In 2002, at a crucial juncture on the path to war, senior members of the Bush administration gave a series of speeches and interviews in which they asserted that Saddam Hussein was rebuilding his nuclear weapons program. Speaking to a group of Wyoming Republicans in September, Vice President Dick Cheney said the United States now had “irrefutable evidence” – thousands of tubes made of high-strength aluminum, tubes that the Bush administration said were destined for clandestine Iraqi uranium centrifuges, before some were seized at the behest of the United States.
Those tubes became a critical exhibit in the administration’s brief against Iraq. As the only physical evidence the United States could brandish of Mr. Hussein’s revived nuclear ambitions, they gave credibility to the apocalyptic imagery invoked by President Bush and his advisers. The tubes were “only really suited for nuclear weapons programs,” Condoleezza Rice, the president’s national security adviser, explained on CNN on Sept. 8, 2002. “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”
But almost a year before, Ms. Rice’s staff had been told that the government’s foremost nuclear experts seriously doubted that the tubes were for nuclear weapons, according to four officials at the Central Intelligence Agency and two senior administration officials, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity. The experts, at the Energy Department, believed the tubes were likely intended for small artillery rockets.
Note to US readers: Cooperation between countries works real good if you’re fighting terrorism.
Here’s a truly disgusting story. Kodak bought some patents from Wang in 1997. The patents cover a method by which a program can “ask for help” from another application to carry out certain functions, which is more or less what Java does. Kodak’s business is suffering from the digital revolution, so it decided to sue Sun for infringing its purchased patents. It claims that Sun pilfered its technology. The two companies worked on some joint projects together at one time that involved the same technology at issue in the lawsuit, which Sun argued was an indication of Kodak’s implied consent.
Friday, Kodak won, thanks to a patent system spinning out of control, one that is destroying creativity and innovation in the software industry.
Europe. Are you watching? Is this system what you want where you live? If you think you can have a patent system and just work around US “excesses”, think again. If you read this history of patents in the US by Bitlaw, you will see that it started small here too, and everyone tried to make the kinds of distinctions you currently are trying to craft in Europe. But look at the results here. The same thing will happen to you, if you allow patents at all on software. The excesses are part of the system as it is eventually applied by greedy individuals and companies, and you can’t legislate against greedy gaming of a system. It happens.
Think about it carefully, because this is exactly what happens when you adopt a system that rewards the Kodaks of the world for such behavior and penalizes Sun for years and years of expense and sweat and toil and creativity by robbing them of their due reward, not to mention removing any motive to ever do such innovative things again as long as they live. What happens now to Sun’s Java Desktop? It was supposed to be a cost-saving alternative to Windows. I wasn’t planning on using it, for other reasons, but some would. Now what? What impact will this decision have on the costs of that system? I don’t even want to start to think about the implications of this decision for the rest of us. Can Java go open source now, before the patent runs out? That may be sooner than Sun intended to open source it anyway, but the point is, now their code is burdened with patents and the associated costs and restrictions, and Sun doesn’t even own or control the patents.
Seriously, folks. Software patents will destroy the industry in the US. The rest of the world will out-innovate US companies, because they won’t be running with the patent ball-and-chain attached to their ankles, holding them back. Protect your software with copyright and trade secrets, but using patents for software inevitably blocks progress. If you must have it, rope it off severely so it doesn’t hurt anyone like this.
Seldom has the course of European history been changed by a non-politician’s throwaway remark in a German-language newspaper on a Wednesday in the dead of the summer doldrums. But on July 28, Princeton historian Bernard Lewis told the conservative Hamburg-based daily Die Welt that Europe would be Islamic by the end of this century “at the very latest,” and continental politics has not been the same since.
Read the rest of this entry »
The popular Hello Kitty brand — commonly found on stationery, purses, pajamas and other items for children — will soon start appearing on a new platform: a MasterCard debit card.
“Freedom! You can use the Hello Kitty Debit MasterCard to shop ’til you drop,” the card’s Web site enthuses.
The prospective audience? The young women who grew up with the 30-year-old icon — as well as much younger girls. “We think our target age group will be from 10 to 14, although it could certainly go younger,” said Bruce Giuliano, senior vice president of licensing for Sanrio Inc., which owns the brand.
