All content on this blog from Tim McGhee has moved to the Tim McGhee Substack, and soon, Lord willing, will be found only on that Substack.

Friday, December 31, 2004

How five newcomers could change Senate: "Call them the five horsemen of the Republican Revolution: incoming US Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, John Thune of South Dakota, and David Vitter of Louisiana.

"Their arrival in the US Senate next week gives a powerful boost to both fiscal and social conservatives on issues ranging from judicial nominations and abortion rights to tax reform. It also tips the number of former House members in the Senate to 52 percent—the first time it has passed a majority. More than just an additional five GOP votes, they bring a hard-driving style and ideological focus that is at odds with the collegial culture of the Senate."

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Inauguration Requires Boost In Bandwidth: "Preparing wireless networks for an event like next month's presidential inauguration has become as critical as erecting the barricades and ordering the party platters.

"Several hundred thousand VIPs, protesters, police officers and onlookers are expected to make cellular calls on Jan. 20 from along the parade route, convention halls and hotel lobbies in and around the District. They'll also be sending pictures, messages and e-mail—all of which create a heavy volume of wireless traffic that eats up network capacity.

"To make sure everyone gets a share of the wireless signal, cell phone companies—like seasoned caterers—must estimate attendance and make sure there's enough to go around. When necessary, they're ordering backup."
Amateur Radio "Saved Lives" in South Asia: "As governments and relief organizations attempt to gauge the scale of death and devastation from the December 26 South Asia earthquake and tsunami and to aid the victims, Amateur Radio operators throughout the stricken region are offering their services as emergency communicators."

"Victor Goonetilleke, 4S7VK, president of the Radio Society of Sri Lanka (RSSL), reports that 'uncomplicated short wave' radio saved lives.

"'Ham radio played an important part and will continue to do so,' he said in an e-mail relayed to ARRL. Goonetilleke said that even Sri Lanka's prime minister had no contact with the outside world until Amateur Radio operators stepped in. 'Our control center was inside the prime minister's official house in his operational room,' he recounted. '[This] will show how they valued our services.'

"Goonetilleke reports that even satellite phones failed, and only the Amateur Radio HF link remained open. One problem: Batteries were running out, and there are no generators to recharge them."

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Martinez awaits mobile office: "Like many of his constituents back in sunny Florida, U.S. Sen.-elect Mel Martinez and his staff will spend the winter in a mobile home, modest digs in a great location."

"His skeleton staff shares a copier and conference room with other new senators. After Martinez takes the oath Jan. 4, he will move next door, into a trailer in the courtyard of the Russell building—modest accommodations for a former U.S. Cabinet secretary representing the nation's fourth most populous state.

"But like thousands of snowbirds who descend on cramped trailer parks across Florida each winter, it's the location, not the quarters, that counts: It will be just across Constitution Avenue from the U.S. Capitol.

"His office will remain there until February or March, when he's assigned a permanent space in one of the Senate buildings. Meanwhile, Martinez has been interviewing candidates for his Florida director, who will be based at his main office in Orlando. He also plans to open offices in Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Pensacola.

"His total staff in Washington and Florida will number about 50."

"Though Martinez served as President Bush's housing secretary for three years before returning to Orlando to run for the Senate, when determining seniority, former House members get priority over former Cabinet secretaries. So of the nine new senators, Martinez ranks above only two, which puts him 98th in seniority among the 100 members.

"But Florida is an important state politically, and Martinez has strong ties to the White House. Last week, he was appointed to four committees that often handle issues affecting Florida: banking, energy, aging and foreign relations.

"In January, he is scheduled to accompany a congressional fact-finding trip to Israel. Martinez, the nation's first Cuban-American senator, said he was thrilled to win the foreign relations spot.

"'Having come from the tyranny and dictatorship of Castro's Cuba as a child, I hold nothing more dear than the American principles of freedom, democracy and human rights,' he said in a statement. 'I look forward to working with (the committee) to both further America's values and ideals around the world and ensure the safety of all Americans at home.'"

Monday, December 27, 2004

They Won't Stand on Common Ground: "Among the droves of conservative Christian lobbyists arguing their points of view in Washington, one relatively little-known group has a simple formula for setting itself apart from the crowd: Don't give an inch.

"Concerned Women for America always takes the most uncompromising positions. The group, founded 25 years ago in San Diego, almost never settles for half a loaf. And at the first hint of backsliding, it attacks its conservative comrades with the same fury it unleashes on liberals."

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Two Proponents of Life Are Tapped for Senate Judiciary Panel: "Senate Republican leaders yesterday appointed two of Congress's most outspoken antiabortion members to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is bracing for potentially bruising hearings on nominations to the Supreme Court.

"Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Sen.-elect Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) will join the panel's eight returning Republicans next month, assuming the Republican Conference follows tradition and approves the leadership's committee assignments for all 55 GOP senators. The breakdown of Judiciary will be 10 Republicans and eight Democrats."
Choosing Your First Radio: "Ham radio is an exciting hobby—and there is a lot more to it than just talking on the radio.

"Amateur radio provides a framework that supports a wide variety of interests. With amateur radio as a resource and guide you can • experiment with digital communications and RF/Internet gateways, you can • design and build electronic devices and talk to stations in outer space. You can • study propagation and atmospheric conditions or listen to interstellar signals created by the explosion of stars and much more. Of course, • communications is an important part of the amateur radio world. Meeting new people around town and around the world is tremendous fun.

"Whatever your interests and goals, amateur radio can provide value to your endeavors.

"The very versatility that makes ham radio so interesting can also cause problems. As a new ham or even as an experienced operator trying out a new aspect of the hobby, the huge amount of information available can be difficult to sort through. The Internet can be a valuable tool but with so many people giving conflicting advice, how do you know what's right? That's where this paper comes in. My goal is to give the new ham some basic, general information on radio types, their pros and cons and the ways that they can be used."
Ancient and Modern: "Whatever one thinks of the EUtopia that is Neil Kinnock's pension, the EU does not in these respects work like Rome. The order of the day is not conquest for the sake of self-enrichment, but international treaty obligations voluntarily entered into by expanding numbers of member states under the guidance of a wise and benign autocracy in Brussels, working in everyone's interests, leading to peace and prosperity for all.

"That may be a EUphemism for voluntary tyranny, but it is at least voluntary. There was nothing voluntary about Rome; and if one of the outcomes of the Roman empire was peace and prosperity over wide areas for long periods of time (and it was), that was not a vision that had turned Rome into an imperial power in the first place, though Romans were well aware that an empire without it was in the long term ungovernable. The break-up of the Roman empire in the West, however, does indeed provide food for thought.

"Foreign incursions into the Roman West began in the 3rd century ad. After a number of scares they were dealt with or petered out, but it was now clear that the empire was vulnerable to serial attack, and the last hundred years of the Roman empire in the West is the story of Rome’s relationship with 'barbarians'—the various Germanic Goths and non-Germanic Huns looking to settle within its domain. (The Eastern, 'Greek' half of the empire based in Constantinople/Istanbul, which had emerged as a separate entity after 395, survived as the Byzantine empire till 1453.)

"The problem Rome faced was: do we fight to keep the barbarians out, or are we prepared to make concessions? Being pragmatists, they compromised."

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

NASA to Smack a Comet: "NASA is on a collision course with a comet, and scientists say they can't wait to see what happens.

"The collision, which is to take place between a projectile fired from the space agency's Deep Impact spacecraft and a 4-mile-wide comet known as Tempel 1, is scheduled for July 4, 2005."
Wired News: NASA to Smack a Comet: "NASA is on a collision course with a comet, and scientists say they can't wait to see what happens.

