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, October 07, 2006

A Brutal Way with Wages - by Paul Krugman

Should we be cheering over the fact that the Dow Jones Industrial Average has finally set a new record? No. The Dow is doing well largely because American employers are waging a successful war against wages.

Economic growth since early 2000, when the Dow reached its previous peak, hasn't been exceptional. But after-tax corporate profits have more than doubled, because workers' productivity is up, but their wages aren't - and because companies have dealt with rising health insurance premiums by denying insurance to ever more workers.

If you want to see how the war against wages is being fought in the United States, and what it's doing to working Americans and their families, consider the latest news from Wal-Mart. "Read More" click link below


Wal-Mart already has a well-deserved reputation for paying low wages and offering few benefits to its employees; last year, an internal Wal-Mart memo conceded that 46 percent of its workers' children were either on Medicaid or lacked health insurance. Nonetheless, the memo expressed concern that wages and benefits were rising, in part "because we pay an associate more in salary and benefits as his or her tenure increases."

The problem from the company's point of view, then, is that its workers are too loyal; it wants cheap labor that doesn't hang around too long, but not enough workers quit before acquiring the right to higher wages and benefits. Among the policy changes the memo suggested to deal with this problem was a shift to hiring more part-time workers, which "will lower Wal-Mart's health care enrollment."

And the strategy is being put into effect. "Investment analysts and store managers," reports The New York Times, "say Wal-Mart executives have told them the company wants to transform its work force to 40 percent part time from 20 percent." Another leaked Wal-Mart memo describes a plan to impose wage caps, so that long-term employees won't get raises. And the company is taking other steps to keep workers from staying too long: In some stores, according to workers, "managers have suddenly barred older employees with back or leg problems from sitting on stools."

It's a brutal strategy. Once upon a time a company that treated its workers this badly would have made itself a prime target for union organizers. But Wal- Mart doesn't have to worry about that, because it knows that these days the people who are supposed to enforce labor laws are on the side of the employers, not the workers.

Since 1935, U.S. workers considering whether to join a union have been protected by the National Labor Relations Act, which bars employers from firing workers for engaging in union activities. For a long time the law was effective: Workers were reasonably well-protected against employer intimidation, and the union movement flourished.

In the 1970s, however, employers began a successful campaign to roll back unions. This campaign depended on routine violation of labor law: Experts estimate that by 1980, employers were illegally firing at least one out of every 20 workers who voted for a union. But employers rarely faced serious consequences for their lawbreaking, thanks to America's political shift to the right. And now that the shift to the right has gone even further, political appointees are seeking to remove whatever protection for workers' rights that the labor relations law still provides.

The Republican majority on the National Labor Relations Board, which is responsible for enforcing the law, has just declared that millions of workers who thought they had the right to join unions don't. You see, the act grants that right only to workers who aren't supervisors. And the board, ruling on a case involving nurses, has declared that millions of workers who occasionally give other workers instructions can now be considered supervisors.

As the dissent from the Democrats on the board makes clear, the majority bent over backward, violating the spirit of the law, to reduce workers' bargaining power.

So what's keeping paychecks down? Major employers like Wal-Mart have decided that their interests are best served by treating workers as a disposable commodity, paid as little as possible and encouraged to leave after a year or two. And these employers don't worry that angry workers will respond to their war on wages by forming unions, because they know that government officials, who are supposed to protect workers' rights, will do everything they can to come down on the side of the wage cutters.

Copyright 2006 International Herald Tribune
A Brutal Way with Wages

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Death by Instant Message - by Maureen Dowd

So now we have our first IM scandal.

We knew it was coming, all this personal information zinging back and forth across cyberspace at the speed of write, all this constantly streaming technology being inexorably adapted to the needs of desire.

IM-ing is like whispering, perfect for furtive, racy exchanges — or slimy, perverted ones. It’s as if your id had a typewriter. In a world where everything is instant, the delaying and censoring mechanisms that contributed to a civilized life are gone.

In the old days, there was a chance that career- or marriage-destroying letters would be, upon further consideration, thrown into the fireplace. IM’s, e-mails and BlackBerry billets-doux, more perilous forms of drunk dialing, have the wings of Mercury and the indestructibility of mercury.

But peripatetic pols, like gossipy high school girls, will not give up computer messaging just because creepy Mark Foley (a k a Maf54) got caught with his e-boxers down.

Indeed, the president and his top advisers were IM-ing just last night about the party’s meltdown. I hacked into the OVAL1600 chat room and prepared a transcript. Warning: politically explicit language, reader discretion advised. "Read More" click link below


Decider: hey

Rover08: ya

Decider: Dick, u here? Don?

DarthV: ya, potus

Rumstud74: ditto, boss

Decider: I called denny to tell him i just can’t quit him ...brokeback party ... did we decide right?

Rover08: ya ... even if we’re now the party of gays and a weak military, let’s not let the Dems paint us that way

DarthV: obvi

Rover08: btw, denny’s toll-free tip # was pretty lame ... 1-800-HORNDOG or whatev ... reporters r joking the spkr’s IM name is fatfallguy06 or CapitolRotunda

Decider: lol

Rumstud74: golly, dont care who gets voted off island, long as it’s not me :)

DarthV: dont worry, rummy, u know we’re BFFs

Decider: wait! I thought I was ur BFF ...

sexylibrarian: hon, sorry to interrupt, but i think denny and rummy should BOTH go ... they’re off the heez. women are hating on Foley and Iraq and it could ruin your admin

Rumstud74: ur a bigger pain than condi, laura ... why dont you go rd a book? read wdwrd’s book ... you sure helped him write it, litl ms tattletale

Decider: haha

sexylibrarian: george!

Decider: u know u r my First Babe ... as that ad goes, u must know karate, cause your body’s kickin’

DarthV: brb ...i’ve got kissinger on teh phone. Can u believe hes never heard of IM?

Rumstud74: hope the nsa’s not snoopin on that conversation

Decider: but I thought we only listened in on terrorists

Rumstud74: don’t ask, don’t tell, kid

DarthV: you’re a scream, rummy

Rumstud74: denny and I both wrestlers ... you think he’d know how to handle some man-on-man grappling w/o all this Henny Penny nonsense. lay the smackdown on nancy pelosi and pin the puny press on the mat

DarthV: you’ve still got the muscles and the moves, Big Guy

Rumstud74: OMG, dick, we gotta shut up Warner on getting outta Iraq and shut up Frist about getting in bed w/the Taliban ... and we gotta yank those pesky videos of snipers shooting at American soldiers off YouTube ...let’s fire up the old censorship machine

DarthV: that’s hot ... censorship is hot ... torture is waaay hot

Rover08: knock it off, you two ... back to biz ... this man-boy lovefest on the Hill is def messing up my mojo with evangelicals ... after all my hard work demonizing gays, my God-gap is shrinking

Decider: if the dems win the house, will they start investigating me?

Rover08: oh ya, that’s why we gotta get back on the offensive with our own agenda: pretending to keep the country safe

Decider: totes!

sexylibrarian: u coming to bed, Bushie?

Decider: do i have to read more shakespeares ... promised boy genius we’d play w/ the fart machine for a few min ... c u l8r ...

Rover08: whoopeeee!

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
Death by Instant Message

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Same Song, Different Scandal - by Robert Kuttner

Throughout the Bush era, voters have not always connected the dots. The Foley scandal now enveloping the House Republican leadership offers a belated opportunity for voters to make some connections. Yes, the scandal is about the disgrace of a congressman sending disgusting messages to teenage pages, and the failure of leaders to act on escalating warnings. But it is so much more.

Mark Foley was chairman of a House caucus on missing and exploited children. This was a party that literally put a pedophile in charge of pedophilia.

Does that have a vaguely familiar ring? It should. It’s the same party that put the oil companies in charge of energy policy, and invited the drug and insurance industries to write the Medicare prescription bill for their own maximum profit. As investigations have revealed, it put lobbyists for polluting industries in charge of environmental protection. So there is a consistent theme here of the fox guarding the chicken coop. "Read More" click link below


And more. If the account of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert ignoring bad news about Foley also sounds familiar, it should, too. It is of a piece with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld burying intelligence accounts that did not square with the Saddam Hussein-Al Qaeda story he was peddling, and the White House blowing off intelligence warnings about an impending Al Qaeda operation in summer 2001. As Bob Woodward recently revealed, these warnings went as high as CIA Director George Tenet paying an urgent call on then White House National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice warning of an imminent attack, only to be rebuffed.

It’s not surprising that Hastert did not lead. He was handpicked by then majority leader Tom DeLay to be a reassuring and largely powerless figurehead speaker. When DeLay fell, the cardboard Hastert was not up to the job.

