Friday, July 29, 2005

Iraq: Bush's Islamic Republic
...A Shiite list won a narrow majority in Iraq's January elections. Sponsored by Iraq's leading Shiite, Ali al-Sistani (himself an Iranian who was therefore ineligible to vote for his own list), the list includes Shiite religious parties, some secular Shiites including the one-time Pentagon favorite Ahmad Chalabi, and even a few Sunni Arabs. Real power in Shiite Iraq rests, however, with two religious parties: Abdel Aziz al-Hakim's Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and the Dawa ("Call," in English) of Iraq's Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari. Of the two, SCIRI is the more pro-Iranian. Both parties have military wings, and SCIRI's Badr Corps has grown significantly from the five thousand fighters that harassed Saddam's regime from Iran in the decades before the war; it now works closely with Iraq's Shiite interior minister, until recently the corps' commander, to provide security and fight Sunni Arab insurgents.

SCIRI and Dawa want Iraq to be an Islamic state. They propose to make Islam the principal source of law, which most immediately would affect the status of women. For Muslim women, religious law—rather than Iraq's relatively progressive civil code—would govern personal status, including matters relating to marriage, divorce, property, and child custody. A Dawa draft for the Iraqi constitution would limit religious freedom for non-Muslims, and apparently deny such freedom altogether to peoples not "of the book," such as the Yezidis (a significant minority in Kurdistan), Zoroastrians, and Bahais.

This program is not just theoretical. Since Saddam's fall, Shiite religious parties have had de facto control over Iraq's southern cities. There Iranian-style religious police enforce a conservative Islamic code, including dress codes and bans on alcohol and other non-Islamic behavior. In most cases, the religious authorities govern—and legislate—without authority from Baghdad, and certainly without any reference to the freedoms incorporated in Iraq's American-written interim constitution—the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL).

Dawa and SCIRI are not just promoting an Iranian-style political system —they are also directly promoting Iran- ian interests. Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, the SCIRI leader, has advocated paying Iran billions in reparations for damage done in the Iran–Iraq war, even as the Bush administration has been working to win forgiveness for Iraq's Saddam-era debt. Iraq's Shiite oil minister is promoting construction of an export pipeline for petroleum from Basra to the Iranian port city of Abadan, creating an economic and strategic link between the two historic adversaries that would have been unthinkable until now. Iraq's Shiite government has acknowledged Iraq's responsibility for starting the Iran–Iraq war, and apologized. It is an acknowledgment probably justified by the historical record, but one that has infuriated Iraq's Sunni Arabs.

Through its spies, infiltrators, and sympathizers, Iran has a presence in Iraq's security forces and military. It is virtually certain that Iran has access to any intelligence that the Iraqis have. Not only does Iran have an opportunity to insert its people into the Iraqi apparatus, it also has many Iraqi allies willing to do its bidding. When I asked an Iraqi with major intelligence responsibilities about foreign infiltration into Iraq, he dismissed the influx from Syria (the focus of the Bush administration's attention) and said the real problem was from Iran. When I asked how the infiltration took place, he said simply, "But Iran is already in Baghdad."

On July 7, the Iranian and Iraqi defense ministers signed an agreement on military cooperation that would have Iranians train the Iraqi military. The Iraqi defense minister made a point of saying American views would not count: "Nobody can dictate to Iraq its relations with other countries." However, even if the training is deferred or derailed, it is only the visible—and very much smaller—component of a stealth Iranian encroachment into Iraq's national institutions and security services.

So far, the Bush administration seems surprisingly untroubled by the influence in Baghdad of a country to which it has shown unrelenting hostility. But should the President want to understand why the Shiites have shown so little receptivity to his version of democracy, he need only go back to his father's presidency. On February 15, 1991, the first President Bush called on the Iraqi people and military to overthrow Saddam Hussein. The Shiites made the mistake of believing he meant it. Three days after the first Gulf War ended, on March 2, 1991, a Shiite rebellion began in Basra and quickly spread to the southern reaches of Baghdad. Then Saddam counterattacked with great ferocity. Three hundred thousand Shiites ultimately died. Not only did the elder President Bush not help, his administration refused even to hear the pleas of the more and more desperate Shiites. While the elder Bush's behavior may have many explanations, no Shiite I know of sees it as anything other than a calculated plan to have them slaughtered. By contrast, Iran, which backed SCIRI and Dawa and equipped the Badr Brigade, has long been seen as a reliable friend....

