Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Top 10 Things Dear Leader Forgot to Mention Tonight

Juan Cole's got it.

To get the work camps built fast

...for the Dear Leader's Guest Worker program.

Arlingon, Va.- KBR announced today that the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) component has awarded KBR an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contingency contract to support ICE facilities in the event of an emergency. KBR is the engineering and construction subsidiary of Halliburton (NYSE:HAL).

With a maximum total value of $385 million over a five-year term, consisting of a one-year based period and four one-year options, the competitively awarded contract will be executed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District. KBR held the previous ICE contract from 2000 through 2005.

"We are especially gratified to be awarded this contract because it builds on our extremely strong track record in the arena of emergency operations support," said Bruce Stanski, executive vice president, KBR Government and Infrastructure. "We look forward to continuing the good work we have been doing to support our customer whenever and wherever we are needed."

The contract, which is effective immediately, provides for establishing temporary detention and processing capabilities to augment existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) Program facilities in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs. The contingency support contract provides for planning and, if required, initiation of specific engineering, construction and logistics support tasks to establish, operate and maintain one or more expansion facilities...

Monday, January 30, 2006

Heckuva Job

Via xan:

What would happen if terrorists managed to detonate a nuclear device in a major U.S. city? Hundreds of thousands of people would suffer from acute radiation exposure. They would be at long-term risk of developing cancer, but most deaths would be from damage to the bone marrow, infections and internal bleeding.

Pentagon scientists discovered a possible treatment for radiation sickness after testing a drug made by Hollis-Eden, a small biotech company in San Diego.

"In the summer of 2001, the military came and visited us and they said, 'You know we’ve been testing your drug and we’ve been looking for a drug like this for 40 years,' " says Bob Marsella, the company’s vice president.

Was the military interested in the drug for troops?

"Yes," says Marsella. "Two weeks after 9/11, they came and visited us again and said, 'We’d like to develop this now, not only for troops but for civilians.' "

Hollis-Eden’s drug, Neumune, was not FDA-approved, but the Pentagon had been testing it on mice, dogs and monkeys, where it stopped the lethal bleeding and infections caused by radiation exposure.

The Pentagon decided the drug was in a class by itself and stated in a letter to 60 Minutes: “NEUMUNE … seems to be the most efficacious, least toxic and most comprehensive in its effects.”

"And then we started to look at the impact a nuclear bomb would have on a city and how many people would be exposed and potentially use this product," Marsella says. "And we started looking at the numbers. They were staggering. They were in the millions of doses, so we thought to ourselves, this could potentially be a very big market."

Marsella and his boss, Richard Hollis, knew it was a market with only one initial buyer: the U.S. government. They had to convince potential investors that Washington would spend hundreds of millions of dollars to buy their drug.

"We started circulating in Washington, and there was a lot of support for a medical countermeasure that could save human lives in the event there’s a nuclear 9/11," says Hollis.

"But we couldn’t get it funded," he says. "So we were here in Washington trying to figure out how we were going to get it done and, coincidentally, we were here for the State of the Union when the president addressed it."

"I ask you tonight to add to our future security with a major research and production effort to guard our people against bio-terrorism called Project Bioshield," President Bush said during his 2003 speech.

"Project Bioshield" provided nearly $6 billion to create a biodefense industry. The program gave drug companies a powerful incentive to come up with new drugs to be used in the event of terrorist attacks. For the first time, there would be a guaranteed market for drugs if they tested successfully. It was the assurance Hollis-Eden had been waiting for.

"So you have a partner in the Pentagon?" Bradley says.

"Yes," Hollis says...

Over the next three years, Hollis-Eden spent more than $100 million, with the expectation that the government would buy millions of doses.

Finally, last September, the Department of Health & Human Services surprised everyone by announcing that it would commit to purchase a radiation drug from whichever company had the best product, but only 100,000 doses.

No one expected the order to be that small.

"Our stock plummeted. We went to $5 a share. And we were shocked and surprised because we just couldn’t see how they could come to that decision," Marsella says.

No one knows where a terrorist strike might take place, but there are dozens of U.S. cities with populations large enough to be plausible targets.

Drugs would need to be stockpiled in every city, according to Lee Hamilton, Vice Chairman of the 9/11 Commission.

"A hundred thousand doses is not nearly enough," he says. "If you really had a major attack you probably would need much more than that. One estimate we made was that we’d need 10 million doses."

Who made the decision to buy 100,000 doses instead of 10 million? It was Stewart Simonson, the man who oversees Project Bioshield. Simonson is a Republican political appointee who, before running Project Bioshield, was a lawyer for Amtrak. Republicans as well as Democrats have criticized his management of the program...

Why did the government decide to buy only 100,000 does to treat acute radiation syndrome?

"Well this is the place to start and we don’t see 100,000 as the end, we see 100,000 as the beginning," says Raub.

"So, if you order 100,000 and there’s a nuclear explosion … when do you get the rest of them?" asks Bradley.

"Again, we take this a step at a time. First off, we need agents that we can be sure will work," Raub replies.

"If we were told four years ago, Ed, that they were only going to buy 100,000 doses, we would have never developed this drug," says Marsella.

But HHS said the initial 100,000-dose order was just a starting point.

"They’re supposed to create a market, not a starting point," says Marsella. "If they were going to buy tanks for the military would they just buy one tank, or would they buy 100 tanks? And I think that the contractor would have a hard time spending all the money and research and not have a guarantee that they’re going to buy more than one tank."

"But they’re not saying, 'We’re only going to buy 100,000 doses.' They’re saying, 'This is where we’re going to start,'" Bradley says.

"How much more are they going to buy, Ed? Do we know that?" says Marsella. "Are they going to say they’re going to buy millions more? See, they won’t commit to that."

"The thing that must be understood here is the urgency of the problem," says Lee Hamilton. "We don’t have an unlimited amount of time here. We know that it is possible to have a nuclear attack very soon, and we must not go about business as usual."

Somebody seems to have a pre 9/11 mentality.

Xan goes into more detail about Simonson, who is doubtless way out of his depth- that being only a few inches doubtless- but let's think a bit more about this compound.

Specifically, Neumune protects our infection-fighting bone marrow, known to be particularly hard hit in a dirty bomb or nuclear attack, he tells WebMD.

Speaking here at the annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, Stickney notes that researchers in a recent scientific article in the BMJ predict that if a small and crude nuclear device were detonated in New York City, approximately 50,000 people would die from the initial blast. But another 200,000 would die shortly thereafter from severe bone marrow damage, and an additional 700,000 would be at risk because of radiation sickness resulting from bone marrow damage.

"The primary cause of death from radiation is a severe depletion of bone marrow cells," Stickney says.

Enter Neumune -- a close relative of performance-enhancing DHEA, or dehyroepiandrosterone. It is a hormone naturally made by the adrenal glands.

In studies in monkeys, Neumune protected all three elements of the bone marrow: the white blood cells that fight infection, the platelets that help blood to clot, and the red blood cells that transport oxygen throughout the body, Stickney reports. "No other single compound has ever done that before."

In the studies, 30 primates were exposed to potentially fatal doses of radiation. "The doses we gave were such that you would expect 50% of the animals to die," Stickney says, "a good simulation of what would happen [to humans] in a terrorist nuclear explosion."

Ten of the animals received no treatment, while 10 received placebo and 10 received injections of Neumune beginning several hours after radiation exposure. The study showed that 90% of the Neumune-treated macaques survived, compared with only 55% of those that received either placebo or no treatment...

The evidence seems clear. As a steroid analog, it's quite stable chemically and easy to store for the long term. The toxicity issue seems minimal: a one time dose might cause some pituitary suppression, but that may be part of the mechanism aiding survival.

Apparently Simonson is also responsible for the muddle of a response our government's had to the H5N1 influenza. Like our susceptibility to nuclear attack, we've been fortunate to avoid tragedy with this security issue too. Perhaps for not much longer.

I wonder if the reluctance to buy more has been because Darth Rumsfeld's pet drug company, Gilead Biosciences, hasn't been involved?

All in the Family

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush says Bill Clinton has become so close to his father that the Democratic former president is like a member of the family.

Former President George Bush has worked with Clinton to raise money for victims of the Asian tsunami and the hurricane disaster along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Asked about his father and Clinton, Bush quipped, "Yes, he and my new brother."

"That's a good relationship. It's a fun relationship to watch," Bush said in an interview with CBS News broadcast on Sunday.

