Monday, July 30, 2007

COMBINING HIPPY LOVE-INS WITH MEGA-CAPITALISM

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U.S. stocks had a tough week with the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffering its worst one-week point drop in five years, but a group of meditators promise their good vibrations will send the index past 17,000 within a year.

A group called the Invincible America Assembly made that claim and more on Friday, insisting they have America's prosperity under control and their positive vibes will bring fewer hurricanes and better U.S.-North Korean relations.

Through group transcendental meditation the assembly -- which has 1,800 people meditating daily in Iowa since it was formed in July 2006 -- releases harmonious waves which benefit all aspects of U.S. life, spokesman Bob Roth told Reuters.

And the group's leader, John Hagelin, said when that number reaches 2,500 within the next 12 months, America will see a major drop in crime and the virtual elimination of all major social and political woes.


Source: Reuters
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MIRACLES ARE HARD!

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BBC:

Instead of Spiderman or Bratz dolls, children in the US could soon be clutching a talking Jesus toy, a bearded Moses or a muscle-bound figure of Goliath.

Wal-Mart, the biggest toy retailer in the US, will for the first time stock a full line of faith-based toys.

There, the Tales of Glory dolls will take on what their makers are calling "the battle for the toy box" with some of the nation's most popular action figures.

The market is notoriously hard to crack, with every child wanting what their friends at school have and high-profile brands like Transformers and Spiderman dominating marketing.

So will the 12 inch Jesus doll quoting scripture or the 3 inch figure of Daniel in the lion's den open up children's imaginations - and their parents' wallets?

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Cat Blogging



Tiger posing with a photo of himself as a kitten

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

WAS GONZALEZ TALKING ABOUT DATA MINING?

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Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez testified this week there was dispute about Justice Dept. activities, but that it did not involve what he called the "terrorist surveillance program."

He may have been referring to large scale searches of electronic databases of domestic phone call and e-mail records, or data mining, according an article in the New York Times.

That the government can do this is well-known, utilizing the NSA's ability to intercerpt electronic traffic.

In 2004 there was disagreement within the Department of Justice over a program, but Gonzalez refuses to discuss it, and President Bush will not confirm its existence.

It may have involved Justice Dept. disagreements with the White House over the President's power to access large volumes of domestic records of phone calls and internet usage, looking for specific patterns or combinations of words, rather than usage by a person or group.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

NOT HOGWARTS, BUT CLOSE


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La Ch√Ętaigneraie is part of the International School of Geneva. We look over Lac Leman with stunning views of the Alps and the Jura.

These Units of Inquiry are planned under six organising themes:

* Who we are
* Where we are in time and place
* How we express ourselves
* How the world works
* How we organise ourselves
* How we share the planet

The children are divided into House Teams – Rhone, Alps and Jura.

There are various house competitions throughout the year i.e. Winter Sports, Cross Country, Tag Rugby, Athletics, Field Hockey, and Kwik Cricket.

Rules, attitudes in competition and team behaviour are stressed. Students also get points for poems, music, stories, and instruments to encourage the children to explore, express and develop creativity.

Athletics includes: Long jump, high jump, ball throw, sprints and long distance running and Gymnastics. Formal gymnastics will include the basic skills involved in handstands, rolls, head- stands, cartwheels, balances. The educational gymnastics programme is based on various themes i.e. travelling, space, direction, pathways, twisting, turning, jumping, stretching, curling and shape.

The Winter Sports Programme involves the basics of downhill and cross-country
skiing.

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FBI MISUSES NATIONAL SECURITY LETTERS

Ann Broache:
The FBI's chief on Thursday attempted to defuse lingering concerns about abuse of secret requests for telephone and e-mail logs, as politicians proposed new limits on the practice.

Director Robert Mueller's afternoon appearance before a U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary oversight committee highlighted the lingering fallout over a Justice Department inspector general report issued earlier this year. That inquiry found the FBI underreported its use of a secret surveillance tactic--called a national security letter--and concluded "serious misuse" had occurred.

Mueller told the committee that he "absolutely understands" the concerns raised by the report, although he emphasized there were no findings of "intentional" attempts by FBI agents to sidestep the law.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

IS THERE HOPE?