By April 2004, rapes and assaults of American female soldiers were epidemic in the Middle East. But even after more than 83 incidents were reported during a six-month period in Iraq and Kuwait, the 24-hour rape hotline in Kuwait was still being answered by a machine advising callers to leave a phone number where they could be reached.
‚ÄúNobody had a telephone number, for crying out loud,‚Ä? says Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, then commanding general of the 800th Military Police Brigade, who was in Kuwait preparing to bring her unit home after running the military prisons in Iraq.
Military stupidity at its finest, or senior male brass who chose to shrug and look the other way?
Karpinski believes the latter. ‚ÄúReports of assault … were mostly not investigated because commanders had other priorities,‚Ä? Karpinski says. ‚ÄúThe attitude of Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez,‚Ä? then the ground commander in Iraq, ‚Äúpermeated the entire chain of command: The women asked to be here, so now let them take what comes with the territory.‚Ä?
Q: How many coalition partners does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
Q: No, four. You forgot Poland.
The town hall debate originated in 1992, when with the assistance of Gallup the Commission on Presidential Debates gathered a group of undecided voters in Richmond, Va. to quiz George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Ross Perot about their positions and personalities. The format was perfectly suited to Bill Clinton’s skills; he understood that viewers at home could connect with him by watching him connect with ordinary people. In what would become the debate’s signature moment, President Bush found himself unable to answer a voter’s question about how the national debt had affected him personally. Staying close to his podium, Bush struggled to figure out what she meant, finally saying with an awkward smile, “I’m not sure I get ‚Äď help me with the question and I’ll try to answer it.” When it came time for Clinton to rebut, he walked over to the woman, looked in her eyes, and said, “Tell me how it’s affected you.” The election was effectively over.
But apart from what it revealed about the candidates, the Richmond debate ‚Äď and the similar ones held in 1996 and 2000 ‚Äď proved themselves to be the best thing the Commission could offer voters, for a few reasons.
First, it turned out that ordinary citizens ask much better questions than journalists. The pre-1992 format, in which a panel of journalists would question the candidate, was dominated by efforts to play “gotcha” ‚Äď with their brief moment on the national stage, reporters often asked candidates questions of the “Have you stopped beating your wife?” variety in hopes of creating a compelling slip-up. They also focused on process, with questions about campaign strategy and tactics.
But the voters assembled for the town hall debates have done nothing of the sort. To a fault, their questions have been substantive and practical, focusing on issues and asking candidates to elaborate their positions and specify what actions they will take as president.
For Bush, this presents a problem: it’s one thing to brush off a reporter with yet another recitation of a talking point (“We’re safer… Saddam was a threat… we’re turning the corner…”), since most voters think reporters are cynics just trying to get the candidates to slip up. But doing the same thing to a voter asking for some real answers doesn’t make you look clever, it makes you look rude. Bush knows how to stay “on message” as well as any president in history, a talent that serves him well in many situations. But a town-hall debate isn’t one of them.
The second distinction of town hall debates is that citizen questioners tend to cover much greater ground than journalist questioners. While reporters ‚Äď who travel and think in a giant pack most of the time ‚Äď tend to focus on the few issues that are dominating the campaign, citizens have brought concerns to the town-hall debate that a Washington journalist might never have thought of. For instance, in the 2000 town hall debate, Bush and Gore fielded questions about national health insurance, FDA procedures for approving new drugs, education, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, military overstretch, the Brady Law, family farms, low turnout among young people, taxes, affirmative action and the death penalty. Both campaigns can predict fairly accurately what questions a journalist will ask them. But you can never tell what an ordinary citizen is going to bring up.
And this too is a problem for President Bush. To put it charitably, his facility with the details of the myriad policy issues a president confronts has its limits. The citizen questioners bring an unpredictability to debates that plays right to Bush’s weakness. As we’ve seen time and again, when Bush is forced to think on his feet the results range from the comical to the embarrassing. While some issues may allow him to fall back on tried-and-true sound bites even if he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about, the chances Bush will be thrown a curve ball ‚Äď and come out looking silly ‚Äď are fairly high.
