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, Amazon.com, 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.
The High Calling: "For most people, when they die, it will be just as though they had never lived. For them, life is one colorless day after another and is then over. There are many ways to be dead while yet we live, and a purposeless, ambitionless life is one of them."

"Now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed."
"If It Were Not So...": Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke with His disciples just days before His crucifixion. "He said to them, 'Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you' (John 14:1-2).

"In reading this familiar passage, I have long noticed that tender expression, 'if it were not so, I would have told you.' Why these words? Why did Christ say such a thing to His disciples?"
"China’s economy is expanding at a blistering pace.

"After two decades of rapid growth, China’s economy is having a global impact in all kinds of surprising ways. Its voracious appetite for raw materials has driven up prices worldwide and created shortages. China consumes 55 percent of the world’s cement, 40 percent of its steel and 25 percent of its aluminum.

"China’s growing demand for oil is one reason crude prices are so high.

"China is now the world’s sixth-largest economy, comparable in size to France or Italy. But unlike France and Italy, it’s growing rapidly, giving it disproportionate influence."

Arnold Schwarzenegger: "The U.S. economy remains the envy of the world. We have the highest economic growth of any of the world's major industrialized nations. Don't you remember the pessimism of 20 years ago when the critics said Japan and Germany were overtaking the U.S.? Ridiculous!

"Now they say India and China are overtaking us. Don't you believe it! We may hit a few bumps—but America always moves ahead! That's what Americans do!"

Word of oversupply from OPEC punctures oil prices: "Oil prices fell today as OPEC's president said supplies were growing faster than demand and traders breathed easier knowing that petroleum production in the Gulf of Mexico did not suffer as a result of Hurricane Frances."
E-mail from a Soldier: "As I head off to Baghdad for the final weeks of my stay in Iraq, I wanted to say thanks to all of you who did not believe the media. They have done a very poor job of covering everything that has happened.

"You can rest at night knowing something is happening in Iraq that is noteworthy. This is the list of things that has happened in Iraq recently (Please share it with your friends.):

  • Over 4.5 million people have clean drinking water for the first time ever.
  • Over 400,000 kids have up-to-date immunizations.
  • Over 1500 schools have been renovated and ridded of the weapons that were stored there.
  • The port of Uhm Qasar was renovated so grain can be off-loaded from ships faster.
  • School attendance is up 80% from levels before the war.
  • The country had its first two billion barrel export of oil in August.
  • The country now receives two times the electrical power it did before the war.
  • 100% of the hospitals are open and fully staffed, compared to 35% before the war.
  • Elections are taking place in every major city, and city councils are in place.
  • Sewer and water lines are installed in every major city.
  • Over 60,000 police are patrolling the streets.
  • Over 100,000 Iraqi civil defense police are securing the country.
  • Over 80,000 Iraqi soldiers are patrolling the streets side by side with U.S. soldiers.
  • Over 400,000 people have telephones for the first time ever.
  • Students are taught field sanitation and hand washing techniques to prevent the spread of germs.
  • An interim constitution has been signed.
  • Girls are allowed to attend school for the first time ever in Iraq.
  • Textbooks that don’t mention Saddam are in schools for the first time in 30 years.
"Don’t believe for one second that these people do not want us there. I have met many, many people from Iraq that want us there and in a bad way. They say they will never see the freedoms we talk about, but they hope their children will. We are doing a good job in Iraq, and I challenge anyone, anywhere to dispute me on these facts."
Gen. Franks Doubts Constitution Will Survive WMD Attack: "Gen. Tommy Franks says that if the United States is hit with a weapon of mass destruction that inflicts large casualties, the Constitution will likely be discarded in favor of a military form of government."
Hurricane Ivan regional imagery, 2004.09.07 at 1245Z. Centerpoint Latitude: 11:40:39N Longitude: 59:24:08W.Florida's ordeal: "Hurricane Ivan, the ninth named storm of the season, is churning in the Central Atlantic, posing a potential threat to Florida.

"Only half-joking Sunday, Gov. Bush threatened a $5 fine to anyone who mentioned Ivan. But the governor, who was touring damaged areas in Palm Beach County, later said of Ivan, 'We'll take it on. We're a resilient state.'"

Sunday, September 5, 2004

Sinkhole Closes I-95: "Northbound Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County closed Sunday afternoon because of a washout blamed on Hurricane Frances."
Hurricane Frances—Seminole County: "Citizen's Information Line: 407-665-2650"

"In Sanford, there is a flood advisory for all low-lying areas with a voluntary evacuation in place for the following areas: Preserve at Lake Monroe, Mayfair District, Wynnewood Subdivision, Celery Key Subdivision, Bakers Crossing, Kaywood, Calabria Cove, Venetian Bay, Idyllwilde, Crown Colony, Hidden Lakes, Sterling Woods, Placid Woods, Sanford Landing Apartments, Towne Center Apartments, and Windchase Apartments"

"The county needs HAM radio operators. Interested people should call (407) 665-2650 or 147.285 repeater." SC: "We are happy to have you onboard before, during and after the storm."
St. Johns To Rise, Flood After Storm: "When Hurricane Frances eventually blows out of Central Florida, its torrential rains will already be causing flooding in many communities. But for others, especially neighborhoods along the banks of the St. Johns River, the floodwaters may not arrive for days.

"From its headwaters in Indian River County, north through Brevard and Orange and Seminole and beyond, the slow-moving St. Johns will fill up over the next several days as tributaries swollen from Frances' rains flow into it."

"That means places such as the Seminole County communities of Geneva and Sanford can expect to see rising river levels for days after Frances, said Peggy Glitto, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service."

Thursday, September 2, 2004

As Florida Braces for 2nd Big Storm, the Flight Begins: "Hurricane Frances remained a Category 4 storm—the second-strongest rating—as it churned past the Bahamas on Thursday, and forecasters said that if it remained that strong when it hit Florida, it would be the first time since 1915 that two hurricanes of such magnitude struck the United States in the same year. The two in 1915 struck New Orleans and Galveston, Tex."
Charley, Frances keep delegates' attention: "Florida delegates shared stories of Hurricane Charley and kept a wary eye on Hurricane Frances as they gathered this week for the Republican National Convention."
Bush Promises in 2000: Some Fulfilled, Some Thwarted: "Four years ago, when the nation still seemed in an era of boundless prosperity, George W. Bush accepted the Republican nomination with an expansive promise of 'compassionate conservatism': big tax cuts, new drug benefits for the elderly, a major overhaul of Social Security and a new commitment to public education.

"Reaching out to the political center, particularly to women, Mr. Bush promised to 'use these good times for great goals,' and to 'extend the promise of prosperity to every forgotten corner of this country.'

"As Mr. Bush prepares to accept his party's nomination for a second term, how well he fulfilled those first promises is a subject of intense debate. And the unfinished items from that 2000 agenda, most notably the creation of personal investment accounts in Social Security, are expected to be part of his vision for a second term when he addresses the nation tomorrow night."