While attending Pope John Paul's funeral, Bush said, "It was fun to see the interplay between dad and Clinton. One of these days, I'll be a member of the ex-president's club. ... I'll be looking for something to do."

He said ex-presidents share rare experiences that others cannot understand. "And so I can understand why ex-presidents are able to put aside old differences," he said.

Bush said he checked in with Clinton occasionally.

"And you know, he says things that makes it obvious -- that makes it obvious to me that we're kind of, you know, on the same wavelength about the job of the presidency. Makes sense, after all, there's this kind of commonality," he said.

Bush jokingly referred to speculation that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former president's wife, will seek the Democratic nomination for the presidency. He had earlier referred to the former first lady as "formidable."

"Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton," he said, referring to how Bill Clinton had followed his father, and Hillary Clinton could follow him...

Do you suppose that the Clenis's the source of the advice on the Wrecovery?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Objective Science: Too Harsh for Sensitive Ears

The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.

Dr. Hansen said he would ignore the restrictions. "They feel their job is to be this censor of information going out to the public," he said.

Dean Acosta, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs at the space agency, said there was no effort to silence Dr. Hansen. "That's not the way we operate here at NASA," Mr. Acosta said. "We promote openness and we speak with the facts."

He said the restrictions on Dr. Hansen applied to all National Aeronautics and Space Administration personnel. He added that government scientists were free to discuss scientific findings, but that policy statements should be left to policy makers and appointed spokesmen.

Mr. Acosta said other reasons for requiring press officers to review interview requests were to have an orderly flow of information out of a sprawling agency and to avoid surprises. "This is not about any individual or any issue like global warming," he said. "It's about coordination."

Dr. Hansen strongly disagreed with this characterization, saying such procedures had already prevented the public from fully grasping recent findings about climate change that point to risks ahead...

Someone obviously didn't tell him the Party line as interpreted by NASA has recently morphed into an admission global warming exists but that it's "clear to climatologists that the warming is not due to the influence of pollution from urban areas."

Exactly which courageous climatologists made this amazing and quisling statement are unclear. It looks like Dr. Hansen wasn't one of them. I hope he stays employed and off of small airplanes.

Never Letting the Facts Get in the Way of a Good Myth

How do you suppose he'll write it for the New and Improved Unitary King George Version of the Bible?

ONCE UPON A TIME, Americans lived by a few simple maxims: God, country and family. Children respected their parents; students listened to their teachers; citizens followed the law. Then along came the 1960s, when liberal elites undermined traditional sources of authority. College kids smoked dope, feminists burned their bras and black militants burned down the cities. So now we have welfare, divorce, crime and a sick society that has lost its moral compass...

To Michael Barone of U.S. News & World Report, Alito symbolizes the "dutiful people" who adhered to tradition when the "beautiful people" attacked it. "While Manhattan glitterati thronged Leonard Bernstein's apartment to celebrate the murderous Black Panthers," Barone declared, "ordinary people … were going to work, raising their families and teaching their children to obey lawful authority and work their way up in the world."

There's only one problem with this GOP version of postwar history: It isn't true. The feel-good Republican vision of pre-'60s America is a myth. Urban kids were already using drugs in the 1950s, when J. Edgar Hoover called heroin a menace to American society. The FBI was busily harassing gays, who formed visible communities in many cities. And urban poverty was on the rise, even as most middle-class Americans looked the other away.

Most of all, a vicious racism infected enormous swaths of American society. And not just in the "Jim Crow" South, which is the story we know best, but in the urban North as well. In such cities as Chicago and Detroit, whites organized to keep African Americans out of their neighborhoods. They rallied outside city housing agencies to bar black tenants; they picketed white homeowners who sold property to black buyers. Even more, as University of Pennsylvania historian Thomas Sugrue has shown, whites often assaulted and vandalized blacks who did move into white areas. Were all whites racist? Of course not. But we can no longer pretend that they uniformly "respected authority" and "followed the law," as Brooks and Barone maintain.

While turning a blind eye to the problems of the 1950s, Republicans also exaggerate the disorder and conflict of the 1960s. In 1967, the year before Alito came to campus, more than half of Princeton's students said they supported American involvement in the Vietnam War. Visiting Princeton that spring, New Republic reporter Dotson Rader was shocked at how little political discussion or dissent he encountered...

But never get in the way of a good story.

Dick Nixon was overwhelmed by forces of evil that caused us to lose VietNam, St. Ronald and his faithful disciple Poppy tried to save us, but it wasn't until Dear Leader Carped the Diem that things got set Righteous.

At the State of the Unitary

Via attytood via firedoglake via Correntewire:

A simple plan: Filibuster for a day

It’s no surprise, but the Democrats lack the 41 votes they’d need to pull off a filibuster against Samuel Alito. That means that — barring the re-incarnation of Anita Hill — there will be a vote on Monday to cut off debate and then a vote on Tuesday to officially confirm him. That’s a real victory for President Bush in more ways than one — he desperately wanted to hail his big win in his State of the Union speech that night.


Nobody asked us, but if Harry Reid had a true flare for politics — and for the dramatic — he would try to convince his 43 other members, in the name of party unity, to filibuster Alito…for exactly one day. Why? Because Tuesday night will be the one night in the first half of 2006 when regular folks may actually watch a political event on television.

How dramatic would it be for the big anchors to start their broadcasts at 9 p.m. with the news that Democrats had banded together — for 24 hours, in the spirit of Jefferson Smith — to tell America what they really think of Alito, that he will tip the scales on the High Court for big business and big government against the little guy.

It will deny Bush his magic moment.

You know what to do. Call & email your Senator today.

From Climate Change Ground Zero

From where the hard truth comes with the tide, Oyster reminds us

A STATE legislature can recommend an investigation (or impeachment!) of the President.

Why is Congress' Katrina investigation being stonewalled? Where has the $87 billion been spent?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Did you think it was a bunch of limousine liberals?

Limousines, yes. Liberals, no.

Except some on paper.

In America, as in most places, the party of Davos is bipartisan. It includes Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney, Robert Rubin and Don Rumsfeld, Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice. (George Bush is also a member, but he doesn’t like to travel). John Kerry is quoted as having called himself a “Davos” man.

Indeed, without reference to economic class, it is impossible to explain why Democratic elites championed NAFTA, the WTO and the other instruments of corporate protectionism, which traded away the interests of its blue-collar industrial base in favor of the GOP constituencies in Wall Street and red-state agribusiness. Nor is it possible to explain why Washington is indifferent to a relentlessly rising trade deficit, and the resulting foreign debt that has put the country’s future in the hands of the central bank of China, while the Pentagon simulates war games with China as the enemy.

The media language we use to talk to each other about globalization hides its class structure. The press consistently talks about national “interest” without defining who exactly is getting what. Thus, American workers are told that the “Chinese” are taking their jobs. But the China threat is, in fact, another global business partnership—this one between commissars who supply the cheap labor and the United States and other foreign capitalists who supply the technology and two-thirds of the capital used to finance China’s exports. The rest of the world calls this “neoliberalism,” a term unknown among America’s media “internationalists.”

The politics of the global marketplace are a one-party system...

Realize that.

Kerry can post on Kos to declare jihad on Alito, but the willingness to Fight the Power has less to do with the basic human and civil rights Alito will trample and more to do with Alito's desire to establish an Eternal Dominionist Imperial Presidency, without end, Amen.

[Update tinman observes that this may a sham opposition, since Kerry doesn't think there are enough votes to sustain a filibuster. Monday will tell, when they lay their cards on the table...]

A Presidency that locks out everyone outside of Bu$hCo-Cheneyburton is a Presidency the other aristocrats will fight. It is far from clear that the inside-the-Beltway crowd really wants to resist a winner take all presidency on principle. Because of this, Alito may get a filibuster, but as far as DINOcrats are concerned, resistance is futile.

They've already been assimilated.

Little Details Like the Geneva Conventions


Of course, 9/11 changed everything especially for the gullible and the bait-and-switch charlatans now running the War on Terra.

Still, I wonder what this has to do with the demands that female hostages be released in return for Jill Carroll? Pretty much everything, I imagine.

I wonder how much we'll ever find out about what Darth Rumsfeld's minions are ordering done to Iraqi civilians? Pretty much the tip of the iceberg, I imagine, as it rips the hull of this war out beneath the waterline.

A Consistently Bigger Bang for Your Buck

We spend a billion a week on an unneccessary war in Iraq that primarily enriches a few private contractors, but cut NIH funding for the first time in 30 years.

Because, you know, science changes things.

