Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Maestro Dies

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The Maestro Dies at 73

My Very Own Soul Provider!

Saying it loud: I'm Black and Proud!

As it was in the beginning... so unto the end. Rest in Perfect Peace, Good Brother... wasn't the best of Christmas presents, Papa JB, but we'll all miss you dearly.

James Joseph Brown Jr, a.k.a the Godfather of Soul... May 3, 1933-Christmas morn, 2006 ... my very own brother, fare thee well.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Of Chipped Societies et al

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Government & Computer Manufacturers Caught Installing Hardwired Keystroke Loggers into all new Laptops


Sadly, this is nothing new or surprising. The government has been caught time and time again secretly colluding with industry to force people into their control mechanisms against their will and without their knowledge. No one wanted a to have their inspection sticker RFID tagged so that their vehicle could be tracked, but they rolled out the legislation anyway. We beat it once, but no doubt it will be back. No body wanted to pay extra for an automobile black box to monitor their every automotive move, but the auto industry is doing it anyway. And certainly no one wanted to have the government track their cell phone and spy on them, but never the less, it was done and in complete secrecy. They are aware that we can easily see through their schemes so they have to hide them. No longer can they simply invoke "safety" and have the population gladly accept the invitation to their track and control prison. Now they just do it and hope no one notices.
Turner Radio Network

Devices capture everything you ever type, then can send it via your ethernet card to the Dept. of Homeland Security without your knowledge, consent or a search warrant each time you log onto the internet!

Freedom Of Information Act Requests For Explanation From DHS, refused.

I was opening up my almost brand new laptop, to replace a broken PCMCIA slot riser on the motherboard. As soon as I got the keyboard off, I noticed a small cable running from the keyboard connection underneath a piece of metal protecting the motherboard.

I figured "No Big Deal", and continued with the dissasembly. But when I got the metal panels off, I saw a small white heatshink-wrapped package. Being ever-curious, I sliced the heatshrink open. I found a little circuit board inside.

Being an EE by trade, this piqued my curiosity considerably. On one side of the board, one Atmel AT45D041A four megabit Flash memory chip.

On the other side, one Microchip Technology PIC16F876 Programmable Interrupt Controller, along with a little Fairchild Semiconductor CD4066BCM quad bilateral switch.

Looking further, I saw that the other end of the cable was connected to the integrated ethernet board.

What could this mean? I called the manufacturer's tech support about it, and they said, and I quote, "The intregrated service tag identifier is there for assisting customers in the event of lost or misplaced personal information." He then hung up.

A little more research, and I found that that board spliced in between the keyboard and the ethernet chip is little more than a Keyghost hardware keylogger.The reasons a computer manufacturer would put this in their laptops can only be left up to your imagination. It would be very impractical to hand-anylze the logs, and very CPU-intensive to do so on a computer for every person that purchased a laptop. Why are these keyloggers here? I recently almost found out.

I called the police, as having a keylogger unknown to me in my laptop is a serious offense. They told me to call the Department of Homeland Security. At this point, I am in disbelief. Why would the DHS have a keylogger in my laptop? It was surreal.

So I called them, and they told me to submit a Freedom of Information Act request. This is what I got back:

Under the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) the only items exempt from public disclosure are items relating to "law enforcement tools and techniques" and "items relating to national security."

The real life implications of this are plain: Computer manufacturers appear to be cooperating with the Department of Homeland Security to make every person who buys a new computer subject to immediate, unrestricted government recording of everything they do on those computers! EVERYTHING!

This information can be sent to DHS, online, without your knowledge or consent, without a search warrant or even probable cause! That's why this device is hard-wired directly into the ethernet card, which communicates over the internet!

I am not certain how long this information will be permitted to remain online for all the world to see before the government takes some type of action to attempt to have it removed from public view. I URGE you to take copy of this page immediately and spread this information to everyone you know immediately! The more people who find out about this, the more can protect themselves and raise a HUGE outcry to force government and computer manufacturers to immediately CEASE installing these devices in new computers!

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

High-tech totalitarianism is on its way
by Kevin Haggerty, Toronto Star Dec. 10, 2006

By the time my four-year-old son is swathed in the soft flesh of old age, he will likely find it unremarkable that he and almost everyone he knows will be permanently implanted with a microchip. Automatically tracking his location in real time, it will connect him with databases monitoring and recording his smallest behavioral traits.

Most people anticipate such a prospect with a sense of horrified disbelief, dismissing it as a science-fiction fantasy. The technology, however, already exists. For years humane societies have implanted all the pets that leave their premises with a small identifying microchip. As well, millions of consumer goods are now traced with tiny radio frequency identification chips that allow satellites to reveal their exact location.

A select group of people are already "chipped" with devices that automatically open doors, turn on lights, and perform other low-level miracles.
What might Hitler, Mao or Milosevic have accomplished if their citizens were chipped, coded, and remotely monitored?
Filed under:
The war on freedom
Prominent among such individuals is researcher Kevin Warwick of Reading University in England; Warwick is a leading proponent of the almost limitless potential uses for such chips.

Other users include the patrons of the Baja Beach Club in Barcelona, many of whom have paid about $150 (U.S.) for the privilege of being implanted with an identifying chip that allows them to bypass lengthy club queues and purchase drinks by being scanned. These individuals are the advance guard of an effort to expand the technology as widely as possible.

From this point forward, microchips will become progressively smaller, less invasive, and easier to deploy. Thus, any realistic barrier to the wholesale "chipping" of Western citizens is not technological but cultural. It relies upon the visceral reaction against the prospect of being personally marked as one component in a massive human inventory.

Today we might strongly hold such beliefs, but sensibilities can, and probably will, change. How this remarkable attitudinal transformation is likely to occur is clear to anyone who has paid attention to privacy issues over the past quarter-century. There will be no 3 a.m. knock on the door by storm troopers come to force implants into our bodies. The process will be more subtle and cumulative, couched in the unassailable language of progress and social betterment, and mimicking many of the processes that have contributed to the expansion of closed-circuit television cameras and the corporate market in personal data.

A series of tried and tested strategies will be marshaled to familiarize citizens with the technology. These will be coupled with efforts to pressure tainted social groups and entice the remainder of the population into being chipped.

This, then, is how the next generation will come to be microchipped.

It starts in distant countries. Having tested the technology on guinea pigs, both human and animal, the first widespread use of human implanting will occur in nations at the periphery of the Western world. Such developments are important in their own right, but their international significance pertains to how they familiarize a global audience with the technology and habituate them to the idea that chipping represents a potential future.

An increasing array of hypothetical chipping scenarios will also be depicted in entertainment media, furthering the familiarization process.

In the West, chips will first be implanted in members of stigmatized groups. Pedophiles are the leading candidate for this distinction, although it could start with terrorists, drug dealers, or whatever happens to be that year's most vilified criminals. Short-lived promises will be made that the technology will only be used on the "worst of the worst." In fact, the wholesale chipping of incarcerated individuals will quickly ensue, encompassing people on probation and on parole.

Even accused individuals will be tagged, a measure justified on the grounds that it would stop them from fleeing justice. Many prisoners will welcome this development, since only chipped inmates will be eligible for parole, weekend release, or community sentences. From the prison system will emerge an evocative vocabulary distinguishing chippers from non-chippers.

Although the chips will be justified as a way to reduce fraud and other crimes, criminals will almost immediately develop techniques to simulate other people's chip codes and manipulate their data.

The comparatively small size of the incarcerated population, however, means that prisons would be simply a brief stopover on a longer voyage. Commercial success is contingent on making serious inroads into tagging the larger population of law-abiding citizens. Other stigmatized groups will therefore be targeted. This will undoubtedly entail monitoring welfare recipients, a move justified to reduce fraud, enhance efficiency, and ensure that the poor do not receive "undeserved" benefits.

Once e-commerce is sufficiently advanced, welfare recipients will receive their benefits as electronic vouchers stored on their microchips, a policy that will be tinged with a sense of righteousness, as it will help ensure that clients can only purchase government-approved goods from select merchants, reducing the always disconcerting prospect that poor people might use their limited funds to purchase alcohol or tobacco.

Civil libertarians will try to foster a debate on these developments. Their attempts to prohibit chipping will be handicapped by the inherent difficulty in animating public sympathy for criminals and welfare recipients -- groups that many citizens are only too happy to see subjected to tighter regulation. Indeed, the lesser public concern for such groups is an inherent part of the unarticulated rationale for why coerced chipping will be disproportionately directed at the stigmatized.