This pattern should also ring a bell. It was Dick Cheney, selected in 2000 by party leaders to find a running mate for novice candidate George W. Bush, who conducted a national search and then selected himself. Cheney, like DeLay, has been the power behind the throne. And when the time comes for hard decisions, Bush, like Hastert, is AWOL.

In the Foley case, the Republicans are especially vulnerable, because they have made a fetish of traditional values — one of which is hiding homosexuality in the closet and bashing it publicly while protecting closeted Republican gays. But their base of social conservatives, who excuse wrongheaded policies on national security and on the economy, will not give a pass to the Foley lapse.

The Cheney-Bush-Karl Rove governing coalition has always been an uneasy alliance between Wall Street elites, who benefit from the financial foxes lusting after the economic chickens, and social conservatives who have a genuine concern for families and traditional morality. There are just not enough votes of multimillionaires and K-Street lobbyists to keep the coalition in power, so the party depends heavily on its social base.

Social conservatives do not take kindly to child molesters, or their enablers. Republican candidates will suffer from a genuine wave of public revulsion, not just at what Foley did, but at how the leadership protected him. As always, the coverup is politically more damaging than the original event.

As various House Republicans point fingers and try to protect their behinds, this scandal will messily dominate the news between now and Election Day. Bit by agonizing bit, the facts of who knew what when, and did nothing, will agonizingly dribble out over the next several weeks.

If history is any guide, Hastert will resign. Others have resigned over less damaging lapses. Democratic Speaker Jim Wright was hounded from office in 1989 for having invited lobbyists to purchase copies of a memoir he had published. (Wright’s nemesis, Newt Gingrich, was later forced out for abusing a tax-exempt political front group.) But investigations will continue, and even a Hastert resignation will not stem the damage.

The Greeks had a piece of wisdom that applies: Character is Fate. The Foley affair, and all it reveals, was an accident waiting to happen. It was a logical product of the cynicism, opportunism, and hypocrisy that pervade the Bush era.

There is an old saw in American politics that when your opponent is destroying himself, just get out of the way. Like much conventional wisdom, it is mostly wrong. This scandal, of its own accord, will certainly damage Republican congressional candidates. But if the Democrats are shrewd, they will help voters connect these dots.

Robert Kuttner is co-editor of The American Prospect and a senior fellow at Demos. His column appears regularly in the Globe.

Copyright 2006 Boston Globe
Same Song, Different Scandal

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Past Comes Back to Haunt Us in Form of Kissinger - by Helen Thomas

WASHINGTON - Say it isn't so. Hawkish Henry Kissinger is advising President Bush about Iraq war strategy? This is déjà vu all over again.

The former secretary of state -- who served in that job from 1973 to 1979 and previously from 1969 as national security affairs adviser -- inspires too many bad memories of the Vietnam War.

I remember when Kissinger came into the White House press room in 1972 just before the presidential election and announced "peace is at hand."

Three years later, we fled Saigon by our fingertips. Who can forget the pictures of refugees piling into helicopters parked on Saigon rooftops, with the North Vietnamese army at the gate. "Read More" click link below


That was in 1975 and we survived the defeat. The U.S. and Vietnam are now friendly, with diplomatic and business links.

Kissinger is back as an elder statesman doling out advice to embattled Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney that "victory over the insurgency is the only meaningful exit strategy."

Journalist-author Bob Woodward describes Kissinger's strong anti-withdrawal views in his new book "State of Denial."

Woodward wrote that the president has met privately with Kissinger every couple of months, making him Bush's most regular outside adviser. The author said Cheney told him in the summer of 2005 that he meets with Kissinger at least once a month.

Kissinger's message to the president and his top aides -- including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- was they should not give an inch and to stick it out in Iraq.

He maintained that Vietnam collapsed like a house of cards because the Nixon administration did not have time, focus, energy and political support and the American people did not have the will.

Actually, I recall things differently. As I remember it, thousands of Americans hit the streets to protest against the war. Neither President Nixon nor Lyndon B. Johnson before him could sell the public on the need to remain in Southeast Asia. Besides, Nixon was elected in 1968 on his campaign slogan that he had a plan to end the war.

A selective memory may be forgivable, but not when old men continue to want to send young men and women to far off places to fight but can't quite explain why.

White House press secretary Tony Snow said Kissinger told him "he supports the overall thrust and direction of the administration policy" in Iraq.

Snow also told reporters that "victory was the only exit strategy after the Civil War, and then after World War I and World War II. Typically in time of war, that is the exit strategy."

Excuse me, Tony, but surely you are not comparing the U.S. invasion of Iraq with the two world wars?

Kissinger also is quoted as saying that Bush needed to resist pressure to withdraw troops since that would create a momentum for an exit that is less than victory.

Woodward said on CBS-TV's "60 Minutes" on Oct. 1 that "Kissinger's fighting the Vietnam War again because, in his view, the problem in Vietnam was we lost our will." Well, Kissinger was right about that. The reason is simple: People saw no reason to lose more lives there.

According to Woodward's book, Kissinger told Michael Gerson, Bush's former chief speechwriter: "The president can't be talking about troop reductions as a centerpiece."

To make his point, Kissinger gave Gerson a copy of a memo he had written to President Nixon on Sept. 10, 1969.

"Withdrawal of U.S. troops will become like salted peanuts to the American public. The more U.S. troops come home, the more will be demanded," he wrote.

"It will become harder and harder to maintain the morale of those who remain, not to speak of their mothers," he said.

Kissinger also feels that public pressure for withdrawal from Iraq would only encourage the enemy.

His views match the administration's 35-page "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" issued last year.

The administration would prefer not to evoke memories of the Vietnam quagmire, the 58,000-plus American war dead, and its bitter legacy, yet it all sounds too familiar when we hear officials insist we need to "stay the course" and deride dissenters as those who want to "cut and run."

They seem to forget that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

© 1998-2006 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Past Comes Back to Haunt Us in Form of Kissinger

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A Biocontrol Agent Which Doesn't Trigger Antibiotic Resistance

A failed experiment turned out to be anything but for bacteriologist Marcin Filutowicz. As he was puzzling out why what should have been a routine procedure wouldn't work, he made a discovery that led to the creation of a new biological tool for destroying bacterial pathogens - one that doesn't appear to trigger antibiotic resistance.

The discovery also led to the startup of a promising new biotechnology firm that has already brought Wisconsin a dozen new, high-paying, highly skilled jobs. Filutowicz is a professor of bacteriology in the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. link below >>>


His inspiration came one morning in 1999 when he was puzzling over a failed experiment. A researcher in his lab had been trying to insert two different mutations into an ordinary bacterial plasmid - a routine task for the experienced scientist - but every attempt failed to produce a live bacterium.

Plasmids are circular DNA molecules that are different from chromosomal DNA, the genetic material that encodes the instructions for life in all cells. Plasmids are small, non-chromosomal DNA molecules. They are common in bacteria. The genes in plasmids often encode information that confers some selective advantage to their hosts - such as the ability to resist antibiotics.

Plasmids are useful tools for genetic engineering. It is relatively easy for a scientist to alter a plasmid's genetic makeup and then transfer the plasmid into a bacterium. The host bacterium then replicates the recombinant plasmid and transfers copies of it to other bacteria in a process called conjugation.

As he investigated the failed experiment, Filutowicz - who has spent two decades studying how plasmid replication is regulated - made a critical observation. A plasmid with one or the other of the benign mutations persisted, although it replicated a little more frequently than a mutation-free plasmid. How could it be, he wondered, that a bacteria with both mutations could not survive? The professor surmised that when the two mutations were brought together, the plasmid carrying them became harmful by over-replicating within the bacterium, ultimately destroying it.

"And I thought, this is very cool!" recalls Filutowicz. "I didn't observe any survival or further resistance to over-replication, even though typically when bacteria are exposed to harmful agents like antibiotics, resistant strains emerge. Nothing with the killer plasmid survived."

The next step was to engineer a strain of bacteria that could suppress over-replication of the key plasmid. This so-called "Trojan horse" could then be used to spread the killer plasmid via conjugation to targeted bacterial pathogens that lacked the ability to resist over-replication.

"We harnessed this plasmid," thought Filutowicz. "Now, how can we use it?"

The answer came in 1999, when he filed a disclosure through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, which patents the discoveries of UW-Madison researchers and licenses technology to industry. Filutowicz believed so strongly in the potential of the basic work done in his lab that he, along with professor of oncology Richard Burgess, started a company called ConjuGon - "because you conjugate and it's gone!" -- to develop the technology and ultimately bring it to human trials, which are currently planned for 2007 or 2008. A patent for his discovery has just been issued.