"The collision, which is to take place between a projectile fired from the space agency's Deep Impact spacecraft and a 4-mile-wide comet known as Tempel 1, is scheduled for July 4, 2005."
Space Station Crew Gets Ready for Christmas: "The Expedition 10 crew is spending this week getting ready for the Christmas arrival of resupply spacecraft, while continuing research and maintenance activities aboard the International Space Station.

"Commander Leroy Chiao and Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov, a third of the way through their planned six-month mission, also put the Station's 58-foot robotic arm through its paces. They installed cables and a switching unit for the docking system that will guide the European Space Agency-provided Automated Transfer Vehicle to docking when it makes its maiden voyage next year."

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Miller to honor Swift Boat veterans at conservatives' gathering: "For one night only, it'll be spitballs and Swift Boats together on the same stage—a who's who of Sen. John Kerry bashing.

"The American Conservative Union on Thursday announced it has tapped Sen. Zell Miller, D-Ga., to present the 'Courage Under Fire' award to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth at the Conservative Political Action Conference's Feb. 18 banquet.

"Miller and the group of Vietnam veterans were behind perhaps the campaign's two fiercest and most memorable attacks on Kerry's unsuccessful presidential bid."

"At a post-election forum Wednesday in Boston, Mary Beth Cahill, Kerry's campaign manager, said she regretted underestimating the impact of the Swift Boat ads."

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Democrats and Abortion: The Democratic Party "entertains no doubts and counters reasonable questions and qualms with slogans—a woman's right to choose, for instance. The party is downright inhospitable to abortion opponents. Therefore, it was good Sunday to hear Howard Dean—both a physician and pro-choice—say on 'Meet the Press' that 'I have long believed that we ought to make a home for pro-life Democrats.'

"Dean may make a run for chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and so what he says could matter. As it is now, being pro-choice is a litmus test for all Democrats, especially their presidential candidates. It is almost inconceivable that a Democratic candidate could voice qualms about abortion. It's almost inconceivable, though, that the candidates don't have them."

Monday, December 13, 2004

A Senator Is Born: "Tom Coburn is proud of the number of babies he has delivered, many of them on weekends while serving in the House of Representatives. But his participation in the miracle of life can't compete with his much-more-miraculous ability to walk on water. No one has actually seen him skip lightly across the waves, but after his remarkably thorough job of burning bridges at the close of his stint in the House, walking on water is the only way Coburn could have made it back across the Potomac."

"'I don't think now is the right time for me to comment on filibusters,' he says to a question about a possible rules change that will have to be entertained on the first day of the session. But it was pretty clear what he thought about filibusters in 1999 in the House, when he staged what amounted to one of his own. He and fellow term-limiter Mark Sanford (now governor of South Carolina) offered 115 amendments to the agriculture bill, and succeeded in changing the way costs of appropriations bills were calculated before passage.

"Asked what his legislative priorities are, he is vague: 'Build the staff. Get to know the people. Get to talk to people. Get out there and show people that I am not the villain that they think I am right now.'"
Doctor's Order: "Tom Coburn has been here before, he can do this. During the four-day orientation for new senators, he can play the good student, sit through lectures by his soon-to-be colleagues on what they think is important, Washington words like 'bipartisanship' and 'ethics rules,' be instructed like a third-grader on how to make friends with the other team.

"When the 'Marvelous Seven' new Republican senators are introduced to the media, reporters ignore the others and swarm around Coburn like bees to soda pop, waiting for him to fizz. But he is prepared. Dr. Coburn, what about partial birth abortion? they ask the senator-elect from Oklahoma. Dr. Coburn, what about gay marriage? What about values, Dr. Coburn?

"But he resists unleashing one of his prophetic warnings from the campaign about 'rampant lesbianism' or abortion doctors getting the death penalty or the venality of your average Washington politician. Instead, he says he'll be cautious, observant, collegial: 'I promise you I'll be sleeping every night with that rule book,' he says, meaning 'Riddick's Senate Procedure,' a 1,500-page manual.

"'Dr. Coburn, how long do you think you can keep that up?' one exasperated reporter finally asks.

"The answer is, about as long as it takes to get back to Muskogee, back to his homey closet of a doctor's office, to his reclining mahogany chair, to his mug of tea and pictures of his grandchildren and framed fragments of Scripture and all the quiet comforts that let him hear his own voice again.

"The rules they learned in the orientation session on ethics? 'Ridiculous,' he says. 'Crazy.' He can fly his wife home from Washington with frequent-flier miles, but not to Washington. He can dine with a lobbyist, but only once. 'Just think about it,' he says. 'I'm 56 years of age. I've had three jobs, raised three kids. If somebody can buy my vote for a dinner, I shouldn't be here in the first place.

"'I'm just going to ignore all that and do what I think is ethically right and aboveboard. And I suspect that's what everyone else does, too.'

"Ahhh. Tom Coburn is really back. You can hear the collective sigh of relief from those political junkies who have been secretly dreading four more years of the same dull party discipline.

"On election night, while most of us hung on Ohio, Joe Scarborough watched as Coburn's lead against Democrat Brad Carson grew by one point, then five, then 12. Suddenly, the former congressman, now host of his own MSNBC show, felt that old thrill run through him.

"'Good God,' he recalls thinking. 'May God help the leadership of the Republican Senate. I just can't imagine. I can't imagine how much fun it's going to be to watch Tom Coburn go after his own.'"

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Country doc has the cure for what ails Congress: "Ever hear of Dr. Tom Coburn? A major source book for conservative curtailment of federal spending should be an invaluable book written last year by this country doctor from Muskogee, Okla. He was elected to the U.S. House and became a burr under the GOP saddle. The establishment threatened him, but they couldn't touch him because he was determined to respect term limits. After two years off, Coburn won election last month to the U.S. Senate. Coburn's book is Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders into Insiders (WND Books)."

Friday, December 3, 2004

Once upon a time I was a dues-paying member of (at a non-promotional rate of $50/month) for one month. They've missed me ever since. Upon receiving another reminder of promotional savings (four days after the previous), I sent them a few questions.


TO: eHarmony

Your "extended" offer, that I've received about once a month all year long, has yet to cease confusing me. It states three things:

(1) Normally, "a single month of eHarmony is $49.95."
(2) I get "3 Months for the Price of 1."
(3) This promo is "3 months at half-off our regular rate."

But a couple of my calculations don't add up to your math:

(a) 3 months for $49.95 works out to $16.65 per month.
(b) Half of $49.95 is about $24.98.

So, how is this promotion "half-off our regular rate"?

Here's another calculation that doesn't add up for me all that well:

(1) eHarmony has "10,000 people a day joining."
(2) eHarmony also has "10 couples a day" writing to tell you "they are engaged or married."

So, either this is a cruel analogy for our generation to the problems with Social Security, or the odds are really stacked against you. Again we turn to the abacus:

(a) 10 couples per day are hooking up
(b) 1 couple equals 2 people
(c) Thus, 500 people join for every 1 person that gets married.

So, does that mean we've got a 1 in 500 chance for success on eHarmony? Or, do the odds work out a lot better after one loyally pursues the full "12 month program"?

Either way, clearly eHarmony is doing well. Congratulations on your staggering success: 10,000 people x $50/month = $500,000 DAILY in new additional revenue. $500,000/day x 30 compounded days in just one month = $15,000,000. Wow.

Now, the earliest eHarmony message I have with the 10,000 figure is dated February 24th. If I add in the half million dollars a day since then (let's be conservative), we end up near a nice round $142 million. Truly impressive.

