:: eyedot ::: images information ideation ::

:: EYE (anatomy), light-sensitive organ of vision in animals.
:: EYE (verb), to look at to look at something or somebody inquisitively.
:: EYE (noun), an ability to recognize and appreciate something; a point of view or way of thinking.

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:: 7.31.2003 ::  

Here's a tidbit from this month's Harper's Index I felt obliged to share:
Number of Grateful Dead concerts attended by columnist Ann Coulter : 67
I don't know what to think about that. First of all, How do they know? Second, What?!

Another fun one from the same list:
Percentage [of Americans] who said [the Iraq war] will have been worthwhile even if weapons of mass destruction are never found : 60
Now, I have no idea where they get their numbers, but that's just scary. WMDs were the main reason given for launching a pre-emptive strike against a sovreign nation. And more than half of Americans don't care that this reason might turn out to be bogus? Thanks to Pete for the heads-up on this article.

Quote of the Day:
"In order to, you know, placate the critics and the cynics about intentions of the United States, we need to produce evidence."
- President Bush, July 31st 2003

:: Deb 2:42 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Here's a fun little piece of info:
The Transportation Security Administration asked Congress last Friday for permission to cut $104 million, or about 20 percent, of the funding for the air marshals program to help offset the agency's $900 million budget deficit.

The next day, Homeland Security, the TSA's parent agency, sent an advisory to airlines and law enforcement agencies warning that al-Qaida may try more suicide hijackings.
As John Stewart might say, "whaaaa...?" Story also describes changes to the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System ordered by Congress after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. These changes include allowing people to find out what information is linked to them in the program database, and eliminating credit histories and medical records from the information-gathering process. At the insistence of Congress, the revised program is to be tested at an undisclosed location for the next few months before being implemented at the nation's airports. Well, there's some good news, at least.

:: Deb 1:50 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

More evidence of climatic imbalance: floods in Europe last summer, heat waves and droughts this summer.

:: Deb 1:38 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Update: peacekeeping troops to arrive in Liberia early next week.

:: Deb 1:29 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

I couldn't believe this when I heard it late Monday night on BBC World Service on NPR, but I've found one confirmation, in the Guardian: "An armed convoy of US soldiers did briefly leave the [US embassy] compound recently, and was filmed returning minutes later with cases of beer." This happened in Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia, where the local population continues dying of starvation, cholera, random bullets and mortar fire. Here's an ABCNews reporter's account of life there right now, and here is an article about the effects of, and possible reasons for, the Bush administration's seeming reluctance to send aid.

:: Deb 12:46 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

I just read a really interesting article, found on Fark, discussing a paper written by two MIT grad students that they say proves passenger profiling in aiports will always catch fewer terrorists than would random searches.
CAPPS was put into place in 1999. The system profiles passengers and identifies those who should get extra security screening. While the parameters of the system are classified, anyone who is flagged for extra screening knows it as soon as they are pulled aside for special treatment. Chakrabarti and Strauss show, through computer modeling, how the terrorists can easily defeat the system. Put simply, it's all about trial and error. For example, let's say a terrorist cell sends 20 different guys through the airport (with no weapons and no intent to harm), the person who consistently passes through security without extra scrutiny is the best person to send on a destructive mission in the air. The terrorists basically conclude this guy is "profile proof."

On the other hand, according to the MIT grad students, if the airports employed only random searches the terrorists would not be able to practice against the system. The MIT research explains it this way: an average airport has the ability to do extra screening on eight percent of the passengers. Currently, the CAPPS system uses profile criteria to choose up to six percent of those people for extra screening, the remaining two percent are selected randomly. But if all eight percent were selected randomly, the MIT research shows there is a better chance of catching terrorists or people hiding weapons. That's because with a purely random system, potential terrorists would have no way of knowing ahead of time if they were likely to receive extra screening and they would have no way of practicing against the system.
The author of the current profiling system, CAPPS (Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System), Doug Laird, was unable to disprove their findings, though he did say he thought that gaming CAPPS would be prohibitively expensive in terms of both time and money.
Full story here.

:: Deb 11:57 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 7.30.2003 ::  

Fantastic. Now we're alientating one of our few remaining allies, the Saudi government.

:: Deb 12:48 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Holy shit. Bush is supporting a Constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Story here.

:: Deb 10:39 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 7.25.2003 ::  

Here's a better article in the Washington Post on the blame game taking place over the uranium claims.