The official privacy arm of the government will now take up the issue. Mandated to determine the legality of such initiatives, privacy commissioners and Senate Committees will produce a forest of reports presented at an archipelago of international conferences. Hampered by lengthy research and publication timelines, their findings will be delivered long after the widespread adoption of chipping is effectively a fait accompli. The research conclusions on the effectiveness of such technologies will be mixed and open to interpretation.

Officials will vociferously reassure the chipping industry that they do not oppose chipping itself, which has fast become a growing commercial sector. Instead, they are simply seeking to ensure that the technology is used fairly and that data on the chips is not misused. New policies will be drafted.

Employers will start to expect implants as a condition of getting a job. The U.S. military will lead the way, requiring chips for all soldiers as a means to enhance battlefield command and control -- and to identify human remains. From cooks to commandos, every one of the more than one million U.S. military personnel will see microchips replace their dog tags.

Following quickly behind will be the massive security sector. Security guards, police officers, and correctional workers will all be expected to have a chip. Individuals with sensitive jobs will find themselves in the same position.

The first signs of this stage are already apparent. In 2004, the Mexican attorney general's office started implanting employees to restrict access to secure areas. The category of "sensitive occupation" will be expansive to the point that anyone with a job that requires keys, a password, security clearance, or identification badge will have those replaced by a chip.

Judges hearing cases on the constitutionality of these measures will conclude that chipping policies are within legal limits. The thin veneer of "voluntariness" coating many of these programs will allow the judiciary to maintain that individuals are not being coerced into using the technology.

In situations where the chips are clearly forced on people, the judgments will deem them to be undeniable infringements of the right to privacy. However, they will then invoke the nebulous and historically shifting standard of "reasonableness" to pronounce coerced chipping a reasonable infringement on privacy rights in a context of demands for governmental efficiency and the pressing need to enhance security in light of the still ongoing wars on terror, drugs, and crime.

At this juncture, an unfortunately common tragedy of modern life will occur: A small child, likely a photogenic toddler, will be murdered or horrifically abused. It will happen in one of the media capitals of the Western world, thereby ensuring non-stop breathless coverage. Chip manufactures will recognize this as the opportunity they have been anticipating for years. With their technology now largely bug-free, familiar to most citizens and comparatively inexpensive, manufacturers will partner with the police to launch a high-profile campaign encouraging parents to implant their children "to ensure your own peace of mind."

Special deals will be offered. Implants will be free, providing the family registers for monitoring services. Loving but unnerved parents will be reassured by the ability to integrate tagging with other functions on their PDA so they can see their child any time from any place.

Paralleling these developments will be initiatives that employ the logic of convenience to entice the increasingly small group of holdouts to embrace the now common practice of being tagged. At first, such convenience tagging will be reserved for the highest echelon of Western society, allowing the elite to move unencumbered through the physical and informational corridors of power. Such practices will spread more widely as the benefits of being chipped become more prosaic. Chipped individuals will, for example, move more rapidly through customs.

Indeed, it will ultimately become a condition of using mass-transit systems that officials be allowed to monitor your chip. Companies will offer discounts to individuals who pay by using funds stored on their embedded chip, on the small-print condition that the merchant can access large swaths of their personal data. These "discounts" are effectively punitive pricing schemes, charging un-chipped individuals more as a way to encourage them to submit to monitoring. Corporations will seek out the personal data in hopes of producing ever more fine-grained customer profiles for marketing purposes, and to sell to other institutions.

By this point all major organizations will be looking for opportunities to capitalize on the possibilities inherent in an almost universally chipped population. The uses of chips proliferate, as do the types of discounts. Each new generation of household technology becomes configured to operate by interacting with a person's chip.

Finding a computer or appliance that will run though old-fashioned "hands-on"' interactions becomes progressively more difficult and costly. Patients in hospitals and community care will be routinely chipped, allowing medical staff -- or, more accurately, remote computers -- to monitor their biological systems in real time.

Eager to reduce the health costs associated with a largely docile citizenry, authorities will provide tax incentives to individuals who exercise regularly. Personal chips will be remotely monitored to ensure that their heart rate is consistent with an exercise regime.

By now, the actual process of "chipping" for many individuals will simply involve activating certain functions of their existing chip. Any prospect of removing the chip will become increasingly untenable, as having a chip will be a precondition for engaging in the main dynamics of modern life, such as shopping, voting, and driving.

The remaining holdouts will grow increasingly weary of Luddite jokes and subtle accusations that they have something to hide. Exasperated at repeatedly watching neighbors bypass them in "chipped" lines while they remain subject to the delays, inconveniences, and costs reserved for the un-chipped, they too will choose the path of least resistance and get an implant.

In one generation, then, the cultural distaste many might see as an innate reaction to the prospect of having our bodies marked like those of an inmate in a concentration camp will likely fade.

In the coming years some of the most powerful institutional actors in society will start to align themselves to entice, coerce, and occasionally compel the next generation to get an implant.

Now, therefore, is the time to contemplate the unprecedented dangers of this scenario. The most serious of these concern how even comparatively stable modern societies will, in times of fear, embrace treacherous promises. How would the prejudices of a Joe McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover, or of southern Klansmen -- all of whom were deeply integrated into the American political establishment -- have manifest themselves in such a world? What might Hitler, Mao or Milosevic have accomplished if their citizens were chipped, coded, and remotely monitored?

Choirs of testimonials will soon start to sing the virtues of implants. Calm reassurances will be forthcoming about democratic traditions, the rule of law, and privacy rights. History, unfortunately, shows that things can go disastrously wrong, and that this happens with disconcerting regularity. Little in the way of international agreements, legality, or democratic sensibilities has proved capable of thwarting single-minded ruthlessness.

"It can't happen here" has become the whispered swan song of the disappeared.
Best to contemplate these dystopian potentials before we proffer the tender forearms of our sons and daughters. While we cannot anticipate all of the positive advantages that might be derived from this technology, the negative prospects are almost too terrifying to contemplate.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

US plans massive data sweep
The Christian Science Monitor
By Mark Clayton

The US government is developing a massive computer system that can collect huge amounts of data and, by linking far-flung information from blogs and e-mail to government records and intelligence reports, search for patterns of terrorist activity.

The system - parts of which are operational, parts of which are still under development - is already credited with helping to foil some plots. It is the federal government's latest attempt to use broad data-collection and powerful analysis in the fight against terrorism. But by delving deeply into the digital minutiae of American life, the program is also raising concerns that the government is intruding too deeply into citizens' privacy.

"We don't realize that, as we live our lives and make little choices, like buying groceries, buying on Amazon, Googling, we're leaving traces everywhere," says Lee Tien, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "We have an attitude that no one will connect all those dots. But these programs are about connecting those dots - analyzing and aggregating them - in a way that we haven't thought about. It's one of the underlying fundamental issues we have yet to come to grips with."

The core of this effort is a little-known system called Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight, and Semantic Enhancement (ADVISE). Only a few public documents mention it. ADVISE is a research and development program within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), part of its three-year-old "Threat and Vulnerability, Testing and Assessment" portfolio. The TVTA received nearly $50 million in federal funding this year.

DHS officials are circumspect when talking about ADVISE. "I've heard of it," says Peter Sand, director of privacy technology. "I don't know the actual status right now. But if it's a system that's been discussed, then it's something we're involved in at some level."

Data-mining is a key technology

A major part of ADVISE involves data-mining - or "dataveillance," as some call it. It means sifting through data to look for patterns. If a supermarket finds that customers who buy cider also tend to buy fresh-baked bread, it might group the two together. To prevent fraud, credit-card issuers use data-mining to look for patterns of suspicious activity.

What sets ADVISE apart is its scope. It would collect a vast array of corporate and public online information - from financial records to CNN news stories - and cross-reference it against US intelligence and law-enforcement records. The system would then store it as "entities" - linked data about people, places, things, organizations, and events, according to a report summarizing a 2004 DHS conference in Alexandria, Va. The storage requirements alone are huge - enough to retain information about 1 quadrillion entities, the report estimated. If each entity were a penny, they would collectively form a cube a half-mile high - roughly double the height of the Empire State Building.

But ADVISE and related DHS technologies aim to do much more, according to Joseph Kielman, manager of the TVTA portfolio. The key is not merely to identify terrorists, or sift for key words, but to identify critical patterns in data that illumine their motives and intentions, he wrote in a presentation at a November conference in Richland, Wash.

For example: Is a burst of Internet traffic between a few people the plotting of terrorists, or just bloggers arguing? ADVISE algorithms would try to determine that before flagging the data pattern for a human analyst's review.

