Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Arlington Cemetary

Oregon man wins Great American Think-Off

NEW YORK MILLS, Minn. - An Oregon man is the winner of this year's Great American Think-Off, a national philosophy competition that gives ordinary people the chance to debate some of life's perplexing questions.

This year's question: "Does immigration strengthen or threaten the United States?"

Craig Allen, of West Lynn, Ore., won a gold medal Saturday after a live audience in New York Mills decided he was most convincing when arguing that the system of immigration and immigration policy is broken. He says it encourages an influx of illegal immigrants and poses a threat to the country.

During the debate, the four Think-Off finalists touched on what it means to be an American and stressed that American identity is evolving.

The debate is held by the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding the cultural and creative opportunities of rural Americans. New York Mills is a farming town of some 1,200 people in central Minnesota, about 170 miles northwest of Minneapolis.

The silver medal winner was Deana Cavaliere from Richfield, Minn., who argued that immigrants of diverse cultures have created a mix of ideas that makes America an innovative and wealthy country.

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When McCain Drops Out

by Steve Rosenbaum

When the Republicans choose their candidate on September 4th, there is a very real chance that they could throw the election into an unexpected chaos as they pull a genuine September Surprise.

I think there is every reason to believe John McCain won't be the nominee. Ok, let me say that again. McCain will not be the Republican candidate in November.


Here's how it could happen:

At some point in mid August, John McCain will announce that he has decided that he can not accept his party's nomination for president. The reason will be health-related, and that may turn out to be the truth. Anyone who's seen him on stage these days knows he looks like he's about to keel over. And anyone who's been on a presidential campaign knows the physical demands are grueling and can be a challenge for a young man.

But excuses or facts hardly matters. He won't be accepting his party's nomination.

The reasons are simple. He can't win. Now that Obama is the presumptive Democratic nominee -- the polls all show that McCain's pro-war stance and Bush endorsement make him a lost cause in November. That combined with soft stand on litmus test conservative issues make him an unpopular candidate among the base. I know some Democrats that think the Republicans are planning to let McCain lose and 'sit this one out' so that they can hang the democrats with a bad economy and a war that is a morass. But that just isn't how they play. They play to win every hand -- think about 2000 with a popular Democratic president and good economy and a solid VP running for president. Why did they put up Bush? And why did they fight so hard? Because, you don't ever throw a game. And they're not going to throw this one.

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Vatican bans Dan Brown film Angels & Demons from Rome churches

Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon and Audrey Tautou as Sophie Neveu in The Da Vinci Code

Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou in The Da Vinci Code. The Vatican said Dan Brown’s work wounded religious feelings

The Vatican has banned the makers of a prequel to The Da Vinci Code from filming in its grounds or any church in Rome, describing the work as “an offence against God”.

Angels and Demons, the latest Dan Brown thriller to be turned into a film, includes key episodes that take place in the Vatican and Rome’s churches. Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, the head of the Vatican’s Prefecture for Economic Affairs, said that Brown had “turned the gospels upside down to poison the faith”.

“It would be unacceptable to transform churches into film sets so that his blasphemous novels can be made into films in the name of business,” he said, adding that Brown’s work “wounds common religious feelings”.

Father Marco Fibbi, a spokesman for the Diocese of Rome, said: “Normally we read the script but this time it was not necessary. The name Dan Brown was enough.”

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Doodles in the dust become fine art


MOST of us can’t walk past a dirty car without doodling in the dust – but Scott Wade has turned it into an art form.

The 49-year-old has made a career out of creating portraits of friends and celebrities in the back windows of grimy cars.

Wade’s "car art" has become a huge hit – not least due to the limited shelf-life of his creations, which simply wash away in the rain.

The Texan was inspired to begin his drawings after moving to a dirt road which coats passing cars in a layer of fine white dust.

What began as an idle doodling of a smiley face has now led to Wade recreating famous images and movie scenes.