:: Deb 12:24 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 7.24.2003 ::  

Gentlemen, we have a scapegoat! Bush's deputy national security advisor, Stephen Hadley, is taking the blame for allowing those infamous 16 words into Bush's State of the Union speech. The White House is backpedalling wildly now - on Tuesday the CIA provided hard evidence in that "top White House officials knew that the CIA seriously disputed the claim that Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium in Africa long before the claim was included in Bush's January address to the nation." Specifically, the CIA sent two memos to Hadley in the beginning of October "expressing doubts about the Africa claims." CIA director George Tenet even called him before the president's Oct. 7th speech, "asking that the Africa allegation be removed" from the speech entirely. Yet somehow, miraculously, the memos and the conversation with Mr. Tenet slipped Hadley's mind not only in the process of working on Bush's speeches, but after the fact as well. "I should have recalled . . . that there was controversy associated with the uranium issue," he said. Oh RIIIIILLY. Personally, I would find that kind of information rather hard to forget.

:: Deb 3:20 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

From Passing the Bucket - How the five-gallon plastic bucket came to the aid of grassroots environmentalists - by Michelle Nijhuis of Grist Magazine:
Back in 1994, several years before Erin Brockovich and her boss Edward Masry saw their life stories reenacted on the big screen, Masry was representing a group of citizens from Rodeo, Calif., on the eastern side of San Francisco Bay. His clients lived near a Unocal oil refinery, and they were worried: They'd recently endured a major release of a refinery catalyst called catacarb, which had coated their neighborhoods with sticky goo. Hundreds of them had already gotten sick, and they'd been noticing odd smells around the Unocal site. "We realized there was no way for the people to monitor what was coming out of the refinery," says Masry.

So Masry inaugurated his own monitoring program. He called up an environmental engineering firm and asked them to redesign the standard air-sampling device -- known as a Summa canister, a stainless-steel unit that costs about $2,000 -- into a cheap and accurate tool that private citizens could use. The engineers' solution? The good old five-gallon bucket.

:: Deb 3:05 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 7.23.2003 ::  

Wow, I had no idea this had happened:
WASHINGTON - The Justice Department raised strong objections Wednesday to a surprising House vote against covert "sneak and peek" searches in criminal investigations, a move that sponsors said reflected civil liberties concerns raised by the anti-terrorism USA Patriot Act.

By a solidly bipartisan 309-118 vote, the House struck the first serious blow against the law, passed shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks.

....civil liberties groups said that the vote underscored growing concern about the Patriot Act. They noted that three states — Alaska, Vermont and Hawaii — and 142 local governments have passed measures opposing the act, with some taking steps to prevent local officials from complying.
This amendment still has to get by the Senate, so keep your eyes open.

:: Deb 6:21 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

From AP not long ago:
WASHINGTON - House lawmakers voted Wednesday to block a new regulation that would allow individual companies to buy up television stations reaching nearly half the nation's viewers.

The provision, included in a spending bill approved 400-21, would roll back part of a Federal Communications Commission decision overhauling decades-old restrictions governing ownership of newspapers and television and radio stations. That June 2 ruling by the Republican-dominated FCC was a victory for media companies who sought relaxed rules.
Now, the provision approved today only addresses TV ownership, but it's a start. As it is, the White House has threatened to veto the final bill if it contains the provision, or anything similar. I don't really understand how Michael Powell can continue to tout his FCC ownership rules as "protecting localism, competition and diversity" when their loudest supporters are huge media conglomerates like NBC and News Corp. (owner of Fox and Viacom, which in turn owns CBS and UPN).

:: Deb 6:12 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 7.22.2003 ::  

Here's a little tidbit on the effect of global warming on tropical fauna:
Warming tropics doom fauna
July 23 2003

Global warming threatens to wipe out almost all animals unique to Australia's wet tropics by the end of the century, a rainforest expert said yesterday.

Stephen Williams, an ecologist at James Cook University, Townsville, said the annual mean temperature was expected to rise by between 1.4 degrees and 5.8 degrees by 2100.

If it rose by 5.8 degrees only about three of the 65 rainforest animals unique to the North Queensland wet tropics would remain, Dr Williams said.

A rise of 3.5 degrees would leave 30 species extinct and the rest threatened. A seven-degree rise would wipe them all out.

