Saturday, March 26, 2005

IE 'Unsafe' 98 Percent Of 2004

TechWeb reported According to Brussels-based ScanIT, users of Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) were "unsafe" 98 percent of the time during 2004, while Mozilla users -- which would include those using Mozilla and Firefox -- were "unsafe" only 15 percent of last year.

ScanIT determined the unsafe periods by examining the life spans of vulnerabilities in IE, Mozilla, and Opera -- a Norwegian browser that has a nearly insignificant share of the U.S. market -- which could be exploited remotely by attackers. By documenting the time between the disclosure of the vulnerability and when a patch was issued, ScanIT calculated the total number of days each browser was vulnerable. It also matched those vulnerable dates against periods when out-in-the-wild exploits were making the rounds.

IE was vulnerable all but seven days of 2004, or 98 percent of the year. "There was only one period in 2004 when there were no publicly known remote code execution bugs," said ScanIT's report. "Between the 12th and the 19th of October. That means a fully patched Internet Explorer installation was known to be unsafe for 98 percent of 2004."

During 200 days (54 percent of the time), there was a worm or virus on the loose that exploited one of the unpatched IE vulnerabilities. (ScanIT's IE vulnerability timeline can be found here.)

In comparison, Firefox (and the other Mozilla browsers) was vulnerable only 56 days in 2004 (15 percent of the time) during off-and-on stretches starting in May. At no time in 2004 were worms or viruses circulating that exploited one of the unpatched Firefox vulnerabilities.

Check your browser security here



St. Petersburg Times reported Marine recruits so new that their hair hasn't been cut don't sound like the best models for a story about soldiers going AWOL - particularly since none in the group is a deserter.

But there they are, pictured on the March cover of Harper's magazine along with a headline that reads, "AWOL in America: When Desertion Is the Only Option."

Lance Cpl. Kyle Bridge of St. Petersburg is one of them. When the 19-year-old Marine reservist first heard he was on the cover of a national magazine, he thought it sounded cool. A friend teased him about being famous. Then he realized the story was about soldiers who desert from the U.S. Army. "It's kind of frustrating," Bridge said. "Most people that see me, if they know me, they know I wouldn't go AWOL."

The cover photo, taken at Parris Island, S.C., shows seven Marines lined up in their T-shirts, shorts and socks. They are not identified in photo credits or in the article. In fact, Harper's says the Marines are not meant to depict people in the article.

"We are decorating pages," said Giulia Melucci, the magazine's vice president for public relations. "We are not saying the soldiers are AWOL. Our covers are not necessarily representative." A media observer said using real people as "decorations" for a story about deserters might go too far.... Another issue is that the photograph was altered. One recruit's image appears lighter than the others, as if he were disappearing. Getty Images, the agency that sold the photograph to Harper's, did not know it would be manipulated. The agency prohibits tampering with an image.

Hat Tip to Michelle Malkin

Betsy Newmark bloged What is it with these magazines who purport to report on serious subjects but have few qualms about manipulating the cover art.... But, I'm just simplistic and don't understand the sophisticated concept of "decorating pages" with nonrepresentative pictures for a cover story.

SayAnythingBlog blogged "Our covers are not necessarily representative.” That’s certainly not the impression people are going to get when they read the magazine. Of course, perhaps we should be surprised at this sort of ineptitude from Haper’s, a magazine which published a story from a journalist at an event which had not occurred yet (something the Associated Press was guilty of as well around the same time).

Florida Cracker blogged Giulia Melucci, vice-president for public relations for Harper's says the cover photo is merely decoration. There's no word on what her reaction would be if she were pictured on the cover of Time with a knife superimposed in her hand to illustrate a story on "Women Who Kill."

Or if the HQ of Harper's was pictured on the cover of Newsweek to illustrate a story "Does Media Profit From Child Porn?" Or "Magazines That Suck."

Can we trust any magazine's cover to tell the truth?


Wake up and find the Clocky

NewYorkDailyNews reports Gauri Nanda, a 25-year-old scientist at MIT's Media Lab, has come up with a gizmo she calls "Clocky" that's designed to get sleepyheads moving.

It looks like a roll of toilet paper covered with shag carpeting - or one of those Tribbles from "Star Trek" - with wheels attached at both ends.

When the snooze button is pressed, the clock rolls off the table and trundles to a hiding place where it lies in wait for 10 minutes before going off again.

And every day it rolls to a different hiding place.

"People are always talking about finding a gentle way to wake up," said Nanda. "I wanted something that's annoying like a dog, that forces you to get up, but that you love even though it's annoying."

Guardian reports It looks annoying, like a furry swiss roll on wheels. Even its name is irritating: Clocky. But that's nothing compared with what it does. Clocky is surely the most infuriating wake-up call ever devised.

The first time I saw this I went right passed it, thinking that's stupid, but then I kept thinking about it, so when I ran across it again, I decided to blog it.


Google X disappears

CNet reported Google's latest technology experiment paid tribute to Apple Computer, but the Mac OS X-themed version of the search king's Web site was taken down a day after its debut.

Google software engineer Chikai Ohazama played up his work, Google X, on the company's blog on Tuesday. Located on Google's test site, Google X featured an alternate way to connect to various services, allowing people to click on a series of graphical icons in a method inspired by a feature in Apple's operating system.
Google OS X page

As of Wednesday afternoon, however, the Web page was inaccessible.

The site functioned much like the Dock feature that exists in Apple's OS X. There was a row of icons for various Google services, and as a user hovered over a particular icon, it was magnified. The similar Dock feature on the Mac exists at the bottom of the screen, allowing a user to quickly get to frequently used programs, documents and Web sites.

Google specifically called out the similarity with a message on the Google X page. "Roses are red. Violets are blue. OS X rocks. Homage to you," the message said.

Apple has sought patent protection for the "Genie Effect" used in the Dock.

Google X may be gone, but blogger Chikai Ohazama's original post about Google X is still on the Google Blog

The URL was, and I tried to view it using Wayback Machine but apparently uses the Robots.txt Query Exclusion to prevent other search engines from cacheing their site. Their robots.txt file shows they allow cacheing by User-agent: googlebot, but I could not figure out how to activate Google's cache display, but fortunately CNet captured the page when it was up, and you can see it here.

Blogger EB has a zip archive of the Google X homepage here (~90kb) and a live version of Google X

I am sorry to see it disappear. It looks like it might have been an interesting tool.


Bloggers dodge federal crackdown

ZDNet reports Political bloggers and other online commentators narrowly avoided being slammed with a sweeping set of Internet regulations this week.

When the Federal Election Commission kicked off the process of extending campaign finance rules to the Internet on Thursday, the public document was substantially altered from one prepared just two weeks earlier and reviewed by CNET

The 44-page document, prepared by the FEC general counsel's office and dated March 10, took a radically different approach and would have imposed decades-old rules designed for federal campaigns on many political Web sites and bloggers.

According to the March 10 document, political Web sites would be regulated by default unless they were password-protected and read by fewer than 500 people in a 30-day period. Many of those Web sites would have been required to post government-mandated notices or risk violating campaign finance laws.

The explanation for the dramatic changes during the last two weeks, according to one FEC official familiar with the events, is the unusual public outcry that followed a public alarm that Commissioner Bradley Smith sounded about a pending government crackdown on bloggers. After Smith's warning, an army of bloggers mobilized to oppose intrusive regulations and prominent members of Congress warned the commission not to be overly aggressive.

See RedState's posts on this matter here and here.


Battle of the Robots

ZDNet reports this weekend at San Francisco State University at RoboGames, 650 participants compete in a number of categories, from combat to sumo. For each event, Robots must have different specialties, which take time for their builders to learn and hone. Robots for the soccer event, for instance, have standard hardware--four Sony Aibo robot dogs--and require more programming skills than those for the combat events, which need more mechanical know-how. By combining both sets of skills, robots can be programmed to react to completely new situations and physically respond.


FCC Stops "Naked DSL"

No, this has nothing to do with dirty pictures on the internet. They are still there, and are available whether one has dial-up, DSL, or Cable access to the internet. But as ZDnet reports, in a 3–2 decision the FCC suspend public utility commission regulations in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Louisiana that had forced BellSouth to sell DSL service to other telephone operators, separate from its local phone service (i.e. "naked" DSL). Now, as inn the past, the two services are inextricably linked, and Bell will not be forced to offer DSL to people that do not have local phone service. So "cord-cutters" (the 20 million U.S. residents who don't have local phone lines and go solo instead with their cell phones) may have to buy a local phone line to get DSL.

