Best Viewed with IE or Opera. Sorry, Firefox works, but loses some sidebar layout,
'my profile' and other stuff... Anybody with a fix, please leave a comment. Many thanks in advance.

That said, if you must use Firefox (and I don't blame you, it's become my browser of choice, too)
...get the "IE Tab" extension. This allows you to view problem pages with the IE rendering engine. Very cool!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Reivers "In Your Eyes"

One of my all time favorite bands. Too few albums, too soon gone. --pseudolus
---------------------------------



YouTube - The Reivers "In Your Eyes"

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Uncyclopedia entry for today:


Murphy's law application for antigravitatory [sic] cats
.........click on picture to "embiggen" view. Click here for full info.

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AP probe looks at recruiting misconduct - Yahoo! News

By MARTHA MENDOZA, AP National Writer 1 hour, 36 minutes ago

More than 100 young women who expressed interest in joining the military in the past year were preyed upon sexually by their recruiters. Women were raped on recruiting office couches, assaulted in government cars and groped en route to entrance exams.

A six-month Associated Press investigation found that more than 80 military recruiters were disciplined last year for sexual misconduct with potential enlistees. The cases occurred across all branches of the military and in all regions of the country.

"This should never be allowed to happen," said one 18-year-old victim. "The recruiter had all the power. He had the uniform. He had my future. I trusted him."

Continued...to "Read More" click link below

CONTINUED:

At least 35 Army recruiters, 18 Marine Corps recruiters, 18 Navy recruiters and 12 Air Force recruiters were disciplined for sexual misconduct or other inappropriate behavior with potential enlistees in 2005, according to records obtained by the AP under dozens of Freedom of Information Act requests. That's significantly more than the handful of cases disclosed in the past decade.

The AP also found:

_The Army, which accounts for almost half of the military, has had 722 recruiters accused of rape and sexual misconduct since 1996.

_Across all services, one out of 200 frontline recruiters — the ones who deal directly with young people — was disciplined for sexual misconduct last year.

_Some cases of improper behavior involved romantic relationships, and sometimes those relationships were initiated by the women.

_Most recruiters found guilty of sexual misconduct are disciplined administratively, facing a reduction in rank or forfeiture of pay; military and civilian prosecutions are rare.

_The increase in sexual misconduct incidents is consistent with overall recruiter wrongdoing, which has increased from just over 400 cases in 2004 to 630 cases in 2005, according to a
General Accounting Office report released this week.

The
Pentagon has committed more than $1.5 billion to recruiting efforts this year. Defense Department spokeswoman Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke insisted that each of the services takes the issue of sexual misconduct by recruiters "very seriously and has processes in place to identify and deal with those members who act inappropriately."

In the Army, 53 recruiters were charged with misconduct last year. Recruiting spokesman S. Douglas Smith said the Army has put much energy into training its staff to avoid these problems.

"To have 53 allegations in a year, while it is 53 more than we would want, is not indicative of the entire command of 8,000 recruiters," he said. "We take this very seriously and we take appropriate action as necessary to discipline these people."

___

The Associated Press generally does not name victims in sexual assault cases. For this story, the AP interviewed victims in their homes and perpetrators in jail, read police and court accounts of assaults and in one case portions of a victim's journal.

A pattern emerged. The sexual misconduct almost always takes place in recruiting stations, recruiters apartments or government vehicles. The victims are typically between 16 and 18 years old, and they usually are thinking about enlisting. They usually meet the recruiters at their high schools, but sometimes at malls or recruiting offices.

"We had been drinking, yes. And we went to the recruiting station at about midnight," begins one girl's story.

Tall and slim, her long hair sweeping down her back, this 18-year-old from Ukiah, Calif., hides her face in her hands as she describes the night when Marine Corps recruiter Sgt. Brian Fukushima climbed into her sleeping bag on the floor of the station and took off her pants. Two other recruiters were having sex with two of her friends in the same room.

"I don't like to talk about it. I don't like to think about it," she says, her voice muffled and breaking. "He got into my sleeping bag, unbuttoned my pants, and he started, well ..."

Her voice trails off, and she is quiet for a moment. "I had a freak-out session and just passed out. When I woke up I was sick and ashamed. My clothes were all over the floor."

Fukushima was convicted of misconduct in a military court after other young women reported similar assaults. He left the service with a less than honorable discharge last fall.

His military attorney, Capt. James Weirick, said Fukushima is "sorry that he let his family down and the Marine Corps down. It was a lapse in judgment."

Shedrick Hamilton uses the same phrase to describe his own actions that landed him in Oneida Correctional Facility in upstate New York for 15 months for having sex with a 16-year-old high school student he met while working as a Marine Corps recruiter.

Hamilton said the victim had dropped her pants in his office as a prank a few weeks earlier, and that on this day she reached over and caressed his groin while he was driving her to a recruiting event.

"I pulled over and asked her to climb into the back seat," he said. "I should have pushed her away. I was the adult in the situation. I should have put my foot down, called her parents."

As a result, he was convicted of third-degree rape, and left the service with an other-than-honorable discharge. He wipes the collar of his prison jumpsuit across his cheek, smearing tears that won't stop.

"I literally kick myself ... every day. It hurts. It hurts a lot. As much as I pray, as much as I work on it in counseling, I still can't repair the pain that I caused a girl, her family, my family, my kids. It's very hard to deal with," he says, dropping his head. "It's very, very hard to deal with."

In Gainesville, Fla., a 20-year-old woman told this story: Walking into an Army recruiting station last summer, she was greeted by Sgt. George Kirkman, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound soldier. Kirkman is 41.

He was friendly and encouraging, but told her she might be a bit too heavy. He asked if she wanted to go to the gym with him. She agreed, and he drove her to his apartment complex.

There, he walked her to his apartment, pulled out a laptop, and suggested she take a basic recruiting aptitude test. Afterward, Kirkman said he needed to measure her. Twice. He said she had to take her pants off. And he attacked her.

Kirkman, who did not respond to repeated requests for an interview, pleaded no contest to sexual battery in January and is on probation and a registered sexual offender. He's still in the military, working now as a clerk in the Jacksonville, Fla., Army recruiting office.

Not all of the victims are young women. Former Navy recruiter Joseph Sampy, 27, of Jeanerette, La., is serving a 12-year sentence for molesting three male recruits.

"He did something wrong, something terrible to people who were the most vulnerable," State District Judge Lori Landry said before handing down the sentence in July, 2005. "He took advantage of his authority."

One of Sampy's victims is suing him and the Navy for $1.25 million. The trial is scheduled for next spring.

___

Sometimes these incidents are indisputable, forcible rapes.

"He did whatever he pleased," said one victim who was 17 at the time. "... People in uniform used to make me feel safe. Now they make me feel nervous."

Other sexual misconduct is more nuanced. Recruiters insist the victims were interested in them, and sometimes the victims agree. Sometimes they even dated.

"I was persuaded into doing something that I didn't necessarily want to do, but I did it willingly," said Kelly Chase, now a Marine Corps combat photographer, whose testimony helped convict a recruiter of sexual misconduct last year.

Former Navy recruiter Paul Sistrunk, a plant supervisor in Conehatta, Miss., who had an affair with a potential recruit in 1995, says their relationship was entirely consensual.

She was 18, an adult; he was 26 and married.

"Things happen, you know?" says Sistrunk, who opted for an other-than-honorable discharge rather than face court-martial. "Morally, what I did was wrong, but legally, I don't think so."

A nine-year veteran of the Navy, Sistrunk lost his pension and health benefits. His victim, who discovered during a medical exam at boot camp that she had contracted herpes, unsuccessfully tried to sue the federal government.

"In my case," said Sistrunk, "I was flirted with, and flirting, well, that's something I hadn't seen a lot of until I became a recruiter. I had no power over her. I really didn't."

Kimberly Lonsway, an expert in sexual assault and workplace discrimination in San Luis Obispo, Calif., said "even if there isn't overt violence, the reality is that these recruiters really do hold the keys to the future for these women, and a 17-year-old girl often has a very different understanding of the situation than a 23-year-old recruiter."

"There's a power dynamic here that's obviously very sensitive," agreed Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, a group that studies military policy.

"Let's face it, these guys are handsome in their uniform, they're mature, they give a lot of attention to these girls, and as recruiters they do a lot of the same things that guys do when they want to appeal to girls. There's a very fine line there, and it can be very hard to maintain a professional approach."

Weirick, the Marine Corps defense attorney who has represented several recruiters on rape and sexual misconduct charges, said it's a problem that will probably never entirely go away.

"It's difficult because of the nature of nature," he said. "It's hard to put it in another way, you know? It's usually a consensual relationship or dating type of thing."

When asked if victims feel this way, he said, "It's really a victimless crime other than the institution of the Marine Corps. It's institutional integrity we're protecting, by not allowing this to happen."

Anita Sanchez, director of communications at the Miles Foundation, a national advocacy group for victims of violence in the military, bristles at the idea that the enlistees, even if they flirt or ask to date recruiters, are willingly having sex with them.

"You have a recruiter who can enable you to join the service or not join the service. That has life-changing implications for you as a high school student or college student," she said. "If she does not do this her life will be seriously impacted. Instead of getting training and an education, she might end up a dishwasher."

