Saturday, April 21, 2007

Graft First

These people are like junkies. They cannot implement a single program without some sort of corruption, ever:

The Justice Department is conducting a probe of a $6 billion reading initiative at the center of President Bush's No Child Left Behind law, another blow to a program besieged by allegations of financial conflicts of interest and cronyism, people familiar with the matter said yesterday.

The disclosure came as a congressional hearing revealed how people implementing the $1 billion-a-year Reading First program made at least $1 million off textbooks and tests toward which the federal government steered states.

"That sounds like a criminal enterprise to me," said Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), chairman of the House education committee, which held a five-hour investigative hearing. "You don't get to override the law," he angrily told a panel of Reading First officials. "But the fact of the matter is that you did."


The Red Shirts of Iraq

Fallujah city council chairmen:
The Fallujah city council chairman, a critic of al-Qaida who took the job after his three predecessors were assassinated, was killed on Saturday, the latest blow in a violent internal Sunni struggle for control of an insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad.


Al Qaeda Spreads

The loss of the "War on Terror" continues:

Al-Qaeda is reaching out from its base in Pakistan to turn militant Islamist groups in the Middle East and Africa into franchises charged with intensifying attacks on western targets, according to European officials and terrorism specialists.

The development could see radical groups use al-Qaeda expertise to switch their attention from local targets to western interests in their countries and abroad. “For al-Qaeda, this is a force multiplier,” said a British official who follows terrorism.

Meanwhile, Bush is still a liar and an idiot:
President Bush yesterday said his strategy to send more troops to Iraq is turning the tide in favor of U.S. and Iraqi forces and rebutted claims by a top Democrat that the war is lost.

"The direction of the fight is beginning to shift," Mr. Bush said in a speech at East Grand Rapids High School in Michigan. "Day by day, block by block, Iraqi and American forces are making incremental gains in Baghdad."


The Kids Are All Right

The Catholic Church says no to limbo:
The Roman Catholic Church has effectively buried the concept of limbo, the place where centuries of tradition and teaching held that babies who die without baptism went.

In a long-awaited document, the Church's International Theological Commission said limbo reflected an "unduly restrictive view of salvation."

The 41-page document was published on Friday by Origins, the documentary service of the U.S.-based Catholic News Service, which is part of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


Death Is Hilarious

To the Republicans, anyway:
Sen. McCain sang the tune during a campaign stop in South Carolina. McCain was asked a question from an audience member about an attack on Iran, and began his response by singing "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" to the tune of Beach Boys song "Barbara Ann." McCain has since defended his remark, telling critics to "lighten up."


Friday, April 20, 2007


Gramsci and Tista having a bit of fun. Notice that in the first shot they are nonchalantly cleaning themselves, in true "What? Me?" cat fashion. (Eventually they chased off the bed and into the hallway, which, as you see below, is where Tista lost interest...)



If your sons can't deal with the fact that lesbians have sex, then you are one extremely poor parent, let me tell ya:
A Bentonville, Arkansas man is demanding the city pay him $20,000 for the pain and suffering of his sons after they discovered a book on lesbian sex in their local library.

"[They were] greatly disturbed" said Earl Adams his letter to the city. "[We had] many sleepless nights in our house."


The boys, aged 14- and 16 came across the book while the 14-year-old was looking for material on military academies.

And if seeing a book on lesbian sex is that traumatic for them, do you really think they are tough enough for the military?


My Cat Ate Your Homework

One of Zora's favorite pastimes? Ripping paper. (I have, on occasion, had to explain to students why their papers had festively torn edges.) This is why she has bits of paper on her here, as well as a blissful expression!


Why Does Texas Hate Jeebus?

It's a sad, sad day:
A plan to require public schools to teach classes with the Bible as a textbook was changed by a Texas legislative panel to make such classes optional instead.

The House Public Education Committee approved the modified bill Thursday, drawing praise from critics who feared mandatory Bible courses would be more religious than academic.