[Now that I think about it, that's JUST the revenue from NEW members for only one month—just like me. How many of those folks continue for any time at all with the intended year-long program??]

Some people would have probably stopped somewhere around there and said, "I've made my wad; time to build a nice house." Others might look at that and say, "Clearly we have enough for a nationwide television and radio ad campaign!"

Now I understand those TV commercials I've been seeing! Then again, my math could be wrong.

Thursday, December 2, 2004

School Bus Driver Fired for Stem Cell Talk: "An elementary school bus driver was fired after sharing a statistic she had read about embryonic stem cell research with students, then encouraging them to tell their parents about it.

"Julianne Thompson, 42, told students in November that actor Mel Gibson had said in an article that embryonic stem cell research had not produced a single human cure in 23 years.

"Some parents complained and school officials in the Buffalo suburb fired the driver."

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Zooming in on Brian Williams: "Brian Williams is … succeeding Tom Brokaw on NBC Nightly News, a historic network changing of the guard that will occur Dec. 2."

"'It's the ultimate subjective business,' says Williams, 45. 'We put ourselves on the line and say, 'Please invite us into your home,' and everyone is free to have at it. That's one of the great things about a democracy. People are completely entitled to their opinions, and I go home after the broadcast and go to sleep at night. My wife and children seem to like me quite a bit, and as long as that is true—people find this amazing—I'm really OK.'"

"After spending much of the past year on the road, Williams says, his game plan as anchor of the No. 1-rated U.S. newscast is simple.

"'I've got to get out a lot,' he says. 'The New York-Washington axis can be a journalist's worst enemy. Stories have a funny way of sneaking up on you, and the American people have a funny way of deciding what their reality is. You've got to spend a night in Dayton and Toledo and Cincinnati and Denver and in the middle of Kansas.'"
Rev. Billy Graham, still crusading at 86: "In a venue better known for football than fundamentalism, 78,000 people crowded inside the Rose Bowl this past Friday night—not to see a rock star, but 86-year-old Reverend Billy Graham, recovering from a broken pelvis, who many fear they won't get to see again."
Blowing the whistle on fraud against government yields big rewards: "Crime may not pay, but blowing the whistle on companies that swindle the government sure can.

"Jim Alderson got $20 million in one settlement and split $100 million with another whistleblower in a related case, both involving Medicare fraud by the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain and a company it acquired.

"Once facing a wrecked career and no pension, Alderson, 58, now owns houses in Plano, Texas, and Whitefish, Mont., drives a new Thunderbird and has established a charitable foundation with the money he received. While his pastures became greener after long legal battles, blowing the whistle was no easy ride into the sunset.

"'You risk everything when you do it,' he said.

"Alderson is among the beneficiaries of a law passed nearly two decades ago that encourages whistleblowers to come forward by promising them up to a quarter of the money recovered by the government.

"Since its inception, the False Claims Act has generated $12 billion for the federal treasury and more than $1 billion for hundreds of whistleblowers."

"Established during President Lincoln's time, the law was later gutted. But it was strengthened in 1986 to help identify contractors guilty of defrauding the government."
Firefighters See Shifts: "Thanks to better building codes and education efforts, the number of fires across the country has plummeted in the past two decades. At the same time, the number of medical calls has risen sharply, a reflection of an aging population. And in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, there is a heightened emphasis, especially in Washington, on dealing with biological and chemical hazards.

"The changing demands have altered the job and culture of firefighting, a profession steeped in centuries of tradition and extolled in books and films that chronicle heroic rescues from burning buildings. Because fire stations are located throughout communities and ambulances are often overtaxed, firefighters are increasingly tapped for medical duties. In more serious cases, they are called upon to stabilize patients until ambulances arrive.

"Some even wonder if firefighters should be called firefighters anymore."
This NASA satellite image released 27 October 2004 shows a plume of ash (Brown) from an eruption 24 October of the Manam Volcano(Lower-R), located in the Bismarck Sea across the Stephan Strait from the east coast of mainland Papua New Guinea(AFP/NASA-HO/File) (Click for Large Photo)Evacuation of volcano-hit Papua New Guinea island gets underway: "An urgent evacuation of around 9,000 villagers from Papua New Guinea's remote Manam Island got underway amid fears the the island's volcano was on the verge of a major eruption, officials said.

"The first batch of hundreds of islanders were taken off the island by container boat in the morning, an official coordinating the evacuation told AFP from the remote community of Bogia, where the islanders are to be taken.

"'It is on its way to Bogia,' disaster relief official John Bivi said, when asked about the boat's progress. He said the islanders were in relatively good shape despite the lack of food."

6:30 pm - 7:30amVolcanic activity interrupts work: "The Bible teaching and translation ministries of missionaries Alton and Cheryl Shady have been interrupted by a volcanic eruption.

"Residents of Manam Island have begun to evacuate after an eruption Tuesday night that threw ash up to 6 miles (10 kilometers) in the air.

"Alton and Cheryl do not see any immediate danger for their Zogari village area, but are concerned by some of the panic they see around them."
Hong Kong's hi-tech haven: "For decades the latest technology has always found a natural home on Hong Kong's shores. With new competition from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong has reacted by setting up an hi-tech business hub with superfast wireless internet access.

"A technology war is being waged between Hong Kong and its big brother China.

"China, which has been watching and learning from the former colony's success, has a battle plan involving Beijing and Shanghai as major draw cards for hi-tech businesses wanting to be at the heart of the China boom.

"And the Hong Kong Government has responded swiftly."

Friday, November 19, 2004

The Rise and Fall of the Mayan Empire: "Sever and co-worker Dan Irwin have been looking at satellite photos and, in them, Sever spotted signs of ancient drainage and irrigation canals in swamp-like areas near the Mayan ruins.

Today's residents make little use of these low-lying swamps (which they call 'bajos,' the Spanish word for 'lowlands'), and archeologists had long assumed that the Maya hadn't used them either. During the rainy season from June to December, the bajos are too muddy, and in the dry season they're parched. Neither condition is good for farming.

IKONOS satellite image revealing linear features that may have been Mayan irrigation canals. Image courtesy NASA/MSFC.

Sever suspects that these ancient canals were part of a system devised by the Maya to manage water in the bajos so that they could farm this land. The bajos make up 40% of the landscape; tapping into this vast land area for agriculture would have given the Maya a much larger and more stable food supply. They could have farmed the highlands during the wet season and the low-lying bajos during the dry season. And they could have farmed the bajos year after year, instead of slashing and burning new sections of rain forest."

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Dr. Tom CoburnA mover and shaker comes to the Senate: "Dr. Tom Coburn … may be the most unswerving conservative in the new Senate that convenes on Jan. 3."

"When one thinks of Coburn, a fiscal hawk and an outspoken abortion foe, and his effect on the Senate, the expectation might be: 'buckle your seat belts, ladies and gentlemen, turbulence ahead.'

"Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., wants to curb the Senate tradition of the filibuster when Democrats use it to block judicial nominees, but Coburn said Monday when it comes to pork-barrel spending, he considers the filibuster a legitimate way to stop it.

"'The history of the Senate shows that on economic issues, the filibuster can at least prolong the debate,' he noted.

"He added that it was 'premature right now to say whether that ought to be utilized' and implied that a filibuster on spending measures won't be needed if the Senate leadership does its job in writing sensible appropriations bills."

"Mastering the rules
"At the press conference where Coburn and other newly-elected GOP senators spoke, they were introduced by Sen. George Allen of Virginia, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who said, 'This is the advice I would give to you all: the Senate worships process—remember the common sense that you heard from people in South Carolina, North Carolina…. Oklahoma—real people in the real world think that if a nominee gets over 50 percent of the vote, that nominee is confirmed.'