It may be a filthy habit but it’s driving Wade’s career.

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Investigation finds widespread abuse at US detention centre in Afghanistan

American soldiers herded the detainees into holding pens of razor-sharp wire, the kind that's used to corral livestock.

The guards kicked, kneed and punched many of the men until they collapsed in pain. US troops shackled and dragged other detainees to small isolation rooms, then hung them by their wrists from chains dangling from the wire mesh ceiling.

Former guards and detainees whom McClatchy interviewed said Bagram was a centre of systematic brutality for at least 20 months, starting in late 2001. Yet the soldiers responsible have escaped serious punishment.

The public outcry in the United States and abroad has focused on detainee abuse at the US naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, but sadistic violence first appeared at Bagram, north of Kabul, and at a similar US internment camp at Kandahar airfield in southern Afghanistan.

The eight-month McClatchy investigation found a pattern of abuse that continued for years. The abuse of detainees at Bagram has been reported by US media organisations, in particular the New York Times, which broke several developments in the story.

But the extent of the mistreatment, and that it eclipsed the alleged abuse at Guantánamo, hasn't previously been revealed.

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Bush is MIA, again...

Iowa Nearly three years ago as people were drowning in NOLA, the so-called leader of this nation dashed eagerly from one side of the country to another -fund-raising for his party- without a moment's care for his fellow Americans in their time of crisis. In fact, whenever a national crisis has occurred, Bush has been conspicuously absent. During the fourth or fifth day of the Katrina massacre and the missing leadership of this nation, I wrote the following:

We have no leadership, no captain at the helm as it were. We are, in effect, being led from disaster to disaster by a headless horseman run amok with stuffed pockets and an empty conscience.

We are here, again. This time in Iowa, where tens of thousands of Americans are without a home, many dead, many injured and once again, during this national crisis Bush is busy playing voodoo politics (This time in Europe).

Here is what is happening in Iowa:
More national guard troops deploy into disaster territory
Iowa in a drinking water emergency
36,000 homeless
Des Moines is mostly underwater
Death toll as of today at 20 (from what they have been able to determine in the chaos)
83 Iowa Counties declared disaster zones

Where is the god-damn president of this nation? After Bush was told on 9/11 that the nation was under attack, he did not even turn around to ask if the attack happened to be nuclear. He ate cake with John McCain while the people in and around NOLA died, begging for help. He is once again MIA in a time of crisis now. Is it that George W. Bush does not consider Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, and New York as part of the Union? I remember Kanye West saying "George Bush does not care about black people," and thinking it probably right. But I have come to reconsider that opinion. It is not that George Bush does not care about black people in particular, he simply does not care about Americans. It is that simple. His legacy - on which he often opines with great pride - will be a single ground zero, like a crater the size of the moon, filled with ashes, bones, bodies, and the stench of lies and decaying flesh.

And the media? Well, you don't even have to wonder. Tim Russert has passed and therefor all news will be suspended until further notice.

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Gingrich: Supreme Court decision ‘could cost us a city’

By David Edwards and Andrew McLemore

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said that the Supreme Court decision to allow enemy combatants to challenge their detention could lead to the nuclear destruction of a U.S. city.

The decision marked the third time that the Supreme Court has ruled against the Bush administration’s handling of the Guantanamo prisoners, The New York Times reported Friday.

Gingrich referenced a Sunday morning story about a smuggling ring that obtained a design for a nuclear weapon as evidence that local judges should have no say over matters of national security.

“To turn over to a local district judge decisions of national security and life and death that should be made by the president and congress is the most extraordinarily arrogant and destructive decision the Supreme Court has made in its history,” Gingrich said.

When asked if the McCain campaign’s argument about Obama’s inexperience would work, Gingrich said that it wouldn’t because Obama is too smart and well-prepared to come off “looking like some guy who’s dopey.”