``I think the committee got the message that families and churches don't want the government to tell our children what to believe about the Bible,'' said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network.


Yeah, That'll Work

The Bush administration: Providing security via archaic ideas since 2003:

U.S. soldiers are building a three-mile wall to protect a Sunni Arab enclave surrounded by Shiite neighborhoods in a Baghdad area "trapped in a spiral of sectarian violence and retaliation," the military said.

When the wall is finished, the minority Sunni community of Azamiyah, on the eastern side of the Tigris River, will be gated, and traffic control points manned by Iraqi soldiers will be the only entries, the military said.


Thursday, April 19, 2007


I know, it is shocking that Foley would do anything inappropriate, but it is true:
Former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley is using leftover campaign cash to pay for the huge legal bills he's racking up defending himself in the congressional page scandal that led to his resignation.

Foley spent $206,000 in campaign cash on attorneys from November to January, according to recent filings with the Federal Election Commission. That left about $1.7 million in the Florida Republican's campaign account March 31, even after he returned more than $110,000 from donors.

"Many congressmen, when they resign, they keep the money and do good things with it. But paying for your legal bills? I don't think so," said Robert Starr, chairman of the Charlotte County Republican Party.


Foley resigned from Congress in September after being confronted with sexually explicit Internet communications to male pages who had worked on Capitol Hill. Soon after, he checked himself into an Arizona facility for what his attorneys said was for treatment of "alcoholism and other behavioral problems."


Free AIDS Treatment

No, not in the U.S.

In Cameroon:
Cameroon will give free treatment to all HIV/AIDS patients in the West African country starting next month, the health minister pledged Thursday.

"The government of the Republic of Cameroon has decided today that there will be free treatment with antiretroviral (drugs) for all people living with HIV/AIDS eligible for this type of treatment," Minister Urbain Olanguena Awono told reporters.


Presidential Dadaism

The man is so stupid that it is surreal:
Strange things sometimes come out of President Bush's mouth. "Polls just go poof." "Remember the rug?"

When Bush went to Ohio on Thursday to talk about terrorism, he ended up musing about marriage and chicken-plucking plants, the agony of death and his Oval Office rug, which resembles a sunburst.

About his legacy, Bush said historians are still assessing George Washington, the nation's first leader. "My attitude is, if they're still writing about (number) one, 43 doesn't need to worry about it."

On being married: "A good marriage is really good after serving together in Washington, D.C."


Breakfast Is the Most Important Meal of the Day

I guess Gonzales couldn't remember that fact either:
Struggling to save his credibility and perhaps his job, Gonzales testified at least 45 times — before lunch — that he could not recall events he was asked about.


Timeline, Anyone?

Isn't Bush upset that Gates is emboldening the terrorists in Iraq?
Defense Secretary Robert Gates slipped into Iraq Thursday to warn Iraqi leaders that the U.S. commitment to a military buildup there is not open-ended.

Gates said the political tumult in Washington over financing the military presence in Iraq shows that both the American public and the Bush administration are running out of patience with the war.

"I'm sympathetic with some of the challenges that they face," Gates said of the Iraqis during his surprise visit. But, he said, "the clock is ticking."


A Happy Day for Phoenix Meth Dealers

And male prostitutes:
The Rev. Ted Haggard moved April 18 from his longtime home in Colorado Springs to Phoenix, where the disgraced minister will join the same church that helped fallen televangelist Jim Bakker.

Haggard, 50, resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals last year, after a former male prostitute alleged a three-year cash-for-sex relationship. The man also said he saw Haggard use methamphetamine. Haggard confessed to undisclosed "sexual immorality" and said he bought meth but never used it.

As part of his severance package from New Life Church, a 14,000-member congregation he started in his basement, Haggard agreed to leave Colorado Springs, a city he helped make an evangelical center.