Ethan Walker, who spent eight years in the Marine Corps including a stint as a recruiter from 1998 to 2000, said he was warned.

"They told us at recruiter school that girls, 15, 16, are going to come up to you, they're going to flirt with you, they're going to do everything in their power to get you in bed. But if you do it you're breaking the law," he said.

Even so, he said he was initially taken aback when he set up a table at a high school and had girls telling him he looked sexy and handing him their telephone numbers.

"All that is, you have to remind yourself, is that there's jail bait, a quick way to get in trouble, a quick way to dishonor the service," he said.

All of the recruiters the AP spoke with, including Walker, said they were routinely alone in their offices and cars with girls. Walker said he heard about sleepovers at other recruiting stations, and there was no rule against it. There didn't need to be a rule, he said. The lines were clear: Recruiters do not sleep with enlistees.

"Any recruiter that would try to claim that, 'Oh, it's consensual,' they are lying, they are lying through their teeth," he said. "The recruiter has all the power in these situations."

___

Although the Uniform Code of Military Justice bars recruiters from having sex with potential recruits, it also states that age 16 is the legal age of consent. This means that if a recruiter is caught having sex with a 16-year-old, and he can prove it was consensual, he will likely only face an administrative reprimand.

But not under new rules set by the Indiana Army National Guard.

There, a much stricter policy, apparently the first of its kind in the country, was instituted last year after seven victims came forward to charge National Guard recruiter Sgt. Eric Vetesy with rape and assault.

"We didn't just sit on our hands and say, 'Well, these things happen, they're wrong, and we'll try to prevent it.' That's a bunch of bull," said Lt. Col. Ivan Denton, commander of the Indiana Guard's recruiting battalion.

Now, the 164 Army National Guard recruiters in Indiana follow a "No One Alone" policy. Male recruiters cannot be alone in offices, cars, or anywhere else with a female enlistee. If they are, they risk immediate disciplinary action. Recruiters also face discipline if they hear of another recruiter's misconduct and don't report it.

At their first meeting, National Guard applicants, their parents and school officials are given wallet-sized "Guard Cards" advising them of the rules. It includes a telephone number to call if they experience anything unsafe or improper.

Denton said the policy does more than protect enlistees.

"It's protecting our recruiters as well," he said.

The result?

"We've had a lot fewer problems," said Denton. "It's almost like we're changing the culture in our recruiting."
SOURCE:
AP probe looks at recruiting misconduct - Yahoo! News


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Border Agents Assigned to 'Nanny Patrol' National Guard: Top News Stories at Officer.com

JERRY SEPER
Courtesy of The Washington Times

National Guard troops deployed along the U.S.-Mexico border as part of President Bush's plan to free U.S. Border Patrol agents have been assigned bodyguards -- some of the same agents the soldiers were sent to relieve.

Several veteran Border Patrol agents in Arizona told The Washington Times they were issued standing orders to be within five minutes of National Guard troops along the border and that Border Patrol units were pulled from other regions to protect the Guard units -- leaving their own areas short-handed.

Continued...to "Read More" click link below

CONTINUED:

The agents, who refer to the assignment as "the nanny patrol," said most of the Guard troops are not allowed to carry loaded weapons, despite a significant increase in border violence directed at Border Patrol agents and other law-enforcement personnel over the past year.

The National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), which represents all 10,000 of the agency's nonsupervisory agents, said the presence of more than 6,000 Guard troops on the border has allowed a few hundred agents to be reassigned from administrative to field duties, but that "about the same number are now assigned to guard the National Guard troops."

"Other agents are being assigned to supervise the National Guard troops, who are performing different administrative tasks," said NBPC President T.J. Bonner, a 28-year Border Patrol veteran.

"Overtime has been authorized for these duties, but was not authorized for patrolling the border prior to the arrival of the National Guard."

Nearly 6,200 Guard troops have been deployed along the border from California to Texas as part of "Operation Jump Start," Mr. Bush's $760 million plan to increase the number of Border Patrol agents actually patrolling the 1,951-mile Southwest border.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesman Mike Friel yesterday said National Guard troops are not at the border in a law-enforcement capacity, but only to report illegal entries to the Border Patrol.

"The Border Patrol's priority mission is to detect, deter and apprehend individuals crossing illegally into the United States," Mr. Friel said.

"It makes sense that agents would be nearby the National Guard members who are there to be our eyes and ears in order to respond immediately and apprehended the illegal aliens."

About a third of the Guard force is assigned to entry-identification teams, which monitor major illegal-immigration and drug-smuggling corridors along the border -- mostly in Arizona. Using binoculars, night-vision equipment and Global Positioning Systems, the teams seek to spot anyone entering the country illegally and report their position to the Border Patrol.

The troops also are building roads and fences, adding cameras and sensors, conducting aerial reconnaissance, providing medical aid and communications support, performing administrative duties, gathering intelligence from border cameras, assisting at highway checkpoints, and working as mechanics to repair the agency's trucks and cars.

The operation was designed to give the Border Patrol time to recruit and train 6,000 new agents to bring its field strength to 17,000.

CBP Commissioner Ralph Basham has said the Guard's deployment had "made a powerful impact on the security of our southern border," adding that fewer people were crossing illegally into the United States. He also said the Guard's deployment had enabled more than 315 agents to be moved from back-office administrative functions to frontline border-enforcement duties.

Mr. Bonner also said Border Patrol agents were ordered to chase away the "scouts" posted by alien and drug smugglers in the hills on the border, who report by radio the location of law-enforcement personnel. He said that assignment began a few days before the National Guard troops were deployed.

"While I'm sure that Border Patrol management will claim these measures are being undertaken to ensure the safety of the National Guard troops, it is obvious they will also push the smuggling traffic to other areas," he said. "Since many areas of the border are still not being observed or patrolled, it is no more difficult today to avoid detection and apprehension than it was before the deployment of the National Guard."

"This should not be interpreted as criticism of these dedicated soldiers. Unfortunately, they are being used as political pawns by this administration in its ill-advised quest to sell its myopic and harmful immigration-reform package," he said.

Mr. Bonner also said he doubted there was a "legitimate need" for 6,000 administrative personnel to support a work force of fewer than 12,000 agents.

He and the senior agents also questioned whether Operation Jump Start has been as successful as Bush administration and Border Patrol officials have suggested, challenging estimates last week that the apprehension of illegals aliens dropped by 45 percent since the National Guard's arrival.

"The statistics they cite in support of their claims of success are extremely misleading," Mr. Bonner said, adding that apprehensions from May to July were compared with those from March to May.

"There always is a significant seasonal decline in apprehensions at that time of the year, generally about 30 percent. This year's decline was somewhat higher, about 45 percent, primarily because of the record-breaking heat in June and July, not the presence of the National Guard troops."

Mr. Bonner said in comparing apprehensions from Oct. 1 to July 31 with the same period in 2004-2005, apprehensions are down 3 percent, which he called "statistically insignificant."

"It is much more accurate to say that a million illegal aliens were caught trying to sneak across our borders this year, and several million more did so successfully," he said.

Republished with permission from The Washington Times

SOURCE:
Border Agents Assigned to 'Nanny Patrol' National Guard: Top News Stories at Officer.com


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REYNOLDS' UNIVERSAL ROBOTS [heh! indeed!]

from Ed @ Alicublog:
 A few posts back, when I quoted Motörhead ("That's the way I like
it, baby, I don't want to live forever"), I was aware that not everyone
sees things that way. Perfesser Glenn Reynolds, for one, looks forward
to a near-future in which exists "individuals with powers that would
have been until recently regarded as godlike." The Perfesser has elaborated:
Yes,
it's possible to draw parallels between the Christian idea of The
Rapture -- and, even more generally, between religious ideas of
transcendence generally -- and the notion that, once human technology
passes a certain threshold, roughly that described by Vinge and other
Singularity enthusiasts, human beings will potentially enjoy the kind
of powers and pleasures traditionally assigned to gods or beings in
heaven: Limitless lifespans, if not immortality, superhuman powers,
virtually limitless wealth, fleshly pleasures on demand, etc.
Oddly enough, I was reading Çapek's R.U.R. around the same time, which put me into a fugue state, and resulted in this:


___continued...click link below >>>


CONTINUED...

2079


(A midwestern American town. Citizens, like the ones we know today, but
with hyperextended thumbs and gently sloping brows, gather in a town
square surrounded by barbed-wire and kill-droid guardians, in a high
state of excitement)


ACE II: (mounting a plinth)
Citizens! We are juiced today by the hyperpresence of the greatest
robot lawgiver in our nation-state! Throw your citizenguns in the air
like you just don't care for Perfesser Glenn Harlan Reynolds!

(Applause, shrieks, citizengunfire. ACE II descends and the PERFESSER mounts the
plinth. He moves somewhat stiffly, being a nanotechnologic replication
of his former pre-Singularity self; but his plasticine body is covered
in roomy, luminescent grey cloth, and his head -- actually a titanium
CPU -- is encased in a bullet-proof glass globe, upon the front of
which is projected a lifelike image of his face from his pre-transhumanist days, and on top of which, like Happy Hooligan's hat, rests a small solar generator. His voice issues from a small speaker near what used to be his throat.)