At least a few pieces of ADVISE are already operational. Consider Starlight, which along with other "visualization" software tools can give human analysts a graphical view of data. Viewing data in this way could reveal patterns not obvious in text or number form. Understanding the relationships among people, organizations, places, and things - using social-behavior analysis and other techniques - is essential to going beyond mere data-mining to comprehensive "knowledge discovery in databases," Dr. Kielman wrote in his November report. He declined to be interviewed for this article.

Starlight has already helped foil some terror plots, says Jim Thomas, one of its developers and director of the government's new National Visualization Analytics Center in Richland, Wash. He can't elaborate because the cases are classified, he adds. But "there's no question that the technology we've invented here at the lab has been used to protect our freedoms - and that's pretty cool."

As envisioned, ADVISE and its analytical tools would be used by other agencies to look for terrorists. "All federal, state, local and private-sector security entities will be able to share and collaborate in real time with distributed data warehouses that will provide full support for analysis and action" for the ADVISE system, says the 2004 workshop report.

A program in the shadows

Yet the scope of ADVISE - its stage of development, cost, and most other details - is so obscure that critics say it poses a major privacy challenge.

"We just don't know enough about this technology, how it works, or what it is used for," says Marcia Hofmann of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. "It matters to a lot of people that these programs and software exist. We don't really know to what extent the government is mining personal data."

Even congressmen with direct oversight of DHS, who favor data mining, say they don't know enough about the program.

"I am not fully briefed on ADVISE," wrote Rep. Curt Weldon (R) of Pennsylvania, vice chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, in an e-mail. "I'll get briefed this week."

Privacy concerns have torpedoed federal data-mining efforts in the past. In 2002, news reports revealed that the Defense Department was working on Total Information Awareness, a project aimed at collecting and sifting vast amounts of personal and government data for clues to terrorism. An uproar caused Congress to cancel the TIA program a year later.

Echoes of a past controversial plan

ADVISE "looks very much like TIA," Mr. Tien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation writes in an e-mail. "There's the same emphasis on broad collection and pattern analysis."

But Mr. Sand, the DHS official, emphasizes that privacy protection would be built-in. "Before a system leaves the department there's been a privacy review.... That's our focus."

Some computer scientists support the concepts behind ADVISE.

"This sort of technology does protect against a real threat," says Jeffrey Ullman, professor emeritus of computer science at Stanford University. "If a computer suspects me of being a terrorist, but just says maybe an analyst should look at it ... well, that's no big deal. This is the type of thing we need to be willing to do, to give up a certain amount of privacy."

Others are less sure.

"It isn't a bad idea, but you have to do it in a way that demonstrates its utility - and with provable privacy protection," says Latanya Sweeney, founder of the Data Privacy Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University. But since speaking on privacy at the 2004 DHS workshop, she now doubts the department is building privacy into ADVISE. "At this point, ADVISE has no funding for privacy technology."

She cites a recent request for proposal by the Office of Naval Research on behalf of DHS. Although it doesn't mention ADVISE by name, the proposal outlines data-technology research that meshes closely with technology cited in ADVISE documents.

Neither the proposal - nor any other she has seen - provides any funding for provable privacy technology, she adds.

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Big Brother can use printer to track you
Washington Post
By Mike Musgrove

WASHINGTON - It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it isn’t. The pages coming out of your color printer may contain hidden information that could be used to track you down if you ever cross the U.S. government.

Last year, an article in PC World magazine pointed out that printouts from many color laser printers contained yellow dots scattered across the page, viewable only with a special kind of flashlight.

The article quoted a senior researcher at Xerox Corp. saying that the dots contain information useful to law-enforcement authorities, a secret digital “license tag” for tracking down criminals.

The content of the coded information was supposed to be a secret, available only to agencies looking for counterfeiters who use color printers.

Now, the secret is out.

Tuesday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco consumer privacy group, said it had cracked the code used in a widely used line of Xerox printers, an invisible bar code of sorts that contains the serial number of the printer as well as the date and time a document was printed.

With the Xerox printers, the information appears as a pattern of yellow dots, each only a millimeter wide and visible only with a magnifying glass and a blue light.

The EFF said it has identified similar coding on pages printed from nearly every major printer manufacturer, including Hewlett-Packard Co., though its team has so far cracked the codes for only one type of Xerox printer.

The U.S. Secret Service acknowledged yesterday that the markings, which are not visible to the human eye, are there, but it played down the use for invading privacy.

“It’s strictly a countermeasure to prevent illegal activity specific to counterfeiting,” agency spokesman Eric Zahren said. “It’s to protect our currency and to protect people’s hard-earned money.”

It’s unclear whether the yellow-dot codes have ever been used to make an arrest. And no one would say how long the codes have been in use.

But Seth Schoen, the EFF technologist who led the organization’s research, said he had seen the coding on documents produced by printers that were at least 10 years old.

“It seems like someone in the government has managed to have a lot of influence in printing technology,” he said.

Xerox spokesman Bill McKee confirmed the existence of the hidden codes, but he said the company was simply assisting an agency that asked for help.

“It’s disturbing that something on this scale, with so many privacy implications, happened with such a tiny amount of publicity,” Schoen said.

And it’s not as if the information is encrypted in a highly secure fashion, Schoen said. “We were able to break this code very rapidly.”

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Welcome to the Cashless Society Control Grid

From embedded microchips to RFID tracking, the cashless society roll out is going on in full force.

With children thumbscanning to get their lunches and amusement park goers biometrically scanning for entry, we are being trained to use our biometric signatures as payment and identification.

Trendy clubs around the globe have begun to surgically implant their VIP customers with microchips that they can use to pay for their bar tabs, making it "cool" to "get chipped." Now these "hip" and "elite" customers won't have to bring their wallet out with them to have a good time.

Soon RFID tags will be in everything from pharmaceuticals to clothing. Exclusive clothiers are already using the tags to recognize customers as they walk in the door from what they are wearing.

This is a global system. Our passports will now be biometric, the information stored on an RFID chip. National id legislation has been passed with the same big brother technology onboard.

With cameras (most biometric) already on almost every street corner and the ongoing media hurrah for all this "wonderful" technology that can "protect us" and "make life easier" ask yourself what is this all for?

The globalists are setting up the beast system so there is nowhere to hide. Cash itself will be traceable, so one day every transaction you make will be identifiable. You will always be on camera and big brother will always know where you are and what you do.

This section is just a small cross section of the thousands of articles that we have come across related to the cashless society. Welcome to the cashless society. Welcome to the New World Order.

U.S plans to build 125 nuclear weapons every year

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See video: America to Fascism

Bush administration plans to build
125 new nuclear weapons every year

by Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times
April 6, 2006

The Bush administration Wednesday unveiled a blueprint for rebuilding the nation's decrepit nuclear weapons complex, including restoration of a large-
scale bomb manufacturing capacity.

The plan calls for the most sweeping realignment
and modernization of the nation's massive system
of laboratories and factories for nuclear bombs since the end of the Cold War.

Until now, the nation has depended
on carefully maintaining aging bombs
produced during the Cold War arms
race, some several decades old.
The administration, however, wants the capability to turn out 125 new nuclear bombs per year by 2022, as the Pentagon retires older bombs that it says will no longer be reliable or safe.

Under the plan, all of the nation's plutonium would be consolidated into a single facility that could be more effectively and cheaply defended against possible terrorist attacks.

The plan would remove the plutonium kept at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory by 2014, though transfers of the material could start sooner. In recent years, concern has grown that Livermore, surrounded by residential neighborhoods in the Bay Area, could not repel a terrorist attack.

But the administration blueprint is facing sharp criticism, both from those who say it does not move fast enough to consolidate plutonium stores and from those who say restarting bomb production would encourage aspiring nuclear powers across the globe to develop weapons.

The plan was outlined to Congress on Wednesday by Thomas D'Agostino, head of nuclear weapons programs at the National Nuclear Security Administration, a part of the Energy Department.

Though the weapons proposal would restore the capacity to make new bombs, D'Agostino said it was part of a larger effort to accelerate the dismantling of aging bombs left from the Cold War.

D'Agostino acknowledged in an interview that the administration was walking a fine line by modernizing the U.S. nuclear weapons program while assuring other nations that it was not seeking a new arms race. The credibility of the contention rests on the U.S. intent to sharply reduce its inventory of weapons.

The administration is also quickly moving ahead with a new nuclear bomb program known as the "reliable replacement warhead," which began last year. Originally described as an effort to update existing weapons and make them more reliable, it has been broadened and now includes the potential for new bomb designs. Weapons labs currently are engaged in a design competition.

The U.S. built its last nuclear weapon in 1989 and last tested a weapon underground in 1992. Since the Cold War, the nation has had massive stockpiles of nuclear weapons to deter potential attacks. By contrast, it would increasingly rely on the capability to build future bombs for deterrence, D'Agostino said.