There may be another reason Bush doesn’t want a town hall debate: the one in 2000 was his worst performance by far. Although the press didn’t interpret it this way at the time, there may not have been a debate since the Bentsen-Quayle matchup in 1988 in which one candidate so clearly outclassed his opponent. Bush came across as uninformed, confused, and at times even self-parodying. He repeatedly said the opposite of what he meant ‚Äď “If I’m the president, we’re going to have emergency room care, we’re going have gag orders… I’m not so sure 80% of the people get the death tax. I know this, 100% will get it if I’m the president.” Asked by an audience member “How will your tax proposals affect me as a middle-class, 34-year-old single person with no dependents?” Bush gave an answer about Medicare. Answering a question about health care, he said, “Insurance, that’s a Washington term.” When Gore interrupted him in one back-and-forth exchange, Bush said petulantly, “There are certain rules in this that we all agree to, but evidently rules don’t mean anything.”
In part as practice for a town hall debate, President Bush has been conducting town-hall meetings as he campaigns across the country. But these events, like all Bush appearances, are carefully restricted lest anyone who doesn’t support Bush slip through. The assembled supporters are given the opportunity to speak to the President, but they’re as likely to heap praise on him as ask a question; one said, “Mr. President, I don’t have a question, I have three thank-yous. One, thank you for your availability to serve. Two, your candle is burning brightly. And three, thanks for accepting the call and answering the call to work for what’s right in the country and in the world.” Not exactly hard-hitting ‚Äď and nothing that would help him prepare for a real town-hall debate.
Mr. President, could you please clarify your views on tribal sovereignty?
In an version of this article that was published earlier, the Communists for Kerry were portrayed as a group that was supporting John Kerry for president. FOXNews.com‚Äôs reporter asked the group‚Äôs representative several times whether the group was legitimate and supporting the Democratic candidate, and the spokesman insisted that it was.
The earlier version read:
Of course, there were some Kerry supporters in attendance who had no doubts whatever about their candidate.
“We’re trying to get Comrade Kerry elected and get that capitalist enabler George Bush out of office,” said 17-year-old Komoselutes Rob of Communists for Kerry.
“Even though he, too, is a capitalist, he supports my socialist values more than President Bush,” Rob said, before assuring FOXNews.com that his organization was not a parody group. When asked his thoughts on Washington’s policy toward Communist holdout North Korea, Rob said: “The North Koreans are my comrades to a point, and I’m sure they support Comrade Kerry, too.”
It is unclear whether the Kerry campaign has welcomed the Communists’ endorsement.
I love this bit: FOXNews.com‚Äôs reporter asked the group‚Äôs representative several times whether the group was legitimate. How about clicking the about link next time?
Tomorrow, a House-Senate conference committee will try to iron out a compromise version of a complex overhaul of corporate taxation. The stakes are high. The bill is designed to trigger the lifting of large European sanctions against American exports, which are the product of a World Trade Organization ruling against an American tax break. Because of an unrelated glom-on, the Senate version of the bill is also the vehicle for finally giving the Food and Drug Administration regulatory control over tobacco products and for setting up a program using tobacco-industry money to buy out struggling tobacco farmers. So if the conference committee behaves responsibly, it could result in legislation that would aid American industry and bring a product that kills more than 400,000 Americans per year under control.
Unfortunately, there’s another possibility — one that seems more likely at this stage. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate produced bills laden with pork for special interests. And the House version actually left out the FDA provisions, even as it included a version of the tobacco buyout paid for with billions of dollars in public money. So the result of the conference could be a hugely expensive set of tax breaks — ones that far eclipse the sanctions they will head off — combined with a betrayal of public health and a giant gimme to tobacco farmers at public expense.
Zoek de verschillen
“De Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie staat als liberale partij open voor een ieder die de overtuiging heeft dat vrijheid, verantwoordelijkheid, verdraagzaamheid, sociale gerechtigheid en de gelijkwaardigheid van alle mensen de fundamenten behoren te zijn van elke samenleving.”
Beginselen VVD (doc)
“Vrijheid, democratie, sociale rechtvaardigheid, duurzaamheid en solidariteit. Dat zijn de idealen van de sociaal-democratie.”
