<!-- Begin meta tags generated by ORblogs --> </meta name="keywords" content="progressive, liberal, politics, government, edit, language, grammar, accuracy, honesty, clarity, world, news, media" /> </> <!-- End meta tags generated by ORblogs -->> Editor at Large: February 2006

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bush: Osama helped me beat Kerry

In a new book called "Strategery" (by former White House correspondent Bill Sammon), Bush is quoted as saying that his 2004 victory over Sen. John Kerry was inadvertently aided by Osama bin Laden, who issued a taped diatribe against him the Friday before election day.

Bush said there were "enormous amounts of discussion" inside his campaign about the 15-minute tape, which he called "an interesting entry by our enemy" into the presidential race.

"What does it mean? Is it going to help? Is it going to hurt?" Bush told Sammon of the bin Laden tapes. "Anything that drops in at the end of a campaign that is not already decided creates all kinds of anxieties, because you're not sure of the effect.

"I thought it was going to help," Bush said. "I thought it would help remind people that if bin Laden doesn't want Bush to be the president, something must be right with Bush."

If the only thing "right" with Bush is that bin Laden didn't want him to be president, that doesn't sound like much of a recommendation. Would you hire somebody just because bin Laden didn't want him or her working for you?

Even with bin Laden's suspiciously fortuitous assist, Bush still needed Diebold to help inflate his numbers enough to beat Kerry. Nevertheless, Bush's confession seems to lend credibility to the conspiracy theory that Bush and bin Laden are in cahoots.


The troops want out of Iraq

A poll conducted by Zogby International and LeMoyne College asked 944 U.S. military personnel serving in Iraq, "How long should U.S. troops stay in Iraq?"

Seventy-two percent said that U.S. troops should be pulled out within one year. Of those, 29 percent said we should withdraw "immediately."

In addition, a majority of the troops believe that the "insurgency" is made up mostly of discontented Iraqi Sunnis - not foreign terrorists, as Bush believes.

As Tom Tomorrow points out, if this poll is accurate, it virtually negates the constant refrain that the troops on the ground overwhelmingly support the war "because they see the progress the lying liberal media won't report."


Monday, February 27, 2006

Legislation to ban Republican couples from adopting children

In response to the Republican bill banning gay parents from adopting children, Senator Robert Hagan (D-Ohio) says he will introduce legislation to ban Republican couples from adopting. According to Hagan, "credible research'' shows that adopted children raised in GOP households are more at risk for developing "emotional problems, social stigmas, inflated egos, and alarming lack of tolerance for others they deem different than themselves and an air of overconfidence to mask their insecurities."

Hagan admits there is no scientific evidence backing his claims about Republican parents - just as there is none backing Representative Ron Hood's (R-Ohio) bill banning gay parents from adopting. Hood claims that children suffer from emotional "harm" when they are adopted by gay couples. Hagen admits he created his proposal to mock Hood's proposed ban on gay adoption in a way that people would see the "blatantly discriminatory and extremely divisive" nature of the bill.

To the Republicans' credit, their House leadership doesn't support Hood's proposal. But we're guessing they won't support Hagan's, either.


Friday, February 24, 2006

Every school in the country should be doing this

Medical experts say that because of the rise of Type 2 diabetes, a disease that is largely preventable through diet and exercise, many of today's children will probably die younger than their parents. But in today's schools, most children are learning everything but how to eat well and exercise.

Berkeley food guru Alice Waters has a solution: Start giving students credit for eating a good lunch.

Waters, who helped establish the Edible Schoolyard, a gardening and cooking project in the Berkeley public schools, says that teaching children about food changes their lives. "I've come to believe that lunch should be at the center of every school's curriculum," she says. "Schools should not just serve food; they should teach it in an interactive, hands-on way, as an academic subject."

Waters says that children's eating habits stay with them for the rest of their lives. "The best way to defeat the obesity epidemic," Waters says, "is to teach children about food - and thereby prevent them from ever becoming obese."

Waters asserts that fast, cheap food not only contributes to the obesity epidemic but affects children's perception of the real value of food. "Not only are our children eating this unhealthy food, they're digesting the values that go with it: the idea that food has to be fast, cheap and easy; that abundance is permanent and effortless; that it doesn't matter where food actually comes from. These values are changing us. As a nation, we need to take back responsibility for the health of not just our children, but also our culture."