"We see a broad application for this work," he explains. "We can build things that don't exist in nature. It's a versatile concept that doesn't apply to just one antimicrobial agent."

Filutowicz and Burgess, wine enthusiasts who are as comfortable fermenting grapes as they are transforming bacterial plasmids, partnered with students from the Weinert Applied Ventures Program at the UW-Madison School of Business to develop a plan for ConjuGon. One of the students, Sal Braico, ultimately became Chief Operating Officer of the company. "Sal learned about biology and got experience with a start-up, and Dick and I got business expertise. It was a great partnership," Filutowicz says.

In addition to federal funding from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense, the company has also attracted so-called angel funding from outside investors. Filutowicz and Burgess are not on the payroll of the research park company themselves, but they are proud that ConjuGon employs other people and has created 12 high-paying and highly skilled jobs for the Madison area.

Because of that, says Filutowicz, ConjuGon is helping to ensure the future of microbial sciences at the UW-Madison.

"We have one of the largest and most prominent communities of microbiologists in the country on the UW-Madison campus," he says. "It's important to provide jobs and opportunities in Madison for people who train here."

And beyond helping to expand Wisconsin's booming biotechnology sector, success at ConjuGon will ultimately help nurture future scientific innovations from the university.

"Because WARF is the licensor of my patent, and the company is a licensee, ConjGon, if successful, will ultimately support more UW research," Filutowicz explains.

A powerful, long-reaching impact - all from an idea that originated in a failed experiment.

Related Links
University of Wisconsin-Madison
The science and news of Epidemics on Earth

A Biocontrol Agent Which Doesn't Trigger Antibiotic Resistance

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£80billion ($150B) per square metre |

Pinhead house

As house prices continue to soar, buying a property for £20,000 ($38k) might seem like a bargain.

But, although this home sounds cheap, it is actually Britain's most expensive property based on size – costing the equivalent of £80billion per square metre. That's because the four-room property is only as big as a full stop.

Made by artist Willard Wigan, who specialises in micro sculptures, it fits on the top of a dressmaker's pin and measures just 0.5mm across. Its price tag puts even Britain's most expensive properties in the shade.

Old Swan House on London's Chelsea Embankment, which has a £32million
price tag, seems a bargain by comparison, at £18,000 per square metre.

Mr Wigan, 49, from Birmingham, used the popular Huf Haus timber and glass design for the house.

He said: 'I spent 15 hours a day for seven weeks sculpting a minute piece of diamond. The beams are made out of floating fibres that you see in sunlight.

'To paint the house, I took the hair from a dead spider's legs and made a paintbrush. Then it was a case of being very patient and careful.'

The house will be displayed at the Grand Designs Live Show at the NEC in Birmingham tomorrow.

£80billion per square metre |

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» FEMA CONCENTRATION CAMPS: Locations and Executive Orders - RINF Alternative News

There over 800 prison camps in the United States, all fully operational and ready to receive prisoners. They are all staffed and even surrounded by full-time guards, but they are all empty. These camps are to be operated by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) should Martial Law need to be implemented in the United States and all it would take is a presidential signature on a proclamation and the attorney general’s signature on a warrant to which a list of names is attached. Ask yourself if you really want to be on Ashcroft’s list.

The Rex 84 Program was established on the reasoning that if a “mass exodus” of illegal aliens crossed the Mexican/US border, they would be quickly rounded up and detained in detention centers by FEMA. Rex 84 allowed many military bases to be closed down and to be turned into prisons. "Read More" click link below
» FEMA CONCENTRATION CAMPS: Locations and Executive Orders - RINF Alternative News

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Legalize it! ...Don't criticize it! (with apologies to Bob Marley) on picture to "embiggen" view.

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The End of the Republican Revolution.

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Elephant on picture to "embiggen" view.

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Gratification delayed is gratification on picture to "embiggen" view.

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Bad Reporter for on picture to "embiggen" view.

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In the on picture to "embiggen" view.

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Think Progress » Conservatives Propagate False Talking Point Defending Hastert’s Handling Of Foley Scandal

No Bush Left Behind

The President's brother Neil is making hay from school reform

Across the country, some teachers complain that President George W. Bush's makeover of public education promotes "teaching to the test." The President's younger brother Neil takes a different tack: He's selling to the test. The No Child Left Behind Act compels schools to prove students' mastery of certain facts by means of standardized exams. Pressure to perform has energized the $1.9 billion-a-year instructional software industry. "Read More" click link below


Now, after five years of development and backing by investors like Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal and onetime junk-bond king Michael R. Milken, Neil Bush aims to roll his high-tech teacher's helpers into classrooms nationwide. He calls them "curriculum on wheels," or COWs. The $3,800 purple plug-and-play computer/projectors display lively videos and cartoons: the XYZ Affair of the late 1790s as operetta, the 1828 Tariff of Abominations as horror flick. The device plays songs that are supposed to aid the memorization of the 22 rivers of Texas or other facts that might crop up in state tests of "essential knowledge."

Bush's Ignite! Inc. has sold 1,700 COWs since 2005, mainly in Texas, where Bush lives and his brother was once governor. In August, Houston's school board authorized expenditures of up to $200,000 for COWs. The company expects 2006 revenue of $5 million. Says Bush about the impact of his name: "I'm not saying it hasn't opened any doors. It may have helped with some sales." (In September, the U.S. Education Dept.'s inspector general accused the agency of improperly favoring at least five publishers, including The McGraw-Hill Companies, which owns BusinessWeek. A company spokesman says: "Our reading programs have been successful in advancing student achievement for decades; that's why educators hold them in such high regard.")

The stars haven't always aligned for Bush, but at times financial support has. A foundation linked to the controversial Reverend Sun Myung Moon has donated $1 million for a COWs research project in Washington (D.C.)-area schools. In 2004 a Shanghai chip company agreed to give Bush stock then valued at $2 million for showing up at board meetings. (Bush says he received one-fifth of the shares.) In 1988 a Colorado savings and loan failed while he served on its board, making him a prominent symbol of the S&L scandal. Neil calls himself "the most politically damaged of the [Bush] brothers."

While hardly the first brother to embarrass a President -- remember Billy Carter's Billy Beer or Roger Clinton's cocaine? -- Neil could be the first to seek profit from a hallmark Presidential crusade. And also that of a governor: Jeb makes school standards a centerpiece in Florida, too.

Neil says he never talks shop with his brothers. He attributes his interest in education to his struggles with dyslexia. His son, Pierce, also had difficulties in school, he says. "Not one of our investors has ever asked for any kind of special access -- a visa, a trip to the Lincoln Bedroom, an autographed picture, or anything."
No Bush Left Behind

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Truth Serum: It's easier than tortureThe Five Stages of (GOP) Death - Marijuana may stave off Alzheimer's - Oct 5, 2006

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) -- Good news for aging hippies: Smoking pot may stave off Alzheimer's disease.

New research shows that the active ingredient in marijuana may prevent the progression of the disease by preserving levels of an important neurotransmitter that allows the brain to function.

Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in California found that marijuana's active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, can prevent the neurotransmitter acetylcholine from breaking down more effectively than commercially marketed drugs.

THC is also more effective at blocking clumps of protein that can inhibit memory and cognition in Alzheimer's patients, the researchers reported in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics.

The researchers said their discovery could lead to more effective drug treatment for Alzheimer's, the leading cause of dementia among the elderly.

Those afflicted with Alzheimer's suffer from memory loss, impaired decision-making, and diminished language and movement skills. The ultimate cause of the disease is unknown, though it is believed to be hereditary.

Marijuana is used to relieve glaucoma and can help reduce side effects from cancer and AIDS treatment.

Possessing marijuana for recreational use is illegal in many parts of the world, including the United States, though some states allow possession for medical purposes.

Copyright 2006 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
SOURCE: - Marijuana may stave off Alzheimer's - Oct 5, 2006

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Intelligent, Emotional, Ingenious: the Amazing Truth about Whales and Dolphins

by Michael McCarthy

Jumping through watery hoops? Forget it. They can solve problems and use tools. They exhibit joy and grief. They live in complex societies.

Bottlenose dolphins. (Photo/Flip Nicklin/Minden Pictures)
And although we have always instinctively thought that cetaceans - whales, dolphins and porpoises - are special members of the animal kingdom, scientific evidence is piling up that they are truly out of the ordinary in terms of their intelligence.

A growing number of behavioural studies strongly suggest that whale and dolphin brain power is matched only by the higher primates, including man, according to a new review of the scientific literature by one of Britain's leading save-the-whale campaigners.