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Millennium bomber sentenced to 22 years
SEATTLE - Ahmed Ressam, the man convicted four years ago of plotting to bomb the Los Angeles Airport on the 2000 millennium, has been sentenced to 22 years in prison. ...

... U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour's made a statement during Wednesday's sentencing hearing for Ahmed Ressam. "Okay. Let me say a few things. First of all, it will come as no surprise to anybody that this sentencing is one that I have struggled with a great deal, more than any other sentencing that I've had in the 24 years I've been on the bench.

"I've done my very best to arrive at a period of confinement that appropriately recognizes the severity of the intended offense, but also recognizes the practicalities of the parties' positions before trial and the cooperation of Mr. Ressam, even though it did terminate prematurely.

"The message I would hope to convey in today's sentencing is twofold:

“First, that we have the resolve in this country to deal with the subject of terrorism and people who engage in it should be prepared to sacrifice a major portion of their life in confinement.

"Secondly, though, I would like to convey the message that our system works. We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, or detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant, or deny him the right to counsel, or invoke any proceedings beyond those guaranteed by or contrary to the United States Constitution.

Ressam arrived at the courthouse with a heavy security guard detail early Wednesday morning.

"I would suggest that the message to the world from today's sentencing is that our courts have not abandoned our commitment to the ideals that set our nation apart. We can deal with the threats to our national security without denying the accused fundamental constitutional protections.

"Despite the fact that Mr. Ressam is not an American citizen and despite the fact that he entered this country intent upon killing American citizens, he received an effective, vigorous defense, and the opportunity to have his guilt or innocence determined by a jury of 12 ordinary citizens.

"Most importantly, all of this occurred in the sunlight of a public trial. There were no secret proceedings, no indefinite detention, no denial of counsel.

“The tragedy of September 11th shook our sense of security and made us realize that we, too, are vulnerable to acts of terrorism.

"Unfortunately, some believe that this threat renders our Constitution obsolete. This is a Constitution for which men and women have died and continue to die and which has made us a model among nations. If that view is allowed to prevail, the terrorists will have won.

"It is my sworn duty, and as long as there is breath in my body I'll perform it, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. We will be in recess."

Army Probes Guard Unit
Members of a California battalion in Iraq are under investigation for alleged abuse of detainees and extortion of merchants.

A company of the California Army National Guard has been put on restricted duty and its battalion plunged into disarray amid allegations that battalion members mistreated detainees in Iraq and extorted shopkeepers, according to military officials and members of the unit....

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Cop gets sweet deal in rape of 13-year-old
TEXAS -- Wayne Rowe was arrested, charged, and indicted for sexual assault of a child, but that's not the charge he plead to. Instead, Rowe plead no contest to injury to a child. The new charge means Rowe does not have to register as a sex offender for having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Ranger Pete Maskunas said, "The child had endured enough problems and enough mental anguish of having to just go through it the first time, that if they could come to another agreement, they would go ahead and plead it out to prevent her from having to testify."...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

In a series of books written over the past decade, Paul Ormerod has criticised orthodox economics for being too mechanistic and divorced from reality and has argued the case for a new approach. As one might expect from a successful business consultant, these books have eye-catching titles—The Death of Economics, Butterfly Economics and now Why Most Things Fail. Their unifying theme is that economics is in thrall to a 19th-century model based on physics when it should really be looking to biology for inspiration. This would make economics focus on what really matters: complexity, ignorance, rivalry, failure and evolution....

...Ormerod made a similar point in his earlier book Butterfly Economics, where he explored the implications of "non-linearity." Most empirical work in the social sciences is based on the assumption that relationships are linear, so that small changes produce small effects and large changes large effects. However, if relationships are non-linear, the link between cause and effect is more complex. Over a certain range small changes may produce small effects, but at a "tipping point" a small change may produce a very large effect. Moreover, this very large effect may be extremely hard to reverse.