Virip Hope

Another breakthrough offers new hope in the fight against HIV:

A new study has pinpointed a natural ingredient of human blood that effectively blocks HIV-1, the virus predominantly responsible for human AIDS, from infecting immune cells and multiplying. The virus blocker might play a role in the progression of HIV to full-blown AIDS and�because it works in a different way than existing antiretroviral inhibitors�could lead to the development of another class of drugs in the fight against the pandemic disease, researchers reported in the April 20, 2007 issue of the journal Cell, a publication of Cell Press.

The research team found that fragments of a relatively abundant blood molecule, which they call VIRUS-INHIBITORY PEPTIDE, or VIRIP, acts as a broad-based inhibitor of HIV-1. Moreover, they showed that a few amino acid changes in the fragment enhanced its antiretroviral potency by two orders of magnitude. VIRIP and its derivatives remained effective against drug-resistant HIV strains, making them "highly promising for further clinical development," according to the researchers.

"The findings reveal a new target for inhibiting HIV that remains fully active against viral strains that are resistant to other drugs," said study author Frank Kirchhoff of the University of Ulm in Germany. "That's a big advantage."


Mass Murder

That's what it is. Just pure evil:
The Sudanese government is flying weapons and other military equipment into Darfur in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, a confidential U.N. report says.

The government was using planes painted white to make them them look like U.N. aircraft to bomb and carry out surveillance of villages in the violence-torn western region, said the report by a panel of five experts appointed by the world body.

The panel said it had seen one such aircraft, an Antonov AN-26, at an airport in Darfur and that it had the letters "UN" painted on its wing. It had also seen white helicopters operated by Sudan. The report was accompanied by photographs.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Let's Take a Lesson from the Brits

An interesting movement
is underway; British towns are swearing off oil pre-emptively:
It was all started by permaculture guru Rob Hopkins and is based around community projects that prepare for life after oil. The message is that we are on the threshold of "peak oil", the year when oil extraction peaks, after which we will all have to manage with an oil ration that will drop by 3% every year. The cumulative impact of this is a 50% reduction in oil by 2030. Given that it is estimated the world currently consumes 84m barrels of oil a day and that the International Energy Agency predicts this will rise to 116m barrels by 2030, you can see that the numbers don't add up. "We rely on oil so much, it is obvious that life will have to change dramatically when it starts to run out," says Hopkins.

And for all those who think that by the time the oil dries up we will have developed new sources of energy, Hopkins and the transition townies believe that there isn't time to wait and find out. The Association for the Study of Peak Oil says that of the 65 largest oil-producing countries, 54 have passed their peak of production. It is estimated there are only around 1 trillion barrels of oil left and the world currently consumes around 29bn of those a year.

In the face of such figures, and tired of waiting for the government to come up with the answer, an increasing number of towns, cities and villages across the UK are doing it for themselves and committing to "relocalising" food, energy, transport and their economies. "The idea of transition towns has caught people's imagination," explains Hopkins. "All we have been able to do before is protest, lobby or campaign for change. Now we want to give people the tools to be self-sufficient and withstand the kind of shock that a reduction in oil would bring. We don't have all the answers, but the amount of momentum and energy created by the project is amazing."


I'm Speechless

Postmodern massacre:
The Virginia campus killer paused in the two-hour gap between the first and second shootings to post a package containing a video, photographs and a multi-page statement to a US television headquarters.

NBC News received the package yesterday and handed it to the FBI. It included a digital photograph of Cho Seung-hui, 23, with his arms spread wide, a handgun in each. He was wearing a black baseball cap backwards, black gloves, and a vest with an array of pouches - the same clothes described by witnesses to the shooting.

In the video, almost all of it a rambling rant, he said: "I did it ... I had to do it." Much of it is directed against the wealthy, saying he is speaking on behalf of the weak and the humiliated. He referred to figures ranging from Jesus to the Columbine high school killers.

"You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option," Cho said.

Police and university officials earlier disclosed that Cho had been referred to a psychiatric institute for a short stay two years ago after fears he might be suicidal.

