Friday, June 30, 2006
Thursday, June 29, 2006
"I want to say in particular that the minister is there to serve the country's interests and she clearly didn't do that. Not just for the World Cup, but for the coming ten years. I compare this to the technical director at a professional team. If a great player like Kalou would come to my club and the manager would send him away, he would have to draw his conclusions. The same goes for Verdonk."
June 29: "The Dutch coalition government is in crisis after junior partner D66 sided with a motion of no confidence in Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk."
Update, 9pm: The Dutch cabinet resigns.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Mass Medication With Omega 3 Would Wipe Out Global Fish StocksThe more it is tested, the more compelling the hypothesis becomes. Dyslexia, ADHD, dyspraxia and other neurological problems seem to be associated with a deficiency of Omega 3 fatty acids, especially in the womb. The evidence of a link with depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, and dementia is less clear, but still suggestive. None of these conditions is caused exclusively by a lack of these chemicals, or can be entirely remedied by their application, but it's becoming pretty obvious that some of our most persistent modern diseases are, at least in part, diseases of deficiency.Last year, for example, researchers at Oxford published a study of 117 children suffering from dyspraxia. Dyspraxia causes learning difficulties, disruptive behavior, and social problems. It affects about 5% of children. Some of the children were given supplements of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, others were given placebos. The results were extraordinary: in three months the reading age of the experimental group rose by an average of 9.5 months, while the reading age of those given placebos rose by 3.3. Other studies have shown major improvements in attention, behavior, and IQ.
This shouldn't surprise us. During the Paleolithic era, humans ate roughly the same amount of Omega 3 fatty acids as Omega 6s. Today we eat 17 times as much Omega 6 as Omega 3. Omega 6s are found in vegetable oils, while most of the Omega 3s we eat come from fish. John Stein, a professor of physiology at Oxford who specializes in dyslexia, believes that fish oils permitted humans to make their great cognitive leap forwards. The concentration of Omega 3s in the brain, he says, could provide more evidence that human beings were, for a while, semi-aquatic.
Stein believes that when the cells that are partly responsible for visual perception - the magnocellular neurones - are deficient in Omega 3s, they don't form as many connections with other cells, and don't pass on information as efficiently. Their impaired development explains, for example, why many dyslexic children find that letters appear to jump around on the page.
So at first sight the government's investigation into the idea of giving fish oil capsules to schoolchildren seems sensible. The food standards agency is conducting a review of the effects of Omega 3s on behavior and performance in school. Alan Johnson, the secretary of state for education, is taking an interest. Given the accumulating weight of evidence, it would be surprising if he does not decide to go ahead. Already companies such as St Ivel and Marks & Spencer are selling foods laced with Omega 3s.
There is only one problem: there are not enough fish...
2. Independent, title story, June 21 2006:
Children on the edge:
One in ten youngsters suffers mental problems as behavioural disorders double in 30 years.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Friday, June 16, 2006
Palast, who first reported this story for BBC Television Newsnight (UK) and Democracy Now! (USA), is author of the New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse.
The Republican National Committee has a special offer for African-American soldiers: Go to Baghdad, lose your vote.
A confidential campaign directed by GOP party chiefs in October 2004 sought to challenge the ballots of tens of thousands of voters in the last presidential election, virtually all of them cast by residents of Black-majority precincts.
Files from the secret vote-blocking campaign were obtained by BBC Television Newsnight, London. They were attached to emails accidentally sent by Republican operatives to a non-party website.
One group of voters wrongly identified by the Republicans as registering to vote from false addresses: servicemen and women sent overseas.
For Greg Palast’s discussion with broadcaster Amy Goodman on the Black soldier purge of 2004, go to
Here’s how the scheme worked: The RNC mailed these voters letters in envelopes marked, ‘Do not forward’, to be returned to the sender. These letters were mailed to servicemen and women, some stationed overseas, to their US home addresses. The letters then returned to the Bush-Cheney campaign as “undeliverable.”
The lists of soldiers of “undeliverable” letters were transmitted from state headquarters, in this case Florida, to the RNC in Washington. The party could then challenge the voters’ registration and thereby prevent their absentee ballot being counted.