The Edible Schoolyard program features a kitchen classroom and a garden full of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. The school's 1,000 students grow, prepare, and share all the fresh food from the garden. And these food-related activities are woven into the entire curriculum, Waters says. "Math classes measure garden beds. Science classes study drainage and soil erosion. History classes learn about pre-Columbian civilizations while grinding corn."

"We're not forcing them to eat their vegetables," Waters says. "We're teaching them about the botany and history of those vegetables. We're not scaring them with the health consequences of their eating habits; we're engaging them in interactive education that brings them into a new relationship with food. Nothing less will change their behavior."

Waters observes that when a healthy lunch is a part of a class that all children have to take, for credit, and when they can follow food from the garden to the kitchen to the table, doing much of the work themselves, "something amazing happens. The students want to taste everything. They get lured in by foods that are beautiful, that taste and smell good, that appeal to their senses. When children grow and prepare good, healthy food themselves, they want to eat it, and, what's more, they like this way of learning."

Waters believes we need a revolution that will induce children "in a pleasurable way" to think critically about what they eat. The study of food, and school lunch, should become part of the core curriculum for all students, from kindergarten through high school. Such a move will require a significant investment, but, as Waters says, "if we don't pay now, the health care bill later will be astronomical."


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Want some carbon monoxide with that steak?

Well, you might not have a choice, because some stores are selling meat in airtight packages treated with carbon monoxide. Yes, carbon monoxide - the poisonous gas that can kill you. So why do they use it on meat? Because it helps the meat stay red longer - which makes it look fresh longer.

In fact, carbon monoxide can make meat look fresh even when it isn't.

The process is FDA-approved, and it works like a charm. Both of the steaks in this photo were red when bought on February 3. The top one had been treated with carbon monoxide. They were both refrigerated and then photographed on February 16. The top one looks fresher, but it isn't.

The FDA says carbon monoxide is harmless at the levels being used in the treated packaging, but they've said that about other products that turned out to be harmful. Also, meat labels don't have to tell you whether the meat has been treated with carbon monoxide, so you never know if you're buying treated meat. You also don't know when you're buying meat that only looks fresh - you wouldn't know it was spoiled until you opened the package at home and smelled it.

There's another problem: One study found that when meat treated with carbon monoxide was stored at 10 degrees above the proper temperature, salmonella grew more easily.

Representative John D. Dingell (D-Michigan) has asked the FDA to explain its approval of the process. He says, "It's just common sense that when consumers buy meat, they use color as an important indicator of its freshness. For F.D.A. to rely on a promise of some stamp on the package that says 'use or freeze by' is just naive."


Monday, February 20, 2006

Favorite rock songs of Vietnam vets

Remember "We've Gotta Get Out of this Place," by the Animals? It's the all-time favorite rock song of Vietnam vets, according to University of Wisconsin authors Doug Bradley and Craig Werner. Some of the other favorites:

"Chain of Fools," by Aretha Franklin. The authors say this song reflected the growing disenfranchisement between the "grunts" and the chain of command. The song resonates especially strongly with African-American vets.

"Fortunate Son," by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Werner says CCR's "Who'll Stop the Rain" and "Run Through the Jungle" are also high on the list.

"What's Goin' On," by Marvin Gaye. "The whole tapestry it weaves" has a lot of meaning to vets, says Werner, especially since a good portion of the song is about Gaye's brother's experience in Vietnam.

Interesting how the themes of those songs are still alive and well today. Isn't it time we started evolving?


Friday, February 17, 2006

Ann Coulter dares Ted Rall to sue her

Last week, Ann Coulter slandered cartoonist Ted Rall by stating in a speech that he was planning to submit a Holocaust-themed cartoon to Iran. Rall said the statement was untrue and threatened to sue Coulter for slander. Yesterday, Coulter responded by repeating the claim in her print column, giving Rall a case for both slander and libel.

As Rall says, "Insults, vitriol and snotty comments are all part of free speech. Deliberately misrepresenting a person's opinions in order to shut them up is not. What we're witnessing here is no less than a return to the tactics of Senator Joe McCarthy during the 1950s 'Red Scare'--which shouldn't be surprising considering that Ann Coulter wrote an entire book whose thesis was that McCarthy was a great guy who ought to be loved and respected."