This is the vision that underlies the conservative argument on crime. The extent of criminality in a society, it is argued, is partly a matter of material incentives in the form of rewards and punishments, and partly a matter of socialisation. Consider a society in which the crime rate is initially very low and young people rarely meet criminals who lead them into crime. Suppose that punishments are gradually reduced with the result that crime slowly increases. In itself, this may not be a serious problem. However, at a certain point the crime rate may suddenly shoot upwards, perhaps stabilising at a new and very high plateau. Policymakers are likely to respond to this development by reverting to the harsher penalties which they had previously abandoned. Unfortunately, such penalties may have only a limited impact on the crime rate because decades of liberal policy have given rise to a criminal underclass which reproduces itself by transmitting its values to young people.

Conservatives make similar arguments in many other areas, such as divorce law and welfare for lone parents. In each case, they believe that liberal policies set in train social processes that eventually end in disaster and create situations that are very hard to reverse. The liberal response is to dismiss such fears as paranoid and unsupported by the evidence. This is not the place to adjudicate on the issue. The point is that liberals have a rather linear view of social policy in which small changes normally produce small and reversible effects, whereas conservatives have a non-linear view, believing that small changes often give rise to large, unpredictable and irreversible effects. On environmental issues, such as global warming and biodiversity, the positions of these two groups are reversed. Liberals tend to believe that the world is on the brink of disaster and if we do not mend our ways there will be huge and irreversible changes, whereas conservatives take a more relaxed view.

Like Ormerod's previous books, Why Most Things Fail is both intellectually stimulating and entertaining. And despite his initial dismissal of orthodox economics, Ormerod's attitude is actually rather ambivalent. For example, he praises economics for its emphasis on the role of incentives in social life, and he points out that the new economic ideas which inspire his work were all developed by leading and highly regarded members of the economics profession.

Ormerod, despite being a man of the left, is sceptical of human ability to predict and plan. If this is true, what is the role for government? Should it be merely a nightwatchman, defending the polity against internal and external threats, enforcing property rights and preventing crime, or should its role be much wider? Can the state intervene effectively to achieve aims that commend widespread support? Ormerod does not discuss this issue explicitly, although his stress on failure would suggest that most state intervention is pointless. For example, he argues that government attempts to alter the distribution of income have had little long-term impact....

Man accused of killing his 'gay' baby son
Ronnie Paris would shake, wet himself and vomit as his father forced him into a box and repeatedly slapped him on the head in an effort to prevent him from being gay, the child's mother, Nysheerah Paris, testified Monday. The boy was 3 years old when he died from swelling on both sides of the brain on January 28.

Others backed up the mother's testimony on the first day of the capital murder trial of Ronnie Paris Jr., 21, of Tampa, Florida. Paris is accused of physically abusing the toddler until the boy slipped into a coma.

"He was trying to teach him how to fight," the boy's aunt, Shanita Powell, told the court. "He was concerned that the child might be gay."

"He didn't want him to be a sissy," Shelton Bostic, the defendant's Bible-study friend, testified. ...

Feds: Fire was hate crime

Federal agents on Monday confirmed the weekend blaze at St. John’s Reformed United Church of Christ in Middlebrook was arson and a hate crime against the church.

“We’re looking at it as a civil rights violation,” Lawrence Barry, spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said Monday.

The arson falls in line with federal hate-crime statutes banning attacks on property “with a religious character.”

Meanwhile, investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have “definitely” ruled the Saturday morning fire as arson, said Bart McEntire, resident agent in charge of the ATF in southwest Virginia.

Scrawled on the outer brick walls of the Middlebrook church were “SINNER,” “LESB HELL” and “GAYS LOVER.” Investigators, along with St. John’s Pastor Dorcas Lohr, are convinced the graffiti refers to last week’s decision by the national United Church of Christ to endorse gay marriage. The decision is not binding on individual churches....

Dog Days of Summer
Reporter’s notebook: Amid explosions, suicide bombers and oppressive heat, an optimist reaches his breaking point.

July 16 - I’ve always been something of an optimist, but everyone has a breaking point. Mine came on Saturday as I toured the infamous “Green Zone” in central Baghdad. This fortress is quite literally the heart of the new Iraq, not to mention the only safe place in the country. Then again, maybe not. Roadblocks, blast walls and barbed wire are the most common sights in this walled-in mini-city, called the international zone, which is fitting because these days it’s guarded by soldiers from Georgia—and I don’t mean the U.S. state.