One target list was comprised exclusively of voters registered at the Jacksonville, Florida, Naval Air Station. Jacksonville is third largest naval installation in the US, best known as home of the Blue Angels fighting squadron.
[ See this scrub sheet at
Our team contacted the homes of several on the caging list, such as Randall Prausa, a serviceman, whose wife said he had been ordered overseas.
A soldier returning home in time to vote in November 2004 could also be challenged on the basis of the returned envelope. Soldiers challenged would be required to vote by “provisional” ballot.
Over one million provisional ballots cast in the 2004 race were never counted; over half a million absentee ballots were also rejected. The extraordinary rise in the number of rejected ballots was the result of the widespread multi-state voter challenge campaign by the Republican Party. The operation, of which the purge of Black soldiers was a small part, was the first mass challenge to voting America had seen in two decades.
The BBC obtained several dozen confidential emails sent by the Republican’s national Research Director and Deputy Communications chief, Tim Griffin to GOP Florida campaign chairman Brett Doster and other party leaders. Attached were spreadsheets marked, “Caging.xls.” Each of these contained several hundred to a few thousand voters and their addresses.
A check of the demographics of the addresses on the “caging lists,” as the GOP leaders called them indicated that most were in African-American majority zip codes.
Ion Sanco, the non-partisan elections supervisor of Leon County (Tallahassee) when shown the lists by this reporter said: ‘The only thing I can think of - African American voters listed like this—these might be individuals that will be challenged if they attempted to vote on Election Day.’
These GOP caging lists were obtained by the same BBC team that first exposed the wrongful purge of African-American “felon” voters in 2000 by then-Secretary of State Katherine Harris. Eliminating the voting rights of those voters—94,000 were targeted—likely caused Al Gore’s defeat in that race.
The Republican National Committee in Washington refused our several requests to respond to the BBC discovery. However, in Tallahassee, the Florida Bush campaign’s spokespeople offered several explanations for the list.
Joseph Agostini, speaking for the GOP, suggested the lists were of potential donors to the Bush campaign. Oddly, the supposed donor list included residents of the Sulzbacher Center, a shelter for homeless families.
Another spokesperson for the Bush campaign, Mindy Tucker Fletcher, ultimately changed the official response, acknowledging that these were voters, “we mailed to, where the letter came back—bad addresses.’
The party has refused to say why it would mark soldiers as having “bad addresses” subject to challenge when they had been assigned abroad.
The apparent challenge campaign was not inexpensive. The GOP mailed the letters first class, at a total cost likely exceeding millions of dollars, so that the addresses would be returned to “cage” workers.
“This is not a challenge list,” insisted the Republican spokesmistress. However, she modified that assertion by adding, ‘That’s not what it’s set up to be.’
Setting up such a challenge list would be a crime under federal law. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlaws mass challenges of voters where race is a factor in choosing the targeted group.
While the party insisted the lists were not created for the purpose to challenge Black voters, the GOP ultimately offered no other explanation for the mailings. However, Tucker Fletcher asserted Republicans could still employ the list to deny ballots to those they considered suspect voters. When asked if Republicans would use the list to block voters, Tucker Fletcher replied, ‘Where it’s stated in the law, yeah.’
It is not possible at this time to determine how many on the potential blacklist were ultimately challenged and lost their vote. Soldiers sending in their ballot from abroad would not know their vote was lost because of a challenge.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Monday, June 12, 2006
1. Andantino con tenerezza
2. Vivacissimo molto ritmico
3. Alla marcia
4. Lamento adagio
(Performed by the Luna Nova New Music Ensemble)
From the opera Le grand macabre
- Car Horn Prelude
- Dialogue of the white minister and the black minister
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Are there no depths to which Al Qaeda will not stoop?
Triple suicide at Guantanamo:
Rear Admiral Harris said he did not believe the men had killed themselves out of despair. "They are smart. They are creative, they are committed," he said, quoted by Reuters. "They have no regard for life, either ours or their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of ...warfare waged against us."
[Ellipsis in the original. Who knows what the BBC and Reuters left out.]