THE PERFESSER: (With a gentle, whirring sound, his arms raise) Citizens! Heh! (giddy general response: "Heh!") Indeed! ("Indeed!") Hear me! (With a gentle, whirring sound, his arms descend; the crowd grows still) I am come to tell you that World War XXVII goes well, and the Free Market still rules! (whistles, cries of "hehindeed")
Only a few statists remain in six or seven unsuburban spider-holes. And
the statist stronghold of Madison, Wisconsin, I hehindeed to tell you,
is today a Patriot Zone! (Cheers, gunfire) We heard the good news this morning from Ann Althouse, who will share it with you today.

(ACE
II hands the PERFESSER a medium-sized globe, within which flickers an
electronic representation of the face of ANN ALTHOUSE, rendered in
psychedelic colors)


ALTHOUSE GLOBE: What a hoot! Partisan
peoples running around, then they splashed like Jackson Pollock all
over the walls and floors. They were so depressive! Why would I care
about them! My toes were all tingly! I saw a pretty butterfly.

(The
ALTHOUSE GLOBE makes a sputtering noise. The PERFESSER's arm rises; the
crowd applauds; The PERFESSER's arm wobbles, which the crowd takes as a
sign to be still)


THE PERFESSER: This news is very hehindeed, but we still face challenges from the Islamocommifascistevilstatistsquareds. (boos, screams, beach balls tossed) I am told that last night Kimkushkiba rockets landed just outside the Freedom Zone. (His voice slowly rising as ACE II turns his volume knob)
Citizens, you know what we must do: increase production of iBrains
threefold! And of Cafesodasplurges even more! And blog! Blog! Forever
blog! (The crowd cheers lustily) For it is blogging, and coffee
drinks, and technology, and most of all the Free Market that will
destroy our enemies, as it did in the days of Winston Dubya and Reagan
Hayek! Thank you, Good Night, and HehIndeed!

(The PERFESSER
is helped from the plinth to enjoy the favors of robowhores, as the
citizens scream, do the Electric Slide, and shoot each other with their
citizenguns.)


2197


(The
same midwestern American town as before, but somewhat the worse for
wear. Citizens wear crudely-stitched flannel shirts and shapeless
leggings, and gather around the PERFESSER, whose body-stocking is now
of a faded red, and stands erect only because he has had an iron bar
implanted in his back. His face-image flickers but dimly in his
head-globe.)


CITIZEN 1: (holds a stick shaped like a microphone at the PERFESSER)
Perfesser! You say we beat Islamofish! That no true me think! Bomb bomb
bomb all the time! Me sick alla time and wife she dead!

(Other CITIZENS roar, and point at the sky, each other, and the PERFESSER blocks of wood shaped like handguns.)

CITIZEN 2: Me sick too! Me iBrain no make tune no more! (crying) Me only know one tune no more! (tunelessly wails) "Put body, put body in motion! Put body in lo-co-co-motion!" (snarls, eyes gleaming at the PERFESSER)Uck uck uck! Me hate 'im! It sugg! IT SUGG! IT SUGG! EAT MY SHORT YOU KILL KENNY! EAT MY SHORT YOU KILL KENNY!

(Crowd yells and waves its wooden guns)

THE PERFESSER: (his voice tinny and faint)
Citizens, citizens. The Free Market is the answer to your problems.
Hehindeed. What is your manufacture? Where is your technology?

CITIZEN 1: Technol'gy? Technol'gy? (Pulls his flannel shirt up by the chest)
We smesh together ol' clothes! Cause me got sewing machine, we pedal
with feet! Cause no electric! Cause all bomb! Me make wood gun to
fight, an' me fight you! You no good! You no good!

(Citizens hurl their wooden guns at THE PERFESSER, who topples, but whose face maintains its rictus grin.)

THE PERFESSER: Where are my robowhores? Bring me my robowhores!

2230


(The
same midwestern American town as before. The air is full of blue smoke.
The PERFESSER is in the same spot and prone position as before. His
plasticine body has flattened and is covered by filthy pink rags. The
speaker that was near his throat has been ripped away. The glass globe
that served for his head is cracked and unlighted, and to the front of
it is taped an ancient photograph of Gordon Ramsey.
The solar generator hat tilts almost to the ground, hanging by a few
thin wires. Some wild boys, naked and filthy, run up to him. One holds
the PERFESSER's former voice-box, and waves it at him tauntingly.)


BOY: Ea' myshort! Faggit funna funna! Fagga ea' myshort!

BOY 2: Skree!

BOY 3: Body in motion! Body in motion!

(The PERFESSER, with his last dying electrical charge, thinks: I have no mouth. And I must heh indeed.)




12:24 AM by roy

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Friday, August 18, 2006

Unforgettable moment hit home 39 years ago - The Boston Globe



By Bob Ryan, Globe Columnist | August 18, 2006

It was Friday, Aug. 18, 1967, and the town was alive because the Red Sox were in an honest-to-God, late-summer pennant race for the first time in 17 years. The fourth-place Red Sox (3 1/2 games back) were playing the fifth-place Angels (four back) in the first of four and it was baseball as baseball was meant to be until that awful moment in the bottom of the fourth with Tony Conigliaro batting against California righthander Jack Hamilton.

The sound. Rico Petrocelli will never forget the sound.

``It was a `squish,' " recalls Petrocelli, the on-deck hitter, ``like a tomato or melon hitting the ground."

It was the sound of a baseball hitting Tony C in the left eye.

Continued...to "Read More" click link below

CONTINUED:

Conigliaro was a righthanded batter who stood extremely close to the plate and who dared pitchers to pitch him inside. Hamilton had a reputation as somebody who would buzz you. ``He hangs over the plate as much as anyone in the league," Hamilton said later. ``Yes, as much as Frank Robinson [a notoriously defiant hitter]. I've not hit anyone all year. I certainly wasn't throwing at him. I was just trying to get the ball over. Tony stands right on top of the plate."

As a result, Tony C had been hit before. He had missed a month of his rookie season (1964) when a Moe Drabowsky pitch broke his wrist. He was hit in the forearm later that season by Pedro Ramos and missed more time. The next year, Wes Stock broke his hand. And in spring training of 1967, teammate John Wyatt hit him in the shoulder, causing Tony to be flown back to Boston for treatment.

But this was another matter entirely. There is no sound in sports like the silence that follows a batter being struck in the head by a pitch, and that was the sound at Fenway Park as 31,027 watched trainer Buddy LeRoux tend to the beloved Tony C as he lay motionless at home plate.

Conigliaro was not just a good Red Sox player. He was family. He was living the ultimate dream of every baseball-loving kid in Greater Boston. He had gone from St. Mary's of Lynn to the Red Sox system and then to the big club, where, while still living in his Swampscott home, he hit .290 with 24 homers and 52 RBIs in 111 games as a 19-year-old rookie in 1964. A year later, he became the youngest home run champ in American League history. He had already become the youngest player to reach 100 career home runs, and now, on this perfect summer evening, his 20 homers and 67 RBIs had been instrumental in making the Red Sox legitimate contenders.

Think Tom Brady, but make Brady a product of the North Shore and you can begin to appreciate the stature Conigliaro had in this town as he stepped into the box to start the fourth inning of a scoreless game 39 years ago tonight. We -- I was a third base box seat occupant that night, so, yes, it was ``we" -- knew Tony C was going to hit 600 home runs and would wind up in the Hall of Fame. In our minds, these were givens.

But now Tony C was crumpled at home plate. Jim Lonborg, Mike Ryan, LeRoux, and California trainer Fred Frederico would carry him off on a stretcher and he would be taken to Sancta Maria Hospital in Cambridge. Early speculation was that he might miss three weeks, perhaps more.

Make that a lot more. Tony C didn't play again until 1969. His life would never be the same -- never. It was the beginning of unspeakable misfortune that would culminate in his death at age 45 after having spent the final eight years of his life as an invalid following a 1982 heart attack/stroke suffered while he was en route to a TV audition in Boston.

Tony C's beaning was the big story that night, but not the only one. Sox starter Gary Bell carried a no-hitter into the seventh before Jimmy Hall popped one into the nets. Hall hit another one in the ninth, accounting for both California runs.

And then there was the smoke bomb . . .

Sometime between the time Tony C was in the on-deck circle and the beginning of Petrocelli's at-bat, a smoke bomb was thrown onto the field in left. It took 10 minutes to clear, and it looked as if right fielder Jose Cardenal was enveloped in a mental fog because he overran a Petrocelli fly to right-center, turning it into a rare triple for Petrocelli that scored pinch runner Jose Tartabull with the first Red Sox run in what became a 3-2 victory.

It was the start of a spectacular series. The Red Sox won, 12-11, the following day, with Norm Siebern hitting a huge pinch-hit, three-run triple and Petrocelli coming in behind the mound to make a nice, game-ending play on a Bob Rodgers chopper with the tying run chugging home from third. The Sox then swept a Sunday doubleheader, winning the first game, 12-2, with Reggie Smith hitting homers from both sides of the plate, and taking the second game, 9-8, on a Jerry Adair homer after trailing, 8-0.

The race would continue without Tony C but he was never really replaced. Oh, sure, general manager Dick O'Connell picked up Ken Harrelson, but he would be of little use until the following season. George Scott was having a good year, but ``The Boomer" wasn't Tony C. It was up to Carl Yastrzemski to carry the team offensively, and that is exactly what he did as Tony C spent the rest of the season coming to grips with a personal catastrophe.