I am surprised that the ruling was 3-2. The way Bell's DSL is engineered, it is piggybacked on normal phone service, and Bell pricing just charged DSL customers with the incremental cost of adding DSL to their existing phone service. So people that were pressing for "naked DSL" were really asking for a free phone line.

And "cord cutters", or people that have discontinued their wired phone service and just use their cell phones, can still get broadband internet from Cable Operators. Here in Tulsa, for example, Cox Internet does not depend on a local telephone line. And at least here in Tulsa, cable broadband is faster than DSL broadband.

Bloggers Kevin Werbach and Jim seem to think this decision could effectively end broadband service as we know it.

The FCC granted a petition by BellSouth to pre-empt state regulators from requiring "naked DSL." The procedural aspects are convoluted, so the effect of that action may not be clear. Here's what the FCC is saying. The local phone companies (and, although the ruling doesn't specifically cover them, cable companies) are free to force customers to pay for phone service in order to get broadband. Whether or not you use the phone company's voice service is immaterial -- you have to pay for it. Although there are a few telcos willing to sell DSL as a stand-alone service (notably Qwest), one wonders if they will continue to do so.

The FCC ruling makes broadband an extension of phone service, rather than the reverse. It ties the data applications of the future to the anchor of the public switched telephone network. That's perverse. Voice is the application, not connectivity. We'll never have real competition if the incumbents get paid even when customers want to switch to a competitor.

I want to pay someone for high-speed data connectivity, with the opportunity to use (and pay for) innovative applications on top of that pipe. To me, that's broadband service. After the FCC decision, that may no longer be available. That's what I mean by the end of broadband as we know it. For the privilege of buying broadband, I'll have to buy phone service or something else I don't need, raising the effective price. This is the way to promote broadband adoption in the US?
but I don't see how they could say that since as I indicated earlier, one can get better broadband service from a cable company, and they can get their phone service whereever they want (possibly even from the cable company)


Rice Describes Plans To Spread Democracy

WaPo reports Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday set out ambitious goals for the Bush administration's push for greater democracy overseas over the next four years, including pressing for competitive presidential elections this year in Egypt and women's right to vote in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.

Rice, in an interview with Washington Post editors and reporters, said she was guided less by a fear that Islamic extremists would replace authoritarian governments than by a "strong certainty that the Middle East was not going to stay stable anyway." Extremism, she said, is rooted in the "absence of other channels for political activity," and so "when you know that the status quo is no longer defensible, then you have to be willing to move in another direction."

That was as far as Glenn Kessler and Robin Wright quoted Rice. However, she went into greater detail, which one can read in the transcript of the interview itself:

The WaPo article also said Asked whether she hopes to see women vote in Saudi Arabia, where they are barred, Rice replied: "In terms of women, I hope they are voting everywhere." She said she recalled a photograph of the recent Saudi municipal elections "that was very striking to me": a man having his daughter put his ballot in the box, which she interpreted as demonstrating his hopes for his daughter.

In the above mentioned CQ blog, Captain Ed said Rice speaks extensively on democratization during the interview; in fact, it intertwines thematically in her answers to nearly every question the Post asks during the interview. Rice shows that she's clearly on board with George Bush and therefore represents him in a way that Colin Powell never quite achieved. People widely assumed Powell had less commitment to this foreign-policy philosophy, although it may have more to do with wishful thinking on the Left and abroad than Powell's actual views. However, no one can mistake Rice's commitment to Bush's policy, nor her erudite and skillful representation of it. Having Rice run State sends the clear message that Bush and the US remain totally committed to democratization as the primary focus of both its foreign policy and national security strategy.

Betsy Newmark blogged What is remarkable is how strongly she comes out in support of democratic movements around the world.

Not everyone liked the article. IsraPundit blogged The statements against Israel, which Condi ("Colin Powell, only worse") keeps spewing, should be note and then he quotes this from what Condi said

Rice denied reports from Israeli officials -- and some U.S. officials -- that the Bush administration had struck an arrangement with Israel that would allow for some settlement growth in Palestinian areas. Israeli officials had said that the administration would allow for growth within settlements as long as additional housing units did not exceed existing construction lines. The U.S.-backed "road map" plan for peace calls for Israel to freeze settlement growth.

Rice said the "only commitment or assurance" was made last April, when Bush announced that because of "new realities on the ground" -- existing settlements in Palestinian areas -- Israel could expect to retain some settlements as part of a final peace deal. She said that since then the United States has asked Israel for more detail on its settlement activity because "there is so much information, misinformation . . . that the picture was just too confusing."

After the interview, Rice called a reporter twice to expand on her remarks on the administration's settlement policy. The administration has had "discussions about steps toward a settlement freeze," she said in one of the phone calls. "But we've never reached closure on that. It's complicated."

What does IsraPundit want? Because Condi is not willing to endorse additional settlement in Palestinian areas (the U.S.-backed "road map" plan for peace calls for Israel to freeze settlement growth) she is "spewing statements against Israel"???


Rally in Taiwan

NYT reported Hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese marched on Saturday afternoon to denounce Beijing in one of the largest political demonstrations ever here, the clearest sign yet of how China’s anti-secession legislation has poisoned relations across the Taiwan Strait.

The size of the demonstration showed how much the political landscape has changed since the Communist Party-controlled National People’s Congress in Beijing approved a law on March 14 calling for the use of "non-peaceful means" to halt any Taiwanese attempt to declare independence from the mainland. Even some supporters of the opposition Nationalist Party here, which backs closer relations with the mainland, joined the march, although the party’s leaders did not.

Another domino about to fall???


Phishing Attack Targets Yahoo Messenger

InformationWeek reports Yahoo Messenger is the target of a phishing attack in which victims receive messages that appear to come from people on their buddy lists. When they click on a link in a message, they're transported to what they believe is a Yahoo Web site, where their login information is taken down by perpetrators. A Yahoo spokesperson confirmed the attack Friday.

Earlier this month, MSN Messenger was hit by a worm attack in which recipients were asked to click on a link, causing keylogging software to be downloaded onto the victims' PCs.

The Yahoo Messenger attack appears to be the result of a worm that steals buddy-list data and sends out instant messages containing a link to the phony Web site, says Pete Lindstrom, research director at Spire Security, which provides research and analysis on information security. The message appears to come from someone the victim knows, making the scam more difficult to detect than an E-mail phishing attack.


Google News

SFGate reports Chalk it up to a difficult week for Google's automated news service, which tries to outperform newspapers with mathematical algorithms and robots crawling the Web.

The Web search giant was sued by French news agency Agence France Presse, forcing it to start to pull thousands of photos and news stories from its service.

Then critics derided its decision to include reports from National Vanguard, a publication that espouses white supremacy. Google said it will remove the publication from its index.

Both are black eyes to Google's theory that computers, virtually unassisted by human editors, can pick the top stories of the day and beat traditional media at its own craft.... Google is coming under fire because it uses its technology to compile news. Yahoo News, in contrast, searches for news but also forms partnerships with content providers.... In addition, Google News and similar news aggregation sites (like Yahoo and Topix) have become powerful, forcing news organizations like Agence France Presse to rethink their news-distribution strategies. An increasing number of people turn to search to get news, and many publishers have failed to answer readers' shifting appetites fast enough....

Google uses algorithms to find popular news of the day and to cluster different sources on a given story, with links and photos from various publishers. It also has pre-selected roughly 4,500 sources of information and continually reviews new sources for its searchable collection.... It has several guidelines for choosing news sources, including ensuring that the publication is edited. But it does not detail those guidelines on its site, except to say that "news sources are selected without regard to political viewpoint or ideology, enabling you to see how different news organizations are reporting the same story."....

Agence France Presse's complaint charges that Google infringes on its copyright by reusing its story leads as well as the headlines and photos. Fred von Lohmann, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said a legal precedent allows Web publishers to link to thumbnail images. He also said the use of headlines and excerpts from the lead of a news story is fair use.


Do You Believe in Easter

Edith Burns was a wonderful Christian who lived in San Antonio, Texas. She was the patient of doctor by the name of Will Phillips. Dr. Phillips was a gentle doctor who saw patients as people. His favorite patient was Edith Burns. One morning he went to his office with a heavy heart and it was because of Edith Burns. When he walked into that waiting room, there sat Edith with her big black Bible in her lap earnestly talking to a young mother sitting beside her.