Yet Gingrich still criticized Obama for his support of the Supreme Court’s decision to grant habeus corpus rights of Guantanamo prisoners - a decision he called “worse than Dred Scott.”

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Ugly: The Future of the Republican Party

by David Michael Green

Republicans are going down.

Let me say that again (‘cause it feels so good): Republicans are going down. Hard.

A tsunami this way cometh, and it’s got GOP loaded in its GPS.

Apart from the fact that the Democrats are about to nominate a black candidate in a still racist white country, there could hardly be a more perfect storm of Republican-focused discontent imaginable in 2008. And Obama’s color may actually turn out to be a neutral factor, or even a net gain. African Americans are going to come out in droves to vote for him, possibly even putting certain Jim Crow states, such as North Carolina, into play for the Democrats for the first time since the civil rights movement. Moreover, young people are going to turn out and vote in huge numbers this year, and it won’t be John McCain who is the glimmer in their eyes. And then there are the angry people — which is just about all of the rest of us — who are going to be voting in big numbers as well. They may not necessarily be voting for Obama, but they will be gleefully voting against anything on the ballot stupid enough to have an R after its name (and there will be one helluva lot less of those, by the way, in 2010 than in 2008).

This is the year in which Republicans are going to come to join the rest of us in their levels of affection for George W. Bush. They are the only constituency whom he hasn’t yet taken over a cliff, but that will change on November 4th. Bush won’t be on the ballot. He will be the ballot. Every angry American (hey, only a record-breaking 82 percent of us think the country’s on the wrong track) will be thinking about how much gas costs, about how their expenses are going up, their income is stuck in neutral and their job is headed for India. They’ll be thinking about two wars turned into twin debacles, and the lies associated with them. They’ll be thinking about the dead bodies, the stink of torture, the tortured reputation of their country, and the people who made all of that possible. They’ll be thinking about the mountain of national debt their kids are gonna have to pay back, plus interest, so that the fantastically wealthy in this country could matriculate into becoming obscenely wealthy. They’ll be thinking about environmental destruction. They’ll be thinking about arrogance and incompetence and corruption. They’re gonna want somebody to pay, and — worst of all for the party of Rove and Cheney and Bush — they’re not really afraid anymore.

As if things weren’t bad enough for the GOP we got a glimpse of their coming horror show on the Tuesday night of the last primary. Could there possibly have been a greater contrast between the prime-time performances of Barack Obama and John McCain? There was Obama, every inch the eloquent statesman, the perfect fit for the crises of his time. And there was McCain, more wooden than a cigar store Indian, less authentic than a sit-com laugh track, unable to even read a speech without sounding like a shrill robot with serious software glitches. Oh, Baby. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Bring. It. On.

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Increases in the national debt

McCain anger management systems

San Diego drivers appreciate Mexico's cheap gas

SAN DIEGO - If there's pain at the pump in the U.S., Mexico may just have a remedy. A gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in San Diego retails for an average price of $4.61 a gallon. A few miles south, in Tijuana, it's about $2.54 — even less if you pay in pesos.

More and more people appear to be taking advantage of the lower price.

"I used to buy exclusively in the U.S. before gas started really going up," said Patrick Garcia, a drama teacher at an elementary school in San Diego who lives in Tijuana. "Since then, I've been buying all my gas in Tijuana."

The lower prices mean a U.S. motorist could save almost $54 filling up a two-year-old Ford F150 pickup with a 26-gallon fuel tank in Mexico.

The differential in diesel is even greater, selling at $5.04 a gallon in San Diego County and $2.20 in Tijuana.

Paul Covarrubias, 26, who lives in Chula Vista and works in construction in San Diego, crosses the border each week just to refuel his dual-cab Ford F-250 pickup.

"I fill it up with diesel in Tijuana for $60," he said. "It would be almost twice that in San Diego."

Gas is cheaper in Mexico because of a government subsidy intended to keep inflationary forces in check.

