Iraq.

Members of the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division are searching up to the last minute, trying to find two fellow soldiers captured by insurgents and missing since May.
DUBAI (Reuters) - President George W Bush said in comments aired on Friday he was "very optimistic" a Palestinian state could be set up alongside Israel and that next month's Middle East conference could lead towards peace in the region.

The US-sponsored conference is due to take place in the Washington area in November, although there are doubts over how far it will go towards ending decades of conflict and uncertainty over which Arab states will attend.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Consumers have boosted their borrowing at the fastest pace in three months, turning increasingly to their credit cards to replace home equity loans as a source of ready cash.

The Federal Reserve reported that consumer credit rose at an annual rate of 5.9 percent in August, the biggest increase since a 7.9 percent jump in May.
HOUSTON, Oct. 4 — In Texas, it can be a long wait for a doctor: up to six months.

That is not for an appointment. That is the time it can take the Texas Medical Board to process applications to practice.

Four years after Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment limiting awards in medical malpractice lawsuits, doctors are responding as supporters predicted, arriving from all parts of the country to swell the ranks of specialists at Texas hospitals and bring professional health care to some long-underserved rural areas.

The influx, raising the state’s abysmally low ranking in physicians per capita, has flooded the medical board’s offices in Austin with applications for licenses, close to 2500 at last count.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea suspended US beef imports on Friday after inspectors reportedly found a recent shipment contained bone that is banned due to concerns over mad cow disease.

The Agriculture Ministry said two vertebrae segments were found in one box of meat in an 18.5-ton shipment from the US that arrived last week. Vertebrae are among parts — also including skulls and eyes — believed at risk of carrying the brain-wasting disease.
Treasury Secretary Henry M Paulson will recuse himself from a government review of the merger between 3Com and a Chinese company because of his past relationship with an investment firm involved in the deal.
US employment rose by 110,000 jobs in September and a weak report in August was revised upward, offering signs that the economy continues to grow even as the nation wrestles with turmoil in the credit markets.

The Labor Department report released yesterday showed widespread job losses in the housing and mortgage-related industries, but gains in health care and professional services more than made up the difference.

The report sent stock prices up sharply, with the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index closing at a new high. The report also overshadowed news that two major banks would absorb large losses related to the subprime mortgage crisis.
The jobs report represented an about-face from a month ago, when the federal government surprised economists with estimates that the number of jobs had declined by 4000, prompting worries that a recession might be in the offing. Those fears eased yesterday after the Labor Department said it revised the August numbers to show that the economy gained 89,000 jobs that month.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W Bush said on Friday the latest employment report showed a "vibrant and strong" economy.

Bush was speaking to reporters after the government reported that US employers added 110,000 new jobs in September, showing a more resilient labor market than previously thought.
this is strong? i thought jobs have to grow at least 150,000 per month to keep up with population growth.
KINSHASA (Reuters) - Congolese President Joseph Kabila sacked his transport minister on Friday as the death toll from the latest air accident in the central African country rose to more than 50.

But Democratic Republic of Congo's authorities announced that a Congolese mechanic aboard the Russian-made cargo plane that came down in Kinshasa on Thursday had survived the crash. Officials had previously said all the plane's occupants died.

RICHMOND, VA - Sen. John W. Warner is out of the hospital after medical procedures this week to correct an abnormal heartbeat.

The 80-year-old Republican, who announced Aug. 31 he would not seek a sixth term next year, told the Associated Press on Friday he was back in his office and felt fine.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

LONDON (Reuters) - Soaring food prices will hurt the world's poor and increase the risks of political upheaval, a senior United Nations food agency official said on Thursday.
"upheaval"? what've we got now?

BAGHDAD - The official Iraqi investigation into the Blackwater shooting last month recommends that the security guards face trial in Iraqi courts and that the company compensate the victims, an Iraqi government minister told The Associated Press on Thursday.

BASRA, Iraq — Women in Basra have become the targets of a violent campaign by religious extremists, who leave more than 15 female bodies scattered around the city each month, police officers say.

'08 race
WASHINGTON - A Republican organization that advocates gay rights is targeting GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in an ad campaign, seeking to undercut his support among social conservatives by highlighting his past statements in support of abortion rights.

WASHINGTON - Idaho Sen. Larry Craig defiantly vowed to serve out his term in office on Thursday despite losing a court attempt to rescind his guilty plea in a men's room sex sting.