The Green Zone has changed a lot since I was last here, around 18 months ago, and so has Iraq. But from what little I’ve seen in the last 24 hours, I wonder whether it’s for the worse. The security situation has deteriorated so badly that journalists rarely venture out unless they’re embedded with U.S. soldiers. That wasn’t the case early last year, when foreigners could walk the streets outside the Green Zone, shop in local markets, and, most important to journalists, talk to the Iraqi people. Those days are long gone.

The situation inside the Green Zone is scarcely better. Heavily armed troops guard government buildings and hospitals, menacingly pointing their weapons at any one who approaches. Soldiers manning checkpoints can use deadly force against motorists who fail to heed their instructions, so the warning signs say, and I have no doubt they’d exercise that right in a heartbeat if they felt threatened. All this fear and tension, and inside a six square mile area that’s supposed to be safe.

Amid this insecurity, confusion and oppressive summertime heat, my mind keeps returning to one thing: Dick Cheney. I don’t understand how the U.S. vice president concluded recently that the insurgency terrorizing Iraq was in its “last throes.” We’re obviously not reading the same newspapers. The mere fact that there is a Green Zone should tell you something....

...Say what you will about whether the United States was justified to invade this country. We’re well into the game, and it’s too late to argue over who got the ball first. But prior to April 2003, there were no suicide bombers in Baghdad, there was 24-hour electricity and people went out at night. Now, if you drive into town from the airport, there is a legitimate possibility you will get killed. How long can the insurgents keep it up? Who knows, but they haven’t let the dust and heat of summertime Iraq stop them. Let’s just say that the insurgency doesn’t take the day off because of weather conditions....

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Christians and Terrorism
When did my departure from evangelicalism begin? On the day the war in Iraq began. Nearly each Sunday was a sorrow; each Thursday Bible study worse.

It wasn't that war was preached from the pulpit. It usually wasn't. It's that there seemed to be utter unanymity among my fellow church members that the war was right and just, beyond question or biblical challenge.

Every Sunday I opened the church bulletin to see a call to pray for our soldiers, who were "defending our freedom." Never once was there a call in print or aloud to pray for the people of Iraq.

When we would visit other churches when we were traveling it was far worse. Once I walked out in protest of the pro-war rally that the Sunday service had become.

I had stopped listening to Christian radio long before--just after September 11, when suddenly people for whom Christ died were "monsters" who deserved our deepest revenge.

Never talk of peace, never a mention of answering a curse with blessing, never a word about forgiveness or reconciliation, never a prayer for our nation's enemies.

But always unquestioning support of war and the war president.

In church. On Christian radio. Week in. Week out....

Bush honesty rating drops to lowest point
NBC/WSJ poll: Iraq replaces jobs as most important American priority

WASHINGTON - The last two weeks certainly have been eventful ones in America and across the globe: President Bush gave a prime-time speech on Iraq and attended a G-8 summit in Scotland; Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement from the Supreme Court (with perhaps another retirement on the way); and suicide bombers killed approximately 50 people in London. After these events, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that Bush’s overall job rating has slipped and that his rating for being “honest and straightforward” has dropped to its lowest point.

Regarding Bush’s upcoming pick to replace O’Connor on the court, moreover, the poll shows that strong majorities believe Bush would be taking a step in the right direction if he appointed a woman and someone who supports references to God in public life. But a majority also thinks that Bush would take a wrong step if he chose someone who would vote to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

The survey, which was conducted from July 8-11 among 1,009 adults, and which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, finds that respondents, by a 49 percent-to-46 percent margin, disapprove of Bush’s job performance. That’s a drop from the last NBC/Journal poll in May, when 47 percent approved and 47 percent disapproved. In addition, the only time when Bush’s job rating has been worse was in June 2004, when 45 percent approved of his performance. ...

...Furthermore, only 41 percent give Bush good marks for being “honest and straightforward” — his lowest ranking on this question since he became president. That’s a drop of nine percentage points since January, when a majority (50 percent to 36 percent) indicated that he was honest and straightforward. This finding comes at a time when the Bush administration is battling the perception that its rhetoric doesn’t match the realities in Iraq, and also allegations that chief political adviser Karl Rove leaked sensitive information about a CIA agent to a reporter. (The survey, however, was taken just before these allegations about Rove exploded into the current controversy.)...