Tony C was gone, but never forgotten. And to this day, one thought remains . . . If only Tony C weren't so close to the plate.

``I don't think he really saw the pitch," Petrocelli maintains. ``He did move his head at the last instant, and I think that prevented him from being hit in the temple. But I think he always had kind of a blind spot, the way he looked at the pitcher."

``I was always concerned about the way he `froze' at the plate," adds Mike Andrews, who was playing second base that night and who was in the dugout when the ball struck Conigliaro. ``I guess I shouldn't say `froze.' It's more the way he wouldn't give in. You know, I had been wearing an earflap helmet that year. I may have been the first. I had been trying to get him to use one, but, unfortunately, he didn't."

Conigliaro returned to baseball in 1969 wearing an earflap helmet. He was wearing one when he had a magical, almost inexplicable season when he hit 36 home runs and drove in a career-high 116 runs (while squinting at the pitcher with one good eye). He was wearing one when he spent that miserable season with the Angels after O'Connell horrified the city by trading him away. And he was wearing one when he had his Last Hurrah of 21 games with the Red Sox in the beginning of the 1975 season.

There was so much joy attached to the 1967 season. Those of us who lived through it remember Yaz and his Triple Crown season, Lonborg and his Cy Young Award, and countless memorable games, capped off by the dramatic events of Oct. 1, when the Red Sox beat the Twins to win their first American League pennant in 21 years.

But Aug. 18 is always a somber date for me, and, I'm sure, for many others. Tony C is the greatest of all ``What-Ifs?" in Boston sports history. When he stepped into the box in that fateful fourth inning, he was 22 years old. He was the Golden Boy, en route to the Golden Career. Who among us wouldn't have traded places with Tony C?

It all changed in half a second, the time it took for a baseball to crash into his handsome face, 39 years ago tonight.

Bob Ryan is a Globe columnist. His e-mail is ryan@globe.com
SOURCE:
Boston Red Sox - Unforgettable moment hit home 39 years ago - The Boston Globe


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Ah! That's been the problem all along.........click on picture to "embiggen" view.

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'Eye' think everything will be OK.

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The CIA-Contra-Crack Connection, 10 Years Later

Reporter Gary Webb was the victim of his own hyperbole, but he never got credit for what he got right.
by Nick Schou

Ten years ago today, one of the most controversial news articles of the 1990s quietly appeared on the front page of the San Jose Mercury News. Titled "Dark Alliance," the headline ran beneath the provocative image of a man smoking crack — superimposed on the official seal of the CIA.

The three-part series by reporter Gary Webb linked the CIA and Nicaragua's Contras to the crack cocaine epidemic that ripped through South Los Angeles in the 1980s.

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Most of the nation's elite newspapers at first ignored the story. A public uproar, especially among urban African Americans, forced them to respond. What followed was one of the most bizarre, unseemly and ultimately tragic scandals in the annals of American journalism, one in which top news organizations closed ranks to debunk claims Webb never made, ridicule assertions that turned out to be true and ignore corroborating evidence when it came to light. The whole shameful cycle was repeated when Webb committed suicide in December 2004.

Many reporters besides Webb had sought to uncover the rumored connection between the CIA's anti-communism efforts in Central America and drug trafficking. "Dark Alliance" documented the first solid link between the agency and drug deals inside the U.S. by profiling the relationship between two Nicaraguan Contra sympathizers and narcotics suppliers, Danilo Blandon and Norwin Meneses, and L.A.'s biggest crack dealer, "Freeway" Ricky Ross.

Two years before Webb's series, the Los Angeles Times estimated that at its peak, Ross' "coast-to-coast conglomerate" was selling half a million crack rocks per day. "[I]f there was one outlaw capitalist most responsible for flooding Los Angeles' streets with mass-marketed cocaine," the article stated, "his name was 'Freeway' Rick."

But after Webb's reporting tied Ross to the Nicaraguans and showed that they had CIA connections, The Times downgraded Ross' role to that of one "dominant figure" among many. It dedicated 17 reporters and 20,000 words to a three-day rebuttal to "Dark Alliance" that also included a lengthy musing on whether African Americans disproportionately believe in conspiracy theories.

All three major U.S. dailies, The Times included, debunked a claim that Webb actually never made — that the CIA deliberately unleashed the crack epidemic on black America. The controversy over this non-assertion obscured Webb's substantive points about the CIA knowingly doing business south of the border with Nicaraguans involved in the drug trade up north.

The Washington Post titled one of its stories "Conspiracy Theories Can Often Ring True; History Feeds Blacks' Mistrust." The New York Times chipped in with a scathing critique of Webb's entire career, suggesting that he was a reckless reporter prone to getting his facts wrong.

"That article included virtually none of the good things Gary did," said Webb's former Cleveland Plain Dealer colleague, Walt Bogdanich, now a New York Times editor. "It didn't include the success he achieved or the wrongs he righted — and they were considerable. It wasn't fair, and it made him out to be a freak."

There is no denying that the papers were right on one serious count — "Dark Alliance" contained major flaws of hyperbole that were both encouraged and ignored by his editors, who saw the story as a chance to win a Pulitzer Prize, according to Mercury News staffers I interviewed.

Webb asserted, improbably, that the Blandon-Meneses-Ross drug ring opened "the first pipeline between Colombia's cocaine cartels and the black neighborhoods of Los Angeles," helping to "spark a crack explosion in urban America." The story offered no evidence to support such sweeping conclusions, a fatal error that would ultimately destroy Webb, if not his editors.

At first, the Mercury News defended the series, but after nine months, Executive Editor Jerry Ceppos wrote a half-apologetic letter to readers that defended "Dark Alliance" while acknowledging obvious mistakes. Webb privately (and accurately) predicted the mea culpa would universally be misperceived as a total retraction, and he publicly accused the paper of cowardice. In return, he was banished to a remote bureau in Cupertino, Calif.; he resigned a few months later.

Meanwhile, spurred on by Webb's story, the CIA conducted an internal investigation that acknowledged in March 1998 that the agency had covered up Contra drug trafficking for more than a decade. Although the Washington Post and New York Times covered the report — which confirmed key chunks of Webb's allegations — the L.A. Times ignored it for four months, and largely portrayed it as disproving the "Dark Alliance" series. "We dropped the ball on that story," said Doyle McManus, the paper's Washington bureau chief, who helped supervise its response to "Dark Alliance."

Unable to find suitable employment, a bewildered Webb left journalism, endured a difficult divorce and battled growing depression and financial despair. But even his suicide failed to dull the media's contempt for "Dark Alliance." The L.A. Times and the New York Times published brief obituaries dismissing Webb as the author of "discredited" stories linking the CIA to Southern California drug sales.

Unlike the media pariahs who came after "Dark Alliance" — most notably fabulists Stephen Glass of the New Republic and Jayson Blair of the New York Times — Webb didn't invent facts. Contrary to the wholly discredited reporting on Iraq's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction by New York Times reporter Judith Miller, Webb was the only victim of his mistakes. Nobody else died because of his work, and no one, either at the CIA or the Mercury News, is known to have lost so much as a paycheck. The editors involved with the story, including Managing Editor David Yarnold, survived the scandal to receive generous promotions.

History will tell if Webb receives the credit he's due for prodding the CIA to acknowledge its shameful collaboration with drug dealers. Meanwhile, the journalistic establishment is only beginning to recognize that the controversy over "Dark Alliance" had more to do with poor editing than bad reporting.

"In some ways, Gary got too much blame," said L.A. Times Managing Editor Leo Wolinsky. "He did exactly what you expect from a great investigative reporter."

Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times
SOURCE:
The CIA-Contra-Crack Connection, 10 Years Later


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A Child-Porn Soap Opera Wakes Networks from Slumber

TV's obsession with lurid cases is hardly new, but even London and Lebanon may be pressed to compete with JonBenet
by Alan Freeman


For the three competing U.S. cable-news networks, desperate for viewers in the midst of the summer doldrums, the arrest in Thailand was like manna from heaven.

Suddenly, the JonBenet Ramsey murder case, which dominated the airwaves for much of the late 1990s, was back.

"It's soap opera, as news," said Jeff Cohen, a former cable television producer, pundit and author of Cable News Confidential, a memoir of his years in the industry.
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In a business driven by ratings, the return of the lurid decade-old child murder in Colorado has all the elements needed to boost audiences, he said.
"There's what seems to be a dysfunctional family, a murder mystery, sex," he said in an interview -- plus the chilling videotape of the six-year-old victim dressed as a beauty queen.

"A big selling point for her story was the almost kiddie-porn footage, where they'd have her in full makeup wearing a chintzy dress and prancing around."

Mr. Cohen said the suspect, teacher John Mark Karr, may actually have nothing to do with the crime. And yet, he noted, "It would be fitting if it's a guy involved in child pornography, because that's what cable news was thinly exploiting."

This U.S. networks' obsession with crime and sex is nothing new. In the slow months before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, cable news was dominated by the disappearance and death of Washington intern Chandra Levy and the suspicions surrounding congressman Gary Condit, with whom she had an affair.

"That guy Condit was repeatedly accused of murder by people who were not held accountable for accusing a completely innocent guy," Mr. Cohen said.

"The only crime he committed was adultery."