"But Coburn knows that the Senate's 'process'—mastery of its rules—may be the key to his hopes of restraining spending and passing conservative social legislation.

"'My goal is to learn the rules as well as Robert Byrd,' he said, referring to the 45-year veteran West Virginia Democrat who has been steeped in the Senate's traditions and procedural minutiae longer than anyone.

"'I promise you I will be sleeping every night with that book,' Coburn said, referring to former parliamentarian Floyd Riddick’s compilation of Senate precedents. 'And I'm reading the history of the Senate to see how the rules are used, because I'm going to use the rules. That's how you get things done, and whoever knows the rules gets the most done.'

"Coburn did make some conciliatory sounding statements Monday: 'I have a reputation that precedes me that's not necessarily reflective,' he said. 'I don't want to enhance that (reputation) and I don't want to alienate anybody that I might have to work with.'

"Some Senate observers had thought Coburn might be kept in restraint by a veteran chief of staff, but Coburn has chosen Michael Schwartz, a social conservative who recently served as vice president for government relations of the advocacy group Concerned Women for America."

"Perhaps one reason Coburn is not afraid to take risks is that he is a two-time cancer survivor, having melanoma in 1975 and colon cancer last year.

"'I didn't do this (run for the Senate) because I necessarily wanted to come back up here, I did this because I thought I was supposed to,' he explained Monday, attributing his decision to 'an impression in my spiritual life that that was something I should do.'"

Thursday, November 4, 2004

Monday, November 1, 2004

The Battle for America: "A battle for America is being waged in our public life in these crucial days. It is more obvious than ever that the spiritual war for the soul of the nation has reached a point of serious escalation. The outcome will likely affect our national life for decades to come."

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The second presidential debate: "ELIZABETH LONG: Senator Kerry, thousands of people have already been cured or treated by the use of adult stem cells or umbilical cord stem cells. However, no one has been cured by using embryonic stem cells.

"Wouldn't it be wise to use stem cells obtained without the destruction of an embryo?

"KERRY: You know, Elizabeth, I really respect your— the feeling that's in your question. I understand it. I know the morality that's prompting that question, and I respect it enormously.

"But like Nancy Reagan, and so many other people— you know, I was at a forum with Michael J. Fox the other day in New Hampshire, who's suffering from Parkinson's, and he wants us to do stem cell, embryonic stem cell.

"And this fellow stood up, and he was quivering. His whole body was shaking from the nerve disease, the muscular disease that he had.

"And he said to me and to the whole hall, he said, 'You know, don't take away my hope, because my hope is what keeps me going.'"

1 Thessalonians 2: "What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?"

John Kerry: "Chris Reeve is a friend of mine. Chris Reeve exercises every single day to keep those muscles alive for the day when he believes he can walk again, and I want him to walk again."

Matthew 11: "When John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, 'Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?'

"Jesus answered and said to them, 'Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.'"

Thursday, October 7, 2004

H.J.Res. 106: "Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to marriage."

"Marriage in the United States shall consist solely of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman."

Roll Call 484 of September 30, 2004: Failed with 227 Yea, 186 Nay, 20 not voting. Two thirds are required for passage.

The 435 members of the House of Representatives fell 63 votes shy of the 290 needed for passage.

Vote Analysis: by state
R's—191 Yea, 27 Nay, 9 Not voting
D's—36 Yea, 158 Nay, 11 Not voting
I's—1 Nay
'We still haven't had that nightmare scenario ...': "Four hurricanes strike Florida in six weeks, killing scores, causing widespread destruction and forcing the most massive emergency response in federal history. It's hard to imagine things being any worse. Yet that is exactly what keeps National Hurricane Center director Max Mayfield awake at night."

"The nightmare he envisions doesn't involve multiple hurricanes. Just one, a sleepy little thing born off the coast of Africa that sputters within range of Florida at nightfall, as people are turning off their TV sets and heading to bed.

"Then, during the night, it intensifies rapidly and abruptly changes course. As dawn approaches, Florida awakens to a monster hurricane, barreling toward a populace that is completely unprepared.

"'We still haven't had that nightmare scenario where people go to bed prepared for a Category 1 hurricane and wake up to a Category 4,' Mayfield says. 'That's going to happen one of these days, and it's going to be devastating.'"

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

When staff can be more dangerous than hackers: "Companies here more concerned with preventing computer viruses from attacking them, are neglecting their biggest information security threats—their employees and business partners."
Virginia Gets New Tech Chief: "After nearly three years as deputy secretary of technology for the commonwealth of Virginia, Eugene Huang next week will step up to be Gov. Mark Warner's top technology adviser. Technology Secretary George Newstrom will resign Oct. 1 to 'explore other opportunities,' Warner said Tuesday at the state's IT symposium.

"Huang becomes the third technology secretary in Virginia's history. Gov. Jim Gilmore, Warner's predecessor, established the cabinet-level position to serve as the governor's top technology-policy adviser.

"Huang is prepared to carry out Virginia's two key missions with regard to technology, Warner said in a statement E-mailed to InformationWeek. The first is to • spend for and manage IT on an enterprisewide basis in government operations, making the most effective and efficient use of taxpayer dollars. The second is • understanding how a knowledge-based economy affects citizens' lives."
Washington Update, September 28: "Every other September, Congress involves itself in what the media likes to call 'election year politics' by voting on issues that are actually important to the American voter.

"This tactic is effectively being used this year. Politicians are having election year conversions on issues that are popular with the American people such as tax cuts, the Pledge of Allegiance and religious liberties.

"This week, in the House of Representatives, we will see where both sides stand on the protection of marriage."

Sunday, September 26, 2004

1 Corinthians 7:
"You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men."
Savvy Web Surfers Catch New Wave of Browsers: "Since Microsoft won the browser wars in the late 1990s, its Internet Explorer software has been the way most people surf the Web. But with some slick new challengers on the scene, that may be about to change.

"While Internet Explorer has remained largely unchanged for years, alternative Web browsers like Opera, Apple Computer's Safari and especially Firefox are wowing users with innovative features and the promise of increased protection from hackers.

"Firefox rose from the ashes of Netscape, the first popular Web browser, which kick-started the dot-com boom before being vanquished by Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Netscape was then purchased by America Online, which donated the software's code to the non-profit Mozilla Foundation."

"Most estimates put Internet Explorer's overall market share at about 95 percent. But a shift can also been seen among the early adopter crowd, which picks up on technology trends months or years before the mainstream."

"Among the alternative browsers, only Firefox is open-source, which means that any computer programer can burrow into its code and add customized add-ons to automatically check an e-mail account, control a digital music player, and enable searches of Google,, eBay and the Internet Movie Database.

"There are also some more advanced features that will probably appeal only to advanced users, like the ability to view RSS feeds—short text digests of Web sites—in the bookmarks menu."
'Wikis' Offer Knowledge-Sharing Online: "Taran Rampersad didn't complain when he failed to find anything on his hometown in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Instead, he simply wrote his own entry for San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago.

"Wikipedia is unique for an encyclopedia because anybody can add, edit and even erase. And the Wikipedia is just one—albeit the best known—of a growing breed of Internet knowledge-sharing communities called Wikis."

"There are Wiki cookbooks, a compendium of quotations and a repository on guitar players. College professors use Wikis to spur discussion. Software developers create online manuals. Small teams within businesses track projects, exchange ideas and list good places for lunch.

"Wikis have the power to change how we live and work, replacing e-mail as a tool of collaboration and spanning hierarchies."