Abu Ghraib Tactics Were First Used at Guantanamo
Interrogators at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, forced a stubborn detainee to wear women's underwear on his head, confronted him with snarling military working dogs and attached a leash to his chains, according to a newly released military investigation that shows the tactics were employed there months before military police used them on detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The techniques, approved by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for use in interrogating Mohamed Qahtani -- the alleged "20th hijacker" in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- were used at Guantanamo Bay in late 2002 as part of a special interrogation plan aimed at breaking down the silent detainee.

Military investigators who briefed the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday on the three-month probe, called the tactics "creative" and "aggressive" but said they did not cross the line into torture.

The report's findings are the strongest indication yet that the abusive practices seen in photographs at Abu Ghraib were not the invention of a small group of thrill-seeking military police officers. The report shows that they were used on Qahtani several months before the United States invaded Iraq.

The investigation also supports the idea that soldiers believed that placing hoods on detainees, forcing them to appear nude in front of women and sexually humiliating them were approved interrogation techniques for use on detainees.

A central figure in the investigation, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who commanded the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and later helped set up U.S. operations at Abu Ghraib, was accused of failing to properly supervise Qahtani's interrogation plan and was recommended for reprimand by investigators. Miller would have been the highest-ranking officer to face discipline for detainee abuses so far, but Gen. Bantz Craddock, head of the U.S. Southern Command, declined to follow the recommendation.

Miller traveled to Iraq in September 2003 to assist in Abu Ghraib's startup, and he later sent in "Tiger Teams" of Guantanamo Bay interrogators and analysts as advisers and trainers. Within weeks of his departure from Abu Ghraib, military working dogs were being used in interrogations, and naked detainees were humiliated and abused by military police soldiers working the night shift.

Miller declined to respond to questions posed through a Defense Department liaison. Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said it is not appropriate to link the interrogation of Qahtani -- an important al Qaeda operative captured shortly after the terrorist attacks -- and events at Abu Ghraib. Whitman said interrogation tactics in the Army's field manual are the same worldwide but MPs at Abu Ghraib were not authorized to apply them, regardless of how they learned about them.

Some of the Abu Ghraib soldiers have said they were following the directionsof military intelligence officials to soften up detainees for interrogation, in part by depriving them of sleep. Pvt. Charles A. Graner Jr., characterized as the ringleader of the MP group, was found guilty of abusing detainees and is serving 10 years in prison. Others have pleaded guilty and received lesser sentences.

The photos that caused alarm around the world included some showing the MPs sexually humiliating the detainees.

While Rumsfeld approved a list of 16 harsh techniques for use at Guantanamo on Dec. 2, 2002, most of the techniques were general and allowed for interpretation by interrogators. Many of the techniques involving humiliation were part of a standard "futility" or "ego down" approach.

"Reasonable people always suspected these techniques weren't invented in the backwoods of West Virginia," said Tom Malinowski, the Washington director of Human Rights Watch. "It's never been more clear than in this investigation."...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Baptists run amok II
...At the other extreme, the wimps lack all manly conviction and character. Robbed of ambition, moral formation, and courage, wimps "make worthless watchdogs." The wimp is incapable of living up to his responsibilities as a man, and shows no valor in his public or private life. "Many of today's young men seem to have no fight in them at all. Not for them to rescue damsels in distress from the barbarians," Moore sadly reflects. The wimp is always looking for the easiest way out of a problem.

With respect to women, barbarians demonstrate a crudeness, profanity, and violence that treats women merely as sex objects for male pleasure. Barbarians show women no respect, and are completely lacking in the manly virtues of protection and respect for the well being of women. Wimps, on the other hand, look to women for emotional support, consider girlfriends to be conversation partners, and look to women for pity. They are shameless....

Baptists run amok I
...This is because of my overall philosophy of childrearing. I am aiming to raise up violent sons.

I am not seeking to raise sons who are violent in the amoral, pagan sense of contemporary teenagers playing "Grand Theft Auto" video games or carjacking motorists. I want them to be more violent than that.

I want them to understand that the Christian life is not a Hallmark Channel version of baptized sentimentality. Instead, it is a cosmic battle between an evil dragon and the child of the woman, an ancient warfare that now includes all who belong to the Child of the Promise (Rev 12). I want them to forgive their enemies, not because they are good boys, but because they understand that vengeance against the Serpent comes not from their hand, but from that of the anointed Warrior-King (Rev 19), whose blood-soaked garments don't often transfer to the imagery of a Precious Moments wall-hanging. And I want them to exercise self-control of their passions, not because it is polite, but because they are called to struggle against the Evil One, even to the point of cutting off their own limbs rather than succumb to devices. ...