There has been no shortage of major international news in recent weeks, but those stories are costly to cover for the networks and may not actually attract additional viewers the way a crime story does.

"This is ideal August news coverage," said Jane Kirtley, professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota, referring to the JonBenet case.

"In the summertime, people are looking for things other than terror in London or what's going on in Lebanon or Israel. In a really macabre sort of way, it's a diversion. . . . If you look at American television and see shows like CSI and Cold Case, there's obviously a tremendous public response to the concept of unsolved murders."

Child abductions and the disappearances of young women, provided they're white and attractive, are TV favourites, analysts note, pointing to a series of seemingly endless news reports on cases such as the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, a pretty Alabama high-school student, during a school trip to Aruba.

"I've got this whole theory about child abductions," Mr. Cohen said. "They've got to be middle-class blond girls. A black girl who's abducted, it's not news."

Prof. Kirtley said that an extra attraction of the JonBenet story is the fact that the Ramseys were not "trailer trash."

"Here we've got a little girl that's coming from an extremely affluent family. It didn't fit the preconceptions everybody had."

Although newspapers and network news also are interested in the story, it's cable news and its insatiable appetite for continuing stories that drive these crime and sex tales.

"The cable-news business deals in very small audiences, so little spikes in viewership are very important. You're talking about a couple of million people," said Peter Hart, a media analyst at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.

"If the numbers look good tomorrow when the executives at CNN, Fox and MSNBC are looking at ratings," he said, then one can expect the story to capture a big percentage of air time over the next days and weeks.

Mr. Cohen recalls appearing on a Fox News media show in October, 1999, just after General Pervez Musharraf seized power in a coup in Pakistan and there was concern about the possibility of war.

The Fox show dealt with three subjects: the JonBenet Ramsey case, news that O. J. Simpson was involved in an altercation with his girlfriend and the latest on the Monica Lewinsky affair.

"There was no mention of India, Pakistan or the nuclear war," Mr. Cohen said.

"What popped into my head was that ironic bumper sticker from the eighties: 'One nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day.' I thought it should be updated for cable news. 'One nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day. But who cares? O. J. is back in the news.' "

© Copyright 2006 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc


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Get Happy the White House Way: Bummed out by the Middle East? Turn that frown upside down!

by Rosa Brooks
Did you know that happy nuns live longer than unhappy nuns?

No? Don't feel bad. You probably didn't go to Harvard, where the most popular class last semester was Psych 1504, "Positive Psychology." That's "positive" as in "Don't be so negative." In Positive Psychology, students read up on happy nuns and tackle assignments such as: "Write a brief biographical sketch from the positive perspective…. Mention … some wonderful things that … are happening to you." The aim of the course is to teach students to be happier.

Critics say the new field of "positive psychology" is just a collection of gimmicky self-help tricks. But proponents cite research suggesting that optimistic people (like the happy nuns) are healthier, longer-lived and more successful than their pessimistic counterparts. Apparently, even "positive illusions" can help you increase your happiness, and optimism can be both taught and learned. That's why Psych 1504 enrolled more than 850 students last spring.

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That's cool. When I was in college, in the late 1980s, education was kind of a downer. The most popular courses were "Introductory Economics" and "Theories of Justice." Can you believe we used to worry about that stuff?

I don't want to be stuck in the past, so I decided to give Positive Psychology the old college try. After all, even President Bush has successfully absorbed the lessons of positive psychology, insisting to cynical reporters that he remains "optimistic that all problems will be solved." And if Bush — a C student in his Ivy League days — can learn positive psychology, I know I can too!

I got started Thursday morning. First, I read the newspaper, which set me back a little because I was depressed to learn that we've been fighting in Iraq for nearly as long as we fought Germany during World War II.

But once I started to think more positively, I realized that 3½ years is really not bad. The Iraq war has been going on for less time than the Thirty Years War! And it's been much shorter than the Hundred Years War. This realization made me feel a lot happier.

I also felt downcast initially about an article claiming that Israel's offensive in Lebanon has increased Hezbollah's popularity in the Middle East. One Egyptian newspaper described a surge in the number of babies named after Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah. In Alexandria alone, health officials reported 128 newborn Nasrallahs.

Depressing? Not if you think about it from a positive perspective. As Democracy Arsenal blogger Shadi Hamid points out, all those baby Nasrallahs just confirm Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's prediction that the conflict in Lebanon represents the "birth pangs of the new Middle East."

Once I got the hang of looking on the bright side, everything began to fall into place. When my husband, Peter, reminded me that it will soon be the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, which killed 2,740 Americans, he expected me to pull a long face. But I just gave him a patient smile. "2,740 dead Americans may seem like a big number to you," I explained, "but almost as many American soldiers — 2,604 — have now been killed in the Iraq war. And a number like this isn't a sign of some sort of problem — as White House spokesman Tony Snow put it when U.S. military deaths in Iraq reached the 2,500 mark, it's just 'a number'! It doesn't mean anything!"

I tried to explain. "Look, I bet you think there's some kind of problem with the war in Iraq. You probably think we need to get out — or maybe you think that if we don't get out, we need more troops. Wrong! You just need to think more positively. As Colin Powell once said, 'Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier!' " Peter snickered.

"Go ahead, laugh," I told him generously. "Laughing makes people feel better." That's why even many conservatives are snickering. As George Will sneered in a Washington Post column this week, the Bush administration's "farrago of caricature and non sequitur makes the administration seem eager to repel all but the delusional." But what's so wrong with delusional, just as long as it makes you feel better?

Anyway, who uses words like "farrago" and "non sequitur"? Insecure people — people who don't truly understand positive psychology — use fancy words in the mistaken belief that this will make people like them better.

Will is probably just jealous that he doesn't go to Harvard. If he did, he'd understand that delusions and optimism are in, while realism and negativity are out. As the Crimson, Harvard's venerable student newspaper, put it: "Happy is the new sad."

Rosa Brooks is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times and a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center.

Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times
SOURCE:
Get Happy the White House Way: Bummed out by the Middle East? Turn that frown upside down!


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Get In Their Face!: Forged In Iron

WE LIKE IKE!! How bad is it when thinking democrats wish a dead Republican president were in office instead of the little emperor we have today? Below are some quotes rounded up by MrEMan of Get In t\Their Face! blog. --pseudolus
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"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."
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"Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels - men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion."

"I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity."

"Only Americans can hurt America."

"Controlled, universal disarmament is the imperative of our time. The demand for it by the hundreds of millions whose chief concern is the long future of themselves and their children will, I hope, become so universal and so insistent that no man, no government anywhere, can withstand it."

"A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both."

"How far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without?"

"I deplore the need or the use of troops anywhere to get American citizens to obey the orders of constituted courts."

"I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity."

"I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it."

"If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking... Is freedom."

"In most communities it is illegal to cry "fire" in a crowded assembly. Should it not be considered serious international misconduct to manufacture a general war scare in an effort to achieve local political aims?"

"Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage. "

"This world of ours... Must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect."

"Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace."

"When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war."



Get In Their Face!: Forged In Iron

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Snakes - On - A - Plane (music video)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

No Confidence In "Organic" [Label]

When it comes to food labeled "Organic," what you read is not necessarily what you get. This is the shocking discovery exposed by the Dallas Morning News after its investigative reporter began poking into the reliability of the USDA's various organic labels.

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Eat To Live reported in April that the Cornucopia Institute of Wisconsin, a non-profit agricultural policy research group, found after a yearlong survey that the organic seal on some milk was not a guarantee that dairies had followed full organic practices.

Now the Texas daily newspaper has found that the same applies to organic produce in general. Its report reveals that "the U.S. Department of Agriculture does not know how often organic rules" -- which came into force in October 2002 -- "are broken and has not consistently taken action when potential violations were pointed out."

The job of assessing a food's worthiness of an organic label is allocated, in the United States, to 56 private or state-run certifiers, chosen by the farms and processing plants themselves. There are 40 more of the same in countries overseas.

The USDA executive in charge of the National Organic Program, Barbara Robinson, explained to the paper that it's a struggle, with only eight or nine people on her staff, to keep up with "the booming industry." The label, she said, was as good as the people who are growing and monitoring the products.

The 66 percent (and growing) of consumers in the United States who occasionally spend extra on organics either for the health of their families or the health and comfort of the animals cannot be assured by this revelation that the products they are buying are free of most hormones, antibiotics, fertilizers, chemical pest killers and genetic engineering as an organic label promises.

The USDA does not apparently know exactly how frequently organic rules are broken. When infractions are revealed, they don't always take action, although last week the department did revoke the accreditation of the American Food Safety Institute International of Wisconsin for "seven serious violations of the National Organic Program standards."

If American organic labels cannot be relied upon, what about those from foreign countries?

About 40 percent of organic produce and products comes from overseas, including 300 operations in China, where human waste is a not uncommon fertilizer. The nation is a major supplier to Wal-Mart. About 200 Chinese farms and producers have been given USDA Organic certificates by the Organic Crop Improvement Association of Lincoln, Neb. Its executive director, Jeff See, said his company has built trust with its producers since it started in China more than 12 years ago, the newspaper reported.

In the view of Fred Gale, a senior USDA economist with a background of research into Chinese agriculture, it was "almost impossible to grow truly organic food in China."