The package was stamp-marked 9.01am on Monday. The first shooting was about 7.00am and the second spree began soon after the package was posted. The numbering of the address was slightly wrong, delaying arrival by a day.


Putin: Pissed

I suppose if an expatriate tycoon were talking about fomenting a revolution against me, I'd be rather irked myself:
Relations between London and Moscow threatened to plummet to a post-cold war low yesterday amid renewed Russian demands for action against Boris Berezovsky over the tycoon's claim that he is plotting to overthrow Vladimir Putin.

The Russian ambassador to the UK warned that bilateral relations would inevitably suffer if prompt action was not taken against the Britain-based multi-millionaire, who told the Guardian that he was fomenting a revolution to topple Mr Putin by force.

Yesterday it also emerged that British authorities have begun a second inquiry into Mr Berezovsky's comments, with the Home Office's border and immigration agency investigating whether they could undermine his refugee status. Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism command is already assessing whether he breached anti-terrorism laws by inciting a coup.

But it was the remarks of the Russian ambassador, Yury Fedotov, that will have alarmed Downing Street at a time when ministers and senior officials are increasingly concerned about Russia's assertiveness on the international stage.


I'm Pro-Plan G

My brother-in-law has alerted me to this Slate story, which is dead on:
In arguing for the current surge of combat forces to Iraq, senior administration officials say they're unwilling to consider a "Plan B" for Iraq—options in case the surge fails. Sen. John McCain echoes this sentiment, as does Gen. David Petraeus in Baghdad, counseling patience while the current plan is put into action.

But defining the current surge as a "Plan A" is a dangerously dishonest move that ignores the history of the Iraq war to date. In fact, since 2003, we have run through at least six plans, none of which has succeeded. The Petraeus plan is something more akin to Plan F—truly, the last Hail Mary play in the fourth quarter. And if it fails, then we better start considering Plan G, also known as "Get out of Iraq."


"Partial-Birth Abortion" Ban Upheld

Just so wrong, on so many legal, medical, and moral levels:
The Supreme Court's conservative majority handed anti-abortion forces a major victory Wednesday in a decision that bans a controversial abortion procedure and set the stage for further restrictions.

For the first time since the court established a woman's right to an abortion in 1973, the justices upheld a nationwide ban on a specific abortion method, labeled partial-birth abortion by its opponents.

The law is constitutional despite not containing an exception that would allow the procedure if needed to preserve a woman's health, Kennedy said. "The law need not give abortion doctors unfettered choice in the course of their medical practice," he wrote in the majority opinion.

Doctors who violate the law face up to two years in federal prison.


Said Eve Gartner of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America: "This ruling flies in the face of 30 years of Supreme Court precedent and the best interest of women's health and safety. ... This ruling tells women that politicians, not doctors, will make their health care decisions for them."


Ginsburg said the latest decision "tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists."

Ginsburg said that for the first time since the court established a woman's right to an abortion in 1973, "the court blesses a prohibition with no exception safeguarding a woman's health."


Federal Anti-Depressant Database?

John Aravosis makes an interesting and disturbing point:
From ABC News, regarding the VA Tech shooter:
Some news accounts have suggested that Cho had a history of antidepressant use, but senior federal officials tell ABC News that they can find no record of such medication in the government's files. This does not completely rule out prescription drug use, including samples from a physician, drugs obtained through illegal Internet sources, or a gap in the federal database, but the sources say theirs is a reasonably complete search.
We don't even have a list of gun owners, and we have a list of everyone who has been prescribed anti-depressants? And in fact, the article suggests that this isn't just a database of patients who use anti-depressants, it's a federal database of every prescription drug you've ever bought.

What exactly do the Bushies do with that list? And what other lists do they have of which medications you've ever taken?


Nuclear Ghouls

Now this is just most unsavory:

The Sellafield nuclear site secretly stored and tested the hearts, lungs and other organs of some of its former workers over a period of 30 years, The Times has learnt.