...The genetically engineered vaccine appears to fulfill the promise of modern influenza vaccine technology being pushed by public health experts who want to improve the slow, old-fashioned methods now used to fight the flu.

The team at the University of Pittsburgh is now putting together a plan to test the vaccine in humans.

"This is a very potent vaccine," Dr. Andrea Gambotto of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, who led the study, said in a phone interview.

"It took roughly about 30 days to make the vaccine from when we received the sequence information from CDC in Atlanta...

Several shortages of vaccine for the seasonal flu made this need even more dire. But the spread of the H5N1 virus has made the need for better vaccine technology urgent.

H5N1 affects mostly birds but it has infected more than 150 people and killed more than 80 of them. Experts fear it could acquire the ability to pass from person to person, sparking a pandemic that could kill millions around the globe.

Because no one knows just how H5N1 will mutate, experts say it will not be possible to start making a vaccine against it until the pandemic strain emerges.

Gambotto hopes his team's approach will provide a way to start making such a vaccine quickly...

They did not use the actual H5N1 virus -- just genetic sequence data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "We have the technique to go from an e-mail to a virus," Gambotto said.

They artificially generated the DNA coding for the hemagglutinin gene -- which controls a protein found on the surface of all influenza viruses and provides the "H" in a virus's name.

"We generated the portion that we think was important for immunity," Gambotto said. "We never manipulated the actual H5N1 virus ourselves, so it is safe to generate this kind of vaccine."

They then spliced this artificial DNA into a human adenovirus, a common cold virus.

Tests in mice and chickens showed it provided partial protection when given nasally, and 100 percent protection against H5N1 when injected, they report in the February 15 issue of the Journal of Virology
(Journal of Virology, February 2006, p. 1959-1964, Vol. 80, No. 4) .

And it produced what is known as a dual immunological response -- the body generated both antibodies to neutralize the virus, and T-cells, a kind of immune cell that also attacks viruses.

"That means there is a lot of chance of getting cross-reactivity," Gambotto said. In other words, the vaccine may work against mutated versions of the flu virus, something current vaccines cannot do. This is why the flu vaccine now must be reformulated every year."

They are moving towards human clinical trials, which will doubtless take longer to do than developing the vaccine particularly since it requires getting a major drug company on board with vaccine development. Major drug companies will not be happy, and neither will Darth Rumsfeld. The problem with antiviral drugs is that they have limited efficacy and encourage rapid resistance and mutation of viruses.

This virus is so dangerous even the more responsible major drug companies feel compelled to deal with it, however.

One disadvantage of the vaccine in its current form: the serotype of the adenovirus vector might mask the immune response in some people, so a different adenoviral vector or combination of vectors will be used to develop the actual human vaccine. Using a different vector may change some of the characteristics of the immune response. These are technical problems that can only be resolved once studies begin.

Friday, January 27, 2006

On Leaders, Or Lack Thereof

Buzzflash says

It's the Fighting Democrats Vs. the Appeasement Democrats. Harry Reid and His Enablers Always Tell Us, "Wait Until Next Time." But There's No Next Time. Appeasement is Not a Way to Win the November Election. Americans Like Winners, Not Wimps. Harry Reid, Like Tom Daschle, Should be a Red State Senator, Not a Minority Leader, Because Neither of Them Could Lead.

Why? They link to this, which says it all:

...Despite a decision by Kerry, Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and others to try to block a final vote, leaders of both parties agreed that Alito's confirmation was assured for Tuesday. The 55-year-old appeals court judge would replace Sandra Day O'Connor, who has cast deciding votes in recent years in 5-4 rulings on controversial issues such as abortion rights, affirmative action and the death penalty.

Democrats fear he would shift the court rightward on those and other issues.

Because of moves by Kerry, Kennedy and others, supporters of Alito's nomination must produce 60 votes on Monday to advance his nomination and an Associated Press tally shows at least 62.

That would clear the way for a final vote on Tuesday. The AP tally shows at least 53 Republicans and three Democrats intend to vote to confirm Alito, well over the required majority.

Reid announced he would side with Alito's critics on Monday, though on Thursday he had made clear his unhappiness with their strategy. "There has been adequate time for people to debate," he had said Thursday. "I hope this matter will be resolved without too much more talking."

Of course, abortion rights, affirmative action, and the death penalty are all just red flag issues to get the base charging one direction or the other. The real deal has been, is, and will remain, Empire.

So some of us will keep talking. It's not just Dear Leader we make uncomfortable. It's those who want our support.

But like shystee says:

...I can only speak for myself as a member of the Rabble, but I think the reason so many voters are “disaffected” and why almost half of Americans don’t vote at all is that they see daily evidence that Democratic Politicians are only interested in their own careers and not in doing anything concrete that affects our lives.

Over the past five years, the Democratic Party has allowed a Corporatist, Authoritarian, Imperialist, Theocratic regime to flourish. They have allowed thousands of people to die and allowed countless atrocities to pass, unchecked. Then they want to blame me for not being “supportive” and “realistic” enough...

Frankly, I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

Personality cults are for Moonies and followers of Dear Leader, not free Americans.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Surprises that Aren't

Looks like they forgot to stuff the Palestinian ballot boxes.

Or did they?

Despite the reports of the voting outcome, Bush said he was pleased with the process. "You see, when you give people the vote, you give people a chance to express themselves at the polls, they - and if they're unhappy with the status quo, they'll let you know," Bush said. "That's the great thing about democracy: It provides a look into society. . . . And there was a peaceful process as people went to the polls. And that's positive."

I seem to remember a positive reaction to the election of the new Iranian president too. Funny, that. Good for business, I suppose, although we appeared to have invested heavily on the Fatah side.

LONDON, Jan. 26 — European leaders, whose countries are major financial donors to the Palestinian Authority, registered disquiet verging on hostility towards the Hamas triumph in the Palestinian elections today.

Yet, confronted with a Middle East that seemed once again to have redrawn its political contours, they held back from publicly threatening to sever the hundreds of millions of aid dollars they provide each year to Palestinian institutions...

Generous, non?

Israel's reaction is of course as reactionary as the Palestinian reaction to Israel that voted in Hamas in the first place that had to because Israel was paving over Palestinian farms because of Palestinian suicide bombers because Israelis ran Jerusalem because otherwise the...

"There is now a broad consensus, that Israel will go ahead and build our borders to preserve Israel as a democratic Jewish state," said Ami Ayalon, a former director of Shin Bet now running for a seat with the Labor Party.

Yup, even the Anti-Likud are on board with them now. The Mossad must be pleased. Business, as they say, is booming.

Wonderful what a bunch of good hearted religious people can do to make a patch of desert, isn't it?

Speaking of making more desert where the sea level isn't rising:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Last year was the warmest recorded on Earth's surface, and it was unusually hot in the Arctic, U.S. space agency NASA said on Tuesday.

All five of the hottest years since modern record-keeping began in the 1890s occurred within the last decade, according to analysis by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

In descending order, the years with the highest global average annual temperatures were 2005, 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2004, NASA said in a statement.

"It's fair to say that it probably is the warmest since we have modern meteorological records," said Drew Shindell of the NASA institute in New York City.

"Using indirect measurements that go back farther, I think it's even fair to say that it's the warmest in the last several thousand years."

It's some pretty amazing data to make it past the administration filters. In fact, it's so amazing it probably won't be available for long. Somebody from Bu$hCo is liable to make them take it down. So let's post the highlights here.

This colorful global map of 2005 average temperatures shows areas that have warmed the most in red, to the areas that have cooled (in blue). Note that the Arctic has warmed significantly. These temperatures are from Dec. 2004 through Nov. 2005. Credit: NASA

Previously, the warmest year of the century was 1998, when a strong El Nino, a warm water event in the eastern Pacific Ocean, added warmth to global temperatures. However, what's significant, regardless of whether 2005 is first or second warmest, is that global warmth has returned to about the level of 1998 without the help of an El Nino.

The result indicates that a strong underlying warming trend is continuing. Global warming since the middle 1970s is now about 0.6 degrees Celsius (C) or about 1 degree Fahrenheit (F). Total warming in the past century is about 0.8° C or about 1.4° F...

Over the past 30 years, the Earth has warmed by 0.6° C or 1.08° F. Over the past 100 years, it has warmed by 0.8° C or 1.44° F.

Current warmth seems to be occurring nearly everywhere at the same time and is largest at high latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. Over the last 50 years, the largest annual and seasonal warmings have occurred in Alaska, Siberia and the Antarctic Peninsula. Most ocean areas have warmed. Because these areas are remote and far away from major cities, it is clear to climatologists that the warming is not due to the influence of pollution from urban areas.