He told the Dallas Morning News, "The water everywhere is polluted, and the soil is contaminated from industry and mining, and the air is bad." Yet China claims to have 8.6 million acres of organic farmland against the 2.2 million in the United States.

With organic foods a rapidly expanding market, there has to be an investment in extra USDA personnel who can properly track and evaluate supplies. Rules for the definition of "organic" and the treatment of organic animals must be clear and unequivocal, and there should be a firm and immediate response to violations.

Otherwise labels are valueless. If consumers begin to suspect that in buying organics they are paying more while getting less than is promised, it will be to the detriment of scrupulous organic producers who are following the rules to the letter.

Source: United Press International
SOURCE:
No Confidence In Organic


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Snowfall Hasn't Increased Over Antarctica In Last 50 Years

by Staff Writers
Columbus OH (SPX) Aug 17, 2006
An international effort to determine the variability of recent snowfall over Antarctica shows that there has been no real increase in precipitation over the southernmost continent in the last half-century.

The results are important since most accepted computer models assessing global climate change call for an increase in Antarctic precipitation as atmospheric temperatures rise.

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The findings also suggest that the slow-but-steady rise in global sea levels isn't being slowed by a thickening of Antarctica 's massive ice sheets, as some climate-change critics have argued.

The conclusions were part of a paper published today in the latest issue of the journal Science. Sixteen researchers from nine institutions in seven countries took part in the study. Andrew Monaghan, a research associate and meteorologist with Ohio State University's Byrd Polar Research Center and lead author on the paper, wrote that "there were no statistically significant trends in snowfall accumulation over the past five decades, including recent years for which global mean temperatures have been warmest."

The study looked at both the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), a marine ice sheet with a base below sea level, and the much thicker East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) that sits atop dry land. In recent years, large volumes of ice along the coast of the WAIS have melted at a rate previously unseen. Some observers have blamed global warming for this and for the increased calving of icebergs along the continent's margin.

The researchers wanted to assemble a half-century-long record of snowfall back to the International Geophysical Year, or IGY. Work during the IGY began the first real modern study of the Antarctic continent and substantive research has continued there ever since.

The research team coupled data from existing ice cores in the region, snow pits and networks of snow stakes, and meteorological observations. To these they added numerous new ice core records obtained by the International Transantarctic Scientific Expedition (ITASE), a 12-nation research program begun in 1990 and tasked with reconstructing the continent's climate history.

Lastly, the researchers relied on snowfall data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts 40-Year Reanalysis (ERA-40), a project that uses a popular weather forecast model to re-evaluate global weather in recent years.

They were able to use the ERA-40 data to fill in the gaps between the ice core records. Since ERA-40 covers the entire continent, it increased the researchers' confidence in their conclusions.

"We're certain that our results are representative of the entire Antarctic continent and that the trends we do see are correct," Monaghan said.

When they were finished, they had generated the most precise record of Antarctic snowfall yet, and doubled its length by 25 years. The reconstruction provided a picture of precipitation on both an annual and decadal scale that showed wide variations across the continent.

"This approach is quite a bit more reliable than a global climate model," Monaghan said, adding that this method gives them snapshots of the Antarctic snowfall changes on a grid, something that wasn't possible with other methods.

Monaghan and his colleagues are cautious about their findings. They point to the short 50-year length of the record as a limitation of the study and long for at least a century of data before they can give a definitive answer about precipitation trends over Antarctica .

"The year-to-year and decadal variability of the snowfall is so large that it makes it nearly impossible to distinguish trends that might be related to climate change from even a 50-year record", says Monaghan.

"This means that new, highly accurate satellite measurements of the amount of Antarctic ice must continue for several decades to determine whether Antarctica is gaining or losing water to the ocean."

But as to whether warming in the atmosphere over the Antarctic and the surrounding oceans has brought more precipitation to balance the ice lost from edges of the continent during that latter part of the 20th Century, Monaghan points to the conclusion "that global sea level has not been mitigated by recently increased Antarctic snowfall as expected."

The key issues now are how snowfall will change as the atmosphere continues to warm and whether climate model predictions of increased snowfall can be trusted, he said.

Other Ohio State researchers on the National Science Foundation-funded project included David Bromwich, professor of atmospheric sciences in the Department of Geography; and graduate student Ryan Fogt; Sheng-Hung Wang, a research associate with the Byrd Center; and Cornelius van der Veen, a Byrd Center glaciologist. Additional researchers from Russia, Italy, Australia, Norway, Germany and China were also co-authors on the paper.
SOURCE:
Snowfall Hasn't Increased Over Antarctica In Last 50 Years


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What's Nature Worth? New Computer Models Tell All

by Staff Writers
Burlington VT (SPX) Aug 17, 2006
Breathe in. The air is free. But we'd all agree it's not worthless. So, what's the price tag on benefits provided by nature? In 1997, the University of Vermont's Robert Costanza and his co-authors put the answer at $33 trillion per year in a now-famous paper in the journal Nature. In the decade following, the science of "ecosystem services" has bloomed.

This young discipline studies how nature-through climate regulation, soil formation, crop pollination, flood protection, and so on-supports human welfare, and estimates its value in economic terms.

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Now, Costanza and his colleagues at UVM's Gund Institute for Ecological Economics have launched a project to solve a central problem that this young science faces: creating a fast way for policy-makers to understand the specific ecosystem services in their area-and the impacts of different land use decisions-whether looking at a local watershed or whole continent.

Over the next year, with an $813,000 grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Costanza and his team will create a set of computer models and tools that will give a sophisticated portrait of the ecosystem dynamics and value for any spot on earth.

"Land use planners, county commissioners, investment bankers, anyone who is interested," Costanza said, "will be able to go on the Web, use our new models, and be able to identify a territory and start getting answers."

For example, if a town council is trying to decide the value of a wetland-compared to, say, building a shopping mall there-these models will help them put a dollar value on it. If a country wants to emulate Costa Rica's program of payments to landowners to maintain their land as a forest, they'll better be able to figure the ecosystem value of various land parcels to establish fair payments.

To build the new models, Costanza's team will gather experts on a range of ecosystems at two extended meetings in Burlington, one this fall and another next spring. In small teams, they'll link together the latest understandings of how forests, grasslands, wetlands, open ocean, and other ecosystem types function with detailed maps of where these natural communities occur and other geographic information.

Next, these models will be informed by new methods of estimating the value of ecosystems. Conventional economics has relied on the rather clunky notion of "willingness to pay" to determine how much a product is worth. This approach doesn't apply well to many ecosystem services that are either indispensable-like air to breathe-or exceedingly subtle-like global climate regulation.

"Instead, we're looking for effects of ecosystems on human welfare, whether people perceive them or not-rather than just asking them how much they'd pay for this service," Costanza said.

And finally, next year, the project will put out its results through an interactive website-perhaps a bit like Google Earth for ecosystems services-journal articles, and other reports.

"This grant and project are particularly timely," said Donald DeHayes, dean of the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources that houses the Gund Institute. "As climate change becomes more visible, the need for functioning ecosystems is hitting people right between the eyes. On the national agenda, ecosystem services is a major theme for research and UVM continues to lead in this field."

Recent studies have made it clear that not only do ecosystem services provide a majority of income for poor people in developing countries, but, more startling, that the economic value of the world's ecosystems is much larger than the value of all the products and services usually put under the umbrella of "the global economy."

Ultimately, Costanza hopes the project will help policymakers realize that conservation is not a luxury; it must be a key economic goal. If his project succeeds, "it will allow us to move beyond the counterproductive conservation vs. development debate to thinking about conservation as a form of development," he writes.
SOURCE:
What's Nature Worth? New Computer Models Tell All


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Lightning Blows Up Tree, Damages 17 Homes In Florida

by Staff Writers
Miami (AFP) Aug 16, 2006
A lightning strike in the Florida city of Cape Coral caused a dead tree to explode in a massive blast that sent debris flying over a two-block radius and damaged 17 houses, the local fire department said Wednesday. "In 18 years with the fire department, I've never seen anything like that," Deputy Fire Chief Christopher Mikell told AFP.

He said the 12-meter (40-foot) pine tree was hit by lightning during a thunderstorm on Monday and exploded "almost like a bomb."

The tree had already been struck by lightning last year, apparently during a hurricane, causing decay that may have produced pockets of gases, said Mikell.

One person was lightly injured and treated on the spot, and 17 houses were damaged, "two to the point of being uninhabitable," said Mikell.

"Sections of the tree were found as far as 500 feet (150 meters) away. ... There was damage within two blocks of the location," he said.

Lightning kills more people in Florida than any other US state, with 85 deaths recorded in the 1995-2004 period.

"We see a lot of lightning damage. That's not unusual," said Mikell. "But I've never seen a blast effect like this."
SOURCE:
Lightning Blows Up Tree, Damages 17 Homes In Florida

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Add some 'play' to your relationship. -click on picture to "embiggen" view.

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Prayers is prayers, ayuh!.........

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Mass murder in the skies: was the plot feasible? | The Register

By Thomas C Greene in Washington
Published Thursday 17th August 2006 09:42 GMT

Analysis The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air;
And a loud voice came forth out of the temple of Heaven,
From the throne, saying, "It is done!"
--Revelation 16:17

Binary liquid explosives are a sexy staple of Hollywood thrillers. It would be tedious to enumerate the movie terrorists who've employed relatively harmless liquids that, when mixed, immediately rain destruction upon an innocent populace, like the seven angels of God's wrath pouring out their bowls full of pestilence and pain.