It means that the potential impact of whaling may be far greater than it appears, and we should adopt a new approach to the conservation of these species which takes into account their intelligence, societies, culture - and potential to suffer, says Mark Simmonds, director of science for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.

In a scientific paper published this month, Mr Simmonds surveys recent cetacean research and highlights striking examples which have been observed of whale and dolphin behaviour. For instance, captive animals have been shown unequivocally to be able to recognise themselves in a mirror, which was previously known to be the domain only of humans and the great apes.

There are many other examples of intelligence, Mr Simmonds reports in his paper Into the brains of whales, being published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

Dolphins can "point" at objects with their heads to guide humans to them, and they can also manipulate objects spontaneously, despite their lack of fingers and thumbs. There is a well-documented use of tools in an Australian population of wild Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, he says. "The animals (almost exclusively females) are often seen carrying sponges on the ends of their beaks, probably to protect them while they forage in the sediments on the sea floor where spiny sea urchins might otherwise cause puncture wounds."

They show remarkably human-like emotions, ranging from joy to grief to care for the injured. Mr Simmonds quotes a case of a 30-strong pod of false killer whales which remained with an injured member in shallows for three days, exposing themselves to sunburn and the risk of stranding, until it died.

Group living, in fact, is at the centre of cetacean existence, perhaps because the sea has few refuges from predators, and many species "have nothing to hide behind but each other". It has led to the evolution of many types of sophisticated co-operative behaviour, from hunting, to young males banding together to secure mating partners. And there is an "emerging but compelling argument", Mr Simmonds says, that some cetacean species exhibit culture - behaviour that is acquired through social learning.

He points out that since commercial whaling was put on hold in 1986, some of the devastated populations have recovered, but some have not. It is plausible, he says, that the whalers destroyed "not just numerous individuals, but also the cultural knowledge that they harboured relating to how to exploit certain habitats and areas."

But the jury is still out, he says, on whether the vast range of sounds emitted by whales and dolphins constitutes language.

© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited

Intelligent, Emotional, Ingenious: the Amazing Truth about Whales and Dolphins

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Bush Talked Dirty to the Country. Investigate Bush - by Bill C. Davis

They're investigating Hastert and Foley and Reynolds and Fordham - they're investigating rumors. They get to say and print taboo exchanges as if they are bits of news and evidence. Anchor men and women have to work on their delivery of porno dialogue and then cut to commercial. Sex sells.

But the pornography of dead and maimed young men dying in an unnecessary and criminal war gets relegated to the scrawl beneath the tabloid festivities. These young men who are reduced to numbers - 21 in the first five days in October - are maybe four or five years older than congressional pages, some of whose biggest concern right now is deciding whether to talk to CNN or MSNBC.

In the 90's it was assumed bombs were dropped to divert from a sex scandal - now we have a sex scandal that is diverting from a savage, vicious war that is being revealed to be a calculated crime. As those revelations try to reach critical mass the national consciousness is chewing on sexualized instant messages between predator and prey and in some cases between two different types of opportunists.

Continued on "Print Article and/or Read More" below >>>
One has to wonder if any of these pages are signing up to fight in this war that the people they deliver messages to voted for. One wonders if any one in Congress urged any of the pages to sign up for a tour of duty in Baghdad. They voted for this war - they surrendered their exclusive right to declare war and gave it to the president who talked dirty to the country and to young soldiers - and now we have the instant message - war is the biggest obscenity. Using soldiers as mercenaries is molestation. Investigate Bush.

There's a statue in Lafayette Park in Washington DC called Military Instruction. It is the image of two nude men doting on a sword held by the younger of the two men. It's an unconsciously sexualized image clearly honoring the tradition of an older man teaching a younger man how to use a weapon. The instant message of that bronze work of art is - kill. The two bonded men with the weapon between them are heroic in their disposition to each other because there is an instrument of death that their eyes are fixed on. If they were looking into each other's eyes the statue would be pornographic. The weapon rescues it from being sick.

The Foley scandal is worth one day of news and lots of therapy - for everyone involved. The attention that needs to be paid is to the war. Why it happened? Who let it happen? Who lied to make it happen? The Foley scandal sadly creates fodder for comics - the war creates fodder out of our young citizens and the Iraqi people. Only Bush knows how to make jokes out of that. ("No WMD's there." as he looks under a drape.) Investigate Bush.

They're looking for guidance from Bush as to how to investigate this scandal. They look for a comment from him. "Dismayed." "Disgusted." Two American soldiers were dragged through an Iraqi street and set on fire in retaliation for the rape of a 14 year old Iraqi girl and the murder of her family by American soldiers from the same company. Bush put those soldiers there - the ones being killed - the ones killing and raping - they didn't need to be there. He's disgusted by the Foley scandal? As the instant messenger for this war, he's relinquished his right to be disgusted. Investigate Bush.

Bill C. Davis is a playwright.
Bush Talked Dirty to the Country. Investigate Bush

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Waterboarding Historically Controversial -

In 1947, the U.S. Called It a War Crime; in 1968, It Reportedly Caused an Investigation

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 5, 2006; A17

Key senators say Congress has outlawed one of the most notorious detainee interrogation techniques -- "waterboarding," in which a prisoner feels near drowning. But the White House will not go that far, saying it would be wrong to tell terrorists which practices they might face.

Inside the CIA, waterboarding is cited as the technique that got Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the prime plotter of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, to begin to talk and provide information -- though "not all of it reliable," a former senior intelligence official said.

Waterboarding is variously characterized as a powerful tool and a symbol of excess in the nation's fight against terrorists. But just what is waterboarding, and where does it fit in the arsenal of coercive interrogation techniques? "Read More" click link below


On Jan. 21, 1968, The Washington Post published a front-page photograph of a U.S. soldier supervising the questioning of a captured North Vietnamese soldier who is being held down as water was poured on his face while his nose and mouth were covered by a cloth. The picture, taken four days earlier near Da Nang, had a caption that said the technique induced "a flooding sense of suffocation and drowning, meant to make him talk."

The article said the practice was "fairly common" in part because "those who practice it say it combines the advantages of being unpleasant enough to make people talk while still not causing permanent injury."

The picture reportedly led to an Army investigation.

Twenty-one years earlier, in 1947, the United States charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for carrying out another form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian. The subject was strapped on a stretcher that was tilted so that his feet were in the air and head near the floor, and small amounts of water were poured over his face, leaving him gasping for air until he agreed to talk.

"Asano was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) told his colleagues last Thursday during the debate on military commissions legislation. "We punished people with 15 years of hard labor when waterboarding was used against Americans in World War II," he said.

A CIA interrogation training manual declassified 12 years ago, "KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation -- July 1963," outlined a procedure similar to waterboarding. Subjects were suspended in tanks of water wearing blackout masks that allowed for breathing. Within hours, the subjects felt tension and so-called environmental anxiety. "Providing relief for growing discomfort, the questioner assumes a benevolent role," the manual states.

The KUBARK manual was the product of more than a decade of research and testing, refining lessons learned from the Korean War, where U.S. airmen were subjected to a new type of "touchless torture" until they confessed to a bogus plan to use biological weapons against the North Koreans.

Used to train new interrogators, the handbook presented "basic information about coercive techniques available for use in the interrogation situation." When it comes to torture, however, the handbook advised that "the threat to inflict pain . . . can trigger fears more damaging than the immediate sensation of pain."

In the post-Vietnam period, the Navy SEALs and some Army Special Forces used a form of waterboarding with trainees to prepare them to resist interrogation if captured. The waterboarding proved so successful in breaking their will, says one former Navy captain familiar with the practice, "they stopped using it because it hurt morale."

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the interrogation world changed. Low-level Taliban and Arab fighters captured in Afghanistan provided little information, the former intelligence official said. When higher-level al-Qaeda operatives were captured, CIA interrogators sought authority to use more coercive methods.

These were cleared not only at the White House but also by the Justice Department and briefed to senior congressional officials, according to a statement released last month by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Waterboarding was one of the approved techniques.

When questions began to be raised last year about the handling of high-level detainees and Congress passed legislation barring torture, the handful of CIA interrogators and senior officials who authorized their actions became concerned that they might lose government support.

Passage last month of military commissions legislation provided retroactive legal protection to those who carried out waterboarding and other coercive interrogation techniques.
© 2006 The Washington Post Company
Waterboarding Historically Controversial -

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Hater-Aid : Creators of anti iPod Web sites gather support from iHaters worldwide

By Dani Garcia
The Daily Northwestern

They sold it back to us and claimed no correlation. The iMac, iPod, iGeneration. 'Hey! You're part of it.' Talking about the iGeneration."