"Wikis, based on the Hawaiian word 'wiki wiki' for 'quick,' grew out of programmer Ward Cunningham's desire for a new way to discuss software design. He launched the first Wiki in 1995. Thousands more followed, including Wikipedia in 2001."

"At Wikipedia, any visitor can make changes without needing to first prove expertise. This month, it surpassed 1 million articles, including 350,000 in English—three times that of the online Encyclopedia Britannica. More than 25,000 people have written or edited at least 10 articles."

"Where Wikis can truly take off are in corporate and organizational settings."

"Technically, a Wiki's attraction is in its efficiency. Unlike e-mail and discussion boards, which tend to involve back-and-forth exchanges and lots of attachments, Wikis permit changes directly to the main document."

"Setting up a Wiki typically means running a Web server and installing such software as TWiki or MediaWiki, though companies like Socialtext Inc. offer hosted services and are developing easier-to-use software aimed at businesses.

"Perhaps the biggest hurdle is cultural. Corporations are accustomed to hierarchy and control."

"All changes are recorded, so reversions are easy. Though vandals aren't easily banished—they can reconnect anonymously from another computer—a single troublemaker cannot keep up with 100 users set on preserving the community."

"Contributors say the potential for vandalism is outweighed by the speed and breadth of the end product."

cluetrain manifesto, Thesis #7: "Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy."
Imagine no Liberals

The lure of the North Woods: "It was a miserable morning, too cold for July, even for July in the North Woods. Steam rose from Van Vliet Lake. There was drizzle. There was wind, soft but eye-watering nonetheless.

"Tim Bowler tried to keep the boat in coves the wind couldn't penetrate and where he had seen musky before and hoped to rouse one again.

"'Cast with the wind,' my guide said, but then the wind would pierce the shelter and it would swirl, and the waves would become confused, and casting—even with a lure heavy enough to bludgeon Shamu the killer whale into submission—would turn comical.

"He would move the boat to another section of the lake, and things would improve for a while, and then the wind would find us yet again, and we would move again. No fish. 'You don't see any of the locals out here today,' he said. 'Usually on a morning like this, you'd see a couple of boats. 'You couldn't have picked a worse day for this.'

"He looked toward the sky. 'A bald eagle,' he said. And the day, suddenly, wasn't so miserable at all."

"This is Wisconsin's North Woods. Geographically it's roughly the upper third of the state. People will tell you it begins around the town of Tomahawk, about a six-hour drive from Chicago, and that seems to be where farmland cedes to lakes and forests for those coming up U.S. Highway 51 through Portage and Stevens Point and Wausau.

"But where it begins and how far it extends and where it isn't and where it ends isn't the point. Even the towns—and there are towns—hardly matter.

"Minocqua, no longer quaint, has stoplights, a major hospital, franchise restaurants and lodgings, even a Wal-Mart.

"'You can go to a Wal-Mart anyplace,' concedes Loren Anderson, who founded and runs the Snowmobile Hall of Fame 30 minutes east in St. Germain. 'But what you can't do is go to Wal-Mart, then walk a couple of hundred feet, throw a hook in a lake and fish. That's what we have up here.'

"Aside from semi-bustling Minocqua and Eagle River and Hayward (and, up north, Ashland and Bayfield), Wisconsin's North Woods is mainly thousands of lakes—literally thousands, with world-class fishing—linked by county roads named B and L and K and W and the rest of the alphabet. Most of the backroads, some just wide enough to allow two Mini Coopers to pass side by side and not all of them paved, have names that end in Lake: Big. Crab. Star."
Disasters and Dreams: "One clear, blue-sky day in June 1999, a giant oak crashed into Julie and Robert Breon's little ranch-style Winter Park home.

"One year and seven months later, they moved back to the same address into a Mediterranean-style house twice as big as the house the tree had made uninhabitable. Only two walls and two rooms of the original home remained in the new house.

"The Breons did what many residents now faced with hurricane-damaged homes may be considering—instead of just repairing their old house, rebuilding it differently or bigger and certainly more hurricane-resistant.

"With interest rates low and the workers already on site, it makes sense. Making the improvements all at once can be cost effective, say builders, and you already have been inconvenienced and may be out of your house anyway."
Sanford businesses mired in a funk: "Forces of nature have collided with market forces in downtown Sanford, and the results have been as ugly as the construction work that has torn up the city's main street.

"Hurricanes Charley and Frances demolished many business' profits in August and September. Now, it looks like Hurricane Jeanne could cut even further into their normally lucrative weekend business.

"But shop owners and restaurateurs in downtown Sanford have struggled with obstacles before and since the hurricanes. They have endured a triple whammy: • the storms, which forced them to close up shop; • the closing of First Street to traffic for a streetscape project; and • National Weather Service predictions that the rising St. Johns River would cause 'major flood damage in Sanford' earlier this week."

Friday, September 24, 2004

Weary Floridians prepare for another onslaught: "Storm weary state emergency planners today said they have begun rushing shipments of ice, water, food and generators to supply depots on the east coast in preparation for Hurricane Jeanne."

3-Day Forecast Track"The only other time four hurricanes hit the same state in one season was in Texas in 1886, National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield said."

"As Florida prepares for its fourth major storm in six weeks, emergency response trucks are already rolling to restock supply depots in south, central and north Florida—at Homestead, Lakeland and Jacksonville—because no one is yet sure exactly where the storm will hit."
Click NOAA image for larger view looking up at the top of Hurricane Jeanne’s eyewall taken Sept. 22, 2004.The Eyewall of Hurricane Jeanne: "NOAA hurricane researchers flew into the eye of Hurricane Jeanne on Wednesday to gather data about the storm that is currently churning in the open Atlantic Ocean packing sustained winds near 105 mph.

"The scientists flew on the NOAA WP-3D Orion hurricane hunter aircraft at an altitude of 7,000 feet during the afternoon and early evening hours. The NOAA aircraft penetrated the eye of Hurricane Jeanne six times."
Web tool may banish broken links: "Peridot, developed by UK intern students at IBM, scans company weblinks and replaces outdated information with other relevant documents and links.

"It works by automatically mapping and storing key features of webpages, so it can detect significant content changes.

"The students said Peridot could protect companies by spotting links to sites that have been removed, or which point to wholly unsuitable content."
The Note, September 24: "In 2000, Bush lost Wisconsin by fewer than 6,000 votes. This year, both sides agree: if there is one 2000 Democratic state that is most likely to be picked off by the President, this is it.

"ABC News' David Chalian attributes Bush's current strength in Wisconsin to an economy that was never as bad as some other Midwestern states, Kerry underperforming among African-Americans, and the Milwaukee suburbs seeming to trend towards Bush on cultural issues."

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Cells of Halobacterium as seen through a high-powered microscope. The individual cells in this image are about 5 microns long.Secrets of a Salty Survivor: "Halobacterium appears to be a master of the complex art of DNA repair. This mastery is what scientists want to learn from: In recent years, a series of experiments by NASA-funded researchers at the University of Maryland has probed the limits of Halobacterium's powers of self-repair, using cutting-edge genetic techniques to see exactly what molecular tricks the 'master' uses to keep its DNA intact.

"'We have completely fragmented their DNA. I mean we have completely destroyed it by bombarding it with [radiation]. And they can reassemble their entire chromosome and put it back into working order within several hours,' says Adrienne Kish, member of the research group studying Halobacterium at the University of Maryland."

A repair enzyme correcting an error in a DNA molecule. The enzyme is on the right in orange and green, and part of the double-helix-shaped DNA is on the left in blue. Image credit: Albert Lau."Halobacterium always keeps a certain amount of repair enzymes on hand, so when a radiation dose occurs, this stash of enzymes can quickly administer 'first aid' to the DNA. But then it must also ramp up production of other repair enzymes to continue the repair, activating the genes that produce those enzymes."