The blueprint calls for a modern complex to design a new nuclear bomb and have it ready in less than four years, allowing the nation to respond to changing military requirements. Similar proposals in the past, such as for a nuclear bomb to attack underground bunkers, provoked concern that they undermined U.S. policy to stop nuclear proliferation.

The impetus for the plan is a growing belief that efforts to maintain older nuclear bombs and keep up a large nuclear weapons industrial complex are technically and financially unsustainable. Last year, a task force led by San Diego physicist David Overskei recommended that the Energy Department consolidate the system of eight existing weapons complexes into one site.

Overskei said Wednesday that the cost of security alone for the current infrastructure of plants over the next two decades was roughly $25 billion. Security costs have grown, because the Sept. 11 attacks have led the Energy Department to believe terrorists could mount a larger and better armed strike force.

Peter Stockton, a former Energy Department security consultant who is now an investigator for the Project on Government Oversight, criticized the plutonium consolidation plan in House testimony, saying it would delay the difficult work too far into the future. Stockton added in an interview that the plutonium transfer at Livermore could be accomplished in a few months.

Until now, Livermore lab officials have sharply disagreed with the idea of removing plutonium from their site, saying it was essential to their work. On Wednesday, a lab spokesman said the issue was "far less controversial" and the "decision rests in Washington."

The Bush plan, described at a hearing of the strategic subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, would consolidate much of the weapons capacity, but not as completely or quickly as outside critics would like.

The overall plan would not be fully implemented until 2030.

A crucial part of restarting U.S. nuclear bomb production involves so-called plutonium pits, hollow spheres surrounded by high explosives. The pits start nuclear fission and trigger the nuclear fusion in a bomb.

The plutonium pits were built at the Energy Department's former Rocky Flats site near Denver until the weapons plant was shut down in 1989 after it was found to have violated environmental regulations.

In recent years, Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico has tried to start limited production of plutonium pits and hopes to build a certified pit that will enter the so-called war reserve next year. Los Alamos would be producing about 30 to 50 pits per year by 2012, but the Energy Department said that was not enough to sustain the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

In his testimony, D'Agostino estimated plutonium pits would last 45 to 60 years, after which they would be unreliable and might result in an explosion smaller than intended. Critics outside the government sharply dispute that conclusion, saying there is no evidence that pits degrade over time and that the nation can keep an adequate nuclear deterrent by maintaining its existing weapons.

My Comment

in·sane adj.
1 : mentally dis-
ordered : exhibiting insanity

2 : used by, typical of, or intended for insane persons (an insane asylum)

in·san·i·ty n.
1 a : a deranged state of the mind usually occurring as a specific disorder (as schizophrenia) and usually excluding such states as mental retardation, psychoneurosis, and various character disorders

b : a mental disorder

2 : such unsoundness of mind or lack of understanding as prevents one from having the mental capacity required by law to enter into a particular relationship, status, or transaction or as removes one from criminal or civil responsibility

3 a : extreme folly or unreasonableness

b : something utterly foolish or unreasonable

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


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U.S. bugged Princess Diana’s phone

LONDON - The Central Intelligence Agency was bugging the telephone conversations of Britain’s Princess Diana on the night she died, a British newspaper reported Monday. But current and former U.S. officials told NBC News that intelligence agencies never targeted the late Princess of Wales.

The Observer newspaper, citing the findings of a British inquiry into Diana's death to be released later this week, said the CIA was listening in on the princess in the hours before she died in a car crash in Paris.

The 36-year-old princess, her friend Dodi Fayed, 42, and driver Henri Paul died when their Mercedes crashed inside the Pont d’Alma tunnel Aug. 31, 1997, while being followed by media photographers. The British Broadcasting Corp. reported over the weekend that Paul had three times the French legal limit of alcohol in his blood.
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The Observer reported that the CIA did not have British intelligence's permission to tap Diana's phone.

U.S. officials deny allegations

However, a Homeland Security official told NBC News it is untrue that the Secret Service ever gathered intelligence information on Diana.

“The Secret Service had nothing to do with it,” the official said.

Separately, a former senior U.S. intelligence official said Diana was never targeted for intelligence gathering in any way. But, the former official said, her voice may have been picked up while others were targeted. Even so, he said that as far as he knows, there were no intercepts of her in Paris the night she died, contrary to British reports.

He also confirmed that there were, indeed, many references to her in the National Security Agency database, some of them innocuous, including references by targets overseas to romantic liaisons with people who the targets thought looked like Diana.

“So if you did a search on her, references like that would show up,” he said.

And he explained that if U.S. officials had learned of any threats to the British royal family, they, too, would have been recorded in the database.

The fact that U.S. intelligence agency files contained references to her has long been known. As far back as 1998, the National Security Agency said in response to a Freedom of Information Act request that it had a Diana file amounting to 1,056 pages.

At the time, NSA officials were quoted as saying the references to her were incidental and that she was never a target.

Religion and violence

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Is Religion Inherently Homicidal?

See 5000 years of Religion in 90 seconds

The latest violent video game, Left Behind, is designed just for Christians--a popular Christmas gift. The goal is to convert as many non-Christians as you can and then to murder all the ones you can't. Kind of a cross between the Spanish Inquisition and a Cossack pogrom. The game is based on the psychotic ravings of the author of the Book of Revelation.
One has to admire the creativity of fundamentalists when it comes to finding new outlets for their hate speech. Christian groups praised the game as one "Mom and Dad can actually play with Junior". Maybe they can even give Junior tips on the most effective murder weapons.

Some naïve folks are upset that this game goes against the precepts of tolerance and pacifism and reverence for life that Jesus preached, but most self-designated Christians seem to have found ways to spin the doctrine that allows them to be as belligerent, violent, intolerant, and murderous as Herod himself. In my personal experience (and I was raised Christian) it's easier to find an atheist practicing the teachings of Jesus than a Christian.

A group calling themselves Real Men For Jesus argue that Jesus wasn't really the Bleeding Heart liberal he pretended to be, because after all he went around overturning tables, and was belligerent and destructive and made messes for other people to clean up, just like a macho man is supposed to do--just like George Bush, for example.

In my experience, ideologues--especially religious fanatics--get violent when they're confronted with a truth they can neither accept nor refute. You don't have to make threatening phone calls, or beat up people, or lock up peaceful dissidents, or 'disappear' them, unless you know they're right.

Generally speaking, there are two factors that tend to make a religious tradition violent. The first is proselytizing--the more actively the religion seeks to gain adherents the more violent they tend to be. The second factor is related to the first: the more the religious tradition demands that its adherents believe in extremely implausible stories the more violent it will tend to be.

The relationship is clear: if in order to have an afterlife--and even better, a happy one--I have to believe in the absolute truth of what looks like a preposterous fairy tale, it will be easier to manage if I can get a whole lot of other people to buy the same story. The more of us there are believing it, the more likely it will seem to be true. This is why cults tend to isolate themselves--there may only be a few of them, but they never hear a divergent opinion.

By the same token, the more we hear of people disbelieving our fairy tale, the more anxious it makes us and the more we want to kill them.

The tension is multiplied when the stories are collected and written down in sacred texts, like the Torah, the Bible, and the Koran, full of anachronisms, barbaric traditions, primitive beliefs, and contradictions, making it both harder to believe in them and therefore more necessary to attack those who don't.

Christianity and Islam are the most violent religions in history. Islam preaches it--against infidels, at least--Christianity pretends not to, although its history--the Crusades, the Inquisition, the religious wars between Catholics and Protestants--suggests that torture, murder, and genocide are an inherent part of its ethos. But it's difficult to find a religious tradition that isn't deeply steeped in violence. Judaism was non-violent when it wasn't embodied in a state, but Biblical leaders like Joshua, Saul, David, Simeon and Levi would be tried in The Hague today for war crimes.

A life without spirituality of any kind is a life lived in a closed box. But humanity will only free itself from sectarian violence when it develops a spiritual tradition that doesn't depend on, or demand, belief in absurd tales. The Dalai Lama once said that if science contradicted sacred Tibetan texts, the texts should be modified. It would be nice if such an enlightened attitude could appear among Christians and Muslims. If we can outgrow Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, we ought to be able to outgrow these primitive religious traditions that are tearing the world apart.

Bush Jr chides Bush Snr

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US not winning in Iraq - Bush

20/12/2006 18:19 - (SA)
Washington - President George W Bush on Wednesday warned Americans of the need for new "sacrifices" in Iraq next year, and said hard choices await in a war he now grimly admits the United States is not winning.