Bomb suspects 'had been arrested before'
Some of the suspected suicide bombers who attacked London last week had been arrested in 2004 but freed in a bid to catch a wider network, French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has claimed.

"It seems that part of this team had been subject to partial arrest... in Spring 2004," Sarkozy told a news conference, reportedly quoting what British Home Secretary Charles Clarke had told an emergency meeting of EU justice and home affairs ministers.

But Mr Clarke has strenuously denied the claims. ...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A Hawk Questions Himself as His Son Goes to War
...As I watched President Bush give his speech at Fort Bragg to rally support for the war the other week, I contemplated this question from a different vantage than my usual professorial perch. Our oldest son now dresses like the impassive soldiers who served as stage props for that event; he too wears crossed rifles, jump wings and a Ranger tab. Before long he will fight in the war that I advocated, and that the president was defending....

...But a pundit should not recommend a policy without adequate regard for the ability of those in charge to execute it, and here I stumbled. I could not imagine, for example, that the civilian and military high command would treat "Phase IV" -- the post-combat period that has killed far more Americans than the "real" war -- as of secondary importance to the planning of Gen. Tommy Franks's blitzkrieg. I never dreamed that Ambassador Paul Bremer and Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the two top civilian and military leaders early in the occupation of Iraq -- brave, honorable and committed though they were -- would be so unsuited for their tasks, and that they would serve their full length of duty nonetheless. I did not expect that we would begin the occupation with cockamamie schemes of creating an immobile Iraqi army to defend the country's borders rather than maintain internal order, or that the under-planned, under-prepared and in some respects mis-manned Coalition Provisional Authority would seek to rebuild Iraq with big construction contracts awarded under federal acquisition regulations, rather than with small grants aimed at getting angry, bewildered young Iraqi men off the streets and into jobs.

I did not know, but I might have guessed....

Allegations of Fake Research Hit New High
Allegations of misconduct by U.S. researchers reached record highs last year as the Department of Health and Human Services received 274 complaints _ 50 percent higher than 2003 and the most since 1989 when the federal government established a program to deal with scientific misconduct.

Chris Pascal, director of the federal Office of Research Integrity, said its 28 staffers and $7 million annual budget haven't kept pace with the allegations. The result: Only 23 cases were closed last year. Of those, eight individuals were found guilty of research misconduct. In the past 15 years, the office has confirmed about 185 cases of scientific misconduct.

Research suggests this is but a small fraction of all the incidents of fabrication, falsification and plagiarism. In a survey published June 9 in the journal Nature, about 1.5 percent of 3,247 researchers who responded admitted to falsification or plagiarism. (One in three admitted to some type of professional misbehavior.)

On the night of his 12th wedding anniversary, Dr. Andrew Friedman was terrified.

This brilliant surgeon and researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School feared that he was about to lose everything _ his career, his family, the life he'd built _ because his boss was coming closer and closer to the truth:

For the past three years, Friedman had been faking _ actually making up _ data in some of the respected, peer-reviewed studies he had published in top medical journals.

"It is difficult for me to describe the degree of panic and irrational thought that I was going through," he would later tell an inquiry panel at Harvard.

On this night, March 13, 1995, he had been ordered in writing by his department chair to clear up what appeared to be suspicious data.

But Friedman didn't clear things up.

"I did something which was the worst possible thing I could have done," he testified.

He went to the medical record room, and for the next three or four hours he pulled out permanent medical files of a handful of patients. Then, covered up his lies, scribbling in the information he needed to support his study.

"I created data. I made it up. I also made up patients that were fictitious," he testified. ...

Monday, July 11, 2005

America's neo-conservative world supremacists will fail
Current US megalomania is rooted in the Puritan colonists' certainties

...The third thread of continuity links the neo-conservatives of George Bush with the Puritan colonists' certainty of being God's instrument on earth and with the American Revolution - which, like all major revolutions, developed world-missionary convictions, limited only by the wish to shield the the new society of potentially universal freedom from the corruptions of the unreconstructed old world. The most effective way of finessing this conflict between isolationism and globalism was to be systematically exploited in the 20th century and still serves Washington well in the 21st. It was to discover an alien enemy outside who posed an immediate, mortal threat to the American way of life and the lives of its citizens. The end of the USSR removed the obvious candidate, but by the early 90s another had been detected in a "clash" between the west and other cultures reluctant to accept it, notably Islam. Hence the enormous political potential of the al-Qaida outrages of September 11 was immediately recognised and exploited by the Washington world-dominators.