From the 1960s to the 1990s, body parts from at least 65 employees who worked at Britain’s biggest nuclear plant were taken to the site after postmortem examinations for radiation and were kept in freezers.

British Nuclear Group (BNG), which now runs Sellafield, claimed yesterday that in 61 cases the removal was done on the authority of a coroner. However, The Times understands that the families of the deceased were never informed and their consent not obtained. In four cases BNG has no record of any mandate at all. The body parts were destroyed by the testing process although some were kept for several months.


160 Killed

The surge goes on:
At least 160 people have been killed in four major bomb blasts around Baghdad today - the bloodiest violence since a US troop "surge" and crackdown on insurgents began in February.



More bad news

A PROTECTED rainforest in one of the world's richest biodiversity regions has suffered an alarming collapse in amphibians and reptiles, suggesting such havens may fail to slow the creatures' slide towards global extinction.

Conservationists working in a lowland forest reserve at La Selva in Costa Rica compared records from 1970 to show that species of frogs, toads, lizards, snakes and salamanders had plummeted on average 75 per cent in the past 35 years.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Gay Rights Expand in Oregon

Well done:
Two bills that would extend gay rights Oregon have been passed by the House.

One bill would allow same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples unable to marry to form legally recognized partnerships. The second would include gays in Oregon's nondiscrimination law.


Newsflash: They Lie!

And they are very bad at lying:
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' assertion that he was not involved in identifying the eight U.S. attorneys who were asked to resign last year is at odds with a recently released internal Department of Justice e-mail, ABC News has learned.

That e-mail said that Gonzales supported firing one federal prosecutor six months before she was asked to leave.

Gonzales was scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, but his testimony was postponed until Thursday because of the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech University.

When Gonzales appears before the committee, a central focus will be the extent of his involvement in the firings.

Gonzales has insisted he left those decisions to his staff, but ABC News has learned he was so concerned about U.S. attorney Carol Lam's lackluster record on immigration enforcement in San Diego that he supported firing her months before she was dismissed, according to a newly released e-mail from his former chief of staff.

The e-mail, which came from Gonzales aide Kyle Sampson, appeared to contradict the prepared written testimony Gonzales submitted to Congress over the weekend in advance of his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday. In his prepared testimony, Gonzales said that during the months that his senior staff was evaluating U.S. attorneys, including Lam, "I did not make the decisions about who should or should not be asked to resign."

But the recently released e-mail from Sampson, dated June 1, 2006, indicated that Gonzales was actively involved in discussions about Lam and had decided to fire her if she did not improve. In the e-mail to other top Justice Department officials, Sampson outlined several steps that Gonzales suggested, culminating in Lam's replacement if she failed to bolster immigration enforcement.

"AG [Attorney General] has given additional thought to the San Diego situation and now believes that we should adopt a plan" that would lead to her removal if she "balks" at immigration reform, Sampson wrote.


We're Smart; They're Not

Pew judged the levels of knowledgeability (correct answers) among those surveyed and found that those who scored the highest were regular watchers of Comedy Central's The Daily Show and Colbert Report. They tied with regular readers of major newspapers in the top spot -- with 54% of them getting 2 out of 3 questions correct. Watchers of the Lehrer News Hour on PBS followed just behind.

Virtually bringing up the rear were regular watchers of Fox News. Only 1 in 3 could answer 2 out of 3 questions correctly. Fox topped only network morning show viewers.



American deaths are up. Great "new strategy," Bush:
Over the past six months, American troops have died in Iraq at the highest rate since the war began, an indication that the conflict is becoming increasingly dangerous for U.S. forces even after more than four years of fighting.

From October 2006 through last month, 532 American soldiers were killed, the most during any six-month period of the war. March also marked the first time that the U.S. military suffered four straight months of 80 or more fatalities. April, with at least 58 service members killed through Monday, is on pace to be one of the deadliest months of the conflict for American forces.


Arrest the Bums

I'm impressed. In addition to the RNC e-mails that were "accidentally" deleted, more than FIVE MILLION e-mails have been deleted from White House servers!?