"I'm not going to make predictions about what 2007 will look like in Iraq except that it's going to require difficult choices and additional sacrifices," Bush said in a news conference, warning "the enemy is merciless and violent".

A sombre Bush had earlier admitted for the first time that the United States was not winning in Iraq.

"We're not winning, we're not losing," Bush said in an interview with Wednesday's Washington Post, in a reversal of a remark he made before congressional elections in November: "Absolutely, we're winning."

Bush is under fierce pressure to change course in Iraq, following the rout of his Republican party in the polls, rising public demands to bring the troops home and mounting US combat deaths.

He has been locked in a string of consultations with heavy-hitting national security and foreign policy aides in his administration, and is expected to lay out a change of course early in the New Year.

But Bush has backed away from calls by the independent Iraq study group to seek to pull most combat troops out of Iraq by early 2008 and for a direct dialogue with US foes Syria and Iran.

Increase US troops

The White House said on Tuesday Bush may temporarily increase the number of US troops in Iraq but denied he was feuding with top military commanders over such a plan.

"It's something that's being explored," spokesperson Tony Snow said amid reports Bush might order a 'surge' of tens of thousands of soldiers in a bid to quell what the Pentagon warns is the worst violence on record.

Bush also announced in the Post interview that he would seek to expand the overall size of the US military.

"I'm inclined to believe that we do need to increase our troops, the army, the marines," he said, adding that he had directed defence secretary Robert Gates to consult military commanders on the issue and report back.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Iraq 'on brink of collapse'

19/12/2006 21:35 - (SA)
Baghdad - Iraq is on the brink of total disintegration and could drag its neighbours into a regional war, a leading think-tank said on Tuesday, after the Pentagon confirmed violence was at an all-time high.

The warning from the International Crisis Group came amid lawless chaos in Baghdad, where police were hunting for 16 kidnapped aid workers and a former minister who escaped from jail, allegedly with the help of US hired guns.

The ICG's report called on Washington to distance itself from Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's beleaguered government - which has failed to tackle sectarian militias - and reach out to the US's arch-foes, Iran and Syria.

The permanent members of the UN security council and Iraq's six neighbours should engage with all the parties to Iraq's spiralling conflict, it urged, while nevertheless holding out little prospect of success.

'Last opportunity'

"Implementation of the various measures mapped out in this report is one last opportunity. It is at best a feeble hope," the ICG paper said.

"But it is the only hope to spare Iraq from an all-out disintegration, with catastrophic and devastating repercussions for all," it warned.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon's quarterly report into the US military mission in Iraq said violence had soared to the highest level on record, with an average of 959 attacks per week over the past four months - up 22%.

Even this figure is likely to be a gross underestimate of the bloodshed because - as was noted in a highly critical bi-partisan review of US policy released earlier this month - the defence department's figures exclude most attacks.

The panel complained that most attacks that fail to hurt US troops are simply left out of the Pentagon's calculations, meaning that on any given day there could be 10 times more violent acts than noted by the military.

So, what was the following fuss all about???

Bush chides father for election remarks

U.S. President George W. Bush gently admonished his father for saying he hates to think what life would be like for his son if the Democrats win control of Congress in the Nov. 7 election.

It was the latest sign of possible strain in the relationship between the two men.

"He shouldn't be speculating like this, because -- he should have called me ahead of time and I'd tell him they're not going to (win)," a smiling Bush told ABC "This Week" in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

It follows the recent release of a book, "State of Denial," by journalist Bob Woodward, that says the 82-year-old former president was "anguished" over how the Iraq war has played out, although he has dismissed that account.

Earlier this month, the elder Bush was reported to have told a Republican fund-raiser in a Philadelphia suburb that "if we have some of these wild Democrats in charge of these (congressional) committees, it will be a ghastly thing for our country."

He was also quoted as saying, "I would hate to think ... what my son's life would be like" if their Republican Party lost its majorities.

The two men have rarely appeared together in public in recent years. But they praised each other at the Oct. 7 christening of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, named the USS George H.W. Bush, after the 41st president.

Though the elder Bush has said his job is to stay on the sidelines, that did not stop him from raising a warning about the prospects for a Democratic takeover of Congress.

Asked whether he had thought about the possibility, the president told ABC: "Not really ... I'm a person that believes we'll continue to control the House and the Senate."

Polls show Democrats running ahead. They must pick up 15 House seats and six Senate seats to take over Congress.

A power shift would create a political nightmare for Bush, whose public approval ratings are below 40 percent. His domestic legislative agenda would be stymied and he would see stepped-up pressure to withdraw from Iraq while possibly facing congressional investigations into the unpopular war.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Person of the year!

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Person of the Year

Posted Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2006
The "Great Man" theory of history is usually attributed to the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle, who wrote that "the history of the world is but the biography of great men." He believed that it is the few, the powerful and the famous who shape our collective destiny as a species. That theory took a serious beating this year.

To be sure, there are individuals we could blame for the many painful and disturbing things that happened in 2006. The conflict in Iraq only got bloodier and more entrenched. A vicious skirmish erupted between Israel and Lebanon. A war dragged on in Sudan. A tin-pot dictator in North Korea got the Bomb, and the President of Iran wants to go nuclear too. Meanwhile nobody fixed global warming, and Sony didn't make enough PlayStation3s.

But look at 2006 through a different lens and you'll see another story, one that isn't about conflict or great men. It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.

The tool that makes this possible is the World Wide Web. Not the Web that Tim Berners-Lee hacked together (15 years ago, according to Wikipedia) as a way for scientists to share research. It's not even the overhyped dotcom Web of the late 1990s. The new Web is a very different thing. It's a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter. Silicon Valley consultants call it Web 2.0, as if it were a new version of some old software. But it's really a revolution.

And we are so ready for it. We're ready to balance our diet of predigested news with raw feeds from Baghdad and Boston and Beijing. You can learn more about how Americans live just by looking at the backgrounds of YouTube videos—those rumpled bedrooms and toy-strewn basement rec rooms—than you could from 1,000 hours of network television.

And we didn't just watch, we also worked. Like crazy. We made Facebook profiles and Second Life avatars and reviewed books at Amazon and recorded podcasts. We blogged about our candidates losing and wrote songs about getting dumped. We camcordered bombing runs and built open-source software.

America loves its solitary geniuses—its Einsteins, its Edisons, its Jobses—but those lonely dreamers may have to learn to play with others. Car companies are running open design contests. Reuters is carrying blog postings alongside its regular news feed. Microsoft is working overtime to fend off user-created Linux. We're looking at an explosion of productivity and innovation, and it's just getting started, as millions of minds that would otherwise have drowned in obscurity get backhauled into the global intellectual economy.

Who are these people? Seriously, who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I'm not going to watch Lost tonight. I'm going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? I'm going to mash up 50 Cent's vocals with Queen's instrumentals? I'm going to blog about my state of mind or the state of the nation or the steak-frites at the new bistro down the street? Who has that time and that energy and that passion?

The answer is, you do. And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is you.

Sure, it's a mistake to romanticize all this any more than is strictly necessary. Web 2.0 harnesses the stupidity of crowds as well as its wisdom. Some of the comments on YouTube make you weep for the future of humanity just for the spelling alone, never mind the obscenity and the naked hatred.

But that's what makes all this interesting. Web 2.0 is a massive social experiment, and like any experiment worth trying, it could fail. There's no road map for how an organism that's not a bacterium lives and works together on this planet in numbers in excess of 6 billion. But 2006 gave us some ideas. This is an opportunity to build a new kind of international understanding, not politician to politician, great man to great man, but citizen to citizen, person to person. It's a chance for people to look at a computer screen and really, genuinely wonder who's out there looking back at them. Go on. Tell us you're not just a little bit curious.

Would this list happen to include or exclude George Lame-Duck Walker, Dick-head Dick, Run Duck Rummy, those dung-flinging dumb neo-cons et al? If it does, count me out, that's for sure, cos i wouldn't be caught even dead drunk on it! But if it includes all those lovely folks that read, assimilated and went out to make the difference happen, without a doubt, all my people of the year, then it would be my treasured honor to be listed amongst such distinction.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Rumsfeld: To Posterity with the reputation you have.

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Rumsfeld: You Go To Posterity With the Reputation You Have, Not The Reputation You Wish You Had.
By RJ Eskow

The Associated Press noted the departure of Donald Rumsfeld with a curious retrospective, quoting a biographer who suggests that he is a "tragic figure" because of his wasted "talent and promise." But Nixon, who called him a "ruthless little bastard," had Rummy's number from the start. His "talent" was as a political hit man, a vicious insider who would do whatever his bosses wanted.
He was and is a nasty person of shrewd but limited intellect, a bully and a braggart and a bullshit artist. Nobody will miss him.