Edith Burns had a habit of introducing herself in this way: "Hello, my name is Edith Burns. Do you believe in Easter?" Then she would explain the meaning of Easter, and many times people would be saved. Dr. Phillips walked into that office and there he saw the head nurse, Beverly. Beverly had first met Edith when she was taking her blood pressure. Edith began by saying, "My name is Edith Burns. Do you believe in Easter?" Beverly said, "Why yes I do."

Edith said, "Well, what do you believe about Easter?" Beverly said, "Well, it's all about egg hunts, going to church, and dressing up." Edith kept pressing her about the real meaning of Easter, and finally led her to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Dr. Phillips said, "Beverly, don't call Edith into the office quite yet. I believe there is another delivery taking place in the waiting room."

After being called back in the doctor's office, Edith sat down and when she took a look at the doctor she said, "Dr. Will, why are you so sad? Are you reading your Bible? Are you praying?" Dr. Phillips said gently, "Edith, I'm the doctor and you're the patient." With a heavy heart he said, "Your lab report came back and it says you have cancer, and Edith, you're not going to live very long."

Edith said, "Why Will Phillips, shame on you. Why are you so sad? Do you think God makes mistakes? You have just told me I'm going to see my precious Lord Jesus, my husband, and my friends. You have just told me that I am going to celebrate Easter forever, and here you are having difficulty giving me my ticket!"

Dr. Phillips thought to himself, "What a magnificent woman this Edith Burns is!"

Edith continued coming to Dr. Phillips. Christmas came and the office was closed through January 3rd. On the day the office opened, Edith did not show up. Later that afternoon, Edith called Dr. Phillips and said she would have to be moving to the hospital and said, "Will, I'm very near home, so would you make sure that they put women in here next to me in my room who need to know about Easter."

Well, they did just that and women began to come in and share that room with Edith. Many women were saved. Everybody on that floor from staff to patients were so excited about Edith, that they started calling her Edith Easter; that is everyone except Phyllis Cross, the head nurse. Phyllis made it plain that she wanted nothing to do with Edith because she as a "religious nut". She had been a nurse in an army hospital. She had seen it all and heard it all. She was the original G.I. Jane. She had been married three times, she was hard, cold, and did everything by the book. One morning the two nurses who were to attend to Edith were sick. Edith had the flu and Phyllis Cross had to go in and give her a shot. When she walked in, Edith had a big smile on her face and said, "Phyllis, God loves you and I love you, and I have been praying for you."

Phyllis Cross said, "Well, you can quit praying for me, it won't work. I'm not interested." Edith said, "Well, I will pray and I have asked God not to let me go home until you come into the family." Phyllis Cross said, "Then you will never die because that will never happen," and curtly walked out of the room.

Every day Phyllis Cross would walk into the room and Edith would say, "God loves you Phyllis and I love you, and I'm praying for you." One day Phyllis Cross said she was literally drawn to Edith's room like a magnet would draw iron. She sat down on the bed and Edith said, "I'm so glad you have come, because God told me that today is your special day."

Phyllis Cross said, "Edith, you have asked everybody here the question,' Do you believe in Easter?' but you have never asked me." Edith said, "Phyllis, I wanted to many times, but God told me to wait until you asked, and now that you have asked..."

Edith Burns took her Bible and shared with Phyllis Cross the Easter Story of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Edith said, "Phyllis, do you believe in Easter? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is alive and that He wants to live in your heart?" Phyllis Cross said, "Oh I want to believe that with all of my heart, and I do want Jesus in my life." Right there, Phyllis Cross prayed and invited Jesus Christ into her heart. For the first time Phyllis Cross did not walk out of a hospital room, she was carried out on the wings of angels.

Two days later, Phyllis Cross came in and Edith said, "Do you know what day it is?" Phyllis Cross said, "Why Edith, it's Good Friday." Edith said, "Oh, no, for you every day is Easter. Happy Easter Phyllis!"

Two days later, on Easter Sunday, Phyllis Cross came into work, did some of her duties and then went down to the flower shop and got some Easter lilies because she wanted to go up to see Edith and give her some Easter lilies and wish her a Happy Easter.

When she walked into Edith's room, Edith was in bed. That big black Bible was on her lap. Her hands were in that Bible. There was a sweet smile on her face. When Phyllis Cross went to pick up Edith's hand, she realized Edith was dead. Her left hand was on John 14:2, "In my Father's house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also."

Her right hand was on Revelation 21:4, "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."

Phyllis Cross took one look at that dead body, and then lifted her face toward heaven, and with tears streaming down here cheeks, said, "Happy Easter, Edith - Happy Easter!" Phyllis Cross left Edith's body, walked out of the room, and over to a table where two student nurses were sitting. She said, "My name is Phyllis Cross. Do you believe in Easter?"


Saturday, March 26

This Day In History

  • 1804   The Louisiana Purchase was divided into the Territory of Orleans and the District of Louisiana.
  • 1827   Composer Ludwig van Beethoven died at age 56 in Vienna, Austria.
  • 1875   Poet Robert Frost was born in San Francisco.
  • 1885   The first commercial moving-picture film was produced in Rochester, NY. Eastman Kodak, the film and camera maker, still manufactures a huge variety of film from the same place. Eastman Kodak was ‘developed’ by George Eastman. What does the word Kodak stand for? Nothing. One of the most widely recognized trademarks in the world was named because it had a unique sound that started with the letter K, and could be pronounced and spelled in almost any language.
  • 1892   Poet Walt Whitman died at age 72.
  • 1911   Playwright Tennessee Williams was born in Columbus, Miss.
  • 1936   The first telescope with a 200-inch-diameter, reflecting mirror was shipped -- very, very carefully -- from Corning, New York to Mt. Palomar Observatory in California.
  • 1945   The battle of Iwo Jima ended; about 22,000 Japanese troops were killed or captured in the fighting and more than 4,500 U.S. troops were killed.
  • 1953   Dr. Jonas Salk announced a new vaccine -- to prevent poliomyelitis.
  • 1971   East Pakistan proclaimed its independence, taking the name Bangladesh.
  • 1979   In a ceremony at the White House, President Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Begin of Israel signed a peace treaty ending 30 years of war between the two countries.
  • 1982   Groundbreaking ceremonies for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial took place in Washington, DC.
  • 1992   A judge in Indianapolis sentenced former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson to six years in prison for raping a Miss Black America contestant.
  • 1997   The bodies of 39 members of the Heaven's Gate techno-religious cult who'd committed suicide were found inside a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
  • 1999   Dr. Jack Kevorkian was convicted of second-degree murder for giving a lethal injection to an ailing man whose death was shown on ''60 Minutes.''
  • 2000   Vladimir Putin was elected Russia's second democratically chosen president.
  • 2002   Arthur Andersen chief executive Joseph Berardino resigned, bowing to mounting pressure as a result of the accounting firm's role in the Enron scandal.
  • 2003   Former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., died at age 76.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1874   Robert Frost (four-time Pulitzer prize-winning poet: Birches, Mending Wall, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening; read The Gift Outright at inauguration of John F. Kennedy; died Jan 29, 1963)
  • 1911   Tennessee (Thomas Lanier) Williams (Pulitzer prize-winning playwright: A Streetcar Named Desire [1948], Cat on a Hot Tin Roof [1955]; The Glass Menagerie, Night of the Iguana, Summer and Smoke, The Rose Tattoo, Camino Real, Sweet Bird of Youth, Small Craft Warnings; died Feb 24, 1983)
  • 1914   William Westmoreland (U.S. Army General: head of U.S. forces in Vietnam)
  • 1930   Sandra Day O’Connor (1st woman nominated and appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court [1981])
  • 1931   Leonard Nimoy (actor: Star Trek; director: Three Men and a Baby)
  • 1934   Alan Arkin (actor: Catch-22, The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming; director: Little Murders)
  • 1943   Bob Woodward (investigative reporter: Washington Post: Watergate [w/reporter Carl Bernstein]; author: All the President’s Men [w/Carl Bernstein], The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court [w/Scott Armstrong], The Agenda : Inside the Clinton White House)
  • 1944   Diana Ross (Diane Earle) (singer: group: The Supremes: I Hear a Symphony, Come See About Me; solo: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Theme from ‘Mahogany’, Love Hangover, You Keep Me Hangin’ On; actress: Lady Sings the Blues, Mahogany, The Wiz)
  • 1949   Vicki Lawrence (Emmy Award-winning actress: The Carol Burnett Show [1975-76]; Vicki!, Mama’s Family; singer: The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia)
  • 1950   Martin Short (Emmy Award-winning actor, comedian: SCTV, The Show Formerly Known as the Martin Short Show; Saturday Night Live, The Three Amigos, Three Fugitives, Innerspace)


Friday, March 25, 2005

Iraq's insurgents ‘seek exit strategy'

FT reports Many of Iraq's predominantly Sunni Arab insurgents would lay down their arms and join the political process in exchange for guarantees of their safety and that of their co-religionists, according to a prominent Sunni politician.