The funny thing about these movies is, we never learn just which two chemicals can be handled safely when separate, yet instantly blow us all to kingdom come when combined. Nevertheless, we maintain a great eagerness to believe in these substances, chiefly because action movies wouldn't be as much fun if we didn't.

Continued...to "Read More" click link below

CONTINUED:

Now we have news of the recent, supposedly real-world, terrorist plot to destroy commercial airplanes by smuggling onboard the benign precursors to a deadly explosive, and mixing up a batch of liquid death in the lavatories. So, The Register has got to ask, were these guys for real, or have they, and the counterterrorist officials supposedly protecting us, been watching too many action movies?

We're told that the suspects were planning to use TATP, or triacetone triperoxide, a high explosive that supposedly can be made from common household chemicals unlikely to be caught by airport screeners. A little hair dye, drain cleaner, and paint thinner - all easily concealed in drinks bottles - and the forces of evil have effectively smuggled a deadly bomb onboard your plane.

Or at least that's what we're hearing, and loudly, through the mainstream media and its legions of so-called "terrorism experts." But what do these experts know about chemistry? Less than they know about lobbying for Homeland Security pork, which is what most of them do for a living. But they've seen the same movies that you and I have seen, and so the myth of binary liquid explosives dies hard.
Better killing through chemistry

Making a quantity of TATP sufficient to bring down an airplane is not quite as simple as ducking into the toilet and mixing two harmless liquids together.

First, you've got to get adequately concentrated hydrogen peroxide. This is hard to come by, so a large quantity of the three per cent solution sold in pharmacies might have to be concentrated by boiling off the water. Only this is risky, and can lead to mission failure by means of burning down your makeshift lab before a single infidel has been harmed.

But let's assume that you can obtain it in the required concentration, or cook it from a dilute solution without ruining your operation. Fine. The remaining ingredients, acetone and sulfuric acid, are far easier to obtain, and we can assume that you've got them on hand.

Now for the fun part. Take your hydrogen peroxide, acetone, and sulfuric acid, measure them very carefully, and put them into drinks bottles for convenient smuggling onto a plane. It's all right to mix the peroxide and acetone in one container, so long as it remains cool. Don't forget to bring several frozen gel-packs (preferably in a Styrofoam chiller deceptively marked "perishable foods"), a thermometer, a large beaker, a stirring rod, and a medicine dropper. You're going to need them.

It's best to fly first class and order Champagne. The bucket full of ice water, which the airline ought to supply, might possibly be adequate - especially if you have those cold gel-packs handy to supplement the ice, and the Styrofoam chiller handy for insulation - to get you through the cookery without starting a fire in the lavvie.
Easy does it

Once the plane is over the ocean, very discreetly bring all of your gear into the toilet. You might need to make several trips to avoid drawing attention. Once your kit is in place, put a beaker containing the peroxide / acetone mixture into the ice water bath (Champagne bucket), and start adding the acid, drop by drop, while stirring constantly. Watch the reaction temperature carefully. The mixture will heat, and if it gets too hot, you'll end up with a weak explosive. In fact, if it gets really hot, you'll get a premature explosion possibly sufficient to kill you, but probably no one else.

After a few hours - assuming, by some miracle, that the fumes haven't overcome you or alerted passengers or the flight crew to your activities - you'll have a quantity of TATP with which to carry out your mission. Now all you need to do is dry it for an hour or two.

The genius of this scheme is that TATP is relatively easy to detonate. But you must make enough of it to crash the plane, and you must make it with care to assure potency. One needs quality stuff to commit "mass murder on an unimaginable scale," as Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson put it. While it's true that a slapdash concoction will explode, it's unlikely to do more than blow out a few windows. At best, an infidel or two might be killed by the blast, and one or two others by flying debris as the cabin suddenly depressurizes, but that's about all you're likely to manage under the most favorable conditions possible.

We believe this because a peer-reviewed 2004 study (http://www.technion.ac.il/~keinanj/pub/122.pdf) in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) entitled "Decomposition of Triacetone Triperoxide is an Entropic Explosion" tells us that the explosive force of TATP comes from the sudden decomposition of a solid into gasses. There's no rapid oxidizing of fuel, as there is with many other explosives: rather, the substance changes state suddenly through an entropic process, and quickly releases a respectable amount of energy when it does. (Thus the lack of ingredients typically associated with explosives makes TATP, a white crystalline powder resembling sugar, difficult to detect with conventional bomb sniffing gear.)
Mrs. Satan

By now you'll be asking why these jihadist wannabes didn't conspire simply to bring TATP onto planes, colored with a bit of vegetable dye, and disguised as, say, a powdered fruit-flavored drink. The reason is that they would be afraid of failing: TATP is notoriously sensitive and unstable. Mainstream journalists like to tell us that terrorists like to call it "the mother of Satan." (Whether this reputation is deserved, or is a consequence of homebrewing by unqualified hacks, remains open to debate.)

It's been claimed that the 7/7 bombers used it, but this has not been positively confirmed. Some sources claim that they used C-4, and others that they used RDX. Nevertheless, the belief that they used TATP has stuck with the media, although going about in a crowded city at rush hour with an unstable homebrew explosive in a backpack is not the brightest of all possible moves. It's surprising that none of the attackers enjoyed an unscheduled launch into Paradise.

So, assuming that the homebrew variety of TATP is highly sensitive and unstable - or at least that our inept jihadists would believe that - to avoid getting blown up in the taxi on the way to the airport, one might, if one were educated in terror tactics primarily by hollywood movies, prefer simply to dump the precursors into an airplane toilet bowl and let the mother of Satan work her magic. Indeed, the mixture will heat rapidly as TATP begins to form, and it will soon explode. But this won't happen with much force, because little TATP will have formed by the time the explosion occurs.

We asked University of Rhode Island Chemistry Professor Jimmie C. Oxley, who has actual, practical experience with TATP, if this is a reasonable assumption, and she tolds us that merely dumping the precursors together would create "a violent reaction," but not a detonation.

To release the energy needed to bring down a plane (far more difficult to do than many imagine, as Aloha Airlines Flight 243 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloha_Flight_243) neatly illustrates), it's necessary to synthesize a good amount of TATP with care.
Jack Bauer sense

So the fabled binary liquid explosive - that is, the sudden mixing of hydrogen peroxide and acetone with sulfuric acid to create a plane-killing explosion, is out of the question. Meanwhile, making TATP ahead of time carries a risk that the mission will fail due to premature detonation, although it is the only plausible approach.

Certainly, if we can imagine a group of jihadists smuggling the necessary chemicals and equipment on board, and cooking up TATP in the lavatory, then we've passed from the realm of action blockbusters to that of situation comedy.

It should be small comfort that the security establishments of the UK and the USA - and the "terrorism experts" who inform them and wheedle billions of dollars out of them for bomb puffers and face recognition gizmos and remote gait analyzers and similar hi-tech phrenology gear - have bought the Hollywood binary liquid explosive myth, and have even acted upon it.

We've given extraordinary credit to a collection of jihadist wannabes with an exceptionally poor grasp of the mechanics of attacking a plane, whose only hope of success would have been a pure accident. They would have had to succeed in spite of their own ignorance and incompetence, and in spite of being under police surveillance for a year.

But the Hollywood myth of binary liquid explosives now moves governments and drives public policy. We have reacted to a movie plot. Liquids are now banned in aircraft cabins (while crystalline white powders would be banned instead, if anyone in charge were serious about security). Nearly everything must now go into the hold, where adequate amounts of explosives can easily be detonated from the cabin with cell phones, which are generally not banned.
Action heroes

The al-Qaeda franchise will pour forth its bowl of pestilence and death. We know this because we've watched it countless times on TV and in the movies, just as our officials have done. Based on their behavior, it's reasonable to suspect that everything John Reid and Michael Chertoff know about counterterrorism, they learned watching the likes of Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Vin Diesel, and The Rock (whose palpable homoerotic appeal it would be discourteous to emphasize).

It's a pity that our security rests in the hands of government officials who understand as little about terrorism as the Florida clowns who needed their informant to suggest attack scenarios, as the 21/7 London bombers who injured no one, as lunatic "shoe bomber" Richard Reid, as the Forest Gate nerve gas attackers who had no nerve gas, as the British nitwits who tried to acquire "red mercury," and as the recent binary liquid bomb attackers who had no binary liquid bombs.

For some real terror, picture twenty guys who understand op-sec, who are patient, realistic, clever, and willing to die, and who know what can be accomplished with a modest stash of dimethylmercury.

You won't hear about those fellows until it's too late. Our official protectors and deciders trumpet the fools they catch because they haven't got a handle on the people we should really be afraid of. They make policy based on foibles and follies, and Hollywood plots.

Meanwhile, the real thing draws ever closer. ®

SOURCE:
Mass murder in the skies: was the plot feasible? [printer-friendly] | The Register


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Dick Cheney: Malignancy on the American Polity

Published on Wednesday, August 16, 2006 by the Portland Press Herald (Maine) : by Theo Stein

That Dick Cheney says the darndest things.