Do Rumsfeld and his friends regret his public disgrace, which will follow him into the grave? Too bad. They should have thought about that earlier, when he was slandering generals and political opponents alike (for being right), enriching war profiteers, and making one egregious error in judgement after another. No wonder he won praise today from Dick Cheney, a man whose predictions on Iraq have been as accurate as his shooting.

The only thing that could change the way Rumsfeld is remembered is if more is revealed about his complicity in torture and other war crimes.

What should Rumsfeld be remembered for, if not Iraq? For selling contraceptives and sweeteners as a drug executive? No. The GOP wanted this war, and Rumsfeld gave it to them. They wanted lying and deception, and Rummy delivered. They wanted to cut costs when it came to protecting our soldiers, and jack them up when it came to making Halliburton rich. Again, Rumsfeld came through.

The only form of combat at which Rumsfeld ever excelled was bureaucratic infighting. That, and not expertise or brains, is why Nixon named him to a Cabinet post. "I need a man who will be in there fighting," Nixon said on the White House tapes. "He's a ruthless little bastard ... He's tough enough that if he knows what I want, he isn't going to come in and try to sell me something."

Rumsfeld knew how to get things done - particularly things that advanced Rumsfeld's career. He was appointed to run the Office of Economic Opportunity so that the GOP could run it into the ground, but he proved an aggressive and adept advocate for some of its programs. That wasn't out of idealism, but rather as a way to expand his own turf.

As Secretary of Defense, he increased the military budget during a period of détente and reduced military need. Why? Because - again - he wanted more power.

His first private-sector job, as CEO of G. D. Searle, was well-suited to his talents. He cut underperforming divisions, per the corporate trends of the day. (Some business analysts believe this tactic, while good for short-term stock values, actually guts the long term worth of some companies while making employees suffer needlessly.)

His political skills came in especially handy at Searle's helm, since he was able to persuade the Reagan Administration to reverse government policy and permit the use of Searle's formerly-banned product, Aspartame.

(Rumsfeld continues to profit from the decisions of his political pals. During the bird-flu scare Bush allocated a billion dollars to purchase Tamiflu, which another Rumsfeld company developed. The result was a few more million dollars in value for Rummy's portfolio.)

But Iraq will remain the capstone of Rumsfeld's career. He treated the lives and welfare of our soldiers as cavalierly as he did the jobs of employees at those Searle divisions he closed down. His limitations, both intellectual and moral, made him the Republican Party's perfect instrument for the pursuit of this war. He was the creature of the Party that created and nurtured him, and an accurate reflection of it.

His most famous quote was not only flippant but dishonest, since it was used to conceal his own managerial incompetence, lack of proper planning, and indifference to the human cost of his actions. Let's not forget the question that prompted it, either, from a soldier serving in Iraq:

Army Spc. Thomas Wilson: Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles? And why don;t we have those resources readily available to us?

Rumsfeld: It isn't a matter of money. It isn't a matter on the part of the army of desire. It's a matter of production and capability of doing it. As you know, ah, you go to war with the army you have--not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.--You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and it can (still) be blown up...

Rumsfeld's press conferences were widely noted for his bullying, confusing, and often incoherent comments. What was less obvious to most press observers was that his elliptically-phrased aggression was an intentional strategy. He kept reporters confused, intidimated, and off-balance while showering the public with his muddled thinking, cynical manipulations, and flat-out lies.

The content of the AP piece is generally fair and balanced, although they turned to a Cato Institute scholar rather than one of his many progressive detractors for the observation that he will be remembered with a "dark epitaph."

But the AP's lamentation for the fact that his career "ended in ignominy" is a curious one. He will be remembered, if at all, for these qualities: callousness, libelous comments about those who disagreed with him, a hallucinogenic detachment from reality, smug refusal to consider other people's opinions, mental shallowness, and a sociopathic inability to take responsibility for his own actions.

Most of all, he will be remembered for that most destructive and personally unappealing combination of personality traits: arrogance and incompetence.

Given that record, what could be a more appropriate end to his career than "ignominy"?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Circumcision and HIV

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Circumcision 'cuts' HIV infection

Circumcision can cut the rate of HIV infection in heterosexual men by 50%, results from two African trials show.

The findings are so striking, the US National Institutes of Health decided it would be unethical to continue and stopped the trials early.

It supports a previous South African study which reported similar results.

Experts said it was a significant breakthrough but could not replace standard methods of preventing infection such as condoms.

"These findings are of great interest to public health policy makers who are developing and implementing comprehensive HIV prevention programmes"
Dr Elias Zerhouni
US National Institutes of Health

The two trials of around 8,000 men took place in Uganda and Kenya were due to finish in July and September 2007 respectively.

But after an interim review of the data by the NIH Data and Safety Monitoring Board decided to halt the trials as it was unethical not to offer circumcision in the men who were acting as controls.

Bleeding less likely

The trial in Kenya found a 53% reduction in new HIV infections in heterosexual men who were circumcised while the Ugandan study reported a drop of 48%.

Men must not consider themselves protected
Dr Kevin De Cock
World Health Organization

Results last year from a study in 3,280 heterosexual men in South Africa, which was also stopped early, showed a 60% drop in the incidence of new infections in men who had been circumcised.

There are several reasons why circumcision may protect against HIV infection.

Specific cells in the foreskin may be potential targets for HIV infection and also the skin under the foreskin becomes less sensitive and is less likely to bleed reducing risk of infection following circumcision.

When Aids first began to emerge in Africa, researchers noted that men who were circumcised seemed to be less at risk of infection but it was unclear whether this was due to differences in sexual behaviour.

A modelling study done by international Aids experts earlier this year showed that male circumcision could avert about six million HIV infections and three million deaths in sub-Saharan Africa.

A further trial in Uganda to assess the risk of HIV transmission to female partners is due to report in 2008 but the effect among men who have sex with men has not yet been studied.


Dr Kevin De Cock, director of the HIV/Aids department of the World Health Organization told the BBC the results were a "significant scientific advance" but were not a magic bullet and would never replace existing prevention strategies.

"We will have to convene a meeting which we hope will happen quite soon to review the data in more detail and have discussions about the implications.

"This is an intervention that must be embedded with all the other interventions and precautions we have. Men must not consider themselves protected. It's a very important intervention to add to our prevention armamentarium."

Dr De Cock said that countries in Africa who wanted to use this approach would still have to decide what age groups to target and there would have to be training and hygienic practices in place.

"This is about as good epidemiological data as we can request. There will be many other research questions about implementation but this is very persuasive."

NIH director Dr Elias Zerhouni said: "Male circumcision performed safely in a medical environment complements other HIV prevention strategies and could lessen the burden of HIV/Aids, especially in countries in sub-Saharan Africa where, according to the 2006 estimates from UNAids, 2.8 million new infections occurred in a single year."

Dr Jeckoniah Ndinya-Achola, co-principal investigator at the University of Nairobi, Kenya said: "The Ministry of Health of the Kenyan government is already holding discussions about how this can be made available. It will need a certain amount of improvement to existing facilities."

But Tom Elkins, Senior Policy Officer at the National AIDS Trust warned: "There is a real danger in sending out a message that circumcision can protect against HIV. This is not the case and could lead to an increase in unprotected sex.

"There is still a long way to go in providing comprehensive prevention programmes in many countries, and resources should go into normalising the use of condoms, which are the most effective method currently available for preventing HIV."

With a name like Kevin de Cock, its all been said already... now, I've heard it all. CLUELESS!!!

Ok, so what's next now???

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Stupendously, Incurious George Bush

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The Incredibly, Unbelievably, Stupendously, Incurious George Bush

Cenk Uygur

Never has there been a public official more unequipped to be President of the United States of America than George W. Bush. The man is simply not up to the job. Even if he really wanted to be or cared to be an effective president, he ... could ... not ... do ... it.

He can't do it on a boat, he can't do it with a (pet) goat. He can't do it in the Green Zone, he can't do it back at home. This man cannot be a good president, Sam-I-Am.

He flat out does not have the intellectual capacity to carry out the requirements of the job. This is not some mean-spirited speculation as to the level of his intelligence. The facts are in. There is nothing left to speculate on. And today we have yet another example of his sheer inability to form a cognitive thought.

Lawrence Eagleburger is a Republican. He was the Secretary of State under George H.W. Bush and was a prominent figure in the Reagan administration. He is a party stalwart and one of the bastions of the Republican establishment. This man obviously wants George W. Bush to succeed. When he met with President Bush, along with all of the members of the Iraq Study Group, he said that after they presented their findings - Bush asked no questions.