Sharif Ali Bin al-Hussein, who heads Iraq's main monarchist movement and is in contact with guerrilla leaders, said many insurgents including former officials of the ruling Ba'ath party, army officers, and Islamists have been searching for a way to end their campaign against US troops and Iraqi government forces since the January 30 election. “Firstly, they want to ensure their own security,” says Sharif Ali, who last week hosted a pan-Sunni conference attended by tribal sheikhs and other local leaders speaking on behalf of the insurgents. Insurgent leaders fear coming out into the open to talk for fear of being targeted by US military or Iraqi security forces' raids, he said.

Sharif Ali distinguishes many Sunni insurgents, whom he says took up arms in reaction to the invasive raids in search of Ba'athist leaders and other “humiliations” soon after the 2003 war, from the radical jihadist branch associated with Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Unlike Mr Zarqawi's followers, who are thought to be responsible for the big suicide bomb attacks on Iraqi civilian targets, the other Sunni insurgents are more likely to plant bombs and carry out ambushes against security forces and US troops active near their homes. Sharif Ali said the success of Iraq's elections dealt the insurgents a demoralising blow, prompting them to consider the need to enter the political process.

CQ blogs What they want is a similar deal that the Afghan government has offered to lower-level Taliban fighters with some significant success. In exchange for turning themselves in to Iraqi authority and surrendering their arms, they want a general amnesty and the ability to access the new democratic processes. If the Iraqis can confirm their seriousness, and the dramatic drop in terrorist activity seems to substantiate it, the Iraqis should go for it. It would allow the sectarian divisions to subside and further reduce antidemocratic forces to the margins of Iraqi society. It would also allow Iraqi and American security forces to focus on Zarqawi and his gang of thugs.

This development has been brought to you by George Bush's insistence on holding the elections on time. Not only did the Iraqis and the Americans succeed in securing the vote, but the Iraqis themselves delivered a spirited endorsement of democracy and freedom that has obviously shattered the will of the native insurgency. The transformative power of democracy shows once again its singular ability to marginalize and neutralize the impetus for terror.

Ace blogs Looks like the Democrats finally got their exit strategy. I hope they won't bitch too much over the fact it's the "exit strategy" Bush had in mind the whole time: We win, they lose.

Orrin Judd blogs The Left was ahead of the curve on it being time for an exit strategy, they were just wrong about which side was winning.

Smash blogs Zarqawi must be feeling very lonely these days...

Since the main ones being killed now are Iraqis defending their own country, I suspect the Ba'athists are getting worried their neighbors might start turning them in.


The Coming War on Blogs

Tech Central Station reports It's a universal law of capitalism: when an industry faces a new and significant threat to its profits and powers it turns to the government for protection. Well, bloggers who write on current events are challenging the mainstream media (MSM), the most politically well-connected industry in America. Watch for the MSM to start using their political influence to burden bloggers.

But won't the First Amendment protect blogs? Unfortunately, courts already hold that many governmental restrictions on speech don't violate the First Amendment, and I can think of three areas in which the MSM might successfully change laws and regulations to hinder their blogger competitors:

  1. Campaign Finance Reform -- Blog entries in support of a candidate could be considered political contributions to that candidate.
  2. Libel Law -- The MSM used to fight aggressively against any expansion of libel law, but I predict this soon will change. The MSM can handle the burden of defending itself from libel suits much more easily than bloggers can.
  3. Copyright Law -- Blogs often use information from other sources and, from what I have observed, sometimes flagrantly violate copyright laws.
The Democratic Party will likely assist the MSM in their attack on blogs, not because most blogs are pro-Republican but because blogs are not as consistently liberal as the MSM.

Roger Ailes blogs Here's a Tech Central Station column that's chock full of phony premises, logical fallacies, intellectual dishonesty, anti-intellectual dishonesty, old skool dishonest dishonesty, fabrication, projection, paranoia, hallucination and drivel. The thesis: The liberal "MSM" and the Democratic Party are going to conspire to change the law in order to destroy bloggers, oh yes they will, just you wait and see! This guy makes Michael Barone look honest and rational.

Pejman Yousefzadeh blogs A very thought-provoking column by James D. Miller. I am not sure if the whole of the Democratic Party is as anti-blog as he portrays it--after all, the Left Blogosphere has grown quite considerably in the past few years. But Miller is quite right to point out the mainstream media's antipathy towards the Blogosphere, and to warn that Big Media will not mind seeing the Blogosphere handicapped.

Betsy Newmark blogs John D. Miller has a depressing column about the "coming war on blogs." He theorizes that blogs will soon be vulnerable from laws affecting campaign contributions, libel, and copyrights. There may be some point to the last two, but the campaign contribution one really gets my goat.

Glenn Reynolds blogs He has some thoughts on how that might take place. More worries here. Meanwhile, note this stirring defiance from law professor blogger Tom Smith: "they can stop us from blogging and saying whatever we think, especially about political candidates, when they pry our keyboards from our cold, dead fingers."


Bloggers vs MSM

Tech Central Station reports It's a universal law of capitalism: when an industry faces a new and significant threat to its profits and powers it turns to the government for protection. Well, bloggers who write on current events are challenging the mainstream media (MSM), the most politically well-connected industry in America. Watch for the MSM to start using their political influence to burden bloggers.

But won't the First Amendment protect blogs? Unfortunately, courts already hold that many governmental restrictions on speech don't violate the First Amendment, and I can think of three areas in which the MSM might successfully change laws and regulations to hinder their blogger competitors:

  1. Campaign Finance Reform -- Blog entries in support of a candidate could be considered political contributions to that candidate.
  2. Libel Law -- The MSM used to fight aggressively against any expansion of libel law, but I predict this soon will change. The MSM can handle the burden of defending itself from libel suits much more easily than bloggers can.
  3. Copyright Law -- Blogs often use information from other sources and, from what I have observed, sometimes flagrantly violate copyright laws.
The Democratic Party will likely assist the MSM in their attack on blogs, not because most blogs are pro-Republican but because blogs are not as consistently liberal as the MSM.

Roger Ailes blogs Here's a Tech Central Station column that's chock full of phony premises, logical fallacies, intellectual dishonesty, anti-intellectual dishonesty, old skool dishonest dishonesty, fabrication, projection, paranoia, hallucination and drivel. The thesis: The liberal "MSM" and the Democratic Party are going to conspire to change the law in order to destroy bloggers, oh yes they will, just you wait and see! This guy makes Michael Barone look honest and rational.

Pejman Yousefzadeh blogs A very thought-provoking column by James D. Miller. I am not sure if the whole of the Democratic Party is as anti-blog as he portrays it--after all, the Left Blogosphere has grown quite considerably in the past few years. But Miller is quite right to point out the mainstream media's antipathy towards the Blogosphere, and to warn that Big Media will not mind seeing the Blogosphere handicapped.

Betsy Newmark blogs John D. Miller has a depressing column about the "coming war on blogs." He theorizes that blogs will soon be vulnerable from laws affecting campaign contributions, libel, and copyrights. There may be some point to the last two, but the campaign contribution one really gets my goat.

Glenn Reynolds blogs He has some thoughts on how that might take place. More worries here. Meanwhile, note this stirring defiance from law professor blogger Tom Smith: "they can stop us from blogging and saying whatever we think, especially about political candidates, when they pry our keyboards from our cold, dead fingers."


Townhall and Heritage Split

Washington Times reports, one of the nation's most active conservative Web sites, announced yesterday that it has split from parent company the Heritage Foundation, a District-based conservative think tank.