The first world war, which made the US into a global power, saw the first attempt to translate these world-converting visions into reality, but Woodrow Wilson's failure was spectacular; perhaps it should be a lesson to the current world-supremacist ideologists in Washington, who, rightly, recognise Wilson as a predecessor....

A formula for unchecked power
For the most part, conservatives and libertarians have cheered the decline of the liberal media establishment over the past two decades.

But if that liberal establishment falls completely - if reporters are threatened with jail for doing their jobs - there will be occasion for second thoughts, as we are reminded that the ultimate enemy of freedom is the unchecked power of the state....

...Without question, the new media in aggregate are much more representative of the true ideological diversity of the country. So what's not to like?

Only this. The decline of the MSM has led to the rise, in terms of relative power, of the federal government. And while the institutional Right might be happy about that as long as George W. Bush is president, surely everyone who leans starboard will feel differently when, say, President Hillary Rodham Clinton sits atop the commanding heights of state power. If a right-leaning Federal Communications Commission can use "decency" as a hammer against Howard Stern today, what's to stop an imaginative lefty lawyer from smashing Rush Limbaugh tomorrow?

But the immediate flashpoint is the case of Valerie Plame, the "outed" CIA agent and wife of a former diplomat critical of U.S. policy on Iraq. In a nutshell, two reporters, Judith Miller of The New York Times and Matt Cooper of Time magazine, were threatened with jail for not revealing their sources and telling a federal prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, what they learned about Plame from the White House - perhaps from Mr. Big himself, Karl Rove.

The two reporters had tried to invoke traditional "shield" privileges, but Fitzgerald aims to pierce that shield. And the public, for its part, has seemed uninterested in the case. In an era of downsizing and market segmentation, no MSM entity has the resources to wage a long struggle against the government. Cooper has agreed to testify, while the sturdier Miller has gone to jail.

Thus the new landscape: The government is bigger and stronger than ever. The media are fragmented. It's a perfect formula for the government's divide-and-conquer strategy. So the state can curl its fist anytime it wishes, confident it can smash any single one of us, one by one by one.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Secret Plan To Quit Iraq
07/10/05 "Mail on Sunday" - - Britain And America are secretly preparing to withdraw most of their troops from Iraq - despite warnings of the grave consequences for the region, The Mail on Sunday has learned.

A secret paper written by Defence Secretary John Reid for Tony Blair reveals that many of the 8,500 British troops in Iraq are set to be brought home within three months, with most of the rest returning six months later.

The leaked document, marked Secret: UK Eyes Only, appears to fly in the face of Mr Blair and President Bush's pledges that Allied forces will not quit until Iraq's own forces are strong enough to take control of security.

If British troops pull out, other members of the Alliance are likely to follow. The memo says other international forces in Southern Iraq currently under British control will have to be handled carefully if Britain withdraws. It says they will not feel safe and may also leave.

Embarrassingly, the document says the Americans are split over the plan - and it suggests one of the reasons for getting British troops out is to save money. Mr Reid says cutting UK troop numbers to 3,000 by the middle of next year will save £500 million a year, though it will be 18 months before the cash comes through.

The document, Options For Future UK Force Posture In Iraq, is the first conclusive proof that preparations for a major withdrawal from Iraq are well advanced. ...

In dealing with the State, we ought to remember that its institutions are not
aboriginal, though they existed before we were born; that they are not superior
to the citizen; that every one of them was once the act of a single man; every
law and usage was a man's expedient to meet a particular case; that they all
are imitable, all alterable; we may make as good; we may make better."
-- Ralph Raldo Emerson - (1803-1882) Source: Essays, Second Series (1844)

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Pastor, teachers beat teen for not going to church
A PASTOR and two Bible studies teachers bashed a 19-year-old Korean woman because they thought she had been disrespectful to her parents and had stopped attending church.

Chi Yeong Yun, a junior pastor at the Open Door Presbyterian Church in Chatswood, and Bible study teachers James Kang and Tom Chae-Young Lee pleaded guilty yesterday to assaulting Angela Kim at a park at Sydney's Bobbin Head in July last year.