Eagleburger remarked, "I don't recall, seriously, that he asked any questions."

Stop. Think about that for a second. There are 79 recommendations made by the group. They took nine months and talked to everyone involved about the situation in Iraq. They have interesting, sometimes controversial positions, some of which Bush theoretically agrees and disagrees with - and he asked absolutely no questions. Not one.

That is beyond unbelievable. You would have to be stupendously stupid, mentally stultified and intellectually inoperative not to be able to come up with one question to this group who has presented the most important report of your presidency to you.

No one can be that callous. Forget his legacy, there are people dying on the ground every day. Even if you don't care at all about your own presidency and you don't care about the thousands of Iraqis dying every month, you have to care about the American servicemen and women you sent in to die in Iraq. You'd have to be inhuman not to care about that. No one could be callous enough to receive incredibly important recommendations on how to rescue this mission and not ask a single question.

You know why he didn't ask anything? Because he's stupid. He is afraid that he is going to ask a dumb question, or it's possible that he doesn't even have the capacity to formulate one in his tiny, little mind. So, instead he sits there like a bump on a log. The ISG members must have been at a loss for what to do. I can't imagine any of them anticipated that there would be no interaction with the president. That he would just sit there with a dumb look on his face and not make one comment or have one question.

That might explain some of their harsh comments about the president afterward. Former Republican Senator Alan Simpson intimidated that Bush is so stubborn that he stinks of it. The dude is clearly aggravated.

Later Bush actually bragged about reading the report. He said that most reports don't get read by anyone in Washington, but that he went through the trouble of reading this one. Would you like cracker, Mr. President?

Bush often brags about doing the simplest things related to his job, like meeting with the commanders. He is often fond of saying that he has met with his commanders and his advisers. Of course!!! That's what you're supposed to do. Everyone, except you apparently, already knew that. That is the beginning of the job, not the end.

If this was just one incident, you could rightfully say I might be blowing it out of proportion, but this is part of a very clear pattern in most of the important moments in George Bush's presidency.

Remember the famous meeting before Hurricane Katrina where federal officials warned that the levees might not hold. His response? Not one question.

Remember what Paul O'Neill, the former Treasury Secretary, said about him during their first one-on-one meeting. After O'Neill spoke for an hour about all of the important budgetary and domestic issues in the country, he turned to the president. His response? Not one question.

Remember when he received the Presidential Daily Briefing warning "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." His response? Not one question. But in this case, to rub salt into the wounds, he added to the CIA official giving the dire warnings, "All right. You've covered your ass, now."


His contempt for and ignorance of the necessities of the job are stunning. At first when Michael Moore made a big deal about how President Bush read "My Pet Goat" for seven minutes after he was told the nation was under attack, I thought he was being a bit unfair.

I thought at the time that Bush was thinking about what to do and didn't want to freak out the kids by rushing out of the room. But now the weight of experience leads me to realize that it was no such thing. The tiny wheels inside that vacuous mind were turning and churning, and in the end he had nothing to show for it. Zip. He had no idea what to do.

He didn't ask Andy Card who attacked us? What hit the buildings? What precautions we should take? What actions and reactions we should engage in immediately? How do we go about defending ourselves? What's happening on the ground in New York?

When he was told we were under attack on 9/11, what was his response? Not one question.

The Young Turks

Thursday, December 07, 2006


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=America doing the work of Exxon, Shell and Texaco!

Still need to know what the war in Iraq is all about?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

War Against Christmas

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Consider This The Opening Salvo For The War On Christmas
By R.J Eskow

Uh-oh, we're running late. It's December 6 already, and nobody's fired a shot in the war against Christmas yet. So let me be the first. Surely you know about the Big War, right? Bill O'Reilly and John Gibson - and a dozen other rightwing hatemongers - have been complaining about it since they invented it last year.

And of course they invented this so-called war. Corporations aren't attacking Christmas when they ask employees to say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." They're just saying that all Americans, including those who don't celebrate Christmas in their beliefs, are welcome to patronize their store. The fanatical media mavens, always looking for a new phony cause, invented the war on Christmas.

The conservatives just needed a new enemy to hate, somebody else they could unite against. Their philosophy is all about opposing ideas and people rather than supporting ideas and people. There's never been a war on Christmas.

Until now.

I'm declaring one. This is the opening salvo of my official war on Christmas. Oh, not the real Christmas, mind you. Depending on what you believe, Christmas can be either a) the time to remember when God came to Earth in human form and sacrificed himself for us, or b) a holiday that combined a number of ancient solstice festivals and resurrection stories that each reflected elemental aspects of the human spirit.

I have no problem with Christmas in either form. Either way, it's a beautiful synthesis of what it means to be alive, of the way that human beings can learn to love both the creation and the Creator. It's a candle lit in the darkness of winter to preserve the light of soul. Actually, I love Christmas - that Christmas, the Christmas that lives in the heart.

It's the other Christmas I'm declaring war against - the political Christmas, the state-sponsored Christmas promoted by the government (and by that quasigovernmental agency called Fox News).

I'm declaring war on the Christmas that's used by demagogues like O'Reilly to divide people. I'm declaring war on the Christmas that has more to do with the principles of Karl Rove than it does with the principles of Jesus Christ. I'm declaring war on the Christmas of the haters, the bullies, the war-lovers, the shouters, the interrupters.

Christmas was designed to remind us of the One who refused to hate minorities, the One who found a lesson in the behavior of the Samaritan (from a despised sect of outsiders), who saved the prostitute's life, who said that the country's religious leaders didn't have a monopoly on the truth.

His Christmas, that Christmas, is a time to love those who are different, to accept them and learn from them - not a time to fan the flames of hatred to increase ratings or get more support for the Republican agenda. In the real spirit of Christmas, atheists and Muslims would be as welcome at the table - and on television - as the most devout Christian. That was His example. He would welcome those who, predictably, will argue that this entire piece - and Christmas in any form - is naïve and foolish. It doesn't matter. This war's for them, too.

I'm also declaring war against the corporate-sponsored Christmas, the Credit Card Christmas, the debt-amplifying and soul-killing Christmas. I'm declaring war on the Christmas that says you need to buy and consume to celebrate the holiday. I'm declaring war on the Christmas of the monolithic economic machine that perverts even our most sacred rituals in order to tighten the bonds of financial enslavement.

I'm declaring war on the Christmas that's being used to sell John Gibson's books - and cheap gadgets nobody needs, shining things that last a year or two, consumer ghostware that people buy in order to forget for a brief moment that most of them spend their lives enslaved to economic entities that don't give a damn if they live or die.

It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven, we are told. So why are we being lectured on Christmas by rich men? And why are Christians still following wealthy and politically-connected preachers, two thousand years after Jesus drove the moneychangers out of the temple? For that matter, why are corporate CEOs telling people what they "want for Christmas"?

Christmas Club card? We don't need to show you no stinkin' Christmas Club card!

There's a Christmas of the fist and a Christmas of the heart. There's an Internet-connected Christmas that links you to foxnews.com and to online banking, and a spiritually-connected Christmas that binds you to the people and things you treasure. There's a political Christmas designed to dominate and crush the friendless and unloved, and there's a Christmas that's designed to comfort the powerless and lonely by telling the story of One who died powerless and alone.

I'm declaring war on that first Christmas, the worldly one. If there wasn't a war on it before, I'm saying right here that I'd like to get one started. I'd like to see that shadow holiday, that anti-Christmas, disappear forever. For God's sake, hasn't the world had enough of it?

The two Christmases can't coexist. Where hate is, love cannot be. Where greed is, charity and sacrifice cannot be. In order to save the real Christmas we need to fight the other Christmas - the Christmas of Bill O'Reilly and John Gibson, and of the big corporations getting rich in His name. That's why I'm declaring war on Christmas - their Christmas.

Who's with me?

The moral? It's the humility of Christmas that counts, not the hampers and gifts... Merry Christmas y'all!

Monday, December 04, 2006

From the President of Iran to the American People.

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Message of H.E. Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
To the American People

By H.E. Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Washington Post
Wednesday 29 November 2006

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

O, Almighty God, bestow upon humanity the perfect human being promised to all by You, and make us among his followers.

Noble Americans,

Were we not faced with the activities of the US administration in this part of the world and the negative ramifications of those activities on the daily lives of our peoples, coupled with the many wars and calamities caused by the US administration as well as the tragic consequences of US interference in other countries;

Were the American people not God-fearing, truth-loving, and justice-seeking, while the US administration actively conceals the truth and impedes any objective portrayal of current realities;

And if we did not share a common responsibility to promote and protect freedom and human dignity and integrity;

Then, there would have been little urgency to have a dialogue with you.