Rall has received e-mails accusing him of dishing it out but not being able to take it. In response, Rall says, "I'm as much a free-speech purist as it comes. But in my opinion, this is not a free-speech issue. This is about hijacking my politics and trying to equate my opposition to the Bush administration with anti-Semitism and Holocaust revisionism. Ann Coulter is planting the seed among millions of readers that I'm a Holocaust revisionist, which I'm not. I'm not going to tolerate that."

Rall says it will cost $6,000 just to file the lawuit against Coulter, and perhaps several thousand more to fight her in court. He is accepting donations, which will go directly into an account dedicated to his case. To pledge your support, e-mail Rall at chet@rall.com.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Cheney admits he was drinking

In his interview on Fox News last night, Cheney admitted that he had consumed "a beer" hours before the shooting. He didn't say whether it was a 12-ounce beer or a 32-ounce beer, or whether its alcohol content was 3 percent or 9 percent. Also, how many times have you told your parents (or the police) that you'd had just "a" beer? Not that Cheney even needs alcohol to impair his judgment.

Isn't Cheney also on heart medication? And aren't you supposed to avoid alcohol if you're on heart medication?

Meanwhile, although Whittington was listed as "stable" yesterday, he was being kept in intensive care "only to guard his privacy," according to hospital officials. They said Whittington was sitting up, eating "regular food" (in a hospital?), and contemplating doing legal work.

Hmmm...wonder what kind of legal work he's contemplating?


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cheney finally accepts blame, may be charged

"You can't blame anybody else," Cheney told Fox News a few minutes ago. "I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend."

Well, we knew that...but what about the several hours between when it happened and when the authorities were informed? Cheney merely says, "It was one of the worst days of my life."

So far, anyway. If Whittington dies, Cheney could be facing a charge of criminally negligent homicide or possibly even manslaughter.

And, as vice president, Cheney has no immunity from prosecution.

Even if Whittington recovers, Cheney could still face a felony charge of negligently causing injury to an aged person, but such a charge would be unusual in the case of a hunting accident.

Is it time for Cheney to resign?


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

If Whittington dies...

Fox News has been repeatedly interviewing a doctor today who claims that the physicians attending Harry Whittington have said things that don't add up and may have been "less than observant" in their first aid.

The upshot: If Whittington dies, it's not Cheney's fault - it's medical negligence. And Cheney can keep his job.


Was Cheney drunk?

Today on the Huffington Post, Lawrence O'Donnell comes right out and asks the question that's on almost everyone's mind: Was Cheney drunk when he shot Harry Whittington? Eighteen hours is plenty of time for alcohol to dissipate in the bloodstream; is that why Cheney and ranch owner Katharine Armstrong waited so long to tell anyone?

The shooting happened late Saturday afternoon, but Cheney wasn't interviewed by the local sheriff's office until Sunday morning. According to the Associated Press, the Secret Service said it had turned away one sheriff's deputy at the ranch the night of the accident because "arrangements had been made" for Cheney to be interviewed the following morning.

As O'Donnell says, "No point in giving him a breathalyzer then. Every lawyer I've talked to assumes Cheney was too drunk to talk to the cops after the shooting."

Jane Hamsher, over at firedoglake, suggests that Bush and Co. could use the shooting incident as the justification they've been seeking to dump Cheney - and install...Rice?


Monday, February 13, 2006

Cartoonist Ted Rall may sue Ann Coulter for defamation

One of our favorite cartoonists and columnists, Ted Rall, is considering suing right-wing cheerleader Ann Coulter for saying this about him at a conference in Washington, D.C. last Friday: "Iran is soliciting cartoons on the Holocaust. So far, only Ted Rall, Garry Trudeau, and The New York Times have made submissions."

Funny, huh? All this time we've been under the impression that Coulter was a political tool--er, columnist--and it turns out she's really a comedienne.

Rall admitted he could lose a lawsuit if he files one, but he doesn't think a "just funnin'" defense by Coulter would be the reason. "I doubt her claims of 'humor' or sarcasm will fly with a jury since she's not funny and her audiences take her literally and she knows it," he wrote on his blog.

In an e-mail he sent to editorandpublisher.com, Rall said, "It's one thing to mock people for their opinions and quite another to make opinions up out of whole cloth and stuff them into a person's mouth. That's what Coulter has done here. She has absolutely no reason to believe that I am sympathetic to the Iranian government, a Holocaust revisionist or denier, or anti-Semitic. She has no reason to believe that I am less patriotic than any other American. Opposing the Bush administration does not make you anti-Semitic, pro-Iran, or anti-American, and no one has the right to equate them as she did before a large high-profile audience that included Dick Cheney. She has the right to attack me for what I say, do, and believe -- not to lie."