It's a deliberate strategy for Townhall -- home to 68 columnists and destination reading for 1.5 million people a month. As an independent entity, Townhall no longer will be subject to Internal Revenue Service regulations that prohibit "educational only" groups from mobilizing followers or taking a distinct political stand....

"Townhall has come to bump the ceiling of its own potential. Under Heritage, we could educate people all day long, but we couldn't tell them what to do," Mr. Bond said. "Our audience has grown huge, and the technology exists to harness the power of people with shared ideas -- as long as you get outside those IRS restrictions."

The site also has become an online gathering spot for 300,000 "registered activists" and 115 "coalition partners," including the National Review, the Weekly Standard, the Reagan Ranch and the Media Research Center.

Steve Clemons blogged For to feel constrained by the IRS requirements governing the Heritage Foundation, one gets a sense of how political their objectives are. I applaud them for taking this step because I believe that the norms governing non-profit public affairs organizations should be strengthened.

There are more than 1,500 think tanks in Washington -- and most are small boutiques run by a single person with volunteer interns. They are probably the least known and least understood part of civil society in America, particularly inside the beltway, but these organizations play an important role in influencing policy and legislation. But lobbying money and various task-oriented consulting funds are pumping through 501c3 and 501c4 organizations with little attention being paid to this growing trend.

Josh Marshall blogged It's an interesting development, clearly in response to mobilizations taking place on progressive blogs.


Feud may be as much over money as principle

This is the first I heard of it, but USA Today said Michael Schiavo and Bob and Mary Schindler once were very close. He was the husband. They were the in-laws. The bonds remained strong even after tragedy befell Terri. Early on the morning of Feb. 25, 1990, she suffered a heart attack that led to massive brain damage.

Today, Terri Schiavo's agonizing struggle for life — or death — grips the nation and much of the world. Driving the sorrowful, sometimes angry rhetoric in this epic clash over the right to live or die is something less cosmic: a vitriolic family feud.

It is a feud, to some degree, over principle. Michael Schiavo says Terri should be allowed to die because she told him long before she was stricken that she would never want to be kept alive by a feeding tube or other such measures. The Schindlers say their son-in-law is starving Terri to death. They want to keep her alive and try to rehabiliate her. But it also appears to be a fight over money — how a $1 million malpractice settlement Schiavo won 13 years ago over Terri's care should be spent.

Without that emotional public schism, the Schiavo case might simply have been one of thousands of wrenching family decisions about life and death that unfold quietly every year. What once was a fond relationship — Michael Schiavo had called the Schindlers "Mom" and "Dad" — has dissolved into bitter recriminations playing out in courthouses, capitols, weblogs and on Larry King Live. Schiavo says he hasn't talked to his in-laws in years.

Some of the protesters gathered outside Woodside Hospice here have demonized Michael Schiavo, accusing him of everything from murder to adultery because he lives with a woman and has two toddlers, a daughter and a son, by her. It wasn't always this way, according to a USA TODAY review of voluminous records in the Probate Division of Pinellas County Circuit Court in nearby Clearwater.

Those records show that Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers jointly supervised care for Terri after she collapsed. For the first 16 days and nights that she was hospitalized, Schiavo never left the hospital. Over the next few years, as she was moved from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility, to a nursing home, to Schiavo's home and finally back to a nursing home, Schiavo visited Terri daily.

They had met in a class at Bucks County Community College in Pennsylvania. They were engaged five months later and married on Nov. 10, 1984, in Huntingdon Valley, Pa. She was, he said, "sweet. Very personable. You would meet her and just be charmed by her. ... To me, she was everything."

Once Terri was unable to help herself, Michael became a demanding advocate.

John Pecarek, a court-appointed guardian for Terri, described her husband as "a nursing home administrator's nightmare," adding, "I believe that the ward (Terri) gets care and attention from the staff of Sabal Palms (nursing home) as a result of Mr. Schiavo's advocacy and defending on her behalf."

Mary Schindler testified that, while her daughter was at one nursing home, her relationship with her son-in-law was "very good. We did everything together. Wherever he went, I went." Schiavo and the Schindlers even sold pretzels and hot dogs on St. Pete Beach to raise money for Terri's care. But everything seemed to change on Valentine's Day 1993 in a nursing home near here.

In 1992, Schiavo had filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against two doctors who had been treating his wife before she was stricken. Late that year came a settlement: Schiavo received $300,000 for loss of consortium — his wife's companionship. Another $700,000 was ordered for Terri's care.

Mary Schindler later testified that Schiavo had promised money to his in-laws. They had helped him and Terri move from New Jersey to Pinellas County, let them live rent-free in their condominium and had given him other financial help. "We all had financial problems" after Terri's crisis, she testified. "Michael, Bob. We all did. It was a very stressful time. It was a very financially difficult time. He used to say, 'Don't worry, Mom. If I ever get any money from the lawsuit, I'll help you and Dad.'"

By February 1993, Schiavo had the money from the lawsuit.

On Valentine's Day that year, he testified, he was in his wife's nursing home room studying. He wanted to become a nurse so he could care for his wife himself. He had taken Terri to California for experimental treatment. A doctor there had placed a stimulator inside Terri's brain and those of other people in vegetative states to try to stimulate still-living but dormant cells.

According to Schiavo's testimony, the Schindlers came into Terri's room in the nursing home, spoke to their daughter, then turned to him.

"The first words out of my father-in-law's mouth was how much money he was going to get," Schiavo said. "I was, 'What do you mean?' 'Well, you owe me money.'" Schiavo said he told his in-laws that all the money had gone to his wife — a lie he said he told Bob Schindler "to shut him up because he was screaming."

Schiavo said his father-in-law called him "a few choice words," then stormed out of the room. Schiavo said he started to follow him, but his mother-in-law stepped in front of him, saying, "This is my daughter, our daughter, and we deserve some of this money."

Mary Schindler's account of that evening is far different. She testified that she and her husband found Schiavo studying. "We were talking about the money and about his money," she said. "That with his money and the money Terri got, now we could take her (for specialized care) or get some testing done. Do all this stuff. He said he was not going to do it."

She said he threw his book and a table against the wall and told them they would never see their daughter again....

Daniel Grieco, the attorney who handled Michael Schiavo's malpractice case, says his client never promised money to Bob Schindler. He also said Schindler never understood that he wasn't entitled to money under Florida law. Grieco says the money is at the root of the estrangement. "It was the precipitating factor," Grieco says. "That was the fracture. That was the basis of it."


Grease Monkey extension to Firefox

There is a new extension to Firefox to enable you to make changes in the pages you download, but there are caveats to consider.

GreaseMonkey lets you to add bits of DHTML ("user scripts") to any webpage to change it's behavior. In much the same way that user CSS lets you take control of a webpage's style, user scripts let you easily control any aspect of a webpage's design or interaction.

A pretty comprehensive collection of known scripts is maintained at the Greasemonkey Script Repository. For example:

  • Change Amazon links to use an affiliate ID (if you click on a link to a book sold by Amazon, rather than giving credit for the sale to the webmaster of the page you are viewing, credit yourself for the sale. I don't know whether Amazon will allow such you to do that, but at least this script would let you try)
  • Change links to NYT articles to point to the print format (which don't have ads)
  • Slashdot: Remove Ads
  • Hides ads and iframes at
  • Numbers the results in a Google search page and you can press 1..10 to follow the link with a single key stroke.
  • Hides Google Adsense IFrames.
  • Hides all Iframes, no matter where and what they contain. (Great way to get rid of 90% of all the "rich media" ads around.)
  • Inserts an inline play button(flash plugin required) after every link on page that ends with a .mp3 extension
  • Turn all URLs on a page into hyperlinks.
  • Recolors page background, foreground, and links to user-definable colors (defaults to white background, black text, blue links, purple visited links)
  • Adds a skin link down the bottom of every page which lets you add custom css to the page (uses cookies to auto load css).
For more information, there is a greasemonkey blog

CNet reported Firefox add-on lets surfers tweak sites, but is it safe? A popular new extension for Firefox that lets people customize Web pages they visit without the knowledge or cooperation of Web publishers. The extension, dubbed Greasemonkey, lets people run what's known as a "user script," which alters a Web page as the page is downloaded.

That capability has gained the extension an avid following of Web surfers who want to customize the sites they visit, removing design glitches and stripping sites of ads. But the extension comes with substantial security risks and could stir trouble among site owners who object to individual, custom redesigns of their pages.....