How that last bit made it on a .gov website these days amazes me. Kudos to the real scientists at NASA. We knew you were plugging away there. Keep up the good work.

Related Link:

+ Global Temperature Trends: 2005 Summation

Check that last link out by all means. It's got a lot of nice summary data of trends over the last 50 years.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A Killing in the Market

By whom? The Carlyle Group, of course.

QinetiQ, the [British]government's defence and security technology business, will come to the stock market next month with a value of up to £1.33bn, making multi-millionaires of its chairman and chief executive and huge profits for the US private equity group, Carlyle. Shares in the biggest privatisation under the Blair administration will be priced at between 165p and 205p, with the grey market - the City's guesstimate of the final strike price - standing between 190p and 203p.

If the shares were sold at 205p, the top of the price range, the 31% Carlyle stake - bought for £42.4m in 2003 - would be worth £338m. QinetiQ chairman Sir John Chisholm's holding would be valued at £26m and chief executive Graham Love's stake would be worth £22m. The company's biggest shareholder, the Ministry of Defence, which has been criticised for selling the stake to Carlyle too cheaply, would see its 56% holding worth £623m.

Under the terms of the initial public offering the company will raise £150m, while Carlyle and the MoD will sell about half their stakes. Taking into account the new shares being issued by QinetiQ, that will reduce their holdings to just under 13% and 23.7% respectively...

Yesterday the company said turnover for the six months to the end of September had risen more than 28% to £473.5m while operating profits rose almost 40% to £37.3m. QinetiQ makes products ranging from sensors and software for military purposes to advanced security systems protecting financial firms from fraud. Although the company is making efforts to broaden its operational base, its prospectus noted that it relied on the British government - in particular the MoD - for the majority of its turnover. Its largest single contract covers the running of the MoD's firing ranges...

QinetiQ began life as part of the Minstry of Defence's research laboratories. It can trace its history from the birth of powered flight in Britain, through the development of radar during the second world war, to thermal imaging, liquid crystal displays and internet technology during the cold war. In 1991 the government put its non-nuclear defence research operations, much of which subsequently became QinetiQ, into a separate company - DERA. In 2002 Carlyle was chosen as a strategic partner, purchasing its stake in the following year.

A defense company whose major investors are defense ministers who make money selling contracts to the Ministry of Defense.

Sounds like a natural for the Carlyle Group.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Storm Troopers & Secret Police

A provision in the "Patriot Act" creates a new federal police force with power to violate the Bill of Rights. You might think that this cannot be true as you have not read about it in newspapers or heard it discussed by talking heads on TV.

Go to House Report 109-333 -USA PATRIOT IMPROVEMENT AND REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2005 and check it out for yourself. Sec. 605 reads:

"There is hereby created and established a permanent police force, to be known as the 'United States Secret Service Uniformed Division'."

This new federal police force is "subject to the supervision of the Secretary of Homeland Security."

The new police are empowered to "make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence, or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony..."

The language conveys enormous discretionary and arbitrary powers.
What is "an offense against the United States"? What are "reasonable grounds"?

You can bet that the Alito/Roberts court will rule that it is whatever the executive branch says...

Custodians of Chaos

An extract from a man without a country.

I encourage you to buy, and read this book. The material presented below is copyrighted, derived from this excellent memoir, and presented for educational purposes only.

"Do unto others what you would have them do unto you." A lot of people think Jesus said that, because it is so much the sort of thing Jesus liked to say. But it was actually said by Confucius, a Chinese philosopher, five hundred years before there was that greatest and most humane of human beings, named Jesus Christ.

The Chinese also gave us, via Marco Polo, pasta and the formula for gunpowder. The Chinese were so dumb they only used gunpowder for fireworks...

We've sure come a long way since then. Sometimes I wish we hadn't. I hate H-bombs and the Jerry Springer Show

But back to people like Confucius and Jesus and my son the doctor, Mark, each of whom have said in their own way how we could behave more humanely and maybe make the world a less painful place. One of my favourite humans is Eugene Debs, from Terre Haute in my native state of Indiana.

Get a load of this. Eugene Debs, who died back in 1926, when I was not yet four, ran five times as the Socialist party candidate for president, winning 900,000 votes, almost 6 percent of the popular vote, in 1912, if you can imagine such a ballot. He had this to say while campaigning:

"As long as there is a lower class, I am in it.

"As long as there is a criminal element, I am of it.

"As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free."

Doesn't anything socialistic make you want to throw up? Like great public schools, or health insurance for all?

When you get out of bed each morning, with the roosters crowing, wouldn't you like to say. "As long as there is a lower class, I am in it. As long as there is a criminal element, I am of it. As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free."

How about Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes?

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.

And so on.

Not exactly planks in a Republican platform. Not exactly George W Bush, Dick Cheney, or Donald Rumsfeld stuff.

For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that's Moses, not Jesus. I haven't heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere...

It so happens that idealism enough for anyone is not made of perfumed pink clouds. It is the law! It is the US Constitution.

But I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers. Sometimes I wish it had been. What has happened instead is that it was taken over by means of the sleaziest, low-comedy, Keystone Cops-style coup d'├ętat imaginable.

I was once asked if I had any ideas for a really scary reality TV show. I have one reality show that would really make your hair stand on end: "C-Students from Yale".

George W Bush has gathered around him upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography, plus not-so-closeted white supremacists, aka Christians, and plus, most frighteningly, psychopathic personalities, or PPs, the medical term for smart, personable people who have no consciences.

To say somebody is a PP is to make a perfectly respectable diagnosis, like saying he or she has appendicitis or athlete's foot. The classic medical text on PPs is The Mask of Sanity by Dr Hervey Cleckley, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Medical College of Georgia, published in 1941. Read it!

Some people are born deaf, some are born blind or whatever, and this book is about congenitally defective human beings of a sort that is making this whole country and many other parts of the planet go completely haywire nowadays. These were people born without consciences, and suddenly they are taking charge of everything.

PPs are presentable, they know full well the suffering their actions may cause others, but they do not care. They cannot care because they are nuts. They have a screw loose!

And what syndrome better describes so many executives at Enron and WorldCom and on and on, who have enriched themselves while ruining their employees and investors and country and who still feel as pure as the driven snow, no matter what anybody may say to or about them? And they are waging a war that is making billionaires out of millionaires, and trillionaires out of billionaires, and they own television, and they bankroll George Bush, and not because he's against gay marriage.

So many of these heartless PPs now hold big jobs in our federal government, as though they were leaders instead of sick. They have taken charge. They have taken charge of communications and the schools, so we might as well be Poland under occupation.

They might have felt that taking our country into an endless war was simply something decisive to do. What has allowed so many PPs to rise so high in corporations, and now in government, is that they are so decisive. They are going to do something every fuckin' day and they are not afraid. Unlike normal people, they are never filled with doubts, for the simple reason that they don't give a fuck what happens next. Simply can't. Do this! Do that! Mobilise the reserves! Privatise the public schools! Attack Iraq! Cut health care! Tap everybody's telephone! Cut taxes on the rich! Build a trillion-dollar missile shield! Fuck habeas corpus and the Sierra Club and In These Times, and kiss my ass!

There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don't know what can be done to fix it. This is it: only nut cases want to be president. This was true even in high school. Only clearly disturbed people ran for class president...

...our daily news sources, newspapers and TV, are now so craven, so unvigilant on behalf of the American people, so uninformative, that only in books do we learn what's really going on.

I will cite an example: House of Bush, House of Saud by Craig Unger, published in early 2004, that humiliating, shameful, blood-soaked year.

In case you haven't noticed, as the result of a shamelessly rigged election in Florida, in which thousands of African-Americans were arbitrarily disenfranchised, we now present ourselves to the rest of the world as proud, grinning, jut-jawed, pitiless war-lovers with appallingly powerful weaponry - who stand unopposed.

In case you haven't noticed, we are now as feared and hated all over the world as Nazis once were.

And with good reason.

In case you haven't noticed, our unelected leaders have dehumanised millions and millions of human beings simply because of their religion and race. We wound 'em and kill 'em and torture 'em and imprison 'em all we want.

Piece of cake.

In case you haven't noticed, we also dehumanised our own soldiers, not because of their religion or race, but because of their low social class.

Send 'em anywhere. Make 'em do anything.

Piece of cake...