"Halobacterium is something of a 'Renaissance bug.' It dabbles in a bit of everything. Its genome of only 2,400 genes contains several distinct sets of DNA-repair mechanisms. Some of these sets of tools are like the DNA-repair tools found in plants and animals, other sets are more like those of bacteria, and still others are characteristic of a lesser-known group of life called 'Archaea' (the group that Halobacterium belongs to). Halobacterium has them all. Beyond even that, Halobacterium has a few novel DNA-repair mechanisms that no one has ever seen before!

A DNA microarray, as seen through a microscope. Each tiny dot corresponds to one of the organism's thousands of genes, and the color of the dot indicates the activity level of that gene. Image credit: James Smiley."Learning how all these repair mechanisms work could teach scientists a lot about how DNA repair occurs in humans, and perhaps point to ways to enhance people's natural ability to cope with damage to their DNA—a possible boon to astronauts."

"Some of these novel molecular tools could also prove to be useful for industry and biotechnology, DiRuggiero suspects. After all, it was in studying a cousin of Halobacterium—a heat-loving microbe—that scientists found the DNA-copying protein that made it possible to sequence entire genomes. The Human Genome Project would have never happened without it."

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Note, September 7th: "This is an exact formula—if more than 31 of the 56 days left until election day are fought in the New York Times and on the network news over Iraq, President Bush will be re-elected."

The Note, September 8th, summarizing Noted statement: "Yesterday, we wrote that if the election dialogue is about Iraq, John Kerry can't win."

The Note, September 20th: "If John Kerry can convince Americans that President Bush will continue to make a mess of Iraq, he can win the election—and nothing else matters."

Amazing the difference two weeks make.
Sowing the Hurricane Whirlwind: "News loves hurricanes. They usually form far, far away, providing at least a week of stories. And they often start with a bang. Down in the tropical Atlantic, young ones bomb out to amazingly low barometric pressures and outrageous sustained winds. Hurricane Ivan's lowest pressure, for example, would cause the needle on you home barometer to spin around twice. The resultant 'eyewall' winds were a 20-mile wide tornado."

"While we like to count up property damage and losses, no one mentions the fantastic revenue that these storms generate for the media, or that the constant drumbeat of Charley-Frances-Ivan, Charley-Frances-Ivan must have political repercussions. And so, Tony Blair was just in Washington to visit John Kerry, where he conflated Hurricane Ivan with dreaded global warming.

"I like just about everything about Tony Blair. He's smart, affable, and a real friend to a nation that needs some. But he's way off on global warming, and advising Kerry to bail out his campaign with apocalyptic climate hype invites a grilling by the climate truth squad, a rather large body of weather nerds in a weather-fixated country.

"Blair's problem is that he listens to his science adviser, Sir David King, who is one of the most ill-informed hawks on climate change on this greening planet. King actually pronounced the goofy global warming flick 'The Day After Tomorrow' as scientifically plausible, which should have completely blown away his credibility. Now he claims that this year's hurricane activity is a product of global warming and that warming will make hurricanes worse."

Friday, September 17, 2004

The Softening of Child Sacrifice in America: "The use of euphemisms has been a great help to the abortion industry. Words and phrases like, 'products of conception,' 'interruption of pregnancy,' 'genetic termination,' and now, 'early induction of labour,' are used to muddy the waters about what is actually happening in the abortion facility or hospital."

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Catch This If You Can, Dan: Forger Cries Hoax: "A master forger-turned-crimebuster who has taken a look at CBS anchor Dan Rather's documents about President Bush's National Guard service says they're such obvious fakes that they're a joke.

"Ex-forger Frank Abagnale—played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2002 Steven Spielberg movie 'Catch Me If You Can'—scoffed: 'If my forgeries looked as bad as the CBS documents, it would have been, "Catch Me In Two Days."'

"Abagnale hasn't examined the actual documents—CBS won't release them—but from what he's seen on TV, they're 'evident' forgeries, he said in an e-mail to Internet blogger Robin Juhl that was confirmed by his office.

"In his life of crime over 35 years ago, Abagnale cashed $2.5 million in fraudulent checks in every state and 26 foreign countries over five years. By forging documents and other means, he successfully posed as an airline pilot, lawyer, professor and pediatrician.

"After he was finally caught and did several years in jail, Abagnale was released on condition that he'd help the feds for free, which he has done as an FBI consultant."

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Beware Io Dust: "Jupiter's moon Io is peppered with volcanoes, the hottest, most active volcanoes in our solar system. Sizzling vents spew plumes of gas and dust as much as 400 km high. They surge, spit, subside and surge again, non-stop.

A volcanic plume on Io, photographed by NASA's Galileo spacecraft."The towering plumes, outlined by graceful arcs of rising and falling ash, are eerily beautiful. Their tops jut into space, freezing. Beneath them, scientists believe, it snows. Sulfurous flakes crystallize in the plume-tops and drift gently down to coat Io's colorful terrain.

"High above the gentle snowfall something unexpected happens. At the apex of the plumes, some of the dust and ash that ought to turn around and fall … doesn't. Defying gravity, it keeps going up, not slowing but accelerating, 2 times, 10 times, hundreds of times faster than a speeding bullet, away from Io and into deep space."

Monday, September 13, 2004

Marriage Draws African Americans Right: "When the president decided to join the Christian Right's fanatical dogma by supporting a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, I thought it was nothing more than a politician's desperate attempt to secure his base.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I believe it would be an effective recruiting tool to lure African Americans into the GOP. But recently I was reminded by a group of black pastors representing churches in Oakland that the more I engage in the human adventure, the less I know."

Sunday, September 12, 2004

GOP renews push to lift IRS 'muzzle' on Churches: "Political pressure is building on a powerful House lawmaker to remove the so-called IRS 'muzzle' that prevents religious leaders from endorsing political candidates from the pulpit.

Chairman Bill Thomas"Frustrated that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) essentially rejected House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's (R-Ill.) request in June to change the tax code on this issue, 131 House lawmakers are pressing the Speaker to act before the 108th Congress adjourns."
Flood worry looks 'major' for Sanford: "After days of thinking the city would be safe from the rising St. Johns River, Sanford officials learned Friday that water is expected to breach the city's sea wall in the next 10 days."

St. Johns River near Sanford"The National Weather Service said the river's predicted rise to 7.2 feet above sea level will cause 'major flood damage in Sanford.'"

"The river in the Sanford area rose a half-foot above flood stage on Friday. It was expected to climb another foot—past the height of Sanford's sea wall and the highest level the water has reached in 40 years—by Sept. 20.

"Officials at the National Weather Service's Southeast River Forecast Center said they worsened their prediction because of Thursday's heavy rains and because they tweaked models used to predict the river's rise."

"Flooding across a broad area of downtown Sanford's waterfront could occur sooner if more rains hit the area. Hurricane Ivan would 'just make things worse,' National Weather Service meteorologist Peggy Glitto said.

"National Weather Service officials said that, because of development in the past four decades, it is difficult to determine what will flood in Sanford.

"Sanford City Hall, the Seminole County Courthouse and an old hotel now used for headquarters for New Tribes Mission lie along the lakefront, across Seminole Boulevard from a new scenic trail called RiverWalk. The city's downtown core is a couple of blocks south of the water."

Although the National Weather Service said the river may rise enough to enter the parking lot of Central Florida Regional Hospital, officials there said they don't think they need to evacuate. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers measured the hospital's front door at a little more than 7 feet above the water's expected peak, spokesman Craig Bair said.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Politics in the Tropics: "A weary Eva Stines is troubled these days. Her house was demolished by the double punch of two successive hurricanes that hit this central Florida town in the last month—and a third monster Atlantic storm may be headed her way next week.