The NSW District Court heard the men believed the young woman had stopped going to church, had been disrespectful to her elders and had been spending too much time on her web page. ...

Friday, July 08, 2005

Paper Says Edible Meat Can be Grown in a Lab on Industrial Scale
Experiments for NASA space missions have shown that small amounts of edible meat can be created in a lab. But the technology that could grow chicken nuggets without the chicken, on a large scale, may not be just a science fiction fantasy.

In a paper in the June 29 issue of Tissue Engineering, a team of scientists, including University of Maryland doctoral student Jason Matheny, propose two new techniques of tissue engineering that may one day lead to affordable production of in vitro - lab grown -- meat for human consumption. It is the first peer-reviewed discussion of the prospects for industrial production of cultured meat.

"There would be a lot of benefits from cultured meat," says Matheny, who studies agricultural economics and public health. "For one thing, you could control the nutrients. For example, most meats are high in the fatty acid Omega 6, which can cause high cholesterol and other health problems. With in vitro meat, you could replace that with Omega 3, which is a healthy fat....

..."The challenge is getting the texture right," says Matheny. "We have to figure out how to 'exercise' the muscle cells. For the right texture, you have to stretch the tissue, like a live animal would."...

Trooper Accused Again Of Making Suspects Strip
CHICAGO -- A suspended Illinois State Police trooper was charged for the second time in less than a week for allegedly forcing people to strip while on the job.

Jeremy Dozier faces official misconduct charges, NBC5 reported.

Police said last April in Gurnee, Dozier forced two occupants of a car -- a 17-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man -- to undress and run around a construction site.

Dozier is also accused of forcing another young couple to strip on Interstate 94 last week....

Monday, July 04, 2005

Baltimore Sun
THE ARMY can't find enough recruits. Could there be a clearer expression of Americans' disenchantment with the war in Iraq?

This is democracy where it matters. No one should doubt that young Americans would willingly go to war if they believed in it. But this is a war of choice that began with fabrications and has been marked by blunders at the highest level -- blunders that have resulted in many lives lost. Over two years, the aims of this war have shifted like dunes in the desert. President Bush, moreover, has told Americans they need not make any sacrifices; to the contrary, he has pursued tax cuts. This is not inspiring. This is deceptive and dishonorable. Yet the Army expects young idealists to sign up anyway, for hazardous duty in a treacherous country, where the violence shows no signs of letting up and the generals show no signs of knowing what to do about it.

It's no surprise that the idealists are staying away. Certainly, the sons and daughters of the unimpeachably idealistic neoconservatives who prayed for the war and brayed for what they stupidly supposed was victory back in 2003 are staying as far away from it as they possibly can. So now the Army's recruiters, who reached their goal in June for the first time in five months, but still expect to fall short for the year, have another plan. ...

YRNC2005 Convention Chairman Responds to Attacks by Leftists
...The childish insults and threatened protests of these leftists reveal ignorance of, and disrespect for, the sacrifice borne by many hosted by the Convention,” Taylor continued. “Most of our members either serve, have served, or plan to serve in the United States Armed Forces, or have participated in events or projects supporting the United States Armed Forces. We will not be intimidated....

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Stain of Torture
Having served as a doctor in the Army Medical Corps early in my career and as presidential physician to George H.W. Bush for four years, I might be expected to bring a skeptical and partisan perspective to allegations of torture and abuse by U.S. forces. I might even be expected to join those who, on the one hand, deny that U.S. personnel have engaged in systematic use of torture while, on the other, claiming that such abuse is justified. But I cannot do so.

It's precisely because of my devotion to country, respect for our military and commitment to the ethics of the medical profession that I speak out against systematic, government-sanctioned torture and excessive abuse of prisoners during our war on terrorism. I am also deeply disturbed by the reported complicity in these abuses of military medical personnel. This extraordinary shift in policy and values is alien to my concept of modern-day America and of my government and profession....

Apocalyptic book series gets first video game
‘Left Behind: Eternal Forces’ to be released between December and April

SAN FRANCISCO - The first video game tied to the best-selling apocalyptic "Left Behind" book series will be released in coming months, a spokesman for Left Behind Games said Wednesday.

The PC game is titled "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" and will be released between December and April. Retail pricing was not immediately available....