“Gerechtigheid, gespreide verantwoordelijkheid, solidariteit en rentmeesterschap zijn de bakens waardoor het CDA zich (…) wil laten leiden.”
“Wij streven naar een democratische, duurzame en open samenleving, waarin individuele vrijheid even vanzelfsprekend is als sociale cohesie; een samenleving waarin burgers verantwoordelijkheid willen en kunnen nemen voor zichzelf en hun omgeving; een samenleving waarin arbeid, persoonlijke ontwikkeling, vrije tijd en zorg goed te combineren zijn.”
“Het gedachtegoed van GroenLinks is gebaseerd op vier principes: duurzaamheid, rechtvaardigheid, openheid en solidariteit.”
Programma GroenLinks (pdf)
“Een samenleving waarin menselijke waardigheid, gelijkwaardigheid en solidariteit voorop staan. Daarvoor strijden we.”
The titular flag-waving force fights terrorism so ham-fistedly, they often end up destroying more than the bad guys they’re out to neutralize. As the film opens, five freedom fighters on strings swoop down on Paris to foil a terrorist event in progress. One blunder after another sets off a series of impossible chain reactions a la “Keystone Cops.” The evildoers get bloody justice, but the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and a fair number of Parisians become instant collateral damage in the process.
Shortly after another fuckup leads to tragedy within the team itself, the film’s heroes discover that Kim Jong-Il (eeeven more eeeevil than Saddam and Osama combined) is dealing weapons of mass destruction to a far-flung network of terrorists. Why? Part of a complicated plot for world domination, natch.
The Team persuades a rising Broadway star to lend his unstoppable acting technique to the cause. Their plan: penetrate the terrorists’ network, uncover the WMDs, let freedom ring, drink celebratory beers. But blunders ensue again, and the global cops must now race against time to defend humanity.
The mystery of why eyes in certain paintings and photographs appear to move has been solved: it has to do with how we perceive two and three dimensions, a new study finds.
According to a paper published in a recent issue of the journal Perception by James Todd, a professor of psychology at Ohio State University, and his colleagues, the optical illusion “is in the misleading information provided by the picture,” Todd said.
Dan Witz is one of the main inspirations behind the Wooster Collective website. It was in the days immediately following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, that we first came across Dan’s painted shrines that he placed at the bottom of a group of lampposts in our neighborhood (the West Village of New York). A little investigation lead us to Dan. After learning about his Hoodie project done back in 1994, we were hooked. (Check his website for photos). In the last few years it’s been an incredible pleasure for us to get to know Dan. Here’s his report on his “Summer Vacation”:
“for me summer’s a window, a brief envelope, time for serious street art. This year I started out all focussed and motivated and full of winter smart projects and carefully thought out artsy schemes at which I dutifully worked and toiled; I fought the good fight, not givin’ in to the ghosts of self doubt, but then sometime around July realized I wasn’t havin’ much fun and the work although sincere was startin’ to show it, so I sat back a bit and did a quick fun mini-series or two and finally, today, I finished with this piece.”… Dan
Location: not know, ottawa, ontario (CA)
After a day spent reviewing its spectacular but wild spaceflight Wednesday, aerospace visionary Burt Rutan’s team is sticking to its plan to try to capture the Ansari X Prize with a second launch on Monday.
X Prize media representative Ian Murphy said Rutan notified competition officials late Thursday afternoon that his American Mojave Aerospace squad will send its SpaceShipOne aloft as planned to take the $10 million jackpot.
Rutan picked the date, Oct. 4, because it’s the anniversary of the 1957 launch of the Soviet Union’s Sputnik I, the flight that marked the dawn of the space age. Under the X Prize rules, the American Mojave team has until 8:34 a.m. and 4 seconds PDT on Oct. 13 to complete its second flight. That’s precisely two weeks after SpaceShipOne landed Wednesday.
They deceived us about the weapons of mass destruction, that’s true. We were taken for a ride.
President Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland, March 2004.
Some people really have way too much free time. So to fill it, they edit video.
Google fails to find me any similar footage for Kerry – if any of you run into one, please mail me!