We have been summed up lyrically by Andrew Nielsen, better known as MC Lars, in his 2004 album "The Laptop." As explained on the comedic rapper's Web site, "iGeneration" describes the people born primarily in the late 1980s that "have grown up using the Internet as a part of their everyday life and can conveniently carry 5,000 songs in their pocket," not so subtly hinting at the popularity of Apple's iPod.

In 2004, the iPod became the must-have electronic device of the holiday season, resulting in the sale of more than 4.4 million that year alone. The shift in consumer behavior continued into 2005, and the iPod generation was born. This mp3 player is now seen in the hands of every tech-savvy college student, hip 20-something and trend-following high schooler in the nation - and their moms. As of early 2006, Apple CEO Steve Jobs reported sales of over 42 million iPods total, meaning that about 100 iPods are sold every minute. Yet despite all the iPod-lovers out there, a group of people has gathered together, scorning the day it was ever created.

The anti-iPod movement is slowly growing, almost becoming as well known as the mp3 player that it protests against. There are a dedicated few on the Internet who put time, energy and their own humor into creating interactive Web sites against Apple's most popular item.

Jack Curtis, creator of, tells his visitors to "rise against the cult." Visitors are greeted with the following opening message: "The tiny and insignificant box of memory chips known unto us as the iPod is warping the minds of it's users (otherwise known as iPeople), rendering them incapable of communication and destroying our culture - why talk when you can inject yourself with another dose of musical disharmony through the syringe of the iPod?" "Read More" click link below


His motivation for starting his Web site came during his time in college, from what he and his friends labeled the 'iPod Crew.'

"They sat in the cafeteria and said nothing. They all sat there just listening to their iPods as if under some hypnotic trance," he says in an e-mail interview. "And when they did speak, they'd talk about their latest iPod accessory or songs they've downloaded."

A tongue-in-cheek project that is more for its creator's amusement above anything else, Curtis also encourages his visitors to buy anti-iPod merchandise, provides links to other iPod-hating web pages and writes his own scathing articles on iPod-related news and accessories.

But the Web site's main attraction would be Curtis' conspiracy theories. His subliminal message theory claims that when people use iPods, a series of programmed high-pitch frequencies, undetectable by the human ear, could be "washing" the listener's brain. Curtis has a personal experience as proof: Two years ago, he says that he attended a party where the DJ plugged his iPod into his speakers. Two months later, he says that at least 80 percent of all the people who attended had become owners of iPods, causing Curtis to contend that it could not be a coincidence. He goes on to say in his theory that "perhaps somebody is waiting until the majority of the world owns one. Then they can pull a switch and activate the one subliminal message secretly stored in every iPod in the world which will lead the world to destruction!"

Curtis' most amusing theory is of the extraterrestrial kind, in which he says that evidence has found that small aliens live inside iPods and he provides "photographic proof," thanks to the wonders of editing. He also claims that scientists at Oxford University have "obtained video evidence proving iPods come to life when no one is present" and provides a link to hilariously edited animation.

Not enough people seem to understand Curtis' humor. His guestbook and inbox are flooded with angry rebuttals to his site. "I get a huge variety of mail, but the negatives outweigh the positives by far," he says. "These iPeople won't have a word said against their precious treasures!"

Curtis now dedicates a page on his Web site to hate mail from one persistent user. One e-mail states: "I don't know why you hate iPods so much. Get a life, man. Can't you think of anything more interesting or important to do than fill your days hating a machine?" But Curtis finds the situation rather funny and went as far as to add a poll where visitors can vote as to who is more childish: the user or himself. The user is currently beating Curtis by 70 percent.

A different approach to the anti-iPod movement is Yegor Simpson's Web site, The concept behind it is exactly what the titles suggests: in what Simpson calls a "social experiment," he collected $400 in donations, purchased an iPod at a local Apple store and destroyed it right on the spot in October 2005. He filmed the event and put it on his site. A forum is also available for people to discuss their "hatred of the iPod".

"I just thought this would be a great way to stir up emotion in people and see how they feel towards their beloved iPod," Simpson explains about why he created his Web site.

Simpson's grudge toward the iPod began a few years ago, when he too had been an iPod user. "A part of it is a personal vendetta," he says. "I was one of the many unlucky people who owned an iPod. Apple did give me a replacement, but it was two months later, which at that point I already had a different mp3 player."

The response to Simpson's project was even stronger than he had expected. He has two separate pages on his Web site, one devoted to fan mail and the other to hate mail. Those who donated, along with other supporters, leave messages such as: "I love the idea of buying one and breaking it in the store, the very nest of Apple fanaticism. As a social experiment, I believe this will yield fascinating results. Just...don't get knifed, okay?"

Yet the hate mail Simpson receives has reached a level he calls "pretty extreme." One of the more tame e-mails states: "I'm glad people are willing to spend their money on absolutely nothing. Doesn't this make you more foolish than people who spend their money on iPods? Smashing the iPod will serve nothing but your vanity. Congratulations."

Simpson says responses cut both ways.

"I got e-mails of total and unconditional support, as well as threats of being sodomized with various blunt objects and even death," he says. "It's amazing how much hate a little plastic box can generate."

Simpson's original Web site is still up for anyone to view, but the current version now carries reviews of the alternatives to iPods and parodies of well-known iPod commercials, as well as the Mac vs. PC commercials.

Finally, 20-year-old Tyler Deffenbaugh hosts the blog His first entry gives a good idea of what the rest will sound like: "It seems that fashion has outweighed function, and the audio quality has taken a backseat to "looking cool." I'm sure if you just dropped three Bens on a music player you'd want to show it off, but please, find another pair of 'phones and be a little more discreet." The blog chronicles Deffenbaugh's anti-iPod rants from February 2005 to May 2006.

"I just thought I needed an easily accessible outlet for writing negative articles about something that almost everybody likes. I'd like to piss people off but also make them laugh," Deffenbaugh explains. "Plus, I thought it'd be cool to say I had a Web site."

While the blog has Deffenbaugh's well-thought and amusing opinions on the iPod and related items, it mainly explores and ridicules the mania that follows the iPod. One entry from March 2005 shows how iPod lovers "really like shoving things into the ears of a variety of small creatures, whether they be dogs, cats or children." Deffenbaugh provides pictures as proof from the iLounge web gallery and then jokingly provides a picture of his own dog barking menacingly, adding that, "The iPod critters' complacency could be attributed to their owners' own behavior, as they have no will of their own and just take the crap that's given to them. Not my Rufus, though. He's got moxie."

Another entry from November 2005 is devoted to Deffenbaugh mocking those who dressed up as iPods for Halloween, something that he describes as "downright asinine." One example is a young boy wearing a T-shirt that looked like the front of an iPod, followed by an amused quip: "Shortly after this picture was taken, an older child dressed as a Zen Micro punched this kid in the face and stole his lunch money."

"I know people say get a life for writing about hating an mp3 player," Deffenbaugh says. "I say, look at some of the people in my source material. They're far worse off than I am."

Deffenbaugh's dislike for it has "evolved over time," beginning with what he calls the irritating movement of people buying iPods because it was the "in" thing to do. "Now it seems like people only get them because they think that iPods are the only music players on the market, thanks to Apple's pricey and ubiquitous marketing and the competition's lack thereof," Deffenbaugh says.

Another reason why iPods still irk him is because of their portrayal in the media, such as being used as plot devices in movies and combined advertising that feature the iPod with other items, such as cars and clothing.

"It's really quite annoying," Deffenbaugh says. "I just want to tell these people 'Okay, we get it. You want to align yourself with the hip gadget because you think that it will make your own products seem hip in relation.'"

But Deffenbaugh says one of the main reasons for his hatred that has remained unchanged is how the iPod has begun to "develop and foster a culture of rudeness and isolation."

"I seriously won't talk to someone who won't take both ear buds out to listen to me," he says. "I know you don't necessarily have to have an iPod-branded player to do this, but I blame it for pretty much starting this 'constant-soundtrack' culture."

The backlash against the iPod is continuing to grow, but the proof of its reign over the world of online music can be found in the popularity of Web sites in support of the mp3 player. Profits are being made in the sales of accessories, from cases to batteries to adapters. The iLounge, a domain created only days after the announcement of the iPod in 2001, is considered to be the top site for iPod users and information. The Web site now names its number of visitors at approximately four million people per month.

Jeremy Horwitz, Editor-in-Chief of iLounge, says that he chose his job due to his love for the iPod and wanting to help others learn more about it.