Dr Williams said even a rise of just one degree, likely over the next 20 to 30 years, would see off one species and leave another 20 highly endangered.
But hey, what does this guy know, right? He's only a scientist.

:: Deb 5:02 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Quote of the Day:

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public"
-- President Theodore Roosevelt--

:: Deb 4:24 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Saw the headline of this column this morning and checked it out once I got to work:
Who's Unpatriotic Now?

Some nonrevisionist history: On Oct. 8, 2002, Knight Ridder newspapers reported on intelligence officials who "charge that the administration squelches dissenting views, and that intelligence analysts are under intense pressure to produce reports supporting the White House's argument that Saddam poses such an immediate threat to the United States that pre-emptive military action is necessary." One official accused the administration of pressuring analysts to "cook the intelligence books"; none of the dozen other officials the reporters spoke to disagreed.

The skepticism of these officials has been vindicated. So have the concerns expressed before the war by military professionals like Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, about the resources required for postwar occupation. But as the bad news comes in, those who promoted this war have responded with a concerted effort to smear the messengers.

Issues of principle aside, the invasion of a country that hadn't attacked us and didn't pose an imminent threat has seriously weakened our military position. Of the Army's 33 combat brigades, 16 are in Iraq; this leaves us ill prepared to cope with genuine threats. Moreover, military experts say that with almost two-thirds of its brigades deployed overseas, mainly in Iraq, the Army's readiness is eroding: normal doctrine calls for only one brigade in three to be deployed abroad, while the other two retrain and refit.

And the war will have devastating effects on future recruiting by the reserves. A widely circulated photo from Iraq shows a sign in the windshield of a military truck that reads, "One weekend a month, my ass."

:: Deb 10:27 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 7.21.2003 ::  

According to CNN's online poll of 200,000 people (so far), 51% of respondents think Bush is NOT "doing a good job". There's also this story on the subject.
Bush's approval rating sags
Sunday, July 20, 2003 Posted: 8:29 PM EDT (0029 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The public has grown increasingly uneasy with President Bush's handling of the economy and the situation in Iraq, a new poll suggests.

Bush's overall job approval dropped 8 points since May to 55 percent, according to a new CNN-Time poll.
About time to go to war again, dontcha think? Where's Liberia again?

:: Deb 12:06 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 7.18.2003 ::  

What the fuck is this?
Pentagon retaliates against GIs who spoke out on TV
Fallujah, Iraq -- Morale is dipping pretty low among U.S. soldiers as they stew in Iraq's broiling heat, get shot at by an increasingly hostile population and get repeated orders to extend their tours of duty.
First lesson for the troops, it seemed: Don't ever talk to the media "on the record" -- that is, with your name attached -- unless you're giving the sort of chin-forward, everything's-great message the Pentagon loves to hear.
Yet several U.S. officers said privately that troop morale is indeed low. "The problem is not the heat," said one high-ranking officer. "Soldiers get used to that. The problem is getting orders to go home, so your wife gets all psyched about it, then getting them reversed, and then having the same process two more times."
"We liberated Iraq. Now the people here don't want us here, and guess what? We don't want to be here either," he said. "So why are we still here? Why don't they bring us home?"
Why indeed.

:: Deb 11:27 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

This disgusts me:
Broadcaster Pat Robertson calls for retirement of justices
Wednesday, July 16, 2003 Posted: 0148 GMT ( 9:48 AM HKT)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia (AP) -- Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson urged his nationwide audience Monday to pray for God to remove three justices from the Supreme Court so they could be replaced by conservatives.
Seen last night on the Daily Show. Here's a similar article, in which Pat states he "he was not talking about any particular Supreme Court justices when he asked his television audience to pray that three liberal justices retire." However, Robertson said in a letter posted on CBN's Web site that "One justice is 83 years old, another has cancer, and another has a heart condition. Would it not be possible for God to put it in the minds of these three judges that the time has come to retire?"

:: Deb 10:18 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 7.17.2003 ::  

Senate kills attempt to account for Iraq spending
By Mary Dalrymple, Associated Press, 7/16/2003 13:30
WASHINGTON (AP) The Senate refused Wednesday to force the Bush administration to specify precisely the cost of continuing military operations in Iraq, defeating a Democratic attempt to use a defense spending bill to criticize its conduct of the war.

The vote was 53-41 to kill a proposal by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., to force the administration to submit an amendment to the pending $368.6 billion overall defense spending bill stating the costs.