That's a lot of work, right there:
A major government watchdog organization has warned that White House officials, including Karl Rove, could face a number of obstruction of justice charges for the way they used outside e-mail accounts and failed to properly archive e-mails on White House servers.

"[Special Counsel Patrick] Fitzgerald could decide to reopen the case," said Melanie Sloan, Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, referring to the probe over who leaked the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson. "And if it turns out that e-mail was deleted from the RNC server as suggested by the Waxman letter, that could lead to new obstruction of justice charges."

Sloan was referring to a letter written by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) to various executive agency heads last week that suggested "White House officials retained the ability to delete e-mails form the RNC server until as recently as this month."

The Waxman letter referred to top White House adviser Karl Rove specifically.

"The RNC does not have any e-mails prior to 2005 for Mr. Rove," the California Democrat wrote. "One possible explanation is that Mr. Rove personally deleted his e-mails from the RNC server."

In a Monday afternoon conference call, Sloan also suggested to RAW STORY that the deletion of more than 5 million e-mails from White House servers, a separate matter from the deleted Republican National Committee e-mail archives, could lead to additional obstruction charges in other cases, such as that of convicted Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.


Perry the Voyeur

Strange and ultimately dangerous activities underway in the Lone Star State:
Piece by piece, Gov. Rick Perry’s homeland security office is gathering massive amounts of information about Texas residents and merging it to create the most exhaustive centralized database in state history. Warehoused far from Texas on servers housed at a private company in Louisville, Kentucky, the Texas Data Exchange—TDEx to those in the loop—is designed to be an all-encompassing intelligence database. It is supposed to help catch criminals, ferret out terrorist cells, and allow disparate law enforcement agencies to share information. More than $3.6 million has been spent on the project so far, and it already has tens of millions of records. At least 7,000 users are presently allowed access to this information, and tens of thousands more are anticipated.

What is most striking, and disturbing, about the database is that it is not being run by the state’s highest law enforcement agency—the Texas Department of Public Safety. Instead, control of TDEx, and the power to decide who can use it, resides in the governor’s office.

That gives Perry, his staff, future governors, and their staffs potential access to a trove of sensitive data on everything from ongoing criminal investigations to police incident reports and even traffic stops. In their zeal to assemble TDEx, Perry and his homeland security director, Steve McCraw, have plunged ahead with minimal oversight from law enforcement agencies, and even DPS is skittish about the direction the project has taken.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Fear Is Not a Plan

Shorter Cheney: Smoking gun, mushroom cloud, be afraid, be very afraid, blah blah blah:
Vice President Dick Cheney is often called upon to deliver the administration’s toughest talk about the wars abroad.

He now says this about the threat of terrorists detonating a nuclear bomb in an American city: “It’s a very real threat … something that we have to worry about and defeat every single day.”


I'm Surprised

I'm surprised that the number is as low as 70%:
About 70% of primary school students in a Baghdad neighborhood suffer symptoms of trauma-related stress such as bed-wetting or stuttering, according to a survey by the Iraqi Ministry of Health.

The survey of about 2,500 youngsters is the most comprehensive look at how the war is affecting Iraqi children, said Iraq's national mental health adviser and author of the study, Mohammed Al-Aboudi.

"The fighting is happening in the streets in front of our houses and schools," al-Aboudi said. "This is very difficult for the children to adapt to."



I just have no words:
A gunman opened fire in a dorm and classroom at Virginia Tech on Monday, killing at least 30 people in the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history, government officials told The Associated Press. The gunman was killed, bringing to death toll to 31, but it was unclear if he was shot by police or took his own life.

The bloodbath took place at opposite sides of the 2,600-acre campus, beginning at about 7:15 a.m. at West Ambler Johnston, a coed dormitory that houses 895 people, and continuing at least two hours later at Norris Hall, an engineering building about a half-mile away, authorities said.