Coulter has been lying and getting away with it for a long time (see David Brock's excellent book, "Blinded by the Right"). We hope Rall can scrape together the money, time, and energy to finally hold her accountable.

To pledge your moral or financial support of Rall's effort (it'll cost $6,000 just to file a suit), e-mail him at chet@rall.com.

(Thanks to Eric Dickey for the scoop.)


Cheney blames shooting of fellow hunter on "faulty intelligence"

Vice President Dick Cheney revealed today that he shot a fellow hunter while on a quail hunting trip over the weekend because he believed the man was the fugitive terror mastermind Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Mr. Cheney acknowledged that the man he sprayed with pellets on Saturday was not al-Zawahiri but rather Harry Whittington, a 78-year-old millionaire lawyer from Austin, blaming the mix-up on "faulty intelligence."

"I believed I had credible intelligence that al-Zawahiri had infiltrated my hunting party in disguise with the intent of spraying me with pellets," Mr. Cheney told reporters. "Only after I shot Harry in the face and he shouted 'Cheney, you bastard' did I realize that this intelligence was faulty."

Moments after Mr. Cheney's assault on Mr. Whittington, Mr. al-Zawahiri appeared in a new videotape broadcast on al-Jazeera to announce that he was uninjured in the vice president's attack because, in his words, "I was in Pakistan."

An aide to the vice president said he believed that the American people would believe Mr. Cheney's version of events, but added, "If he was going to shoot any of his cronies right now it's a shame it wasn't Jack Abramoff."

At the White House, President George W. Bush defended his vice president's shooting of a fellow hunter, saying that the attack sent "a strong message to terrorists everywhere."

"The message is, if Dick Cheney is willing to shoot an innocent American citizen at point-blank range, imagine what he'll do to you," Mr. Bush said.

- Andy Borowitz


Thursday, February 09, 2006

More about the cartoon controversy: Satire vs. ridicule

A blogger named Tristero (on "Hullabaloo") has this interesting take on the whole cartoon controversy:

"The objects of satire are often - always? - respected authority figures or ideas within the culture of the satirist. WITHIN the culture, not OUTSIDE the culture....as I see it, Islam is not part of mainstream Danish culture. Mohammed has no genuine cultural authority the way, say, the royal family might. To call the cartoons satire, therefore, seems to me inaccurate. It’s simply ridicule, and ridicule of a figure from a culture that, from within Denmark - the satirizing culture - is Other. Danes are heaping scorn and humiliation on someone’s religion, someone who is not Us. Someone who doesn’t look like us, doesn’t act like us, doesn’t think like us, isn’t as rich as us. And just can’t be us."

Tom Tomorrow adds: "And this is why so many right wingers have suddenly become free speech absolutists on the issue of the Danish cartoons. Right wingers hate satire, but they love ridicule."


$16 billion later, Iraq's infrastructure worse than before

Even though $16 billion of American taxpayer money has been spent on fixing what we broke in Iraq, the country's oil, electricity, water, and sewer systems are still operating below preinvasion standards, according to government witnesses testifying at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing yesterday.

Two of the witnesses also said they believed that the World Bank's estimate of $56 billion for rebuilding over the next several years was too low.

Obviously, since we broke Iraq, we should have to fix it. But the question still remains: Why did we break it in the first place? And where will the money come from to fix it?


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Anne Frank in bed with Hitler?

This is pretty sick. In retaliation for the controversial anti-Mohammed cartoon published by a Danish newspaper, a Muslim Web site called the Arab European League has posted this cartoon depicting Anne Frank in bed with Adolf Hitler. Hitler is saying to Frank, "Write this one in your diary Anne."

The Web site explains, "The newspapers in Europe claim that they only want to defend the freedom of speech and do not desire to stigmatise Muslims, we also do stress that our cartoons are not meant as an offence to anybody and ought not to be taken as a statement against any group, community or historical fact. If it is the time to break Taboos and cross all the red lines, we certainly do not want to stay behind."

They apparently don't want to rise above, either.


OSU provost calls attempted censorship of grad student's research "inappropriate"

Finally! A letter to the Oregon State University campus community from Faculty Senate President Bill Boggess and Provost Sabah Randhawa clearly articulates OSU's official position on censorship. Now all we need is a letter articulating the consequences for those who try to censor the work of others.