Those who appeal most on TV over the long haul are low-key and nonassertive. Enthusiasm quickly looks absurd. The form of character that‚Äôs most ingratiating on the tube, that‚Äôs most in tune with the medium itself, is laid-back, tranquil, self-contained, and self-assured. The news anchor, the talk-show host, the announcer, the late-night favorite‚ÄĒall are prone to display a sure sense of human nature, avoidance of illusion, reliance on timing and strategy rather than on aggressiveness or inspiration. With such figures, the viewer is invited to identify. On what‚Äôs called reality TV, on game shows, quiz shows, inane contests, we see people behaving absurdly, outraging the cool medium with their firework personalities. Against such excess the audience defines itself as wordly, laid-back, and wise.
Is there also a financial side to the culture of cool? I believed that I saw as much. A cool youth culture is a marketing bonanza for producers of right products, who do all they can to enlarge that culture and keep it humming. The Internet, TV, and magazines teem with what I came to think of as persona ads, ads for Nikes and Reeboks, and Jeeps and Blazers that don‚Äôt so much endorse the powers of the product per se as show you what sort of person you‚Äôll inevitably become once you‚Äôve acquired it. The Jeep ad that featured hip outdoorsy kids flinging a Frisbee from mountain top to mountaintop wasn‚Äôt so much about what Jeeps can do as it was about the kind of people who own them: vast, beautiful creatures, with godlike prowess and childlike tastes. Buy a Jeep and be one with them. The ad by itself is of little consequence, but expand its message exponentially and you have the central thrust of postmillennial consumer culture: buy in order to be. Watch (coolly) so as to learn how to be worthy of being watched (while being cool).
To the young, I thought, immersion in consumer culture, immersion in cool, is simply felt as natural. They have never known a world other than the one that accosts them from every side with images of mass-marketed perfection. Ads are everywhere: on TV, on the Internet, on billboards, in magazines, sometimes plastered on the side of the school bus. The forces that could challenge the consumer style are banished to the peripheries of culture. Rare is the student who arrives at college knowing something about the legacy of Marx or Marcuse, Gandhi or Thoreau. And by the time she does encounter them, they‚Äôre presented as diverting, interesting, entertaining‚ÄĒor perhaps as object for rigorously dismissive analysis‚ÄĒsurely not as goads to another kind of life.
As I saw it, the specter of the uncool was creating a subtle tyranny for my students. It‚Äôs apparently an easy standard to subscribe to, the standard of cool, but once committed to it, you discover that matters are different. You‚Äôre inhibited, except on ordained occasions, from showing feeling, stifled from trying to achieve anything original. Apparent expression of exuberance now seem to occur with dimming quotation marks around them. Kids celebrating at a football game ironically play the roles of kids celebrating at a football game, as it‚Äôs been scripted on multiple TV shows and ads. There‚Äôs always self-observation, no real letting-go. Students apparently feel that even the slightest departure from the reigning code can get you genially ostracized. This is a culture tensely committed to a laid-back norm.
In the current university environment, I saw, there was only one form of knowledge that was generally acceptable. And that was knowledge that allowed you to keep your cool. It was fine to major in economics or political science or sociology, for there you could acquire ways of knowing that didn‚Äôt compel you to reveal and risk yourself. There you could stay detached. And‚ÄĒwhat was at least as important‚ÄĒyou could acquire skills that would stand you in good financial stead later in life. You could use your educations to make yourself rich. All of the disciples that did not traduce the canons of cool were thriving. It sometimes seemed that everyone of my first-year advisees wanted to major in economics, even when they had no independent interest in the subject. They‚Äôd never read an economics book, had no attraction to the business pages of the Times. They wanted economics because word had it that econ was the major that made you look best to Wall Street and the investment banks. ‚ÄúWe like economics majors,‚Ä? an investment banking recruiter reportedly said, ‚Äúbecause they‚Äôre people who‚Äôre willing to sacrifice their educations to the interest of their careers.‚Ä?
The subjects that might threaten consumer cool, literary study in particular, had to adapt. They could offer diversion‚ÄĒit seems that‚Äôs what I (and Freud) had been doing‚ÄĒor they could make themselves over to look more like the so-called hard, empirically based disciplines.