The US says the detainees had other means of protest. A top US official has described the suicides of three detainees at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a "good PR move to draw attention".
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
June 6th, 1968:
"I don't believe in the Keystone Kops hypothesis."
- Lawrence Teeter, attorney for Sirhan Sirhan, reviews the basics of the RFK case: a one- hour mp3 .
His website is here.
Two months previously, on April 4th 1968:
"On August 25, 1967, FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover approved a major counterintelligence program, COINTELPRO, to disrupt and discredit left-wing organizations, civil rights demonstrators and anti-war protesters. Hoover directed operations against King in an effort to discredit his leadership and break up the movement.
Convinced that King was a communist, Hoover described him as 'the most dangerous man in America, and a moral degenerate,' and was obsessed with following King's activities. Dozens of internal FBI memoranda document the surveillance and harassment of King. In one incident King's alleged “sexual escapades” were used in an attempt to blackmail him. Shortly before the assassination Hoover distributed an internal memo to the FBI calling for King's 'removal from the national scene.'"
Friday, June 02, 2006
From the unique and indispensable Rigorous Intuition (June 2nd 2006):
- continues here.
Remember, they only want you to think they're out of their minds.
And a lot of people will be inclined to think so all over again, now the Department of Homeland Security has cut anti-terror funding to New York City and Washington DC by 40%, and slashed in half New Orleans's grants for security and disaster preparedness on the day that hurricane season officially begins. (New York, according to the DHS risk assessment [pdf], boasts zero "national monuments and icons" and only four banking and finanacial assets.) Huge increases in DHS dollars were won by company towns such as Jacksonville, Florida, Charlotte, North Carolina and Omaha, Nebraska.
Bizarre choices? Incompetent? Only if we mistake Chertoff's Homeland for the United States...
(CBS) On Sept. 10,  Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared war. Not on foreign terrorists, "the adversary's closer to home. It's the Pentagon bureaucracy," he said.
He said money wasted [sic] by the military poses a serious threat.
"In fact, it could be said it's a matter of life and death," he said.
Rumsfeld promised change but the next day – Sept. 11 - the world changed and in the rush to fund the war on terrorism, the war on waste [sic] seems to have been forgotten. Just last week President Bush announced, "my 2003 budget calls for more than $48 billion in new defense spending."
More money for the Pentagon, CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports, while its own auditors admit the military cannot account for 25 percent of what it spends.
"According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions," Rumsfeld admitted.
$2.3 trillion — that's $8,000 for every man, woman and child in America. To understand how the Pentagon can lose track of trillions, consider the case of one military accountant who tried to find out what happened to a mere $300 million.
"We know it's gone. But we don't know what they spent it on," said Jim Minnery, Defense Finance and Accounting Service.
Minnery, a former Marine turned whistle-blower, is risking his job by speaking out for the first time about the millions he noticed were missing from one defense agency's balance sheets. Minnery tried to follow the money trail, even crisscrossing the country looking for records.
"The director looked at me and said 'Why do you care about this stuff?' It took me aback, you know? My supervisor asking me why I care about doing a good job," said Minnery. He was reassigned and says officials then covered up the problem by just writing it off.
"They have to cover it up," he said. "That's where the corruption comes in. They have to cover up the fact that they can't do the job." [Note that bumbling incompetence is the very worst this man can imagine.]
The Pentagon's Inspector General "partially substantiated" several of Minnery's allegations but could not prove officials tried "to manipulate the financial statements."
Twenty years ago, Department of Defense Analyst Franklin C. Spinney made headlines exposing what he calls the "accounting games." He's still there, and although he does not speak for the Pentagon, he believes the problem has gotten worse.
"Those numbers are pie in the sky. The books are cooked routinely year after year," he said.
Another critic of Pentagon waste [sic], Retired Vice Admiral Jack Shanahan, commanded the Navy's 2nd Fleet the first time Donald Rumsfeld served as Defense Secretary, in 1976.
In his opinion, "With good financial oversight we could find $48 billion in loose change in that building, without having to hit the taxpayers."
©MMII, CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved
- via Oil Empire