There's a lot of despair out there. Is there was any cause for hope?

There is.

Bush is, after all, very unpopular. Fred Hiatt loves him, but only the crazies in general public still do.

I would despair to the point of head-banging, or moving to another country if that weren't the case. But it's not as if Bush has enforced all his Creeping Fascism rules and policies and gotten away with it. He is widely hated, despised, ridiculed.

If Bush attempted to run again, he would be crushed, roundly rejected by the people. That is an undeniable fact. News coming out yesterday strongly suggest that this Administration is in free fall. The people, across the board, reject the man and all his works.

A lot of liberals and bloggers are putting their hopes in the most sluggish of solutions, impeachment, trial, removal; arrest, trial and The Hague. Which is fine.
Others want to stage a million man March on D.C. Which would be great.

But we may just have to wait and toss this crew out using old fashioned elections, which in the end is as good, and, I submit, maybe preferable, to a criminal trial. Which is more likely to be respected by the people, and by history? Which is more likely to have enduring effects? Which will bring about long-lasting change?

I'm not advocating one approach over the other. All I'm really saying is that there is some reason for hope. Bush is wrong and his critics are right. And everyone knows it.
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PHOTO OF THE DAY


***OH NOES THEY BE GRABN MY BEEK***
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Chicken Elmos in China: Chang W. Lee / New York Times

BLADE RUNNER IS BACK

(Hollywood Reporter)

Director Ridley Scott is working on a "definitive" new version of his science-fiction classic "Blade Runner."

"Blade Runner: The Final Cut" will get a brief theatrical run in Los Angeles and New York, beginning October 5, before its December 18 DVD release through Warner Home Video.

Scott went back into postproduction to complete the new version of the film, which has been restored and remastered from original elements and contains never-before-seen and extended scenes. The film also includes new and improved special effects, director and filmmaker commentary and an all-new Dolby Digital audio track.


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HALP I IZ THIRSTY

(Reuters)
New York University postgraduate students are developing a system that lets over-watered or dry plants phone for help.

The "Botanicalls" project uses moisture sensors placed in the soil that can send a signal over a wireless network to a gateway that places a call if the plant's too dry or wet.

Recorded voices are assigned to each plant to match its biological characteristics and to help increase the charm of the phone message and give plants their own personality.

Interactive communications student Rebecca Bray, who developed the concept with three colleagues, said the technology wasn't new. It's the way of communicating by voice and adding personality to the plants that's different.

"They will call and tell you they are thirsty and need a lot of water. They are also really polite," Bray told Reuters.

"We wanted to make sure that you weren't just getting phone calls that were really needy. So we have them calling you back when you've watered them to say thank you for watering me."

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NO PAPER TRAIL IN TIME 2008 ELECTIONS

Senators to abandon '08
e-voting paper trail mandate


"Democratic senators on Wednesday made another push for banning electronic voting machines that lack paper trails, but they've backed away from doing so in time for next year's presidential election.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chief sponsor of a contentious bill called the Ballot Integrity Act that proposes such changes, said she fears requiring all states to employ so-called voter-verified paper records in their systems, with some primaries only six months away, "could be an invitation to chaos."

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bombings Hit Iraqis Celebrating Soccer Win

(AP) Two suicide car bombings struck soccer fans in Baghdad as they were celebrating Iraq's victory in the Asian Cup semifinal on Wednesday, killing at least 50 people and wounding more than 100, officials said.

The first attack took place about 6:30 p.m. when a bomber exploded in a crowd of people cheering near a well-known ice cream parlor in Baghdad's western neighborhood of Mansour, according to police and hospital officials. At least 30 people were killed and 75 were wounded, an Interior Ministry official said.

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A REAL MAN WOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY FOR IT

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"The FBI wants to pay the major telecommunications companies to retain their customers' Internet and phone call information for at least two years for the agency's use in counterterrorism investigations and is asking Congress for $5 million a year to defray the cost, according to FBI officials and budget documents."


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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Mass Funerals For U.S. Soldiers

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Twenty soldiers deployed to Iraq from this Army base were killed in May, a monthly high. That same month, the base announced a change in how it would honor its dead: instead of units holding services after each death, they would be held collectively once a month.