Bottom line: The catch is that the type of scripts used to enable the customization can also be used by cyberthugs to make mischief on people's PCs. Caution, then, is advised.

Will’s Blog says Is Greasemonkey Safe?

Although Paul Festa disagrees with me, I’m betting yes, as long as users are careful about what they install. I didn’t get started with Greasemonkey until tonight, but I can already determine just how useful but potent it is. You can modify pages, for better or for worse. Of course, the more rights you afford the user, the more responsibilities they inherently assume (and, if you’re dealing with novices, the more room there is for errors due to misconfiguration or misuse). The onus is on the user to ensure that the scripts they download and install are legal and safe to the user’s computer.

One should be careful with installing Greasemonkey scripts as one is with installing extensions or themes. Because that’s basically what those little JavaScripts are: extensions that don’t require a Firefox reboot and have a separate configuration panel. Treat them as such, and you’ll be handling them with the caution they require.

Hat Tip to TechLawAdvisor which says Greasemonkey can strip out ads, may have some security risks, and make the slashdot site "less ugly." Can anyone, who has used Greasemonkey, provide some comments regarding its capabilities? Tim Hadley commented I've experimented with some Greasemonkey user scripts that some website maintainers might find most pernicious of all -- they strip out ads. For example, one in particular targets Google AdSense ads, which are actually some of the least intrusive advertisements out there. Some scripts work better than others. For example, I tried one script that was supposed to remove or rearrange ads from Weather Underground pages and it did nothing. I don't think I'm going to do much more with it. I'll filter out advertisements using my "behavioral advertisement filter" -- avoiding sites that advertise heavily.

Update 3/25 adrian holovaty blogs Here's a Greasemonkey script I just cooked up: Google Suggest for Greasemonkey. It makes the dynamic drop-down from Google Suggest a bona fide part of Google, placing it on the Google home page and on search-result pages.


The Real Story of the Crucifixion

What is crucifixion?

A medical doctor provides a physical description: The cross is placed on the ground and the exhausted man is quickly thrown backwards with his shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square wrought iron nail through the wrist deep into the wood.

Quickly he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flex and movement.

The cross is then lifted into place. The left foot is press backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees flexed.

The victim is now crucified. As he slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain- the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves. As he pushes himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, he places the full weight on the nail through his feet.

Again he feels the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the bones of his feet. As the arms fatigue, cramps sweep through his muscles, knotting them deep relentless, throbbing pain.

With these cramps comes the inability to push himself upward to breathe. Air can be drawn into the lungs but not exhaled. He fights to raise himself in order to get even one small breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subsided.

Spasmodically, he is able to push himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen. Hours of limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint wrenching cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from his lacerated back as he moves up and down against rough timber.

Then another agony begins: a deep, crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart.

It is now almost over-the loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level-the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues-the tortured lungs are making frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. He can feel the chill of death creeping through his tissues.

Finally, he can allow his body to die... and the Bible records with the simple words, "and they crucified Him"(Mark 15:24).


What wondrous love is this? Many people don't know that pain and suffering our Lord, Jesus Christ went through for us... because of the brutality, crucifixion was given a sentence to only its worst offenders of the law.

Thieves, murderers, and rapists would be the types of creeps who got crucified. Yet, here Jesus is being crucified between two hardened criminals...

What did Jesus do? Did he murder anyone? Did he steal anything?

The answer as we all know is NO!!

Jesus did nothing to deserve this type of death, yet he went willing to die, in between 2 thieves, so that we might be saved. And there, in between the sinners, was our slain savior for our sins.


Friday, March 25

This Day In History

  • 1902   Irving W. Colburn patented the sheet glass drawing machine.
  • 1911   A turning point in labor laws -- especially concerning health and safety -- occurred as a result of a tragic fire in a New York City garment factory. Fire broke out at about 4:30p.m. at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company trapping young, immigrant workers behind locked doors. Many jumped to their deaths or were burned beyond recognition. The 18-minute fire left 126 dead; but they did not die in vain as new laws were passed to protect children and others from slave-type labor conditions. The owners of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company were indicted for manslaughter.
  • 1913   The Palace Theatre opened its doors in New York City. Ed Wynn was first on the vaudeville bill. Some 20 years later, Wynn would be named as radio’s top entertainer. He later became popular on television, as well.
  • 1934   Horton Smith won the first Masters golf tournament under the magnolia trees of Augusta National in Georgia.
  • 1936   The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Montreal Maroons in the longest hockey game to date. The game went on and on and on for 2 hours, 56 minutes.
  • 1937   Babe Ruth was reported to have received $25,000 a year for the Quaker Oats Company to use his name in ads for Quaker Oatmeal.
  • 1941   The first paprika mill was incorporated in Dollon, SC. Now you know where those little paprikas that spice up your potato salad come from...
  • 1943   Jimmy Durante and Garry Moore premiered on network radio. The pair replaced the popular "Abbott and Costello" following Lou Costello’s heart attack.
  • 1954   Radio Corporation of America (RCA) began commercial production of TV sets that were equipped to receive programs in living color. To buy one of those huge sets, television buyers spent $1,000 -- and more.
  • 1961   Elvis Presley performed his first post-Army appearance, a benefit for planning and building the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The concert raised well over $64,000 and raised public awareness of the need for the memorial.
  • 1965   The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led 25,000 marchers to the state capitol in Montgomery,
  • 1975   King Faisal of Saudi Arabia was shot and killed by a nephew with a history of mental illness.
  • 1992   Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev returned to Earth from the Mir space station after a 10-month stay, during which his native country, the Soviet Union, ceased to exist.
  • 1994   Last U.S. troops depart Somalia
  • 1996   The redesigned $100 bill went into circulation.
  • 1997   Former President George H.W. Bush, 73, parachuted from a plane over the Arizona desert.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1867   John Gutzon Borglum (sculptor: Mt. Rushmore National Memorial [George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt]; died March 6, 1941)
  • 1920   Howard Cosell (Cohen) (attorney, TV sports journalist/commentator: ABC’s Wide World of Sports, boxing, Monday Night football; author: Tell It like It Is; Died Apr 23, 1995)
  • 1928   James A. Lovell Jr. (astronaut: first to complete 4 spaceflights, first to make 2 flights to the Moon: aboard Gemini 7 [1965: spent 14 days in space] for rendezvous in orbit with Gemini 6; commander of Gemini 12 [Nov 1966: last Gemini mission]; command module pilot of Apollo 8 [Dec 1968: man’s first flight around the moon]; commander of Apollo 13 [Apr 1970: planned lunar landing that was aborted after an explosion on Apollo service module)
  • 1934   Gloria Steinem (feminist; publisher: Ms.)
  • 1940   Anita Bryant (singer: Paper Roses, Till There Was You; Miss Oklahoma and runner-up to Miss America [1958]; Florida orange juice spokesperson)


Thursday, March 24, 2005

New poll from Iraq

Chrenkoff reports a new poll from Iraq

Are you in favor of implementing Islamic Sharia and an Islamic government?
Yes - 12.5%
No - 83.9%
Don’t Know - 3.6%

"Do you support cutting relations with Jordan? [background]
Yes - 85.2%
No - 14.1%
Don’t know - less than 1%

"Do you support what Al-Sadr followers did in Basrah? [background]
Yes - 6.6%
No - 90.4%
Don’t know - 3%"

As Haider comments, "most Iraqis have favored a secular government for some time and are continuing to ask for a secular government. They know what a theocracy is like, they have one next door and it does what it can to destabilize Iraq."

Good News!!!!!


Another Domino Falls

Kyrgyz Republic becomes the third former Soviet republic to see its opposition take control from entrenched leaders through peaceful protests, after Georgia and Ukraine, in just the past fifteen months.

OTB said Kyrgyz opposition leader Kurmanbek Bakiev pledged to hold new elections after protesters seized control of the main government headquarters. See also this post

Tarek @LiquidList blogged According to most reports, Akayev wasn't the worst leader in the central asian republics, an honor beloging to that nutjob Niyazov in Turkmenistan. Nevertheless, if this development leads to a more democratic system in place in Kyrgyzstan, all the better.

Daniel Drezner blogged Events in Kyrgyzstan (click here for a useful BBC backgrounder), combined with previous events in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Georgia, are making me wonder if maybe, just maybe, we're at the beginning of the fourth wave of democratization.