Our president is a Christian? So was Adolf Hitler. What can be said to our young people, now that psychopathic personalities, which is to say persons without consciences, without senses of pity or shame, have taken all the money in the treasuries of our government and corporations, and made it all their own?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Doing the Saudi Wet Work for Them

The Chinese notice, apparently.

Iran's oil exports will shrink to zero in 20 years, just at the demographic inflection point when the costs of maintaining an aged population will crush its state finances... Just outside Iran's present frontiers lie the oil resources of Iraq, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, and not far away are the oil concentrations of eastern Saudi Arabia. Its neighbors are quite as alarmed as Washington about the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, and privately quite happy for Washington to wipe out this capability.

It is remarkable how quickly an international consensus has emerged for the eventual use of force against Iran. Chirac's indirect reference to the French nuclear capability was a warning to Tehran. Mohamed ElBaradei, whose Nobel Peace Prize last year was awarded to rap the knuckles of the United States, told Newsweek that in the extreme case, force might be required to stop Iran's acquiring a nuclear capability. German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag that the military option could not be abandoned, although diplomatic efforts should be tried first. Bild, Germany's largest-circulation daily, ran Iranian President Mahmud Ahmedinejad's picture next to Adolf Hitler's, with the headline, "Will Iran plunge the world into the abyss?"

...Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have the most to lose from a nuclear-equipped Iran. No one can predict when the Saudi kingdom might become unstable, but whenever it does, Iran will stand ready to support its Shi'ite co-religionists, who make up a majority in the kingdom's oil-producing east.

...By far the biggest loser in an Iranian confrontation with the West will be China, the fastest-growing among the world's large economies, but also the least efficient in energy use. Higher oil prices will harm China's economy more than any other, and Beijing's reluctance to back Western efforts to encircle Iran are understandable in this context...

Darth Rumsfeld's now covert Office of Special Plans seems to have its own ideas for China.

They seem to believe there's no blank check without endless war, but taking on China may end their Crusade unpleasantly.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Why Not Pose Disingenuous Questions?

Why Not A Strike on Iran?

Because it would be a bloody, stupid, unneccessary, and incompetent thing to do, that's why.

Which is mostly the reason Bu$hCo-Cheneyburton want to do it so bad.

That, the corporate profit they could make, and the oil.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Who's bin Laughin Now?

Via Cheryl Seal via Scoop News (New Zealand):

01/19/06 -- DURHAM) - A Duke professor says he is doubtful about Thursday's audiotape from Osama bin Laden.

Bruce Lawrence has just published "Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama Bin Laden," a book translating bin Laden's writing. He is skeptical of Thursday's message.

"It was like a voice from the grave," Lawrence said.

He thinks bin Laden is dead and has doubts about the tape. Lawrence recently analyzed more than 20 complete speeches and interviews of the al Qaida leader for his book. He says the new message is missing several key elements.

"There's nothing in this from the Koran. He's, by his own standards, a faithful Muslim," Lawrence said. "He quotes scripture in defense of his actions. There's no quotation from the Koran in the excerpts we got, no reference to specific events, no reference to past atrocities."

While the CIA confirms the voice on the tape is bin Laden's, Lawrence questions when it was recorded. He says the timing of its release could be to divert attention from last week's U.S. air strike in Pakistan.

Lawrence believes faulty Pakistani intelligence led to the strike and the civilian deaths, and the tape was leaked by Pakistani authorities to divert attention from their mistake.

"It led to a failed military operation where America got blamed, but they people who are really to blame are the ones who provided the intelligence," Lawrence said. "I think this is an effort to say we're not going look at this terrible incident that happened."

Another element that Lawrence takes issue with in bin Laden's latest message is it's length - - only 10 minutes. Previously, the shortest was 18 minutes...

It also came at an awfully good time with an awfully useful message for Dear Leader.

Supporting Your Troops: the Right Way, the Wrong Way, and the Kickbacks to our Sponsors Way

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Better body armor could have prevented or limited about 80 percent of fatal torso wounds suffered by Marines killed in
Iraq, a report by U.S. military medical experts obtained on Friday said

The report, conducted for the Marine Corps by the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner and not released to the public, examined the cases of Marines fatally wounded from the start of the war in March 2003 through June 2005, and found weaknesses in the torso protective gear.

Bullets or shrapnel hit the Marines' shoulders, the sides of their torsos or other areas not fully covered by ceramic plates contained in the body armor in at least 74 of 93 fatal wounds examined in the study.

"Either a larger plate or superior protection around the plate would have had the potential to alter the fatal outcome," the study stated.

Critics in the U.S. Congress have accused the Pentagon of failing to provide the best possible body armor and armored vehicles for American troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. But military officials have defended the protective gear provided for troops as well as the quality of vehicles.

The study involved Marines killed due to "a primary lethal injury of the torso," which made up near a quarter of the Marines killed in the time period involved in the study. More than 60 percent of these torso injuries were caused by small arms fire, with 38 percent due to blast injuries from explosions, the study stated...

As reported by yelladog via Cookie Christine:

what if I told you that the Pentagon had been buying body armor with a very spotty record of effectiveness? What if I also told you that there was a commercially available alternative that soldiers and marines were buying because they knew that their standard issue body armor was half-assed? What if I told you that someone in the chain of command was pushing pressure downward to make sure that soldiers were strongly discouraged from "up-armoring" their own bodies? You'd think something fishy was going on, right?

Just business as usual with a thousand points of light in the Corporate States of Amerika.

Creationists Puzzled by Gravity, Entropy, and Evolution

...along with avian flu infections of humans, of course.

In a recent release by the State Department of a World Health Organization report on avian flu:

Human Bird Flu Cases Present Puzzling Patterns

New U.N. fact sheet details observations, as human cases mount

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a new fact sheet on avian influenza, the first since the disease moved out of Asia into Europe.

The document summarizes the course of bird flu in its two-year spread across Eurasia. In regard to the human cases that have appeared in six nations, the fact sheet points out some puzzling unknown factors. Human cases of disease have not appeared in commercial poultry enterprises or culling operations, as might be expected. Instead, the majority of cases have stricken previously healthy children and young adults exposed to small flocks kept in domestic settings...

Now what does the fact sheet say?

Avian influenza is an infectious disease of birds caused by type A strains of the influenza virus. The disease occurs worldwide. While all birds are thought to be susceptible to infection with avian influenza viruses, many wild bird species carry these viruses with no apparent signs of harm.

Other bird species, including domestic poultry, develop disease when infected with avian influenza viruses. In poultry, the viruses cause two distinctly different forms of disease – one common and mild, the other rare and highly lethal. In the mild form, signs of illness may be expressed only as ruffled feathers, reduced egg production, or mild effects on the respiratory system. Outbreaks can be so mild they escape detection unless regular testing for viruses is in place.

In contrast, the second and far less common highly pathogenic form is difficult to miss. First identified in Italy in 1878, highly pathogenic avian influenza is characterized by sudden onset of severe disease, rapid contagion, and a mortality rate that can approach 100% within 48 hours. In this form of the disease, the virus not only affects the respiratory tract, as in the mild form, but also invades multiple organs and tissues. The resulting massive internal haemorrhaging has earned it the lay name of “chicken Ebola”.

All 16 HA (haemagluttinin) and 9 NA (neuraminidase) subtypes of influenza viruses are known to infect wild waterfowl, thus providing an extensive reservoir of influenza viruses perpetually circulating in bird populations. In wild birds, routine testing will nearly always find some influenza viruses. The vast majority of these viruses cause no harm.

To date, all outbreaks of the highly pathogenic form of avian influenza have been caused by viruses of the H5 and H7 subtypes. Highly pathogenic viruses possess a tell-tale genetic “trade mark” or signature – a distinctive set of basic amino acids in the cleavage site of the HA – that distinguishes them from all other avian influenza viruses and is associated with their exceptional virulence.

Not all virus strains of the H5 and H7 subtypes are highly pathogenic, but most are thought to have the potential to become so. Recent research has shown that H5 and H7 viruses of low pathogenicity can, after circulation for sometimes short periods in a poultry population, mutate into highly pathogenic viruses. Considerable circumstantial evidence has long suggested that wild waterfowl introduce avian influenza viruses, in their low pathogenic form, to poultry flocks, but do not carry or directly spread highly pathogenic viruses. This role may, however, have changed very recently: at least some species of migratory waterfowl are now thought to be carrying the H5N1 virus in its highly pathogenic form and introducing it to new geographical areas located along their flight routes...