While Divine providence has placed Iran and the United States geographically far apart, we should be cognizant that human values and our common human spirit, which proclaim the dignity and exalted worth of all human beings, have brought our two great nations of Iran and the United States closer together.

Both our nations are God-fearing, truth-loving and justice-seeking, and both seek dignity, respect and perfection.

Both greatly value and readily embrace the promotion of human ideals such as compassion, empathy, respect for the rights of human beings, securing justice and equity, and defending the innocent and the weak against oppressors and bullies.

We are all inclined towards the good, and towards extending a helping hand to one another, particularly to those in need.

We all deplore injustice, the trampling of peoples' rights and the intimidation and humiliation of human beings.

We all detest darkness, deceit, lies and distortion, and seek and admire salvation, enlightenment, sincerity and honesty.

The pure human essence of the two great nations of Iran and the United States testify to the veracity of these statements.

Noble Americans,

Our nation has always extended its hand of friendship to all other nations of the world.

Hundreds of thousands of my Iranian compatriots are living amongst you in friendship and peace, and are contributing positively to your society. Our people have been in contact with you over the past many years and have maintained these contacts despite the unnecessary restrictions of US authorities.

As mentioned, we have common concerns, face similar challenges, and are pained by the sufferings and afflictions in the world.

We, like you, are aggrieved by the ever-worsening pain and misery of the Palestinian people. Persistent aggressions by the Zionists are making life more and more difficult for the rightful owners of the land of Palestine. In broad day-light, in front of cameras and before the eyes of the world, they are bombarding innocent defenseless civilians, bulldozing houses, firing machine guns at students in the streets and alleys, and subjecting their families to endless grief.

No day goes by without a new crime.

Palestinian mothers, just like Iranian and American mothers, love their children, and are painfully bereaved by the imprisonment, wounding and murder of their children. What mother wouldn't?

For 60 years, the Zionist regime has driven millions of the inhabitants of Palestine out of their homes. Many of these refugees have died in the Diaspora and in refugee camps. Their children have spent their youth in these camps and are aging while still in the hope of returning to homeland.

You know well that the US administration has persistently provided blind and blanket support to the Zionist regime, has emboldened it to continue its crimes, and has prevented the UN Security Council from condemning it.

Who can deny such broken promises and grave injustices towards humanity by the US administration?

Governments are there to serve their own people. No people wants to side with or support any oppressors. But regrettably, the US administration disregards even its own public opinion and remains in the forefront of supporting the trampling of the rights of the Palestinian people.

Let's take a look at Iraq. Since the commencement of the US military presence in Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, maimed or displaced. Terrorism in Iraq has grown exponentially. With the presence of the US military in Iraq, nothing has been done to rebuild the ruins, to restore the infrastructure or to alleviate poverty. The US Government used the pretext of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but later it became clear that that was just a lie and a deception.

Although Saddam was overthrown and people are happy about his departure, the pain and suffering of the Iraqi people has persisted and has even been aggravated.

In Iraq, about one hundred and fifty thousand American soldiers, separated from their families and loved ones, are operating under the command of the current US administration. A substantial number of them have been killed or wounded and their presence in Iraq has tarnished the image of the American people and government.

Their mothers and relatives have, on numerous occasions, displayed their discontent with the presence of their sons and daughters in a land thousands of miles away from US shores. American soldiers often wonder why they have been sent to Iraq.

I consider it extremely unlikely that you, the American people, consent to the billions of dollars of annual expenditure from your treasury for this military misadventure.

Noble Americans,

You have heard that the US administration is kidnapping its presumed opponents from across the globe and arbitrarily holding them without trial or any international supervision in horrendous prisons that it has established in various parts of the world. God knows who these detainees actually are, and what terrible fate awaits them.

You have certainly heard the sad stories of the Guantanamo and Abu-Ghraib prisons. The US administration attempts to justify them through its proclaimed "war on terror." But every one knows that such behavior, in fact, offends global public opinion, exacerbates resentment and thereby spreads terrorism, and tarnishes the US image and its credibility among nations.

The US administration's illegal and immoral behavior is not even confined to outside its borders. You are witnessing daily that under the pretext of "the war on terror," civil liberties in the United States are being increasingly curtailed. Even the privacy of individuals is fast losing its meaning. Judicial due process and fundamental rights are trampled upon. Private phones are tapped, suspects are arbitrarily arrested, sometimes beaten in the streets, or even shot to death.

I have no doubt that the American people do not approve of this behavior and indeed deplore it.

The US administration does not accept accountability before any organization, institution or council. The US administration has undermined the credibility of international organizations, particularly the United Nations and its Security Council. But, I do not intend to address all the challenges and calamities in this message.

The legitimacy, power and influence of a government do not emanate from its arsenals of tanks, fighter aircrafts, missiles or nuclear weapons. Legitimacy and influence reside in sound logic, quest for justice and compassion and empathy for all humanity. The global position of the United States is in all probability weakened because the administration has continued to resort to force, to conceal the truth, and to mislead the American people about its policies and practices.

Undoubtedly, the American people are not satisfied with this behavior and they showed their discontent in the recent elections. I hope that in the wake of the mid-term elections, the administration of President Bush will have heard and will heed the message of the American people.

My questions are the following:

Is there not a better approach to governance?

Is it not possible to put wealth and power in the service of peace, stability, prosperity and the happiness of all peoples through a commitment to justice and respect for the rights of all nations, instead of aggression and war?

We all condemn terrorism, because its victims are the innocent.

But, can terrorism be contained and eradicated through war, destruction and the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocents?

If that were possible, then why has the problem not been resolved?

The sad experience of invading Iraq is before us all.

What has blind support for the Zionists by the US administration brought for the American people? It is regrettable that for the US administration, the interests of these occupiers supersedes the interests of the American people and of the other nations of the world.

What have the Zionists done for the American people that the US administration considers itself obliged to blindly support these infamous aggressors? Is it not because they have imposed themselves on a substantial portion of the banking, financial, cultural and media sectors?

I recommend that in a demonstration of respect for the American people and for humanity, the right of Palestinians to live in their own homeland should be recognized so that millions of Palestinian refugees can return to their homes and the future of all of Palestine and its form of government be determined in a referendum. This will benefit everyone.

Now that Iraq has a Constitution and an independent Assembly and Government, would it not be more beneficial to bring the US officers and soldiers home, and to spend the astronomical US military expenditures in Iraq for the welfare and prosperity of the American people? As you know very well, many victims of Katrina continue to suffer, and countless Americans continue to live in poverty and homelessness.

I'd also like to say a word to the winners of the recent elections in the US:

The United States has had many administrations; some who have left a positive legacy, and others that are neither remembered fondly by the American people nor by other nations.

Now that you control an important branch of the US Government, you will also be held to account by the people and by history.

If the US Government meets the current domestic and external challenges with an approach based on truth and Justice, it can remedy some of the past afflictions and alleviate some of the global resentment and hatred of America. But if the approach remains the same, it would not be unexpected that the American people would similarly reject the new electoral winners, although the recent elections, rather than reflecting a victory, in reality point to the failure of the current administration's policies. These issues had been extensively dealt with in my letter to President Bush earlier this year.

To sum up:

It is possible to govern based on an approach that is distinctly different from one of coercion, force and injustice.

It is possible to sincerely serve and promote common human values, and honesty and compassion.

It is possible to provide welfare and prosperity without tension, threats, imposition or war.

It is possible to lead the world towards the aspired perfection by adhering to unity, monotheism, morality and spirituality and drawing upon the teachings of the Divine Prophets.

Then, the American people, who are God-fearing and followers of Divine religions, will overcome every difficulty.

What I stated represents some of my anxieties and concerns.

I am confident that you, the American people, will play an instrumental role in the establishment of justice and spirituality throughout the world. The promises of the Almighty and His prophets will certainly be realized, Justice and Truth will prevail and all nations will live a true life in a climate replete with love, compassion and fraternity.

The US governing establishment, the authorities and the powerful should not choose irreversible paths. As all prophets have taught us, injustice and transgression will eventually bring about decline and demise. Today, the path of return to faith and spirituality is open and unimpeded.

We should all heed the Divine Word of the Holy Qur'an:

"But those who repent, have faith and do good may receive Salvation. Your Lord, alone, creates and chooses as He will, and others have no part in His choice; Glorified is God and Exalted above any partners they ascribe to Him." (28:67-68)

I pray to the Almighty to bless the Iranian and American nations and indeed all nations of the world with dignity and success.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
29 November 2006