Here's the letter in its entirety:

February 8, 2006

OSU Campus Community:

Oregon State University has recently been the subject of public discourse regarding publication of a research article in Science. The incident has also raised the broader issues of academic freedom and professional responsibility that are fundamental to an academic institution.

What seems to have been forgotten in this debate is that a number of OSU scientists and researchers, including graduate students, had their research published in a very prestigious scientific journal. First and foremost, we and the OSU community are proud of our colleagues and congratulate them on this significant accomplishment.

The specific issue that has drawn public attention resulted from a request by a group of scientists in the College of Forestry that the Journal delay publication of the article. The scientists disagreed with the study's conclusions. It is inappropriate that a request to delay publication of other scholars' work was used as the vehicle to express these concerns. Differences of perspectives drive the scientific inquiry process. These should not only be encouraged, but fostered in our academic community. We are guided by our institutional values of respect, integrity, and social responsibility. It is imperative that we participate in creating a culture of open query and expression, where diversity of opinions is valued and individuals are free to express themselves without the fear of censorship.

The essence of academic life is to participate in the astonishingly complex search for truth. As such, the academy must be a place that encourages and celebrates innovative, exciting, and unfettered research. Recent events remind us that we can never become complacent in these matters. With an increasing proportion of resources needed to run the academy coming from private sources, maintaining the University's impartiality and independence in research and educational activities is becoming more complex and important. While OSU has developed protocols to monitor activities at the individual and unit level (conflict of interest policy, for example), it is ultimately our values and our culture that will insure the integrity of OSU as a public institution serving in the best interests of society. We intend to initiate campus-wide forums to address these increasingly important issues.

Together the Faculty Senate and University Administration hereby reaffirm our commitment to academic freedom, professional responsibility, and the scientific method. Oregon State University has a proud tradition of producing the very best, unbiased science. We invite all members of the academy to join us in a renewed commitment and continued vigilance to insure that academic freedom continues to lie at the very heart of our academic enterprise.

Bill Boggess
Faculty Senate President

Sabah Randhawa
Provost and Executive Vice President

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Need another excuse not to celebrate Valentine's Day?

Besides the fact that Valentine's Day breeds unrealistic expectations, exploits our guilt, makes the lonely even lonelier, and makes us spend money we don't have and consume things we don't need, it's bad for the environment and for workers. Commercial flowers are the most toxic and heavily sprayed agricultural crops on Earth. Flower-industry workers, in nations like Colombia and Ecuador, often young women, are routinely abused and exploited. Forty percent of the world's chocolate comes from Africa's Ivory Coast, where child slavery is widespread and starvation wages are the norm.

If you must celebrate Valentine's Day, show your sweetie you really care by buying Organic and Fair Trade Valentine's Day chocolate and flowers. Then send a message to corporations that make record profits on Valentine's Day by means of toxic pesticides and labor exploitation (Nestle, M&M's, Wal-Mart, Dole, and Hershey): http://www.organicconsumers.org/valentines/alert.htm.

To learn about the issues and find organic and Fair Trade chocolates and flowers near you, visit http://www.organicconsumers.org/valentines/

People are still dying in Iraq

Four more U.S. Marines were killed today by a roadside bomb in Iraq. To date, 2,249 Americans* have been killed and at least 16,606 U.S. troops wounded in Iraq.

Could somebody please tell us why?

*In addition to one Australian, 101 Britons, 13 Bulgarians, two Danes, two Dutch, two Estonians, one Hungarian, 26 Italians, one Kazakh, one Latvian, 17 Poles, two Salvadoran, three Slovaks, 11 Spaniards, two Thai, and 18 Ukrainians.


Republicans using meaningless rhetorical trickery to justify spying

This bit from today's NSA spy hearing would be clever if it weren't so stupid:

SESSIONS: With regard to history - you made reference to history - isn't it true, of course, President Washington instructed his army to find ways to intercept letters from British operatives, that President Lincoln issued warrantless tapping of telegraph communications during the Civil War to try to identify troop movements of the enemy? Is it true that President Wilson authorized the military to intercept all telephone and telegraph traffic going into and out of the United States?

GONZALES: That is correct.