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Ex-Clark GOP official pleads guilty in sex case

Murphy faces 2-year sentence in deviate-conduct plea bargain

By Harold J. Adams

Glenn Murphy Jr., former head of the Clark County Republican Party, pleaded guilty yesterday to criminal deviate conduct in a plea bargain that calls for him to serve a two-year prison term and then register as a sex offender.
Murphy wore dark glasses and kept his head mostly bowed as he walked in the second-floor hallway toward Clark Superior Court to enter the plea.

During a hearing, Special Prosecutor Stanley Levco laid out the facts of the case.

Murphy, 34, of Utica, and the victim, then 22, had been guests at a party in the Jeffersonville home of the victim's sister last July 28, Levco said.

Both men spent the night at the home. When the victim woke up, "Mr. Murphy was performing oral sex on him against his will. He (the victim) was asleep at the time," Levco said.

Superior Court Judge Vicki Carmichael asked Murphy whether those were the facts to which he was admitting.

"Yes," Murphy answered.

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"Media Matters"; by Jamison Foser

Meet Tim Russert

"It's never the question that's the problem, Matt, it's the answer."
-- NBC's Tim Russert

"It's 'never the question that's the problem'? Really?
Spoken like the guy who gets to ask the questions."
-- CJR's Liz Cox Barrett

MSNBC recently began running commercials touting its coverage of "Decision 2008." One begins with on-screen text asking, "Why do people care about politics?" Viewers then hear Tim Russert explain: "It's about the war. Our sons and daughters. It's about the economy. Our jobs. It's about education. Our schools. It's about health care. Our families' well-being. It's about everything that matters." The ad ends with the on-screen declaration: "That's why you care. That's why we cover it."

The serious and high-minded approach to political coverage Russert brags about would be a welcome change from the political coverage for which Russert is responsible.

During this week's Democratic presidential debate, Russert didn't ask a single question about global warming, continuing his longstanding habit of all but ignoring the topic. He didn't ask a single question about the mortgage crisis. (As one Cleveland resident noted, "We've got the mortgage industry's toxic waste scattered all over this city, but Mr. Blue-Collar-Buffalo-and-Cleveland-Marshall-Guy Russert couldn't be bothered with a question about it.") He didn't ask a single question about executive power, the Constitution, torture, wiretapping, or other civil-liberties concerns. But that shouldn't come as a surprise; of all the questions he has asked while moderating presidential debates during this campaign, only one has dealt with any of those topics.

He has, however, asked Dennis Kucinich what he felt compelled to insist was a "serious question" -- whether Kucinich has seen a UFO. And he has asked about John Edwards' expensive haircut.

Funny, Russert doesn't mention UFOs or haircuts in that MSNBC promo.

Russert's performance as a moderator of this week's debate has drawn widespread criticism. Most appalling was his bizarre fixation on Louis Farrakhan.

Russert asked Barack Obama about Louis Farrakhan's praise for the Illinois senator. Obama, who had previously denounced Farrakhan, did so again. Then Russert asked about Farrakhan again. So Obama reiterated his denunciation. Then Russert, (who, I can only assume, was not bothering to listen to Obama's responses) asked about Farrakhan again. So Obama again reiterated his denunciation. Russert, plowing ahead, asked yet another question about Farrakhan, prompting Obama to answer yet again.

Josh Marshall summed up Russert's behavior nicely: "It was a nationwide, televised, MSM version of one of those noxious Obama smear emails."

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quote of the day

"George W Bush has been a great president. The Iraq war has been a stunning success. McCain should be so lucky as to be running for Bush's third term. Then he might have a chance."

- Ann Coulter -

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Senile agitation

Russert had a gusto for politics leavened with affability

By Tim Rutten

Watching the cable news networks in the hours after his death, one was struck by the outpouring of admiration and affection from across the political spectrum and from journalistic colleagues of every sort. It was impossible not to be struck -- once again -- by just how incestuous and claustrophobic the Washington-based nexus of politics and journalism has become.