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Scientists have uncovered thousands of marine microbes -- including never-before-seen bacteria -- thriving deep in the sea near cracks in the Earth's crust where warm fluids and cold sea water mix, US researchers said on Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Chinese farmers cultivated rice along the eastern coast as far back as 7700 years ago and used fire and flood control measures to manage their fields, researchers said, citing new evidence.

In a letter published in Nature late last week, geographers in Britain and China described how they found artifacts -- bone, bamboo and wooden tools used for foraging and cultivation -- and high concentrations of charcoal in Kuahuqiao, a freshwater marsh about 200 km southwest of Shanghai.

"About 7700 years ago, people started to burn woody crops and there's a very high concentration of charcoal there and a decline of woody tree pollen," said Zong Yongqiang of Durham University in the United Kingdom.

"These two give us a very clear indication that people used fire to open the site for settlement and cultivation. It wasn't just one burn but over several decades to maintain the ground for rice cultivation ... This could be the earliest paddy cultivation in the world," Zong told Reuters by telephone.
so they used slash & burn way back then, eh?
KABUL, Afghanistan - Violence in Afghanistan has surged nearly 30 percent this year and suicide bombings are inflicting a high toll on civilians, a new United Nations report says.

The report said Afghanistan is averaging 550 violent incidents a month, up from an average of 425 last year. It said three-fourths of suicide bombings are targeting international and Afghan security forces, but suicide bombers also killed 143 civilians through August.

TEHRAN, Iran - They own car factories and construction firms, operate newspaper groups and oil fields and increasingly, serve in parliament or become provincial governors. To supporters, the Revolutionary Guards are the cream of Iran's talent.

To the United States, they are simply terrorists.

Either way, the group formed to safeguard Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution has pushed well beyond its military roots: Current and former members now hold a growing role across the country's government and economy, sometimes openly and other times in shadow.

SEOUL, Oct. 3 -- For an isolated leader whose cash-strapped country could this week receive a large injection of money from a high-ranking visitor, North Korea's Kim Jong Il did not appear especially convivial on Tuesday at the opening of the North-South summit he is hosting in Pyongyang.

A huge and apparently state-orchestrated crowd of North Koreans cheered and waved pink paper flowers as Kim shook hands with South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun, who had traveled north by car from Seoul for the summit. Roh's advisers have said that the prosperous South is ready to make substantial economic and infrastructure investments in the North's decaying Stalinist economy.

But the reclusive Kim, dressed in the gray military-style jumpsuit he wears to meet the world's television cameras, managed only a tight smile when he shook hands with Roh on a red carpet in front of a performing arts hall.

For the remainder of the 12-minute encounter between the two leaders -- their only known get-together on day one of a three-day summit -- Kim looked dour and seemed to avoid eye contact with Roh.

Kim's cool greeting -- watched live by millions of people in South Korea -- set television commentators chattering late into the evening here in Seoul.

Kim and Roh opened formal talks Wednesday morning in Pyongyang, and Kim was more convivial and smiling for cameras. Kim thanked Roh for his gift of traditional Korean fabrics and said, "I hope you are satisfied with your stay."

In Seoul, meanwhile, a spokesman for the South Korean government denied that Roh's reception in Pyongyang had been cool.

"We believe it was the appropriate reception attitude," the spokesman said. He added that Kim had "expressed his most sincere courtesy and politeness" toward Roh.
Three senior House Democrats are proposing a new tax to pay for the Iraq war, as well as vowing to oppose any funding bill for Iraq that does not include a policy for ending the conflict.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-WI), Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA), chairman of the Defense subcommittee on House Appropriations, and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), will soon unveil a "surtax" on taxes owed by Americans to help cover the cost of the war, the trio announced this morning.

The tax is designed to raise $140 billion to $150 billion annually, and would range from a 2% surtax on low-income Americans to as much as 15% for wealthy taxpayers.

Obey and Murtha also said that they would not move an Iraq supplemental funding bill, needed to pay for combat operations in 2008, unless a "goal" of having all US combat troops out of the country by January 2009, troop deployment times are shortened, and President Bush demonstrates that will engage in "an intensive, broad scale diplomatic offensive involving other countries in the region."

Well, so much for that idea...

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) apparently doesn't favor a surtax to pay for the war in Iraq that a trio of her prominent members unveiled Tuesday morning. Her distaste was enough that aides even posted her comment below rejecting the idea on her website Tuesday afternoon:

"During nearly five years of war in Iraq, the President has failed to learn the lesson that war should require shared sacrifice. He has asked for no sacrifice from the American people -- except from our men and women in uniform and their families -- while adding hundreds of billions of dollars in debt for future generations to repay.