"No one else has created competing software or hardware that's as easy as Apple's or as stylish," he says. "The iPod has unstoppable momentum. Few people are willing to risk buying alternatives that won't be around a year or two from now."

Although Horwitz says he's admittedly biased, he believes that the anti-iPod movement will never reach the levels of the devoted fans.

"The numbers speak for themselves," he says. "There are more iPods sold every day than all of its competitors put together."

The "leaders" of the anti-iPod movement agree that through a combination of unparalleled popularity and mass consumerism, the iPod is a strong, if not unstoppable force.

While most of Apple's competitors are struggling to create a product that can claim the mythical title of "iPod Killer," Simpson believes the iPod's demise is mostly likely far in the distant future.

"Unless another company builds a sleeker, meaner and more overpriced machine and has an ad budget equal to a GDP of a small nation, I don't see it happening anytime soon," Simpson says. "As long as there is consumerism, the iPod is here to stay."

Medill junior Dani Garcia is a PLAY writer. She can be reached at © Copyright 2006 The Daily Northwestern
The Daily Northwestern - Hater-Aid

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ABC: Three More Pages Come Forward

From ABC News:

Three more former congressional pages have come forward to reveal what they call "sexual approaches" over the Internet from former Congressman Mark Foley.

The pages served in the classes of 1998, 2000 and 2002....

"I was seventeen years old and just returned to [my home state] when Foley began to e-mail me, asking if I had ever seen my page roommates naked and how big their penises were," said the page in the 2002 class.

The former page also said Foley told him that if he happened to be in Washington, D.C., he could stay at Foley's home if he "would engage in oral sex" with Foley....

The second page who talked with ABC News, a graduate of the 2000 page class, says Foley actually visited the old page dorm and offered rides to events in his BMW.

"His e-mails developed into sexually explicit conversations, and he asked me for photographs of my erect penis," the former page said....

All three pages described similar instant message and e-mail patterns, with remarkably similar escalations of provocative questions.

"He didn't want to talk about politics," the page said. "He wanted to talk about sex or my penis," the page said.

The three new verbal accounts are in addition to two sets of sexually explicit instant messages provided to ABC News by former pages.
TPMmuckraker October 5, 2006 05:36 PM

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes) - He spent life picking himself up

A truly amazing story about one man's trials and tribulations. Job had nothing on Thomas L. Cook.

Thomas L. Cook, who died at 54 when he was fatally hit by a car Sept. 11, spent much of his life recovering from the misadventures that plagued him even in the womb.

"He was kinda accident-prone, I swear to God, even before he was born," said his sister, Mady Eitani.

"He was nearly miscarried. He had serious accidents as a child. Crazy things. Broke his collarbone. He was hit in the head one time by a teeter-totter and had to have blood drained out of his skull. Wrong place, wrong time. Story of his life."

After the first few visits to the emergency room, Cook's family joked that he must have nine lives, an opinion shared by a neighbor, Dr. Arnold Silverman, a pediatric physician who became Cook's de facto on-call doctor.

"Nine lives, and he certainly used them up," Silverman said.

"Every time the phone rang and it was the Cooks, I just said that I'd be right over."

When Cook returned home from a high school skiing trip, complaining about
abdominal pain, Silverman looked at his belly and sent Cook straight to Children's Hospital.

Cook underwent an emergency splenectomy to remove his hemorrhaging spleen. The organ, injured a few days earlier in a pickup football game, began bleeding while Cook and his friends were skiing. "Read More" click link below


The next major injury occurred when Cook, still a teenager, fell from the go-kart he was driving. Again, the Cooks called Silverman. Again, Silverman told them to call an ambulance almost as soon as he saw Tom Cook.

The ambulance took Cook to University Hospital, where surgeons drained blood from his skull, relieving pressure on his brain and brain stem. Cook went home but was back a few hours later for a second operation after the bleeding resumed.

The third major accident - like Eitani, Silverman distinguishes between those and "a host of other injuries Tom survived" - involved an out-of- town car accident. It left Cook, then a promising Colorado State University student, with severe brain damage and in a semi-vegetative coma for more than five months.

"No one had any hope at all for his survival as someone with a viable life," Silverman said.

"Then one day, he woke up. That began his incredible comeback."

The injuries reduced Cook's physical abilities to those of an infant, requiring more than a year of treatment at Craig Hospital, which specializes in spinal cord and traumatic brain injury rehabilitation.

"He had to learn to walk and talk and potty-train and feed himself again," Eitani said.

When at last Cook recuperated, he found a job as an assistant computer programmer at Denver's Medicare office. He made fast friends among his colleagues, who learned to enjoy Cook's singular braying laughter.

Though he walked with the gingerly trepidation of someone negotiating an ice-glazed sidewalk, Cook's confidence and buoyant nature returned. Then, driving near the intersection where the first accident occurred, Cook heard the familiar, sickening crunch of metal on metal as another vehicle slammed into his car.

"That was when he broke his back for the first time," his sister recalled.

"He broke it two other times after that and broke his ribs in falls and various accidents. It left him really crippled as a young man."

Again, he learned how to walk, talk, dress, feed himself and perform other chores that once were second nature. Though the injuries and other disabilities left him increasingly hunchbacked - "kinda comma- shaped," Silverman said - Cook insisted on using a cane instead of a walker until a few months ago. He refused to use a wheelchair, though it took him half an hour to shuffle from his apartment to the corner of his block.

To keep his bones strong, Cook exercised daily with a walk that began precisely at 1:45 p.m. Among the few indulgences he allowed himself was the brownie he bought only at a certain bakery.

"They knew him very well at Child's Pastry," Eitani said.

"He'd choose a specific brownie by the taste and size. Otherwise, all he ate was Stouffer's dinners, and he had those categorized in his freezer - one for Mondays, one for Tuesdays. Everything was by the clock. That's why it's so hard, with him running late that day. That's what put him on the corner at 3:45 that Monday. Otherwise, he'd have been home."

Mourners overflowed the church that held Cook's memorial service last week.

"They had to bring in extra chairs," Silverman said.

"He was thin as a wisp of hair, but he was a self-sufficient person. To have survived these accidents and come back a functioning person was such an accomplishment. To have the strength to go on is such a tribute to his toughness."

Besides his sister, survivors include mother Barbara Fazio of Santa Barbara, Calif.; father Durwood Cook of Salt Lake City; and grandmother Maxine Cook of Salt Lake City. One brother preceded him in death.

The family suggests memorial donations to Craig Hospital, 3425 Clarkson St., Englewood CO 80113.

Staff writer Claire Martin can be reached at 303-954-1477 or
SOURCE: - He spent life picking himself up

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It's no joke: IU study finds The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to be as substantive as network news

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Which would you think has more substantive news coverage -- traditional broadcast network newscasts or The Daily Show with Jon Stewart?

Would you believe the answer is neither?

Julia R. Fox, assistant professor of telecommunications at Indiana University isn't joking when she says the popular "fake news" program, which last week featured Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf as a guest, is just as substantive as network coverage.

While much has been written in the media about The Daily Show's impact, Fox's study is the first scholarly effort to systematically examine how the comedy program compares to traditional television news as sources of political information. "Read More" click link below


The study, "No Joke: A Comparison of Substance in The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Broadcast Network Television Coverage of the 2004 Presidential Election Campaign," will be published next summer by the Journal of Broadcast and Electronic Media, published by the Broadcast Education Association.

"It is clearly a humor show, first and foremost," Fox said of Stewart's program. "But there is some substance on there, and in some cases, like John Edwards announcing his candidacy, the news is made on the show. You have real newsmakers coming on, and yes, sometimes the banter and questions get a little silly, but there is also substantive dialogue going on … It's a legitimate source of news."

Most people have little direct contact with politicians and get most of their political information from the media. Given the growing number of young voters who say they look to The Daily Show to meet their political information needs, Fox thought it was important to see whether the program did so.

She and two graduate students at IU -- Glory Koloen and Volkan Sahin -- analyzed coverage of the 2004 national political conventions and the first presidential debate by the networks and Stewart's program. They examined broadcast nightly newscasts on July 26-30, Aug. 30-31 and Sept. 1-3 in 2004. Similarly, they studied episodes of The Daily Show on July 27-30, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1-3 in 2004.

"Conventions typically offer candidates a chance to present their views on what they consider to be the important issues facing the nation and are critically important for shoring up political bases and reaching out to independent voters," Fox said in explaining her reasoning. "While debates tend to reinforce pre-existing candidate preferences, they are particularly important for activating supporters and can sway undecided voters."