There you have it. A word that the Disney scrubbed Bu$hCo TheoCon State Department appointees can't read, any more than Count Dracula can see his reflection in the mirror.

Recent research has shown that H5 and H7 viruses of low pathogenicity can, after circulation for sometimes short periods in a poultry population, mutate into highly pathogenic viruses.

Mutate. That's a secular science word for a random biological genetic change. It drives the evolutionary process. When a mutation gives a selection advantage, it propagates. Viral mutations that are highly pathogenic are initially favorable- they make a lot of virus really quickly- but are selected out of the population rapidly because killing the host doesn't favor transmission.

That's what evolution is all about.

Viruses propagate naturally in animal vectors, and the best adjusted ones, like the influenza virus among waterfowl, don't really bother the host all that much. It's natural that small domestic populations of birds sharing the same territory with the waterfowl encounter their viruses all the time. So do the small farmers who live with these animals, unlike industrial farms. Most of the time the disease isn't serious.

When it is mostly it doesn't spread far.

This is why new flu vaccines are required every year: the virus has a hypervariable genome.

This isn't puzzling at all unless you've got a worldview no deeper than a televison screen showing Pat Robertson or his Dear Leader's smiling face.

"Pay no attention to the data behind the curtain"


"It's a very powerful bull market right now," said Thomas Bentz, an oil analyst with BNP Paribas in New York.

appears in the same column with

Stocks tumbled yesterday in their steepest slide in nearly three years, after crude oil surged past $68 a barrel and several corporate giants reported disappointing earnings.

you know there are wormholes and warps appearing in the very fabric of the multiverse.

Either that, or somebody is lying.

The New York Pravda blames the uncertainty of the tech sector market on Google's reluctance to give Dear Leader the keys to its' hard drives, of course.

For a more expansive view of what is going on in America, it pays to see what the Brits have to say about it. That's going to be colored with their own preoccupations with Pounds Sterling, of course:

...details began to emerge of Ford's plan to cut 25,000 jobs and close up to 10 plants. The plan, due to be announced on Monday, will deliver another heavy blow to America's fast disappearing manufacturing industry.

The declines were a sharp reversal for Wall Street. The Dow had rallied past the 11,000-point mark earlier this month for the first time since 2001, on the expectation interest rate rises were coming to an end. The Dow has now erased all of its gains in the first few weeks of 2006. In percentage terms, yesterday was the Dow's worst performance for nine months.

The heavy selling will doubtless put London under pressure on Monday.

Wall Street had been growing increasingly nervous this week after earnings reports from the likes of Yahoo, Intel and Apple Computer that, while far from disastrous, had tempered expectations. Google was among the biggest losers yesterday, falling 8.4% to just below $400, the biggest one-day percentage fall for the search engine since it joined the market 18 months ago. The company hit a high of $471.63 on January 11.

Fourth-quarter figures from Citigroup and General Electric yesterday, which fell shy of Wall Street hopes, suggested that slowing growth was not confined to the technology sector.

Rick Pendergraft, an equity trader at Schaeffer's Investment Research, said Wall Street had overblown expectations. "The ramp-up we had into earnings let you know that people were expecting big things," he said. "Any time we go into an earnings season and the market is overbought, it sends up a caution flag to me."

Citigroup, America's largest banking firm, missed analyst estimates - its fourth quarter earnings were $4.97bn, against forecasts of $5.05bn. It was the biggest decliner in the Dow, its shares falling almost 5%. GE, the world's second largest company by market value, reported its smallest profit gains since 2004. Mobile phone maker Motorola also lowered its outlook on Thursday night after the market closed.

Oil prices were another factor unsettling investors. Crude was back at four-month highs, stoked by the tensions between the west and Iran, attacks on oil workers in Nigeria, and the apparent re-emergence of al-Qaida's leader Osama bin Laden. A barrel of light crude rose $1.29 to $68.48 in New York.

The cuts at Ford represent 20% of its North American workforce. The firm lost $1.2bn in its domestic auto business in the first nine months of the year. It is struggling with intense competition and high labour and raw material costs, as well as a shift away from its sport utility vehicles as oil prices rise. The planned announcement is the second wrenching restructuring at Ford in four years. In January 2002, it began reducing the workforce by 35,000. It is also an admission that the turnaround plan put in place that year by Bill Ford Jr, the great grandson of founder Henry Ford, has failed. Another 5,000 white collar jobs are also being cut, most of which had already been announced.

The spikes in gasoline prices post-Katrina were rapidly followed by Detroit announcing its new lines of 2006- S.U.V.s. Which caused sales of "American" automobiles to sink like a lead brick attached to everything else of course. But the problems in the market must be all Google's fault for dissing Abu Gonzales and Commander Codpiece:

...the highflying shares of Google fell 8.5 percent yesterday, their biggest decline ever, after the company said it would fight federal prosecutors' demands for records on Internet users' search queries.

It could never be part of the never ending saga of high-flying market fraud infecting all of the world's financial concerns could it?

Friday, January 20, 2006

Making Life Difficult for the NSA

Just because.

How does a search engine tie a search to a user?

If you have never logged in to search engine's site, or a partner service like Google's Gmail offering, the company probably doesn't know your name. But it connects your searches through a cookie, which has a unique identifying number. Using its cookies, Google will remember all searches from your browser. It might also link searches by a user's IP address.

How long do cookies last?

It varies. Yahoo sets a cookie that expires in June 2006. A new cookie from Google expires in 2036.

What if you sign in to a service?

If you sign in on Google's personalized homepage or Yahoo's homepage, the companies can then correlate your search history with any other information, such as your name, that you give them.

Why should anyone worry about the government requesting search logs or bother to disguise their search history?

Some people simply don't like the idea of their search history being tied to their personal lives. Others don't know what the information could be used for, but worry that the search companies could find surprising uses for that data that may invade privacy in the future.

For example, if you use Google's Gmail and web optimizing software, the company could correlate everyone you've e-mailed, all the websites you've visited after a search and even all the words you misspell in queries.

What's the first thing people should do who worry about their search history?

Cookie management helps. Those who want to avoid a permanent record should delete their cookies at least once a week. Other options might be to obliterate certain cookies when a browser is closed and avoid logging in to other services, such as web mail, offered by a search engine.

How do you do that with your browser?

In Firefox, you can go into the privacy preference dialog and open Cookies. From there you can remove your search engine cookies and click the box that says: "Don't allow sites that set removed cookies to set future cookies."

In Safari, try the free and versatile PithHelmet plug-in. You can let some cookies in temporarily, decide that some can last longer or prohibit some sites, including third-party advertisers, from setting cookies at all.

While Internet Explorer's tools are not quite as flexible, you can manage your cookies through the Tools menu by following these instructions.

What if I want more anonymity than simply deleting my cookie when I'm searching?

If you are doing any search you wouldn't print on a T-shirt, consider using Tor, The Onion Router. An EFF-sponsored service, Tor helps anonymize your web traffic by bouncing it between volunteer servers. It masks the origins and makes it easier to evade filters, such as those installed by schools or repressive regimes.

The service has its drawbacks. While it can be very useful for a journalist in China, data services can be slower or have greater latency due to the extra stops the data makes, and a general dearth of servers.

Is Tor perfectly anonymous?

No. Computers leak data. Tor, combined with the Privoxy proxy server (which comes bundled with Tor), reduces some of that leakage, but still isn't foolproof. But when used with Firefox, Tor and Privoxy can provide a mostly-anonymous web browsing experience.

If you use a service like Blogger (that's this site, baby) with a log in function, the host server keeps track of your I.P. address. Yup, they know who I am. Among others.

But, clearing cookies everytime you visit a verboten site keeps the Google server- or the Microsoft server- or the Yahoo server- or the DARPA server if you frequent .mil sites- from keeping track of where you've been.

Remember, they aren't omnipotent, no matter what they claim to be.

They aren't even smart enough to avoid a land war in Asia.

What no one aired on Martin Luther King's holiday.

Al Gore addressed the issues on Monday, and nobody carried it. Except Crooks and Liars.

I mentioned it before, but it's so good, I'll mention it again, especially since it's been corrected for what President Gore said.

It is far more powerful to hear it, and at some point I hope to find the whole thing somewhere. I'll post the link when I find it.

Let's reiterate, in the President's words, what he thinks should be done:

...A special counsel should immediately be appointed by the Attorney General to remedy the obvious conflict of interest that prevents him from investigating what many believe are serious violations of law by the President. We’ve had a fresh demonstration of how an independent investigation by a special counsel with integrity can rebuild confidence in our system of justice. Patrick Fitzgerald has, by all accounts, shown neither fear nor favor in pursuing allegations that the Executive branch has violated other laws.