The anger and hurt were immediate. Soldiers’ families and veterans protested the change as cold and logistics-driven. Critics online said the military was trying to repress bad news about deaths. By mid-June, the base had delayed the plan.


On Base, a Plea to Give Each Death Its Due


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Friday, July 20, 2007

Marc Ambinder Obsessed With Edward's Follicles

Ambinder, Atlantic Monthly blogger:

"Why doesn't John Edwards's hair equal Mitt Romney's face paint?

The primary difference is definitional: The centerpiece of Edwards's campaign is his anti-poverty efforts; he presents himself as a dedicated messenger for the cause, and he likes expensive haircuts, bought a gimungous house, etc. etc. His credibility as a messenger comes into question when he spends money ostentatiously. (The haircut was inadvertently billed to the campaign, a spokesman later said."

From The Atlantic Website:

About Marc Ambinder

Marc is an associate editor at the Atlantic and a contributing editor to both the Hotline and Naitonal Journal. He's a 2001 graduate of Harvard, and he pays his taxes in Washington, D.C.

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And he misspelled "National" in his own fucking bio.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

GREAT MOMENTS IN PUBLIC SAFETY

GREAT MOMENTS IN PUBLIC SAFETY

"Undercover Congressional investigators set up a bogus company and obtained a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in March that would have allowed them to buy the radioactive materials needed for a so-called dirty bomb.

“Given that terrorists have expressed an interest in obtaining nuclear material, the Congress and the American people expect licensing programs for these materials to be secure,” said Gregory D. Kutz, an investigator at the accountability office, in testimony prepared for the hearing.

The bomb the investigators could have built would not have caused widespread damage or even high- level contamination. But it still could have had serious consequences, particularly economic ones, in any city where it was set off."


Link to New York Times story by Eric Lipton

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

SARA TAYLOR DENIES BUSH INVOLVEMENT IN FIRINGS; REFUSES TO TESTIFY FURTHER

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TAYLOR REFUSES TO ANSWER; CITES "OATH TO THE PRESIDENT"

Sara M. Taylor testified before a Congressional panel a today, saying that she did not discuss firing U.S. Attorneys with President Bush.

"I did not speak to the president about removing U.S. attorneys," Taylor said. "I did not attend any meetings with the president where that matter was discussed."

When asked whether the president was involved in any way in the firings, Taylor couldn't rule it out, saying only, "I don't have any knowledge that he was."

"Who decided which U.S. attorneys to fire, and why were they fired?" Senator Dianne Feinstein asked.

Taylor cited Executive Privilege, saying she was trying to "determine what is a deliberation and what is a fact-based question," Senator Feinstein cut her off.

Sen. Feinstein: "You decline to answer."

Sara Taylor: "Yeah."

Later Taylor said, "I took an oath and I take that oath to the president very seriously."

Sen. Leahy replied, "Your oath is not to uphold the president."

"I think sometimes you've stepped on one side of the line and then not wanted to step on the other. This broad claim of privilege doesn't stand up," said Sen. Chuck Schumer.

But Republican Arlen Specter told her:

"I think your declining to answer the last series of questions by the chairman was correct under the direction from White House counsel. Whether White House counsel is correct on the assertion of executive privilege is a matter which will be decided by the courts," However, he said "congressional oversight has the better of the argument."

According to the AP:
"Taylor revealed a few other details: She said she did not recall ordering the addition or deletion of names to the list of prosecutors to be fired. And she disputed testimony by Kyle Sampson, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' chief of staff, that Taylor wanted to avoid submitting a new prosecutor, Tim Griffin, through Senate confirmation. I expected him to go through Senate confirmation," Taylor said under questioning by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.


She rather pointlessly tried to protect her friends in the White House.

"I don't believe there was any wrongdoing by anybody. I don't believe anybody in the White House did any wrongdoing."

(Sources: Associated Press; New York Times)
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First Rule about Firing Club?