"With all that, she isn't thinking about: the 2004 presidential campaign, saying 'politics is the last thing on everybody's mind right now.'"

"For Bush, it's essential to deliver much-needed relief services, so as not to repeat 1992, when his father lost the state after being slow to respond to Hurricane Andrew."

"Bush made a highly visible sweep through Florida on Wednesday, pledging at least $2 billion in aid and immediate attention from both the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration."

"Kerry has not campaigned in Florida since accepting the Democratic presidential nomination in late July."

"Lois Frankel, the Democratic mayor of West Palm Beach, one of the communities hardest hit by Hurricane Frances, said she is setting partisan politics aside and pulling for Bush.

"'As partisan as I am, I don't have the luxury for analysis of this storm in political terms—I'm just trying to get whatever I can from whomever I can,' she said. 'If President Bush shines because he delivers for the state of Florida, that's what I want for this city.'"

"No matter how Bush fares in the eyes of Floridians in the coming weeks, experts say any political bounce or deflation from the storms will be short-lived. 'Once people get their power back, they tend to forget about these kinds of things,' said Brad Coker, a Florida pollster."

"In late August, within days after Hurricane Charley hit, he said, 26% of Polk County residents voted in a statewide primary—a far better average than the 20% turnout that pollsters predicted.

"'Absolutely, when election day comes, people will go to the polls—unless, of course, another hurricane hits that day.'"

Election Day is November 2. Hurricane Season ends November 30.
Hurricane Heroes: "President Bush was coming any minute now, and hurricane forecaster Jack Beven sat staring at a computer screen 15 feet away, his chin resting in his hands.

"'Are you nervous?' someone asked. 'You look nervous.'

"'Yes, I'm nervous,' Beven said Wednesday. 'But not about the president. I'm nervous about that thing.'"
Vatican Official Blasts Dutch Euthanasia for Children Proposal: "A leading Catholic official is blasting a proposal in the Netherlands that would allow children under the age of 12 to request assisted suicide."

"Approved in 2002, Dutch law allows adult patients suffering from incurables diseases to request assisted suicide. Teenagers under the age of 16 must have their parents approval, but the newly proposed law would drop that to 12 years of age."

"The Vatican official said the Dutch law is rapidly moving away from assisted suicide and towards euthanasia. Many residents of the European nation wear arm bracelets telling doctors not to end their lives prematurely."

Belgium Lawmakers: Expand Euthanasia Law to Include Children: "Following a proposal in neighboring Netherlands, Belgian lawmakers are putting forward a measure that would expand the country's legal euthanasia law to allow doctors to end the lives of children without parental permission."

"Belgium legalized euthanasia in September 2002. In all, 400 cases of euthanasia have been documented in Belgium since the practice was legalized and many more may not have been reported to governmental authorities."

"However, a number of ethicists point out that the 'right to die' often leads to the 'duty to die,' with people who are seriously ill believing that they must end their lives in order to avoid being a burden to others.

"For instance, published reports indicate that euthanasia practitioners routinely engage in illegal practices that are abusive to patients."

"In June, reports surfaced that three people with Huntington's disease and a person with Alzheimer's had died in the Netherlands as a result of euthanasia—even though Dutch law prohibits mercy killing in such cases."

Isaiah 28: Hear the word of the Lord, you scornful men, Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem, Because you have said, "We have made a covenant with death, And with Sheol we are in agreement. When the overflowing scourge passes through, It will not come to us, For we have made lies our refuge, And under falsehood we have hidden ourselves."

Therefore thus says the Lord God: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily.

"Also I will make justice the measuring line, And righteousness the plummet; The hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, And the waters will overflow the hiding place. Your covenant with death will be annulled, And your agreement with Sheol will not stand;

"When the overflowing scourge passes through, Then you will be trampled down by it. As often as it goes out it will take you; For morning by morning it will pass over, And by day and by night; It will be a terror just to understand the report."

Friday, September 10, 2004

City plans camera surveillance web: "Chicago will become a world leader in Big Brother technology when the city links 2,250 surveillance cameras to the 911 center to spot 'suspicious and unusual' behavior.

Chicago Skyline"'Cameras are the equivalent of hundreds of sets of eyes,' Mayor Daley said of the system, which is expected to be in use in early 2006. 'They're the next best thing to having police officers stationed at every potential trouble spot.'

"With help from a $5.1 million federal Homeland Security grant, Chicago will install 250 cameras at locations at high risk of a terrorist attack, link them and 2,000 existing cameras to the 911 center and expand the network with an unprecedented invitation to the private sector, Daley announced Thursday.

"Businesses that pay an undisclosed fee for the privilege can have cameras installed outside their entrances and even inside their stairwells monitored by the 911 center. 'Our members will embrace this,' said Jerry Roper, president of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. 'It'll help their liability insurance tremendously to have that extra set of eyes with very quick response time.'

"When a 911 call comes in, the network will automatically search for the nearest camera. A video image will pop up at the call-taker's work station. The call-taker can control the image and direct police and firefighters at the scene. Thirteen employees stationed at a soon-to-be-built operations center at the 911 facility also will continuously monitor the cameras.

"Suspicious or unusual behavior—everything from walking in circles at an airport or downtown parking garage to leaving a package untended in a public place—would prompt a change in color on the video image and set off an alarm.

"The cameras will not have controversial facial recognition technology. Still, American Civil Liberties Union spokesman Ed Yohnka said he was concerned 'whether or not we've gone too far with a lot of this.'

"Daley thinks Chicagoans 'will love' the idea. 'We're not inside your home or your business,' Daley said. 'The city owns the sidewalk. We own the street and we own the alley.'" Don't forget, Mayor Daley, that in America, the government that you say owns that property is also of the people. The people own the sidewalk, the street, and the alley.

"Before deciding on a system for Chicago, officials saw how Las Vegas casinos monitor their gamblers and examined how the U.S. Department of Defense uses cameras during combat and to protect its facilities.

"They also went to London to check out its 200,000-camera surveillance system. Great Britain has more than 4 million such cameras, one for every 14 people. In London, cameras have spotted about 10,000 incidents and footage has been used in about 1,000 court cases in the last two years, officials said. About two-thirds of Britons approve of the cameras, according to a European Commission study.

"But Cedric Laurant of the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center was skeptical of their usefulness. Studies show they have less of an impact on crime than improving lighting in dangerous areas, he said. Despite the use of cameras in London, crime has gone up in the last 10 years, he said.

"Chicago needs to develop rules that prevent civil-rights abuses, spelling out how long recordings can be kept and how they can be used, Laurant said. And the city should conduct annual audits to track how many crimes are stopped because of such surveillance, Laurant said."

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Windows Media LogoPresident Bush Pledges Aid for Florida Hurricane Victims: "President Bush visited hurricane-damaged Florida on Wednesday. His trip came one day after the U.S. Congress approved $2 billion in emergency aid to help Floridians recover from the two hurricanes that struck Florida over the past month. Mr. Bush also visited the National Hurricane Center in Miami, where forecasters are tracking Hurricane Ivan, now menacing the Caribbean."

U.S. President George W. Bush helps at a relief center in Fort Pierce, Florida, while touring the damage area in Florida from Hurricane Frances with Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (behind Bush), September 8, 2004. Areas in Florida were hit hard and millions still lack power service or telephone service and safe drinking water is still scarce.   REUTERS/Larry Downing  US ELECTION (Click for Large Photo)"President Bush and his brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, briefly helped volunteers distribute food and water to hurricane victims in the hard-hit town of Ft. Pierce, about 200 kilometers north of Miami, where Hurricane Frances came ashore several days ago."