Betsy Newmark blogged How wonderful to see one more story of people using the weight of popular protest to overturn dishonest elections. And each story inspires another downtrodden people to act for their own freedoms. How far behind will Iran be?

Matthew Yglesias wants to disuade us of the thought that if this has a good outcome that it is another example of the Bush doctrine. (He must fear it will, and he can't stand the number of dominoes that are falling).


NASA Unveils Centennial Challenges

Burt Rutan and SpaceShipOne won the $10 million Ansari X Prize race to launch the first privately built spacecraft. Now NASA has a new Centennial Challenges program, seeking to spark technical innovations.

NASA announced Wednesday that it will award $50,000 each to the first teams to develop a Space Age tether and a wireless method for powering robots called Space Elevator climbers.

For details:

  • The single most difficult task in building the Space Elevator is achieving the required tether strength-to-weight ratio -- in other words, developing a material that is both strong enough and light enough to support the 60,000 mile long tether.
  • Compared to the best commercially available tether, NASA needs a material that is almost 25 times better - about as great a leap as from wood to metal. The 2005 competition is documented here.
  • The website implies there will also be a 2006 competition, but documentation on it is not provided.
  • In 2005 the Space Elevator climbers which will first be allowed to weigh 25-50 kg [50-100 lbs], and must ascend the ribbon at about 1 m/s. [3 feet per second or 2.5 MPH] powered by a 10 kWatt Xenon search-light (80 cm beam diameter, about 25% efficient), which should yield a climber power budget of about 500 watts (Prize is $50,000, $20,000 and $10,000 to the 3 best teams).
  • Then in 2006 there will be another Challenge in which the climbers net weight will be limited to 25 kg [50-100 lbs], and must ascend the ribbon at a minimum of 1 m/s. [3 feet per second or 2.5 MPH]. The systems required for the 2006 competition are significantly more complex than those for 2005. In addition to the climbers, the designers have to add a tracking power beaming system. The 2006 purse, provided by NASA, is now $150,000 - NASA is offering $100,000, $40,000 and $10,000 to the 3 best teams (plus any potentially unclaimed prizes from 2005). Power is unlimited.


Fake Memo?

As Washington Prowler reported It's Rathergate all over again, and the same vigilant entities that brought about to the collapse of CBS News could now also cause heads to roll among Democratic Senate leadership staffers and further shame multiple news organizations that would appear to have fallen for another document hoax.

Very quietly, Senate Republican leadership aides to both Sen. Rick Santorum and Sen. Mitch McConnell, as well as the Senate Republican Policy Committee, have been using the Senate recess break to reconstruct the purported distribution of a document that media outlets, including ABC News, the New York Times and a number of regional newspapers, identified as Senate "GOP talking points" on the Terri Schiavo fight that unfolded over the weekend. "There is a process here for documents like this that are passed around down on the Senate floor, which is where the media claimed that the 'talking points' were being distributed last Thursday," says a Republican policy committee staffer. "There was a lot of stuff going on Thursday, but a document like this one was not being distributed. As far as we know, the only documents being handed out related to votes on a series of amendments being pushed through before the recess. Schiavo wasn't part of that package."

Beginning over the weekend, when doubts about the document first appeared on the blogosphere, the document's provenance began to unspool. Conservative blogs Powerline, In the Agora, and Fishkite all have been out front on the story. A number of blogs found language almost identical to the "talking points" on a post at the Traditional Values Coalition website. ABC News then posted the language of the purported document but not the actual document itself.

Powerline has the actual memo here, and has written about it here, here, here, here, and here.

The Washington Post said In a memo distributed only to Republican senators and ABC News said the same thing. But the New York Times admitted As tensions festered among Republicans, Democratic aides passed out an unsigned one-page memorandum that they said had been distributed to Senate Republicans. "This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue," the memorandum said. Dr. Frist and other Republicans denied having seen the memorandum, and Dr. Frist said he "condemned it as soon as I heard about it."

At the time I am posting this, the post on In The Agora has been updated 8 times, and has 7 TrackBacks, and has 15 comments. There will probably be more by the time you read it.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) is calling for an investigation into the memo's origins. I support that call, because I suspect that it will revewal that Democratic staffers launched this as a Dirty Trick. MemoGate took down Dan Rather and a number of others at CBS. Will TalkingPointsGate take down the Washington Post and ABC News, as well as a number of other Democrats?

Update 3/26 7:30pm It now appears the fake memo was written by a staffer of Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid


Options almost gone

The Florida legislature also passed one special bill ("Terri's Law"), which was declared unconstitutional, and they failed to pass another special bill (21-18). The U.S. Congress passed special legislation and President Bush signed it, but the District Court ruled 2-1 against Terri's Parents, and the 11th Court of Appeals decided 10-2 against them. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

A poll said An overwhelming 82 percent of the public believes the Congress and President should stay out of the matter. There is widespread cynicism about Congress' motives for getting involved: 74 percent say Congress intervened to advance a political agenda, not because they cared what happened to Terri Schiavo. Public approval of Congress has suffered as a result; at 34 percent, it is the lowest it has been since 1997, dropping from 41 percent last month. Now at 43 percent, President Bush’s approval rating is also lower than it was a month ago. Most Americans side with Terri Schaivo's husband in saying that the feeding tube should not be re-inserted now. Both Catholics and Protestants think the tube should not be re-inserted now. Liberals and moderates both believe the tube should not be re-inserted; conservatives are more closely divided. Most Democrats and Republicans agree the tube should remain out at this point. A strong majority of Americans in every age group says the tube should not be re-inserted now.

Gov. Jeb Bush, based on an affidavit by Dr William P. Cheshire Jr. (a Christian bioethicist) claiming the PVS diagnosis might not be right, even sought court permission to take custody of Schiavo, but the circuit judge ruled against him.

Peggy Noonan said I do not understand the emotionalism of the pull-the-tube people. What is driving their engagement? Is it because they are compassionate, and their hearts bleed at the thought that Mrs. Schiavo suffers? But throughout this case no one has testified that she is in persistent pain, as those with terminal cancer are.

  • It is very unlikelly, but she might be completely aware of what is going on around her. But if so she has been in that condition for 15 years, and has been unable to communicate with people. If you were in such a condition, you might not be experiencing physical pain, but surely you would experience mental anguish at being in that circumstances
  • As I understand it, her cerebellum is gone, and has been replaced by spinal fluid. I don't know what other parts of the brain have also been affected, but brain tissue does not regenerate, so I don't see how she could ever be expected to get better.
The thing about this situation that I find the hardest to understand is that the people (besides the family) that is fighting the hardest to keep Terri alive are religious people, who should know that there is a better place waiting for us when we leave this life. Why are they fighting so hard to keep her from going Home to be with Jesus?


Thursday, March 24

This Day In History

  • 1765   Britain enacted the Quartering Act, requiring American colonists to provide temporary housing to British soldiers
  • 1882   Professor Robert Koch announced the discovery of the tuberculosis germ -- in Berlin, Germany.
  • 1932   Belle Baker hosted a radio variety show from a moving train ... a first for radio broadcasting. The program originated from a Baltimore and Ohio train that chugged its way around the New York area. The broadcast was heard on WABC in New York City.
  • 1935   After a year as a local show from New York City, "Major Bowes’ Original Amateur Hour" was heard on the entire NBC radio network. The show stayed on the air for 17 years. Later, Ted Mack took over for Bowes and made the move from radio to television.
  • 1944   In occupied Rome, the Nazis executed more than 300 civilians in reprisal for an attack by Italian partisans the day before that killed 32 German soldiers.
  • 1958   Elvis Presley reported to local draft board 86 in Memphis, TN. He became US 53310761. Oddly, since Elvis was now ‘government property’ serving his time in the Army, Uncle Sam stood to lose an estimated $500,000 in lost taxes each year that Private Presley was in the Army.
  • 1989   At four minutes past midnight, the Exxon Valdez, a 987-foot supertanker loaded with 1,264,155 barrels of North Slope crude oil, ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska.
  • 1995   The House of Representatives passed a welfare reform package calling for the most profound changes in social programs since the New Deal.
  • 1999   NATO begins launching air strikes in an attempt to force Serbia to cease hostilities against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1874   Harry Houdini (magician: the great Houdini, escape artist; died Oct 31, 1926)


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Blogging, Journalism & Credibility

Harvard University held a conference on Blogging, Journalism & Credibility January 21-22, 2005. This is a web version of the Conference Report, and this is the PDF version.