Not surprisingly, a second-by-second analysis of The Daily Show's audio and visual content found considerably more humor than substance -- Stewart himself has insisted that he is a comedian and not a journalist. A similar analysis of network coverage found considerably more hype than substance in broadcast newscasts. Examples of such hype included references to polls, political endorsements and photo opportunities.

"Interestingly, the average amounts of video and audio substance in the broadcast network news stories were not significantly different than the average amounts of visual and audio substance in The Daily Show with Jon Stewart stories about the presidential election," she wrote in the paper.

"It should be noted that the broadcast network news stories about the presidential election were significantly shorter, on average, than were The Daily Show with Jon Stewart stories," she added. "The argument could be made that while the amount of substance per story was not significantly different, the proportion of each story devoted to substance was greater in the network news stories ... On the other hand, the proportion of stories per half hour program devoted to the election campaign was greater in The Daily Show."

The analysis was run again using the half-hour program, rather than the story, as the unit of analysis, and Fox still found no significant differences in substance. The study does not address differences in the ways viewers of both programs process and remember political information or the differences in tone between them.

"We've been wringing our hands for decades that the networks aren't doing enough substance in the political coverage, so is it any real surprise that it's just as substantive?," Fox said of The Daily Show. "Our findings should allay at least some of the concerns about the growing reliance on this non-traditional source of political information, as it is just as substantive as the source that Americans have relied upon for decades.

"In an absolute sense, we should probably be concerned about both of those sources, because neither one is particularly substantive. It's a bottom-line industry and ratings-driven. We live in an 'infotainment' society, and there certainly are a number of other sources available."

The 2004 elections saw the highest turnout among voters among age 30 in more than a decade. A 15,000-student study released Sept. 22 by the Knight Foundation and J-Ideas found that young people are turning more than ever to programs like Stewart's for political information.

Editors: A copy of the complete study is available from George Vlahakis at 812-855-0846 or

Media Contacts
• Julia Fox
IU Department of Telecommunications
Contact Information
• George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

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It's no joke: IU study finds The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to be as substantive as network news

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"Walking In The Shadow Of The Big Man" -- Guadalcanal on picture to "embiggen" view.

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Bad Reporter w/o 10/01/ on picture to "embiggen" view.

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The GameBoys (pat.pend.) on picture to "embiggen" view.

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Osama loves on picture to "embiggen" view.

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A dollar short and a day on picture to "embiggen" view.

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Chile Roast Potatos (not potatoes!) on picture to "embiggen" view.

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Sudan not Iran! on picture to "embiggen" view.

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The real on picture to "embiggen" view.

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Think Progress » Iraq and Afghanistan War Vets Say Military Is Overstretched, Underequipped

Pardon Me? Scooter Libby's Trial Strategy

by Elizabeth de la Vega

Maybe you are thinking that Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's case against Scooter Libby is yesterday's news, or, worse, in its last throes. Think again.

It has recently come to my attention that the title of the Ukrainian national anthem is "Ukraine Is Not Dead Yet." (Seriously, it is.) The same could be said of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's ongoing prosecution of Vice President Cheney's former aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby: The case -- involving charges of perjury, false statements, and obstruction of justice in connection with Fitzgerald's investigation into the unauthorized disclosure of the identity of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA operative -- is not dead yet, nor is it even ailing.

U.S. v. Libby is Alive and Well

U.S. v. Libby is not only alive and well; it is also set to begin on January 16, 2007, just three and a half months from now. In June, the defense requested a one-month continuance, but U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton responded by granting a mere one-week extension and reiterating that pretrial filings had to be submitted by both parties in mid-November 2006.

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Indeed, a review of court documents makes it abundantly clear that Judge Reggie Walton has no intention of letting this matter laze around on his docket. Filings in the case make it no less clear that Lewis Libby's opportunities to make the charges go away by exercising his rights within the judicial system are dwindling rapidly. Early on, Walton ruled that any motions to dismiss that the defendant wished to bring should be filed by February 24, 2006. Libby's attorneys filed one such motion and it was denied.

In that motion, Libby's defense team argued that the case should be dismissed because it was "obtained, approved and signed by an official -- Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald -- who was appointed and exercised his powers" in violation of the Constitution. Without getting too technical, the defense argument was that Fitzgerald was taking actions that could only be taken by a presidential appointee. This was essentially a more lawyerly version of accusations the Republican National Committee (directly tied into the Bush administration's political arm, the Office of Strategic Initatives) had begun hurling even before Libby's indictment. In various veiled -- and sometimes not so veiled -- attacks, they argued that Patrick Fitzgerald was "overzealous" and had exceeded his authority by bringing perjury and false-statements charges when he was, according to the Libby defense team and the RNC, only authorized to investigate the possible unauthorized disclosure of a CIA officer.

Not surprisingly, Judge Walton was unimpressed with Libby's motion. He ruled that it was perfectly appropriate and prudent for the Department of Justice to appoint someone outside the hierarchy of the Executive Branch when its highest officials were under investigation. He also said that Fitzgerald's letters of authority "unambiguously" authorized him to investigate and prosecute not only the disclosure of a CIA employee's identity, but also "any violations of federal law that arise during the course of that investigation."

Hoping that Graymail will be a Silver Bullet

Libby does, however, have one other hope for dismissal of the charges prior to trial: graymail -- a defense tactic so named because it is a subtle form of blackmail that forces a prosecutor to choose between disclosing highly classified information and continuing to proceed with a case. Such a tactic can be particularly effective when, as in this case, White House officials, who guard the classification system, would be as happy as clams if the whole case went away.

This is what has happened so far: In March, based on Libby's expressed intent to argue that he made false statements during the investigation because he was preoccupied with national security matters, Judge Walton ordered the government to produce -- for certain weeks in 2003 and 2004 -- a list of topics covered, and inquiries made by Libby, in his morning intelligence briefings. In effect, Judge Walton ordered the government to turn over tables of contents; he did not order it to disclose any substance contained within a classified document.

On September 28, Judge Walton began conducting closed hearings required by the Classified Information Procedures Act -- called CIPA -- to determine what parts of these topic lists would be admissible at trial. If Walton rules that certain information is admissible, and the Special Counsel does not want to disclose it, Fitzgerald may offer either to provide a statement admitting the facts that the classified information tends to prove or to substitute a summary. Then Walton, in turn, would have to decide whether those alternatives would provide Libby with substantially the same ability to present his defense as he would have if the actual information were disclosed.

An order Judge Walton issued on March 10, 2006 provides a giant clue as to how he might rule on this issue. In footnote 25, he pointed out that the prosecution does not dispute the defendant's work on important national security matters; nor has the defense attorney appeared to acknowledge that he was intending to present the substance of the documents to the jury. Then he added:

"It is unlikely that this Court would permit anything other than the general topic areas of these documents to be introduced at trial and would be prepared to advise the jury through an instruction that due to national security concerns the defendant is prohibited from discussing the details about the matters he was working on and that it is undisputed that the defendant was extremely busy during his work day, worked long hours, and worked on highly sensitive national security and intelligence matters."

If Judge Walton continues to follow this approach -- and it's hard to imagine why he wouldn't -- graymail will probably not be the silver bullet that Libby is hoping for.

What, Then, Is a Criminal Defendant with Close Friends in the White House and the Republican National Committee to Do?

The relentless approach of Scooter Libby's trial date -- and the diminishing chances that his lawyers can make the case go away within the confines of the judicial process -- really puts a crimp in his trial strategy.

Why? Because Scooter Libby's trial strategy is not to have a trial.

Unfortunately for Libby, however, a criminal defendant's options for avoiding a trial are limited. It's not an RSVP-type of thing. You can't express regrets and go to some other party; you can't cancel your afternoon meetings and hit the golf course; you wouldn't be wise to call in sick (unless you're practically terminal); and you wouldn't want to play hooky, unless you have a strong desire to meet U.S. Marshals. The judge sets the trial date and you pretty much have to show up, at which point the proceedings take on a life of their own.

The seemingly unstoppable imminence of his trial isn't just a problem for Libby; it's an Excedrin Extra Strength-sized headache for George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their entire senior staff, not to mention the Republican Party. Once the trial begins, the administration will have little or no control over the proceedings. Trials are not conducive to spin. Spin requires secrecy; trials, on the other hand, are decidedly public. Reporters will be there. Citizens who have the patience to stand in line can watch. Government officials who testify will actually have to identify themselves before speaking. Their statements will be transcribed and made available to the public almost immediately.

Worse yet, as the Bush administration surely knows, people (aka "voters") love trials. They may not pay attention to congressional debate -- to the extent that there is any -- and they certainly don't read proposed legislation (nor, sometimes, do our representatives in Congress), but they will pay close attention to the trial of I. "Scooter" Lewis Libby. And the day that a public airing of the machinations that led to Libby's indictment begins will be -- to paraphrase Judith Viorst's beloved children's book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day -- a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for the White House.