Don't talk about Firing Club

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Green Zone Hit By Multiple Rocket Attacks

Joe Klein at Swampland reports:

"AP is reporting that Baghdad's Green Zone was hit by as many as 35 rockets this evening--3 dead, 18 wounded. And while the Green Zone is mortared most nights, this seems an escalation by insurgents who, in this case, are NOT Al Qaeda, but most likely members of Muqtada Sadr's Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM) or, even more likely, members of the Iranian supported JAM Special Groups, who may operate outside Sadr's control.

US military intel sources in Baghdad told me a few weeks ago that these mortar attacks are often in response to specific events--like raids on JAM cells or members--but I wonder, in this case, if the attacks have anything to do with the growing split between Sadr and Prime Minister Maliki?"

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So can anyone doubt that Joe Lieberman will increase his calls for attacking Iran?

Of course, if attacks were down, he would claim vindication. If Al Qaeda attacked, he would say he was right. If it's linked to Iran, then more war. If the days ends in "y" - it must be time for more war.

GREAT MOMENTS IN ENGINEERING

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"A yearlong study by federal investigators into the cause of the Interstate 90 tunnel connector ceiling collapse that killed a Boston woman in July 2006 has led to the conclusion that contractors and builders probably used the wrong kind of epoxy glue to secure ceiling panel anchors."

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Bush Invokes Executive Privilege For Taylor and Miers

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"President Bush invoked executive privilege Monday to deny requests by Congress for testimony from two former aides about the firings of federal prosecutors.

In his letter regarding subpoenas the Judiciary panels issued, Fielding said, "The president feels compelled to assert executive privilege with respect to the testimony sought from Sara M. Taylor and Harriet E. Miers."

"You may be assured that the president's assertion here comports with prior practices in similar contexts, and that it has been appropriately documented," the letter from the White House said.

In a letter to the heads of the House and Senate Judiciary panels, White House counsel Fred Fielding insisted that Bush was acting in good faith and refused lawmakers' demand that the president explain the basis for invoking the privilege."

Statement of House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers:

"Contrary what the White House may believe, it is the Congress and the courts that will decide whether an invocation of executive privilege is valid, not the White House unilaterally."

Fielding was responding to a 10 a.m. deadline set by the Democratic chairmen, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Conyers, for the White House to explain it's privilege claim, prove that the president personally invoked it and provide logs of which documents were being withheld.

Associated Press: "As expected, Fielding refused to comply."
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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Hot Cat Blogging


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Cat Blogging


The Electric Cat
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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Great Moments in Journalism

Associated Press Headline:

"WHITE HOUSE CHIDES
CLINTONS OVER LIBBY"




"uhh.............. what??"

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Bush Commutes Scooter Libby's Sentence

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Surprising no one, Bush has (effectively) pardoned Libby. There were two schools of thought on this. One, that Bush doesn't really care about anyone else, aside from how useful they can be to him, and so would not pardon Libby. The other, that Bush cares nothing for the law but prizes loyalty, and would not let Scooter go to jail.

Due to the cover given Bush for this action by the Beltway media, increasingly I was assuming he would pardon, but obviously they were going to wait until it looked like he would actually see the inside of a cell.

Lucky for Bush we are coming up on a holiday week, but I think we can assume that this will get some press coverage, regardless.

I believe Bush campaigned on restoring honor and dignity to the White House, but he has in fact accomplished something far more remarkable.

He has made Paris Hilton look good.
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Is Mitt Romney Too Weird To Be President? Part IV

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Obviously I'm late to this party, but given the ongoing series "Is Mitt Romney Too Weird To Be President?" I had to include a posting about Mitt Romney putting his dog the roof of family station wagon for a 12 hour drive. This is from the AP story:
"Seamus expressed his discomfort with a diarrhea attack. When Romney's eldest son, Tagg, and his four brothers complained about the brown runoff down the back windshield, their father quietly pulled the car over, borrowed a gas station hose and sprayed down both the dog and the kennel before returning to the road."


Terrific. Romney says the dog just loved it up there. I mean who wouldn't? Fresh air and everything.

The latest update in this story is Mitt's statement definitely proving he is not at all a strange person:

"My family pet used to climb up there and lie down on his own. And we love our family pets. Have always loved our family pets."

Well I'm convinced.

For more on Mitt's weirdness, check out Parts I, II, III.
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