Republican as well as Democratic members of Congress should support the bipartisan call of the Liberty Coalition for the appointment of this special counsel to pursue the criminal issues raised by the warrantless wiretapping of Americans by the President, and it should be a political issue in any race -- regardless of party, section of the country, house of congress for anyone who opposes the appointment of a special counsel under these dangerous circumstances when our Constitution is at risk.

Secondly, new whistleblower protections should immediately be established for members of the Executive branch who report evidence of wrongdoing -- especially where it involves the abuse of authority in these sensitive areas of national security.

Third, both Houses of Congress should, of course, hold comprehensive-and not just superficial-hearings into these serious allegations of criminal behavior on the part of the President. And, they should follow the evidence wherever it leads.

Fourth, the extensive new powers requested by the Executive branch in its proposal to extend and enlarge the Patriot Act should, under no circumstances be granted, unless and until there are adequate and enforceable safeguards to protect the Constitution and the rights of the American people against the kinds of abuses that have so recently been revealed.

Fifth, any telecommunications company that has provided the government with access to private information concerning the communications of Americans without a proper warrant should immediately cease and desist their complicity in this apparently illegal invasion of the privacy of American citizens...

Alas, what should be done and what will be done are two different things.

The Corporate Standard is a corporatism El Duce would recognize.

Google Bomb

Now here's a smokebomb:

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 19 - The Justice Department has asked a federal judge to compel Google, the Internet search giant, to turn over records on millions of its users' search queries as part of the government's effort to uphold an online pornography law.

Google has been refusing the request since a subpoena was first issued last August, even as three of its competitors agreed to provide information, according to court documents made public this week. Google asserts that the request is unnecessary, overly broad, would be onerous to comply with, would jeopardize its trade secrets and could expose identifying information about its users.

The dispute with Google comes as the government is moving aggressively on several fronts to obtain data on Internet activity to achieve its law enforcement goals, from domestic security to the prosecution of online crime. Under the antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act, for example, the Justice Department has demanded records on library patrons' Internet use.

Those efforts have encountered resistance on privacy grounds.

The government's move in the Google case, however, is different in its aims. Rather than seeking data on individuals, it says it is trying to establish a profile of Internet use that will help it defend the Child Online Protection Act, a 1998 law that would impose tough criminal penalties on individuals whose Web sites carried material deemed harmful to minors...

Certainly some small fraction of what's found for the Feds would go towards quasi legitimate law enforcement. If it didn't all get eventually thrown out of court as unconstitutional anyway. But you can't believe this motivation any more than you can believe that Osama bin Laden's honestly offering a truce.

Most of what's known about the motivations of the criminals running our governmnet these days is found by Googling their own tracks in the internet. The main$tream media certainly isn't talking. When an occasional journalist gets fed up with the corporatist crap, that journalist is quickly silenced.

How to find out where your worst critics are getting their material, and who your worst critics are? Find out who's looking for damaging information and rifle through their searches, of course.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Just What His Polls Needed

President Bush had not been informed of the new audiotape of Osama bin Laden issuing a new threat of attack against the United States on Thursday morning until after he finished a 74-minute public appearance here to tout successes in the economy – a theater-in-the-round-like event in which Bush parried and joked with his audience in the freewheeling manner of a seasoned television talk-show host.

"The president was informed about the audiotape shortly after his remarks in Sterling, Virginia, earlier this morning,'' White House spokesman Scott McClellan said later in Washington. "The intelligence community is continuing to analyze the tape to determine its authenticity and if there is any actionable intelligence. If there is any actionable intelligence, we will act on it.''

That could help explain Bush's ebullience and the playful spirit in which he fielded questions from a friendly audience on the floor of a warehouse at JK Moving and Storage. Anyone holding a BlackBerry would have learned just a minute before that event that Al Jazeerah was airing the tape of bin Laden's threat. The email alert from ABC News arrived at 10:15 am EST. Bush started speaking at 10:16 am...

Unknown, huh?

Dear Leader's family friend, detested by just about everybody in America, makes a big show of offering "truce" to Dear Leader's political opponents in America, or else. That's about as disinterested as Osama "supporting" Kerry over Bush in 2004. It's intended to produce the same result.

The CIA's covert employee said:

"In response to the substance of the polls in the US, which indicate that Americans do not want to fight Muslims on Muslim land, nor do they want Muslims to fight them on their land, we do not mind offering a long-term truce based on just conditions that we will stick to.

"We are a nation that Allah banned from lying and stabbing others in the back, hence both parties of the truce will enjoy stability and security to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan, which were destroyed by war.

"There is no problem in this solution, but it will prevent hundreds of billions from going to influential people and war lords in America - those who supported Bush's electoral campaign - and from this, we can understand Bush and his gang's insistence on continuing the war."

Addressing Americans again, he said: "If your desire for peace, stability and reconciliation was true, here we have given you the answer to your call."

Have your pseudo enemy cant the talking points of your political opponents with a spin that neither your opponents or your supporters would find acceptable.

Shrewd move, dude. Did Karl cook up that idea too?

Pulling America out of Iraq entirely today is a really good idea. Having the National Guard at home guarding the nation would be a good really good idea too. Pulling out of Iraq would be followed up with freezing all Saudi assets tracable to Saudi citizens financially supporting Al Qaeda, and treating Al Qaeda like a band of vicious criminals the same way the Israelis treated the Nazis after the Second World War.

Hunt them down individually and bring them to justice. Not "dead or alive". Alive. Especially Osama bin Laden, who is a Bu$hCo-Cheneyburton tool.

Bring them to justice in the open, with no secret trials.

Dear Leader would not like that.

The Four Agreements

Of Toltec Shamanism, of course.

* Be Impeccable With Your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

* Don’t Take Anything Personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

* Don’t Make Assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

* Always Do Your Best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Wiretapping a Mind

You can not make this stuff up.

A new system that monitors the brain activity of soldiers in the field could improve the way that troops process information and make decisions. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Army and Honeywell are working on the wireless technology.

The augmented cognition system uses neuro-physiological sensors that assess a warfighter’s attention by measuring and recording brain activity and body responses, including heart rate, and adapting to his preferred learning style.

Using that data, the system will then influence the way the soldier gets information, according to a Jan. 17 statement from the Army’s Natick Soldier Center in Natick, Mass. The technology will help individual warfighters determine the most important information available and decide the best course of action in varying environments.

“The technology we are developing will ultimately help warfighters when they are faced with information overload, especially under stress, and will significantly improve mission performance,” said Henry Girolamo, the Natick Soldier Center’s DARPA agent for the Army’s Augmented Cognition Program.

The system will be primarily closed-loop, which means it will interpret a soldier's cognitive, emotional, and physical state and then prioritize information through the system for the solider alone. But it can be designed to be open-looped, meaning it would funnel information from the warfighter to someone in another location.

The wireless technology will be integrated into communications, computer, and intelligence systems under development in the Army’s Future Force Warrior, a program that uses next-generation protection, communications and firepower technologies that makes soldiers better protected and lethal in combat. The service hopes to incorporate the technology into Future Force Warrior by 2007.

More millions billions of taxpayer dollars into the hands of Patriotic Private Contractor Free Enterprise! You can tell I'm excited.

On the one hand, if it works, instead of actually, you know, talking to the troops, the officer can simply monitor their mental state by an implanted chip.

Of course, this could be used with civilians in conjunction with passports, drivers licenses, or airline boarding passes to ensure that only those with Dear Leader loving non-terra'ist inclinations travel abroad, drive vehicles, or are allowed to cross state lines.

The Free Enterprise applications are enormous. Finally, companies can be sure only workers with the Right Attitude get promoted!

On the other hand, it could be just a tremendous boondoggle that Darth Rumsfeld would rather throw money at instead of giving effective body armor to our troops or steel plating for HumVees, because it profits his pals and sends more money wending its secret ways into his own pocket.

On the other hand (there being no defined limit of hands in a multiverse), it could be both a scam if it doesn't work and a much bigger scam if it does.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Laundering the Worldline

Billmon notes either a spin cycle in the main$tream media brainwashing machine or a rift in the multiverse.

We report, you decide.

When Opting Out Ensures You're Noticed

...possibly the best thing to do is to teach the kids to screen their calls.