SESSIONS: And that President Roosevelt instructed the government to use listening devices to learn the plans of spies in the United States, and that he gave the military the authority to access, without review, without warrant, all telecommunications, quote, "passing between the United States and any foreign country"?

GONZALES: That is correct, sir.

SESSIONS: What I would say to my colleagues and to the American people is, under FISA and other standards that we are using today, we have far more restraints on our military and the executive branch than history has demonstrated.

So how were Washington, Lincoln, Wilson, and Roosevelt bound by a law passed in 1978? Oh wait, they weren't, but Bush is. Perhaps someone should ask Gonzales about the legal weight that our constitution affords to a clever historical analogy and whether said analogy is ever sufficient enough to overrule an act of Congress. Then again, that line of questioning might tip people off to the fact that these hearings are mostly a charade orchestrated for the cameras and that this GOP-run Judiciary Committee won't do anything to stop the President's criminal behavior beyond having a couple token Republicans seethe with faux-outrage.

- Greg Saunders


Monday, February 06, 2006

Bill O'Reilly is flattered by The Colbert Report

When asked whether he sees himself in Stephen Colbert, O'Reilly said, "Yeah, sure. The formula of his program is, they watch the 'Factor' and they seize upon certain themes that work for him. He ought to be sending me a check every week, 'cause we're basically the research for his writers. I feel it's a compliment."

Why is O'Reilly flattered? Doesn't he get that Colbert is parodying him - and doing it in a decidely uncomplimentary fashion?

Either O'Reilly is too dense to know when he's being lampooned, or he knows he is self-parody and believes Colbert is simply imitating him.

Either way, we find it interesting that he calls his show the "Factor" - as in "fact...or fiction?"


Friday, February 03, 2006

Punxsutawney George

This year, Groundhog Day and the State of the Union Address fell on the same day. As Air America Radio pointed out, "It is an ironic juxtaposition: one involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of little intelligence for prognostication, and the other involves a groundhog."

(That picture of Punxsutawney George kind of lends new meaning to the whole human-animal hybrid debate, doesn't it?)

Osama Christ?

This painting is causing an uproar at an art show in New York. It depicts an upside-down Christlike figure, wearing a crown of thorns, that looks like Osama Bin Laden. One viewer said, "This is outrageous. This is an attack against my religion. How can an artist go so low? Most people are outraged, most Christians."

A painting is an attack against your religion? That doesn't speak well for your religion. And who appointed you spokesperson for "most people" and "most Christians"?

The artist, a man named Tafa, says the work speaks for itself but admits that the resemblance to Bin Laden is no accident. The painting makes other connections, as well: it's bordered with hand-lettered expressions and names including "mujahadin," "McCarthyism," and "Amadou Diallo," a man killed by New York City police in 1999.

The art show's producer, Josh Wainwright, says he didn't even make the Bin Laden connection. When asked whether he would have refused to show the painting if he had made the connection, Wainright replied, "Absolutely not." He says he's a military veteran and despises Bin Laden, but "I don't think it's anyone's job or vocation to limit the expression of artists."

Now there's someone who appreciates the meaning of free speech.

If you don't appreciate artistic expression or free speech and want to take the painting out of circulation, it's yours for a mere $12,000 and change.

(Thanks to Eric Dickey, www.ericdickey.com, for the scoop.)


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Microsoft may censor your blog

Microsoft has announced details of a new policy on censoring the content of blogs maintained by its customers. According to the new policy, blog content will only be blocked to comply with local laws and with the terms of use of MSN Spaces, the company's blog application. In order to have content blocked, a local government must demonstrate that it violates local laws. Moreover, the content will only be blocked in areas where those laws apply; users in other parts of the world will still be able to see the content. In cases where content is blocked, users will be notified and told that the reason is a government restriction.

Microsoft's announcement follows criticism of its decision to comply with requests of Chinese authorities to remove the blog content of an individual the government considered a threat. The announcement also comes on the heels of Google's plan to filter the content of its search results to comply with local laws in China. Both companies said their decisions are based on the belief that it is better to have a presence in countries like China, even if that requires limiting access to certain online content.

- Internet News, 1 February 2006


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Can you imagine George Bush by another name?

Sometimes an idea is so simple and so obvious that hardly anyone ever thinks of it. Like the one below. You’ll never change the world by persuading those who already agree with you, and here’s a good way to paint a new picture for those who don't agree...