"'The people of this state are overcoming adversity once again. The government is responding with needed resources,' said Mr. Bush. 'Businesses and community and faith-based groups are helping to speed the recovery, and in tragedy the people of this state and the people across America are responding with goodness and generosity.'

"Hurricane Frances cut a swath across the entire state of Florida and many residents of central and northern Florida are still without power, days later. Long lines are reported at the few gas stations open in areas where Hurricane Frances did the most damage. Florida's Lieutenant Governor, Toni Jennings, says it will take some time for the region's infrastructure to recover."

U.S. President George W. Bush makes a statement to the press after a briefing about Hurricane Frances at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, September 8, 2004. Areas in Florida were hit hard and millions are still lack power service or telephone service and safe drinking water is still scarce.   REUTERS/Larry Downing  US ELECTION (Click for Large Photo)"Mr. Bush thanked forecasters at the National Hurricane Center for their work in tracking an unusually high number of storms this year. Forecasters say Hurricane Ivan, which caused several deaths when it passed over Grenada, is now heading toward Jamaica and Cuba. They say the storm could also strike Florida by the end of the week."

In a recent discussion of Hurricane Ivan, the National Hurricane Center declared, "Today has been a historic day for the DOC/NOAA/NWS/NHC. The President of the United States visited the facilities at Miami, Florida."
High storm cycle is here to stay: "Charley, Frances and Ivan. Three major hurricanes. Two assaults on Florida already and possibly a third by next week. Get used to it. This is the new normal.

"Scientists say we are in a period of enhanced hurricane activity that could last for decades, ending a 24-year period of below-average activity. They also say the law of averages has caught up with Florida, with a change in atmospheric steering currents turning the state into a hurricane magnet.

"'People are suddenly alert, suddenly paying attention,' said Stanley Goldenberg, a meteorologist with the NOAA's hurricane research division on Virginia Key. 'They can see now that we are in an active era. … People should realize that it is very unlikely that Frances is the last storm the U.S. will see this year.'"

"Between 1941 and 1950, seven major hurricanes—with winds higher than 110 mph—attacked Florida. 'And that doesn't include the other [less powerful] hurricanes,' Goldenberg said. That 10-year period fell in the middle of a cycle of heightened activity that began in 1926 and persisted until 1970."

Research he conducted "with NOAA scientist Chris Landsea, private expert William Gray and others found distinct patterns of low-activity hurricane periods and high-activity periods, each of which endured for decades. Atlantic SST AnomalyThese patterns, unrelated to the current concern over global warming, are caused by regular cycles of oceanic and atmospheric phenomena, such as unusually warm water in hurricane breeding grounds.

"One period of 'hyperactivity' ended in 1970 and was followed by a 24-year lull. The new period of heightened activity began in 1995 and could last for another 10 to 30 years, according to their report, which was reviewed by peers and published in 2001 in the journal Science."
Florida watches warily as next storm churns: "Florida residents stung by two deadly hurricanes in less than a month are bracing for another—and forecasters say conditions are right for even more Atlantic storms this fall."

"Experts predicted in April that this year's hurricane season could be one of the worst ever, fueled partly by unusually warm water in the Atlantic. There were eight named tropical storms in August, tying the U.S. record for most in a month. The hurricane season runs from June through November.

"Hurricane expert William Gray, who heads the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University, says the warm-water effect is one of two major factors in this year's above-average onslaught. The other is a lack of the west winds that can stop hurricanes from forming off Africa.

Hurricane Ivan regional imagery, 2004.09.08 at 1245Z. Centerpoint Latitude: 12:48:58N Longitude: 65:32:56W."Forecasters say it's too soon to say whether Ivan will hit Florida. But the State Emergency Operations Center has alerted all agencies to prepare for it. The National Hurricane Center says if Ivan reaches the Caribbean, that sea's warm water will be like 'high-octane gas for hurricanes.'"

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act: "Every day in the United States unborn children are subjected to trauma that causes them excruciating pain, and that would be illegal if inflicted on animals in commerce or research.

H.R. 4420/S. 2466 "would require every abortionist to provide, whenever a woman seeks an abortion past 20 weeks after fertilization, specified information about the capacity of her unborn child to experience pain during the abortion. After that, the woman must either accept or refuse (by signing a form) the administration of pain-reducing drugs directly to the unborn child. The woman's decision regarding such drugs is entirely voluntary."

"Findings of Fact from Judge Casey: 'The Court finds that the testimony at trial and before Congress establishes that D&X [partial-birth abortion] is a gruesome, brutal, barbaric, and uncivilized medical procedure. Dr. Anand's testimony, which went unrebutted by Plaintiffs, is credible evidence that D&X abortions subject fetuses to severe pain.

"'Notwithstanding this evidence, some of Plaintiffs' experts testified that fetal pain does not concern them, and that some do not convey to their patients that their fetuses may undergo severe pain during a D&X.'"

'Fetal Pain' Bill New Item on Anti-Choice Agenda: "It's a development that reproductive rights organizations now are having to wrangle with."

"In the three federal-court trials on the constitutionality of the federal abortion ban—in courts in New York, California and Nebraska—the government put Dr. Kanwaljeet S. Anand on the stand to give his opinion about fetal pain.

"Anand, a pediatrician and professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, believes that a fetus experiences pain after 20 weeks gestation and that drugs provided to a pregnant woman do not anesthetize the fetus. Anand, who works with newborns, bases his analysis on fetal response to external stimuli such as needling or moving away from a sharp object."

According to the bill, "the doctor's scripted statement would include the advice that anesthesia could be 'administered directly' to the fetus, an offer that some doctors say can't really honestly be made.

"Dr. Hytham Imseis, a maternal-fetal specialist, professor and residency director at the Mountain Area Health Education Center in Asheville, N.C., says that administering anesthesia 'directly' to the fetus would require use of an ultrasound-guided needle.

"'The number of folks who can do that is very limited,' he said and added that the women who did manage to find such a service would encounter much greater personal medical risk.

"Unlike Anand, the doctor who testified in the government's fetal-pain case in court, Imseis believes that anesthesia administered to a woman also anesthetizes a fetus.

"'The bill is trying to cause alarm in women who would choose an abortion procedure,' he said."

However, such a claim by Dr. Imseis would cause alarm in women needing medical treatment.

During testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, The Honorable Dr. Tom Coburn said, "I was alarmed by this erroneous information because it could negatively impact the health of any pregnant woman who, fearing the consequences of anesthesia on her unborn child, may delay necessary and even life-saving medical procedures."

Following Dr. Coburn's testimony, Norig Ellison, M.D., president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), testified before the committee: "I appear here today for one purpose, and one purpose only: to take issue with the testimony of James T. McMahon, M.D., before this Subcommittee last June.

"According to his written testimony, of which I have a copy, Dr. McMahon stated that anesthesia given to the mother as part of dilation and extraction abortion procedure eliminates any pain to the fetus and that a medical coma is induced in the fetus, causing a 'neurological fetal demise,' or—in lay terms—'brain death.'

"I believe this statement to be entirely inaccurate. I am deeply concerned, moreover, that the widespread publicity given to Dr. McMahon's testimony may cause pregnant women to delay necessary, even life-saving, medical procedures, totally unrelated to the birthing process, due to misinformation regarding the effect of anesthetics on the fetus. Annually over 50,000 pregnant women are anesthetized for such necessary procedures."

Women deserve to understand these significant consequences of their choice.

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