From the people who thought up Catch 22, the Pentagon gives you and your kids a pre-draft enlistment notice:

Parents cannot remove their children’s names from a Pentagon database that includes highly personal information used to attract military recruits, the Vermont Guardian has learned.

The Pentagon has spent more than $70.5 million on market research, national advertising, website development, and management of the Joint Advertising Market Research and Studies (JAMRS) database — a storehouse of questionable legality that includes the names and personal details of more than 30 million U.S. children and young people between the ages of 16 and 23.

The database is separate from information collected from schools that receive federal education money. The No Child Left Behind Act requires schools to report the names, addresses, and phone numbers of secondary school students to recruiters, but the law also specifies that parents or guardians may write a letter to the school asking that their children’s names not be released.

However, many parents have reported being surprised that their children are contacted anyway, according to a San Francisco-based coalition called Leave My Child Alone (LMCA).

“We hear from a lot of parents who have often felt quite isolated about it all and haven’t been aware that this is happening all over the country,” said the group’s spokeswoman, Felicity Crush.

Parents must contact the Pentagon directly to ask that their children’s information not be released to recruiters, but the data is not removed from the JAMRS database, according to Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

Instead, the information is moved to a suppression file, where it is continuously updated with new data from private and government sources and still made available to recruiters, Krenke said. It’s necessary to keep the information in the suppression file so the Pentagon can make sure it’s not being released, she said.

Krenke said the database is compiled using information from state motor vehicles departments, the Selective Service, and data-mining firms that collect and organize information from private companies. In addition to names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and phone numbers, the database may include cell phone numbers, e-mail addresses, grade-point averages, ethnicity, and subjects of interest.

She said the Pentagon spends about $500,000 annually to purchase the data from private companies, and has paid more than $70 million since 2002 to Mullen Advertising — a Massachusetts firm whose clients include General Motors, Hooked on Phonics, XM Satellite Radio, and 3Com — to target recruiters’ messages toward teens and young adults.

The Boston Business Journal reported in October that the Pentagon had spent a total of $206 million on the JAMRS program to date, and could spend another $137 million over the next two years...

Big Brother with corporate incentive to hound kids into slave labor to keep oil safe for Cheneyburton. Is this a great country, or what?

The Cards are on the Table

Via firedoglake, Greenwald does a good breakdown of Al Gore's NSA speech. Glenn Greenwald says:

(1) It is past time for Democrats to dispense with the tepid, half-hearted, non-committal language when talking to Americans about why this scandal is so serious...

"...At present, we still have much to learn about the NSA's domestic surveillance. What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the President of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently.

"Can it be true that any president really has such powers under our Constitution? If the answer is "yes" then under the theory by which these acts are committed, are there any acts that can on their face be prohibited? If the President has the inherent authority to eavesdrop, imprison citizens on his own declaration, kidnap and torture, then what can't he do?

Win a war? But I digress. Glenn Greenwald says:

(2) For reasons I explained in this post today, the NSA scandal is not a partisan or ideological scandal and must not be depicted that way. There is nothing in either liberal or conservative ideology which remotely promotes or endorses the notion that the President has the right to break the law. This scandal transcends the standard liberal-conservative battles because it threatens the basic principles of our government...

Bush followers are not conservative; they are devoted solely to the aggrandizement and glorification of George Bush. It is more of a personality cult than it is a political ideology. There is a strong anti-government sentiment which still runs deep in traditional conservatives – that is why Bob Barr and so many other actual conservatives have spoken out, in many cases more aggressively than Democrats have, against Bush’s lawless eavesdropping...

Good thing, too. It'd about time conservatives put away the Kool-Aid. Followers of Dear Leader have a lot more in common with followers of Sun-Myung Moon than followers of an Abraham Lincoln or a Dwight Eisenhower.

(3) Gore called for several specific actions to be taken in response to this scandal – including the appointment of a Pat Fitzgerald-like Special Prosecutor and the holding of comprehensive and serious hearings (not the worthless show trial planned by the impotent Senate Judiciary Committee and the neutered Arlen Specter)...

The mudslinging's started at any rate.

Great smackdowns of Abu Gonzales here and here. Read the comments.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Feed Forward Effects on the Greenhouse

The main$tream either ignores the facts about the environment or exaggerates them.

Whichever sells best.

Global warming is set to accelerate alarmingly because of a sharp jump in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Preliminary figures, exclusively obtained by The Independent on Sunday, show that levels of the gas - the main cause of climate change - have risen abruptly in the past four years. Scientists fear that warming is entering a new phase, and may accelerate further.

But a summit of the most polluting countries, convened by the Bush administration, last week refused to set targets for reducing their carbon dioxide emissions. Set up in competition to the Kyoto Protocol, the summit, held in Sydney and attended by Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea as well as the United States, instead pledged to develop cleaner technologies - which some experts believe will not arrive in time.

The climb in carbon dioxide content showed up in readings from the US government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, taken at the summit of Mauna Loa, Hawaii. The measurements have been taken regularly since 1958 in the 11,400ft peak's pristine conditions, 2,000 miles from the nearest landmass and protected by unusual climatic conditions from the pollution of Hawaii, two miles below.

Through most of the past half-century, levels of the gas rose by an average of 1.3 parts per million a year; in the late 1990s, this figure rose to 1.6 ppm, and again to 2ppm in 2002 and 2003. But unpublished figures for the first 10 months of this year show a rise of 2.2ppm.

Scientists believe this may be the first evidence that climate change is starting to produce itself, as rising temperatures so alter natural systems that the Earth itself releases more gas, driving the thermometer ever higher.

Note that's unpublished data.

Part of the problem is that the United States has removed these measurements from the .gov sites (in easily interpretable form) from after 2000.

You can find the raw data in the lay press from the BBC in tabular form through 2003.

Searching the scientific literature publications Science and Nature, I can't find published data on atmospheric carbon dioxide after 2000. Thank the Bu$hCo policy meisters for that. So, I take the liberty to publish the data here:

You can find the lab's original digital data through 2004 here with descriptive information and a link (.pdf). There's more global data here.

I can't see a precipitous rise yet but there's a steady increase over the years. The function looks linear about an average since 1960. This isn't good, but at least it's not an exponential increase. Yet.

In the internet we move from the Rethuglican stonewall to sheer hysteria about the environment. I'm more than happy to speculate, and there is a lot of data to support that we are in the midst of a warming world, but when people talk "Gaiea", all I can do is laugh at them. There's a lot of solid data to back us, and we have real corporate opponents who want to suppress it.

The last thing we need is someone trying to build a new age pseudo religious myth fighting on our side.

Because if we make people like Lovelock our spokesmen, we are going to lose.

People Start to Notice: The War on Terror, Isn't

Choamsky, you'd expect:

...you can measure the number of terrorist attacks. Well, that's gone up sharply under the Bush administration, very sharply after the Iraq war. As expected -- it was anticipated by intelligence agencies that the Iraq war would increase the likelihood of terror. And the post-invasion estimates by the CIA, National Intelligence Council, and other intelligence agencies are exactly that. Yes, it increased terror. In fact, it even created something which never existed -- new training ground for terrorists, much more sophisticated than Afghanistan, where they were training professional terrorists to go out to their own countries. So, yeah, that's a way to deal with the War on Terror, namely, increase terror. And the obvious metric, the number of terrorist attacks, yeah, they've succeeded in increasing terror.

The fact of the matter is that there is no War on Terror. It's a minor consideration. So invading Iraq and taking control of the world's energy resources was way more important than the threat of terror. And the same with other things. Take, say, nuclear terror. The American intelligence systems estimate that the likelihood of a "dirty bomb," a dirty nuclear bomb attack in the United States in the next ten years, is about 50 percent. Well, that's pretty high. Are they doing anything about it? Yeah. They're increasing the threat, by increasing nuclear proliferation, by compelling potential adversaries to take very dangerous measures to try to counter rising American threats...

But that's just a professor from M.I.T.

Digby notices someone- and a paid analyst at that- was gauche enough to say it on CNN:

BLITZER: Should there be a change in attitude after 9/11?

BERGEN: I think the short answer is no. I mean, the nation has faced much more serious crises than 9/11.

We faced an existential crisis in the Cold War and with the Nazis; 9/11, obviously, was a very big deal, but I think we need to have some perspective.

We're not in a situation where our enemies can simply annihilate us as the Soviets could. Certainly, they can do us a lot of damage. But we have to, sort of, weigh that against the fact that we also want to live in a society where constitutional -- the Constitution is paid attention to.

You can bet Peter Bergen's contract is up for review now.