Police said they were still investigating the shooting at the dorm when they got word of gunfire at the classroom building.

After the first shots were fired, students were warned to stay indoors and away from the windows. But some students said they thought the precautions had been lifted by the time the second burst of gunfire was heard, and some bitterly questioned why the gunman was able to strike a second time, two hours after the bloodshed began.


So Much for the Yangtze

And this is just the tip of the iceberg, you can be sure. The development of China has had and will continue to have dire environmental consequences:
China's massive Yangtze river, a lifeline for tens of millions of people, is seriously polluted and the damage is almost irreversible, a state-run newspaper said Monday.

More than 370 miles of the river are in critical condition and almost 30 percent of its major tributaries are seriously polluted, the China Daily said, citing a report by the Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The pollution, along with damming and heavy use of boats, has caused a sharp decline in aquatic life along the Yangtze.

The report said the annual harvest of aquatic products from the river has dropped from 427,000 tons in the 1950s to about 100,000 tons in the 1990s.

"The impact of human activities on the Yangtze water ecology is largely irreversible," Yang Guishan, a researcher at the institute, was quoted as saying.


Four Million

A travesty:
A new humanitarian crisis looms in the Middle East unless Western powers take urgent measures to assist four million Iraqis uprooted by conflict, Amnesty International warned today.

The London-based human rights group called on the United States, the European Union and others to help Jordan and Syria, whose governments are struggling to care for some two million Iraqi refugees who have fled their homeland.

Another 1.9 million are displaced within Iraq, many in the past year marked by suicide bombings and sectarian violence.

The appeal came ahead of a two-day international conference in Geneva, opening on Tuesday, called by the United Nations refugee agency to confront massive needs in the region.

"The Middle East is on the verge of a new humanitarian crisis unless the European Union, US and other states take urgent and concrete measures," Amnesty said in a statement.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Secret to a Long Life...

Is knowing when it's time to go.

Time to go, Wolfowitz:
A defiant Paul Wolfowitz was clinging to his job as president of the World Bank last night in the face of attempts by European countries to force his resignation over the scandal involving a promotion for his girlfriend.

Development ministers delivered a public dressing down to Mr Wolfowitz when they expressed concern and warned that he risked losing the confidence of his staff at a meeting in Washington.

In a strongly-worded statement described as "unprecedented" by one senior G7 source, the bank's development committee piled the pressure on the former number two at the Pentagon to step down from his job running the world's leading development body.


Death of a Culture

The Inuit
are being warmed out of existence:

Inuit hunters are falling through thinning ice and dying. Dolphins are being spotted for the first time. There's not enough snow to build igloos for shelter during hunts.

As scientists work to establish the impact of global warming, explorers and hunters slogging across northern Canada and the Arctic ice cap on sled and foot are describing the realities they see on the ground. Three of them recently spoke to The Associated Press.

"This is really ground zero for global warming," said Will Steger, a 62-year-old Minnesotan who has been traveling the region for 43 years and has witnessed the impact of warming on the 155,000 indigenous people of the Arctic.

"This is where a culture has lived for 5,000 years, relying on a very delicate, interconnected ecosystem and, one by one, small pegs of that ecosystem are being pulled out," Steger said by satellite phone from a small village outside Iqaluit, about 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Iqaluit is the provincial capital of the Canadian territory of Nunavut.


He said hunters he meets on Baffin Island are describing to him creatures they have no words for in their language, Inuktitut - robins, finches and dolphins. He said they all tell him the same thing: Hunting on the thinning sea ice has become too dangerous.

"All of these villages have lost people on the ice," Steger said. "When you have a small village of 300 or 400 people, losing three or four of their senior hunters, it's a big loss."

Millennia of learning to read the winds, clouds and stars and find the best hunting are being lost, he said. "A lot of the elders will no longer go out on the sea ice because their knowledge will not work anymore. What they've learned and passed on for 5,000 years is no longer functional," Steger said. "They can't build igloos anymore; everything is just upside down up here."