One measure of how concerned the White House and the Republican National Committee are about the looming trial date -- how important the perjury, false statements, and obstruction charges pending against Libby truly are -- is how assiduously their trusty talking heads are working to convince the public that those very charges, and, indeed, the entire investigation into the unauthorized disclosure of Valerie Plame Wilson's identity as a CIA operative that gave rise to them, are trivial.

How hard is this Republican chorus working? Take a look at the website of the Libby Legal Defense Trust, the fundraising group formed by Libby's powerful and wealthy Republican supporters -- President Bush's former Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, business tycoon Steve Forbes, and Cheney's former aide and long-time confidant Mary Matalin, to name a few. Since late August, more than 35 editorials and articles favorable to Libby have appeared in right-wing and mainstream media (all posted right there on the website).

Next week -- in Pardon Me? Libby's Trial Strategy (Part II) -- I will address the distinctly piscine (Def: "Of or relating to fish") nature of those arguments and their timing, but, for now, suffice it to say that the White House and RNC propaganda machine is working overtime to denigrate Patrick Fitzgerald and the charges in the Libby case, using claims that have been largely rejected as without factual or legal basis by a federal judge whom President George W. Bush himself appointed in 2004.

Pardon Me?

Why would the well-educated and powerful members of the Libby Legal Defense Trust, the many pundits close to the White House, and spokespersons for the RNC conduct such a campaign when they know full well that it is entirely irrelevant to the court case pending against Scooter Libby? Because their strategy for the Libby trial is precisely the same as Libby's: not to have a trial. The White House and the RNC do not want anyone to hear, or hear about, Patrick Fitzgerald calmly laying out the case against Scooter Libby -- which will inevitably provide an extremely damaging view of the Office of the Vice President -- in a courtroom where they will have no pundit protection.

With the jury selection date fast approaching and the possibilities of a court dismissal evaporating, the White House appears to be shifting to Plan B: a PR effort to pave the way for a presidential pardon of Scooter Libby -- before the trial.

Last year, not long after Libby was indicted, Senator Harry Reid and others in the Democratic leadership in Congress sent President Bush a letter reminding him that the indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, marked "the first time in 131 years that a senior White House official has been charged with a crime while still serving in the White House." Given the seriousness of the crimes, Senator Reid urged, it was important for the President to "make clear in advance that, if convicted, Mr. Libby will not be able to rely on his close relationship with you or Vice President Cheney to obtain the kind of extraordinarily special treatment unavailable to ordinary Americans." In short, the Democratic Leadership was asking the President to reassure the public that he would not pardon Libby or anyone else ultimately convicted of a crime as a result of the CIA leak investigation.

The President never responded. (Not exactly a shocker.) And Vice President Cheney, when asked recently by Tim Russert on Meet the Press whether the President should pardon Scooter Libby, refused to answer.

No outsider knows if the President is planning to pardon Libby soon, but this would be a good time for Senator Reid to resurrect that letter. He might amend it slightly to call upon the President to pledge not to pardon I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby before Patrick Fitzgerald even has a chance to step to the podium in January. December would be an excellent month for a pardon -- it's the holiday season after all -- and the mid-term elections would be over. The best way to head off this possibility is to call attention to it. Now.

[Note for readers: Elizabeth de la Vega's "Pardon Me? Libby's Trial Strategy, Part II," will be posted at Tomdispatch next week.]

Elizabeth de la Vega is a former federal prosecutor with more than 20 years of experience. During her tenure, she was a member of the Organized Crime Strike Force and Chief of the San Jose Branch of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California. Her pieces have appeared in the Nation Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and Salon. She writes regularly for Tomdispatch and is the author of the upcoming book U.S. v. George W. Bush et. al., a Tomdispatch project to be published by Seven Stories Press in late November. She may be contacted at

© Copyright 2006 Elizabeth de la Vega

Pardon Me? Scooter Libby's Trial Strategy

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Now That You Could be Labeled an Enemy Combatant... - by Heather Wokusch

Since Congress recently handed Bush the power to identify American citizens as "unlawful enemy combatants" and detain them indefinitely without charge, it's worth examining the administration's record of prisoner abuse as well as the building of stateside detention centers.

As Texas governor (from 1995-2000) Bush oversaw the executions of 152 prisoners, and thus became the most-killing governor in the history of the United States. Ethnic minorities, many of whom did not have access to proper legal representation, comprised a large percentage of those Bush put to death, and in one particularly egregious example, Bush executed an immigrant who hadn't even seen a consular official from his own country (as is required by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to which the US was a signatory). Bush's explanation: "Texas did not sign the Vienna Convention, so why should we be subject to it?"

Governor Bush also flouted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child by choosing to execute juvenile offenders, a practice shared at the time only by Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Significantly, in 1998 a full 92% of the juvenile offenders on Bush's death row were ethnic minorities.

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Conditions inside Texan prisons during Bush's reign were so notorious that federal Judge William Wayne Justice wrote, "Many inmates credibly testified to the existence of violence, rape and extortion in the prison system and about their own suffering from such abysmal conditions."

In September 1996, for example, a videotaped raid on inmates at a county jail in Texas showed guards using stun guns and an attack dog on prisoners, who were later dragged face-down back to their cells.

Funding of mental health programs during Bush's reign was so poor that Texan prisons had a sizeable number of mentally-impaired inmates; defying international human rights standards, these inmates ended up on death row. For instance, a prisoner named Emile Duhamel, with severe psychological disabilities and an IQ of 56, died in his Texan death-row jail cell in July 1998. Authorities blamed "natural causes" but a lack of air conditioning in cells that topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit in a summer heat wave may have killed Duhamel instead. How many other Texan prisoners died of such neglect during Bush's governorship is unclear.

As president, Bush presides over a prison population topping two million people, giving America the dubious distinction of having a higher percentage of its citizens behind bars than any other country. When considering that (based on 2003 figures) the US has three times more prisoners per capita than Iran and seven times more than Germany, the nation looks more like a Gulag than the Land of the Free.

The White House has also stifled investigation into the roughly 760 aliens (mainly Muslim men) the US government rounded up post-9/11, ostensibly for immigration violations. Amnesty International reports that 9/11 detainees have suffered "a pattern of physical and verbal abuse by some corrections officers" and a denial of "basic human rights."

Then of course, there's Guantanamo, where the US is holding hundreds of detainees in top secrecy and without access to courts, legal counsel or family visits. Add to that the thousands of Afghans and Iraqis the US has imprisoned (including a large percentage of innocent civilians) and countless US secret prisons across the globe, and it looks as if incarceration is the nation's best export.

While Abu Ghraib may have left administration officials falling over themselves with protestations of compassion, it's worth remembering that the Bush White House has fought hard against the International Convention Against Torture, especially a proposal to establish voluntary inspections of prisons and detention centers in signatory countries, such as the United States.

Put it all together, and last week's passage of the Military Commissions Act is ominous for those in the US. As Bruce Ackerman noted recently in The Los Angeles Times, the legislation "authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any protections of the Bill of Rights." The vague criteria for being labeled an enemy combatant (taking part in "hostilities against the United States") don't help either. Would that include anti-war protestors? People who criticize Bush? Unclear.

In 2002, wacko former Attorney General John Ashcroft called for the indefinite detainment of US citizens he considered to be "enemy combatants," and while widely criticized at the time, Congress went ahead and fulfilled Ashcroft's nefarious vision last week. Ashcroft had also called for stateside internment camps, and accordingly, in January 2006 the US government awarded a Halliburton subsidiary $385 million to build detention centers to be used for, "an unexpected influx of immigrants or to house people after a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space." New programs that require additional detention space. Hmm.

The disgraceful Military Commissions Act and the building of domestic internment camps are yet more examples of blowback from the administration's so-called war on terror, and we ignore these increasing assaults on our civil liberties at our own peril.

Action Ideas:

1. Read the Military Commissions Act of 2006 for yourself here. Find out how your congressmembers voted on this legislation, and raise the topic when they ask for your vote this November.

2. For more information on US prisoner abuse, check out BBC's report from 2005 entitled "Torture Inc. Americas Brutal Prisons." Text and video versions are archived here. You can learn more about US prisoner's rights from the American Civil Liberties Union.

3. To take action regarding "the plight of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror," visit

Heather Wokusch is the author of The Progressives' Handbook: Get the Facts and Make a Difference Now (Volumes 1 and 2). Heather can be reached at

Now That You Could be Labeled an Enemy Combatant...

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