I recommend all bloggers read it

  • Executive Summary   Page 3
  • The Idea   Page 6
  • The Blogosphere’s Reaction and Pre-Conference Debates   Page 7
  • The Conference   Page 11
  • Session 1: Jay Rosen: “Bloggers vs. Journalists” is over   Page 11
  • Session 2 (lunch): Judith Donath: Online social behavior and the implications for news   Page 19
  • Session 3: Bill Mitchell on the ethics of journalism and blogging   Page 21
  • Session 4: Jeff Jarvis: The business model   Page 25
  • Session 5 (dinner): David Weinberger speech   Page 28
  • Session 6 (Saturday morning): Brendan Greeley: podcasting, credibility and non-text media   Page 30
  • Session 7: Gillmor and Wales: Looking to the future   Page 32
  • Session 8: Wrap-up   Page 38
  • Session 9: Open Session   Page 40
  • Aftermath   Page 42
  • Final Feedback   Page 46
Hat tip to MBA


Launching of Air America

Drudge reports HBO is set to air a behind the scenes look at the launching of liberal radio network AIR AMERICA. The DRUDGE REPORT has obtained a director's cut of LEFT OF THE DIAL, a grossly entertaining docu-drama of life on the other side of the AIR AMERICA microphone. The doubts. The lies. The bounced checks. The heartbreak. The viewer is taken upclose to witness the ugly business of media ambition. The main character, Evan Cohen, founding chairman and main investor, is depicted as a complete fraud. The documentary shows Cohen arriving in the middle of night at AIR AMERICA offices to sign over the company and disappear again, but not before lying about how many ads have been sold and how much money is the bank [zero]. Dead Air. It shows how AIR AMERICA executives lied and lied again about not bouncing checks to their Chicago and Los Angeles affiliate owners. [The network was quickly thrown off the stations.]

Information on the program is available at HBO

It will first air on 3/31. The complete schedule is here

Paul @Wizbang blogs Note to self, some time before now and March 31 when it airs, call Direct TV and order HBO, you don't want to miss this one.


Annan son received $300,000 in payments

FT reported Kojo Annan, son of Kofi Annan, United Nations secretary-general, received at least $300,000 from Cotecna, a Swiss inspection company awarded a contract ultimately worth about $60m under the Iraqi oil-for-food contract.

The amount was almost double the sum previously disclosed, but payments were arranged in ways that obscured where the money came from or whom it went to.

CQ blogged This shows that Cotecna knew perfectly well that their relationship with Kojo Annan would be viewed as inappropriate. Hiding payments demonstrates a knowledge of impropriety, which flies in the face of Cotecna's denials in the past. Cotecna made $60 million from the management of oil deals with Iraq based on the OFF program, which means Kojo by himself accounted for 0.5% of all revenue from the contract -- a rather amazing amount.

I suspect he got even more than that.


Iraqi commandos seize insurgent training camp

VoA News reports Iraqi police commandos backed by U.S. troops have seized a suspected insurgent training camp northwest of Baghdad after an intense battle.

Iraqi officials said Wednesday, the fighting raged for about 12 hours on Tuesday near Lake Tharthar, not far from Tikrit They said as many as 80 insurgents and seven police commandos were killed.

ITV reports The Iraqi government has said its forces have killed 85 insurgents.... Notices distributed by a group called the Islamic Army of Tikrit, a local insurgent operation, said 11 militants had been killed, while "many more" police commandos were killed.


NY Public Library's Digital Gallery

CSM reported You may have heard that the New York Public Library recently put a substantial portion of its collections online in the form of a Web-based gallery. You may have also heard that the response was so overwhelming that the Library was forced to briefly take the site down in order to beef up its ability to respond to a phenomenal number of visitors.

Well, back in operation and now equal to the challenges of high traffic, the NYPL Digital Gallery is open for business once again - you can see what everyone else has been looking at.

The NYPL Digital Gallery is presently offering 275,000 images (stored on a 57-terabyte, a thousand billion bytes of data, network of servers) for public perusal and free personal use ("...individual private study, scholarship and research...").

The NYPL Digital Gallery can be found at


Yahoo Expands E-Mail Storage

WebHostingNews reports Yahoo will provide 1GB of storage for each free e-mail account from the current limit of 250MB. As part of its e-mail changes, it is also providing software from Symantec Corp. to clean viruses detected in attachments (a feature that had only been available to paying users).

The company is also expanding the reach of its desktop software, a test product designed to find material stored on computer hard drives. Yahoo's software, licensed from X1 Technologies, will index content from e-mail address books and discussions in Yahoo's instant messaging service, says the company.

OTB bloggs Responding to the flood of users shifting to Google's G-Mail, Yahoo has announced that it is upgrading its free YahooMail accounts to one gigabyte of storage, matching G-Mail.... I actually use both services, finding them both useful in different ways. I've almost entirely dispensed with POP mail and, indeed, didn't even bother setting up an account with my current ISP.


Rising Medical Costs

WaPo reported As Republican leaders in Congress move to trim billions of dollars from the Medicaid health program, they are simultaneously intervening to save the life of possibly the highest-profile Medicaid patient: Terri Schiavo....

In 1993, Michael Schiavo received a medical malpractice judgment of more than $750,000 in his wife's name, according to a report by her court-appointed guardian ad litem. The money was placed in a trust fund administered by an independent trustee for Schiavo's care.

Michael Schiavo's lawyers have said that $40,000 to $50,000 remains. Patient care at the Florida hospice where Schiavo lives averages about $80,000 a year, but the hospice now pays for much of her care. For two years, Medicaid has covered other medical costs, including prescription drugs, the attorneys have said in published reports.

I favor letting Terri go Home to be with Jesus, but not for financial reasons, but because her husband says that is what she said she wanted, and I can't imagine anyone wanting to live for 16 years in her condition. I am amazed that the people (other than her family) fighting the hardest to keep her alive are people of Faith, who supposedly know that what awaits us "on the other side" is much better than what we have here.


Newspaper Publishers Buy Topix

reports Three of the nation's biggest newspaper publishers, the Gannett Company, Knight-Ridder Inc. and the Tribune Company, are joining forces to buy three-fourths of, a Web site that monitors more than 10,000 online news sources.... is a news aggregator, continuously monitoring updates on thousands of news media Web sites as well as government sites and organizing links to articles in more than 300,000 subject areas. already keeps track of news from sites operated by Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Tribune, but the acquisition will allow it to approach the newspapers' online advertisers about using its technology for customizing ads. It will also let add material like television listings.

Topix provides news for many different cities. For example, Tulsa's News is available here.

David Kesmodel and Vauhini Vara at WSJ say that News Portals Like Google News and Topix Attract the Masses, But Irk Some Editors - For years, news organizations have had a love-hate relationship with Web sites like Google News that aggregate articles from many sources. Newspapers and television stations like the traffic they get when such sites link to their online stories, but they don't like playing second fiddle to the Internet companies as a news destination.... News organizations are highly competitive. They prefer to be the first choice on news junkies' priority list. They also don't like it when their stories don't appear on an aggregator's list of stories on a particular topic -- or show up as the eighth headline in a long list of articles on a given topic.

James Joyner at OTB bloggs OTB has been a GoogleNews site for a couple of weeks now and I've definitely gotten some traffic from it. Not only do they excerpt my stories within eight minutes or so of my posting them but they've even thumbnailed images from the site. While I felt a little sheepish about the whole thing at first, reasoning that my coverage was not as worthwhile as that of the New York Times or Washington Post, I've reconsidered. Most of what one gets from even the Big Boys on a hot story is straight off the AP or AFP wires. My excerpt and link to that is as valuable as anyone else's. Plus, on most stories, I include multiple links and excerpts, making my post a one-stop-shopping point for those interested in the story.

While I can understand the Big Boys being upset that some podunk paper or, shudder, a blog gets essentially the same priority on the aggregators as they do, it's doubtful they are losing substantial business. It's not as if people are sitting on the NYT or WaPo site hitting "refresh" constantly.

Update (1025): Rich Skrenta just e-mailed suggesting that I take a look at Topix' aggregation of the Terri Schiavo news. It's interesting although it's not immediately obvious why it would be preferable to GoogleNews' search result for Terri Schiavo. The latter appears to do a better job of consolidating stories based on the same feed (e.g., lumping all the AP versions together). That said, I'm more accustomed to GoogleNews and thus familiar with how to use it.