Can You Imagine George Bush by Another Name?

by Beth Quinn (reprinted by Common Dreams)

There is a courtroom scene in the movie "A Time to Kill" that comes to mind when I hear Bush fans blindly defend their president.

The movie is about the black father of a little girl who is raped, beaten and thrown off a bridge by two white men in Mississippi. Knowing that justice won't be served for a black child, her father kills her attackers and goes on trial for murder.

The scene that comes to mind these crazy days is this:

The defense attorney knows this heartbroken father is facing an all-white jury. And this jury will be incapable of putting themselves in the shoes of a black man.

So the lawyer asks them to close their eyes as he describes in excruciating detail the attack the little girl endured. "Can you see it?" he asks. "Can you see her being tortured?" And then he tells them: "Now imagine she was white."

It is a similar use of imagination that I would ask the blind faithful in Bush's camp to try.

Please, just close your eyes for a moment as I catalog the abuses George Bush has committed against our country. And then imagine he is Bill Clinton, a man you're predisposed to hate - and tell me you would still defend those actions.

When you consider that George Bush declared war in Iraq based on a lie, close your eyes and imagine it was Bill Clinton who had told that lie. Keep your eyes closed and picture it. In fairness and honesty, would you defend him?

When you consider that George Bush has been secretly and illegally spying on Americans, close your eyes and concentrate. Picture how you would react if it were Clinton wiretapping our phones. Would you defend him?

When you consider that George Bush partied for days at his Texas ranch while New Orleans was dying, close your eyes and picture Clinton partying on Martha's Vineyard. Can you see it? Can you imagine Clinton ignoring the plight of thousands of homeless and dying? Would you defend him?

When you consider that George Bush continues to promote the lie that "we do not torture" even as he declares the right to violate McCain's amendment barring torture, squeeze your eyes tight and picture it. Can you see Clinton defying the Geneva Convention and Congress? Would you defend him?

When you consider that George Bush has paid journalists to promote his propaganda, close your eyes and imagine Clinton buying off the Fourth Estate. Would you like that? Would you defend him?

When you consider that George Bush continues to send our young men and women into danger in Iraq without protective armor, then hides their coffins from the cameras when they are sent home dead, close your eyes and imagine Clinton doing such a thing. Is this a good thing? Would you defend him?

In the movie, the jurors' collective eyes pop open when the defense lawyer asks them to imagine the little victim was white. It's clear they have seen the light and justice will be done.

In real life, blind allegiance is no better than blind hatred. Both spring from fear and ignorance. It would be gratifying if the Bush defenders were to open their own eyes to see this president for what he really is.


What we didn't hear in Bush's State of the Union address

When George Bush delivered his State of the Union address, he had a big megaphone and the world's attention. He had the opportunity to regain some degree of credibility with the American people - more than half of whom disapprove of his performance as president. But he failed to answer the real questions ordinary Americans have about the state of our union:

• When will we have a new strategy in Iraq that protects American lives? Violence is increasing, not decreasing there and the mismanagement of this war has cost the lives of Americans and billions of dollars in fraud. And when will we secure our ports and chemical and nuclear plants, which remain vulnerable?

• When will the Republican Party put its responsibility to the people before its greed and thirst for power? The Republican culture of corruption in the executive and legislative branches has violated the law and cost taxpayers billions.

• When will President Bush and the Republican Congress wake up to the economic crisis tens of millions of Americans face? Good jobs are leaving this country, and many of the jobs that remain exploit working families by denying them adequate benefits. Millionaires and corporations receive tax breaks while Americans can't afford to save, and the gap between rich and poor continues to widen to levels unseen since the 19th century.

• When will we finally do something for the 46 million Americans who lack health insurance? Many have had their lives ruined financially when the worst happened, and many more no longer seek the care they need because they cannot afford it.
When will we make serious strides towards energy independence? We get a greater percentage of our oil from cartels and dictatorships now than we did in 2000.

• When will he take steps to further ensure retirement security for every American? Growing old with dignity is a right, not a privilege, and dismantling Social Security in favor of private accounts is the wrong direction for our society.

If Bush and the Republicans would bother to answer these questions, the answers would be simple. But they won't answer.

That's because the answer to each and every one is "Never." Never as long as they control our government, never as long as they can execute the same incompetent, dishonest and destructive government without paying a price at the ballot box. The answer will be "never" until we grow the operation and build the infrastructure to beat them.

- Howard Dean