"Some have suggested that shared sacrifice should take the form of a draft; others have suggested a surtax. Those who oppose a tax and the draft also should oppose the President's war. Just as I have opposed the war from the outset, I am opposed to a draft and I am opposed to a war surtax.

"The choice is between a Democratic plan for responsible redeployment of our troops and the President’s plan for a 10-year war in Iraq. We must end this war."

WASHINGTON - The House takes up legislation today that would require President Bush to submit a plan for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq. The bill would require the administration to report to Congress on the status of redeployment plans in 60 days. Follow up reports would be required every 90 days thereafter.
Emboldened by the Blackwater scandal, congressional Democrats are moving aggressively to tighten the reins on private contractors in Iraq.

The House will consider a bill this week by Rep. David Price that would make all contractors subject to prosecution by US courts. This would close what he says is a dangerous loophole that leaves State Department contractors immune to prosecution.

In the Senate, lawmakers passed a $672 defense policy bill on Monday that would require detailed administration reports on the government's reliance of security contractors. The bill also would establish an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate waste, fraud and abuse in wartime contracts.

The political developments come as the FBI announced it will investigate the role Blackwater USA played in the Sept. 16 shoot-out in Baghdad that killed 11 Iraqis.

Oct. 2, 2007 | When Blackwater contractors guarding a US State Department convoy allegedly killed 11 unarmed Iraqi civilians on Sept. 16, it was only the latest in a series of controversial shooting incidents associated with the private security firm. Blackwater has a reputation for being quick on the draw. Since 2005, the North Carolina-based company, which has about 1000 contractors in Iraq, has reported 195 "escalation of force incidents"; in 163 of those cases Blackwater guns fired first. According to the New York Times, Blackwater guards were twice as likely as employees of two other firms protecting State Department personnel in Iraq to be involved in shooting incidents.
WASHINGTON - Federal employees wasted at least $146 million over a one-year period on business- and first-class airline tickets, in some cases simply because they felt entitled to the perk, congressional investigators say.

A draft report by the Government Accountability Office, obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, is the first to examine compliance with travel rules across the federal government following reports of extensive abuse of premium-class travel by Pentagon and State Department employees.

The review of travel spending by more than a dozen agencies from July 1, 2005, to June 30, 2006, found 67 percent of premium-class travel by executives or their employees, worth at least $146 million, was unauthorized or otherwise unjustified.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Oil prices could top $100 a barrel by the end of next year and remain above that point for years to come, the chief economist of Canadian investment bank CIBC World Markets said Tuesday.

Jeffrey Rubin said rising demand within oil-rich nations such as Mexico, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia will put pressure on global oil prices in the coming years. That, combined with the increased cost of pulling petroleum from reserves deep under the sea or wringing it out of oil sands in Canada, will keep oil prices high even if demand in the Western world remains constant.
The steroids scandals have claimed the latest and perhaps most unlikely suspect yet.

The sport of bull riding may start drug testing some of its athletes – not the riders, the bulls.

As if the four-legged beasts that weigh up to 2200 pounds don't have enough testosterone, some bull owners allegedly are injecting the animals with anabolic steroids.

Monday, October 01, 2007

in case you want to review my past references to clarence thomas:

doubting thomas

mo thomas: who really leaked anita hill's affidavit?

scum again

don't be cruel
Some of the nation's most politically influential conservative Christians, alarmed by the prospect of a Republican presidential nominee who supports abortion rights, are considering backing a third-party candidate.

More than 40 Christian conservatives attended a meeting Saturday in Salt Lake City to discuss the possibility, and planned more gatherings on how they should move forward, according to Richard A Viguerie, the direct-mail expert and longtime conservative activist.
Other participants in the meeting included James Dobson, founder of the Focus on the Family evangelical ministry in Colorado Springs, CO, and, according to Viguerie, Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, a conservative policy group in Washington.

Dobson attended the meeting, but is not yet participating in any planning for a third party, said Gary Schneeberger, a spokesman for Focus on the Family Action. Dobson and others spoke out against the idea at the meeting, even though both major parties could nominate candidates who back abortion rights and other policies that conservative Christians oppose, Schneeberger said.
The participants were in Salt Lake City for a separate meeting of the secretive Council for National Policy, a group of conservative business, religious and political leaders that was co-founded years ago by Tim LaHaye, author of the "Left Behind" series of books. Vice President Dick Cheney flew into the city Friday to address the group, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

salt lake? sounds more like apalachin....