Thus, in all that gush across four networks in dozens and dozens of voices, hardly a word was spoken concerning Russert's role in the recent trial of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. That's odd because Libby's conviction on perjury and obstruction of justice charges was, in some large part, based on Russert's testimony. Like former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, Russert was one of the high-level Washington journalists who came out of the Libby trial looking worse than shabby.

Libby testified before the grand jury investigating the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity that he first learned she worked for the intelligence agency from Russert during a phone call on another matter. Russert took the stand to contradict Libby only because he'd been subpoenaed -- a summons he and NBC had strenuously resisted on grounds of journalistic privilege.

As it emerged under examination, however, Russert already had sung like a choirboy to the FBI concerning his conversation with Libby -- and had so voluntarily from the first moment the Feds contacted him. All the litigation was for the sake of image and because the journalistic conventions required it.

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Will the spending never end?

School pretends students have been killed to teach dangers of drink-driving

By Megan Levy

A school has been forced to defend its actions after pretending that students had been killed in a car crash to scare their classmates off drink-driving.

A police officer in uniform walked into 20 classrooms at El Camino High School in California and announced that several students had been killed in car wrecks over the weekend.

The hoax was intended to teach the dangers of drink-driving.

But the scare tactic backfired when some students, who were not told that it was a stunt for two hours, became hysterical and wept uncontrollably.

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They possess tomatoes

The Web Time Forgot


MONS, Belgium — On a fog-drizzled Monday afternoon, this fading medieval city feels like a forgotten place. Apart from the obligatory Gothic cathedral, there is not much to see here except for a tiny storefront museum called the Mundaneum, tucked down a narrow street in the northeast corner of town. It feels like a fittingly secluded home for the legacy of one of technology’s lost pioneers: Paul Otlet.

PAPER TRAIL The telegraph room at the original Mundaneum in Brussels.

In 1934, Otlet sketched out plans for a global network of computers (or “electric telescopes,” as he called them) that would allow people to search and browse through millions of interlinked documents, images, audio and video files. He described how people would use the devices to send messages to one another, share files and even congregate in online social networks. He called the whole thing a “réseau,” which might be translated as “network” — or arguably, “web.”

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outside.in Radar Now Live and in Beta

June 16, 2008 at 12:19 pm · Filed under features, news· by john

I’m happy to announce that outside.in’s Radar is now live on the site and open for all to play with. Radar is our new feature that places you at the center of things and shows you the news going on around you as it happens. Like a Facebook feed for local news, it delivers stories near you in simple, one-line snippets, letting you see everything going on nearby easily, and letting you then click off to the individual stories that interest you.

Radar, as the name would suggest, organizes the news in dynamic, concentric circles around you. First it looks for news immediately around you, within 1000 feet. Then it searches for stories in your neighborhood. Then, in your city. And if you’re out in the middle of the desert somewhere, where there are no neighborhoods or cities, it will just keep on going until it finds something, then will ping it back to you. Just like the real thing.

What I like about Radar is that it drastically reduces the work involved in finding out what’s going on around you. No more sifting through various pages to find things near you that are interesting, no more scrolling down hundreds of lines of ledes to find the one story that catches your eye. The whole landscape of local online content is laid out before you in one simple cascade of headlines, along with their corresponding topics and places. It’s the easiest way around to get the goods on your local scene.

You can even take this whole ‘what’s interesting around me’ idea one step further, by specifying which places and topics are of particular interest to you. The feature will make note of that and call special attention to stories about those topics and places as they come on to your page.

Then, once you’ve set your Radar for your specific location and the topics/places that interest you, you can create an alert, to receive instant notification of things going on around you.

Add to this the neighbor alerts feature, which allows everyone to write directly and immediately to the pages of people in their area, and Radar becomes a total readable/writeable local content solution.

And that’s it in a nutshell: Radar! Give it a try now!