Armed with insider info that the British were about to bust up a terror plot, Cheney leapt to the defense of Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., in a rare conference call with reporters.

Those who voted for Lieberman's challenger were giving "al-Qaida types" aid and comfort, Cheney said.

The White House and Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman quickly moved in lock-step to claim that the entire Democratic Party shared the motives of restive Connecticut primary voters who gave Ned Lamont a close victory.

Yet White House aides later insisted that neither Cheney nor anyone else was trying to exploit the British success for partisan advantage.

Right. If it walks like a skunk and waves its fanny in the air before spraying stink, it's a skunk. Even if it goes by the title of vice president.

Continued ...click on "Print Article and/or Read More" below >>>
CONTINUED
The Bush administration has routinely designated Cheney to attack its perceived enemies, and rarely does the man disappoint.

But this time, the once-respectable congressman from Wyoming has sunk to a new low.

Not that astounding acts of political chutzpa are foreign territory for Cheney. Recall that the former Haliburton CEO attached himself to the Bush candidacy as an adviser vetting potential vice-presidential candidates before anointing himself to the post.

Since then, Cheney has relentlessly tried to expand the power of the presidency, using questionable theories of constitutional power in an attempt to relegate Congress and the courts to the sideline.

Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, rebuked the plotters in Cheney's ambit. Even if Cheney's gang hasn't figured out a way around Hamdan yet, they sure know how to perfume the air in campaign season.

There's absolutely no reason for any thinking person to be confident that the United States is safer than it was on Sept. 10, 2001.

The preemptive strike on Iraq and the abject, even criminal, failure to plan for that country's stability has turned Iraq into a global recruiting center for Islamic terrorists.

Into the regional power vacuum has stepped Iran, which is encouraging Iraqi Shiite death squads, Hezbollah, Hamas and anyone else who can divert American attention from the Iranian march toward nuclear weapons capability.

Lest we forget, the Middle East instability uncorked by our bungling in Iraq has added a significant risk premium to each barrel of oil, helping the mullahs and hurting ordinary Americans.

Meanwhile, five years after 9/11, the administration and its enablers have failed to pass meaningful legislation to protect our ports or our vulnerable chemical plants. They've neglected to push for bomb detectors able to sniff out the kind of liquid explosives identified as part of a 1995 al-Qaida plot to bomb airliners over the Pacific.

And they've decided that the Constitution shouldn't apply to the president so long as we're engaged in the War on Terror.

You'd almost think they're hoping for another attack before November to completely frighten voters out of their sensibilities. (But they've done a fine job cutting taxes for the wealthy, haven't they?)

One can only hope that Americans will finally reject this remarkably shameless politicization of war.

There's some evidence that even the most partisan Republicans now perceive the vapidity of the false choice between "stay the course" and "cut and run."

Exhibit A: RNC chair Mehlman test-drove the administration's new catch phrase, "adapt to win," during a Sunday appearance on "Meet the Press."

Except that, according to those on the ground in Iraq who are not tied at the brain to the administration's failed approach, U.S. leaders' irrationally rosy views are preventing the military from either adapting or winning.

"I think that the greatest problem that we deal (besides the insurgents and militia) with is that our leadership has no real comprehension of the ground truth," an unidentified military officer told reporter Tom Lasseter of McClatchey Newspapers. "Many have been surprised at what I have to say, but I suspect that in the end nothing will or has changed."

How many more Americans and Iraqis will die because of this administration's hubris?

Don't think about that. Think about the "Defeatocrats."

Yes, it's all the Democrats fault. Cheney wants you to believe they're all against the war.

Actually, a good number of Democrats supported the war, just not the abominable, immoral hash that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al., have made of it.

But God forbid any of us question them.

Theo Stein is an editorial writer for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and can be contacted at 207-791-6481 or: tstein@pressherald.com

© Copyright 2006 Blethen Maine Newspapers, Inc.
--------------
source:
Dick Cheney: Malignancy on the American Polity

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Politics 101: Don’t Reinforce Your Opponents’ Lies

by David Sirota
 

Eric Alterman writes that "one the country's most significant problems is the stupidity of our political discourse." He says "It's not just inconvenient and annoying; it interferes without our ability to address our problems and allows thugs to get away with metaphorical murder." He's absolutely right - and one of the things that really bothers me are the definitions used to describe political positions - definitions that progressives themselves repeat, even though they imply dishonest storylines about the progressive movement.


Continued ...click on "Print Article and/or Read More" below >>>
CONTINUED

Take, for instance, the term "moderate." This is a word the American Heritage Dictionary defines as "Being within reasonable limits; not excessive or extreme." Yet, it is applied specifically to politicians pundits who, measured against public opinion, are the opposite, like Joe Lieberman (De Facto GOP Nominee-CT), John McCain (R-AZ) and New York Times columnist David Brooks. Think about their major positions: Lieberman likens his opponents terrorist sympathizers, calls them "extremists" on national television, and shills for a war that 60 percent of Americans oppose. McCain actually wants to send more troops to Iraq - again a position only a small minority of Americans supports. Brooks calls for an end to American democracy, saying "voters shouldn't be allowed to define the choices in American politics." Yet, these folks are routinely referred to by the media and political Establishment as leading "moderates," that is, leading voices for positions that are supposedly "within reasonable limits" and are "not excessive or extreme" in relation to the rest of the country's positions.

Same thing with what the media/political Establishment refers to as the "center." The dictionary, again, defines this word as "the middle" - but politicians and political ideology that is portrayed as "the center" in America is nowhere near the actual middle of American public opinion. I've written a book, a Washington Post op-ed, a Nation article, and various blog posts showing in detail and with facts how the politicians and corporate-funded institutions that are billed as "centrist" are anything but.

Yet, despite all of this, many progressive writers continue to cede these terms to their opponents. My friend Ezra Klein, for instance, laments that he "started out a moderate" but implies he no longer is one. The Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum laments that the media should be asking "why so many mild-mannered moderate liberals have become so radicalized" - that is why so many "moderates" are supposedly "not moderate" anymore. And various progressive columnists and writers still refer to people like Lieberman, McCain, and the Democratic Leadership Council as "moderate" or "centrist" irrespective of their major economic and national security positions that are exactly the opposite.

The problem with progressives accepting these terms in this way goes beyond inaccuracy. The problem with progressives accepting these terms in this way goes beyond inaccuracy. Progressives who say they aren't "moderate" or "centrist" or who claim their opponents are more "moderate" or "centrist" are by definition saying they believe they themselves to be "extreme" or "more extreme." Just look at the anytonyms of the word "moderate": they are "extreme," "outrageous," and "unreasonable." Similarly, the antonym of the word "center" is "extreme" or "periphery." Thus, when we define our political opponents as more "moderate" or more "centrist" - we are being complicit in inaccurately defining ourselves and the vast majority of Americans as "extreme."

Here's are some examples of what I mean, using the actual public opinion data and the actual dictionary definition of various terms:

  • "Centrists" are not U.S. Senators like Joe Lieberman who pigheadedly push a war that polls have shown for years that the majority of Americans oppose. Those are "radicals" well outside the actual "center." I don't care how many times Lieberman or former GOP operative and Christian Coalition official Marshall Wittman uses the DLC's corporate-sponsored resources to claim that "stay-the-course" policies in Iraq represent the "vital center" - the actual public opinion facts and dictionary definition shows that such a characterization is a deliberate, calculated and disgusting lie, and that the only "vital center" such a position represents is the "vital center" of the rectal passage Wittman pulls his dishonest rhetoric from. The "centrists" are people like Connecticut's Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Ned Lamont, whose position on the Iraq War indisputably puts him right at the center of American public opinion. And those dictionary-defined extremists who call him a terrorist sympathizer are calling the majority of Americans terrorist sympathizers.
  • "Moderates" are not those lawmakers who consistently oppose the concept of a government-sponsored, single-payer health care system, and instead push for "incremental" changes that appease the HMO industry. Those are called "extremists" when you look at the polling that consistently shows that most Americans want a government-sponsored universal health care even if it means tax increases (and that includes half of the Republican base).
  • You are not a "center-left" pundit if, like billionaire Tom Friedman, you aggressively shill for corporate-written trade deals that include no workplace, wage, environmental or human rights standards. According to the actual public opinion data, you are, in fact, outside the "mainstream" of all public opinion, and totally marginalized from progressives. That is, you are, by dictionary definition, well outside "the prevalent attitudes and values of society."

Linguist George Lakoff often reminds people that the terms we use ourselves are often just as self-defining as the terms used against us. Reporters who label positions well outside the mainstream as "centrist" are marginalizing the majority of the public who actually are in the real center. Progressive writers who call others "moderate" or more "moderate" are destructively defining themselves and the broader progressive movement as "extreme" or "more extreme" than their opponents. Worse, they are doing this even as the concrete, verifiable facts show that it is us who are the moderates and our opponents who are truly extreme.

It's time to stop reading the right-wingers' script for them. We, the real moderate centrists who live in the reality-based world, have a compelling, factual story to tell about the real extremists in both parties who fraudulently cloak themselves in Washington's Orwellian doublespeak. But this story will only be told if we have the guts and discipline to change our language and make it reflect reality, rather than a fiction that misleads the country and marginalizes the silent majority.

David Sirota is a writer political strategist, and author of the upcoming book Hostile Takeover

###


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