''It's impossible to know what the cost will be of fighting this war in advance,'' said Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Dorgan said the administration knows it's spending $4 billion a month in Iraq and it makes little sense to pretend the costs do not exist.
Story here. Thanks to Fark.

:: Deb 5:55 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

This is great. Thanks Mykey.

:: Deb 11:35 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 7.15.2003 ::  

A follow-up from last week -
Google gag becomes big hit
Prank message via search site mocks WMD search
Tuesday, July 15, 2003 Posted: 9:13 PM EDT (0113 GMT)

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- A Web site lampooning the United States' inability to locate weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has become one of the biggest hits on the Internet.

The site, which is designed to look like a genuine error message -- replete with "bomb" icon -- is the top result when "weapons of mass destruction" is entered into one of the Web's top search engines, Google.com.

And despite being five months old -- a real veteran by Internet standards, the site is more popular than ever and is attracting over a million hits a week.

:: Deb 7:00 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

I finally have the archives working!!! still not pretty tho...

:: Deb 5:06 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 7.11.2003 ::  

In case you're wondering where all your tax dollars are going... Rumsfeld has doubled the amount per month he estimates we're spending in Iraq. That's a grand total of $4 billion. Per month. What budget crisis?

:: Deb 6:30 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

California: Dems could yield on tax hikes. Yeah, that'll teach those Republicans to mess with them. More on the budget crisis here. And here's an idea - take a lesson from Nevada's Republican governor and get the courts to overturn the 2/3 majority needed to pass a state budget.

:: Deb 12:47 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

And I quote:
Bush's national security adviser specifically said the CIA had vetted the speech. If CIA Director George Tenet had any misgivings about that sentence in the president's speech, "he did not make them known" to Bush or his staff, said Condoleezza Rice.

The issue arose a day after other senior U.S. officials said that before and after Bush's Jan. 28 speech, American intelligence officials expressed doubts about a British intelligence report the president cited to back up his allegations.

Those doubts were relayed to British officials before they made them public, and were passed to people at several agencies of the U.S. government before Bush gave his nationally broadcast speech. The White House this week admitted the charge about Iraq seeking uranium should not have appeared in his speech.

I'm not sure what happened, and I'm not really sure what I wish had happened - a) the President decided to include erroneous information in a State of the Union speech, or b) the CIA witheld their knowledge of intelligence report innacuracies from the President. From the SF Chronicle.

:: Deb 11:27 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

A funny for Friday, thanks to Leslie:
Q: How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Two. One to hold the giraffe and the other to fill the bathtub with brightly colored machine tools.
It made me giggle.

:: Deb 10:24 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 7.08.2003 ::  

Note my lack of surprise...
White House Says Iraq Uranium Claim an Error
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration has acknowledged for the first time that President Bush's claim in his State of the Union address in January that Iraq had sought to buy uranium from Africa was an error, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
Link thanks to Fark.

:: Deb 12:20 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 7.03.2003 ::  

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AP) -- The nation's largest teachers union says it will sue the federal government for allegedly breaking a promise to keep states from bearing any of the costs of the massive education changes they've been ordered to make.

The National Education Association is recruiting states for the lawsuit to be filed later this summer. The goal is to free states from having to meet new mandates unless the federal government proves it has paid for them all.

The move, announced at the NEA conference Wednesday, is the most aggressive challenge yet to No Child Left Behind -- the law that serves as the centerpiece of President Bush's domestic agenda.

:: Deb 11:35 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

And I quote: "There are some who feel like that conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is: Bring them on. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation." — George W. Bush, July 2, 2003. Yeah, daring Iraqi militants to attack us is really a great idea. Congressional Democrats think so too.

:: Deb 11:15 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Here's and interesting story about a little-known fact: Strom Thurmond had a black daughter. As the author muses, "Does she mean that he was even more heinous than we knew? Or that—dude!—he wasn't such a racist bastard after all?"
Thanks to Joanna for the info and link.

:: Deb 10:55 AM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 7.02.2003 ::  

Once again, hats of to Bob Harris at This Modern World.
1) Pay a visit to Google.

2) Type in (without using any quotes): weapons of mass destruction

3) Click the "I'm Feeling Lucky" icon.

You'll see why. Just go...

:: Deb 6:32 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

This made me giggle. Happy Wednesday.

:: Deb 5:25 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

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